Jon Moxley (formerly Dean Ambrose) has just had his second post-WWE interview following his internet-breaking interview on Talk is Jericho last week.
Moxley appeared on Wade Keller’s show and spoke in depth about what he feels the problem with WWE and Vince McMahon is, his lackluster feud with Brock Lesnar and the infamously awkward interview he had with Steve Austin.
Speaking on Vince McMahon’s impact on WWE’s creative process in 2019 Moxley had the following to say:
“It’s a shame. I’m telling you that’s the problem. I was just there; I know the ins and outs. He’s a problem. It’s a shame because there’s so much great talent. There may have never been more talent there. All the wrestlers are awesome. The pool of talent is incredible and the resources they have with the television and the Network. It should be so great. And the one guy screwing it up, I think, is Vince. Everybody seems to like NXT. I’ve never been there to see how the days go, so I can’t speak about how it is in NXT. But everybody seems to like the show. What’s the key ingredient that’s missing? Vince. He’s the guy who ‘created wrestling.’ Now he’s the guy who’s holding his own company back. He needs to step aside or take a break. Maybe he should let Hunter run things for a month and see what happens.”
“I have all the respect in the world for Vince because nobody works harder. But Vince is supposed to be a genius. There have been moments where I was wrong, and Vince was right — I had a match with Seth Rollins at SummerSlam, and I want to build to a moment where I got him where I want him, but I have to punish him. My idea, which sounds ridiculous now, I wanted to take a pair of pliers from under the ring and go rip his tongue out. I was convinced it was a good idea. We pitch it to Vince and he goes, ‘No, it’s too much.’ He said, ‘Could you Curb Stomp him?’ It was perfect. It was the most over thing in the match. After the match we’re like, ‘Ol VKM is still the man. He’s still a genius.’ — I always try to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Moxley. “Even when I go to the ring and I think an idea sucks, but it’s Vince’s idea, I’m going to try my best because I might be wrong and Vince might be right. More often than not, I go out there and I go, ‘Nope. This idea sucks.’ Over time and looking back, I didn’t see a lot of this ‘genius’ that is Vince McMahon. In the 80s he was a genius when he created Hulkamania and took over the territories. In 2019, I don’t think he knows what the f**k is going on. He needs to figure it out or step aside.”
H/T to Fightful.com for the transcription
Moxley is definitely not done with his interviews and has an awful lot to get out about his years with the company. This interview with Wade as well as last weeks Jericho podcasts are a must listen.
Last March WWE and the Saudi General Sports Authority announced the start of a 10-year partnership as part of Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ campaign, a public relations and economic programme aimed at boosting and repairing the image of the Saudi government on the world stage.
Next week, on June 7th, WWE will return again to Saudi Arabia for ‘Super Showdown’ which they are touting as “being as good as, or better than, Wrestlemania“. This event will feature The Undertaker taking on Goldberg in what many have called a once dream match.
Several superstars will miss this trip, including Daniel Bryan who has expressed his desire not to travel back to Saudi Arabia after feeling uncomfortable there previously. Also not returning will be Kevin Owens as well as Sami Zayn due to his Syrian heritage and Aleister Black because of his religious iconography on his tattoos.
The first event under this deal, the Greatest Royal Rumble, was held in April 2018 and was not met without controversy. First of all came the propaganda throughout the broadcast which attempted to signify an open and diverse Saudi Arabia under the leadership of the new Crown Prince, a video which received staunch criticism back in the west.
In addition to this, women were unable to compete at the event due to
the strict Sharia applications within the country. So much so that WWE ran an
advert during the GRR which featured female superstars which the
Saudi Authority publicly apologised for, for showing “indecent” women.
The money WWE is thought to have made from these events in Saudi Arabia is rather staggering. Although they do not publicly reveal the amount received from each event, estimates can be easily made through analysing the quarterly financial reports WWE release. The Saudi deal is included within the “other” figures of the quarterly reports alongside other programming such as Total Divas, WWE Studios etc and Q2 and 4 of 2018 saw huge spikes of financial growth. It can be estimated that for the Greatest Royal Rumble WWE received around $50- 55 Million and tens of millions more for Crown Jewel. The second event is harder to estimate due to the revenue from the Australian Super Show falling in the same quarter.
Surprisingly WWE’s deal with Saudi went more or less under the radar
until their second event, Crown Jewel, came along and the tide suddenly turned.
In the weeks leading up to the event Saudi Arabia was in the middle of a huge
international incident when journalist Jamal Khashoggi was lured from his home
to a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Khashoggi was then assassinated and
the order of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
When this information came out several high profile businesses withdrew
their support from the Saudi investment summit known as FII including the
Virgin Group, Uber, Google and Endeavour, the parent company of UFC. However,
WWE’s deal with Saudi Arabia remained, and so became a focal point of a lot of
media attention; this included a piece by HBO’s John Oliver, who criticised WWE’s
continued support in this video:
The backlash before the event even began was immense; four U.S senators,
including Senator Chris Murphy of WWE’s home state of Connecticut urged WWE to
reconsider and said that the brutual murder of Khashoggi “should represent a fundamental break in our
relationship with Saudi Arabia”.
However, during the company’s Q3 earnings report WWE announced
that it would continue to hold the Crown Jewel event despite the huge pressure
being placed upon them by outside forces. During the 3 conference call many
questions were asked of the board regarding the event and they refused to
answer any of them, pointing instead to the statement within the report.
Why is Saudi Arabia
The killing of Jamal Khashoggi is the tip of the iceberg of
the controversies surrounding Saudi Arabia and was simply at the forefront of
the press at the time WWE were planning the Crown Jewel event.
It is stated by Human Rights Watch that Saudi Arabia is responsible
for a plethora of human rights abuses stemming back long before the current
Crown Prince through to today and are constantly ranked
among the most repressive nations in the world for rights and civil liberties.
HRW reports that in 2018 the Saudi regime detained peaceful activists for no reason and without trial for long periods, many of these dissidents have been imprisoned for criticising the government or advocating for reforms. In 2018, 148 people were executed, 59 for non-violent drug offences. Campaigns of unlawful airstrikes continue and repression of women and homosexuals and other minorities continues.
decision by the Crown Prince in 2017 to lift the ban on women driving was met
with Global applause – making headline news around the world. Despite this,
Saudi Arabia is still the most gender-segregated nation in the world and women
still face an uphill battle in the country. They have an inability to make
major decisions without permission from their male Guardian, the Saudi dress
code is also of strict Islamic interpretation and reportedly leads to
harassment from the religious police if not followed to the strictest degree.
is not just women who are subject to high levels of discrimination, under
sharia as interpreted in Saudi, consensual homosexual sex remains punishable by
death. Between 2011 and 2012 the government is said to have arrested over 260 people
for the crime of homosexuality.
In 2014 a 24-year old Saudi man was given 450 lashes for using Twitter to
arrange dates with men.
In the first few months of 2019 alone a mass execution of 37 men took place on April 23rd throughout the country. The majority of those executed were from Shia communities and were convicted following unfair and “sham” trials. These executions have received international condemnation in the weeks following.
Just two weeks before WWE head back over to Saudi the regime has received yet more international condemnation after arresting 3 scholars, These arrests and executions have been condemned by the UN, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch.
One thing must be remembered here, it is not the fault of the Saudi fans, they deserve to see their favourite stars compete. However, Saudi Arabia are not bringing the WWE to their country for the fans, they are bringing them over as part of a propaganda campaign for Vision 2030. If it was for fan experience, the floor of the stadiums at these shows would not be reserved for the royals and be half empty as a result.
WWE are not going to cancel these shows unless they are ordered to do so by the United States government following a serious international incident. If the Jamal Khashoggi assassination did not tip the scales then at this rate nothing will. Since the Saudi deal WWE’s engagement has been down across the board, whether it’s related we’ll never know but one thing is for sure – WWE fans and wrestling journalists alike are disappointed by this deal.
Whether WWE truly believes this to be the case or not we do not know, but it is rather telling that the company will not say the name of the host country in the promotional videos. WWE is well aware of the PR disaster this deal has been but there is no chance of it stopping now.
Roman Reigns has, in an interview with Newsweek.com, spoken out about why he is making the trip to Saudi Arabia next week to compete on Super Showdown:
“It gets a lot of mixed and negative reactions. The bottom line for me is, if we’re going to help promote change, if we’re going to set out to make an impact than I have to be a part of it. I’m not going to sit on the sideline and talk about how we can get there. I want to be a part of the action. I look at it as being a part of the solution while still respecting cultures, but it’s a big world and I want to experience all of it. So if we can help make a positive impact that’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to put smiles on everyone’s faces. We don’t discriminate, that’s our goal to help and promote positivity and take that to every inch of the world.”
Last month it was announced that All Elite Wrestling’s (AEW) first PPV event would be handled in the UK exclusively by ITV Box Office, not it appears that a TV deal is on the horizon.
While not officially announced yet, AEW is expected to debut on ITV 4 in October with a regular weekly live TV show. The deal will not be finalised until TNT makes the decision to air AEW on either Tuesday or Wednesday night.
The UK has been the number 2 market for WWE for many years in terms of live events and merchandise sales and the recent changes in the UK market may spell a shift in the way UK business continues.
WWE are expected to make the move, after more than 30-years on Sky, to BT Sports. A noted risky move due to the fact that BT Sport are in a third of the homes that Sky Sports are in. ITV 4 on the other hand is available in almost every home in Britain free-to-air; the downside of ITV 4 is that it is not a mainstream channel and is unlikely to garner the attention of a wide audience.
This is, however, AEW’s best chance at gaining a greater audience share in this key market than WWE, who will be available in more than 25 million less homes than AEW.
This new landscape will be interesting to watch as it develops, as BT Sport is a relatively new concept in to many peoples homes in the UK and comes at a rather large additional cost to TV viewers. As Dave Meltzer has pointed out in this weeks WON, WWE’s audience in the UK has been dropping massively in recent years and if they become a focal point of BT Sport this may well benefit them in the long run.
If AEW can prove a consistent audience on ITV 4 history has proven that ITV are willing to move shows on to their more prominent channels. It is definitely an interesting time both in the UK, USA and around the world for wrestling fans.
Ashley Massaro submitted an affidavit in 2017 in the course of a lawsuit between the two which claimed a series of serious allegations.
In the 15 page affidavit, Massaro claims that she was drugged whilst on tour with WWE in a US-Kuwait Military base in 2007. She says that she was subsequently locked in a room whilst unable to move and was subsequently raped and sodomised. She goes on to attest that several people were alerted to this happening, including Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn and other executives, Massaro says she was then asked to keep it quiet.
In the affidavit Ashley claims that:
“Vince did at least apologize for what I went through, but then stressed that if I disclosed this incident it would ruin the relationship between the WWE and the US Military. He told me not to let one bad experience ruin the good work they were doing“
WWE has responded to these allegations made by Massaro and made public just days after her death by lawyer Konstantine Kyros, who has been targeting WWE in numerous lawsuits for years, with the following statement:
“WWE is saddened by the death of Ashley Massaro, and we reiterate our condolences to her family. However, we regret that her attorney, Konstantine Kyros, who filed multiple cases against WWE, lost all of them, and was sanctioned multiple times by the Court for repeated misconduct and false allegations, is using Ashley’s death to further his malicious campaign against WWE by releasing an affidavit that she submitted to the Court and later apologized to WWE for being involved with, so we wish to make certain things crystal clear.
1) At no time was Vince McMahon or the management of WWE ever informed by Ashley Massaro or anybody else that she had been sexually assaulted, drugged, raped or sodomized by a military doctor with a nurse standing guard while on a goodwill tour in 2007 to U.S. military bases in Kuwait. In fact, if she ever articulated such a claim to WWE, we would have reported it immediately to the Base Commander.
2) At no time was there ever a meeting with Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn, John Laurinaitis or other company executives in which she told them of such a claim and was instructed to keep it quiet.”
Some very sad and shocking news today concerning former WWE womens wrestler and Divas search winner Ashley Massaro.
The Blast reported thi morning that Ashley has passed away at age 39. The circumstances of her death are unknown right now but it is said that no foul play was involved. The Suffolk County Medical Examiner added that Ashley passed away today and that the death is under investigation, but no further comment would be made.
The Blast also notes that a “rescue call” was made to Ashley Massaro’s home in Smithtown at 5:23am and she was soon taken to a local hospital where she passed away.
Massaro, was part of the second ever divas search contest. With background in modeling and a signature her tomboy rocker look, Massaro was a stand out on the show, before being declared the winner. She picked up a $250,000 prize and a one-year WWE contract. Ashley wrestled at wrestlemania 23 against Melina for the WWE Women’s championship and was involved in numerous feuds and storylines throughout her 3 years with the company.
Our condolences go out to Ashley’s family and loved ones at this time
WWE have for decades been exclusively with Sky TV for their UK broadcasting rights. However, it is being reported by The Telegraph that it will be announced very soon that WWE is making the move to BT Sports.
BT Sports has been growing as a sports broadcaster over the past few years and has been taking on a huge share of the UK viewing audience which was traditionally resting with Sky Sports.In the past few weeks BT have had football games with huge viewing audiences, such as the Tottenham 3-2 win over Ajax which peaked at 2.4 million viewers.
BT Sport have currently declined to comment on the report that WWE is making the move over to their product and WWE has also yet to confirm any such deal. There is no news yet as to when this deal will begin, rights fees or any further broadcasting details – which we will update when we have them.
Last week WWE hit historic low ratings for both Smackdown Live and Monday Night Raw, falling below 2 million viewers for the first time in the blue brands history since they went live.
The viewership for this weeks Raw was up 3.7% on last week:
Hour 1: 2.468 Million
Hour 2: 2.240 Million
Hour 3 2.024 Million
Whilst these rating are an increase on last weeks historic low there was over 400,000 people who tuned out before the third hour started despite the lure of a huge WWE title main event.
This weeks Raw saw some major attempts to increase this rating, including a “wild card” which would see 3/4 superstars from Smackdown appearing on Raw and those from the Red brand appearing on Tuesdays as well.
As well as this two Wrestlemania rematches were held, including Roman Reigns v Drew McIntyre and a WWE title match seeing Kofi v Bryan. The latter of which was without doubt a potential PPV level rematch being given away on TV.
As well as this WWE were not posting online videos to YouTube and other social media whilst the show was on the air like they usually do, as the belief internally is that this had an impact on people watching the live product.
The improvement in the rating this week is a move in the right direction, of course whether or not this increase in sustainable is yet to be seen. With Wrestlemania rematches and a WWE title main event you would not hope to see 16% of your audience tune out before this key match even started.
Vince McMahon’s XFL has announced its TV deals for its 2020 launch, however the deals do not include the fees rights deals which they may well would have hoped for.
XFL announced that ESPN and Fox Sports will share broadcast of the regular season, with games on ABC, Fox, ESPN, ESPN2, and FS1 on Saturdays and Sundays. The games will kick off on February 8th 2020, with the championship game scheduled for Sunday April 26th. You can view the full 2020 schedule HERE
The biggest news coming out of this, however, is that the deal does not include a rights fee. A rights fee is a lump sum of money paid by the broadcaster for the TV product, for example Fox paid more than $1 Billion for Smackdown live for 5 years starting October 2019.
“The networks are not paying a rights fee, but ESPN and Fox are picking up production costs, which generally amount to around $400,000 per game, sources said. As part of the deal, the nets will sell ads around the game; the XFL will handle sponsorships at the venue. ESPN and Fox will hold streaming rights to XFL games. The two nets also will cross-promote games during game broadcasts.”
Over the 43 announced games that equates to roughly $17.2 Million that the networks will be spending. However, the cost of the players, coaches and other expenses will be paid by XFL directly. Vince McMahon has been selling WWE stock to fund his new spin-off company Alpha Entertainment as a separate entity to WWE.
The XFL announcement comes just weeks after the demise of the AAF which filed for bankruptcy in April before finishing their first season of football.