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Wrestling With My Thoughts: UK Network delay, Vince returns, Wrestle Kingdom 9 PPV & more




The WWE dropped another serious clanger this week when they announced, fifteen minutes before the service was due to go live, that the WWE Network would be delayed ‘indefinitely’ in their second biggest market place the United Kingdom and Ireland. As a publically traded company I have to wonder what exactly serious investors in WWE must be thinking now, projections of the value of the new television deal in the United States were completely off the mark and they made way over the top suggestions of possible Network subscriber numbers. To this day the service, which is pushed to the point of annoyance on television, is not available coast to coast in the UK and Ireland or Canada without a VPN service.

If WWE could go back and do it all over again, I do not believe for a moment that WrestleMania and also possibly the Royal Rumble and SummerSlam would be offered via the service. They could have got comparable subscriber numbers just offering the B shows and not killed the multi-million dollar value of their biggest events of the year in the process.

Evidence, if evidence was needed, was seen this week of how rapid a fan base there is currently in the United Kingdom when independent group, Progress Wrestling (@thisIs_Progress) completely sold out a 700 seat hall within 24 hours, three months in advance of show time and with no announced match ups. I look forward to going along to one of their shows next Spring, but with their success and also that of Revolution Pro Wrestling, IPW UK and others there hasn’t been a time in recent memory when Wrestling, especially the domestic product, has been so hot. A WWE pay per view event at a Football stadium in the UK is long overdue and a sure-fire way of WWE massively improving on the live gate they may usually receive for an event such as Money in the Bank.

This week’s Raw saw the return of Vince McMahon who added the stipulation to the main event of Survivor Series that if Team Authority loses then they would be out of power. While the heel authority figure is the most overplayed position in the business at present, the performances of Triple H and Stephanie in the last year or so have been so strong that some of their work would be missed on the long drawn out 3 hour shows if they no longer appeared.

The angle with Vince made me wonder as to whether they were now eventually going to go with what was reported last year to be a top storyline at WrestleMania 30 with Triple H going against someone picked by McMahon in a match for control of the company. The original pick was to be Steve Austin, though how realistic that ever was is questionable. The Rock and Triple H was teased at the recent Smackdown anniversary special but ultimately the whole angle was nixed back in 2013 as Vince did not want to appear regularly on TV anymore and if he still feels that way I can’t see them moving forward with it to set up something for WrestleMania 31.

Speaking of WrestleMania 31, tickets go on sale on November 15th and it will be interesting to see how first day sales plus any pre sales they run perform. While the show is being advertised in the ‘San Francisco Bay area’ it is a solid hour outside of downtown San Francisco and may prove a little awkward for people travelling from further afield and the product itself is at something of a low point at present.

Finally, I’m pleased to hear that NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 9 show will be broadcast on pay per view in the United States in conjunction with Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling. The broadcast will include American commentary, with the team yet to be announced. If New Japan have the money to do so then they absolutely must pull out all of the stops to get Jim Ross involved in the broadcast. That will automatically bring a good level of interest to the product, and I’m sure Ross would push the event hard via his excellent podcast plus his blog and twitter account. The standard of wrestling is so high that all it needs is eyeballs to build a cult following beyond what it already has outside of Japan and Ross is exactly the man to get that superb product over to a new audience.

Near 30 year fan of Professional wrestling, I grew up watching World of Sport in the UK before getting into the WWF in 1990. Favourite performers of all time are Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage & Steve Austin. Highlights as a fan were being there live for Rock vs Austin at WrestleMania X-Seven, Hogan vs Rock at WrestleMania X8 & CM Punk vs the Rock at Royal Rumble '13.

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