This Week in ‘E – Bienvenido a Miami, WWE Financials, NXT News, Wrestlemania Updates

WrestleMania’s coming to Miami, another goes home from NXT and some boring financial numbers are the highlights of a jam packed edition of the E.

Opening Witty Banter
Why yes, I had a pretty fantastic week and weekend. Thanks for asking. There is a lot of news to get to this week so let’s cut the chitchat and get on with it.

Let’s take some ‘E…

The News of the Week
According to The Miami Herald, WWE WrestleMania XXVIII will be held in Miami, Florida. The event will be held on April 1, 2012, at the Sun Life Stadium. The announcement was officially made on February 9,at a press conference in south Florida featuring various WWE personalities, various Florida politicians and dignitaries and musician Gloria Estefan.

The Sun Life Stadium is the current home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and has hosted five Super Bowls previously. The stadium can seat over 75,000 spectators.

Miami has been bidding to get WrestleMania over the past year, finally beating out top contenders Los Angeles, Toronto and New Orleans to earn the right to host the event. In addition to the WrestleMania pay per view event, the area will be host to an entire WrestleMania week, which will no doubt feature a Fan Axxess convention, a Hall of Fame ceremony, Monday Night RAW and SmackDown tapings and various other events throughout the week.

This will be the third WrestleMania event held outdoors, most recently following WrestleMania XXIV, which was held in Orlando, Florida in the Citrus Bowl.

WrestleMania has evolved into something so much more than just a pro wrestling event. The brand “WrestleMania” has become something unto itself, and is a term that even pro wrestling fans are well aware of. And since WrestleMania 23 in 2007, which was held at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, the event has become truly a destination event that has been held in the country’s major stadiums and bid on the major metropolitan areas of the United States.

As an example, WrestleMania XXVI, which was held at the University of Phoenix Stadium, set an indoor attendance record of 72,219 spectators and drew $5.8 million in revenue. That event also generated $45.1 million in economic impact, nearly $5 million in tax dollars and created over 500 jobs for the greater Glendale/Phoenix area, according to a study conducted by the Enigma Research Corporation.

That’s pretty cool. Who wouldn’t want to spend a week in Miami in April?

Byron Saxton was the third Rookie eliminated from WWE NXT, season 4 this past week. Saxton’s elimination came at the end of the episode. He was in tears when he initially tried to give his farewell speech. He naturally promises to be back after rectifying past mistakes and turns on the fans, revealing it to be crocodile tears. His current Pro Dolph Ziggler berated him as he tried to leave and his former Pro Chris Masters encouraged him to punch Ziggler. Instead Saxton walked off and pointed at Ziggler as the show ended.

The show opened with a Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em joust challenge for the Rookies. Saxton won the challenge, beating Bateman in the finals and earning two immunity points.
Derrick Bateman beat Byron Saxton when he made him submit to a modified LeBell Lock.
In the second Rookie challenge, Brodus Clay and Johnny Curtis tied in a Price is Right-like bidding challenge. Both men earned three immunity points, which put them in a tie for the lead for immunity from elimination. Former NXT season three Rookie Divas AJ Lee and Naomi Knight were brought back to act as models for the products used during the challenge.
In the main event, Brodus Clay pinned Johnny Curtis after a Bulldog Slam. After the match the two Rookies had 30 seconds each to prove to the audience why he should win immunity. Curtis sucked up to the Packers and the Green Bay crowd, which naturally earned him the crowd’s favor and immunity.

Saxton has already proven he’s valuable on the microphone. He’ll be back soon enough.

Here’s some boring financial numbers WWE sent out this past week highlighting the fourth quarter. Here are some excerpts from the full release they sent out…

STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–WWE (NYSE:WWE) today announced financial results for its fourth quarter ended December 31, 2010. Revenues totaled $122.5 million as compared to $117.3 million in the prior year quarter. Operating income was $14.4 million as compared to $17.8 million in the prior year quarter. Net income was $8.1 million, or $0.11 per share, as compared to $11.2 million, or $0.15 per share, in the prior year quarter.

“In 2010, WWE achieved record operating performance, generating the highest level of reported EBITDA in the Company’s history despite a challenging environment, particularly over the latter part of the year. Difficult trends continued in the fourth quarter and were exacerbated by the performance of Home Video. In 2010, WWE achieved record operating performance, generating the highest level of reported EBITDA in the Company’s history despite a challenging environment, particularly over the latter part of the year. Difficult trends continued in the fourth quarter and were exacerbated by the performance of Home Video,” stated Vince McMahon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “For the quarter and the full year, our businesses exhibited three major areas of strength: increased value from our television content, significant growth from our new toy licensing partnership with Mattel, and continued financial discipline. These strengths served to mitigate the impact of a weak economy, changes in our talent base, and unfavorable industry trends in home video. We remain confident that we can address our talent related challenges, expand both our content and distribution and, leveraging our strengths, drive meaningful growth.”

Impacting comparability to the prior year quarter are production tax credits and charges associated with the write-down of a receivable due from a former business partner in the prior year quarter. Excluding the impact of these items, Q4 2010 Adjusted Operating income decreased 22% to $14.4 million and Adjusted EBITDA decreased 20% to $17.6 million. The Q4 2009 results included a $6.4 million charge associated with the write-down of a receivable due from a prior business partner. In addition, the Q4 2009 results included approximately $5.8 million of tax credits received related to our television and digital media production activities, which were recorded as a reduction of the direct expense in these areas and in our selling, general and administrative costs. (See Schedules of Adjustments in Supplemental Information). Please note that our revised film strategy utilizing a self-distribution model impacts the comparability of results but is not adjusted for in the aforementioned schedules.

Revenues from North America increased by 8%, led by growth in our Television, Licensing and WWE Studios businesses. Revenues outside North America decreased 3%, due to declines in our Live Events and Pay-Per-View businesses. There was no significant impact from changes in foreign exchange rates in the current quarter.

Revenues from our Live and Televised Entertainment businesses were $82.4 million for the current quarter as compared to $83.8 million in the prior year quarter, representing a 2% decrease.

* Live Event revenues were $26.6 million as compared to $29.2 million in the prior year quarter. Revenues decreased 9% primarily due to a decline in average attendance, both domestically and internationally, which was partially offset by an overall increase in the average ticket price.

* There were 84 events, including 26 international events, during the current quarter as compared to 83 events, including 26 international events, in the prior year quarter.

* North American events generated $13.1 million of revenues from 58 events as compared to $13.7 million from 57 events in the prior year quarter. North American average attendance decreased 15% to approximately 5,600 from 6,600 in the prior year quarter. The average ticket price for North American events was $39.31 in the current quarter as compared to $35.48 in the prior year quarter.

* International events generated approximately $13.4 million of revenues as compared to $15.5 million in the prior year, based on the performance of 26 events in each quarter. International average attendance decreased 12% to 7,500 from 8,500 in the prior year quarter. Average ticket prices were $66.06 as compared to $69.78 in the prior year quarter, a 5% decrease, in part due to changes in foreign exchange rates.

* Pay-Per-View revenues were $13.8 million as compared to $16.3 million in the prior year quarter, reflecting a 23% decline in total pay-per-view buys. Beginning in January 2010, the suggested domestic retail price of non-WrestleMania pay-per-view events increased $5.00 to $44.95.

There, now you know.

Sting has been removed from the TNA Wrestling bios page.

Let the rumors continue to swirl! As a fan I hope all the rumors are true and Sting actually does show up in WWE. I’m officially one of those on board for Sting-Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVII.

But meanwhile, it appears as if the Sting rumors are cooling down and are being replaced by something else. According to Mike Johnson at PWInsider:

“Over the last several days, there has been movement towards The Undertaker vs. Triple H being one of the headline matches at WrestleMania 27 with the theme being Streak vs. Career. The idea being pitched would see Shawn Michaels, who’s career the Undertaker ended last year, being in the role of the guest referee.

WrestleMania 27 would also be the ten year anniversary of Undertaker defeating Triple H at Mania X-Seven in Houston, Texas, plus they have the storyline of HHH trying to avenge the end of Michaels’ career.

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk that Undertaker’s shoulder would not be up to the level of a major WrestleMania performance. I am told that he’s pretty much assured the company that he will be good to go come WrestleMania and they are taking him at his word.

The change in direction, should it go through, also somewhat explains the baffling way Sheamus was used this past Monday. So, stay tuned.

There was also talk in the last few days that Bob Barker would have a pretty big role at WrestleMania since the company absolutely loved him the last time he worked with them.”

Okay I’m actually on board with this idea if Sting and The Undertaker can’t happen. WrestleMania is in some serious need of superstar action as Edge-Del Rio, Cena-Miz and Orton-Punk aren’t really WrestleMania hot tickets. Although I think a Cena-Miz-Punk-Orton four way would work a lot better than the two singles matches.

As for Bob Barker, HELL YEAH! He was one of the few bright spots in the abysmal guest host era.

In keeping with knocking second and third generation kids down a peg or two, Eddie and Vickie Guerrero’s daughter, Shaul, was been changed to Raquel Diaz down in FCW. Vickie herself Tweeted abou watching Shaul’s first match.

She wrote, “Last night while watching my daughter wrestle..I saw Eddie”s walk and his eyes shine thru my daughter…I’m blessed.”

If she’s got a fraction of the talent of her old man, she could something special.

Please click this link to watch an awesome non-kayfabe interview with Alberto Del Rio. It really shines some light on his background as a wrestler and his past in MMA.

Originally I couldn’t get into Del Rio as all I saw him as was the masked dude who got kicked in the face by Mirko Cro Cop, and I was wildly annoyed by his opening vignettes. But he has grown on me immensely and I fully expect him to walk out of WrestleMania as World Champion.

Vince McMahon’s current favorite Diva is Kelly Kelly and considers her the most marketable Diva. Hence why she is put in the big angle with Edge, Vickie and Dolph. Apparently he wants to turn Kelly heel but wants to rebuild her as a major babyface before it happens.

I love Kelly’s radiant smile more than most but I just don’t see it. But chances are he’ll get bored with her and move on to someone else down the line. Remember, no Diva is bigger than the company, right Mickie and Sable and Chyna and Wendi?

Not surprisingly it was CM Punk who reminded WWE Creative about Unforgiven ‘08 and his aborted title run thanks to Randy Orton.

Well naturally it had to be someone like Punk who brought this up because I don’t trust WWE Creative to remember that far back, considering the turnover rate of Creative most probably weren’t even working for the company back then. It’s always good when someone like Punk or Jericho is allowed to book their own stuff.

Here’s a rumor that hasn’t got a lot of attention. According to a source within the WWE, the company is discussing making a fifth season of NXT and it would follow a father/son theme. The four biggest combinations at this time include Ricky Steamboat & Richie Steamboat, Ted DiBiase & Brett DiBiase, Mike Rotundo & Bo Rotundo, and Gerald Brisco & Wes Brisco. Donny Marlow is also lying around as long as they get Haku to come back. Plus there’s Buck Dixon, son of Mark Cantebury (Henry Godwinn).

While I don’t see this happening, I think it would be a pretty cool concept, and inject some new life into the NXT franchise. But I’m sure NXT is dead after this season what with Tough Enough returning. But anything that puts Haku on my television screen is a win in my book.

Speaking of Tough Enough and upcoming WWE programming, on Monday April 4, The USA Network will air a version of the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony at 8PM, right before RAW. There will be no airing on Saturday like they have in previous years. Also on April 4th, Tough Enough will debut immediately after RAW. The USA Network will air replays of Tough Enough at 1AM Sunday mornings, right before AM Raw starting April 10. Then starting on April 11, USA will air a replay of the previous week’s Tough Enough at 8PM, right before RAW. Thus with the replay, RAW and the new episode it will be four hour WWE block on Monday nights.

It looks as if USA is really getting behind this Tough Enough franchise and WWE in general. I think the replays are a great idea as well as it makes it easy to get caught on the show.

And finally to wrap up the Tough Enough news, WWE made it official that Booker T will be a trainer on the show. Here’s the press release.

WWE® LEGEND BOOKER T JOINS “WWE® TOUGH ENOUGH” AS TRAINER

WWE® Legend and former World Heavyweight Champion Booker T joins USA Network’s upcoming non-scripted series WWE TOUGH ENOUGH as a trainer. Booker T will train and counsel the contestants competing to become the next WWE Superstar or Diva. The appointment of Booker T follows the recent casting announcement of WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as series host.

The non-scripted series will premiere Monday, April 4 at 11/10c, immediately following USA’s ratings juggernaut WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW®, and move to its regularly scheduled slot in primetime, Mondays at 8/7c, starting on April 11.

Booker T has entertained audiences across the globe and squared off against the biggest luminaries in the WWE Universe including WWE Superstars John Cena, Rey Mysterio and Big Show.

Recognized as one of the most athletic and charismatic figures in WWE history, Booker T will share his extensive knowledge and ring experience with aspiring contestants vying for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Joining a team of celebrity trainers to be announced shortly, Booker T will mentor the diverse group of men and women who will live, train, eat and sleep under one roof in a house in Simi Valley, California. Each week the contestants will battle it out in a series of unique challenges designed to test for such characteristics as showmanship, creativity, athleticism and desire, just to name a few. Viewers will witness the trials and tribulations of what it takes to be one of the best in the world’s greatest sports entertainment organization. The grand prizewinner will be awarded a contract with WWE.

That’s a great use for Booker.

The Road to…Elimination Chamber
Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Edge (c) v. Dolph Ziggler v. Kane v. Drew McIntyre v. Wade Barrett v. Rey Mysterio

Elimination Chamber Match
John Cena v. R-Truth v. John Morrison v. Sheamus v. CM Punk v. Randy Orton

WWE Championship
Jerry “The King” Lawler v. The Miz

The WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2011
Shawn Michaels

Wrestler of the Week
Week of February 7 – 13: Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler is certainly growing into his role as a top player on SmackDown. But first he was on NXT, where his Rookie Byron Saxton was eliminated. While it was technically a loss for Ziggler he was all over the show and looked like a star. Then on SmackDown he got a chance once again to challenge Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship. While he didn’t win the match and was actually pinned by Edge, the match ended in controversy due to Edge using his illegal spear and Green Pay Backer Chris Matthews of all people counting the pinfall. With the match ending in controversy surely Ziggler will remain in the Title hunt for the time being. Not bad for someone who two years ago was a one-note gimmick of shaking hands and introducing himself.

RAW’s On Tonight!
It’s only one week from the Elimination Chamber, which means it’s time to ramp up the hype machine into full force. Only three matches have been announced for the card so far but surely that will get filled up by the end of the show. Surely there will be plenty of interaction between the RAW Chamber participants and The Nexus to fill time in between Great Khali and Usos dance segments. Plus Eve Torres will defend the Divas Championship against the former Champion Natalya Neidhart. Are they just killing time until Awesome Kong shows up or what? But the big news is that WrestleMania’s guest host will be revealed tonight. It is apparently so big that Vince McMahon showed up last week just to announce the announcement, so it better not disappoint. And will they show another creepy 2.21 segment to further the Sting-Undertaker debate?

On Last Week’s Episode…
http://wrestling.insidepulse.com/2011/02/13/pulse-wrestling-report-wwe-smackdown-02-11-2011-edge-dolph-ziggler-rey-mysterio/

http://wrestling.insidepulse.com/2011/02/13/10-thoughts-on-wwe-superstars-02-10-2011-jack-swagger-curt-hawkins-natalya/

http://wrestling.insidepulse.com/2011/02/08/pulse-wrestling-wwe-nxt-report-02-08-2011-byron-saxton-derrick-bateman-brodus-clay-johnny-curtis/

RAW results, thoughts and judicial review.

How They Rated
Superstars (2.3.10) – .73

SmackDown! (2.4.10) – 1.97

A.M. RAW (2.6.11) – .56

RAW (2.7.11) – 3.3

This is Boring, What Else is There to Read?
SK is back with some rants. Check out Unforgiven ‘08 in the wake of the new Orton-Cena feud and Survivor Series ’10.

Logan continues to pump out the awesome RAW recaps from 1996.

Ditch talks to Chris Hero.

Mark has been a columnist for Pulse Wrestling for over three years now, evolving from his original “Historically Speaking” commentary-style column into his current Monday morning powerhouse known as “This Week in ‘E.” He also contributes to other ventures, outside of IP, most notably as the National Pro Wrestling Examiner for Examiner.com and a contributor for The Wrestling Press. Follow me on Twitter here.

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