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Daily Update: Butch Reed, Powerhouse Hobbs, El Santo


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WON NEWSLETTER: February 8, 2021 Observer Newsletter: WWE breaks revenue records, AEW/NJPW deal

Our lead story in this week's Observer covers WWE finances.  We look at the direct numbers of WWE, revenue, profits, value of the company on Wall Street,  what was up and why, what was down and why, exactly how much WWE took in on TV rights, network and merchandise.  We look at what the company's top priorities are for 2021, why the stock price is down, plus Vince McMahon, WWE President Nick Khan, CBO Stephanie McMahon and CFO Kristina Salen comment on the company.

They talk the Peacock deal, the Indian and Latin American markets, new television products, how much COVID cost the company in revenue and costs of the Thunderdome set-up as compared to the old way of doing things.  

The issue also covers:

Ratings, as well as what USA would be doing without WWE, and WWE's declines as compared to cable and network TV as a whole, how much money WWE has taken in and profited, or lost, every year since 1994.

Update the New Japan/AEW relationship, the different steps over the past few years from New Japan blowing off AEW to them doing business with the KENTA vs. Jon Moxley program, why it happened and where things stand now.

Royal Rumble, including how everyone did, stories behind the matches, age of men's talent in WWE vs AEW and the message loud and clear, two of the main events scheduled for WrestleMania, match-by-match coverage with star ratings and poll results.

New Japan deal with Roku and what this means both short and long-term, as well as other people who had interest.  We look at the keys to the deal decision going the way it did.

Viewing experience for fans from Peacock, John Cena WrestleMania notes, NXT Takeover card, update on the Dusty Classic shows, two top WWE stars talk their recent positive tests for COVID, details behind the firings of Lars Sullivan and Steve Cutler, update on Vince McMahon/Oliver Luck lawsuit, Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley talk Undertaker remarks, International TV ratings, how wrestling does in comparison to other sports in the ratings, Bill Goldberg talks MMA, background of Reginald, Cesar update, new WWE signing and most watched shows of the past week on the WWE Network.

NJPW New Beginning in Nagoya, with match-by-match coverage, poll results, and where things are going next.

Giant Baba Memorial show.

Television ratings of the past week, including segment-by-segment numbers for the past two weeks on Wednesday, who was watching in different age groups, how different segments did on Raw & Smackdown and more.

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A few notes on the death of Butch Reed earlier today. Reed was a rare combination of power and agility in his prime years like few in wrestling. His peak was 1982 to 1985 when he was one of the best guys in the business, both as a face and a heel. I don't have a lot of personal notes on him, but I was at a party in Japan in 1993 or 1994 when somehow Reed challenged Scott Norton to an arm wrestling match. If you don't know about Scott Norton and arm wrestling, that's like trying to pick a fight with Francis Ngannou. But Reed did challenge him even if we all knew how it was going to end up.  He was very vociferous about it. Jim Hard I think was on the trip and kept telling me how excited he was about the idea of the match with Bam Bam Bigelow & Big Van Vader vs. Doom (Reed & Ron Simmons).  

The April 7, 1982, match with Ric Flair vs. Butch Reed for the NWA title at the Miami Beach Convention Center (there were no cameras) that Flair won in 42 minutes was the best match I had ever seen live, and for that matter ever seen period, up to that point in time. Maybe the best live match I saw until Flair-Steamboat in Chicago in 1989.

So this is the Will Hobbs/Butch Reed story. Reed's family reached out to Hobbs this week and said that Bruce loved Will Hobbs. He'd watch him and say "There's the new Hacksaw."  He and his family identified him as Hacksaw, never The Natural. They told him Bruce wanted to reach out to him and tell him how much he liked watching him but he was too sick to do so. The other part of the story is that Tony Khan was a huge fan of Reed and not knowing any of this would talk to Hobbs about Butch Reed and tell him about his favorite segments on Mid South before either of them knew Reed was a fan of Hobbs.

Today is the 37th anniversary of the death of El Santo, who is likely the most beloved pro wrestler who ever lived.  

33 years ago today was the night that 33 million fans on NBC watched the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant rematch from Indianapolis. It is likely the single most-watched wrestling match ever in the U.S. because even though ratings in the 1950s were higher, less people had television sets then.

Smackdown tonight has Big E vs. Sami Zayn vs. Apollo Crews for the IC title, Dominik Mysterio vs King Corbin, plus interviews with Edge and Bianca Belair.  Jake Atlas vs. August Gray will be on 205 Live.

WWE stock took a tumble today after yesterday's earnings call. The stock fell from $56.00 a share yesterday to $49.23. The decline was due to both revenues and profits being lower than expected, and analysts finding out that the cost of taping television now is much higher than before due to the Thunderdome setting, and them not realizing it and thus it means profit expectations for next year are lower than they believed.  Some also didn't see it as a good idea to give up the WWE Network in the manner they did.  Still, given the guaranteed profits over the next four years with the current deals in place, the stock is underpriced now, not overpriced.  A lot of analysts following the stock are saying the same thing.

Devon Hughes (D-Von Dudley) on his podcast talked about how he is recovering from a stroke.

Tomorrow's UFC from the Apex Arena in Las Vegas is an ESPN+ exclusive starting at 5 p.m. Eastern:

  • Ode Osbourne (143.5) vs. Jerome Rivera (145)
  • Martin Day (146) vs. Timur Valiev (145.5)
  • Seung Woo Choi (145.5) vs.; Youseff Zalal (146)
  • Molly McCann (126) vs. Lara Procopio (125.5)
  • Karol Rosa (135) vs. Joselyn Edwards (135)
  • Devonte Smith (159.5) vs. Justin Jayens (159) - this was contracted at 160
  • Mike Rodriguez (205) vs. Danilo Marques (205)
  • Diego Ferreria (155) vs. Beneil Dariush (156)
  • Cody Stamann (144.5) vs Askar Askar (145)
  • Alexandre Pantoja (125.5) vs. Manel Kape (125.5)
  • Michael Johnson (154.5) vs. Clay Guida (155)
  • Cory Sandhagen (135.5) vs. Frankie Edgar (135.5)
  • Alistair Overeem(255.5) vs. Alexander Volkov (264)

Paige VanZant vs. Britain Hart headline tonight's Bare Knuckle boxing PPV show on FITE V at 9 p.m. Eastern. Johnny Bedford vs. Dat Nguyen and Chris Leben vs. Quentin Henry are also on the show.


  • Drew McIntyre and The Miz will be part of The Shaq Bowl on Sunday from 3-6 p.m. Eastern time.  They will be on opposite teams in a series of competitions including an obstacle course, hot wings eating contest, tug of war, dance contest, a sit up contest and a dodgeball game.  
  • The St. Louis FOX station has a story on Carmella's second Reginald. (thanks to Mike Kuzmuk)


  • Seasons one, two, and 22 of the Ultimate Fighter are now up on ESPN+  


Daily Pro Wrestling History: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant on The Main Event