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WON Preview (February 25, 2019): Elimination Chamber review, more

February 25, 2019 Observer Newsletter: Elimination Chamber review

The show didn’t sell out, even in one of WWE’s best markets. The show had more good than bad, with the highlight being the main event, the men’s Chamber match where Daniel Bryan retained and the crowd got so strong behind Kofi Kingston in the Mustafa Ali slot that Vince McMahon changed plans for Fast Lane to put Bryan vs. Kingston on top.

A couple of more WWE business related notes. In 2018, the NXT brand ran 183 events drawing an average of 803 fans paying $35,224. Due to higher ticket prices, the average was up from 2017, where the company did 188 shows, and averaged 810 fans paying $31,809. In 2018 total attendance was 147,000 paying $6,445,950. In 2017, total attendance was 153,200 paying $6,016,164.

The show was the brainchild of Motoko Baba, to run a big Baba celebration show in 2019, 20 years after his early 1999 death. With her passing away last year, it was her nieces and nephews who put the show together. Before the show, there was a lot of talk of disorganization and complaints about high ticket prices. The best seats, called the Abdullah the Butcher segment, went for $1,800. The rest of ringside was $630. The sumo boxes went for $450.

Jonathan Fatu (Jimmy Uso), 33, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice on the night of 2/13.

To show just how out of touch WCW management was at one time, Dave Penzer on his podcast with Buff Bagwell talked about Eric Bischoff’s idea where they would tell the audience and all the talent that Bagwell had died in a plane crash in 1998 and then they’d shock everyone when he did a surprise run-in some time later. Work the boys? Obviously talent would figure out in an instant that there was no plane crash.

All but one count of Mark Hunt’s lawsuit against the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar on the grounds they conspired against him to allow a juiced up Lesnar to fight him at UFC 200 was thrown out of court. Hunt charged the organization, White and Lesnar with racketeering, fraud, battery and civil conspiracy. Almost every claim was dismissed on 2/14 by U.S. District Court judge Jennifer Dorsey. The only claim left, and it’s a weak one, is against UFC for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

The 2020 Royal Rumble will take place on 1/26 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Most likely that would also mean Takeover on 1/25 at the Toyota Center, Raw on 1/27 and Smackdown on 1/28. Minute Maid Park would be able to hold a legit 35,000 (meaning an announcement of 45,000), and in Houston, a better wrestling market than Phoenix, with the traveling fans, it should sell out.

Right now, Lacey Evans is scheduled for a super push. Evidently her disappearance from television in recent weeks is the plan to start her off in a major way. At one point the plan was for Asuka vs. Evans for the Smackdown women’s title at WrestleMania.

They had an MMA vs. pro wrestling (well sort of) episode of Family Feud taped on 2/15. Representing MMA were Ryan Bader and Ilima-lei Macfarlane, champions from Bellator, UFC champ Tyron Woodley and retired legends Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture. Their opponents were Team Bella of Nicole, Brianna (Nikki & Brie), Kathy Colace (their mother), their brother and a fifth woman. So no John Laurinaitis or Bryan Danielson. I know I’d want that genius IQ on my team.

A story that ended up getting worldwide attention and genuine mainstream talk to the point Corey Graves was one of the most searched terms on 2/16, Amy Polinsky, the wife of Graves, 33, real name Matt Polinsky, got into a very public marital dispute and claimed her husband was having an affair with Carmella, real name Leah Van Dale, 31.

Impact announced that Eddie Edwards had signed a new multi-year contract at its television tapings in Las Vegas.

Trevor Lee, who had already started with WWE in Orlando, was allowed to return home and do one final match for his long-time home promotion, CWF Mid Atlantic on 2/16 in Gibsonville, NC, where he held the championship. He faced protégé Cain Justice. 

FOX this weekend started advertising 10/4 as the debut of the new Friday Night Smackdown show.

The funeral for Pedro Morales took place over the weekend in New Jersey. Bob Backlund reportedly attended but even though it was in the Northeast, where he was a major star and the top star for three years, it was said that almost nobody from pro wrestling was there. Morales was very well liked.

Joe Rogan said that he has been told that a Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone fight was pretty much a done deal. McGregor has been back training. McGregor’s management has said that no deal has been finalized. That is the fight that UFC seemed to be wanting to happen next for both men.

“Fighting with My Family,” the Dwayne Johnson Seven Bucks Entertainment movie about Growing Up as Paige, which has its big national release on 2/22, has gotten great word-of-mouth so far. The movie is said to be both funny and entertaining and has 93 percent positive reviews from critics based on the Rotten Tomatoes web site. That’s an excellent score to begin with, beating everything currently playing except the latest Spiderman movie, although How to Change Your Dragon and The Changeover, both opening this coming weekend, also have gotten consensus excellent reviews.

Chris Jericho noted that while he and Gedo are on the same page, that New Japan management hasn’t talked with him about a new deal.

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