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AHHHH, the End of the World is Nigh!!!
And Other Insignificant NewsBites...
February 26, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I don't want to frighten you, but I have it on good authority that the World is going to end on April 27, 2003.  Now, I've always mocked those Doomsday Cults and the sheep who join them, but now that I'm in a unique position to preach the precise date for the End of the World, I find myself thinking that a dozen or two thousand devoted followers such as yourselves wouldn't be such a bad thing...

I believe the custom involves you giving me all your money and earthy possessions.  You should also re-locate to Dayton, OH, sleep in my yard, and do all my cooking, cleaning, and other chores.  The women out there will have the option of requesting one last night of earthly bliss with their fearless leader, The Rick.  And by "have the option of requesting," I mean "mandated by the gods to endure."  Sorry, ladies, that's how cults work.  Mine, at least.

What in the blue frick and I talking about?  Read on:

  • "The World," the restaurant/nightclub formerly known as "WWF New York," is now in the process of shutting down for good.  Sorry to get you all worked up, there...
    Actually, the restaurant/bar areas are closed effectively immediately.  The merchandise shoppe will continue to operate at the site until April 27.  At that point, WWE is confident that they will be able to find someone who will sublease the venue from them, as WWE holds the lease on the facility until 2017.  
    A press release was circulated by WWE yesterday spins the shut-down as an attempt to grow the global business, rather than focusing on a single, local site-specific project.  I hesitate to point out that, whether it's a bar in NYC or a live event in Outer Mongolia, just about anything boils down to being a "single, site-specific project."  But hey, anything to avoid mentioning outright that The World has lost over $18 million since opening in 2000, with much of that coming in the current fiscal year (which has seen the site's already tenuous revenue stream contract by one-third), right?
    On the upside, the glow-in-the-dark "WWF New York" shirt I got from there will now become a very valuable collectible.  Right?  RIGHT?  They made HOW MANY of them?  Ahhh, shit...
  • The shut-down of The World coincided with WWE's release of third quarter (FY2003) financial information to investors.
    The short of it:  the Fed lost $26.7 million for the three-month period ended January 24, 2003.  This is as opposed to the $8.5 million in revenue they made during the same quarter last year.  A large chunk of that turn around is due to a charge of $32.9 million that the Fed took this quarter, all losses related to The World and shutting it down. [Another charge of $8-14 million is anticipated due to The World when fourth quarter financials are released in May.]
    The Fed also notes a $1.5 million charge related to an "offer to settle a legal dispute" (I'm not sure what dispute that could be, but obviously, it's something still pending) and a $1 million charge for early termination of an office lease.  If you eliminated these one-time charges, WWE notes they would have had an operating income of $8.8 million this quarter.
    Total revenues were $95.6 million this quarter ($100.2 last year), with break downs like this:  live event revenue was $16.2 million (up from $15.3 million, thanks to a 20% rise in average ticket price off-setting a 16% decrease in total attendance)...  PPV revenue was $21.1 million (down from $23.8 million, as total buys dropped by 19%, more than off-setting the Fed's 17% price increase to $34.95 per event)...  TV/movie rights fees were $16.2 million (up from $13.0 million , thanks in large part to 2 highly-rated specials on TNN/UPN and fees related to "Helldorado")...  TV ad revenues dropped precipitously to $17.5 million (from $21.3 million)...  licensed products (like WWE's book publishing and video game development contracts) made $8.4 million (up from $7.5 million)...  merchandise revenues from the ShopZone and catalog businesses were $5.0 million (down from $7.0 million)...  publishing revenue (magazines, etc.) was $4.2 million (unchanged)...  home video revenue was $2.7 million (from $2.6 million).... revenue from The World was $2.8 (down from $3.9).
    If you actually own WWE stock, or are just a nosy SOB, you can get the full financial report right here.
  • The final element of any WWE financial disclosure is always Linda McMahon's conference call with investors... which usually devolves into some silly fan-boy questions before all is said and done and thus, has more bearing on stuff we want to read about here.
    To wit:  she confirmed the already-widely-held suspicion that the Fed had no plans to go through with last year's initial scheme to promote between 20-24 PPVs per year (with each brand having it's own monthly PPVs, with occassional monthly cross-overs).  Now, they will be dividing eight existing PPVs even betwixt the brands, with the four remaining (WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and Royal Rumble) being unique, cross-brand events; only complaint here: King of the Ring becomes a brand-specific PPV, which kind of takes away from its luster.  [Maybe one brand can have KotR, and the other should revive the IC Title? But now I'm digressing...]
    Also: Linda stated the first "WWE Films" project is an animated one, and it will be ready in 2004 (it will feature WWE characters, but will not be wrestling-themed)...  she said that WWE was in negotiations to acquire video libraries from two dormant wrestling organizations, which should put the kibosh on rumors that they'd already done a deal for ECW's library (I don't know what the other one would be, though;  gotta be Memphis, Dallas, or AWA, right?  I'd want Lawler's Memphis tapes, if only for the Andy Kaufman stuff)...  she noted that even if it is only for brief stretches between movie roles, the Rock will be a performer on WWE shows for a long time to come... the promotion with Girls Gone Wild is just a one-time thing for now, but the door is open for more stuff if this goes well...  Linda said that the third-quarter Nielsen averages for both RAW and SD! were 3.4, but incorrectly implied that that meant that RAW had closed the viewership gap with SD!; RAW's cable rating actually results in about 20% fewer viewers than SD!'s broadcast rating....  she said that despite rumors, Paul Heyman is still a valuable contributor to the creative team, and has just had his title adjusted; he'll also continue to be a huge on-screen talent.
    Thanks to OO Reader DevD who listened in and passed along some highlights of the conference call.
  • OK, now back to some of the more usual Wednesday business...  like talking about RAW.
    To me, there was no doubt that Booker T was the MVP of the show... now, when I dropped in on the OO Post-RAW Chat, I got some heat for thinking that.  Apparently, The Rock impressed some folks.  Hey, that's cool.  The Rick likes spirited debate!  Unfortunately, there was little debate before the chat degenerated into nothing but porn and people trying to carry on five parallel lines of smack talk all at the same time.  So I still haven't heard the definitive "Why The Rock Was the Most Valuable Part of RAW" argument, yet...
    I'm guessing his killer promo work has to be the major factor.  In the 20 minute opening bit, Rock was able to massage the crowd perfectly: he knows there will be a knee-jerk reaction to cheer him.  His new preposterously pompous evil remix of his entrance theme will help cut that down.  But it's the sort of self-aware "I know you want to sing along, but you don't deserve it" type of stuff that'll, hopefully, keep him on the heel side long enough to do this thing against Austin.   The backstage thing with the Hurricane, on the other hand?  Flat out tremendous entertainment... and the Rock's gonna have to be careful about making us laugh like that.  He might risk reminding us of the pre-summer-of-2002 Rock that was not incredibly obnoxious whenever he tried to be clever.
    But whatever The Rock got done in terms of promo work, Booker T trumped him ten times over in terms of ring work and actual storyline advancement.  Rock: bad mouths Austin, promises to get WM19 title shot, has a one-off skit with Hurricane, loses battle royal and does not get WM19 title shot.  Booker, on the other hand, took care of business:  he GOT the WM19 title shot by winning a battle royal and last eliminating The Rock.  And before that, he single-handedly won a tag match over Batista and Randy Orton while Scott Steiner lingering on the apron (fearful of tagging in and getting booed for his "American tights").  Booker did not just look like a million bucks on RAW, he put himself into a new and exciting spot on the roster: WrestleMania main-eventer.  I think the crowds are ready for this; and just as important: watching Booker in the ring the last few weeks, I think HE'S ready for it.
    The only question left for me is whether or not Chris Jericho also gets to move ahead of the Rock in RAW MVP voting, too...  yeah, he won a match (unlike the Rock), but mostly what stood out with Jericho was his supreme Lord of the Dickheads move of locking the enticingly-pliable Stacy Keibler into the Walls of Jericho for about half an hour.  Jerk.  Once out of Canada, I think Jericho/Michaels will have a ton of heat heading into WM19, and so far, it ain't because of HBK.
    Other quick thoughts:  good to see Trish back; she sold the viciousness of Jazz by going missing, but you need to have her pure-babyface-ishness in there to make the women's division play to anything besides confused silence...  unless it's the motivation to turn him heel so he can be Booker's first post-WM title challenger, Goldust's twitching does not strike me as a particularly good or useful gimmick...  if there's supposed to be something between RVD and Kane, let's get on with it already; slow burns are good, but completely ignoring an issue for 2 hours is more akin to snuffing out a flame entirely...  nice use of the guerrilla Dudleys; you might say they're stale, but I say they are the money team for the RAW tag division at this point... 
    A really strong show, I thought.  Another throw-back to the days of being able to entertain for 2 hours without once putting the emphasis on the in-ring action...  really: Batista and Scott Steiner were involved in what was probably the best wrestling match of the night!  Well, not really Steiner, but you get the idea...
    And even as a storytelling show, they showed restraint while still hitting the home run ball:  nary a sign of Triple H or Steve Austin all night long.  You'll have to tune in next week, I guess.
    A very good week for RAW.  Full results are right here.
  • The rating on Monday came in at a 4.0, which is up two ticks from the week before.  Considering that this was the much hyped post-Austin-PPV RAW and that there was no nonsense like Joe Millionaire's finale to compete with, the Fed might have hoped for an even bigger rating....
    But still, if it's moving in the right direction, it's moving in the right direction.
  • I don't think I've adequately (if at all) pimped his column here, but you all should give Matt Hocking and his RAW Satire a look.  Matt's twisted perspective (only nominally linked to what actually happens on RAW) really hit its stride this week.
    And hey, if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to you, either go back and read some of his archives or at least come on back for one or two more weeks.  The beauty of Matt's Satire is in the running gags, and you're kind of coming in in the middle of things....
  • Two quick injury notes: William Regal will be back in the ring this weekend after getting briefly KO'ed in his PPV match on Sunday... and Victoria will likely be held back from unnecessary house show bookings, as she is working with a knee injury that may require surgery after WrestleMania.
  • If you're wondering about Mick Foley's current projects, this one might take you a bit by surprise...  
    Foley was attached to a sitcom pitch.  A script -- which had one line description of "Mick 'Mankind' Foley is a father with kids" -- was written last summer, and the unnamed pilot listed Bob Tischler (apparently from a show called "Boy Meets World") as the executive producer.  ABC rejected the pitch last month, and the project is now dead.
    And you thought he only wrote books!
  • And you thought Warrior only penned complex, mind-warping Web Commentaries!  But no!  He's also available for personal appearances and motivational speeches!
    In this case, he recently made a speech to a group of young conservatives...  and it was... umm...  jeez...  well, he sure does manage to work in a lot of randomly-generated quotes to prove he's really well-read.
    This actually did strike me as different in tone from his web missives, but if you got a kick out of those, you should still probably check out this recap of Warrior's recent speech on Being a Warrior Conservative.  Slightly more cogent, but still patently Destrucitous!
  • Last for today:  a reminder that tonight will be Vader's return to televised action inside of a US ring.  He's teaming with Dusty Rhodes against the Harris Twins on tonight's NWA:TNA PPV.  And while Dusty's not exactly gonna tear the house down with ***** ring action, and while the Harrisses are usually limited to brawling, it'll still be cool to see The Man They Call Vader lace 'em up... I really hope he's got one last good run in him.
    By the by: what are the odds in Vegas that Russo's frenetic booking style will result in either Dusty or Vader turning on the other?
    From a wrestling perspective, the two other announced matches hold a lot more promise:  Kid Kash defends the X Division Title against Jason Cross, and Jerry Lynn will go one-on-one with a "mystery luchador" supplied by Konnan.
    Check out the show (assuming your favorite college basketball team isn't playing tonight on the road against the hated Rhode Island Rams), or come on back to OO tomorrow for Damian Gonzalez's top-shelf recap.
    See you again on Friday....  


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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