October 31, 2014

WWE Comments On Current Lawsuits Against Them

In regard to current lawsuits filed against the company, WWE stated:

On July 26, 2014, the Company received notice of a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, entitled Warren Ganues and Dominic Varriale, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, v. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., Vincent K. McMahon and George A. Barrios, alleging violations of federal securities laws based on certain statements relating to the negotiation of WWE’s domestic television license. The complaint seeks certain unspecified damages. A nearly identical lawsuit was filed one month later entitled Curtis Swanson, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, v. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., Vincent K. McMahon and George A. Barrios. Both lawsuits are purported securities class actions subject to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PSLRA”). On September 23-24, five putative plaintiffs filed motions to be appointed lead plaintiff and to consolidate the two cases pursuant to the PSLRA. The Company joined the motion for consolidation made by the putative lead plaintiffs. The Company believes the claims are without merit and intends to vigorously defend itself against them.

On October 25, 2014, the Company received notice of a purported class action lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, entitled William Albert Haynes III, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, v. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. alleging, among other things, that the Company concealed and denied medical research and evidence concerning traumatic brain injuries suffered by WWE’s performers. The Company believes the claims are without merit and intends to vigorously defend itself against them.

In addition to the foregoing, we are involved in several other litigations and claims that we consider to be in the ordinary course of our business. By its nature, the outcome of litigation is not known but the Company does not currently expect this litigation to have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or liquidity. We may from time to time become a party to other legal proceedings.

Sports Legacy Institute Elects WWE's Paul Levesque to Board of Directors

Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), a non-profit organization dedicated to concussion education and research, announced that Paul Levesque, Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative at WWE, Inc. (WWE) has been elected to its Board of Directors.

At WWE, when he is not performing as WWE Superstar “Triple H”, Levesque is responsible for overseeing the talent relations and talent development departments, training of WWE Superstars and Divas and management of worldwide recruitment and live global events. Levesque also plays an integral role behind-the-scenes as a director and producer, working to shape the creative direction and storylines of WWE’s programming.

“We are thrilled to welcome Paul Levesque to our Board of Directors,” said Christopher Nowinski, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Sports Legacy Institute. “As an athlete himself, Paul is familiar with the risks associated with concussions. As an executive, Paul has made it a priority to protect WWE’s performers through education and awareness, as well as preventative measures and world class medical care.”

“It is an honor to join the Board of Directors at SLI to support the important work they do in the field of concussion management and prevention,” said Levesque. “This work benefits athletes of all ages and skill levels, from high school to collegiate to professional sports, as well as many others including members of our military.”

In his role at WWE, Levesque also oversees WWE’s comprehensive Talent Wellness Program and Professional Development for all WWE performers. WWE’s Talent Wellness Program has been in place since 2006 and includes cardiovascular testing, medical and wellness staffing, annual physicals and health care referrals and ImPACT testing, where every one of its talent undergoes baseline neurocognitive testing. WWE was the first major sports-entertainment organization to include ImPACT testing as part of its Talent Wellness Program in 2008.

WWE’s Professional Development focuses on four key pillars – Life Skills, Education, Wellness and Career Success. Through this program, WWE provides seminars on financial education, media training, language courses, living a healthy lifestyle and injury and illness prevention. WWE also offers college tuition reimbursement.

In 2013, Levesque oversaw the development of the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., serving as the home to WWE’s developmental division, NXT. A 26,000 square foot facility, the Performance Center provides coaching from the best in the business with seven training rings, a world-class strength and conditioning program and cutting-edge edit and production facilities. The WWE Performance Center serves as the hub for WWE’s Talent Wellness and Professional Development Programs.

In 2013, WWE made a grant of $1.2 million to SLI to fund research that could lead to potential new treatments for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease.

Joining Levesque on the Board of Directors will be Sylvia Mackey of Baltimore, Maryland, Director of the John Mackey Fund; John Corcoran of Boston, Massachusetts, Founder and President of Trinity Partners, LLC; author Andrea Pomerantz Lustig of New York City, and philanthropist Laura Hunt of Dallas, Texas, Principal at Laura Hunt, LLC.

Photo: Triple H Speaking at the Sports Legacy Institute Awards Dinner

October 30, 2014

WWE awards scholarships to former talent

WWE offers financial scholarships to former WWE talent to be used for obtaining a college degree or completing a certificate program.

Talent must use scholarship money toward college level courses with an aim toward obtaining a college degree or completing a certificate program at an accredited university or trade school.

Three former WWE talent will be awarded a Scholarship in the amount up to $5,000 per calendar year. This year’s recipients are former WWE Diva Maria, former WWE Superstar Paul Burchill and former WWE Developmental Talent Michael Thompson.

The Rock Talks Last WWE Run, Whether He Uses Steroids, Working With His Ex-Wife, More

Fortune.com published an in-depth profile on Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson today touching on all aspects of his career as well his personal life. Highlights from the article are as follows:

Returning to WWE to prove he could boost WWE's business and win back fans who felt he abandoned them for Hollywood:

"We set pay-per-view buy-rate records and attendance records each time... I think fans realized, 'Wow, you're back, and you committed for three years, and you don't have to be here.' I had the balls to be authentic."

How changing talent agencies from Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to William Morris Endeavor (WME) led to his WWE return:

"If I want to be called 'The Rock,' I'll be called 'The Rock.' If I want to go back to wrestling, I'll go back to wrestling. It's all the same guy."

Critics in online forums accusing him of using steroids:

"Training is my anchor. Being on a regimented schedule, setting a goal, failing at a goal. It's the philosophies of being an athlete that carry me today... Sure, you get a lot of people out there who will suspect, and say s--t," he says. "They want to negate the hard work you put in."

Moving from L.A. to Florida with his girlfriend of seven years, Lauren Hashian (not identified by name in the article) and his ex-wife, Dany Garcia, getting remarried this year, to Dave Rienzi, who is now his strength and conditioning coach:

"Life is amazing. Life is f--king messy. Life is what you make of it. I'm happy to say we're all together working nicely, but it took a lot of work. With Dany, it was going through the sludge of divorce and then having the clarity to say, 'We're still friends, we respect each other, let's do business. And let's do big business.'"

Johnson also noted that 7 Bucks Productions, a television production company Johnson co-founded with Garcia, have eight projects in the works. One series slated to air on TNT is called "Wake Up Call," which Johnson calls a reality advice show. Other projects in the works include "Comeback Kids" with UFC star Ronda Rousey, a comedy show, and Johnson going to a Miami detention center to mentor at-risk youths. The full article is available here.

Network switching to monthly subscriptions, new subscribers can get Survivor Series free

WWE issued a press release to Prowrestling.net to announce changes in the WWE Network subscription model.

Much like other subscription businesses including Netflix and Hulu Plus, WWE® (NYSE: WWE) will be offering:

• November For Free: New subscribers will receive WWE Network free of charge for the entire month of November – including Survivor Series on Sunday, November 23.

• New Simplified Price Plan: WWE Network will be available for $9.99 per month with no commitment and the ability to cancel at any time.

WWE issued the following email to WWE Network subscribers on Thursday informing them that they will be automatically converted to a monthly plan:

Great News! WWE Network is now $9.99 per month with no commitment. That's right. You'll continue to get every LIVE pay-per-view, access to our massive on-demand library and more for the same $9.99 per month you currently pay, but without a 6-month commitment!

There is no action is required on your part. On your billing date in December, your WWE Network subscription will automatically convert to a no commitment account and will continue uninterrupted for $9.99 per month, plus applicable taxes.


WWE Network subscriber count revealed

WWE announced the latest WWE Network subscriber count as 731,000. The number is up from the 700,000 count that was announced on July 31. The company's first announced network count was 667,000 subscribers on April 7 (the day after WrestleMania 30).

Kurt Angle's New Deal With TNA Wrestling

PWInsider.com revealed today that his new contract will be a part-time deal that will allow him to partly focus on wrestling and outside projects.

His contract is expected to last a around 12-18 months.

Angle is also shortly expected to move from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles to further pursue his acting career.

WWE Conference Call: Vince McMahon on WWE Network numbers, new subscription model, and more

Vince McMahon and members of senior management served as the hosts of a conference call pertaining to the 2014 third quarter report that was released on October 29, 2014. The following are the highlights of the call.

-The call is hosted by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, WWE Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios, and WWE SVP Investor Relations Michael Weitz.

-Vince opened the call by boasting about the pay-per-view revenue, Raw and Smackdown ratings increasing, and SummerSlam performing well in social media activity.

-Vince said 96 percent of the network subscribers access the network at least once a week. He said going with the monthly $9.99 price without any commitment "is definitely the way to go."

-Vince said WWE Network will be available via over the top model in the United Kingdom in November.

-Barrios took over the call to read through the financial report. He noted that WWE added 182,000 subscribers around WrestleMania time. Barrios said that over time they intend to localize WWE Network in foreign countries.

-The resume play option for WWE Network will be available on all platforms later this year.

-Barrios noted that their key television agreements in the United States, India, Canada, Mexico, and UAE will increase from approximately $130 million in 2014 to $235 million by 2013 due to annual escalators. Weitz. opened things up for callers.

-A caller noted they were over six months removed from the network and asked about why they feel they have lost some subscribers. Barrios pointed to the 96 percent of the existing subscribers who access the network once a week, and 99 percent who access it once a month. Barrios said about 30,000 of the 286,000 additions they had for the network were international. He said they view international as a soft launch and expected it to be a slower ramp up than in the United States.

-Barrios said they have not adjusted their overall outlook numbers to include network advertising.

-Barrios said they will continue to disclose the network subscriber count quarterly. A caller asked for projections for a subscriber count by the end of the year. Barrios said they are not comfortable making predictions.

-A caller brought up the model the company is using in Canada via Rogers Communications. Barrios said they didn't want to get into specifics regarding subscriber count per country. Barrios said Rogers is currently working through additional distribution for the network in Canada. He said they have roughly 20 percent covered via Rogers and have roughly 80 percent of Canada to go.

-The next caller asked for a breakdown of how the Rogers model compares to the U.S. in terms of penetration. Barrios said it feels "not too dissimilar" to what they've done in the United States.

-Barrios declined to get into specifics regarding how individual shows perform on WWE Network.

-With no additional callers, Weitz wrapped up the call.

WWE Reports 2014 Third Quarter Results Exceeds Earnings Expectations and Raises 2014 Outlook

Daniel Bryan to undergo elbow surgery

WWE superstar Daniel Bryan, who hasn't wrestled since May, will now need surgery on his elbow.

Bryan under went neck surgery on May 15, just six weeks after becoming the WWE world heavyweight champion at WrestleMania 30.

At the WWE's "Smackdown" taping Tuesday night (the show will air on Friday), the Big Show announced to the crowd that Bryan would indeed go under the knife again before leading the crowd in Bryan's signature "YES" chant (which has become a rallying cry for Hunter Pence and the Giants).

There is no timetable for the fan favorite's return.

source: foxsports.com

October 29, 2014

Jim Ross Comments On His Current Relationship With Vince McMahon

It's actually pretty good. We text from time to time and talk on the phone from time to time now. Not a lot, not regularly, but you know, its fine. Vince and I got along and had a tremendous relationship. People have to understand where our relationship started. From day one, what we have built and what we survived at the time when the company was almost bankrupt. We were laying off people left and right, pay cuts, lot of people were bailing. Those of us that stayed loyal were rewarded financially. I signed at one point in the mid 90's a ten year contract. I don't know anyone that had a ten year contract with Vince and kept it. I have this thing about keeping my commitments and keeping my word. I kept my word and fulfilled my ten years and he paid me very, very well.

I made more money with him than I did with anyone else combined. He told me if I stayed with him I would have nothing to worry about financially when I got older. Our issues were mainly philosophic. It was like two football coaches who wanted to run a 3-4 defense and the other wants to run a 4-3. I could plead my case why the 3-4 is better cause I got four great linebackers I can use and he could tell me why the 4-3 is better because he's got four defense lineman that are outstanding. Our stuff was more philosophical more than anything else. At the end of the day, he won the argument more often than not because he owned the company. My dad taught me a long time ago, if you're going to work for somebody and you're going to take their money, you need to do what they tell you to do. So the day when you can't look yourself in the mirror and do what they want you to do, you need to quit cashing their checks. I just cashed a WWE check the other day so I got no issues with them whatsoever. A lot of that stuff about McMahon and I has been blown out of proportion.

Wall Street management firm believes McMahons want to sell WWE

Lemelson Capital founder Emmanuel Lemelson, who manages one of the most successful hedge funds in the world, told Benzinga.com that he believes the McMahon family intends to sell WWE. Calling the company, "clearly an acquisition target," Lemelson said that although he doesn't expect WWE to have great numbers when the third-quarter subscriber count is announced on Thursday, he also doesn't expect share price to fall as the McMahons will protect shares to keep the sale price up.

October 28, 2014

Video: Randy Orton defies The Authority

NXT Divas Impressing

Alexa Bliss is on WWE's radar, she is reportedly doing really well and impressed WWE officials and is likely a talent that will be called up to the main roster next year. Sasha Banks is also impressing despite being a little stiff in the ring which they are trying to break her out of but her overall attitude is said to be excellent. Ric Flair's daughter Charlotte is finding her way well and knows how to carry herself as a champion.

Battle Royal On WWE NXT

A tag team battle royal to crown new #1 contenders to Sin Cara and Kalisto has been announced for this week's NXT.

More Details Behind Undertaker’s New Role in NXT & WWE Developmental

We reported last week that The Undertaker would be working behind the scenes with the NXT brand in a limited capacity.

PWInsider.com has come out with some new information on the current deal in place. According to their report, Undertaker will be making occasional appearances at the Performance Center in Florida, and will have the freedom to choose his own dates, around his schedule. His job will essentially be to offer help to the developmental talent, answer questions, and teach them what will be expected of them if/when they are brought up to the main WWE roster.

Former NFL Player, Former MMA Fighter, Indy Wrestlers & More at Recent WWE Tryout Camp, WWE Posts Footage of Tryout Hopefuls

WWE.com has posted a new article covering the recent WWE tryout camp held at the Performance Center in Orlando.

The listed participants included were indy wrestler Rich Swann, strongman Michael Fierro, bodybuilder Justin Whitley, former NFL player Jason Shirley, Northern Iowa University wrestler Blayne Beale-McDonald, and former MMA fighter Sione Finau.

Finau was actually scheduled to face Batista in an MMA fight at one point, but the bout never took place. The recent tryout camp will be also covered in an upcoming Muscle & Fitness feature.

WWE has posted the following video, featuring an inside look at an actual WWE tryout at the Performance Center:

October 27, 2014

Randy Orton To Star In WWE Studios ‘The Condemned 2′

According to a report today by Variety, WWE Studios will be producing a sequel to the 2007 film "The Condemned," which starred "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

Randy Orton stars in the latest installment, which is called "The Condemned 2: Desert Prey." Lionsgate will again co-produce and distribute the film, which begins production in New Mexico later this year.

"We are excited to be reteaming with the WWE on 'The Condemned 2,' after such a positive experience on the original film," said Lionsgate co-chief operating officer and motion picture group president Steve Beeks. "The combination of their brand marketing capabilities, creativity and deep lineup of dynamic onscreen talent result in a powerful partnership."

According to the article, the film "follows a former bounty hunter who finds himself on the run as part of a revamped Condemned tournament, in which convicts are forced to fight each other to the death as part of a game that's broadcast to the public."

Roel Reine ("Death Race: Inferno," "The Scorpion 3") will direct the movie from a script by Alan McElroy ("The Marine 4?). Orton reunites with Reine on "The Condemned" sequel after having previously worked together on "12 Rounds 2: Reloaded."

October 26, 2014

Total Divas Season 3 Mid-Season Finale Recap

Triple H Is Focused On The Future

Triple H spent the entire day last Wednesday scouting talent at the Performance Center. It was out of the ordinary for Triple H to dedicate an entire day to up and coming talent, however, he considers it essential that the WWE NXT staff spot star power early on so they can give such talent special attention.

October 25, 2014

Rumor Mill - WWE Reportedly Dropping Elimination Chamber

According to Reddit user MetsFan4Ever, a former WWE employee who has broken several WWE stories in the past, WWE is planning to drop the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. He wrote the following on Friday:

"Word going around backstage this past Tuesday at the SmackDown tapings are that the WWE Elimination Chamber pay-per-view will be no more. The early lead names going around to replace the Elimination Chamber name will be either WWE Fast Lane or WWE Fast Track."

"The reason is because there is only one WWE / World Champion right now. So they want to stay with the Rumble winner receiving the shot and have no Chamber even with the title holder in the match."

He noted that he expects the Elimination Chamber match to be kept around as a match for certain pay-per-views that call for it.

WWE Issues Statement On Billy Jack Haynes Lawsuit

In regards to the lawsuit filed against by WWE by former wrestler Billy Jack Haynes, WWE issued the following statement this afternoon:

"Billy Jack Haynes performed for WWE from 1986-1988. His filed lawsuit alleges that WWE concealed medical information and evidence on concussions during that time, which is impossible since the condition now called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) had not even been discovered. WWE was well ahead of sports organizations in implementing concussion management procedures and policies as a precautionary measure as the science and research on this issue emerged. Current WWE procedures include ImPACT testing for brain function, annual educational seminars and the strict prohibition of deliberate and direct shots to the head. Additionally, WWE has committed significant funding for concussion research conducted by the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), leaders in concussion research, and WWE Executive Vice President Paul Levesque sits on SLI's Board."

Billy Jack Haynes wrestles WWE into federal court

Billy Jack Haynes wants to give World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.’s head-smacking, money-making “soap opera” a federal court body slam because of what he says is the international sports giant’s disregard for wrestlers’ safety.

Billy Jack — 61-year-old Gaston resident William Albert Haynes III — is suing WWE in federal court for “egregious mistreatment of its wrestlers for its own benefit, as well as its concealment and denial of medical research and evidence concerning traumatic brain injuries suffered by WWE wrestlers,” according to the 42-page lawsuit filed Thursday, Oct. 23, in Portland’s U.S. District Court.

Haynes is also asking the court to grant class-action status for what his lawyers say could be 500 people who suffered injuries while wrestling or performing in the WWE ring.

“Under the guise of providing ‘entertainment,’ WWE has, for decades, subjected its wrestlers to extreme physical brutality that it knew, or should have known, caused long-term irreversible bodily damage, including brain damage,” according to the lawsuit filed by Portland attorneys Steve D. Larson and Joshua L. Ross of the firm Stoll Stoll Bernie Lokting & Schlachter. “For most of its history, WWE has engaged in a campaign of misinformation and deception to prevent its wrestlers from understanding the true nature and consequences of the injuries they have sustained. WWE’s representations, actions, and inactions have caused its wrestlers to suffer from death, long-term debilitating injuries, lost profits, premature retirement, medical expenses, and other losses as alleged herein.”

WWE officials have not commented on the merits of the lawsuit. No court date has been set for the case.

Chris Jericho Talks About What Match He Can’t Watch Anymore

“What was voted the best match in Raw history by a lot of people, Jericho and Benoit vs. Triple H and Austin, so famous for being the night H tore his quad during the match, the crowd going bananas and the first time anybody had vanquished the evil Steve Austin and Triple H. It was a huge night in WWE history, a huge moment in the history of the Tag Team Championships and a huge moment in the history of my career, and I can’t ever see that match really. I can’t watch that match. I think I’ve watched it once and it’s good, it’s a great classic five star match, but it’s always tainted when I see Chris Benoit.”

Happy 11th Anniversary Paul & Stephanie

October 25, 2003

October 24, 2014

Rumor Mill - Details On The Undertaker’s New Role With WWE

PWInsider reports that The Undertaker has taken on a new role with WWE. He was at last night’s NXT taping at the Performance Center and told people that he will be working with developmental talent as an “advisor.”

He will apparently be in Orlando from time to time to help and give advice.

AJ Lee Talks Potentially Working With Stephanie McMahon On TV

Yeah. I mean, I think there’s no one who could match the promos we could put on together. I think that’s why people might be into it. Because it’d be two alpha females. And we do talk a big game. We’re good at that. As far as a match goes, that’s been done. So I don’t know how much we’d be into re-doing something. It’d have to be very different and very unique. It’d have to make its own mark on our industry and add to the history. But I think the girls [Steph and Brie] did such a good job that I wouldn’t want to mess with that. Because that was their own special moment that they had at SummerSlam. But I also think that getting into a war with her would be amazing. I think people are looking forward to that. And the tiny interactions that we have had, so far, have been some of the most fun I’ve ever had.

Interview with AJ Lee

October 23, 2014

Mia Yim Will Wrestle Charlotte On The December 4th Episode of WWE NXT

Top indie women's wrestler, Mia Yim worked tonight's NXT taping. She will wrestle NXT Women's Champion Charlotte in a non-title match on the December 4th episode.

Controversial WWE Employee Leaves The Company

WWE posted a job listing today for a new Social Media Manager. This was the job held by Cody Barbierri, the employee who had an altercation with Alberto Del Rio, leading to Del Rio's WWE release.

PWInsider has confirmed that Barbierri left WWE earlier this month. The details of his departure are not known yet. Barbierri worked with WWE since September 2012 and is now working as an independent social media consultant.

New Name and Main Event Revealed for Next Live WWE NXT Takeover Special

>br>As noted, the next live WWE NXT Takeover special on the WWE Network will take place on December 11th from Full Sail University.

NXT General Manager William Regal announced at tonight's tapings that the name will be NXT Takeover: Our Evolution.

The main event will see Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville going at it for the NXT Title.

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Oderint Dum Metuant: Let Them Hate As Long As They Fear