Russo is joined on today’s show by his co-host Jeff Lane and Glenn Gilbertti (Disco Inferno).
Lane opens today’s show by informing that a reporter tweeted out last week, mentioning that NXT had $7 Million in ticket sales in 2016 as well as $20 Million in expenses. In 2017 NXT had $5.6 Million in ticket sales and $25 Million in expenses. Jim Cornette has recently gone on the record on his podcast reaffirming these numbers.
Gilbertti doesn’t think this is a big deal at all because WWE is a marketing monster, and they have several income streams for their product. He adds that you can criticize WWE all you want, but you can’t deny that they continue to be very healthy financially. In fact, he feels their financial security has resulted in their television product being lazily produced.
Lane informs that while WWE’s revenues have increased dramatically since the attitude era, their annual profit has actually dropped. They actually lost money in one year recently with the launch of the WWE Network. He adds that increasing revenues mean very little with inflation, especially if their profits are falling. Gilbertti agrees, but notes that it was expected that WWE would lose money when they launched the Network because that’s a long-term investment for them.
Lane mentions that WWE’s ticket sales for the Elimination Chamber PPV were poor last week, forcing them to offer a “buy one get one free” promotion. Gilbertti thought ticket sales for the event were strong, and he’s surprised to hear otherwise. Lane adds that fourth row tickets for the event were over $400, which makes Russo and Gilbertti gasp. Gilbertti points out that if tickets were that expensive, no wonder they were “buy one get one free”.
Lane mentions that WWE reportedly plans to revert to dual branded PPVs after WrestleMania. This news doesn’t surprise Gilbertti or Russo. Lane points out that the brand split appeared to help Smackdown early on because the viewership numbers went up, but Gilbertti counters by saying that the show’s numbers went up because John Cena was on the show.
Gilbertti thought the John Cena/Seth Rollins portion of last Monday’s Gauntlet match was very good. He thought it resembled a 1990’s style match with good timing and selling, and he was impressed by it. Lane mentions that Raw’s ratings went up last week, increasing to 3.5 Million in the first hour and that held strong into the second hour.
Due to this increase in ratings, many pundits have argued that wrestling fans want longer matches but Gilbertti thinks it’s crazy to draw that conclusion from last week’s show. He admits that fans might like it once and a while, when most of WWE’s main-event workers are facing off against each other in a special match like last week, but he thinks it’s ridiculous to argue that 2-hour matches will draw in casual viewers long-term.
With the news that Jeff Jarrett will be entering WWE’s Hall of Fame, Russo informs that several people have reached out to him for his opinion on the fact that Chyna still hasn’t been inducted. Russo says that Chyna doesn’t need that validation from WWE; implying that everyone knows how credible she was as a talent and how influential she was in the business.
One other omission from the Hall of Fame that still baffles him is Sable. He’d love to know what WWE’s heat with Sable is, because he thinks she definitely should be in the Hall of Fame. In addition, she’s married to Brock Lesnar, who obviously has a good rapport with WWE. This is a strange omission in his opinion.
Lane mentions that Triple H is reportedly putting his team together behind the scenes in order to transition into a more powerful position in WWE. Russo says he still can’t see Vince McMahon stepping away from WWE, unless McMahon get’s so entrenched in the XFL that it becomes his new WWE.
Lane also mentions that Stephanie McMahon spoke out recently, comparing WWE’s business model to Disney’s. Gilbertti points out that WWE is closer to a “G” rating product than “PG” at this point, and no adults want to watch Disney movies unless it’s with their kids. Maybe this new approach is why nobody’s watching the shows anymore.
Russo also takes offence to Stephanie implying that women were presented poorly on WWE’s programming in years past. He points out that women like Sable, Chyna and Jackie were all presented as powerful, independent women when he wrote for WWE.
That sums up today’s episode of Vince Russo’s The Brand. You can listen to the show yourself anytime here, and I’ll catch ya later this week for another recap!