Former Army Sergeant with amputated leg joins TNA Wrestling

TNA Wrestling has signed former Army Sergeant Chris Melendez to a multi-year deal. Melendez has one of his legs amputated after a brutal injury suffered in combat.

“The ability to captivate an audience without having to say any words is what got me hooked,” Melendez told ImpactWrestling.com about what got him into professional wrestling.

Melendez was awarded a Purple Heart for his life-threatening injuries he suffered from an IED while deployed in Iraq. He was resuscitated three times and endured numerous emergency surgeries and procedures but hard work and determination meant that he was walking with a prosthetic within 40 days.

Melendez was trained by Bully Ray and Devon at the Team 3D Academy of Professional Wrestling in Florida and will be making his debut during the New York City tapings between August 5 and 7.

Ricardo Rodriguez released from WWE

WWE released Ricardo Rodriguez yesterday with a short message on the WWE.COM website saying, “WWE has come to terms on the release of WWE Superstar Ricardo Rodriguez as of today, July 30, 2014. WWE wishes Ricardo Rodriguez the best in all of his future endeavors.”

The 28 year old Mexican-American joined WWE in 2010 and made his television debut as Alberto Del Rio’s personal ring announcer in August during an episode of Smackdown.

In July of last year, he failed his first Wellness Program test and was suspended for 30 days and then when he returned, he was attacked by Del Rio, signaling the end of their partnership.

Rodriguez started to pop up at NXT wrestling under a mask as El Local and also joined the Spanish broadcast team at WWE pay-per-views.

WWE giving the pink slip to 7% of its workforce today

Black Thursday is becoming the new black Friday as WWE is handing out pink slips to 7% of its workforce to make up for loss in revenue from WWE Network and pay-per-view business.

CNNMoney.com is reporting that according to a WWE spokesman, job cuts will impact all business units across all WWE’s locations. WWE employs around 850 people worldwide so around 60 employees will be on the unemployed list later today.

Interesting enough, WWE is advertising 24 open positions with jobs in Dubai, Singapore, United Kingdom, and the United States on their WWE Careers website.

Pay-per-views take the biggest financial hit since Network’s arrival

The pay-per-view numbers show the biggest change in revenue ever since the WWE Network came in play as PPV buy rates dropped big time with more people taking advantage of the Network’s $9.99 a month price versus the $50+ for a single show.

WrestleMania XXX drew 690,000 buys compared to the 1,039,000 it did last year, still a big number despite the show being on the Network. Extreme Rules had 108,000 buys, down from 231,000 of the previous year while Payback suffered the worse, with only 67,000 buys on traditional pay-per-view versus the 186,000 from last year. Money In the Bank had 122,000 buys.

Major PPV companies such as DISH Network and InDemand dropped the WWE pay-per-views due to the unfair advantage of the WWE Network and are only airing shows which they think might generate enough revenue for them.

WWE revenues by region and segments for Q2 2014

The following are the revenues by region and business segment which were released in today’s financial report.

Network revenues including money generated from WWE Network, PPV, and VOD increased 13% to $43.3 million; WWE Network generated $19.4 million in subscription revenue from an average of 665,000 paid subscribers; TV revenues increased 13% to $43.8 million thanks to Total Divas and a few more increased contracts for existing shows; WWEShop.com revenues went up 33% to $4 million thanks mainly to increased international orders;

PPV revenue declined by 36% to $23.8 million due to many now getting the shows on the WWE Network; Home entertainment decreased to 5.4 million from $7.1 thanks to a 40% decline in units shipped; Digital media went down to $5.2 million from $7.4 mainly due to less money generated from PPV webcasts on WWE.COM since they are now on the WWE Network; Live event revenues decreased 3% to $40.3 million from $41.6 million; Licensing revenues were $5.5 million vs the $6.7 million due to lower sales and pricing of the WWE 2K14 video game; Venue merchandise also went down 6% to $6.5 million due to 7% decline in attendance at WWE live events; WWE Studios generated $1.7 million, down from $2.1 million.

Corporate and other expenses increased $8.4 million to $42 million from the prior year quarter thanks to sales, marketing, talent development costs, salaries, benefits, and other brand initiatives.

WWE announces Q2 2014 financial results

WWE today announced financial results for its second quarter ended June 30, 2014. For the quarter, the Company reported a Net loss of $14.5 million compared to Net income of $5.2 million in the second quarter last year.

“WWE’s core business metrics remain strong, and WWE Network continues to be the single greatest opportunity to transform WWE’s business model. During the quarter, we developed plans to make WWE Network available globally starting August 12, and completed a long-term content deal in Canada with Rogers Communications,” stated Vince McMahon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Additionally, we identified efficiencies that will improve our 2015 OIBDA outlook by $30 million. Based on these initiatives, we are optimistic about our potential to drive long-term growth.”

You can read the full press release at corporate.wwe.com.

Network rolling out to over 170 countries in August with new pay plans

From April 7 till June 30, the WWE Network subscribers base increased only by around 33,000, with WWE revealing today that its over-the-top service sits at 700,000 subscriptions.

In the press release, the company announced that its efforts in marketing the Network resulted in gross additions of 161,000 subscribers since WrestleMania and a net addition of 33,000 subscribers.

Starting August 12, WWE will make the WWE Network available on an over-the-top basis in over 170 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, Spain, and the Nordics among others. The United Kingdom will get the Network by October 2014 while countries such as Italy, UAE, Germany, Japan, India, China, Thailand, and Malaysia will get their fix at a later date.

Canada will not get the OTT version of the Network, but a traditional a-la-carte pay-TV channel on Rogers cable systems.

When it comes to pricing, the company will introduce new payment plans in August including a $19.99 a month plan with no commitment and an upfront one-time payment option for those currently paying $9.99 a month with a six month commitment.

The WWE Network is also being rolled out to several Smart TVs and Blu-Ray players in mid-August to reach a more wider audience.

Rogers Communications to bring WWE Network in Canada in new 10 year TV deal

WWE and Rogers Communications today announced a 10-year broadcast and multimedia agreement, making Rogers the exclusive distributor of WWE’s flagship programming in Canada through 2024. The deal extends WWE’s current programming on Sportsnet 360 and includes the right to distribute WWE Network as a premium linear channel, with a preview beginning August 12.

Rogers will be the exclusive distribution partner of all WWE pay-per-view events throughout Canada and will sponsor an application to the CRTC to bring the popular WWE Network to Canada. Starting August 12, a preview of WWE Network content, including live WWE pay-per-view events, groundbreaking original series, live in-ring action, reality shows and a video-on-demand library, will be available on a subscription basis on Rogers Channel 512. Rogers will offer this WWE Network content preview subscription to all cable, satellite and IPTV providers across Canada.

Fans in Canada will receive more WWE programming than ever before through Rogers’ cable and digital assets. Highlights from the new deal also include national rights for Raw, SmackDown and Main Event on Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet NOW and Rogers Anyplace TV.

“This landmark deal is a win-win for WWE fans in Canada,” said Scott Moore, President of NHL & Sportsnet, Rogers. “The premium WWE content offers our customers more of the programming they want, on any platform of their choosing. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with WWE, and deliver exclusive content to its passionate fan base in Canada for the next decade.”

Gerrit Meier, WWE Executive Vice President, International, said, “We are excited to expand our partnership with Rogers as we look for innovative ways to grow our brand and further the reach of our programming in Canada through their vast distribution channels and marketing platforms. The structure of this new agreement demonstrates WWE’s commitment to growing our brand internationally through integrated partnerships as well as the flexibility we have in rolling out WWE Network around the world.”

Vince Russo announces his departure from TNA

Former WWE and WCW creative writer Vince Russo today announced on his Twitter that he’s finished up with TNA Wrestling.

Russo had denied working for TNA for months until one fine day he mistakenly sent an e-mail to one of PWInsider.com’s staff members which wasn’t meant for him basically confirming the reports that he was still being paid by TNA. Russo then had to admit that he was working for TNA and said that he was instructed to keep everything confidential.

“Officially DONE w/TNA. Today they “suggested” a break, I declined. Finality was better for me,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Russo has more people against him than probably any other person working in the wrestling industry and his unpopularity created some interesting backstage arguments in WWE, WCW, and TNA.

WWE’s big financial day tomorrow: will Wall Street lay the smackdown again?

It’s a big day for WWE tomorrow as the company will be announcing the financial results for the second quarter of 2014 with majority of the focus this time around being on the actual number of subscribers that the WWE Network has rather than how much money WWE made.

The last time WWE announced a number for their Network was the day after WrestleMania with a total of just over 667,000 subscribers. WWE went into a big marketing effort over the past couple of months to try and get more subscribers in hopes of reaching their 1 million minimum goal by the end of 2014.

A lower than expected number of subs as well as a disappointing television deal in terms of money with NBC Universal forced WWE to make several cuts, some of which were really unpopular on the production side of things. WWE fired a lot of talent and a lot of office workers are bracing for another firing spree should the numbers not add up.

Tomorrow’s results will include money generated from WrestleMania XXX as well.