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Rebounds in season opener by Ben Simmons, who also scores 19 points

Heel Turns: WWE taking over wrestling world

Posted by Achilles Heel On August 6

There was a time when fans not enamored with WWE would seek alternatives.

Now, WWE provides the alternative.

WWE is doing it all. Top-notch women’s wrestling? WWE has it. A more intimate experience with an independent feel? WWE has NXT. Smaller and more athletic wrestlers? WWE has 205 Live. WWE also is adding a United Kingdom organization, taking advantage of that hotbed of wrestling.

What we are witnessing is a transformation that is every bit as revolutionary as WWE’s takeover of rival territories during the 1980s. In those days, WWE (then WWF) used the expansion of cable television to become a national brand. WWE would then sign top talent away from local territories and, along with combination of a presence on television, would book events in arenas around the country, squeezing out the local promotions.

The vehicle for WWE’s current expansion is the Internet. More specifically, WWE is using the increased capability of people to stream programming as a means for expansion.

In economics terms (the Greek God of Wrestling will try to keep this as basic as possible for you simpletons), WWE is engaging in horizontal and vertical integration at the same time. Horizontal integration is what WWE did by taking over other wrestling territories during the 1980s. There aren’t as many companies to take over today, and WWE doesn’t have any true rivals on its level, but there isn’t any question that, by signing top talent away from independent promotions, WWE is making business more difficult for those companies.

In some ways, however, WWE is engaging in vertical integration. That’s when a company takes over all levels of its business, from production to distribution. Traditionally, the bigger promotions allowed talent to develop in the independent promotions. Today, WWE has its own development center for young wrestlers. Even wrestlers with a background on the independent scene sometimes go to the performance center. Young wrestlers also develop at NXT When they’re ready, they move to WWE.

WWE is also taking over distribution of its product. Many thought it was a mistake when WWE gave up its share of pay-per-view revenue from cable and satellite companies by putting events on WWE Network. DVD sales were also certain to suffer due to the content available on WWE Network. Instead, WWE Network has become the perfect way to increase the popularity of NXT and 205 Live.

WWE Network is also the home for special events such as the Mae Young Classic and Cruiserweight Classic. In a sense, WWE uses its own Internet network as a means for distributing its product. As demand for the product grows, more people subscribe to WWE Network. It’s a perfect symbiotic (look it up, jabronis!) relationship.

NXT is the best example of the power of WWE Network. NXT isn’t on network television. It’s only on WWE Network. Yet, it has grown into much more than a developmental organization. NXT has become a destination for top independent stars such as Johnny Gargano, Adam Cole and (coming soon) Matt Riddle. With only exposure on WWE Network, NXT recently ran split tours, which is indicative of the depth of its talent.

This doesn’t mean that WWE will wipe out all other promotions. There is still a place for independent organizations. The Mexican and Japanese wrestling organizations are unique enough to differentiate themselves from WWE. The extreme violence of Combat Zone Wrestling and the comic/cartoon character dimension of CHIKARA allow those organizations to operate in a niche that WWE isn’t likely to enter.

WWE Network is also crucial to WWE’s worldwide expansion. Its potential reach actually extends beyond the television networks.

The television networks are still important for WWE. The recent lucrative 5-year deals with USA Network (Raw) and FOX Sports (Smackdown, starting in 2019) are one reason WWE’s stock soared above $80 a share. WWE still needs television’s reach for its flagship shows, but it is building the rest of its global empire through WWE Network.

Regardless of which style of wrestling you prefer, you can probably find it under the WWE umbrella on WWE Network.

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MYSTERIO’S ALL IN: Add Rey Mysterio to the list of wrestlers who will participate in “All In,” the major independent card at the Sears Center just outside of Chicago on Sept. 1. Mysterio will team with Bandido and Fenix to battle The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) and Kota Ibushi.

The main event for “All In” features Nick Aldis defending the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Cody Rhodes. Other announced matchers are Marty Scurll vs. Kazuchika Okada, Joey Janela vs. Hangman Page, and Christopher Daniels vs. actor Stephen Amell (Rhodes appears on Amell’s “Arrow” series). All In sold out with only one match announced, which demonstrates that there is still room for other promotions besides WWE.

                              *****                               

SUMMERSLAM HEATING UP: A few more matches were added to the SummerSlam card this past week. Shinsuke Nakamura will defend the United States Championship against Jeff Hardy, although don’t be surprised if Randy Orton is added to this match. Cedrick Alexander will defend the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Drew Gulak, one of Achilles’ Heel’s favorite underrated wrestlers. The Miz laughed off Daniel Bryan’s challenge for a match at SummerSlam, but expect that match happen. In an alteration to an existing match, Charlotte Flair has been added to the Smackdown Women’s Championship match, with Carmella defending against Flair and Becky Lynch.

In the SummerSlam main event, Roman Reigns challenge WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar. Samoa Joe challenges AJ Styales for the WWE Championship by choking out AJ Styles. Ronda Rousey challenges Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship.

Two other Raw brand matches have been announced for SummerSlam. Seth Rollins will try to regain the Intercontinental Championship from Dolph Ziggler. Kevin Owens will battle Braun Strowman, with Strowman’s Money in the Bank championship opportunity on the line. SummerSlam will take place on Aug. 19 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

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MAYOR FROM HELL: Congratulations to Glenn Jacobs (Kane), who was elected mayor Knox County, Tenn.

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ANSWER TO RIDDLE: Matt Riddle, who is rumored to be headed to WWE (or NXT) dropped the EVOLVE Championship to Shane Strickland in a hardcore rules match last Saturday at 2300 Arena. If you haven’t seen Riddle wrestle, there are plenty of matches on youtube. The Greek God of Wrestling recommends Riddle’s match with Will Ospreay earlier this year in Dublin, Ireland.

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BLACK OUT: Aleister Black, who recently dropped the NXT Championship to Tommaso Ciampa, recently underwent surgery after suffering a groin injury during a house show match against Ciampa. It’s uncertain if he will be ready for NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, where he is scheduled to join Johnny Gargano and Ciampa in a triple threat match for the NXT Championship.

*****

CHIKARA’S SECRET: CHIKARA returns to The Wrestle Factory on Saturday (3 p.m.) for Chikarasaurus Rex – A Deadly Secret. The early card appears to be loaded, with “Mr. Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti challenging Juan Francisco de Coronado for the CHIKARA Grand Championship. Achilles Heel smells a potential title change. Dasher Hatfield, Angelosetti’s former tag team partner, will team with his son, Boomer Hatfield, who is making his debut, against Hallowicked and Frightmare. Danjerhawk will face Sage Philips in a Young Lions Cup match, and Solo Darling battles Ophidian in an inter-gender match.

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CZW’S BUSINESS: Combat Zone Wrestling returns to The Colossal Sports Academy at The Coliseum in Voorhees on Saturday (8 p.m.) for “Business as Usual.” It appears that Maxwell Jacob Friedman, who did not wrestle at New Heights due to a knee injury, will be unable to defend the CZW World Championship. Announced matches include Zachary Wentz defending the CZW Wired Championship against Myron Reed, Joey Ryan taking on Anthony Greene, Joe Gacy meeting Wheeler Yuta, and KC Navarro facing Jordan Oliver.

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RING OF HONOR IN PHILLY: With Ring of Honor presenting a United Kingdom tour in mid-August, the only chance to see Ring of Honor in the United States before Labor Day will be at Philadelphia Excellence, a television taping at 2300 Arena on Sat., Aug. 25 (6 p.m.). There will be a meet and greet prior to the show.

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CONVENTION IN A.C.: If you’re looking for something to do before the Ring of Honor tapings, there will be a huge convention in Atlantic City on Sat., Aug. 25 at the Claridge Hotel. Goldberg, Sting and The Bullet Club are being advertised as the headliners for The Boardwalk Beatdown Pro Wrestling Experience. Other attendees to include Demolition, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Sunny, Fred Ottman (Tugboat/Typhoon), Brian Cage, Melissa Santos and “The Bulldozer” Matt Tremont.

There also will be a Stand Alone Wrestling Boardwalk Beatdown card at 7 p.m. on Saturday, followed by an after-party at the Tennessee Ave. Beer Hall, which is also the site for a dinner on Friday. There will be a question-and-answer session and photo opportunities at the Friday dinner, but there won’t be any autographs at the after-party.

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LESNAR GOES ROGUE: There are only two explanations for Brock Lesnar’s mistreatment of Paul Heyman during Raw last week. Either Lesnar being out of control and not listening to Heyman will be cited as an explanation if he loses to Roman Reigns at SummerSlam or Lesnar and Heyman are putting on an elaborate deception – which doesn’t mean that Reigns won’t win the WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam.

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