3 O'Clock High: Pro-Rasslin' Style
"Hit daddy with a steel chair when you get upset, honey"
Minyan "Kneel" (to whom my son owes the name Superfly) writes:
Are you ready for all 14 [note: actually 3] hours of Raw tonight on its new home USA Network?
Talk about a short opportunity, World Wrestling Entertainment WWE, will now have a minimum $38mm reduction in revenue as they get nothing but production costs in their new deal with USA. The only problem with shorting the stock is, CEO Vince McMahon could take the company private in a minute.
Let me tell you something, Mean Gene. The sign of engrossing art is that it leaves you subconciously taking on the voice of the characters (how many times were you called "money" after the release of Swingers?). As a result of last night's special Homecoming Episode of Raw, I've been in "wrestling voice" all day:
"And let Jeffmacke tell you another thing, Jeffmacke was not just 'ready' for Raw's homecoming to the USA Network, Jeffmacke had Jeffmacke's TiVO set to 'record' allowing Jeffmacke to watch the program Live and then watch it again and again all... night... long... Woooooooooo."
"Jeffmacke is 'active-viewing' the program even as he types, starting each airing in my best Mr. McMahon Power Suit to cut Jeffmacke's promo [Note to non-aficiondos: The part where I take the mic and vow to unleash the demonic hounds of Jeffmacke's wrath on some poor soul]. Then it's time to stripdown to Jeffmacke's wrestling togs and, after a quick greasing, off to the in-home ring, where Jeffmacke takes on Superfly, the Princess and Mrs. Jeffmacke in a 3 on 1 inter-gender handicap match in tonight's main event."
"Mrs. Jeffmacke's loud threats to 'take the kids and move' should she be forced to wrestle one more time just creates a more interesting Loser-Leaves-Town-Match type of angle (like all born grapplers, Mrs. Jeffmacke is almost disturbingly realistic in her performance)."
...Ok... I think I can keep the rest of this in the non-wrestling first person. But I make no promises and I can't help but wonder if the Rock ever has the same problem, walking around the house referring to himself as The Rock and calling people jabronies.
Back to the stock. The reduction in revenue as a result of the WWE having to move back to the USA Network after spending the last few years on SpikeTV. Spike, "the First Network for Men" didn't want the WWE, preferring to focus on Reality-Based violence between men in tights with their UFC show, "The Ultimate Fighter 2".
The rapid growth of Ultimate Fighting on pay-per-view and basic cable is just one of the secular threats eating into the WWE's traditional markets. Ratings on Spike had been in general decline, as have ratings for wrestling in general since peaking in the late 90's and early 2000.
As you say, the company would seem like a great short if not for the McMahon family's near total control and the ability of the company, by its very nature, to ratchet the cash-flows as they see fit. The wrestling industry has proven harder to kill than roaches over the last century which the McMahon's know better than anyone.
Should the Street's view of the business become too dire (and remember, Vince once suggested that analysts could "kiss his a**"), the family would be able to swallow the entire operation in an LBO, at pennies on the dollar should the fates allow it.
The WWE owns nearly every foot of the professional wrestling library, pre-2002. They have been expanding into VOD in a fairly meaningful way and are "rumored" to be actively culling their massive archives to create even more DVDs and PPV product.
They aren't going anywhere fast but the stock refuses to just go away once and for all. Sort of like Hulk Hogan. If the company can get any traction on USA (see a review of the first show here) or the McMahon's can somehow capture the mood of America for another fleeting period, the stock could have some upside.
In the meantime, I mostly follow it so I can have an excuse to listen to the conference calls, which can be high-humor. And, of course, so I can have the excuse to grease up and teach Superfly how to fake a massive injury ("Slide the blade over your forehead gently").
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