WWE Elimination Chamber 2018 Review

WWE Elimination Chamber 2018 Review

A By the Numbers PPV

If WWE intended just to tick the boxes going into Wrestlemania, then Elimination Chamber this year did the job. With Wrestlemania 34’s lineup being more than spoiled online at this point, WWE kept its Raw champions looking strong going into the road to Wrestlemania. On a night the Women debut in the Elimination Chamber, will WWE be able to brew some intrigue into the night?

Women’s Elimination Chamber (WWE Raw Women’s Championship)

The match started off with Sonya Deville in the ring against Bayley. The two started off with some back and forth mat work that came off awkward at first, but the two got more into a rhythm outside the ring. Mandy Rose soon joins the two, and the double teaming ensued. Rose and Deville showed some great coordination together against Bayley; the two have gelled well as a unit.

With no eliminations happening, despite Absolution having a numbers advantage, the next person out of their pod was Sasha Banks who quickly evened up the odds for her friend. Sasha was then able to throw the Bank Statement on Rose who tapped out for the first elimination of the night as Bayley kept Deville from making the save. Sasha and Bayley worked Deville for a while until Mickie James was the next entrant into the match. Mickie came in and was instantly the highlight of the match for me. Her execution of moves compared to most of the women in this match showed just how polished in the ring Mickie is. Mickie highlighted her run in the match by coming off the top of a pod for a Thesz press onto Deville for a pinfall elimination. Soon after, Mickie is hit with a Bank Statement, and a Bayley to Belly and Mickie is eliminated. Sasha and Bayley then take a break while waiting for Alexa Bliss to come out her pod.

Bliss attempts to keep Bayley and Sasha away by holding her pod door closed. She then escapes through the other side, and a chase on the side wall of the chamber starts. Bayley and Sasha eventually close in and bring Bliss down to the ring. The match then proceeds much like many of their three-way matches have gone. Bayley and Sasha have Bliss on top of a pod on the ropes, when Sasha betrays Bayley with a kick that sends her to the floor. The team them go at each other. Bayley hits a Bayley to Belly off the top ropes on Sasha, but as she goes for the pin, Bliss rolls her up for the elimination.

It’s down to Sasha and Bliss in the end. Bliss and Sasha are getting better chemistry in the ring, and this showed it. Sadly a sequence of a Twisted Bliss of the top of a pod into a Bank Statement was stumbled and ruined the flow towards the end of the match. After the failed Bank Statement, Sasha tries to go up top, but Bliss catches her for a top rope DDT and the pinfall victory.

The women’s chamber was by far the best match of the night. I can’t wait to see all the top women talent in the chamber at the same time once the brand split PPV’s are over. Had the match had the same pace as when Mickie came in, it would’ve been incredible

Winner: Alexa Bliss (c)

The Bar vs. Titus World Wide (Raw Tag Team Championship)

WWE attempted to build some intrigue into this match by having Titus World Wide score some victories over the bar leading into this match, but we knew this outcome was imminent. This match may have been WWE’s chance to have a legitimate surprise winner on the card, but it didn’t happen.

For most of the match, it was The Bar working over Apollo in the ring. Eventually, Apollo got the hot tag into Titus, who got a few big boots in, but it wasn’t that impactful. Titus hit a Clash of the Titus on Sheamus for a near fall. Apollo hits a splash on him for another near fall. Apollo then attempts to go for a slam on Sheamus when Cesaro chump blocks him. The Bar hit a White Noise on Apollo for the win.

Winner: The Bar (c)

Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt

This match started off with Matt playing mind games by disappearing on Bray Wyatt in the middle of the ring. Matt’s then starts speaking about deleting Bray and whatever else he said. Look this feud doesn’t mean anything, and we all know it. If this feud were leading up to the Wyatt Family against The Broken Universe then maybe it would have been cool. However, we just got a flat match that even the crowd was not into at all.

Matt hit a Twist of Fate on Bray Wyatt for the win. Reminder, this is the same PPV last year that Wyatt won the WWE Championship. What a difference a year can make.

Winner: Matt Hardy

Ronda Rousey Contract Signing

Ronda and Stephanie Elimination Chamber

Ms. MMA herself Ronda Rousey’s official contract signing was held. Interesting that her contract is just her name in size 36 font, but I’m not WWE’s lawyer, so I don’t know better. We got to hear Ronda speak for the first time, and begrudgingly she wasn’t that great. The signing was pretty awkward until Kurt Angle got involved, revealing this was plan hatched by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon ever since Wrestlemania 31 “to control the bit-.” Sadly Triple HHH escorted Angle before he could cut PG-13, but the seeds of distrust are sewn.

Ronda then became hesitant to sign the contract, and Angle fed fuel to the fire by saying Stephanie said Ronda was washed up. This caused Ronda to corner Stephanie, and HHH interfered. After some posturing, Ronda put HHH through the table in the ring. Stephanie then slapped Ronda but backed off before Ronda could retaliate. Ronda then signs her contract and tosses it on the massacred HHH.

The segment did a good job of setting up the future match at Mania between the four of them. They made sure to emphasize Ronda’s lack of special treatment and non-title opportunity at Mania. Hopefully, everything gels nicely in the coming weeks.

Men’s Elimination Chamber (#1 Contender for Universal Title)

For a match built on a premise of unpredictability, we already know who would be first in the chamber, The Miz, who would be last, Elias, and who was going to win, Roman Reigns. So with that in mind, let’s see how WWE could keep this enthralling.

The match starts off with The Miz, Finn Balor, and Seth Rollins in a triple threat. And man it starts slow. With three high work rate superstars, it starts off with tepid ring work and a string of roll-ups. No one looks strong at the start of this match at all. Eventually, the next pod opens up, and it’s John Cena in at #4, who immediately starts talking back and forth with Rollins for about thirty seconds. Boring. Eventually, the four start brawling. A pair of superplexes take out all four competitors when #5, Roman Reigns, is released from his pod. Roman takes control of the match, but Miz gets the upper hand during an exchange between Roman and Rollins and gets a near fall. A couple of near falls are exchanged between superstars until #6, Braun Strowman is released. The match takes a drastic turn after this.

One by one Braun just eliminates everyone with a power slam. Braun is quickly hit with a flurry of finishers and is taken out initially, but no one can capitalize by pinning him. Elias is released and attempts to pick some scraps, but only gets near falls. Braun then recovers and can power slam Balor after he hits a coup de grace on Reigns. Braun then continues to more or less whip everyone’s ass culminating in a power slam and elimination for everyone but Reigns. In typical Reigns fashion, he outmaneuvers Braun for a pair of spears and the victory. Braun then destroys Reigns after the match.

With such a star-studded lineup, you would think this would have been one of the better chambers. Last year’s chamber saw Wyatt take home a surprise championship victory, and this year was the antithesis. Having Braun mow through everyone and then lose to Reigns is a cliche at this point. The match may as well have just been Braun versus Roman. Maybe they could’ve had a Men’s elimination chamber for the Intercontinental Title? They’ve done it before, and without Roman or Braun the match probably would’ve been less predictable. The quality of this match is a sad downturn from last year’s classic. Roman vs. Brock Lesnar is now officially set for Wrestlemania 34.

Winner: Roman Reigns (New #1 Contender)

Overall the PPV wasn’t that good. The Women’s chamber match was the highlight of an otherwise underwhelming night. Some intrigue definitely would’ve elevated this card, but with such predictable matches set for the night, there was none to be had.

Match of the Night: Women’s Elimination Chamber

Wrestler of the Night: Mickie James


Markus X. Murden, Esq.

Senior Editor/Heels of Wrestling

@MXMurden and @TheHowPod

A Fall From Grace with Dustin Briggs

Dustin Briggs is back and he’s got a match under his belt this time. We check in with Dustin to see how his career is trajecting. Dustin also joins us in breaking down the current stte of WWE wrestling. Like, comment, and subscribe.

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WWE Financial Review

Recently, WWE’s  2017 Q2 Financial Report was released. While it would seem that this quarter was strong, compared to years before, it’s taken some bigger spots to average out WWE’s books. Some of these trends should be worrying to WWE.

The following is a continued strategic analysis of the World Wrestling Entertainment Corporation (WWE). The following is profile information on the organization.

  • Company Name – World Wrestling Entertainment, an integrated media organization recognized as a leader in global entertainment.
  • The Company has four principal divisions within the organizational structure. Media 2. Live Entertainment 3. Products 4. Studios
  • The company Headquarters is in Samford, Conn.
  • Statement of Purpose, the WWE consists of a portfolio of businesses that create and deliver content 52 weeks a year to a global audience. WWE is committed to family friendly entertainment on its television programming, pay per view, digital media, and publications platforms.
  • With 115 Wrestlers, 28 Broadcast Personalities, 12 Ambassadors, 16 on the Board, 14 Senior Leaders, the company employees thousands to support these personalities and its programs on a global front. With offices in Ct, Mexico City, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, NY, LA, London, Munich, and Tokyo.
  • Financials for year end 2015
  • 659 Million in Revenue, a 21% growth in Revenue
  • 5 Billion Market Cap
  • 36 Million Dividend Payout
  • 2016 Q2 Financial Reporting shows revenue increased 32% (13% excluding the timing impact of WrestleMania1) to a record $199.0 million as WWE’s Live Event and Network segments achieved their highest quarterly revenue in Company history.
  • OIBDA2of $7.5 million was in line with the Company’s guidance
  • WWE Network reached a record of 1.52 million average paid subscribers over the second quarter 2016, which represented a 25% increase from the second quarter 2015
  • SmackDown transitioned to a live format on USA Network. Since July 25, WWE’s flagship programs, Monday Night Raw and SmackDown, have and will continue to feature unique talent and storylines
  • Through the first six months of the year, digital engagement metrics continued to grow with video views up over 100% to nearly 8 billion and social media engagements up 39% to 570 million versus the prior year
  • Stock Exchange – NY Shock Exchange tag WWE and as of 12:46 pm 10/3/16 the stock was trading at $20.92.
  • The Chairman & CEO of the WWE is Vincent K. McMahon.

McMahon, a visionary promoter and recognized presence as a broadcast leader, joined his father’s company, Capital Wrestling in 1972. Ten Years later he bought the company from his father, established the WWE and took it to the National Market through a newly formed cable network division that started with pay per view and strategically grew to a monthly subscription format.

McMahon’s strategy for the company was to leverage the new technologies of pay per view and closed-circuit television. He used this strategy for the first WrestleMania in 1985. By using these platforms, he has established and built not only a brand that people would watch in syndication but he also built the WWE into a brand that people would pay to watch. This strategy proved to be successful and by the year 2000 more than a million fans purchased WrestleMania X6. For the year 2000, this event was the most watched combat sport event in pay per view history. The strategy and brand loyalty continued and by 2014 the WWE launched its first ever 24/7 direct to consumer network in the United States. As McMahon’s direct to consumer strategy continues to grow the WWE events are continuing to show record-breaking attendance.

This year, WrestleMania 32 set a new attendance record of 101,763 fans. All their formats for Direct to Consumer are showing signs of success for the company. From its live events at its core to its television programming 52 weeks a year, to its newest monthly subscription, the WWE’s syndication strategy is working. The Company has created a brand, like no other in the entertainment industry, and with that brand has created great brand loyalty. They have rewarded that loyalty with continued enhanced ways to view their programming.

In looking at the financials for the WWE their OBIBDA was 35.1 million. They have 80 million in cash on hand and 190 million in available credit. Their current EPS is fluctuating between $20 and $21 / share on the NY stock exchange. Their Debt to Assets on their 2016 Q2 report shows Liabilities at 180.1 million and total Assets at 396.1 million. Important to note in looking at the entertainment industry is the payments related to the Company’s television rights agreements as well as payouts of management incentive compensation which can have a direct impact on cash flow and liquidity. This is not unusual for sports entertainment personalities. In the National Baseball League, they put a cap on salaries so no one team can have a competitive advantage in the sport. With the WWE there is no cap on salaries for the wrestlers with regards to competitors so they must not over extend their cash flow by over paying more popular personalities in their employ to avoid any negative cash flow or liquidity.

NXT has formed an alliance with the WWE and is to them as AAA is to the NBL. They are a feeder for them. The only other competition is the Ring of Honor. This wrestling company was purchased in 2011 by the parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting Group. The SBG is the largest television station operator owning 156 stations in 80 markets as well as 4 radio stations and the Ring of Honor Wrestling. Although the ROH was never a strong competition to the WWE, with this new parent company it has the potential to have a real presence if the SBG parent company chooses to focus on this small new division of its company. It is currently holding live events and pay per view events. SBG had 2 Billion in revenue in 2015 from its media group. They list out their TV channels, FOX, CBS, ABC, and others on their balance sheet but ROH is not listed. They could be lumped into their other assets line which is minimal compared to their TV channels income. Their stock was listed at $28.88 / share. They have 422 million in operating income and list Revenue in excess of 2 billion. The only thing found on ROH in the financial report was a national contract with Destination America to broadcast 26 weeks of wrestling. This parent company is clearly focused on their TV channels.

If they should put some focused effort on the ROH division they could make it more of a competitor to the WWE, cutting into their share of the market. They seem to be the only threat to the WWE in the national market place today. Their corporate Head Quarters is in Baltimore, MD. Their parent company is financially strong but is not diverse. They have a TV and Radio stage for the ROH. They know how to create on air personalities but they are not in the sporting entertainment field in any of their portfolios except for ROH. Certainly, a company that the WWE should keep an eye on.
Identification of Company Sources of Competitive Advantage VIRO Criteria.

In the WWE 2016 Q2 financial report it lists 1.2 million as cash used for capital expenditures as its cash flow source. Additionally, it lists purchase of property and equipment source, purchase of corporate air craft, as 8.8 million as a negative drain on cash flow. So they spent more than they had cash on hand by 7.6 million. In terms of VIRO, or the firm’s strategy. The value of the firm’s ability to exploit an opportunity is high due to its positive cash flow as well as a currently available credit line of 199 million. Now being a monopoly with a unique product form could make them blind to a competitor until it is too late. Take Blockbuster as an example. The all American way to rent a movie seen on every corner across America was taken down by a concept of direct to consumers with net flicks. They stole a huge market share and Blockbuster started closing stores as it rental boxes in supermarkets was too little too late for consumers.

The WWE needs to take a lesson from Blockbuster and be sure to be mindful of the competition out there. Rarity is strong as there are few people in control of the resources of the company. Those few have to make smart decisions on capital investments in salaries as well as luxury items like the airplane listed on the cash flow 2016 Q2 report. Imitability is strong as building a brand of solid characters and stories takes a special talent of writers to create the characters and talent to fit the roles. The company appears to be well organized in four key divisions. In conclusion, in terms of VRIO, the WWE corporate structure and strategies, as well as controls, seems to be solid.

The WWE brand is solid in the entertainment industry. They have very little competition in wrestling entertainment and none that currently leverages the syndication and monthly subscriptions that the WWE offers to its customers. The largest competitors in the National Market are ROH ( Ring of Honor) and NXT. The WWE has embraced the NXT and is using them as a feeder for its future personalities/performers. The writers at the WWE are world-class in their ability to create meaningful story lines behind the performers to make them part of the WEE Brand and leverage the personalities/talent coming up through the NXT to create new story lines. The Ring of Honor wrestling group based in Baltimore, MD with David Smith as CEO was not a threat to the WWE until they were bought out by the Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG). The Sinclair Group is the largest owners of TV stations owning the likes of Fox, CBS, and ABC and others as well as 4 radio stations. The Ring of Honor has financial backing and TV and radio presence and is on the Pay per view front with the WWE.

They have not done any monthly subscriptions but this could be part of their future strategies for growth and if it is then the WWE needs to keep an eye on the ROH as they could become a stronger competitor in the future. Another privately held company to watch is the UFC. The UFC has personalities and are leveraging the pay per view networking for their events and do have live events as well. They are modeling themselves after the WWE. Now their mixed martial arts offering is a different sport from wrestling so although not a direct competitor in the same entertainment offering, the UFC could take some of their market share in the monthly subscription if the UCF offers this form and continues to grow its personalities. The consumers may decide to have one monthly subscription yearly and flip-flop between the two sports.

I would recommend that the WWE continue to connect with their consumers. I would recommend they add two things to their strategy to continue to retain and grow their consumer base. First I would recommend that they leverage mobile devices through the WWE AP and continue to develop this AP as a means to not only watch broadcasts on the go but also to connect with their customers through live blogs and live streaming interactive events. They need to create a FaceBook merged with Twiter type platform for WWE where the customers can share photos and interact with the stars of the WWE. My second recommendation would be to grow their international subscriptions. Current U.S. subscription revenue is 940 million and the international is only at 277 million. Part of their international growth strategy should include the enhancements to the WWE AP as well as advertising to increase their international subscriber base.

They need to keep an eye on ROH as their parent company could decide to invest in their wrestling division to make it a stronger competitor to the WWE. They have been the parent company for several years and perhaps have not focused on the division for growth. In 2015 they signed a contract for 26 TV shows for the ROH. They seem to be using their core business and contacts to leverage the new wrestling arm to SEG but have yet to try more than pay per view & live events with this division. The ROH does not have the brand recognition or following that the WWE has. Customer loyalty can change with the right introduction of a new product from but in the case of the WWE, they seem to still have a loyal and dedicated following for their personalities and their sport that appears to continue to grow year over year. That kind of customer base is hard to penetrate as long as the WWE continues to provide quality programming to its customers.