Posts Tagged ‘Branding’

Triple H might’ve just killed the longstanding “sports entertainment” mantra spewed by WWE.

The company’s official Twitter account joined a bandwagon trend doing the rounds that sees organisations describe themselves in just one word. That might’ve stumped ex-boss Vince McMahon, because which word would he choose? “Sports” or “Entertainment”?

Hunter didn’t need any of that: ‘The Game’ picked “wrestling“.

It didn’t take long for comments to come pouring in from fans overjoyed to see WWE embrace professional wrestling after decades of kinda/sorta pretending that they do something different to everyone else in the industry. This, if you believe the fanbase, is a giant leap forwards from Trips.

It’s certainly eye-catching, because WWE previously shied away from using terms like “wrestling”, “pro wrestling” and even “wrestler” to describe its own product. Triple H, a man often viewed as a traditionalist who adores the medium, apparently wants those days to end.

This tweet piggybacks on workers calling themselves wrestlers and commentators using the word “wrestling” on major programming like Raw and SmackDown recently. So, it seems Vinnie Mac’s staunch refusal to embrace wrestling in favour of “sports entertainment” has ended.

The Wrestling Observer is reporting that there are currently rumours doing the rounds about Triple H’s plans for NXT going forwards.

According to that scuttlebutt, ‘The Game’ will do away with WWE’s current “NXT 2.0″ branding and revert things back to the more successful ‘black and gold” format fans enjoyed before. At one time, NXT was very much Trips’ baby – he’d probably like to stamp his authority on the show once again.

The Observer theorised that Triple H could headhunt top independent stars once again. Vince McMahon had moved NXT away from that in favour of scouting those he believed had a better chance of succeeding on WWE’s main shows like Raw and SmackDown.

That posed problems, because interest nosedived in NXT once the “2.0” revamp kicked in and people realised it’d be nothing like the old shows. McMahon’s exit could pave the way for smaller workers to find a place within WWE’s system once more.

Triple H was responsible for successful NXT pushes from men like Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano and more. Could that format be on the comeback trail? Don’t rule it out.

A group of former team owners and executives from the original USFL is suing Fox Sports to halt the launch of the new spring football league with the same name, alleging the new USFL is inappropriately using the old league’s branding.

The complaint filed in California on Monday alleges trademark infringement, false advertising and false association by the new league. The group is seeking an injunction to prevent the new league from using any names or logos associated with the defunct league.

The original USFL played games from 1983 to 1985, and the group suing the new league alleges Fox Sports and its partners didn’t properly obtain use of the league’s trademarks and other intellectual property. The suit calls the new league “an unabashed counterfeit.”

The former owners and executives are seeking an order preventing Fox from calling its league the USFL or using the names and logos of any of the original league’s 18 teams. All eight teams in the new league are using the names of 1980s USFL teams.

As The IInspiration, Cassie Lee and Jessica McKay are back together, and they’re already thriving in IMPACT Wrestling. The duo won the IMPACT Knockouts Tag Team Championship in their debut with the company. This triumph was particularly meaningful for Lee and McKay, as it came just a few months after they were released by WWE.

The promotion split the team up near the end of their time there, so when Lee and McKay entered free agency, they were determined to stay together. That’s exactly what they’ve done, and they’re enjoying the ability to show the world what they can do in IMPACT.

In a recent interview with Denise Salcedo, Lee and McKay described the creative freedom they’ve gained in their new home, as McKay noted that IMPACT offers them the chance to make their dreams a reality. On the other, she compared their time in WWE to Groundhog Day because it felt so repetitive.

‘”It’s easy, you know, when we were with WWE, it’s very much Groundhog Day — it’s the same thing over and over and over again,” said McKay. “And you can get into this routine and it’s just, everything’s the same. But for Cass and I, we’ve always wanted more. We’ll never be complacent with our lives or where we are. And that’s why IMPACT was the perfect place for us to call our new home because they give us this whole world and we can step into that, and we can do whatever we have dreamed of. And it’s just amazing, and we’re really fortunate to be a part of IMPACT and to have that creativity and that freedom, and also that trust.”

McKay also expressed her gratitude for her friendship with Lee and made it clear that she’s glad they’re on this ride toegther; she also noted that The IInspiration has a bright future from here on out.

“But yeah absolutely. I’ve always known that Cassie is a damn star, and I’m so glad that I’m her best friend. Because we just make each other people, and there’s no one else on this whole entire world that I’d want my life to be with, so it’s just, you know, we’ve got many years ahead of us. Onward and upwards, as we say.”

Lee then shared her belief that she and McKay are better together, as she sees their team reaching new heights on a journey that promises to be much more “fun” than their previous venture as singles competitors.

“There’s some sort of a saying that I can’t exactly remember right now, but it’s something along the lines of, ‘If you want to go far, go together,’” said Lee. “And when I think of Jess and The IInspiration, whatever it is, whatever brand we create now, or in the future or in the past, I just see us together going so much further than we could go alone. And alone is a lonely road ahead, you know. But together we have so much fun.”

The IInspiration retained their titles at IMPACT Wrestling Turning Point, so they continue to reign supreme as the IMPACT Knockouts Tag Team Champions.

In an appearance on Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette over SummerSlam weekend, WWE star Eva Marie talked about her initial run with WWE. She looks back fondly on the time, especially when she worked the NXT brand and wrestled several stars who are now big names on RAW and Smackdown.

“I really feel like I came in at such a beautiful time,” Eva Marie said. “The girls that I did come in with, immediately on the main roster, now aren’t there. But I did get to go back down to NXT and work without the girls that are killing it now up on the roster. One of my favorite times, when I was still in the company, was when I went back down to NXT and I got to work with Bayley. She’s absolutely incredible. (That’s) my favorite storyline thus far, besides the one I’m currently in.

“But that was obviously going for the title at NXT, and just to learn from her and appreciate the psychology of storytelling and make it compelling was such a cool experience for me. Bayley makes everything look so damn simple, when I’m like ‘what?! What’s going on?!’ So to really kind of have that, and then also be able to work with all the other girls. From Becky to Charlotte to Sasha to Alexa to Carmela, it’s awesome. It’s kind of like a weird deja vu because I’m back with the same crew that I used to work with there.”

Before her NXT run, Eva’s claim to fame with WWE was being part of Total Divas when the show began in 2013. She reflected on how crazy filming the show was and also how she feels Total Divas helped the growth of women’s wrestling.

“So many things were happening at once,” Eva Marie recalled. “And then on top of that you have to think ‘it’s not just a reality show. This is your job.’ You’re trying to be a WWE superstar at the same time you’re trying to navigate and learn the backstage etiquette. You’re trying to learn all of the things. It was definitely interesting, but I wouldn’t change it for the world because I feel like Total Divas also opened up such a different demographic for the wrestling world. It showcased so many women killing it out there.

“There’s so many guys out here that I met that are fans and were like ‘oh my god, thank god for Total Divas. Now my wife, my girlfriend, now she’s going to tune into Monday Night RAW or Smackdown because they saw these girls interacting, good bad or indifferent, while also trying to navigate relationships.’ And that whole kind of situation, as well as travel, TV and the other girls and at the end of the day, chaos. But at the end of the day, (they’re) being a bad ass. So I really feel like Total Divas helped put more of a light on the women’s division.”

Other big stars from Total Divas were Brie and Nikki Bella, who like Eva have gone on to establish brands away from wrestling. While she keeps in contact with former WWE performer Maryse more than the Bellas, Eva is thrilled to see how well they are doing.

“Maryse and I actually talk quite often,” Eva Marie said. “The twins and I don’t bounce ideas off one another, but obviously through social media and stuff we stay in contact. But it’s one of those things where there’s nothing better to see other women, especially women that you worked with, out there murdering it. And I know obviously on Total Divas it showed me and the twins always butting heads and things of that nature, them being the veterans and me just being that rookie. But it’s one of those things where it’s kind of like a sisterhood. You go through the pains and the trials, but then you work through it and you get over it. And then you’re better for it. And now they’re killing it, entrepreneurs, moms. They’re crushing it.”

Eva returned to WWE earlier this year. Eva noted that she reached out to Vince McMahon directly regarding her return to WWE.

“I had a conversation with Vince through emails,” Eva Marie said. “So that’s kind of how it started. Just always keeping in contact via email of things that I was doing outside of WWE, making sure he was fully aware that ‘Eva Marie was ready and willing to come back, whenever you see fit.’ And that door was open on my end. It’s one of those things too where if you want something, go ask for it. Or go get it. And make sure that other person or avenue knows about it so they’re not fully closed off. What’s the worst that can happen? You’re just in the position before, where you were originally.”

Impact Wrestling’s Matt Cardona sat down with Busted Open Radio today and had some advice for some recent WWE releases. Cardona, who was let go from WWE a year ago and saw his fiancée, Chelsea Green, released in April, said the release could work out for all involved, if they’re willing to put in the hustle.

“I tweeted this the other day or something similar, even last month when Chelsea and everybody else got released,” Cardona said. “This can be the best thing for you, if you do the work. If you, you know, bet on yourself and take a chance on yourself and hustle. But if you just think all these promoters are going to book you and you’re going to get all these pay days, that’s probably not going to happen.

“Maybe if you’re Braun Strowman, but for everybody else you’re going to have to work for it and hustle and make a name for yourself again. And make your own merch and, whether it be a side project like a podcast or something, you’ve got to make it for yourself. Because nobody’s going to hand it to you. That I love. I love being in control of my own destiny. Whether I succeed or fail, I just want the opportunity to do that.”

Another thing Cardona stressed as important was selling merchandise. He revealed that he is responsible for shipping his own merchandise from his kitchen.

“It’s extremely important,” Cardona said of creating buzz via merchandise. “If you don’t know how to create your own buzz or create your own merch? You need merchandise. And guess what? You’re going to have to learn to pack it up. I have this whole shipment statement in my kitchen that my fiancée hates. I pack up everything, I have the label maker, I have the post office coming every morning to pick stuff up. That’s what I do.

“That’s part of my, I hate using the word brand, but okay. I need to sell merch. That’s how I feed myself, and live and pay my bills. I’m not getting this check every week in the mail. If I want money, I have to go out and earn it. So you have to hustle and you have to get it, whether it be wrestling or starting your podcast and making your own podcast or doing whatever your passion is. You need to do that and start knocking down those doors.”

Co-host Bully Ray later asked Cardona what he’d like to see change in the wrestling business today. Bringing up his past in WWE, Cardona mentioned how he’d like to see promos become less scripted for talent.

“When I left WWE, and listen I love WWE,” Cardona said. “I’m so grateful for everything I ever got there. I wouldn’t be talking to you right now if it wasn’t for WWE. But I think just the, you’ve heard it a million times, the scripted promos. It really just needs to go. You need to let these guys find themselves. You really do. When I went to AEW and Impact, at first I was like ‘wait, I can just kind of say what I want?’ I’m not going to go out there and embarrass the company and embarrass myself. But I know the point I want to get across.

“They give you a bullet point and go ‘okay, this is the message, this is the general message now say it your own way.’ I feel it should be that way. You need to trust the performer that they’re not going to go out and embarrass you on live TV. I get that. But like, let people get over. Like Stone Cold Steve Austin, drinking the beer, flipping people off, like that was the craziest thing. That was awesome in 97, 98. No one can go out and just start flipping off the crowd now, unless it was in the script. It’s like ‘come on, let the guys be themselves and see what happens.’ There’s so many talented guys, not just in WWE but everywhere. And they just need to take risks. Not everything’s going to work, but that’s how you find yourself.”

On the latest episode of Talk Is Jericho, Chris Jericho sat down with NWA President Billy Corgan. Corgan discussed NWA halting production during the pandemic.

“Wrestling has never been a great financial model. It works in the short term for a little while, but long term, it’s very very difficult to sustain,” Corgan admitted. “Talented people like yourself and Nick Aldis require the compensation that they’re due for being elite at their business and so suddenly, I’ve got all these people under contract and no way to run. We shut down for a while. I kept paying people.

“It didn’t buy me any loyalty, that’s for sure, but we held together, and I think I took the time to kind of think, okay, now if we are going to come back and there were certainly dark days where I thought, ah, this just isn’t worth it, even though I love the NWA and I love the history. But it really kind of steeled my mind. ‘Okay, if I am going to do this and I do get back, what is it going to be? How are we going to tweak it to go in the direction I really wanted to go.’ And so I think that’s been effective. And certainly the early indications are sort of stronger belief in the product and also now with a relationship with Fite, actual pay revenue model for the first time.

“I think it’s all there, and look, what you guys are doing with AEW, the business is moving in this completely new direction, you guys are opening up new vistas that wouldn’t have been there a few years ago. Before AEW I would go in and have meetings in Hollywood, and they’d be like, ‘No one cares about wrestling, no one’s gonna pay for it. If it’s not WWE, right, hit the bricks.. You’re on your own,’ and now suddenly, people are calling me. It’s wild. It’s like, it’s this new era of new eras. It’s fantastic.”

The NWA grew in popularity in large due to their YouTube series Powerrr. Corgan revealed similar plans he had back when he was in Impact Wrestling.

“We did the first show, and Rock, of all people, tweeted about it. I mean, talk about an endorsement just out of the gate, and we were trending number one, which doesn’t happen often, at least for our world,” Corgan noted. “Big deal but let me take that back a few years. So here I am back working at what was TNA, and I’m sitting there with Dixie Carter. I’m allegedly an employee of the company, and I’m begging her, begging her, ‘Please let me do studio wrestling, please’ because if you remember, TNA had a second show called Explosion, basically what you guys do with AEW Dark. It’s more content.

“I was like, ‘Please just give me that show. I’ll do it cheaper than you’re doing Explosion for. It’ll be more fun. We’ll get more social media.’ No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. No one will care. It’ll never work. So of course, when I got the NWA, the first thing, I was like, I’m going to do this show because now it’s my world, and it’s been great. The funny thing was, I never intended Powerrr to be the constant. I saw it almost like a mini series. We do it for a while, and we pivot to something else. So probably more traditional product and people have begged us, ‘Please don’t change the show. If you’re going to do additional content, great, do it, but do not lose Powerrr.’ People literally beg me on the street, ‘Do not lose Powerrr. I love that show so much.’ So it’s great fun.

“We certainly have a lot of fun. Of course, it doesn’t get to cover everything you’d like to cover in terms of what our skill set is as a roster and as a unit, and it certainly highlights great talkers like yourself who can go in and kind of, in five seconds, really engage you and make you care about a match. We’re in a studio setting. It’s not a flip and dive type of thing. It’s very much four minutes, tell your story, get it across, but it’s certainly a lot of fun to do, and of course, you’re always welcome. I’ve certainly got some messages from people behind the scenes saying, ‘Man, I’d love to come on that set and just let it go. A lot of people in the business don’t have the luxury of being able to get on a microphone, just say whatever is on your heart.”

Corgan talked about the challenge of reviving the NWA brand. He also recalled what people said when he bought it.

“I’m proud to carry the mantle of the business in this way. It’s a very specific thing, and of course, the business is far different than it was in the heyday of the NWA,” Corgan noted. “There’s no pretend there. When I bought the NWA and that was coming out of the whole situation with TNA and the debacle and lawsuits, and there was a lot of kind of public acrimony there.

“And then I purchased NWA. Crazily enough, it was owned by one person. It was so devalued. He tried to sell it to everybody. Nobody wanted it, as far as I know. He certainly offered it to WWE. They thought it was so worthless that they didn’t even just buy it just to take it off the market.

“Then when I bought it, Jim Cornette and other people, and I loved Jim. ‘What the hell did he buy? He might as well have bought air. He bought three worthless letters.’ A lot of that type of stuff and certainly I sat around at one point and thought, ‘Well, if I started, Billy Corgan Wrestling or SP Wrestling’, and I thought, no, I want the history. I’ll take that history. I’ll take that on. I like the challenge of that.”

Former WWE superstar Chelsea Green has spoken in the past about her many interests outside of pro wrestling, including her interest in posing for Playboy.

Recently on an episode of her new podcastGreen With Envy, Chelsea Green revealed that she had actually done a tryout for Playboy in Chicago back in the summer of 2010. Green described her experience from the tryout as ‘the best day ever’ and discussed her preparations for the event.

“I get changed into my outfit, I put my lip gloss on, I’ve got my eyeshadow, my skinny little eyebrows going on, and I have my heels on,” Green recalled. “I decided to go for a little hot, hot pink bra and undies set, and I thought I looked like the fucking cat’s meow. I was like, ‘There’s no way they won’t choose me.’

“You go in, there’s a couple of people sitting behind a desk with screens – they’re obviously looking at the shots as they come up… You go in and it’s a photoshoot, plain white backdrop. You basically tell them a little bit about yourselves, tell them what you like to do and why you love Playboy, and why you wanna do it and you pose.”

Green, who has also recently been in talks with Impact Wrestling, went on to discuss the quick photoshoot and recalled what outfit she picked for the day. She also said that during the photoshoot that she was not asked to pose naked, but that she wouldn’t have had any issues regardless.

“It was kind of a very normal casting call. I will say, I don’t believe I got fully naked – I did take my top off, obviously, but I don’t remember taking my underwear off,” remembered Green. “At the time, I was like 20 years old, whatever – I loved my boobs! I had zero issues with my body and I’ve played sports my whole life, so I was in shape and stuff even though I was eating Cheetos for lunch in college.”

While her first audition did not result in a deal with Playboy, Green revealed that she had recently been in touch with the company after an employee reached out to her on social media. She also discussed how Playboy has changed over the years, and how they want to grow their brand.

“I totally feel like we connected, he had such a great vibe about him, and he kinda enlightened me to what 2021 and future Playboy looks like – which is not the brick-and-mortar stuff,” Green noted. “‘It is the digital side things, and the influencing side of things, and blogging, vlogging, hosting, podcasting, all that kind of stuff that they didn’t have before that they want to expand Playboy into.”

Green went on to share her optimism for what the future holds for her. She noted that while she may not receive the opportunity to model for Playboy this year, that next year could be her big chance.

“I do feel really positive about the fact that in the future – and maybe it’s not in 2021, maybe it’s at the beginning of 2022, we’re not sure, but Chelsea Green might be the future of Playboy.”

Paige VanZant is one of the more popular UFC fighters on social media, especially on Instagram. And part of that is why VanZant plans to demand a significant raise when her current contract with the MMA promotion expires. 

VanZant, who is sidelined recovering from another surgery on her injured arm, was in the corner of her husband, Bellator MMA fighter Austin Vanderford, this past weekend. VanZant was a guest on the Ariel Helwani MMA Show and explained her reason for seeking more money in the future. 

“I see these other stars that cross over from other organizations,” VanZant said (thanks to MMA Fighting for the quotes). “Take CM Punk. I don’t think I have quite the same star value CM Punk does. It’s a different industry and he has a huge fan base where he comes from. I’m not saying (the UFC) is devaluing me, but I do know how much money I make in comparison to (Punk, Greg Hardy) and I do want to show the UFC that I’m so much more than just a star outside of fighting.”

VanZant has appeared on a handful of reality shows on major networks and was featured in several magazines even while sidelined with her injury. Overall, she is 8-4 in her career with five of those victories coming in the UFC. 

“The hard thing for me to put in perspective is with endorsements I make way more money sitting at home, posting pictures on Instagram, than I do fighting,” VanZant said. “With endorsement deals and everything I pull in from social media, I would actually be at a loss just taking a fight and focusing on that. If I were to stop everything I do outside of fighting and take a fight, I would be at a loss financially.”