We were told by FITE's COO that the company is extremely happy with Game Changer Wrestling. The promotion has been a big part of FITE's rise to prominence in the i-PPV world. FITE is well aware that there isn't a television platform or option for GCW, and seemed impressed and proud about the growth that the company has experienced in just a year. They also don't have a problem with the niche level of their programming, with the use of light bulbs, hardcore wrestling, themed shows and the like. I'm told that they're happy with how the companies that are broadcast generally police themselves and don't cross a line as far as the content goes, though there are conversations between FITE and the promotions about what can and can't happen. It was also mentioned that on any given week, buys will trickle in for 25 to 30 individual Game Changer Wrestling shows dating back a year.
Fite TV's COO told us that they're actually still bringing in pay-per-view buys from September 2018's All In show. Weber discussed the buying habits of PPVs by sport, and said that wrestling is by far the most evergreen. Boxing will see people buy shows all the way up until the main event, which mimmicks the actual attendance habits of a lot of viewers. Meanwhile, MMA falls more towards the middle, but Weber said that it more closely resembles boxing.
Detractors have long said that pay per view is dead or dying, but Weber claims that inDemand and FITE keep making more money every year. People tried to push those in control at FITE (then Flipps) to a subscription service, but there are so many subscription services that they didn't feel like there was really room for that.
Weber spoke of developing the connection with pro wrestling, and said that he'd known Jeff Jarrett since his days at WCW. The two broke into the wrestling business at the same time, and also ended up working together in TNA, where Weber was VP of Marketing. He says Jarrett knew what he was doing in bringing NJPW to American PPV. Weber says that Flipps and Fite were all very impressed with how the Wrestle Kingdom number did, and said that it's held up over the years, and put over Global Force. Jim Ross and his marketing skills were also compliments.
Weber mentioned an interesting fact that FITE didn't use internet connections for the Starrcast event, they used bonded cellular connections called LiveU Box. He compared it to sticking a bunch of cell phones together, but it's actually cards. He called the move "flawless" and keeps them from having to worry about whatever connection a building has. They use as many as 48-64 servers for some of their larger events, and as few a one server for small events.
Though the initial report of Randy Orton being re-signed had touted it as a "high priority" for WWE, we had actually heard quite the opposite for a while leading up to the signing. Preliminary discussions for the deal were to have started as far back as the Spring, but meetings kept getting pushed back for months. Of course, eventually, the deal came together, but it wasn't as quick and smooth as initially indicated. We weren't given any of the details of Orton's deal, but word backstage was that he'd been paying for his own bus since he got it a decade ago.
Orton utilized whatever leverage he could, especially talking openly backstage about his willingness to hear AEW out, and dropping hints on social media. This was the talk of talent backstage who knew of his meetings being postponed and delayed, with the talking point of "if they'll do that to Randy, they'll do it to anyone" being brought up several times.
Denise Salcedo spoke to Johnny Swinger recently about his return to IMPACT Wrestling. He said that Scott D'Amore made the call to get him there, and that Scott was also responsible for his first real break ever with WCW, and got him into TNA years ago as well. There was a creative idea thrown up and D'Amore thought of Swinger, and he believes D'Amore knows how to use him better than anyone else based on history.
He's been working full-time as a wrestler since leaving WWE, but has been doing it on the southeast independent circuit. He credits that with becoming a better, smarter performer that taught him how to wrestle in front of different crowds. Swinger says that he always knew that he'd be back on the national stage. Swinger spoke highly of the IMPACT roster. He thinks he can help some of the younger talent, and thinks that the younger talent can help him out, too. He specified Brian Cage as someone he wants to work with, but says he isn't narrow minded in that respect and is open to working with anyone on the roster.
I spoke to several WWE Superstars and employees about CM Punk, and all that responded upon the question said they think he's going to end up wrestling again.
One flat out told us they have "no time for CM Punk and nothing to say" about him coming back to the company, while another told us that they would love to work with him in the ring, on promos, or in general. The latter pointed out that there are good stories to tell with CM Punk, and money that follows accordingly.
A couple of long-time WWE names also said that is wasn't a surprise, with one saying MMA was eventually a dead end. Both said they had no problems with CM Punk. Indifference and "not having issues" with Punk seemed the prevailing thought process based on those we spoke to.
Fightful has heard throughout the year that Smackdown Tag Team Titles haven't just been redesigned, but have been ready for quite a while. However, talent hasn't been hip to the change or had any idea when that would or could happen -- or even if it would.
We're told that Fox had made some specific branding requests for championship titles in the past, but weren't given any info on the extent of them.