Hello, ladies and gents, and welcome to another edition of the Friday News Update. I'm your humble correspondent, Lawrence Wargrave. There are plenty of news and notes for you as you enter another excellent wrestling weekend, and leading off is some pretty good news concerning the latest effort from WWE Studios, Oculus. The film made over twelve million dollars in its opening weekend, which was good for third place overall behind far more mainstream offerings Captain America: Winter Soldier and Rio 2. In addition, the movie has gotten surprisingly good buzz from critics. Not bad for the fact that from the previews the main protagonist seems to be an antique mirror.
Horror movies are definitely a solid direction for WWE Studios to hang out in. They are in general relatively inexpensive, and they are extremely popular with the under-25 age group every advertiser and promoter covets. Considering the rather spotty history of this outside venture, it's certainly some solid news for Titan Tower. It remains to be seen how long this tenuous hold on the box office is retained, as another horror vehicle is released in another week or so, but a very good start. And no, Oculus is not Isaac Yankem's new career as an optometrist, though one never knows. For now, just call it Latin for easy money. (Rajah)
In case you haven't gotten a chance to catch it, I've included the end scene here:
Close call, but FNU strongly recommends The Grand Budapest Hotel. In other WWE news, the company has some more excitement to report this weekend as they kick off their first-ever tour of Saudi Arabia. They will be appearing in the capital city of Riyadh (remember THAT from high school geography?) and host three straight shows at the Green Hills Stadium. Plenty of talent is on hand for this groundbreaking event, including A-listers John Cena, Randy Orton, Sheamus, The Wyatt Family, and Alberto Del Rio. Also appearing on the card is NXT's Sami Zayn, who really just needs to be on the main roster already.
One interesting sidenote about these events is that due to the culture of the Middle East, these events are being billed as "for males only" and women will not be permitted to attend. This clearly puts WWE in a bit of a difficult situation, as the chance to gain a foothold in another market and all the revenue that comes with it must be weighed against an archaic attitude towards the ladies. With all the effort to get the Divas division recognized as something far more important than an also-ran, not to mention Stephanie McMahon's own on-screen and off-screen power persona, one can't help but feel there is a bit of backsliding here. (Torch)
As WWE's next "special event," Extreme Rules, nears, the card is finally starting to come into focus. As witnessed on this week's Raw (and rumored long before that), it appears the main event will be the reformed Evolution taking on The Shield. This serves as a bit of a "do-over," as fans were already cheering the hounds of justice and jeering Big Dave anyway. Whether new champion Daniel Bryan's battle with the recently remasked Kane serves as an addition to this or as its own stand-alone match (current winds seem to indicate the latter), it's evident that will be the dominant story focus.
Other big matches will be John Cena's rematch against Bray Wyatt (this time taking place inside the friendly confines of a steel cage) and Big E facing off against the winner of the ongoing tournament to face the Intercontinental champion. Smart money remains on the newest Heyman Guy, Cesaro, in a battle of guys who the company felt had way too lengthy monikers. (King of Swing's not bad as far as wrestling nicknames go, but I'd always side with Sultan of Swing myself.) Additional matches are rumored to be Divas champion Paige defending against AJ's running buddy Tamina and some type of a squash match featuring Alexander Rusev. Yet another reason to dislike squash. (Rajah)
Excitement level over this card is best represented by Al Roker:
As for other wrestling news, Ring of Honor made a major announcement this week. They will be making their PPV debut with Ring of Honor: Best in the World 2014 on June 22 in Nashville. This is the first time that an ROH event has been available on all major cable and satellite providers and will cost you around $25. This of course comes at a critical time in the course of wrestling broadcast history, as WWE moves away from the medium (and the term itself) with its fledgling Network and PPV providers counter by telling WWE that they can't quit because they fired them already.
Ring of Honor COO Joe Koff put it thusly: "We are thrilled to announce that ROH is now available live on Pay-Per-View via cable and satellite. Fans hungry for the best wrestling in the world will now have access to their favorite brand of wrestling from the comfort of their couch in stunning high definition, which is something our customers have been demanding for some time."
Overall, this strikes FNU as a smart play. It makes little sense for heirs apparent to charge top dollar for wrestling before they truly rival WWE, and I'd imagine plenty of fans sitting on the fence will be more receptive to parting with less cheddar to watch the event. ROH has always been a breeding ground for many of the guys on the verge of, or centered squarely in, the next level, and this affords a great chance to watch them in action. WWE's eventual departure from the medium means opportunity for others, and Ring of Honor is most certainly competing with TNA for those dollars. I'll be giving it a watch, even if the title reminds me of a certain someone. (INC)
To that end, let's cue up a little Ring of Honor classic in celebration of their announcement
What do you do when you end the Undertaker's vaunted and historic WrestleMania win streak? You disappear off the map completely. Or at least that seems to be what you do when you're Brock Lesnar, as the WWE's part-time player will reportedly not surface until SummerSlam time. Adding to the rather quizzical decision to have the Deadman drop a significant chunk of his mystique to the Beast is the fact that he won't really be around to capitalize on that momentum for quite some time.
Upon coming back, it's assumed that Lesnar will be embroiled in a feud with Daniel Bryan over the WWE Championship, so time will tell on that one. We're also still no closer to learning what the grand plan concerning Taker will be, as Lesnar's contract should be nearing its terminus by next year's big event and one would assume a rematch could still be a possibility. For now, though, don't expect any big solutions. Eat. Sleep. Conquer. Vanish? (Rajah)
A jingle to add your search:
Finally, the heavens must be smiling down upon the Friday News Update, because WWE's "reality" series (which in itself is sort of hilarious, if you ask me) Legends House airs new episodes on Thursdays. By far the most interesting program deigned to be on the Network, it seems like we've been waiting one hell of a long time to finally get a look at this thing. And it does not disappoint.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, WWE takes old-time wrestlers and places them under one roof to drink heavily, do random activities, argue with each other, and leer lasciviously at their curvaceous host. (Your humble correspondent also did all of those things while viewing, so judge not, lest ye be judged.) The participants for this affair are Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hillbilly Jim, Pat Patterson, Tony Atlas, Gene Okerlund, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Jimmy Hart, and Howard Finkel. If you're not hooked by this point, you're a better person than me.
In the debut episode last night, we got just about everything that makes these kind of shows great: Pat Patterson and Jimmy Hart grocery shopping, the cast wandering around a largely gated community trying to hand out baked goods, an uncomfortable moment or two between Hacksaw and Atlas while discussing charity, and Gary Busey. If this is what living with legends is like, count me in immediately.
By far the most interesting person on the show (to no one's surprise) is Piper, who took exactly one episode to go all Ozzy Osbourne on a blender while making his protein shake and closed it out wandering the streets in a bathrobe after slipping out of the domicile. It wasn't all fun and games, though; Piper also had some eerily on point commentary about not being able to ever separate the character of a wrestler from the person themselves. One hell of a debut for the Network's most fascinating show. More, please!
How can this guy not be involved in pro wrestling?
That clears the news desk for this weekend, ladies and gentlemen. As always, I'd like to thank you for taking time to check out the dirt of the day. Have an excellent weekend and I'll see you Tuesday!