The WWE begins a run of 20 events, including producing Monday Night Raw, ECW, and Smackdown Thursday night throughout the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland (that's what we used to call Oklahoma back in the Barry Switzer days) and Portugal among other stops.
This Monday and Tuesday the gross ticket sales for the TV events are both close to $1.2M each night in ticket sales. Merchandise sales will likely be stout, as in serious money stout, for the 20 shows.
I would be willing to wager that the mere mention of John Cena, who, as best I know, will only be on the Monday Night Raw show in London in between filming a movie in New Orleans for the WWE, will flood arenas with boos, but at the end of the day Cena will still sell more merchandise than any other WWE Superstar who is on the tour in its entirety.
Yours truly exchanged emails this week with Larry Hamel, a big time sports writer for the powerful Chicago Sun Times about Ric Flair. Larry wrote a nice blurb in the Sunday Sun Times that I picked up while passing thru Chicago's O'Hare Airport Sunday on my way to Albany, N.Y. Larry grew up listening to Gordon Solie while he lived in Florida as a young man and thinks Flair's most lasting legacy might prove to be that Ric was able to transition so successfully when actual wrestling turned to mostly punching and kicking and at the same time became so much more physical.
Speaking of Ric, during the Flair-Terry Funk run, one Saturday Ric was nursing injuries he sustained in a recent match with the west Texas wildman so Terry had the run of the Saturday night TBS show pretty much to himself. I remember Terry dressing up the late Ron Ames, who worked in marketing, in a Flair-like robe, a Barbara Bush as George W.'s mama's wig, and prompted Ron to do Ron's very best "scared" Deputy Barney Fife routine. No one knew what Terry had up his sleeve and all I know is that I had about a 5-10 minute segment scheduled with Terry that was listed as "Funk interview about Flair" on my TV run sheet. Terry called Ric every name in the book, even said that Ric looked like Mrs. Barbara Bush in drag, intimidated for real, Ron Ames, who was having trouble maintaining his bodily functions to which I can attest, and Terry even threatened me with my life every time I tried to wrap up the debacle that lasted just short of "Gone with the Wind". The promo actually worked as virtually every one got angry.....the director who lost control of his show....the wrestlers who were waiting to wrestle, but either had to cut their match time in half or were simply not able to wrestle at all that week...the fans in attendance who loved Ric and hated Terry...and Ric himself who thought Terry was being too entertaining for where the two of them were in their issues' development. Legend has it that Naitch was throwing expensive things and breaking them in his big home in Charlotte while watching Terry Funk interview a skinny, Don Knotts lookalike who was reluctantly impersonating the incomparable Ric Flair, while breaking "significant wind" on SuperStation TBS. Ric and Terry were battling over the title but they also had a strong personal issue attached to the title belt, which made this particular piece of business so memorable.
A personal issue is what is evolving between Shawn Michaels and Batista and neither have to change their present persona's to make it work. I keep reading where one or the other and mostly Batista is going to "turn on HBK" but I don't see that happening. I love surprises as most wrestling fans do, but I think these two men can have their match or matches and HBK will have his fans, as will Batista, but I do expect The Animal to hear more boos than will Shawn. I'm personally invested and interested in this issue.
Reid Flair is going to have to work long and hard and demonstrate great patience and professionalism, while in the WWE Developmental Camp in Tampa, to ever have a chance of casting his own shadow and stepping out from his Dad's. Sons of wrestling Superstars have tall trees to climb...just ask the Gagne's, the Watts', the Graham's, and the Von Erich's to name a few. Patience and self discipline need to be instilled in this young man from the very first day he steps into the environment. I am genuinely anxious to see Reid Flair's progress over the next year or so. Much will be expected of Reid, but he can't forget to have fun learning the family business and that would be the kind of fun a young athlete has inside the facility wrestling and learning new things every day. Not the kind of fun like Reid's Dad, often time accompanied by J.R., used to have when we had no issues ordering 100 cocktails at a time in a bar. I am pulling big time for Reid Flair to simply be "his own man" because there will never be another "the man". Reid was an outstanding amateur wrestler, which will bode well for him while he is learning the ropes.
When I asked Floyd Mayweather for his thoughts on his September fight against Oscar De La Hoya, "Money" simply said to my face, "I'm gonna knock his ass out. End of story." After watching Floyd perform at WM24, it is easy to see up close and personal that Mayweather is an athletic freak with the marketing awareness of Muhammad Ali in the Champ's best, stirring the do-do days. I have said it for years, great bad guys are the one's that make people leave their homes and pay good money to come see them get their asses handed to them and to be humbled.
BTW Which one is Hawkings and which one is Ryder? You know 'em, those two, talented young guys who need some individual identity. I enjoy their work but half the time I don't know what one is which.
I see where Maria is going to referee some Women's Title Bouts on the international tour. Don't get me wrong, seeing Maria in a sexy officiating attire doesn't hurt my feelings and just because I'm on a diet doesn't mean I can't look at the menu, but Maria's lack of experience in this role may not bode her well. We'll know soon enough. But a referee shirt never looked so good.
It looks as if yours truly is going to attend the Cauliflower Alley Club get together in Vegas on June 10-11, or at least that is my plan at this time. I am trying to recruit Stone Cold to attend with me those two days, which are after we do Raw in Oakland on June 9. Steve is like me in as much as he has to clear some pending projects to make those dates work. We will be really close in getting into our second restaurant about that time. If we aren't. I may be in jail for assaulting the head honcho of the construction crew.
The great Gordon Solie is called the Dean of Wrestling Announcers, but did you know that Gordon's former traveling buddy, the Memphis Icon Lance Russell, actually started broadcasting wrestling 3 years before the Dean? Lance used to always kid Gordon about being Lance's "junior" while allowing Gordon to still be called "The Dean of Wrestling Broadcasters". Lance celebrated his 82 birthday about a week before WM24 and we had a great telephone conversation. Lance did not drink, so he was ALWAYS the designated driver when he and Gordon traveled.
Mrs J.R. and your truly are investing in the Sleep Center business, which is one of the fastest growing business opportunities in the country these days thanks to more and more people discovering that they have Sleep Apnea. I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea about a year ago and I honestly believe it has changed my life and I don't feel it is too much of a stretch to say it has most likely saved my life. During my sleep test I stopped breathing 40 times in two hours with the longest time being 45 seconds. I was a heart attack waiting to happen. I had stopped having REM sleep so many years ago I couldn't remember when I had my last dream. Now I feel like a new person and I credit my quick recovery from some of my ailments to the fact that I can now get a good night's sleep every night. NFL Hall of Famer and one of our favorite folks, Reggie White, died of sleep apnea because he wouldn't wear his mask that helps one breath. I am a firm believer that if one snores, has restless leg syndrome while sleeping and/or stops breathing for various intervals of time that I would get a sleep test done immediately and save your life. If you can't motivate your self to be tested which most insurance covers and consists of going to a facility and simply going to sleep, then contact your lawyer and draw up your will. You gonna need it.
People are reality show crazy these days. I think a great reality show for wrestling fans would feature Jerry Lawler, Bruno (Harvey Whippleman) Lauer, and yours truly on road trips. A rental car manned with lipstick cameras and mics to pick up the conversations that could be backed up with the footage we discuss would be entertaining. Three redneck guys traveling around the world, telling lame jokes some multiple times, locker room stories (you should have seen the size of that thing!), dishing the dirt on people, especially the ones that have passed away or are no longer in the business and wouldn't likely become armed and dangerous, discussing the issues of the day on the national news, sports, Lawler's adventures with 20 something year old women, not using "Never Lost", bitching and moaning about the way things are, and making major group decisions like where to eat and where to stay. There would have to be one episode that features flatulence. Some of you may not know it but Harvey has quite the cult following in many foreign countries and actually at one time wed a lovely young woman from abroad. This concept is a hit folks....I can feel it! Stay tuned.
Not that I plan a head to work in my OU Football games with my WWE schedule, but the next time we broadcast RAW in the UK will be on November 10, which means I will be able to attend the Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M college football in College Station, Texas on November 8 and most likely drive down to Houston and fly out of there. Priorities are priorities.
The WWE is already starting to plan for WM25 next April in Houston and I sure hope J.R.'s Family Bar-B-Q can have a presence down in Houston selling sandwiches, sauces, Jerky, Big Nuts T shirts, peanuts, and who knows what else we will come up with by April 5, 2009. We met on this matter in our store Tuesday when I returned from Albany. I would like to host a J.R.'s Bar-B-Q eating contest a la the Hot Dog Eating Contest from Coney Island that ESPN airs annually. Ever see a Bar-B-Q Diva? We we got 'em here in Norman and they are all ready to spend a week raising hell in Houston!