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Screwed By The Network / Pro Wrestling

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  • This almost happened to five shows, as the formation of Pro Wrestling NOAH didn't just involve most of the wrestlers and behind the scenes staff abandoning All Japan Pro Wrestling for it in droves but also Nippon Television deciding that after 27 years now would be the perfect time to stop airing All Japan in favor of the shiny new company featuring their old talent. NOAH founder Mitsuharu Misawa turned out to be nice enough to help All Japan a little in their last shows on the network rather than use them exclusively to promote himself, allow some of their events to remain on NTV G+, which gave AJPW time to shop and get decent(ish) deals, Gaora acquiring B-Banquet and Battle Archives, Fighting TV Samurai getting King's Road and Royal Road Club.
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  • How about a company screwed by the network? In 2001, AOL Time Warner was openly looking to sell WCW, producer of the highest-rated shows for TNT (WCW Monday Nitro) and TBS (WCW Thunder), fretting over sagging ratingsnote  and growing executive hostility over the industry of professional wrestling. A group of investors, led by WCW head booker Eric Bischoff, had a deal in principle to take over the company and absorb the production costs that the network had been covering. However, with WCW eating up two hours of prime time and the company millions of dollars in the red with no evidence things were going to get any better, Jamie Kellner, then the Turner Networks CEO, decided to cancel all WCW programming from Turner networks, torpedoing the deal. Vince McMahon (head of WCW's longtime rival World Wrestling Federation) then swooped in and bought out WCW's remaining assets (mostly wrestler contracts and its deep tape library) for pennies on the dollar. That said, Kellner had wanted to cancel the unprofitable company for a quite a while, and the only reason WCW stayed on TV for as long as it did was the intervention of Ted Turner, who had a soft spot for wrestling. Once Turner was out of power at the network, Kellner was supported by everyone at the company.note 
  • ECW's relationship with TNN, as exemplified in a now-infamous shoot by then-chairman Paul Heyman on a June 2000 airing of ECW on TNN in which TNN refused to air a match originally scheduled for the show (it ended up airing on ECW's syndicated program, ECW Hardcore TV), was turbulent: "You have to be an ECW fan to watch this show, because, God knows, the network has never put out one freaking commercial or one press release to let you know that we're here!" Heyman would go on to explain in the WWE-produced documentary The Rise and Fall of ECW that he blamed TNN's double-dealing for the demise of ECW; TNN rather publicly negotiated with, and subsequently signed, WWE to their network while marginalizing ECW further and further by the week, but refused to pull the trigger and actually cancel ECW, which prevented him from shopping the show around to other networks. In the last few months of the TNN run, Heyman was in open Writer Revolt, ramping up the show's offensive content and brazenly insulting TNN and its execs in an attempt to incite TNN to finally cancel the show in hopes of finding greener pastures elsewhere. The plan ultimately backfired on ECW when TNN finally did cancel the program...and ECW found themselves to be completely dried out of funds, sending the promotion into bankruptcy a year later. Ironically, Heyman would later sign with WWE after the bankruptcy and the latter would end up buying ECW's assets from bankruptcy court two years later.
    • A lot of this came simply as a result of leverage and negotiating power. Whereas WWE and WCW were proven powerhouses with huge resources behind them, ECW for all the loyalty it had from its loyal fanbase, where almost a blip on the radar in comparison and had no proven track record as far as national television ratings, and so were on the outside looking in. Part of the deal in letting ECW on their air is that TNN wanted a much more professional quality production value, more akin to the aforementioned WWE and WCW, where ECW's shaky camerawork and at time grainy picture quality and sound were subpar in comparison. A more established company would have been able to negotiate for the cable company to foot the bill on the increased production costs, but Heyman ended up having to pay millions out of pocket for new cameras, microphones, new sets, and other equipment to bring their broadcasts up to scratch. Ratings on the network were good and the payments ECW received for their programming were a windfall, but maintaining the production quality was a huge line item in the budget, and as the Monday Night Wars went into full swing, ECW didn't have the money to keep their top stars signed. With more talent heading out than coming in, ratings and revenue began to fall, but Heyman was contractually bound to deliver programming of the specified quality, so he couldn't unilaterally drop out of the deal, nor trim the budget to account for the lesser income. TNN were singularly unmoved, as they saw ECW as a testing ground for their eventual WWE television deal, so with the writing on the wall, Heyman's only hope was the aforementioned open antagonism in hopes of getting his own show cancelled so he would be free of its obligations and be free to regroup and start over. TNN, though, strung him along until they were ready to bring WWE's Raw onboard.
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  • Time for promos and actual pro wrestling matches, as well as the budget to actually improve Wrestling Society X was constantly cut into by executives who cared little about the quality of the product, or even promoting the show. Eventually, the show was cancelled after El Mesias hit someone with a fireball.
  • WGTW-48 would arbitrarily shift CZW's shows through the most unfavorable time slots possible before finally stating outright they didn't like the content and canceling the deal.
  • UPN attempted to screw WWE by moving WWE SmackDown into the famed Friday Night Death Slot (where it would face not only constant pre-emptions for local sports, but the loss of a good portion of its audience to people getting out and doing stuff on Friday nights), in order to try and pressure WWE into keeping Monday Night Raw on Spike TV. However, thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign by WWE (even rebranding the show Friday Night SmackDown!), the show managed not only to not lose any viewers, but gained enough ground that it was renewed by UPN for another two years, ensuring that it would be one of the few UPN shows picked up by the post-merger CW.
    • They ultimately wound up screwing them anyway; despite the high ratings, The CW declined to renew the program when their contract went up in 2008, primarily because the series didn't fit with the network's more teen-oriented output that UPN didn't have. SmackDown moved to the much-less-notable MyNetworkTV in late September 2008, and started beating The CW in ratings by a good margin.....until it got screwed by the Memphis and Des Moines affiliates when those stations decided to dump MyNetworkTV after they went to a syndicated model in September 2009. In both cases, however, the CW affiliate picked SmackDown up for Saturday nights and got station upgrades otherwise. The rest of the MyNetworkTV schedule was blissfully ignored by both of them. SmackDown would then move to Syfy in September 2010 and remain there for almost six years before it finally joined Raw on USA Network.
    • When WWE was ready to move Raw back to its original home on the USA Network, Spike TV went out of its way to keep them from promoting the move. Compare this to how USA handled SmackDown's move to Fox in October 2019, when the network allowed them to publicly advertise the move on their final broadcast there (though USA successfully renewing Raw and acquiring WWE NXT also helped).
  • YouTube has had a contentious relationship with official pro wrestling channels. The Professional Girl Wrestling Association's first channel was shut down due to "copyright violations", even though the only content not owned by PGWA would have been the wrestlers themselves.
  • IWA Puerto Rico had already been ignored by Telemundo, having Impacto Total moved around the schedule or simply not aired. But when NBC took over, it went beyond apathy into malicious intent; they refused to advertise or notify anyone of IWA's existence.
  • Impact Wrestling, under their former name (TNA Wrestling), has had a very turbulent relationship with almost every network their weekly programming was broadcasted on.
    • Initially TNA Impact! was picked up by FOX Sports Network. They were placed on Fridays at 3pm, constantly preempted, and with virtually no advertisement (aside from mentioning them in The Best Damn Sports Show Period, where host Chris Rose infamously dissed ''Impact'' while wearing "Wrestling is fake" t-shirt). Suffice to say, it didn't work, and they left FOX, moving Impact to syndication in places where TNA Xplosion was airing, and uploading weekly episodes on their website.
    • Later Spike TV picked them up purposefully to stick it to WWE for moving Raw away from them. During its run, Impact would become one of Spike's flagship shows. Their partnership abruptly ended when then-President Dixie Carter secretly rehired controversial wrestling figure Vince Russo as a consultant, despite Spike specifically prohibiting her from doing so.
    • Relationships with their next broadcast partner, Destination America, deteriorated quickly. Out of the gate the network demanded title changes and rejected episodes they didn't like. Dixie Carter allegedly insulted the network management for not promoting their show.
    • TNA Impact and TNA Reaction aired on Bravo in the UK. Sky picked up Challenge alongside Bravo (and their actual targets, the Living TV series of networks), who closed the latter network down. As Sky already aired WWE, there was no room for Impact on their channels, so these two shows had been screwed into a No Export for You situation until TNA was picked up by Challenge in February 2011. Ultimately, Impact would go from being only available to people who pay a subscription to being available on nearly every television in the UK.
  • WWE's Saturday Morning Slam on The CW's Vortexx was a last ditch effort by The CW (after they had dropped SmackDown several years before) to continue business relationships with the WWE. It was significantly toned down compared to RAW and SmackDown in order to both appease the children's fanbase, despite WWE's primary audience being adult men, and meet The CW's strict TV-Y7 guidelines for its children's programming. The show was moderately successful despite this. When time came for contractual renewals, however, The CW tried to Retool the program into a WWE news magazine rather than the taped matches it had during its run. WWE, understandably, rejected The CW's debasing proposal, and the inability to come up with a compromise led to the plug being pulled after just one season.
  • Pro Wrestling NOAH itself lost its television deal in 2012 when it was revealed their management was working with a yakuza company, even after Counselor Haruka Eigen publicly demoted the members of management in question in an effort to save face.
  • In Canada, Lucha Underground got hit with this after it was picked up by Corus Entertainment's TLN. Perhaps owning to the show's seasonal format, TLN thought it was a good idea to air the show all the way back at season one, rather than premiere season two around the same time as El Rey Network in the United States. To be even more tedious, after originally airing the show on Sunday nights, TLN kept moving the show around its schedule. Throw in some limited advertising, and the fact that TLN is mostly geared to a general audience, and it was ensured that fans would stand a better chance of keeping up with the U.S broadcasts by sticking to illegal streams. More over, with Netflix streaming previous seasons of the show in Canada, there's no need for fans to put up with the network's poor treatment of the past seasons anyways. Around the time the fourth season premiered in the U.S, Lucha reruns were quietly moved to sibling EuroWorld Sport.
  • Of course, an individual wrestler getting screwed by a wrestling promoter is a tale as old as time in the business. The Montreal Screwjob has been talked about ad nauseam, but there have been plenty of other examples that weren't even the doing of Vincent K. McMahon, many of which led to the promoters screwing over themselves by wrecking their promotions in the process:
    • Hulk Hogan first rose to huge popularity in the AWA in the early 80s, but promoter Verne Gagne refused to put the championship on Hogan, claiming he “wasn’t a good enough athlete.” Hogan later claimed Gagne told him he would only make Hogan champ if Hogan gave him a cut of the money he was making independently in Japan. After being made to endure multiple screwjob finishes against champion Nick Bockwinkel, Hogan decided enough was enough, went to work for Vince McMahon, and the rest is history.
    • Kerry Von Erich was the golden boy of the Von Erich Family and their Texas-based WCCW promotion in the 80s. But he could never become world champion largely because of how much political clout Jim Crockett had in the NWA to keep the belt on his territory’s top man, Ric Flair.note  Numerous times in the early 80s, Kerry would face off against Flair only to be cheated out of the belt in some way. The NWA finally let him win the belt in May 1984 note  only to make him drop it back to Flair 18 days later. It ultimately led to the Von Erichs pulling their territory from the NWA and going solo – one of multiple moves that led to the NWA losing its power as a top wrestling organization.
    • Jerry Lawler may have been champion in the final years of the AWA, but even he was not immune to the meddling and screwing over from Verne Gagne. After the “unification” match at Superclash III in 1988 between Lawler and WCCW champion Kerry Von Erich ended in a controversial finish because neither promotion was willing to let their champ put over the other, the plan supposedly became for Lawler to buy WCCW from the Von Erichs with the help of Jerry Jarrett, and they would merge the titles eventually anyway. But then Gagne decided he didn’t want the AWA title merged at all and refused to pay Lawler (and multiple other wrestlers) what he was owed for the Superclash match. Lawler in turn refused to return the AWA belt he still had and continued to use it in his own promotion. Gagne made a new belt and gave it to Larry Zbyszko, but the fallout from Superclash destroyed all trust in him within the wrestling industry, and the AWA was out of operation by 1990.
  • New Japan Pro-Wrestling was airing the English version of their weekly show on AXS when the network was purchased by Anthem, the parent company that owns Impact Wrestling as well as Canada's Fight Network (which was a long time broadcaster of NJPW). Prior to this, NJPW established a new American subsidiary, NJPW of America, which some speculate is an attempt to fully enter the U.S market following the company's strong showing at the G1 Supercard during Wrestlemania weekendnote . It doesn't help NJPW has already been in a longtime working relationship with rival promotion Ring of Honor, while the former's last partnership with Impact, under a previous regime as TNA Wrestling, ended on a sour note. While Anthem made no official announcements regarding the future of the show, and current Impact management has been very open about wanting to work with NJPW again, the promotion would ultimately depart from AXS at the end of the year, making their events exclusive to the NJPW World streaming service.

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