WWE’s 5 biggest stories of 2018 (continued)
#2 – Roman Reigns takes leave of absence due to leukemia”>Roman Reigns takes leave of absence due to leukemia
On Monday, October 22, the professional wrestling world was stunned when Roman Reigns announced live on Raw that he had leukemia and was therefore surrendering the Universal title. It was a story that caught everyone by surprise, including those in WWE.
On Raw, Reigns introduced himself by his real name of Joe, and said that for the past 11 years, his leukemia had been in remission. No one knew that he had leukemia in the first place, let alone that it had returned. But in an emotional segment that kicked off Raw, boos turned into cheers, tears, and sad faces as WWE’s poster boy said goodbye, for now.
The former champion made it clear that it was not a retirement speech and once he was done beating cancer, he’s coming back for his title. “I am coming back because I want to show all of you, the whole world, I want to show my family, my friends, my children, and my wife that when life throws a curveball at me, I am the type of man that will stand in that batter box…I will crowd the plate, I will choke up, and I will swing for the fences every single time,” Reigns said, as fans gave him a standing ovation.
This was undoubtedly the most shocking story of the year and thankfully, the fans reacted to it with the utmost respect. Two months have passed but there is no new news on how Reigns is doing.
#1 – WWE secures massive television deals with USA Network and FOX
The last time that WWE signed a television deal in the U.S., the company felt that it got shortchanged. With television right fees increasing for pretty much anything airing on television, WWE’s TV rights were sold for cheap. But when 2018 came around, the story changed as WWE managed to secure two television deals with two of the biggest networks in America worth over $2 billion over a five-year period.
The first deal was officially announced on June 27 between WWE and FOX, the new home of Smackdown Live come October 2019. The deal called FOX paying WWE $205 million per year for Smackdown for five years, totaling $1.025 billion. As a comparison, NBCUniversal paid just $30 million for the rights of Smackdown back in 2010.
After the FOX announcement, WWE issued another press release announcing that Raw would stay on USA Network for the next five years. The deal with NBCUniversal is slightly more expensive than the one with FOX, with Raw costing USA $265 million per year for a total of $1.325 billion over a five-year period.
With the new television deals in place, WWE will be getting a whopping $2.35 billion for their shows, or $470 million per year, way up from the projected $300 million maximum that analysts were predicting. And with the good news, WWE stocks also shot up 138% and at one point in September it was up 216%.