By Zach Arnold | August 11, 2014
It is very interesting to watch WWE take shots at UFC’s programming value by essentially declaring that the repeat value of a pro-wrestling match is much more significant than the repeat value of watching an old UFC or boxing fight. I don’t doubt the power of watching old wrestling classics. I think a lot more of today’s wrestlers should be involved in tape study.
However, WWE is underestimating somewhat the value of re-airing old MMA and boxing fights. The Tuesday Night Fights re-branding lives on two decade after the franchise was ended by USA Network. Watch a Regional Sports Network and you’re bound to see some old Tuesday Fight Nights material. The same with boxing matches from the last few years. The UFC has turned the art of re-airing old fights into a cottage industry with the shows they aired on Spike and now on Fox Sports 1. Their DVD business isn’t hot but DVD biz isn’t solid unless you’re like Netflix. Fight Pass has done steady numbers so far, although fee increases in the future will sap the subscriber numbers. For all of the power of WWE’s tape archives, their Network subscriber numbers have reached a ceiling of around 700,000. The only hope they have is through international growth.
There is one thing that is not in doubt, however, and that is the appeal of combat sports mega stars in the television and movie business. The Rock is what everyone, including Ronda Rousey, aspires to be. Dave Batista. And you can certainly add Steve Austin and Randy Couture to that list.
Two reality TV shows, Gym Rescue and Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Ranch, are absurdly entertaining television programs to keep an eye on. Austin’s show got renewed for a second season and has prime potential to be a franchise player for years to come in syndication if they reach 100 episodes. Gym Rescue, a knock off of Spike’s Bar Rescue franchise series, is as Randy Couture-ish of a Randy Couture reality show as you could come up with. The show fits him like a glove.
The debut of Gym Rescue aired Sunday night on Spike. Nice timing with Expendables 3 coming out. If you’ve watched Jon Taffer on Bar Rescue, then you know the format that Gym Rescue cribs from. Randy Couture & Frank Shamrock are perfect together. They don’t insult the clients who want to get gym memberships to lose weight. They stress those individuals as people the gym owners should be making sales with. Spike found the absolutely perfect stereotypical gym owner for their first show. The kind of guy who build a homemade gym on a business model of obstacle course training, which is why he’s losing $1,500 a month. The kind of guy who sees an overweight person and gives him a body fat tester in the first five minutes before encouraging them to use a rock-climbing wall. It is so Spike-ish.
The show was better than I expected. I think they could do a better, tighter show with a 30-minute format than hour-long format but I suspect the numbers will turn out to be fair. Randy Couture made sure to retweet everyone on the #GymRescue hashtag. His celebration about the potential concept of a Strip (Joint) Rescue was perfect.
Gym Rescue can only hope to reach the annals of the Skullbuster.
— CMT (@CMT) August 10, 2014
The first time I watched Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Ranch show on CMT, I was appalled. It was so in-your-face. It was so Austin-ish that I thought it was a parody of Austin’s character. Then I watched another episode. And another episode after that. This show is truly like American Gladiators meets Texan ingenuity meets Strongest Man meets boot camp.
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) August 11, 2014
Austin, of course, makes the show. It is interesting to see the different dynamics between the way he interacts with male contestants versus female contestants. The Skullbuster is the greatest reality TV invention known to man. Jim Ross is right — the ladies competing to beat the Skullbuster are about 100 times more athletic and charismatic than anyone on WWE’s current roster.
If the viewer reaction is to be taken seriously, Austin has a hit on his hands here. If Randy Couture and Frank Shamrock can attract some numbers as well, the doors will continue to open for those in the combat sports world looking for a career after their fighting career. Not everyone can perfect the art of the beer commercial like Chuck Liddell.