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« | Home | »

MMA’s chattering class

By Zach Arnold | March 10, 2011

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Quiet on most fronts, but everyone is waiting for the UFC PPV show on 3/19 in Newark with Bones Jones vs. Shogun.

Bruce Buffer invited Dan Henderson to stop on by for the show since Dan will be in Philadelphia the next day for the NCAA wrestling tournament. Dan said, “I don’t know if they’ll let me in the door.” He noted that he wears his Clinch Gear shirts. “They still might not let me in the door.” Steve Cofield had a discussion on his Las Vegas radio show about whether or not UFC blew it by not keeping Dan Henderson around. Who won the better end of the Henderson/Shields trade, UFC or Strikeforce?

Speaking of Mr. 180, Bruce Buffer announced that he has a book deal coming out from Random House in Christmas 2012 or March 2013 where he’ll talk about many behind-the-scene stories not told online.

Four matches announced for the Strikeforce April 9th San Diego card:

One sponsor you won’t see on Strikeforce shows any more is Tapout and Tapout has been going through a lot of reorganization these days, as noted in this recent interview Jonathan Snowden did with Tapout’s new management. The more you read that article, the more it reminds me of when Yukes (the famous Japanese video game company) bought New Japan Pro-Wrestling from Antonio Inoki and didn’t realize just what a mess they had on their hands until they started going through all the skeletons in the closet. The process took a long time to clean out but in the end the new subsidiary company was tightly structured and ready to go. Will Tapout come out of the reorganization on the positive or negative end?

To close this post out, I want to bring up a recent radio interview that Luke Thomas did with Jordan Breen about the future of the MMA media landscape. To set the stage for the three graphs that I transcribed from the interview, let me bring in some discussion context. There’s been a lot of talk about the amount of money, internally and externally, that has been pulled away from some of the bigger MMA sites and the end result is people trying to do the same amount of writing but on the cheap. (Luke brings up the fact that it costs too much to travel and go to all the live events because there’s not enough money to be made on it and he brings up Yahoo scaling back sending all of their writers to live events.) There’s also discussion about speed and volume, which brings up Bleacher Report. Luke says that Bleacher Report is going to make huge strides in 2011, ‘but I don’t think their mission is going to work’ because they made their name as a volume play rather than a quality play initially.

So, that’s the set-up for these three graphs. The first graph deals with what readers will expect from writers in the near future and what kind of role it will take to be successful:

“There will always be a market for the, uh, insider, for the guy who’s giving context to things, the guy who’s giving you his digest of things and providing opinion & analysis. That will never go away. But I think that the guy who, um, live tweets during an event and then, you know, goes and takes notes at the press conference and then files a column at the end of it the next day, I think that guy is going away. I definitely think that guy is going away. I don’t know when he’s going to go away, maybe not in 2012, maybe not even 2013, but I bet you by 2015 that person will go away. That is not where news is going and where it actually is going is a place where people who have a decent level of skill and a widely dispersed network can pick up the slack and cover news in a way that fulfills the sort of essential appetite of newsreaders. Again, on top of that, you’re going to have to have a guy who somewhat fills the guy, the role of the column writer where you’re knowledgeable, you’ve been doing it for a while, you can digest…”

The second graph deals with blog sites versus different styles of content platforms:

“The distance between media and fighters is almost non-existent and the readers’ general attitude is, listen, if you can call up somebody and get an interview, get an interview, you know I don’t really care, I mean they do care about opinion, there’s certainly a huge market for that, but it’s not nearly as big as the market for just calling up, I don’t know, Gilbert Melendez, getting him to be on your Blog Talk Radio show and then finding a way to re-purpose that in another way and that is why I think pure blogging has basically, it’s almost basically gone in MMA. It’s almost basically gone. I mean the two biggest ones or at least one of the biggest ones was Bloody Elbow and you see less and less of that now. In some ways, maybe that’s a good thing because most of the guys who are doing blogging kind of sucked including I was, I look at my old writing and I was embarrassed. I do think that’s a little bit regrettable. My goal one day is when I’m done doing interviews and I’m done doing all this other stuff I would love to be able to just have a pure blog and not have to worry about interviews or people’s feelings and be able to sort of hit from an honest position, I sort of think that’s really the beauty of blogging. But I can say that I think there’s still a market for it. You know, in Shakespeare who was the guy who was the most honest person before the King or some of the ruling body, it’s the fool, you know, but the fool is the guy who is able to be perfectly candid, who in his charming, disarming way is able to say the King has a lisp or that he’s ugly or fat or his subjects don’t respect him and I think that there is, I think we’re losing that. I hope one day when the sport matures that we can, I personally think that that should be something that we should have.”

The last graph deals with the drawback in money from top MMA sites and with smaller sites consolidating to try to compete on a bigger scale, both on traditional & mobile web:

“In the long run it’s good. In the shot run, there are some drawbacks. So, in the short run, what’s going to happen is that I think everyone is going to be trying to do the same thing. Everyone is going to be trying to, you know, a slight variation but everyone is going to be trying to do real-time coverage the best they can of events. They are going to be trying to do as many fighter interviews as possible, they’re going to be trying to be doing video stuff, they’re going to be try and do photography, they’re going to be trying hitting all these things that in aggregate will be making coverage more comprehensive but more homogeneous but I think that over time that will develop into expertise. People will get really, really, really good at it and you’ll begin to see some hierarchy in how that develops. So, as guys get better they begin to expand their repertoire of the kind of things that they can expand into and I think that … the real big winner in the next five years in MMA and it’s going to change the current dynamic of the competitors of the top sites completely is whoever figures out mobile the best. Because I think mobile and I don’t mean to disparage anybody’s apps … I don’t think any of the mobile apps are pretty good and I don’t mean just MMA, I mean generally like Mashable who covers social media and who covers media generally, their app sucks. So, it’s not even that. The next wave is going to change all that completely and when it does we’re going to have this debate and discussion all over again. But, as everything, long story short, as everyone vies for the same piece and becomes homogeneous eventually it will settle itself out and create an hierarchy. But if you’re an MMA fan, you’re going to get a ton of news. You’re just going to have to figure out which one is worth your time.”

On the mobile side, I would give a tip of the cap to MMA Torch and how they have been ahead of the curve on the mobile side of things.

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 36 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

36 Responses to “MMA’s chattering class”

  1. Dave says:

    The MMA media world is incredibly insular.

    I agree that there really isn’t much need for everybody to send someone to a show for live results from the event, because, quite honestly, that is worthless and redundant. The fact that as many people do that now is just confusing. We are all watching the same show, they just have a worse view of the action than us watching on TV.

    What they gain is to be a part of the live experience and get interviews with fighters and celebrities amongst the crowd.

    BUT.. like I said, the MMA world is insular, it doesn’t matter who sends a crew to the shows for interviews, every fighter is giving the same interview, saying the same thing and nothing is accomplished. How many sites post Ariel Helwani interviews? There is at this point only really a market for Ariel Helwani videos, Heavy.com is trying to break into this market and I’m really not quite sure that it is working. It is too little too late when Helwani is the standard and what people expect. He might as well just work for the promotions at this point. I don’t mean that as a slight on him as much as I do the rest of the world for just sitting back and letting a monopoly build.

    I think the Bloody Elbow aggregator formula will be a standard, as Luke said, and everything will just feel the same. As I’ve been saying, insular. Everybody will offer some sort of original content and the other guys will quote it, those other guys have their own content that other sites quote and so on and so on.

    I’m really not sure that we’ll see anything positive from this. Catering to a wide audience by providing the same content as everyone else will attract hits and will draw a certain amount of attention, but I really do hope that the cream does rise to the top still and all of the mediocre sites with good SEO just fall to the wayside.

  2. Chuck says:

    Shinya Aoki vs. Fancy Pants? Eh, why not? Both guys are good fighters coming off losses, so again, why not? I saw on Bloody Elbow that KJ Noons and Hiroyuki Takaya are also fighting on the SF card next month (different fights, no opponents named). Prelim fights I take it? As I said, this is shaping up to be probably Strikeforce’s best card on paper ever.

    Satoshi Ishi is fighting on the April 1 SF Challengers show. Is there a joke there about Ishi fighting on April Fools’ Day?

    And Jonathan Snowden put up a pretty good article on BE about the potential GSP/Silva superfight, and why it’s a terrible fight to make. I agree with pretty much everything he said. Silva is too big for GSP. And not just big, but combined with his speed, strength, technique, talent, skill, etc. I don’t blame GSP ONE BIT for not really wanting to fight Silva. If they make the fight, it would absolutely have to be a catch weight of maybe 178-180 lbs.

    Here, I will make my prediction RIGHT NOW for GSP/Silva…….Silva KO 1. GSP has shown to not have the best chin ever, and Silva hits pretty damn hard.

    • edub says:

      This is how I thought about the potential superfight going before seeing the Sonnen fight.

      Now I think I pick GSP by dec.

    • The Gaijin says:

      1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with GSP’s chin. Prior to and after the Serra fight he’s been in some good firefights/exchanges and been fine. ANYONE takes a hard shot like that to the temporal-occipital area of the head (ear to back of the head) is going to go rubber legged. I’m sure he was rattled, but 3/4 of the issue was it totally f’d up his equilibrium and allowed Serra to land a number of unseen/unprotected shots on him (some imho were to the back of the head, but unintentional). That’s not a chin issue, and even though he’s said in interviews that he’s not going to stand in the pocket and leave himself vulnerable to taking those shots, I don’t believe that’s due to him being worried about his chin (like say Amir Khan working with Roach on defence to avoid taking shots b/c his chin is shitty).

      2. I don’t see the whole the follow the “Sonnen Blueprint” viewpoint. (a) Sonnen is a huge 185er, he’s a former LHW cutting to MW; (b) he’s a better wrestler than GSP; and (c) he was on steroids. Yes his sub-defence sucks the high hard one, but I’m not too confident GSP will be able to do all the other things Sonnen was able to do in the first place, his strength would be a lot higher than GSPs which played a big role.

      • edub says:

        Gonna have to disagree on a couple parts in #2 Gaij.

        Chael Sonnen has outwrestled some good guys, but GSP has outwrestled much better competition in MMA. Okami Prangley and Marquardt are probably the three best wrestlers Sonnen was able to take down repeatedly. GSP has outwrestled Koscheck (the best wrestler on either guys list), Fitch, and Matt Hughes. Sonnen might have a few more credentials in the wrestling world, but GSP’s takedowns and defense have been much better in MMA. Hell Marquardt is probably the best guy Sonnen outwrestled, and from all accounts GSP pwns him in wrestling (while training).

        Sonnen really isn’t all that big. In most of his fights at 205 he was weighing in in the 195-200 lb region. 185 was always a better fit for him, but he’s not exactly a big 185er like say someone like Alan Belcher.

        However, all the good things he did in that fight could be attributed to the testosterone injections so I whole heartedly agree with that point.

  3. A. Tav says:

    I don’t know about the interview stuff. I listen to 2-3 hours of fight radio a week, and honestly skip >75% of fighter interviews on radio shows. I’m much more interested in analysis (expert and casual), and people’s opinions on results or upcoming cards. Tome fighter interviews, outside of immediately post-fight situations, are unbearably repetitive. Also a lot of the fighters are simply terrible behind a microphone, even worse than when facing the TV camera.

    • klown says:

      I also prefer good analysis to the average fighter interview. I wonder if we’re in the minority though.

      And I agree with Dave, fighters usually give the exact same interview to multiple reporters. There’s no point watching or reading more than one interview with a given fighter during a pre-fight hype run. If one is enough, you might as well go with Helwani.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    I think at the Internet audience gets older and more mature, the audience for more substance in the content will greatly increase.

    There are still a lot of 40+ year olds who read the newspaper. As they get older and the Internet viewers of today get older…. They are going to shy away from much of the juvenile content that we see today. Longer articles with more substance will take it’s place. A lot of the type of content we see today for MMA will be gone.

    I am almost positive that as the lack of money continues to be a problem for the MMA Media….. A lot of them will walk away once they actually get a life. Like a wife and kids.

  5. jim genia says:

    The evolution of the MMA media is fascinating, especially because I’ve witnessed it firsthand.

    Years ago, magazines and newsletters were king, and their reps were accorded the most respect in terms of treatment. Then, as those outlets died off, websites publishing hard news (i.e., full stories with fresh quotes and analysis) gained prominence. Then blogs took over. Now, from what I see, it’s all about twitter. The driving force behind this evolution is of course economics – when publishers saw there was virtually no money to be made in MMA magazines, they got out, and websites started getting funded. Then when free blogging platforms emerged, and people realized regurgitating available news cost less but scored just as many eyeballs, the blogosphere became the new media leader. And what’s even cheaper than bloggers? Social media.

    I think the trick for anyone with any aspirations on longevity in the MMA media industry is a revenue stream outside of the finite capital sources MMA media commands. AOL cut your funding? SBNation giving you the boot? Dude, write a book. That’s what I did.

    For the MMA media, it’s all about the hustle. Back in the day, well-known journos would moonlite as PR men for the very promotions they covered, ghostwriting press releases, event programs… you name it. Hell, I wrote PR stuff for the old WFA (the John Lewis version), and one of my fellow FCFers (who went on to Sherdog) was writing content for Zuffa’s glossy programs that they handed out at UFCs. This is how media members make the business model work.

  6. Light23 says:

    A fighter’s worth to a company is how much revenue can they generate (ratings, PPV buys, merchandise, ticket sales).

    Shield’s isn’t a big draw and isn’t known for putting on exciting fights. He’s good as a credible, high level opponent but he’s not going to drive business as champion. He wasn’t very popular even among hardcore fans, and his name means nothing to anybody outside that circle.

    Henderson is becoming known as a KO artist, finishing a number of top guys in highlight reel fashion.

    He isn’t the biggest draw in the world, but did headline UFC 75 which did good on Spike, and has drawn 300k+ buys on PPVs he’s headlined.

    That was before he was on TUF for a season, and KO’d Bisping on the biggest card ever. It’s not a stretch to say 16 million people could’ve been watching that card, and they all saw one of the most spectacular KO’s ever.

    Hendo has a lot of name value, is somewhat popular, and has the potential to put on very exciting fights.

    The only downside is he’s probably going to retire soon.

    • EJ says:

      You’re right about the first part but you’re wrong about Henderson since he came over to SF it’s basically been proven that he’s not a draw and not worth the money.

      Shields is younger, cheaper and more importantly a better fighter. I find it hillarious when some people in the mma media tried to claim that somehow the guy who Shields dominated in his last SF fight winning the LHW was a good thing for SF.

      Henderson is yet another example in a long list of fighters that the UFC was proven right on not overpaying. Shields on the other hand is at the very least some new blood that they can offer to GSP to destroy and add another legit top 5 WW in a division the UFC already owns. The UFC won that hands down it’s not even close really.

  7. Light23 says:

    In regards to MMA media – it amazes me that a site like MMAMania can exist. It basically takes random videos, newsbits etc. and just posts them with some short, uninteresting, generic text.

    If you’re going to blog, at least have your own unique style like Middleeasy.

    • klown says:

      There’s something to be said for minimalist editing and editorializing. Assembling and providing convenient access to the internet MMA media is a valuable service.

      I also think it can be both an alternative to, or a complement to, consumption of analysis and editorial content. It’s good to have that option out there.

      • Light23 says:

        Yeah, I actually look at MMAMania a lot simply because they find all the crap out there and put it in one place.

        It’s still bizarre. Especially SBNation which seems to be a collection of blogs which do the exact same thing. It’s like what’s the difference?!

        At least a blog like Middleeasy is quirky.

  8. 45 Huddle says:

    One vicious KO over a non-Top 10 fighter really has the hardcores thinking Henderson is more important then he is.

    1) I’ve seen many people claiming he is now one of the best of all time. They use the number of belts he has as reasoning. It’s impossible for him to be one of the best of all time. He has never been universally #1 in the world in a weight class. The nearest he has been is that he shared top honors with Anderson Silva at MW for a while. And he lost to Misaki at MW. And when he had a chance to prove himself at MW, he got tapped out in the 2nd round.

    2) Dan Henderson is good for SF in that he gives them somebody who can headline cards and has some name value.

    3) In terms of ratings, Henderson has not gotten the job done for SF. His CBS show did bad numbers. His first SHO card was average. And this show had increases but mostly because he didn’t have counter programming. And he drew 1,000 less fighting for a SF title then Cruz/Bowles did in the WEC. So nothing great.

    Now…. Let’s also point out that Henderson/Shields was not a trade. SF had both of them at the same time and could hold them both.

    As for Shields…. He has never sold a ticket in his life…. Yet he has been worth millions to the UFC. Let me explain….

    The UFC would never have even tried an arena show without signing Shields. They wouldn’t dare try a GSP/Fitch 2 fight in a stadium. They needed a fresh challenger for GSP. And Fitch was the only guy available for that during this period.

    So without Shields the UFC gets a $4 Million gate. With Shields they get a $11 Million gate. Once again, Shields has no fans, but his presense as a contender brings the UFC an extra $7 Million.

    Now that it is arena show, it has automatically added more hype to te show which will increase PPV buys for the show. Probably get 750,000 buys minimum. Most likely over 1 Million.

    So Shields has been an extremely valuable signing to the UFC. Was he in the right place at the right time? Absolutely. But he was needed to pull all of this off. The UFC will end up making off this one event what SF makes in an entire year.

    Henderson was still a decent signing for SF. He gave them depth and a moderate headliner. But Shields was needed in order to create this huge gate and card. He has already earned his weight in gold…..

  9. Jonathan says:

    Zach,

    Why didn’t you make a post for the last Strikeforce. Feijao vs Henderson?

    If you did, I missed it, but I did not see a post for it like you have done in the past and do for the UFC.

    Also, I think that Luke Thomas is wrong in his opinion that fighter interviews are the one thing that fans really want. I think most fighter interviews are boring and offer little to no insight on the upcoming fight, and only a few fighters (two or three or four at most) are able to give an exciting and an interview worth listening to.

    • The Gaijin says:

      I got your back Jonathan, you forgot something:

      “CURSE YOU 45 Huddle!!!!!….CURSE YOU!!!!11!!”

      • Jonathan says:

        If you have not noticed, I have stopped posting alot on FightOpinion. I did not leave, but I figure that with Zach tending to steer more towards the view that 45 Huddle promotes, than my candor was not needed or appreciated on this site. If I am going to disagree with what the site has to say, then why would I continue to visit it? So I hung up my mantle and decided to just read the comments and post my thoughts, irregardless of what else was going on. At the same time, I have decreased the amount of MMA radio I listen to by….90%-100% Can’t give you a real reason why, other than to get away from the MMA writers who think that they are cooler than everyone else.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Why didn’t you make a post for the last Strikeforce. Feijao vs Henderson?

      If you did, I missed it, but I did not see a post for it like you have done in the past and do for the UFC.

      It was discussed as a combo post last weekend with Bellator’s debut. I have to do that with SF cards because they only book 4 main fights and not undercards featuring solid fighters. I can pull up a UFC 11-fight card list with ease and there’s a structure.

  10. Jonathan Snowden says:

    I think fighter interviews are overrated. Look at mainstream sports coverage. They take small clips from press conferences and an occasional interview, but the bulk of the coverage is punditry.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      It’s because everybody is afraid to be there self. The media has no mercy so they are forced to become wooden puppets in front of the media. The guys like Nick Diaz are so over the top in the other direction that you almost feel bad for them when they talk.

      There needs to be more Matt Mitriones for interviews to be interesting. He is a perfect example of a guy who just let’s his personality shine and his interviews are great because of it. But he is not the norm and won’t ever be.

      When I first started to follow the sport back in the late 90’s, I would listen to any interview I could listen to. Eyada with Goldman and Meltzer was great for this. Then it was replaced by Beatdown with Gross years. But once you listen to 100 interviews, it gets old quickly.

      Now I don’t even watch most of Ariel’s interviews. I watch his Dana interviews, but those are interesting. The rest, not so much.

    • Fred says:

      not just fighter interviews. pretty much all athlete interviews are terrible, which is not a surprise considering that these guys got where they are because of their outstanding kinesthetic intelligence rather than wit or analytical skills. the only time i get interested in an athlete interview is when the athlete is microanalyzing the physical nuances of his game or telling insider stories. unfortunately, this type of interview also requires a skilled and intelligent interviewer rather than a guy who just wants to broadly pretend to be buddies with the athlete and then ask him cliched questions (cough*jim rome*cough).

  11. edub says:

    After reading the comments here I realized how little I listen to where fighter interviews are concerned. After the fight, and coming back from injury are I think the only ones I will go out of my way to listen too.

  12. Jonathan says:

    And the fact that 99% of fighter interviews follow the exact same format is a problem. Training camp, feeling good, mixed it up, opponent is a tough guy, ready for a title shot, feel awesome, etc. etc. etc…you get the idea.

    I think there is a joke out there involving GSP interviews, but I could not nail it down.

    • edub says:

      Gotta have to do with the “need to put on more weight” for like 2 years now. Or the I’m not afraid of anyone I just need to gain 20 lbs of muscle first.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Don’t forget the classic interviews where a fighter just signed with Strikeforce or Bellator and then calls out 3 to 5 UFC fighters!! And then the interviewer doesn’t even call him on the BS and then writes an articles about hmit like it even has a remote chance of happening.

        Any other sports media would rip the guy a new one for saying such dumb things.

        But I think that type of soft questioning goes on too much in MMA interviews in general. Fighters give completely BS answers and the interviewer is too giddy to be interviewing his favorite fighter then to counter the point.

  13. Zach Arnold says:

    Jonathan wrote:

    If you have not noticed, I have stopped posting alot on FightOpinion. I did not leave, but I figure that with Zach tending to steer more towards the view that 45 Huddle promotes, than my candor was not needed or appreciated on this site. If I am going to disagree with what the site has to say, then why would I continue to visit it? So I hung up my mantle and decided to just read the comments and post my thoughts, irregardless of what else was going on. At the same time, I have decreased the amount of MMA radio I listen to by….90%-100% Can’t give you a real reason why, other than to get away from the MMA writers who think that they are cooler than everyone else.

    My positions have not ‘shifted’ at all since I’ve been an MMA writer dog years ago. You’ve said many things about me that are flat out untrue or opinion spun as fact and I’ve been nice about letting you have your say. Enough is enough. You are not a victim. I did not ban you ever from commenting.

    • Jonathan says:

      I did not say that you did, nor was it my intention to imply that you did so. That is a decision that I made for myself.

      I am not a victim, never tried to imply that I was.

      I think you are looking too deeply into a post where all I tried to do is explain why I did add a “Die 45 Huddle Die* addendum to my post.

      And I did say that I still came to the site, but just to read the comments and write a post that was reflective of how I felt about the issue at hand, not in response to what other people felt or said.

  14. TheJudge says:

    I would maybe comment on these “graphs,” if I could figure out a couple of things:

    1. Why are they called graphs, instead of quotes? “Graphs” are pictures and charts, no?
    2. Who is saying these things? Luke Thomas?
    3. How the heck it’s possible to read and understand them with all the constant content-less repetitive rambling, like “You know” “I mean” and “I don’t know,” and “I think…” etc. You don’t reproduce all the “ums” and sighs and “uhs” when you transcribe an interview, do you? Why do it here? This is a long ramble that should be edited for content.

    No offense meant whatsoever, it’s just that I had no interest in scrambling through that 🙂

  15. Mike says:

    Personally, I ingest MMA media every day. I read about dozen sites regularly. There are a few writers who I make sure to read their work, but mostly I’m looking for injuries, card updates, and interviews with fighters and promoters concerning the last event or one soon to happen. I’m sure I am atypical, mostly because I am bored to death by all other sports, so I have only MMA to dump my fandom into.

    At work, during the lulls, I like to read opinion pieces and interviews. At home, I’ll watch video interviews and listen to a couple of streaming radio shows a week.

  16. Zack says:

    The sport has jumped the shark.

  17. Robthom says:

    “…and not have to worry about interviews or people’s feelings and be able to sort of hit from an honest position, I sort of think that’s really the beauty of blogging.”

    I’ve decided that the writers attitude, intelligence and opinion is what I really look for most in a MMA “news source” these days.
    🙂

    Since the truth is that every MMA website and blog and forum and TV show and twitter feed and whatever is cool next will mostly pretty much be reporting the same thing.

    Thats why I usually only read the guys who have an interesting angle.
    CP and FL (and formerly Rossen and Fowlkes) have humor.
    Arnold understands Japan. And oldschool guys like the Garv have experience and perspective.

    I’m not sure that I ever found reporting live from a show to make a terribly more interesting read then just good writing about the PPV live from a living room couch.

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