'WWE is the new Marvel' report MIGHT have a big hint at its sourcing

Key word: "Might." This may just be a fun thing to speculate about, but word choices can be revealing at times, can't they?

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Unfortunately necessary disclaimer: Nobody should ever take this as anything more than “huh, this is all very interesting.” It should be obvious that this post is full of opinion and speculation.

On Tuesday, citing sources, Michael McCarthy of the sports business news website Front Office Sports reported that WWE is gearing up to make itself “the next Marvel” in terms of exploiting its intellectual property outside of its core business. “The strategy is to become the next Marvel, with content driven by characters like Roman Reigns and Undertaker,” he wrote, also pointing to WWE restocking its front office with experienced media executives like Nick Khan, Connor Schell, and Steve Koonin. The short article closes with a quote from one of the sources referred to in the article.

“At first glance, WWE’s a wrestling company,” the source told McCarthy. “But it’s really a media/content company with a treasure trove of IP that appeals to young demos.” The story came just before WWE fired half a dozen wrestlers on Wednesday, with some of the names—mainly tenured main event-level star Braun Strowman, valuable veteran presence Ruby Riott, and newly re-pushed Aleister Black—coming as major shocks. So shocking that it reignited widespread speculation that WWE is gearing up to sell the company by clearing expensive contracts off the books to make them more appealing to a Comcast, Disney, or Amazon-level entertainment juggernaut. A juggernaut who would do for WWE what Disney did for Marvel.



Well, about that…

Exactly one week ago (last Wednesday, May 26th), Amazon announced that they were acquiring legendary movie studio MGM for $8.4 billion. In the official press release, which was widely aggregated by mainstream media, Mike Hopkins, Senior Vice President of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, was quoted about the value of the MGM film library:

“MGM has a vast catalog with more than 4,000 films—12 Angry Men, Basic Instinct, Creed, James Bond, Legally Blonde, Moonstruck, Poltergeist, Raging Bull, Robocop, Rocky, Silence of the Lambs, Stargate, Thelma & Louise, Tomb Raider, The Magnificent SevenThe Pink Panther, The Thomas Crown Affair, and many other icons—as well as 17,000 TV shows—including Fargo, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Vikings—that have collectively won more than 180 Academy Awards and 100 Emmys,” said Mike Hopkins, Senior Vice President of Prime Video and Amazon Studios. “The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team. It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.”

Wait a second, let’s rewind…

“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team.”

Remind me, what was it that the source told Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy?

“At first glance, WWE’s a wrestling company. But it’s really a media/content company with a treasure trove of IP that appeals to young demos,” the source told FOS.

Oh.

That said: Look, I’m realistic. It’s not like Hopkins is the first person to to use the phrase “treasure trove of IP.” A time-limited Google search set to only look for results before last week shows it being used from time to time in articles about technology patents and entertainment giants’ mergers and acquisitions, though the vast majority of results are from before 2021. (It’s also imperfect: Various web design quirks result in hits for the Hopkins MGM quote even when time-limiting the search.) So I did the journalistic thing and reached out to both Hopkins and McCarthy. As of this writing, Hopkins has not replied to an email requesting comment. McCarthy, however took a different tact.

When I first messaged McCarthy—he was following me on Twitter—it was strictly to ask if speculating as to if Hopkins was his source would cause him any undue burden. After all, it wasn’t worth one semi-conspiratorial blog to blow up the guy’s source or anything like that. His response was to say he had no idea what I was talking about, ask if we know each other (again: he was following me), and then, when I explained the basis for the speculation, tell me he still didn’t know what he was talking about. When I asked if I should take that more formally as a “no comment,” he responded by saying—again, to someone he was already following on Twitter—“That’s an I don’t give a damn because you haven’t identified who you are, who you work for and why you’re asking.” Then he unfollowed me. When I pointed out that I had wrongly assumed familiarity for the aforementioned reasons, he chalked the exchange up to a “misunderstanding,” then stopped replying after I asked why he was so hostile given the tone of my initial approach.

Again, this could all be a big zero that’s fun to speculate about and little more. If nothing else, though, McCarthy’s…let’s just say “unconventional” response has a certain resemblance to smoke, even if it doesn’t look much like fire.


Enjoy? Want to support this work and get exclusive content, like source materials and notes from the Babyface v. Heel podcast that’s finally debuting in the coming weeks? Then please subscribe for just $5/month or $50/year. Even if you’re not able to pay right now, please at least consider signing up for the free version, which will deliver all of the free posts directly to your email inbox, as well free preview excerpts of the paid subscriber-exclusive articles.

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