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Talent Divided As WWE Sets Return To Live Shows

“WWE had initially planned to pre-tape all shows scheduled to air through early May.”

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There will be new WWE programming on television in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the wrestlers themselves aren’t happy about it. Florida is still under a safer-at-home order, but that won’t stop Vince McMahon. Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet reports that Raw and Smackdown will resume live shows at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando this week, while NXT will resume action at its regular home, Full Sail University just outside of Orlando.

Robert De Felice at Fightful reported that McMahon has been aggressive about airing new shows. He even gave his staff letters indicating that they were essential media in the event they were stopped by police.

WWE had initially planned to pre-tape all shows scheduled to air through early May. There is no concrete reporting on why the company reversed course, but it could have something to do with the contracts the company has with its broadcast partners, FOX and NBC Universal. Those contracts specify a certain number of shows that must be broadcast live.

“While nobody will say so publicly, the fear was that by violating the contract, it would give the networks the legal ability to withhold money or find a way to change the deals,” Dave Meltzer wrote for The Wrestling Observer.

It isn’t immediately clear how WWE talent is showing their displeasure or what orders they might be under from the company. Roman Reigns, a cancer survivor, had already removed himself from the WWE’s active roster during the pandemic. Paige also pulled herself from some shows. She told the company she would not be attending a series of tapings in Orlando earlier this month.

Other wrestlers, including Drew McIntyre and The Big Show, have expressed support for the WWE’s decision to continue with live tapings during the pandemic.

Sports TV News

Miami Marlins Continue Broadcast Changes, Drop J.P. Arencibia

The former big league catcher worked the club’s opening road series and more than 60 games for Bally Sports Florida.

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After announcing last week that Miami Marlins play-by-play announcer Glenn Geffner wouldn’t return to the booth next year, the club continues to make changes. J.P. Arencibia won’t return as an analyst for the club in 2023.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Arencibia was informed he will no longer work on either the team’s television or radio broadcasts next season. The former big league catcher worked the club’s opening road series and more than 60 games for Bally Sports Florida. It was his first season as a television analyst. According to Jackson, the reason for Arencibia’s departure is “unclear”, adding a reason “was not offered”.

The club will continue to use a rotation of analysts in 2023, with Jeff Nelson, Gaby Sanchez, Rod Allen, and Tommy Hutton working in the booth.

Arencibia was brought on for the 2022 season after the Marlins dropped former Rookie of the Year Todd Hollandsworth from the clubs televisions broadcasts after the previous season concluded.

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Rebecca Lobo Signs Extension With ESPN

She has served as the analyst for the network’s coverage of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and the National Championship Game.

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ESPN and Rebecca Lobo have signed an extension to keep the women’s basketball legend with the network.

Lobo joined ESPN in 2004 as a WNBA and women’s college basketball analyst. She has served as the analyst for the network’s coverage of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and the National Championship Game.

“I am thrilled to continue doing what I love, calling women’s basketball games,” said Lobo. “It is an honor to be a part of the soundtrack for the games played by these incredible female athletes.”

Lobo had a storied career at UConn before winning an Olympic Gold Medal. She was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.

“Rebecca is one of the best in the business. She excels on both game coverage and studio coverage,” said Patricia Lowry, ESPN Vice President, Production. “Her knowledge, history, and passion for the game and its growth continue to make us better.  She is a true asset and a highly valued member of our team.”

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Sports TV News

ESPN Reaches Extension To Remain Home of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

“It’s a sports calendar and Fourth of July staple, one of those classic, timeless events we know fans look forward to every year.”

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ESPN and the International Federation of Competitive Eating have agreed to a deal that will see the network remain the home of the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on the 4th of July.

The Major League Eating contest has aired on the network since 2004. The new contract will see the event take place on ESPN through the 2029 event.

“You can’t beat the spectacle that is the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest,” said ESPN Director of Programming & Acquisitions John Suchenski. “It’s a sports calendar and Fourth of July staple, one of those classic, timeless events we know fans look forward to every year. It has had memorable moments over the years, and we’re ecstatic that many more will be on our platforms for the foreseeable future.”

The event has risen to prominence during its tenure with the Disney-owned network, seeing the rivalry between Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut grow into one of national prominence. The rivalry even sparked an ESPN documentary on the subject. Chestnut has grown into an American celebrity for his performance during the contest, winning his 15th mustard-yellow belt in 2022.

“We’re thrilled to extend our agreement with ESPN and ensure that viewers will continue to join in this great July Fourth tradition. ESPN is a fantastic broadcast partner and they capture the spirit of the event perfectly.”

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