Pride FC had 15-25 million viewers per telecast and was paid $50M USD a year by Fuji TV!!!

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Pride FC had 15-25 million viewers per telecast and was paid $50M USD a year by Fuji TV!!!

Post by Rizin=PRIDEFC on Sun Dec 07, 2014 7:11 am

I was checking Zach Arnold's articles on www.fightopinion.com and found this article: http://www.fightopinion.com/2011/12/24/antonio-inoki-shadow-war/ it mentions that Pride FC had 15-25 million viewers per telecast and was paid $50M USD a year by Fuji TV.

If the impending 2011 Inoki MMA/IGF card at Saitama Super Arena looks like a familiar friend to you, that’s because it is. The booking is reminiscent to the card produced by Inoki and promoted by PRIDE in 2000 at the Osaka Dome, where you had a mixture of MMA blending in with a pro-wrestling atmosphere. MMA fighters want to be pro-wrestlers just like the wrestlers want to be MMA fighters (if they could do so). The Osaka Dome show would launch the kakutougi boom in Japan, a dream period that Antonio Inoki had imagined was coming for decades. Lost in all the talk about UFC on Fox is that PRIDE’s deal with Fuji TV still remains, by far, the largest and most successful MMA/network partnership in the history of the business. Ari Emanuel may have brokered a sweeter cash deal for Zuffa with Fox paying out $90-$100M USD/year but Fuji TV brought a hell of a lot more to the table for PRIDE. We’re not just talking credibility with sponsorships but flat out world-class production values that blows away what we’re seeing right now with the standard UFC-produced show. Oh, and Fuji TV paid PRIDE an estimated $50M USD a year, helped Dream Stage amass top-level corporate sponsorship, and PRIDE in return brought in 15-25 million viewers per telecast. UFC has a long ways to go in that department and it’s doubtful they will ever reach that kind of consistent level of audience on broadcast television in the States.

The difference between 2000 and 2011 is the health of the overall fight industry in Japan. In 2000, Antonio Inoki was desperately trying to transition New Japan into a company where he could take the wrestlers and book them on high-level K-1 & PRIDE events. He saw a dying wrestling industry due to lack of television support. The days of being on network TV like New Japan was in the 1980s was over. When you’re on network TV at 2 AM in the morning, it’s an ‘image down’ and it’s a lot harder to make new stars. Americans use DVR/PVR and are mostly cable/satellite customers. In Japan, most people still rely on network TV and do not pay for television services. Given the trajectory of the wrestling business, Inoki tried his damnedest to make Naoya Ogawa & the late Shinya Hashimoto into cornerstone pieces for New Japan blurring the lines with MMA. When PRIDE was launched, it was based on former yakuza boss Hiromichi Momose backing Nobuhiko Takada and the old UWF crew. UWF died after Takada & Yoji Anjoh inter-promoted with New Japan.

What no one knew at the time was that matchmaker Riki Choshu killing off UWF and giving Takada a golden financial parachute would open the door for Momose and henchmen (Nobuyuki Sakakibara, an executive from Tokai TV — the Nagoya affiliate of Fuji TV, and Naoto Morishita) to kill off Japanese wrestling. PRIDE did just that — they started poaching the biggest names from the Japanese wrestling business. Inoki saw what was happening and decided that he would get his boys involved in the action by putting them on the cards that were getting on network TV. It led to a bizarre mixture of guys succeeding and failing. He wanted guys like Yuji Nagata to make it. Instead, they got high-kicked into oblivion while guys like Kazuyuki Fujita & ‘Hollywood’ Tadao Yasuda, who failed to get over as pro-wrestlers, suddenly got pushed to the moon because they beat guys in the MMA ring.

The MMA boom in Japan left pro-wrestling in a perilous position. Inoki made such a mess of New Japan that he did the unthinkable and sold the assets to Yukes. If he hadn’t sold New Japan, the company would have died. I said that ad nauseam at the time and no one believed me. When Yukes got the assets, they found out how many skeletons were in the closing and the process of cleaning up the mess left behind by Inoki took a while. Inoki got a sweetheart deal in that his likeness and he, himself, could be booked for a fee to promote anything and everything. Call it the George Foreman golden parachute, if you will. If there’s one thing Antonio Inoki always has known how to pull off it’s the concept of getting paid first to be a front man while letting everyone else do the work.

(This, ironically, is how we got the mess that was Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye on NYE 2003 at Kobe Wing Stadium. Inoki was simply the front man for admitted K-1 yakuza fixer Seiya Kawamata, who had plans of running his own promotion after things fell apart between K-1 & PRIDE. Inoki got his wrestlers booked and paid by Nippon TV on the show. Kawamata ended up walking away after the show when his yakuza stooges allegedly turned on him in support of PRIDE. The show turned out to be a ratings disaster. The event and the days thereafter became the centerpiece of what would result in the implosion of PRIDE and the Japanese MMA industry in general.)

As 2011 closes out, the Inoki MMA show finds itself going back to its 2000 roots but under totally different circumstances. The wrestling business in Japan is producing solid matches but no solid draws. Without a robust pro-wrestling industry to rely upon, the MMA business in Japan does not have stars to generate to run big shows. The symbiotic relationship between the health of wrestling and the health of MMA is as relevant now as it was in 2000. That link will never die, which is why all the talk about DREAM and other MMA promoters needing to bring Japan into the 21st Century is largely a worthless exercise.

Japan is all about history and tradition. In the 1990s, the biggest yearly show on the calendar was New Japan’s annual 1/4 Tokyo Dome event. The show drew 50,000+ year after year and it’s drawing power couldn’t get killed off even though New Japan got greedy and started running more than one Dome show a year later in the decade. When Inoki pulled off the PRIDE-backed Osaka Dome NYE show in 2000, the NYE date supplanted the 1/4 Tokyo Dome date as the biggest show of the year.

With network TV currently not as enthusiastic to support the NYE MMA shows, Inoki is doing everything he can to keep the show relevant. He’s going back to what he knows, which is blurring the lines between wrestling and MMA. When we look at the 2011 NYE card, this is Inoki’s attempt to not only save MMA on broadcast television but also to try to save the image of pro-wrestling as still being relevant. There is a New Japan event at the Tokyo Dome on 1/4 but it’s got horribly weak drawing power and little momentum headed into the show. The main event is Minoru Suzuki vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. New Japan is desperately trying to push Tanahashi like he’s the Japanese version of Hulk Hogan with better workrate by not having him lose in title matches (similar to the run that Hashimoto had in the 90s that was largely boring). For as solid of cards as New Japan is booking, there is a big difference between solid wrestling and solid star-power. The company does not have star power right now. There’s a very good chance that the show will bomb at the Tokyo Dome and that it will no longer be feasible for the company to run the building.

In many respects, Antonio Inoki is not only trying to keep NYE relevant for MMA & wrestling on broadcast TV, he’s also dealing with a shadow war of the annual 1/4 Tokyo Dome show and just how far that deal has fallen.

There will never be another Antonio Inoki in a lot of respects. At age 68, he’s witnessed many of his contemporaries die. I can imagine it’s getting very tiresome for him to get asked by the media for comment on when another one of his old running mates in the business dies. This week alone was living proof of how Inoki has managed to blend the worlds of both his enemies and friends while getting everything he ever wanted in life. Umanosuke Ueda, his chief Japanese rival (who teamed with Tiger Jeet Singh) in the Showa Era, died at the age of 71. Inoki had a very famous nail board death match with Ueda that was anything but conventional. And before Ueda’s death, we had the death of Kim Jong Il (the North Korean dictator). Inoki has always had close ties to the North Korean scene, having relationships with both Kim Jong Il and his father. Inoki was in discussions to have a tribute show to the father next year (similar to the two-day 1995 Pyongyang Stadium shows).

In Japan, being associated with North Korea right now is a hot button topic (see: Zainichi.) Rikidozan, the Godfather of Japanese pro-wrestling during the Reconstruction period, was born in North Korea. Rikidozan’s family still maintains political ties to the current dictatorship in North Korea. Inoki, one way or another, has been able to use this as his angle to go back and forth between Japan and Pyongyang. Anyone else in Japan trying to pull this off would face intense media scrutiny. Inoki goes back and forth between the two countries… and few people mutter a word. In fact, Inoki was one of the first men in the world that the media rushed to for comment after Kim Jong Il’s death was announced on North Korean state television.

Inoki’s fascination with the world’s strongmen is quite a tribute to his own psychological profile. No one has been a bigger cult of personality in the modern Japanese fight game like Antonio Inoki. We are entering 2012 and Inoki is still able to comfortably get paid to be a front man for major events. When you’ve lived a life based on promoting yourself as a virtue & value in and out of the ring, you tend to sympathize with those who act or behave the same even if they are violent in nature. From politicians in Pakistan and the Philippines, to Idi Amin the Ugandan savage, to Saddam Hussein who Inoki ‘negotiated’ with over hostages and got swords plus Iraqi pro-wrestling shows in return for his efforts, to Kim Jong Il & family, to his current fondness of Vladimir Putin (and overall romanticization of Russian Communist politics which he based his late 1980s program around involving Salman Hashimikov), nobody knows how to talk & deal with political strongmen like the Cult of Personality himself, Mr. Inoki. It’s his best asset, his main asset, and the one asset he has in play that he thinks he can use to try to save a dying industry on New Year’s Eve in Japan.


Last edited by LEGENDMMA=PRIDEFC on Sun Dec 07, 2014 7:32 am; edited 3 times in total
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Re: Pride FC had 15-25 million viewers per telecast and was paid $50M USD a year by Fuji TV!!!

Post by stu3ufc on Sun Dec 07, 2014 7:27 am

Americans think they're the shit. I wish they'd just fuck off and die. they've ruined the sport with this bullshit

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Re: Pride FC had 15-25 million viewers per telecast and was paid $50M USD a year by Fuji TV!!!

Post by westcott123 on Sun Dec 07, 2014 7:46 am

stu3ufc wrote:Americans think they're the shit. I wish they'd just fuck off and die. they've ruined the sport with this bullshit

thats why we need jmma back on top like it was during the golden days
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Re: Pride FC had 15-25 million viewers per telecast and was paid $50M USD a year by Fuji TV!!!

Post by wekka on Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:25 pm

This is a lightning in a bottle type of occurrence. Japan isn't ready for this yet and MMA has regressed since then. The next big boom is bound to be in Europe very soon.
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Re: Pride FC had 15-25 million viewers per telecast and was paid $50M USD a year by Fuji TV!!!

Post by fka on Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:34 pm

They had all that money and still went down the toilet....fucking criminal interference ruined mma once and is in the process of again bringing down the giant in the industry.

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF ...ufc is bound to implode at its current rate.

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Re: Pride FC had 15-25 million viewers per telecast and was paid $50M USD a year by Fuji TV!!!

Post by wekka on Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:40 pm

The interest seems to be in Puro again with NJPW, DDT, Dragon Gate, and NOAH doing respectful numbers in larger scale venues. It'll probably be another decade before MMA can get anywhere near Pride level again. They did an awful job building new stars and when they did, they were unable to keep them aboard.
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Re: Pride FC had 15-25 million viewers per telecast and was paid $50M USD a year by Fuji TV!!!

Post by fka on Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:02 pm

In a dream world china becomes the new mecha with its booming gigantic population and roots in traditional style martial arts.

Sheer numbers alone means they should be able to produce stars in at a good rate and their national pride should or could lead to a giant fanbase.

But i assume thats exactly what ufc m-1 and everyone else is thinking.

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Re: Pride FC had 15-25 million viewers per telecast and was paid $50M USD a year by Fuji TV!!!

Post by fka on Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:14 pm

Imho for professional high level mma to grow the amateur levels and regional shows need a better vision for growing the sport.

What i mean is the whole world cup style tournaments that we think the pro level companys should be doing,should also be applied at the lower levels.

Also a sort of once a year mma draft where the best and hottest prospects are brought and drafted by the top orgs would create a more professional feel and produce a constant flow of fresh faces for ALL the companys.

Instead of outright bidding it could literally do a nfl style draft where each org chooses once a round that way talent is more evenly distributed.

This could also lead to prodays like nfl and could provide cool new stats like who hit hardest ,fastest ,etc

I just think MMA as a sport on a whole needs to quit with the eveyone vs everyone approach and start thinking about the future of the sport not just the fatness of the owners pockets.

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