Thursday 4/14 Torch Today – Tons of TV Wrestling in One Place, Ratings for NBA’s historic Wed. Night War on ESPN, UFC to MSG, Cena pushing forward with big career change tonight, J-Mo talks need for wrestling off-season, Romero in signing with NJPW over WWE, new Raw episodes on WWE Network, Video – Tessa Blanchard Interview

By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

TORCH TODAY – Thursday, April 14, 2016

– It’s been a long time coming, but it appears that the Fite TV App run by Flipps Media has become a one-stop shop to watch solid independent wrestling. With so many promotions spreading out their content on a website or on YouTube or on a local TV channel, it’s difficult to find good shows. Fite distributes top-notch live WWNLive offerings, such as Friday’s SHINE iPPV, and TNA Impact highlights. Plus, independent promotions like the newly-added Championship Wrestling From Hollywood. There are about 20 other promotions that can be found in the “On Demand” tab on the Fite App, including NWA Smoky Mountain, PWR, Ignite, and more.

At PWTorchLivecast.com: On-demand access to today’s Interview Thursday Livecast with Wade Keller and guest former WWE writer Matt McCarthy.

At PWPodcasts.com: Full Recap of a newsworthy Steve Austin Show with Enzo Amore & Big Cass available at PodcastOne.com.

At MMATorch.com: UFC is debuting at Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 12. (Full Details) WWE’s next MSG show is July 16.

– Two days after WWE visited the Staples Center in Los Angeles for Raw TV, the Los Angeles Lakers hosted Kobe Bryant’s farewell game to conclude his 20th NBA season. Meanwhile, up the West Coast, the Golden St. Warriors set an NBA record for most wins in the regular season. Both historically-significant games went head-to-head on ESPN networks, creating a Monday Night Wars flashback for sports fans flipping back-and-forth.

On ESPN, the Warriors game drew a 2.7 overnight TV rating, while on the lesser ESPN2 channel, the Lakers game drew a 2.6 overnight rating. (Deadline.com) The late-night start at 7:30 p.m. local time (10:30 East Coast) impacted the ratings, but both outdrew WWE Raw, which scored a 2.5 rating on Monday night.

Meanwhile, merchandise sales at Kobe’s final game reached $1.2 million, which Staples officials says set an all-time event record for an arena show. (WWE’s WrestleMania 32 just drew a WWE record of $4.55 million for a stadium show.) ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported on the extraordinary amount of merchandise offerings at high prices, which contributed to the big merchandise haul.

John Cena continues to be front-and-center promoting “American Grit,” which premieres Thursday night on Fox. Cena is being praised for his hustle trying to get the word out about the show and his role as host trying to make the show successful for Fox. However, the questions remain whether the show format will consistently draw in viewers and if the personalities/mixture of the military and civilian cast members will make enough of an impressions with viewers to keep coming back.

One of the contestants, former NFL player Tony Simmons, was profiled by the Chicago Tribune for his role on the show. Meanwhile, Time looked at Cena’s hosting role trying to be “more real” and “relatable,” perhaps out-growing his WWE shoes as a cross-over star.

Cena also talked to Entertainment Weekly about differentiating himself from his WWE persona nearing his 39th birthday later this month.

“It’s embracing new opportunities producing this show, taking a hosting route rather than an in-the-action player, which is kind of what I’ve been for the WWE over the past 15 years,” Cena said. “Even slightly before that, the roles in comedies aren’t really typical of my profession. It’s just being able to take that leap of faith into doing interesting things and new projects that normally wouldn’t be on the menu for someone like me. Being able to swing in and host the Today show when they call me, it certainly is a new experience that I have a lot of fun with, and it’s different than being in the middle of the ring in Monday Night Raw. I’m becoming less reserved about going for it if the opportunity presents itself.”

John Morrison (Johnny Mundo) is the latest guest on wrestling announcer Kevin Gill’s podcast. Morrison covered a lot of ground on the Lucha Underground roster, said he was “busting Roman Reigns’s balls” on not being able to work in a recent interview, and talked about the need for an off-season in pro wrestling.

“There’s no other entertainment show that doesn’t have an off season. There’s no other professional sport that doesn’t have an off season. Part of the good thing about an off season is it gives the performers time to reflect on what they did for he season. It gives the people behind the scenes time to reflect. It gives the writers time to write. And it makes it so there’s no loose ends,” Morrison said.

Rocky Romero talked to Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated about deciding to sign a two-year deal with New Japan this year instead of pursuing WWE like Shinsuke Nakamura. Romero said he hopes to have a strong singles run, perhaps going after the NEVER Openweight Title, to “segue to making a bigger splash.” Concerning Nakamura, who he is close with, Romero said he is inspired by Nakamura taking a risk trying to conquer a new land after becoming a huge star in Japan.

– WWE sent out an email blast announcing more than 100 episodes of Raw have been added to WWE Network. WWE has now released episodes from 1993-2006, 2010, and 2012-2016. The current 2016 episodes are being released one month behind the original airing. The most-recent episode available on the Network is the March 14 episode.

VIDEO: Women’s wrestling star Tessa Blanchard talked to the Busted Open satellite radio show about Tully, Mickie James recovering from a recent collarbone injury, and wrestling future.

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