WWE and NBC Counter Programming UFC 117 With WrestleMania Special?

From an NBC press release:

NBC and World Wrestling Entertainment® will bring the world's biggest pop culture event to network television for a second year when WrestleMania XXVI: The World Television Premiere airs Saturday, August 7 at 9 pm ET / 8 pm CT.

The special will feature highlights from WrestleMania XXVI set to music from today's top acts in one lightning-fast hour of family-friendly programming.

...

The highlight of the NBC special will feature what turned out to be one of the greatest matches in WWE history. Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are two of the most prolific superstars in WWE history, for one of them, this match was his last. More than 72,000 fans were on their feet throughout the emotional rollercoaster of athleticism. The two immortals put on a performance that thrilled the audience and in the end, reduced grown men to tears.

I haven't followed pro wrestling since 1984 when Ric Flair was NWA champion and Roddie Piper and Gordon Solie were behind the mic on TBS every Saturday, but I know enough to know that Shawn Michaels vs the Undertaker was a big deal.

Is Vince McMahon pulling a Dana and trying to ding his biggest competitor's PPV numbers a little? UFC 117 is already suffering from being headlined by the weakest headlining champion the UFC has -- Anderson Silva. Perhaps Chael Sonnen's desperate WWE-style antics to sell a fight few think he can win has drawn the ire of Vince.

Keep in mind that a likely plurality of new fans in the post TUF era came from the WWE to the UFC. First it was because TUF followed the WWE on Spike -- and actually gained audience share, an unprecedented feat in cable television history. More recently the amazing success of former WWE champ Brock Lesnar has brought over new hordes of knuckle dragging mouth breathers pro wrestling fans.

Is Vince throwing down the gauntlet and trying to hit Dana where he's weak -- an Anderson Silva headlined event? Here's what the UFC is up against:

It's entirely possible this is just a programming coincidence and it's highly unlikely that NBC is aware it's involved in counter-programming the UFC -- especially when new owners Comcast have just enjoyed a honeymoon weekend with the UFC on Versus 2. But it's no secret that the WWE has lost even more PPV market share to the UFC than boxing has in the last five years. The studies I've seen bandied about by HBO and others, in fact, claim that boxing has lost almost no audience directly to the UFC. The same can't be said for Vince McMahon's floundering product.

UPDATE: That was quick, Cage Side Seats has already debunked this theory:

The Wrestlemania 26 special on NBC this Saturday night is nothing. It's certainly not a bold move to counter-program UFC 117. When the new generation of Saturday Night's Main Event specials flopped, NBC was still contractually obligated to give WWE two specials each year. This hole is filled by Tribute To The Troops and the annual Wrestlemania highlight special. Both shows are considered unimportant filler, with Tribute To The Troops at least being an ostensibly heartwarming program where ratings don't matter. Last year's special aired in early August, just like this year's. The matches are edited to shreds and set to shitty nu-metal. They are NOT giving away the main events for free. You will not see the whole Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker match. Get the DVD for that.

Usually it takes at least a few hours to burst my KidNateConspiracies, sometimes months or years, but this one seems to have been still born. Bix shredded this one so quick it reminds me of Michael Rome's glory days debunking the Natester.

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