WWE forced to change venues
Scheduling conflict moves Monday night's show to L.A.Vince McMahon claims he's being thrown out. His opponent insists McMahon is the double-crosser.
It'd make a good story line for a wrestling feud -- but it won't take place in Denver.
World Wrestling Entertainment is moving its Monday night show to Los Angeles because of a conflict with the Pepsi Center in Denver, which had booked two events for the same night.
The Nuggets are scheduled to host the Lakers on Monday in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, but WWE had previously secured the arena for an episode of Monday Night Raw.
The WWE chairman criticized Kroenke Sports, which owns the Nuggets and Pepsi Center, for not being more helpful when the conflict arose over the weekend.
"They bumped us right out of the building, hardly an apology," McMahon said Wednesday. "They didn't do anything for us at all, and the media was talking about someone has to write a check. They didn't want to write anything and they wanted to give us a Sunday night. And the name of the show is Monday Night Raw."
However, Kroenke Sports claims McMahon had previously agreed to a deal to shift the event to Sunday.
"We negotiated in good faith with Vince and believed we had a deal in principal as of Tuesday," Kroenke Sports executive vice president Paul Andrews said. "In fact, it was so clear to us that we did that we asked Vince to do a joint press release. He said, 'Paul, I have no problem with a joint press release.' Then, he asked us if he could get five tickets to the Denver Nuggets' game on Monday night so he could apologize to Mr. Kroenke in person.
"That was Tuesday. We find out by a press announcement today by Vince, who I believe is the master of propaganda, that he's moving the event to the Staples Center. He didn't even contact us to tell us he hadn't accepted the deal we negotiated the night before, so we're quite shocked, frankly."
WWE executive vice president Shane McMahon, at a press conference at Staples Center, said the Kroenke offer came too late.
"They tried to be amicable but we're really at such a loss of words because we were expecting a capacity crowd. Had sold 11,000 as of last week," he said. "We've been on sale since August so everyone knew we were coming. We built everything around it. That's what we do. We promote and build the event."
Vince McMahon said Staples Center called and offered use of its building and that his organization will return to Denver for an event at the Coliseum on Aug. 7. McMahon said many arenas, including Madison Square Garden, called and offered to host Raw. He chose Staples Center, which also was available Tuesday night for its second night of programming.
McMahon said it was important to have Raw be shown live on its normal Monday night slot on USA Network -- where it will go head-to-head against the Nuggets-Lakers game on ESPN. He previously vowed he would hold the event in a parking lot if need be.
McMahon added the Monday show would include a 5-on-5 match pitting "Lakers" against "Nuggets" and his character would likely confront a character of Stan Kroenke, who owns Kroenke Enterprises, in the ring.
But while he said that's entertainment for the fans, he remains angry at Kroenke and the terms he said were requested in the press release to complete an agreement.
"They would not even talk about making a deal other than paying our expenses basically unless we signed some sort of joint press release," McMahon said. "You would not believe what these people were attempting to make us do. I guess maybe running over us and throwing us out unceremoniously on our ear was not good enough. They want to trample us."
WWE said it secured the Pepsi Center last Aug. 15 and had already sold more than 10,000 tickets for the event. The organization said arena officials confirmed the wrestlers were still coming and sent a signed contract on April 15, the last night of the regular season.
Then the double booking was set Sunday, when the Lakers beat Houston in Game 7 to reach the conference finals. Had the Lakers lost, Denver would have had home-court advantage against the Rockets, making the Pepsi Center available for wrestling on Monday.
The conflict has provided some great press for WWE, but McMahon said his preference was to do his show as planned.
"I didn't want this publicity," he said. "They threw me out and so what are we going to do? We have to garner some degree of publicity."
Kroenke Sports said WWE preferred the publicity to a compromise.
"They haven't returned any of our calls for over a 24-hour period since we had what we believed to be an agreement Tuesday night," Andrews said. "We've reached out to them all day for feedback and then we get an announcement they're going to L.A.
"The sensationalism and media attention were more important than the fans of Denver."