MANILA, Philippines – Talk about a swerve.
A day after Fox Philippines announced that they would immediately cease their broadcasts of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) shows, TV 5 announced via social media on Tuesday, April 18, that it would be picking up their coverage.
Fox Philippines, which had aired the Raw and Smackdown brands, plus pay-per-view events on same-day delay, and in live-time on Fox Sports, said in a public statement that they had “attempted to negotiate” a renewal “up to the very last minute.”
In addition to WWE programming, Fox Philippines had produced The Wrestling Gods show featuring Filipino wrestling reporters Romeo Moran and Stan Sy, which had run from January 2016 until being axed along with the WWE deal.
The WWE Southeast Asia Twitter account offered some relief to stranded fans, announcing Monday that a 90-minute version of Raw would be streamed same-day on WWE’s YouTube channel Monday, but didn’t hint at what would be revealed the following day, when TV 5 announced that it would begin airing WWE shows on April 30, a Sunday.
The shakeup is the latest in a long line for WWE, which had previously been carried by TV 5 as well as ABS-CBN, Jack TV, Solar and RPN 9. WWE's presence in the country was raised in 2016 with the arrival of the WWE Network in March, and WWE's first live event in Manila in 7 years taking place this past September at Mall of Asia Arena. (READ: Kevin Owens shows why he 'deserves it' at WWE Manila)
The move to free TV from cable means a wider audience, but some fans still have concerns over whether they will be the ones who end up slammed. Questions raised in social media conversations include whether the shows will use original or local commentary, whether all brands and pay-per-views will be aired, and whether the shows will air live or on delay.
“I’m concerned [about] how they'll handle the WWE product. 'Tagalized' WWE jokes aside, you want it to be embraced by a wider audience but not lose the pro wrestling fans,” said wrestling fan George Carlos Pastor.
“Local fans can only hope the network gives the WWE the same love and effort.”
A request for comment from TV 5 was not immediately returned. – Rappler.com
Editor's note: The story has been updated to say that WWE content had aired in live-time on Fox Sports, and on same-day delay on Fox Philippines.