August 3, 2015 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Hulk Hogan fired by WWE over leaked hate speech, Daniel Bryan update, and much more
July 23, 2020
Including coverage of the Real Sports feature on domestic violence in MMA, the G1 Climax tournament so far, GFW’s first TV taping, and Dillashaw-Barao II.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter
PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 August 3, 2015
UFC ON FOX POLL RESULTS
Thumbs up 95 (81.2% )
Thumbs down 0 (00.0%)
In the middle 22 (18.8%)
BEST MATCH POLL
Edson Barboza vs. Paul Felder 85
Miesha Tate vs. Jessica Eye 18
WORST MATCH POLL
Bryan Caraway vs. Eddie Wineland 17
NEW JAPAN G-1 FROM HIROSHIMA POLL RESULTS
Thumbs up 67 (100.0%)
Thumbs down 0 (00.0%)
In the middle 0 (00.0%)
BEST MATCH POLL
Kota Ibushi vs. A.J. Styles 63
WORST MATCH POLL
Doc Gallows vs. Bad Luck Fale 33
Toru Yano vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan 8
ROH DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR POLL RESULTS
Thumbs up 46 (93.9%)
Thumbs down 0 (00.0%)
In the middle 3 (06.1%)
BEST MATCH POLL
Jay Lethal vs. Roderick Strong 41
Adam Cole vs. Dalton Castle 8
WORST MATCH POLL
Silas Young vs. Will Ferrara 19
ACH vs. Adam Page 10
Based on e-mails and phone calls to the Observer as of Tuesday, 7/28.
It’s been decades since the real life Terry Bollea morphed into his fictional pro wrestling alias of Hulk Hogan, which has created a narrative that has blown up on more than one occasion.
Hulk Hogan went from a giant heel bodybuilder who became a big star in Japan, to a babyface in both Japan and the AWA that became one of the top stars in pro wrestling.
He then became the back that the WWF’s worldwide expansion was built on as the perennial champion for most of the period from 1984 to 1990. He became the All-American hero, imploring children to say their prayers and take their vitamins, while in many ways being the poster boy for walking contradictions that were prevalent throughout the sports world.
Hulk Hogan became bigger than all but a few sports stars in the world, while Terry Bollea was not even a high school varsity athlete. Hogan pitched vitamins, while, not all that different from both men and women in fitness magazines who stripped down to their underwear to show off their bodies, built those physiques on an assortment of what are now called PEDs.
In 1991, while still the biggest star in wrestling, the real life Terry Bollea and his Hulk Hogan alter ego ran into their first iceberg. Bollea was subpoenaed to testify in a case involving Dr. George T. Zahorian, a Harrisburg, PA, based urologist, who gained fame in pro wrestling as the leading steroid distributor for WWF performers. Between 1984 and 1991, anabolic steroids, which in wrestling likely dated back to the early 1960s, if not the late 50s, were used by many of the game’s biggest stars, most notably the Brock Lesnar predecessor Dick the Bruiser. But the first face of the steroid movement would be Hogan’s childhood idol and the person who Vince McMahon Jr. thought was the guy to build the company around, Superstar Billy Graham. Graham, a so-so at best in-ring worker who was among the most charismatic wrestlers of all-time, had an eye-catching powerhouse physique who was strong enough to be competitive in an early world’s strongest man contest. Graham was one of the great promos of his era, and one of the biggest drawing cards of the 1970s. When Terry Bollea was growing up, he went to the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa on Tuesday nights to see Graham battle the likes of Dusty Rhodes and Rocky Johnson. He met Graham, emulated Graham, found the magic potion that gave Graham his 22 inch pythons, and went from 220 to 320 pounds in one year.
The Zahorian trial was about to become a major news story. It was only partially because it showed that a large percentage of WWF talent, including owner Vince McMahon, had gotten steroids from the man the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission assigned as their physician in attendance at ringside for TV tapings in Allentown, PA. The main reason was because Terry Bollea was to testify. There were a number of fed-ex shipments of steroids that went to Bollea, and friends of Bollea. But through the handiwork of Pittsburgh lawyer Jerry McDevitt, he convinced the judge to quash the subpoena. Bollea wouldn’t have to testify.
The exact reasons are unclear. Part of it was because there were enough other wrestling stars, including Roddy Piper, Rick Martel, Brian Blair and Dan Spivey who were going to testify they had received steroids both in person and/or through fed ex packages from Zahorian. The feeling is that they didn’t need Bollea’s testimony to get the conviction, but that Bollea testifying would damage his professional reputation. There was also a medical issue that Zahorian was legitimately treating Bollea for, which, had it come out, could have also damaged Bollea’s professional reputation at the time. Much of the media lost interest in the story when Hulk Hogan no longer had to testify under oath. It was this move that led to McDevitt becoming WWE’s go-to attorney for the next quarter century when their backs were against the wall.
But Hulk Hogan wasn’t spared when it was all said and done. At the end of the trial, when Zahorian’s lawyer, William Costopoulos, was giving his closing remarks, he outright stated that both Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon had gotten steroids from his client. That led to a lot of media, because of allegations the kid-friendly say your prayers Hogan was getting steroids from a doctor who was just convicted, and had to spend a couple of years in prison.
This led to media scrutiny that the WWF had never had before. Vince McMahon gave a limited admission, claiming he had taken steroids for a short period of time, as supplied by Zahorian, but gave them up because he didn’t feel natural. McMahon got Hogan booked on the Arsenio Hall show, and told him to tell the truth, or at least that’s what both Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan have said that Vince told him to do.
Hogan went on the show, claimed Zahorian was a guy he and Vince had their photos taken with (Zahorian had a photo of both in his office) but acted like he was just some fan and didn’t really know him. He also said that he had only used steroids three times in his career, all in 1983 to rehabilitate a torn biceps, but he was not a steroid user.
The walls came tumbling down at that point as one wrestler after another, many privately, others publicly, stated that was malarkey. The heat was such that the WWF was all but forced to start testing for steroids, and the era of the bodies that built the company went on reprieve, as did a lot of its fan base. This led to the dark ages of modern pro wrestling from 1992 through 1996, until the business really resurrected with WCW Nitro. McMahon dropped his steroid policy for a number of reasons, both financial as well as due to the unlevel playing field with WCW, which may have tested some, but basically turned a blind eye to the situation. And wrestling then reached a new peak of popularity.
In early 1992, the heat was such that McMahon had Hogan take a one year sabbatical, feeling it would turn him sympathetic. And it largely worked. But under a strict drug testing policy, the Hulk that came back in 1993 was 255 pounds with a flat physique, looking like a 40-year-old former athlete who still lifted weights. He was still popular, but he wasn’t moving business anywhere like he was before. McMahon considered him the past and wanted to move to the future. Hogan quit, and a year later, went to WCW.
Looking like the old Hulk Hogan when he returned in 1994, it was just weeks after having to testify in another trial.
Vince McMahon was on trial for conspiring with Zahorian to run a promotion filled with steroid laden wrestlers.
In a government investigation, they allegedly had Terry Bollea nailed dead to rights. But the government wasn’t the idea. They didn’t care about Terry Bollea or Hulk Hogan. They wanted Vince McMahon’s head on a silver platter. Bollea was offered immunity to be a key government witness against McMahon. But Bollea, even though he and McMahon had a business split, wasn’t about to betray the business. Based on testimony in the trial, Zahorian would send steroids to McMahon’s office, and McMahon would give the steroids to his top star. The government tried to call that distribution, but there was no evidence any money changed hands. Bollea said it was that Zahorian would send steroids for both guys to Vince’s office, and he’d go to the office and pick up his supply. In the trial, he admitted that he had lied on Arsenio Hall, and had used steroids starting in 1976, well before he started in wrestling, and coinciding with his watching Graham headline on Tuesday nights at the Armory.
But when he came to WCW, he was still Hulk Hogan. Some fans didn’t like him, but most still cheered for him. But he wasn’t moving numbers like the past, even though the WCW Hulk Hogan in 1994 was back to being Hulk Hogan as opposed to the 1993 WWF version. During the one period where his physique changed, people were starting stories that he must be ill because people didn’t understand what a normal 40-year-old ex-steroid user trying to be clean was going to look like. Hogan never looked like that again.
Hogan had another run as a major star as a heel, a few nostalgia runs with WWF and New Japan Pro Wrestling, until his body pretty much gave out. At one point it seemed like every time he’d do a match, he’d need another knee operation. His body was giving him a message, but he didn’t want to no longer be Hulk Hogan, so he would try to defy it.
Eventually he had knee replacements, hip replacements and so many back surgeries that he himself started losing track of them. His son got in a crash with his son’s best friend, John Graziano, that nearly killed Graziano. Stories of his son’s past speeding violations, allegations he was racing when he crashed, and more, made this a major news story. Worse, after his son was convicted and served time, Hogan made a call to the jail to talk to his despondent son. They were talking about how to turn his misfortune into a money making reality show. But worse, Hogan tried to claim that Graziano, the former serviceman that was nearly killed, and needed extensive brain surgery and part of his head removed, had it happen because of karma, because he was a bad guy. Like this time, Hogan had no idea his conversation was being recorded.
People began to understand a long time ago that the All-American clean living Hulk Hogan was very different from behind-the-scenes, where he bragged about the wild life and crazy drug scene he was involved in during his heyday. But he stayed in the public eye with a reality show, built around he and his loving wife and young daughter, that was a hit, until reality reared its ugly head. His marriage, falling apart behind-the-scenes, exploded.
“Hogan Knows Best” aired between 2005 and 2007. Linda Bollea filed for divorce in late 2007. To many, Hulk Hogan was a sympathetic character. He was in his mid-50s, and his wife was a few years younger. His wife was having an affair with someone who went to the same high school as Brooke, but was a year younger than her daughter. Hogan had amassed a fortune being the biggest long-term money draw in wrestling. And suddenly, between the marriage and a lawsuit from the parents of Graziano, he went from being worth $32 million to being under water financially, with a broken family that left him alone in a giant house that everyone had seen weekly on television.
He told a story about thinking about suicide. He claimed that Laila Ali, the daughter of Muhammad Ali, who he co-hosted the 2008 version of American Gladiators with, called him up and she was the one who talked him into putting away the gun he had aimed at his head. Naturally, she knew nothing of this when he started promoting the story to sell a second autobiography.
All throughout this time, Hulk Hogan became best friends with a sleazy D.J. called Bubba the Love Sponge. At one time, Hogan had a reputation for being street smart and a good businessman, knowing when to come, when to leave, and became a master at manipulating the public. And there was a public that loved to be manipulated by him.
The key was, a generation of children grew up with Hulk Hogan as their hero, whether it was wrestling, cartoons, or merchandise in stores. The blond hair, big physique, he was the epitome of strong, cool and badass. If you followed his scripted world, he had his bad days, but if you lived vicariously through him, you would always win out at the end.
People not wanting to give up those childhood memories allowed him to rebound from every problem he’d faced. He walked out on Vince McMahon, who constantly vowed never to bring him back, but knowing that the people wanted it, he always did. Once, Vince McMahon’s entire family were against bringing him back based on his walking out so many times and making demands about getting the title for another run. He never gave him back the title, but always took him back. Years later, the entire family championed his latest return after TNA could no longer afford to pay him.
The time line of the four sex tapes, Terry Bollea with Heather Clem (now Heather Cole), then the wife of Bubba the Love Sponge, was in 2006. He was still filming the reality show. He was still married. His daughter was a teenager and for the past few years, he had spent millions trying to make her into the next Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus. It wasn’t working, as even though she was featured weekly as the hot teenage girl on a popular show, she wasn’t quite talented enough or charismatic enough to really sell records. He tried to market her first as the cute fresh faced teenager, or later as the hot sexy girl posing in air-brushed photos in as little clothing as possible, but neither approach fully worked.
Whatever led to his sleeping with his best friend’s wife is a matter of conjecture. Bubba claimed that Terry would drive him crazy asking to do it. The two always had a weird reputation. He was a shockjock and an attention whore in Tampa and he was a local celebrity that seemed to need whatever spotlight constantly being on Bubba’s show would give him. Each used the other for what they had, including Bubba whoring out his wife to his supposed best friend. But even Hogan’s best friends at the time saw problems coming.
It wasn’t that they saw how sleazy Bubba was, but more they felt that Hogan’s best bet to keep his celebrity status would be like Dwayne Johnson. Show up when you’ve got a big project, do tons of media, and then disappear for a long time until the new project comes out, as opposed to never going away.
Bubba turned out not to be such a good friend. He secretly, well, secretly from Hogan, taped all the sexual encounters. In one tape, he’s seen with Heather, basically saying that the tape is worth millions to them if they ever were to need it. In other words, both talked openly about the potential of blackmailing their rich friend (remember that he had not yet gotten divorced at this time, although he did later claim when the tapes first came out that it was during the period between marriages).
Exactly how the tapes ended up released has not fully come out. The belief is that Bubba had bragged to the wrong person about having the tapes, and that person got mad at Bubba, perhaps over a deal, and stole the tapes and then somehow got them in circulation. It led to an embarrassing period, but unlike many who would have laid low, Hogan did all kinds of media, going on the attack against the Gawker web site, which actually released snippets of one of the sexual encounters. Eventually, he filed a $100 million lawsuit.
The fact that Hogan went on a racist rant, using the n-word repeatedly on one or more of the tapes, was actually first reported in 2012. But it was the story of a Hogan sex tape, the woman being the now ex-wife of his supposed best friend, and him suing over it, that was the news story.
Philly.com reported on October 18, 2012, that there were more sex tapes with Hogan and Heather Clem than the one released. Heather Clem also had sex tapes made with other men that were kept in the house, stating they were with other B and C list celebrities, none of whose names have ever gotten out.
That story stated that a source had seen the footage of one of the tapes and said that Hogan was “using the N word and making other derogatory remarks about black people.”
In the first story, Hogan, in bedside talking to Heather Clem, said:
“She (Brooke Hogan, who would have been either 17 or 18 at the time) is making some real bad decisions now. My daughter Brooke jumped sides on me. I spent two to three million on her music career. I’ve done everything like a jackass for her. The one option Brooke had, Brooke’s career besides me is (to) sell beach records.
He also, said to Heather Clem, when talking about a billionaire black guy helping fund his daughter’s musical career, said:
“I don’t know if Brooke was f***ing the black guy’s son (Brooke had a boyfriend named Stacks at the time who was the son of a famous record producer). I mean, I don’t have double standards. I mean, I am a racist, to a point, f***ing n******, but then when it comes to nice people and shit, and whatever.
I mean, I’d rather if she was going to f*** some n*****, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall n***** worth a hundred million dollars, like a basketball player.”
He also said:
“F***ing N*****…he had Jamie Foxx coming in on the 22nd track. I didn’t even tell Brooke about it. F*** her. Brooke and (the name he mentioned was not released) met in Miami. Brooke f**** up a $10 million deal I had with the Saudis. Brooke says, `F*** you dad.’ She’s never said that. She flipped a bird at me.”
On that tape he also said, “I have this huge F***ing house in Miami (the house purchased for one of the seasons of “Hogan Knows Best”). My family never comes home. They went to L.A. F*** ‘em.”
His homophobic rant was when talking to Heather Clem about how VH-1 producers of the “Hogan Knows Best” reality show that was doing its filming season at the time, wanted to do a segment where they would go back to the house he grew up in.
“VH-1 wanted me to do a big thing and go back to the house I grew up in. So we knock on the door, and a big f– lives there now.”
He also said, “This half-gay was enamored with Linda.”
Shortly after the first of what were a series of regular releases from the National Enquirer and Radar Online of racial or homophobic remarks and slurs, Hogan issued an apology to People magazine.
“This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise. I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs.”
Lawyers for both sides, as well as Hogan, were well aware of the content of the tapes. Due to the feeling it would prejudice the case, Hogan’s lawyers were able to get the to get that content sealed.
The trial was about to come to fruition. Still, Gawker made implied threats that there were things about to come out. Then they did.
The question going forward will be who leaked the transcripts from the tapes. Hogan’s lawyers are trying to peg it on the higher-ups at Gawker, and are asking for a summary judgment in their favor in the amount requested in their favor. Naturally, Gawker denies having anything to do with it.
Still, on 7/10, Nick Denton, the head of Gawker, said that “There will be a third act which we believe will center on the real story, the additional recordings held by the FBI, the information in them that is Hulk Hogan’s real secret, and irregularities in the records which indicate some sort of cover-up.”
If it can be proven Gawker had anything to do with it being leaked, it would be disastrous for everyone involved.
It is notable that even with Hogan using the N word over and over, and the gay slur about the guy who owned the house he grew up in, there were clear audio erasures of other things on one of the tapes. The question is, if this is what wasn’t covered up, exactly what was being covered up.
WWE officials were warned ahead of time by The National Enquirer what was about to happen. On the evening of 7/23, a decision was made. The first thing they were going to do is remove all mentions of Hulk Hogan from their web site. His profiles were gone, every story they could find would be gone, including his being listed as part of their Hall of Fame. It is still not clear nor decided if Hogan is actually still in the WWE Hall of Fame, only that he is not listed on the web site version–a Hall of Fame that includes people who have very publicly in the past made racial and homophobic remarks with similar slurs including the Iron Sheik, Ultimate Warrior and Cowboy Bill Watts, let alone Donald Trump, who saw NBCU and many others cut ties with him due to remarks about Mexicans last month.
The next day, at the same moment the story was released, it was announced that WWE had cut all ties with him.
Everyone from the 2K Sports to Mattel, to every other business partner was told, everything with Hogan has to be gone immediately. That was a nightmare for companies that had products on the shelves, and products ready to be shipped. There were products with Hogan’s image and other wrestlers’ images that had to be dumped. There were combination packs that included Hogan items that had to immediately be redone.
Of course he had to be gone from “Tough Enough,” where he was a judge. There were two WWE movies that Hogan was part of. One, a movie called “Celebrity Death Pool,” where he was in some early scenes, will have to have its opening completely redone. A second Scooby Doo cartoon will have his already voiced over scenes removed.
He was dropped from his role as General Manager on the Australian tour from 8/6 to 8/8, and replaced by Shawn Michaels, leaving upset fans who had paid $995 for VIP packages for front row seats and to meet Hogan.
Hogan footage was not removed from the WWE Network, nor were there any plans to do so, past the removal of the 1980s animated “Hulk Hogan’s Rock N Wrestling” shows and some home video material was also removed.
As bad as things were in 1992, it was well known at the time that his leaving would lead to sympathy for his return. He made a lot of money, and in the long run, would continue to make money. Even though the reality show changed him from this larger-than-life hero, he transitioned into the quirky but lovable dad of a unique and sometimes neurotic family. As an older man, he was able to get by with admitting that he didn’t live up to the standards of the Hogan character, and had a shady and racy past, but he was now grown up, happily married and living a peaceful and wonderful life.
The situation with the Nick Bollea accident did not leave him looking good, and his reputation did fall to a degree, but he was still Hulk Hogan, and was able to make money with TNA Wrestling and pitching a variety of products in commercials. And eventually, he’d return to WWE.
For the first time, everything is uncertain. There is no defending him here. Yes, times have changed, and the N word was used more prevalently among people who grew up when Hogan did than it would be today. It may even be worse to speak like that today than it was nine years ago, but what he said would have torpedoed him at that time as well. There is no ambiguity. It wasn’t with comedic overtones nor a mixed message. He outright said he was racist to a degree on the tape. Granted, he was just a ranting father talking about his teenage daughter to the wife of his best friend that he was fucking and figured nobody else would know. I mean, if you can’t trust the guy who lets you sleep with his hot wife, or the hot wife who sleeps with her husband’s best friend when her husband set it up, who can you trust? But it will be the most difficult yet to rebound as a pitchman for any company after those remarks.
But to a lot of people, and wrestling fans probably fit in this more than most, the fantasy world is far more real to them than the real world. I’ve seen people completely composed at funerals of people they’ve known for decades who bawl their eyes out when a character on an afternoon soap opera is revealed to have cancer. If you think about it, it’s weird. But it’s not unusual. There are a lot of people his age who have used the N word, but that’s a weak defense of outright racist comments. There are a lot of people in WWE who have been accused of using that word in business, including Michael Seitz (Michael Hayes), who was reprimanded for it, lost his position at first, but remains with the company today. Others were accused of similar comments in a lawsuit against WCW. Vince McMahon used the word in a comedic portrayal of an out-of-touch white rich guy in talking to Booker T on an episode of Smackdown years ago. That got a little media play this week. You can’t compare the two incidents, but the McMahon thing, whether one considers it offensive or not, was pretty stupid to do and showed a total lack of foresight at the time. And WWE, and pro wrestling in general, has been filled with racial angles and playing on racial stereotypes. The fact the business has been built on sleaze is not a defense that the current business would be able to employ Hogan at this time, or anytime soon.
Mark Henry, who had complained internally about Seitz’s usage of the N word to him, which led to Seitz losing his position and being reprimanded but not fired, said:
“Unfortunately, I’m getting hounded today by media regarding my thoughts about and experiences with Hulk Hogan. I’d prefer not to be thrust into this, but as the requests have been significant, I feel that I have a responsibility to make a statement of some sort…At a minimum to ease my personal burden regarding this topic.
We all know that we have history as it relates to the company, me and this unfortunate subject matter of racial slurs and prejudices. I don’t want to and will not rehash that, but I do want people to know that I do not condone racist behavior or speech in any manner. Again, I do not plan to speak on what has happened in the past, but I would like to offer this statement about the current situation and events that hit the news today.
I’m disappointed in the comments made by Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan). I’ve known Terry a long time as both a work colleague and as someone I consider a friend. I’m hurt and offended that he expressed his feelings in the manner and tone that was presented on the tape. I am, however, pleased that the WWE took swift action in response to his comments, and I support the position the organization is taking in this matter: a no tolerance approach to racism.”
Anything short of Chris Benoit, and a lot of people who grew up with him as their hero will want to overlook this, or be mad at WWE for excommunicating him from their church. It happens in all walks of life. But WWE had no choice in the matter given their business relationships. You can’t very well promote “Be A Star” while also making a legendary deity out of a guy who rants using the N word over and over in conversation. But how could any business partner that hires minorities be a partner with a WWE if they were still using Hogan at this time? It can’t happen.
The decision was made to, past the release sent out that they were cutting ties with him, to quietly erase Hogan from the company.
“WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide.”
There wasn’t even the Vince McMahon explanation speech on television, which McMahon did right after it came out that Benoit had likely killed his wife, son and himself.
WWE said nothing on Raw, nor Tough Enough. The Miz was put in place of Hogan as a judge with no explanation. Fans coming to Raw and Smackdown in Oklahoma City and Tulsa had any signs related to Hogan confiscated. And if they came wearing Hogan merchandise, they were told they needed to be put a shirt over it.
Joe Hennig, who of late has played Axel Mania, an undercard tribute to Hogan, wasn’t ready for this on Thursday night as he flew to Bakersfield, CA for the start of the house show tour. So he wrestled in shorts and had to shave off his facial hair, and was back as Curtis Axel. Tag team partner Damien Sandow went back to his old character, instead of being Macho Mandow.
Time usually heals all wounds, but this will be a tough one. Besides his WWE income being largely cut off, I can’t imagine any product that would want him endorsing it now. In time, well, who knows. Jimmy the Greek said stuff that paled by comparison and he disappeared and never was heard from again. But Jimmy the Greek was an oddsmaker celebrity that adults watched on football games, not someone who reminds them of the innocent days of childhood. Donald Sterling was forced out of owning a billion dollar NBA franchise under similar circumstances, and he is unlikely to ever be able to return. If Hogan is to resurface, and he has lived like a cat with nine lives already, it will be the supreme show of people’s fantasies overwhelming reality, and power of childhood memories.
Whether Hogan was or wasn’t street smart in reality in the past, he certainly wasn’t here. He went on Twitter trying to mobilize a fan base, which only resulted in his embarrassing himself by re-tweeting photos of black people who supported him, only for it to come out they were pranksters sending photos of soccer stars.
He sent messages such as, “For those that left me and didn’t stand by my side, U will see and I will prove who I really am and U will also understand my love for U.”
In the ring, Hulk Hogan slayed the biggest and the baddest. He was the right guy in the right place at the right time, and became probably the most famous pro wrestler in the history of the world. But when the final story of Hulk Hogan is written, his toughest opponents were those closest to him, but the enemy that he could never escape was himself.
In promoting his newly released autobiography (which is very high on the honesty level, compared to most pro wrestler books), Bryan Danielson admitted publicly for the first time that his time off is not related to his neck, but is a concussion issue.
While we had heard that from the start, for whatever reason, WWE had wanted it kept quiet. They originally denied that Danielson was suffering from concussion related symptoms, and were vague about his return. While Danielson has vowed that he will wrestle again, those in the company have no plans in place for a return.
Danielson said that he feels great and is just awaiting clearance from WWE doctors to come back. He said that his personal doctor, a Phoenix neurologist, has already cleared him, but WWE’s doctors haven’t.
Regarding comments by Bret Hart that he believes Bryan’s career is over even though Bryan insists he will wrestle again, Bryan said, “His circumstances were different from my circumstances. It’s just one of those things where people only know their own reality. That goes for me, it goes for you, it goes for anybody. If you think you know what somebody else is going though, odds are you probably don’t. So it doesn’t hurt my feelings he said that. I just think he doesn’t know the situation.”
Danielson, 34, also said that if he does return, he doesn’t expect to be in a top spot, saying that Vince McMahon doesn’t see him as the top guy and the injury also affects how he’s perceived. He did say he thinks Vince sees him as a valuable performer who can make the company money, but he doesn’t see him like he sees Cena or probably sees Reigns.
He noted that Austin has reached out to him and tried to give him advice on changing his style to get the most time possible out of his career.
The problem is Danielson has had multiple concussions dating back to early in his career. There seems to be no effect on him mentally. He said he was tested and his brain performed at a higher level than most people his age. But both looking out for his own good and protecting themselves against the possibility of a lawsuit down the line, the company is understandably leery about clearing someone with as many concussions as Danielson.
“Yes, there is that chance,” he told Busted Open radio when asked if WWE may never clear him to wrestle. “But I told them, regardless of them, if they won’t clear me, we’re independent contractors, in theory, and I will wrestle again. I am cleared by the neurologist in Phoenix that I’ve been going to see. It’s not like he’s a quack doctor. He was the neurologist for the Super Bowl, who has no problems in clearing me with no limitations. But you have to understand that WWE is not only looking out for my best interest, but they have to look out for their company as well, and I understand all that, too. There is nothing vindictive or anything. There’s just a lot of hurdles to go through at this point with getting cleared by WWE. I had a sit-down with Vince and Hunter about this and said, `Hey, this is my passion. I understand why you guys wouldn’t clear me, but we only get, as far as we know, one life. And you’re not going to let me do my passion.’”
Danielson has about three years left on his current contract. It becomes a tricky situation with WWE. They could release him if they don’t have anything for him and he wants to leave. Right now the plan is to keep him busy with other projects, such as his current role as a judge on “Tough Enough.”
But if he is determined that he will wrestle again, then he is going to do so. If he was released, he would be able to make a good living as a pro wrestler, as he would likely get a deal with New Japan and be able to charge a high price for indie dates. While he wouldn’t earn what he made in WWE, he could very reasonably clear $500,000 or more a year without WWE if he hustled at merchandising, and with far less road expenses because on the indie scene his transportation and hotels will be paid for. It’s a harder life being your own booking agent, but it would be relatively easy for him, given he lived that life and already knows the key people.
But WWE wouldn’t want him working for an opposition promotion, particularly one that has national cable. The Styles/Young Bucks pattern of New Japan, ROH and indies, would make sense. But it’s very doubtful WWE would release him. The question becomes if they don’t want to clear him, and want to pay him to sit for three more years, versus his wanting to wrestle again. If he sits out for three years and his contract expires, he can go wherever he wants at that point. He will still be a star, but it won’t be like he had been in WWE recently so his value would diminish. This is one of the reasons WWE tried to keep Rey Mysterio under contract as long as possible, because they didn’t want him to go from directly being a WWE star to working for opposition. It’s the same reason they attempted, although failed, to keep Alberto El Patron and C.M. Punk from going anywhere with claiming to them that they are going to hold them to long non-competes. But both had leverage on WWE and got their full releases.
Danielson also went into detail on his injury situation.
“Well, it’s not a neck issue. My neck is completely fine. It’s more of a concussion issue. And Brie (his wife) was very hesitant about this whole thing, and that’s why WWE is very protective over me, too. Everyone is more aware of concussions and that’s why, with WWE, I see what they’re doing, as far as making me go through all these hurdles. I don’t se that as a negative. They’re protecting me, especially in this era of concussion awareness.”
Danielson said his concussion that led to his being out took place during a six-man tag match in Europe in April. What’s notable is that he was banged up in Fresno in a match with Sheamus on 3/31 for Smackdown, worked a trios match on the 4/7 Smackdown show and then started on the European tour on 4/9. On that tour, matches advertised as Daniel Bryan vs. Bad News Barrett IC title matches were turned into six-mans, with Bryan & Dolph Ziggler & Erick Rowan vs. Bray Wyatt & Sheamus & Barrett. In those matches, he only worked the finish, taking few bumps, and would pin Barrett with the Busaiku knee. He worked a dark match at the 4/13 Raw tapings in London, where he was in about one minute. He then worked the Smackdown main event on 4/14 teaming with John Cena beating Tyson Kidd & Cesaro in a match where he also only tagged in for the finish. That would have been his last match.
Whether the actual concussion was on 3/31 or 4/9, either way the controversy is that he continued to work through 4/14, which no doubt is why those in WWE, while not addressing the actual injury, at first said it was not a concussion. I have no doubt that if WWE was aware he had a concussion that they would have pulled him immediately. So was it a misdiagnosis, because it was very clear he and they were aware through the European tour that something was wrong, since they were protecting him, but he did continue to work until being sent home after the Smackdown tapings.
He said that at first his wife was negative about him wrestling again, but she’s changed her mind.
“When we met with the neurologist in Phoenix and we want through all the testing and he said, `Okay, all of my testing is not just coming back good, it’s coming back excellent.’ As far as my brain right now, it’s at a level above most people who have never had a concussion my age.”
He said his brain testing showed his brain right now at excellent levels. He said that when his wife saw that, she went from being very skeptical about him returning, to now being very supportive.
He said that regarding his right hand, he has had some muscle atrophy due to waiting too long to have neck surgery. He said that his right arm has 85 percent of the strength of his left arm, and that the strength has seemed to plateau, so he may not get all of the strength back. He said that his left hand has 150 pounds of grip strength and his right hand has 130 pounds. He said the average 34 year old male would have about 100 pounds in each arm so it’s not like he’s weak. Then again, the average 34 year old male isn’t lifting weights and isn’t a professional athlete. He said that the nerve was cut off for so long that he may never get full strength in his right arm back. He said that his triceps strength (which would be pushing strength) is pretty much the same in both arms, so the difference is more the grip.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Danielson said that if Paul Heyman would have taken control of TNA in 2010, that he would have gone to TNA instead of WWE. As some know, in 2010, Heyman and Dixie Carter were in talks and TNA thought they had him. But Heyman insisted on too much control, to the point he wanted complete control over talent and booking without interference, as well as points in the company. Heyman was going to bring in Gabe Sapolsky as his assistant booker and bring in Danielson as his new top star. The idea would be to rebuild the promotion over 18 months, and at that time have Danielson beat Kurt Angle for the TNA title.
He said he had very different views at the 2014 and 2015 Royal Rumble. He said in 2014, he had no problem not being in the Rumble. He knew going in his role on that show was to lose to Bray Wyatt. He said that since he wasn’t going to win it, he didn’t see any reason to be in it. He said he was in stunned disbelief backstage watching the fans crap all over the Rumble when they were chanting for him.
This year was different. He said that he knew and everyone knew that the fans would be disappointed if he didn’t win, and he said he thought it made it harder for Roman Reigns because people were angry that he wasn’t in the match for very long.
He said he never thinks about what would have happened in 2014 if C.M. Punk hadn’t quit the company and he never would have gotten a shot to be the star of the show. “I just find it funny. It’s such an odd thing I wasn’t supposed to be in that spot. Because Punk quit, I was in that spot. My mind doesn’t work in what-ifs. What happened happened and I don’t think about it too much.”
When asked who the best wrestler in the business was, he said he enjoyed watching Cesaro the most in WWE and if you’re including the entire world, that he considered Shinsuke Nakamura as the best.
HBO Real Sports this past week ran a story on domestic violence arrests and MMA, stating that arrests are roughly double that of the national average.
The story was built around the much-publicized case of War Machine, the former Jon Koppenhaver, who gave ex-girlfriend and former porn star Christy Mack a savage beating that got national headlines.
Koppenhaver was a former UFC fighter, who after being fired from the organization, was signed by Bellator. Even after spending time in jail, Bellator, which came off badly as an organization in the piece, brought him back, not releasing him until the Mack incident. Koppenhaver legally changed his name to War Machine, because TNA sent him a cease and desist on using the name because they had Rhino under contract. However, he found out you can’t stop someone from using his real name.
Bellator bringing him back was a really bad decision because there were multiple reasons UFC had fired him and he got into trouble and spent time in prison before he even started with the organization, which, during the Bjorn Rebney regime, they attempted to push him as a star in. His previous criminal issues had to do with street fights and he had no legal issues with domestic violence, although plenty of issues with violence outside the cage and gym.
But they were somewhat lucky in the company being under the radar that it didn’t hurt them that badly when he allegedly attacked and savagely beat up Mack, as well as a male friend who was with her when he came to her place. Bellator, by that point being run by Scott Coker, immediately fired him, and during many of the news reports, he was referred to as a former UFC fighter. The proximity of that arrest and another sick arrest involving another former UFC fighter, Josh Grispi, led to some negative media for that promotion.
Mack claimed on the show that Koppenhaver first abused her four months into the relationship, and raped her and bragged about it on Twitter. That actually pretty much happened, at least as far as bragging about it until he later claimed he was only kidding. She also blamed his use of steroids, saying he had a higher sex drive and would get more agitated while on steroids. Another former girlfriend of Koppenhaver, Kendra Schnell, was on camera and said he had abused her, and both claimed he had used choke holds on them.
Former UFC fighters Kyacey Uscola, who was sentenced to ten years in prison on domestic violence charges, and Grispi, whose case also got national headlines because it included siccing his dog on his wife, were covered. They also covered the Thiago Silva incident with his wife, where UFC actually made the announcement they were bringing him back after charges against Silva were dropped, only to dump him when his ex-wife, furious at the news, posted a video of him with a gun. Silva had a an incident in front of the gym owned by his wife’s lover at the time, where he had allegedly threatened to start shooting, and later had a long standoff with the SWAT team. Charges were dropped when his wife left the country. In a heavily criticized decision, Dana White announced they were bringing him back, until doing a reversal when she posted footage of him all messed up on the Internet in response to being shocked he was hired back.
Abel Trujillo, Anthony Lapsley and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson were all former or even current UFC fighters named in the report given past domestic violence arrests. There were also the allegations made by the former girlfriend of Travis Browne two weeks ago.
Johnson, who is one of the company’s top fighters, was listed as having been accused of domestic abuse by three different women. The UFC suspended him in 2014, and then claimed to have investigated the most recent claim, and said it was unfounded and brought him back, where he earned a light heavyweight title shot, but lost to Daniel Cormier in the title match after Jon Jones was suspended. Johnson had pleaded no contest on a domestic abuse charge several years ago.
The report said that Trujillo has two convictions and Lapsley has three convictions on domestic abuse charges, and both were on the roster, even though UFC claimed to have a zero tolerance policy.
Not covered in the story was the recent arrest of former UFC star Chris Leben.
Leben, 35, was arrested in San Diego on 16 different criminal counts including a felony possession of an assault weapon and 11 counts of disobeying a protection order (filed by his ex-wife). He was arraigned on 7/23.
The charges stem from a 6/8 incident where Leben was accused of breaking into his ex-wife’s apartment in San Diego. Police arrived and found a loaded .45 caliber pistol on her bed. The restraining order filed by his ex-wife alleged that Leben woke her up at 3 a.m. banging on the door, and she claimed he tried to scale a wall on the apartment building to come in through the balcony. She said she fled the apartment and went to a neighbor. She claimed that the previous day he had sent her a text message threatening her father. She claimed an M16 assault rife was found which Leben said belonged to his wife. KNBC TV ran a news report where Leben claimed that his wife beat him and was emotionally abusive, blaming it on the stress of his wife attending law school. Kaleena Leben claimed on the air that Chris had abused her on several occasions, saying Chris was mentally ill and addicted to steroids and opiates and claimed that in 2011, she had to be taken to the emergency room after he pushed her into a wall. Leben denied using drugs, and said his wife was drunk and high and injured herself in that incident.
He was being held at one point at the San Diego Central Jail on $100,000 bond. Leben retired last year as a fighter and had been coaching at a gym in San Diego.
Neither UFC nor Bellator made any comments about the piece after it ran.
In its attempt to make the G-1 Climax tournament bigger than ever before, New Japan Pro Wrestling has turned it into something completely different.
After a big week, and now seven shows into the tournament, it feels far more like a 90s Champion Carnival tournament, except with less time limit draws, than a G-1.
We had heard when tickets were put on sale that with the noted exception of the final six shows in Tokyo, most of the advances were disappointing. And thus far, that has been the case, with only two sellouts in seven days, most notable with the 7/29 show in Fukuoka at the 7,000-seat International Center only drawing 2,460 paid for an A block show headlined by A.J. Styles vs. Tetsuya Naito. Even the big show of the week on 7/26 in Hiroshima with a Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Naito and Styles vs. Kota Ibushi double headliner failed to sell out, doing 3,360 fans.
The shows don’t feel nearly as big as in the past few years, with the split crew singles matches. There is a different dynamic between a two week tournament and a four week tournament. Saying Champion Carnival isn’t a knock. Those were some great tournaments, but they didn’t pack the excitement of the G-1. There would be a few tournament matches in every city, and with more depth, bigger stars and wrestling being far more over, the 90s Carnivals were actually bigger than this. But except for the finals and a few shows with the most anticipated matches, they felt like shows rather than something special.
Besides the disappointing crowds, and in many cities, not particularly hot crowds either, there have been other problems. Everyone is a year older and even with more days between singles matches, they are working more shows and clearly having to pace themselves more early on. We’d already started to see cooling off at Korakuen Hall, the arena they run their most events in, with a lot of shows not selling out, which had been almost automatic. While New Japan still has many of the best wrestlers in the world, there is a sameness, and the issues of not creating enough new stars to freshen things up over the past few years had already clicked in. In many ways, this is following the mid-to-late 80s Jim Crockett Promotions pattern almost completely, feeling like we’re now in 1987 after the past two years were 1985 and 1986.
The other big news story in the tournament involves the booking. Pre-tournament favorite Shinsuke Nakamura suffered a left elbow injury, last working on the 7/25 show in Takamatsu, where he beat Yuji Nagata. Currently, he’s got the left arm in a sling and has missed three shows so far. But he’s only missed one tournament match, on 7/28, when he was scheduled against Michael Elgin, who got a forfeit win.
He has not been pulled from the tournament and has told people he will be back in action soon, but that’s not a definite as to when. He has not been pulled from the tournament and he is still scheduled for his ROH shows on 8/21 and 8/22. But even with the forfeit loss to Elgin, unless he was originally scheduled to lose that match, that puts a monkey wrench in what was intricate B block booking for whatever the planned final destination is.
The tournament star so far is Ibushi. Ibushi, working with broken fingers in both hands, opened with the loss to Tanahashi which was a genuine match of the year contender at ****3/4. He did not have a match of the year contender with Doc Gallows on 7/24 in Kyoto. But he had a ****½ match on 7/26 in Hiroshima with Styles, that wasn’t quite as good as their IWGP title match classic, but was easily the second best tournament match up to that point. He had a completely different ****½ match with Katsuyori Shibata on 7/29 from Fukuoka, so at this point he’s had the three best matches I’ve seen of the tournament.
At press time, after four A block shows and three B block shows, here are the standings:
A block: 1. Naito, Bad Luck Fale and Katsuyori Shibata 3-1; 4. Styles, Tanahashi, Ibushi and Togi Makabe 2-2; 8. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Doc Gallows and Toru Yano 1-3.
B block: 1. Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii 3-0; 3. Karl Anderson and Hirooki Goto 2-1; 5. Nakamura, Satoshi Kojima, Nagata, Elgin and Yujiro Takahashi 1-2; 10. Tomoaki Honma 0-3.
*Tomohiro Ishii pinned Satoshi Kojima in 12:20 with a brainbuster.
*Hirooki Goto pinned Yujiro Takahashi in 11:48 with the Shoten kai
*Yuji Nagata pinned Tomoaki Honma in 12:49 with a bridging back suplex. Said to be a great match.
*Kazuchika Okada pinned Michael Elgin in 11:48 after the rainmaker. Crowd really didn’t know Elgin but the work here was said to be very good.
*Karl Anderson pinned Shinsuke Nakamura in 17:41 after the gunstun. Crowd heat was lacking compared to the previous two matches. Said to be good, and people were surprised by the finish where Anderson side stepped the bom a ye and hit the gun stun.
July 24 – Kyoto Budo Center – 1,700 sellout (A block night)
*Kota Ibushi pinned Doc Gallows with a cradle in 8:35 in a good match.
*Bad Luck Fale pinned Togi Makabe in 8:06 after a Bad Luck Fall in a match better than expected. Okay overall.
*A.J. Styles beat Toru Yano via submission in 10:13 with the calf killer after escaping from Yano’s second attempt at a low blow. Match was said to be entertaining with Styles showing his working ability since Yano works a completely different style from everyone else.
*Katsuyori Shibata pinned Tetsuya Naito in 12:11 after a penalty kick. Said to be an excellent match, best of the night.
*Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Hiroyoshi Tenzan in 15:11 after a high fly flow. Another strong performance by Tanahashi, as aside from this match, Tenzan hasn’t had a good tournament and this turned into a very good heated match, with the crowd behind Tenzan as the nostalgia figure trying to get the upset.
July 25 – Takamatsu City Central Gymnasium – 2,070 (B Block night)
*Tomohiro Ishii pinned Yujiro Takahashi after a sliding D and brainbuster in 12:17. Match was so-so.
*Satoshi Kojima pinned Michael Elgin in 12:49 when Elgin came off the ropes into a lariat. Very good match.
*Karl Anderson pinned Hirooki Goto in 11:34 in his second big upset win, reversing Goto’s shoten kai into a gunstun. Good match, but they’ve had better matches.
*Shinsuke Nakamura pinned Yuji Nagata in 16:26 after a kick to the head. Very good match.
*Kazuchika Okada pinned Tomoaki Honma in 17:51 after a German suplex and rainmaker. Also very good, with the crowd particularly hot.
July 26 – Hiroshima Green Arena – 3,360 (A block night)
1. Hirooki Goto & Yohei Komatsu & Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask beat Tomoaki Honma & Mascara Dorada & David Finlay & Ryusuke Taguchi in 8:32. Usual opener with mostly crisp action. Dorada hit a tope on Liger right away. Very good work with Komatsu and Finlay, and Goto and Honma hit stiff stuff, but it lost a little momentum. Tiger Mask pinned Finlay with a double-arm superplex while standing on the top rope. **3/4
2. Yuji Nagata & Captain New Japan beat Yujiro Takahashi & Cody Hall in 8:26. Hall looked more green here than in other matches I’ve seen with him. Nagata, who is 47 and has had decades of hard matches, is starting to show his age on this tour really for the first time. I hate to think of how he’ll be feeling in a few weeks. Nagata escaped from the Razor’s edge and got the submission with the eye rolling Nagata armbar. *1/2
3. Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga beat Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi in 8:51. Not much heat here. Tonga used a sliding elbow and a spear to take out Ishii, and Anderson pinned Yoshi-Hashi after a gunstun. *3/4
4. Satoshi Kojima & Michael Elgin beat Kazuchika Okada & Gedo in 11:27. Crowd was really into Gedo here. Elgin slammed both of his opponents at the same time which got a reaction. Okada set up Kojima for the rainmaker, but Kojima beat him to the punch taking out Okada with a rainmaker style lariat, and then hit his usual style lariat on Gedo for the pin. ***
5. Bad Luck Fale pinned Doc Gallows in 8:43. This was pushed as a battle of Bullet Club monsters, which was funny because Gallows came out with Hall, and Hall is significantly bigger than Gallows or Fale. Mostly power spots. Match was okay. Gallows came off the ropes into the grenade (thumb to the side of the throat) for the pin. The two hugged after the match. *3/4
6. Toru Yano pinned Hiroyoshi Tenzan in 6:38. There wasn’t much to the match nor did the crowd (this was a tough crowd) seem to care much about it. Even Yano using Mongolian chops on Tenzan didn’t get much heat. The finish was a big mistake as Tenzan came off the top rope with a diving head-butt, and hit it far too solid. Both guys got their heads split open and were bleeding like crazy, all over the mat. They went right to the finish with Yano using a low blow and backslide. *1/2
7. Katsuyori Shibata pinned Togi Makabe in 9:06. Very physical match but it was hurt by the cold crowd. They did a series of one count kick outs which started to get the crowd, but it was tough. Shibata won with a choke, then let it go and hit the penalty kick for the pin. ***
8. Kota Ibushi pinned A.J. Styles in 19:10. They did cross-up spots early. Styles worked on Ibushi’s back with a uranage on the guard rail and a Billy Robinson style backbreaker. Ibushi teased his power German suplex from outside in, but Styles reversed, and teased a tombstone piledriver on the ring apron, but at the last second Ibushi turned that into a huracanrana, flipping Styles to the floor. Ibushi did his moonsault off the middle rope to the floor. They went back-and-forth with near falls for the next several minutes. Ibushi went for a Super Frankensteiner but Styles blocked it and Styles instead came off the top rope with a huracanrana. Styles used a piledriver for a near fall, went for a springboard 450, but Ibushi got his knees up. Ibushi did a Pele kick, and then Styles did one right after. After a Bloody Sunday DDT, Styles teased a Styles clash off the top rope, but Ibushi turned that into a huracanrana and then hit the Phoenix splash for the pin. ****½
9. Tetsuya Naito pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi in 24:14. Naito came out in a business suit and silver mask in his new character. They opened fast with elbows but Naito did a lot of stalling. Naito used a neckbreaker on a hard table outside the ring, which bent but didn’t break. Tanahashi dove in to beat the 20 count. Naito worked on the neck for a while. Tanahashi hit his high fly flow to the floor. Naito used the pluma blanca submission, a Frankensteiner off the top and a springboard dropkick to the back as well as a German suplex for a near fall. Finally Tanahashi hit the sling blade and high fly flow, but Naito got his knees up. Naito missed a flying forearm and Tanahashi turned it into a German suplex. After a few more near falls, Tanahashi went for a sling blade, but Naito did a sliced bread type move that he’s calling destino, his new finisher. People didn’t really understand the move and weren’t expecting it to be the finish, but it’s smart to debut the new move and beat Tanahashi with it, so it’s something that will pay dividends as the tournament goes on. Great match but the cold crowd did hurt it. ****
July 28 – Beppu B-Con Plaza – 1,580 (B block night)
*Michael Elgin got a win via forfeit due to Shinsuke Nakamura not wrestling.
*Yujiro Takahashi pinned Yuji Nagata in 12:03 after the Miami Shine in a so-so match.
*Hirooki Goto pinned Tomoaki Honma in 12:20 with the Shoten kai in a great match.
*Tomohiro Ishii pinned Karl Anderson in 16:31 after a brainbuster. It started slow and they didn’t get much heat, but did pick up and very good by the end.
*Kazuchika Okada pinned Satoshi Kojima in 18:22 after a rainmaker with the other arm after Kojima ducked the original rainmaker attempt. Very good match.
July 29 – Fukuoka International Center Arena – 2,460 (A block night)
*Doc Gallows pinned Toru Yano in 6:58. The Bullet Club was interfering. Yano took out Cody Hall and Tama Tonga. The ref was distracted and Karl Anderson interfered, and they used the magic killer on Yano and Gallows got the pin. Short and okay.
*Togi Makabe pinned Hiroyoshi Tenzan in 8:41 after the King Kong kneedrop. Match was fine.
*Katsuyori Shibata pinned Kota Ibushi in 14:24 after a choke and penalty kick. This was excellent. Very different than any Ibushi match you’ll see, but he switched to working Shibata’s style and did a great job. Great crowd heat for a series of one count kick outs in particular.
*Bad Luck Fale pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi in 13:07 after the grenade and a splash off the top rope. This ended up being a good match, which is quite the tribute to Tanahashi. He worked it big match style, with a high fly flow to the floor again. He did two high fly flows but The Bullet Club pulled the ref out from counting the pin.
*Tetsuya Naito pinned A.J. Styles in 17:13. Crowd wasn’t much into this as they had no favorite. Eventually they got behind Naito. After a Pele kick, Styles went for the Bloody Sunday DDT, but Naito reversed into Destino for the pin. So now he’s used his new move to pin both Tanahashi and Styles. If nothing else, this is giving a heel turn and a new move some booking credibility. After the match, Naito attacked ref Red Shoes and spoke in Spanish instead of Japanese.
This week’s G-1 schedule:
8/1 in Osaka – B block night (4 a.m. Eastern): Jay White & David Finlay vs. Cody Hall & Doc Gallows, Togi Makabe & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Yohei Komatsu vs. Tetsuya Naito & Kota Ibushi & Mascara Dorada; Katsuyori Shibata & Tiger Mask & Captain New Japan vs. A.J. Styles & Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga; Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kushida & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Toru Yano & Yoshi-Hashi & Gedo; Satoshi Kojima vs. Yujiro Takahashi; Karl Anderson vs. Yuji Nagata; Tomoaki Honma vs. Michael Elgin; Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tomohiro Ishii; Kazuchika Okada vs. Hirooki Goto (IWGP champion vs. IC champion).
8/2 in Nagoya – A block night (3 a.m. Eastern): Kojima & Kushida & Taguchi & Komatsu vs. Honma & Tiger Mask & Dorada & Finlay; Elgin & White vs. Takahashi & Hall; Goto & Nagata & Captain New Japan vs. Nakamura & Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi; Okada & Gedo vs. Anderson & Tonga; Ibushi vs. Tenzan; Shibata vs. Fale; Styles vs. Gallows; Makabe vs. Naito; Tanahashi vs. Yano.
8/4 in Sendai – B Block night (5:30 a.m. Eastern): Tiger Mask & Taguchi vs. Finlay & White, Shibata & Komatsu vs. Yano & Yoshi-Hashi; Naito & Kushida vs. Ibushi & Dorada; Makabe & Tanahashi & Tenzan & Captain New Japan vs. Styles & Gallows & Fale & Tonga; Elgin vs. Takahashi; Honma vs. Kojima; Nagata vs. Ishii; Okada vs. Anderson; Nakamura vs. Goto.
8/5 in Iwate – A block night (5:30 a.m. Eastern): Kojima & Nagata & Tiger Mask & Komatsu vs. Goto & Elgin & Dorada & Finlay; Honma & White vs. Anderson & Hall; Nakamura & Ishii vs. Takahashi & Tonga; Kushida & Taguchi & Captain New Japan vs. Okada & Yoshi-Hashi & Gedo; Tenzan vs. Fale; Shibata vs. Yano; Tanahashi vs. Gallows; Makabe vs. Styles; Naito vs. Ibushi.
T.J. Dillashaw finished what felt like a never-ending program with Renan Barao, by retaining his bantamweight title in the main event of UFC’s highest rated summer FOX special to date.
The fight was similar to the first, in the sense Dillashaw was quicker and was beating Barao to the punch most of the fight, easily winning the first three rounds, with Barao just surviving at the end of the third round. Dillashaw overwhelmed Barao with punches before Herb Dean stopped the fight.
Although the two had only fought twice, it seemed like they have been the entire top of the division forever. It’s actually been since the spring of last year, where Dillashaw was an 8-to-1 underdog as a replacement for the injured Raphael Assuncao, in facing Barao on May 24, 2014, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Barao was being touted as perhaps the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, and had a record to back it up.
Barao lost his first pro fight via decision as an 18-year-old in 2005. After stopping Dillashaw’s teammate Urijah Faber in the first round, Barao had a 34-1 pro record with the longest unbeaten streak among top fighters in the business. Dillashaw had already lost twice in his four year career, a knockout loss to John Dodson and a decision loss to Assuncao. But Dillashaw completely dominated the first fight, finishing Barao in the fifth round with a head kick and punches.
The story was that Barao had let his weight get out of control, and was 196 pounds at one point, before starting camp and trying to shed his way down to 135, which took too much out of him.
Barao was scheduled for a rematch on August 30, 2014, in Sacramento, but passed out the day before the show in trying to cut weight to make the 135 pound limit. The UFC was furious and at first Dana White was very negative on Barao getting another shot unless he won several more fights. But when Assuncao was injured again, Barao got the nod for a 4/25 PPV fight. The fight was delayed once again when Dillashaw suffered a broken rib in training.
The win sets up what could be the biggest men’s bantamweight fight in UFC history, with Dillashaw against Dominick Cruz. Cruz was the king of the division when he suffered a knee injury in 2011. Over the next nearly four years, he only fought once, due to three different ACL tears, two in one knee and one in the other, and a torn quad. Cruz is currently estimating that he’ll be ready in December or January and vows to win the title that he never lost inside the cage.
The other top match on the show was Miesha Tate, the second most famous woman fighter in the UFC, earn what may be her third match with Ronda Rousey. Tate won a decision over Jessica Eye in the fight that was to determine the top contender. Rousey, who faces Bethe Correia on 8/1 in Rio de Janeiro, said she would agree to face Tate once again if she was to retain the title.
The combination of the title fight and Tate saw the show become the most watched of the four previous FOX July specials. The show did a 1.7 rating and 2,756,000 viewers, up from the range of 2.38 million to 2.5 million viewers that the prior three shows had done.
The show had a positive ratings pattern, starting with a 1.3 rating for the Takanori Gomi vs. Joe Lauzon fight, a 1.6 for the best fight on the show with Edson Barboza vs. Paul Felder, a 2.0 for Tate vs. Eye and a 2.4 rating and 3.8 million viewers for the main event. The main event was the most watched MMA fight in the month of July in history. It was also the most-watched sports event on television that day, and led FOX to winning the night easily in all the key 18-49 demographics, and finishing second only to older-skewing CBS among everything on television that night.
The prelims aired on FOX rather than FS 1, and did a 0.9 rating and 1.3 million viewers. The prelim number was almost identical to the 0.8 rating and 1.3 million viewers when FOX last ran prelims on the network last July.
The show drew 11,663 fans paying $1.2 million to the United Center in Chicago, the third largest crowd in the UFC’s last four events in the building.
The show came across as a routine event underneath but with an entertaining main card.
The $50,000 bonuses went to Barboza and Felder for fight of the night, as well as performance bonus to Dillashaw and Tom Lawlor, who doubles as an Observer web site personality and MMA analyst, who returned after knee problems, decided against extreme weight cutting and fought at light heavyweight. After not fighting since April 6, 2013, he came from behind to knock out the significantly larger Gian Villante, the main training partner of Chris Weidman.
1. Zak Cummings (18-4) beat Dominique Steele (13-6) in :43 of a welterweight fight. Steele took the fight as an injury replacement on two weeks notice. Cummings dropped him with a left and started throwing wildly, looking to take Steele out. After connecting with several hard lefts, and with Steele about to crumble, it was stopped.
2. Elizabeth Phillips (5-3) beat Jessamyn Duke (3-3, 1 no contest) via straight 29-28 scores in a women’s bantamweight fight. The losing streak of the non-Rousey Horsewomen continued here. Phillips totally dominated the first round, getting the better of the standup, as well as getting back position and full mount twice on Duke in the first round. Phillips was working for a choke late in the first round. The second round saw Phillips on top on the ground most of the round although Duke reversed her near the end. But Phillips was tired in the third round and Duke was taking her apart. The story of the fight was whether Duke could finish her before time ran out. She kept landing punches and knees, and worked for a number of submissions. Duke completed the armbar (which also led to the first wardrobe malfunction of the Reebok era as Phillips right breast was totally exposed while she was in the armbar) just as the fight ended. Had the round gone a few more seconds, Duke probably would have won. With this being third straight loss, she’s in danger of being cut, and if she isn’t, that strong third round would have saved her.
3. Andrew Holbook (11-0) beat Ramsey Nijem (10-6) via split decision on scores of 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28 in a lightweight fight. This was a bad decision. I had Nijem easily winning the first and third round, and even the second round was close. The first round they were even in strikes but Nijem had the takedown edge. In the second and third, Nijem had more strikes but Holbrook did get him in trouble with submission attempts, while the third round was all Nijem. The crowd heavily booed the decision. In the first round, Nijem got two takedowns to one for Holbook, and Nijem landed punches from the top. Yet all three judges gave the round to Holbrook. Nijem had Holbrook in trouble at the start of the second round and took him down and was pounding on him. Holbook reversed and had Nijem in trouble with a choke attempt and a guillotine attempt. Nijem reversed late. In the third round, Nijem took Holbook down and got his back. Holbrook did work for a kneebar and a heel hook, but Nijem escaped and got Holbook’s back again.
4. James Krause (22-7) beat Daron Cruickshank (16-7, 1 no contest) in 1:27. Cruickshank is one of those guys who looks great when he wins. Here, Krause took him down got his back and choked him out.
5. Bryan Caraway (20-8) beat Eddie Wineland (21-11-1) on scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 in a bantamweight fight. This was Caraway’s biggest win. Best known as Tate’s boyfriend, this was the first time since 2009 that Caraway and Tate had fought on the same show. They also cornered each other. Little happened in the first round past Caraway getting a takedown and both missing most of their punches. You could have scored that either way. Caraway clearly won rounds two and three. He bloodied Wineland and outboxed him for the next two rounds. Wineland didn’t seem like the same fighter as in the past.
6. Ben Saunders (19-6-2) beat Kenny Robertson (15-4) via split decision on scores of 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28. I had Robertson winning the first two rounds. In the first round, Robertson got a takedown early, he hurt Saunders with a punch and dropped him late in the round with a right hook. Saunders did land several kicks and two of the judges gave him the first round. Robertson was landing at the start of the second round and had a clear edge. The third round saw Robertson take Saunders down and Saunders was landing tons of elbows from the bottom and bloodied Robertson up badly. It’s hard to win a round from your back but Saunders clearly did in the third.
7. Jim Miller (25-6, 1 no contest) beat Danny Castillo (17-9) via split decision on scores of 28-29, 29-28 and 30-27. All three rounds were close, so any score, even a 30-27 either way, could have been justified. I had Miller 29-28. In the first round, Miller tackled him and got the mount and his back. Castillo escaped and got side control. Could have gone either way. In the second round, both landed but I had it Castillo close. Castillo landed more but Miller landed a left that put Castillo down. Miller tried a takedown but Castillo landed on top in side control.
8. Tom Lawlor (10-5, 1 no contest) beat Gian Villante (13-6) at :27 of the second round in a light heavyweight fight. Villante dominated the first round with low kicks and uppercuts. Lawlor was bleeding from the right eye. His right leg was all bruised up and looked like it was about to give out. Villante took him down off a kick and let him back up. Villante landed a head kick late. It wasn’t looking good at all for Lawlor, as Villante came out and landed some uppercuts to start the second round. Lawlor then knocked him out with a right hook to the jaw out of nowhere.
9. Joe Lauzon (25-11) beat Takanori Gomi (35-11, 1 no contest) in 2:37 of a lightweight fight. Gomi landed punches early and Lauzon was bleeding right away. But Lauzon took Gomi down and that was it. Lauzon got his back and started throwing hard shots from that position. Gomi looked like he was out and it should have been stopped. Lauzon got up and walked away, figuring the fight clearly should be over, but Herb Dean hadn’t stopped it. Lauzon, realizing the fight wasn’t over, moved back, but at that point when Dean ordered it to continue and it was clear Gomi was out of it, then he stopped it. This came across awkward, although Lauzon came off as a big babyface for refusing to continue punching a beaten Gomi even though the fight hadn’t been stopped. When Lauzon first got into MMA in 2004, Gomi, who was the top lightweight in Pride, was Lauzon’s hero.
10. Edson Barboza (16-3) beat Paul Felder (10-1) via straight 29-28 scores in a lightweight fight. I had all three rounds for Barboza. Barboza dominated the first round with kicks, but Felder did bust his right eye badly in the round. Barboza also did a spin kick right to the groin which was one of the worst looking low blows you’ll ever see. The second round was great. Both were out there spinning and landing. They traded spin kicks. Barboza landed a spin kick to the body. Felder did a spinning backfist and a spinning elbow. Barboza did a spinning kick to the back. Felder landed a hard knee while Barboza landed hard kicks. The round could have gone either way. Barboza dominated the third round, mostly with fast body kicks.
11. Miesha Tate (17-5) beat Jessica Eye (11-3, 1 no contest) on straight 30-27 scores to determine the top contender in the women’s bantamweight division. Tate looked bigger and stronger, and was hitting harder than at any time in her career. Eye was taking her apart early in the first round. It was looking one-sided. Tate made an adjustment, and dropped Eye with an overhand right. She followed landing a lot of elbows to win the round. She controlled the fight from that point on. Tate was landing good punches and put her down in the second round. Eye went for an arm triangle and Tate escaped. Tate was pounding the body from the top and throwing elbows to the body. Tate tried a guillotine as the second round was ending. Eye landed some hard kicks to start the third round, but Tate took her down and got her back. Tate kicked her in the head on the ground and somehow a foul wasn’t called even though it was pretty obvious. At another point, Tate was in control on the ground and Yves Lavigne ordered a standup that made no sense at all. That was the worst standup call in a while. Eye landed two hard knees before the round ended.
12. T.J. Dillashaw (13-2) beat Renan Barao (35-3, 1 no contest) to retain the bantamweight title at :35 of the fourth round. Barao looked strong early, landing punches, kicks and knees. Then Dillashaw came back and hurt him with two rights. Barao landed hard knees to the body but Dillashaw hurt him with punches. Dillashaw got his jabs going, as well as a low kicking game and a high kick. Barao got the better of the exchange at the end of the round. Dillashaw was landing well in the second round. Barao got a momentary takedown but Dillashaw was back up. Dillashaw landed more throughout the round. In the third round, Barao shot in and Dillashaw got his back. Barao tried a guillotine but Dillashaw got out. Dillashaw hurt him with punches late in the round, followed by two hard knees and Barao was almost done as the end of the round saved him. But he wasn’t recovered when the fourth round started. Dillashaw saw that and started throwing all kinds of punches, many of which landed and Herb Dean stopped it.
After more than a year of announcements, a successful international PPV show with no follow-up, and several weeks worth of live events drawing small crowds, the big moment for Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling took place on 7/24 with its first TV taping at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Just the idea of it is strange, as Jarrett has no television deals in place. There has never been a promotion that taped pilots and was successful in then selling the shows in the past. Some taped shows and bought air time, and quickly went out of business as that model didn’t work. There have been networks that have commissioned pilots of a wrestling show, and then picked the show up themselves, but that’s a different animal. There is also the question of international pick-ups, as TNA survives partially off its international deals. But international deals aren’t easy these days, since New Japan has very little international clearance outside of the U.S. and a few Asian countries, and ROH has no international clearances.
With a skeleton crew of wrestlers and staff, Jarrett taped five one-hour television shows and announced another set of tapings on 8/21 in the same building. He also has a third show set for October. With baseball season over, GFW has nothing on its scheduled after that third taping.
Jarrett sold the show to The Orleans Hotel, which promoted it. There were about 3,000 fans in attendance, but the vast majority were comps. One person noted to us that there were stacks of free tickets available to anyone at the hotel.
GFW and TNA are in a working agreement, to the point that Jarrett is now the authority figure on Impact wrestling after tapings this past week. There was some TNA talent at this taping, who noted being thrilled to work in front of a crowd this large. There was a lot of the talent from this crew that flew from Las Vegas to Orlando to be the GFW talent at Impact for the TNA vs. GFW feud.
The key members of the crew included Jarrett and Scott D’Amore, who were pretty much running the creative end, along with Sonjay Dutt. Brandon Baxter and Chael Sonnen were there, as was John Piermarini, a former WWE writer. This week, they announced Kevin Nash is now a part of the GWF roster, so I guess they’ll have him make appearances at some of the minor league shows. It would be hilarious if he comes back to TNA as a GWF guy on so many levels.
The announcer hyped the crowd to chant Global Force at the start of the tapings. All of the crowd was put on the opposite side of the hard camera, so in shooting only in one direction, a crowd of 3,000 would in theory look like 6,000, so for television purposes, it looked good, and I was told the lighting was very professional. The show was done in a six-sided ring.
The show opened with P.J. Black pinning Seiya Sanada in a first round match for the Next-Gen (X Division) championship with a springboard 450.
Bobby Roode came out next, with his TNA music. The crowd popped big for him. He immediately said that he wasn’t a GWF wrestler, but a TNA wrestler. This led to a “Dixie sucks” chant. He said that he was the longest reigning TNA champion in history, longer than Jeff Hardy, Sting, Kurt Angle or Jarrett. He said he was mad because Jarrett came to TNA and took the King of the Mountain title, and that TNA should have that title so he is coming to take the GFW world title in the tournament as revenge.
It should be noted that Roode and Eric Young, who have been working GFW dates, are two of Jarrett’s best friends in TNA. There are a lot of people working these shows more as favors to Jarrett because the money offers aren’t there. But in the long run, it’s noted that friends can only do friends favors for a period of time. Nick Aldis (Magnus) came out next, saying this isn’t TNA, it’s GFW and he’s part of the force. As he did his promo, Kongo Kong attacked Aldis and gave him a Samoan drop. Roode then put Aldis in a crossface, establishing Aldis as a top face for the promotion.
Next was a Lucha Libre match with Misterioso Jr. & Zokre & Phoenix Star (Southern California regulars) beat Blood Eagle & Bestia 666 (the son of Damian 666) & Steve Pain. Crowd was really into this one with all the hot spots and dives.
A guy named Harry Maxwell sang the national anthem, and then got attacked by two Arabs, who called themselves The Akbars and said they were after the tag team title. Next was the Bollywood Boyz, a tag team from India that danced as their gimmick, with two female dancers. The match was not good, with the Bollywood Boyz winning.
In probably the best match of the night, Kushida, the IWGP jr. champion, beat Virgil Flynn, who is really small. Flynn in a Southern California based indie wrestler. Both looked great. Kushida won with the hoverboard lock (Kimura).
Karen Jarrett then came out in her role as this group’s Stephanie McMahon, saying that she was announcing tournament matches for the GFW women’s title.
Le’D Tapa came out with a manager, Royal Red. Red was mad that all the advertising for the show was based around Mickie James and not Tapa. Karen Jarrett then said to Tapa that unlike her, she doesn’t need her husband to do her walking. So I guess that establishes that Red is her husband. Tapa, James and Christina Von Eerie worked a three-way. Even though James is the biggest star, Von Eerie got the biggest reaction, as she was announced as being from Reno. Von Eeerie pinned Tapa to win. The match wasn’t very good.
Jigsaw pinned Dutt in another Next Gen tournament match. Some cool spots. Both guys got mild reactions.
Sonnen came out next for an interview, as a heel. He told everyone to shut up and then called out Flynn. Sonnen also cut a promo on Phil Baroni, who was sitting at ringside. Baroni has been wrestling for the local Future Stars of Wrestling promotion. Sonnen was introduced as the GFW analyst, the MMA legend and the ESPN superstar. He came out as a heel insulting fans, and got great heat from his first sentence as he told the people to be quiet so he can do what he’s been paid tens of thousands of dollars to do. He looked at Baroni and called him Phil the Jabroni , and that he must have gotten ringside seats because he knew someone who comped him his tickets and teased the idea of a match with Baroni at the next tapings. He also said that Flynn would be in the Next Gen tournament. P.J. Black (Justin Gabriel) came out and congratulated Flynn for taking Kushida to the limit and they shook hands. Then Black laid out Flynn with a superkick. He left. Sonnen then left the ring and stepped on a prone Flynn on the way out.
In a match in the GFW title tournament, Chris Mordetzky (Masters) beat Brian Myers with the Master lock.
Reno Scum (Adam Thornstowe & Luster the Legend) beat Los Luchas (Phoenix Star & Zokre) in the tag team tournament. Reno Scum looked good here.
Roode beat Kevin Kross of the local Future Stars of Wrestling promotion in a GFW title tournament match. Roode won with the crossface. Match was nothing special.
Jeff Jarrett came out to a big reaction. Fans were chanting “Thank you Jeff.” He plugged the company’s partnership with The Orleans, and announced that at the next show on 8/21, they would have Shelton Benjamin, The Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) and The Bullet Club (Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows). Roode then came out and buried the entire roster saying this was a two-cent company, and that nobody knows or gives a crap about Benjamin, the Killer Elite Squad or The Bullet Club. Jarrett then announced that Roode would face Eric Young in the next round of the title tournament on 8/21.
Henry Maxwell, who debuted singing the national anthem and getting beaten up by the Arab heels, came back out. Now he’s a heel manager, announcing his best friend, Kongo Kong.
The final match at the taping was Aldis vs. Kong. Maxwell stole the show, and kind of overdid it because at different times he took the focus of the match away from the wrestlers instead of using his actions to put more heat on the match. Kong was very athletic for a guy who looked out of shape. After a missed moonsault by Kong, Aldis won with a power bomb.
It was a hell of a risk this day and age to book a 60:00 draw for a main event on a major show, but ROH did that with the 7/24 main event of its Death or Dishonor iPPV show.
ROH champion Jay Lethal retained his title against PWG champion Roderick Strong, on Strong’s 32nd birthday, before a packed house of 900 fans at the William J. Myers Pavilion in Baltimore.
The match itself was excellent. At the start, you could tell the match was probably going long, as in more than 20 minutes. But there was really no tip off they were going the distance until they were 40 minutes in and you could still see they were far from peaking.
In this day and age, given shorter attention spans and faster paced matches, going 60 minutes is tough. It really had been an issue because some long matches that ROH booked in the past were not all that well received, and some can remember back in the 90s when the crowd turned on Shane Douglas and Tully Blanchard’s ECW title match when Paul Heyman booked an hour draw.
Both wrestlers did a great job, but in watching, you also could see the issues in doing it. In recent years, when there have been 60 minute matches on big shows, they were most often advertised ahead of time as Iron Man matches, which is a different dynamic, and really, even tougher because the audience pretty well knows ahead of time that it’s going the distance. In this case, they never lost the crowd, but there were long periods where the crowd wasn’t reacting all that big which is inherent in going so long. When the wrestlers went to bring the crowd up, they were always there.
The decision was made for the announcers to never bring up the time. There is a mentality that if you talk about the time, since it’s never done in today’s wrestling, you are tipping your hand that it’s going 60. Even as they past the 50 minute mark, time was never mentioned and when it was over, the bell rang, right at the 60:00 mark on the button. Lethal had just delivered a superkick.
The tradition on a 60:00 match is to do one of two things, if not both. It is to not call the match right at the 60:00 mark, but have the wrestlers get into position where the challenger, usually the face, has a pin using his big move at the bell and the bell rings at the count of two, with the idea people think the pin was the finish. The other is to call the match at 60:00, but give time cues at the end to the fans, of two minutes, one minute and 30 seconds. Doing so, the wrestlers build to a frantic pace but in their heads can get in position to try and be in the right position estimating the time running out.
Because they didn’t do this, the match was just going, and they were doing near falls but the crowd excitement level wasn’t peaking, and then, the bell just rang. At first people didn’t know what to make of it, and then they started booing. Then, quickly, they started chanting “Five more minutes.” There was also a light “Match of the Year” chant. Lethal and Strong stayed on the ground, on their backs, selling the beating and exhaustion for about four minutes, long after the show had gone off the air. Announcer Kevin Kelly tried to put it over as maybe the greatest title match in ROH history or even the greatest match ever in ROH history. My own opinion is I’ve seen a lot of better ROH matches, but if you’re going to do a 60:00 match in this day and age, the key is that you have to push it afterwards as a classic from the start, and build off it for when the rematch takes place (8/21 in Philadelphia at the 2300 Arena), which in theory should be a no time limit match that also goes 35 minutes or more to fulfill the storytelling.
They almost never do 60 minute matches in Japan or Mexico either, which in another era were done from time-to-time, for all the same reasons. Having seen them regularly, and have them build more excitement at the end, it was pretty clear the time calls make a difference. The lower level of believability or higher level of suspension of disbelief also helps. But this is an issue throughout wrestling. In another era, and still to this day in the major companies in Japan, the ring announcer does time cutes every five minutes in every match. Doing so, giving time cues isn’t a tipoff. However, in the U.S., the time cues, a staple of many major promotions in the 70s, have been abandoned. The entire North American business pretty much abandoned them when Vince McMahon took over, since his company never did them. So a generation in the U.S. never grew up with them. In most cases, they made no difference. But it was a base so when a match was long, the time cues added an element to the excitement, just like time running out in a UFC fight or a football or basketball game. Granted, the worst thing you could do was do time cues every five minutes starting with this match. But you could have announced it at 40 or 45 minutes and then counted down, since by that time, you already had gone a long time. It felt like the idea was that what they were trying to create was a bell ringing when nobody expected it. That’s what happened, but it lessened the excitement at the end.
The next major show will be the All-Star Extravaganza PPV on 9/18 in San Antonio, which right now is listing a unique double main event with Lethal theoretically doing double duty. Lethal will first defend the TV title against Bobby Fish, and then defend the ROH title in the main event against Kyle O’Reilly. However, if Strong defeats Lethal in Philadelphia, then the PPV main event will be Strong vs. O’Reilly for the title.
Overall, the show was good. The promotion didn’t have as deep a talent roster as some of their bigger shows with A.J. Styles and Michael Elgin in Japan for G-1 and The Young Bucks headlining the PWG show in Reseda. But there wasn’t a bad match on the show even if the heat was up and down.
It was very much a high-spot oriented crowd as they were going nuts for the last several minutes of the tag team title match, a four-way where The Addiction, Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian, retained over Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish, Matt Taven & Michael Bennett and Hanson & Ray Rowe. Everything else ranged from average to good.
1. Donovan Dijak pinned Takaaki Watanabe in 6:00. Dijak won with Feast Your Eyes in a dark match. The high spot was after J Diesel interfered, Watanabe suplexed him on the floor.
2. Silas Young pinned Will Ferrara in 6:22. Young went way too long for a PPV in yelling at a fan at ringside to set up a distraction spot where he turned around and Ferrara hit him with a tope. Young countered Ferrara’s sliced bread and hit a TKO, which is called “Misery,” for the pin. After the match, Dalton Castle’s boys started fanning Young and he shoved one of them. They ended up both riding him like he was a horse.
3. Cedric Alexander pinned Moose in 12:00. Moose early on used a fall away slam into the barricades. Fans chanted “One more time,” and then booed Moose, the face, when he instead threw Alexander into the ring. They went to near falls. Moose came off the top rope and was hit by a dropkick. Alexander did a good job with him, although got a “You f***ed up” chant when he slipped off the ropes. Alexander went for a tope, but Moose caught him and power bombed him on the apron. Moose then chased after Veda Scott, who passed a wrench into the ring. Alexander hit Moose with the wrench and got the pin. **½
4. Mark & Jay Briscoe beat Rocky Romero & Trent Barreta in 15:11. This was a fun match, all-action with the crowd really with it. The announcers pushed that Romero was the most underrated tag team wrestler in history. The guy is great when it comes to timing and working. It opened with Jay doing a tope on Romero and Mark doing a dropkick through the ropes on Barreta. Mark took a sick bump from a backdrop over the top rope to the floor form Barreta. Later, Mark landed on his feet after a Barreta backdrop in the ring. Barreta ended up busted open from the right eye. The announcers immediately brought up they were in Maryland and the commission could stop the match at any time. They didn’t, but it was teased a few times with Steve Corino even bringing up the 1988 Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger match in Baltimore where Luger wasn’t bleeding much and the commission stopped it as he had Flair in the torture rack. Mark should get a job as the Geico caveman. At the finish, Mark came off the apron with a blockbuster on Romero while Jay used a Jay driller on Barreta. Mark then hit the elbow off the top rope on Barreta and Jay pinned him. They all shook hands after. ***½
5. Adam Cole pinned Dalton Castle in 14:05. The place went nuts when the graphic for this match went up. Castle is a super cult favorite right now. Castle’s punches need work but he has some great throws. Cole pushed The Boys and then got hit by a tope by Castle. Fans chanted “Peacock” at Castle. They had a big strike trade and Castle again showed he needs work there. Lots of near falls, ending with Cole using a neckbreaker over the knee for the pin. After the match, Young came out and attacked The Boys, so the Castle vs. Young program is continuing. ***
6. Adam Page beat ACH in 17:40 of a no DQ match. B.J. Whitmer came out on crutches and said he had just had knee surgery for a torn ACL 11 days earlier. If that’s the case, that usually means six months or more off. Fans cheered when Whitmer announced he wouldn’t be able to wrestle for a while. But he said he can manage, mentor and be a father figure to Colby Corino. He stayed on commentary. ACH immediately hit the Fosbury Flop dive. Page used chairs to the back including hitting ACH when he was on the top rope. Page powerslammed him on a chair which broke the chair. The crowd was quieter for this match than anything on the show. At one point ACH was on the floor, stepped up to the apron and used an enzuigiri on Page. ACH brought out Hindu clubs like the Iron Sheik and Karl Gotch used to use as a weapon. Page did a head-and-arm suplex onto a ladder. ACH used a German suplex on Page onto a ladder. Lots of near falls including ACH doing a 450 off the apron. ACH punched Colby Corino when he got on the apron. Whitmer threw his crutch into the ring and Page hit ACH with it. Page used an Omori driver, or the Rights of Passage as he calls it, off the apron and through a table on the floor. Colby Corino threw ACH into the ring and Page pinned him. ***
7. Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian retained the ROH tag titles over Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly, Michael Bennett & Matt Taven and Hanson & Ray Rowe in 16:10. Adam Cole was at ringside pushing the idea of a turn, which happened at TV the next day. He was complaining about how The Kingdom didn’t invite him to the strategy meeting, and whenever they’d screw up, he’d bring up how he could have warned them about it had they invited him. O’Reilly had a choke on Daniels when Rowe went to pick both up at the same time. He actually lost them the first time, but then got them up and gave them a double Samoan drop. We had a series of big moves and dives that tore down the house. Daniels did a springboard moonsault out of the ring on Rowe. Fish did a flip dive on Daniels and Rowe. O’Reilly did a running knee off the apron. Taven did his running dive onto everyone. Finally Hanson did a flip plancha off the top on everyone. Bennett & Taven gave Rowe a double superkick, then Bennett used the twist of fate and Taven used the swanton on Rowe for a near fall. Then they went to all kinds of near falls. The only negative is that it peaked early with all the big moves and crowd wasn’t up as much for the finish. Fish & O’Reilly hit Bennett with Chasing the Dragon, but Daniels & Kazarian then did Celebrity Rehab on Fish for the pin. ***3/4
8. Jay Lethal retained the ROH title going to a 60:00 draw with Roderick Strong. The match started with slow and deliberate wrestling but no stalling. Lethal hit the Lethal Combination at 18:00 for a near fall. Donovan Dijak and J Diesel interfered, putting the boots to Strong. Strong used a reverse DDT on the floor. Lethal missed a tope and crashed into the barricade. Strong did a twisting dive onto everyone at the 31:50 mark. He also used a backbreaker on the barricade. Strong used a running knee, a running elbow, and a double knee gut buster for a near fall and people bought it as a title change. The crowd started to fade so Truth Martini at ringside started cheerleading. Lethal hit a sequence of three topes, with the third being the one to get the most reaction. They teased Strong losing via count out but he got back in. Strong made a comeback at the 45:00 mark and the crowd started to explode. Lethal went for a Lethal combination, but Strong instead face planted him and used the Stronghold (a Jericho style Boston crab). Lots of near falls. Martini distracted Strong and Lethal hit him with a belt shot, and that kick out got a big reaction. Strong used a top rope superplex, a gut buster and the sick kick for a great near fall. Lethal finally hit the Lethal injection at 57:30 for a near fall. They were trading moves and Lethal had just hit the superkick when time expired. ****
On July 26, 2003, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla opened its doors in what at first became something close to a Southern California outpost of a style of wrestling popularized by Ring of Honor.
On 7/24, the company presented its 12 year anniversary show at its home in Reseda, CA. When the show started, Excalibur, a masked face of the company (who did a speech complaining about the made up board of directors weren’t fining or suspending The Young Bucks and Super Dragon for their attacks on the last show), then how many people in the sold out crowd of probably just over 400 people were at the first show. If anyone raised their hand, I didn’t see it.
In that dozen years, PWG in Reseda has become the place for new talent to make their name. People like Kevin Steen, The Young Bucks, Ricochet and El Generico preceded their ROH or other international fame by working for the group. People like Andrew Everett, Trevor Lee, Team Tremendous and Speedball Mike Bailey may be the next in that line.
On Friday’s show, among those in attendance were William Regal and Canyon Ceman, scouting for WWE, current WWE champion Seth Rollins and AAA co-booker Konnan. Steen himself would have been there, but for once, the show ended at 11:30 p.m., which is actually early for the group that often runs shows until nearly 1 a.m. So he wasn’t going to make it there it in time after main eventing a house show in Bakersfield that night. Reports were that the WWE officials were most impressed with Angelico, a AAA star who teamed with Jack Evans in the main event against the local stars of the group, The Young Bucks. Angelico has a multi-year contract with Lucha Underground, but that is only germane if Lucha Underground continues. We’re not certain what type of deal he is under with AAA.
What they are scouting for has changed. Before it was size and physiques, for the main roster, where on Friday’s show, perhaps nobody but Brian Cage, Ricochet and perhaps Bill Carr would have gotten a second look. But now, with the dual purposes of making NXT into a touring workrate style promotion, which needs to add depth when its few guys capable of blowing people away on top get called up. Just days later, Lee started on TNA television as part of the GFW invading group. Carr, who looks and performs like Big Bubba Rogers would have if he was young with less wear and tear and broke in during this era, suffered a broken foot in his match.
It’s a tiny place, with the beer being sold at cheap prices and in pitcher size, and drinking is plentiful. Still, the crowd is in no way violent or dangerous. Some would say they are too easy, as there seems to be no preference in style that gets over, only that the shows are long and everything gets over. This week’s show was a rarity, it was just under three hours with seven matches that all had decent time, with one match right after the other. The crowd that comes figures they are in there until 1 a.m., but nobody was complaining about the early night. Every show features crazy high spots, fast past action, hard hitting action, copious amounts of comedy and silliness. Before the show and during intermission, the top stars are parked in the corners selling their merchandise and talking to fans.
Most of the people there are regulars, who rush to their computers right before tickets go on sale (in this case on 7/30 at 8 p.m. Pacific time, and they’ll all be gone within minutes), knowing that a slight stall in their computers will mean no tickets. This show sold out in three minutes. While most fans are from Southern California, there are regulars who fly in from the East Coast and a few people make long drives of 350 or more miles. It’s general admission except for the front row, with all seats $45, the front row is $65, although it looks like starting next month the prices are being raised to $50 and $70 each night. General admission, as well as front row, are first come first served. So people start lining up before noon to get the best seats. Those who get into line a little late end up having to stand for four hours.
As noted before, they’ve long since outgrown the building, but there is no sign of moving. For those who aren’t there, the shows were available on DVD release, a declining industry, and there has been no talk of iPPV.
Interest, if anything, is growing. For the next show, the three-day Battle of Los Angeles, with shows on 8/28, 8/29 and 8/30, the shows are likely to sell out instantly later this week.
What has been announced is that it will be a 24 man tournament. There will be six first round matches on 8/28, plus several tag matches involving talent either not in the tournament, or in the tournament on the second night. The 8/29 show is similar. The 12 winners from 8/28 and 8/29 will advance to the finals on 8/30.
Wrestlers will appear from a number of major promotions including U.K. indies (Will Ospreay and Marty Scurll), Evolve (champion Timothy Thatcher and Rich Swann), TNA (Drew Galloway and Mark Andrews), New Japan (Trent Barreta), Lucha Underground (Brian Cage, Ricochet, Pentagon Jr., Angelico, Fenix, Jack Evans, Drago and Aero Star), Pro Wrestling NOAH (Zack Sabre Jr.), wXw (Tommy End), ROH (Matt Sydal) as well as PWG regulars like Bailey, Chris Hero, Biff Busick, Trevor Lee, Drew Gulak and Andrew Everett.
The first night main event will be champion Roderick Strong, who is likely to face the tournament winner in his next title defense, teaming with The Young Bucks against Scurll & Sabre Jr. & End.
The first part of the show was unadvertised matches. Once a year, the promotion does a show where nothing is advertised, no names, no anything.
They opened with Team Tremendous (Dan Barry & Bill Carr) beating Joey Ryan & Candice LaRae. Carr is a huge guy who does all kinds of flying moves. He even flew when LaRae got behind him and delivered a German suplex. The finish was the old Doomsday Device, but with a twist, as Barry instead of coming off the top with a clothesline, came off with a reverse blockbuster.
Next saw the contest bodybuilder Cage beating Johnny Gargano (who, being from Cleveland, is now also known as Johnny Wrestling), with a discus clothesline. Gargano at one point did a flip dive off the apron and Cage caught him and delivered a suplex on the floor.
Everett beat Swann with a shooting star press in a largely entertaining match. Everett is almost the exact mold of a good indie worker that WWE wouldn’t have touched because of size and body a few years ago, but would probably stand out in NXT. His body control is such that he should wind up as a star at a certain level. Swann is a charismatic guy who I still can’t figure out why he isn’t a bigger star.
Lee beat Tommaso Ciampa in a hard hitting great match. Lee had his mouth busted open and blood was pouring from it.
Bailey beat Hero in 20:59 of an excellent match. This was better than all but a few matches so far in G-1, and better than anything on the ROH iPPV or WWE’s Battleground. It was a very simple match in the sense it was a fight. It was the slowest worked match on the show, with Hero pretty much controlling it, but every move made sense and built. Just the stomps that Hero was doing meant so much more than crazy flying moves others would do because every offensive move he did looked so solid and real. Bailey is very talented, but he’s small. But he’s got a kicking sequence that he did twice in this match that would get over in front of any type of crowd. Bailey won clean in the middle even though Hero is almost an iconic figure. Hero’s obvious drawback is the body, because he’s got the size, being a legit 6-foot-4 or so, and his work is unquestioned, particularly in doing a very much Japanese style match.
A very different Japanese style match was next, with Ricochet pinning Akira Tozawa with a spinning falcon arrow. This had its comedic overtones, and was very much a Dragon Gate style match brought to PWG. There was a lot of the acrobatics, plus the things like the super slow chops. Unlike the prior match, which felt like a fight, this felt like two buddies who were out there trying to entertain the audience. It worked. Nobody in the business has got the body control of Ricochet. When you have Kota Ibushi saying that he can’t match you, that’s saying something. He shows so much more charisma here without the mask than he does in Lucha Underground. Tozawa worked hard and is excellent. The match was entertaining, but the entertainment aspect kept it from reaching the heights of the Ricochet vs. Matt Sydal match in the same building in February.
Ricochet and Tozawa celebrated together and then Ricochet left the stage to allow Tozawa to get the big “Please come back” chants. At that point Super Dragon came out and attacked Tozawa. He was joined by The Young Bucks, both wearing Super Dragon masks. The three, along with Strong (who wasn’t there since he was doing the ROH iPPV show, but every seat had a flyer noting it was Strong’s birthday) are the new Mount Rushmore top heel group. Bailey, Lee, Everett, Gargano, Ryan and LaRae all came down and were laid to waste in a bevy of superkicks and tombstone piledrivers. Evans & Angelico also came out, and were beaten down, which transitioned into the main event.
The main event saw The Young Bucks beat Evans & Angelico, which was like every top-end Bucks match in ROH, in the sense it’s non-stop superkicks and tornado DDTs, with great timing and getting great reaction. The Bucks largely work as heels, but were getting dueling chants. Evans is almost like Ricochet in his body control. He’s got a Lucha style from all his years in Mexico. His flying is some of the best, and he worked perfectly with the Bucks. Angelico live is such a great worker. There were none of the insane balcony dives in Lucha Underground, because there is no balcony, but everything he does looks good, and his running leap out of the ring over the post is incredible live. The finish saw the Bucks go for the Meltzer driver on Evans, but Angelico broke it up. It was actually brilliant because the sense was they were doing the move with me there, so when Angelico “screwed it up,” Matt looked at him and essentially said the guy was screwed, but in much stronger language, and did a running dropkick through the ropes on him. The finish was More Bang For Your Buck on Evans for the win.
Raw on 7/27 did a 2.65 rating and 3.68 million viewers (1.45 viewers per home), which is about what the show has been averaging this summer. The average since the start of summer is 3.64 million viewers, a number that only three episodes in 2014, two during football season, and two shows, both during football season in 2013 fell beneath.
If there was a question regarding interest from the Hulk Hogan news helping ratings, the answer is that it didn’t, given any curiosity based on current events would be in the first hour, and the first hour did unusually low. The good news was the show had strong growth and peaked in hour three. Raw was the second most-watched show of the night on cable.
The 8 p.m. hour did 3.42 million viewers; which rose to 3.75 million viewers for the 9 p.m. house and 3.84 million viewers for the 10 p.m. hour.
Ballers with Dwayne Johnson on 7/26 did 1.81 million viewers on HBO, the second best number the station did that day behind True Detective.
Smackdown on7/23 did a 1.79 rating and 2.35 million viewers (1.40 viewers per home), which is up from the near record low levels in recent week. The show was still second for the night on cable.
Impact on 7/22 did 317,000 viewers for the first airing (fourth lowest since the Wednesday move) and 71,000 for the second airing (second lowest). The 388,000 total viewership was up from 365,000 the week before. The current two-show average on Wednesdays is 400,000.
ROH on 7/22 did 139,000 viewers for the first airing (third lowest) and 126,000 for the second airing for 265,000. The current two show average is 264,000 viewers.
Tough Enough on 7/21 rebounded from a low mark against the Major League Baseball All-Star game to do 1,144,000 viewers, which is likely going to be its normal level. It was far below the 1.77 million and 1.88 million viewers for Chrisley Knows Best episodes that followed.
Total Divas on 7/21 did 995,000 viewers, a slight decline from the prior week, but it was the only show on E! that day that cracked the top 100.
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7/10 Philadelphia (WWE – 8,000): IC title: Ryback b Mark Henry, Tag titles: Titus O’Neil & Darren Young b Big E & Kofi Kingston, Chris Jericho b Luke Harper, U.S. title: John Cena b Kevin Owens-DQ, Three-way for Divas title: Nikki Bella won over Paige and Naomi, Neville b Bo Dallas, Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt, Street fight for WWE title: Seth Rollins b Dean Ambrose
7/11 Pittsburgh (WWE – 6,000): Neville b Bo Dallas, Tag titles: Titus O’Neil & Darren Young b Xavier Woods & Big E, Mark Henry b R-Truth, Chris Jericho b Luke Harper, Three-way for Divas title: Nikki Bella won over Paige and Naomi, IC title: Ryback b Big Show, Street fight for U.S. title: John Cena b Kevin Owens
7/11 Nashville (WWE – 4,500): Cesaro b Kane, Macho Mandow & Axel Mania b The Miz & Adam Rose, Jack Swagger b Fandango, Sin Cara & Kalisto b The Ascension, Randy Orton b Sheamus, Natalya won Battle Royal over Emma, Cameron, Summer Rae, Layla and Alicia Fox,. Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt, Street fight for WWE title: Seth Rollins b Dean Ambrose
7/12 Macon, GA (WWE – 2,000): Tag titles: Titus O’Neil & Darren Young b Big E & Xavier Woods, Zack Ryder b Bo Dallas, Jimmy Uso b Luke Harper, Mark Henry b R-Truth, IC title: Ryback b Big Show, Three-way for Divas title: Nikki Bella won over Paige and Naomi, Kevin Owens b Neville, Randy Orton b Sheamus
7/12 Knoxville (WWE – 4,500): Cesaro b Kane, Macho Mandow & Axel Mania b The Miz & Adam Rose, Jack Swagger b Fandango, Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt, Natalya won Battle Royal over Emma, Cameron, Layla, Summer Rae and Alicia Fox, Sin Cara & Kalisto b The Ascension, Street fight for WWE title: Seth Rollins b Dean Ambrose
7/13 Atlanta (WWE Raw/Superstars TV tapings – 12,500): Jack Swagger b Adam Rose, Zack Ryder & Sin Cara & Kalisto b The Ascension & Bo Dallas, Randy Orton & Ryback b Big Show & Sheamus, Titus O’Neil & Darren Young & Mark Henry b Big E & Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods, R-Truth b King Barrett, Rusev won three-way over Cesaro and Kevin Owens, U.S. title: Rusev b John Cena-DQ, Stardust b Neville
7/14 Birmingham, AL (WWE Smackdown/Main Event TV tapings): Macho Mandow & Axel Mania b Heath Slater & Brad Maddox, Titus O’Neil & Darren Young b The Ascension, Zack Ryder b Adam Rose, R-Truth b Bo Dallas, Natalya b Layla, New Day b Sin Cara & Kalisto, King Barrett b Jack Swagger, Cesaro b Rusev, Neville b Stardust, Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose b Big Show & Sheamus-DQ
7/14 Ojiya (All Japan): Shigeno Shima & Naoya Nomura b Sushi & Kashi Hika-ru, Ultimo Dragon b Yuma Aoyagi, Atsushi Aoki b Yohei Nakajima, Jun Akiyama & Yoshinobu Kanemaru b Kenso & Takeshi Minamino, Akebono & Yutaka Yoshie b Takao Omori & Jake Lee, Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara & Kotaro Suzuki b Suwama & Joe Doering & Hikaru Sato
7/14 Kawasaki (Pro Wrestling NOAH – 205 sellout): Katsuhiko Nakajima b Shiro Tomoyose, Maybach Taniguchi & Kenou & Hajime Ohara b Daisuke Harada & Mikey Nicholls & Quiet Storm, Daisuke Sekimoto b Mitsuhiro Kitamiya, Naomichi Marufuji b Hitoshi Kumano, Taiji Ishimori & Atsushi Kotoge b Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu
7/14 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Bengala & Robin b Apocalipsis & Camorra, Akuma & Metalico & Sangre Azteca b Leono & Molotov & Oro Jr., Esfinge b Disturbio, Guerrero Maya Jr. b Blue Panther Jr., Polvora & Rey Bucanero & Vangellys b Angel de Oro & La Mascara & Triton, Atlantis & Diamante Azul & Titan b Barbaro Cavernario & Felino & Mr. Niebla
7/16 Winter Park, FL (WWE NXT – 400 sellout): Lina Fanene b Nhooph Al-Areebi, Evan Marie b Cassie, Baron Corbin b Mr. 450, Samoa Joe b Mike Rallis, Bayley b Emma, Simon Gotch & Aiden English b Sawyer Fulton & Angelo Dawkins, Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder b Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady, Baron Corbin b Jessy Sorensen, Jason Jordan & Chad Gable b Elias Sampson& Manny Garcia, Charlotte b Dana Brooke, Kevin Owens b Martin Stone, Tag titles: Blake & Murphy b Aiden English & Simon Gotch, Bayley b Charlotte, Baron Corbin b Steve Cutler, Tyler Breeze b Aaron Solo, Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder b Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder, Samoa Joe b Rhyno, Tye Dillinger b Solomon Crowe, Baron Corbin b Axel Tischer, Finn Balor b Marcus Louis, Bayley b Becky Lynch
7/17 Newark, NJ (WWE – 7,000): Neville b Bo Dallas, Sheamus b R-Truth, Cesaro b King Barrett, Tag titles: Titus O’Neil & Darren Young b Big E & Xavier Woods, U.S. title: John Cena b Kevin Owens-DQ, Paige b Tamina Snuka, Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt, Street fight for WWE title: Seth Rollins b Dean Ambrose
7/17 Uncasville, CT (Bellator MMA): Ilya Kotau b Nichlas Sergiacomi, Parker Porter b Eric Bedard, Kin Moy b Blair Tugman, Remo Cardarelli b Billy Giovanella, Ryan Quinn b Waylon Lowe, Laine Medeiros b Sarah Payant, Dean Hancock b Alex Dunworth, Michael Page b Rudy Bears, Paul Bradley NC Chris Honeycutt, Brennan Ward b Roger Carroll, Paul Daley b Dennis Olson, Welterweight title: Andrey Koreshkov b Douglas Lima to win title
7/17 Las Vegas (ROH – 600 sellout): Will Ferrara b Romantic Touch, Bobby Fish b Matt Taven, Nanae Takahashi b ODB, Christopher Daniels b Mark Briscoe, ACH b Frankie Kazarian, Rocky Romero & Barreta b Young Bucks, Silas Young b Willie Mack, Ray Rose & Hanson b Adam Cole & Michael Bennett, Bobby Fish won three-way over Christopher Daniels and ACH, Jay Briscoe & Dalton Castle & Kyle O’Reilly b Jay Lethal & Austin Aries & Moose
7/17 Cocoa Beach, FL (WWE NXT – 300 sellout): Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady b Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder, Uhaa Nation b Angelo Dawkins, Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder b Jason Jordan & Chad Gable, Baron Corbin b Mike Rallis, Bayley b Eva Marie, Bull Dempsey b Tye Dillinger, Carmella & Lina b Dana Brooke & Cassie, NXT title: Finn Balor b Tyler Breeze
7/18 Peoria (WWE – 4,000): Axel Mania & Macho Mandow b Stardust & Heath Slater, Rusev b Zack Ryder, Sin Cara & Kalisto won three-way elimination match over The Ascension and Los Matadores, Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt, Alicia Fox & Cameron b Emma & Layla, Street fight for WWE title: Seth Rollins b Dean Ambrose
7/18 Danville, IL (WWE – 3,500): Cesaro b Luke Harper, R-Truth b King Barrett, Sheamus b Jimmy Uso, Tag titles: Titus O’Neil & Darren Young b New Day, Neville b Bo Dallas, Paige b Tamina Snuka, Street fight for U.S. title: John Cena b Kevin Owens
7/18 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Pro Wrestling NOAH – 1,805 sellout): Naomichi Marufuji & Mohammed Yone & Katsuhiko Nakajima & Captain NOAH b Mikey Nicholls & Yoshinari Ogawa & Genba Hirayanagi & Super Crazy, Manabu Nakanishi b Quiet Storm, Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Takashi Iizuka & Taichi & Desperado b Maybach Taniguchi & Akitoshi Saito & Mitsuhiro Kitamiya & Kenou & Hajime Ohara, Sho Tanaka b Hitoshi Kumano, Bengala b Taka Michinoku, Zack Sabre Jr. b Daisuke Harada, Atsushi Kotoge b Taiji Ishimori, Takashi Sugiura b Shelton Benjamin, GHC hwt title: Minoru Suzuki b Yoshihiro Takayama
7/18 Toronto (House of Hardcore – 1,500 sellout): Chris Hero b Tommy Dreamer, Bobby Roode b Pepper Parks, Team Tremendous & Matt Striker & Hacker Scotty b R.J. City & Ethan Page & Vik Dalishus & Ben Ortiz, Johnny Mundo b Tony Nese, Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian b Matt Taven & Michael Bennett, Tommaso Ciampa b Eddie Kingston, Austin Aries b Rhino, Team 3-D b Young Bucks
7/18 Venice, FL (WWE NXT – 400): Uhaa Nation b Mike Rallis, Lina & Carmella b Dana Brook & Jasmin, Elias Sampson b Steve Cutler, Tag titles: Aiden English & Simon Gotch b Blake & Murphy-DQ, Bayley b Eva Marie, Solomon Crowe b Sawyer Fulton, Bull Dempsey b Tye Dillinger, NXT title: Finn Balor b Tyler Breeze
7/18 Osaka (All Japan – 587): Masa Fuchi & Jake Lee b Masao Inoue & Naoya Nomura, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Ultimo Dragon b Kotaro Suzuki & Yohei Nakajima, Takao Omori & Kenso b Suwama & Hikaru Sato, Zeus & The Bodyguard & Billy Ken Kid b Akebono & Jun Akiyama & Sushi, Atsushi Aoki b Go Shiozaki-DQ, Joe Doering b Kento Miyahara
7/19 Tsukioka (Pro Wrestling NOAH – 580 sellout): Yoshinari Ogawa & Taiji Ishimori & Katsuhiko Nakajima d Zack Sabre Jr. & Bengala & Quiet Storm, Manabu Nakanishi b Mitsuhiro Kitamiya, Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Desperado & Taka Michinoku b Mohammed Yone & Akitoshi Saito & Mikey Nicholls & Captain NOAH, Atsushi Kotoge b Genba Hirayanagi, Daisuke Harada b Sho Tanaka, Super Crazy b Hajime Ohara, Kenou b Hitoshi Kumano, Yoshihiro Takayama & Naomichi Marufuji & Takashi Sugiura & Maybach Taniguchi b Minoru Suzuki & Shelton Benjamin & Takashi Iizuka & Taichi
7/19 Takaoka (All Japan – 235): Yoshiaki Yago b Yuma Aoyagi, Kenso won three-way over Naoya Nomura and Yohei Nakajima, Masa Fuchi & Ultimo Dragon b Hikaru Sato & Masao Inoue, Jun Akiyama & Sushi b Takao Omori & Jake Lee, Zeus & The Bodyguard b Akebono & Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Suwama & Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki b Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara & Kotaro Suzuki
7/19 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL – 3,000): Metatron & Robin b Espanto Jr. & Espiritu Negro, Aereo b Pequeno Violencia-DQ, Hombre Bala Jr. & Stuka Jr. & Super Halcon Jr. b El Hijo del Signo & Artillero & Super Comando, Cancerbero & Raziel & Virus b Fuego & Panther & Triton, Ephesto & Luciferno & Mephisto b Atlantis & Blue Panther & Titan, Euforia & Gran Guerrero & Niebla Roja b Dragon Lee & Volador Jr. & La Mascara
7/20 Kansas City (WWE Raw/Superstars TV tapings – 9,800): R-Truth b Heath Slater, Neville b Bo Dallas, Charlotte b Brie Bella, Non-title: Los Matadores b Titus O’Neil & Darren Young, Big Show b The Miz, Roman Reigns b Luke Harper-DQ, Sasha Banks& Naomi b Paige & Becky Lynch, John Cena & Randy Orton & Cesaro b Rusev & Kevin Owens & Sheamus
7/20 Tokyo Sumo Hall (Big Japan – 3,985): Yuichi Taniguchi & Kazuki Kikuta b Toshiyuki Sakuda & Yoshihisa Uto, Men’s Teioh & Tsutomu Osugi & Hercules Sengo b Tsubasa & Atsushi Maruyama & Shinobu, Kazushi Hashimoto & Daichi Hashimoto b Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Death match: Jaki Numazawa & Masashi Takeda & Takumi Tsukamoto b Ryuichi Sekine & Masaya Takahashi & Sagat, Great Kojika & Kankuro Hoshino & Masato Inabe b Shu Brahman & Kei Brahman & Takayuki Ueki, Manabu Soya & Ryuichi Kawakami b Ryota Hama & Hideyoshi Kamitani, Tag titles: Shuji Ishikawa & Kohei Sato b Yuko Miyamoto & Isami Kodoka, Death match title 20 weapons match: Ryuji Ito b Abdullah Kobayashi to win title, Strong championship: Yuji Okabayashi b Daisuke Sekimoto to win title
7/20 Nagoya (All Japan): Kenso & Buffalo b Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Yuma Aoyagi, Kotaro Suzuki b Jake Lee, Masao Inoue b Masa Fuchi, Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki b Jun Akiyama & Sushi, Zeus & The Bodyguard b Suwama & Hikaru Sato, Akebono & Takao Omori & Ultimo Dragon b Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara & Yohei Nakajima
7/21 Lincoln, NE (WWE Smackdown/Main Event TV tapings): Jack Swagger b Brad Maddox, R-Truth b Bo Dallas, Kofi Kingston & Big E b Sin Cara & Kalisto, Non-title: Titus O’Neil & Darren Young b The Ascension, Sheamus b Dean Ambrose, Neville b Adam Rose, Rusev b Kevin Owens-COR, Bella Twins b Naomi & Sasha Banks, Non-title: Seth Rollins b Cesaro
7/21 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Angelito & Mini Fantasy b Pequeno Olimpico & Universito 2000, Delta & Leono & Pegasso b Canelo Casas & Metalico & Okumura-DQ, Disturbio b Bobby Zavala, Guerrero Maya Jr. b Triton, Marco Corleone & Stuka Jr. & Valiente b Kamaitachi & Puma King & Tiger, El Terrible & Ephesto & Polvora b Angel de Oro & Mistico & Volador Jr.
7/22 Orlando (TNA TV tapings): Drew Galloway b Bram, Rockstar Spud b Grado, Awesome Kong b Madison Rayne, Ethan Carter III d Austin Aries, Bobby Roode b James Storm, Abyss b Eric Young, Matt Hardy b Davey Richards, Brooke b Gail Kim, Kenny King b Aiden O’Shea, DJ Zema Ion b Tigre Uno, Tyrus b Chris Melendez, Micah b Eli Drake, Robbie E b Eddie Edwards, Jessie Godderz b Crimson, Manik b Mandrews, Mahabili Shera b Crazzy Steve, Drew Galloway b Grado, Eric Young b Bobby Roode, Bram b Spud, Spud b Bram, Bobby Lashley b Ken Anderson
7/22 Kumamoto (Pro Wrestling NOAH – 580 sellout): Akitoshi Saito & Daisuke Harada b Junji Tanaka & Shiro Tomoyose, Mikey Nicholls & Quiet Storm & Captain NOAH b Katsuhiko Nakajima & Taiji Ishimori & Daisuke Sasaki, Shelton Benjamin & Takashi Iizuka & Taichi b Maybach Taniguchi & Kenou & Mitsuhiro Kitamiya, Manabu Nakanishi b Genba Hirayanagi, Zack Sabre Jr. b Sho Tanaka, Bengala b Hajime Ohara, Yoshinari Ogawa b Desperado, Super Crazy b Atsushi Kotoge, Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Taka Michinoku b Naomichi Marufuji & Takashi Sugiura & Mohammed Yone & Hitoshi Kumano
7/22 Sayama (All Japan): Hikaru Sato b Yuma Aoyagi, Kenso b Naoya Nomura, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Masa Fuchi b Yohei Nakajima & Sushi, Akebono b Masao Inoue, Jun Akiyama & Ryuji Hijikata b Takao Omori & Jake Lee, Suwama & Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki b Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara & Kotaro Suzuki
7/23 Shizuoka (New Japan G-1 Climax tournament – 1,805): Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask b Yohei Komatsu & Jay White, Togi Makabe & Kota Ibushi & Captain New Japan b Bad Luck Fale & Doc Gallows & Cody Hall, Toru Yano & Yoshi-Hashi b A.J. Styles & Tama Tonga, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Katsuyori Shibata & Ryusuke Taguchi b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tetsuya Naito & Mascara Dorada, Tomohiro Ishii b Satoshi Kojima, Hirooki Goto b Yujiro Takahashi, Yuji Nagata b Tomoaki Honma, Kazuchika Okada b Michael Elgin, Karl Anderson b Shinsuke Nakamura
7/23 Orlando (TNA TV tapings): Bram b Grado, Austin Aries b Ken Anderson, Bobby Lashley b Drew Galloway, Matt Hardy b Robbie E,. Eddie Edwards d Davey Richards, Bobby Roode b Abyss, Tigre Uno b Mandrews, Eli Drake b Jessie Godderz, Gail Kim b Madison Rayne, Eric Young b James Storm, Aiden O’Shea b Crazzy Steve, Mahabili Shera b Kenny King, Bobby Lashley b Austin Aries, Manik b D J Zema Ion, Matt Hardy b Eddie Edwards, Micah b Crimson, Davey Richards b Bram, Drew Galloway b Rockstar Spud, Ethan Carter III b Ken Anderson
7/23 Fort Pierce, FL (WWE NXT – 500): Mojo Rawley b Axel Tischer, Elias Sampson b Levis Valenzuela, Bull Dempsey b Preston Cunningham, Dana Brooke & Lina b Bayley & Jessie, Tyler Breeze b Uhaa Nation, Aiden English & Simon Gotch & Mike Rallis & Steve Cutler b Blake & Murphy & Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder, Tye Dillinger b Marcus Louis, NXT title: Finn Balor b Solomon Crowe
7/24 Bakersfield, CA (WWE – 5,000): Tag titles: Titus O’Neil & Darren Young b Big E & Xavier Woods, The Miz b Fandango, Curtis Axel & Damien Sandow b Brad Maddox & Adam Rose, Randy Orton b Sheamus, Luke Harper b Jimmy Uso, Nikki Bella & Alicia Fox b Naomi & Sasha Banks, Cesaro b Kofi Kingston, Street fight for U.S. title: John Cena b Kevin Owens
7/24 Kyoto (New Japan G-1 Climax tournament – 1,700 sellout): Satoshi Kojima & Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Yohei Komatsu b Michael Elgin & Mascara Dorada & David Finlay & Jay White, Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi b Yujiro Takahashi & Cody Hall, Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga b Hirooki Goto & Captain New Japan, Yuji Nagata & Tomoaki Honma & Ryusuke Taguchi b Shinsuke Nakamura & Kazuchika Okada & Gedo, Kota Ibushi b Doc Gallows, Bad Luck Fale b Togi Makabe, A.J. Styles b Toru Yano, Katsuyori Shibata b Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi b Hiroyoshi Tenzan
7/24 Coral Gables, FL (WWE NXT – 500): Uhaa Nation b Mike Rallis, Dash Wilder b Angelo Dawkins, Eva Marie & Lina b Jessie & Cassie, Tyler Breeze b Bull Dempsey, Tag titles: Aiden English & Simon Gotch b Blake & Murphy-DQ, Scott Dawson b Tye Dillinger, Bayley won three-way over Emma and Dana Brooke, NXT title: Finn Balor b Samoa Joe
7/24 Orlando (TNA TV tapings): Ethan Carter III b Davey Richards, Bobby Lashley b Matt Hardy, Gail Kim b Awesome Kong, Eric Young b Kenny King, Tigre Uno b Manik, Mahabili Shera b Aiden O’Shea, James Storm b Abyss, DJ Zema Ion b Mandrews, Ethan Carter III b Bobby Lashley, Jessie Godderz b Awesome Kong, Matt Hardy b Eric Young, Mahabili Shera b Eli Drake, DJ Zema Ion won three-way over Manik and Tigre Uno, Tigre Uno b Manik, Jessie Godderz b Micah, Ken Anderson b Crimson
7/24 Reseda, CA (PWG – 400 sellout): Dan Barry & Bill Carr b Joey Ryan & Candice LaRae, Brian Cage b Johnny Gargano, Andrew Everett b Rich Swann, Trevor Lee b Tommaso Ciampa, Speedball Mike Bailey b Chris Hero, Ricochet b Akira Tozawa, Young Bucks b Jack Evans & Angelico
7/24 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL – 3,500): Oro Jr. & Soberano b Akuma & Espiritu Negro, Dallys & Tiffany & Zeuxis b Estrellita & Lluvia & Skadi, Dragon Rojo Jr. & Felino & Rey Bucanero b Dragon Lee & Maximo & Titan,. Negro Casas & Esfinge & Guerrero Maya Jr. b Virus & Disturbio & Bobby Zavala, Volador Jr. b La Mascara, Diamante Azul & Shocker & Ultimo Guerrero b Marco Corleone & Rey Escorpion & Thunder-DQ
7/24 Tengusa (Pro Wrestling NOAH – 322): Quiet Storm b Shiro Tomoyose, Yoshinari Ogawa & Katsuhiko Nakajima & Daisuke Ikeda b Zack Sabre Jr. & Junji Tanaka & Mitsuhiro Kitamiya, Manabu Nakanishi & Sho Tanaka b Mikey Nicholls & Captain NOAH, Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Taichi & Taka Michinoku b Mohammed Yone & Akitoshi Saito & Kenou & Hajime Ohara, Super Crazy b Genba Hirayanagi, Taiji Ishimori b Bengala, Daisuke Harada b Hitoshi Kumano, Naomichi Marufuji & Takashi Sugiura & Maybach Taniguchi & Atsushi Kotoge b Minoru Suzuki & Shelton Benjamin & Takashi Iizuka & Desperado
7/25 Los Angeles Staples Center (WWE – 10,000): Tag titles: Titus O’Neil & Darren Young b Big E & Xavier Woods, The Miz b Fandango, Curtis Axel & Damien Sandow b Brad Maddox & Adam Rose, Luke Harper b Jimmy Uso, Randy Orton b Sheamus, Nikki Bella & Alicia Fox b Naomi & Sasha Banks, Cesaro b Kofi Kingston, Street fight for U.S. title: John Cena b Kevin Owens
7/25 Odessa, TX (WWE – 4,000): Neville b Stardust, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady b The Ascension, Paige b Layla, R-Truth b King Barrett, Bray Wyatt b Mark Henry, Sin Cara & Kalisto & Zack Ryder b Los Matadores & Bo Dallas, Rusev b Jack Swagger, Street fight for WWE title: Seth Rollins b Dean Ambrose
7/25 Takamatsu (New Japan G-1 Climax tournament – 2,070): Doc Gallows & Tama Tonga & Cody Hall b Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Captain New Japan, Toru Yano & Yoshi-Hashi & Gedo b Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Mascara Dorada & David Finlay, A.J. Styles & Bad Luck Fale b Kota Ibushi & Jay White, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuyori Shibata & Ryusuke Taguchi b Tetsuya Naito & Togi Makabe & Yohei Komatsu, Tomohiro Ishii b Yujiro Takahashi, Satoshi Kojima b Michael Elgin, Karl Anderson b Hirooki Goto, Shinsuke Nakamura b Yuji Nagata, Kazuchika Okada b Tomoaki Honma
7/25 Baltimore (ROH TV tapings – 600): Mandy Leon b ?, ACH b Takaaki Watanabe, Hanson & Ray Rowe b Donovan Dijak & J Diesel, Matt Taven & Michael Bennett b Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish, Adam Page b Tim Hughes, Dalton Castle b Silas Young, Moose b Will Ferrara, Young Bucks b Trent Baretta & Rocky Romero, Chase Brown & Peter Kasaa b QT Marshall & Punisher Martinez, Mark & Jay Briscoe b Red Scorpion & Grey Wolf, Roderick Strong b Donovan Dijak, Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian b Kyle O’Reilly & Adam Cole, Jay Briscoe b Adam Page-DQ, Caprice Coleman b Cedric Alexander, Cheeseburger b Brutal Bob Evans-COR, TV title: Jay Lethal b Hanson
7/25 Orlando (TNA TV tapings): Davey Richards b Robbie E, Bobby Lashley b Ethan Carter III-COR, Tigre Uno b Gail Kim, Eli Drake b Crimson, Bobby Roode won four-way over Eddie Edwards, Ken Anderson and Rockstar Spud, Non-title: Madison Rayne b Brooke, Kenny King b Crazzy Steve, Eric Young b Tigre Uno, Ethan Carter III b DJ Zema Ion, Bobby Lashley b Mahabili Shera, Tigre Uno & Mandrews & Manik b Eli Drake & Micah & Jessie Godderz & Crimson, Robbie E b Aiden O’Shea, Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards b Tyrus & Micah, Jessie Godderz b Rockstar Spud, Chris Melendez b Manik
7/25 West Palm Beach, FL (WWE NXT – 1,000): Uhaa Nation b Solomon Crowe, Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder b Angelo Dawkins & Sawyer Fulton, Bull Dempsey b Mike Rallis, Lina & Eva Marie b Jessie & Cassie, Non-title: Aiden English & Simon Gotch b Blake & Murphy, Bayley won three-way over Emma and Dana Brooke, Samoa Joe b Tye Dillinger, NXT title: Finn Balor b Tyler Breeze
7/25 Sasebo (Pro Wrestling NOAH – 520): Zack Sabre Jr. & Bengala b Kenou & Junji Tanaka, Mohammed Yone & Atsushi Kotoge & Captain NOAH b Akitoshi Saito & Daisuke Harada & Genba Hirayanagi, Manabu Nakanishi b Mitsuhiro Kitamiya, Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. b Mikey Nicholls & Quiet Storm, Hajime Ohara b Taka Michinoku, Desperado b Sho Tanaka, Yoshinari Ogawa b Mitsuhiro Kitamiya, Taiji Ishimori b Super Crazy, Naomichi Marufuji & Takashi Sugiura & Katsuhiko Nakajima & Maybach Taniguchi b Minoru Suzuki & Shelton Benjamin & Takashi Iizuka & Taichi
7/25 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (All Japan – 1,350): Keisuke Ishii & Soma Takao b Yohei Nakajima & Naoya Nomura, Kenso & Sushi & Ryuji Hijikata b Masa Fuchi & Yutaka Yoshie & Jake Lee, Suwama & Hikaru Sato b Shuji Ishikawa & Hiroshi Fukuda, Akebono & Genichiro Tenryu & Ultimo Dragon b Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Shigehiro Irie, Jr. Title: Kotaro Suzuki b Yoshinobu Kanemaru, World tag titles: Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara b Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki
7/26 Lawton, OK (WWE – 2,500): Tag titles: Titus O’Neil & Darren Young b Big E & Xavier Woods, The Miz b Fandango, Nikki Bella & Alicia Fox b Naomi & Sasha Banks, Cesaro b Kevin Owens-COR, Curtis Axel & Damien Sandow b Brad Maddox & Adam Rose, Luke Harper b Jimmy Uso, Street fight: Randy Orton b Sheamus
7/26 Amarillo (WWE – 3,500): Neville b Stardust, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady b The Ascension, Paige b Layla, R-Truth b King Barrett, Zack Ryder & Sin Cara & Kalisto b Los Matadores & Bo Dallas, Rusev b Jack Swagger, Bray Wyatt b Mark Henry, Street fight for WWE title: Seth Rollins b Dean Ambrose
7/26 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Bengala & Robin b Camorra & Cholo, Esfinge & Star Jr. & Triton b Arkangel de la Muerte & El Hijo del Signo & Nitro, Amapola b Princesa Sugei, Aereo & Astral & Electrico b Demus 3:16 & Pequeno Violencia & Pierrothito-DQ, Ephesto & Mephisto & Luciferno b Atlantis & Delta & Guerrero Maya Jr., Euforia & Niebla Roja & Ultimo Guerrero b Brazo de Plata & Marco Corleone & La Mascara
7/26 Fukuoka (Pro Wrestling NOAH – 650): Bengala b Junji Tanaka, Mohammed Yone & Taiji Ishimori b Manabu Nakanishi & Sho Tanaka, Takashi Iizuka & Taichi & Desperado b Super Crazy & Hitoshi Kumano & Captain NOAH, Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Shelton Benjamin b Akitoshi Saito & Mikey Nicholls & Quiet Storm & Mitsuhiro Kitamiya, Taka Michinoku b Genba Hirayanagi, Hajime Ohara b Atsushi Kotoge, Daisuke Harada b Kenou, Zack Sabre Jr. b Yoshinari Ogawa, Takashi Sugiura & Naomichi Marufuji b Maybach Taniguchi & Katsuhiko Nakajima
7/26 Kuzumaki (All Japan – 710): Naoya Nomura b Yuma Aoyagi, Kotaro Suzuki won three-way over Kenso and Sushi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru b Yohei Nakajima, Jun Akiyama & Jake Lee NC Suwama & Atsushi Aoki, Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara b Akebono & Takao Omori
7/27 Oklahoma City (WWE Raw/Superstars TV tapings – 8,000): R-Truth b Bo Dallas, King Barrett b Jack Swagger, Big Show b Dean Ambrose-COR, Neville b Fandango, Sasha Banks b Paige, Sin Cara & Kalisto b Los Matadores, Charlotte & Becky Lynch b Nikki Bella & Alicia Fox, Randy Orton b Kevin Owens-DQ, U.S. title: John Cena b Seth Rollins
7/27 Orlando (TNA TV tapings): Kenny King b DJ Zema Ion, Awesome Kong DCOR Le’D Tapa, Bobby Lashley b Jessie Godderz, Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards b Brian Myers & Trevor Lee, X title: Tiger Uno b Sonjay Dutt, King of the Mountain title: PJ Black won vacant title over Robbie E, Bobby Lashley, Eric Young and Chris Mordetzky, Matt Hardy b Tyrus, TNA title: Ethan Carter III b P.J. Black, No DQ: Drew Galloway b Eli Drake, Matt Hardy b Bobby Roode, Handicap cage match: Gail Kim b Jade & Marti Bell
7/27 Puebla (CMLL – 4,500): Canelo Casas & Fuerza Chicana & Policeman b Asturiano & Paris & Zaeta Roja, Amapola & Comandante & Seductora b Estrellita & Lluvia & Marcela, Lestat & Stigma & Stuka Jr. b Espiritu Maligno & King Jaguar & Sangre Azteca, Dragon Rojo Jr. & Polvora & Rey Hechicero b Angel de Oro & Titan & Valiente, Volador Jr. & Negro Casas & Rey Escorpion b La Mascara & La Sombra & Ultimo Guerrero-DQ, CMLL hwt title: Maximo b Euforia
7/28 Tulsa (WWE Smackdown/Main Event TV tapings): Fandango b Adam Rose, Neville b King Barrett, Bo Dallas b Zack Ryder, Becky Lynch b Brie Bella, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady b Brad Maddox & Heath Slater, Non-title: Seth Rollins NC Cesaro, Los Matadores & Sin Cara & Kalisto b New Day & The Ascension, Rusev b Jack Swagger, Stardust b R-Truth, Cesaro & Dean Ambrose b Seth Rollins & Kevin Owens
7/28 Beppu (New Japan G-1 Climax tournament – 1,580): Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Captain New Japan b Ryusuke Taguchi & Jay White & David Finlay, Toru Yano & Yoshi-Hashi b Doc Gallows & Cody Hall, Togi Makabe & Kota Ibushi & Mascara Dorada b Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Katsuyori Shibata & Yohei Komatsu, Tetsuya Naito & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin b A.J. Styles & Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga, Yujiro Takahashi b Yuji Nagata, Hirooki Goto b Tomoaki Honma, Tomohiro Ishii b Karl Anderson, Kazuchika Okada b Satoshi Kojima
7/28 Orlando (TNA Impact TV tapings): Tommaso Ciampa b Crazzy Steve, Ken Anderson b Bram, Eric Young b Chris Melendez, Tag titles: Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards b Abyss & Manik, Brooke NC Velvet Sky, Bobby Roode won four-way over James Storm, Bobby Lashley and Ken Anderson, Bram, b Kenny King, X title: Tigre Uno won three-way over Sonjay Dutt and DJ Zema Ion, Bobby Lashley b Chris Mordetzky-DQ, Tag titles: Trevor Lee & Brian Myers b Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards to win titles, TNA title: Ethan Carter III b Matt Hardy, King of the Mountain title: Bobby Roode b P.J. Black to win title
7/28 Kagoshima (Pro Wrestling NOAH – 460 sellout): Kenou & Hajime Ohara b Daisuke Harada & Junji Tanaka, Yoshinari Ogawa & Katsuhiko Nakajima & Atsushi Kotoge b Super Crazy & Zack Sabre Jr. & Captain NOAH, Shelton Benjamin & Takashi Iizuka b Mikey Nicholls & Quiet Storm, Genba Hirayanagi b Bengala, Desperado b Hitoshi Kumano, Naomichi Marufuji & Mohammed Yone b Manabu Nakanishi & Sho Tanaka, Taka Michinoku b Taiji Ishimori, Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Taichi b Takashi Sugiura & Maybach Taniguchi & Akitoshi Saito & Mitsuhiro Kitamiya
7/28 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Ultimo Dragoncito b Mercurio, Amapola & Dallys & Zeuxis b Marcela & Skadi & Vaquerita, Leono & The Panther & Pegasso b Cancerbero & Metalico & Raziel-DQ, Dragon Rojo Jr. & Rey Escorpion & Rey Hechicero b Delta & Fuego & Guerrero Maya Jr., Barbaro Cavernario & Negro Casas & Mr. Niebla b Atlantis & La Mascara & Titan, CMLL light heavyweight title: Angel de Oro b Polvora
7/29 Fukuoka (New Japan G-1 Climax tournament – 2,640): Tiger Mask & Mascara Dorada b David Finlay & Jay White, Karl Anderson & Yujiro Takahashi & Tama Tonga & Cody Hall b Yuji Nagata & Satoshi Kojima & Ryusuke Taguchi & Yohei Komatsu, Michael Elgin & Tomoaki Honma b Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi, Hirooki Goto & Jushin Liger b Kazuchika Okada & Gedo, Doc Gallows b Toru Yano, Togi Makabe b Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Katsuyori Shibata b Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi b Bad Luck Fale, Tetsuya Naito b A.J. Styles
Rush and La Sombra, two of the company’s biggest stairs, were suspended after an incident that took place at Arena Coliseo in Guadalajara on 7/21. Guadalajara is a very different crowd from Mexico City, as it’s not a family crowd and it’s mostly young males drinking and chanting. At a lot of the shows, fans will chant vulgar things at the wrestlers and at other fans during the undercard matches with the local talent, and really don’t start paying attention until the TV stars come out. In Los Ingobernables matches, they’ve been doing spots where fans will give beer to Rush or Sombra, who will then throw it in their opponents’ faces. During the first fall of the main event, fans gave beer to Mr. Niebla, who is back after two months, which is a story in itself as somehow he can’t stay fired. Niebla threw the beer at Rush. Later, a fan gave Rush a beer, he went to throw it at Niebla, who ended up missing and it got all over some fans at ringside in the front row. Nobody knows if it was intentional, but the people who got soaked were fans booing Rush heavily. Fans in that section started throwing beer at Rush. Sombra and Rush then got mad and security jumped in. Ultimo Guerrero saw what was happening and called for the finish. But Sombra started kicking fans who came to ringside. They started throwing stuff at him. A fan threw an umbrella at Rush and Sombra. Sombra threw the umbrella back at the fans. The security couldn’t control the situation and local police who were at the matches came in and arrested a few fans. Basically they stopped them, handcuffed them and threw them out of the building, but didn’t take them in. Two days later both men were suspended by the commission in Jalisco for 90 days, which means just in that state. However, CMLL pulled them off all cards in the Mexico City area as a disciplinary action. Guillermo Sandoval, the president of the Jalisco Box y Lucha commission announced the suspension and also said there would be sanctions taken against the promotion for allowing things to get out of hand. Flash I, who is a member of the commission, said the suspension wasn’t just for that incident noting both men had previous issues with the fans at Arena Coliseo. The commission felt they needed to set an example to stop the interactions with the fans from reaching this point again. CMLL pulled both from the 7/24 show at Arena Mexico, where Sombra vs. Volador Jr. was a major match on the card. There was talk of putting up barricades in the arena to keep the fans and wrestlers away from each other. This hurt Rush, who usually has been working on Tuesdays in Guadalajara because he lives there. Sombra did return to action on the 7/27 show in Puebla, but Rush has yet to return.
Marco Corleone and his girlfriend, who is one of the ring girls, were robbed on 7/21 at their home. A few men broke into their place, stole their electronics and roughed up his 15-year-old son.
The Busca de un Idolo tournament will end on 8/21 at Arena Mexico.
The 7/24 show at Arena Mexico drew the normal Friday night crowd of 3,500, headlined by another increibles match where Diamante Azul & Shocker & Ultimo Guerrero beat Corleone & Rey Escorpion & Thunder via DQ when Thunder used a low blow on Guerrero and then challenged Guerrero to put up his hair and he would put up his mask. With Sombra suspended, Volador Jr. instead beat La Mascara in a non-stip singles match, winning with a super Frankensteiner in what was said to be a really good match. They also had a special Busca de un Idolo match with coach Negro Casas teaming with survivors Esfinge & Guerrero Maya Jr. beating Coach Virus & survivors Disturbio & Bobby Zavala. That was also said to be really good as Casas put on a clinic in selling and the Busca participants stepped up their games to impress their coaches.
The top matches on 7/31 are Euforia & Gran Guerrero & Ultimo Guerrero vs. Kraneo & Ripper & Thunder, and Corleone & Maximo & Volador Jr. vs. El Terrible & Rey Bucanero & Shocker, plus Esfinge vs. Disturbio and Maya Jr. vs. Zavala in the tournament. Rey Cometa returns on the undercard after being out about six months after knee surgery from injuries at the Fantasticamania tour in Japan.
Maximo retained the CMLL heavyweight title, beating Euforia on 7/27 in Puebla before 4,500 fans using a Super Frankensteiner to win. Fans threw money into the ring when it was over. They’ve been streaming the weekly Monday night shows, and on 8/3, they have Sombra vs. Volador Jr. in a singles match.
Angel de Oro retained the CMLL light heavyweight title over Polvora on the 7/28 show at Arena Mexico.
In a big surprise, 90s AAA star Super Calo will be wrestling on 8/2 in Guadalajara. Calo has never worked for CMLL in the past.
There are some real-life issues between Alberto El Patron and Luis Urive (Myzteziz). This came out on Twitter and it’s not an angle, particularly since they are two members of the company’s Dream Team. Alberto called out “Nacho” (Myzteziz’s nickname among the wrestlers) for talking behind his back, saying that he’s talentless and said how he’s not scared of no gun and is going to beat the shit out of him the next time he sees him (which in theory will be in two weeks at TripleMania backstage). He also said some things about Urive’s mother. Jorge Arias, who plays Sin Cara in WWE, jumped on Twitter and backed Alberto, and said that everyone knows Myzteziz is a punk coward. I can’t imagine WWE being very happy about one of its talents getting involved publicly in this. Argos, who is Myzteziz’s younger brother, then tweeted and asked if Alberto is going to try and attack him too at TripleMania. Alberto and Urive had real heat in WWE over several different things but since both had been let go by WWE, they had a common ground and I hadn’t heard a thing about their old problems surfacing in AAA. Urive had confronted Alberto with a gun some time back, which was an insider story from the past. From what we understand, the AAA fan base that has seen this think it’s some weird storyline, although those who work with the promotion have told me it’s not and there was certainly nothing in the plans to go in that direction now. Alberto making this public is really weird, but Twitter is a strange beast at times and Alberto’s behavior of late has made news with his weird injury that was supposed to be a torn quad yet he was back relatively soon and his no-show without calling on the benefit for autism show in Pasadena, TX.
There will be a promotional tie-in with Mission Impossible for TripleMania. It’s part of Rey Mysterio Jr.’s new position as a Brand ambassador for Paramount Pictures in Latin America. He’ll come out in his match with Myzteziz with something related to that movie.
Matt Striker is officially the other English language commentator for the TripleMania PPV broadcast on 8/9, working with Hugo Savinovich. It makes sense with Striker as the voice of Lucha Underground. Even though Vampiro is still the voice of Lucha Underground as well, after his iPPV English work the last time, they decided to replace him. I was asked to do the color commentary on the show, but for me, I think either Striker or Mike Tenay (who as best I can tell wasn’t asked due to his TNA contract) would have been better in the role. It actually would have been cool to reunite Tenay and Chris Cruise, because it was 21 years ago when both did the When World’s Collide show that was Cruise’s best performance as a lead announcer and only time he was the play-by-play guy of a major PPV, and it was Tenay’s first broadcast ever, and it was that performance that got him his announcing job in WCW.
Villano III wrestling at TripleMania will be tough as he apparently had a stroke, so his two brothers are going to have to carry the match. An added match announced for the show is Blue Demon Jr. & La Parka vs. Mesias & Electroshock. This is a change as the original plan was Demon vs. Dr. Wagner Jr. in a legends match, which was never announced. They are billing this as Demon’s 30th anniversary of his pro debut. He debuted with that name on July 11, 1985. None of these guys are in programs with each other and this was something put together when the original plans fell through. Wagner Jr. has a rep for being very difficult to deal with. Also announced is a three-way for the AAA trios titles with Cibernetico & Chessman & Averno defending against Jack Evans & Angelico & Fenix and El Hijo del Fantasma & El Texano Jr. & Pentagon Jr. There will be one more match to be announced, which will be one of those AAA big show specials with the women, minis and exoticos. There will also be a tribute to Perro Aguayo Jr. on the show. Really, the success of TripleMania as far as a live draw is whether people will pay to see a face vs. face dream match with Mysterio Jr. vs. Myzteziz. They are two legends, but it’s also face vs. face with no titles at stake, but it’s a first-time ever match.
CMLL will be running its usual Sunday night show at Arena Mexico head-to-head, with Atlantis & Delta & Guerrero Maya Jr. defending the Mexican national trios titles against Mephisto & Ephesto & Luciferno, and a hair vs. hair match with Aereo vs. Pequeno Violencia. Those matches were set up on the 7/26 show in the arena where the minis did mic work after a match to set up the hair match. Mephisto & Ephesto & Luciferno won a non-title match on that show when Mephisto tore off Atlantis’ mask and pinned him. That’s nothing that will hurt the AAA attendance.
AAA is sending a crew to Colombia from 8/5 to 8/8 for a series of shows at a fair, including Aero Star, Argenis, Machine Rocker, Australian Suicide, Gran Apache, Fabi Apache, Taya Valkyrie, Mascarita Sagrada, Octagoncito and others.
Fireball, who is better known as Flamita, did one TV taping although I don’t think his match is airing. Right now he’s going to Dragon Gate, but they are at least in the fairly serious talking stages of his starting as a regular in November.
They are looking to try out several new women for the promotion. It was noted that while Fabi and Mari Apache are good, they’ve been there forever and new blood is needed. In addition, Sexy Star is going to be working less and less here because she’s now gotten married to former world champion boxer Jhonny Gonzalez and is living in Monterrey, and isn’t looking at doing as much as before.
The promotion’s Open the Dream Gate title belt is missing as it may have fallen out of the ring truck on 7/21 on the way back from the big show in Kobe. The belts are stored in duraluminum cases when they are not used as part of the show. All the belts were loaded on the ring truck after the show. The show was in the company’s home city, so the ring truck only had about a 13 mile trip. They were barely a mile away at 2 a.m. that night when the driver of a car told the truck driver that the door to the back of the truck was open. The cases with both the Open the Dream Gate and Open the Brave Gate title belts were found to be missing. Management then searched the roads, retracing the path from the arena to where the truck driver was informed the doors were open. The case and Open the Brave Gate case and belt were found near a telephone pole. The Dream Gate case was also found in the garbage next to an apartment building, but the belt wasn’t in it. Masato Yoshino, who holds the Dream Gate belt, was called up, and started searching the area for his belt, but couldn’t find it. When he couldn’t find the belt, searching the area around the apartment building, police were called. There were security cameras on around the complex and police are looking through the records trying to find an answer. The Open the Dream Gate title belt is valued at 2 million yen (just over $16,000). Dragon Gate has ordered a new belt for Yoshino’s next title defense, scheduled for 8/16 in Ota and they are concerned that the belt won’t be able to be completed and shipped to Japan in time for the match. Yoshino has been apologizing for having to appear without his belt at upcoming events. Takashi Okamura, the Dragon Gate president, said that finding and recovering the original belt is the company’s major priority this week. The police said that as of the weekend they had no leads.
Cima this past week went to Greece. He has talked about after retiring from wrestling, moving to Greece and starting a Dragon Gate Greece outpost.
Flamita starts back full-time for several months in about a week.
They have two shows coming this week called Scandal Gate, on 8/1 in Kyoto with Masato Yoshino & Akira Tozawa & Shingo Takagi vs. Yamato & Naruki Doi & K-Ness and Masaaki Mochizuki & Big R Shimizu vs. T-Hawk & Kotoka, and 8/2 in Kobe with Yoshino & T-Hawk forming a tag team after their great match last week for the Open the Dream Gate title facing Tozawa & Takagi, plus Yamato & Doi vs. Jimmy Susumu & Ryo Saito.
All Japan ran Korakuen Hall on 7/25 before 1,350 fans, well up from usual, for a show with two title matches and billed as the 10th anniversary of Akebono’s pro wrestling debut. Akebono actually debuted first with WWE on March 31, 2005, but his All Japan debut was August 4, 2005. Akebono teamed with Genichiro Tenryu & Ultimo Dragon to beat Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Shigehiro Irie when Akebono pinned Irie. In the two title matches, Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara retained the world tag titles over Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki in 24:48 when Shiozaki pinned Aoki after a moonsault. Doering, the company’s top foreign star, suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and returned home and had surgery and will be out of action for a while. He had suffered the ACL tear some time back, as he worked the entire tour on the torn ACL and stayed through his advertised tag title match and set up surgery on his return. Akiyama & Omori issued a title challenge. Kotaro Suzuki retained the jr. title over Yoshinobu Kanemaru in 18:20 with a Tiger driver.
Akebono’s next Triple Crown title match will be against Zeus on 8/16 in Kobe.
PRO WRESTLING NOAH
Going into the 7/30 show, here are the standings in the Global Junior tournament: A block: 1. Zack Sabre Jr. 3-0; 2. Daisuke Harada 3-1; 3. Desperado and Yoshinari Ogawa 2-1; 5. Kenou 1-1; 6. Sho Tanaka 1-3; 7. Hitoshi Kumano 0-5; B block: 1. Super Crazy 3-1; 2. Bengala Atsushi Kotoge, Taka Michinoku, Taiji Ishimori and Hajime Ohara 2-2; 7. Genba Hirayanagi 1-3. The tournament ends on 8/5.
On 7/22 in Kumamoto, Sabre Jr. beat Tanaka with a chicken wing in 10:07; Bengala pinned Ohara in 6:15; Ogawa pinned Desperado with a small package in 1:05; and Crazy pinned Kotoge in 11:05.
7/24 in Tengusa before 322 fans saw Crazy beat Hirayanagi in 5:29, Ishimori pinned Bengala with a 450 in 10:48 and Harada pinned Kumano with a German suplex in 10:06.
7/25 in Sasebo saw Ohara pin Michinoku in 11:51 with a forearm, Desperado pinned Tanaka with a splash off the top in 10:18; Ogawa pinned Kumano in 8:41 after a back suplex and Ishimori pinned Crazy with a 450 in 12:27.
7/26 in Fukuoka before a sellout 520 fans saw Michinoku beat Hirayanagi with a facelock in 7:33; Ohara pinned Kotoge in 12:41; Harada pinned Kenou with a German suplex in 11:29; and Sabre Jr. made usual tag partner Ogawa submit with an armbar in 11:46. On that show, they did a tag team match main event with the winning team getting to main event and face each other at the 8/5 Anniversary show. It was Takashi Sugiura & Naomichi Marufuji beating Katsuhiko Nakajima & Maybach Taniguchi when Sugiura pinned Nakajima with the Olympic slam. That means Sugiura vs. Marufuji will headline the show.
7/28 in Kagoshima saw Hirayanagi beat Bengala in 6:22, Desperado pinned Kumano in 7:55 and Michinoku beat Ishimori in 9:07.
They announced a 10/18 show in Taiwan. After that will be a 10/23 to 11/7 tour, with New Japan World shows on 10/24 and 11/1 at Korakuen Hall, building to Power Struggle PPV on the 11/7 PPV at the Edion Arena (formerly Bodymaker Colosseum) in Osaka. This is a big show because the December PPV is the tag team tournament finals, so this will be the final IWGP title defense and possibly the final No. 1 contenders briefcase match so the winners here will determine the Tokyo Dome main event.
OTHER JAPAN NOTES
Several promotions, including Dove Pro Wrestling, K-Dojo, Asuka Project, Freedoms, VKF, YMZ and others combined for a 24 hour wrestling show at Shinjuku Face in Tokyo on 7/24 and 7/25.
DDT drew a sellout on 7/19 for their monthly Korakuen Hall show, headlined by Yukio Sakaguchi beating Shigehiro Irie and Big Japan’s Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi & Hideyoshi Kamitani beating Daisuke Sasaki & Kota Ibushi & Suguru Miyatake.
HERE AND THERE
A final legal conclusion to the Jimmy Snuka/Nancy Argentino death story from 1983 is expected this week. An 18-month long new investigation into the mysterious death of Argentino by the Lehigh County (Pennsylvania) Grand Jury was to come to a conclusion. County District Attorney told Argentino’s family that the Grand Jury will make a decision on whether there will or won’t be an indictment in the case by 7/31.
Regarding the NWAClassics.com streaming site which has the Paul Boesch Houston wrestling collection, Bruce Tharpe, who runs the service, said there are about 500 to 600 hours in the collection. Many of the matches never aired on television. Boesch would tape the entire card most nights, but the television show was 90 minutes so the top matches usually didn’t air. Some of the bouts have new commentary done. Tharpe said that he was actually representing the Boesch family in trying to sell the collection to WWE for five years. He said that they first had WWE look at the collection and WWE made an offer, which he described as an insult. A year later, nobody came forward to buy the collection, so he reached out to WWE again, and this time WWE’s offer was half of what it had been the prior year. Tharpe said he felt the library was worth $7 million and the WWE’s offer was nowhere close to $1 million. At one point the word was that WWE was offering $500 per hour, which would be around $300,000 for a 600 hour library. He said he came up with the idea of doing a streaming service with the library from New Japan World, since he’s been working as a heel manager for New Japan. The deal is a partnership between Tharpe and Valerie Boesch.
Northeast Wrestling is doing two outdoor shows this weekend. The 8/1 show called Wrestling Under the Stars IV, has been traditionally the best drawing U.S. indie pro wrestling event of the year, held annually at Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls, NY. The show has usually done in the range of 3,000 fans. The show is built around Ric Flair and Rey Mysterio as the top stars, with Flair doing an appearance and the main event being Mysterio & Alberto El Patron vs. The Young Bucks (this will be the first time Mysterio and the Bucks have ever been in the ring together and that’s a big deal to them), Matt Taven defends his NEW title against Hanson, Donovan Dijak vs. Samoa Joe in an ROH vs. NXT match, as well as Mandy Leon vs. Mickie James as well as Matt Hardy appearing. Joe Ausanio, 49, who was a pitcher for the New York Yankees in 1994 and 1995 who played in 41 games during those seasons, and lives in the area, works as director of sales for the Hudson Valley Renegades (the team that plays in the stadium) and coaches the Marist College women’s softball team. They also have an 8/2 show in Lowell, MA at LeLacheur Park, the home of the local minor league baseball team, with a 5 p.m. start with Mysterio vs. El Patron vs. Hardy as the main event, an appearance by Mick Foley, Young Bucks vs. Taven & Michael Bennett, Hanson vs. Samoa Joe plus Mickie James.
Diamond Dallas Page, 59, married Brenda Nair, 50, over this past weekend in Cancun. The two have been together for several years. Nair survived advanced breast cancer and has worked with Page in his motivational work.
Don Heaton, 84, a wrestling Hall of Famer known as Don Leo Jonathan, who by reputation was the most agile giant in pro wrestling history, was honored this past weekend at an All-Star Wrestling show in Cloverdale, BC. Heaton, who grew up in Salt Lake City, toured the world through a long career as a headliner everywhere and was somewhat mythical among the wrestlers for being an athletic freak. He came to British Columbia in 1963 to work for promoter Sandor Kovacs, and never moved away. His matches with Giant Jean Ferre (Andre the Giant) set indoor records in Montreal in 1972. He was legitimately close to 6-foot-6 and about 320 pounds, but could land on his feet after a backdrop, and do dropkicks like Rocky Johnson, and skin the cat moves like Ricky Steamboat or Hiroshi Tanahashi. He was one of the biggest stars during the 50s, 60s and 70s, always a main eventer, even with very weak mic skills. He had a judo background and was known as a tough guy, including as legend had it, getting the better of football legend Big Daddy Lipscomb when a pro wrestling match got out of hand, as well as his two meetings with judo legend Anton Geesink in Japan, the first of which was supposed to be a worked judo match where Geesink, who was as big as Jonathan, took liberties with him since it was Geesink’s world, and that Jonathan got his receipt when they did a match without gi’s. Bruno Sammartino always listed him near the top of his most impressive opponents. Lou Thesz always remarked to me that if Jonathan had trained extensively in wrestling he would have been awfully hard to handle, and Red Bastien noted that if a guy like that came around and had lifted weights seriously (he came from the era where athletes were told not to lift weights, although the pro wrestlers were the first ones to do so against the grain since so much of their business depended on how their bodies looked under the lights) and used steroids he’d have probably been 340 pounds of muscle. Andre looked about four inches taller than Jonathan and about 50 pounds heavier when they did their feud at the time in Quebec which was really the matches that put Jean Ferre on the map as a drawing card in North America. One of the most famous stories of Jonathan came on April 2, 1968, in Chilliwack, BC, where he legitimately pinned a bear. There are not a lot of examples of wrestlers pinning bears (there are a few). Jonathan admitted the power of a bear when you lock up was phenomenal.
The much-delayed Bob Backlund autobiography is now set for a mid-to-late September release, although it has been delayed numerous times.
Regarding people looking to book A.J. Lee for dates, she is clearly not looking for quantity. Those who would qualify as people who know her have been told that she’s just not interested in doing anything (she did a Comic Con a couple of weeks back). Those who don’t know have been told that her daily fee to do anything is $15,000, plus business class travel and hotels.
The World Wrestling Network crew has announced a WrestleMania week schedule for April in Dallas. No site was announced, but they announced that on the Friday, 4/1, before Mania they would have an Evolve show at 4 p.m., a Viva La Lucha show at 8 p.m. and Kaiju Big Battel at midnight. On the Saturday, 4/2, they have an Evolve show at Noon, Shimmer at 4 p.m., WWN Supershow at 8 p.m and a wrap-up party at midnight.
Nick Aldis (Magnus) is releasing a book called “The Superstar Body” on balancing functionality, health and aesthetics. There’s also a lot in it on women training with Mickie James and Brooke Adams.
The Combat Zone Wrestling PPV plans are for a show in October called Tangled web, featuring a barbed wire spider web match in October, and the annual Cage of Death show in December. The shows will be in the usual 8-11 p.m. Sunday night pro wrestling PPV time slot, and both be from the Philadelphia area.
Mark Madden, 54, who writes for the Wrestlezone web site and used to announce for WCW, and has been a long-time radio sports talk host in Pittsburgh, will be doing a two-hour sports talk show on WNPT-TV that will air Monday through Fridays from 10 p.m. to midnight. The show will be called “The Mark Madden Show: On the Point”.
Diana La Cazadora, 37, announced she would be retiring at the end of this year after an 18-year career. She started wrestling on the circuit in Monterrey, Mexico and ended up being a traffic reporter. After getting some implants, she got hired by CMLL where she was popular because she was good looking, but really wasn’t much of a wrestler. In 2007, she did a hair match with Amapola at Arena Mexico which everyone figured she’d have to win since she was a TV personality in Monterrey. But she lost and got her head shaved, which ended up being a great publicity stunt for her TV job. She left CMLL in 2008 and ended up breaking her leg in a motorcycle accident so slowed down on her wrestling, and was only doing local shows this year.
Chigusa Nagayo, 50, probably the most popular female wrestler of all-time from the 80s Crush Gals heyday, will be appearing on an 8/9 show in Elmhurst, Queens, NY for a 5 p.m. show at the Queensboro Elks Lodge for the New York Wrestling Connection’s Marvelous Puroresu USA show. Nagayo, who never wrestled men during her heyday in Japan as such a thing would not have been viable, will do a tag team match teaming with Papadon against Takaaki Watanabe & woman wrestler Takumi Iroha. Nagoya is also working an iPPV for Combat Zone Wrestling on 8/8 in Voorhees, NJ , teaming with Watanabe against two male wrestlers, Nate Carter & Dave McCall.
This is a unique presentation over the next two weeks. In Queretaro, two local wrestlers, Dance Boy and Ursus, had announced a mask vs. mask match on 8/7. To promote their match, they are also doing a singles match on 8/1 on an MMA show in the city.
The Leyenda Inmortales promotion ran on 7/21 in Queretaro in a show that had a tribute to the late promoter Carlos Maynez. A lot of stars from the past worked the show including As Charro, who was a 70s star that worked for the old UWA, who is now 66, along with Cassandra, Picudo, Fuerza Guerrera, Mascara Ano 2000, Heavy Metal, Solar, Dos Caras, Fantasma (the head of the commission in Mexico City and father of King Cuerno), Canek and Negro Navarro.
Nicho beat hardcore wrestler Pagano on 7/24 in Tijuana in a bloody hair vs. hair ladder match. Pagano got his head shaved and then challenged Nicho, who has been a regular in Tijuana since the late 80s (he was the wrestler known as Psicosis in WCW, ECW and WWF) to a loser must retire match. The only thing we were told is that it drew a disappointing crowd.
The UIPW promotion is advertising a match on 8/30 in Los Angeles vs. Johnny Mundo vs. Volador Jr. vs. Mephisto. Given that it’s a Lucha Underground top guy against two CMLL main eventers, I could see politics stopping that one from taking place.
Still no updates on anything. I’m told the deal with Televisa isn’t dead, and that would in theory be enough revenue to save the company, but time is running low. They have a deal on the table for a second season on El Rey, but would need to raise the necessary money for that season but it doesn’t financially make sense to spend the kind of money they’ve been spending with nothing coming in and not enough exposure to monetize the show in traditional ways. The company had gone with this idea that they weren’t looking at revenue streams, but at creating a licensing empire out of the unique characters on the show which could even lead to movies with those characters like a sci-fi franchise. But that’s not happening with the audience numbers they are drawing.
Brian Cage will be competing in the National Physique Committee national bodybuilding championships in November. Right now he is going with the idea it will be his final contest because pro wrestling is his priority and doing both at the same time is difficult. But after winning some regional contests, he did want to try nationals once.
Some notes on the 7/22 show. This was the final show before the two week Ultima Lucha shows, which are the last two shows that have been taped, and there is still nothing announced going forward. This week’s show was mainly to build the next two weeks which is a one hour show on 7/29 and a two-hour finale on 8/5. They were constantly pushing the matches.
The show started in Dario Cueto’s office with he and Big Ryck. Cueto wanted Ryck back with him instead of working with Delavar Daivari. Ryck still has the patch over his eye which led to all kinds of puns about eye-to-eye, and seeing. He offered Ryck an Aztec medallion to join back up with him. Ryck talked about how Daivari is paying him money. Cueto asked if he wanted money or power. Ryck said why choose when you can get both. So he got the medallion and a wad of $100 bills.
El Texano Jr. beat Johnny Mundo in 5:55. Too bad they had a short match because these guys were great together. For a career heel, Texano can really go as a face. For our weekly size exaggeration, they claimed Mundo was 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds. Dear God. The Crew attacked Texano for the DQ. The Crew and Mundo were all putting the boots to Texano when Alberto El Patron ran in. Mundo ran off and Alberto laid out The Crew. Texano then used his bullrope and started whipping both members of The Crew. They ran off, leaving Alberto and Texano in the ring. They squared off and teased going at it until Alberto left the ring. Alberto is so over in front of that crowd that it’s ridiculous and comes across more than anyone else on the show like a superstar.
Cueto was backstage with Hernandez. He told Hernandez that Ultima Lucha starts next week and he wants a match with Hernandez vs. Drago to settle the score between the two of them. Cueto said he had an idea, he would have fans with leather belts who can whip the guys if they try to leave the ring, and he’d call it Believers Backlash. Hernandez told Cueto that he hoped he has insurance, because if any fan hits him with a belt, he’ll turn the canvas red with their blood. Cueto seemed happy with that. I guess he’s another wrestling promoter who hates his customers.
The Mack pinned Cage in :44 with a sunset flip. Cage attacked Mack after the match. Mack made a comeback and they had a pull-apart until Cueto came out and announced they would meet again at Ultima Lucha in a falls count anywhere match. After a 44 second clean pin in the middle you book falls count anywhere. I’m not sure how that make sense.
Cueto then announced what he was going to do with the seven Aztec Medallions. He displayed a new belt called the Gift of the Gods belt. The rules are that the person who has the belt can ask for a title shot at the Lucha Underground title whenever he wants it. But it can’t be a spur of the moment thing like Money in the Bank. Cueto said that the person cashing in has to give a time and place that is at least one week away, because he wants a full week to promote the matches. He also said that the person with the belt will have to defend the title. If they lose the title, they no longer get the shot. If they challenge for the title, win or lose, the belt is vacant because the belt is like the briefcase and can only be used once for the cash-in. He said the Gift of the Gods title will be up for the men with the Aztec Medallions. He asked everyone with a medallion to come out. They all brought out their medallions and put them on the belt. But there were six medallions, held by Jack Evans, Aero Star, King Cuerno, Bengala, Sexy Star and Ryck. Fenix would have the final spot but he was sent away by Mil Muertes, so Cueto announced a Battle Royal for the final spot. Just then Fenix showed up and was fine. But instead of him being the seventh guy, he had to enter a Battle Royal for the final spot. Cueto said he was improving on the Battle Royal. It’s over the top rope until two men are left, and then they do a one fall match and it has to end via pin or submission. Cueto told Fenix he could enter the Battle Royal.
The Battle Royal wasn’t much. It was one of those Battle Royals where they rush everyone out, as everyone was gone in just 4:00. Famous B threw out Ricky Mandel, who was one of the Disciples of Death under a mask but a jobber here. Famous B next threw out Argenis. Killshot was next out. Daivari threw out Vinny Massaro. Mascarita Sagrada monkey flipped Super Fly out but both ended up hitting the floor and being eliminated. Famous B was next out. Then Fenix threw out Daivari. So it ended up with Marty the Moth against Fenix in a singles match. Fenix pinned him in 3:12 so he got a Medallion and and he’s in the big match.
The final segment was scheduled to be Prince Puma’s first interview on the show, but he never spoke. He came out. But before he could say anything, Mil Muertes and Catrina came down, and that distracted Puma for the Disciples of Death to attack. Puma cleaned house on the Disciples and did a spinning dive, taking everyone out. It ended up with Puma and Muertes in the ring and in the final angle, almost like a Raw, Puma laid out Muertes using his 630 senton, using the old WWE doctrine of the guy who is losing at the PPV standing tall in the last angle before the match.
After less than two months, the company lost its prime time slot of Destination America, as starting on 7/29, the show will only air at 11 p.m., between two airings of TNA Impact. Evidently, even as programming that DA isn’t paying for, they must not feel they are getting enough ad revenue for a prime 8 p.m. show. They don’t have a replacement as the next few weeks have different shows. Hunter Johnston told the talent at the tapings in Baltimore about it ahead of time, but said it was nothing to worry about, saying as far as he knows they are only being aired at 11 p.m. only for the next few weeks, although it could be permanent. There were people from Destination America at the tapings and they told him they were trying out a non-wrestling show for a few weeks, that nothing is changing, that Destination America likes them and had people at the tapings.
They also lost prime time on NESN, being moved from Sundays at 8 p.m. to Mondays at 4 p.m.
Roderick Strong signed a guaranteed non-exclusive one-year contract this past week. He was probably ROH’s biggest star not under contract and WWE did have interest in him, likely for NXT as opposed to the main roster. The new deal will allow him to work all of his indie dates and he can continue working PWG, where he is the champion. A lot of the top ROH wrestlers have contracts that don’t allow them to work PWG. With his signing, I don’t see anyone major at this time that would be leaving for NXT.
Announced for the 8/21 show in Philadelphia, which will be a TV taping, besides the Jay Lethal vs. Roderick Strong ROH title match, is Adam Cole vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Kushida vs. Matt Sydal.
Ronda Rousey’s best friend, Marina Shafir of the Four Horsewomen, was at both shows in Baltimore. Strong and Adam Cole of ROH were at her fight on 7/9 in Las Vegas.
They taped four weeks of TV on 7/25 in Baltimore before 600 fans. They opened with an Internet exclusive match where Mandy Leon won. Even though the match wasn’t good, the fans were into Leon, who appears on ROH syndicated TV but not on the DA show. The first show taped opened with ACH pinning Takaaki Watanabe with a 450 splash in a fun match. War Machine beat Donovan Dijak & J Diesel. The fans chant at Diesel “Babytista” and “Tinytista,” as he does look like a miniature version of Batista. In the first week’s main event, Matt Taven & Michael Bennett beat Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish. Adam Cole was at ringside doing commentary. Taven & Bennett continued the attack after the match until Cole jumped in and helped Fish & O’Reilly. Fans started chanting “Future Shock,” which was the name of the Cole & O’Reilly tag team from a few years ago. The second show taped opened with Adam Page pinning Tim Hughes in a quick squash. Page was bullying around Colby Corino before and after the match. B.J. Whitmer, on crutches, pushed for Page to issue a challenge to Jay Briscoe. Steve Corino and Whitmer were arguing. Dalton Castle pinned Silas Young. Castle and the Young Bucks were the most over acts on the show. Young claimed that Castle is nothing without his boys, and challenged him to a rematch and if Young won, he gets the Boys so he can teach them how to be real men. Fans were chanting “Silas likes boys.” Moose pinned Will Ferrara in a squash. The TV main event saw The Young Bucks beat Rocky Romero & Trent Baretta using More Bang for Your Buck. After the match, Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian & Chris Sabin attacked the Bucks and mocked them by laying them out with Superkicks. An Internet taped match saw Chase Brown & Peter Kasaa as The Cauliflowers beating Punisher Martinez & QT Marshall. The third week of tapings opened with Mark & Jay Briscoe over The Bloodhound Warriors, Red Scorpion & Grey Wolf. The crowd was chanting “Ascension” at the Bloodhound Warriors. After the match, Jay Briscoe said he was accepting page’s challenge, even though he doesn’t know who Page is. Roderick Strong pinned Dijak with the sick kick. Jay Lethal, Dijak and Diesel beat down Strong after the match. Daniels & Kazarian beat Cole & O’Reilly with outside interference from both Bennett & Taven and from The Young Bucks. Pretty good match until all the interference. The fourth and final episode opened with Jay Briscoe beating Page via DQ when Paige hit Briscoe with a chair. Colby Corino had hit Briscoe with a crutch earlier. They were all beating on Jay until Mark made the save. Caprice Coleman pinned Cedric Alexander. Veda Scott gave Alexander the wrench, but Moose came out and stole the wrench away. Alexander was distracted and pinned. Cheeseburger beat Brutal Bob Evans via count out. Evans tried to put Cheeseburger through a table outside the ring, but Cheeseburger reversed it and put Evans through the table where he was counted out. Main event saw Lethal beat Hanson to keep the TV title. Fish was on commentary, so they were building him to face Lethal for the title. Hanson actually tried a Lethal injection although it was partially botched. After the match, Strong, Fish and O’Reilly all came out to challenge Lethal.
Even though he just started as the new babyface authority figure, Bully Ray is already gone. He wasn’t brought to television and is no longer with the promotion. He had only signed a per-show agreement which would have allowed him to leave whenever he wanted to. We’re going to be getting more and more of this with storylines starting and then ending quickly because most people aren’t under deals where TNA has first priority on their dates or long-term. Jeff Jarrett took over as the head of Authority, appointed by Dixie Carter. But it was a swerve, as GFW turned heel the next day on TNA and they were already building up the winner-take-all match with the winning team getting to own TNA with Jarrett’s team vs. Dixie’s team that would be taped on 7/29.
There were three title changes during the week. Jarrett vacated the King of the Mountain title, and on 7/27, P.J. Black of GFW won a match to win it. Bobby Roode then beat Black on 7/28 to win it. Also on 7/28, the GFW team of Brian Myers & Trevor Lee beat Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards to win the tag team titles.
At the tapings this week, a few of the U.K. guys did the early shows but flew back for the weekend to take indie dates instead of staying, and I believe they are coming back after. Those who left for a few days included Drew Galloway, Grado and Rockstar Spud.
Even though their contracts expired, Austin Aries and James Storm were back at the tapings working on per-match deal, although Aries did an angle where he apparently lost a match where he would have to leave the promotion.
The situation regarding MVP is that TNA actually fired him over the Hernandez situation. Although we had heard he was thinking of leaving before he was fired, the decision was definitely made by TNA. He took the heat internally since it was his idea to bring Hernandez in. Shouldn’t it be the lawyers who are there to figure out if a guy has a release and if TNA can legally sign him, not the talent or somebody coming up with the creative?
On 7/22, they just taped a ton of matches for a tournament they are doing which may be a One Night Only PPV. Storm lost to Bobby Roode. Aries went to a draw with Ethan Carter III, but laid Carter out after the match with a brainbuster. X champion Tigre Uno lost to DJ Zema Ion. Crimson was also back, losing to Jessie Godderz. A few surprise results given how they’ve been pushed included Abyss pinning Eric Young with a black hole slam and Robbie E beating Eddie Edwards, as well as Spud pinning Bram. Actually Bram pinned Spud but demanded the match be restarted but Spud pinned him the second time.
On 7/23 they did a lot more tournament matches. Matt Hardy and Bobby Lashley and Eric Young seemed to do well. Young ended up going far and then quitting in the tournament, or at least that’s what they shot.
They shot angles and did announcements for a supposed Genesis show. They never mention the date and either they’ve lost it or this is a total rib with the idea of announcing matches to get on the Internet with the idea they can laugh at people who actually printed it. At least that’s how weird it sounds. That’s an amazing use of resources if it’s true. If it’s not, there is a big Genesis show with Tommy Dreamer vs. Mahabili Shera, Aiden O’Shea vs. Pat Kenney in a Shamrock street fight, Tigre Uno vs. Abyss in a barbed wire massacre match, and Al Snow vs. Jessie Godderz.
On 7/24, they taped some matches including EC 3 beating Lashley, and Jeremy Borash talking about them doing a Team Challenge Series, which sounds like a rib because that’s what the AWA did on their last legs. Awesome Kong returned and lost to Godderz.
On 7/25, Lashley beat EC 3 via count out which would be EC 3’s first loss, but given it was a count out, they’ll probably just continue his winning streak gimmick. Brooke did an injury angle with the idea she had a broken hand, and then lost a non-title match to Madison Rayne. Micah of the Rising has also turned heel with Drake, so they are back together.
On 7/27, they taped a ton of stuff with more storyline related things so probably a lot of this will air on Impact. With Bully Ray gone, the authority figure on the show was Jeff Jarrett, of all people. So the idea is that Carter put Jeff Jarrett in charge. The excuse for Bully Ray no longer being the authority figure is that Eli Drake beat him (although later it came out that it was Chris Mordetzky under orders from Karen Jarrett) and Galloway up and Bully Ray is gone. Jeff & Karen were the Authority together and Karen even acted like Stephanie McMahon. Anyway, Jeff & Karen announced that tonight’s show was GWF vs. TNA. The matches originally advertised for the show are Tigre Uno vs. Sonjay Dutt, Awesome Kong vs. Le’D Tapa, The Wolves vs. Trevor Lee (who was in as a GWF guy) & Brian Myers (formerly Curt Hawkins in WWE) and Jeff Jarrett vs. Eric Young in a King of the Mountain title match. But Jeff then said he was not in King of the Mountain and the title was vacant and would be decided with both TNA and GWF people. There ended up begin a big brawl with TNA and GWF people against each other. Kong and Tapa went to a double count out. Tapa was managed by Royal Red, the same person who managed her at the GWF tapings. Roode did an interview and he was mad that he’s not in the King of the Mountain match. He did a interview talking about how on last week’s show, that Spud beat his partner Austin Aries in a career match. So evidently, Aries just came back for a few days to end a storyline and is gone again. They ended up brawling and Roode laid out Spud. Lashley beat Jessie Godderz in a King of the Mountain match qualifier. Matt Hardy and EC 3 did a promo. Matt vowed that he will not stop until he gets another title shot. EC 3 turned him down for a shot once again. EC 3 and Tyrus then laid out Hardy. Hardy then announced that next week, Jeff Hardy would be back with him to watch his back. Edwards & Richards beat Lee & Myers. Uno pinned Dutt. P.J. Black won the King of the Mountain title in a match over Robbie E, Lashley, Young and Chris Mordetzky (Masters). Mahabili Shera was out saying that he loved to dance, so they are pushing him as the dancing Indian. James Storm and Abyss beat him down. Manik didn’t know what to do since he likes Shera. Jarrett came out again and announced that tonight’s main event (so this is for a new show) is the TNA champion, EC 3, against King of the Mountain champion Black. EC 3 then refused to do the match. Karen ran him down and made fun of him for being a coward and asked if he’s mad that Dixie Carter chose Jeff Jarrett over him to run the company. She also accused EC 3 of taking out both Bully Ray and Galloway, but he denied it. She then said that either EC 3 defends the title against Black or he’ll be stripped of the title. Chris Melendez demanded a rematch with Eric Young. Young refused, unless Melendez agreed to put his prosthetic leg on the line. Seriously, is that beyond stupid. That’s right up there with putting custody of the kids at stake in a wrestling angle. Matt Hardy beat Tyrus. EC 3 attacked Hardy after the match. This led to EC 3 vs. Black, and EC 3 retained the title. Eli Drake came out for a promo and took credit for taking out Bully Ray and Galloway. This led to Galloway beating Drake in a no DQ match. Matt Hardy then beat Roode in a match for a title shot. The final match taped was a cage handicap match, where Kim beat Marti Bell & Jade.
At the 7/28 tapings, in a match taped for Xplosion, Tommaso Ciampa debuted and pinned Crazzy Steve. Anderson pinned Bram in a weapons match which included tables, ladders, chairs as well as the mic over the ring that Anderson uses for his ring intros. Jeff & Matt Hardy came out. Jeff said he’s behind Matt in his quest to win the TNA title. EC 3 came out and again turned down Matt. They ended up arguing and it wound up with EC 3 agreeing to the stipulation that he would put up the title, but if Matt doesn’t win, then Jeff becomes EC 3’s personal assistant for 30 days. Hopefully they do a better job with this than WWE did with Brie as Nikki’s assistant. Young pinned Melendez with his feet on the ropes to win Melendez’s prosthetic leg. Edwards & Richards retained the tag titles over Abyss & Manik. Storm tried to help the Revolution team, but Sheera stopped Storm. A Brooke vs. Velvet Sky match ended without a winner when Jade and Marti Bell attacked both of them. Rebel joined them and attacked Sky. Taryn Terrell then appeared on the screen and said that Sky should have stayed out of the Doll House’s business. Roode won a four-way over Lashley, Storm and Anderson to get a shot at Black’s King of the Mountain title. Dixie Carter came out. She called Jeff Jarrett to the ring. Carter talked about how good things were with TNA and GFW now working together. Galloway then came out. He said that there have been a lot of strange things happening, noting Bully Ray and him both being beaten up. Galloway said that he checked security cameras and there were two rental cars with the people involved in the attacks. He said that he checked the registration on who rented the cars, and both were registered to Jarrett. Jeff Jarrett swore that it wasn’t him, and that he would swear on his wife and kids. Galloway said that it was Jarrett. Karen Jarrett then admitted that she set up the attacks. She said she did it out of loyalty to Jeff, for their family, for GFW, and then all the GFW guys hit the ring and attacked and laid out Galloway and all the TNA guys that came to help. Scott D’Amore debuted as part of the attack. King came out challenged Bram to a match. Bram pinned him. Sky did a promo and called out Terrell. She said that Terrell has created a cult. Terrell was on the screen and said she would destroy Sky at every level. At that point Marti Bell, Jade and Rebel all attacked Sky. Angelina Love and Madison Rayne made the save. So the original Beautiful People are back together. Isn’t this the second Beautiful People reunion in the last year that nobody cares about? Tigre Uno beat Dutt and DJ Zema Ion in a three-way to keep the X title. The Jarretts and all the GFW roster came out for a promo to loud “boring” chants. In the promo, Mordetzky said that he was the one who took out Bully Ray and Galloway. Jeff Jarrett said that the takeover of TNA begins tonight because nobody can compete with the GFW roster. Mordetzky then issued an open challenge to anyone in the TNA locker room. Lashley came out. Lashley beat Mordetzky via DQ when the rest of the GFW crew attacked Lashley. Karen Jarrett then came out with a briefcase that she said was Magnus’ Feast or Fired Briefcase that he never cashed in to get a tag team title shot. Earl Hebner refused to recognize it since Magnus wasn’t there. So the GFW guys beat him up. They forced Brian Stiffler to recognize it and Lee & Myers beat Edwards & Richards to win the titles due to outside interference. I can’t wait until some idea catches fire and people will give up on recreating NWO storylines from almost 20 years ago. EC 3 then beat Matt Hardy to retain the TNA title, meaning Jeff is EC 3’s personal assistant for 30 days. Roode beat Black to win the King of the Mountain title for TNA. Roode was the babyface in this match. Dutt tried to help Black retain but Galloway stopped him from interfering. It turned into a big argument with Dixie Carter and Jeff Jarrett. Dixie challenged Jeff to a winner gets the promotion match, where the winner gets the losers shares of TNA stock. Wouldn’t that be a match you would want to lose? There will be a Lethal Lockdown match. Jarrett didn’t reveal his team but the TNA team will be Galloway & Edwards & Richards & Lashley.
Notes on the 7/22 TV show. The show opened with Dixie Carter announcing Jeff Jarrett for the TNA Hall of Fame. If you take TNA as presenting wrestling as it really is with all the two-faced hypocrisy, it really is quite entertaining. She put him over as the founder of TNA and that he’s more deserving than anyone else to be in the TNA Hall of Fame. You can make this case, but it’s just so funny to hear her do that after they spent the last year burying the guy internally. There was no Jeff Jarrett interview on the show nor anything building up TNA vs. GFW, past plugs for GFW.
Bram pinned Magnus in a street fight in 6:52. They did the usual weapons like a garbage can lid, cookie sheet, a chair shot to a garbage can that was put over Bram’s head. Bram used a low blow and a pin. James Storm came out and hit Magnus with a cowbell and Storm said that he would reveal his partner later in the show. Weird doing angles building up feuds with people like Magnus and Mickie James who are gone.
Eli Drake did an interview. Drake is a pretty smooth talker. He kind reminds me of Alex Riley in the sense he’s got a good look and can talk, and probably wrestles better than Riley. He was laughing about how he double-crossed Drew Galloway, saying that he used Galloway and The Rising for everything he could. The idea is that his ankle injury which led to The Rising losing and having to be broken up (while the team that beat them is gone as it turns out) was all fake. He said that everyone in the arena has called in sick at least once when they were healthy, and that they all have friends that they use. He said that a lot of the women in the crowd who are here on dates with guys they have a relationship with are only with them because they pay their bills and their women dream about guys like him. Do women dream about Eli Drake? Last time I checked, almost no women watch TNA to dream about much of anyone. Galloway came out and said he brought him into TNA . Galloway mentioned that he just turned 30 even though everyone thinks he’s older than that because he’s been wrestling for 15 years. He said he’s working with a torn up shoulder right now but nothing hurt him like Drake turning on him. He said it was like his own brother turned his back on him and he’s been depressed ever since and has been drinking too much. Drinking too much got a babyface pop. He said he had decided to ask the fans what he should do and the fans chanted, “Kick his ass.” So he went in the ring. Drake tried to hit Galloway with his crutch but Galloway ducked. They went back and forth until Galloway hooked him up for the Future shock DDT, but Drake escaped and rolled out of the ring. Drake did a good job in this segment. Nobody knows who he is or thinks he’s a star so that held back the segment.
Taryn Terrell came out screaming at everyone and freaking out. She wanted her title back. Brooke came out and said that she outwrestled Taryn, outsmarted here and beat her. Brooke then told Taryn to come out and get the belt. Before Taryn could run out of the ring, the lights went out. Gail Kim, who they are trying to push as the female Sting, appeared in the cage. She locked the door with Terrell outside. So in the cage, Kim was beating up on Jade and Marti Bell.
Then, in replace of whatever was originally supposed to air on this show including BDC material that they couldn’t show, they had a half hour segment showing the Slammiversary King of the Mountain main event. They did new commentary, without Mike Tenay, who was on the original track. This looked to be so they could pitch to the different commercial breaks. Josh Matthews kept saying how this was airing because Bully Ray made the call and he was putting over what a great job Bully was doing. He also plugged the GFW TV taping a few days later in Las Vegas and how you can get tickets for it.
After that match aired, they did a segment with Tigre Uno in his home city of Tijuana. They showed him walking the streets with his kids and people wanting to take photos with him. They also showed him at one of the mask stores. I actually recognized the street he was walking on. He cut a promo in Spanish defending Mexicans after they showed a Donald Trump speech. He said that most Mexicans were hard workers and good people. Tigre Uno then challenged Trump to come to the Impact Zone next week. This was so funny, like it’s bad enough when WWE did that a few years ago trying to be relevant with a hot celebrity, but the very idea that Trump would come to Impact for a show that was taped more than a month ago to come face-to-belly with Tigre Uno was amazing. The rest of the show, Josh Matthews was out there trying to push the idea of challenging Trump to come to the show.
The Revolution came out. I guess this is before they broke up. James Storm said that he gave Mickie James the opportunity to join the group and she turned him down. He said that he knows she wants a better life, not the miserable one she has with Magnus. He said that he realizes Mickie James was a lost cause. Mickie James had done an interview saying Storm couldn’t get any woman to stand with him. He found a woman to stand with him, and it was Serena Deeb. Pope, on commentary, then gave a back story about how Serena was in OVW years ago when he was there and how Serena and Mickie James were best friends in 2005, and Mickie James took Serena under her wing. Serena then said how she and Mickie James were so close they were like sisters and how Mickie would call her Mickie’s protégé. But she said when Mickie became famous, she left her behind and it was like their friendship never mattered.
Eric Young pinned Rockstar Spud in 5:44 in a chain match with a piledriver on the chain. Josh Matthews was giving one of his fake trending speeches which is so lame because anyone who actually cares can go on Twitter and see how none of it is true.
Matt Hardy beat Bobby Roode in a tables match where the winner would get a shot at EC 3’s title. Hardy went to suplex Roode on a table outside the ring, but Roode reversed it and suplexed Hardy on the ring steps. The finish of the match was Hardy backdropping Roode over the top rope and he went through a table in 6:53.
The show ended with them pushing that next week would be Jarrett’s Hall of Fame induction, the Mickie James & Magnus vs. Storm & Serena mixed tag and the return of Jeff Hardy.
Regarding PPV, the 5/23 show with Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort and Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson did 375,000 buys, which, as noted before, was likely held back significantly by coming three weeks after Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. The 6/13 show with Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum did about 305,000 buys. The 7/11 show with Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes has been almost impossible to get a number on because of such wide varieties of cable estimates. The figure going around in the cable industry last week was 950,000 buys. UFC, which never releases numbers publicly, did so for the first time, listing on its web site in a McGregor article, that the show broke the U.S. gate record with $7.2 million and listed it as doing 1 million buys on PPV. But as noted, there have been sources pegging it significantly lower as well as higher, because it seems to have been super high in some places and nothing special in others, making normal estimates difficult. I know of cable systems that did average business for the show, and others that did business that would have indicated a 1 million buy show. Most of the normal indicators were very strong, many being higher than anything since UFC 168, but the TV ratings for the prelims, which are usually a good indicator, were only average. The idea of 847,000 total TV viewers watching the prelims and 1 million homes ordering the main card immediately strikes you as something that makes no sense, which, combined with some cable numbers that simply don’t fit into a 1 million buy pattern, make me skeptical. But if you look at almost every other indicator, it’s the TV number that doesn’t fit the pattern, not the PPV number.
Although McGregor asked to headline the 10/24 show in Dublin, given that it’s his home town, because it’s a Fight Pass only show, that made no sense. UFC announced Joseph Duffy (who has looked great so far in UFC, and holds a win over McGregor) vs. Dustin Poirier as the main event.
Stitch Duran in an interview on our web site noted that if UFC was to call him and ask him to return, that he would gladly do so. “Yeah, absolutely. I’m the kind of guy, I’m not going to have hard feelings. I think it was a knee jerk response. I don’t think the UFC realized they picked on the wrong guy. I bring more to the table than just wrapping hands and working on cuts. The fans, the fighters, the trainers, even people within the organization, and commissioners have called me. They should understand I bring a lot more. If they called me tomorrow, I’d be more than willing to sit down.” He said that about a year ago, the cutmen were told they would be losing their sponsors. Throughout the year they tried to meet with the UFC to see if there was a way they could make up that lost income, and were told that there wasn’t. He said that a friend of his in the company called after he did the interview with the Bloody Elbow web site where he mentioned he was out a lot of income, had to wear Reebok outfits but wasn’t getting paid by Reebok. He said he was told that they don’t want him to work anymore UFC events because of the article. “Was I shocked? Yeah. When I got the call, I thought they might say, `You know what, we’re going through this Reebok deal and maybe you should tone down your comments.’ Worse case scenario, that’s what I expected. But to get told you’re not working anymore UFC events for that article, that blew me away.” Duran noted that if it wasn’t for his work, that Rory MacDonald probably would have won the fight with Robbie Lawler because a less experienced cutman wouldn’t have been able to stop Lawler’s bleeding and the fight would have ended a few rounds earlier. Duran’s firing got a lot of negative pub for the company because it came across as so petty and short-sighted. Reebok even responded to the criticism by saying, “UFC fans. We have no input on decisions of UFC employment or fighter compensation. Our focus is providing the best gear for fighters and fans.” Duran noted that he was exclusive to UFC since he had worked a World Series of Fighting show a few years ago, and then was told he was suspended for five shows by UFC, saying that his appearing on television for another promotion gave them credibility, so he understood that meant he had to be exclusive. He will be working the 8/1 WSOF show. Working UFC had been a full-time job for him, as he not only did most of the regular shows, but also worked on the Ultimate Fighter shows, both the ones taped in Las Vegas, as well as those taped in places like Brazil and Japan. He had been scheduled for match tapings every Friday this month for the Ultimate fighter tapings in Las Vegas.
On FS 1, White was asked about Duran, and instead of saying why he was fired, just said that he would never be back and then went on this rant that made him come off so bad about how he and Duran were never friends, they were only business associates. Duran had said how he and White knew each other because both were struggling trying to break into the boxing world in the 90s. Then, in 2001, White hired him to be a regular cut man in UFC. In boxing, fighters would bring their own cut men. “Stitch Duran needs to learn what the meaning of the word friend is. Stitch Duran and I were never friends. We were work associates. We came up together in the boxing world and when we hired cutmen, he was one of the guys I brought in here. Friends are people you can call on the phone, hang out with, you talk to all the time. Don House, who is one of our cutmen, he and I were very close and still are. Stitch Duran was never my friend.” He then knocked Duran when Duran said that White should have at least called him to fire him, saying, “I’ve never dealt with the cutmen ever. We have a department that deals with them. We weren’t friends, we’re not friends, and no, he shouldn’t have been expecting a call from me. And if he’s my friend, why didn’t he reach out to me? Right, if we were such good friends and all that?”
White this past week pushed the idea that the December PPV show would be at AT&T Stadium, and teased it would be headlined by Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor. Rumor has it if they book the stadium they’ll book three title fights, with the Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold fight and a Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit fight. While not official, there were reports that Condit would be getting the title shot ahead of former champion Johny Hendricks, even if the show is in Dallas, which is Hendricks’ home town. Hendricks would instead face Tyron Woodley in a top contenders fight, which is weird because both Hendricks and Woodley have beaten Condit. They seem to be wanting to avoid Lawler vs. Hendricks even though the two have fought two fights, the first was a match of the year, and they are even with each having won five rounds after the two. Hendricks was at first talked about as getting the next shot, but was instead booked against Matt Brown, which he won.
However, the Calgary Hit Men, who had a home game on 12/5, just moved that game to mid-week. Calgary was one of the cities talked about for the PPV on that date but the holdup was the hockey game in the Saddledome.
Hendricks said that he doesn’t know anything about stories that Condit would be getting the shot ahead of him. He said he’d be pissed if Condit got the shot.
Eric Winter, who I used to work with years ago at Yahoo! Sports, was hired as the new Senior Vice President and General Manager of Fight Pass. Winter will oversee the global expansion of fight Pass. He’ll work with Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer Marshall Zelaznik and Executive Vice President of Operations and Production Craig Borsari on driving the growth of Fight Pass. Winter had been in charge of Rivals.com, a Yahoo owned site that covered college football and basketball recruiting, and had worked and had also worked at DirecTV Sports, working in PPV marketing, where he first established a relationship with UFC.
UFC Fight Pass subscribers were sent a mailer with a survey that if they filled it out, would get them ten percent off the price of the next PPV show they ordered.
This week’s show is UFC 190 from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro. The show starts at 7 p.m. Eastern with Fight Pass fights with Guido Cannetti vs. Hugo Viana and Clint Hester vs. Vitor Miranda. Then on FS 1 at 8 p.m. is Iuri Alcantara vs. Leandro Issa, Warlley Alves vs. Nordine Taleb, Rafael Feijao Cavalcante vs. Patrick Cummins and Neil Magny vs. Demian Maia, which is a pretty strong prelim show. There is a seven fight main card so it’ll be longer than usual unless finishes are quick. They open with PPV with Jessica Aguilar (the former WSOF women’s strawweight champion) debuting against Claudia Gadelha, with the winner getting the next shot at champion Joanna Jedzrejczyk. Next is a battle of giants with Antonio Bigfoot Silva vs. Soa Paleli, followed by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Stefan Struve. Next are the finals of the TUF Brazil season with Dileno Lopes vs. Reginaldo Vieira in the bantamweight finals and Fernando Bruno vs. Glaico Franca in the lightweight finals. Following that is Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio Shogun Rua, and the main event is Ronda Rousey vs. Bethe Correia for the women’s bantamweight title.
In the main event, Rousey is a 17-to-1 favorite, which are the longest odds for any fight in the history of UFC. The previous record was 33-to-2 odds on Chad Mendes to beat Yaotzin Meza in their 2012 fight and 16-to-1 odds on Ronaldo Jacare Souza to beat Chris Camozzi in their 2013 fight. The longest odds previously in a championship fight was 29-to-2 odds on Demetrious Johnson to beat Chris Cariaso last year.
UFC will be debuting on PPV in Germany on Maxdome, the same PPV distributor that handles WWE. The first show will be UFC 190 on 8/1. Germans were previously able to get PPVs on Fight Pass in English, but Maxdome will have it with German commentary.
A national TV commercial for Budweiser with Rousey just started airing this week in Brazil. It just shows training footage and closes with “Ronda Rousey, This Bud’s for You,” or whatever the Portuguese version of that line is. Everyone figures Rousey gets booed out of the building as the American defending against a Brazilian. Time will tell, because the fans in the arena are one thing, but man on the street type questions have shown that the average person in Rio favors Rousey and it’s not even close.
MMA Fighting.com had a weird story regarding Pedro Munhoz, who failed a test for elevated levels of testosterone after his 10/4 win over Jerrod Sanders in Halifax. Munhoz was never announced as having failed a test, nor was he suspended. But he said that he had been told he failed a test. He claimed this his testosterone level was 850, which was within normal range, which would indicate a failure on the T:E ratio. The Nova Scotia Boxing Authority said UFC handled all the testing. Munhoz said he appealed the result in January and it’s still in the process of being worked out, but he said that the UFC has said that he’s not suspended.
Diego Sanchez, who started his UFC career off by winning the first season at 185 pounds, has said that his next fight will be at 145 pounds. He will join former foe Kenny Florian in having competed in UFC in four different weight classes.
There was a second altercation between Urijah Faber and Conor McGregor while coaching the Ultimate Fighter. It wasn’t anything major, but it was said to be a little more than the first one. There were no cameras filming the second one.
Former Team Alpha Male coach Duane Ludwig said that T.J. Dillashaw was the only member of the camp who really wanted to be a champion. It should be noted that when Ludwig left Sacramento for Denver to open up his gym, that Dillashaw was the only one of the team’s top fighters who came to Denver and trained with him. He said Danny Castillo also works really hard, but he overtrains, while Dillashaw is smarter in how he trains. “There’s just certain people that want it more than others. He has a stronger drive, a stronger determination. He actually believes that he can be champion and he’s the one that puts in the extra work, asks the questions, trains a bit harder, takes less breaks.” He said that Chad Mendes, who just lost to Conor McGregor, was someone who isn’t always training hard and wasn’t in the best shape for that fight. He said that with a proper camp, that Mendes could have beaten McGregor, and that he could have beaten Aldo in their second fight if he had trained more with him. Ludwig later apologized for the remarks saying he was just meaning to push how hard Dillashaw works, and said that if Mendes had been in shape with a full camp he’d have beaten McGregor. One of the Team Alpha Male fighters, Cody Garbrandt, tweeted that Ludwig was like a jealous, delusional ex-girlfriend.
Tom Lawlor was telling a story about wanting to dress up and be Conor McGregor at the weigh-ins. He told Ariel Helwani, “My plan was to be Conor McGregor at the weigh-ins, so I had asked if I could wear the Conor McGregor fight kit (the weigh-in gear that McGregor wore two weeks earlier). You know, they give you the Reebook stuff and they said, `Do you have any questions?’ I said, ‘Yes, I have a question. Can I wear Conor McGregor’s fight kit?’ And the way it was met, to me, was like, `Why would you want to do that?’ Lawlor is known for dressing up as different wrestlers or fighters at weigh-ins and for comedic ring entrances. The best he could do, limited to Reebok gear, was to where everything in the bag they gave him. So he came out with a Reebok sweatshirt with four layers of Reebok shirts and three layers of shorts.
Frankie Edgar was asked and accepted a spot on the 9/5 PPV show, but has no opponent. They wanted Alistair Overeem vs. Junior Dos Santos, but Dos Santos won’t be ready yet. Nazareno Malegarie vs. Joaquim Silva has been added to that show.
UFC fighter Elias Theodorou, who is 11-0 and won the TUF Canada show, did a pro wrestling match on 7/28 in Toronto against Kris Chambers before 200 fans for the Superkick’d promotion. There was a story in Bleacher Report on his appearance, saying, “Pro wrestling is something every 14-year-old- boy wants to do when they grow up. I thought I’d have some fun, and that’s what the night was about. I’m a professional athlete and really didn’t want to get hurt. The last thing I want to do is have to tell anyone at the UFC, `Yeah, I’d love to fight but I broke my ankle doing pro wrestling.’ So obviously, safety was first. But I got to unveil my alter ego and take a crack at it.” Theodorou won the match with a Superman punch. He did a lot of imitating of Shawn Michaels, and said that said that Chambers carried him through it. He said he trained several days a week for a month to get ready for the match. It’ll be interesting to see how UFC reacts to this. Al Iaquinta did a pro wrestling match not all that long ago but that was more a kid’s birthday party backyard match in his neighborhood, as opposed to being in an arena. Tom Lawlor was told by UFC that he couldn’t perform with ROH even as a second for Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly. UFC contracts specifically don’t allow fighters to do pro wrestling, although UFC did make an exception for Josh Barnett, but Barnett is only allowed to do matches in Japan, not the U.S. The idea is that doing matches in Japan keeps him in the news there and UFC used him as a coach and headliner on its first season of TUF Japan and he’s facing Roy Nelson at the September show at the Saitama Super Arena.
There was a confrontation right out of the old days of pro wrestling at the UFC’s Q&A when a fan who had been harassing Punk on Twitter challenged him to a fight. He started, in front of the crowd, saying how Punk wouldn’t fight him. They went back and forth with Punk making fun of him until Megan Olivi tried to cut the guy off, but he wouldn’t stop talking, so eventually they turned off his mic and went to a new questioner. Key stuff from the Q&A was Punk saying he wants to fight by the end of the year but it’s up to his coaches. He said that he was much happier now than when he was in WWE. When asked if there was anyone in pro wrestling he’d want to fight, he made a joke out of it saying whatever he said people would try and find weird meaning out of, and then said Colt Cabana (his best friend) and The Young Bucks. Punk also did a long Q&A with Ariel Helwani where he said that A.J. Lee quit WWE largely because it was uncomfortable for her to be there because of the lawsuit filed by Dr. Chris Amman against him. He said he would have no issues if she wanted to go back, although other promoters have noted that she doesn’t seem like she wants to do any pro wrestling right now. He said he loved Conor McGregor and that McGregor was great for the sport.
Ian McCall and Joe Riggs both had to pull out of the 8/8 show in Nashville. Riggs was to face Uriah Hall. Hall will now face the debuting Oluwale Bamgbose, a 5-0 fighter from New York with five knockouts. McCall was to face Dustin Ortiz. Ortiz will face Willie Gates, who just knocked out Darrelll Montague on the 7/12 show in Las Vegas.
A correction from last week’s issue. When Robert Whiteford jumped in the crowd in Glasgow after beating Paul Redmond and hugging people, we thought it was his family in the front row. Actually he hopped the rail and started hugging total strangers.
Last week’s show was the debut of Sean Grande as announcer. While I can’t say I agree with the decision to get rid of Sean Wheelock, who has extensive knowledge of MMA and had worked well with Jimmy Smith (exceedingly underrated) for years, Grande was very professional, clearly had done prep work and was very good for doing MMA for the first time in his life. Plus, Smith was awesome on the show. It’s amazing how many guys who started out in the wrestling newsletter world have ended up with broadcasting jobs in sports (besides Grande, who was the associate editor of “Wrestling Forum” in the 80s), off the top of my head that list includes Mike Tenay (“Wrestling Mat News”), Philadelphia sportscaster John Clark (“Wrestling Flyer”), Steve Prazak, Scott Hudson and Craig Johnson (“Shenanuke Post”), Mark Nulty (“Ringside Live”) and Mick Karch (“Worldwide Bockwinkel Brigade”). Mark Madden wrote for “Pro Wrestling Torch,” and was on the Observer Hotline before announcing for Nitro, but he was already a reporter in the Pittsburgh sports media long before that. Grande, in an interview, actually credited the Observer for making him an MMA fan. “After years of skipping that part of the Observer, I actually started reading the MMA part, and learning a little bit. When the (Boston Celtics) season ended in May, I said, `Let me just immerse myself in it and see how I feel about it.’ And before you know it, you’re falling in love with it, and the sudden death overtime excitement of it, and the storylines, and the fighters, and the presentation, and all of it.”
There will be an 8/28 show in Temecula, CA, with Melvin Guillard making his Bellator debut against Brandon Girtz and Patricky Pitbull Freire (the older brother of the featherweight champion) facing Saad Awad.
The company made an interesting signing in Kerri Taylor-Melendez, who is a kickboxer who is the wife of Gilbert Melendez. She will be fighting MMA. When she was much younger, she did kickboxing and Muay Thai on shows in Northern California, with a 4-1 amateur record and 2-1 professional record, including on Strikeforce shows promoted by Scott Coker (before Strikeforce was an MMA promotion). She will debut on the 9/19 show in San Jose, and fight under kickboxing rules on the combined MMA/kickboxing show.
The World Series of Fighting has one of its best lineups for name value on 8/1 on NBC Sports Network, with a Las Vegas show headlined by Rousimar Palhares vs. Jake Shields for the welterweight title, plus Marlon Moraes vs. Sheymon Moraes for the bantamweight title. Thiago Silva was to face Mike Kyle. However, the Nevada Athletic Commission refused to license Silva based on a 2011 incident where Silva submitted a fake urine sample which he admitted to in a later hearing, saying that he had a bad back and had taken illegal drugs so he could continue training and compete in a fight in UFC that he won over Brandon Vera, because he needed the money. His license wasn’t suspended and Nevada would not license him until he faces a hearing before the commission. Clifford Starks will take his place. Khabib Nurmagomedov’s brother, Abubaker Nurmagomedov debuts against Jorge Moreno.
Cena and Fox were both injured on Raw. Cena took a hard knee right to the nose in his main event match with Rollins. The knee knocked Cena silly and the doctor came out and talked with him, but Cena continued the match and ended the night with a crooked and partially displaced nose. He was taken to the hospital to see an ear, nose and throat specialist in Dallas but at press time no further word had been released. There are two forces at work here. The first is the mentality that SummerSlam is coming and guys like Cena in that position work through these things. The other is that Cena’s face is a big part of his marketability, both as a wrestling hero to kids and in his recent movie work. While having a crooked nose is fine for a guy like Barrett, it’s not so fine for Cena. Fox suffered a mild concussion earlier in the show. She was working a spot with Charlotte where Charlotte swept her leg in a basic move, but Fox took the bump high on her head and neck and it was immediately clear it wasn’t smooth.
SummerSlam was announced as a four-hour show this year, similar to WrestleMania. The PPV portion of the show will air from 7-11 p.m. Eastern on 8/23, with a one-hour pre-game show starting at 6 p.m.
Regarding Sting, he may not be on the show any longer. WWE announced him for a meet and greet, and the original idea was to introduce him as a surprise a week or two out from the show as a mystery third partner. What we do know is that Sting was told some time back that he would be on the show in a six-man tag match, and more than a week ago, WWE had cut some TV commercials with both Undertaker and Sting shown for SummerSlam (but no matches listed). As we noted last week, Sting had gotten himself into what we were told was ridiculously good shape for his age (56). But at one point of late he was apparently told that plans had changed and they wouldn’t be using him as a wrestler on the show. So it’s unclear right now. All the elements of the original angle, with Wyatt & Harper joining together and Reigns & Ambrose joining together, are basically how the angle was designed. The next step was going to be the introduction of a third Wyatt Family member, and a beat down, and that’s where Reigns & Ambrose would introduce Sting as their surprise partner. If that was the case, you would think they wouldn’t have announced him at the meet and greet to tip off that he was going to be in town if the whole thing was to be a surprise. But that’s the deal when things change on a weekly basis. The original idea was that in theory, with Sting & Ambrose on the team, the fans would in theory also be behind Reigns as a team member. Reigns’ reaction is always going to be a challenge for a PPV audience, let alone a SummerSlam level PPV audience in the New York market, given nobody was booed as much as Reigns was at Mania this year.
WWE announced several activities in conjunction with SummerSlam. There will be an 8/21 Superstars Meet and Greet at the 40/40 Club and Restaurant at the Barclays Center, which is a Friday night event that will be an autograph and photo ops affair with Sting, Michaels, Orton, Rollins, Reigns, Ambrose, Wyatt, Charlotte, Paige and Lynch. It’s notable from this list that they are trying to push Charlotte, Paige and Lynch as key figures in the Divas division. On 8/22, there will be a Q&A session for the public with Paul Levesque talking about NXT and promoting the NXT show that night in Brooklyn. Besides Levesque, appearing will be Rollins, Balor, Banks, Owens, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton. The panel will be a 90 minute Q&A plus VIP tickets allowing for photo ops and autographed posters.
WWE sent e-mails to former subscribers of the WWE Network asking them if they would be interested in getting the PPV shows monthly for $4.99 streaming since they no longer were paying $9.99 for the network, as well as the idea of purchasing other programming from the network as a single-show price. That’s an interesting idea, but it feels like it undercuts the value of your PPVs even more. Based on the survey, other ideas under consideration include incentives for network subscribers like giving them discounts on merchandise, DVDs and live events, or even a free month on the network. They asked fans also if they wanted more non-wrestling content, such as adding non-wrestling dramas to the network as well as more behind-the-scenes shows. There are also ideas such as lowering the price for long-term subscribers a little such as $110 for a year instead of $119.88.
Arnold Schwarzenegger as “The Terminator” will be the outsider extra in the WWE 2K 16 video game. That’s the role that Lesnar, Sting, Mike Tyson and Ultimate Warrior have had in recent years. There will be two different Terminator characters in the game.
“Trainwreck,” with John Cena having a guest role, held up well at the box office in week two, grossing $17,281,950 for a two-week domestic total of $61,526,975.
“Furious Seven” fell from fourth to fifth place on the all-time worldwide gross list with “Jurassic World” at $1.54 billion. “Furious 7″ closed at $1.51 billion.
Sheamus made some news on 7/22 as he was on a flight from Denver to Los Angeles (another report said it was Lincoln to Los Angeles, but either way the trip started in Lincoln, where Smackdown was taped), which was forced to make an emergency landing in Grand Junction, CO because one of the passengers was ill. Oxygen masks were deployed after a medical event caused a chain reaction of passengers to feel sick and lightheaded.
Paige appearing as Austin’s WWE Network live podcast guest on the 8/3 post-Raw in San Jose show as a replacement for the originally scheduled Hogan.
In last week’s issue, regarding the note about debuting a gay character in 2002 who would be a tough guy, that would out himself as being gay, do none of the stereotypes and be portrayed as a kick ass main eventer, we were told that the idea was for the person to be Lesnar when he made his debut that year. The idea originally came from two of the magazine writers, one of them Brian Solomon (who just wrote a book about pro wrestling history called “Pro Wrestling FAQ”), who pitched the idea directly to Stephanie McMahon that year. The pitch was that it would blow away the fan base and everyone to have an unstoppable hyper-masculine ass kicker revealing himself to be gay, and be pushed as a top babyface. The idea was to make sure he never did anything in or out of the ring that would make fans uncomfortable. It would be the anti-gay stereotype instead, and instead it would be the heels that would use his being gay in their promos and get their asses kicked, and making everyone using negative terms as far as being gay come across like heels. The idea was also thinking it would get huge support from the gay community (the problem of course is that eventually it would come out Lesnar wasn’t gay, so it would only be a character and not an admission the real person was) and get positive support from the media as a progressive character. What’s notable is that the people who pitched it first, never heard another word about it, and didn’t know until this past week that it had gotten into the writers room where some of the older agents thought the idea was terrible and it was dropped, and eventually that led to the Billy & Chuck thing. As it turned out, the Lesnar character ended up doing pretty well for itself.
The next Madison Square Garden house show is 10/3, and the current plan, which will change weekly, is Rollins vs. Cena for the WWE title, Orton vs. Sheamus and Rusev vs. Ziggler, plus Jericho appearing.
Regarding the recent WWE Network launch in Malaysia, the launch is as a pay television station rather than a streaming service. Astro, the country’s leading pay-TV service picked up the WWE Network prior to Battleground for $10.60 Ringgit per month ($2.78 per month) extra as part of their sports pack at $15.90 Ringgit per month ($4.16 U.S.) if you don’t subscribe to the sports pack. It’s really not the WWE Network as far as the VOD features. It airs the live stream of the network only, plus there will be 25 hours of VOD footage that would change each month, similar to Classics on Demand.
Chael Sonnen was said to be meeting with Michael Cole on 8/11, when Smackdown tapes in Portland, OR. This was set up by Canyon Ceman and Gerald Brisco. Of course anything with Sonnen involved is open to interpretation, given the reports he talked about with meetings with WWE in San Jose, and he was there, and met with people, but it was nothing formal.
The WWE network, besides doing overseas live specials like they did from Tokyo, is looking into doing a live show on the beach, similar to the first WCW Bash at the Beach on Huntington Beach about 20 years ago.
With the Lana as the female superstar of the company direction already seemingly changed and her now just being another character on the show, the new idea is to find a “Latin female star of the company.” They are looking for sex appeal and Spanish speaking skills for someone who can be front and center to expanding to the Latin audience. Like with Lana, it doesn’t have to be a wrestler. There are people who are starting to search for Latin female weather reporters in Mexico who are chosen for looks. The perfect person they are looking for is, unfortunately for them, under contract with Lucha Underground in Melissa Santos, who is easily the best female ring announcer in the wrestling business right now. Well, if Lucha Underground doesn’t have a second season, she’d be available.
An interesting note is that WWE, when they put segments up on their YouTube channel, they usually get 200,000 to 300,000 viewers per segment. If it’s a Cena or Lesnar segment, it’s closer to 500,000. However, the Undertaker return segment from Battleground did 3 million views and the Undertaker-Lesnar brawl on Raw did 2.5 million viewers.
On Smackdown last week, Stardust used one of Dusty Rhodes’ lines in his interview and also made a reference to the Green Arrow. They also did a video package for Banks. Owens yelled at Rusev to lose some weight as he was trying to drag his body away from the ropes, and later Cesaro saw Owens and asked him if he had just come back from catering.
There are gossip site teases that Stephen Amell of Arrow game will be appearing on Raw on the 8/10 show in Everett, WA, since they are filming the fourth season of the show right now in British Columbia. Amell posted some videos that teased the idea of him coming back to Raw. He did a tease with Stardust in May, but nothing had been followed up since past social media. However, Amell’s 8/23 appearance at Wizard World in Chicago was canceled this past week, and that’s the same day as SummerSlam. Stardust did make mention of “Green” in a way to where it seemed to hint at the Green Arrow, on his Raw promo this week.
Dr. Joseph Maroon issued a correction after he and other colleagues published a paper arguing that CTE may not be a widespread problem in contact sports, and then got heat over not acknowledging that he was the lead neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers and head of medical for the WWE, which could be seen as a conflict of interest. He then issued a correction and acknowledged his connection with both entities.
Regarding the concussion lawsuits, Judge Vanessa Bryant in Connecticut has consolidated the cases, which basically means that the lawsuits filed by Vito Lograsso, Evan Singleton, Ryan Sakoda, Matt Wiese and Russ McCullough are now all one. Additionally, the WWE lawsuits filed against Robert Windham (Blackjack Mulligan), Oreal Perras (Ivan Koloff), Thomas Billington (Dynamite Kid) and James Ware (Koko B. Ware) have also been consolidated into one suit.
Tough Enough this week, there was a unique twist. Miz replaced Hogan as the third judge. When picking the bottom three, they were Amanda the bikini contest winner who really hasn’t shown much on the show; Mada the big Egyptian bodybuilder and basketball player with his 80s promo style who has the legit size and charisma to where he was in many people’s eyes the standout as far as being a real prospect; and ZZ, who has the most personality but physically is in the worst condition. Most of the remaining competitors said that ZZ should go home because he just isn’t in shape and his ring work is behind. However, he always does well in the fan voting. But Miz threw a monkey wrench into the story when he said he was saving Amanda, saying that he was doing so because he thinks she’s everything that the WWE is looking for in a Diva (“She’s hot” and “She’s fiery”). Miz got mad at Bryan for putting her in the bottom three. Paige was furious Miz saved her, and even more so when the voting came out. The public vote came in as 48% for ZZ, 39% for Mada and 13% for Amanda, meaning to the public, Amanda was the clear loser, but Mada was the one who had go to home. In his case there is enough to give him a developmental deal, as he’s had exposure, people like him, he’s a good athlete and has a good look. In the long run, and this is all because of the $250,000 aspect, it is better to get a developmental deal and not win then win. The winners will be the two highest paid people in developmental and two of the bottom in terms of ability, particularly at the start, and that leads to resentment. This is a fan voting and even though she was saved, it’s pretty clear Amanda doesn’t look good when it comes to future voting as Miz can’t make another save this season and the other two didn’t seem inclined to save her. I actually saw Mada as the strongest male candidate because Tanner, while having a good look and being the best athlete, is smaller and hasn’t shown charisma. He has been studying wrestling, as he started reading Jericho’s book (which he won as a prize in winning another obstacle course like contest) and has been studying promo guys after being told to do so. As much fun as ZZ is, he physically is a big question mark and at this point, even though he talks chicken breasts and water, them outing him for sleeping through gym time when he needs it the most makes me think he’s just not there mentally yet. But he does have a certain charisma that the rest lack. Josh is just a big fairly athletic guy, which may be enough to win this, but also doesn’t stand out from a personality standpoint. I think it’s pretty clear the women will come down to Sara and Chelsea. Chelsea probably should win given she’s an actual wrestler, but they’ve downplayed that. But they did give her the most TV time this week. Sara has that cuteness think that has saved her so far. Based on what we were told, the hot tub scene with Tanner and Chelsea was there for Tanner to show some personality and they believe he choked. The producers are said to be over ZZ after him being a favorite because of him backing down to Mada, but that doesn’t mean he won’t win since he still won the audience vote this past week. The company favorite is Josh, who was said to be Vince McMahon’s favorite from day one. They can and will manipulate things in the footage, but in the end, it’s still an audience vote.
The stock at press time closed at $16.43 per share. It dropped significantly on Friday and Monday, which was attributed to the Hogan story and WWE dropping ties with its most famous star. The feeling is the stock would have grown at least until the 7/30 earnings call, and then it would have gone up or down largely based on the results and the network subscription number. The stock dropped to $16.01 at the close of business on 7/27, but bounced back the next day, leaving the company with a $1.24 billion market capitalization.
After Michaels was announced as replacing Hogan as the guest General Manager on the 8/6 to 8/8 tour of Australia. Australian WWE fans must feel snake bit as a lot of people felt that Hogan was really the big draw on the August 10, 2002, show at Colonial Stadium (now Docklands Stadium) in Melbourne that drew 55,000 fans (Rock vs. HHH vs. Lesnar main event) and Hogan quit WWF right before the show. Hogan has never worked a WWE show in Australia, but Hogan and Flair did do a 2009 tour together for an independent promotion that ended up losing a ton of money on the promotion and giving up on the wrestling business.
Another WWE movie deal was announced as WWE Studios purchased the rights to “Resurrection of Gavin Stone,” a movie that just completed filming and featured Michaels in a leading role. Brett Dalton, who stars in ABC’s “Agents of Shield” is the lead character. Dalton pays the role of Stone, a former child acting star who gets older and constantly into trouble, and then pretends to be a Christian. When he takes the role, he becomes a Christian and the religion thing ends up saving him.
The Louisville Courier this past week did a story on Mike Hayes, who was the amputee who had to quit Tough Enough due to them overtraining him. He would have had a great shot at winning given the sympathy and respect factor, with his background and sincere promo ability. Hayes’ back story is that he was riding in a Humvee in 2006 that was hit by an IED. He was the only survivor of the explosion. He had to drag himself away, carrying the left leg, which was blown off and severed from the knee down. He had to do this while sustaining a broken hip, a crushed right heel and with shrapnel damage in his hands and burns on 35 percent of his body. He spent 18 months undergoing rehab and physical therapy in Texas, and was given a prosthetic leg. He moved back to Louisville and started going to a gym, where he ended up becoming friends with several OVW wrestlers, including Chris Silvio, Mike Mondo and Mohamed Ali Vaez. He was a big fan so they talked him into training in late 2010 and he started training in Nick Dinsmore’s beginners class. He debuted on February 22, 2011, against Dinsmore, at the Danny Davis Arena. He was a top face in OVW, but in February, decided he was done with wrestling, saying it wasn’t fun, his ego was bruised, and he had a falling out with certain people. But in April, he saw the commercial for Tough Enough and sent in a video. He had to withdraw because with the prosthetic leg, his body couldn’t endure the cardio they put him through on the first two days, which was really cruel if you think about putting him through so much that he was injuring himself and he wouldn’t quit until he’d really hurt himself. He said that he has now fully recovered from the injuries and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs is getting him a new socket for his prosthesis that will be better shaped to his leg, so he’ll be able to handle more rigorous training. Canyon Ceman told him he has an open door to come in when his body is ready for it. He said that he expects to give Ceman that call within the next few months.
Notes from the 7/27 Raw show in Oklahoma City. The show was built around the idea of new matches, and most were pretty good. It was an easier to watch show than most in the sense it didn’t drag as much at the end, and Cena and Rollins had a hell of a main event. The crowd still died out for much of the second half of the show until the main event got over big, particularly after Cena made his comeback from getting his nose broken. The crowd was flat live with Cena getting the biggest reaction, followed by Orton, and nobody else getting big reactions. Before the show started, when people were coming in the building, security confiscated anything related to Hogan, and told people wearing Hogan T-shirts that they would not be allowed to wear them.
For Superstars, R-Truth pinned Dallas. Also, Barrett pinned Swagger with the bull hammer. Swagger was really over since he’s from Perry, OK.
Raw opened with HHH, Stephanie and Rollins out. They pushed that it will be the biggest SummerSlam ever, because it’ll be four hours. Then they announced Show vs. Ambrose, Banks vs. Paige, Orton vs. Owens and Fox & Nikki Bella vs. Lynch & Charlotte, noting they were all first time matches. Cena then came out and challenged Rollins for the title tonight. Stephanie asked the fans if they wanted to see it. They cheered. Then Stephanie started cheerleading them to do a “Yes” chant, which they did. Then Stephanie said, “No,” and started laughing. So she’s a heel this week. She told Cena that he had to earn the shot. Well, all that work in getting the U.S. title belt over, and she said the champion for months isn’t deserving of a title shot. HHH said that nobody wants to see the WWE title defended on Raw, but then announced that Cena would defend the U.S. title against Rollins on the show, because that’s what is best for business. Actually, in the big picture, that was what was best for business.
Show beat Ambrose via count out in 11:18. Miz was on commentary and said he was the toughest man in WWE, even though he lost quickly to Show last week, but because everyone else on the roster would have had broken ribs from Show giving them an elbow drop off the middle rope, and he only had bruised ribs. He also started making fun of Ryback and his staph infection. He said that it proved Ryback was weak because his immune system would have beaten up that staph infection. There was a weird spot where Ambrose untied Show’s boots. Show then had to tie his boots back up. This led nowhere. Show choke slammed Ambrose, who kicked out. He then gave him a second choke slam and Ambrose rolled to the floor. Ambrose just beat the ten count back in. Show gave him a side kick to the floor and a spear on the floor. Ambrose dove in at ten. Ambrose then stumbled out of the ring. Then, after all that, Ambrose immediately stopped selling, ran into the ring and hit a tope into a punch by Show on the floor, so he was knocked out on the floor. He teased getting back in, but he couldn’t, so he lost via count out. Show went to spear him on the floor, but Ambrose side stepped so Show speared through the barricade. Due to the story they told, this was far more entertaining than one would expect a Show vs. Ambrose match to be. I’m not a fan of the nobody gets over match (one guy wins, the other guy is standing tall at the end), especially since one of them is supposedly in a key match at SummerSlam. It was noted that at this point in the show, HHH in the first monologue said “It will be” twice and Miz used the word “faking an injury” about Ryback, both of which are supposed to be no-nos.
JBL started making fun of people who were thinking of spending $54.95 to watch SummerSlam. After UFC’s last number and Mayweather’s last number, telling everyone that your product isn’t worth as much as your competition probably isn’t my idea of smart.
Neville pinned Fandango in 1:51 with the red arrow. Fandango got no entrance on TV. Neville did a twisting dive over the top. Stardust was on the screen as he and Neville are doing an undercard program based on comic book graphics, fitting the Green Arrow guy in.
Paige, Charlotte and Lynch were backstage. Banks, Naomi and Snuka came out. They did one of those scripted promos where everyone waits their turn to deliver rehearsed lines in non-believable fashion.
Paige vs. Banks was next with the other four teasing involvement. Banks beat Paige in 13:52 with the back stabber and the crossface (bank statement). The other four were at ringside. They are putting the women at ringside because whenever the heat starts dropping, they can start cheerleading. They put this on at the top of the hour and gave them a long match, so they are very much behind this right now. They also put the newcomers over in both matches clean. Paige did a plancha onto everyone. The match was good but the crowd was still not that into it.
Renee Young interviewed Rollins. Rollins said that people have said he can’t win on his own, but asked them to ask Cesaro, Orton and Ambrose if that’s the truth. He vowed to win the U.S. title tonight.
Rusev and Summer Rae were out next. Rusev said that Summer Rae was the woman who healed his soul, and called her the “Always hot Summer.” He said he would teach American men how to treat a special woman. First he gave her a pet dog. He said that since the dog was ugly, had skinny legs, pees on himself and is neutered, he thinks a good name would be Dog Ziggler. That was actually funny. Next he gave her a dead fish, who was obviously going to be called Lana. Rusev said it was a cold fish, like the cold fish Lana. Lana then came out and said how week after week, Summer Rae lies about her, and tries to embarrass her but it never works because everyone can see through her. She said that Summer dresses like her, that when Rusev kisses her, he’s looking and me. She also said that Summer was an unoriginal, pitiful wannabe Lana. Lana threw a bad looking kick, grabbed her hair and rubbed Summer’s face into the fish, and then she slapped Rusev.
The Lucha Dragons beat Los Matadores in 8:06. The Prime Time Players were on commentary. O’Neil is really good, although unlike last week when he buried JBL, JBL was ready this week with facts about Puerto Rican bullfighters. O’Neil thought he was lying. JBL also asked how they even knew Los Matadores were from Puerto Rico. If you recall, when they were first brought in, the idea is they were Mexican. O’Neil started laughing at that one. The New Day came out while E held a sign over Kingston that read “Mega Dad of the Year,” a spoof on O’Neil for winning that dad of the year contest. Kalisto pinned one of them with a short huracanrana into a cradle. They were teasing a four-team match.
Wyatt did a interview with Harper. He told the fans that their mommys and daddys have been lying to them and force feeding them lies because they don’t really love them. If they did love them, they’d tell them the truth. But he said the truth can be horrifying because the truth is that your school, your government and your place of worship, that you think are there to protect you, are deceiving you. He told a story about a pet that he let go free but it came back with a scar and never left his side again. He said that he had to let Harper go but now he’s come back. He said that Reigns claims Ambrose is his brother, but if he truly cared for Ambrose he would tell him he’s in danger and he should stay out of their business and walk away and never look back. This is Reigns’ burden to bear and his hill to die on.
Charlotte & Lynch beat Fox & Nikki Bella in 6:01 when Charlotte speared Nikki and Lynch made Fox submit to the disarmer, which is a Nagata style armbar except she doesn’t roll her eyes in the back of her head. The crowd was dead for this match.
Orton beat Owens via DQ in 11:28 when Sheamus attacked Orton. Sheamus and Owens were beating down Orton when Cesaro came in for the save and used a plancha on Owens. Owens came back and laid out Cesaro with a pop up power bomb.
Renee Young interviewed Cena. He said that tonight would be his most important title defense. He said that for months he’s been saying the U.S. title belt means excellence and tonight he has to prove it. He said that tonight, the great debate would be over. Either Rollins will prove he’s as good as he says he is and he’ll leave with two titles, or Cena will shock the world and beat the world champion, putting an end to the argument over who the real champion is.
Cena retained the U.S. title pinning Rollins in 17:02. This ended up as a ****1/4 match. The broken nose added to the drama. Cena did a cool looking tornado DDT and Rollins did a tope. After Cena broke his nose and made a fiery comeback, Rollins power bombed him into the turnbuckles. The doctor was in the ring and checked on Cena and they continued the match. Rollins went for a pedigree, Cena backdropped him but Rollins landed on his feet. Cena hit the springboard stunner, went for the Attitude Adjustment, but Rollins landed on his feet again. Cena hit an Attitude Adjustment and Rollins kicked out. The doctor was wiping the blood off Cena’s nose again. Rollins turned a superplex into a falcon arrow, but then missed a Phoenix splash, and Cena put him in the STF for the submission. Given where they are going for SummerSlam, that was the right finish, a submission right in the center.
Notes from the 7/28 Smackdown tapings in Tulsa. Another show devoid of top talent with Cena, Reigns, Orton and Show having the night off.
Fandango pinned Rose in a dark match.
For Main Event, Neville pinned Barrett with the red arrow. Dallas pinned Ryder. Lynch beat Brie Bella in the Tv main.
In a dark match, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady beat Slater & Maddox. Amore & Cassady got over pretty well.
Smackdown opened with Rollins doing a promo bragging about breaking Cena’s nose. Cesaro came out and challenged him to a match. Rollins vs. Cesaro was short and ended as a no contest, when Owens, on commentary, attacked Cesaro. Rollins and Owens beat Cesaro down and left him laying.
Los Matadores & The Lucha Dragons beat The New Day & The Ascension.
It was then announced that Rollins & Owens would face Cesaro and a partner of his choosing in the main event.
Rusev & Summer Rae did a promo, mostly talking about Lana being a cold fish. No Lana this time.
Rusev beat Swagger with the accolade. Swagger was really over here as well, being in Tulsa. Lots of chants for him.
Stardust pinned R-Truth. Stardust cut another promo on Neville. Neville then ran Stardust off.
Cesaro & Ambrose beat Rollins & Owens when Cesaro pinned Owens after a roll-up after Ambrose had gotten out of the pop up power bomb.
Notes on the 7/22 NXT TV show. No great matches but pretty solid build for Brooklyn. The show opened with Finn Balor coming out with the NXT title with fans chanting “You deserve it.” They were calling the building the NXT Arena. Balor talked about how he’s been wrestling for 15 years in Europe, Mexico and Japan. He said during his career he made a lot of hard choices that led to his success, and one of them was whether he should come to NXT. He said as soon as he beat Owens for the title and was handed the belt (not saying the word belt of course), he said he knew all of those choices were worth it. He mentioned his rematch with Owens in Brooklyn. He said that Owens had hurt Rusev, Itami, Zayn and Neville, but that he beat Owens in Tokyo. They announced there would be a contract signing for the match later in the show.
Eva Marie came out for an interview. She’s referring to herself as “Miss All Red Everything.” She’s got red hair and wears a red outfit. The storyline they are trying to push is that everyone has prejudged her wrong, and that she’s worked hard.
Eva Marie pinned Cassie in 3:51. You can see they really want her to be a star because of her body and look. She is a lot better than before in the sense she’s gone from being terrible to being just bad like someone like Velvet Sky or something. The fans here treated her like a star since she’s been on real TV, but they lost interest in her wrestling about 2:00 in. She uses the sliced bread as her finisher, which makes sense given she’s been training in California with Brian Kendrick. As a match, this was much weaker than any woman’s match on NXT in a long time. But the announcers were pushing hard how she has shut up all her critics so that’s the angle they are pushing, that she’s this pretty girl who was misjudged by everyone and she’s shoving it in their face. You know, like a C.M. Punk with boobs.
Tyler Breeze came into William Regal’s office and said that Brooklyn is coming and they need an opponent for him. Regal said he’s working on it. Breeze said that it better be someone good.
Baron Corbin pinned Puerto Rican star Mr. 450 Hammet in :11 with the end of days. Hammet played the role of the guy who is never announced and who the announcers never say the name of. Fortunately for them, instead of making their announcing sound awkward, they were over so quickly it didn’t really matter.
Samoa Joe pinned Mike Rallis in 2:04 after the muscle buster. Rallis is the kind of a guy that NXT should be making a star. Maybe not just yet, but in 18 months or so. He’s got the look and athletic ability, and he seems to work solidly given his experience level.
Emma did an interview with Dana Brooke. Emma took credit for breaking Bayley’s first hand. Dana Brooke patted Devin Taylor on the head again at the end of the interview. Taylor looked annoyed, so it seemed like the start of a build for a match.
Bayley pinned Emma in 5:36. They are trying to remake Emma from cute to sexy, doing a lot of shaking her ass. She’s better as a heel. She worked on Bayley’s right hand including spreading the fingers. It made sense given the injury but the crowd didn’t react to it. Dana Brooke interfered and was thrown out. Bayley finally hit the Belly to Bayley. Bayley then did an interview talking about her quest for the NXT title, saying that to get the title, she has to beat the best, so she was challenging Charlotte for next week.
Dasha Fuentes was added to the interviewing team. She’s green. She interviewed Charlotte, who said that if Bayley wants a match with her she is more than deserving. Dana Broke came out and said that Charlotte has had chance after chance in wrestling because of who her father is. She said that the latest is that she was brought up to Raw, and said she’ll fail at that one as well. Brooke complained that she’s never been given the chances Charlotte got.
The Vaudevillains beat Angelo Dawkins & Sawyer Fulton in 2:47. In commentary, they were really pushing the Vaudevillains as title contenders for Blake & Murphy, so they could do that in Brooklyn. Aiden English gave Dawkins a neckbreaker and Gotch pinned him in a simple squash.
Blake, Murphy and Alexa Bliss cut a promo about the Vaudevillains. Blake has bleached his hair completely blond. This wasn’t said, but it was at the weekend house shows, that Blake & Murphy are now called #BAMF, which stands for Blake, Alexa, Murphy Factor.
Next was the contract signing. Owens brought up how the match would be in Brooklyn to get easy heel heat. Owens said that he won the NXT title two months after his debut, which is something Balor couldn’t say. Owens said Balor would come in as champion but he’s still the underdog in the match. Owens said he crippled Sami Zayn more than once and sent Neville out of NXT, and also beat Cesaro, as well as dropped Rusev on his head, and beat Cena as well. He said he was going to show his loss in Japan was a fluke and will take Balor out for good. Owens turned the table over and then started a brawl which included decking Regal, until Balor dropkicked Owens out of the ring.
The weekend NXT tour started 7/23 in Fort Pierce before a full house of 500 fans. They used more newcomers on this show and less of the names. Mojo Rawley pinned Axel Tischer, but was then attacked by newcomer Radomir Petkovic. Petkovic is a 28-year-old former amateur wrestler from Serbia. He specialized in Greco-Roman wrestling and won a silver medal at super heavyweight in the 2010 European Games and bronze medals in 2009 and 2009 in the Mediterranean Games. Petkovic laid out Rawley. Elias Sampson was once again trying out his guitar playing character. Preston Cunningham, a former college wrestler and MMA fighter named Josh Woods, lost to Dempsey, who worked as a face since Cunningham is doing the Ethan Carter III gimmick. Noah Kekoa came out and was destroyed by Petkovic. Kekoa was signed last year and I believe this was his first house show appearance. He was a Florida guy who was trained by Afa. It was then announced that Petkovic is the new wardrobe designer for Breeze. Breeze than beat Uhaa Nation due to the distraction from Petkovic. The main event saw Balor retain the NXT title pinning Solomon Crowe with a double foot stomp.
They did a more heavily than usual promoted show in Coral Gables, FL, on 7/24, which was at a building adjacent to the BankAtlantic Center. They drew 500 fans but it was a much larger and nicer building than NXT usually runs in Florida and it was promoted as a bigger than usual show. Banks, Lynch and Charlotte were advertised for this show and West Palm Beach, but not there. In fact, on the NXT Twitter in pushing for tickets in West Palm Beach the day of the show, Banks was the only one shown. Uhaa Nation pinned Mike Rallis. Rallis did the Florida State chop for easy heat (Miami Hurricanes country) and then in the second match, Dawkins pushed Ohio State. Eva Marie got the Cena “Let’s Go Eva, Eva sucks” treatment but she seemed more poised than last week when she got it at the NXT tapings. Her wrestling was fine and she got far more heat, both good and bad, because she’s a star, than any of the women. Dempsey wrestled Breeze and Dempsey lost, but did a bunch of Dusty Rhodes spots which got over. The Vaudevillains beat Blake & Murphy via DQ in a tag title match. Bliss interfered to save the title when fans were really believing the title could change hands. Scott Dawson pinned Tye Dillinger in the show stealer of the night. These are two underrated guys who don’t get any real television push. Fans were even chanting “This is Awesome” at this one. Bayley won a three-way over Dana Brooke and Emma. Main event saw Balor retain over Samoa Joe. The crowd went crazy for Joe. When the match started, the crowd went silent, not knowing how to react. By the middle of the match, the crowd was starting to cheer more for Joe. By the end, the crowd was cheering for the spots. Both guys did dives and Balor won clean with his signature double foot stomp off the top rope.
The 7/25 NXT show in West Palm Beach drew about 1,000 fans, which I believe is the largest crowd to date in Florida. This show was also promoted much harder locally than they’ve done for the usual shows. They also had a lot of fans from Central Florida who follow the crew to all the house shows. It was also Balor’s 34th birthday, a number, given that he’s worked a hard style for a lot of years, that tells me that he really should be prioritized for the major roster sooner than later. Balor retained the NXT title in the main event pinning Breeze. Samoa Joe beat Dillinger via choke while Bayley won a three-way over Emma and Dana Brooke, and The Vaudevillains won a non-title match over Blake & Murphy.
The Cena vs. Owens crew opened the tour on 7/24 in Bakersfield before 5,000 fans. They also drew one of the best house show crowds in months with 10,000 fans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on 7/25. The same crew ran in Lawton, OK on 7/26 and drew 2,500, but without Cena, using Sheamus vs. Orton as the main event. The other crew headlined by Rollins vs. Ambrose started 7/25 in Odessa, TX, before a nearly sold out house of 4,000 fans and 7/26 in Amarillo drew 3,500.
Bakersfield opened with the Prime Time Players retaining the tag titles over Woods & Big E with the Clash of the Titus on Woods. The Miz pinned Fandango in 2:00 with the skull crushing finale after a thumb to the eye. After the match, Miz was calling Ryback a coward for not showing up and ended up getting into it with a local Bakersfield Condors hockey team mascot. This led to Show coming out as a babyface and knocking Miz out. Axel & Sandow, as themselves (Axel had to shave his facial hair and work in regular clothes since he was supposed to use his Hogan gear all weekend) beat Rose & Maddox. Both did their own moves and came out to their old ring music. Sandow pinned Maddox. The crowd was into Sandow but not so much Axel. Orton pinned Sheamus in an almost duplicate of their Battleground match, using the RKO. Harper pinned Jimmy Uso using a discus clothesline. Nikki Bella & Fox beat Naomi & Banks when Nikki pinned Naomi after the rack attack in a solidly worked match. Cesaro beat Kingston with the giant swing and sharpshooter. Woods & Big E interfered several times during the match. Main event was Cena over Owens in a street fight to retain the U.S. title. They used tables, chairs and ring steps. A funny spot was that Owens cut a promo in the middle of the match when Cena was selling, about how WWE is shoving Cena down people’s throats. This was a total pro-Cena crowd. He then went to a five-year-old and asked him if he was tired of Cena, the kid said, “Yes,” although given that the kid was wearing an Owens T-shirt, that probably wasn’t a surprise. Then he went to a young girl wearing a Cena shirt and asked the same question, and she yelled, “No.” Owens then told her father that he’s failing as a parent. Cena escaped the pop up power bomb and hit the Attitude Adjustment through a table for the win.
Los Angeles was the same show. The New Day talked about how the Clippers suck and the Lakers suck and sang “We are the champions” badly on purpose. Miz and Fandango went longer (8:50) than the previous night although they did the same finish. After the match, Miz said that he was a better actor than Joe Manganiello, who was at the show. Manganiello was also at the last PWG show (not this past weekend but the one before that, with girlfriend Sofia Vergara, although we didn’t hear that Vergara came to the WWE show). Show came out and knocked Miz out again. Maddox came out and talked about being in San Diego for the cheap heat. Axel pinned Rose with a facelock into a DDT. Cesaro did a 35 rep giant swing on Kingston before the finish. Cena pinned Owens in 27:38. Each kicked out of the others’ finish before the Attitude Adjustment through the table. The crowd in Bakersfield was almost entirely pro-Cena, but here it was closer to 80 percent.
Lawton, OK, was the same show as Los Angeles except Cena wasn’t on the show (he was never advertised as it was a small building they were running). The only change is that Owens worked with Cesaro, and Kingston didn’t work the show past being in the New Day corner in the tag title match. Cesaro beat Owens via walk-out count out. After the match, Owens tried to jump Cesaro, but Cesaro made a comeback and used the giant swing. Owens rolled out of the ring and left. Orton vs. Sheamus was put in the main event spot and they did the street fight with the weapons, ending with Orton winning via RKO.
Odessa opened with Neville pinning Stardust with the red arrow. The Ascension then cut a promo about how Odessa was a dump and they were going to take a new team to the Wasteland. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady came out for their first WWE house show match. Almost nobody knew who they were but they were cheered since set up to be faces. Amore pinned Viktor after the rocket launcher. Paige beat Layla with Rampage. R-Truth pinned Barrett with a roll-up. Wyatt pinned Henry in a rare heel who doesn’t hold a title belt win at a house show. Slow match that wasn’t very good. Wyatt won with Sister Abigail. He went for a second one after the match, but Henry blocked it and turned it into a World’s Strongest Slam. The Lucha Dragons, who got a big response in Texas, teamed with Ryder to beat Los Matadores & Dallas. Rusev beat Swagger with the Accolade. Lana attacked Summer Rae during this match. Main event saw Rollins retain the title over Ambrose in a street fight when Wyatt interfered, using Sister Abigail. Ambrose kicked out of both a Pedigree and a power bomb through a table. Ambrose had put Rollins through a table with the elbow when Wyatt interfered. After the match, Ambrose laid out Wyatt with Dirty deeds.
Amarillo was mostly the same show. Enzo & Cass came out and were called “SAWFT” as the name of their team. Carmella was with them and she interfered, tripping Viktor before the finish.