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August 14, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Takayama paralyzed, WWE financials examined, tons more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 August 14, 2017

 

NJPW G-1 IN OSAKA POLL RESULTS

Thumbs up 99 (100.0%)

Thumbs down 0 (00.0%)

In the middle 0 (00.0%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Evil vs. Kazuchika Okada 91

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Toru Yano vs. Tama Tonga 31

Fale & Yujiro vs. Tenzan & Oka 16

Chase Owens vs. Katsuya Kitamura 10

Based on e-mails and phone calls to the Observer as of Tuesday, 8/8.

 

In news that has been kept secretive in Japan until the past week, Yoshihiro Takayama, 50, one of the biggest names in Japanese pro wrestling and MMA circles of the past two decades, has been paralyzed from the neck down for the past three months.

Takayama’s injury, described a cervical spinal cord injury due to degenerative cervical spondytosis, took place at a 5/4 match in Osaka for the DDT promotion where, after going for a simple sunset flip in his match with Yasu Urano, he landed on his head and was motionless. The match, which he was supposed to win to set up a challenge for the KO-D singles belt, the top title in the promotion, was stopped immediately and he was rushed to the hospital.

It was only said at the time that he would be out of action for some time and that he and Danshoku Dino would have to vacate their tag team titles.

When Kazushi Sakuraba was in Las Vegas and accepted his UFC Hall of Fame induction, Sakuraba asked that a prayer for Takayama be included in his speech three weeks ago. Sakuraba, who broke into pro wrestling a couple of years after Takayama with the old UWFI promotion, didn’t elaborate on the extent of the injuries, but it was clear the situation was serious.

While it was a basic move that caused it, the belief is that all the years of punishment from a very hard style of pro wrestling, and from fighting, had led to the degenerative spine issues.

Takayama has remained in an Osaka hospital since the match. His wife got an apartment in Osaka to take care of him. His son, Yoshihiro Takayama Jr., has been in Osaka all summer also helping out during school vacation, and is thinking of moving there permanently as well.

Takayama has remained bedridden, and has not even been able to be transferred to a wheelchair.

Those in Japan have noted that one of the reasons the news was kept quiet in the country is because of the amount of respect people have for him.

“He is a real good man and a very special human being,” noted one person who was among those familiar with his condition.

Sakuraba and others who started with him are starting to work on fund raisers.

Takayama had a 25-year career in pro wrestling, best known for his Pride fight with Don Frye, which is considered by many as the single greatest brawl in MMA history. He was already a pro wrestling headliner before the fight, and even though he lost, the fight took him to a new level. He is one of only two men in history to have held the three major singles titles in modern Japanese wrestling history, the IWGP heavyweight, the Triple Crown and the GHC heavyweight (the other being Kensuke Sasaki).

As a free agent, he had great pro wrestling matches with the top stars of several different promotions and in 2003 was named MVP of pro wrestling by Tokyo Sports. The prior year, he had placed second in the same voting to Bob Sapp, which, three weeks after the results were announced, led to a New Year’s Eve MMA fight between the top two place winners of Japan’s biggest pro wrestler of the year award, on New Year’s Eve at the Saitama Super Arena, which Sapp won via armbar in 2:10.

Takayama was very well remembered for his unique size and look. He was 6-foot-5 1/4, tall for a Japanese athlete, and his weight varied from 260 to probably around 300 pounds with a large belly. He always had bleached blonde hair and a face that showed bruises easily, which helped get over the brutality of both his fights and wrestling matches.

He was not a good fighter at all, in fact he never won a legit fight, and not really a smooth pro wrestler either, but he had the ability with his face, size, taking punishment and the way he carried himself, to get fans into his matches and have a true superstar aura.

He also improved rapidly as a performer. Takayama started his career in 1992 with the UWFI. He was notable because he was so much bigger than the other Japanese wrestlers in the promotion, but was not at all smooth in the ring nor a good wrestler. In 1995 and 1996, as the UWFI started having financial issues, he joined with Yoji Anjo and Kenichi Yamamoto to form a heel stable called The Golden Cups in New Japan and later WAR. Later they became a masked trio called the 200% Machines, a spoof on a generation earlier when Andre the Giant & Bill Eadie formed the masked tag team of Giant Machine & Super Machine, and they were popular enough that they even performed as a pop band and released an album.

When UWFI, and then its lower-profile successor group, Kingdom, collapsed, Giant Baba signed Takayama, largely because of his size. All Japan had the best main events and pro wrestlers in the world during that era, like Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, Vader, Toshiaki Kawada and others, and put him in a group with Gary Albright and Takao Omori as the Triangle of Power. Takayama at first stood out in a negative way, as probably the worst wrestler on the roster. But he found himself and had one of the greatest career improvements in history, from a genuine bottom level worker to someone who had great matches often. By 1999, his tag team with Omori, called No Fear, was one of the most popular teams in Japan, both with All Japan and later he left All Japan for Pro Wrestling NOAH.

Because of his pro wrestling stardom, size and background in UWFI, where everyone was trained in shooting, he was recruited by Pride for a high profile battle of pro wrestlers on May 27, 2001, at the Yokohama Arena against Kazuyuki Fujita, a national amateur wrestling champion who had been recruited by New Japan Pro Wrestling and at the time was a prelim wrestler. While Takayama, a main eventer, lost to the prelim wrestler in the shoot, his MMA losses unlike with others, because of the excitement of the matches, only served to make him a bigger star with his unique look. He did television commercials and was one of the most recognizable pro wrestlers and fighters of the time.

The fight with Frye was on June 23, 2002, at the Saitama Super Arena, where the two went out and just pummeled each other with punches for six minutes straight until Takayama finally went down. To this day, the pro wrestling spot popularized in Japan and later used on indie shots and for a while in WWE (Kevin Owens has done it frequently in his matches) where the stand and throw windmill punches with your opponent at the same time has been known as the “Frye-Takayama spot.” Not only did it win almost every Fight of the Year award, every super brawl in a UFC fight for more than a decade was always compared to Frye vs. Takayama.

In years past, at the UFC Fan Expo’s, it was the only fight that when put on the screens at the expo, would, after about 30 seconds, result in most people stopping what they were doing and becoming enthralled with it. In the movie “Here Comes the Boom,” where Kevin James played a school teacher trying to earn money for the school by fighting in UFC, when his fight turned into a crazy brawl, Joe Rogan, playing himself, compared it to the legendary Frye/Takayama fight. While there were bigger fights, such as Fedor Emelianenko vs. Mirko Cro Cop as far as significance to the sport, in Japan, Frye vs. Takayama is probably the second most famous Pride fight in history, behind only Royce Gracie vs. Sakuraba. In 2005, a movie called “Nagurimono: Love and Kill,” was released in Japan by Dream Stage Pictures (essentially the attempt by Pride to do what WWE Films has attempted to do), set in the 1860s, using a lot of Pride fighters, including a movie fight scene with Frye and Takayama that attempted to duplicate their fight. He had minor parts in six other movies.

In 2002, he had both the MMA Fight of the Year with Frye, as well as winning the media voted Tokyo Sports pro wrestling match of the year in an IWGP title match with Yuji Nagata, and placed second to Sapp, whose mainstream popularity was unprecedented for almost any foreigner, in the MVP balloting.

After his loss to Sapp on the highly rated 2002 New Year’s Eve special, due to medical issues from his beatings in the Frye, Semmy Schilt and Fujita fights in particular, Takayama was no longer allowed to fight in MMA. While it is listed that Takayama had a 1-4 MMA record, that wouldn’t include legitimate shoots such as a loss to Kimo Leopoldo when he was in UWFI, and for some reason includes a 2013 win in a pro wrestling match with Hikaru Sato on a U-Spirit show, a UWFI remake show, which was obviously a pro wrestling match.

He continued to be a major pro wrestling star, often teaming with Minoru Suzuki as an independent tag team that would go from promotion to promotion. The two were IWGP tag team champions, having won the titles from Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Osamu Nishimura on February 1, 2004, when he suffered a stroke after a controversial match in the G-1 Climax tournament with Sasaki.

The level of brutality in that match is far beyond even what was done during the hardest style of 1990s All Japan, or anything done today.

While out of action, Takayama delivered the memorable line while announcing a July 18, 2005, match at the Tokyo Dome between Sasaki and Kobashi, as the two were exchanging chops for two minutes while the sellout crowd was going crazy, saying “I hope this never ends.”

Takayama returned after being out of action for nearly two years later, on a July 16, 2006, show at Budokan Hall, teaming with Sasaki against Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama before a sellout of 16,500 fans. Sasaki was a late replacement for Kobashi, who was diagnosed shortly before the match with kidney cancer. The idea was that Takayama would return by teaming with Kobashi, who he had many famous encounters with including a classic Budokan Hall tile match. But when that wasn’t possible, Sasaki, the wrestler he faced in the brutal match that likely caused the stroke, was made his tag team partner. Akiyama pinned Takayama with the mentality that a wrestler, in his first match back after a stroke, should do the job when put in with the top active stars at the time.

The stroke somewhat changed his facial features, and mostly worked comedy matches, although he did get some big matches because of his name value . He was no longer a great worker, although he was part of the December 2, 2007 Tokyo Sports match of the year, teaming with Kobashi against Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama. But that was more because it was Kobashi’s return after kidney cancer that generated incredible interest and emotion in Japan for that reason as opposed to the type of match that people today would view as a match of the year. Kobashi was pinned, with the idea that in reality Kobashi shouldn’t have been able to return from cancer and hang with this level of company, at 27:07 before an overstuffed Budokan Hall with standing room everywhere and 19,000 fans, the largest crowd for any entertainment event in the history of the arena.

The match did get over and people viewed it as Takayama, Kobashi and Misawa, all past their primes due to the accumulation of injuries and all three probably should have already ended all of their careers previously. But instead, they were in a high-profile Budokan Hall record breaking main event and generating incredible emotion.

But all three are cautionary tales. Japanese pro wrestling did tone down, cutting way back and frowning on the head dropping in the wake of all the injuries and the later death of Misawa. Kobashi’s early retirement was due more to knee problems from doing so much, and then elbow problems from delivering so many hard chops to compensate for limitations later in his career, although the cancer may not have been punishment and injury related.

In pro wrestling, Takayama was willing to take ridiculous head punishment, because his face bruised easily and thus it made for a more dramatic and realistic presentation. In fighting, he also took similar punishment because he was not a good fighter, and had limited defense, but was incredibly tough and could take it. This came during an era where people didn’t know just how damaging repeated hard head blows were, and thankfully, while there are more high risk spots done, the type of punishment to the head that Takayama took regularly in his big matches is not repeated today.

Some may want to dismiss all this, noting that he landed on his head messing up a simple sunset flip spot. But it’s hard to believe that all the previous punishment didn’t play a major effect in what happened.


World Wrestling Entertainment has become more and more vague when it comes to financial information, with ups and down in different categories, business is stable even if profits are nowhere close to what the company projected when starting the WWE Network.

For the second quarter of 2017, WWE grossed $214,586,000 and posted a $5,085,000 profit. That’s better then the same quarter in 2016, which grossed $198,994,000 and posted an $862,000 profit, even with a bigger grossing WrestleMania.

But for the year to date, profits are down, not up. The six month figures are $403,030,000 in total revenue and $5,973,000 in profits. During the first six months of 2016, revenue was $370,094,000, but profits were $14,747,000.

With dividends paid of $18,349,000 in 2017, they are still paying out well more than total profits.

Television remains the company’s key revenue stream. And while the WWE Network was profitable in quarter two, which is wasn’t during the WrestleMania quarter last year, the subscriber number at the end of the second quarter second was disappointing.

What has become an interesting pattern is that the lower the television ratings are, the better the network seems to perform. That goes against most expectations, with the idea that television viewer numbers are key in driving people to the network.

In recent months, when ratings have gone up, the network performance has been disappointing.

The day after WrestleMania in 2016, the WWE Network had 1,454,000 paid subscribers, broken down as 1,109,000 in the United States and 345,000 outside the United States. There were also 281,000 in the U.S. and 89,000 outside the U.S. getting it for free, with WWE heavily pushing the idea of WrestleMania free.

The day after WrestleMania in 2017, the WWE Network had 1,661,000 paid subscribers, broken down as 1,237,000 in the United States and 424,000 outside the United States. There were also 215,000 in the U.S. and 73,000 outside the U.S. who were getting WrestleMania for free on that day.

On 6/30, the WWE network had 1,567,900 subscribers, broken down as 1,157,800 in the U.S. and 410,100 outside the U.S. There were also 65,000 getting the network on that day based on a free gimmick offer. On June 30, 2016, those numbers were 1,510,600 total; 1,129,900 in the U.S. and 380,700 outside the U.S.

The idea is that a large percentage of those 370,000 free subscriptions and 288,000 this year would convert to being paid subscribers during April or early May, when their free tenure expired.

The idea was sacrificing the big growth from Mania week for even bigger growth by letting people get Mania for free. In the end, it didn’t work as well.

In the period from December 31, 2014, through June 30, 2015, using the end totals, with no free WrestleMania gimmick, there was a net gain of 167,000 paid subscribers over the first six months in the U.S. and 173,000 outside the U.S. Part of that was opening up new markets, so really the only fair comparison number should be the U.S. number.

In the period of December 31, 2015, through June 30, 2016, the first year WrestleMania was free, there was a net gain of 147,000 paid subscribers in the U.S. and 92,000 outside the U.S.

In the period from December 31, 2016, through June 30, 2017, with all of the three months free promotions around and WWE doing everything it could to get people to watch for free so they would then convert to paying subscribers, the six month net growth was 76,000 in the U.S. and 19,000 outside the U.S.

They are projecting a slight decline in network subscribers with a 1,540,000 average for quarter three. Last year, the 6/30 number followed with a decline of the average (not final) number for next quarter of 53,000. So they are expecting to do better this year with a 28,000 decline.

They are still up from the same period one year ago, and by cutting costs of new programming, the network division is more profitable than it was a year ago, but far less profitable than it was two years ago when people were getting the network but also a far larger number were still ordering via traditional PPV, which is far more profitable because of less expenses and expenses being carried by the PPV providers.

To give an example, the profit margin for UFC for a Demetrious Johnson PPV show, which is rock bottom, would be about $2.2 million, or nearly what the WWE Network and PPV division combined profited over the three months from April through June, which included WrestleMania. For a Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz PPV, the profit would be about $34 million. So when people argue that the total revenue for the network is greater than the old PPV business, and it is, that’s a terribly misleading statement, and also doesn’t factor in declines in businesses like home video, the elimination of WWE 24/7 and the elimination of iPPV, which has become a major revenue stream for UFC.

The reason UFC profits so greatly outdistance WWE profits is related to UFC’s PPV business. There is the argument that WWE is ahead of the curve and PPV is dying, but aside from low end shows doing worse, the trend is still for high end shows to do better, and PPV is generally becoming more profitable at the same time the WWE Network has plateaued. Now granted, this year, UFC’s PPV business is way down, but profits on the Jones vs. Cormier fight alone look to be in excess of $19 million and UFC will take in an estimated $40 million (that’s not a profit figure, that’s a total revenue figure) off Mayweather vs. McGregor, so even in what has been considered a terrible year, the difference is still remarkable.

Looking at the network even closer, over the first six months of 2015, there were 1,132,000 people who signed and paid as new subscribers to the network. Keep in mind that many of these people are counted more than once, as if you canceled and then signed up, you are counted as many times as he signed up. The total cancellations, a figure also that could be counted more than once, during that period was 455,000.

In 2016, there were 1,123,000 people who signed up over the first six months as new paid subscribers, many converting from free. Of those, 829,000 canceled.

In 2017, there were 1,135,000 people who signed up for the network over the first six months of the year as new paid subscribers. But of those 970,000 canceled.

It is not that people didn’t seem up this year for WrestleMania, or converted, but the key is that 603,800 people canceled their subscriptions from April to June of this year as compared to 471,000 the year before, when you had similar numbers of new subscribers.

The unanswered and key question is what caused that difference, particularly when first quarter pre-WrestleMania cancellations were almost identical in 2016 and 2017, being 358,000 and 366,000.

There was something, and there is no easy answer, that happened after WrestleMania, and before 6/30, that caused far more people to cancel the network than any time previously.

When Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios was asked about the second quarter cancellations, he said, “I hate to draw too many conclusions, but the Q2 churn as a percentage tends to be the highest, because you are dealing with a significant influx of new subscribers because of WrestleMania, so that’s been the math.”

That doesn’t answer why the Q2 difference this year was so much different from last year, when paid subscribers grew 154,000 as opposed to losing 6,000. It is true that every year more people cancel is Q2 than any other time period, but this year had less adds (598,000 this year compared to 625,000 last year), and far more cancellations.

It also should be noted that WWE presented five PPV shows during the three months this year, as compared to four last year, so in a sense the value of the network should have been higher since the live PPVs are the main driver.

Total revenue from traditional PPV was $5.8 million for five events including WrestleMania, compared to $5.9 million last year for four events including WrestleMania.

The free one month last year led to 21,000 new paid U.S. subscribers and 36,000 outside the U.S. gaining from free converting to paid.

This year, those same numbers are a loss of 79,000 U.S. subscribers and a loss of 14,000 outside the U.S. during the period when the three free months ended and should have converted free subscribers to paid.

So the key is both that people who had paid subscriptions canceled at a higher rate than ever before, but also that the free subscribers converted to paid subscribers at a far lower rate than before.

On 6/30, there were 65,000 people getting the network for free based on various offers. On the same date last year, that number was 49,000. In 2015, when the free month gimmick was fresher, that figure was 71,000.

As far as actual cash and cash equivalents on hand, the company went from $270,683,000 to about $260 million.

Barrios expected third quarter OIBDA to be between $31 million and $35 million and fourth quarter of $28 million to $32 million. He figured that was based on continued revenue growth over last year. As noted last week, there is cost-cutting throughout the company to reach those goals.

Much of the investors call talked about social media numbers, 9.1 million digital views and 800 million social media followers, up 18 percent and 19 percent from the same period last year. But those increases don’t seem to have any correlation with attendance, profits, ratings, network subscriptions or much of anything else, given that the revenue increases are almost all related to contractual increases in television rights fees, and that’s getting more money even with some U.S. declines in viewership and gigantic U.K. declines.

The Bella Twins Youtube channel increased from about 500,000 to 750,000 subscribers.

They are also working with NBC Universal to co-partner for a Snapchat series that will debut later this year.

A major positive is also an increase of 25 percent in sponsorship revenue globally over the first six months of the year, with key deals with KFC, Nestle, AT&T, Psyonix, Square Enix and Activision.

But Vince McMahon has gone from saying that live attendance as the key barometer to looking at social media numbers, which don’t correlate with anything (mine have grown 1360 percent over the past few years and I don’t even take that seriously, and I promise, business hasn’t grown anywhere near 1360 percent).

They touted how this year’s WrestleMania had five million interactions on Facebook and Twitter, making it the most social WrestleMania in history, but it also drove the least revenue overall of any WrestleMania in probably 17 or so years.

He used those increases to say “I think there is a tremendous indication in the overall interest in our product. That’s always been one of my big barometers.”

He also talked up the Mae Young Classic.

“The Mae Young Classic is really an opportunity to bring up young female performers, which is very, is vital actually to our overall product,” he said. “Many of the quarter hours you see in television reflect our women superstars. So this is an opportunity, obviously, to grow that base, which we haven’t done all that well in the past.”

Here is a breakdown of what percentage of revenues in the second quarter came from what part of the world, and how those numbers have changed in recent years.

 

  2017 2016 2015 2014
North America 74.3% 75.3% 71.5% 78.9%
Europe/Middle East/Africa 17.1% 18.2% 20.5% 14.9%
Asia/Pacific 7.2% 5.6% 7.0% 5.3%
Latin America 1.4% 0.9% 1.0% 0.9%

 

Here is a chart of actual profits by division for the second quarter as compared with the last few years, with the figures being in millions.

Total revenue in the U.S. and Canada increased from $149,761,000 last year during the quarter to $159,409,000. U.K. revenue, listed as part of Europe, Middle East and Africa, was $24,000,000 last year during the second quarter and $23,032,000 this year, so a slight decline. Revenue in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, factoring out the U.K., increased from $12,142,000 last year to $13,588,000, some of which would be new WWE Network revenue in those markets.

The big question regards India, since WWE focused so much effort on it. WWE did get a new television show in India. The total revenue from Asia Pacific, which would be India, South Korea and Japan primarily, increased from $11,245,000 to $15,542,000.

 

  2017 2016 2015 2014
Live events (tickets & merch) $24.12 $27.05 $8.62 $18.09
Network/PPV $3.00 -$5.67 $17.26 -$7.35
Television $31.82 $27.20 $21.21 $11.73
Licensing $4.46 $3.95 $6.40 $1.47
Home video $0.91 $0.94 $0.54 $2.86
Web business $1.49 $0.18 -$0.84 -$0.84
WWE Shop $2.14 $1.57 $1.43 $1.02
WWE Studios -$0.72 $0.44 -$0.03 -$0.23

 

The key comparisons is that the low live event profit number in 2015 is because WrestleMania was in March that year, so all of the Mania events figured into first quarter profits.

The decline in live events profits had to do with greater spending on activities related to WrestleMania. Among the reasons we were told that profits overall were down for the first six months from this year as compared to last year were the expenses related in production for the Royal Rumble being so much higher running a stadium, and that the production for WrestleMania and the other activities related to WrestleMania were much higher this year.

Including WrestleMania, the live event profits this year are broken down as $20 million from the events themselves, $1.6 million from travel packages and $2.5 million from merchandise sales. Last year, with the bigger attended WrestleMania, those numbers were $21.9 million from the live events, $1.5 million from travel packages and $3.7 million from merchandise.

In the past, WWE would give more detailed information where you could factor out WrestleMania profits on their own, and the non-WrestleMania house shows on their own, but they didn’t do that this year. Last year, based on those figures, WrestleMania activities were a slight money loser, but that’s misleading because it doesn’t figure in the increase in network business that WrestleMania drives.

Barrios also noted an increase in revenue spent on event production, largely WrestleMania week shows, and advertising costs during the quarter, which is another reason the house show profits declined slightly.

The network division overall grossed $54.9 million in the first quarter, which was $49.1 million from network subscriptions and $5.8 million from PPV. Last year’s numbers were $51.8 million total from $45.9 million in network subscriptions and $5.9 million from PPV.

The increase from $45.9 million to $49.1 million, an increase of seven percent total, has to do with more subscribers in April for WrestleMania, before the numbers leveled off to where the increase on 6/30 was 3.8 percent from the same day the prior year.

The increase in network profits overall from the prior year had to do with producing less original content, notably $6.4 million less in network spending this quarter for original content, made up by costs of shows such as Camp WWE and the second season of Swerved that didn’t have an equivalent this year.

Television revenue based on all the various contracts around the world was $66.2 million this year in the second quarter, up from $56.1 million last year,. As noted, this number is contractually based and goes up every year, and is the key reason the company has remained profitable. Every major sports franchise is reliant upon this, and that’s why all sports franchises are way up in revenue. But this is the first time the television industry is facing a challenge, and whether or not streaming services will pay for sports or sports related content and bid against television remains to be seen.

Of that increase, $5.2 million of it was contract escalators in the U.S., around the world, or new deals for Raw, Smackdown and compilation shows. There were also six episodes in the quarter of Total Divas as compared to three the previous year. WWE is paid roughly $933,000 per episode of Total Divas, and spends about $867,000 per episode to produce the show, so the show is profitable, but the profit margin isn’t huge.

Raw ratings were down 11.9 percent for the quarter from the prior year, but if you include DVR viewership, you get the decline to 9.1 percent. Smackdown, and this is comparing the taped Thursday night show to a live Tuesday night show, the rating was up 8.8 percent for live viewing and factoring in DVR viewership, the increase is 11.6 percent. The USA Network year-to-year was up 1.7 percent, not down, and that factors the decline of Raw, its most popular show, taking down three prime time hours, so the non-wrestling increase is likely higher.

Factoring out Raw & Smackdown, USA was up 2.8 percent for the year in live viewing and if you include DVR viewing, USA minus Raw & Smackdown was up 5.3 percent.

The top 25 cable networks average rating during the same period was down four percent from the same period last year not factoring in DVR viewership. Factoring that in, it’s probably an even smaller decline.

So if Raw declined four percent in live ratings, it would be following the trend of television as a whole. People using the people don’t watch TV as much argument, that accounts for four percent of the 11.9 percent rate of decline. The rest has to do with product factors.

Home Entertainment total quarter revenue was $3.0 million, down slightly from $3.1 million the year before.

Total units shipped of DVDs and Blu Rays fell from 417,200 to 319,400. There were far more units returned during the quarter last year and the average price per unit sold also increased by four percent this year.

Total revenue from all digital media rose from $6.5 million to $8.1 million. That was based mostly on increases in advertising revenue from all forms of digital.

Live event business increased from $49.3 million for the quarter to $50.1 million. There are a lot of differences to factor in. There were 92 shows this quarter instead of 81. However, WrestleMania, being in a smaller stadium, grossed $2.2 million less this year. But that was made up for by $100,000 more in travel package revenue ($2.6 million to $2.7 million), $1.0 million more from four more North American live events, $800,000 more from seven more overseas events (even though the overseas average attendance dropped) and $1.3 million more due to charging higher ticket prices for overseas shows.

Total attendance for the quarter was 586,300 on 92 shows (6,373 per show, which includes WrestleMania and four other PPV shows) compared to 563,200 and 81 shows (6,953 per show, factoring in the larger attended WrestleMania and three other PPV shows).

The 66 North American shows including WrestleMania generated $37.3 million. The 26 shows outside North America generated $12.8 million.

The average attendance was 6,400 for North America and 6,300 for international, as compared to 6,600 for North America and 8,000 international last year. But factoring out WrestleMania, the North American average was up from 5,400 to 5,500 per show.

For overseas shows, the 26 events averaged 6,300 tickets sold and $458,325. Last year there were 19 events overseas for the quarter, averaging 8,000 tickets sold and $519,840.

The increase has a lot of different variables. Actual house shows were down. But there was one more PPV event this quarter, and the Tuesday Smackdown shows greatly outdraw what they did a year ago when Smackdown was a lower priority show, so that makes up the difference from a decline from the actual house shows themselves.

Based on more info than last week, where we got a range for WrestleMania attendance that appeared to be 64,900, factoring in more numbers the actual figure looks to be closer to 61,000. Using the same methodology for last year’s show, you get 80,600 in attendance at AT&T Stadium, almost identical to the Arlington Police reporting the show at 80,709 (the year WWE announced 101,763). So the WrestleMania “mark up” dropped from 21,000 last year to 14,000 this year.

Because of WrestleMania, the average ticket price for a North American show was $77.69 this quarter as compared to $81.66 last year, again because of how the nearly 21,000 more tickets sold factored in.

For the quarter, NXT did 51 live events, drawing 52,100 fans, or 1,021 per show with an average ticket price of $43.54. Last year there were 53 events drawing 56,200 or 1,060 per show, but with an average ticket price of $25.26.

But that’s also a misleading figure because the Takeover shows skew the average. Taking out Takeover shows the average was 655 fans this quarter as compared to 917 last year, or a real house show decline of 28.6 percent. The average ticket price increase is also because they could jack up prices at a larger venue for WrestleMania this year in Orlando, as well as a live event Chicago’s All-State Arena as compared to a comparable show that drew 400 fans at Full Sail University.

NXT expenses for the quarter appear to have been up. NXT revenues and costs are not broken down, but the category of costs of the Performance Center and NXT along with expenses related to talent appearances and talent support was listed at $6.1 million in expenses for the quarter, up from $5.6 million in the same category last year (for the first six months of the year the numbers were $12.6 million this year and $10.0 million last year).

NXT ticket revenue was $2.27 million this year as compared to $1.42 million during the same period last year, with the difference being the larger venue in Orlando as compared to Dallas and the difference of the show at the All-State Arena in Chicago as compared to Full Sail.

Total licensing revenue increased from $9.0 million to $9.4 million. The major increase was due to increased revenue from the mobile video game WWE SuperCard.

Venue merchandise declined from $8.7 million to $6.8 million. That’s even with the larger attendance and more shows in the quarter.

WrestleMania week merchandise sales was $3.9 million last year and $2.3 million this year, which accounts for most of the decline. Based on 80,709 attendance, that would be $48.32 per head last year and $37.70 per head this year.

Including WrestleMania, the per person merchandise spending fell from $13.29 per show for the quarter to $10.34

Factoring out WrestleMania, the company averaged $8.57 per head in merchandise spending this quarter, which is a very low number. Last year, factoring out WrestleMania, it was $11.73 per head.

WWE Shop averaged 1,960 orders per day and grossed $8.4 million, with the average order being $45.98. Last year’s average was 1,853 orders per day at $44.40.

WWE Studios revenue for the quarter increased from $3.2 million to $3.5 million, but the profit margin went from $440,000 in profits last year in the quarter to $720,000 in losses.

The company’s percentage of ownership of Tapout resulted in $125,000 in losses for the quarter.

When asked about the future of the U.K. brand, Barrios really didn’t answer it past saying they are looking to create more localized content all over the world.


Unlike in past year’s when you’d almost need advanced calculus to figure out all the possibilities for the G-1 finals going into the last three nights, this year it was booked simple and predictable. There is no confusion or deep thinking or plotting needed to look at the possibilities. And there is no question who the company is still looking at as its big four.

The A block finals on 8/11 at Sumo Hall have Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito, who go into the final night of the block with 6-2 records. Whoever wins that match, goes to the finals. If they go to a draw, they would either do a sudden death overtime or have a rematch on 8/13 and the winner would have to work twice.

The B block finals on 8/12 at Sumo Hall has Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada III in a series that will define a year as far as influential and talked about matches like few series in pro wrestling history ever have. Because Okada goes into the last night with a 6-1-1 record, while Omega is 6-2, if they do a 30:00 draw, Okada goes to the finals. So the storyline is that Omega has to beat Okada in 30:00, and in their two previous matches, an Okada win and a time limit draw, they went 46:45 and 60:00.

Most predictions for the G-1 from when the brackets were announced figured on a Naito vs. Omega final, with Naito getting revenge for Omega knocking him out of contention next year, and leading to Okada vs. Naito as the Tokyo Dome main event. Last year the betting line was on Naito winning G-1 and facing Okada in the main event. Instead they went with Omega, and that G-1 win combined with the Tokyo Dome main event match are what put Omega at the level he’s gotten, elevating both he and Okada on both the Japanese and worldwide stage.

There are a number of themes in this year’s tournament. While banged up bodies and the arduous schedule definitely took its toll this week, with three days left there have been 29 **** matches and so many near-***** that there isn’t even close to a consensus for the best match (my two picks at this point would be Michael Elgin vs. Omega and Minoru Suzuki vs. Okada, but there are many to choose from).

But that’s also a negative. Competition drives quality, but in hard-driven athletes, competition leads to taking more chances and risks in order to set new standards. If you go back to 2014, the Suzuki vs. A.J. Styles match, not only the best of that tournament but that year’s Match of the Year winner, would still be top ten in this tournament, but would not crack the top five. But because of that, when watching beaten up guys fighting through pain and injuries to try and compete with these new standards, you wonder if it’s worth it.

This year’s G-1 has been the most successful from a business standpoint since the glory days. Actually, with the higher prices and the 19-show tour, it will gross more, actually by far, than any G-1 in history. So the format, and the legacy the tournament has set, both from the 90s and in particular over the last five years, is a business winner.

But even the talent is questioning this format. A few years ago, both for the preservation of the species and a way to generate more money, the tour went from ten to 12 shows to 19 shows. The ten-show format was great for the live crowd as they’d get eight to ten tournament matches per night and the highest quality of shows possible. But it also limited the time of the matches and there was little in the way of breaks, as there was a singles match almost every night. Now, you have more shows, but you only have a singles match every other show. At first, the feeling was that this was better, as there was more time to heal up between singles matches, and you could coast on tag team day, do a few things, do some high spot teases and shoot your angle with your opponent at the end.

But the feeling now is that it may not have been for the best. It was noted you are still taking bumps in the tag matches, it’s still 19 matches over 27 days and a much longer tour and tougher travel schedule. You also have to hold your conditioning peak longer, and the tournament is still back-loaded to where the matches with the highest of expectations still take place toward the end, meaning when you’re hurt the most.

Everyone is hurt. Nobody has missed one match. Many are keeping their injuries secret. Tanahashi is working through a right biceps tear. Naito has a right shoulder problem, that got bad with matches with Zack Sabre Jr. and Togi Makabe, the latter where, in it playing no part of the match, he was clearly in a lot of pain. He’s said to be a little better going into the Tanahashi match, and potential final match with Okada or Omega. But he’s likely got his two hardest bouts to come. Yuji Nagata, at 49, the oldest wrestler in the tournament and perhaps the best, was physically wearing down and has back issues. Tomohiro Ishii has a knee issue. Okada may or may not have a neck issue, but in his match with Suzuki, worked like a guy completely banged up and his neck was taped, although it also played into the match. Omega’s neck had stiffened up, and there was a scary moment in his match with Seiya Sanada where he landed almost on the top of his head on the floor when Sanada was out of a position to catch him on a moonsault block on the guard rail. But while it clearly banged him up at the time, apparently he was fine from it after. Evil was knocked silly at least once, if not twice.

The question becomes is the physical toll worth the accolades and financial gain of having the annual moniker of the greatest tournament in pro wrestling history having its standards raised each year?

My thought is that next year, change it to a 24-man tournament but making it four blocks instead of two. You don’t get as many dream matches, but you can still do the 19 shows, just with generally three tournament matches per show instead of five. It’s still going to be tough, the same travel, just four more low pressure tag matches and four less high expectation singles matches for each competitor, who would end up doing five singles matches (the block winners would go to the semifinals, and those winners would meet in the finals, so the top two would end up with seven matches instead of ten). Also, it inherently puts greater value on those five matches. Each win means more and each loss means more. It’s not perfect, as everyone will still be doing the same number of total matches and dates, but they’ll have more time to peak for certain matches as opposed to every other show.

As a fan, the current way is better, but the idea is to keep the G-1 from destroying the bodies of the top stars while maintaining the business level and the aura of G-1, and not having guys banged up all fall recovering.

The last three nights of the tour will have both English and Japanese announcing on New Japan World.

8/11 at Tokyo Sumo Hall at 5:30 a.m. Eastern time (A block): Katsuya Kitamura & Tomoyuki Oka & Hirai Kawato vs. Desperado & Taichi & Suzuki; Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa vs. Bushi & Seiya Sanada; Kojima & Robinson vs. Evil & Hiromu Takahashi; Ray Rowe & Hanson & Elgin & Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet vs. Cody & Hangman Page & Young Bucks & Chase Owens; Nagata vs. Fale; Makabe vs. Yoshi-Hashi; Ishii vs. Sabre Jr; Goto vs. Ibushi; Tanahashi vs. Naito.

8/12 at Tokyo Sumo Hall at 5:30 a.m. Eastern time (B block): Kushida & Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Kawato vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Desperado & Taka Michinoku; Goto & Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Roa & Yujiro Takahashi & Owens; Makabe & Nagata vs. Sabre & Takashi Iizuka; Rowe & Hanson & Taguchi & Ricochet & Kitamura vs. Cody & Page & Young Bucks & Fale; Tanahashi & Ibushi & David Finlay vs. Naito & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi; Elgin vs. Robinson; Tonga vs. Sanada; Suzuki vs. Yano; Kojima vs. Evil; Okada vs. Omega.

8/13 at Tokyo Sumo Hall at 2 a.m. Eastern (finals) or 11 p.m. Pacific late Saturday night: Young Bucks vs. Ricochet & Taguchi for IWGP jr. tag titles; War Machine vs. Cody & Page for IWGP tag titles, Finals.

For the first time since 1999, it looks like there is a shot at three consecutive Sumo Hall sellouts. The first two nights have all tickets sold out at this point, although both nights have been set up for considerably less than the 11,066 total seats. That’s with prices raised. The finals, which usually sell out the first day they are put on sale, were not sold out as of the weekend. There are sumo boxes priced at $764 U.S. (which would seat four people) that were still available as of the weekend, which I believe is double the price those same seats went for last year. But all other prices were sold out.

Going into the final three nights, tournament attendance is up 15.2 percent from last year, which is more impressive than it sounds because many of the arenas last year sold out and you can’t improve on attendance much in a sold out building (you can comp less, which was done in some cases) . Gates are up even more with higher ticket prices in several arenas.

Going into the last three days, with everyone with one final block match remaining, here are the standings:

A BLOCK: 1. Tanahashi and Naito 6-2; 3. Fale and Ibushi 5-3; 5. Goto, Ishii and Sabre Jr. 4-4; 8. Makabe 3-5; 9. Yoshi-Hashi 2-6; 10. Nagata 1-7.

B BLOCK: 1. Okada 6–1-1; 2. Omega 6-2; 3. Evil 5-3; 4. Suzuki, 4-3-1; 5. Sanada and Elgin 4-4; 7. Yano, Tonga and Robinson 3-5; 10. Kojima 1-7.

In the A block, Tanahashi and Naito continued to win, to clinch their top two positions.

In the B block, the 8/6 show in Osaka, which had a disappointing lineup on paper as compared to other years, but did a record gross with the legitimate advanced sellout at higher prices, had the two biggest upsets of the tournament with Robinson pinning Omega and Evil pinning Okada. Both results will almost surely lead to major fall championship matches.

It also opened the door for Evil to perhaps win the block, but on 8/8 in Yokohama, Elgin played spoiler and beat Evil, to mathematically eliminate him.

Regarding the list for future title contenders created, IWGP champion Okada has Evil, who beat him clean. If Omega wins the block, he would also be up for another title shot, but after three singles matches so far this year, I don’t see another one that quickly. IC champion Tanahashi has Ibushi and Sabre, and perhaps Naito. U.S. champion Omega has Robinson and Elgin. Never champion Suzuki has Elgin and Evil (he also lost to Omega, but I can’t see Omega challenging for his title).

Some notes on the 8/2 show in Fukuoka. For star ratings, Seiya Sanada over Juice Robinson (***), Toru Yano over Michael Elgin via DQ (-*, worst match of the tournament), Minoru Suzuki over Satoshi Kojima (***), Kazuchika Okada over Tama Tonga (***1/4) and Kenny Omega over Evil (****).

You could see the physical toll catching up here. Yano vs. Elgin was ridiculous. In a tournament and a promotion where refs never call DQ’s, the first one of the tournament was a phantom call. The entire match went 2:58, with the ref constantly stopping Yano for using a low blow. Then Yano finally snuck in the low blow behind his back, and then went down, like he’d been hit with the low blow and blamed Elgin and it was a DQ call. Worse, the loss eliminated Elgin from the tournament. It does make sense to do an Elgin vs. Yano program, but I doubt anyone would be clamoring for that.

In Okada vs. Tonga, Tonga did the rainmaker pose and called himself the snowmaker.

Omega vs. Evil was one of the most controversial matches of the tour. The match was one of those all out Omega physical performances that you worry about because you just can’t do them so much in such a short period of time. He did a double foot stomp off the apron on a table on Evil which saw the table break with two holes where the feet went through. Evil did a uranage off the apron through a table. Evil ended up busted open from that. He was bleeding from the mouth. The key was Omega hit the V trigger and Evil appeared to be knocked out. Keep in mind that Evil evidently went blank after the Tonga match a week earlier, but nobody was aware of that until a week later. At this point, with Evil apparently knocked out, Red Shoes Unno should have stopped the match, if he was knocked out. Don Callis, who announces for the group, said Evil wasn’t knocked out in actuality and it was a sell. It looked awfully convincing, particularly the clear confusion with Omega at the end. Still, the ref wasn’t alarmed at all which either means he knew it was a sell, which make no sense since he should have sold something so convincing, or it was real, as it looked, and he did nothing. It would have been a flat finish, but when a guy is knocked out or close to it, you really need to worry about him rather than doing the planned spots and the planned finish. Omega seemed to hold back at first and then went for the pin, but Unno wouldn’t count as Evil was in the ropes. Again, in the ropes shouldn’t have mattered if he was knocked out, as it should have been stopped, and Evil should have been taken to the back for medical attention. Omega dragged Evil to the center, and you really shouldn’t be moving somebody knocked out. Unoo still didn’t stop it. Omega then went for another V trigger and held back completely to make sure he didn’t touch him, to set up the One Winged Angel, the planned finish. Omega had to squat with moving dead weight on his shoulders and struggled getting him up. He did, and he protected him on the way down in doing the move. But if he was knocked out, a guy in Evil’s condition at that moment shouldn’t have been put in a position because Omega with any kind of a slip, Evil would be unable to protect himself landing.

. As it was, Evil worked the next night, although he didn’t do a lot, and then had maybe the best match of his life with Okada the night after. Still, this very much is the old school mentality where you work through injuries, especially in a tournament like that where it was so carefully booked ahead of time and Okada couldn’t get the forfeit win over heel without messing up carefully booked tournament booking plans. But real life gets in the way of plans all the time. And you don’t want 2005 mentality on concussions still being used in 2017.

 

AUGUST 4 - EHIME ITEM (A BLOCK) - 2,130 SELLOUT

 

1. Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura beat Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi in 6:23 when Takahashi pinned Kitamura with Pimp juice.

2. Minoru Suzuki & Taichi & Desperado beat Michael Elgin & Tiger Mask & Hirai Kawato in 5:52 when Desperado pinned Kawato after Pinche Loco. Suzuki-Gun attacked Elgin and tried to injure his left knee before the Suzuki vs. Elgin singles match.

3. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan beat Seiya Sanada & Bushi in 7:15 when Kojima pinned Bushi after a lariat.

4. Juice Robinson & David Finlay beat Kenny Omega & Chase Owens in 6:19 when Robinson pinned Owens after Pulp Fiction.

5. Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano beat Evil & Hiromu Takahashi in 5:21 when Yano pinned Takahashi with a roll-up.

6. Kota Ibushi pinned Yuji Nagata in 15:54. Another excellent match. Ibushi used a Frankensteiner to send Nagata out of the ring and hit the running moonsault off the middle rope to the floor. They traded slaps and kicks until a double knockout kick spot. Those usually look silly but it was done perfectly here. Nagata used a brainbuster and a back suplex for near falls. Nagata went for a German suplex but Ibushi landed on his feet and hit a high kick. He used a last ride power bomb and Nagata kicked out, and then used a knee to the face for the pin. ****1/4

7. Bad Luck Fale pinned Tomohiro Ishii in 11:58. They played up the size difference early. Ishii got an offensive flurry in, went for a sliding lariat but Fale caught him by the throat. But Ishii hit a flying armbar from there. Ishii used three enzuigiris, a sliding lariat and went for an armbar and triangle. Fale escaped with a one arm power bomb. Ishii landed elbows but Fale came back with wild punches. Fale won clean with a spear and a Bad Luck Fall. ***½

8. Hirooki Goto pinned Yoshi-Hashi in 11:26. Yoshi-Hashi got a lot of offense but the people weren’t buying that he could win. It was the usual Yoshi-Hashi match built around the butterfly lock. Some good counters by Yoshi-Hashi and it ended up as a pretty good match, but never got super hated. Yoshi-Hashi went for karma, but Goto used a head-butt and two GTR’s for the pin. ***1/4

9. Tetsuya Naito pinned Zack Sabre Jr. in 14:20. Naito spit in his face right away. Sabre did all his submissions such as a Kimura while both were standing on the middle rope in superplex position. He used a dragon supelx and an armbar. Sabre did his great bridging pin. Naito’s koppo kick didn’t land right. They did some cool near falls ending with Naito using an enzuigiri, a flying forearm and destino for the pin. ***3/4

10. Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Togi Makabe in 13:34. Tanahashi did a plancha early. The crowd was into it early but it picked up when it got more hard hitting. Makabe hit a power bomb but missed the King Kong kneedrop. Tanahashi came back with the twist and shout, sling blade but missed the high fly flow. Makabe tried the German superplex but Tanahashi escaped, skinned the cat and then German suplexed Makabe off the middle rope, followed by a sling blade and a high fly flow. ***½

 

AUGUST 5 - OSAKA EDION ARENA (B BLOCK) - 5,490 SELLOUT

 

1. Chase Owens pinned Katsuya Kitamura in 4:57 with a package piledriver.

2. Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi & Desperado beat Yuji Nagata & Shota Umino & Tetsuhiro Yagi in 7:01 when Desperado beat Umino with Numero Dos.

3. Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tomoyuki Oka in 7:41 when Takahashi pinned Oka with Pimp Juice.

4. Tetsuya Naito & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi beat Togi Makabe & Tiger Mask & Hirai Kawato in 7:03 when Bushi pinned Kawato.

5. Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi beat Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi & David Finlay in 7:15 when Goto pinned Finlay after the GTR.

6. Toru Yano pinned Tama Tonga in 3:15. This was more silliness and comedy. Yano started running away from Tonga. Tonga was chasing him, but also running as slow as he could while chasing (and there is a talent in that, Bruiser Brody used to have to chase and not catch Abdullah the Butcher and that isn’t easy either) but never catch up to him. Tonga came from under the ring on the other side to attack Yano and got some athletic tape and taped Yano to the guard rail. But Yano had scissors and cut himself free and just beat the 20 count. Yano got the hammer they ring with bell with. Tonga kicked him and got the hammer. Yano ducked a hammer spot and got the hammer back. Then Yano won with a low blow and cradle out of nowhere. *

7. Satoshi Kojima pinned Seiya Sanada in 12:05. This was the first of upset night. Sanada used Kojima’s machine gun chops on him, and Kojima came back with machine gun chops of his own. Kojima whipped Sanada into the corner and he did the Ray Stevens flip, landed on the apron and did a springboard dropkick. They traded moves until Kojima hit a left arm lariat, which Sanada kicked out of at one. Kojima then took his head off with another lariat for the pin. ***½

8. Michael Elgin pinned Minoru Suzuki in 11:13. Taichi and Desperado kept interfering here. Elgin went after Desperado and Suzuki attacked him from behind. Suzuki nailed him with chair shots and then distracted the ref while Taichi and Desperado put the boots to him. Suzuki used four chair shots to the back. Suzuki distracted the ref and Taichi hit Elgin’s forearm with a chair. Suzuki started working on the arm. Suzuki got the triangle. Elgin went for the power bomb, but couldn’t get him at that time due to the arm damage. Suzuki tried a guillotine but Elgin used a falcon arrow for the near fall. Suzuki knocked down the ref and Desperado and Taichi both interfered. Elgin did a double fall away slam on both. The finish saw Elgin used a spinning Aja Kong uraken punch (spinning backfist) and a power bomb for the pin. Suzuki went on a rampage after losing and the rookies lives were in danger. Parts of this match were great, but the interference just got old. ***

9. Juice Robinson pinned Kenny Omega in 15:36. Not a lot of heat early. Omega wrapped Robinson’s leg around the post and tried the Bret Hart figure four around the post. It came across like Omega just had the idea to do it out of nowhere, like he came up with the spot as they were going, but until he was in the middle of doing it, didn’t realize how to do it. It’s a great move and aside from Bret Hart, who invented it, and Gail Kim, who was personally taught it by Bret Hart, I’ve never seen anyone do it so smoothly. Omega dropped Robinson’s left knee on the table that bent. Omega did the you can’t escape slam but Robinson got his knees up on the moonsault. Omega kept getting out of pulp fiction and Robinson out of the One Winged Angel. Omega got out of pulp fiction, hit a reverse Frankensteiner, a V trigger, went up for the One Winged Angel but Robinson hit a front rolling cradle for the pin. The place exploded for the finish. Robinson was incredible after the match. He looked as stunned as anyone that he got the three count while Omega played it up like he lost a match of major importance that he couldn’t believe he could lose. The thing is, usually in the U.S. when you do the upset win like this, the star who loses takes the entire match and jokes around (the Scott Hall method of doing a job but making sure everyone knows you’re doing a job as opposed to losing a match, although it did work for Sean Waltman once). This was put together to be an even back-and-forth match, but deep down, everyone knew Omega would win. Omega was throwing the U.S. belt around, so my thought is either in Japan or Chicago (Robinson is from Chicago and it’s the chance for him to have a major spotlight match in his home city and establish him going forward as a Chicago local star so that makes the most sense), they’ll have a rematch for the title. ***3/4

10. Evil pinned Kazuchika Okada in 22:47. This one also started without that much heat, but turned into a great match. There was one weird spot where Okada went to put Evil on the top rope so he could hit him with his dropkick, but Evil lost his balance and was falling to the floor. Evil was like a guy falling off a building trying to hang on and Okada was like the guy trying to save him. The crowd knew he was setting up the dropkick spot to knock him to the floor, but since he couldn’t do the dropkick, was saving him from going to the floor. That hurt the match. He did get him back and did hit his dropkick. In another spot, Okada went for his run on the floor into the crossbody over the barricade onto Evil on the other side, but Evil threw a chair that looked like it exploded. It really wasn’t that dangerous and the visual looked crazy. Evil gave him the darkness falls power bomb on chairs on the floor. Rather than do a count out tease, Evil brought Okada to the ring and threw him in trying to pin him. He used a fisherman buster and darkness falls for near fall. Nobody in the world does the last few minutes of a match like Okada. He hit the tombstone. Evil ducked the rainmaker and did a spinning chop. Okada did the dropkick to the back and then the front. Evil hit a lariat and a half nelson German suplex. Evil nailed him with a hard lariat. The place exploded for that one. Okada hit the rainmaker and collapsed and both were selling. Okada hit a second rainmaker. He went for a third but Evil ducked, kicked him in the face, and went for the STO. Okada hit a German suplex and went for the rainmaker, Evil blocked and hit the STO for the pin. It was a great upset to end Okada’s one year winning streak. Okada sold it big, unlike the Omega loss which was booked to be a fluke and Robinson couldn’t even believe he won, this was booked like the champ’s win streak was beaten clean in the middle and Okada sold it by having to be helped out of the ring, thoroughly and decisively beaten. ****1/4

 

AUGUST 6 - HAMAMATSU ACT CITY (A BLOCK) - 3,567 SELLOUT

 

1. Juice Robinson & David Finlay beat Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura in 5:27 when Finlay pinned Oka after the Prima Nocta.

2. Evil & Hiromu Takahashi beat Michael Elgin & Hirai Kawato in 4:55 when Takahashi made Kawato submit to the Boston crab.

3. Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi beat Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan in 8:34 when Tonga pinned Tenzan after the gunstun.

4. Seiya Sanada & Bushi beat Kenny Omega & Chase Owens in 5:06 when Sanada beat Owens with the skull end submission.

5. Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano & Gedo beat Minoru Suzuki & Taichi & Desperado in 6:22 when Yano cradled Taichi.

6. Yuji Nagata pinned Zack Sabre Jr. in 15:08. There were two things notable about this match and really this show. The first, from people who were there, is that of all the cities on the tour, this building had the worst site lines with the lack of elevated seating. So the heat was down across the board on this show. The other is the physical nature took its toll on a lot of guys, notably Nagata who was still good, but not otherworldly like he had been. Sabre did all kinds of submissions. It was slower than the usual style and in many ways felt like a late 70s style Fujinami jr. title match against a Chavo Guerrero type where you could see both are at the top, but that was a slower style than you would do now. Nagata got his first win of the tournament with a running knee into the corner and a bridging back suplex. ***½

7. Kota Ibushi pinned Yoshi-Hashi in 14:28. This was another one like the first. It was still really good but not the level of Ibushi’s other matches. Ibushi did his regular stuff like the moonsault off the middle rope to the floor and springboard missile dropkick. Yoshi-Hashi did his normal stuff as well. Yoshi-Hashi kept working for the butterfly lock. He went for Karma, his finisher, but Ibushi flipped out of it and landed on his feet in a cool spot, used a head kick and a last ride power bomb, but Yoshi-Hashi kicked out. Ibushi then got the pin with a knee to the face. ***½

8. Bad Luck Fale pinned Hirooki Goto in 9:34. Fale worked on Goto’s left leg. The crowd wasn’t much into this one but it was solid. Fale blocked the GTR. Goto ran into a vicious clothesline, and then Fale followed with a splash for a near fall. Goto escaped the Bad Luck Fall, but Fale hit the grenade and got the pin. **1/4

9. Tetsuya Naito pinned Togi Makabe in 11:31. You could see these two were really feeling it here. Naito in particular was hurting bad as his right shoulder is out and that’s the side he throws in punches and chops with. They brawled to the back early. It was a good match, but this was not their big show match. Naito used a Frankensteiner off the top for a near fall. Makabe used a German suplex for a near fall. The finish saw Makabe set up the spider suplex (German superplex). Naito tried to block it, but Makabe rammed his head into the post three times and hit it. Makabe then missed the King Kong kneedrop off the top. Makabe blocked destino and hit a big lariat. Naito won using a zig zag and a destino. ***1/4

10. Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Tomohiro Ishii in 23:30. This match was awesome just because these guys sell incredibly well and Tanahashi is so good at doing a big match. But even here, and this was just under a match of the year, it’s not as good as their previous G-1 matches, since Tanahashi can’t do as much. Tanahashi is not quite at the 40-year-old Muto level where he relied on dragon screws and figure fours and shining wizards over-and-over and had to get those moves over because of how bad his knees were, but he’s getting there. He does tons of dragon screws and the Texas cloverleaf to build to. The match started slowly and for all the reasons explained earlier, it was a fight to get the crowd. But by midway through, it felt like a Sumo Hall world title match main event. Tanahashi did a dragon screw off the middle rope and Ishii’s timing of selling was right. At one point they were trading elbows standing, and Ishii’s knee buckled as a sell out of nowhere, like it was a real fight as opposed to a pro wrestling patterned sell, which is the key as too why he clicks despite being short, squat and with no discernable look or super athletic gifts past being very durable. But Ishii didn’t sell it for more than a second and dropped Tanahashi with an elbow. It got great from there. Tanahashi kicked out of a power bomb and folding press. Ishii popped up from a German suplex and delivered a dragon suplex. Tanahashi hit a cross-arm German suplex but missed the high fly flow. Ishii went for his sliding lariat but Tanahashi turned it into a schoolboy. Then two more dragon screws and the Texas cloverleaf for a long time. Ishii made the ropes and he came back with a dragon screw and a dropkick to the knee, and did a great looking fierce looking ankle lock. He did it different from the U.S. version that looks like pro wrestling, as he did it like he was viciously trying to hurt the guy. Ishii got the Texas cloverleaf but Tanahashi made the ropes. Tanahashi went to the top for the high fly flow but Ishii delivered a head-butt to the stomach. Ishii used a superplex for a near fall and a sliding lariat. He went for his brainbuster but Tanahashi delivered two twist and shouts. Ishii tried a brainbuster but Tanahashi escaped and hit a dragon suplex for a near fall. They traded one count kick outs, Tanahashi then finished with a sling blade, a crossbody off the top and the high fly flow. After the match was over, Tanahashi went backstage, and collapsed on the floor in exhaustion (a work) with the idea of how he went to his physical limits and barely survived, which is the key going into the finals. ****½

 

AUGUST 8 - YOKOHAMA BUNKA GYM (B BLOCK) - 4,761 SELLOUT

 

1. Chase Owens pinned Tomoyuki Oka in 5:36 after a package piledriver.

2. Zack Sabre Jr. & Desperado beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Shota Umino in 5:30 when Desperado pinned Umino with Numero Dos.

3. Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi beat Yuji Nagata & Katsuya Kitamura in 6:48 when Takahashi pinned Kitamura with Pimp Juice.

4. Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi beat Togi Makabe & Kota Ibushi & Hirai Kawato in 7:35 when Ishii made Kawato submit to the Boston crab.

5. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay beat Tetsuya Naito & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi in 6:58 when Taguchi beat Bushi with the ankle lock.

6. Tama Tonga pinned Satoshi Kojima in 10:43. Tonga was making fun of Kojima early. Kojima missed a plancha. Tonga even used Mongolian chops and the machine gun chops on Kojima, until Tenzan, who was at ringside, got mad, and did a Mongolian chop on Tonga. They traded near falls until Tonga ducked a lariat and hit the gunstun for the pin. **3/4

7. Juice Robinson pinned Toru Yano in 4:25. This was entertaining for what it was. Yano tried to escape and went under the ring. Robinson went under the ring after him. Both disappeared. The ref didn’t know what to do, so started his 20 count. The count got to 19 and then both emerged from different sides of the ring to jump in and beat the count. Yano tied Robinson to the guard rail by his braids and jumped in the ring. This was a cool spot as Robinson was frantically trying to untie his hair from the guard rail and finally untied it at 18 and jumped in to beat the count. Yano distracted the ref and kicked Robinson low. Yano went for a second low blow but this time ref caught it and Robinson hit pulp fiction for the pin. *1/2

8. Michael Elgin pinned Evil in 11:07. This was a hard hitting excellent match. Elgin gave Evil a German suplex into the turnbuckles and a falcon arrow for a near fall. They traded big moves. Elgin did a superplex standing on the top rope. He teased it so the crowd really popped when he did it. They went back-and-forth exchanging big moves and escaping finishes. Elgin won with a splash mountain, a lariat and a spinning power bomb. People were surprised because everyone knew Evil had to win to stay in contention and normally with Gedo’s booking, that’s what would have happened. But this year, it was about focusing on one big match each of the last two days rather than the Rubik’s cube formulas with lots of people at stake. ****

9. Kenny Omega pinned Seiya Sanada in 15:03. There was a scary spot early where Omega did a moonsault off the barricade. Sanada was out of position and Omega landed right on his head on the floor. He was holding his neck but he continued and said he was fine. Sanada did the Ray Stevens flip into the corner into a springboard dropkick, but when he jumped to the top, Omega pulled him off the top into a fireman’s carry position and did the you can’t escape slam followed by a middle rope moonsault for a near fall. Sanada did double leapfrog and dropkick, followed by a plancha. Omega went for the One Winged Angel, but Sanada reversed into a huracanrana. Sanada hit the TKO for a near fall. Sanada also did a moonsault into the skull end. Later Sanada missed a moonsault and Omega hit the snap dragon suplex and V trigger knee for a near fall. They traded hard chops. Omega went for a German suplex but Sanada landed on his feet. The finish saw Sanada go for destino, but Omega blocked it and hit the One Winged Angel for the pin. ***3/4

10. Kazuchika Okada drew Minoru Suzuki over 30:00. What was great is that these two had one of the best matches of the year in February, and here, they did a completely different style of match. Also, the way they worked the match, they did their big spots early and didn’t work a deliberate pace, so it felt like at 15:00 match that just kept going as opposed to the early stall and starting to build the finish at 25:00 so you could see the draw coming, in that sense similar to Okada’s draw with Omega. Okada’s neck was all taped up. Suzuki worked on it a lot early. They got rid of Taichi and Desperado early. They both attacked Okada but the younger wrestlers carried them to the back. Suzuki worked on Okada’s neck. He used a choke but Okada got out and hit heavy rain. Okada did the Randy Savage elbow. Suzuki nailed him with a great dropkick. Okada then did the dropkick to the back and used a Gotch piledriver. The crowd booed him for that one. Okada tried a tombstone but Suzuki reversed and hit Okada with a tombstone. Suzuki then used a facelock, more working on the bad neck, and then a crossface. Then he used a crossface but using his legs, and from there went into a crooked head scissors. After Okada made the ropes, Suzuki used super hard kicks t the upper back. Okada missed a dropkick and Suzuki used an enzuigiri and went for the octopus. Suzuki tried a Gotch piledriver, but Okada blocked it. Okada hit a dropkick, and then went to the top rope and hit a low missile dropkick. He went for the rainmaker, but Suzuki ducked it and got the choke. The last several minutes saw the craziest slap fight back-and-forth. The idea was to show Okada’s toughness for hanging in. Suzuki was slapping the hell out of him and suddenly, Okada smiled, and started slapping him back. Btu they did way too much of it, not that it didn’t work although there was a point where the crowd did get quiet like they’d seen it all. But there were way, way too many head shots here. Suzuki at one point dropped Okada with a hard slap. Okada was being slapped some more, hit a desperation rainmaker, and then collapsed. Okada hit another rainmaker but collapsed again and couldn’t get the recover. He went for a third one, but Suzuki beat him to the punch with sick slaps. Most of the last few minutes were slapping each other over and over in the face. Okada did hit a third rainmaker late but couldn’t get the pin. ****3/4


With less than two weeks to go, none of the four WWE events at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for SummerSlam are sold out.

The previous two years, WWE sold out three straight nights with NXT, SummerSlam and Raw. This year they’ve added Smackdown.

SummerSlam is more because of the raised ticket prices. The cheapest priced unsold tickets are $355, although the secondary market price for entry is $139.

NXT’s lowest unsold tickets are at $25, and secondary market tickets start at $40.

For Raw, the lowest priced unsold tickets start at $45, while the secondary market tickets start at $36.

For Smackdown, the lowest priced unsold tickets are $25, while the secondary market starts at $38.

There are no real surprises in the lineups, but there are two injury-related changes.

Bayley (Pamela Martinez) suffered a separated shoulder in her match on the 7/31 Raw show against Nia Jax. WWE then did two three-way matches on the 8/7 Raw in Toronto, with Jax and Sasha Banks winning as expected. Jax vs. Banks on the 8/14 Raw in Boston will determine who faces Alexa Bliss for the title. While there is interest in Bliss vs. Jax, it makes no sense to do that on a six-day build rather than do a long story, so Banks should win.

At this point there is no information on how long Bayley will be out of action, but she is one of the people set up for the Horsewoman vs. Horsewoman program.

Scott Dawson (David Harwood) suffered a torn biceps on 8/4 working a house show in Halifax, where The Revival were challenging Sheamus & Cesaro for the tag team titles in a battle of heels. The match only happened that way because the Hardys were scheduled in the tag title matches all weekend, but WWE wasn’t able to get things cleared up to insure that Jeff Hardy would be allowed to cross the border, so the Hardys had to be pulled from the shows.

The injury was described to us as a freak thing that just happened, and not the result of something dangerous or that could have been avoided. It’s never a good time for an injury, but a torn biceps can be serious and The Revival’s Raw start was already thrown for a loop when Dash Wilder suffered a broken jaw. Harwood will be seeing specialists this week to see whether he would need surgery. His injury was the same one that Hiroshi Tanahashi suffered in May. He worked two more nights with his arm heavily wrapped up after the tear before getting to television where it was determined that he needed to be taken out of the ring and evaluated.

The Hardys vs. Revival vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson was scheduled for SummerSlam. So most likely that becomes Hardys vs. Gallows & Anderson once again, although that’s not clear since the angle to set up the original match was pulled from Raw, Matt Hardy was pulled off the show, and no angle was shot involving Matt alone (as was in the original script) to heat up with Gallows & Anderson.

WWE has announced what will be a six-hour plus presentation for SummerSlam, a two-hour pre-show that starts at 5 p.m. and a main show from 7 p.m. until probably around 11:30 p.m. It’s almost a lock that a lot of the post-show talk will be regarding how the show went too long.

Besides the women’s title match, what is confirmed is Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe for the Universal title, Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE title, John Cena vs. Baron Corbin, A.J. Styles vs. Kevin Owens for the U.S. title with Shane McMahon as referee, Naomi vs. Natalya for the Smackdown women’s title, Randy Orton vs. Rusev, Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins for the Raw tag team title, New Day vs. Usos for the Smackdown tag team titles, Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt, Big Show vs. Big Cass with Enzo Amore in a shark cage above the ring and Neville vs Akira Tozawa for the cruiserweight title. That’s 12 matches right there not including if they go with the Hardys vs. Gallows & Anderson.

As far as other activities, the annual 2K WWE party will be on 8/18 in New York, which is invitation only, and features major celebrities and tons of major WWE talent. Jim Ross will be doing a live talk show with Paul Heyman at the Gotham Comedy Club also on 8/18. There will be a House of Glory pro wrestling event on 8/18 in Jamaica, NY at Club Amazura featuring Bret Hart and headlined by the pro wrestling debut of former UFC star Stephan Bonnar vs. Matt Riddle. Mick Foley will also be hosting a 90s party on 8/18 a Mulcahy’s Pub in Wantagh, NY.


UFC returned to Mexico City on 8/5 for a show short of name talent and long on explosive action.

Sergio Pettis, the younger brother of Anthony Pettis, may have punched his ticket for the winner of the Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg flyweight title match, winning a five-round decision over Brandon Moreno in the main event.

The show tied a modern UFC record with seven first-round finishes. Mexico City, with its altitude, is known for fighters who are usually in condition gassing out, most famously Cain Velasquez in his title loss to Fabricio Werdum on the second show at Arena Ciudad.

It’s the one arena most fighters, unless they are Mexican, don’t like to fight in. Unless you come in at least four weeks early, a luxury only the biggest names can afford, the altitude will get you, especially if you are a bigger fighter. And this show featured mostly lower paid fighters who couldn’t afford it, many of whom came late. But with so many quick finishes, it didn’t play much of an effect.

But even in the fights that went the distance, nobody gassed out badly. The top two fights ended up being decided in the last two minutes.

Pettis was ahead on two scorecards 38-37 after four, and Moreno took him down and seemed content to stay on top. He had been told, wrongly, by his corner that he’d taken two rounds and thus could win the fight by taking the round. In actuality, he needed a finish, which he never attempted to get. But Pettis got the win after getting up, likely with punches that landed in the closing seconds of round five, averting a draw. Moreno had won 11 in a row leading into the fight, and whoever won would have been under consideration for the next title shot. Johnson had asked for Pettis for this upcoming defense, but UFC picked Ray Borg instead.

Randa Markos vs. Alexa Grasso in the semi was even going into the third round. Markos then got the takedown and seemed on the verge of winning the decision. Grasso was able to get up with 2:05 left. She landed some punches, but it wasn’t until Grasso grabbed a guillotine standing to block a Markos takedown attempt, and landed some punches at the end of the round, that she did enough to take the round and get the decision. Markos was very unhappy with the decision, but most felt differently as besides two of the three judges, 83 percent of media scores were for Grasso.

In the other close decision fights, 82 percent of the media had Pettis, 79 percent had Sam Alvey over Rashad Evans (who the judges had) and 80 percent had Andre Soukhamthath over Alejandro Perez, a split decision that the judges had for Perez. Soukhamthath became the first fighter in UFC history to score three knockdowns but still lose the decision, but it really was a close enough fight to argue either way.

The show did 859,000 viewers, fifth out of the nine live fight nights in prime time this year on FS 1. To me, given the lack of names on the show, that’s a positive. The highest rated fight was Grasso vs. Markos, which did 988,000 viewers. Grasso has proven to be a ratings mover on television as that’s not the first time she’s been in the highest rated fight while not being in the main event.

More impressively, the last two fights on the show beat out Top Rank boxing on ESPN, which featured the Vasyl Lomachenko super bantamweight world title defense against Miguel Marriaga, which did 728,000 viewers.

The surprise was in the demos, as the boxing match and overall three-hour UFC show averaged virtually identical numbers in every break between the ages of 12 and 49. However, in 50+, the UFC show had 44 percent more viewers. The perception is that boxing is the sport with the older audience, and it should be viewed as a win for UFC to be even in the other demos given boxing had a far higher profile main event, and ESPN is a far more-watched station than FS 1. The other difference is that the boxing audience was 78 percent male in 18-49 and 74 percent male in 12-17, while the UFC’s audience was 68 percent male in 18-49 and 58 percent in 12-17.

The prelims did 633,000 viewers

The prefight show did 208,000 viewers and postfight show did 327,000 viewers.

The show drew 10,172 fans to Arena Ciudad, the smallest UFC crowd in that arena to date. The number barely beat the CMLL show the prior night at Arena Mexico with Sam Adonis vs. Blue Panther.

Performance bonuses of $50,000 went to Niko Price, Humberto Bandenay, Dustin Ortiz and Joseph Morales.

Bandenay’s :26 win over Martin Bravo was the third fastest finish of a UFC featherweight fight. Ortiz’s :15 win over Hector Sandoval was the fastest flyweight finish in UFC history.

1. Jordan Rinaldi (13-5) beat Alvaro Herrera (9-5) in 2:01 in a lightweight fight. Rinaldi moved in with punches. Herrera went for a guillotine. Rinaldi moved into side control. Herrera wouldn’t let go of the guillotine attempt, which left him open for Rinaldi to get a Von Flue choke on him for the submission.

2. Joseph Morales (8-0) beat Roberto Sanchez (7-1) in 3:56 in a flyweight fight. Sanchez took him down immediately. Morales got up and dropped him with a right, and landed hammer punches on the ground. Morales then opened him up for a choke that finished the fight.

3. Jose Quinonez (7-2) beat Diego Rivas (7-1) on straight 30-27 scores in a bantamweight fight. Rivas is coming off battling cancer and going through the hell of chemotherapy. At one point he wasn’t expected to live more than a month, but surgery and chemo saved him. But it was Quinonez’s fight. Rivas did get a second round knockdown with a punch to the shoulder, but Quinonez then took him down and landed a lot of punches on the ground and went for an armbar in that round. Rivas did well at the start of round three, until Quinonez threw him down. Quinonez also landed more standing in the third round.

4. Rani Yahya (24-9, 1 no contest) beat Henry Briones (19-7-1) in 2:01 of a bantamweight fight. Yahya landed some low kicks to set up the takedown. He got side control, went for a North-South choke, but Briones defended that. Yahya landed body punches and got a Kimura for the submission.

5. Dustin Ortiz (17-7) beat Hector Sandoval (14-4) in :15 of a flyweight fight. Both came out throwing punches. Ortiz got the best shot, landing an overhand right counter to a left thrown by Sandoval. It was a right, a left and a big right that finished it.

6. Jack Hermansson (16-3) beat Brad Scott (12-5) in 3:50 of a middleweight fight. Hermansson landed body kicks and got the takedown. Scott tired a triangle, but Hermansson defended it, got back position and was landing punches. Scott turned and Hermansson landed a lot of elbows and punches on the ground until it was stopped.

7. Alejandro Perez (19-6-1) beat Andre Soukhamthath (11-5) via split decision on scores of 28-29, 29-28 and 29-28 in a bantamweight fight. This was the best fight on the show. Perez controlled the first round early with punches and kicks. Soukhamthath dropped him with a left jab. Perez went for a takedown but couldn’t get it. The key is that even with two knockdowns by Soukhamthath, all three judges gave the round to Perez and that spelled the difference. All three judges had Perez winning the third, but the swing round was the second. Perez had a 15-13 edge in strikes landed in the first, but with two knockdowns, that should not have given him the round. The second round saw Soukhamthath drop him again and then wave three fingers in his face, to signify three knockdowns. But Perez got Soukhamthath down and was on top throwing body punches. Even so, Soukhamthath had a 16-13 edge in punches in that round. In the third round, Soukhamthath was starting to land more. Perez got a takedown and landed some punches as Soukhamthath got up. Both were throwing punches back and-and-forth. Soukhamthath landed a jumping knee to the chin. They traded more punches. Perez had a 16-14 edge in punches during the round.

8. Sam Alvey (31-9, 1 no contest) beat Rashad Evans (24-7-1) via split decision on scores of 28-29, 29-28 and 29-28 in a middleweight fight. This was Evans’ fourth loss in a row. It’s weird to see him fighting so low on the card. He was the biggest star and his fight wasn’t promoted at all and the guys he was underneath, none of them were fighters anywhere as well-known and most were guys that nobody would know. Evans looked so much smaller than in the past. He’s in a 20 pound lighter weight class, but still, it was a bigger physical transformation than just losing weight. Evans was unable to get the takedowns most of the way, which was the story of the fight. Evans would shoot, not get it and Alvey did little while the crowd booed it. Evans was the aggressor in the first round and did get one takedown. Evans got a takedown in the second round as well, but Alvey landed more during the round. Alvey outlanded Evans 12-7 and 20-6 in rounds two and three. Alvey landed far more in the third, and defended takedowns. The crowd booed. Alvey landed some knees late and won the fight in the third round. Alvey is one of the better guys when it comes to preparing a promo, and I guess because the fight was boring, they didn’t talk to him in the cage when it was over. Alvey said that he had learned Spanish to do his promo, but still no promo. After the show, they gave him the chance, and he admitted the only thing in Spanish he knew was “arriba,” from Tito Santana. He then challenged Vitor Belfort to a fight, saying his goal was to avenge the defeats that his trainer, Dan Henderson, suffered.

9. Humberto Bandenay (14-4, 1 no contest) beat Martin Bravo (12-1)_ at :26 of a featherweight fight. Bandenay knocked him out right away with a left knee to the head. Bravo went out cold immediately and it was one of the better knockouts of the year.

10. Niko Price (10-0, 1 no contest) beat Alan Jouban (15-6) at 1:44 in a welterweight fight. Price finished nine of his ten wins, eight of which were in the first round. His only no contest was a second round stoppage that was overturned for a painkiller violation. Jouban was by far his toughest opponent. Price was constantly moving forward. He landed a big right and a kick and then punches on the round. In real time it looked like a quick stoppage, but it wasn’t, as Jouban was very wobbly trying to get up.

11. Alexa Grasso (10-1) beat Randa Markos (7-6) on scores of 28-29, 29-28 and 29-28 in a women’s strawweight fight. Grasso had missed weight by three pounds, coming in at 119, blaming it in antibiotics she had been taking for a urinary tract infection. The crowd was really hot for this. Grasso is from Guadalajara and if she can become a contender, she can be a star in Mexico. Both were swinging and landing big punches early. Markos was getting the better of it. Grasso came back. Markos tried a head and arm takedown but Grasso slipped out, and in doing so, got Markos’ back and was working for a choke. Grasso was also landing elbows from the top before Markos was able to get back up. Both were landing in the second round. Markos tried a takedown but Grasso ended up on top. Markos got up. Markos then got a takedown. She got a second takedown and moved into side control. Markos then got a third takedown. Grasso reversed on the ground to the top. Markos escaped and got the mount on Grasso and was landing elbows from the top. This was a clear Markos round, making it even going into the third. Markos got the takedown to start the round. She kept it on the ground for almost three minutes. Grasso kicked her off. Grasso was landing punches. Markos went for the takedown but Grasso grabbed a guillotine and started landing more punches which was enough to take the decision.

12. Sergio Pettis (16-2) beat Brandon Moreno (14-4) on scores of 49-46, 48-46 and 48-46 in a flyweight fight. Moreno took Pettis down off a kick. He got his back with a body triangle and spent the round working for a choke. Two judges had it a 10-8, which I would have as well, since Moreno dominated the entire round. Pettis was landing better the next three rounds, keeping it standing. Pettis took Moreno down in the second but let him back up. He landed kicks. Moreno tried for a takedown but Pettis got his back. Both traded punches at the end of the round. In the third round, Moreno threw a kick and Pettis took him down and let him up again. Moreno tried to get takedowns and punches but couldn’t do anything. Pettis landed a nice head kick and hard right, and more punches. Moreno was bleeding from the right eye. In the fourth round, Pettis continued to land more. Moreno got him down late in the round, but didn’t do enough for it to win the round. Moreno got the takedown to start the fifth round. Moreno mostly held him down until Pettis got up with 1:20 left. Both stared throwing and missing punches. Pettis landed a right and a spin kick and did just enough to win the round on all three judges cards.


The UFC’s creation of yet another championship begins on 8/30 with a televised tournament to create a women’s flyweight (125 pound) championship in a tournament on the 26th season of The Ultimate Fighter.

The television show has taped down to finalists, who will face off for the title on a live show on 12/1 fro the Park Theater in Las Vegas.

It will be the second new women’s championship created this year, after the featherweight title basically created for Cris Cyborg Justino to be able to headline shows given her high contract.

The two new titles are totally different. In the featherweight division, Justino is arguably the best female MMA fighter in history, certainly would have to be if longevity was part of the equation. Still, her success is controversial given you have to avoid the steroid issue, which is even more of a competitive advantage with women fighters. However, she is champion in a division that doesn’t exist and has almost no real talent.

There are tons of women around the country who compete at flyweight, and will be more names, some moving up from 115, others moving down from 135. While UFC has greatly diluted the marketing value of championships by adding so many more, from a sport standpoint, the gap between 115 and 135 is too great and a flyweight division makes sense.

However, instead of using UFC-caliber fighters on the roster who have too hard cuts to make 115, or are smaller than the usual 135 pounders, the tournament will introduce a class of mostly unknowns as opposed to star fighters who had been in other divisions.

The most interesting name involved is Barb Honchak, 37, who was the Invicta champion in that division in 2013 and 2014 before retiring with a 10-2 record, without losing the title. During her six year career, she had wins over six current and former UFC fighters.

Perhaps the best known fighter on the list is Roxanne Modaferri, 34. Modaferri (21-13) was a quirky but very likeable fighter who competed at 135 in the tournament on the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter. She has since gone 5-2, and lost in a match to crown the Invicta champion at 125 on 9/23 to Jennifer Maia.

The only current UFC fighter in the cast is Lauren Murphy, 34, a former Invicta champion at 135 who then came to the UFC and went 1-3 in that weight class with losses to Kaitlyn Chookagian, Sara McMann and Liz Carmouche.

Others involved are:

*Ariel Beck, 4-4, who has lost her last two fights competing in Invicta and Legacy.

*DeAnna Bennett, 32, of Fremont, CA, who is 8-3, but has lost her last three fights and had been competing at 115 in Invicta where she went 4-3. She does have wins over Colleen Schneider and Julianna Pena.

*Shana Dobson, 2-1, from Arlington, TX, who has been fighting professionally for just over one year.

*Sijara Eubanks, 32, who has a 2-2 record and most recently lost to Aspen Ladd in Invicta.

*Melinda Fabian, 4-3, a two-year veteran from Hungary.

*Karine Gevorgyan, 3-2, a fighter from Armenia, who is a three-year veteran

*Christina Marks, 8-8, an eight-year veteran who has lost to every name fighter she’s faced.

*Nicco Montano, 28, from Colorado, who has a 3-2 record in two years as a fighter and holds a win over Dobson via decision last year.

*Rachel Ostovich, 26, from Hawaii, who has a 3-3 record in a four-year career which includes a win over Ariel Beck last year in Invicta, where she’s gone 2-2.

*Gillian Robertson, 22, who is 0-1 as a pro, her only loss to current UFC ranked fighter Cynthia Cavillo via decision on 11/19. She was also 9-2 as an amateur dating back to 2013.

*Maia Stevenson, 6-4, from Southern California, who trains under Joe Stevenson and has been fighting for nearly six years.

*Montana Stewart, 22, a 7-4 Texas native. She has losses to both Cavillo and Mackenzie Dern. (who would have really been perhaps the key person to recruit for this division, undefeated at strawweight but having issues at that weight, extremely marketable and one of the best women Jiu Jitsu competitors around).

*Emily Whitmire, 26, with a 2-1 record as a pro and including a win over Bellator’s Emily Ducote. She was also 1-4 as an amateur and has been fighting for seven years.


The 2017 Hall of Fame ballots will be released in a few weeks and there will be a lot of new names on it.

Last year at Hall of Fame time we listed new names as A.J. Styles, Sputnik Monroe, Trish Stratus, Kota Ibushi, Bill Goldberg, Rick Martel and the team of Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson with managed J.J. Dillon.

I don’t want to get overloaded with new names, nor put people in who won’t get votes, but also being added will be Chavo Guerrero Sr., George Steele, Wild Bull Curry, Tetsuya Naito and Sangre Chicana.

One name that a lot of people have suggested that I’m not going with at least yet is Tomohiro Ishii. Granted, Ishii has had some of the best matches in the world for the past several years, and the idea for the Hall of Fame is that the best draws, even if they weren’t the best in-ring guys, should get in, but that the best in-ring guys, even if they aren’t the best draws, also should get in. I’m open to him in a few years but another aspect is I don’t want to clog the ballot with somebody who is not really a contender to get in, and granted, most of the names listed above will never get in as well, but Ishii’s not getting in ahead of somebody like Yuji Nagata, and Nagata has been on for years, was a great worker for far longer than Ishii, and he’s also probably not getting in.


The newsletter and web site is doing its convention on SummerSlam weekend in Las Vegas. I haven’t written about it because it was a bad weekend for me to attend, with the NXT Takeover show, SummerSlam and the WWE 2K party in Brooklyn, not to mention a family obligation as well.

I know that a lot of people come to see me and Bryan, and because of the WWE shows, which I have to cover from home the way the news comes in, the only thing I can do is come Friday, skipping the WWE 2K thing which is a pretty big deal because a lot of the top stars are there and a lot of news comes out of it, and leave on Saturday because it’s too difficult for me to be on the road with shows of that caliber.

The convention will be 8/17 to 8/21 and tickets are available at https://f4wvegas.brownpapertickets.com. There are tickets for the entire convention, which includes a live wrestling show, several dinners and viewing parties for both NXT Takeover and SummerSlam. So I’ll be there at least for the dinner at the Texas de Brazil steakhouse and the suite party.

There will be a Future Stars of Wrestling show on 8/19 that will feature Tom Lawlor vs. Thomas Santell (Antonio Thomas, former WWE wrestler) plus what I believe will be the pro wrestling debut of Stephan Bonnar of UFC fame, another match with former UFC star Phil Baroni, and a three-way with Leva Bates vs. Hudson Envy vs. Miya Yim (Jade in TNA).

There will be viewing parties for both the NXT show and SummerSlam, Super China Buffet day before SummerSlam and lots of other activities.


The continuing decline in cable and satellite homes has continued with a drop of 884,000 homes in the last five months, which is a faster pace than previously.

Currently, there are 96,108,000 homes with cable or satellite, down from more than 101 million at the peak. So while cord cutting is an issue, as you’ll see, the real issue when it comes to stations is not cord cutting, but smaller bundles.

The number is still well ahead of the 78 million during the peak of the Monday Night Wars, and about where things stood ten years ago. If you include with those SlingTV, Vue and DirecTV Now, the number rises to 97,538,000 homes according to a story on the Sports TV ratings web site.

Regarding stations that are listed that carry pro wrestling or MMA programming, or key sports stations, the updated numbers are: E! with 89,776,000 homes; El Rey at 44,232,000 homes; ESPN at 87,217,000 homes; ESPN 2 at 87,088,000 homes; ESPN U at 66,803,000 homes; FS 1 at 84,421,000 homes; FS 2 at 52,170,000 homes; HBO at 35,100,000 homes; NBC Sports Network at 84,439,000 homes; Pop TV at 70,767,000 homes; Showtime at 28,366,000 homes; Spike at 82,752,000 homes; and USA at 91,898,000.

Nielsen doesn’t rate AXS TV, but the station reaches about 44,000,000 homes.

The most notable numbers are the decline at Spike, which at its peak was at 99.5 million, which also explains the decline in viewing numbers for Bellator, because the station is in significantly less homes. USA is actually up in homes as compared to six months ago, although the slight gain of 0.2 percent really doesn’t make any significant difference when it comes to comparing audiences. A station like Spike, taken out of the basic tier by a lot of cable companies, is down nearly 18 percent homes from the peak, even more than ESPN, while USA is down about nine percent.


Smackdown on 8/8, headlined by Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton, did identical numbers (actually 15,000 more viewers) to the show the week before headlined by John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. It’s as much due to WWE gaining momentum in recent weeks.

The show did 2,584,000 viewers, putting it in second place for the night behind Hannity (2,669,000 viewers) on cable. During its time slot, Smackdown was third overall, behind only reruns on CBS and America’s Got Talent on NBC (which dominated the night with 13,316,000 viewers).

The show did a 0.46 in 12-17 (down 4.2 percent), 0.59 in 18-34 (down 4.8 percent), 1.01 in 35-49 (up 12.2 percent) and 1.10 in 50+ (up 3.8 percent).

The show did 59.1 percent males in 18-49 and 53.7 percent males in 12-17.

Raw had another increase on 8/7 to 3,235,000 viewers, up 2.5 percent from the previous week and making it the most-watched episode of the show since the Superstars shakeup.

Even more impressive is that hour three beat everything not only on cable, but every network except ABC, which is very impressive considering the reach difference between USA and a network.

The first and second hours beat everything on cable, but were behind ABC, NBC and CBS, but beat FOX.

Raw was first for the night in network programming, well ahead of second place Hannity at 2,681,000 viewers.

It’s pretty clear that the main event program, starting with Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe, and continuing this month in a four-way program involving Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman, has been strong for ratings. This show was built around an advertised Reigns vs. Strowman last man standing match.

The three hours saw the first hour do 3,263,000 viewers, the second hour did 3,314,000 viewers, and the third hour did 3,144,000 viewers.

An interesting note is that women 35-49 tuned in at 8 p.m. and dropped off as the show went on, while men generally tuned in later and stayed to the finish. But women 18-49 dropped 16 percent from hour one to hour three, while men 18-49 increased nine percent during that same time period, and those over 50, the highest concentration of the audience, fell eight percent from hour one to three.

The show did a 0.84 in 12-17 (up 5.0 percent), 0.85 in 18-34 (up 10.4 percent), 1.25 in 35-49 (down 3.1 percent)_and 1.28 in 50+ (up 6.7 percent).

The audience was 59.8 percent male in 18-49 and 69.2 percent male in 12-17.

The final episodes of the second season of “American Grit,” with John Cena on 8/6, did 912,000 and 1,104,000 viewers, airing at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. respectively. The 9 p.m. airing was down four percent from the prior week’s 1,150,000. No other prime time show on the major four networks did less than 1,994,000 viewers.

Ballers on HBO on 8/6, which was also announced as having been renewed for a fourth season, did 2,280,000 viewers, down 12 percent from the prior week. That’s even with a better lead-in as Game of Thrones, which was the most watched show of any kind, more than doubling ABC, beating CBS by five times and more than tripling NBC even though in maybe 30 percent of the number of homes the networks reach, did 10,167,000 viewers, which is mind-boggling numbers.

Impact on 8/3 did 276,000 viewers, another 3.5 percent drop from the prior week.

Lucha Underground on 8/2 rose to 104,000 viewers at 8 p.m. and another 58,000 at 9 p.m. The 162,000 total was up 45 percent from the 112,000 the prior week.

Smackdown on 7/25 did a 1.73 rating and 2,535,000 viewers (1.59 viewers per home) and the 8/1 show (the John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura show) did a 1.70 rating and 2,569,000 viewers (1.64 viewers per home, which may be the most viewers per home of any WWE television show in a long time).


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RESULTS

 

7/1 Osaka (Dragon Gate - 1,200 sellout): Yuki Yoshioka b Hyou Watanabe, BxB Hulk & Kzy & Flamita b Jimmy Kagetora & Ryo Saito & Genki Horiguchi, Masaaki Mochizuki & Don Fujii b Eita & Kaito Ishida, Gamma & Takehiro Yamamura b Jimmy Kanda & Jimmy Susumu, Yamato & Yosuke Santa Maria b T-Hawk & Punch Tominaga, Masato Yoshida & Kotoka b Cima & Dragon Kid, Open the Triangle Gate title: Shingo Takagi & Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman b Naruki Doi & Big R Shimizu & Ben K

7/1 Shibata (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 484 sellout): Hi69 d Tadasuke, Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue b Yoshinari Ogawa & Hitoshi Kumano, Cody Hall & Kazma Sakamoto b Rionne Fujiwara & Seiya Morohashi, Kenou b Yo-Hey, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya b Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm, Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge & Hajime Ohara b Maybach Taniguchi & Hayata & Daisuke Harada

7/2 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Magia Blanca & Principe Diamante b Coyote & Grako, Fantasy & Shockercito & Stukita b Mercurio & Pequeno Olimpico & Pierrothito, Marco Corleone & Soberano Jr. & Tiger b Cavernario & Ephesto & Kraneo, Diamante Azul b Rush, Mistico & Caristico & Niebla Roja b Ultimo Guerrero & Shocker & Euforia-DQ

7/2 Ehime (Dragon Gate): Jimmy Susumu & Ryo Saito b Takehiro Murahama & Draztick Boy, Jimmy Kanda b Yosuke Santa Maria, Masaaki Mochizuki b Katsumi Takashima, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Kotoka b Cima & Dragon Kid & Eita, Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy & Flamita b Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman

7/4 Tokyo Shinjuku Face (New Japan Lion’s Gate - 444 sellout): Ren Narita d Shota Umino, Taka Michinoku b Tetsuhiro Yagi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Dinosaur Takuma b Manabu Nakanishi & Katsuya Kitamura, Dick Togo b Hirai Kawato, Satoshi Kojima b Tomoyuki Oka, Yoshi-Hashi b Koji Iwamoto, Yuji Nagata b Go Asakawa

7/4 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Mercurio & Pequeno Nitro b Fantasy & Stukita-DQ, Metalico & Misterioso Jr. & Sangre Azteca Jr. b Flyer & Principe Diamante & Sensei, Fuego & Johnny Idol & Stigma b Cancerbero & Raziel & Universo 2000 Jr., Drone b Puma, Angel de Oro & Blue Panther Jr. & The Panther b Cuatrero & Forastero & Sanson, Diamante Azul & Marco Corleone & Volador Jr. b Euforia & Gran Guerrero & Negro Casas

7/5 Orlando (Impact TV tapings): Eli Drake & Chris Adonis & Ethan Carter III b Moose & Eddie Edwards & Naomichi Marufuji, Non-title: Sienna b Amber Nova, Taiji Ishimori b Davey Richards, Knockouts title last knockouts standing match: Sienna b Rosemary, Octagoncito b Trevor Lee-COR, El Hijo de Dos Caras b Mario Bokara, Dezmond Xavier b Drago, Mumbai Cat (Sonjay Dutt) b Trevor Lee, Grand championship: Ethan Carter III b Moose via decision to win title, Alberto El Patron b Homicide, Alberto El Patron b Cruz, Alberto El Patron b Santana-DQ

7/5 Tokyo Shinkiba (All Japan - 352 sellout): Atsushi Aoki & Naoya Nomura b Takuya Nomura & Yuya Aoki, Yuma Aoyagi & Weekday Mask b Yohei Nakajima & Yusuke Okada, Yuji Okabayashi b Koji Iwamoto, Kento Miyahara & Jake Lee b Tajiri & Kai, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori b Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura, Suwama & Hikaru Sato b Shuji Ishikawa & Minoru Tanaka

7/6 Lakeland, FL (WWE NXT - 350): Roderick Strong b Adrian Jaoude, Lacey Evans b Taynara Conti, Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins b Gabriel & Uriel Ealy, Lars Sullivan b Marcel Barthel, Aleister Black b Kona Reeves, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler, Bianca Belair b Liv Morgan, Drew McIntyre & No Way Jose b Dan Matha & Velveteen Dream

7/6 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Dragon Gate - 1,850 sellout): Shun Skywalker b Hyou Watanabe, Gamma & Eita & Takehiro Yamamura b Masaaki Mochizuki & Don Fujii & Yuki Yoshioka, Lindaman b Yosuke Santa Maria, Kzy & Flamita b Jimmy Kagetora & Draztick Boy, Cima & Dragon Kid b Takashi Yoshida & Punch Tominaga, Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk b Yamato & BxB Hulk, Captain’s fall elimination match: Kotoka & Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu & Ken K b Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kana & Ryo Saito & Jimmy K-Ness

7/7 Jacksonville, FL (WWE NXT - 400 sellout): No Way Jose b Cezar Bononi, Sonya Deville b Julia Ho, Lars Sullivan b Demetrious Bronson, Raul Mendoza b Fabian Aichner, Velveteen Dream b Buddy Murphy, Mandy Rose & Vanessa Bourne b Sarah Logan & Abbey Laith, Hideo Itami b Marcel Barthel, Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins b Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler

7/7 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 8,000): Jarochita & Princesa Sugehit & Silueta b Dallys & Seductora & Zeuxis, Blue Panther & Pegasso & Rey Cometa b Misterioso Jr. & Sam Adonis & Virus, Pierroth & Ripper & Rush b Shocker & El Terrible & Vangellys, Block B of Universal title tournament: Diamante Azul b Mephisto, Ultimo Guerrero b Marco Corleone, Mistico b Mephisto, Niebla Roja b Soberano Jr., Ultimo Guerrero b Diamante Azul, Niebla Roja b Mistico, Ultimo Guerrero b Niebla Roja to win B block

7/7 Reseda, CA (PWG - 400 sellout): Sammy Guevara b Rey Horus, Brian Cage & Michael Elgin b Young Bucks, Keith Lee won three-way over Trent Baretta and Lio Rush, Dezmond Xavier won four-way over Jake Crist, Dave Crist and Sami Callihan, Ricochet b Trevor Lee, PWG title: Chuck Taylor b Zack Sabre Jr. to win title

7/7 Manchester, UK (What Culture Pro Wrestling Japan World Cup): Ryusuke Taguchi b Jushin Liger, Hiromu Takahashi b Yohei Komatsu, Bushi b Tiger Mask, Kushida b Sho Tanaka, Hiromu Takahashi b Ryusuke Taguchi, Kushida b Bushi, Tomohiro Ishii b Rampage Brown

7/27 Milwaukee (WWE NXT - 900 sellout): Roderick Strong b Velveteen Dream, Liv Morgan & Ruby Riot b Bianca Belair & Sonya Deville, Johnny Gargano b Killian Dain, Aleister Black b Andrade Cien Almas, Alexander Wolfe & Eric Young b Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight, Ember Moon b Mandy Rose, Drew McIntyre & Kassius Ohno b Bobby Roode & Hideo Itami

7/27 Aguascalientes (AAA TV tapings): Angelico b Joe Lider, Bengala won Battle Royal, La Parka & Argenis & Lanzeloth & Ricky Marvin b Averno & Chessman & Pirata Morgan & Super Fly, El Hijo del Fantasma & El Texano Jr. b Johnny Mundo & Kevin Kross, Mask vs. hair: Discovery b Xtreme X, Lady Shani won four-way over Big Mami, Goya Kong and Hiedra, Carta Brava Jr. & Mocho Cota Jr. & Soul Rocker b Aerostar & Dragon & Raptor, Psycho Clown & Pagano b Dr. Wagner Jr. & Mesias

7/27 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 965): Cody Hall & Kazma Sakamoto b Phil Atlas & Seiya Morohashi, Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke & Gurkun Mask & Shuri Joe b Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano & Shunma Katsumata & Mao, Naomichi Marufuji & Akitoshi Saito & Yoshinari Ogawa b Kaiser & Gaston Mateo & Masao Inoue, Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm b Atsushi Kotoge & Kenou, Eddie Edwards b Masa Kitamiya, Go Shiozaki NC Maybach Taniguchi, Jr tag team tournament finals: Hayata & Yo-Hey b Taiji Ishimori & Hi69, GHC title: Katsuhiko Nakajima b Brian Cage

7/27 Kanazawa (All Japan - 311 sellout): Takao Omori b Yuma Aoyagi, Ultimo Dragon b Koji Iwamoto, Tajiri & Minoru Tanaka b Jun Akiyama & Yohei Nakajima, Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato b Zeus & Masashi Takeda & Atsushi Maruyama, Suwama b Massimo, Kento Miyahara & Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura b Shuji Ishikawa & Kai & Takuya Nomura

7/28 Buffalo, NY (WWE Raw - 5,500): R-Truth & Apollo Crews & Titus O’Neil & Jason Jordan, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, Finn Balor b Elias Samson, 2 on 3 handicap match: Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b The Miz & Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas, Tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro b Heath Slater & Rhyno, Bray Wyatt b Kalisto, Bayley & Sasha Banks b Nia Jax & Alexa Bliss, Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman-DQ

7/28 Green Bay, WI (WWE NXT - 2,400): Johnny Gargano b Velveteen Dream, Ruby Riot b Mandy Rose, Roderick Strong b Hideo Itami, Drew McIntyre & Aleister Black b Andrade Cien Almas & Cezar Bononi, Ember Moon b Sonya Deville, Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe b Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight, NXT title: Bobby Roode b Kassius Ohno

7/28 Crystal River, FL (WWE NXT - 250): Oney Lorcan b Adrian Jaoude, Chad Lail b Jeet Rama, Billie Kay & Peyton Royce b Sage Beckett & Reina Gonzalez, Marcel Barthel b Nick Miller, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler, No Way Jose b Kona Reeves, Raul Mendoza & Fabian Aichner b Gabriel & Uriel Ealy, Women’s title: Asuka b Nikki Cross

7/28 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 8,000): Electrico & Stukita b Mercurio & Pequeno Nitro, Esfinge & Fuego & Pegasso b Puma & Raziel & Tiger, Cuatrero & Forastero & Sanson b Drone & Soberano Jr. & Titan, Hechicero b Stuka Jr., Blue Panther & Diamante Azul & Valiente b Pierroth & Rush & Sam Adonis, Mistico & Caristico & Niebla Roja b Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Mephisto

7/28 Bristol, CT (Northeast Wrestling - 2,368): Flip Gordon won three-way over Brad Hollister and JT Dunn, Jim Duggan & Ron Zombie & Bull Dredd b Robbie E & Tommy & JP Grayson, Wrecking Ball Legursky b Donovan Dijak, NEW tag titles: Hale Collins & Vik Dalishus won three-way over Chris & Anthony Battle and Daniel Evans & Keith Youngblood, Brian Anthony b Jake Manning, Jack Swagger b Warbeard Hanson, Rey Mysterio Jr. b Caleb Konley

7/28 Nagoya (All Japan - 620 sellout): Yuma Aoyagi & Takuya Nomura b Yohei Nakajima & Kai, Ultimo Dragon & Minoru Tanaka b Kotaro Nasu & Michio Kageyama, Takao Omori & Koji Iwamoto b Tajiri & Massimo, All-Asia tag titles: Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato b Masashi Takeda & Atsushi Maruyama, Kento Miyahara & Jun Akiyama & Suwama b Shuji Ishikawa & Joe Doering & Yuji Okabayashi, World tag titles: Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura b Zeus & The Bodyguard

7/29 Detroit (WWE Smackdown - 5,000): U.S. title: A.J. Styles b Kevin Owens, Tye Dillinger & Sin Cara b Aiden English & Erick Rowan, Luke Harper b Erick Rowan, Baron Corbin b Sami Zayn, Three-way for tag titles: Big E & Kofi Kingston won over Tyler Breeze & Fandango and Usos, Universal title: Brock Lesnar b Samoa Joe, Naomi & Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch b Tamina & Carmella & Natalya, Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura b Jinder Mahal & Dolph Ziggler, Street fight: John Cena b Rusev

7/29 Erie, PA (WWE Raw- 1,650): Jason Jordan & R-Truth & Kalisto & Titus O’Neil b Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows & Curt Hawkins & Goldust, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, Finn Balor b Elias Samson, Tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro b Heath Slater & Rhyno, 2 vs. 3: Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b The Miz & Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas, Bayley & Sasha Banks b Alexa Bliss & Nia Jax, Bray Wyatt b Apollo Crews, Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman-DQ

7/29 St. Paul, MN (WWE NXT - 1,200): Johnny Gargano b Killian Dain, Ruby Riot & Liv Morgan b Bianca Belair & Sonya Deville, Hideo Itami b Kassius Ohno, Drew McIntyre & Aleister Black b Andrade Cien Almas & Velveteen Dream, Ember Moon b Mandy Rose, Alexander Wolfe & Eric Young b Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic, NXT title: Bobby Roode b Roderick Strong

7/29 Fort Pierce, FL (WWE NXT - 300): Oney Lorcan b Fabian Aichner, Lars Sullivan b Raul Mendoza, Taynara Conti & Reina Gonzalez b Vanessa Borne & Aliyah, Nick Miller b Sawyer Fulton, No Way Jose b Marcel Barthel, Kona Reeves b Adrian Jaoude, Lacey Evans b Sarah Logan, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford & Asuka b Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss & Sage Beckett

7/29 Concord, NC (ROH TV tapings - 1,100): Punishment Martinez b Flip Gordon, Rhett Titus b Cheeseburger, TV title: Kushida NC Kenny King, Kushida & Kenny King b Marty Scurll & Hangman Page, Karen Q b Stella Rae, Trent Baretta & Chuck Taylor b Shaheem Ali & Leon St-Giovanni, Jay Briscoe b Matt Taven-DQ, Six-man titles: Dalton Castle & The Boys b Colt Cabana & Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu, Mandy Leon & Jenny Rose b Sumie Sakai & Brandi Rhodes, Ray Rowe & Hanson b Jonathan Gresham & Jay White, Josh Woods b Shane Taylor, Tag titles: Young Bucks NC Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley, Kelly Klein b Deonna Purrazzo, No DQ: Jay Lethal b Beer City Bruiser, Will Ferrara b ?, Bully Ray & Mark Briscoe b Cody & Hangman Page-DQ

7/30 Youngstown, OH (WWE Raw - 2,800): Jason Jordan & Kalisto & Titus O’Neil & R-Truth b Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson & Curt Hawkins & Goldust, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, Finn Balor b Elias Samson, Tag titles: Cesaro & Sheamus b Heath Slater & Rhyno, 2 vs. 3: Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b The Miz & Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas, Bayley & Sasha Banks b Alexa Bliss & Nia jax, Bray Wyatt b Apollo Crews, Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman-DQ

7/30 Saginaw, MI (WWE Smackdown - 2,800): U.S. title: A.J. Styles b Kevin Owens, Baron Corbin b Sami Zayn, Luke Harper & Sin Cara b Aiden English & Erick Rowan, Samoa Joe b Tye Dillinger, Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura b Jinder Mahal & Dolph Ziggler, Naomi & Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch b Carmella & Natalya & Tamina, Three-way for tag titles: Big E & Xavier Woods b Fandango & Tyler Breeze and Usos, John Cena b Rusev

7/30 Saitama Super Arena (Rizin Fighting Championships - 17,730): Karl Albrechtson b Teodoras Auckstuolis, Shinju Nosawa-Auclair b Sheena Brandenburg, Bantamweight tournament: Khalid Taha b Keita Ishibashi, Bantamweight tournament: Takafumi Otsuka b Anthony Birchak, Miyu Yamamoto b Cassie Robb, Yusuke Yachi b Satoru Kitaoka, Mixed rules: Tenshin Nasukawa b Kizaemon Saiga, King Reina b Lei’D Tapa, Gabi Garcia NC Oksana Gagloeva, Amir Aliakbari b Tyler King, Bantamweight tournament: Kyoji Horiguchi b Hideo Tokoro

7/30 Osaka (All Japan- 580): Kai & Yohei Nakajima b Kotaro Nasu & Katsumi Oribe, Minoru Tanaka & Ultimate Spider Jr. & Takoyakida b Ultimo Dragon & Atsushi Maruyama & Yusuke Okada, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori b Atsushi Aoki & Massimo, Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Koji Iwamoto & Fuminori Abe, Jr. Title: Tajiri b Hikaru Sato to win title, Shuji Ishikawa & Joe Doering & The Bodyguard b Suwama & Kento Miyahara & Zeus

7/30 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Artillero & Espanto Jr. & Espiritu Negro b Magia Blanca & Robin & Sonic, Cancerbero & Raziel & Sangre Azteca b El Consejo & Oro Jr. & Pegasso, Amapola & Comandante & Metalica b Marcela & Silueta & Skadi, Hair vs. hair: Canelo Casas b Cholo, Angel de Oro & Dragon Lee & Stuka Jr. b Ephesto & Felino & Luciferno

7/31 Pittsburgh (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 8,500): Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado b Drew Gulak & Brian Kendrick, Emma b Mickie James, Matt & Jeff Hardy b Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Rich Swann & Cedric Alexander & Akira Tozawa b Tony Nese & TJP & Ariya Daivari, Seth Rollins b Sheamus, Roman Reigns won three-way over Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman, Elias b Kalisto, Bayley b Nia Jax-COR, Big Cass b Big Show-DQ

7/31 Fort Wayne, IN (WWE Smackdown): Shinsuke Nakamura b Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin b Sami Zayn, Sin Cara & Tye Dillinger b Erick Rowan & Aiden English, Luke Harper b Erick Rowan, Randy Orton & A.J. Styles b Jinder Mahal & Kevin Owens, Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair & Naomi b Natalya & Tamina & Carmella, Three-way for tag titles: Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods won over Tyler Breeze & Fandango and Usos, John Cena b Rusev

8/1 Cleveland (WWE Smackdown/205 Live TV tapings - 7,700): Luke Harper b Viktor, U.S. title: A.J. Styles b Kevin Owens, Aiden English b Sami Zayn, Naomi & Becky Lynch b Natalya & Carmella, Rusev b Chad Gable, Shinsuke Nakamura b John Cena, Brian Kendrick b Jack Gallagher-DQ, Tony Nese b Gran Metalik, Akira Tozawa b Ariya Daivari, Non-title: Randy Orton b Jinder Mahal-DQ

8/1 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Apocalipsis & Inquisidor b Bengala & Magia Blanca, Fantasy & Stukita & Ultimo Dragoncito b Pequeno Nitro & Olimpico & Pequeno Violencia, Consejo & Oro Jr. & Star Jr. b Arkangel de la Muerte & Luciferno & Metalico, Drone & Fuego & Stigma b Misterioso Jr. & Raziel & Sangre Azteca, Mistico & Stuka Jr. & Valiente b Felino & Mr. Niebla & Negro Casas, CMLL middleweight title: Angel de Oro b Rey Bucanero

8/3 Tokyo Shinkiba (All Japan - 362 sellout): Massimo & Danny Jones b Yohei Nakajima & Taishi Tashizawa, Saori Anno & Sumire Natsu b Miyuki Takase & Saki, Tajiri b Atsushi Maruyama, Atsushi Aoki & Yusuke Okada b Kotaro Suzuki & Keiichi Sato, Suwama b Hikaru Sato, Jun Akiyama & Shuji Ishikawa & Takao Omori & Kai b Kento Miyahara & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi & Koji Iwamoto

8/4 Halifax, Nova Scotia (WWE Raw - 5,600 sellout): Tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro b Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson, Jason Jordan b Elias, Three-way for women’s title: Alexa Bliss won over Sasha Banks and Nia Jax, Finn Balor b Bray Wyatt-DQ, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, Dean Ambrose b Karl Anderson, Roman Reigns won three-way over Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman

8/4 Ocala, FL (WWE NXT - 200): Roderick Strong b Fabian Aichner, Billie Kay & Peyton Royce b Dakota Kai & Sarah Logan, Babatunde Aiyegbusi b Demetrious Bronson, Lacey Evans b Mandy Rose, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake, No Way Jose b Kona Reeves, Ember Moon b Bianca Belair, Aleister Black b Velveteen Dream

8/4 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 9,000): Drone & Fuego & Pegasso b Disturbio & Sagrado & Virus, Gallito & Microman b Mije & Perico Zakarias, Cuatrero & Forastero & Sanson b Rey Cometa & Soberano Jr & The Panther, Angel de Oro & Diamante Azul & Marco Corleone b Rush & Pierroth & Hechicero-DQ, Caristico & Niebla Roja & Volador Jr. b Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Euforia, Hair vs. hair: Sam Adonis b Blue Panther

8/4 St. James, NY (GFW - 330): Pat Buck b KM, Knockouts title: Sienna b Taya, X title: Sonjay Dutt b Trevor Lee, Tag titles: LAX b Mario Bokara & Fallah Bah, Drago b Low Ki, James Storm & Moose John Hennigan b Eli Drake & Bobby Lashley & Ethan Carter III

8/5 Saint John, New Brunswick (WWE Raw - 3,100): Tag titles: Sheamus Cesaro b Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson, Jason Jordan b Elias, Three-way for women’s title: Alexa Bliss won over Sasha Banks and Nia Jax, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, Finn Balor b Bray Wyatt-DQ, Roman Reigns won three-way over Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe

8/5 Montreal (WWE Smackdown - 6,450): Tag titles: Big E & Kofi Kingston b The Ascension, Women’s title: Naomi b Carmella, Luke Harper & Sin Cara b Erick Rowan & Aiden English, A.J. Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura b Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin, Rusev b Tye Dillinger, Natalya b Charlotte Flair, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Sami Zayn

8/5 Largo, FL (WWE NXT - 250): Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch b Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake, Mandy Rose b Dakota Kai, Lacey Evans b Reina Gonzalez, Johnny Gargano b Andrade Cien Almas, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli, Roderick Strong b Sawyer Fulton, Ember Moon & Aliyah b Sage Beckett & Bianca Belair, Drew McIntyre b Alexander Wolfe

8/5 Staten Island, NY (GFW - 650): Fallah Bah b KM, Pat Buck & Anthony Bowens & Dan Maff b Heavenly Bodies, Trevor Lee b Mario Bokara, Non-title: Taya won three-way over Allie and Sienna, Eli Drake b Braxton Sutter, Tag titles: LAX b Drago & Sonjay Dutt, Moose & John Hennigan & James Storm b Bobby Lashley & Ethan Carter III & Low Ki

8/5 Kyoto (Dragon Gate - 750): Yosuke Santa Maria & U-T b Shun Skywalker & Yuki Yoshioka, Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito & Jimmy Kagetora b Dragon Kid & Gamma & Hyou Watanabe, Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kanda b T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida, Masaaki Mochizuki & Masato Yoshino b Yamato & Do Fujii, BxB Hulk & Kzy b Shingo Takagi & Lindaman, Cima & Eita & Takehiro Yamamura & Kaito Ishida b Naruki Doi & Big R Shimizu & Kotoka & Ben K

8/5 Tijuana (The Crash): Alastor & Mirage & Super Calo Jr. b Bufalo Ayala & Fantastik & Viento, Chik Tormenta & Ultimo Maldito b Jonathan & Keyra, Flamita won four-way over Draztick Boy, Arkangel Divino and Black Boy, Black Taurus & El HIjo de Pirata Morgan & Rey Escorpion b Ultimo Ninja & Willie Mack & Xtreme Tiger, Daga & Jack Evans & Oraculo b Bestia 666 & Black Danger & Garza Jr., La Mascara b Penta 0M

8/5 Dublin, Ireland (Over The Top - 1,950): Jordan Devlin b Matt Cross, Jay & Patrick Salmon b Jonny Storm & Jody Fleisch, Zack Gibson& Charlie Sterling b Lads from the Flats, Jimmy Havoc b Paul Tracey, Ricochet b Matt Sydal, Bonesaw & Damien Corvin & Dunkan Disorderly b Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos & Travis Banks, Joey Ryan & Angel Cruz b Candice LeRae & B Cool, Pete Dunne & Trent Seven & Tyler Bate b Hanson & Ray Rowe & Jeff Cobb, Women’s title: Sessions Moth Martina b Katie Harvey, NLW title: Mark Haskins won title in three-way over champion Ryan Smile and Marty Scurll

8/5 Voorhees, NJ (Combat Zone Wrestling - 1,000): Ace Romero won Aerial Assault match over Ken Broadway, Smiley, Mike Greca, Brandon Watts, Jason Gory, Anthony Bennett, Kit Osbourne, Pandita and Jimmy Lloyd, Maxwell Jacob Feinstein b John Silver, Dan O’Hare & Shlak won three-way over Stockade & G-Raver and Hideki Hosaka & Raijin Yaguchi, Tim Donst b Ace Austin, CZW title: Shane Strickland b Masada, Lio Rush b Joey Janela, Atsushi Onita NC Matt Tremont, Atsushi Onita & Raijin Yaguchi & Hideki Hosaka b Matt Tremont & Danny Havoc & Rickey Shane Page

8/6 London, ONT (WWE Raw - 4,200): Tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro b Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson, Jason Jordan b Elias, Three-way for women’s title: Alexa Bliss won over Sasha Banks and Nia Jax, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, Finn Balor b Bray Wyatt-DQ, Roman Reigns won three-way over Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman

8/6 Ottawa, ONT (WWE Smackdown): Tag titles: Big E & Xavier Woods b The Ascension, Rusev b Tye Dillinger, Women’s title: Naomi b Carmella, A.J. Styles & Sami Zayn b Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin, Natalya b Charlotte Flair, Luke Harper & Sin Cara b Aiden English & Erick Rowan, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Shinsuke Nakamura

8/6 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 884): Yoshinari Ogawa b Masao Inoue, Kazma Sakamoto & Cody Hall b Naomichi Marufuji & Leona, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Akitoshi Saito b Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm, Hajime Ohara won three-way over Seiya Moroashi and Tadasuke, Daisuke Harada won three-way over Hitoshi Kumano and Hayata, Go Shiozaki b Maybach Taniguchi, Atsushi Kotoge won three-way over Kenou and Masa Kitamiya, GHC jr. title: Taiji Ishimori b Yo-Hey

8/6 Kobe (All Japan - 510 sellout): Hikaru Sato b Rey Paloma, Minoru Tanaka b Yusuke Okada, Tajiri & Billy Ken Kid b Ultimo Dragon & Yohei Nakajima, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori b Massimo & Danny Jones, Suwama & Atsushi Aoki b Koji Iwamoto & Yuma Aoyagi, Kento Miyahara & Kai & Naoya Nomura b Shuji Ishikawa & Zeus & The Bodyguard

8/6 Matsubara (Dragon Gate - 500 sellout): Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Lindaman b Masaaki Mochizuki & Don Fujii & U-T, Takashi Yoshida b Yosuke Santa Maria, Masato Yoshino & Kotoka b Dragon Kid & Takehiro Yamamura, Cima & Eita b Naruki Doi & Ben K, Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy b Jimmy Susumu & Ryo Saito & Jimmy K-Ness

8/6 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Pequeno Nitro & Pequeno Olimpico b Acero & Aereo, Cancerbero & El Hijo del Signo & Nitro b Flyer & Sensei & Star Jr., Marcela & Zeuxis were last two survivors in tournament over Princesa Sugehit, Silueta, Lady Maravilla, Skadi, Dallys, Amapola, Comandante and Seductora, Diamante Azul & Titan & Valiente b Kraneo & Negro Casas & Vangellys, Caristico & Marco Corleone & Volador Jr. b Mephisto & Ephesto & Euforia

8/7 Toronto (WWE Raw/Superstars TV tapings - 11,000): Apollo Crews b Curt Hawkins, Elias b Kalisto, Sheamus b Seth Rollins, Jason Jordan b Jean Pierre Goulet, Sasha Banks won three-way over Alicia Fox and Emma, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson b Big Show & Enzo Amore, Dean Ambrose b Cesaro, Akira Tozawa b Ariya Daivari, Nia Jax won three-way over Dana Brooke and Mickie James, Last man standing: Braun Strowman b Roman Reigns

8/7 Kingston, ONT (WWE Smackdown - 2,500): Tag titles: Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods b The Ascension, Natalya b Charlotte Flair, Rusev b Tye Dillinger, Four-way for U.S. title: A.J. Styles won over Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, Luke Harper & Sin Cara b Aiden English & Erick Rowan, Women’s title: Naomi b Carmella, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Shinsuke Nakamura

8/7 Kunibiki (All Japan - 493 sellout): Koji Iwamoto b Yusuke Okada, Almighty Inoue & Kozzy b Susanoo Kid & Matsue Deluxe, Takao Omori & Carbell Ito b Hikaru Sato & Atsushi Maruyama, Tajiri & Minoru Tanaka & Black Tiger VII b Jun Akiyama & Ultimo Dragon & Yohei Nakajima, Zeus & The Bodyguard b Suwama & Atsushi Aoki, Kento Miyahara & Kai & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Shuji Ishikawa & Ryoji Sai & Massimo & Danny Jones

8/8 Toronto (WWE Smackdown/205 Live TV tapings - 9,000): Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder & Luke Harper b The Ascension & Aiden English, Usos b Tye Dillinger & Sami Zayn, Charlotte Flair b Lana, Non-title: Carmella b Naomi, Non-title: Randy Orton b Jinder Mahal, Tony Nese b Cedric Alexander, Noam Dar b Mark Thomas, TJP b Rich Swann, A.J. Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura b Baron Corbin & Kevin Owens

8/8 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Dragon Gate - 1,850 sellout): Masaaki Mochizuki & Gamma & Shachihoko Boy b Shun Skywalker & Yuki Yoshioka & Katsumi Takashima, Jimmy Kanda & Jimmy K-Ness b Don Fujii & Hyo Watanabe, Cima Dragon Kid b Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Kagetora, Eita & Takehiro Yamamura & Kaito Ishida b Kotoka & Big R Shimizu & Ben K, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino b Jimmy Susumu & Ryo Saito, Elimination match: Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy & Yosuke Santa Maria b Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman

8/8 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Acero & Aereo b Pequeno Universo 2000 & Pequeno Violencia, Vaquerita & Marcela & Princesa Sugehit b Seductora & Metalica & Tiffany, Rey Cometa b Forastero, Ephesto & Felino & Luciferno b Drone & Fuego & Guerrero Maya Jr., Mr. Niebla & Rey Bucanero & El Terrible b Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & Titan, Cavernario & Negro Casas & Ultimo Guerrero b Mistico & Rush & Valiente

8/9 Sasebo (All Japan): Yuma Aoyagi b Yusuke Okada, Jun Akiyama & Atsushi Maruyama b Takao Omori & Yohei Nakajima, Hikaru Sato b Black Tiger VII, Zeus & The Bodyguard & Ultimo Dragon b Tajiri & Minoru Tanaka & Koji Iwamoto, Suwama & Atsushi Aoki b Massimo & Danny Jones, Kento Miyahara & Kai & Naoya Nomura b Shuji Ishikawa & Ryoji Sai & Masakado

 

Special thanks to: Amin Ajani, Bryan Alvarez, Brett Armstrong, Dean Ayass, Ed Battes, Jeffrey Bernardo, Thomas Bershstein, Rob Bihari, Reece Bird, Matthew Bisson, Lewis Bourke, Patrick Brandmeyer, Angus Bray, Mark Bright, Shane Brion, Cory Butcher, Jan Buxton, John Canton, Joshua Caudill, Anthony Cerda, James Charlton, Richard Conn, Brandt Daniels, Harvey Duplock, Matt Farmer, Simon Flatman, Paul Fontaine, Patrick Garcia, Andrew Garvey, Lak Gill, Evan Ginzberg, Austin Gonzales, Jarvis Googoo, Kenny Greco, Matt Griffin, Chappell Guthrie, Josh Hayes, Justin Henry, Xavier Hunter, Jake Jackson, Conor Keary, Richard Kelly, Steve Kennedy, Bill King, Jake Koch, Eric Krone, Patric Laprade, Bob Magee, Nick Mahmood, Andre Manseau, Andy Martinez, Ryan McCoy, Lauren McKell, Paul Morrison, Joseph Myers, Pedram Noury, Mike Omansky, Richard Orloski, Brian Paneral, Juan Portocarrero, Joe Puccio, Brian Reid, Owen Reynoldson, Brian Reznick, James Ryder, Rodrigo Salazar, David Santos, John Service, Chris Siggia, Jeff Snyder, Tyler Sombathy, Paul Stefanowicz, Jon Southerland, Julian Tarevski, Nick Tennant, Hunter Walston, Mike Wasserson, J.J. Williams, Steve Williams, Trae Wisecarver, Joseph Woodbury III, Justin Wright

CMLL: Sam Adonis beat Blue Panther in the hair vs. hair main event on the 8/4 Arena Mexico show, which drew 9,000 fans. They’ve been building to this match for a long time. They weren’t expecting a giant crowd since they hung huge banners all over the upper deck of the 16 participants in the World Cup, which blocked out a lot of upper deck seats. The heat was tremendous for this match, as you’d figure it would be. I don’t think the crowd expected Adonis to win, but he should have won and they should use this to elevate The Panther (Blue’s son) and have him go for revenge for his father as it’s an easy way to elevate a new guy into being a star. They could do it with Blue Panther Jr., who is the bigger and more muscular son, and in another era you’d say that, but big and muscular means less to modern fans, even in Mexico, and they’re more into the performance, and The Panther is easily the better of the sons. That said, the direction looks to be different than that. I still think one of the dumbest moves they ever made was in 2008 in the Blue Panther vs. Villano V mask match. Villano V was pretty much about to retire or at least step out of the spotlight and everyone knew Panther was beating him. But the promotion, even though Villano was leaving and Panther was staying, because it has been reported everywhere that Panther was winning for all those reasons, and he was, the promotion changed the finish in the last 72 hours before the match for no other reason that to momentarily surprise the fans and perhaps stick it to the media. So they sacrificed years of marketability including the ability to do tons of money in the future with Panther’s mask at stake again, which they could never do with Villano’s mask, to fool people for a split second. And that would be fine, but since Panther looks so old and was sticking around, it was counterproductive. Because of how old Panther looks, far older than 56, even though there are things he can still do well like wrestle, and the Adonis vs. Panther match even now was very good, he couldn’t be pushed as hard as he could have for the next nine years if he was still the masked and legendary Blue Panther. There was a ref bump by Tirantes and Adonis got the third fall pin holding the ropes in 18:21. There were things being thrown into the ring at him, which I haven’t seen in a while, but the scene wasn’t that bad. There was concern in putting a guy waving a Trump flag over in a hair match with an enduring legend and how the crowd would react. But the crowds now go to the matches to have fun with the atmosphere and they aren’t looking at rioting if their favorite loses. But even by Arena Mexico standards there was a lot of heat, but it wasn’t dangerous heat, or at least wasn’t for the most part. Adonis won the first fall with the Michinoku driver and Panther took the second with the nudo submission. Adonis, whose real name is Sam Polinsky from Pittsburgh doing pretty much the same act Fabuloso Blondy did here nearly 20 years ago, did a plancha and a running flip dive to start the third fall. They traded near falls. Adonis went for the tombstone piledriver but Tirantes made him stop since that move is illegal. That spot was pretty much from the Blue Panther vs. Love Machine matches that were big in 1992 and 1993. Panther did two tope’s in a row at his age and then went for a third but Tirantes blocked him. He went for another one and missed and crashed on the floor. Adonis put the U.S. flag with Trump’s picture on Panther and came off the top rope with a frog splash, but Panther kicked out. They brawled on the floor and Panther got the Fujiwara armbar on and apparently Adonis conceded, but it was on the floor so it didn’t count. Adonis did a crossbody off the top rope and Panther rolled through and Tirantes was very slow in counting and then missed as Adonis used the ropes for the pin. Adonis did everything he could think of and while I wouldn’t call it a great match, but both worked hard and did their best match possible and the heat itself was super. This kind of a match with a Mexican legend against a Trump supporting young American in the main event with hair stips and near falls is going to get super heat. Adonis later issued challenges for stip matches to Rush, Ultimo Guerrero, Caristico and Mistico

The other big match was Caristico & Volador Jr. & Niebla Roja beating Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Euforia in 14:58 when Roja and Gran Guerrero were left in the ring and Roja pinned him clean with a double chicken wing off the middle ropes where he dropped Gran on his face. Gran then issued a challenge for a mask vs. mask match at the Anniversary show on 9/16. They’ve been building this up for weeks, but as far as star quality goes, this is weak for the anniversary show. Roja hasn’t gotten over as a babyface even when they were teasing the turn and since the turn. Gran is a star who is in the top heel trios because Ultimo is such a superstar, but he’s never been the top rung star in his matches. Gran tore up Roja’s mask early and Roja ran to the back and got a new mask and did a stage dive on Euforia. Caristico in the second fall did a spinning head scissors into La Mistica on Euforia. The match was very good. In another big match, Angel de Oro & Diamante Azul & Marco Corleone beat Pierroth & Rush & Hechicero via DQ in the third fall. Rush unmasked Azul in the third fall. Azul said he wanted a mask vs. hair match with Rush. Rush then said he doesn’t talk Spanish, which got a ton of heat with the crowd, but he did magically learn it. Cuatrero & Sanson & Forastero beat Soberano Jr. & Rey Cometa & The Panther in what was a great match at ****. The face team did a triple dive off the stage. Soberano did a couple of great corkscrew dives. They also brought the micros back for a second time at Arena Mexico with Gallito & Microman beating Mije & Perico Zakarias

The 8/11 show was Rush vs. Diamante Azul in a non-stop singles match, so perhaps they are leading to a hair vs. mask match as Azul did challenge him to one already. The main event is Mistico & Dragon Lee & Roja vs Gran Guerrero & Ultimo Guerrero & Mephisto, plus Soberano is moving up teaming with Caristico & Valiente vs. Cavernario & Negro Casas & Adonis

Kenny King will be replacing Haku in the World Grand Prix tournament on 9/1 at Arena Mexico

Hechicero is doing angle with El Satanico in Guadalajara where he’s looking for Satanico to give him the rights to use the legendary Los Infernales name for his group. Satanico suggested a mask vs. name match

Marco Corleone made his first defense of the CMLL heavyweight title on 8/5 at Arena Coliseo in Mexico City beating Vangellys

The elimination match on 8/6 at Arena Mexico for the CMLL Reina International women’s title came down to Marcela and Zeuxis, who will meet on 8/13 for the title.

AAA: So the Taya/Mundo/Vampiro story got weirder this week as The Cubs Fan wrote a story noting that a backstage segment taped on 6/30 with Vampiro and El Hijo del Fantasma looked to be in the exact same room where Johnny Mundo split from Kevin Kross and said it was the same room where Vampiro and Mundo had an argument televised where Vampiro said he was taking away the Reina de Reinas title. Mundo wasn’t at a TV taping between 6/30 and 7/27, and said based on the room being identical, it was impossible it was taped on 7/27, when they apparently turned the incident into an angle, which they claimed meant it had to be an angle, saying Mundo taped an angle with them a day before he claimed he found out about Taya being stripped of the title. From others close to the situation, they deny that’s possible because Taya has been fuming mad and hasn’t gone back, and that Sexy Star has even personally reached out to Taya to tell her she knew nothing of this and had no say in this, since from the outside it would have appeared Sexy demanded the title back to return, since she got it on her first night back after Taya was stripped of it for reasons that made no sense. The Cubs fan theorized that they would add Taya in a multiple person title match with champ Sexy Star and Lady Shani. If that does happen, it would seemingly confirm this as a work. It would be the stupidest work in recent memory, but I lived through WCW and know that stuff can happen. The stupidity issue is this, AAA has lost a ton of talent of late complaining about the ownership and management of the company. Mundo and Taya, but Mundo in particular, plays American heel, but if this was a story, the company was the complete heel at a time when it was important for the company to not book angles to make them look bad given how bad they’ve looked of late to the public to public complaints from those who left, and the wrestling heels were the babyfaces, although with Mundo and Vampiro’s television portrayal, Mundo is the heel because the aspects in the “shoot” storyline were ignored on the television storyline. Also, the beginning of the angle was of almost no interest in Mexico, since it was in English on Twitter and the Internet, and AAA fans are Spanish and get their angles from TV (the angle did move to TV later). It was of interest in the U.S. among a fan base that can’t get the show, doesn’t get the show, and also Vampiro came off terribly in public and he hates that. Anyway it is very much an angle now. The story is that the Mundo thing started off as an angle, the Taya thing was a shoot and then it was used as part of the angle and you can believe of that what you will

Anyway, it is very much an angle now. Vampiro did a Facebook interview this past week and was asked about how they keep advertising matches that never happen for television tapings. His explanation is that there have been drastic internal changes in the company but that promoters want to advertise cards months in advance (well weeks in advance) and because of injuries or other reasons they have to change them. The new philosophy of the company is to change the lineups. He said he knows some people aren’t happy with this but they try and change the matches for the better. He also claimed they, within the next three years, would be running in places like Italy, Spain, Russia, England, France and have more talent exchanges with GFW and Lucha Underground

Angelico did an interview and said that European wrestling had advanced past Mexican wrestling, and said this in Mexico. He said Mexico hasn’t advanced and are doing the same things they’ve been doing, and that Mexican wrestlers are too content with their place and aren’t aiming to be the best.

THE CRASH: There will be more GFW talent coming in soon and there are plans to expand to more cities in Mexico over the rest of the year as well as to a U.S. show, tentatively near the end of this year

They did a show on 8/5 in Tijuana where they tested out not using the higher priced fly-ins from the U.S., as the only non-Mexicans were Jack Evans and Willie Mack. It wasn’t sold out but it was close to full. The main event saw La Mascara beat Penta 0M in a match where saw Garza Jr. and Bestia 666 help Mascara, and Daga try and help Penta. Mascara pulled Penta’s mask off and then rolled him up. Garza Jr. & Black Danger & Bestia 666 beat Daga & Evans & Oraculo in what was reported as a super heated brawl. Evans went out on a stretcher and Garza Jr. & Bestia attacked him while he was on the stretcher. Garza tripped and thought a fan did it, and punched the fan, but the fan was innocent. This led to a lot of talk since a number of videos surfaced all showing the fan being innocent. Konnan came out and promised the crowd that they would see a big mask or hair match before the end of the year. Evans and Bestia are groomed for a hair match at some point. This led to Penta challenging Mascara to a mask vs. hair match. The next show is 9/2, which is the Saturday night of Best of Los Angeles

Rey Fenix won the cruiserweight title on 8/6 in Monterrey. Rey Horus missed weekend shows in Tijuana and Mexicali, but did come for the title match in Monterrey, where he lost it in a four-way that also included Ultimo Ninja and Sammy Guevara. Apparently Horus had a falling out with The Crash, but was booked on this show by the local promoter originally so came. Konnan on his podcast said Horus and Crash’s issue is that he was mad because he was booked in the second match of the card, since he’s from Tijuana and always works higher on the shows, often in main events. They didn’t sell out but also had a good crowd. Ultimo Ninja wants to change his ring name to Ultimo Garza

The next Tijuana show is 9/2, with the GFW tag titles at stake with LAX in a three-way against Dave & Jake Crist and a third team, plus Low Ki and Shane Strickland will be the Americans brought in

Alberto El Patron is no longer working with this promotion

They also ran on 8/4 in Mexicali but that show drew maybe 1,000 fans with Rey Mysterio Jr. as the main star

Upcoming shows are 8/10 in San Luis Potosi (Alberto’s home city) with Mysterio Jr. & Blue Demon Jr. & Rey Fenix vs. La Mascara Rey Escorpion & M-ximo on top and 8/17 in Cuautitlan with Penta 0M & Fenix vs Mascara & M-ximo

DRAGON GATE: All of the shows are built around the five factions battle for survival with key matches on every show having points involved and one of the units will have to disband when it’s over

The 8/8 show at Korakuen Hall drew a sellout announced at 1,850 which had a surprise, as Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy & Yosuke Santa Maria won four straight falls over Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman in 30:24. T-Hawk, Yoshida and Lindaman were eliminated between the 22:00 and 26:00 mark, leaving Takagi against all four, and Kzy finally pinned him with a schoolboy.

ALL JAPAN: The 8/27 show at Sumo Hall in Tokyo is a big test of where they stand. All Japan, as far as semi-major promotions, appears to have grown the most by percentage in popularity this year of any company in the world. It’s still small, but the target to compare growth would be to beat the 6,522 of the 11/27 show that headlined by Kento Miyahara vs. Suwama for the Triple Crown and had the biggest mainstream attraction being Atsushi Onita & Masa Fuchi reforming their tag team and going after the All Asia belts. That was considered very successful. They’ve got a 12-match show with Yohei Nakajima & Fuminori Abe vs. Takuya Nomura (one of the most highly touted of the younger Japanese wrestlers) & Yuya Aoki; Ryoji Sai & Masakado & Koji Ishinriki (a 56-year old popular sumo star from another generation), vs. Sam Adonis (CMLL) & Massimo & Danny Jones; Dory Funk Jr. & Hiro Saito vs. Masa Fuchi & Great Kabuki in a legends match; a Battle Royal for the BANG TV title with Osamu Nishimura defending in a match that includes Yutaka Yoshie, Big Japan’s Abdullah Kobayashi and Rikiya Fudo; Caristico (CMLL) vs. Diamante; Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato defend the All-Asia tag titles against Black Tiger VII & Taka Michinoku; Yuma Aoyagi vs. Taichi (New Japan); Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto (Tanaka & Kanemoto at one time were arguably the best tag team in the world years ago in New Japan, and Akiyama & Omori were a team for years as well) vs. Joe Doering & Zeus & the Bodyguard & Kotaro Suzuki; Tajiri vs. Ultimo Dragon for the jr. title (they are doing a storyline where Dragon is wanting Tajiri to agree to not use the green mist which Tajiri has not agreed to); Kai & Naoya Nomura vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi of Big Japan for the vacant world tag team title; Suwama vs. Satoshi Kojima (All Japan) and Shuji Ishikawa defends the Triple Crown against Miyahara

. Michinoku appeared on the 8/3 show in Tokyo. Black Tiger VII was doing an interview saying he wanted to challenge for the All-Asia tag team titles at the 8/27 show at Sumo Hall. He announced Taka as his partner, and Taka came out and said he wanted to win the title to celebrate his 25th year as a pro wrestler by winning the oldest championship in Japan, which dates back to 1955, and were the historical main tag team titles in Japan until 1966 when the International tag team titles were brought to Japan

Naoya Nomura announced that he was picking Kai as his new tag team partner in the world tag team title match on that show for the vacant belts, to replace the injured Jake Lee, who is out with a torn ACL and likely needs surgery.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: The 8/6 show at Korakuen Hall drew 884 fans as Taiji Ishimori retained the jr. title in the main event beating o-Hey in 19:44 with a 450 splash. The show featured a lot of three-way matches. They did two of them as part of a tournament to determine the next challenger for the jr. title. Hajime Ohara won a three-way over Seiya Morohashi and Tadasuke, by pinning Morohashi. Daisuke Harada won a three-way over Hitoshi Kumano and Hayata, when he pinned Kumano after a German suplex. So Harada vs. Ohara takes place on 8/12, with the winner getting a title shot, which may come on 8/26

Rey Fenix and Garza Jr. are scheduled in from The Crash in October.

NEW JAPAN: The medical report on Hiroshi Tanahashi torn right biceps is essentially what was reported. It was noted that in most cases with a distal biceps tendon rupture that one would opt for surgery to repair the arm. Tanahashi said that he couldn’t be out of action for the six months after surgery. The belief was that his brachialis muscle can compensate for the function of the torn biceps so the decision wasn’t that bad

Katsuyori Shibata wrote that his doctor is very surprised about how well his recovery has gone. He also talked about being very depressed because it doesn’t feel like summer to him without being in the G-1 tournament

Tetsuo Baisho, one of the people who helped build this company, passed away on 8/8 at the age of 68. For years, Baisho was a major executive, as Vice President of the company underneath Antonio Inoki when Inoki was the president in the 70s and through around 1983. He was also the first ring announcer for the company starting in 1972. Baisho is the brother of Mitsuko Baisho, who was a famous movie and television star in Japan, who was also Inoki’s first wife

Low Ki did an interview with RealSport and claimed his departure from New Japan was due to refusing to wrestle on a show in Fukushima. There was a nuclear waste leak on March 11, 2011 in Fukushima. In late 2012, he was on a tour and they had a show there and he refused to go there in the middle of the tour. He was told that if he didn’t wrestle on the show, he would be suspended for one year. So he didn’t go. On the next tour, they had Prince Devitt (Finn Balor)beat him to win the IWGP jr. title. Then, at the Tokyo Dome show on January 4, 2013, the last show of his contract, he came out wearing a suit and wrestling in a three-way match dressed up as Agent 47 from the Hitman video game series, which he said was a protest of his suspension. I remember that New Japan officials didn’t know he was going to come out in that outfit and for this three-way bout for the IWGP jr. title against both Devitt (Finn Balor) and Kota Ibushi. They had a hell of a match but New Japan was furious he came out in a suit and tie for a title match instead of wrestling gear, without clearing it with them. You never say never and all that, but this heat remained serious for years, to the point I was told New Japan would be open to bringing anyone back with the exception of Low Ki

New Japan isn’t insisting on protection of their tag team champions outside the promotion as War Machine worked the 8/6 show in London for Revolution Pro and lost to Chris Brookes & Travis Banks.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Mariko Morita, 47, better known as Mariko Yoshida, will have her retirement show on 11/19 at Shinjuku Face in Tokyo. Yoshida was one of the second tier of stars, although still a great wrestler, during the All Japan Women’s Wrestling early 1990s boom period. Some of the legends from the glory days will be on the show including Jaguar Yokota, Aja Kong, Kyoko Inoue, Takako Inoue and Mika Akino. Yoshida wrestled for All Japan Women from 1988 to 1997, but missed two of those years due to a broken neck. She was originally a high flyer, but after her injury, came back as technical star and did a submission-based style. After leaving AJW for Arsion in 1997, she became one of the top stars of the promotion, winning the Queen of Arsion title three times as well as the tag team title with both Aja Kong and Lioness Asuka, and also held the CMLL world women’s title

Famous heel referee Shiro Abe, who passed away in April at the age of 76, will have a Memorial show on 10/22 at Shinkiba in Tokyo with Dump Matsumoto, Chigusa Nagayo, Yukari Omori, Jumbo Hori and Kaoru Ito appearing.

HERE AND THERE: Will Ospreay is talking about relocating to Australia. Ospreay and girlfriend Bea Priestly were there working a tour and at the 8/4 show for the PWA promotion (run by woman wrestling star Madison Eagles), Ospreay in a big surprise defeated Robbie Eagles to win the PWA title. Dan Lennard, an Australian historian said that this was the hottest crowd he’s ever seen at a Sydney independent match and the best match he’s ever seen in 45 years as a fan. The match, which was in front of a crowd of about 300, a sellout, went 25:00 with lots of near falls, stiff forearms, chops and kicks, brawling in the crowd and great high flying. Eagles also stole the show when House of Hardcore ran in Sydney. Ospreay gave a speech after winning the title saying that the U.K. scene is doing great, is crowded and doesn’t need him, but that he’d like to help the Australian scene grow. He later told us that he may be moving there as his base, but he is still committed to New Japan and ROH. He also said that Kazuchika Okada should come as well. He said that he was coming back to wrestle for both the PWA and the Melbourne-based Melbourne City Wrestling groups. He said that he had worked with some of the Australian wrestlers and they had a lot of potential. On 8/5, for Melbourne City Wrestling, before 600 fans, he won the MCW Intercontinental title beating Adam Brooks in a match said to be ****+ and again said he would be basing himself out of Australia going forward. One of our readers who is a Londoner who moved full-time to Australia, spoke with him over the weekend and said Ospreay told him he was applying for Permanent Residency in Australia and said that his goal was to help make the Australian independent wrestling scene bigger and better, seeing its potential. Jonah Rock, who is in this year’s Battle of Los Angeles tournament, won the MCW title on the show cashing in a title shot won earlier in the show

Atsushi Onita did his first match in the U.S. in more than 30 years on 8/5 in Voorhees, NJ when a crowd of more than 1,000 fans paying $45 and $75, the best CZW crowd in a long time and biggest gate by far in company history, came to see him against Matt Tremont. Before the main event, there was a match with Lio Rush vs. Joey Janela which saw Janela power bomb Rush off the top of a high ladder through a table and Rush got up and did a no sell spot with crazy eyes (Rush had taken a superplex off the high ladder through a table earlier in the match). This got a lot of people in wrestling really upset and I can see why. Rush did a tribute to HHH for the finish since he’s starting soon in NXT, using a sledge hammer and a pedigree for the pin. Rush did a farewell promo saying he was moving on and promised that where he went next he would blow the roof off the place. I’m not sure why a guy who already has a WWE contract and it starting soon would do a match where he took two high ladder bumps through a table, although obviously the spots got over. Even though the no selling did get over with the crowd, and the idea that somehow this destroys wrestling is comedically overblown, the reality is there will be people in WWE who will not view him fondly and since he’s starting soon it will be in people’s minds and that isn’t the best thing to walk into. And the guy has the talent and the charisma to make it as far as they will let a guy of his size make it. who is about 5-foot-2 make it. Tremont had been hospitalized with an infection in his arm and checked himself out of the hospital, which we’re told he otherwise wouldn’t have done, because he had worked so hard to set up this match and wanted to do it. When Onita got there, apparently he insisted on the match being changed from a singles match to a six-man tag, with Onita & former FMW stars Hideki Hosaka & Raijin Yaguchi facing Tremont & Rickey Shane Page & Danny Havoc, called Team CZW. While Tremont had been hospitalized, it was Onita who made the call. Onita is bringing Tremont to Japan in October to do a singles match, so maybe he didn’t want Tremont to lose to him first here. But some of the fan base was clearly upset since many came from all over the country to see Onita in a singles match and ticket prices were greatly jacked up because of the cost of bringing him in and lots of people were wearing old 90s FMW T-shirts. The crowd sang along with “Wild Thing,” which is Onita’s theme music.

 They did an explosive barbed wire match and because they were indoors, this couldn’t be the spectacle that people have seen on tape of his famous outdoor matches in Japan. They did start the match as a singles match and went several minutes before the other wrestlers ran in and turned it into a six-man. The crowd wasn’t happy with that turn of events. Onita at the end talked about how the explosives were cheap and he’d show everyone a real explosive death match with Tremont in Japan

Stephan Bonnar will become the 10th UFC Hall of Famer to do pro wrestling when he debuts with shows on 8/18 and 8/19 in New York and Las Vegas. Bonnar debuts on 8/18 at Club Amazura in Jamaica, Queens, New York, in the main event for Amazing Red’s House of Glory Wrestling, facing another former UFC fighter, Matt Riddle. He will be wrestling the next afternoon for Future Stars of Wrestling in Las Vegas on a show that also includes former UFC fighters Tom Lawlor and Phil Baroni and is in conjunction with the Wrestling Observer web site convention. Previous UFC Hall of Famers who have done pro wrestling have been Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Mark Coleman (various Japan groups including IGF) , Tito Ortiz (TNA), Bas Rutten (New Japan), Don Frye (New Japan), Maurice Smith (RINGS and PWFG), Kazushi Sakuraba (many groups including New Japan and UWFI), and Frank Trigg (TNA). In addition, Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, Pat Miletich, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Pete Williams worked for pro wrestling promotions in Japan, but all of their bouts with those promotions were shoots. In fact, the only UFC Hall of Fame fighters never to do pro wrestling were Royce Gracie, Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, B.J. Penn and Urijah Faber

Matt Cappotelli wrote on Facebook, regarding his latest diagnosis with very severe brain cancer, “After much deliberation and multiple opinions, we have decided on a treatment plan. We have decided to forego radiation treatment, at least for now, due to the dangerous complications that may result, including blindness. With that being said, yesterday was my first day of chemotherapy treatment. I’ll continue the chemo treatments for the next 29 consecutive days, followed by 23 days of recovery, and then five more days of chemo. This protocol will be repeated in that 28 day cycle for a period of six months to a year, and then reassessed. In conjunction with my chemo treatments, I am also converting my nutrition into aa ketogenic plan (high fat/low carb), which is showing promising results in starving cancer cells.

The world championships of amateur wrestling take place 8/21 to 8/26 in Paris, France. The U.S. has a loaded freestyle team and there are several who are predicted to medal, most notably women Helen Maroulis (127.5) and Alli Ragan (132) and men Logan Stieber (134), James Green (154), Jordan Burroughs (163) and Kyle Snyder (213). Robby Smith, who is the Greco-Roman rep at 286, is one the WWE radar and has been at the Performance Center in the past. Maroulis, who beat Saori Yoshida to win the Olympic gold medal at 117 pounds last year, should be on everyone’s radar as she’s super marketable. WWE is well aware of her and probably should push hard to get her. Nick Gwiazdowski, the freestyle team member at 286, is expected to go to WWE in 2020 as he’s a big fan, has been recruited and has been at events. This will be his first world championship. Snyder, who won the Olympic gold medal at the same weight last year, has talked about going into MMA. Stieber won the world title at 134 pounds last year. J’Den Cox, at 189, took a bronze medal in the Olympics at that weight last year. Zain Retherford, one of the best college wrestlers of the last decade, at 143, will be in his first world championship. Green is coming off a third place in worlds finish in 2015 and a second place finish last year. And Burroughs is among the greatest wrestlers the country has ever produced, but at 29, is no longer dominant like he was a few years ago. He took world titles in 2011, 2013 and 2015 and Olympic gold in 2012.

A member of the Blue Demon family, or the Munoz family (not to be confused with the current wrestling Munoz family of Mistico, Rush, Dragon Lee and Pierroth), has filed suit against Televisa claiming he owns the rights to the Blue Demon name and Televisa doesn’t have the rights. Televisa has been producing its Blue Demon television show, a fiction show based on the 40s and 50s loosely based on the character and him becoming a pro wrestling legend and movie star. Televisa said they had made a deal with his son, who is on board and helping with the production, with the series and that they’ve completed three seasons of filming. There has been feuding in that family for years

Fathom Events will be putting the documentary called “The Price of Fame” about the life of Ted DiBiase in movie theaters around the country for a one night only run on 11/7

In regard to the story last week involving singer Van Morrison being sued by 82-year-old former pro wrestler Billy Two Rivers, that suit is in the process of being settled, if it has not been settled completely. Michael Graif, the lawyer for Two Rivers, said on 8/4 that the lawsuit has been put on hold. “Billy is very happy to have a quick settlement without further litigation,” said Graif. Morrison’s new album, called “Roll with the Punches,” scheduled for a 9/22 release, had a cover photo of Two Rivers in a wrestling match. At one point, the album cover after the lawsuit was filed, was changed to two boxers punching each other in the face. However, with the settlement imminent, Morrison’s Facebook promotion of the album release had visuals of two different covers, the one with Two Rivers and the one with the two boxers

Sabu, 52, is back doing wrestling on independent shows after his replacement surgery

Northeast Wrestling ran at its NEW Arena in Bethany, CT on 8/6 before a sellout 300 fans. The show was built around a Battle Royal, where the winner would get a shot at Cody Rhodes’ NEW title that night. Donovan Dijak, who is finishing up his indie dates before going to Orlando and NXT, won the Battle Royal and faced Rhodes in the main event. Rhodes won after interference from Bad Hollister. He then gave his thank you and farewell speech and was given a standing ovation by the babyfaces and the fans. That group is running the biggest indie show of the year on 8/27 in Wappingers Falls, NY, Wrestling Under the Stars 6. The show usually does between 2,800 and 3,500 fans. The show has Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. for the NEW title, Ryback vs. Wrecking Ball Legursky, Jerry Lawler vs. Robbie E, Hanson vs. Keith Lee, Vik Dalishus & Hale Collins defending the tag titles against TK O’Ryan & Vinny Marseglia, Flip Gordon vs. Garza Jr. vs. Laredo Kid, Brad Hollister vs. Brian Anthony plus non-wrestling appearances by Chris Jericho, Ricky Steamboat, Mick Foley and Bob Orton Jr

In the history department, researcher Phil Lion discovered a show at Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, Greece, on October 3, 1956, where 59-year-old Jim Londos beat Jim Wright (one of the major stars of that era) in 43:00 and two different newspapers reported that crowd at 40,000. He also headlined a stadium show in Thessaloniki, Greece a week earlier but there was no attendance. In the 30s, Londos headlined that stadium, which held 80,000, several times and sold it out on multiple occasions. I’ve seen video footage of it and it looks more packed than a WrestleMania and the stadium is clearly larger than most NFL stadiums today, and really looked about the size of the Pontiac Silverdome

A group called Heroes of Lucha Libre had the Citizen Bank Arena in Ontario, CA, booked on 10/1 for a show. The report we got is that there would be two rings with a catwalk between the rings, with Blue Demon Jr. & Tinieblas Jr. & L.A. Park vs. Russian Hacker & Trumpodo in the main event and an appearance by Mil Mascaras

Evolve’s next shows are 8/11 in Joppa, MD and 8/12 in Queens, NY (the latter a 4 p.m. start). The big attraction is wXw star Walter, who is one of the best independent stars in the world and just beat Matt Riddle to win the Progress Atlas championship, making his Evolve debut. Walter defends on the first night against Fred Yehi, and on the second night is part of a four-way match to challenge for Riddle’s WWN title with Keith Lee and Tracy Williams. Lio Rush also has his final match with Evolve before going to WWE on the first night in the building he started his career in, facing Riddle in a non-title match. It makes sense to do a non-title match, because with everyone knowing he’s leaving, in a title match in a promotion that doesn’t do Dqs and such, that would give away the result while in non-title, while logic tells you that you put your own champion over the guy who is leaving anyway, it’s 2017 and you can book the feel good moment because on an indie show it’s not like losing would hurt Riddle’s drawing power going forward, which would be the reason you’d do it in the old days, because it would. 8/11 has Walter vs. Yehi, Riddle vs. Rush, Keith Lee vs. Timothy Thatcher, Chris Dickinson & Jaka vs. Ethan Page & ACH, Jason Kincaid vs. Austin Theory and Anthony Henry & James Drake defending the tag titles. 8/12 is part of a doubleheader with Progress following, with Riddle vs. Lee vs Williams vs. Walter, Dickinson & Jaka vs. Travis Banks &TK Cooper, Mark Haskins vs. Theory, Page vs. ACH, Thatcher vs. Darby Allin and more

Jesse Ventura got assurances from Russian President Vladimir Putin that his television show, “The World According to Jesse,” would not be censored at all. Ventura’s show will air on Russia TV, a station that is funded by the Russian government. He had done a show called “Off the Grid” in 2015 with RTV’s American affiliate. The show will debut on 9/8 and air on Friday nights at 7:30 p.m., Eastern, and replayed at 10 p.m

AAW will be doing a title vs. mask match on 8/31 in Berwyn, IL with Sami Callihan defending against Rey Fenix. This stemmed from an 8/5 match in LaSalle, IL, where Juventud Guerrera & Fenix & AR Fox beat Callihan & Jake Crist & Jason Cade, and Callihan pulled off Fenix’s mask after the match

Dave Bautista teased the idea of playing the immortal hero in Valiant’s comic book mythology, saying, “We are currently working to get the script fan-worthy and then we’ll be full on from there.

Sara Lee, who won the women’s side of the last “Tough Enough” based on fan voting, much to the chagrin of WWE officials who felt Mande Rose was the better prospect (and she was) is back training to be a wrestler. Lee was cut by WWE after getting pregnant (Cory Weston, aka Wesley Blake, was the father

. Bill Apter told me that Hulk Hogan always insists that he never tried to emulate Superstar Billy Graham as far as his character went. Granted, he came across like a total Superstar Graham character, and grew up in Tampa and was a fan of Graham and actually met Graham before getting into the business and began lifting heavy to be like Graham. But he said that he got his character, bragging about the size of his arms (which Graham did) and Hulkamania (which Graham never did) from Austin Idol, who was a big star in Alabama and the Gulf Coast when Hogan was first breaking in. Of course, Idol got much of his interview pattern, the tie-dyed tight T-shirts, the posing and such, from being Mike McCord and copying Graham

A correction from the bio of Tetsuo Sekigawa. The listing of he and Dynamite Kid holding the International tag team title was incorrect. It’s listed that way everywhere but Ross Hart, the Stampede Wrestling historian, said they were never actually champions. There was a tournament for the title and they lost in the finals to Hubert Gallant & Leo Burke

Sid Vicious, 56, did his first match in a while, beating Paul Rosenberg for Great North Wrestling on 8/5 in Ottawa, ONT on a show where Alain Moussi from the “Kickboxer Vengeance” films was a special referee

There are at least plans for a major Lucha Libre show in Ontario on 10/1. The arena was told there would be two rings and a catwalk between the two rings

Brujo Maya, 25, a local wrestler in Queretaro, passed away this past week. He was the son of Perro del Ring, another area wrestler, and the nephew of Canek.

EUROPE: Over the Top Wrestling drew a near sellout of 1,950 to Dublin National Stadium on 8/6 for a four-and-a-half hour show, built around a lot of Americans. The biggest name guest was Mick Foley. In the most talked about spot, Foley used the socko claw on the crotch of Joey Ryan, and then Foley took the bump from that spot. Jim Cornette hates Ryan and the dick flipping gimmick so they played that up as Angel Cruz, who teamed with Ryan against B-Cool & Candice LeRae in a mixed tag, pulled out a tennis racket from under the ring with Cornette’ s face on it and hit Ryan with it. People said this was one of the funniest matches you’ll ever see. Ricochet beat frequent tag partner Matt Sydal. With Sydal still banged up from a shoulder injury at the last set of GFW tapings, this was more mat based and more about holds, but they worked well together. Pete Dunne & Trent Seven & Tyler Bate beat War Machine & Jeff Cobb in about 25:00 of crazy double and triple team spots before Cobb was pinned. British Strong Style are heels in most U.K. promotions but are faces in OTT. Dunne is one of the biggest heels around, including in WWE, while Bate is a babyface in WWE. Hanson was pinned after all three members of the team used their finishers on him. The main event was a three-way where Mark Haskins won their NWL title over champion Ryan Smile, with Marty Scurll as the third guy in an elimination match. The crowd reacted to Scurll as the biggest star but he was eliminated in 20:00 by Smile. The place was filled with Bullet Club and Scurll T-shirts, so they were really upset when he lost. Then the crowd was behind Haskins, who won at the 30:00 mark with an armbar in what was said to be a ****+ match. They announced the next Stadium show would be on 12/9, called “Being the Elite,” with Young Bucks, Cody, Marty Scurll and Will Ospreay

They did a second show on 8/6 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, called “WrestleRama,” with much of the same crew before a sellout of 550 fans. Cobb beat Ricochet in the match people were raving about, with some saying it was the best match in the world held over the weekend. We were told it was comparable to the high-end matches in G-1. Cobb’s chops were said to be brutal. In a mixed tag that involved Ryan and Session Moth Martina, Ryan forced Justin Shipe to grab his crotch and then Martina grabbed Shipe’s other hand and put it on her crotch and they both Hulked up and he took a big bump across the ring. The main event saw Belfast Strong Style and Kings of the North Bonesaw & Damien Corvyn & Dunkin Disorderly beat British Strong Style. After a ref bump, Foley came out to referee the rest of the match and counted as the Belfast team won. The match featured a very risky balcony dive by Corvyn. One thing noted to us is that unlike in the past where OTT has been relying on outsiders and not developing the local stars, that Belfast Strong Style and Martina came across as major stars.

ROH: The 10/15 show in Chicago, built around Kenny Omega, was the fastest selling ticket in the history of the company. After the first day of tickets being put on sale, they had already sold 1,875 tickets (there were several hundred sold in advance to club members two days earlier). They had set the Odeum Theater up for somewhere between 2,080 and 2,300, and were right at that number by the end of the weekend. That figure of tickets sold in a few hours was more than any ROH show in Chicago had ever drawn. What will be key is if it’s a deal where everyone who wants to buy tickets for Omega’s first appearance in the Midwest in years since becoming a significant level star did so right away, or if tickets will continue to sell at a steady pace from here and they’ll end up at company record levels. It’s already established that ROH is drawing a fan base that will go go stand in line for T-shirts and photos and is stronger by far than any time in history, but with the Young Bucks as the main draws, there has still been a ceiling in the sense they’ve never drawn more than 3,500 fans and they needed Young Bucks vs. Hardys over WrestleMania week to do that

The updated lineup for the War of the Worlds U.K. iPPV show on 8/18 is Cody vs. Sanada for the ROH title, Young Bucks vs. Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian for the tag team titles, Kushida vs. Hiromu Takahashi vs. Marty Scurll vs. Dalton Castle for the TV title, Bully Ray & Briscoes vs. Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Bushi, Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero vs. Titan & Mistico, Jay Lethal vs. Josh Bodom (ROH debut) and Kenny King vs. Hangman Page

The 8/20 show in Edinburgh, Scotland has announced thus far, Daniels & Kazarian vs. Cody & Scurll, Castle & The Boys defending the six-man titles against Young Bucks & Page, Lethal vs. Silas Young in a street fight, Guerrero & Bucanero vs. Briscoes, Evil vs. Bully Ray, Naito & Bushi & Sanada vs. Kushida & Mistico & Titan and King vs. Bodom

With The Young Bucks in Montreal on the same day as the WWE show, they filmed the “Being the Elite” show there are had quick cameos with Styles, Owens and Zayn. They did a storyline about how WWE was in Montreal the same day so they may see old friends. So they were filming and basically all three guys show up for split seconds in the background, with Zayn the only one you’d even notice as a guy asking for directions (remember that in theory, they wouldn’t know him since they only knew El Generico) and then when the show was over they were disappointed because they saw none of their friends. They are also doing a storyline for the show where they got a cease & desist letter that ordered them to no longer use the term “F*** The Revival,” which they’ve been pushing and marketing, likely based on silly fans on Twitter saying they don’t know how to work and that the Revival was better than they were, and they’ve since turned it into a catch phrase to use at the arenas, T-shirts and the show, which Cody really got over saying it everywhere

Rocky Romero, Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa will return on the 8/26 show at Center Stage in Atlanta. That will be four-show TV taping and they are advertising it as “ROH Saturday Night at Center Stage,” since the old WCW Saturday Night show on TBS was taped in the same building. The show was just about sold out as of the weekend but that’s only 780 seats

Cody did an interview with Fanbuzz.com. On TNA, he said, “Brandi (his wife) was watching Maria and Mike (Bennett) on Pop and she wanted to go. I didn’t have any plans to go, but I thought I could absolutely try to help make that happen. I didn’t have a bad outing at all or a single complaint. I do think it was a big misleading to fans, whereas I had only signed on to do three or four dates, and I didn’t re-sign. I would have made everyone aware if I had re-signed. So it was a little misleading because I think they made it seem like I was part of the roster and I really wasn’t. I was just dropping in and saying hello on occasion. They let me do that, so I respect Impact for letting me do that. I really liked Dixie, really liked Billy, really liked Jeff and Karen. No complaints.” He once again said that the big thing on his checklist was to headline a non-WWE show in the U.S. that does more than 10,000 fans

TK O’Ryan, after shattering his leg in a PPV match in March, hasn’t returned to action here yet, but it’s coming as he worked a tag match with Vinny Marseglia as The Kingdom on 8/6 in Bethany, CT for Northeast Wrestling, against tag champs Vik Dalishus & Hale Collins in his first match back, making it back from surgery in five months.

GFW: As a cost cutting measure, they are doing the next set of tapings from 8/17 to 8/22, taping 12 weeks of television in six days (they are likely to be doing afternoon and evening tapings on 8/19 and 8/20), so they’re doing everything through 10/26, or all shows leading to Bound for Glory next week

Alberto El Patron did an interview with Paige on Bully Ray’s radio show largely to say that the 7/9 incident at the Orlando Airport was blown up out of proportion and how they fight like all couples do but then they are fine and just have a passionate relationship and such. Alberto claimed that he and GFW have a date when he will be brought back. The basic gist of the story is that Alberto’s lawyer sent GFW a letter asking why he was still suspended when he was never charged with any crime out of the incident, and when he was dropped as being a suspect he should have been brought back. The issue is the constant issues, including some that have just been scenes that have gone unreported but those in the company know about. It’s really the fear that another incident will happen and there are now several promoters that would rather not touch him. Paige said that she had just gotten a CT scan and was hopeful of being cleared so she could return to WWE. Bully Ray did bring up that they said everything was great but what about what her family has said about the relationship, and she said her family doesn’t know, that they read stuff on social media and then react before knowing the real story. She said her family believed the social media BS about them. It will be very interesting because the two are together most of the time, and once she goes back to work full-time with WWE, that won’t be the case

Gail Kim has been working behind-the-scenes here as a producer starting at the last tapings

DJZ, who has been out of action for several months after suffering a ruptured colon suffered working on a show for The Crash promotion in Mexico, has gotten full clearance to return. He’s also been dealing with post-surgery panic attacks

Jessie Godderz appeared on the 8/4 episode of “The Young and The Restless” soap opera. He played a doorman at a club

Eddie Edwards was pulled from the weekend house shows based off a previously taped television angle where he was injured

The company’s first house show in years was on 8/4 in St. James, NY, drawing about 330 paid, which shows the brand name has a long way to go as you’d really hope in the New York market for the first house show in years to do a lot more than that. They used to be able to go to New York and draw 3,000 and did more than 5,000 in Brooklyn in the summer for the stadium shows. Keep in mind that when tickets were put on sale, Alberto was also on the show so GFW still has to fight to overcome the negative stigma in the ticket buying public of the TNA name, as everyone still considers, name change or not, that this is TNA wrestling. Tommy Dreamer can come in with an indie show in the same building and significantly outdraw what they did here. Pat Buck pinned KM. Sienna retained the Knockouts title over Taya. Allie and Braxton Sutter had flight issues getting into New York so missed the first night. Sonjay Dutt retained the X title over Trevor Lee in a strong match. LAX retained the tag titles over Mario Bokara & Fallah Bah. No Konnan at the show since he was involved with The Crash promotion shows in Mexico. Drago pinned Low Ki. The main event saw John Hennigan & Moose & James Storm over Bobby Lashley & Ethan Carter III & Eli Drake

The next night in Staten Island, NY, they were at the local baseball stadium before what was reported as 650 fans, although from photos in a stadium that large is looked sparse and maybe half that. They also did strong merch numbers. But in a baseball stadium, that looked pretty sparse. Bah beat KM, who had Sienna in the corner. Pat Buck & Anthony Bowens & Dan Maff beat The Heavenly Bodies. Trevor Lee pinned Mario Bokara. Dutt attacked Lee after the match. Taya won a non-title three way over Sienna (champion) and Allie. Drake pinned Sutter. After the match, Allie tried to console Sutter but he shoved her away. They’ve started a breakup angle which looks like a Sutter heel turn on television. LAX retained the tag titles over Dutt & Drago in what was reported as the best match on the show. After the match, Lee came out and stole the X title. Dutt had gotten the belt back the night before, but on all the TVs, Lee has stolen the title so for continuity purposes he had to get it back by the end of the weekend. Moose & Hennigan & Storm beat EC 3 & Lashley & Low Ki in the main event.

UFC: Current estimates on Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier are at 860,000 buys, or very close to what their first match did. Given that it was only four weeks before McGregor vs. Mayweather, that’s a great sign and also says that when you give people a big show, they will buy at the same level if not more than in the past, and that the declines are with the low end shows. Three weeks earlier, the UFC PPV did between 130,000 and 135,000 buys. That number also indicates that Jones vs. Brock Lesnar has a real shot at breaking the McGregor vs. Nate Diaz II company record. Most predictions going in were 500,000 to 700,000, so it beat even the most optimistic expectations

Jones was on “Good Morning America” on 8/7 and acknowledged that the match with Brock Lesnar can’t take place for a long time and that he’s waiting to hear from UFC to see who he’ll face next. There are only two viable choices, Volkan Oezdemir and Alexander Gustafsson. Some have suggested putting them against each other, but to me, that’s nuts. Gustafsson is right now the bigger name and they can play off their first meeting four years ago for the rematch. Oezdemir should face the winner of the Mauricio Shogun Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux on 9/23 in Saitama or the winner of the Glover Teixeira vs. Misha Cirkunov fight on 10/28 in Sao Paulo. If Oezdemir wins that match, and it would be tough for UFC if he didn’t, he could go for the title, but that could be a long wait. If Jones beats Gustafsson, which would be something that would make sense for the year-end show, then Jones wouldn’t be defending his title until the end of 2018, since he’d take the Lesnar first fight. As noted before, there is no deal in place between Lesnar and UFC right now, however UFC, Jones and Lesnar all want the fight and with Lesnar’s WWE commitments, there is no window the fight works until next summer, and that’s when Lesnar is out of his WWE contract, so it means if they wait until that time to put the fight together, they don’t have to deal with WWE to get Lesnar

The Los Angeles Times did an article on tickets for Mayweather-McGregor. Dana White said that with 3,000 tickets left unsold, the advance is at $60 million. There are also 4,000 secondary market tickets on sale and they remain going above face value with the $500 seats going for $1,795 at the cheapest and the cheapest primary market ticket is $3,500. For a comparison, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao sold out instantly in a smaller arena at similar prices and did $72 million. As far as the average ticket price on the secondary market, right now it’s $3,684. Mayweather-Pacquiao, which sold out early, had an average secondary market ticket sales price at $3,900, and a sold out event should have a higher secondary market average. The Times article said that the biggest gate in entertainment history would be one of the Super Bowls that did $103 million, which I presume would be the one in Dallas. Part of the difference is this fight is selling more to the MMA audience than the boxing audience and the MMA audience isn’t used to this type of ticket pricing and the older high rollers that casinos buy for to get into town aren’t as interested in this as the Pacquiao fight. The belief is that the younger audience is more interested in this than the Pacquiao fight and the belief it still it will set the PPV record, especially after Jones vs. Cormier did so much more than expected. I believe there will be a gigantic run on PPV orders the day of the show. The amount of money bet in Las Vegas has been ridiculous. There has been a ton bet on Mayweather of late after so much was bet on McGregor that the odds dropped. There have been a few bets of $100,000 or more on Mayweather in the last week at different locations, but even so, should McGregor win, it could be the biggest one-day bloodbath for sports books in Las Vegas in history, since different places have estimated 90 to 93 percent of their action have been bets on McGregor to win. 

Mayweather-McGregor will have 46,000 additional tickets available in Las Vegas for closed circuit locations at $150 a pop. When Mayweather fought Manny Pacquiao, they had a similar number available at the same price and sold them all out

Much of the news for this week was about a feud with Conor McGregor and Paulie Malignaggi. At first I thought it was a work for attention but it’s not, but I can see the idea of building up a boxing match between them at some point. Malignaggi was supposed to be a sparring partner for McGregor in this camp. Malignaggi, 36, who retired from boxing a few months ago, came in on a first day and did eight rounds of sparring with McGregor. He claimed he was out of shape and got real tired. He was brought back a week later. He had trained during the week and was in better shape. He showed up and this time was asked to do 12 rounds, and felt he was being set up since it was all being filmed and both Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta were there. He said they went back-and-forth and McGregor did better early but he got the better of it late. Late in the fight, he claimed McGregor shoved him down and those photos wound up on the Internet trying to tell the story that McGregor knocked Malignaggi down in sparring to help sell tickets and build credibility that McGregor is a real boxer. Malignaggi was furious, since everyone had signed NDA’s and quit. Malignaggi appeared on Fox 5's Sports Xtra and said that Mayweather’s arrogance will not allow him to progress. “His arrogance is to the point where he can’t progress. He can’t learn. He just wants a bunch of yes men around him. He doesn’t want to be told that he’s doing something wrong. He doesn’t want to be told that he needs to make progress, so that he needs to change certain things. Whatever he’s doing, he just wants to be told how great he’s doing.” On the MMA Hour, Malignaggi said McGregor was tough for five rounds, but he had better counter punching and a better jab. He said that after six rounds, McGregor became very hittable. He said after the session he told McGregor not to post anymore photos of them sparring and said McGregor looked at him and smirked, laughed and started walking away and said, “I don’t know Paulie, we got some good ones in those last two rounds. I don’t know about that.” Tiernan Bradley, who was in the camp and saw it, told the Irish News that McGregor got the better of it and said Malignaggi came into camp after going on television saying McGregor’s power was overblown and that his pride was hurt

Dan Hardy will be part of the U.K. broadcast team for the fight, working with boxer Carl Froch and Johnny Nelson, who are the regular Sky Sports big show boxing announcers

The Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports approved a recommendation to all commissions regarding using instant replays for fights. The recommendation is that instant replays can only be used for fight ending sequences and that the referee can use them to them determine whether something illegal led to the finish. Instant replays cannot be used to review the actions of the referee but to allow the referee to make the correct call regarding finishes being caused by a legal or an illegal move. They also approved a rule that if a fighter loses control of bodily functions, basically if they shit their pants or vomit during a match, that the fight should be stopped and the fighter be declared the loser via TKO. If such a thing happens between rounds, the doctor will be called to evaluate and then determine if the fight should continue. Regarding the bodily functions, I’m not sure about this rule. If a fighter is unconscious and that happens, the fight should be stopped because they are unconscious. But if they are fighting and throw up during the fight, if they can’t defend themselves it should be stopped, but that alone should not be a reason for a stoppage unless it’s so severe in which case that should be the referee’s discretion. Regarding using instant replay, there is no reason a referee shouldn’t be able to use it between rounds, or if there is a lull in the action. For example, if it appears someone has been eye poked and the referee stops it, only to find out it was not a poke but a legal blow, the fighter should be ordered to fight as opposed to get time to clear his eyes. If there is a foul missed by the referee during a round, they should be able to use the replay in between rounds and offer a warning or a point deduction. I agree that you shouldn’t stop a fight in progress for a replay, but I think during down time, there is no reason a referee should not be able to use a replay to make a correct call

Ian McCall, who hasn’t fought in two-and-a-half years, gave a chilling interview to Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour, which included some references to Chris Benoit. He noted that between overdosing on drugs and brain trauma from the sport, he believes he’s become forgetful, has experienced bouts of rage, become bipolar and has emotional crying outbursts out of nowhere. He said that UFC’s Jeff Novitzky has set him up with some help, but he’s scared of his future. “My whole career is a regret. I don’t hold any ill will toward the sort it’s a weird place that people at the end of their career kind of go over. And no one talks about it. People fight. I’m not gonna fight it. People make Chris Benoit out to be, I always thought he was f***ing monster for what he did. And then being with Alicia (his wife) and being around wrestlers and the stories you hear about Chris and how good of a person he was and how amazing of a fighter he was, all of this stuff, and it’s the TBI or drugs, I’m not saying he was on steroids, or steroids or whatever. That stuff drives people crazy and for me to think that through hurting my brain, I could hurt someone else, like the people I love. Sorry. Not gonna happen. I’m not going to ever, ever let that happen. So I’m at least going to hop on it now and try and fix it before it gets worse and if I can fight again, then cool. If I don’t fight again, then sure, my whole career is a regret, but whatever, I had a lot of fun.

Aside from the Tuesday night shows on Fight Pass from the UFC Gym (which have had some spectacular action and a number of fighters have signed contracts off the show), there isn’t another show until 9/2 in Rotterdam, so all of the promotion the next three weeks will be geared toward Mayweather vs. McGregor. There are so many variances in numbers but even though UFC is not the official promoter of the event, and looks to be cut in for 33 percent of the B side share, the expectation is that from a UFC profit standpoint, they figure to take in roughly the same amount of money as if they were the promoters of an MMA show that does 1.8 million buys–a figure they’ve never reached, so the answer is they are making more out of this show than the McGregor vs. Diaz shows, let alone UFC 100. Between this, the Jones vs. Cormier fight, and attempts to put together big shows in November and December, at the end of the day this isn’t going to be nearly as a bad a year as it looked to be two weeks ago.

Right now the plan, which is not signed, is to do Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre with Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm for the featherweight title as the No. 2 fight with the idea of drawing from two different fan bases for the 11/4 show in Madison Square Garden and that is the first show after Mayweather-McGregor being counted on to do a big PPV number. St-Pierre has already signed the contract for the fight. I’m not sure Cyborg vs. Holm will bring back the unique adult women’s fan base that Ronda Rousey delivered on PPV, but it is the best drawing possible women’s fight of the active women on the roster right now. Cody Garbrandt has also teased his bantamweight title defense against T.J. Dillashaw will be on that show. Johny Hendricks vs. undefeated Paulo Borrachinha (10-0, nine first round finishes), at middleweight, is also set for the show

Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov have been going back-and-forth and at least agreed on Twitter to face each other in Madison Square Garden. I guess neither is that confident that Conor McGregor will defend his title any time soon since they’d be the top contenders

This is not official, but there is a lot of talk of Paige VanZant moving up to 125, which really doesn’t make sense because she’s not so big where the cut is really bad, and Jessica Eye moving from 135 to 125, which actually does make sense since she was on the smaller side at 135, and them fighting. This isn’t official, but that fight has been talked about for the 10/7 PPV show in Las Vegas. Added to that show is another woman’s fight with Pearl Gonzalez vs. the debuting Poliana Botelho

Mike Manna, 45, better known as Stevie Richards of pro wrestling fame, was hired by welterweight Colby Covington as his new strength and conditioning coach. Richards has been developing his own fitness brand in recent years. Covington and Manna will be working together at the American Top Team Gym in Coconut Creek, FL

Christian Colombo vs. Carlos Felipe has been added to the 10/28 show in Sao Paulo. Felipe comes to the UFC as a heavyweight with a 7-0 record and six knockouts on smaller Brazilian shows

Darren Till vs. Bojan Velickoic, and Mairbek Taisumov vs. Felipe Silva have been added to the next show, on 9/2 in Rotterdam, Holland. In addition, due to an injury to Abu Szaitar, who was to face Siyar Bahadurzada, is being replaced by the debuting Rob Wilkinson, who comes into UFC with an 11-0 record

Nate Marquardt vs. Cezar Ferreira has been announced for the 11/11 show in Norfolk

Added to the 9/23 show in Saitama is Hyun Gu Lim vs. debuting Daichi Abe, Alex Morono vs. Keita Nakamura, Rolando Dy vs. Teruto Ishihara and Mizuto Hirota vs. Charles Rosa.

BELLATOR: Chael Sonnen has been publicly pushing for a fight with 47-year-old Chuck Liddell. He claims there’s movement on it. Liddell got met at an airport by TMZ and said he’s talked to nobody about it, that he thinks he’d smash Sonnen if they fought and essentially told Sonnen to keep hyping it.

OTHER MMA: A correction from last week when talking about Shinji Nosawa-Auclair, who fought on the Rizin show and the Fuji Network built the show around her. We wrote that she was a major celebrity in Japan wh left the country and now lives in San Francisco. It is actually her mother, Naoko Nozawa, 54, best known as Crazy Naoko, the comedian and punk rock star, who was the big celebrity in Japan who then left the company at her peak of popularity to come to the U.S., out of the spotlight, where she was a complete unknown. Fuji pushed the show around Crazy Naoko’s daughter fighting with video features involving both of them. They spent a long time on the show pushing Crazy Naoko’s career with a lot of video footage. Naoko was a major celebrity in Japan from 1983 to 1990, including appearing in eight movies

Rizin announced a women’s 108 pound Grand Prix tournament that will start on its next show on 10/15 in Fukuoka, which is the show with the Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Dan Henderson grappling match. It’s an attempt to put over Rena (Rena Kubota), a popular shootboxing star, and basically focus around attractive women. Rena will face Andy Nguyen in the first round, and also expected in the tournament are Miyu Yamamoto, whose weigh-in for her fight with Cassie Robb got international attention, Saori Ishioka and 19-year-old Kanna Asakura.

WWE: Regarding the finish of the main event of SummerSlam, while it is being kept under wraps, Lesnar and Heyman are also booked for the 9/11 Raw in Anaheim and the 9/24 No Mercy PPV at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe is scheduled for 9/30 in Winnipeg

There have been reports of Ronda Rousey training with Kendrick. The company is very high on the Horsewoman vs. Horsewoman idea, and most figure the next chapter will be on the 9/12 show in Las Vegas. Because it’s live TV, Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane will be heavily working on their match, and they have worked together in the past in Japan. We’ve seen photos of Jessamyn Duke training with Kendrick in recent weeks, so the Rousey story is more than plausible and that is the story going around. Rousey has teased that she has a big announcement coming up

There are now questions as to the severity of Bayley’s injury and what that means. The angle probably wasn’t for any time soon, probably November at the earliest and WrestleMania makes the most sense

WWE touting its new television deal in South Africa was actually a major step backwards in South Africa itself. It does give them more exposure in other countries in that part of the world but the South Africa exposure is actually going to take a huge hit. WWE had been on e.tv since 2001. Both Raw and Smackdown, edited down to one hour, appear on the show and always did about two million viewers, and 2.5 million wasn’t that unusual, which is an exceptional number in a country with 44 million viewers. In fact, more people watched WWE television in South Africa than any country except the U.S. and India. SuperSport, the channel they are moving to in September, is a pay channel. The total universe for all pay channels in South Africa is only 39 percent, or 17 million viewers, and in the case of SuperSport, the actual number is lower than that. Ryan Clingman, who covers wrestling in South Africa, said that it could easily lead to a drop of 80 percent in viewers come next month. Another part of the story is that South Africa’s leading promotion, the WWP, has announced that they have signed a national television deal. But they haven’t said where. WWP had national television in the past, when they had Leo Kruger (Adam Rose), P.J. Black and Joe E. Legend as their top stars, and currently have Afa’s sons Afa Jr. & L.A. Smooth

Sports Illustrated reported that WWE had passed on Rey Mysterio because of issues with his management team, citing Konnan in particular. While they had talked, we’d heard the Mysterio talking with WWE was overblown in the first place and that he was looking at GFW because it would allow him more freedom to do side projects and Mysterio at this stage of his career isn’t going to be able to work the WWE schedule. When the stories first broke of Mysterio talking with WWE, we were told it was GFW he was talking with (which we had already reported) and there wasn’t anything significant to WWE. Unless WWE offered him a deal for very limited dates, at this stage of his career he is unlikely to want and his body is unlikely to want a WWE schedule, and if it’s a non-talent public relations position, it isn’t going to pay what he could earn as talent working indies and doing autograph shows and the like. Another aspect is Mysterio had a very good contract with Lucha Underground, and the fact he’s looking elsewhere when he was the biggest name in that company, is not a strong sign for Lucha Underground as you’d think they’d want to keep their biggest name and not have him sign with GFW. Mysterio had a great deal with LU, working a minimal number of matches and a deal that would have made him one of the higher paid wrestlers in the world, although the offer he signed was less then the numbers offered when he was first told about their interest, but was far more than he could get anywhere else and he could still work indies and such with that deal. But after a couple of years with no movie (never promised but it was part of the pitch), no house show touring, long delays between tapings, no merchandise to speak of and money issues in getting what he signed for, it looks like the money isn’t there for him to be able to be offered what his prior deal was. It looks like both sides are parting ways and that’s where the GFW talks came from

Regarding the Sports Illustrated story, Konnan said he had not negotiated for Mysterio when it comes to WWE. The way the story was reported was that WWE had rebuffed Mysterio stating they had problems with his management team, specifically Konnan, although that story stated it was for Konnan not coming to WWE to do Max Moon after they spent all that money on the gimmick. That was 25 years ago and almost nobody except Vince who was in the company then is even in the company now. Konnan said that if Mysterio was wanting to go to WWE, and anyone in WWE saw his involvement as a negative, that he’d stay out of it and Mysterio would negotiate for himself

Heyman announced that he would be joining Jim Ross in one of Ross’ talk shows on 8/18 at the famous Gotham Comedy Club in New York, the Friday night before SummerSlam. Heyman was also on WPIX TV in New York and pushed that the one thing he always did in ECW was upheld stipulations and said that if Lesnar doesn’t leave SummerSlam as champion, that he and Lesnar are both leaving WWE

The company announced its first over-the-air television partner in Colombia, a deal with Canal 1, which starts on 8/19. The station will air a one-hour edited version of Raw at 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by a one-hour edited version of Smackdown at 4 p.m., and air WWE Experience on Sundays at 3 p.m

WWE has canceled plans for a SummerSlam Blu Ray, apparently due to lack of sales of Blu Rays of late. SummerSlam will still be released via regular DVD

One thing regarding the Jordan angle is that if it doesn’t work as far as the original idea, and very clearly it’s lukewarm at best, in wrestling which is often the worst. You’d either like it to work big, with Jordan becoming a singles star off the rub. Or if not, you’d like people to passionately hate it, because if they do, at least it become something they talk about and you can make it work from there calling an audible. Thus far it seems more like people don’t buy it at all but don’t care about it enough to hate it. But that does leave the angle open for Jordan to go heel and turn on Angle and say he made it up and Angle and the fans were so gullible they believed it

Hooked on Events in the U.K. will have having SummerSlam viewing parties throughout the country, with events in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Birmingham, Nottingham, London, Sheffield, Derby, Reading and Bornemouth, bringing in wrestling personalities at several of the cities

Wong Yuk Lun, 30, known as HoHo Lun, was released on 8/3. He asked for his release to return home to Hong Kong to help take care of his mother, who is having health issues. He was brought in as the Hong Kong, China rep for the cruiserweight tournament last summer and signed to a deal

WWE officially announced Kyle O’Reilly as having signed, even though his appearing at the last TV tapings confirmed it. They didn’t make the announcement until his first match with Aleister Black aired. As for Adam Cole, even though Cole & Britt Baker won the Wrestle Circus tag titles from Rocky Romero & Trent Baretta on 8/5 in Austin, TX, Cole is headed here. It’s just a question as to how and when they introduce him. I don’t know that it’s happening at Takeover Brooklyn, but that’s certainly possible

Michelle Wilson, the Chief Revenue and Marketing Office, sold another 55,000 shares of stock on 8/3 for $1,168,750

Bruno Sammartino was supposed to attend the 7/31 Raw in Pittsburgh. He had a bad fall in his home and ended up in the emergency room that day, but still left three days later on his trip to Italy that we’ve written about. His son, Darryl, went to Raw and picked up what was described to us as a very nice gift that Paul Levesque gave to him. He still went to Italy right after and gave a speech as they unveiled a huge Sammartino statue, opened up his childhood home as the Bruno Sammartino museum, and opened the Medical Center named after his mother

More information is out on the movie, “The Buddy Games,” which was promoted on Raw months back and Sheamus is part of. The listed stars are Kevin Dillon, Dax Shepard, Olivia Munn, James Roday, Dan Bakkedahl and Sheamus. The story is about a group of friends in their 30s who reunite to challenge each other in a series of physical and mental challenge games. The movie starts filming soon which probably means Sheamus will be out of action for a month or longer starting soon, and also likely means a tag team title change is forthcoming

While everything with the Hardys and GFW looks to be dead, there was one issue this week. Impact Wrestling, publicly on twitter, wrote to Jimmy’s Famous Seafood restaurant, which does business with a lot of wrestlers in WWE including the Hardys and Strowman, and wrote, “Would love to talk to you guys about some potential partnership opportunities. Please let us know. The restaurant, owned by Demetrios “Jimmy” Minadakis, then wrote them back, “When you release the Broken Hardy rights, we will set up a call.” The restaurant’s twitter went after me for reporting the Karen Jarrett/Braun Strowman story, which was humorous, claiming it was all made up by Jeff Jarrett, which is so far from off base it’s not even funny, since multiple people have confirmed it and everyone in wrestling has known the story for weeks. Jimmy’s prepares meals for Strowman which explains their loyalty

Jeff Hardy and his band Peroxwhygen will be performing in concert on 8/27 in Tupelo, MS at The Thirsty Devil, at 10 p.m., after a Sunday house show in Tupelo

Sports Illustrated also reported more on Enzo and his issues. It should be noted, like with the Mauro Ranallo situation, that when WWE talked about all the heat Enzo had with the locker room and acknowledged him being kicked off the tour bus a few months ago, that “Bring it to the Table,” is planned out in advance. It’s not scripted word-for-word like a television interview, but the subjects are chosen in advance, they know the direction they are going and Kevin Dunn oversees and approves everything on the show. So everything they talked about was approved by management, which was also the key in the Ranallo thing in that it was management, not JBL, which approved of the knocking him, although obviously JBL as his broadcast partner could have said no, just like Graves and JBL could have said no, but that’s rarely going to happen. They reported that Enzo had heat also for bringing “questionable guests” into the locker room and was filming and taking photos of wrestlers (I guess without asking them) and that he should not have done that. He also said that Amore has been venturing into the music business

Announced for the 9/16 Smackdown house show at the Edion Arena in Osaka is Mahal vs. Orton last man standing, Styles vs. Owens vs. Rusev for the U.S. title, Nakamura vs. Corbin, Zayn vs. Ziggler, Naomi & Charlotte & Asuka vs. Natalya & Tamina & Carmella, and Tian Bing vs. English. So that’s notable because Jericho loves going on the Japan trips and he’s not booked on this one, which means not to expect him around during that time frame

Some thoughts on NXT right now when it comes to the house shows. One positive is for the younger talent, they aren’t doing the same matches night after night like had been done in the past and is done on the main roster. It gives guys experience with working with different people and different types of matches. But they have so many people under contract right now and a limited amount of spots on the show, so a ton of people are getting zero or maybe one match a week, and it’s hard to improve. It’s a catch-22 situation. Part of me thinks they should work with indies and allow the talent to work as a reasonable rate, but the negative of that is it would be Florida indies and I don’t think they want to do that. The higher end indies would love to have guys like Strong or Roode or McIntyre available, but those guys obviously shouldn’t be unless there is a purpose, and a guy like, say Babatunde Aiyegbusi, who obviously needs more work, his name means nothing and serves no purpose for an out of Florida indie

Lawler and Bill Dundee filmed a pilot for a proposed new television show called “Jerry Lawler’s Classic Memphis Wrestling.” The attempt to is sell it to a local station as a nostalgia show, since Memphis Wrestling was a television institution there from the 60s through the 90s, and particularly big from 1969 to 1987. Lawler talked about how he’d like the show to air on the WWE Network after it first has its run on Memphis television. He said he’s got a lot of the footage and claims that he owns it, although the ownership of the tape library has been in question for decades since Lawler sold the promotion and its IP, but the owners went bankrupt and nobody bought its IP in bankruptcy court

Although she’s been gone for some time, Eva Marie (Natalie Nelson Coyle, 32) is now officially gone from the company as he contract expired. She had already made the decision months ago to pursue an acting career and no longer work in pro wrestling, but she was never released from her contract. She’s been doing work with Dwayne Johnson’s Seven Bucks Production company and is personally represented by Dani Garcia, the ex-wife of Johnson who helps run Seven Bucks

For people asking about Josh Bredl, the winner of the last Tough Enough season, he is still under contract to WWE but has not wrestled in13 months due to issues related to concussions. He was using the name Bronson Matthews

A correction from last week when referencing the Will Cooling notes on U.K. television ratings, the magazine the story was in was Fighting Spirit Magazine in the U.K. and not Fighting Sport Magazine. The magazine itself came out and the decline in WWE ratings in the U.K. is almost unbelievable. The funny thing is, the last tour was still doing big business so it’s just people no longer watching the first run show. And there is no indication that the network numbers in the U.K. have fallen since international is up year-over-year and the U.K. is the No. 1 international market. But on a month-by-month basis, and this is not just live but a combination of live and DVR viewership for the premiere edition of the show saw a 50 percent audience decline in January 2017 as compared to January 2016, a 48 percent decline in February, a 53 percent decline in March, a 45 percent decline in April, a 27 percent decline in May and a 44 percent decline in June. One show, on 6/20, between live and DVR viewership, only did 18,000 viewers and16 shows did less than 50,000 viewers. The 2014 to 2015 drop was from 132,560 to 98,255 (26 percent) and the 2015 to 2016 decline was to 79,058 (20 percent). In June 2014, Raw’s average was 129,000 viewers and in June 2017, the average was 36,250. With the annual contract escalators, in 2019, Sky will be paying WWE about $33 million in rights fees, and Sky had has to drop sports due to declines in their own revenue and the costs of the major sports. The EPL audience declined 14 percent this past year on Sky for a comparison

For house shows this coming week, Cena will be back on the road, but he’s scheduled on Raw shows. Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe for the Universal title is scheduled to headline a Smackdown brand house show on 8/12 in Tampa

The reason the Hardys were off all the shows this weekend was because they couldn’t fully clear up whether Jeff Hardy would be able to cross the border given his felony drug conviction from years ago. They were working on it and time ran out, and he had to be pulled from the shows. Originally Matt Hardy was going to be in Toronto for Raw to shoot an angle with The Revival for their match, but with Scott Dawson’s injury, that was pulled from the show. The expectation right now, while not a certainty, is they’ll be able to clear it up in time for the next Raw Canada swing

Jax did an interview with Metro in the U.K. and noted that she and Bliss were best friends in real life

Kairi Sane has been cleared after her concussion and will have her first NXT match on 8/10 in St. Petersburg

The NXT show on 8/9 in Los Angeles at Novo is sold out. They are doing a four-show California swing, also running Bakersfield, San Jose and Sacramento

The stock closed at press time at $20.90 per share giving the company a $1.611 billion market value

With a two-hour pregame show and a four plus hour main card, the plan is to go just over six hours for SummerSlam

Fozzy’s song Judas was No. 1 on the Sirius rock station Octane chart for the third week in a row

The top ten most-watched shows for the week on the WWE Network were: 1. Table for 3 with DDP, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman (given the after-Raw prime slot for its debut); 2. NXT on 8/2; 3. Battleground PPV; 4. Bring it to the Table episode from 7/31; 5. SummerSlam 2016; 6. WrestleMania 2017; 7. The Cena-Nakamura-Corbin post-Smackdown angle; 8. Great Balls of Fire PPV; 9. Table for 3 with Graves, Renee Young and Lita; 10. SummerSlam 2010. 205 Live was 14th, one spot ahead of a 1999 episode of Nitro with a Hogan vs. Luger match; and a Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe UPW title match that would probably be around 16 or 17 years ago

Notes from the 8/7 Raw tapings in Toronto. They had a weird crowd, in the sense at times they were lively. They booed Bayley a decent amount which threw her off her game, and led to Corey Graves talking about it being Bizarro-world, which is a word only Vince McMahon uses so Vince had to have fed it to him because he didn’t like Bayley being booed. Well, he needs to look in the mirror on that one because the booking of her first program with Bliss killed her and made her so uncool, between the never kissing a boy thing and the awful kendo stick match. Ambrose and Cesaro had a great match, which had the crowd dead for the first 16:30 of a 19:17 match. You would think a Toronto crowd would like Cesaro and get into a match of that caliber, but it didn’t happen. I expected them to go nuts for Reigns vs. Strowman, and they did have a good reaction and the crowd was solidly for Strowman (although Reigns did get equally loud dual chants) and that didn’t happen either. They drew 11,000 fans, which was a little short of a sellout. Main Event opened with Crews pinning Hawkins with a spinning power bomb in a short match. Elias then ran down Toronto. There may have been a screw up here. Elias was visibly upset and apparently said something to the effect of “That’s not my song,” and stormed out of the ring and went to the back. He got a lot of heat. Elias pinned Kalisto with a neckbreaker. Raw opened with Miz and company in the ring. Miz wanted Jordan to come out and pay for what happened last week. Instead, Angle came out to a huge pop. He announced Jordan vs. Axel for later in the show, which ended up not happening. Angle left and said he had a surprise. Lesnar and Heyman then came out. Miz said that Lesnar was pretty much guaranteed to lose the title at SummerSlam because he doesn’t have to be pinned to lose the title. Miz said he was putting his money on the other three guys. Fans were chanting “Joe.” Miz said that one of the other three is walking out as champion and Lesnar will take his ball and go home (the phrase WWE created in 2002 when Austin quit the promotion). Miz said that Lesnar was leaving and good riddance to bad rubbish. The place was ready to explode for Heyman with ECW chants. He had to do his usual spiel at the start since the crowd wanted to say it with him. Heyman then asked Miz if he and his wife role play? Heyman told Miz that he’s Roman Reigns, that Dallas is Samoa Joe and that Axel is Strowman. He then said Lesnar will give everyone a SummerSlam preview and walked out of the ring. Lesnar then went on a rampage, giving all three German suplexes and then gave all three F-5s and left them all laying. Sheamus pinned Rollins in 8:37. They had a good match. Sheamus slammed Rollins on the apron. Rollins used Kawada kicks at one point. Cesaro distracted Rollins and Sheamus won with a schoolboy. After the match, Rollins was mad and hit a tope on Cesaro. He went after both, but both ended up beating him down and threw him into the barricade. Sheamus & Cesaro looked to the back, as did the audience, waiting for Ambrose to make the save, but that didn’t happen. It’s so weird since Rollins & Reigns have teamed up since the turn but every fan knows the rules of the game are that only guy in the program can make the save, not the guy who he was friends with during a prior program. Fans were chanting “We Want Ambrose,” which was the reaction expected. Rollins was backstage and ran into Ambrose. Ambrose yelled at him and told him to quit doing that, because “now I look like a jerk.” Rollins said that Ambrose looks like a jerk because he’s a real jerk, and that it’s been three years and asked what he has to do to prove to him that he’s not the same guy. Ambrose said nothing because he’s not going to team with him. Jordan was supposed to wrestle Axel next, but Axel was shown all banged up in the trainers’ room. Angle was running around and saw a guy and asked his name. The guy said Jean Pierre Goulet. The guy was an Ontario independent wrestler who does a Jewish gimmick as Tomer Shalom. Since they wanted him to be a heel against Jordan, they figured they’d make him a French Canadian from Quebec, and named him after Jean Pierre Lafitte (Karl Oulette’s ring name in WWE) and Rene Goulet. Well, that didn’t work, as the crowd didn’t boo him for being French Canadian nor care what his name was. Jordan pinned him in 1:21 with a back suplex into a neckbreaker. Fans were cheering for Goulet, not knowing who he was and not booing him because he was from Quebec City. They were chanting “Let’s Go Jobber.” Worse, this whole Jordan thing is flopping because there were a few boos, even fewer cheers, but it was mostly people not caring. If anything, if this was going to be a good eventual heel turn, Toronto would be booing him before most cities, but they didn’t care and we’re not several weeks into this experiment. Bayley came to the ring to be interviewed by Charly Caruso. Now this one backfired. She had her arm in a sling and was injured. She thanked the fans for all their nice messages. And then people started booing her. Whether they were booing the interview, booing her booking that got her to this point (which was the prevailing thing we’ve heard from those there) or just booing her, well, this has been a prime example of bad booking coming to roost. There were a few miscues early, but she was still really popular at Mania, and they took the edge off her by beating her clean in her home city, and then the next night for no reason in Sacramento. I guess the idea of getting people behind someone by beating them and fans will get mad and blame the booking and it gets fans behind them didn’t work here. The problem is they did that stuff with Bryan and he did get over, but it wasn’t the booking that got him over as much as it was the “Yes” chant, and when he was ridiculously popular and WWE shot people ahead of him, yes, that did inadvertently get people behind him more. But that isn’t working for Zayn and it completely backfired for Bayley. She was already on the Austin podcast and you could see she knew her current role was going nowhere and was contemplating pitching a heel turn. I’m guessing this reaction may lead to her discussing that as well. She acknowledged the boos while trying to keep to the script and thank the fans, as they booed her, and she said she was thanking the fans who tweeted her, which only made her get booed even more. Vince had Graves do the “Bizzaro World” line for those at home, which is when he’s not happy with the fan response in Canada. Bayley said that in her opinion, her friend Banks deserves the next title shot. Banks then won a three-way over Fox and Emma in 4:44. This was the first of two three-way matches to set up a singles match next week on Raw where the winner of that match faces Bliss at SummerSlam. The crowd got behind Emma and booed when there was a cool near fall and Emma didn’t win. The finish saw Fox miss an ax kick and Banks used a back stabber and bank statement on Fox. Emma snuck in and tried to pin Banks. But Banks gave Emma the bank statement for the submission. Strowman did an interview and talked about wanting to hurt Reigns, which got him cheered like crazy. He said he wants to hear his bones crack and hear him whimper. He said when he’s around, the Big Dog is like a puppy and his yard is Strowman’s playground. Enzo & Show came out. Enzo talked about he and Show as a team and Show brought up the knockout punch on Cass and said Cass’ jaw was SAWFT. Show said that he needed to teach Cass respect. Anderson & Gallows came out and said they wanted to beat up on another pair of nerds. Enzo made fun of Anderson & Gallows, calling them Dr. Evil and Mini Me. This led to a match. I think it’s a game now as far as how they can just let Enzo talk like a main eventer, book him like a complete joke, but the people still pop for him because of his delivery. In this match, Cass came out and distracted Show, so Gallows gave Show a running kick off the apron. Enzo was selling the entire match, but did escape the magic killer and got a rolling reverse cradle on Gallows, but Anderson was the legal man. Anderson gave Enzo a running kick for the pin in 6:36. Cass then attacked and started beating down Show. Enzo hit Cass with a tope, but once again Cass recovered immediately and threw Enzo into the barricade. Cass was chasing Enzo around the ring, but didn’t see that Show had recovered and Cass walked right into a right hand knockout punch by Show. Show kept saying “How you doin?” over and over to the knocked out Cass. Balor came out. Fans were chanting “Too sweet” at him, which he acknowledged before he did his promo. He said that Wyatt doesn’t care about winning or losing and just wants people to fear him. He said that when fear comes knocking, you stand up and kick fear in the face. Balor said that whatever he wants to start, Balor will finish. Wyatt came out. Balor gave him the sling blade and the lights went out and he then disappeared. Wyatt was then on the screen laughing at him. Ambrose pinned Cesaro in 19:17. This was a great match but the crowd was pretty much dead. Really, this match would have fit into the G-1 tournament. Lots of big moves. Cesaro teased a superplex off the top rope backwards to the floor, but Ambrose reversed and superplexed Cesaro (who was standing on top of the post) into the ring. Cesaro used a gut wrench into a Bruno backbreaker. Then he did two more gut wrenches. Ambrose went for a tope, but got nailed with an uppercut. The crowd finally responded when Ambrose did the lunatic lariat for a near fall and then put on the sharpshooter, which is always good for a pop in Toronto. Ambrose backdropped Cesaro over the top rope and came off the top rope with a standing elbow to the floor. Sheamus tried to distract Ambrose, but Ambrose still got the pin with a schoolboy. After the match, Sheamus attacked Ambrose. They were beating Ambrose down until Rollins made the save. Rollins cleaned house, leaving Ambrose and Rollins in the ring. The fans were now on fire for the idea of the reconciliation, so they have done this right. Ambrose paused for a while, stuck his fist out and then Rollins was the one who walked away. This was great. The problem, if that’s the right word, is that next week is the go-home show so they have to become a team and get the title match next week. Tozawa, O’Neil and Crews were backstage. Tozawa’s shoulder is now fine, apparently due to O’Neil buying him a hyperbaric chamber. Neville came out fro a confrontation with Tozawa. Tozawa pinned Daivari in 3:49 with a back suplex and a senton off the top rope. Reigns did a backstage interview and was booed like crazy. He said he didn’t care if Lesnar stayed or went, and that he’s not afraid to retire Undertaker and he’s not afraid to retire Lesnar. Jax won a three-way to get into the finals beating James and Brooke in 3:01 with a leg drop on Brooke. There was a nice near fall teased as James went to pin Brooke, but this wasn’t much and everyone knew Jax was winning. Goldust did an interview. He hinted at becoming a manager. He said that SummerSlam was the big audition and he’ll be watching closely, and he’s looking for his next hero, his next villain and the next starlet and how under his direction, they will shine. Cass went to Angle and wanted a match at SummerSlam with Show with Enzo in a shark cage above the ring. Angle agreed to it and acted like he came up with this great idea himself. He then wondered if Enzo was afraid of heights. Strowman beat Reigns in 21:58 of a last man standing match. This was a very good match with a finish that made absolutely no sense. They kept doing big moves on each other, but couldn’t put the other down for ten. Reigns hit Strowman twice with the ring steps and then with Strowman down, dropped the steps on him, but Strowman beat the ten count. Strowman used a turnover power bomb. The match lost something because it was start, move, near ten count, then move. The ten counts were too frequent so they meant less. Reigns pulled out a table and gave Strowman a Samoan drop through the table but Strowman beat the count. Reigns was running on the floor and Strowman threw a padded chair at Reigns’ head. That spot looked cool and the fans loved the spot because it was the first time in the match they really thought Reigns could lose. Reigns threw Strowman into the announcers table which on Raw is near the entrance. They were fighting on the stage and throwing each other into the boards and such. Reigns hit a few Superman punches and then ran down the ramp with a spear. So the ref was counting with Strowman down. At that point Joe came out of the front row and started choking Reigns. So this is where it got stupid. Strowman had been down for several seconds. Even though he didn’t get up, the ref stopped counting. Well, he had to. So Joe choked Reigns out. Even though Strowman had been down for well over ten seconds at this point, the ref starting counting to ten. The fans were chanting “Thank You Joe” because they realized Reigns was losing. Really, that was the right finish in the sense they aren’t going to beat Strowman on TV in a singles match right now (you could argue they shouldn’t have beaten Joe, but Joe was the guy that they had to be convinced to put in the top spot even though he seems to have done well there while Reigns and Strowman were the ones they picked for the top spot. Reigns shouldn’t lose clean in this situation since he’s their top guy. So Reigns had to lose via a gimmick, and since Reigns pinned Joe last week, it’s Joe’s turn for revenge. Plus, they had smartly kept Joe off the entire show until the finish. Strowman then got up before the ten count and Reigns was laid out by Joe and lost. After Raw ended, Strowman and Joe had a staredown. Strowman cut a promo saying he would win the title at SummerSlam so he was the “babyface” talking to the crowd at the end of the show instead of Reigns since they knew in advance that a Toronto crowd wouldn’t be happy with a Reigns as a show closer spot

. Notes from the 8/8 tapings in Toronto. This was a good show overall. Crowd was hotter than Raw overall, even though it was a smaller crowd at 9,000. There were again lots of unique crowd reactions, such as the crowd going back-and-forth with Owens, mostly cheering him, but booing him when he insulted them or insulted Bret Hart. Mahal was a major babyface against Orton to the point they turned the crowd noise down somewhat. Even though the gimmick is Mahal is from India, the Toronto fans know he’s Canadian and supported him. The booking was weird, in the sense you had two champions on the show, Naomi and Mahal, and both lost, with Mahal losing clean, to people they aren’t facing at SummerSlam. In the case of Naomi, it probably will make sense long-term given Carmella and her are likely to have a program and it introduced the return of Ellsworth. With Orton vs. Mahal, it made no sense since their program is over with Orton moving to Rusev. It just seemed like they felt they’ve done so much damage to Orton, who is always a protected star, that he needed a win and since Mahal is champion, he could afford the loss. But that’s why the titles mean so little, because of that mentality. Why would the champion defend against Nakamura when you just had a guy pin him clean in the middle with his move? It’s not that big a deal because everyone knows the real main event is the Universal title match. In the dark opener, Rawley & Ryder & Harper beat English & The Ascension in 5:00 when Harper pinned English after the discus clothesline. Lots of chants during the match of “We Want Harper.” Smackdown opened with Cena out. He put over his dream match with Nakamura. Some fans started chanting “Jinder.” Cena said that he lost clean, offered no excuses, made a joke about “Super Cena” and said that Nakamura hits hard and he doesn’t lose clean very often. He said that he shook the hand of the man who earned the right to become the champion and Nakamura shook his hand back. Corbin came out with new music. I should note that months ago I was told Corbin was going to be repackaged with new music and that was the prelude to his being pushed into a top spot. Corbin said he was the future of the business. Every future top guy is a tall guy and every reality top guy isn’t, although Strowman is doing well, but he’s also the monster who is the adversary of the top guy, not the top guy. Cena called Corbin a skinny fat guy and a dumpster fire, since there was a sign in the stands about Corbin being a dumpster fire and Cena can go off script. Cena wanted a match with him, but Corbin noted he had the briefcase, and Cena has nothing he wants and he doesn’t need to beat Cena, he just wants the title and Cena isn’t worth his team. Bryan came out and announced Cena vs. Corbin for SummerSlam. Usos beat Dillinger & Zayn in 6:42. This was good action. The crowd was really behind Dillinger & Zayn so that helped. Tom Phillips noted that Dillinger was from nearby St. Catharines, ONT, which is all well and good, except he was just announced as being from Niagara Falls. Zayn did a flip dive. Jey took out Dillinger’s knee from behind and Jimmy made him submit to the Tequila sunrise. After the match, Big E was on the mic. He came out after taunting the Usos, which distracted them and allowed Kingston & Woods to come from the crowd and jump the Usos. The Usos ended up running off. The New Day has new all red outfits. Orton did an interview for his matches with Mahal and Rusev. The Fashion Police segment was another spoof on “Twin Peaks.” Breeze was with The Ascension talking about his dream. They didn’t care and were just eating donuts. He was worried about Dango, who was kidnapped. Fandango showed up and said Aliens kidnapped him, but he could have left any time, but stayed for the anal probing. For some reason, they decided the next person who came through the door is the one who destroyed Tully the horse. Arn Anderson came through the door, and admitted he destroyed Tully because they should have named the horse Arn since he was the hoss of the group. People got a kick out of it. Tamina & Lana were backstage. Lana said she wanted to be like Tamina, a good wrestler, but a more charismatic, ravishing and beautiful version. Tamina wasn’t happy with that. Lana then said she wanted to challenge Charlotte. Charlotte beat Lana in 2:22 with the figure eight. So the story here is that Lana is a bad wrestler, but shows flashes of ability and she’s trying. And she’s a heel while doing this. Actually this crowd liked Lana which is the first crowd to care about her in the ring. Lana’s selling was really bad, like nobody in WWE or NXT sells that badly. Charlotte was booked to treat her like she was a joke, which made the bad nature of her work part of the story. Shane McMahon came out and called out Owens and Styles. There were dueling chants for both, as the crowd liked Styles, but Owens was the Canadian. Owens said that his screaming at Shane last week was in the heat of the moment and wanted to apologize. The idea they were trying to get across is that Owens was manipulating heat between Shane and Styles by bringing up their past. Owens said that we’ve already had a McMahon screw over a legendary Canadian before, which led to “You screwed Bret” chants. Owens then said that Bret deserved to be screwed, which got him momentarily booed. Owens showed the clips of Styles attacking Shane last year and running his head through a car window. Styles said that if Shane screws him, he’ll have to face the consequences, just like he did at Mania. Styles said that he doesn’t trust anybody, let alone a McMahon. Shane said that he’s not like the other McMahons. Owens then showed a clip from 1998 when Shane ran in with a referee shirt on after a ref bump as Steve Austin had Mick Foley pinned and how he flipped Austin off and wouldn’t count three. Shane said he was going to call the match down the middle and that he won’t get involved in the match unless he has to. He then warned both guys not to give him a reason to get involved. Styles then said that he knows he really didn’t pin Owens clean to win the title, and the ref made a bad call, so that why don’t they have the rematch tonight and not have Shane as referee. Owens turned him down, saying he’d rather win the U.S. title in the U.S., in a city that really matters, which got the crowd to turn on him again. Owens sucker punched Styles. Styles came back with a Pele kick but Owens moved and Styles knocked down Shane with the kick. Owens laughed about it and the fans chanted “You screwed Shane.” Lana and Tamina were backstage. Tamina wasn’t happy. She told Lana that Lana will never be able to wrestle as good as she can, and Lana told Tamina that Tamina would never be as ravishing as she is. Tamina said that even though she was the better wrestler, that Lana had gotten three title shots and she hadn’t gotten any and wanted Lana’s help because she wants a title shot. Carmella pinned Naomi in 6:18. Ellsworth came from under the ring and shoved Naomi off the top rope and Carmella pinned her with a side kick. The crowd cheered Ellsworth’s interference pretty big. It’s the idea they got to see a surprise. Natalya then warned Ellsworth and Carmella to stay out of her way at SummerSlam. She told Carmella she’d give him a chin like Ellsworth. They pretty much laughed her off. Renee Young interviewed Nakamura. He said that wrestling Cena was a career thrill, that he’s always wanted to win the WWE title and that he will win the title and the Nakamura dynasty will begin. Orton pinned Mahal in the main event in a non-title match in 11:39. The Singh Brothers weren’t there, with the storyline that they were both injured. This was the best Mahal vs. Orton match to date, which, granted, isn’t the world’s highest praise. Orton gave him a backbreaker on the barricade and a back suplex on a table. He teased the RKO on the announcers table but Mahal shoved him off. Orton used a superplex and a twisting powerslam. The crowd was clearly behind Mahal here. Orton was booed when he hit the draping DDT. The finish saw Mahal go for the Khallas, but Orton escaped and hit the RKO for the clean pin. After the match, Rusev jumped Orton on the stage. About 20 percent of the crowd left at this point, which was surprising, since Styles & Nakamura were being pushed for a dark match after 205 Live and Nakamura hadn’t appeared in front of the crowe yet. 205 Live opened with Nese pinning Alexander in 7:20 by holding the tights. Good match. Alexander did a moonsault off the apron. They did a series of near falls leading to the finish. Kendrick did an interview. He said that last week, Gallagher got himself disqualified like a coward, and like a clown. He said that people were saying Gallagher showed a more vicious side, but he doesn’t care, since he won the match and he’s moving on, and is done clowning around. Gallagher attacked him from behind and beat him down. Kendrick ran away. This continues to try and portray Gallagher as more than just a small comedy guy, since the role he was playing got him over, but also had its limitations. Dar pinned Mark Thomas in 1:48. The idea is that Thomas was a veteran who Dar knew well, but never made it. Dar made fun of him for still trying for his break while Dar is 24 years old and a WWE superstar. The crowd was again chanting “Let’s go jobber” here. Graves was in the ring to interview Tozawa. Before Tozawa could get a word out, Neville came out and said that Tozawa is no competition. Tozawa was sitting in a chair and threw his chair on the floor and took off his suit. The crowd was chanting for Tozawa. Neville went to attack him but Tozawa landed a high kick and went to the top rope for a senton. Neville rolled out of the ring and left. Neville then waited until everyone thought the segment was done. Neville came back and tried to attack Tozawa, but Tozawa landed another high kick. TJP pinned Swann in 10:28. These two always have good matches. The idea is that they are good friends but that there are underlying issues, especially from TJP. The crowd was okay for this. It was the usual 205 Live main event where the wrestling is really good and the crowd was better than most, but still nothing great. TJP dropped Swann backwards on the top turnbuckle and won with the detonation kick. They walked out of the ring together, but TJ was friendly taunting him all the way to the back. TJP made a smart-ass comment about Swann being a poor loser. Swann said how TJP acts like they are boys but then he acts like that. TJP said they were still friends. Swann said he was starting to figure out who TJP really is. You mean, he missed that entire heel turn months ago? Styles & Nakamura beat Owens & Corbin in a street fight. Corbin jumped Nakamura as soon as he came out so people didn’t see the full Nakamura entrance. Corbin was put through a table at one point. The finish saw Styles hit the phenomenal forearm on Owens, and Nakamura hit the Kinshasa on Corbin and Nakamura pinned Corbin

Notes from the 8/2 NXT TV show. The show opened with Johnny Gargano beating Raul Mendoza in 4:12 with the Gargano escape. The crowd was quiet most of the way but Gargano’s wrestling was very good and Mendoza was solid in the opponent role. Mendoza didn’t do anything spectacular and seemed just there to be a solid opponent. Paul Ellering did an interview for the Authors of Pain talking about their match with Sanity at Takeover. Asuka did an interview and noted she’s beaten Ember Moon before and will beat her again. She said Moon wasn’t ready for Asuka. Moon came out and said that she knew she was ready and the people know she’s ready. She said Asuka was afraid of the truth, and the truth is that Asuka isn’t ready for her. Asuka smiled and offered her hand. Moon went to shake it and Asuka pulled bac and slapped her in the face and laughed at her. Moon then decked Asuka and started beating on her. Asuka then landed a high kick and Moon sold it like she was knocked out. Asuka threw her out of the ring and posed. While Asuka was doing so, Moon climbed on the apron and to the top rope and delivered the eclipse to end the segment. Bobby Roode did an interview. He was acting all cocky like Drew McIntyre and Roderick Strong weren’t in his league. He said that next week on the show he would have a sit-down conversation with McIntyre. Strong then showed up and was being held back by a bunch of wrestler. Roode ran off while Strong wanted at him. Strong was furious. William Regal came out and told him to be a professional. Strong asked Regal what he needed to do to get another match with Roode and noted that Roode had disrespected his family. Regal said that his hands were tied right now because it’s Roode vs. McIntyre at Takeover. There was at least a tease they would make it a three-way. If not, Roode vs. Strong is clearly back in the mix after Takeover. There was a quick video of The Street Profits, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford, taken at some of the house shows. Sonya Deville beat Jenna Van Bemel in 2:02 with a jumping triangle armbar. This was the beginning of the MMA talk as Mauro Ranallo and Nigel McGuinness were comparing Deville with Cris Cyborg or Holly Holm. Van Bemel is a large woman and the idea of the match was that Deville was far too fast or skilled for her. They do a good job of getting the MMA gimmick over for Deville, which Vince McMahon has never done well with on the main roster. Hideo Itami did an interview. He was complaining that Kassius Ohno and others aren’t giving him any respect. He then started talking Japanese. He got cut off in the middle of his interview and said they had to go to the ring. So he grabbed the mic, left backstage and he went in the ring yelling in Japanese. Aleister Black came out. They looked at each other. Itami went to leave, and then made a move to jump him from behind, but Black turned around and nailed him with black mass. This was done and timed perfectly. Itami sold it like he was knocked out. Black came off like a real star here and the segment was well done. Black then pinned Kyle O’Reilly in 14:51 with black mass. They tried to work a more realistic style and tell a story with it. The basic gist was that O’Reilly came closer to beating Black than anyone and they were trying hard to push it as a classic match. The announcers were all wowing over it. I liked the Black vs. Bobby Fish match more, although both were similar in that the live crowd didn’t react that much to either match. In another venue, such as a hardcore indie show, this would have been a great match. Discussion during the commentary included talking about Kazushi Sakuraba, as they talked about how O’Reilly has rolled with Sakuraba in Japan, and Bas Rutten vs. Frank Shamrock when they were on the ground. Black has been untouchable for the most part, so the story was that O’Reilly was the first guy to nearly beat him, after landing a jumping knee and an ax kick, but Black countered with black mass for the pin. Then they tried to O’Reilly over, after losing, like he was something special, and Mauro Ranallo said he’d love for this to become like a series and then made comparisons to Funk-Brisco, Flair-Steamboat, Misawa-Kobashi and Okada-Tanahashi

The first of two NXT weekend shows was 8/4 in Ocala, which drew 200 fans. Roderick Strong pinned Fabian Aichner in the opener with a flapjack. Billie Kay & Peyton Royce beat Dakota Kai & Sarah Logan when Royce pinned Logan after a knee to the head. Babatunde Aiyegbusi squashed Demetrious Bronson. Bronson is doing a preacher character. Aiyegbusi after the match challenged Lars Sullivan to come out which would be a battle of huge men. Lacey Evans beat Mandy Rose via submission. Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight came out for a promo and started praising Dory Funk Jr., who lives in Ocala, and is almost always involved in the shows when they come to the city. Funk Jr. came out and put over Matt Bloom and Steve Corino, who are coaching here. Wesley Blake, who Funk Jr. started in wrestling, which a lot of the area fans know, came out. Blake claimed that he made Dory Funk Jr.’s name in pro wrestling by being his protégé. This led to a tag match where Dozovic & Knight beat Cutler & Wesley Blake. No Way Jose pinned Kona Reeves with the wind up punch. Reeves had a big bodyguard with him so they must have signed a new giant. Oney Lorcan was in the ring with a match with Big Boa. Sullivan then came out and slammed Boa three times so he was injured and couldn’t wrestle. The crowd booed Sullivan for this, maybe because they wanted to see Lorcan in a match. Sullivan never gets booed in NXT. Sullivan then called out Aiyegbusi. Aiyegbusi came out and they went face-to-face until it was Aiyegbusi who backed off and left. Sullivan was cheered at that point. Ember Moon beat Bianca Belair via submission in a good match. Aleister Black pinned Velveteen Dream with Black Mass in the main event

The 8/5 show in Largo, FL, drew 250 fans, which is down from usual. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch beat Cutler & Blake. Mandy Rose pinned Dakota Kai. Bronson did an in-ring promo doing his preacher gimmick. Lacey Evans pinned Reina Gonzalez (Victoria Gonzalez). Johnny Gargano pinned Andrade Cien Almas. Zelina Vega (Thea Trinidad) was managing Almas for this match. Heavy Machinery beat Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli. Strong pinned Sawyer Fulton. Moon & Aliyah beat Sage Beckett & Bianca Belair. The main event saw Drew McIntyre pin Alexander Wolfe

The Raw crew opened on 8/4 in Halifax before a sellout 5,600 fans. Lots of names were missing from the Raw shows. In Halifax, no Miz and crew, no Hardys (who were pulled from advertising two days before the show), Rollins (who was advertised and had transportation issues making it to Halifax, as his flight didn’t arrive until 10 p.m.) and Bayley (injury). 8/5 in Saint John, New Brunswick, drew 3,100. 8/6 in London, ONT, drew 4,20

The Smackdown crew opened on 8/5 in Montreal before 6,450. Because of its history dating back to Gus Sonnenberg and Yvon Robert and Eddie Quinn, the Montreal media gives wrestling more credence than any other media in North America, so this was helped a lot by media all week where Zayn was going for the title against Mahal in his hometown. Cena and Orton were off the weekend Smackdown house shows. We didn’t get an attendance for 8/6 in Ottawa. 8/7 in Kingston, ONT, drew 2,500, which was up substantially from 1,500 for a Monday night Smackdown house show in November

In Halifax, Sheamus & Cesaro retained the tag titles over The Revival in 12:00 in the opener. Both teams were taken by the fans as heels but the match was based on The Revival as the heels and building to Cesaro, theoretically the most popular in the match, getting the hot tag. Cesaro pinned Wilder with the Neutralizer while Sheamus hit Dawson with the Brogue kick. Jordan pinned Elias in 6:00 with a neckbreaker. Fans were chanting “We Want Gable” during this match. Then they chanted “We Want Angle.” Samson got easy heat running down Halifax and Tim Horton’s coffee. Jordan did some Angle mannerisms. Bliss retained the women’s title in a three-way over Banks and Jax in 5:00. Originally this was booked as a tag match but it was changed due to Bayley’s injury. Banks had the bank statement on Jax, and Bliss then got Banks from behind in a cradle for the pin. Banks got a major reaction. Cass and Enzo did their same brawl they’ve been doing at the house shows. No match. Enzo cut a promo. Cass came out and Enzo jumped him, but Cass came back and destroyed him and left him laying with a big boot. Balor beat Wyatt via DQ in 15:00 after a chair shot. After the match, Balor laid Wyatt out with the coup de grace. The crowd cheered for both guys. Neville retained the cruiserweight title over Tozawa in 10:00 with the Rings of Saturn. Tozawa was selling the shoulder most of the way. Ambrose pinned Anderson in 11:00 with Dirty Deeds. Gallows was in the corner of Anderson. Main event was the three-way they did on TV where Reigns beat Joe and Strowman. Reigns laid out Strowman with the ring steps and then pinned Joe after a spear in 11:00. Reigns was both cheered and booed loudly

Saint John was mostly the same show. In the tag title match, Sheamus & Cesaro beat The Revival when Sheamus pinned Wilder with the Brogue kick. The only difference to the prior night is that Rollins was there. They announced that Ambrose had car trouble (which is likely a work) and that Rollins would have to face both Gallows & Anderson in a handicap match. They were beating down Rollins when Ambrose made the save and they turned into a tag match with Rollins & Ambrose winning. The rest of the stuff was the same as the night before

London, ONT, was the same as St. John. The crowd was disappointed when The Revival showed up replacing the Hardys. The main event was said to be the best match, going about 18:00 with the same finish as the prior two nights

Montreal was a totally different show from usual. Because of the uniqueness of the market and its history, largely dating back to Pat Patterson and Terry Garvin as bookers in

the 80s and both being from Montreal, it was treated as different from just another stop on the tour. They did that here, going with Mahal vs. Zayn as the main event, having Owens win in a tag match he’d normally lose as well as an angle where Owens & Zayn worked together, plus they also had Natalya beat Charlotte, while working heel, but Natalya likely won given they were in Canada. Big E & Kingston retained the tag titles in the opener over The Ascension with the Midnight Hour on Viktor. Naomi kept the women’s title over Carmella with the rear view. Harper & Sin Cara beat Rowan & English. English spoke French very well before the match before turning on the audience. Harper pinned Rowan with a sit-out scoop slam. Owens & Corbin beat Styles & Nakamura. Owens was cheered more than anyone on the show except Zayn. Corbin started which led to “We Want Owens” chants. Owens worked heel style but got cheered, and the crowd did boo both Styles and Nakamura when they were on offense with Owens. Nakamura pinned Corbin with the Kinshasa. Normally it would be Owens as the one who would lose that fall. Rusev beat Dillinger with the Accolade. Rusev tried to play heel, but was cheered, but so was Dillinger. Natalya beat Charlotte holding the tights in a very good technical match. Charlotte got a near fall with a moonsault. The fans chanted “This is awesome” for the first time here. Before the main event, they brought out Pat Patterson and had him sit at ringside. Mahal pinned Zayn to retain the title. Zayn did all of his old regular moves, including the ones he doesn’t do on a regular basis in WWE. Zayn used the helluva kick but one of the Singh brothers put Mahal’s leg on the ropes. Zayn went after the Singh brothers and Mahal hit the Khallas from behind for the pin. Mahal and the Singh brothers beat on Zayn after the match. Patterson jumped on the apron like he was going to make the save. Even 15 years ago, Patterson’s brawling punches would have been better than just about everyone on the roster, but today him doing anything physical isn’t a good idea. The heels threatened Patterson when Owens music hit and he got a big pop. Owens attacked the Singh brothers. Patterson kicked one of the Singh Brothers. Zayn & Owens did a double superkick, perhaps because the Young Bucks were working for IWS a few minutes away. Then they worked together to do a double clothesline, knocking Mahal out of the ring. Zayn gave one of the Singh Brothers the helluva kick, and then threw him to Owens who gave him the pop up power bomb. Owens and Zayn then gave each other a look. The crowd started chanting “Oui, Oui, Oui,” which is “Yes” in French. Owens then left and Zayn closed the show waving the Quebec flag

Ottawa was a different show. The match results were mostly the same except they didn’t go with Mahal vs. Zayn on top nor did the elaborate post-match. Instead it was Mahal over Nakamura on top with the finish they’ve been doing where Mahal wins due to the Singh Brothers and then lays out the Singh brothers after the match. Zayn worked in the tag match with Styles beating Owens & Corbin. Big E & Woods worked this show as the New Day team

Kingston was mostly the same as Ottawa. Kingston & Woods worked as the New Day team beating The Ascension. Everything else was the same except instead of the Styles tag match, they did a four-way U.S. title match with Styles over Zayn, Owens and Corbin. The two best bouts were said to be the four-way for the U.S. title and Charlotte vs. Natalya. Styles got the biggest reaction on the show, even above Owens and Zayn. Everyone traded finishers on each other before Styles pinned Corbin with the phenomenal forearm. Natalya worked as the heel but was cheered since it was a Hart family member in Canada. Natalya won in heel fashion with a schoolboy holding the tights.