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August 21, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Ric Flair in critical condition in the hosptial, G1 Climax finals, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 August 21, 2017

 

Ric Flair has remained in critical condition in the hospital in Atlanta for the last several days in what is very much a battle for his life.

Flair, 68, one of the most iconic enduring and influential wrestlers in history and arguably its all-time best all-around performer taking all aspects of character and in-ring into consideration, apparently had severe pains in his stomach and was rushed to the hospital on 8/12.

While at first the situation was said to not be that serious, although he was in the Intensive Care Unit from the start, his situation worsened by the next day to where the situation was life threatening and he was put in a medically induced coma.

The catalyst of his problems were apparently a significant blockage in his bowels which led to surgery to alleviate the blockage. This led to a series of medical problems including his kidneys shutting down.

He underwent surgery on 8/14. There was a chance, perhaps even a serious chance that he would not survive the surgery. Even after surgery, he is very much not out of danger. He is also on kidney dialysis with the hope of being able to get his kidneys functioning and there are other medical issues, including an infection that, at least as of 8/13,that had not been diagnosed, that he was dealing with.

There is really not a lot more information. His family was all called to the hospital and right now everything is just waiting to see if he can fight off the infection and his other issues can be taken care of. Flair had a heart issue dating back nearly 15 years ago, even though he was in remarkable condition as far as conditioning, due to the lifestyle he led. That lifestyle really didn’t change and he himself admitted his drinking really got out of control at one point after the death of his son, Reid, in 2013, at the age of 25. Ric never got over it and I don’t know how he possibly could have ever gotten over it.

 

G-1 CLIMAX TOURNAMENT DAY ONE AT SUMO HALL

Thumbs up 354 (100.0%)

Thumbs down 0 (00.0%)

In the middle 0 (00.0%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi 308

Bad Luck Fale vs. Yuji Nagata 25

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tomohiro Ishii 10

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Tonga & Roa vs. Sanada & Bushi 48

Suzuki & Taichi & Desperado vs. Kawato & Oka & Kitamura

44

Okada & Yano vs. Omega & Yujiro 39

Togi Makabe vs. Yoshi-Hashi 23

 

G-1 CLIMAX TOURNAMENT DAY TWO AT SUMO HALL

Thumbs up 338 (99.7%)

Thumbs down 0 (00.0%

In the middle 1 (00.3%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada 336

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Toru Yano vs. Minoru Suzuki 61

Sabre Jr. & Iizuka vs. Nagata & Makabe 53

Goto & Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Tonga & Roa & Owens

23

Taichi & Desperado & Michinoku & Kanemaru vs.

Liger & Tiger Mask & Kushida & Kawato 19

 

G-1 CLIMAX TOURNAMENT DAY THREE SUMO HALL

Thumbs up 359 (99.7%)

Thumbs down 0 (00.0%)

In the middle 1 (00.3%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega 341

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Tonga & Roa vs. Nagata & Nakanishi 124

Goto & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Makabe & Finlay 30

War Machine vs. Cody & Page 13

Tenzan & Kojima & Robinson vs. Fale & Yujiro & Owens

11

 

G-1 MVP POLL

Kazuchika Okada 145

Kenny Omega 124

Yuji Nagata 103

Tomohiro Ishii 63

Tetsuya Naito 44

Kota Ibushi 33

Evil 20

Hiroshi Tanahashi 16

Zack Sabre Jr. 14

Michael Elgin 10

 

BEST OVERALL TOURNAMENT MATCH

Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito 324

Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada 133

Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki 31

Kazuchika Okada vs. Evil 24

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito 22

Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi 16

Kenny Omega vs. Michael Elgin 11

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi 11

Based on phone calls and e-mails to the Observer as of Tuesday, 8/15.

 

The highest caliber G-1 Climax tournament in history had perhaps the most predictable ending.

From the announcement of the lineup, it looked like the A block would come down to Tetsuya Naito beating Hiroshi Tanahashi, the B block to Kenny Omega getting his first career win in his series with Kazuchika Okada, and that Naito would get revenge for his 2016 B block final loss to Omega, by beating him in the final. And that would set up Okada vs. Naito, the company’s most popular wrestler, for the Tokyo Dome main event.

And that’s exactly what happened. But predictability didn’t matter. It wasn’t so much about who won and lost, because in the tournament, because of match quality, almost everyone won. Yuji Nagata was 1-8, and many had him as the tournament MVP. Omega had two of the best matches in pro wrestling history, both within a 21 hour period, and yet that wasn’t enough to stand out from a pack of the deepest pure talent pool in tournament history.

We had 37 of the 91 matches rated **** or better, and that was a low figure since the consensus I’ve seen was 40. The A block with the ridiculous depth had 23 of 45, while the B block had 13 of 45, with the championship match being the 37th.

That’s far beyond any other tournament of its type in history. There have been tournaments with a lot of great matches, but not with this level of depth.

The main events from the final three nights set a new standard for the tournament, even beating out the great main events they’ve had for years in the same spot. And they were three different types of matches. Naito vs. Tanahashi, which would be an award winning program in almost any other year, had what I believed was the best of their three matches this year, with Naito taking the rubber match but Tanahashi remaining as IC champion. This was all about psychology, pacing and storytelling, with Tanahashi worked with the torn right biceps and Naito with various injuries and working around that.

Omega vs. Okada was the third match of what had been as good a first two matches as you’d ever see. This is very much the modernized Flair vs. Steamboat 1989 program with the three national matches where people have debated which of the three bouts was the best, because all were classics and completely different. Because of the 30:00 time limit, it was faster paced with the storyline that Omega had to win in less than 30:00, because a draw would send Okada, who came in 6-1-1 while Omega was 6-2, to the finals. I was told that Omega considered this the best of the three matches. To me, I felt this match was every bit as good as the Tokyo Dome match, but there is a drama of building for 60 minutes that you can’t do in 24:40, but it’s all taste. The match built off the first two, was faster paced and more dynamic. If you’re not into the building of the match and drama of exhaustion, and just want fast-paced explosive action, this was the best of the three.

Naito vs. Omega was an insane dangerous classic. Most had this as the best match of the tournament, and in doing so, makes it a strong contender for match of the year. As far as an explosive emotional match goes, there was none better this year. I liked Omega vs. Okada more, because I thought it was superior when it came to athleticism, and while also coming across far too dangerous, this match tread even more into that territory. Of course in many people’s yes, and DDT on the ringpost by Omega where it looked like Naito’s career could and Naito’s piledriver off a table to the floor are what made it the best match of the tournament and those spots will probably always be associated with this match, even if they weren’t supposed to happen like that. The piledriver was supposed to be a piledriver through the table but for whatever reason, when Naito jumped up, he missed the table and landed on the floor. To his credit, he was able to protect Omega going down, and the fear of injury and the selling like this was real and in each case, they went too far and were really hurt, added to the match.

As great as those matches were, two of the highlights had nothing to do with the last three matches.

The emotional highlight was, as a surprise, Katsuyori Shibata’s music played right before intermission on the final night. It was in that very building, Sumo Hall on 4/9, that Shibata’s career ended with his greatest match, a title loss to Okada. He collapsed after the match, as his legs couldn’t hold him, and crawled to the back, which most thought was selling. He was rushed out of the building in an ambulance and had emergency brain surgery. He was told his symptoms were unrecoverable, but he said that he is starting to improve, little-by-little. He said that if you set small goals and achieve them little-by-little, in the end you will have reached a big goal.

People were shocked when the music played. It played for a while before he came out, and within seconds, the building was filled with people crying. Shibata walked to the ring. He was smaller, of course, but he looked healthy, walked fine, got in the ring, sat down in his traditional pose and screamed, “I am alive. That is all.”

Shibata had asked the company three days earlier if he could come to the show and have that moment. His recovery to the level he’s gotten is said to be a miracle. But it is considered almost impossible that he could ever be medically cleared to wrestle again.

The other emotional scene was two nights earlier, for Yuji Nagata’s final G-1 Climax tournament ever. He lost to Bad Luck Fale, and he started crying, television announcer Shimpei Nogami started crying, as did the audience. At 49 years old, Nagata had probably his best in-ring tournament even though he was booked to lose eight of his nine matches. He had seven four-star matches in nine outings, a number that only Kota Ibushi and Tomohiro Ishii could match. That performance wasn’t lost on anyone, as he hardly got the reaction of someone who in his final big go-around, lost almost every night.

Business was strong as well. While the final attendance increase was eight percent from last year and 15 percent from 2015, that’s because there was a limited increase for the final three days because Sumo Hall was always strong. Prior to the Sumo Hall shows, the increase was 15.2 percent from last year.

The last three nights were all sellouts, but with selling two to a sumo box instead of four for the finals and some seats blocked off for video screens, that meant it was set up for about 7,500 paid for the first two nights and about 10,200 for the final night (the total seats in the building are 11,066, which the final had). New Japan hadn’t legitimately sold out three straight nights at Sumo Hall since 1999, and this show, because of higher ticket prices, had the highest gate for a final in history.


G-1 CLIMAX SCORECARD (based on star ratings)

Wrestler 3.0-3.75 4.0 4.25+ Average
Yoshi-Hashi 7 0 2 3.64
Yuji Nagata 2 1 6 4.14
Bad Luck Fale 5 0 1 3.14
Togi Makabe 5 2 1 3.58
Hirooki Goto 3 2 3 3.69
Tomohiro Ishii 2 0 7 4.25
Zack Sabre Jr. 4 0 3 3.61
Hiroshi Tanahashi 4 0 5 4.06
Tetsuya Naito 2 2 5 4.18
Kota Ibushi 2 1 6 4.22
Juice Robinson 6 1 0 3.22 (3.44)
Satoshi Kojima 5 1 1 3.31 (3.54)
Tama Tonga 5 0 0 2.94 (3.19)
Michael Elgin 4 2 2 3.47 (3.91)
Seiya Sanada 6 2 1 3.69 (3.78)
Evil 1 5 1 3.44 (3.75)
Kazuchika Okada 3 0 6 4.28 (4.41)
Toru Yano 3 0 0 1.64
Kenny Omega 4 1 4 4.08 (4.42)
Minoru Suzuki 7 0 2 3.61 (3.69)

 

The number in parenthesis is the non-Yano average since Yano was the average killer for a number of people in the B block.

Highest four star or better percentage:

Yuji Nagata 78%
Tomohiro Ishii 78%
Kota Ibushi 78%
Tetsuya Naito 70%
Evil 67%
Kazuchika Okada 67%
Hirooki Goto 56%
Hiroshi Tanahashi 56%
Kenny Omega 50%

 

Most matches 4.5 stars or better:

Tomohiro Ishii 5
Kazuchika Okada 4
Hiroshi Tanahashi 4
Tetsuya Naito 4
Kota Ibushi 4
Kenny Omega 4
Yuji Nagata 3
Michael Elgin 2
Minoru Suzuki 2

The Friday night A block final, which failed to sell out for many years, and did 5,658 (for Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. A.J. Styles) and 6,398 (for Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada) the previous two years, sold out several days in advance with 7,495 paid. Ticket prices were raised about 16 percent from last year but they also sold more tickets. Ticket prices were also up 16 percent from last year for the Saturday night show, with the attendance basically the same.

The second night, with Omega vs. Okada, was actually the fastest sellout, with 7,591, similar numbers from the previous two years with Omega vs. Naito last year and Okada vs. Shinsuke Nakamura the year before.

The finals, which have sold out every year, even when business wasn’t good overall, actually struggled this year because of raising of ticket prices. But they had 10,280 paid, similar to the 10,204 and 10,180 the previous two years. But those shows sold out six weeks in advance and this show sold out with walk-up. The difference is the finals did an estimated $1.3 million gate according to Brandon Howard of Fightful, up from $850,000 the prior two years, which would be the company’s largest gate for a show outside of the Tokyo Dome in the modern era.

As far as our subscribe base interest level, it has exploded. Last year’s three shows did 94, 104 and 101 responses respectively, well under UFC and WWE numbers. This year’s did 354,338 and 360. While below Dominion (580), Wrestle Kingdom (534) and WrestleMania (523) , it beat Royal Rumble (307) and easily beat every UFC event in several years.

The final standings were:

A BLOCK: 1. Naito 7-2; 2. Tanahashi and Bad Luck Fale 6-3; 4. Kota Ibushi, Hirooki Goto and Zack Sabre Jr. 5-4; 7. Tomohiro Ishii and Togi Makabe 4-5; 9. Yoshi-Hashi 2-7; Nagata 1-8.

B BLOCK: 1. Omega 7-2; Okada 6-2-1; 3. Evil 6-3; 4. Minoru Suzuki 4-4-1; 5. Seiya Sanada, Michael Elgin, Toru Yano, Tama Tonga and Juice Robinson 4-5; 10. Satoshi Kojima 1-8.

The last night also had other surprises, including the return of the Killer Elite Squad, Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. After War Machine had retained the IWGP tag titles over Hangman Page & Cody, the champs were challenged by former champs GOD, Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa. While this was going on, Archer & Smith came out of the back and attacked both teams.

Also returning was Hiromu Takahashi’s stuffed cat Darryl, who came out with one of his legs all taped up to sell the injury when Fale tore him limb from limb. After Naito beat Omega to win the tournament, and they had the big celebration, Naito took the huge G-1 trophy from Naoki Sugabayashi and teased throwing it over the top rope where it would have exploded, but in the end, didn’t do it. Naito later, with all of Los Ingobernables celebrating, Naito gave Darryl a paw bump.

LIJ merchandise was crazy, with one live estimate saying that 70 percent of the Friday night crowd and most of the Sunday afternoon crowd wearing it, and the Sunday crowd was also filled with Bullet Club merch and Omega “Goodbye and Good Night” towels.

Much of the fall schedule is determined by G-1 results. The Destruction tour will be 9/5 to 9/24, with New Japan World shows on 9/7 and 9/7 live from Korakuen Hall. The main matches will be split over three shows, Destruction in Fukushima on 9/10 at the Azuma Sports Park; Destruction in Hiroshima on 9/16 at the Sun Plaza Arena; and Destruction in Kobe on 9/24 at the World Memorial Hall, which is the biggest show of the three.

Results from those shows will lead to King of Pro Wrestling on 10/9 returning to Sumo Hall, which is likely headlined by Okada vs. Evil for the IWGP heavyweight title.

For the other titles, it looks like new IWGP jr. tag champions Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi, who won the belts on the final night from The Young Bucks, will defend next against a Suzuki-gun team. The heavyweight tag title looks to next be a three-way match with War Machine vs. Killer Elite Squad vs. GOD. The IWGP jr. title will be Kushida vs. Desperado, since Desperado stole Kushida’s belt on 8/12. The IC championship will be Tanahashi vs. Sabre Jr., as Sabre tapped out Tanahashi for a second time in a trios match on the final night. The Never title looks to be Suzuki vs. Elgin. The U.S. title looks to be Omega vs. Robinson, since Robinson beat Elgin on 8/12 in what was pushed as a match to determine the top contender. As noted last week, there is a good chance this match will be in Chicago, which is Robinson’s home city. Naito will defend his No. 1 contender spot for the title against Ishii (who eliminated him from the U.S. title tournament and beat him in this tournament) or Fale (who also beat him during the tournament). Tanahashi is also likely to make a fall title defense against Ibushi. And Suzuki is likely to face Yano for his title.

AXS announced they would be doing 12 weeks of G-1 programming starting on 8/18, with the Omega vs. Naito final airing on 11/6.

Right now the schedule is listed as: 8/18–Tanahashi vs. Sabre and Ibushi vs. Naito; 8/25--Sanada vs Evil and Suzuki vs. Omega; 9/1–Tanahashi vs. Fale and Yoshi-Hashi vs. Naito; 9/8–Omega vs. Tonga and Okada vs. Elgin; 9/15–Goto vs. Naito and Tanahashi vs. Ibushi; 9/22–Omega vs. Robinson and Okada vs. Evil; 9/29–Makabe vs. Naito and Tanahashi vs. Ishii; 10/6–Elgin vs. Evil and Okada vs. Suzuki.

 

AUGUST 11 - TOKYO SUMO HALL (A BLOCK FINALS) - 7,495 SELLOUT

 

1. Minoru Suzuki & Taichi & Desperado beat Hirai Kawato & Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura in 6:18. Most of the match was Suzuki destroying everyone. Kitamura knocked down Suzuki and then posed, and Suzuki got up and destroyed him as well. Desperado pinned Kawato with the Pinche Loco, which is an Angel’s wings. **½

2. Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa beat Seiya Sanada & Bushi in 5:22. Bushi did a tope on Roa. Sanada tied Tonga up in the paradise lock and Sanada & Bushi gave him a double dropkick as he was tied up. Tonga & Roa used the Guerrilla Warfare on Bushi and Sanada saved. Tonga then hit the gunstun on Bushi for the pin. After the match, Tonga wiped his ass with an LIJ t-shirt, and Sanada attacked him and put him in the skull end to build their match the next night. **1/4

3. Satoshi Kojima & Juice Robinson beat Evil & Hiromu Takahashi in 5:14. Takahashi did some cool stuff. Basic short match ending with Robinson pinning Takahashi after a lariat and pulp fiction. **1/4

4. Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi & Ray Rowe & Hanson & Michael Elgin beat Cody & Young Bucks & Hangman Page & Chase Owens in 11:22. Ricochet was the real standout here. The Bullet Club team did a triple dive spot followed by Page doing a moonsault off the apron. Rowe did his spot where the Bucks would throw elbows and he’d head-butt the elbows to wear them out. Everyone did big moves with Ricochet doing a running flip dive on everyone. Elgin followed with a running flip dive. Matt did an elbow off the top on Hanson, followed by Nick doing a swanton and Owens doing a superkick but Hanson kicked out. Before the match, the Bullet Club team did the “call you shot” by coming out and saying they would win using a moonsault. So it started with Cody going up and missing a moonsault on Hanson. Page then missed a moonsault, followed by Nick, Matt and Owens. Hanson then hit a moonsault on Owens but his teammates saved. Ricochet then used a Space flying tiger drop. Elgin and Owens went back and forth. Elgin powered out of a sunset flip by Owens and turned it into a buckle bomb and spinning power bomb for the pin. ***½

5. Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano beat Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi in 5:54. The story here was Okada selling the neck after his match with Suzuki, and Omega & Takahashi working it over. Yano used a low blow and cradle to pin Takahashi. **1/4

6. Bad Luck Fale pinned Yuji Nagata in 11:57. While this wasn’t a candidate for best match of the tournament, it was an excellent match, easily Fale’s best of the tourney, and had one of the best atmospheres. The building was filled with signs for Nagata, as this would be the last G-1 match of his career. Part of the story is that Nagata was Fale’s mentor when he started, before Fale went heel and joined Bullet Club. Nagata got all kinds of offense with kicks to the hamstring and a heel hook. At one point Nagata went from armlock to triangle to ankle lock. Fale blocked the attempt at the back suplex. But finally Nagata hit the back suplex for a near fall. He tried a wrist-clutch exploder, but Fale blocked it. Fale hit a spear and Samoan drop. Fale got the pin after the grenade and Bad Luck fall. There was an awesome post-match with Nagata in the ring crying, lots of fans were crying and lead announcer Shimpei Nogami was crying. Fale offered up the too sweet hand gesture. Nagata saluted him and Fale bowed to him. Nogami was crying like crazy to the point he had to leave the broadcast booth. This was something to see. ****1/4

7. Togi Makabe pinned Yoshi-Hashi in 11:27. This was a well worked match, hard hitting and solid. It’s just that the other four of the singles matches were so great that this paled in comparison. Makabe used a power bomb and missed the King Kong kneedrop. Yoshi-Hashi used a hard lariat and had Makabe in the butterfly lock for a long time before Makabe made the ropes. At one point both ran into each other with clotheslines. Neither went down the first three times before Makabe put Yoshi-Hashi down on the fourth attempt. Makabe put him in position for the German superplex. Yoshi-Hashi tried to block it, but Makabe rammed Yoshi-Hashi’s head into the post twice, used the German superplex (Spider suplex) and hit the King Kong kneedrop for the pin. ***½

8. Zack Sabre Jr. beat Tomohiro Ishii in 15:22. It was noted this was revenge for Ishii knocking Sabre out of the U.S. title tournament. In a great spot, Ishii was setting up a superplex when Sabre turned him into a dragon sleeper and pulled him off the ropes with it, into an armbar on the mat and then a double armbar. This match was awesome with Ishii’s usual stuff and Sabre’s great submissions. They built the match to each others’ strengths. The finish was amazing, as Ishii went for his sliding lariat but Sabre caught him in an armbar, and then put him in a submission which was a combination armbar, kneebar, half crab and at the same time Sabre was kicking him with a free leg. Ishii never tapped, but they used a ref stoppage finish. This was great because later it added more heat and intensity when there were submissions and the ref would tell guys he’s going to stop it unless they got out immediately. ****1/4

9. Hirooki Goto pinned Kota Ibushi in 11:03. Ibushi went for his moonsault to the floor but Goto escaped and clotheslined Ibushi on the apron. The two were in a superplex position trading elbows and Goto used head-butts. Goto tried Samoan drop off the middle rope but Ibushi escaped. Ibushi then gave Goto a Pele kick while Goto was still on the middle rope. Ibushi went for a superplex, but instead hit a top rope Frankensteiner. They traded stuff until Ibushi landed a great high kick. But Goto came back with a head-butt, a reverse GTR and hit the GTR. Really I thought Ibushi should have won this one but Goto is their full-time guy and Ibushi is the outsider, so they never put Ibushi over fully to the level of his ability. ****1/4

10. Tetsuya Naito pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi in 26:42 to win the A block.

For purposes of the match, it was Tanahashi with the bad right arm and Naito somewhat selling the shoulder. Tanahashi also had a knee and a rib injury by this point but that didn’t play into the match. This was a fantastic storytelling match. As compared with a lot of the guys in the tournament having great matches, this was safer and more of a work of art that a car crash action movie, not that car crash action movies aren’t art in a different way. Tanahashi started stomping Naito when he did the tranquillo pose. Tanahashi came off the ropes with a crossbody into a dropkick to the bad biceps. Naito started working on the right arm. Tanahashi did the high fly flow to the floor and again started selling the arm. He went for the Texas cloverleaf, but the idea was that with his weakened biceps, he couldn’t get it. The crowd was super hot at this point. He went for a dragon screw but Naito started punching the biceps and snapped the biceps over the top rope. He did a slingshot dropkick to the arm. Tanahashi came back with a straitjacket German suplex. From superplex position, Naito started working for a Kimura and then hit a top rope Frankensteiner, which Tanahashi turned into a sunset flip and then hit a dragon screw. Naito used a German suplex. Tanahashi used two sling blades and crossbody off the top, but missed a high fly flow. Naito had some offense and then came the highlight, as Tanahashi finally got the Texas cloverleaf. Naito struggled to the ropes. The intensity was tremendous here. Referee Red Shoes Unno told Naito he was going to stop it, which meant more because of the Sabre-Ishii finish. Just as Unno went to stop it, Naito made the ropes. Naito came back with a tornado DDT and a destino off the top rope that Tanahashi kicked out of. Naito tried another destino but Tanahashi hit two twist and shouts. On the third one, Naito reversed into a destino, then hit a second one and got the pin. This wasn’t the best tournament match for flashy moves, but for psychology, it beat everything up to this point. *****

 

AUGUST 12 - TOKYO SUMO HALL (B BLOCK FINALS) - 7,591 SELLOUT

 

1. Taichi & Desperado & Taka Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru beat Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Kushida & Hirai Kawato in 7:04. Good match, especially hot when Kushida was in. Rocky Romero did the commentary and when Liger did the Romero special, Don Callis asked if the move was named after him (it was actually named after 50s wrestler Rito Romero, who was a huge star in Texas and Mexico). The match actually built for a Kawato hot tag and he ran wild, even getting Desperado in a Boston crab. But Taichi saved and Desperado pinned Kawato after the Pinche Loco. After the match, Desperado grabbed Kushida’s IWGP jr. belt from ringside, hit him with it and left with the belt, so that started a new program. **3/4

2. Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi & Tomohiro Ishii beat Tanga Roa & Yujiro

Takahashi & Chase Owens in 7:20. Solid match. Ishii was the standout. There was a big spot where Owens almost pinned Goto, but Goto came back and used an ushigoroshi and GTR on Owens for the pin. **½

3. Zack Sabre Jr. & Takashi Iizuka beat Yuji Nagata & Togi Makabe in 6:16. Iizuka did his wildman act running all over the stands. Nagata vs. Sabre was very good, but the match was way short. Iizuka nailed Nagata behind the refs back with the iron fingers from hell. I guess it was cool because we haven’t seen it in so long but Iizuka can get old on you. Sabre pinned Nagata with a penalty kick, and you had to put Sabre over here since he’s the one challenging for the IC title. **

4. Young Bucks & Cody & Bad Luck Fale & Hangman Page beat Ray Rowe & Hanson & Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet & Katsuya Kitamura in 8:14. This was fast-paced action with big moves. Ricochet and Nick really stood out early. They did a lot of the same stuff as the night before, but this was shorter. Kitamura didn’t get hardly any offense in. Once again the Bullet Club team predicted the match would end with a moonsault, so they built a spot where the Bucks, Cody and Page all had a member of the other team laid out and all did moonsaults and missed. Ricochet did a springboard elbow drive two-thirds of the way across the ring on Page and then a space flying Tiger drop. Hanson then did a flip plancha onto everyone. Page then hit the rites of passage, which is the Omori driver, on Kitamura for the pin. ***½

5. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi & David Finlay beat Tetsuya Naito & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi in 6:57. Some great stuff early with Naito vs. Ibushi but obviously this was way rushed. Finlay went wild with a strong hot tag. Ibushi landed a high kick on Bushi and then hit the knee to the head, which is called the kamigoe on Bushi for the pin. ***1/4

6. Juice Robinson pinned Michael Elgin in 11:48. This was pushed as a battle for the top contender for the U.S. title, since both had beaten Kenny Omega in the round-robin, and Robinson was the obvious underdog. Elgin did a flip dive off the apron. Robinson did a cross body but Elgin rolled through and put Robinson on his shoulders like John Cena would do. But Robinson escaped that position and hit a full nelson slam. Elgin went up for a moonsault but Robinson pulled him off from that position into a power bomb. Robinson went for a cannonball in the corner but Elgin caught him, got up and power bombed him. Elgin followed with a buckle bomb. Robinson cradled him out of nowhere. They went back and forth until Robinson hit pulp fiction for the upset win. Robinson is really popular with Japanese women and after the match he said he was going to go out and drink some Sapporo’s (a well-known beer) and “get balls deep in beautiful Japanese women.” That was great in Japan, but probably wouldn’t work as well in the U.S. ***3/4

7. Tama Tonga pinned Seiya Sanada in 11:59. I honestly don’t understand this result. It’s more to even things out, and put everyone in the block for the most part at the same level. But Sanada is main eventing the ROH iPPV show the next week going after their title, and he had a far more impressive tournament than Tonga, who is more of a tag team wrestler so he could lose a singles match. The story of this match is both are amazingly agile and quick, so they traded doing spots with each other that very few on the roster would be able to do. They traded dropkicks, fast moves and huracanranas. Sanada put Tonga in the paradise lock outside the ring and came in to win via count out. But Yujiro Takahashi and Tanga Roa came out and kicked Tonga to knock him free. The paradise lock escape by kicking the guy in the ass who is trapped is one of those completely silly things that you accept with pro wrestling logic because it works to the crowd. I mean, deep down everyone knows you can’t really tie somebody up like a pretzel and leave them helpless, but everyone accepts Sanada can do it because he does it all the time. It was a great count out tease because the Bullet Club was panicking trying to get him free and then Tonga had to spring to beat the 20 count, then tripped over the guard rail at 19 so it looked for sure like he wouldn’t make it. He really didn’t, but dove in and the ref held up the count for him. Tonga whipped Sanada into the turnbuckle and he did the Ric Flair flip, landed on the apron and hit a springboard dropkick. Sanada knocked Roa and Yujiro off the apron, went for a moonsault, Tonga moved and Sanada landed on his feet. They went back-and-forth with great near falls until Tonga hit the gun stun for the pin. ***3/4

8. Toru Yano pinned Minoru Suzuki in 6:56. A lot of people hated this with the idea it made Suzuki look bad losing to Yano. But there is a long-term story where Yano always beats Suzuki in G-1. This was pure comedy and garbage, but Suzuki does stuff like this on indie shows all the time and it was just a Yano match. It wasn’t a great match by any means, but it was very entertaining and the key is it was clever without being too silly for the tournament, at least in my mind with both guys already eliminated. If either guy was alive in the tournament at this point, I wouldn’t like it nearly as much. Taichi kept interfering. The match got super heated, which is why I liked it. Suzuki got the tape and tied Yano’s legs together. Suzuki got him in a choke but the ref made him break it because he saw the legs tied together. Rocky Romero, announcing, hit the ring to go after Taichi which got a lot of heat and used a huracanrana. Yano then tied Suzuki’s body and arms all up, hit Suzuki with a chair, gave him a low blow and pinned him with a cradle. Suzuki then got untied and went crazy, destroying all the young boys at ringside with chair shots. The Suzuki rampage after losing was key because when it was over, Suzuki was still the dangerous guy even after losing to the comedian. ***

9. Evil pinned Satoshi Kojima in 14:23. Kojima gave him two rounds of machine gun chops and did the elbow off the top rope that he’s avoided much of this tour. Kojima gave Evil’s right arm a lariat, hit a Koji cutter and a DDT on the apron. The DDT was right on the top of his head on the apron. This can’t be good and I hope they stop doing the landings right n the top of the head. Kojima used a Koji cutter off the middle rope for a near fall. Evil used a German suplex and Darkness falls. Kojima used a lariat and brainbuster for a near fall. Kojima did a lariat to the back of the head, but Evil gave him a head-butt and the STO, called “Everything is Evil” and got the pin. Obviously Evil had to win since he’s in line for a shot at Okada’s title. ****

10. Kenny Omega pinned Kazuchika Okada in 24:40 to win the B block. This match was just off the charts. Easily one of the most spectacular matches there’s ever been. The key is, once again they did a different match and told a different story. The key was that Omega had to win in under 30:00 or Okada would go to the finals, and Okada only needed the draw. But in the story, Okada made it clear he wasn’t looking to coast for the draw, and he was about to get the win after their previous draw. Both came out trying to win right away, but would miss their big moves. After Omega blocked it the first time, Okada did the dropkick on Omega, sitting on the top rope, knocking him to the floor. He whipped Omega into the barricade, knocked him over the barricade and did a running crossbody over the barricade and Omega flew over the front row seats into the second row. Okada was selling the neck which was all taped up. Omega kept chopping the back of the neck. Omega used a pescado and a missile dropkick to the back of Okada’s head, followed by a running Billy Robinson backbreaker. Omega got his knees up on a senton and Okada got his knees up on the you can’t escape and moonsault combo. Omega hit a Frankensteiner and teased the terminator dive, but Okada jumped in the ring and hit a flapjack. Omega went for a springboard, but as he stood on the top rope, Okada dropkicked him to the floor. That was crazy timing. Then Omega did a reverse Frankensteiner on the floor on Okada, who landed on the top of his head. That played off more since the story of the match was working the neck. The doctor came out to tease stopping the match. Omega used a snap dragon suplex on the apron. Omega hit two V triggers and Gedo teased throwing in the towel. Omega continued to work on the neck but Okada blocked a V trigger. Omega came back and went for the One Winged Angel, but Okada reversed into a tombstone piledriver. Okada followed with a missile dropkick and a Woo dropkick. He then hit one of the most amazing dropkicks you’ll ever seen. The photos of this dropkick were mind-blowing. After a German suplex, Okada went for a rainmaker, Omega ducked and dropped him on his neck with a uranage. He went for the One Winged Angel but Okada escaped and hit the rainmaker. He went for another and Omega cradled him and also hit a backslide. Okada hit another rainmaker and Omega ducked the next one. Omega hit two German suplexes, the second a high angle one. Omega hit another reverse Frankensteiner for a near fall. Okada blocked a One Winged Angel but from that position of Okada escaping, Omega hit a German suplex, the crunch warp. Okada hit another dropkick, went for the rainmaker, Omega ducked it, hit the V trigger, then followed by a J driller, another V trigger and the One Winged Angel for the pin. This tournament was the best in history, and there was nothing up to this point, not even Tanahashi vs. Naito, that was at the level this was. ******

 

AUGUST 13 - TOKYO SUMO HALL (FINALS) - 10,280 SELLOUT

 

1. Taichi & Desperado & Taka Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru beat Kushida & Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Hirai Kawato in 6:06. Good action match. Abe Miho, the groupie of Taichi, returned here and Liger spanked her. The focus was on the Kushida vs Desperado grudge match. Kawato got to shine with a hot tag late and a great sunset flip near fall on Kanemaru. Taichi kicked Kawato in the head, power bombed him and Kanemaru came off the top rope with a DDT on him for the pin. There was a big post-match brawl in the stands, with Kushida and Desperado as the focal points. Desperado tried to leave with the belt. Kushida tackled him and put on the hoverboard lock, but Desperado still got away with the belt. They brawled onto the concourse as well. ***1/4

2. Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa beat Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata in 7:40. This was to set Tonga & Roa up as title contenders. Nagata got a huge reaction of appreciation for his tournament work. Nakanishi looked bad here. He couldn’t do much and was pretty much immobile and took down the match to a great degree as the other three were fine. Roa pinned Nakanishi after a Rikishi style piledriver. *

3. Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi beat Togi Makabe & David Finlay in 6:33. Good action but way too short. Finlay got some near falls on Yoshi-hashi with a gramby roll and backbreaker, but Yoshi-Hashi got the pin after a lariat and karma. **½

4. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & Juice Robinson beat Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens in 7:18. Takahashi hit Tenzan early with his walking stick and gave it to Tokyo Latina, one of Takahashi’s girls (who is actually in real life Fale’s girlfriend). Robinson pinned Owens with pulp fiction. Robinson came off like a major star here. I don’t think anyone in the tournament gained more from the tournament than Robinson. **1/4

5. Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi beat Young Bucks in 15:13 to win th IWGP jr. tag titles. This match was great, very different from what you’d expect. They did some flying, but toned it down and the story was the Bucks getting heat by taking out Ricochet’s knee, meaning fans were made because they saw less of his flying. The Bucks cut off the ring and just beat on Ricochet, and Ricochet’s selling made the match. At times this match came off like an FU to critics of both, because essentially they excelled at all the things they were “supposed” to be no good at. Ricochet did a Fosbury flop dive right away, and get up with his knee injured. Matt and Nick gave him chop blocks and went to work on him. Ricochet went for his Benadryller but kicked the post, injuring his leg some more. Taguchi was in for a while and hot tagged Ricochet, who again went for the Benadryller but his knee gave out. Nick used the sharpshooter on him but Ricochet made the ropes. Taguchi did a series of jumping hip attacks knocking both out of the ring. He did a plancha on Matt and a running flip dive on Nick on the other side of the ring. He got cut off with a double reverse atomic drop on his butt and a double superkick to the butt. Matt superkicked Ricochet’s knee and put him in the sharpshooter for another rope break. Nick put Taguchi in a sharpshooter but Ricochet made a last second save. The Bucks set up more bang for your back, but Ricochet got his knees up from Nick’s moonsault and then moved from Matt’s moonsault. They set up the Meltzer driver on Ricochet but as Nick came off the top rope, Taguchi came off the top rope and nailed him with the hip attack. Taguchi used the Dodon on Matt, and Ricochet hit the shooting star press, selling his knees with every step, on Matt while Taguchi put Nick in the ankle lock for the title win. ****1/4

6. Ray Rowe & Hanson retained the IWGP tag titles over Cody & Hangman Page in 16:19. This was the one match that struggled with heat, because, even though there was a break, they came after the Shibata return and the crowd was spent. Plus, Cody & Page aren’t established as a team. Hanson did the Ray Stevens flip into the turnbuckle at nearly 300 pounds. This was fast good action with all kinds of hot moves by War Machine. Hanson did the Kushida double springboard elbow. Hanson did a tope on Cody. Page gave Rowe two German suplexes almost on his head. Page did a shooting star off the apron on Hanson. Page did a somersault splash on Hanson. Cody did a moonsault block on Rowe. Page then hit Rowe with a moonsault but he kicked out. Hanson did a moonsault on Page but Cody put Page’s foot on the ropes. The finish saw Rowe hit Cody with a tope and Hanson did a flip dive off the top to the foot on Cody and Rowe. In the ring, they did the fallout to pin Page. Tonga & Roa came out for the post-match challenge. Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. came out in the middle of the challenge. Archer choke slammed Rowe. Smith did a reverse DDT on Hanson. They did the killer bomb on Tonga and left everyone laying. They also attacked Tomoyuki Oka at ringside. ***3/4

7. Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr. & Takashi Iizuka beat Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi & Michael Elgin in 13:42. Much of the focus was Suzuki vs. Elgin and Tanahashi vs. Sabre. Suzuki used a pen and jabbed it in Elgin’s forehead. He used chairs on Elgin. Iizuka choked Ibushi with the cable cord. Taichi and Kanemaru interfered and Elgin picked both up with one in his arms and one on his shoulder and did a combination fall away and Samoan drop on them. Elgin tried a superplex on Suzuki but Suzuki got the choke. Elgin powered out of the Gotch piledriver. Tanahashi tried to elbow drop Sabre but Sabre caught him in an armbar. Elgin slammed Tanahashi on Sabre, who got an armbar agin. It ended with Suzuki choking Elgin while Sabre did an incredible submission move to make Tanahashi tap out. After the match the heels continued to destroy Tanahashi. Elgin came back and hit Suzuki with a chair. ***½

8. Evil & Bushi & Seiya Sanada & Hiromu Takahashi beat Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano & Gedo in 10:36. All action. Sanada put Yano the Paradise lock. Evil threw Okada into the barricade. Ishii made a hot tag an destroyed everyone. Evil mostly took out Okada. Takahashi used a triangle on Gedo for the submission. It looked like they were giving Takahashi a new submission finish to set him up for a fall match with Kushida. Post-match, Evil gave Okada darkness falls on a chair. Okada was selling his neck huge and selling like his arm had gone numb. ***½

9. Tetsuya Naito pinned Kenny Omega in 34:35 to win the G-1 Climax tournament. Omega did a moonsault off the guard rail. Naito came back with a neckbreaker on the apron and a neckbreaker off the apron to the floor. A great spot saw Naito do the Tranquillo where he usually just lays there and poses, but then got up and hit a tope. Naito then went to piledriver Omega on the hard Japanese table, which is bad enough, but jumped up and somehow missed the table and we thought Omega was done for good. Believe it or not, no wrestlers were maimed making this match. To his credit, after missing the table, Naito did protect him well on the way down. Omega sold like crazy. Omega started working on Naito’s bad shoulder. The night before, the shoulder was all taped up but Naito wore a shirt so you didn’t know it. It probably would have been better to have been taped up here to add to the drama, but I guess he didn’t want to be seen as going into the match injured, even though he was. Omega went for the you can’t escape, but after doing it, started selling the neck so he couldn’t moonsault. Naito used a Frankensteiner off. Omega hit the Terminator dive. Omega followed with a missile dropkick to the back of the neck. Naito worked him over with a German suplex and a neckbreaker over the knee. Naito went for a German suplex, Omega landed on his feet but Naito hit a tornado DDT. Naito went for the Frankensteiner off the top, but Omega reversed into a hot shot and a snap dragon suplex, followed by a V trigger. Omega tried a J driller, but Naito blocked it. Naito reversed a power bomb into a tornado DDT. Naito hit a series of moves. Naito went for the destino, but it was blocked and turned into a reverse crunchy piledriver. There was a crazy spot where Naito went for a superplex and Omega reversed it and DDT’d him on the post. I have no idea what they were doing, but that wasn’t supposed to happen quite like that and Naito could have been in a lot of trouble. Naito used a reverse huracanrana off the top rope but missed a stardust press. Omega hit the J driller and two V triggers. Naito blocked the third one, but Omega hit the next one and hit a doctor bomb. He did a running V trigger and went for the One Winged Angel, but Naito reversed into a reverse huracanrana. He went for destino but Omega hit the crunchy roll for a near fall. Omega was killing him with V triggers, and again went for the One Winged Angel, but Naito reversed and hit the destino. Both were selling big and they teased a double knockout. Naito was bleeding from the mouth. They traded slaps and Omega hit another V trigger. Naito used a koppo kick and two destinos and got the pin. After the match, Naoki Sugabayashi gave Naito the G-1 trophy and Masahiro Chono, Mr. G-1, came out and gave him the flag and fist bumped him. Naito cut his usual promo with all his LIJ members and fist bumped everyone including Darryl. *****3/4


The WWE’s third biggest show of the year, SummerSlam, takes place on 8/20 at the Barclays Center with a few last minute changes to the storylines.

Due to the injury to Bayley, the Raw women’s title match will be Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks, after Banks won the shot beating Nia Jax on the 8/14 Raw in Boston.

Due to the injury to Scott Dawson, The Hardys vs. Revival match scheduled for the show is off. On television, they did nothing with the Hardys as far as working with Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows, as it appeared they were building a three-team program. The Hardys & Jason Jordan did work on television with The Miz & Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas, but they did a clean pin and nothing has been said for any of the six as far as a match at SummerSlam, which was already 12 matches deep.

Any talk of Baron Corbin cashing in the briefcase after Shinsuke Nakamura would beat Jinder Mahal for the WWE title is out, since Corbin did the cash-in on Smackdown on 8/15 in Providence, RI, and failed. Corbin will still be facing John Cena on the show.

The 8/14 Raw also had two matches scheduled for SummerSlam, to build SummerSlam. Akira Tozawa beat Neville to win the cruiserweight title, so the rematch will be at SummerSlam. Bray Wyatt beat Finn Balor clean, and humiliated him in an angle, to set up a rematch where Balor will dress up in his Demon gimmick.

A two-hour pre-game show is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Eastern time but the only pre-game show match announced is the New Day team of Big E & Xavier Woods facing The Usos for the Smackdown tag team titles.

The main event remains Brock Lesnar defending the Universal title against Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns. Paul Heyman strongly emphasized that if Lesnar doesn’t retain his title, they are leaving WWE, using the rumors about UFC to help build the idea that Lesnar could lose and leave. However, Lesnar is scheduled for Raw the next night in Brooklyn, as well as for other Raw events in September, as well as for the main event on the 9/24 No Mercy PPV at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, as well as a 9/30 house show match against Samoa Joe in Winnipeg. The way Raw ended would lead one to believe Lesnar vs. Strowman is on the horizon and that could headline Los Angeles. Lesnar is booked for the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, and UFC officials say he is not able to fight in 2017 due to having to sit out the remainder of his own year suspension that was frozen when he announced his retirement.

The rest of the show has Mahal vs. Nakamura for the WWE title, Cena vs. 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, Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins for the Raw tag team title and Big Show vs. Big Cass with Enzo Amore hung in a cage above the ring.

With a two-hour pre-game show, I’d expect at least one more match and there are a number of possibilities, plus there’s always the chance of the reveal of the mystery opponents for the Fashion Police.

The 8/19 NXT Takeover lineup is officially Bobby Roode vs. Drew McIntyre for the NXT title, Asuka vs. Ember Moon for the women’s title, Authors of Pain vs. Sanity for the tag team titles, Aleister Black vs. Hideo Itami and Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade Cien Almas. All of these matches were done over this past week in California, with some multiple times. They will be taping the matches for the 8/23 NXT show the hour before Takeover starts.

One of the ideas for the show was to do an NXT reunion, which was later confirmed by WWE pushing that on television, bringing several NXT alumni back for appearances at the show including Owens, Sami Zayn, Balor and others.

Charlotte was scheduled as part of this, but anything with her is obviously up in the air right now.

Another thing we’ve heard is that they were at least looking into, if not doing, a live music-accompanied entrance for Aleister Black for his match with Hideo Itami, like they’ve done in the past for Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura. Code Orange, the band that does the events theme song and Brendan Garrone, of the group Incendiary, playing him to the ring. Incendiary is big on the New York scene so this should be great if it does happen.

Unlike the previous two years, when NXT, SummerSlam and Raw all sold out in advance, none of the three events were sold out this year as of press time. Depending on how it is set up, the capacity for the shows was about 13,500 two years ago and a little bit more last year. In the case of SummerSlam itself, it was because of far more expensive tickets being put on sale as the cheapest primary market ticket available is for $500. The secondary market bottom price has risen from $139 to $155, so there is no lack of interest in tickets and whatever ends up unsold would be more due to price.

The same can’t be said for the other three shows. NXT still has $25 tickets left, and the secondary market price for entry dropped from $40 to $36. Raw has sold out the cheapest tickets over the past week, but you can still get secondary market tickets for as low as $45, and primary tickets left are all $125 and up.

Smackdown remains the same as last week, with tickets as low as $25 available from primary market outlets and as low as $38 for the secondary market.

The first NXT sellout two years ago was legit in the sense the ticket demand was there. Last year’s sellout was legit, but it was based on ticket brokers and scalpers buying up the building all three nights expecting a big return due to demand. However, NXT tickets in particular didn’t have as big a demand and the prices crashed, so this year the ticket brokers weren’t as strong in buying up anything but SummerSlam

 

SummerSlam officially will return to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2018 for four straight nights with NXT on Saturday, 8/18, SummerSlam on 8/19, Raw on 8/20 and Smackdown on 8/21.

SummerSlam weekend


GFW announced on 8/14 that they were stripping Alberto El Patron (Jose Alberto Rodriguez, 40) of his GFW championship, and that no decision has been reached when he would be taken off suspension.

The decision, which had been going back-and-forth as late as the weekend as to what to do, was made by Ed Nordholm.

There were a number of considerations involved. Rodriguez’s attorneys had pushed the company to reinstate, given that the reason he was originally suspended, an arrest at the Orlando airport, were for charges he was cleared from and where police believe he did nothing but have a verbal argument with girlfriend Saraya Jade-Bevis (Paige) after she got mad at him and threw a drink on him. However, there was concern about his track record, and there were situations that haven’t gotten any publicity that also had them concerned.

Ultimately, even if he was reinstated, it was probably the best thing to get the championship off him, although it’s always better to have that done in the ring whenever possible.

Alberto, on Instagram, claimed he came up with the suggestion to drop the title. That’s hard to believe since the title situation was still being debated as late as the weekend.

“My company, Impact, and I have come to an agreement that it’s best for both parties if I be stripped from the championships,” he wrote. “I came up with the suggestion just to show that Impact doesn’t have favorites and everybody gets treated the same. Apologies to fans and my brothers and sisters in the company, even though I came out all clear and there was no wrongdoing, it was still a scandal. So thanks for your support and let’s move forward more positively. One day I hope to be your champ again.”

GFW will be taping 12 weeks of television on 8/17, starting with an almost-live show on Pop TV. All the television leading to Bound for Glory, which takes place on 11/5, will be done at this taping. If Alberto was not brought back, they would have to change plans regarding the championship and create a new champion at the tapings. An explanation of how the title vacancy will be filled would be expected on the 8/17 show. The company will also be introducing all new GFW belts on that show.

The company release stated:

“GFW has concluded its internal consideration of the events surrounding the suspension of Alberto El Patron. While it is apparent that the initial reports unfairly characterized El Patron’s involvement in the incident in the Orlando airport, we are nonetheless disappointed with the manor in which he dealt with this situation; we expect more decorum from all on the GFW roster, especially the world champion.

We have communicated with El Patron our decision to strip him of his championship title. No decision has been taken as to the date on which he will be reinstated to the roster, the conditions of which are a private matter between the company and El Patron.”

Alberto was on Busted Open radio on 8/3 and claimed things were all clear for his return to the company, which he most likely believed since that was the timeline of his lawyers sending the letter to the company stating that there’s no reason he should still be suspended since he was cleared of the charge he was suspended for. But they were also unhappy he did the interview.

Johnny Mundo, most likely as John Hennigan, and fiancé Taya, will be at the tapings that start on 8/17. Mundo already holds the AAA Mega heavyweight, Latin American heavyweight and AAA cruiserweight titles, which he will defend on TripleMania on 8/26 at Arena Ciudad in Mexico City in a three-way against El Texano Jr. and El Hijo del Fantasma (the latter of whom is working for GFW right now). He is also, as of current television, the Lucha Underground champion. There was at least talk that if Alberto wasn’t going to be brought back that they will put the title on him.

What makes this story most interesting is that Mundo, in theory, shouldn’t be allowed to work on anyone’s television in the U.S. based on his Lucha Underground contract until next year. Lucha Underground is allowing their champion to do so, and Dragon and El Hijo del Fantasma has as well. And Lucha Underground isn’t talking about a new deal with Rey Mysterio Jr., whose contract expires when the current television season finishes airing in the U.S. Mysterio Jr. did have a huge contract, as for his part-time deal which allowed him to pick up more money working elsewhere. His contract would have been similar to the downside of the biggest stars in WWE, so it could be a cost issue in the sense he had what I’d think would be certainly the highest non-WWE contract in the North American industry.

It represents a major about-face for the promotion to allow its contracted talent to appear on television for another company in the U.S., something they were dead-set against. That’s why Ricochet couldn’t wrestle on the New Japan shows in Long Beach and why his appearance in a segment on the 7/2 show was edited off the broadcast when it aired on AXS.

What we do know is that a few weeks ago Lucha Underground writers were looking for new talent for a fourth season, but on 8/14, head writer Christopher DeJoseph on Twitter told people to Tweet to El Rey saying you love violence and want more Lucha Underground.

If there is no Lucha Underground, that may mean an interesting influx of talent on the free agent market soon, including Penta 0M, Rey Fenix, Jack Evans, Jeff Cobb, Ricochet (who will be a free agent soon either way), Angelico, Drago (who is working here), Joey Ryan, El Hijo del Fantasma, Mil Muertes, Shane Strickland, Ivelisse, Marty the Moth, Willie Mack among many others.


NXT came on 8/11 to San Jose State University’s SUREC Arena as part of a California tour with an interesting show for a number of reasons.

The show featured two of the best house show matches I’ve seen from WWE in this area in a long time, the opener with Johnny Gargano vs Andrade Cien Almas, and the main event with Bobby Roode defending the NXT title against Roderick Strong.

Everyone seemed to have their working boots on and were given more time leeway than you expect from WWE, as the show went nearly three-and-a-half hours. The crowd did get tired before the three championship bouts, but Roode vs. Strong was good enough to bring them back. It was the right kind of a crowd, more than 2,000 fans, which would be among the best NXT house shows crowds in a long time. It was a smart crowd, they reacted great until they got tired, and seemed to spur the talent on. A few catcalls were shouted down. There weren’t the comedy chants, and the only “This is awesome” chant came about 22:00 into the main event, when the match peaked in excitement and it wasn’t a both lay down and sell to get a “this is awesome” chant spot that brought it on, and it was more organic. It’s not Arena Mexico on Friday night, but nothing in this country is going to be, and it’s not PWG, which is a unique crowd that can keep its energy up past midnight for long shows. But it was a crowd that was hot and enhanced the show.

A big surprise, and this was noted to a degree throughout the tour, particularly here and the next night in Sacramento, was the preponderance of Bullet Club related T-shirts. This wasn’t Austin 3:16 or John Cena at his peak, but someone who counted in Sacramento the next night said Bullet Club shirts was 20-to-1 or more over WWE shirts at a WWE event. It was about the same here. Most of the shirts were the new Hot Topic shirts. From what I saw, the Cody shirts were the most popular followed by the Young Bucks, and I was told that was similar in the other cities (although I was told even though Cody shirts were the most popular in Los Angeles, it was not the preponderance of Bullet Club shirts there and not a lot of pro wrestling T-shirts). But from far away, the new shirts are distinctive and noticeable in a crowd, but you can’t tell who they are for. But there were plenty of Villain Club (Marty Scurll) and Kenny Omega shirts, easily the third and fourth most popular. The leading WWE shirt was the Balor Club shirts, which are similar to the old school Bullet Club shirts. There were also no shirts of current WWE stars, a few generic NXT shirts, a few for NXT wrestlers and a good amount of old NWO shirts, and some Steve Austin and Randy Savage shirts.

William Regal came out during the show to a huge reaction, and joked about how handsome and over he was. It was funny how much more over he seemed than even when he was a star wrestler. He talked about the crowd being 2,000 fans and how when he started with NXT there were crowds of 50 and 75 people, and that this past five years have been the most rewarding of his career. I also want to mention what a great job Kayla did as host and ring announcer.

1. Johnny Gargano beat Andrade Cien Almas in 10:55 with the Gargano escape. This match was excellent, and had by far the best crowd reactions of the show. Gargano is such a great seller and babyface worker, and he’s in tremendous condition. Almas was fine, although he still feels like nowhere near the star aura performer that La Sombra was. It was like a one-man four-star match. I would expect these two to tear the house down in Brooklyn.

2. Ruby Riot & Sarah Logan beat Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville in 9:54. This was the surprise match of the show, and we got similar reports from other cities. It was the third best match of the show. Deville has improved so much as a live show performer since I last saw her here in October. She is starting to get how to use her MMA character and everything she did was solid. Rose has superstar potential. She’s exceptionally good looking, but is athletic and for two years in, has great poise in the ring. She’s a lot farther along at the same stage than most of the women they’ve trained. Riot & Logan have a lot of indie experience. Logan is good at little things you notice live, such as bumping, carrying and helping the inexperienced heels. Riot pinned Rose to take the match.

3. Lars Sullivan pinned Oney Lorcan in 5:44. Sullivan has a unique look, a cross between Brock Lesnar and Antonio Silva, with absolutely enormous thighs, and everything he did looked great and exuded power. This guy would have been a main event heel in the 70s and 80s, and as far as aura goes, very much reminds me of a bigger and more powerful version of the Mongolian Stomper. I’ve heard he’s very funny on interviews, but I’m not sure this character should be funny. To me, even if he is a good talker (The Stomper was a great promo, but he was far more effective when he didn’t do promos), he’s the guy who needs to stand behind a manager, flex and look menacing but say nothing. He’s got potential to be a headliner but it’s not a sure thing like it would have been when people were more impressed with size, in the sense him throwing people around in three minute squashes and acting like a monster for the 70s and 80s would have a 100 percent success rate unless a booker was just an imbecile. The odds are still good now, but it depends on how well he can work and maintain that character. But he is a guy best served to come in and do a quick match winning streak like a Goldberg. Lorcan was the perfect opponent for him since Lorcan is so aggressive, but a lot smaller so it accentuates Sullivan’s size and allows him to do power moves. Lorcan was really key to this match getting over great. When the match started, because people saw this huge powerhouse, there was a “You can’t wrestle,” chant by a few fans that was quickly shot down. He did a lot of high power throws and won with Takeshi Rikio’s old slam finish.

4. Aleister Black pinned Hideo Itami in 13:03. So the problem here is that Black’s entrance makes him come across as a superstar, really second only to Bobby Roode. There’s something about him, where people want him to be this cool movie star fighter character who is Mr. Cool and lays people out with kicks out of nowhere. They don’t want to see him sell. So this match was almost all him selling. It wasn’t getting much reaction, but Itami is such a good and experienced worker that he did some cool tricks to get heat. And that wasn’t easy, since two years ago in this arena was the night he did the GTS for the first time and when his music played, people cheered him like crazy. Black won with black mass. It was a good match.

5. Kassius Ohno & Drew McIntyre beat Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli inj 14:23. The purpose of this match seemed to be to get McIntyre over. Ohno sold most of the way. Sabbatelli has a fantastic physique and was a good enough athlete to be a college football star and play several years in the NFL. But something is missing. He comes off like a guy with a great physique, some cockiness, does nothing wrong but doesn’t stand out in any way. Moss looks like a much bigger version of Perro Aguayo Jr., facially. Work wise, he’s a guy who is also a great athlete with a good look. There’s potential there but he needs more time. But they had a nice match with good crowd interaction. The faces were clearly the stars. Ohno set things up for McIntyre’s hot tag and he punches every button, great worker in the sense everything is solid and he does moves that get the crowd going, great aggressiveness and fire, great size, great look, strong interviews. When you see who is being pushed on the main roster, this guy should be top five on either Raw or Smackdown right. He pinned Moss with the Claymore kick.

6. Asuka pinned Ember Moon in 14:25 to keep the women’s title. There wasn’t much to this match. Asuka came out to a superstar reaction. Although she’s been the heel in the program on TV, she was definitely not the heel here to the crowd. They didn’t boo Moon either. When Asuka first arrived, she was not only the best female worker in the company, but better than all but maybe A.J. Styles of the men. I don’t know if she was hurt, but that wasn’t the case here. Moon came off the top rope with a crossbody and Asuka rolled through for the pin.

7. Sanity, being Alexander Wolfe & Eric Young, beat the Authors of Pain via DQ in 7:50 of a title match. This was the worst match on the show. It just didn’t click, was short, had the least level of crowd heat, and had a crap ending. There were a couple of botches, one really bad where one of the Authors took a Young neckbreaker wrong and the move completely missed, and then he sold it anyway. The crowd groaned but Young didn’t stop and because of Young’s poise there was no real negative reaction. An interesting note here is that in the TV angles, Sanity are the heels, but here, Sanity worked as the faces with Wolfe taking a beating to set up Young’s hot tag, and the crowd was completely behind Sanity. I really get the sense that most of the crowd watches some NXT and is familiar with the top characters, but doesn’t watch religiously because they were not up on the angles and recent portrayals. Sanity had the match won when Akam pulled the ref out of the ring for the DQ. The crowd hated the finish, so they went for a hot post-match. Wolfe was supposed to do a slingshot pescado, but lost his balance and fell on his ass. He got up and did it and Young did a tope. All four brawled to the back. Killian Dain was on the tour but never appeared on this show, because him doing so would have made no sense with Sanity as the faces.

8. Bobby Roode retained the NXT title pinning Roderick Strong in 24:25. This was a slow starting but great building championship style match. It was every bit the caliber of a Ric Flair vs. Bret Hart style WWF title match in 1992. It was hard for Strong, because Roode is clearly the biggest star, and with his music and all, everyone can’t wait for his entrance and to cheer for him. In some ways, I saw this like a Flair vs. Brad Armstrong type of match. Strong works great but couldn’t match Roode’s star power and the people didn’t get behind him early. The match was like that Flair match where after enough time, Roode as a heel gets the face over but it was still mostly mixed even when the crowd did pick up and get hot. Roode did more than he even does in his PPV matches including even a missile dropkick. Strong kicked out of the first DDT. There was a ref bump. Roode used a low blow and two DDTs to win. I’d say ****1/4 by WWE PPV standards for this. McIntyre came out after the match and talked about Brooklyn, where he guaranteed he would win the title.


Smackdown on 8/15 did 2,530,000 viewers for the show headlined by Jinder Mahal vs. John Cena. This is down two percent from last week, but consistent with what the show has been doing the last several weeks.

Due to news coverage being up, Smackdown fell to fifth place for the night on cable. In the time slot, it was behind FOX News and MSNBC, but beat Fox and only trailed ABC, CBS and NBC.

The show did a 0.57 in 12-17 (up 23.9 percent), 0.58 in 18-34 (down 1.7 percent), 0.96 in 35-49 (down 5.0 percent) and 1.04 in 50+ (down 5.5 percent).

The audience was 59.1 percent male in 18-49 and 57.3 percent male in 12-17.

Raw on 8/14 did a 2.14 rating and 3,219,000 viewers (1.64 viewers per home, which is well above usual). The viewer number was almost identical with the prior week, actually down 0.5 percent from the show that was the most-watched week since 4/17, while the rating dropped 2.7 percent due to more viewers per home.

The story of the rating was the huge first hour and an usually higher number of people watching together, but we’re told after the first half hour of the show, the viewership fell back to normal levels.

The audience dropped from the early part of the show in every demo except Males 12-17, which grew in hour two. Usually in the summer, it’s hour two that is the biggest in almost every demo.

There are two explanations you can give, and I think one is pretty obvious. One would be that people tons of extra people tuned in to see Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins reunite, and once that happened, they saw what they wanted to. The other is that the news reports about Ric Flair, which made mainstream news all day, got people curious thinking they’d get more info on Raw, and once they got the report, in the first hour, they got what they wanted and tuned out. Even in the Male 18-49 demo, which is the one demo where hour three always beats hour one in the summer, there was a 12 percent drop from one to three. The biggest drop was in the 18-34 demo where 22 percent of those who watched the first hour tuned out, and if it was either The Shield or Flair, that 22 percent would actually be downplaying it greatly because it’s likely the audience drop started 20 minutes into the show so even that first hour demo was based on a highly inflated first 20 minutes and the average underplays the real drop. I don’t have any evidence to say it was one or the other, but I think it’s pretty obvious it’s Flair who caused the huge first hour number drop, but the drop was biggest among women 12-34, at 35 percent.

Overall, the first hour did 3,419,000 viewers. The second hour did 3,293,000 viewers. The third hour, which featured the only appearance of the big four, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe, did 2,988,000 viewers.

The show did a 0.78 in 12-17 (down 7.1 percent from last week), 0.94 in 18-34 (up 10.6 percent), 1.34 in 35-49 (up 7.2 percent) and 1.25 in 50+ (down 2.3 percent).

The audience breakdown was 61.7 percent male in 18-49 and 54.9 percent male in 12-17.

Ballers on 8/13 did 2,484,000 viewers, up nine percent from the prior week and was, even with the limited HBO universe, was fifth for the night on cable. Once again Ballers benefits tremendously from the lead-in of Game of Thrones, which is really the hottest show on television, and did 10,718,000 viewers, up five percent from the prior week.

Impact on 8/10 did 277,000 viewers, almost identical to the 276,000 the week before. The 8/17 show will be interesting since it’s the live show and the first night of the new tapings.

Lucha Underground on 8/9 did 103,000 viewers at 8 p.m. and 56,000 at 9 p.m., with the combined 159,000 viewers being almost identical with the 162,000 the week before.

Raw on 8/7 did a 2.20 rating and 3,235,000 viewers, which was 1.60 viewers per home.


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RESULTS

 

8/9 Los Angeles Novo (WWE NXT - 1,800 sellout): Johnny Gargano b Andrade Cien Almas, Ruby Riot & Sarah Logan b Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville, Lars Sullivan b Oney Lorcan, Hideo Itami b Kassius Ohno, Aleister Black & Drew McIntyre b Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss, Three-way for women’s title: Asuka won over Ember Moon and Nikki Cross, Tag titles: Authors of Pain b Alexander Wolfe & Eric Young-DQ, NXT title: Bobby Roode b Roderick Strong

8/10 Bakersfield, CA (WWE NXT - 900): No Way Jose b Andrade Cien Almas, Ruby Riot & Sarah Logan b Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose, Killian Dain b Kassius Ohno, Aleister Black b Hideo Itami, Johnny Gargano & Roderick Strong b Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli, Ember Moon b Nikki Cross, Tag titles: Authors of Pain NC Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe, NXT title: Bobby Roode b Drew McIntyre

8/10 St. Petersburg, FL (WWE NXT - 250): Raul Mendoza b Marcel Barthel, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Brennan Williams & ? Ealy, Kona Reeves b Demetrious Bronson, Kairi Sane & Dakota Kai & Aliyah b Shayna Baszler & Billie Kay & Peyton Royce, Adrian Jaoude b Cezar Bononi, Liv Morgan b Vanessa Borne, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler

8/10 San Luis Potosi (The Crash - 9,000): Aero Kid & Androide & Becebu b Cancerbero & Gran Amenaza & Super Kiss, Latigo & Pegasuz & Tiago b Astrolux & Rayo Star & Rey Celestial, Four-way for women’s title: Keira won over La Magnifica, Chik Tormenta and Diosa Quetzal, Draztick Boy & Flamita & Jack Evans b Bestia 666 & Demus 3:16 & El Hijo de Pirata Morgan, Daga & Zorro b Garza Jr. & Ultimo Ninja-DQ, Blue Demon Jr. & Rey Mysterio Jr. & Rey Fenix b La Mascara & M-ximo & Rey Escorpion

8/11 Bangor, ME (WWE Raw - 2,700): Finn Balor & Matt & Jeff Hardy b Elias & Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows, Goldust b R-Truth, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas, Sasha Banks & Mickie James & Dana Brooke b Nia Jax & Emma & Alexa Bliss, Tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro b Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews, Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman-DQ

8/11 San Jose, (WWE NXT - 2,000): Johnny Gargano b Andrade Cien Almas, Ruby Riot & Sarah Logan b Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose, Lars Sullivan b Oney Lorcan, Aleister Black b Hideo Itami, Kassius Ohno & Drew McIntyre b Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss, Women’s title: Asuka b Ember Moon, Tag titles: Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe b Authors of Pain-DQ, NXT title: Bobby Roode b Roderick Strong

8/11 Jacksonville (WWE NXT - 375 sellout): Raul Mendoza b Cezar Bononi, Bianca Belair b Zeda, Marcel Barthel b Jeet Rama, Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins b Demetrius Bronson & Fabian Aichner, Adrian Jaoude b Chad Lail, Velveteen Dream b Nick Miller, Kairi Sane & Liv Morgan & Aliyah b Shayna Baszler & Billie Kay & Peyton Royce

8/11 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 7,000): Mercurio & Pierrothito b Shockercito & Stukita, Blue Panther Jr. & The Panther & Esfinge b Disturbio & Puma & Tiger, Amapola & Dallys & Zeuxis b Lady Maravilla & Princesa Sugehit & Silueta, Negro Casas & Sam Adonis & Cavernario b Caristico & Soberano Jr. & Valiente, Diamante Azul b Rush, Mistico & Dragon Lee & Niebla Roja b Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Mephisto-DQ

8/12 Augusta, ME (WWE Raw - 4,400): Matt & Jeff Hardy & Finn Balor b Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson & Elias, Goldust b R-Truth, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas, John Cena b Rusev, Sasha Banks & Mickie James & Dana Brooke b Alexa Bliss & Nia Jax & Emma, Tag titles; Sheamus & Cesaro b Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews, Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman-DQ

8/12 Tampa (WWE Smackdown - 5,500): Tag titles: Big E & Kofi Kingston won four-way over Usos, Tyler Breeze & Fandango and Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder, Sami Zayn b Mike Kanellis, Luke Harper b Mike Kanellis, Chad Gable & Tye Dillinger & Sin Cara b Erick Rowan & Epico & Aiden English, Shinsuke Nakamura b Baron Corbin, Universal title: Brock Lesnar b Samoa Joe, 3-on-4: Naomi & Becky Lynch & Liv Morgan b Natalya & Carmella & Lana & Tamina, U.S. title: A.J. Styles b Kevin Owens, Last man standing for WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Randy Orton

8/12 Sacramento, CA (WWE NXT - 1,700): No Way Jose b Andrade Cien Almas, Ruby Riot & Sarah Logan b Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville, Lars Sullivan b Oney Lorcan, Killian Dain b Kassius Ohno, Three-way for women’s title: Asuka won over Ember Moon and Nikki Cross, Tag titles: Alexander Wolfe & Eric Young b Authors of Pain-DQ, Johnny Gargano b Hideo Itami, Bobby Roode & Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli b Aleister Black & Drew McIntyre & Roderick Strong

8/12 Venice, FL (WWE NXT - 350): Demetrius Bronson b Chad Lail, Raul Mendoza b Brennan Williams, Adrian Jaoude b Marcel Barthel-DQ, Cezar Bononi b Kona Reeves-DQ, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler, Shayna Baszler b Zeda, Shayna Baszler b Taynara Conti, Velveteen Dream b Nick Miller, Kairi Sane & Lacey Evans b Peyton Royce & Billie Kay

8/12 New York (Progress - 1,500 sellout): Jack Gallagher b Zack Gibson, Deonna Purrazzo & Jinny b Dahlia Black & Dakota Kai, Timothy Thatcher b Donovan Dijak, No DQ: Jimmy Havoc b Joey Janela,. Mark Haskins won four-way over Mark Andrews, Austin Theory and Keith Lee, Tag titles: Tyler Bate & Trent Seven NC Travis Banks & T.K. Cooper, Handicap match: Travis Banks b Tyler Bate & Trent Seven, Atlas title: Matt Riddle b Walter to win title

8/13 Worcester, MA (WWE Raw - 4,000): Finn Balor & Matt & Jeff Hardy b Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson & Elias, Goldust b R-Truth, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, Tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro b Titus O’Neil & Apollo crews, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas, John Cena b Rusev, Sasha Banks & Dana Brooke & Mickie James b Nia Jax & Emma & Alexa Bliss, Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman-DQ

8/13 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Artillero & Espanto Jr. b Bengala & Sonic, Canelo Casas & El Hijo del Signo & Nitro b Astral & Oro Jr. & Sensei, Misterioso Jr. & Sagrado & Virus b Johnny Idol & Pegasso & Stigma, CMLL Reinas International women’s title: Zeuxis b Marcela, Angel de Oro & Titan & Valiente b Cuatrero & Sanson & Hechicero-DQ, Caristico & Marco Corleone & Volador Jr. b Cavernario & Gran Guerrero & Pierroth

8/13 Kobe (Dragon Gate - 1,000 sellout): Yuki Yoshioka b Shun Skywalker, Masaaki Mochizuki & Jimmy Kanda b Don Fujii & Hyo Watanabe, Kotoka b U-T, T-Hawk & Lindaman b Takehiro Yamamura & Kaito Ishida, Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy K-Ness b Shingo Takagi & Takashi Yoshida, Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Kagetora & Ryo Saito b Cima & Dragon Kid & Eita, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu & Ben K b Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy & Yosuke Santa Maria

8/13 Somerville, MA (Progress Wrestling - 300 sellout): Jeff Cobb b Mark Andrews, Dakota Kai won three-way over Deonna Purrazzo and Jinny, Jack Gallagher b Travis Banks, Matt Riddle b Martin Stone, Jimmy Havoc b Zack Gibson, Tag titles: Tyler Bate & Trent Seven b Timothy Thatcher & Walter

8/14 Boston (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 9,300): Kalisto b Curt Hawkins, Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik b Ariya Daivari & Drew Gulak, Sasha Banks b Nia Jax, Cruiserweight title: Akira Tozawa b Neville to win title, Bray Wyatt b Finn Balor, Mickie James b Emma, Non-title: Jason Jordan b The Miz-DQ, matt & Jeff Hardy & Jason Jordan b The Miz & Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas

8/14 Springfield, MA (WWE Smackdown - 4,000): John Cena b Rusev, Sami Zayn b Mike Kanellis, Luke Harper & Sin Cara & Tye Dillinger b Aiden English & Erick Rowan & Epico, Three-way for U.S. title: A.J. Styles won over Chad Gable and Dolph Ziggler, Shinsuke Nakamura b Baron Corbin, Five-way for women’s title: Naomi won over Becky Lynch, Tamina, Natalya and Carmella, Four-way for tag titles: Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston won over Usos, Tyler Breeze & Fandango and Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder, Last man standing for WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Randy Orton

8/14 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Big Japan Masahito Kakihara UWF reunion- 1,054): Yoshiaki Fujiwara b Masahito Kakihara, Masakatsu Funaki b Minoru Tanaka, Tatsuo Nakano b Daisuke Nakamura, Hideki Suzuki b Takuya Nomura, Minoru Suzuki b Rocky Kawamura, Naomichi Marufuji b Takaku Fuke

8/15 Providence,. RI (WWE Smackdown/205 Live TV tapings - 6,000):

Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger & Luke Harper b The Ascension & Mike Kanellis, Natalya b Becky Lynch, Rusev DCOR Chad Gable, Non-title: Usos b Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods, Non-title: John Cena b Jinder Mahal-DQ, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Baron Corbin, Cedric Alexander & Gran Metalik b Tony Nese & Drew Gulak, Brian Kendrick b Mustafa Ali-DQ, Ariya Daivari b Rich Swann, Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura b Dolph Ziggler & Rusev

8/15 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Apocalipsis & Inquisidor b Fiero & Retro, Canelo Casas & Nitro & Sangre Azteca b Metatron & Oro Jr. & Star Jr., Guerrero Maya Jr. & Johnny Idol & Rey Cometa b Misterioso Jr. & Sagrado & Virus, Drone b Puma, Blue Panther & Caristico & Titan b Luciferno & Pierroth & Mr. Niebla, Ultimo Guerrero & Negro Casas & Cavernario b Rush & Mistico & Valiente

CMLL: A story broke in the Mexican media earlier this week regarding a July 22, 2015, incident. The family of Adrian Enrique Lopez said that he was beaten badly by wrestlers Rush, Pierroth and Vangellys and is now confined to a wheelchair. The story told is that Lopez tried to intervene when the wrestlers were harassing women and attacked a security guard. The wrestlers side of the story is that the security guard and Lopez attacked them first by throwing rocks at them and they were just defending themselves. La Sombra (Andrade Cien Almas in WWE) was said to be traveling with the other three but he was, for some reason, not charged with anything by police nor does it appear he was involved in the incident, but his name has been in the media stories

CMLL held a press conference on 8/16 and announced Niebla Roja vs. Gran Guerrero in a mask vs. mask match and Zeuxis vs. Princesa Sugehit in another mask vs. mask match for the 9/16 Anniversary show at Arena Mexico. They also announced that both the 9/1 World Cup show and the Anniversary show would air as iPPV shows as opposed to free streaming, and both would air live. They also announced that Flip Gordon from ROH would be coming in. Gordon had been working for The Crash on some Tijuana shows

Tickets were put on sale for the 9/1 World Cup show and they are doubling the usual prices in every category. For the 9/16 Anniversary show, a big surprise is that they are offering balcony tickets for just 100 pesos ($5.63), which indicates they know they don’t have a big enough show to sell out at the usual jacked up Anniversary ticket prices, and also means the gate will be well down from previous years

The 8/11 Arena Mexico show was good, drawing about 7,000 fans. Diamante Azul and Rush had the most heat, especially the third fall with all the brawling and beer throwing by fans. Rush lost a fall via DQ but Azul pinned him cleanly in the third fall, so they may be building to something. The main event had Dragon Lee & Mistico & Niebla Roja beating Gran Guerrero & Mephisto & Ultimo Guerrero in straight falls. The second fall was via DQ when Gran Guerrero unmasked Niebla Roja. Both went back-and-forth talking about their upcoming mask vs. mask match at the Anniversary show on 9/16. The problem, like every week, is that Roja is just not over enough as a babyface to be seen as the anniversary show headliner and even though the focus was on him, he was clearly No. 3 on his team, and Gran is never No. 1 on his side because of the charisma of Ultimo. Cavernario & Negro Casas & Sam Adonis beat Caristico & Valiente & Soberano Jr. when Adonis hit Caristico with his Trump American flag. Cavernario started yelling at Adonis over using the Trump flag. Adonis then attacked Cavernario after the match leading to both heels and faces attacking Adonis. In a women’s trios match, Princesa Sugehit and Zeuxis got into it and agreed to the mask vs. mask match

The 8/18 Arena Mexico show has Diamante Azul & Valiente & Volador Jr. vs. Juice Robinson & Marco Corleone & Matt Taven. They are pushing this as a battle of babyfaces to help set up the World Cup, since all six of the names in this match are in it. The other top bouts are Stuka Jr. vs. Dragon Rojo Jr., and Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & Soberano Jr. vs. Gran Guerrero & Mephisto & Matt Taven

Robinson and Taven are also working 8/20 at Arena Mexico, with Taven as a face in the main event teaming with Volador Jr. & Diamante Azul vs. Euforia & Mephisto & Negro Casas, and Robinson in the semi as a face teaming with Rush & Dragon Lee vs. Polvora & El Terrible & Vangellys. Wouldn’t surprise me to see Rush turn on Robinson

Zeuxis beat Marcela in the match to determine the new CMLL and Reina International women’s champion. Reina is one of the Japanese women’s groups and the title is to be recognized in both companies.

AAA: Televisa made the major announcement that TripleMania will air on 8/26 on Ch. 5, which would be equivalent to a major network station in the U.S., so this is their version of WrestleMania being on NBC in prime time. Ch. 5 is airing Mayweather vs. McGregor live. The plan is that after the fight ends, that they would then go to Arena Ciudad and air whatever is left of the TripleMania show, meaning the main event of Psycho Clown vs. Dr. Wagner Jr., the biggest match of the year in Mexico, will have to start late. TripleMania will air on Japanese TV on Samurai on 9/15

They also announced the World Cup will take place on 10/10 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. No names have been announced, but there is also a Lucha Underground show billed for 10/9 at the small arena in Tokyo.

THE CRASH: The Crash ran its most successful event to date on 8/10 at the 11,000-seat Domo in San Luis Potosi, drawing 9,000 fans, the biggest crowd in company history, notable because it was a Thursday night show with no local television. They used Rey Mysterio Jr. & Blue Demon Jr. & Rey Fenix over La Mascara & M-ximo & Rey Escorpion in the main event, plus Daga & Zorro over Garza Jr. & Ultimo Ninja via DQ

Nicho got surgery on both knees this past week and it was said to have gone well

The next Tijuana show is 9/2, which will be taped for GFW in some form, with Oraculo vs Black Danger in a mask vs. mask match and a three-way tag team main event with Carlito & Daga vs. Garza Jr. & M-ximo vs La Mascara & Rey Escorpion

They announced a 10/8 show in Torreon with Penta 0M & Rey Fenix & Rey Mysterio Jr. against Garza Jr. & La Mascara and a mystery third man, plus Jeff Cobb & Keith Lee vs. Brian Cage & Willie Mack, Daga & Jack Evans & Zorro vs. Bestia 666 & El Hijo de Pirata Morgan & Rey Escorpion and a four-way with Flamita, Guevara, Nina and Septimo Dragon.

ALL JAPAN: Jun Akiyama retained the TV title over Takao Omori on the 8/11 show at Hakata Star Lanes in Fukuoka before 586 fans. It was billed as a 25th anniversary match, since both Akiyama and Omori started their careers together in All Japan in 1992. So it was a 25:00 time limit, and if they went the distance, the audience would be the judges and pick the winner. They went to a draw and the fans voted for Akiyama to retain. They also had a special six-man main event, which they’ve done a lot of in recent weeks, with Kento Miyahara teaming with Zeus & The Bodyguard over Shuji Ishikawa & Suwama & Ryoji Saito, when Miyahara, right before his title shot, pinning Sai.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: I saw the Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Brian Cage title match from 7/27 and it was just ridiculous how great it was, ****3/4. The negative as with so many matches is I worry about the physical damage, and some would say there’s an overkill aspect of doing so much. But the crowd was going nuts, and it’s harder in a barely half-filled Korakuen Hall than a full one to be so molten, variety and innovation was top notch, execution and excitement level was off the charts. The one “botch” was actually made better because it showed Cage’s raw power in being able to cover for a botch and actually made it better. They are perfect opponents because Cage is so spectacular at what he can do, and Nakajima is the kind of a guy who works a physical and very real looking but main event special title match style. He’s the guy who can accentuate Cage’s strengths and mold it into an incredible main event title match

. Daisuke Harada pinned Hajime Ohara in the main event of the 8/12 show in Yokohama at Radiant Hall before a full house of 319 fans to earn a shot at Taiji Ishimori’s jr. titl

Harada won in 23:24 with a German suplex.

NEW JAPAN: Hiroshi Tanahashi has a new look, as he cut his hair after all these years and has it back to its original dark color. It’s for a movie role. I don’t know the details of the movie other than Tanahashi has the lead role in the movie, which is being filmed right now during the tour break, and that Kazuchika Okada is also in the movie. Tanahashi actually looks younger, but the rock star hair was part of his trademark. No word if he’s going back to the old look after he’s done with the movie filming

Taka Michinoku announced his own K-Dojo show on 9/4 at Korakuen Hall will have himself & Kota Ibushi vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo as the main event.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: There was a benefit show on 8/14 at Korakuen Hall for Masahito Kakihara, who had retired in 2012 and has been publicly been battling cancer for almost three years. Kakihara wrestled on the show in his first match in five years. The show was put together by Big Japan, but the show was all under the UWFI rules as that was the promotion Kakihara made his name in during the 90s, before it folded and he went to New Japan. Kakihara was known as “slappy,” because he had super fast hand speed and would slap people as a comeback spot. The Kakihara slap spot has been the hallmark of a lot of New Japan’s biggest matches in recent years as a spot you do in the last few minutes before the finish. It’s also done in a lot of Japanese companies. The show itself featured mostly wrestlers from the old UWFI or old UWF style shooter guys. Kakihara lost the opener to Yoshiaki Fujiwara, which was billed as 10 minute dojo sparring match as opposed to a regular match. Fujiwara tapped him ten times during the exhibition. Masakatsu Funaki beat Minoru Tanaka with a triangle. Tanaka’s selling was exceptional. Funaki opened with a great looking worked head kick for a knockout tease. Tatsuo Nakano beat Daisuke Nakamura with a half crab. Not good. Hideki Suzuki beat Big Japan wrestler Takuya Nomura. It didn’t look realistic. Minoru Suzuki used the Fujiwara armbar to beat Rocky Kawamura. This was a brutal match. Both were bleeding from the mouth. Suzuki hurt Kawamura doing the Jon Jones standing shoulder strikes while the ref was calling for a break. Suzuki worked total heel. Suzuki got two yellow cards from the ref and the crowd went nuts when Kawamura dropped Suzuki with a liver punch and Suzuki barely beat the ten count. Suzuki won via submission. Told it was a **** match. The main event saw Naomichi Marufuji do UWF style for the first time, beating Takaku Fuke via knockout. This was great. Fuke, who fought in Pancrase, while Marufuji has never fought, dominated on the ground. Out of nowhere, Marufuji delivered a vicious jumping knee to the head for the knockout finish. It was described to me as the pro wrestling version of Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero. The selling was said to be fantastic. The show drew 1,054 fans and considering how rare UWF style is past the occasional tiny building events, and the names involved, I think it tells you that fan base they did have in the 90s isn’t as much for nostalgia because the early 80s New Japan nostalgia shows sell out at Korakuen. Kazushi Sakuraba came out to pose for photos with everyone on the card. I was told that Marufuji’s ability at story telling and timing in a match, among the best in the world, was obvious even here when he had to do something completely out of his comfort zone

Stardom’s Five Star Grand Prix tournament opens on 8/19 at Shinkiba First Ring in Tokyo. It’s constructed similar to the G-1 and is their version of G-1. The Red block on the first night has Mayu Iwatani vs. Viper, Yoko Bito vs. Hana Kimura, Kagetsu vs. Hiromi Mimura and Kris Wolf vs. Xia Brookside (the daughter of WWE coach Robbie Brookside). The Blue block has Io Shirai (who had her first match back over the weekend) vs. Mandy Leon, Jungle Kyona vs. Toni Storm, HZK vs. Tam Nakano and Konami vs. Kay Lee Ray. The tournament continues through the finals on 9/19 at Korakuen Hall. The last day Red block matches are Iwatani vs. Kagetsu, Bito vs. Viper, Kimura vs. Wolf and Mimura vs. Brookside. Blue block is Shirai vs. HZK, Storm vs. Ray, Konami vs. Leon and Kyona vs. Nakano. The highest point getters in each block meet in the championship match on 9/19

On the 8/13 Stardom show at Korakuen Hall, before 915 fans, Shirai returned and teamed with Viper & HZK to win the Artist of Stardom (trios) titles from Jungle Kyona & Kaori Yoneyama & Hiroyo Matsumoto. Mari Apache from Mexico won the High Speed title pinning Shanna after a swanton. Storm pinned Brookside to keep the SWA title.

HERE AND THERE: GLOW, a comedy/drama set in the 80s about women who were part of the GLOW troupe of that era, was renewed for a second season by Netflix. The show, which was far better than the show it was based around, had great reviews across the board. Netflix keeps viewership numbers to themselves (people who have TV shows on Netflix aren’t even tod how the shows are doing). Kia Stevens, who was Awesome Kong in TNA, and was in the first season, is listed as one of the stars for the second season. Several wrestlers including Joey Ryan, John Morrison, Brodus Clay and Alex Riley were part of the first season and Chavo Guerrero Jr. was the trainer of the women

The deal with Atsushi Onita and the trios match at the 8/5 CZW show in Voorhees, NJ is because his leg was hurt and he didn’t want to do a singles match, and it had nothing to do with Matt Tremont being hospitalized earlier in the week. There were people who knew in advance but the promotion advertised it as a singles match and then switched as they were in the ring. The match itself wasn’t much but the crowd loved everything Onita did and he sold so much merchandise that he may come back again before he retires, but he is looking to retire in October. Then again, he’s retired many times before and his idol is Terry Funk. Onita also wants to do one last match with Funk in Japan. My impression is that Funk is doing the one match in the Raleigh , the six-man tag with the Rock & Roll Express against Jerry Lawler & Brian Christopher & Doug Gilbert, to see how his body holds up to see if he can do a reasonable match in Japan

Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge was renewed by CMT for a fifth season, which will start on 9/26

Ken Kaiser, a colorful baseball umpire who got a lot of publicity over the years from doing some pro wrestling, passed away on 8/8 at the age of 72. It was always pushed that Kaiser has done pro wrestling, and claimed it was under the name The Hatchet Man, under a mask, to hide his identity, mostly between baseball seasons in 1973 and 1974 when he was still working the minor leagues. We could never find any records of Kaiser as The Hatchet Man, let alone in places where he could have wrestled people like Haystacks Calhoun and Andre the Giant, like he claimed he wrestled, nor wrestled in places like Quebec City or Philadelphia at the Spectrum. He did some small stuff but in public greatly exaggerated it with made up stories. He spent 36 years as an umpire, from 1964 to 1999, making it to the major leagues in 1977

Gary Michael Cappetta, 64, the longtime WWF and WCW ring announcer, who was one of the best ever at that job, recently suffered a heart attack. PW Insider reported the heart attack as taking place about two weeks ago, and that he had surgery and will be continuing his schedule of one-man talk shows called “Beyond Bodyslams!” He did appear over this past weekend at the wrestling convention in conjunction with Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore show in Philadelphia and said that he had a heart attack a week-and-a-half earlier and was out of the hospital a week earlier. He will be doing talk shows on 10/13 in Atlanta, 10/14 in Tampa, 10/15 in Orlando, 10/28 in Asbury Park, NJ, 11/4 in Louisville and 11/11 in New York at the Queens Theater in the Park. Cappetta’s book “Bodyslams: Memoirs of a Wrestling Pitchman” shares the top of the list of the most honest pro wrestling books I’ve ever read

A book called “Lucky 13+2,” written by Barbara Schultz Evans of Kansas, is about her family of 13 children and growing up, and the +2 is about her cousins, Doug & Mike Furnas, who were both college football stars, powerlifters and pro wrestlers in the 90s. Mike didn’t do a lot of pro wrestling but did work for Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling. Doug was a significant star in Japan, and his tag team with Dan Kroffat aka Phil Lafon was one of the top teams of the 90s in All Japan, as well as in WWF and ECW, and Doug was a singles star in the Southeast, particularly in Knoxville where he was known as a college football star running back and one of the strongest men in the world, setting 29 world records in powerlifting. Both Furnas brothers were collegiate champions in powerlifting and even though Doug’s records were set in college powerlifting in 1983, I believe his squat (882) and deadlift (776) records in collegiate powerlifting still stand today, which is amazing if you think about it. I know they were still records when Doug died in 2011. Also, unlike most huge weight powerlifters, Furnas was ripped, being nine percent bodyfat at 260 pounds

Regarding Kyle Snyder, who will be going for his second world championship (not including his Olympic gold medal last year), now has a goal of being the first wrestler ever to compete in five different Olympics. He would be 36 years old in 2032 and wrestlers in the heavier weight divisions do usually last longer because it’s more a power division than a speed division, but the injuries catch up to you when you’re competing at such a high level. He said the goal is five gold medals

Brad Cain, 46, who worked as Lodi in WCW, underwent neck surgery on 8/8

In something that was really sad, on 8/9, Magnum T.A. took his family, which includes stepdaughter Tessa Blanchard, to Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Because he uses a motorized scooter because he has difficulty walking due to his 1986 auto accident, they would not allow him in the park. I can’t believe they wouldn’t allow someone who was unable to walk bring their family to the park because of needing that to get around

All Pro Wrestling, which ran a very successful first show at the Cow Palace in years, and first from a California based company in 37 years, has booked the Cow Palace again on 11/10. With Cody Rhodes, who headlined the first show with Joey Ryan, signed with ROH, he’s not available. One main event is Rey Mysterio Jr. & Juventud Guerrera vs. Penta 0M & Rey Fenix

Evolve ran on 8/12 in Queens, NY for a show before about 200 fans where Anthony Henry & James Drake beat Fred Yehi & Jason Kincaid when Henry, who is almost 300 pounds, hit a moonsault on Kincaid. Chris Dickinson & Jaka beat The South Pacific Power Trip (Travis Banks & T.K. Cooper) while the main event was a four-way for the WWN title where Matt Riddle retained the title over Tracy Williams, Keith Lee and Walter. Riddle beat Williams with the bromission. They teased Riddle vs. Lee for a singles match as Lee hesitated before finally giving Riddle a fist bump. Riddle offered a fist bump to Walter, who walked away, since they were having another match for Progress later that same night. They tried something different, doing a show with no talking on the mic and no major post-match angles, just subtle angles. The four-way was said to be great. Allin vs. Thatcher was said to be exactly what it needed to be for the story they were trying to tell. ACH and Ethan Page did a lot of comedy with the gimmick as the troll boys

Evolve also ran 8/11 in Joppa, MD. The crowd was quiet. The best match was said to be Walter vs. Fred Yehi and Riddle vs. Lio Rush was said to be good. Timothy Thatcher is moving from Sacramento to Germany, so he’ll be working on a more regular basis for the promotions in Europe. This was his last weekend for Evolve due to the cost of bringing someone in on a regular basis from Europe, although it’s possible he could be brought in down the line. That also means Thatcher won’t be working regularly on the Northern California indie scene that he’s been a fixture on and was one of the key building blocks of. That’s notable since Thatcher had WWE offers in the past and didn’t want to give up his regular non-wrestling job that he was doing well with to leave the area or do wrestling full-time

Stokley Hathaway has signed with Evolve

Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore ran 8/11 in Freehold, NJ and 8/12 at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. On the first night, before a disappointing crowd of 350, Velvet Sky & Angelina Love reunited as The Beautiful People. Sky didn’t wrestle, but Love did. Joey Mercury came out in street clothes and cut a babyface promo, but then turned heel, saying he was there scouting for “Paul, Hunter to you,” saying Hunter wanted to know if there were any lumps of coal in House of Hardcore that they could bring to Orlando and make diamonds out of. Bull James came out. Mercury then claimed that he had the final deciding vote to get James fired from NXT. They did an impromptu match which Mercury winning after an eye poke due to a ref distraction. Mercury is evidently in tremendous shape. Jeff Cobb pinned Nick Aldis in what was said was an excellent match. Bobby Fish beat Rhett Titus. Bully Ray beat Sami Callihan (who has some injuries and he pulled out of his Revolution Pro date this week saying he needed to rest some injuries). They had scheduled a Rock & Roll Express vs. Spirit Squad match. There was an angle where they had a guy from the New Jersey Athletic Commission say that men the age of the Rock & Roll Express aren’t allowed to wrestle in New Jersey, so Team Tremendous (Bill Carr & Dan Barry replaced them). The Spirit Squad came out with TJ Marconi as Big Bubba Marconi (spoof on Ray Traylor as Big Bubba Rogers) and a manager with a tennis racket. The Sprit Squad won. The Rock & Roll Express tried to make a save for them but got beaten down and Sandman, who has lost a lot of weight, made the save caning everyone and he and Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson did the beer bash together. Dreamer, after losing the main event to MVP & Jake Hager (Jack Swagger), when MVP pinned him, talked about putting Cobb vs. Hager and that Hager would be just like Cody Rhodes and show people there’s life after WWE

The 8/12 HOH show in Philadelphia was noteworthy because Dreamer took the surprise show approach, advertising names but no matches, but still drew a packed house of 900 fans in conjunction. Sandman did another caning routine early. Stephen DeAngelis then introduced Shane Douglas. Fans chanted “Welcome back” at him. He talked about the start of ECW, noting it was before some of the people in the crowd were even born. He said that this would be his final year in the ring, and wanted to thank Dreamer for inviting him back to see the best fans on Planet Earth. Douglas said he started crying. Nick Aldis came out and talked about growing up and getting VHS tapes of Douglas matches and said he came out because he wanted to tell his son he was in the ring with Douglas. Of course, he attacked Douglas until Bull James made the save, leading to Aldis pinning James. The Spirit Squad vs. Rock & Roll Express turned into a six-man with one of the guys from the prior night as part of the Squad and Bully Ray teaming with Morton & Gibson. This was the first time the Rock & Roll Express as a team (they had without the other) had ever come to the 2300 Arena. If they had come in the 90s, they’d have been booed out of the place, but of course now got a really nice reaction. Morton Gibson& Bully won with a triple team power bomb through a table. Bully Ray then dropped to his knees and bowed and said “Thank you very much,” and led a Rock & Roll chant. He said that nobody can understand how much it meant to him to team with the Rock & Roll Express in this building. Dreamer came out and said that they are negotiating for the shows to be broadcast on a larger platform. HOH had been on Flo Sports, and Dreamer said it was his choice not to have this show put on and they were looking for a larger platform and at the next show in November they would be on something new. He put over the fans cheering for the Rock & Roll Express and said that guys like himself, Dreamer, Christian and the Hardys were going to help the young talent the way Terry Funk did with the ECW wrestlers. Mercury came out, saying he left the business two years ago due to dealing with personal demons and said he was blown away by the crowd. He said it was Dreamer who got him into ECW, and got him into WWE on a developmental deal, which was his path to get into WWE management. And like with Aldis, Mercury kicked Dreamer low and started beating on him. This led to a match that Mercury won. Once again they did a heel athletic commissioner spot. Dreamer had a chair and the so-called commissioner came out and was going to stop the show. He said either the match ended right there or the show ended, so Dreamer agreed that the match could be stopped with him losing to save the rest of the show. After the match, Mercury laid out Dreamer with a pedigree. Bobby Fish worked a four-way and said he hadn’t worked a lot for the company, but when he did, he could count on Dreamer treating hi right and the fans treating him right. He said that his time on the indies is over, at least for a little while, because who knows, so he thanked the fans. The other wrestlers all hugged Fish and he left to a big ovation. Aldis cut a promo saying her was tired of the out-of-shape marks taking up space in a business he used to love and said HOH was relic of ECW. Cobb beat Sami Callihan in the main event, which was Cobb’s debut in the building

HOH was set for a show on 8/26 in Geneva, IL, but Dreamer announced it has been canceled and said everyone would get refunds and he legally couldn’t comment on the matter

Austin Aries has teased returning to wrestling but didn’t indicate where this would be

An independent wrestler, Robert Beasley, 28, and his ex-wife, Desiree Anderson, 28, was arrested on 8/5 at the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee for having sex together in public. Someone saw this and filmed them, which Beasley was aware of, but continued on. Police came and arrested them and charged them with fornication in public. Beasley wrestles in the area under the name Bobby Valentino. They were booked into county jail and then were each released on $400 bond.

EUROPE: Progress Wrestling came to the Elmcor Center in Queens, NY, drawing a sellout of 1,500 fans on 8/12. I was told there was some excellent wrestling but with so many people in such a small place, with no air conditioning, that two people passed out from the heat including one when they were dealing with TK Cooper’s injury

Jim Smallman, the promoter, came out and fans were chanting “Please come back,” two minutes into the show. Smallman joked that was the earliest in a show he’d ever heard a crowd chant that. He also joked that “We’ve got your money so we’re just phoning it in.” He said he never expected such a big crowd and huge ovation for a small European promotion on a U.S. show. He then brought out Pete Dunne, who cut a promo noting an injury, as he had his head split open the night before and since he’s a WWE guy, they made the call to pull him from the show. Dunne had wrestled Darius Carter in the main event for Battle Club Pro in Brooklyn on 8/11 and his head got busted open. They went right to the finish where he beat Carter via submission. But he needed 11 stitches, to close the cut, making it a bad idea to wrestle the next day. Dunne came out for an interview, which brought up Jack Gallagher. WWE had given Gallagher and Dakota Kai permission to work the show besides the wrestlers under U.K. contract that work regularly for Progress. Gallagher wanted to shake Dunne’s hand and they could do a U.K. title match at a later date. Dunne walked off and slapped his hand away. Zack Gibson came out and confronted Gallagher, so Gallagher beat him with a top rope elbow. In a match to determine the top contender for the Atlas title, Timothy Thatcher beat Donovan Dijak with a Fujiwara armbar. The match the crowd was most into was Joey Janela vs. Jimmy Havoc in a no DQ match, with chairs, tables, thumbtacks and cinderblocks. With Janela sitting on a chair, Havoc ran at gave him a monkey flip. Janela held the chair, flipped and landed on the chair. There was a superplex off the top rope onto cinderblocks that were propped up by chairs for a near fall. Havoc won by taking off Janela’s boots, biting his toes, dropped him bare feet on thumbtacks and then gave him a German suplex into cinderblocks followed by a rainmaker. Smallman then noted that there was a fan who brought his girlfriend and they had traveled 20 hours to see this show, and then the guy proposed and she said “Yes,” which led to a huge “Yes” chant. Mark Haskins won a four-way over Keith Lee, Austin Theory and Mark Andrews when Haskins tapped out Theory. Next was tag champs Tyler Bate & Trent Seven against Travis Banks & TK Cooper. About 5:00 into the match, Banks did a dive onto Seven and Bate. Cooper got on the top rope and did a crazy twisting shooting star press to the floor and landed on his feet between all three as he wasn’t caught. When he landed, his right foot twisted to the left badly and it was said to have looked like Sid Vicious’ horrible ankle injury in 2001. At first it was feared he broke his leg, but it was diagnosed as a dislocated ankle. He was carried out by EMTs. Banks then challenged Bate & Steven to a handicap match, but that would be non-title. Banks pinned Seven, and they announced a Dunne vs. Banks title match in September. The main event saw Matt Riddle beat Walter to win the Atlas title for a second time. Said to be an excellent match with super hard chops. Walter chops like Katsuya Kitamura, and are about the hardest in the business. They worked it G-1 style and Riddle finally won with the bromission

They also ran on 8/13 in Somerville, MA working with Beyond Wrestling for a doubleheader. The show sold out as soon as tickets were put on sale, but they were in a 300-seat building. Apparently the bus that was supposed to take the crew from New York to Boston didn’t show up. Jim Smallman brought up the problems between that, the Dunne injury and the Cooper injury. Cobb pinned Andrews in the opener. Gallagher pinned Banks with a running dropkick. Gallagher did a promo putting over Banks. Dunne then attacked both of them and gave Banks a pedigree and Gallagher saved Banks. Riddle beat Martin Stone with the bromission. During the match, Stone did the Marty Scurll finger breaking spot, except it was a toe breaking spot. Riddle then called out Walter saying anytime Walter wants a shot at the Atlas title, he’s ready. Bate & Seven retained their tag titles in the main event over Walter & Thatcher. Walter had the sleeper on Seven, but Seven was able to pin him from there. Walter and Thatcher argued after the match

Progress announced a return to the U.S. as part of WrestleMania week with shows on 4/6 and 4/7 in New Orleans

There was a British Wrestling Reunion held on 8/13 at the Bridges, a tavern owned by former British heavyweight champion Wayne Bridges. More than 300 people attended, including about 170 wrestlers and former officials. There were two television and film production crews there including Ridley Scott Productions. Joe D’Orazio, 95, who is the President of the reunion, was the oldest guest. Among the major stars there were Mark “Rollerball” Rocco (the original Black Tiger in New Japan), Johnny Saint, Pete Roberts, Steve Veidor, Alan Sergeant, Jeannie Clarke (the ex-wife of Chris Adams and Steve Austin who started her career as the valet for Adams when he first broke in) John Cox and Mel Stuart. Colin Joynson honored those who had passed away over the previous year. Legends Hall of Fame awards were given to Alan Kilby, Tony Walsh (who was the guy who introduced Chris Adams to pro wrestling and helped break him in), Keith Myatt, Blondie Barratt, Steve Gray as well as to the families of Tug Holton and Jim Moser. Also honored with a Legends Hall of Fame awards were Mal Sanders and Leon Fortuna. Jim Starsky, a great Scottish lightweight and referee Bobby Stafford got Service to Wrestling awards. They also have a British Wrestler of the Year award to Joe Hendry. They announced next year’s event at the same place on August 12, 2018.

LUCHA UNDERGROUND: Telelatino in Canada is airing the current season weeks ahead of what has aired in the U.S. It looks like they’ll be done with the season in two weeks, because they got the entire season sent to them and are airing multiple episodes a week. What will be interesting is if these episodes end up on the Internet from someone in Canada before they air in the U.S., and if they do, and the episodes are up before they air first-run on El Rey, if that hurts the ratings. It’s really strange how this could happen.

ROH: Both the 8/26 Atlanta TV tapings and the 10/15 show in Chicago with Kenny Omega are at capacity right now. For Chicago, that’s about 2,300 tickets, easily their record in the market and I believe the second largest paid attendance in company history. They may open up more seats since you can open the full building up to get 5,000

The 8/19 iPPV from Liverpool, England will start at 6 p.m., Eastern time which means the end of the show will be going head-to-head with the beginning of the NXT Takeover show. The lineup is Cody vs. Sanada for the ROH title, Young Bucks vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels for the tag titles, Bully Ray & Briscoes vs. Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Bushi, Kushida vs. Marty Scurll vs. Dalton Castle vs. Hiromu Takahashi for the TV title, Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero vs. Mistico & Titan, Jay Lethal vs. Josh Bodom, Kenny King vs. Hangman Page and Silas Young vs. Mark Haskins

The other two weekend shows are 8/18 in London at York Hall with Cody & Young Bucks & Scurll & Page vs. Naito & Hiromu Takahashi & Sanada & Evil & Bushi, Kushida vs. Titan for the TV title, Castle & The Boys defending the six-man titles against Jushin Liger & Delirious, Mark Briscoe vs. Ryan Smile and Lethal vs. Bully Ray vs. Young vs. Sha Samuels

The other tour date is 8/20 in Edinburgh, Scotland, with Cody & Scurll vs. Daniels & Kazarian, Castle & Boys defending the six-man titles against Young Bucks & Page, Lethal vs. Young street fight, Guerrero & Bucanero vs. Briscoes, Bully Ray vs. Evil, Naito & Bushi & Sanada vs. Kushida & Mistico & Titan, King vs. Josh Bodom and Hiromu Takahashi vs. Haskins

Brandi Runnels spoke to CBS radio more about her departure from GFW. She said that she never actually signed a contract with GFW. She signed a tentative agreement with Impact and she put a clause in it because she was already working on things in television that if something was to open up for her in television, they couldn’t be uncooperative about it. She said that if they were uncooperative, they would part ways, and she said, that is what happened

The 8/26 show at Center Stage in Atlanta, billed as “ROH Saturday Night at Center Stage,” will feature the Honor Rumble, where the winner will face Cody for the title that night.

GFW: They start the longest set of tapings I believe they’ve ever done, 12 weeks worth, on 8/17, with the entire build to Bound for Glory in early November. The 8/17 show is almost live (maybe a one hour tape delay), and will be the annual Destination X show. The promoted matches were Alberto El Patron vs. Low Ki for the GFW title (obviously that is not happening), Sonjay Dutt vs. Trevor Lee for the X title, Taiji Ishimori vs. Dezmond Xavier in the finals of the World X Cup, Bobby Lashley vs. Matt Sydal and Sienna vs. Gail Kim for the women’s title

There have been talks to bring back Jim Cornette as a television character

Tyrus claimed on social media that he wouldn’t be coming for the TV tapings. He posted a video saying that he had been treated like a second-class citizen and wasn’t used the way he should be. He said he’s been playing phone tag with officials all day on 8/15 and if they wanted to treat him that way, he’s not coming to the tapings

They will be taping matches on the 9/2 Crash show in Tijuana. I believe this will be a One Night Only PPV taping

Angelina Love has asked for and gotten her release

Atlanta based woman wrestler Kiera Hogan has signed.

UFC: Tony Zucca, who is best friends with Matt Hughes, wrote this on 8/13: “I can’t even describe the emotions I am feeling as I write this post. Less than two months ago I didn’t know if my best friend was going to make it, and tonight we made a jailbreak for sushi (in disguise). Talk about a roller coaster of emotions. His progress is nothing short of a miracle. He is working so hard and fights through the frustration. He is, as he’s always been, an inspiration. I can’t wait to hit the mits with him again, and he told me today that he has one more round left in him (he laughed, but definitely wasn’t joking). Thank you for all of your prayers. Please keep them up as he still has a long road ahead of him. I am witnessing the power of them firsthand. So thankful.

Former UFC fighter Tae Hyun Bang was indicted for allegedly taking a bribe in a fight that he, in fact, won, over Leo Kuntz on a UFC show in Seoul, South Korea on 11/28. This story had come out some time back, as Bang had agreed to throw the fight, then the odds changed big in the days before the fight and there was tremendous suspicion of it being fixed. UFC officials essentially scared Bang straight, as he went out to win the fight, and did. Several people were indicted besides Bang, as well as others alleged to be involved with the fix, including Date Won Kim, another MMA fighter. Bang received $87,000 to fix a fight, and then bet $43,000 of that on Kuntz. After being warned by UFC officials, he went out to win what ended up being a hell of a fight, costing himself the $43,000 he’d bet on his opponent. The allegation is that organized crime figures in South Korea had bet $1.7 million on Kuntz to win, which is why the odds shifted so greatly. But Bang won a close fight via split decision. The UFC told both fighters before the fight, that if it looks like either were not trying to win, they would be investigating the situation. At the time, Bang denied knowing anything about a fix

Regarding Mayweather-McGregor, the Nevada Athletic Commission voted 5-0 to allow the fight to be fought with eight ounce gloves rather than ten ounce gloves. This came one day after the Association of Ringside Physicians made a statement against allowing such a thing given the rules at that weight class of no gloves less than ten ounces that are in place. Nevada claimed this fight would be an experiment, a one-time only thing, where their existing rules would be negated. From a regulatory standpoint, this ruling was an embarrassment, although in reality, everything about this fight from a regulatory standpoint is something you have to hold your nose on, because there is no way a 49-0 best fighter of a generation vs. 0-0 fight would be sanctioned by anyone if it wasn’t generating this level of money. In theory, the glove size should favor McGregor, whose trainer and himself vowed he would knock Mayweather out with the smaller gloves. McGregor is said to be 160 pounds right now and Mayweather’s camp said he will fight at 150, even thought the weight is 154 that McGregor has to make. McGregor has also said he would get into the ring 20 pounds heavier, although that sounds like an exaggeration but it’ll be ten pounds or more. The smaller gloves in theory will hurt Mayweather’s defensive skills and help McGregor’s power. They will also help McGregor in the stamina department, and Mayweather is used to 36 minute fights, and while it’s different rules and MMA is tiring in a different way, McGregor, with smaller gloves got very tired by round three (with longer rounds) in both fights with Nate Diaz. However, King Mo, who is an expert in both boxing, wrestling and MMA, and has experience with Mayweather said it will benefit him because Mayweather’s body punches will be more effective with smaller gloves. With all the betting on McGregor, with 95 percent of bets taken being for McGregor, but the biggest money bettors are strongly behind Mayweather, the odds have fallen from -2250 to -450 with Mayweather as the favorite. But McGregor’s odds are actually lower than ten of Mayweather’s last 18 opponents

Gavin and Joe Malooff, the billionaire brothers, have bet $880,000 on Mayweather

Dana White said that Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee for the interim lightweight title will take place on the 10/7 PPV show from Las Vegas. As of last word, the fight wasn’t actually signed but that is the plan. While a good fight, this title situation has gotten even more ridiculous. We’re doing an interim title for McGregor’s belt? And Khabib Nurmagomedov isn’t even in the match? I hate to use this term, but it is appropriate, but this is like Vince Russo was put in charge of booking for UFC the way they water down titles so much they may as well throw the belts into the Pacific. Luckily, there’s still guys who can do promos and grudge matches

Georges St-Pierre was on the MMA Hour on 8/14 and said that he is contractually obligated to defend the middleweight title if he beats Michael Bisping on 11/4 in Madison Square Garden and expects to face Robert Whittaker. He also said that he expects to fight for about three more years, until he’s 39

The Cody Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw bantamweight title match is also signed for Madison Square Garden. There are seven matches set up so far for the show, with the others being Paulo Borrachinha vs. Johny Hendricks, Curtis Blaydes vs. Aleksei Olenik, Corey Anderson vs. Patrick Cummins, Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Ion Cutelaba and Ricardo Ramos vs. Alemann Zahabi

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Anderson Silva looks to be the main event for the 11/25 show in Shanghai, China

Anthony Pettis vs. Dustin Poirier is in the very serious negotiations standpoint for an 11/11 show in Norfolk. It looks to be the main event. Two more bouts on that show are Diego Sanchez, moving up to 170 (he had fought as low as 145 for some time) to face Matt Brown, and Dennis Stewart vs. Karl Roberson

The undercard of Mayweather-McGregor was announced. It’ll open with two prelim boxing matches with Savannah Marshall (0-0) vs. Amy Coleman (0-0) and Kevin Newman (7-0-1) vs. Antonio Hernandez (9-1). There will be two fights on FOX TV, which will be Juan Heraldez (12-0, 8 knockouts) vs. Jose Borrego (12-0, 11 knockouts) and Shawn Porter (27-2-1, 17 knockouts) vs. Thomas Dulorme (24-2, 16 knockouts. The PPV fights will be Andrew Tabiti (15-0, 13 knockouts) vs. Steve Cunningham (29-8-1, 13 knockouts) for the NABF cruiserweight title, Nathan Cleverly (30-3, 16 knockouts) defends the WBA light heavyweight title against Badou Jack (21-1-2, 12 knockouts) and Gervonta Davis (18-0, 17 knockouts) defends the IBF junior lightweight title against Francesco Fonseca (19-0-1, 13 knockouts)

They have lowered ticket prices as the $3,500 seats that haven’t sold were dropped to $2,500

Mark Hunt vs. Marcin Tybura will headline an 11/19 morning/afternoon show in Sydney, Australia at the Qudos Bank Arena. It will air in prime time on 11/18 on FS 1. Tybura is coming off a win over Andrei Arlovski, and this will be his biggest fight of his career. Other fights announced this week for that show are Ryan Benoit vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian and Rashad Coulter vs. Tai Tuivasa

Joseph Carr, the former Senior Vice President and Head of Content and International Business, one of the company’s key executives, who just quit last week, was announced on 8/15 as the new Chief Strategy Officer and head of International for the World Surf League. Carr was credited in the press release by the WFL as managing UFC Fight Pass and being part of the largest sports buyout in history with the UFC sale to WME IMG

Jinder Mahal will be at the 9/9 UFC show in Edmonton, which in and of itself isn’t that big of a deal, since he’s from Alberta and wrestlers go to UFC events all the time. But he’ll be walking Arjan Bhullar to the cage in his debut fight. Bhullar, 31, is a heavyweight who is 6-0, of Indian Sikh descent, from Richmond, British Columbia and the two are friends. Bhullar was Canada’s top heavyweight in amateur wrestling, winning the the gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and representing Canada in the 2012 Olympics, before starting in fighting in 2014. He faces Luis Henrique

On the 8/8 edition of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders, Donovan Frelow lost a decision to Ricky Simon. He was then with his team, which included his girlfriend. He then got on his knees, pulled out a ring that he had stored in his cup, and proposed to her. She accepted

Islam Makhachev has pulled out of the 9/2 show in Rotterdam, Holland, which is the company’s next show. His former opponent, Michel Prezeras, will now face the debuting Mads Burnell, who is 8-1

Bobby Green will be replacing Abel Trujillo in facing Lando Vannata on the 10/7 show in Las Vegas

Gregor Gillespie vs. Jason Gonzalez and Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Tony Martin have been added to the 9/16 show in Pittsburgh

Jan Blachowicz vs. Devin Clark, Ramazen Emeev vs. Trevor Smith and and Jonathan Wilson vs. Oskar Piechota are the first three fights announced for a 10/21 show in Gdansk, Poland.

BELLATOR: MMA Fighting reported that Frank Mir has signed here. Due to his suspension for testing positive for the anabolic steroid Turinabol after a fight with Mark Hunt in 2016, and the subsequent two-year suspension, he won’t be able to fight until April 2018. Mir, 38, has an 18-11 record and his 16 consecutive years with UFC I believe would have been the longest of any fighter in the promotion

The California State Athletic commission turned down a protest by Josh Thomson regarding his knockout loss to Patricky Pitbull Freire on the 2/18 show in San Jose. Thomson claimed that he was knocked silly by an accidental head-butt right before the finish, which was a knockout punch. The referee, John McCarthy, wrote a letter saying he missed the heads clashing and only saw it after watching a replay of it. The commission accepted that the illegal head-butt had taken place, but that knockout came from a punch after the head-butt. “The commission determined an actual clash of heads did occur and the referee didn’t see it,” Foster told MMA Fighting. “But the question the commission was faced with was: Was that enough to overturn that result; take that win away from (Friere), when that win was caused by a legal blow?” To me, if the head-butt occurs right before the finish and stuns the competitor, who is then knocked out from a subsequent punch, it is an illegal move that led to the finish. The fouled fighter, if they didn’t make a full recovery from the illegal move and got finished, that should be a no contest. Anything else makes no sense. This is similar to if an undetected eye poke makes a fighter unable to fight, but he’s then knocked out in a subsequent flurry of punches, the illegal move led to the finish, and if that’s the case, it should be made very clear that’s a no contest, and that’s where instant replays should be part of the sport

Tito Ortiz underwent another neck surgery recently

Former UFC fighter Sam Sicilia has signed here. Sicilia had been with UFC since 2012, but had lost his last three fights, most recently losing a unanimous decision to an impressive Gavin Tucker on 2/19.

OTHER MMA: Javier Vazquez, 41, who fought from 1998 to 2011, including in WEC and once in UFC, is battling colon cancer. He’s facing six months of chemotherapy after surgery. Vazquez said that he started experiencing abdominal pains, and was diagnosed with cancer. Surgeons removed 12 polyps, four of which were stage 3 cancerous. Vazquez recently went through a divorce from Rose Gracie, the daughter of Rorion Gracie. He was 16-5 in his MMA career, which ended on June 26, 2011, with his only UFC fight, a decision win over Joe Stevenson. During his career he held wins over Jens Pulver and Rumina Sato. He has been unable to teach at his Jiu Jitsu Academy in Rancho Cucamonga. A Go Fund Me campaign for him already raised $37,000

Rondel Clark, 26, an amateur fighter in his second bout, passed away on 8/15 after suddenly suffering from kidney failure during a fight on 8/12 in Plymouth, MA. Clark, who was 1-0, was facing Ryan Dunn, who was 0-2, in a bout for the Cage Titans promotion. Clark dominated the fight, winning the first two rounds and the report we got said he won the first round by a 10-8 margin. But he was totally exhausted when the third round started and Dunn got the mount and threw what were described as “the weakest punches you ever saw.” Clark was covering up and didn’t take much damage, but he couldn’t get out of that bad position and the fight was stopped. Clark couldn’t move, and had to be taken out on a stretcher and rushed to the hospital. The report we got was that they believed his kidneys shut down during the fight. He was moved to a hospital in Boston to undergo surgery as he was going through multiple organ failure. The fight aired on the Flo combat channel. According to what we were told, Clark cut ten pounds, which is not a lot, to make weight so it wasn’t one of those crazy weight cuts that caused the kidney damage. But still, kidneys shutting down after a weight cut does make you question the weight cut and one of the greatest things in this sport will be if the officials can find a way to reduce or eliminate weight cutting of more than a few pounds.

WWE: It pretty much looks like a lock that Bryan will be back in the ring in one year, whether it’s here or with New Japan, ROH or somebody else. Brie Bella did an interview with the “From the Top Rope” podcast where she said that Bryan has been undergoing Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, which is something that Joe Namath touted has helped him battle cognitive issues from his years in football. I do know that Bryan first looked at this therapy most likely around WrestleMania week for a time line. She said he’s undergone about 40 treatments all over the country and she fully supports his return if he gets the okay from doctors. “I told Bryan, `You do have a daughter, so always remember that. But if the doctors finally give you the green light, I say Go. This is your dream and passion. You have one life to live and I will never hold you back, because I love to wrestle and I would hate if someone told me you can’t do it. And if the WWE doesn’t allow it, then I said, go somewhere else. It’s all on you. Obviously, he would love to be able to get back in that WWE ring, but I know for a fact my husband is going to find his way back to the ring. He honestly is.

 

To say this becomes one of the most interesting issues to follow is an understatement, although a lot depends on the lay of the land in one year. Will Joseph Maroon reverse his decision when all along he’s said he would never clear Bryan to wrestle? And if not, what if the lay of the land continues in the way the recent momentum has been. Bryan is not really about the money, and he could make gigantic money on the outside, now more than ever. He couldn’t make top WWE money, but he could make his own schedule, work with who he wants, and really have far better matches because the best wrestlers in the world with a few exceptions are not in WWE. And having great matches is one of the things he enjoys. Still, even with all that if WWE does clear him, I don’t see him leaving, but the situation is very different now because of his stature in the sense the indies are stronger and he could command far more, plus make a killing on autograph shows and work as little or as much as he wants against the people he wants to work with. That is all if, in fact, he should wrestle, which is the trickiest question of all. There is a reason he wasn’t cleared and there was a test he didn’t do well on, and there were tests he passed with flying colors. But that was all in the past. In a year, aside from the lay of the land, who knows if he will have healed up or gotten worse or stayed the same, and the science is still years away from where it will be, and perhaps in a year the science will be better than it is now

The WWE Network will open up in China on 8/18 through a partnership with PPTV, which is a streaming company that is the WWE’s broadcast partner in that country. The live shows will be broadcast in Mandarin, and its part of the hopes of making money from the emerging economy with SummerSlam weekend as the kickoff. They are going in with a low price, as it will be $4.50 per month and $30 for a one year subscription. The mentality behind it is that a survey showed that Chinese who make at least $450 per month, a level 290 million people who have the Internet have reached, were willing to spend money on a streaming service. The deal is a revenue split between PPTV and WWE. There are paid streaming services in existence but the WWE deal is different. For example, Tencent Holdings Ltd., according to the Wall Street Journal, paid the NBA $500 million for the rights to stream live games in China. Jay Li, who heads the WWE operations in China, said that the success of the NBA in China is what spurred WWE into going into business with PPTV and making the network available

In the never learn from stats department, WWE is now offering three month free subscriptions to anyone who has never signed up for the network before starting in the days before SummerSlam, you know, the third biggest show of the year that might add some paid subs. We were also informed by a reader who canceled his sub a few weeks ago that he was, when he wanted to cancel, offered one month free. Another reader noted that since WrestleMania in 2016, he hasn’t subscribed because he wasn’t watching it enough to be worth it, but has gotten offers and taken two offers for free one month and another offer for a free three months

Ronda Rousey has been training of late with Brian Kendrick so there you go. It’s pretty clear she’s not doing that just for fun. With her and Jessamyn Duke there, it looks like a Horsewoman vs. Horsewoman thing starts it but they’ll probably build to a Rousey singles match at Mania if they think they can pull it off, because that would be the money. I just hope they use it to give the rub to a woman on the roster but the original idea was always Rousey vs. Stephanie in a singles match after the 2015 angle at WrestleMania in Santa Clara. There was a time, when the women were treated as third-class performers where I wouldn’t have like it but would have thought it was best for business because Stephanie was such a good promo and more of a star than any of the women wrestlers. Today, that dynamic has changed. It’s like which was more valuable, Mr. T teaming with Vince, or Hogan, or Mike Tyson having the square-off with Vince or Austin (granted Trump vs. Vince was the most valuable use of Trump, but that’s completely the hair stipulation and that Trump couldn’t do a match)

Austin Jenkins, 28, better known as “Adam Cole Baybay,” signed officially, with one WWE source saying it was official on 8/11, although it has been the most likely scenario for about a year and a foregone conclusion for months. He had been recruited hard for the past year or two, while under an ROH deal and at one point, before Bobby Roode was signed, the idea was to have him in that spot as the NXT champion. It’s not clear if he’ll keep the Adam Cole name, but with his catchphrase being so big, that would work in his favor, plus a lot of the new talent like Roode, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly and others who have come in that have names didn’t get their names changed. Cole has been expected to debut at the Takeover show this week, although it was never official. It was pretty much inevitable he’d be here when he did his farewell in ROH. We were told in February when the Kenny Omega vs. Cole angle was shot in Japan, that between when Cole was expected to leave and Omega’s schedule and later a visa issue that it was unlikely the Omega vs. Cole match was going to happen. Cole started with ROH in 2009. He had a WWE tryout about four years ago and Paul Levesque passed on him. It was never confirmed, but there was a story that Regal told about a guy everyone was high on after a tryout, but because his face looked so young and that he didn’t look like he could beat people up, they wanted him to stay on the outside, continue to improve and when he looked older and tougher he’d be better off coming in then. It was never confirmed Regal was talking about Cole but that was the name that was speculated on, because Cole had a strong tryout at the time. He also regularly worked PWG starting in 2011 and had worked some New Japan. But it’s been expected for more than a year that he was NXT bound when he was legally able to go, and that he’d be a top star in that brand

Mike Bennett (Kanellis), on social media this past week, went public that in the past he was addicted to prescription drugs. He said he kept it hidden from everyone, including his wife and family. He said it had been a problem for three years, starting from when he dislocated his kneecap and had gotten out of control the past 18 months and said he lost almost everything. He praised Maria, saying, “Without her, I would be lost. She is the strongest, toughest woman I know. She has been my rock and my reason for fighting. She has been with me every step of the way and I’ll say it again, I would truly be lost without her.” “Life has never been better and every day is a blessing. I wanted to write this as a symbol of hope to anyone who is battling addiction” “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, you are not alone.

HHH did a media call and talked about the Mae Young tournament. He said that the binge release, where four or five episodes will be released on 8/28 and the rest on 9/4 was an experiment. He said that the viewership for the Cruiserweight tournament faded in the later weeks of the tournament so this was an experiment to see what would happen if everything was released over a two week period instead of a ten week period. He also said it hadn’t been determined exactly what the situation would be on 9/12 regarding whether it would just be one match, or a one-hour show with other matches leading to the championship match, or what the situation would be regarding 205 Live that week

Lesnar and Heyman are booked for the 8/21 Raw show at the Barclays Center

Bayley told PW Insider that she just started physical therapy. She said she’s not sure how long she’ll be out of action, although she indicated it would be a few months. She said the injury was a grade two shoulder separation. She said she’s been able to move it some and the swelling has gone down. She said she can’t do her hair and it’s hard to do a lot of things

The company has added television in Australia with a new deal with Nine Network for airing on 9Go!, it’s youth oriented free-to-air channel that started in 2009 and usually gets about a two percent share of the television viewers. But it would put WWE on free television. Foxtel, which airs Raw and Smackdown live, is a pay channel and WWE will continue on that station. But 9Go! Will air Raw and Smackdown, edited down to one hour, with Raw airing at 11 p.m. Thursday night and Smackdown airing after the conclusion of the Friday Night movie the next night

Ticket sales for No Mercy, a Raw PPV on 9/24 in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, which will include both Cena and Lesnar, are strong. There are some upper level seats left, and a lot of the most expensive seats left, but everything else is gone. But it’s on pace to sell out

Because there is no Smackdown house show on 8/21, they are going to put the top stars of Smackdown in a dark match after Raw this week, with Orton & Nakamura & Styles vs. Corbin & Mahal & Owens

Zayn is raising money for Syria, a cause called “Sami for Syria” to raise money for a mobile clinic. They’ve hit their original goal of raising $48,000. He said that from 8/14 through 8/20, he will match every dollar donated up to $10,000

Joseann Offerman, known as JoJo, the ring announcer for Raw, missed the 8/14 show due to the death of sister Gigi. Mike Rome filled in. It’s never publicized by WWE, but Offerman is the daughter of Jose Offerman, who was a legit major league baseball star, who played for a number of teams, notably the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox, between 1990 and 2005, including making the All-Star team in 1995 and 1999

Dwayne Johnson won a Teen Choice Award for Favorite Fantasy Movie Actor for his role in “Moana.

Even though Chris Benoit is on the WWE Network, although never publicized, and Buck Zumhofe is, and Jimmy Snuka is on and is publicized, there may be one person banned. They put up a 1983 show from the Spectrum in Philadelphia and Mel Phillips, the ring announcer at the time, was edited off. Phillips was part of a 1991-92 ring boy scandal. He was the head of the ring crew in the 80s and there were some serious allegations thrown at him regarding ring boys and he was gone from the company and was never brought back

The final PPV of 2017 will be on 12/17, which will be called Clash of Champions, from the TD Gardens in Boston

Dawson had surgery for his torn biceps this past week. The hoped for return is early December. This pretty much puts Wilder on the shelf for that period as well, although Wilder was at Raw as part of a group scene in the pull-apart. In storyline, they are crediting it to the Hardys with the idea they’ll start their program back up, but very often with WWE in those situations, they forget those storylines. When Dawson was injured, they were actually in with Sheamus & Cesaro

The Hollywood Reporter listed Dwayne Johnson as the most popular actor in the word based on social media numbers

Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane debuted over the past week in NXT on the Florida swing. They worked six-person matches against each other to give them ring time before their live match on 9/12 in Las Vegas. In fact, much of the NXT California tour was getting people ready for Takeover Brooklyn as they did every Takeover match over the weekend, and some of them multiple times. There is nothing official whether Baszler has signed. Sane obviously has. The fact Baszler is in the tournament finals would indicate she’s signed. She hasn’t been taking new indie dates would be another indication and those in the company believe she’s been signed, but if she has been signed, it wouldn’t be announced until after the tournament final. She was on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani and didn’t confirm or deny anything regarding Rousey, just saying that if they were challenged that none of the four would back down, and that Ronda and Jess (Jessamyn Duke) are doing the same thing they’ve been doing but it’s just now that people are talking about it. As noted, we know and have seen photos of Duke training with Kendrick, but, and this is obvious, none of Rousey, but the story is both are doing so and have been for a few weeks

Many, if not all of the women in the Mae Young Classic are being flown to Las Vegas for the 9/12 finals. They are going to great lengths to do this, as Toni Storm and Viper are in Japan for Stardom’s Five Star Grand Prix, and WWE is flying them in from Japan and back to Japan in the middle of the tournament. Storm is actually being flown from Japan to London for a 9/10 date with Progress, then to Las Vegas from there, and then back to Japan. Still no word on anyone from the tournament being signed, although with Baszler on NXT shows this weekend and being put over so strong in the tournament, one would think she is. We do know she’s been non-committal for some time when it comes to taking new indie dates

Regarding the Lawler idea of a television show in Memphis airing footage of the glory days of Memphis Wrestling, Lawler said that Ch. 30 in Memphis has picked it up as a weekly series. He said that he and Bill Dundee will be shooting the first episode on 9/9

Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, Pete Dunne (who suffered a cut that needed 11 stitches, see Europe report) and Mark Andrews were all brought in by WWE and allowed to work indies this past weekend. They are in for SummerSlam week and expect they’ll be at the NXT tapings on 8/24 at Full Sail University, or perhaps work for one television show taped before Takeover as they are doing an hour show there as well, before Takeover starts. We were told that at one point a U.K. title match was scheduled for this week on NXT television

Brie Bella again said this week that she was looking at returning next year

As far as the U.K. ratings are concerned, the most up-to-date numbers we have are for 7/31 and 8/1, where Raw did 29,000 viewers and Smackdown the next night did 19,000 viewers. This is for the live showings which start at 1 a.m

Jericho, on his podcast, talked about his WWE appearance on the 7/25 Smackdown TV show. He said he came to Richmond, VA to do an in-person interview for his podcast with Fandango and Breeze and also to film some stuff for the WWE Network old-time low-rent regional wrestling spoof called Southpaw Regional Wrestling (which is pretty entertaining). When he got there, he said since he was there, he got talked into making a surprise appearance and doing the three-way match with Owens and Styles. His being put into the match allowed Styles to get the belt back, since he was never planned to lose it (unless the finish was changed as the match was in progress and most, but not all, there believe it wasn’t) without Owens getting pinned, which they didn’t want to do since they were doing a rematch at SummerSlam

After releasing DVD information that included that SummerSlam would not be available on Blu Ray, the WWE, after getting a reaction, has done a reverse. Freemantle Media, which owns the European DVD rights, noted that the last two years, sales of Blu Rays has declined and there hasn’t been enough demand to continue. However, they have decided to release SummerSlam on Blu Ray. They said there will be a certain number made and once they are gone, there would not be new ones made. “We will closely monitor the performance of this release and it will directly affect our future Blu Ray plans.

Darren Young has been cleared to return after elbow surgery in February. No word on whether they’ll bring back Bob Backlund, who was managing Young at the time he was injured

Cathy Kelley’s NXT Insider show was dropped. The show aired on YouTube

Slater, 34, opened up a wrestling school on 8/9 in Atlanta called “Face 2 Face Wrestling.” The 7,200 square foot facility has wrestling rings, strength training equipment, locker rooms and a media/AV center. Listed as instructors are Ron Simmons, Jazz and Teddy Long

Former WWE writer Kevin Eck, in speaking to Wade Keller, regarding Ziggler, said that when Cena and Ziggler had a singles program, Cena was all for it and was up for working with him. They did shows and Cena was letting Ziggler call the matches and apparently he wasn’t impressed and gave Vince his assessment. Vince already didn’t think Ziggler was a headline heel, and only put him in the spot in the first place because of perceived fan demand. The program ended when Vince at a booking meeting said, “God, I think we’re doing a disservice to John, this is bringing John down.” Now, this was before Ziggler cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase the day after Mania, but played a part in, the day of the show, where that was done because Patterson pushed for it at Mania, thinking fans would go crazy, and Vince felt it would be something good for the day-after-Mania Raw, but had told the writers right after telling them Ziggler was winning the title, that this was being done for a pop in the building and that they were not pushing Ziggler, so the plan was to get the belt off him as quickly as possible. It ended up delayed as Ziggler suffered a concussion very quickly, but once he returned, they got it off him right away

The ten most watched shows of the past week on the WWE Network were: 1. NXT from 8/9; 2. Ric Flair: Forever the Man (this aired after Raw on Monday, they had scheduled a Table for 3 with Flair, Sting and Ricky Steamboat but for whatever reason, perhaps conversation during that show that may not have been appropriate given Flair fighting for his life, they replaced that with a collection of Flair matches and it should be noted this was not promoted at all on television and all the Table for 3 promotions were pulled from the Raw show); 3. 2017 Battleground; 4. Table for 3 with Scott Hall, Sean Waltman and DDP; 5. SummerSlam 2015; 6. WrestleMania 2017; 7. WWF Music Power 10; 8. Great Balls of Fire PPV; 9. SummerSlam 2016; 10. NXT from 8/2. 205 Live was 12th, meaning this week’s 205 Live in its own week was viewed by less people than the previous week’s NXT show 7-13 days after its release

The stock closed at press time at $21.55 per share, giving the company a market value of $1.662 billion. The upswing is largely based on opening up the WWE Network to China

Notes from the 8/14 Raw show in Boston. The go-home show included two SummerSlam matches, both which will be rematched and were designed to build to the show, and an interesting final segment where the focus was on Lesnar vs. Strowman more than Lesnar against Joe or Reigns. The show drew 9,300 fans. For Main Event, Kalisto pinned Hawkins with Salida del Sol. Then Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik beat Daivari & Gulak when Dorado pinned Gulak after a shooting star press. Raw opened with Ambrose out. He called out Rollins. Ambrose was mad that he went to fist bump Rollins and Rollins walked out on him. Ambrose said they were done. Rollins said that he knows Ambrose and even though Ambrose said he can’t trust him, he knows and Ambrose knows that Ambrose is lying. Rollins said if they team up again they can run this place. Rollins said to let the past be the past and stuck out his fist. The place was going pretty crazy with “Yes” chants. The best kind of turns, angles and title wins aren’t the surprises, they’re the ones the public wants but the promotion holds back for a while to make them want it more. And yes, it’s all about timing because sometimes if you hold back for too long, you blow the peak. Then Rollins said that he can’t even trust himself, but that if they were together, there’s nobody who can touch us. Rollins went to walk out and Ambrose called hi back. Ambrose put out his fist, paused for a long time, and then went to leave again. They started shoving each other and then Ambrose attacked him and beat him down. When that was over, Rollins attacked Ambrose from behind. Sheamus & Cesaro came out and they attacked Rollins. Ambrose tried to save Rollins but they beat him down as well. Rollins came off the top rope on Sheamus and Ambrose & Rollins made a comeback. This ended with Angle coming out. What was funny here is that Angle’s music played and fans chanted “you suck” since that’s what you do even though he’s a babyface. But they cut off the music fast because they didn’t want fans chanting that and Angle had to announce the tag title match at SummerSlam. But the fans didn’t get the cue, and continued to chant “you suck” at Angle even with no music and even when he had the announcement to make. That was surreal. Banks beat Jax in 14:53. Bliss was out at ringside. The idea is she was watching this match on a throne as the queen. Actually it was a lifeguard chair that looked kind of low rent, but it was still a funny visual. About 8:00 of this match occurred during commercial breaks but they told a good story here with Jax dominating. Jax at one point used a giant swing on the floor into the barricade over and over. Jax used a Samoan drop but Banks rolled out of the ring to avoid the pin. Banks got the bank statement out of nowhere. Jax powered out, but Banks came back with a DDT into a bank statement and Jax tapped out. It was the kind of win Banks needed to set up the PPV match. Angle was talking with the Hardys. Miz and his crew came out. Angle announced that Jordan would face Axel this week, since it didn’t happen last week. Miz said he wanted the match with Jordan. Angle said that Jordan would like that. Miz was cutting a promo and in the middle Angle said he got word Balor and Wyatt were going at it and he left Miz in mid-sentence. When they came back, Balor and Wyatt were brawling and being pulled apart. Wyatt was laughing at him. Angle announced that instead of at the PPV, their mach would be taking place tonight. Samson was singing. Yes, this week Cole was back calling him Elias Samson. Booker, still operating under last week’s Vince doctrine, was only calling him Elias, probably thinking they were trying to get him on a rib. R-Truth came out and Samson just beat him up with the drift away, a neckbreaker which is the same move as Tanahashi’s twist and shout. Cass did an interview. This was funny because he’s start, and then pause, acting like the crowd was booing him so loudly he had to stop. It was all a gimmick, but the gimmick does usually work. By about the fifth time, the crowd was booing him like crazy, way more than any heel these days get booed. But it was all scripted trick, just like the babyface who loses the match, stands in the middle of the ring, acts like he’s really sad and people give him a standing ovation and people act like the ovation is something the fans did on their own as opposed to something manipulated. Cass did a great job with this. His promo after a million tries cut awfully close to the bone. He aid that Enzo needs somebody to go to bat for him because he pisses people off so much and he needs a protector. He said that Show needed Enzo because it allowed him to stay relevant. He then made fun of the fans, saying that people laugh at Enzo’s jokes, even though they have no idea what he’s saying. Cass said he would prove he’s the best big man in the game today. Enzo came out. You could tell all the pausing, which was supposed to be because the crowd was so loud, was scripted given Enzo started talking about it immediately in a scripted promo. Cass knocked Enzo off the apron. Gallows & Anderson came out. Show and Enzo were beaten down. The segment ended with Show being triple-teamed and having his hand put in the shark cage door. Cass slammed the cage door on Show’s right hand, which is the one he uses for his knockout punch finisher. The idea is he was eliminating the knockout punch from the SummerSlam match. Tozawa pinned Neville to win the cruiserweight title in 11:24. This was a good match and people weren’t expecting the title change since Neville has been booked so strong all year. Booker T talked about Tozawa being from Dragon Gate (true) and being trained by his good friend Ultimo Dragon (not true). Tozawa did two topes and went to the top to finish, but Neville got up and superplexed him. Neville at one point went for the Rings of Saturn but Tozawa turned it into a cradle for a near fall. The crowd was dead for a lot of this but it was good match. The finish saw Neville miss the red arrow and Tozawa used the senton off the top rope or the pin. The crowd popped for the title change and O’Neil, Tozawa and Crews celebrated in the ring with O’Neil carrying Tozawa on his shoulders. Backstage, the trainer said that he thought Show had a broken hand and probably shouldn’t wrestle at SummerSlam. Show said that he’s fought bigger guys and he’s been hurt worse, and he’s not missing SummerSlam. Enzo came out and told him to look at the big picture, but Show refused to listen to him. Backstage, James was with Emma. The lighting in the room they were in wasn’t good because it made both women look ten years older than normal lighting, and when the idea is the women are supposed to be hot athletes, mistakes like that should be guarded against. Emma claimed that she started the women’s revolution, which got James mad since she came a lot earlier. James said that Emma had gotten a chance last week and she wasn’t screwed over since she tapped out. James challenged her to a match later tonight. Wyatt pinned Balor in 11:28. The announcers were pushing as the first time they’ve ever wrestled, which wouldn’t be the case, although I guess in the world where house shows don’t exist, it would have been. Balor was on the top rope but Wyatt made Balor lost his balance and get crotched, and he was pinned after Sister Abigail. The match was okay, but well below the level of a usual Balor match and the crowd wasn’t that into it. After the match, Wyatt gave Balor Sister Abigail for a second time and then the lights went out. When they came back on, Wyatt magically had a bucket that he poured all over Balor. The idea was that he was pouring a bucket of blood, but most people thought he was pouring barbecue sauce on him. This was a very late 90s idea which in theory should work once since it’s been so long. I don’t know that it did. James beat Emma in 4:05. The crowd was silent here. The match wasn’t bad at all, but James went for her Mick kick finish and it didn’t land well and the ref counted three anyway, so the finish did look bad. Backstage, Balor, I guess deciding against washing himself off, since he still covered in the ref stuff, said he wanted a rematch at SummerSlam and said the Demon would be coming. Well, that made his loss and post-match humiliation make a lot more sense if it sets up a rare Demon appearance. The crowd popped for the Demon reference. Jordan beat Miz via DQ in a non-title match in 1:34. Jordan gave out to silence. There’s no arguing or debating. Nobody buys the angle, but nobody was going to. The only hope was the fans to like it in a campy way, and that’s clearly not he case. Axel and Dallas interfered for the DQ in 1:34. The Hardys made the save. This turned into a six-man with the Hardys & Jordan over Miz & Axel & Dallas in 14:17. The match was good. Jordan wrestled really well and even teaming with the Hardys, the people were quiet when he was doing good things. The finish saw Jordan hit Miz with his back suplex into a neckbreaker, and then he did an overhead belly-to-belly on Dallas. Matt hit Dallas with a twist of fate and Jeff followed with a swanton. The crowd was into the ending but not much for the bulk of the match. The final segment was a meeting with the big four. Lesnar & Heyman came out first. Heyman said that because they know Lesnar is talking to “other people” (meaning UFC), that Angle put him in a four-way as a way to get the title off him. He said when they have three title contenders who all went to get Lesnar out of the way, it would guarantee a new champion. Heyman said as a fan, the idea that a champion can lose the title even with not being involved in the finish sucks. Well, yes. He cone again said that if Lesnar loses, he and Lesnar are leaving WWE. He said if Lesnar leaves, you might as well lock this beast in a cage, which was obviously another UFC reference. Joe came out, and said a little before Strowman came out. Strowman talked about how last week he was the last man standing. Joe said that Reigns was beating Strowman all over the building until he arrived. He said Strowman could barely stand up while he was the one who put Reigns down. Reigns came out and immediately speared Joe. Strowman then powerslammed Reigns. This left Lesnar and Strowman in the ring and the focus of everything. All the security jumped in the ring based on Angle’s orders. Strowman and Lesnar threw all of them around. Then Angle told the wrestlers to come out. So all the undercard guys came out, including Wilder and the Hardys were in the pack to break it up. It was your usual WWE pull-apart with each guy breaking through and getting shots in until being pulled apart and it ended with the Lesnar and Strowman in the ring being puled apart. After Raw ended, it was still Lesnar and Strowman in the ring. Eventually, Strowman left the ring on his own. Lesnar & Heyman were left in the ring, but didn’t do a promo or anything, and when Lesnar’s music hit, they left the ring

Notes from the 8/15 tapings in Providence. They had a crowd of 6,000 but it was hotter than usual so made the show come across better. They were also stronger during 205 Live than usual. The biggest news was Corbin failing in his Money in the Bank cash-in. There was a joke going around that Corbin was 0-for-4 with four first round knockouts on Twitter during the week (Rawley, Cena, myself and a miliary vet named Mike Gilbert) but I don’t really think that played into the decision and I just figured he and Cena were just working their television angle and he was playing heel on Twitter with Cena. It was bad form to call a military vet a loser, but in fairness, he didn’t know the guy was a vet (even though it was in his twitter profile and Corbin actually must have looked at the profile since in calling him a loser he noted that he was a loser with a photo on his profile shot in a high school gym at an indie show, and there was a photo of him that looked like it was from an indie show and right underneath it noted he was a currently active Air Force BEE Tech), but Corbin did immediately apologize for that one, and he had to given Gilbert had a photo taken with Vince McMahon when McMahon had gone overseas to film footage for a Tribute to the Troops special. My impression is the company is high on him and he probably learned a social media lesson out of all of this. The show opened with a dark match of Zayn & Dillinger & Harper beating The Ascension & Kanellis. They opened the show pushing that Cena vs. Mahal was one of the biggest matches in Smackdown history. I know the job is to hype, but you have to do it within reason. When I heard that line, it just came off negative on the announcing team because you have to protect a little credibility for the long-run. The Singh Brothers came out with Mahal. They got a lot of heat. This crowd was rabid early. They noted it was Indian Independence Day. It’s so funny watching a guy be such a clear babyface in his culture while he’s supposed to be a super heel here. Singh got real heat. Mahal talked about the xenophobic jingoistic fans live and had someone sing the Indian national anthem. There were loud “USA” chants. Honestly, this stuff makes wrestling fans look bad, not booing Mahal, but booing someone singing their countries national anthem. It always cracked me up when Alex Kozlov in Japan would do the Nikolai Volkoff Russian national anthem thing and tell the fans to stand up in attention, and then they’d all stand up in attention. Mahal said he would beat Cena tonight more convincingly than Nakamura ever could, and that at SummerSlam he’d prove Nakamura’s destiny was to lose to the modern day Maharajah. Mahal’s matches are nothing special, but his facial expressions and interviews are definitely growing. Nakamura came out. Nakamura noted it was a Japanese holiday as well, essentially their Memorial Day. He said that Sunday was the day Mahal loses the title. Natalya beat Lynch in 7:30 with a sharpshooter. Natalya needed the TV win. Natalya put Lynch in the sharpshooter again after the match. Naomi, who was at ringside doing commentary, hit the ring. Natalya backed off. Carmella and Ellsworth came out and pushed the briefcase and that she could cash it in at any time. Tamina and Lana were backstage. Tamina was mad that Lana didn’t get her a match n Raw. Lana said that she wasn’t ready. She got mad at that, saying that Lana had already gotten three title shots and now says she’s not ready. Lana said that people don’t believe in that Tamina is dangerous, but that she would use his ravishing beauty and cunning to manipulate things and get people believing in Tamina and take her to the top. So Tamina is now the new Rusev. It would have made far more sense to keep her with the original Rusev. The Usos & Bryan were backstage. They were trying to make Bryan this uncool white guy who thinks he’s a rapper. He wanted to rap with them. He also told them that E & Woods would be their opponents at SummerSlam. The Usos then wanted a match on the show against Kingston & Woods. Bryan said he could hook them up with that tonight. Rusev double count out Gable. Rusev heaved Gable over the announcers table. I mean, Gable went flying way over the table into the chairs. Both were counted out of the ring even though Rusev easily could have beaten the count. Rusev then put the accolade on Gable on the table, and we all know how much more painful moves like that are when they are on a table rather than in the ring. Gable was tapping. Fans were chanting for Orton to save him. Orton didn’t. Then Rusev got in the ring and Orton ran in and hit him with an RKO out of nowhere. Styles was in the ring and called out Shane. Shane immediately said that Styles had no reason to apologize because he knew the kick last week was in the heat of battle and by accident. Styles still noted the kick was an accident. Styles then said he wanted to know, man-to-man, if Shane was going to screw him out of the U.S. title. Shane then told Styles that he’s not like a normal ref, and that if Styles puts his hands on him, he’ll put his hands all over Styles. Owens came out and said he’s not so sure Styles didn’t mean to hit Shane. Owens said that now Styles can’t save his title by hitting the referee for a DQ. Owens told Shane that unlike Styles, if he accidentally collides with Shane or causes him any physical harm, it would be an accident. Owens said he was thrilled with Shane as ref because Shane will call it down the middle, which means he’s getting his title back. Owens wanted to shake hands with Shane. Shane said he wouldn’t do that because it would look like he’s showing favoritism, but told him he should shake hands with Styles. Owens offered his hand. They ended up shoving each other. Styles went to punchy Owens, who moved, but Styles held up before hitting Shane. Shane didn’t look happy and he and Styles had a staredown. With Styles distracted, Owens went to superkick him, but Styles moved and Owens superkicked Shane who sold it like it was knocked out. Owens acted like he was horrified he had just kicked Shane. I thought this segment was pretty much perfect for what it was supposed to be. Everyone did their parts right and the ending you didn’t see coming but was a good ending with impact that added intrigue to the match. Usos beat Kingston & Woods in the non-title match in 7:17. Kingston & Woods had the Midnight Hour set up on Jimmy. Jey threw Woods off the top rope. Jimmy then gave Kingston a chop block and Jimmy pinned Kingston after a double superkick. They did what was the last episode of the Fashion Files. There wasn’t much to this. The Ascension showed up with a partially eaten pizza and said it was terrible. Fandango was investigating the pizza and found a note in it that may or may not end this thing by introducing the secret new heel team at SummerSlam. Either way, they said that Breeze & Fandango would be back on Smackdown wrestling in two weeks. Cena beat Mahal via DQ in 9:56. Samir punched Cena right away. The Singhs interfered again right in front of the ref and were thrown out. Match was fine. Crowd really didn’t like Singh so in that aspect it worked. Cena hit an Attitude Adjustment but Mahal kicked out. He did a second Attitude Adjustment off the middle rope, but Corbin interfered for the DQ. Corbin hit Cena with the briefcase although it was so clear Cena blocked the shot. It looked bad, but Cena was selling it. Corbin went to cash it in for a title shot at Mahal, who was still laid out. The bell rang and Cena distracted Corbin, which allowed Mahal to pin him with a schoolboy in :06, so Corbin becomes of the few in history to fail on the cash-in. The only previous failures were Sandow, who Vince had given up on and got buyers remorse on (which he did with a lot of briefcase winners and still had them win the title like Bryan and Ziggler) and Cena, who was always supposed to fail for heat on the heel and sympathy on Cena. Unless Corbin has a bad match with Cena, I think he’s fine. If he does have a bad match, they aren’t going to blame Cena for it. And even then, it’s touch-and-go because Corbin is a good bully character and they are short on main roster bullies right now. 205 Live opened with Alexander & Metalik over Gulak & Nese in 7:38 when Alexander pinned Gulak with the lumbar check. Gulak came out and did a promo saying how he’s no fan of showoffs, but then noted Nese was a showoff, but for all the right reasons. Metalik did a rope walk into a moonsault on the floor on Nese and Alexander followed with a dive on Gulak. Metalik went for a clothesline on Nese who fell backwards like a bump to avoid it and nipped up. That was pretty cool. This was a good match and the crowd, even though I was told 20 to 30 percent of the crowd left before the match, was hotter than usual for 205 Live. Dar & Daivari & Lince Dorado were backstage. They were talking about Tozawa beating Neville for the title the night before. Daivari said he was glad Neville lost. Dar said “The King is dead” and then Neville showed up. All three backed down and left. Kendrick beat Mustafa Ali via DQ in 5:02. Ali was on the top rope. Kendrick kicked his foot and Ali lost balance and fell face first on the top turnbuckle. Kendrick got the captain’s hook on but Ali struggled to make the ropes. Kendrick used a running kick to knock Ali out of the ring. He then put Ali’s foot into an open spot on the ring steps. The announcers were talking about how Kendrick may end Ali’s career when Gallagher ran in and attacked Kendrick for the DQ. Gallagher once again was made to look like an aggressive serious fighter. Swann did an interview for his match with TJP. Daivari said that TJP was out and that he’s the new opponent. No explanation was given as to why. Daivari pinned Swann in 5:04. Swann hit the spin kick. He went to the top rope for the Phoenix splash when Perkins came from the back on crutches. Swann was distracted and Daivari scooped his leg and he was crotched on the top rope and Daivari used a lariat for the pin. Swann and TJP were staring at each other after leaving a mystery as to what was up. Kendrick was trying to run out of the building when Dasha Fuentes started asking him questions. He said he had to get out of there and was looking over his shoulder and behind his back all traumatized. Then he got an idea and said he wanted to settle in Gallagher’s way so he challenged Gallagher to a duel. The final segment was the Tozawa title win celebration. Even though Tozawa and O’Neil are supposed to be babyfaces, nobody told the crowd. It wasn’t loud, and maybe they just didn’t want a goofy segment, as the crowd started chanting “Delete” as son as it started. There were fans doing the Tozawa “Ah” chant as well so it’s not like everyone turned on him. O’Neil opened champagne, which got all over Tozawa. O’Neil started talking and the crowd gave him the “What” treatment. They were dancing and celebrating when Neville came out. There was a clock in the background counting down to SummerSlam. Neville said it was a clock counting down to Tozawa’s demise as champion and told him he had 114 hours left with the belt, and suggested he savor every single solitary second. Neville hit the ring, but Tozawa got the best of it. Tozawa whipped Neville twice into the barricade. While all this was going on, O’Neil disappeared as Tozawa was taking Neville apart and laid him out with a tope. When 205 Live started, as a way to keep fans from leaving, they announced Orton & Styles vs. Corbin & Owens would be the dark match main event. But then a few minutes later, they changed it to Orton & Nakamura vs. Ziggler & Rusev. Orton & Nakamura won that match

Notes from the 8/9 NXT TV show. The show opened with Sanity calling out the Authors of Pain. As the AOP were coming out, Eric Young who was not with Sanity, jumped Rezar from behind and zip-tied him to the guard rail and beat him down while Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain beat down Akam. Dain laid out Akam with three sentons. Rezar managed to pull the guard rail apart and tried to hit the ring while still tied to a piece of the guard rail, and got beat down and Dain gave him a senton. Young used a neckbreaker off the middle rope on Akam. This came across like an AOP face turn. What was interesting is that even though Sanity were the clear heels in this segment, because Sanity was cheered as the faces before the angle aired, at the California house shows during this match, Sanity worked as the faces. The Street Profits, Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins, beat Chris & J.C. Metro in 2:17 when Dawkins spared Chris and Ford pinned him after a splash off the top. The Street Profits seemed to have some babyface charisma. Aleister Black and Hideo Itami had a brawl outside the building. William Regal came out with Bobby Roode and Drew McIntyre. Roode said that a mad man, Roderick Strong, was trying to get his hands on im. Roode and McIntyre talked. McIntyre said that Roode is maybe having the best year as champion of anyone in NXT history, but he’s an ass. Strong came out. Strong said that it wasn’t about the title, but that Roode disrespected him and his family and he wants a fight. Roode acted like he’d accept, but told Strong he had to go through McIntyre before he can get a match with him. He said if Strong has a match with McIntyre, and can win, he will fight Strong after Takeover. McIntyre said he’d fight Strong next week and four days later beat Roode for his title. Roode then went to Regal and said that both guys said they wanted the match and the fans want the match, so he told Regal that he should make the match. Fans were chanting “Make the match” at Regal, and Regal agreed to it. Roode said that next week it would be Strong vs. McIntyre, and it would be glorious. The idea here was that you’re supposed to think that Roode was manipulating both guys to fight each other and wear each other out, that Regal can see through it but the fans can’t and Regal felt compelled to make it since both wrestlers wanted it, as did the fans. Johnny Gargano did an interview and talked about wrestling at Takeover in Brooklyn last year and all the support he got from the Barclays Center crowd and what a rush it was. He said that it was because of that support that he became tag team champions and became part of the first tag team title match to main event a Takeover show. Because of that, he wanted a match on the show. Danny Burch pinned Oney Lorcan in 9:50. Both of these guys have similar looks. Both have shaved heads, similar size, similar physique, black trunks with the main difference that Burch has the better tan. There wasn’t a lot of crowd heat but you could tell the crowd was into the match. As far as technical work went, this was excellent. They made their match look real and the crowd did get into it when Lorcan started throwing the hard chops. They looked to be building a series as Lorcan hit Burch in the Boston crab, but Burch reversed into a cradle for the pin. Mauro Ranallo noted that now they were even at 1-1 and he was looking forward to the rubber match. Burch wanted to shake hands but Lorcan slapped his hand and left. Then it appeared Lorcan felt bad about it. He turned around and Lorcan then offered his hand and Burch shook it. Burch then held open the ropes for Lorcan. I could see making them a tag team after this because both as singles appear to be in the roles of solid and really good workers to help make other guys look better. There’s room for another babyface team here. Andrade Cien Almas beat No Way Jose in 3:45. Almas had Zelida Vega (Thea Trinidad) at ringside. At first Almas was goofing around and not getting much done. Vega started yelling at him saying no more tranquillo. Almas then got aggressive and won with a hammerlock DDT. The idea is that Vega is this beautiful woman who is also a businesswoman and motivator. Vega did the interview for him saying that Almas deserves the spotlight. She talks with a heavy Brooklyn Puerto Rican accent and challenged Gargano for Takeover.

The NXT California tour opened on 8/9 in Los Angels at The Novo, a concert hall which sold out with 1,800 fans. Johnny Gargano beat Andrade Cien Almas with the Gargano escape in what was called the most exciting match of the night. Almas had a lot of fans chanting for him in Spanish. Ruby Riot & Sarah Logan beat Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose. The wrestling wasn’t good but Rose was really over with the guys wanting to get a look at her. Crowd never liked it when Deville was in. Riot pinned Rose. Lars Sullivan pinned Oney Lorcan. Lorcan got busted open legit. They stopped the match to check on him. Then they made the decision to restart the match, since the injury stoppage finish was so flat, but they were told to get right to the finish and Sullivan used a hard clothesline and a slam. Hideo Itami pinned Kassius Ohno with the GTS. Ohno wore a Chicago Bulls jersey which made him the heel, but he was supposed to be the face. The crowd was chanting for C.M. punk. Aleister Black & Drew McIntyre beat Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss. Moss slipped on the ropes which hurt the finish. Asuka retained the women’s title in a three-way over Ember Moon and Nikki Cross. Asuka was really over. She pinned Cross with a high kick. Authors of Pain retained the tag titles beating Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe via DQ when Killian Dain interfered. There was a big post-match brawl. Main event saw Bobby Roode pin Roderick Strong after a low blow and two DDTs. Long very good match. The crowed was split. McIntyre came out and ended the show having a staredown with Roode and then cut a promo saying he was going to win the title on 8/19

8/10 in Bakersfield drew 900 fans. No Way Jose pinned Almas in the opener. Riot & Logan beat Rose & Deville. Killian Dain pinned Ohno. Black pinned Itami in what was said to be the best match on te show. Gargano & Strong beat Moss & Sabbatelli. Moon pinned Nikki Cross in a good match. Authors of Pain retained the titles over Young & & Wolfe with a no contest finish. Roode retained the NXT title beating McIntyre with a low blow and a Glorious DDT

The 8/12 show in Sacramento drew 1,700. Jose pinned Almas in 9:06. Crowd was hot, decent opening match. Logan & Riot beat Rose & Deville in a great match in 10:23. Rose did the Omega V trigger. Riot pinned Rose with an enzuigiri that didn’t look so great but overall shockingly good. Sullivan pinned Lorcan with the Rikio slam in 5:53. Dain pinned Ohno with a Vader bomb in 9:24 in a good match. Asuka beat Moon and Cross to keep the title in 11:28. Very good match. Lots of near falls. Moon hit the eclipse on Cross but Asuka threw Moon out of the ring and scored the pin. Regal came out to thank the fans. Jose then came out to dance with Kayla, Regal and referee Drake Wuertz. Young & Wolfe beat Authors of Pain via DQ in 8:48 when Akam pulled the ref out of the ring. Good heat for this match. Gargano beat Itami with the Gargano escape in 12:04. Super match. Main event was a surprise finish as Roode & Sabbatelli & Moss beat McIntyre & Strong & Black in 16:10. Roode pinned McIntyre to win with a schoolboy which was a surprise finish to have McIntyre of all people lose here. After the match, McIntyre challenged everyone to a Sacramento street fight. All three then came back to the ring. They were on the stage and ran back. Roode stopped running and turned around while Moss & Sabbatelli ran in and the three faces laid them out

The Florida swing opened on 8/10 in St. Petersburg before 250 fans. Raul Mendoza pinned Marcel Barthel. The Street Profits, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford, beat Brennan Williams & one of the Ealy Brothers. Jessie Elaban hosted an interview session called The Jessie Show where she portrayed a hyper excited girl doing interviews with the talent. She was interviewing Demetrius Bronson, when Kona Reeves and Ming came out. This led to Reeves, with Ming in his corner, beating Bronson. Kairi Sane & Dakota Kai & Aliyah beat Shayna Baszler & Peyton Royce & Billie Kay. Sane pinned Kay with her great elbow off the top rope finisher. Adrian Jaoude pinned Cezar Bononi. Liv Morgan pinned Vanessa Borne. The main event saw Heavy Machinery beat Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake

Apparently Sane and Baszler did well enough since on 8/11 in Jacksonville they were moved to the main event. I was told Sane was the most over person on the show. That show drew a full house of 375 fans. Mendoza pinned Bononi. Bianca Belair pinned Zeda. The match was a quick squash and Belair, working as the heel, was cheered. Barthel pinned Jeet Rama. Royce & Kay came out for a promo. The crowd booed them loudly and it took them a few minutes to start. They promised a surprise partner in the main event. Ford & Dawkins beat Bronson & Fabian Aichner. The Street Profits were over in the building. Jaoude pinned Chad “Gunner” Lail. Velveteen Dream pinned Nick Miller using his feet on the ropes. The crowd was dead early but they ended up having a great match. Sane & Morgan & Aliyah beat Baszler & Kay & Royce when Sane pinned Kay after an elbow off the top rope. Sane vs. Baszler in the ring together was said to be the best stuff on the show. Sane is great, but that’s a real feather in Baszler’s cap since she really hasn’t had that many matches

. 8/12 in Venice, FL, drew 350 fans. The Florida attendance has been up of late after being down for much of the year. Bronson pinned Lail. It’s really interesting that the former Gunner is losing even to the newcomers. Mendoza beat Brennan Williams with a springboard corkscrew splash. Given the size difference, this is something that would have never happened in another era. Adrian Jaoude beat Marcel Barthel via DQ for failing to break on the ropes. Barthel attacked him after the match but Jaoude made his own comeback. Cezar Bononi beat Reeves via DQ when Blake & Cutler attacked Bononi. They then issued a challenge to someone for a match right there. Ford & Dawkins came out and beat them. Baszler beat Zeda with a choke. After the match, Taynara Conti, a Brazilian who did judo but was best known for beach bikini photos, came out and cut a promo about how she’s a real black belt and wanted a match with Baszler, since Baszler’s submissions come from catch wrestling which doesn’t have a belt system. Baszler beat her right away with a choke. Velveteen Dream pinned Miller again with a roll-up holding the tights. Main event was women with Sane & Evans beating Royce & Kay when Sane once again used her elbow off the top rope finisher

We didn’t have this last week, but the 8/6 show in Ottawa, which was a Smackdown brand show, did 3,500 fans

The Raw tour opened on 8/11 in Bangor, ME, before 2,700 fans. 8/12 in Augusta, ME, drew a near sellout of 4,400. 8/13 in Worcester, MA, drew 4,000

The Smackdown tour opened on 8/12 in Tampa before 5,500 fans, on a show that also included Lesnar vs. Joe. We didn’t get a report on 8/13 in Miami. What was weird is that there were web site reports on the show in other places but those reporters were frauds, and not legit reports came which is amazing for a show viewed by thousands of fans. 8/14 in Springfield, MA drew 4,000 fans, which is a hell of a crowd for a Monday night Smackdown show when there was a live Raw 90 miles away. It’s another Cena example as Smackdown wasn’t pulling numbers like this on Mondays when the show was so close to Raw without him

Bangor opened with Elias coming out and singing about how Bangor sucks. Balor & Hardys beat Elias & Anderson & Gallows in the opener when Balor pinned Samson after the coup de gras. The Hardys each did twist of fates on Anderson & Gallows as Balor did his finish in a strong opener. Goldust pinned R-Truth in 2:00 using the ropes. Nothing to the match. R-Truth vowed revenge on the mic after the bout. Neville beat Tozawa with the Rings of Saturn to keep the cruiserweight title. They did the same Enzo and Cass segment. Enzo came out and cut his promo and demanded Cass come out so they could settle it in a fight. Cass then came out and destroyed him, stood over him and said, “And you can’t teach that.” Rollins & Ambrose beat Axel & Dallas with a double pin finish. They didn’t do anything related to the tension or not wanting to team together like on television here. Banks & James & Brooke beat Jax & Bliss & Emma when Banks used the bank statement on Emma. Awkward match in spots. Sheamus & Cesaro retained the tag titles over O’Neil & Crews when Cesaro pinned O’Neil after the Neutralizer. Match was said to be awful. Sheamus & Cesaro tried to be heels but nobody cared. Reigns beat Strowman in the main event, the same match they’ve been doing with Strowman using the ring steps for the DQ. After the match, Strowman continued to beat him down and Reigns then made a comeback and speared him through the table

Augusta, ME, drew better than Bangor and better than they usually draw for WWE. Was told every match on the show was better than the night before, so a hotter crowd. It was the same show as the night before except that Cena was added to the show. He probably made the difference in the attendance because after his match with Rusev, which was the sixth of nine matches, a sizable percentage of the crowd left. Hardys & Balor over Elias & Gallows & Anderson went 9:27. Lots of delete chants here. Goldust pinned R-Truth in 1:15 using the ropes. Neville beat Tozawa in 8:20 with the Rings of Saturn. Tozawa got a surprisingly good reaction. They did the same Enzo-Cass segment which was a :40 brawl before Enzo was destroyed. Ambrose & Rollins beat Dallas Axel I 9:22. Cena pinned Rusev in 8:15 with the Attitude Adjustment. Crowd was 80 percent pro-Cena and his reaction was the biggest of anyone. Banks & James & Brooke over Bliss & Jax & Emma went 11:55. Said to be much better than their bout the night before. Cesaro & Sheamus over O’Neil & Crews in 7:45 when Sheamus pinned Crews after a Brogue kick. Reigns beat Strowman via DQ in 9:48 of the main event. Reigns got a 75/25 positive reaction and they had the best match

Worcester was the same show as Augusta, with the same results except that Sheamus Brogue kicked and pinned O’Neil instead of Crews

Smackdown in Tampa opened with New Day, being Big E & Kingston, beating Rawley & Ryder, Usos and Breeze & Fandango in a four-way. Lots of comedy with the match breaking down into a dance contest. The New Day won with the Midnight Hour on one of the Usos. The Usos were more popular than New Day. Zayn pinned Kanellis in 8:00 with the helluva kick. Mike & Maria did a promo before the match saying that Tampa has not found the Power of Love. When it was over, Maria was furious and demanded another match. Harper came out and pinned Mike in about five seconds with the discus lariat. Gable & Dillinger & Sin Cara beat Rowan & Epico & English. The crowd died for the match. English got some heat from his singing. Not much to the match. Rowan played monster on all three faces. Gable pinned English with a rolling German supelx. Nakamura pinned Corbin. Nakamura got the biggest reaction but the match wasn’t that hot. Corbin did a lot of stalling and Nakamura’s signature spots weren’t as over as you’d think. Nakamura won with the Kinshasa. Better than their PPV match but not as good as their TV match. Lesnar beat Joe in 5:00 with three German suplexes and the F-5. The crowd reacted bigger to this than anything and it had the big fight feel even at a house show that WWE rarely has. In a 3-on-4 match, Naomi & Lynch & Liv Morgan (who took the spot Charlotte usually has, Charlotte was doing a promotional tour of China and Hong Kong this weekend) beating Natalya & Carmella & Lana & Tamina. Ellsworth was back on the road with his “suspension” over. Naomi, Lana and Lynch got the best reactions when they came out. Naomi pinned Natalya with the rear view. It makes little sense to pin Natalya at the house shows before her title match, but granted, in 2017, this stuff doesn’t really matter that much. Styles retained over Owens. Started off slow but built into a good match, with Styles winning with in 12:00 with the Styles Clash. Best match on the show at ***½ with Owens having the most heat. Main event saw Mahal beat Orton in a last man standing match to keep the title in about 18:00 in a **3/4 match. The crowd was into the match and lots of weapons shots including a chair, the ring steps and a kendo stick, as well as a table break. Both went through a table. One Singh brother distracted the ref and the other hit Orton with a low blow when Orton got up first, before the ten count, but the ref missed it. The ref turned around, Mahal then struggled to his feet to win as Orton couldn’t beat the count. Orton came back after the match to lay out one of the Singhs and Mahal with RKOs

Springfield was a similar show. Cena beating Rusev was put on first, likely because there was a reason to get Cena out early. They went about 20:00 with a lot of flag waving by Rusev for heat. Zayn pinned Kanellis. Harper teamed with Sin Cara & Dillinger to beat English & Rowan & Epico when Harper pinned Epico with the discus clothesline. Styles won a three-way to keep the U.S. title over Gable and Ziggler ending when he pinned Ziggler with the Styles clash. Styles came out and issued an open challenge. Gable came out to accept it. Then Ziggler came out and he wanted a shot so it turned into a three-way. Nakamura pinned Corbin with the Kinshasa. They had a five-way for the women’s title with Naomi over Tamina, Carmella, Lynch and Natalya when Naomi pinned Carmella after the rear view. New Day, being Kingston & Woods, retained the tag titles over Hype Bros, Usos and Breeze & Fandango when Kingston pinned Jey Uso. The main event was the same last man standing match with Mahal over Orton. Orton got a deep cut in his eye during the match.