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August 28, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Jon Jones fails drug test, Mayweather vs. McGregor, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 August 28, 2017

 

When Jon Jones recreated his new superstar speech, the humble, funny, super talented guy who reached the top and was expected to start a dynasty, the one thing clear was that, in time, the truth, whatever it was, would likely come out.

The fact is the spotlight would be on Jones, and after telling people he’s older and more mature, a fall from grace would label him as a phony. This time it would be difficult, not impossible, but difficult for time to heal that wound.

As it turned out, Jones failed a drug test taken on 7/28 in Anaheim, after weigh-ins the day before his fight where he won the UFC light heavyweight title back from Daniel Cormier. Jones had never lost the championship since winning it on March 19, 2011, from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in Newark, NJ, but was stripped of the title in 2015 when he got into legal trouble after a hit-and-run incident involving an accident with a pregnant woman in the other car, and him leaving the scene.

TMZ reported the drug in question was Turibanol, an anabolic steroid best known in the 70s as the steroid first made in East Germany, that its countries athletes were using to avoid detection in drug tests. Turibanol is considered a black market steroid, in that major pharmaceutical companies don’t make it, used mainly in sports with weight classes in conjunction with making weight. Its most beneficial quality is that it allows an athlete to maintain strength level while losing weight. The detection time for the drug is six weeks, but those vary by the individual. But in this case, if he was using the drug, it would make no sense to have used it more than six weeks earlier to begin with since it would be something you would use during the period you are dropping weight.

It is Jones’ second drug test failure. He tested positive in June of 2016 for Clomiphene and Letrozole, two agents usually used to get the body back producing testosterone and to avoid side effects of the use of testosterone at the end of a steroid cycle. Jones claimed he unknowingly had those drugs in his system, and was able to provide to USADA some sexual performance substances he was taking which did contain both banned substances. He was suspended for one year, with the suspension ending shortly before the recent Cormier fight.

He had also tested positive for cocaine in 2015, and later bragged that he beat Cormier the first time one week after spending a weekend doing cocaine. However, cocaine is not banned by USADA except in competition, so he could not be suspended for that failed test.

The difference is that having a performance enhancing drug in his system for a first offense is a two year suspension. For a second drug test offense, with this being a steroid, he could get as much as a four year suspension.

Jones is provisionally suspended pending going through the usual due process. Until USADA and the California State Athletic Commission make their ruling about the drug test, the result of the fight would not be changed and thus, the championship should not be stripped. But even if he had no knowledge and was the victim of a contaminated supplement, or unless the test itself was inaccurate, you should not be allowed to win a fight, let alone a championship, with steroids in your system.

“The California State Athletic Commission has been made aware of Jon Jones’ test results and is looking into the matter,” said commission executive officer Andy Foster. “The Commission takes those matters very seriously and will take any appropriate actions necessary after a thorough review of the situation. As with all fighters, Mr. Jones is entitled to due process and the Commission will work with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to get all of the proper information.”

Malki Kawa, Jones’ manager, provided a statement saying, “We are all at a complete loss for words right now. Jon, his trainers, his nutritionists and his entire camp have worked tirelessly and meticulously the past 12 months t avoid this exact situation. We are having the samples tested again to determine the validity or source of contamination. Jon is crushed by this news and we are doing whatever we can as a team, to support him.”

While Jones was not stripped of the championship because they have to let due process play out, it is hard to envision a situation where that wouldn’t happen unless the test results themselves were faulty.

Even if somehow Jones used a contaminated supplement, the reality is he had steroids in his system at the time of his fight. There is no way the result of Jones winning could be upheld, and there is no logical reason Cormier should be able to lose the championship. The decision of the fight would have to be overturned.

Dana White seemed to agree with that.

“As far as I’m concerned, Cormier would be the champion (if Jones is suspended). The only guy he’s ever lost to in his whole career is Jon Jones. He was the champ. He’s the champion if Jones isn’t.”

White questioned if the suspension is lengthy, if Jones would ever fight again. White said the promotion was looking at booking a Stipe Miocic vs. Jones main event for the 12/2 show in Detroit, ironically a fight that Jones very specifically said he wasn’t interested in and while usually confident, made it clear he didn’t know if he could handle Miocic’s greater size and knockout power.

UFC had gone heavy into the Jones promotion. In this week’s issue of Sports Business Journal, there was a full back of the page ad with Jones, noting he was in the No. 1 grossing UFC PPV this year (granted, there has been little competition for that spot), drew UFC’s biggest ever gate at the Honda Center, and that the episodes of UFC Embedded leading up to the fight did more than five million viewers and the fight had 8.3 billion social media impressions.

One would expect Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson, or possibly vs/ Volkan Oezdemir, as the logical next fight if and when Jones is stripped of the title.

In addition, this may end talk of a proposed Brock Lesnar vs. Jones fight, which many had thought would be the biggest money fight in UFC history. Lesnar had not signed for such a fight, and Lesnar himself is still suspended, but the fight was expected to happen next summer, after Lesnar’s WWE contract expired. Both had already started promoting the fight hard. It also changes the Lesnar/WWE contract negotiation dynamics. Lesnar could still go back to UFC and probably make more money than in WWE, but that is no longer a sure thing. And it’s less likely he could make so much more in one night that it would make the most sense to leave WWE for a while.

With a two-year suspension, Jones would not be able to fight again in UFC until the summer of 2019, at which time Lesnar would be 42, lowering the odds of such a fight happening. And a longer suspension would only make things even more unlikely.

Without the Jones fight, Lesnar would have no fight anywhere near as marketable. That would greatly lessen the amount he could earn going back to UFC, and would increase the odds of him staying with WWE, either with a new deal, or exercising the option of the current deal, which expires in April.

It also kills the Jones redemption story that had been promoted and that he had done such a good job with, both before the fight, and even more so after winning the Cormier fight. It’s going to be exceedingly difficult for the public to have sympathy for Jones, of all people, given his talent, resorting to using steroids at the age of 30 with all of his past transgressions. And even if it was a tainted supplement, it would still be hard to have sympathy given, after all he’s been through, that he should have been more careful.

In many ways, this is the biggest MMA story of the year, because of the ramifications in so many directions. Whether it was deliberate or unknowing, he took away Cormier’s fair chances of changing a lifetime narrative about winning major championships in both wrestling and MMA, but never beating the accepted No. 1 guy at the top of either sport.

“It’s hard to find words to describe how I’m feeling right now,” Cormier said to MMAFighting.com shortly after hearing the news. “I’m disappointed to hear the news. It’s very emotional. We as athletes are entitled to due process, and I will refrain from saying much more until I know exactly that happened. In my mind, on July 29, I competed and I lost. I thought Jon Jones was the better man that day. I don’t know what to think anymore. I can’t believe we are going through all of this again. We will see what happens next. Thank you to all my fans who have supported me during this dark time. I love you all very much.”

Jones also put an asterisk on all of his career accomplishments including a legacy of being the greatest fighter of all-time. There are numerous records he could have set that, with a lengthy suspension, he won’t have time to set. Financially, it’s possible he’s cost himself tens of millions of dollars. He’s also greatly hurt the UFC, and a redeemed Jon Jones would be expected to be a major drawing card for many years and if Conor McGregor doesn’t come back, Jones was the company’s most valuable star. The entire light heavyweight division will remain a shadow. The reality is that Cormier, as champion, has been seen twice losing to Jones and, completely unfair to him at this point, he’ll never be truly accepted as a world champion, and if anyone else gets the title, without beating Jones, they’ll be seem the same way Cormier has been the past two years.

There are also questions regarding Jones’ future, given that if his suspension is three or four years, he really can’t sit and do nothing. He would be under contract to UFC, but UFC can’t really hold him to that contract for that many years, although Tom Lawlor was held to his contract for two years for his PED positive and UFC would not release him.

If Jones was released, while he couldn’t fight in the U.S., Canada or Brazil because those countries recognize suspensions, he would be free to fight in places like Europe, Russia or Japan, although he’d be fighting for substantially less money than he’s been used to. Is it possible Lesnar vs. Jones could take place in those countries next year? Yes, legally. But it won’t happen. Lesnar vs. Jones without the UFC’s backing won’t do business on PPV to make it worth Lesnar’s while to return and there would be a question of whether Jones would get a UFC release to allow him to fight overseas, or even want to do so and make enemies out of UFC and athletic commissions by defying his suspension when the paydays, while there, would be nothing close to what he’d make when he returned to UFC. As far as them doing a worked match at WrestleMania, the WWE already has its main event plans for Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns back on, and while plans are made to be changed, I’m not sure the value of Jones coming in, not really knowing what he’s doing, and his willingness to lose a pro wrestling match to Lesnar, which is the only result possible for WWE unless they do an even-Steven thing to set up two matches. And then comes the trust question, as would they trust things to end up the way they are supposed to?

As far as Bellator goes, which has the money, it would be such a bad look for the promotion to sign Jones and only have him fight in non-athletic commission countries and I don’t think that’s a decision they would make. Anything is possible, but it would put them at odds with every athletic commission to be playing those kind of games and risk commissions not licensing them. It’s not a hill worth dying on.

There are promotions in Russia and Poland that do pay well. Another option would be WWE, although there’s a question regarding WWE embracing someone under athletic commission suspension for steroids. They did continue to use Brock Lesnar after his failed test, due to contract provisions where they had to, but also didn’t decrease his push at all, nor was Lesnar punished at all in booking. Quite the opposite in fact. But it’s different to hire someone anew, who has gotten so much bad publicity, especially when the company’s goals are to be sponsor-friendly.


Ric Flair remains hospitalized and in critical condition in Atlanta after 12 days, but things are more optimistic than they were last week.

Flair is conscious and has spoken to family members starting on 8/18. He is very much not out of the water at this point, but the feeling is he is stronger with each passing day. He still has to get his kidneys functioning, and at last word, still had to get an infection cleared, would likely need surgery for a pacemaker for his heart. He currently has an external pacemaker with the feeling that he wasn’t ready for another operation and they needed his heart beating at a steady rate. With the help of the pacemaker, his heart was beating fine.

Flair, 68, has been a survivor. He survived being struck by lightning, and came back from a plane crash in 1975 that killed the pilot and ended the careers of Bob Bruggers and Johnny Valentine, and after breaking his back, became someone high in any discussion as being the greatest wrestler of all-time and wrestled for 35 more years.


WWE SUMMERSLAM POLL RESULTS

Thumbs up 151 (45.8%)

Thumbs down 71 (21.5%)

In the middle 108 (32.7%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Lesnar vs. Reigns vs. Strowman vs. Joe 252

Ambrose & Rollins vs. Sheamus & Cesaro 24

Usos vs. E & Woods 15

A.J. Styles vs. Kevin Owens 9

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Big Cass vs. Big Show 209

Randy Orton vs. Rusev 49

Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura 25

John Cena vs. Baron Corbin 13

 

NXT TAKEOVER BROOKLYN POLL RESULTS

Thumbs up 391 (97.8%)

Thumbs down 1 (00.3%)

In the middle 8 (02.0%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Asuka vs. Ember Moon 227

Andrade Cien Almas vs. Johnny Gargano 104

Aleister Black vs. Hideo Itami 36

Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Roode 19

Wolfe & Young vs. Authors of Pain 13

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Young & Wolfe vs. AOP 118

Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Roode 77

Aleister Black vs. Hideo Itami 32

Asuka vs. Ember Moon 13

Andrade Cien Almas vs. Johnny Gargano 10

 

ROH WAR OF THE WORLDS POLL RESULTS

Thumbs up 19 (30.2%)

Thumbs down 10 (15.9%)

In the middle 34 (54.0%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Young Bucks vs. Daniels & Kazarian 37

Kushida vs. Castle vs. Scurll vs. Takahashi 11

Guerrero & Bucanero vs. Mistico & Titan 10

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Kenny King vs. Adam Page 21

Cody vs. Sanada 13

Mark Haskins vs. Silas Young 10

Based on e-mails and phone calls to the Observer as of

Tuesday, 8/22.

 

The fact that Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. are even fighting, let alone that this will likely end up being either the first or second biggest grossing event in the history of combat sports, is the ultimate example of hype over substance.

It's something that has never quite happened before, because in the past, it never made any financial sense to happen.

The circumstances are a perfect storm of things all coming into play. MMA, nor any other combat sport except for a handful of boxers in history, never had a major star who could be in a promotion of this level. And even with MMA over the past decade, they were never so dependent upon a singular star that the star would have the leverage to get permission to do something his contract would have banned. Some have thought this fight happened because McGregor threatened to become a boxer and then use the Ali Act to challenge the restrictions in his UFC contract. But more likely, this happened when UFC officials, who at first were negative on the idea, realized the kind of money this event would generate and that it would simply be stupid not to happen. Should McGregor lose, the idea was he faced the best boxer of the modern era in his first fight and he should have lost. The only risk was an embarrassing loss, but every single UFC fighter takes that risk every time they fight. Fans know that people have bad days.

Even Bob Arum said the good thing that UFC has shown is that fans will accept losses, as boxing promoters in the past had tried to protect their stars on the way up from losing with the idea a loss kills you as a draw. The success of the 2015 Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight, which grossed more than $600 million, set a standard for one-day revenue for a fight that changed expectations about what was possible.

As noted before, even with the revenue split tons of different ways, UFC’s cut of this will be far more than they have ever made for any show in history. It’s the difference between this year being a disaster of a year, and a successful year. And granted, if McGregor never fights again, that would be a huge blow, particularly coming up on the contract year for television. No matter what the kind of money McGregor will make, it really becomes a question about him fighting again because he won’t have to, plus even for a fight with Georges St-Pierre or Nate Diaz, he’s making pennies compared to this fight. If by some chance McGregor wins this fight, negotiations will become far more difficult and the thing is he’d probably make more at that point facing one of the name boxers like a Canelo Alvarez more than a UFC fighter.

And what makes it so unique, is that in the one instance historically where something close to this could have happened, the discussions were always of a mixed rules fight. A straight boxing match essentially means that McGregor and the sport of MMA are doing a one-night sacrifice of themselves to the public for a giant payoff.

This is all about money. It is possible, if PPV numbers hit numbers that are being predicted, that through all sources, this fight could produce in the range of $700 million in revenue, more than UFC produced in the entire year of 2016 and nearly the total revenue of the entire WWE business in 2016.

Among the different revenue streams are $500 million in U.S. and Canadian and Internet PPV, which would be based on five million buys, $26 million to $35 million U.K. PPV buys and there is no prior baseline to even accurately predict what kind of additional PPV revenue will come from Ireland since it’s doubtful any fight in the modern era was close to as big there. Add in another$35 million in international television rights, more than $72 million in the live gate (it’s said that this show just broke the $72 million Mayweather-Pacquiao record), $28 million in sponsorships, $7 million in Las Vegas closed circuit revenue, $8 million to $16 million in revenue from it airing in 400 theaters around the country at $40-45 per head, $15 million in bars and restaurants in North America, not to mention merchandise numbers.

Based on past trends of early purchases as of 8/21, and keep in mind for events like this, early purchases are minimal, the projection is 4 million buys. Any kind of a strong publicity stunt in the waning days could change that trajectory. The feeling is that this will be, at worst, the second biggest PPV event in history.

McGregor can make $10 million or $15 million for a fight in UFC when he's matched with the right opponent. But it is inconceivable he can make $100 million. He could still earn far more money in boxing than he could in his own sport. Mayweather could earn far more money fighting a non-boxer in a boxing match, than a top boxer, and with minimal risk a far as losing.

Odds have been laid out for pay-per-view buys itself, with an over and under of 4,990,000 buys. Keep in mind that the biggest pay-per-view in history, the Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight, did 4,600,000, and the second biggest, the Mayweather fight with Oscar De La Hoya did 2,450,000. And keep in mind that both of those numbers blew away all predictions ahead of time.

Because of that, there will be people who will think 4 million buys is some kind of a bust. It’s funny because when Dana White was first talking about this fight, he was talking 2.5 million as a number he was pretty sure it could do, and now after all the media hype, people will be declaring 3 million, a number only hit once in history, as a disappointment. Just because of how uncharted waters 5 million is, it’s hard to fathom that. But we do live in an era where the big fight is bigger and more lucrative than ever. While TV PPV is still the lion’s share, iPPV, which UFC has been doing with more and more success on big shows, is bigger than ever, and the fight can be ordered everywhere. Plus, on iPPV, without the split with cable providers, the promotion takes in about double the revenue. At the same time, outside of a few countries, the U.S. and Canada being notable, culturally people aren’t used to paying $100 for a fight on television. The price in the U.K., where UFC events have never aired on PPV, is far less expensive. Plus, in many key countries, iPPV will mean nothing because there are many places the fight will air on regular television.

If this show even approaches those predictions, it will change the game. In the world of combat sports promotion, when something works, it's copied. Promoters and fighters will likely acknowledge that there is only one Mayweather and one McGregor, but if there is an MMA champion who is a striker, like Stipe Miocic, who has already challenged Anthony Joshua, the idea that they could earn far more money for losing a freak show fight than they could for a championship defense is going to have a similar lure.

They won't make nearly the money this fight will. But using the boxing formula of paying big event main eventers, a top UFC fighter who can strike at a high level would have the opportunity to make more than for a UFC title defense. It would not be in UFC’s best interest to allow this. But for a company like Bellator, perhaps that wouldn't be the case, although the reality is they don’t have anyone on their roster right now in the position to do that.

Like every gimmick, it'll quickly run its course. But boxing and MMA are in a constant struggle for fights that grab the attention of the general public, and if a gimmick works, it's not like people won't try and figure a way to duplicate it.

Bob Bennett, who heads the Nevada Athletic Commission, was on the MMA Hour, defending the decision to sanction the fight and allow the eight ounce gloves (that Mayweather has fought with earlier in his career) instead of the ounces as are regulated in 154 pound fights, even though it went against a paper sent in by the Association of Ringside Physicians the day before saying that there is no reason to go against the rules and stating it would make the fight more dangerous.

Bennett said money doesn’t even enter into his decision-making, but health and safety does. His defense was that McGregor is younger, stronger, has more reach and is the harder puncher of the two, noting his 17 knockout finishes in 24 pro fights, calling him a premier striker and a knockout artist. He did say that other athletic commissioners had told him that they would not have approved the fight, but he questioned if it came across their desk that they really would have done so, saying it’s an approvable fight based on facts, not dollars.

Kickboxing was never big enough in the U.S., the prime market for giant money events, to have a fighter who could draw like McGregor against a boxer. Amateur wrestling stars never had the notoriety. Some pro wrestling stars in a different era when fans took pro wrestlers more as tough guys rather than as entertainers, had the notoriety.

Over the years there were many wrestler vs. boxer matches, some under mixed rules, and a few under boxing rules, but none ever garnered a smidgen of interest this already has.

In the early 1920s, there were negotiations to pit Ed "Strangler" Lewis, one of the two biggest pro wrestling stars of that era, against Jack Dempsey, the Manassa Mauler, the heavyweight boxing champion. At that time, there was no bigger sports star than the heavyweight boxing champion, and while wrestling was already predetermined, it received extensive newspaper coverage and The Strangler vs. The Mauler looked like a huge promotion.

In the end, the fight never happened since Lewis wouldn't dare do a boxing match with Dempsey, and Dempsey, even though he said otherwise, knew well enough that in a mixed rules match, he'd stand little chance. The interest at the time was for a mixed rules match, and economically, it was dangerous to Dempsey and boxing and there wasn't enough of a money difference between what Dempsey could make boxing to have it make any sense.ྭ

Over the years, there were numerous boxer vs. wrestler matches, although most were in pro wrestling, and the outcomes were predetermined, as numerous boxing champions from Joe Louis to "Jersey" Joe Walcott to Leon Spinks took to pro wrestling after their boxing careers were over. Joe Frazier even did a match in Puerto Rico. In recent years, long after anyone took it seriously and it was clearly all in fun, people like Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Ricky Hatton messed around on WWE shows.

In the few legitimate fights, the results were almost predetermined, in the sense the rules made the outcome obvious. Frank Gotch was in many ways the first celebrity pro wrestler, who, as world champion, was viewed as legitimate in his day, used a pseudonym, Frank Kennedy, and lost a boxing match to Frank Slavin in 1901 in The Yukon Territory. There was also the brutal 1940 bout where an aged Dempsey destroyed Cowboy Luttrell under boxing rules.

In a 1935 bout where wrestling star Ray Steele battled boxer Kingfish Levinsky in St. Louis, under mixed rules, it only lasted 35 seconds with Steele winning. While it took longer, in a 1963 mixed match, wrestler/judoka Gene LeBell defeated boxer Milo Savage. Pro wrestler Kiyoshi Tamura, who later had an MMA career that included wins over Kazushi Sakuraba, Pat Miletich, Renzo Gracie and Maurice Smith and a draw with Frank Shamrock when Shamrock was UFC champion, finished Matthew Saad Muhammad in 34 seconds in 1992.

Once MMA got established, a past-his-prime Ray Mercer lost quickly to Kimbo Slice but knocked out Tim Sylvia in nine seconds, the only high-profile case where a boxing champion defeated an MMA champion under MMA rules. Pride heavyweight Kazuyuki Fujita choked out former cruiserweight champion boxer Imamu Mayfield in 2003 with rules that limited ground work to 20 seconds, when he was able to lock in a choke while standing. And the current era UFC once pushed a boxer vs. MMA fighter theme when James Toney submitted in the first round to Randy Couture. The first UFC featured Royce Gracie quickly beating Art Jimmerson. But Mercer was long past his prime, as was Toney, and Mayfield and Jimmerson weren’t boxers anyone had heard of.

In the past, such a fight could never happen because the top star in one venue would never risk both his own reputation and that of their sport in a situation where they have little chance to win. And to be fair, none of the non-boxers involved were anywhere near the level of striker that McGregor is, nor the level of talker, and in this case, the latter is more important in this happening than the former.ྭ

The closest example from a name value and marketing standpoint of a fight that actually did happen was the 1976 fight with Muhammad Ali, at the time the world heavyweight boxing champion, and Antonio Inoki, Japan's biggest pro wrestling star.

Why that fight did happen is that Ali was offered more money for what was supposed to be a pro wrestling match, where he would lose to Inoki, than he had ever earned for a boxing match. His biggest boxing payoffs at the time were $5 million against boxing killers like Joe Frazier or George Foreman, and the Japanese promotion behind the fight offered him $6 million for what would essentially be a far less dangerous staged pro wrestling match.

But in the week before the fight, Ali suddenly decided that he didn't want to lose. Whether he felt it would tarnish his reputation by being in a fixed fight, or he didn't want to sell out his sport, or both, losing the match weighed on his conscience. The Japanese backers of Inoki were not paying Ali $6 million to beat their guy, and with so much at stake, instead of calling the fight off, which it was very much in danger of in the days before it happened, they agreed to do a real fight. Ali had all the bargaining power. So he was able to get rules greatly in his favor.

Even with Inoki banned from using submissions, kicks above the waist, Greco-Roman throws and other wrestling techniques, the lopsided rules were still not pure boxing. The fight ended up as a boring 15 round draw which mostly saw Inoki lay of his back and blister Ali with leg kicks.

At the time, the public viewed Inoki as a coward who wouldn't stand up and fight. Viewed today, with judges and a fan base who understand low kicks, Inoki would have won at least 12 of the 15 rounds. But it still would have been viewed as a horrible fight.

Keep in mind this was one of the greatest heavyweight boxers who ever lived against a pro wrestler, who while trained in submissions and Japan's biggest star, was behind the scenes never considered a legitimate top tier shooter like Billy Robinson was in that era.

Ali was also nearly involved in another freak show fight in 1971 with Wilt Chamberlain, who was the biggest name in the NBA at the time. The idea behind it was that the public would be intrigued by the size difference, as Chamberlain was 7-foot-1 and 290 pounds, and an amazing athlete. Chamberlain in 1971 was every bit the LeBron James of his era, and with a general public that was far less knowledgeable about fighting skills, the size difference and name value of the two would have made it something that would have captured the fantasies of the public.

But after a press conference that got national attention, and numerous publicity photos, the fight fell apart.

Ali was a far bigger star than either Mayweather or McGregor is today, but the economics were completely different.

Still, when Ali vs. Inoki was put together, the thought process was the fight would do big business on closed-circuit at arenas around the U.S. and Canada, because you would get both the fan bases of pro wrestling and of boxing. That's similar to the mentality of McGregor vs. Mayweather bringing together the fan bases of MMA and boxing, even though whether it does what it's projected to do depends more on drawing people who aren't big fans of either sport and people who will watch it similar to people who aren’t football fans but watch the Super Bowl.

Outside of the Northeast, where the real draw was a pro wrestling match with Bruno Sammartino against Stan Hansen at Shea Stadium, and in Japan, where it did a record gate and is still one of the highest rated television shows in the history of TV-Asahi, the fight bombed.

As big as Ali was, the public didn't buy the concept. Inoki wasn't well-known in the U.S. Ali ended up getting less than $2 million when all was said and done.

What is different today is the mentality of the fans and the changes in the media.

As big a star as Ali was, the event got some coverage, but not a lot. Most sportswriters, sportscasters and sports editors were skeptical the fight would be real, and with good reason. They didn't want to give it credibility in the event that it wasn't. And even if it was, the important thing wasn't Ali, but Ali's heavyweight championship, which wasn't at stake. Championships in those days were bigger than the stars.

Today, that's no longer the case. The coverage it did receive was more like it was a novelty, and almost all tongue in cheek. The public was told it wasn't important, and for the most part, they believed it and didn't buy it.

Today, the media has changed. It's all about personalities, not competition or championships. If the personalities can draw ratings or get hits, they'll get constant coverage. Every tweet by McGregor and Mayweather becomes a news story. The biggest differences are not just how much more money can be made via pay-per-view than the old closed-circuit, and how much more money people are willing to pay for sports events today, but that in 1976, the media led the public to what was important. Today, the public leads the media.

No matter what people in sports think of the idea of a mismatch or sports value of a fight that is all but predetermined based on the rules in place, there will be round-the-clock coverage this week leading into the fight.

McGregor, Mayweather, Dana White and all parties involved will be telling you this is the biggest fight in years. That no championship is at stake will mean little to nothing.

In the past, Zuffa did everything in its power to keep its top stars, notably Nick Diaz when he wanted to box Jeff Lacey, from going into boxing and risk looking like second rate fighters. But in this instance, unlike any other time in history, the money is so big that UFC and McGregor are willing to sacrifice the their aura to the general public because the economic windfall of the night is too great to pass up.


SummerSlam weekend is in the books, and it included one of the best major shows in WWE history. And it wasn’t SummerSlam.

As has become the case more often that not, it was the NXT show the night before that stole the weekend, showing the axiom that very often, less is more.

SummerSlam, a five-and-a-half hour marathon, had several good matches, including the main event where Brock Lesnar retained the Universal title over Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns, that was not just the match of the weekend, but one of the year’s best matches, particularly within WWE. It also had some low points, including a very weak WWE championship match where Jinder Mahal retained his title over Shinsuke Nakamura with the same finish done many times now where the Singh Brothers distraction led to the win.

While the big titles didn’t change hands, the night featured five title changes. Neville regained the cruiserweight title over Akira Tozawa in a pre-show match. The title change that took place on the 8/14 Raw show was a last-minute decision made by Vince McMahon that wasn’t in the original plans, just wanting to shake things up. The plans were for Tozawa to fail against Neville and lead to Cedric Alexander and Enzo Amore as his next opponents.

Also in a pre-show match, and perhaps the best pre-show match in WWE history and certainly the best in years, the Usos regained the Smackdown tag titles over The New Day, this time being Big E & Xavier Woods. This result was a surprise given that the Usos had just won a non-title match from Woods & Kofi Kingston the previous Tuesday.

In another surprise, Natalya beat Naomi to win the Smackdown women’s title, with strong teases that Carmella with James Ellsworth is being groomed at the focal point of the division with an eventual cash-in. But they are also teasing Tamina as a challenger.

Sasha Banks beat Alexa Bliss to win the Raw women’s title.

The final title change was expected, as Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins won the Raw tag titles over Sheamus & Cesaro in an excellent match. Ambrose & Rollins reforming as a team has clearly been one of the hottest storylines the company has right now.

The four days in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center saw NXT draw 10,300 fans on 8/19, SummerSlam on 8/20 was the lone sellout, with about 13,200 fans, Raw did 12,100 on 8/21 and Smackdown did 11,500 on 8/22. The Smackdown crowd was well up from what they would have gotten anywhere else. But it was different from the previous two years when they did three nights, and all three nights sold out in advance. Part of the difference is that scalpers took a bath on last year’s NXT show, so the only show they heavily bought was SummerSlam, which was the one that had the most interest.

The WWE now has a five week break between major shows. The next Raw PPV will be No Mercy, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on 9/24. The next Smackdown PPV will be Hell in a Cell on 10/8 at the new Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit.

The real story of SummerSlam was the main event. Strowman was booked like a monster, manhandling Lesnar at every turn. He powerslammed Lesnar through two tables and Lesnar was carried out on a stretcher. But Lesnar returned, and after Strowman was finally taken out, Lesnar pinned Reigns with an F-5. It was interesting that they chose Reigns and not Joe to lose the fall, since the plans are back on for Lesnar vs. Reigns at WrestleMania. Lesnar vs. Reigns was originally scheduled to headline Mania, then it was moved up to SummerSlam, until the call was made to add Strowman and Joe to the match. If anything was clear, it was that Strowman is the WWE’s hottest rising star, as the crowd went nuts for him like nobody else both on this show and at Raw the next night. While Lesnar vs. Joe is probably the key reason, along with The Shield reunion, for the uptick in ratings over the last two months, Strowman has captured the public even more. Lesnar vs. Strowman feels like it should be the WrestleMania main event, but the decision was made for it to headline No Mercy.

At Raw, there was a strong tease for John Cena, who is now full-time on the Raw brand, to build for a match with Reigns. That could be down the line, but it appeared that was also for No Mercy, which should make it the most interesting “B” show in a long time. Perhaps a key is to go in with two major matches on a September show to try and keep the Raw audience from its usual 10 percent or more drop when Monday Night Football begins on 9/11.

For Smackdown, the Hell in a Cell name gives away the main event stipulation. Most likely, given they did an outside interference finish and that Nakamura was put over strong on Mahal in an angle, that they will do that rematch. Still, a Hell in a Cell coming on the next brand PPV right after Punjabi Prison feels like a cage overload.

As far as other notes on the show, the losses by Baron Corbin and Rusev were the most talked about.

Cena beat Corbin, and it wasn’t just that he beat him, but it was a nothing match and Cena treated him completely like a guy not nearly at his level. After WrestleMania, we were told there were huge late year plans for Corbin, including new music and a probable title run. What we do know is that his failure on 8/15 in the Money in the Bank cash-in was a late decision. Whether he was to ever cash it in successfully is unknown, and anyone who has followed the behind-the-scenes knows that more often than not, who wins that match is often with no long-term plan, and in many cases, have led to “buyers remorse” by Vince McMahon, even in cases where the cash-in is successful. A week before the failed cash-in, there was nothing in the books for that.

Justin Barraso of Sports Illustrated reported that Cena allegedly told Vince that Corbin didn’t have it, which is why the match went the way it did. Corbin had a lot of heat with talent. There was already the feeling he had been handed opportunities that his skill level didn’t deserve, particularly given his so-so in-ring and weak promos. But he does have a good look, and is tall, and can effectively play a bully and Vince has always been into tall guys that he thinks women like and those type of guys will always get more opportunities. Cena beating Corbin when Cena was “leaving the brand” is not usual WWE booking, but it’s also Cena we’re talking about and Cena is still the company’s flagship star and should only lose for significant reasons. It was more the way the match was worked that clearly told a story. Corbin isn’t being done away with, as it appears Corbin will be in a program with A.J. Styles over the U.S. title next, and that Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens may end up with a program.

As for Rusev, while there were a ton of rumors flying around about him, we’re told that his nine second loss to Randy Orton was just their way of kicking off a program between the two, with the idea the first match was a fluke, and that Orton needed some big wins now for rehab after how badly he came out of the Bray Wyatt and Mahal programs. So this wasn’t so much the anti-Rusev decision it came off as, but a major pro-Orton decision and that the program is to continue, although they did nothing with either on television after the show.

An interesting offshoot is that the closing odds were off on five of the matches and while there was some smart money that did come in on Saturday afternoon, it wasn’t enough to sway the odds. We’re told it was a very bad night financially for the companies that offered odds. This isn’t disastrous, like if Conor McGregor knocks out Floyd Mayweather, which would cost oddsmakers so much money it’s scary, but the companies don’t like losing money on pro wrestling.

There were gradual shifts, many of which were wrong, and a lot of winners won at very good prices. It was so significant that according to one insider, there could be a reduction in options for WWE betting because the companies who take bets on wrestling don’t take in enough money to justify losing nights like SummerSlam. This was one of the few shows where the finishes never got out except to a few people.

Another key to the weekend was the beach balls story. There were no beach balls at the NXT show. There were at SummerSlam, and in the Raw tag title match, it did detract the crowd from the match. Cesaro was furious, stormed in the crowd and tore up a beach ball. While that got him a big pop at the time, it had its long-term repercussions.

When fans see something like that gets attention, and by showing the wrestlers reacting to it and taking them out of the match, that meant fans would keep it going. There were beach balls like crazy on Raw, with nine or ten out during the show, and with security trying to confiscate them. Worse, during a commercial break, Cena, whose mentality is very different on fan behavior, with the idea they pay their ticket price and just let them have fun however they want to have fun, actually played it up. Worse, in his match, when Cena reacted to them, they showed a beach ball. The next night, at Smackdown, they were again all over the place, distracting fans from the matches. It should be noted that this was a unique crowd, as chants like “He’s a wanker” tell you it was a heavily overseas-based crowd. Often what happens on these shows has no bearing on anything the next week. But still, there is an upside to the idea that you give the feeling going to live wrestling is fun and cool, but you don’t want it at the expense of your stars and matches getting over, and at times, this was the case.

1. The Miz & Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas beat Matt & Jeff Hardy & Jason Jordan in 10:33. The building was empty as the doors opened late. Miz was very vocal about being furious about going out there in front of almost no fans. Jeff Hardy mostly sold. Matt got a somewhat hot tag, and later Jordan got a completely cold tag, although he looked great with his explosive move comeback. Dallas was hit with a twist of fate and Jordan did an overhead suplex on Axel, but Axel had tagged out to Miz, unbeknownst to Jordan, and Miz pinned Jordan with the skull crushing finale. I know they like even-Steven, but if the direction is Miz vs. Jordan with Miz as champion, he shouldn’t be pinning Jordan like that in tag matches leading up to it, especially with how cold Jordan is right now. If they’ve just given up on Jordan vs. Miz, then that would be a different story. **1/4

2. Neville regained the cruiserweight title over Akira Tozawa in 11:45. For just pure technical wrestling, nobody was better on the show. The crowd wasn’t dead for this, and they did get into the Tozawa chant. But it wasn’t hot. Tozawa did his great tope. Neville had Tozawa up on his shoulders, but Tozawa maneuvered into an Octopus from there. They were trading big moves and near falls. Tozawa blocked a superplex attempt by Neville and instead gave him, from the superplex position, a front suplex into the ring. Tozawa went for the senton off the top, but Neville got his knees up, and then hit the red arrow to Tozawa’s back and got the pin. ***½

Elias came out singing. The people reacted to him far more like a star than ever before. He got a lot of cheers. He’s also lost his last name again. Maybe Vince will let him have it back next week. Overall the fans hated him, but many cheered him loudly. He ripped New York in his song to sizeable heat. Then a lot of fans, and keep in mind a ton weren’t from New York, started chanting”encore.” He wasn’t expecting that, but he was supposed to say he was doing one more song for heat. But he actually got a lot of cheers and in his second song, fans were clapping with him rather than booing him out of the place. He was still booed by the vast majority.

3. Usos regained the Smackdown tag titles over The New Day team of Big E & Xavier Woods in 19:13. The New Day has new Red Lantern inspired outfits. Kofi Kingston had his hair up in a new style like he was wearing Martian antennas. Kingston in his promo brought up that they held the titles for 483 days, the longest for any world tag team champion in WWE history. Great match with lots of cool spots. Except for the main event, it was probably the best thing on the show. Fans liked a spot where Woods, the small guy, put E on his shoulders and dropped him on one of the Usos for a near fall. The crowd got hot when Woods kicked out of the splash. E & Woods did a ropewalk midnight hour on Jey, but Jimmy saved at the last minute. E tackled Jey to the floor and they setup the midnight hour on Jimmy. However, in a finish clearly inspired by the Young Bucks, since the pattern was identical, the Usos gave E superkick after superkick, followed by a double superkick. Both Usos came off the top rope at the same time with splashes and Jey pinned E. ****

4. John Cena beat Baron Corbin in 10:12. Cena looked bigger than usual. The crowd was loud with the pro and con Cena chants, which Cena led. Cena was clearly taking this as a night off being early in the show. The announcers pushed it as franchise vs. future. Corbin yelled at the fans. Not much action. There was a “Where’s Your Briefcase” chant. Corbin’s big moves were a choke slam into a backbreaker and a Deep six for near falls. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment way before the crowd expected it to be the finish, and got the pin. **

5. Natalya beat Naomi in 10:50 to win the Smackdown women’s title. They noted that with this match, Natalya tied the record of Trish Stratus for the most PPV appearances by a woman. Naomi did a nice huracanrana and also came off the stairs with a blockbuster on the floor. She also did a Russian leg sweep with both standing on the middle rope. Naomi went for her submission but Natalya reversed into a sharpshooter. Naomi used her legs to flip out of it. Naomi went for the split-legged moonsault but Natalya got her knees up. She then put the sharpshooter on again, but Naomi tapped out. Some cool moves and overall well wrestled. ***

6. Big Cass pinned Big Show in 10:27. This pretty much sucked in a lot of different ways. Enzo Amore was put in the shark cage. The shark cage is usually where you put a heel manager. It was a plodding boring match that was meant to get Cass over big but was a psychological disaster, plus it killed the entire shark cage gimmick. Enzo came out for his big promo saying he was the Al Capone of the microphone. He said he would put his worst day ever on the mic ahead of Cass’ best day ever inside the ring, which was funny. So you had Booker T, the babyface announcer, just burying Enzo the entire match, saying he’s like the ex-girlfriend who keeps calling you. The story was that Show’s right hand was injured due to the angle on Raw where Cass slammed the shark cage door on it. Once the match started, the crowd didn’t much care. Show went for the Vader bomb and started selling his hand. Show hit the knockout punch, but started selling his hand and Cass kicked out. The idea is the hand was damaged and he didn’t have his usual power. The crowd was chanting boring at this point. Show tried a choke slam but couldn’t get Cass up because his right hand hurt. He did a left handed choke slam but Cass kicked out of that. Cass smashed Show’s hand on the post. Keep in mind this shark cage, instead of being hung high above the ring, was maybe eight or nine feet tops above the ring, which was ridiculous. Enzo kept trying to get out. So then Enzo took off his shirt and his pants, and was there in his boxers. He pulled oil out of his boxers, and poured it all over himself with the idea it would make him slippery. So he was able to get through the bars of the cage. He dropped down from the cage into the ring no problem. Cass then kicked Enzo in the face and knocked him out. So all of that led to nothing. Cass then kicked Show in the face and pinned him after the Empire elbow. So the heel destroyed two faces, including making a fool out of the one who tried to interfere. *

7. Randy Orton pinned Rusev in :09. Rusev attacked Orton before the bell and gave him a fall away slam into the barricade. The bell rang and Rusev missed a charge and got hit with the RKO for the pin.

8. Sasha Banks beat Alexa Bliss to win the Raw women’s title in 13:15. Both were brawling early. The word on the street is that these two really don’t get along. Still, they had a nice match. Banks used a backstabber and bank statement but Bliss made the ropes. Bliss threw Banks out of the ring and she landed on her shoulder. The idea is people will believe a shoulder injury because of Bayley getting hurt. Bliss worked over the shoulder and hit twisted bliss, but Banks kicked out. Banks went for the bank statement but Bliss pump handled Banks’ arm to get out. They pushed the idea that due to Banks’ shoulder being injured in the match, she didn’t have the usual power in her bank statement. So then she used the bank statement a second time, they pointed out it wasn’t as effective, and then Bliss tapped out. ***

9. Finn Balor pinned Bray Wyatt in 10:39. Balor was dressed as the Demon and looking for revenge for his clean loss on Raw. Balor did a running flip dive. Wyatt suplexed him out of the ring to the floor. Balor got out of Sister Abigail and hit a double foot stomp. He did another double foot stomp of the apron. Wyatt was on the top rope but Balor hit a jumping kick and a final cut. The finish saw Balor use a running dropkick, sling blade, Woo dropkick and the coup de grace for the clean win. **3/4

10. Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose beat Cesaro & Sheamus in 18:36 to win the Raw tag titles. Rollins went for a tope early and Sheamus & Cesaro caught him and slammed him on the floor. Sheamus hit the Brogue kick on Ambrose on the floor by Rollins had to go at it alone for several minutes. The beach ball distracted the crowd who weren’t paying attention to the match. Cesaro ran out of the ring and into the crowd, got the beach ball and tore it up. This won the crowd over but ended up hurting the shows the next two nights. They got heat on Rollins until Ambrose hot tagged in. He used a pescado on Sheamus and he and Rollins did a heart attack except Rollins used a sling blade instead of a traditional clothesline. Ambrose did a top rope superplex on Sheamus and Rollins followed with a frog splash. Cesaro made the save and this led to a “This is awesome” chant. Lots of near falls. Cesaro did a giant swing into a sharpshooter on Ambrose. Cesaro also used a crossface on Ambrose. The finish saw Rollins give Cesaro a springboard huracanrana into Sheamus, and then Rollins hit the knee on Sheamus and Ambrose followed with Dirty Deeds on Sheamus for the pin. ****

11. A.J. Styles pinned Kevin Owens in 17:21 to retain the U.S. title with Shane McMahon as referee. Both fought before the bell and Shane pulled them apart. Lots of good moves early including a Frye/Takayama spot. The story of the match more involved Shane. Styles was on the top rope but Owens bumped Shane into the ropes, which ended up causing Styles to lose his balance and being crotched. Later, with Owens down, Styles went for a springboard 450 and Shane was checking on Owens and got nailed. Owens hit the pop up power bomb but no ref. Shane recovered and Styles kicked out because it took Shane too much time to start the count. Owens yelled at Shane saying that “You fall off buildings, and you can’t get up to count three.” Owens kicked Styles into Shane, who took a bump to the floor. Styles put on the calf crusher and Owens was tapping but no ref. Styles broke the hold, which made no sense because the ref wasn’t there. In an unintentionally funny spot, Styles went to Shane about not being there and Shane said, “that was a two count.” This was a near submission, but a near fall and Shane’s two count was minutes earlier. Shane and Styles argued and Shane shoved him into a schoolboy by Owens for a near fall. Owens used a fisherman buster off the middle rope for a near fall, and Owens yelled at Shane, saying it should have been three. Styles went for the Styles clash but Owens kicked out. Owens then used the pop up power bomb and Shane counted three, but saw Styles’ foot on the ropes and ordered the match to continue. Owens argued with Shane again, and they shoved each other. Owens was knocked down by a shove into a roll-up for a near fall. Styles then hit a Pele kick, the phenomenal forearm and the Styles clash for the clean pin. ***3/4

12. Jinder Mahal pinned Shinsuke Nakamura in 11:21 to retain the WWE title. Nakamura came out to a violin entrance played by Lee England Jr., the same guy who did the elaborate entrance for him at an NXT Takeover show. There wasn’t much to this match. There was a “3MB” chant at one point (there was at the Takeover show as well for Drew McIntyre’ match) and people were singing Nakamura’s music. Nakamura used a triangle armbar and Mahal made the ropes. Mahal missed a charge and went into the post. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa to the back of the head. Samir distracted Nakamura. Nakamura threw him in the ring. Samil jumped into the ring and Nakamura knocked him down. Nakamura hit both of them with Kinshasas and then Mahal used the Khallas on Nakamura for the pin. That finish is old and the crowd was flat for it as opposed to being mad about it. **½

13. Brock Lesnar retained the Universal title over Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe in 21:01. The crowd cheered everyone but Reigns, who of course they hated. Fans did Lesnar’s intro with Heyman. The match itself had a lot of Heyman fingerprints on the layout, which is concentrating on the moves everyone already has over and doing them over and over again with the idea it’ll keep the fans into the match. The other thing was to make Strowman a monster, in the sense Lesnar would do his big moves on Joe and Reigns, over and over, but never on Strowman, while Strowman would lay out Lesnar, since that’s the direction and this was all about building next month’s match. It was super effective in regard to Strowman who came across like the company’s future top guy. If you judge by the crowd, he should be the one in the main event at Mania and beating Lesnar, as opposed to Reigns. And crowds have often made plans change, although as of last word this crowd hadn’t made the plans change at least yet. At first Lesnar and Reigns cleared the ring for a face-off. Lesnar hit the German suplex on Reigns and then Joe. Strowman got in and the place went nuts for those two. They avoided Lesnar ever suplexing Strowman. Before they could go at it here, Joe and Reigns ran in and attacked both. Lesnar and Strowman cleaned house and stared down each other again. After a long tease, Strowman knocked Lesnar over the top rope. Joe got the choke on Lesnar. Reigns speared Lesnar through the barricade. Joe gave Lesnar a uranage on the announcers table. Strowman used a bodyblock to knock Joe flying over the announcers table. Strowman powerslammed Lesnar through one of the announcers tables. Then he powerslammed Lesnar through a second table. Fans were chanting “One more table,” so Strowman tipped over a third announcers table onto Lesnar. The crowd was doing loud “This is awesome” chants. Lesnar at this point was carried out on a stretcher. Strowman hit Joe and Reigns with the ring steps. Reigns hit Strowman with the steps, which opened a gash on the left side of Strowman’s head. With Reigns having cleared the ring, there were loud “Undertaker” chants. Everyone expected Undertaker to interfere here because it got out that Undertaker had flown to New York for this show. I don’t know why, or if he was even backstage, although he probably was around since his wife, Michelle McCool Calaway, was definitely backstage. Lesnar came back and took down Strowman and started pounding on him. Lesnar hit a German suplex on Reigns and another on Joe, but once again, they wouldn’t give the fans the German suplex on Strowman, which made sense given this match was all about getting Strowman over as a monster while Lesnar ended up winning the match. Lesnar got a Kimura on Strowman but Reigns broke it up with a Superman punch and hit them on all three. Reigns speared Lesnar, who kicked out. He set up a second one, but Joe started choking Reigns. Strowman dropkicked both Joe and Reigns. Strowman powerslammed Joe and had him pinned but Lesnar pulled the ref out of the ring to stop the count. Reigns hit Superman punches on Lesnar and Strowman, but Strowman kicked out. Reigns went for a spear, but Strowman kicked him in the face. Strowman powerslammed Reigns, but Lesnar saved. Lesnar picked up Strowman for the F-5, but Strowman got out of it and picked Lesnar up for a powerslam. Reigns then speared Strowman. Joe put the choke on Lesnar, but Lesnar got out of it and hit the F-5 on Joe. Reigns broke up the pin, Reigns hit Lesnar with three Superman punches and went for the spear, but Lesnar caught him and hit the F-5 and got the pin. ****3/4


Bryan Danielson aka Daniel Bryan was on the Edge & Christian podcast that was released on 8/18 and went into detail with the idea that he is looking to return to wrestling.

Danielson noted that people ask him why he wants to continue wrestling while having a young daughter. I always think that question or people thinking that is kind of weird because many wrestlers have kids and I can’t think of one top tier star in history who gave wrestling up in their prime because of having kids. Of course with Danielson the idea is that because he’s had a number of concussions, and the WWE has made it clear it won’t allow him to wrestle, that it is in his best long-term interest to continue in his current role as a non-wrestling television personality. And there is something to say about the ability to make a good living outside the ring while staying in WWE.

Because the one thing that is different, is that most of those people in question would not leave a good WWE job in that situation. Cody Runnels, for example, has no kids, and while his leaving turned out to be the greatest thing for his career, guys like he and Drew Galloway were the exceptions that they did better outside WWE, and there was still less stability and long-term certainty even if they did better. And Galloway ended up returning, although that was also the right decision for him at the time.

But for those who disagree with him and think he shouldn’t leave WWE, and shouldn’t wrestle again, they may not be wrong. And that’s the quandary of the unique Danielson story.

So I’m going to go back to the February 15, 2016, issue of the Observer, which had a seven page story on Danielson’s retirement. He had just given the speech in the ring in what was one of the most memorable moments in the history of Raw. He was 34 at the time. He gave the speech largely due to the direction of Vince McMahon, as he had just gotten a bad test result back from Evoke Neuroscience, a test he took with the idea of gathering more evidence that WWE was wrong in not clearing him.

The test showed he had a lesion in the temporal paratiel region of his brain, and that lesion probably explained the four post-concussion seizures he had a few years earlier, that greatly concerned his wife. When he told Dr. Joseph Maroon, well after they happened, about them, Maroon refused to clear him to wrestle again, which ended his in-ring WWE career.

He didn’t accept that finality, and WWE sent him to two different places, Barrows Neurological in Phoenix and UCLA, both of which fully cleared him to return. But Maroon was adamant about not clearing him.

After telling McMahon about the new test result, McMahon came back shortly after, on a Saturday, noting Raw was in Seattle, the closest major city to where he grew up in Aberdeen, WA, two days later and he wanted Danielson to announce his retirement on the show in a completely unscripted segment where he would have full control of what he wanted to say and could go as long as he wanted. In addition, his friends and family could be there for his retirement. At first he didn’t want to do it. But his wife convinced him at the time that it was the right place to make the announcement, and for those reasons, after thinking about it, he agreed to do it.

Having been around wrestling, and wrestlers, and people who have had injuries and medical issues, I’ve seen doctors proven wrong many times. I don’t want to say that I thought he would wrestle again at that time, but if I had to bet, my bet would be that he would. A lot of people got a lot of different things from that story, but to me, the key passages from that story were at the end.

“As more and more research is done on sports and combat related brain injuries, more and more work will be done on trying to come up with cures as well. Injuries do heal, even to the surprise of doctors. As more and more knowledge comes with the specifics of brain injuries, solutions and aids in healing those specific issues, will also be worked on. This is a science that is changing rapidly. Whether he realizes it today or not, it is entirely possible that time and knowledge will lead to healing his small subacute or chronic lesion in his temporal parietal region of his brain.”

Danielson said that while he was doing media right after his retirement, one of the doctors who had cleared him from Barrows called him up and asked him why he had retired. He told them about the lesion that was found and gave them his test results. The doctor told him from examining the test results, he felt his brain was within normal range.

A key is in his report from Evoke they said the testing showed he had slower reflexes than they would have liked. However, his slower reflexes were actually normal average person reflexes. Evoke is used to testing football players and fighters who generally have much faster than usual reflexes, and need them due to the nature of those sports. He noted that he’s not a great athlete and doesn’t have great athletic fast reflexes. He’s an average guy with average reflexes and in pro wrestling, you don’t need fast reflexes to defend yourself.

He had attempted to give notice to WWE long before that, because he wanted to wrestle. WWE had refused to release him, and worse, had also frozen his contract because he was injured. Unlike a normal injured wrestler, who would be out of action waiting to heal, he was, in his mind, ready and able to wrestle and work the remainder of his contract, but they wouldn’t let him, nor let him go. Unlike others who WWE has not cleared, they accepted those results. They didn’t want him wrestling anywhere else either. Perhaps he could have sued to get out of it. Perhaps he could have done something to get fired, but he’s not confrontational, and his wife and sister-in-law are with the company and stars of a reality show. So the situation was, and still is, very unique.

At one point he was going to go to college and get away from wrestling, and he went through a period of depression where he didn’t want to be near wrestling. He was asked if he was interested in announcing at the Cruiserweight Classic tournament last year, and he accepted the offer thinking it would help people understand a style of wrestling he loved that wasn’t on WWE television, and he could help, with his announcing, young wrestlers who were like him at a time in his life, get over.

Then he was basically told they were bringing him back for the General Manager role on Smackdown. But he said that being around wrestling every week made him miss not wrestling even more. He noted the hardest thing was when he was at ringside during an A.J. Styles vs. Dean Ambrose match on Smackdown.

“It tore my heart apart. I don’t want to be doing this (sitting at ringside), I want to be doing that (wrestling). I’m not a very ambitious person in terms of 99 percent of my life, but I’m pretty ambitious with my passion for wrestling.”

At that moment, he came to a conclusion.

“You know what, I’m not okay with this.”

But working as Smackdown General Manager had a key advantage. By working, his current contract was back in effect and will expire in September of 2018. At that point, if he wants to, he can leave and wrestle.

That becomes very tricky. He is a key part of two reality shows, Total Divas and Total Bellas, that may both be around at that time. He’s a big enough name that WWE wouldn’t want to stand by and have him work for another promotion. It’s not like him wrestling for another group will suddenly give WWE the competition that they had killed off in 2001, after a 17-year bloody battle that left a lot of scars. But it’s not like they would want to willingly have one of the most popular wrestlers in the country help promotions have been growing in popularity gain a stronger foothold either. Still, nobody knows what the lay of the land will be in 13 months.

He talked about having new tests done and working with Dr. Barry Miskin, a doctor in Jupiter, FL. In late March, he was told about athletes, most notably former NFL legend Joe Namath, getting treatments in Hyperbaric chambers, which Namath claimed had reversed some of his own memory and cognitive issues.

Danielson said that he went there, which I believe was first in April, and had a nuclear spec scan done on his brain. Even with his ten documented concussions and probably others undocumented, and four post-concussion seizures, he was told his brain was roughly the same as that of an average college football player. Still, even if he was told that, the average college football player hasn’t had that many concussions, let alone post-concussion seizures.

After 40 sessions using the Hyperbaric chamber, he said he’s noticed a vast improvement. He said that Dr. Miskin told him that he believes, after 120 treatments, or 80 more, his brain would heal to the point that it would be as if he had never done any contact sports in his life.

“There’s no reason I can’t return to doing what I love, maybe not full-time, and I’m not even sure that I want that now that I have a child. I don’t want to be away that much, 50 to 100 matches a year, or what (Jerry) Lawler and (Terry) Funk do in their 60s, that’s kind of where I’m at. It’s kind of a real work in progress and it’s kind of tested my patience. The hard part when I look back on it, I feel the prime years of my career I lost, but I’m really working on, okay, it’s something that I lost, but I also want to give the caveat, if at any point there’s a real indication I shouldn’t be wrestling, I don’t want to wrestle. My health is more important than going back to wrestling.”

He noted that when people bring up his newly-born daughter, he said that is one of the reasons he wants to come back.

“My daughter is one of the main reasons I want to do this, to teach her that whatever your dream is, whatever your version of wrestling (his favorite thing to do in his life) is, you can do it. Just because somebody says you can’t do it because we think this way, that isn’t a good reason to stop. It would be different if all the doctors said this was bad for your health, but for the most part, all of them are saying you can do this, but some people are saying you can’t, and that’s not good reason to stop doing what you love.”

Like with so many things, there is no right or wrong here. I would say that for a variety of reasons, aside from those closest to him and his doctors, I’ve probably followed this story closer than anyone. One of the closest people in my world is one of the leading brain injury and concussion experts in the country, who is very familiar with this case, and it’s something I’ve studied and debated for some time. In the end, there is no conclusion. All of the Maroon conspiracy theories regarding wanting him out of the ring so Roman Reigns can be the big star without him being for the fans to want to be in that spot to me are bunk. I believe WWE is doing what they believe is the right thing, and also, the smart thing corporately because if something bad happened to him and they allowed him to wrestle with the knowledge Maroon had already said outright that he should never be cleared, they have no defense.

A lot of his tests and procedures are new and the knowledge in this field, while having grown greatly in the last decade, is still primitive compared to what I expect it will be in another decade. But right now, we are in between time. Ten years ago he’d have been back wrestling a long time ago. Ten years from now science will have evolved to where we probably will know with far more certainty than we do now whether he should wrestle, as well as the value and veracity of new testing and what healing powers to the brain Hyperbaric Chamber therapy really has.

What is clear is that Danielson is paying close attention to the scene around the world, and where he may be in a year if he gets no more red lights and if WWE doesn’t clear him. And there’s also a reality, that even though the WWE roster of talent is very good, currently, the talent roster outside WWE when it comes to in-ring, is far superior to the point that out of the best 15 wrestlers in the world today, I don’t know that three of them are in WWE. And a lot of his motivation for wrestling is to come back and perform at the highest level possible, which would mean performing with the best people, and while some of them are in WWE, most of them aren’t.

Over the past week, when Cody did the LeBell lock on an ROH iPPV show, the “Yes” chant, and mentioned his real name, clearly trying to get a year jump on a possible storyline, Danielson called attention to it on Twitter and wrote, “Interesting.”

On the podcast, he joked that he hated Sam Adonis, talking about his recent hair vs. hair match with Blue Panther. One of Danielson’s goals when he came back was to work with Panther, his favorite Luchador, at Arena Mexico and build to a hair vs. hair match. Adonis beating Panther for his hair was something he wanted to do.

He also talked about watching the G-1 Climax tournament and in particular mentioned Zack Sabre Jr. and Kenny Omega. He said that Sabre works a vicious style of mat wrestling similar to what he did in the indies, but that he never tried in WWE because he thought it was too slow for the television audience. He said in watching, he said Sabre does that style better than he ever did, and was a genius in some of his moves. And he wasn’t the only one.

“Ricochet and Will Ospreay are doing things I never would have even thought to conceive,” he said.

He talked about growing up and buying tapes from RF Video and how when he made $4.75 an hour working, that spending $20 to $25 on a tape was a big expense.

“Now you can watch the best matches around the world with New Japan, CMLL, cool stuff in England,” he said. “If you’re doing something cool, you’ll attract fans all over the world.”

He praised Young Bucks both for their marketing ability and also for their ability to get over their characters, and noted in particular that they and Ricochet are actually great at what people think they aren’t good at.

“I love how The Young Bucks take what they’re criticized for, they do a million superkicks, and they’re more character-driven than they are given credit for, and Ricochet is more character driven and Will Ospreay is more character driven as well than people give them credit for. That’s why they’ll get over. It’s not guys with no personality doing a ton of awesome spots, it’s guys with personality doing awesome spots.

He also said he’s been studying people like Jerry Lawler and Nick Bockwinkel.

“If I want to come back to wrestling, I want to wrestle a much safer style. That’s one of the things I like about Jerry Lawler and Terry Funk. Jerry Lawler had a heart attack. He wrestled Terry Funk and threw a fireball in his face and it was awesome. Jerry’s still out there. He doesn’t need to wrestle. He’s not wrestling because he wants to be a big star or needs the money. He does it because he loves it.”

He said the independent talent coming up are doing styles based on their unique characters more than the guys in WWE, saying that he thinks there is WWE talent whose ring styles have nothing to do with who they are as characters or as humans, and that’s one of the disconnects he finds.

He did praise Aiden English for being unique, and talked about how much he enjoyed Chad Gable working and working for a single-leg takedown in a recent TV match with Rusev to the point that when he finally got the takedown it got a big pop.

He said this was the best time in history to be an independent wrestler and the best time in history to be a fan, because there’s so much awesome product out there.

He did praise the WWE talent as well.

“I’m enamored with a lot of the locker room,” he said. “Guys who are really good, we don’t have bad wrestlers in the locker room. It doesn’t exist anymore. Everyone’s in-ring is at a certain level.”

He talked about Luke Harper, who Edge said he thought was as guy who was so good he should have been headlining WrestleMania against Undertaker, but they are doing nothing with him. Bryan said that with the guys coming up and the stars who are already made, that there is a lost generation of guys who have been around for years that are getting older and time is running out on some of them because there is so much talent out there that they can pick and choose who to push. He said there was a guy he talked with recently who was really frustrated, noting that when he was given opportunities, he did a good job, but now he’s getting no opportunities and that can be demoralizing.

Danielson pushed that there’s never been a better time if you’re contract is up because you can make good money outside WWE, and pointed to Drew McIntyre, who they let go, did well on the indies, came back, and said it would be ludicrous to think McIntyre won’t be on the main roster in a top spot within a few years.

But there is no certainty. Places like New Japan and ROH have only so many openings and so much of a budget. There’s a question of how many new high-paying stars they can offer, as well as the future of some of the U.K. companies that pay big money right now, or Lucha Underground. And not everyone is going to be able to join the Bullet Club and sell merchandise to where they can make a great living on the outside, and things like that may get bigger, but they may also lose steam . For Danielson, the lay of the land won’t change to where he’ll have any problems making great money outside WWE. For others, a year from now, the situation could be a lot better, but there’s no guarantee it won’t be worse.


The 8/19 NXT Takeover special was an excellent show that also leads to some major changes at the top of the cards.

The quality of matches were strong, but the bigger picture was the new direction, with the elevation of Bobby Roode to Smackdown and having Adam

Cole as a single and Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly as a tag team become the new key players in the company.

After Sanity had captured the NXT tag titles from the Authors of Pain, Fish & O’Reilly came out to attack both teams. It’s still not clear if the Authors of Pain move up, and it’s early for them to do so, or they end up in a three-way program for the titles.

In the main event, Drew McIntyre beat Roode for the NXT title, as he guaranteed he would in house show interviews the week before, and was then laid out by Fish, O’Reilly and the debuting Cole, putting McIntyre vs. Cole as the top feud. That’s an interesting dynamic because you have a huge babyface against a small heel, which is why they gave Cole the back-up.

In bad news on the show, Asuka (Kanako Urai, 35) suffered a broken right collarbone at some point during her match with Ember Moon. She continued the match, really showing no signs of injury during it.

“During the match, she landed awkwardly from a throw from Ember Moon and was able to complete the match, but had notable pain and discomfort,” said WWE’s Dr. Jeffrey Westerfield, who attended to her after the match, in an interview with the WWE website. “We performed an initial ultrasound backstage that was highly suspicious of a break that was later confirmed by an X-ray.”

She is expected out of action for six to eight weeks. NXT is taping four weeks of television on 8/24, at which point her situation will be addressed. Normal protocol in this situation would vary. Most often in a situation like this they would create a new champion, but every situation is different. In this case, with a 500-plus day title reign, and her time out of action really only missing one television taping and no Takeover shows, it’s better in the big picture not to end the reign this way. The new champion won’t get over because everyone will see them as backdooring in, and if the storyline was keeping Asuka undefeated until a main roster move, or to set up her first loss to be something monumental, and to get over the person who beats her, stripping the title only weakens that goal. They are already pushing that she has the longest title reign of any woman champion in modern history (the Moolah reign now being pre-modern era) and some say the longest for any championship (categorizing Hulk Hogan as pre-modern as well), and has broken the winning streak record of Bill Goldberg (another worked record), so anything done without getting value out of ending any of this is a waste of an opportunity.

With the next Takeover show not being until 11/18 in Houston, it would appear she’d be back in action by that time and they could do promos and avoid her doing anything physical while getting whoever the challenger would be ready.

The show was unique in that all five matches on the show got many votes for both best and worst match. All were great in their own way and I can’t ever recall a show of this kind where the worst match, whatever one you would choose, was still excellent. In many ways with the hard work and match quality, this felt like a PWG show, only condensed. I’ve seen PWG shows where there are more high-end great matches, but even those shows would have one or two bouts that don’t quite measure up to excellent.

And there is something to be said for a two-and-a-half hour show like this. While watching this, and NXT isn’t the only group that puts on shows close to this caliber, you do question why WWE’s developmental crew, such as it is, beats to death the quality of the company’s biggest major shows of the year.

Of course, developmental is a misnomer. Out of the wrestlers on Takeover, only two, the Authors of Pain, were actually WWE trained. It does ask questions about spending all that money to train wrestlers, when those signed and trained, giving up so much experience, end up keeping the crew that needs the work working too few events to progress at the same level that a multitude of guys do outside the auspices of WWE.

Andrade Cien Almas was a CMLL superstar. Johnny Gargano was one of the best indie workers for years. Eric Young is 37 and Bobby Roode is 40, both having spent most of their careers as stars in TNA. Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe made their names in Europe. Hideo Itami was a superstar in Japan. Aleister Black was a star in Europe who has been one of the top indie wrestlers in the world for years. Ember Moon wrestled for years on the indie scene, but unlike the rest, you can also see great improvement in her. You could argue that for Almas in the sense the NXT Almas is better than he was a few months ago, but he’s still not close to the level of the CMLL La Sombra that they felt they needed to change. Just about everyone mentioned, including McIntyre, Cole, Fish and O’Reilly, are better than the vast majority on the main roster, and most have plenty of miles on their body to where it’s a waste of their prime years to not be on national television. But even without television, NXT is more high profile in the U.S. than anyplace that does have television, and the out of Florida house show circuit does better than anyone else as well.

Some notes before Takeover. There were a lot of Bullet Club shirts in the crowd, once again, far more than WWE shirts. There were some Kenny Omega Terminator claps, although it was clear many knew what they meant and many were also unaware. Bayley was booed by the crowd somewhat when she spoke. When Baron Corbin came out, people booed him loudly with a loud “You f***ed up” chant. There were also chants for “Too sweet” and “the Elite” and Marty Scurll. When the announcers came out, Percy Watson was booed, Nigel McGuinness was cheered, while the crowd chanted for Mauro Ranallo. That’s notable because the crowd usually boos the lead announcers when they come out for Raw and Smackdown.

It opened with stuff taped for the 8/23 NXT TV show.

Lars Sullivan laid out No Way Jose. Jose was dancing on the ramp when he was attacked. Sullivan, who is usually cheered at the house shows because of his presence, was booed here. Sullivan left him laying but the report we got was that he didn’t do enough.

1. Peyton Royce beat Sarah Logan. Billie Kay was in Royce’s corner. Royce is a heel, but she was cheered since people knew her and Logan hasn’t gotten a push. Some cheered politely for Logan knowing she was the face. Royce won with a fisherman suplex.

2. Wolfgang & Pete Dunne beat Tyler Bate & Trent Seven. Bate & Seven were cheered huge coming out. Wolfgang got little reaction. Dunne, who is supposed to be the top heel, was cheered more than anyone with loud “Bruiserweight” chants. Wolfgang pined Bate when he blind tagged in after Bate had hit the Tyler driver on Dunne.

The New York band Code Orange played to start the show.

1. Andrade Cien Almas pinned Johnny Gargano in 13:12. This was a super opener. Loud “Johnny Wrestling” chants to start.” Gargano used his spear into the ring and a tope. It was great from start-to-finish, very similar to their San Jose match but with a different finish. Gargano got his mouth busted open. Gargano had the Gargano escape on and Almas powered out with a one-arm buckle bomb. Almas got a near fall with the running double knees. Gargano came back with two superkicks and a lawn dart spot. Zelina Vega (Thea Trinidad), who is Almas’ manager, threw a DIY T-shirt in the ring to distract Gargano. Almas used a dropkick and a hammerlock DDT for the pin. ****1/4

They showed Daniel Bryan and Kurt Angle scouting at the show, in a sky box with a number of wrestlers from NXT including Kay, Royce and Jose.

2. Sanity, being Alexander Wolfe & Eric Young, beat the Authors of Pain to win the NXT tag titles in 12:02. This was interesting because the AOP worked as the faces early in a brawl before the mach, and were the faces in the buildup. However, during the match they switched how they worked as Sanity were the faces when they were building toward winning the title. At first, it looked like Wolfe & Killian Dain were the team. But Wolfe tagged Young in as a surprise, as Dain never tagged in. Young sold to build to a hot tag for Wolfe. Wolfe did a Frankensteiner off the top on Rezar and made a crawling hot tag to Young. Young hit a tope on both AOP members and Wolfe did a flip dive over the top. This led to a stand-off in the ring with Nikki Cross and Paul Ellering. Cross did a plancha off the top rope, but Akam caught him. Dain then did a running cross bodyblock like Bray Wyatt does, but better, knocking Cross and Akam through a table on the floor. Wolfe then pinned Rezar with a double-team neckbreaker. After the match, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly attacked both teams. They threw Rezar into the ring post and did Chasing the Dragon on Young. They were not called ReDragon, which is a name that they own. They grabbed the belts and posed with them. ***3/4

3. Aleister Black pinned Hideo Itami in 12:24. Jim Ross came out to announce this match to a big pop. Code Orange played Black’s entrance music. Both came out throwing kicks. Black was bleeding from the nose right away. The continued with hard kicks. Black did a quebrada for a near fall. Black did a great high kick. Itami got a near fall with an Avalanche Michinoku driver. They traded more kicks and slaps and the crowd went wild. Itami got a near fall with a falcon arrow. He tired a GTS, but Black countered with elbows and hit black mass. More than just about any WWE match this year, this one looked like a fight. Black has real superstar charisma and this was the best Itami has looked since his injuries. ****1/4

4. Asuka beat Ember Moon in 14:44 to retain the women’s title. Moon was booed more than Asuka even though she was the clear face in the storyline. Asuka was over like crazy. Moon hit a dropkick right away and a flip dive off the middle rope to the floor. Asuka had the advantage and used moves like a hammerlock, an STO and a combination octopus and armbar, which she then transitioned into a Fujiwara armbar. Moon stood up and hit Asuka wit a teardrop suplex. Asuka gave her a German suplex into the bottom turnbuckle. Moon worked for the Asuka lock. The crowd ended up behind both women. Asuka landed kicks and knees. Moon hit the eclipse but Asuka kicked out. The crowd was freaking out over that. Moon went up to the top for the eclipse again. Asuka hid behind the ref. Moon had to jump over the ref to get to Asuka, so couldn’t use the eclipse and instead had to use a crossbody. Asuka rolled through and held the trunks for a heel win, but the ref saw it. The crowd was molten at this point. Moon hit a thrust kick but Asuka kicked out. Asuka was playing possum and got an armbar. Moon rolled her up from there but Asuka got the Asuka lock for the submission. After the match, the crowd gave Moon a standing ovation. I think this was one of the three best women’s matches I’ve ever seen in the U.S., but it was not as good as the Bayley vs. Banks match in the same building two years ago. ****½

5. Drew McIntyre beat Bobby Roode to win the NXT title in 22:21. McIntyre came out with his music being played by the New York Police Department pipe band. Roode did a crossbody on the apron but McIntyre caught him and gave him a tilt a whirl slam onto the apron. Roode even used a missile dropkick. McIntyre came off the top rope with a clothesline and followed with a nip up. He also got a near fall with the Celtic cross. He had Roode in superplex position, but Roode punched him and McIntyre was crotched on the top rope and fell backwards, basically into the tree of woe position. McIntyre then did a sit up from that position and delivered a belly-to-belly superplex. McIntyre hit the Future shock DDT for a near fall. McIntyre hit the Claymore kick, but Roode got his foot on the rope. McIntyre did a running flip dive over the top rope. He went for another Claymore kick, but Roode used a spinebuster for a near fall. They traded more moves until Roode hit the glorious DDT, but McIntyre kicked out. He hit a second DDT, and then went for a third, but McIntyre escaped and hit another Claymore kick and got the pin. The credits were rolling as McIntyre celebrated before being attacked by Fish & O’Reilly. Doing the angle after the credits were rolling was awesome the first time, but it’s been done enough that they need to put a moratorium on it for a while. Cole came to the ring, identified by that name, and nailed McIntyre with a superkick. They all put the boots to him to end the show. ****1/4


Brian Stann, who co-announcer Jon Anik often referred to as “The Greatest Living American,” announced on 8/21 that he would be leaving UFC.

“I am announcing my departure from calling fights with the UFC,” wrote Stann on Instagram. “I have been offered an amazing leadership role with a fast growing Real Estate Firm and will be attending Northwestern (Kellogg) for my executive MBA this fall. Thank you to everyone for years of support, especially the athletes and coaches whom I love deeply. I will continue to be a huge MMA supporter and attend many events. Thank you to everyone from FOX and Zuffa who helped me so much in this journey.

“Jon Anik, you are my brother and that will never change, and I cannot tell you how important your friendship has been to me. My wife, Teressa Stann, who has endured so much and supported me through war, fighting and now this transition, I love forever and thank you so much. This move is to focus more on my family. I traveled 26 weekends last year for work while also working a full-time job. My new role as a COO will be very difficult, but still affords me my weekends with my wife and three children. Transition and change are a part of life and I am really excited to prove my worth to my new company and hopefully showcase the diverse skills military veterans and mixed martial artists possess. Thank you all.”

Stann, 36, was a Marine Corps captain and decorated war hero who was given a silver star in combat. He started fighting in 2006, while still in the service and left the service to become a full-time fighter who compiled a 12-6 career record. He retired after his March 3, 2013, loss to Wanderlei Silva in one of the greatest fights in UFC history and became an announcer with the promotion.

He was known for his exceptional preparation and with Joe Rogan cutting down on his schedule, Stann was being used more and more, doing more than half the UFC events. Stann was especially strong in conveying information to viewers regarding the fighters and their styles from the perspective of a fighter. He was more factual and not as colorful as some other announcers, but if you wanted to learn about the fighters while watching fights, he was the best at it and I consider his departure significant, but also felt that someday his life would take him away from UFC, and I had always anticipated he would end up running for public office. He had, at times, teased interest in doing so, when frustrated with people in top positions.

One would expect that this will lead to more announcing from Dominick Cruz, whose strength is his ability to see things developing and anticipating things in a fight. Another candidate to fill the position would be Dan Hardy, who does most of the European shows, and comes off as the friendliest to the viewer of the current group.

Stann had been the President and CEO of Hire Heroes USA, a group that helped place U.S. veterans into jobs. WWE had been a major sponsor of the group and Stann had done a few commercials for the group that appeared in recent years on WWE programming.


ROH ran an iPPV on 8/19 from the Olympia in Liverpool, England, which coming over SummerSlam weekend, didn’t get a lot of attention.

From all accounts, the other two ROH shows in that three-night run in the U.K. had hotter crowds. The idea of an iPPV in the U.K. is the idea you’re guaranteed hot crowds, but that wasn’t the case here. In fact, at times early in the show, with the crowd so quiet and the announcers talking softly, I felt like I was watching golf on television with everyone quiet like the guys in the ring were concentrating on putting.

There were no bad matches on the show, but no great ones either. The show drew a sellout of 950 fans, which we were told every seat was full but they could have put more standing room in. ROH has run the building in the past and the crowds were hot, so it was just one of those things. The look of the building is tough because it had so few seats on the floor, and the way it was shot, you couldn’t see the balcony, so it looked like there were about 300 people there, plus in clear shots were things like soft drink machines on the floor.

There were also no real key storylines coming out of the show past Cody’s tease of a match with Bryan Danielson by doing the LeBell lock and leading the crowd in “Yes” chants. Danielson’s interview with Edge & Christian had just been released the day before and was the talk of wrestling, particularly with the speculation that if he is going to return and WWE won’t clear him, it would feel like a lock that he’s coming to New Japan and ROH.

The show ended with Cody, as a heel, running down Liverpool, and then asked who was left. Dalton Castle came out to confront him, which based on everything that happened including an angle shot the next day, looks like it will be the main event for the next PPV show, Death Before Dishonor, on 9/22 in Las Vegas. During the show there was no mention of that show. What was weird was that earlier in the show, in a four-way for the TV title with Kushida, Castle, Marty Scurll and Hiromu Takahashi, it was Castle who was pinned by Kushida’s back to the future. But the storyline is that The Bullet Club’s goal was to keep Castle from winning, and that Castle had the title won in that match, as he did the bangarang on Takahashi, but Page distracted him and led to his being pinned, costing him the title.

There was also an angle shot backstage in Edinburgh where Cody took out Castle.

The show had a funny ending as the crowd, mostly male, started singing, “Hey, Hey, We Want Some Dalton, I wanna know, if you will be my guy,” after the U.K. fans songs serenading Bayley in the past. That was certainly something that would have never happened in another era.

1. Chris Brookes & Travis Banks beat The Boys in 6:31. The iPPV started and the announcers clearly didn’t know they were on the air. They talked about this match like it was going to be an Internet release in the category of “The Future of Honor.” The Boys were announced as being a combined 250 pounds. Brookes & Banks are the Revolution Pro tag team champions. Brookes is about 6-foot-4, but given the size of the other three, he looked like a giant. So the disgusting spot was Brookes and Banks each using their finger to grab saliva out of Brookes’ mouth and stuck it in both ears of one of the Boys. The Boys did a running double flip dive. Banks did a tope. Banks pinned one of the Boys with a falcon arrow, called the Kiwi Crusher. **

2. Kenny King pinned Hangman Page in 8:44. There were some good moves but the match didn’t really click and the crowd was quiet. Page used a moonsault block off the apron. Page did a neckbreaker where King was draping off the top rope and he was outside the ring, and he jumped off the apron. The fans chanted “You Killed Kenny.” King did a somersault pescado. King won clean with the Royal Flush, a fireman’s carry dropped into a uranage. **

3. Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero beat Mistico & Titan in 11:35. The crowd reacted like they didn’t know these guys, but Guerrero’s charisma did get it over as did the cool moves. The first big spot was Titan doing a running flip dive, and Guerrero catching him on the floor and giving him a power bomb. Guerrero then led the fans in pounding on the guard rails. People went nuts for that. But then they got quiet again. Guerrero did his senton de la muerte and the fans chanted “One more time.” The announcers questioned if he knew English, but Guerrero then did it one more time. The most spectacular move was Mistico coming off the top rope to the floor with a huracanrana on Guerrero. Titan did a top rope Asai moonsault. Mistico did a moonsault off the middle rope to the floor. Guerrero pinned Mistico to win with the reverse superplex, the Guerrero special. ***½

4. Jay Lethal pinned Josh Bodom in 9:17. Bodom did a lot of cool stuff early including a great reverse huracanrana, a tope, a middle rope moonsault to the floor and a standing shooting star press. Lethal used the Savage elbow and then the figure four in a two tribute spot. Silas Young came out for the finish. Lethal won with the lethal injection. Good stuff but not much heat. Young beat Lethal down after the match. ***

5. Bully Ray & Mark & Jay Briscoe beat Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Bushi in 13:37. LIJ was really over on the entire tour, particularly Naito coming off his G-1 win. Bully played big guy not selling for Bushi. He tore Bushi’s shirt off and would chop him hard. Naito got a big pop coming in when Bully challenged him. LIJ teased the wazzup spot on Bully, but Bushi jumped off the top, landed on his feet and kicked Bully in the groin. Bushi blew mist in Evil’s eyes, Mark hit a plancha on Naito and then Bully pinned Bushi after a 3-D. Post-match saw Naito spit on Bully. Bully did the tranquillo pose on the ground and Naito did it right next to him. Fans were chanting for Naito when this was over. ***1/4

6. Mark Haskins pinned Silas Young in 10:03. Haskins looked good here. Haskins hit a tope and a running bicycle kick. When he tried another one, Young caught him and power bombed him on the apron. Haskins did a bridging Fujiwara armbar. Haskins did other submissions including a sharpshooter. Lethal came out and Haskins got a near fall off the distraction. But Haskins got the win with a falcon arrow. Lethal and Young brawled on the stage after this was over. ***

7. Kushida retained the TV title in a four-way over Dalton Castle, Hiromu Takahashi and Marty Scurll in 11:22. Takahashi walked around the ring with Darryl giving fans paw bumps. Darryl had a band-aid on his neck to sell the effects of the Meltzer driver on the house show the night before, which means he’s got a better sense of selling for one spot on a house show than Brock Lesnar had for a stretcher job the night before on the third biggest show of the year. Takahashi and Scurll were the most popular with lots of Darryl chants. Then they brought Darryl out to do commentary with the headsets on. The announcers pretended they were having conversations with a stuffed animal. The action was real good but it was short for a four-way with so much talent. Takahashi tried a dropkick off the apron to the floor but Kushida caught him in an armbar. Takahashi gave Kushida a belly-to-belly into the corner. Takahashi tried his running sunset flip power bomb to the floor spot on Castle. Castle held on but Scurll went after his fingers to break the grip and when he lost balance, the Boys blocked his fall too save him. Kushida did a running flop dive on everyone. All kinds of big moves and near falls with Takahashi hitting everyone with huracanranas. Castle hit the bangarang on Takahashi but Page ran out to cause a distraction. Scurll hit Castle with his umbrella and Kushida then hit back to the future on Scurll for the pin. ***½

8. Young Bucks beat Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian to retain the ROH tag titles in 13:40. This was the hottest match as far as crowd reaction. Daniels & Kazarian worked as heels getting heat by first beating down Nick then Matt. Daniels went for his BME, but Matt got his knees up. Matt tried the sharpshooter on Daniels. Daniels gave Matt a huracanrana into Nick’s kick. Daniels tried the Angel’s wings but Matt turned it into a huracanrana, and then hit a superkick. There was a double sharpshooter spot by the Bucks, but Daniels & Kazarian both escaped. Matt was bleeding. Daniels hit the BME on Matt but Nick came off the top with a swanton on both. Matt kicked out of Celebrity Rehab. Daniels was yelling at the ref. Daniels & Kazarian set up the Best Meltzer ever on Matt, but Nick knocked Daniels off the top rope and Matt got Daniels up for the tombstone and they did the Meltzer driver for the pin. ***3/4

9. Cody pinned Seiya Sanada in 19:51 to retain the ROH title. The crowd was at first split, and then started cheering for Sanada. This was a very TNA Jeff Jarrett style title match. Cody didn’t lock up for two minutes. He tried to walk out, but Naito blocked his exit. At one point Cody hid behind announcer Ian Riccobani. At another point, Sanada knocked Cody off the apron and he flew into Riccobani, knocking him over his chair. Sanada did his double leapfrog dropkick spot. Sanada also used the paradise lock. Cody missed a moonsault and Sanada used la magistral for a near fall. One issue with this match is it was clear nobody ever believed Sanada was winning the title. There was ref bump and Sanada used Rhodes own crossroads on him but no ref. Cody came back with the leBell lock, but Sanada made the ropes. Then Cody led a “Yes” chant. Cody started yelling about Bryan Danielson. Sanada power bombed Cody off the top rope. There were several reversals until Cody hit crossroads and got the pin. Post-match, Cody said that he didn’t have a good time here, like he would in Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Toronto or Dublin, and said the building was sweathogs overload and the city was too dirty and too poor. Castle came out and said that if Cody didn’t like these people, he loved these people. ***1/4


DDT on 8/20 ran its biggest event of the year, the annual Peter Pan show at Sumo Hall in Tokyo.

In past years, the company would bring in one of the top names from New Japan, and both Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi have headlined the show in recent years, and a couple of times they’ve even sold the building out. They’d also have name stars on the undercard. This year it was almost entirely company regulars, as the foreigners, Joey Ryan and Mike Bailey, are regulars. The only outsider was Naomichi Marufuji, who teamed with Harashima to win their tag team titles.

This year’s show did 5,900 fans, which was up from last year, but since the August Peter Pan show at Sumo Hall became an annual tradition in 2013, this was the second lowest crowd, only beating the 5,394 that last year’s show did. While not unique for some companies in Japan, DDT’s audience for this show was described as almost exactly 50/50 men and women.

As far as the show itself went, I was told that the main event, where champion Konosuke Takeshita retained his KO-D Open Weight title over King of DDT tournament winner Tetsuya Endo would have been ****½ on the G-1 scale, but that the overall show was a letdown and it’s the only thing worth going out of your way to see. DDT is most a comedy oriented promotion and is completely different not only from any Japanese promotion of a high profile (it has some sister groups it works with that use its talent and have similarities, but it is nothing like All Japan, New Japan, NOAH, Dragon Gate, the women’s groups, Zero-One or pretty much any of the other companies). Still, Takeshita, its top star, may be the best young wrestler in Japan, and perhaps he’s the best 22-year-old wrestler in the world today, and if not, he’s got to be close to it. If he was in another promotion people would be raving about him as being the guy who would be the next Okada, as he’s better than Okada was at the same age.

They announced a big show on 10/22 with Ultimo Dragon, Suwama, Hideki Suzuki and Abdullah Kobayashi.

1. Gota Ihashi had five or six quick comedy street fights, finishing by beating Dai Suzuki in a match for what was billed as the King of Dark match title, which meant Suzuki, by losing in 36 seconds, was the new champion.

2. Mizuki Watase & Rekka & Diego & Daiki Shimomura beat Tomomitsu Matsunaga & Hoshitango & Masato Kamino & Nobuhiro Shimatami in 6:23 when Watase pinned Kamino.

3. Yuu won a Battle Royal for their gimmick comedy Iron Man title that changes hands constantly. For those keeping track, and they do in Japan, Yuu becomes the 1,267th champion, which includes men, women, American wrestling legends and a number of inanimate objects.

4. Yuki Ueno & Naomi Yoshimura beat Kouki Iwasaki & Yuki Iino in 10:49 when Yoshimura beat Iino.

5. In a match to determine the first KO-D ten person tag team championship, a team of Makoto Oishi & Super Sasadango Machine & Ken Oka & LilLi Co & Lady Beard beat Toru Owashi & Kazuki Hirata & Joey Ryan & Saki Akai & Yoshihiko. Yoshihiko is a blow up doll for those keeping score.

6. Jiro Kuroshio beat Shunma Katsumata in 12:00.

7. A four-way tag match saw Kotaro Suzuki & Soma Takao win over Isami Kodaka & Yuko Miyamoto, Mike Bailey & Mao and Kaz Hayashi & Keisuke Ishii .

8. Kudo & Yukio Sakaguchi (Seiji’s son) & Masahiro Takanishi retained the trios titles over Dick Togo & Yasu Urano & Antonio Honda in 13:52 when Kudo pinned Honda after a double kneedrop.

9. Danshoku Dino beat Sanshiro Takagi in a DDT 20th anniversary weapons match to win control of the company. Takagi is the president of the company in real life.

10. A weapons match with Kendo Kashin vs. Mitsuo Momota ended in a no contest. Momota, 68, is the son of Rikidozan, and they had several family members at ringside with him.

11. In a hair vs. hair match for the Extreme title, Daisuke Sasaki retained the title over Akito in 21:14 with a La Mistica using a chair.

12. Harashima & Naomichi Marufuji beat Shigehiro Irie & Kazusada Higuchi in 16:14 when Harashima pinned Irie to win the KO-D tag team titles. They were building up a Harashima & Marufuji title match next against Dino & Takagi.

13. KO-D champion Konosuke Takeshita retained his title over Tetsuya Endo in 21:02 with a cross-arm German suplex. Dino, in his new role in control of the promotion announced Takeshita would defend his title against Daisuke Sasaki and Oka on 9/24.


Don Nakaya Nielsen, a kickboxer who had the best mixed matches during a glory period of New Japan Pro Wrestling, passed away this past week at the age of 57.

A student of Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, a martial arts legend of the 70s, Nielsen was best known for his October 9, 1986, match at Sumo Hall in Tokyo against Akira Maeda, a match that was extremely famous in Japanese pro wrestling history and widely regarded as the greatest mixed match during the era where that was a New Japan staple.

Nielsen was born in Los Angeles and lived in the U.S. He was a champion kickboxer who was recommended to New Japan and agreed to put Maeda over at a time New Japan was trying to build Maeda into the top star in their company.

Nielsen passed away on 8/16 from a heart attack after complications from leg surgery. After his retirement as a fighter, he had become a trainer in Thailand where he had lived for more tan 20 years.

Maeda, a former karate star, who was of Korean ancestry, which was kept quiet at the time due to the racism in Japan, was large for a Japanese athlete at 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds. He was recruited into pro wrestling in 1978. Immediately, the promotion thought they had a future superstar given his size, look and athletic ability and he was groomed by booker Hisashi Shinma to become the next top star of the promotion after Antonio Inoki’s day would be over. The situation was notable because for years, Inoki’s No. 2 guy was Tatsumi Fujinami, one of the best in-ring workers of the era, but Maeda, who wasn’t the in-ring talent of Fujinami, but with his karate background and size, was more believable as a fighter, which was a key in a business built on a different type of reality. So the people in charge were grooming him for the top role.

In 1984, Shinma was kicked out of New Japan in an embezzlement case involving Inoki as well. Shinma set up the UWF, a new promotion where Maeda would be the top star, and where Inoki promised to jump, and with those two, the feeling was they would take the place of New Japan, similar to how All Japan took the spot of the old Japan Pro Wrestling company in 1972.

Before the promotion started, Shinma, who was the figurehead president of the WWF, set Maeda up on a WWF tour. It didn’t do well as even though he had already been a top star in Japan and at the time held the WWF International title. He was used mostly in a jobber capacity, and he grew to hate overly theatrical American Style wrestling, and in doing so, had a mentality that pro wrestling should look real enough to fool the public and that they should emphasize we are real and thus, everyone else doing pro wrestling was fake. A lot of the fan base embraced his mentality and he became a major star and his booking philosophy of no gimmick finishes and all clean winners and losers of big matches, as well as a heavy emphasis on kicks, suplexes and submissions, changed Japanese wrestling.

The UWF, after a few months of not doing well business wise doing what was similar to the major promotions in Japan, changed their philosophy based on the thoughts of Maeda, and his trainer, Karl Gotch, and went to the realistic look. While Gotch loved much of the direction, he didn’t like the karate influence and the kicks, which got over to the public in that era more than the submissions.

The new style became called UWF style, and had a lot of popularity in Japan from 1984 until the late 90s, when the popularity of MMA, actual real fighting, made that style obsolete, although a lot of current pro wrestlers use that style within pro wrestling, most notably people like Minoru Suzuki, Katsuyori Shibata and Kyle O’Reilly.

Some of the older wrestlers thought they would flop, but they became extremely hot in Tokyo, where they’d always sell out. But they didn’t do as well outside of Tokyo.

The first UWF folded at the end of 1985, leaving Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Osamu Kido and Kazuo Yamazaki to return to New Japan.

Things were very different at this point. Maeda was 28 and Inoki was 43. Fans clamored for an Inoki vs. Maeda match, but it fell apart because neither would lose to the other, and really, neither wanted to even sell for extended periods against the other. A lot of fans were behind Maeda, even though Inoki was very much a legend, particularly younger fans who perceived Maeda as being a real shooter, the exact thing that got Inoki over as a legend and saw him pass Giant Baba by in popularity, and in that era in Japan, being a shooter was considered cool.

This accentuated after the Nielsen match.

At Sumo Hall that night, the show was promoted around a double main event, Inoki would face former world heavyweight boxing champion Leon Spinks, while Maeda would face Nielsen, who was billed as the WKA world cruiserweight kickboxing champion. Ticket prices were jacked up and the show sold out and aired live on TV-Asahi.

Maeda and Nielsen had a very realistic looking match with great intensity, something that no other non-pro wrestler was able to pull off to anywhere near that level. Nielsen nailed Maeda with a number of hard shots standing, in a worked match. Maeda came back to win in dramatic fashion with only 34 seconds left in the fifth and final round, using a half Boston crab.

Inoki and Spinks then stunk out the joint. Inoki won, but it looked completely unbelievable. Spinks didn’t go up well for the back suplex finisher, and Spinks was up after the pin before Inoki was, basically exposing the move, a key spot in Japanese pro wrestling dating back to it being Lou Thesz’s finishing move, didn’t hurt him.

At that point, a lot of public sentiment was that Maeda should replace Inoki as the top guy. Inoki was still the bigger drawing card, particularly on television. Maeda vs. Nielsen did just over 20 million viewers, but the Inoki vs. Spinks bout that followed topped 30 million. It was New Japan’s most successful television show since the Ali vs. Inoki match in 1976.

But people believed Maeda won an exciting real fight, and that Inoki didn’t look good in a very questionable looking fight.

As it turned out, Maeda was gone from New Japan by the end of 1987, after an unprofessional intentional hard kick to the eye, breaking the orbital bone of Riki Choshu, another of the company’s biggest stars, who was defenseless as he had a scorpion deathlock on Osamu Kido, Maeda’s partner in a trios match on that show at Korakuen Hall. Maeda was frustrated, since Korakuen Hall was considered UWF home territory and it was where his most ardent fans were, and on a show in that building, he was booked to go to a double count out with Kerry Von Erich, a big American star, but who Maeda’s fan base considered a phony pro wrestler, and many fans had stormed out of the building thinking Maeda did a gimmicked finish because he was told to and was no longer refusing to cooperate with pro wrestling gimmickry, the idea of which is what got him over. He was frustrated and did something to make him real in front of his fan base. New Japan fired him for it, and he got backing to form the second UWF, and it was that promotion that really changed the industry. The UWF, without television was selling tickets out on the first day they would go on sale. They were also the first promotion to legitimately sell out the Tokyo Dome.

Maeda became a legend from that point on, in the second UWF and later RINGS, where his combination work and shoot promotion introduced Japan to the likes of Dan Henderson, Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as fighters and Volk Han as a pro wrestler. Maeda ended his career with a landmark pro wrestling match against three-time Olympic gold medalist Alexander Karelin.

But to most, the Nielsen match was the one that was his most famous encounter and his highest profile win, even more than wins over the biggest name pro wrestlers and stars from other sports including European judo champion Willie Wilhelm at the Tokyo Dome.

Nielsen was brought back to New Japan several times, and his fame from the Maeda match also led to him having major kickboxing matches before the K-1 era with the likes of Masaaki Satake and Rob Kaman.

As far as pro wrestling went, while the Maeda match was the most famous, Nielsen had two other matches every bit as exciting, although not as well remembered.

The first, a May 8, 1988 match with Keiichi Yamada, before Yamada became Jushin Liger, and a brutal July 29, 1988, match with Fujiwara. Even though he beat Yamada, this was the match that really showed Japanese fans that Yamada was going to be a future star because of how the crowd got behind him, and also, his ability to make such a match look real. Fujiwara, the veteran shooter and top student of Karl Gotch, put Nielsen over as well.

His win over Fujiwara was a surprise, and he was likely being groomed to put somebody over. Maeda was gone from the promotion in 1988 and the top star was Fujinami, but Nielsen and Fujinami never met. And for whatever reason, New Japan didn’t bring Nielsen back to put over another of their stars.

Nielsen, off the game from the Maeda match, was booked often in high profile kickboxing matches in Japan. His matches drew well with pro wrestling fans. In 1989 he lost via sixth round knockout in a match for the WKA heavyweight title against Kevin Rosier, who later competed in the first UFC tournament in 1993. Satake beating him in 1990 via first round knockout established Satake as a star in Japan.

While most, because of how solid the work was, believe Nielsen’s mixed matches in New Japan were real, he actually only had one real pro wrestling match.

On October 4, 1992, before 25,000 fans (announced at 40,800) as part of a Tokyo Dome show that featured Masakatsu Funaki vs. Maurice Smith in a pro wrestler vs. kickboxer match (they went to a draw) and Minoru Suzuki vs. David Gobejishvili, who had won the gold medal in the 1988 Olympics in wrestling in the 286 pound weight class beating Bruce Baumgartner (Suzuki won the worked match via submission with an armbar). Nielsen had a legit shoot match with Ken Shamrock, who defeated him by taking him down and putting him in an armbar in 45 seconds. While not listed as a real match in Shamrock’s MMA record since it took place on a pro wrestling show, this was actually Shamrock’s first legitimate in-ring fight

Nielsen later did some martial arts movies. In 1994, Maeda made contact with him to build for a rematch in RINGS, and Nielsen was twice billed to appear on shows where he was going to get wins to start the build for the rematch, but in both cases, he canceled with the story being he had suffered an injury in training.

To show how well fans remembered that match as part of Maeda’s career, when Maeda did his retirement match on July 20, 1998 at the Yokohama Arena (Maeda came out of retirement once for the Karelin bout), a number of celebrities were brought in for the show, and Nielsen’s reaction was as big as anyone’s including Inoki, Nobuhiko Takada and Genichiro Tenryu.


The post-SummerSlam bump continued for Smackdown on 8/22, as the show did 2,685,000 viewers, up six percent from the prior week and again showing interest in the product is overall up. It was Smackdown’s sixth highest audience of the year and the largest since the Superstar shakeup show on 4/11.

Smackdown was sixth for the night on cable, trailing only news shows.

The show did a 0.63 in 12-17 (up 10.5 percent from last week), 0.69 in 18-34 (up 19.0 percent), 1.05 in 35-49 (up 9.4 percent) and 1.12 in 50+ (up 7.7 percent).

The audience was 60.0 percent males in 18-49 and 58.2 percent males in 12-17.

Raw on 8/21, coming the day after SummerSlam, did a 2.28 rating and 3,393,000 viewers (1.62 viewers per home) , the best number for the show since 4/10 (which did 3,422,000 viewers) and the fourth best number of the year. The show trailed only the day after the Royal Rumble, the day after WrestleMania and the Superstar shake up on 4/10.

More impressively, last year’s day after SummerSlam show did 3,302,000 viewers, which means Raw beat the number of the same week from the prior year, which has been a rarity in a year where it’s been common to have double digit declines.

The reality is simple, and that is there is more interest in the storylines and top stars at this time now than there was at SummerSlam period last year. It’s the fourth straight week of Raw doing its best numbers since April.

The rating was up seven percent from last week and the total audience was up five percent.

Even more impressive, is this number was reached going against the first NFL preseason game (which did 3,574,000 viewers) and the Presidential address (which did 5,113,000 viewers on Fox News, 2,390,000 viewers on CNN and 2,649,000 viewers on MSNBC). Raw ended up fifth for the night on cable. In an interesting trivia note, in the 10:30 p.m to 11 p.m. time slot, Raw beat all four networks and trailed only the NFL game on ESPN.

The bad news was a huge second to third hour drop of 10.2 percent. But that was from a well above average second hour. Even though it’s a lock that Raw will be losing a good percentage of viewers when the NFL regular season starts on 9/11, perhaps the company has enough momentum right now that the decline won’t be nearly as significant.

The first hour did 3,416,000 viewers. The second hour did 3,581,000 viewers. The third hour did 3,216,000 viewers.

The show did a 0.93 in 12-17 (up 19.2 percent from the prior week), 0.99 in 18-34 (up 5.1 percent), 1.31 in 35-49 (down 2.2 percent) and 1.30 in 50+ (up 4.0 percent).

The audience was 60.9 percent male in 18-49 and 64.5 percent male in 12-17. The male audience in 12-17 grew up 40.1 percent over the previous week so that’s where the new audience came from. Males didn’t grow across the board at anywhere near that level as in 18-34 they grew 3.9 percent and in 35-49 they were down 3.5 percent.

As far as a comparison with what the show did one year ago, the day after SummerSlam, 12-17 is still down 6.1 percent, 18-34 was the same, 35-49 was down 13.2 percent and 50+ was up 8.3 percent.

Ballers on 8/20 did 2,356,000 viewers, down five percent from the prior week. Its lead-in, Game of Thrones did 10,236,000 viewers, down four percent from the prior week.

The Destination X episode of Impact on 8/17 for the almost live show was up 16 percent from the prior week to 320,000 viewers.

Lucha Underground on 8/16 did 85,000 viewers for the 8 p.m. show and 35,000 for the 9 p.m. show. The 110,000 total viewers was down 31 percent from the previous week. The who featured an awesome Prince Puma vs. Fenix match. It will be interesting this coming week to see if this is just an aberration, of if it’s more than that. As noted, there are people who believe because the shows airing in the U.S. are behind Canada, and thus are apparently not hard to find on the Internet prior to the U.S. debut, that it could make a major difference in ratings since this show draws such a small cult audience. That has changed as TLN in Canada hasn’t shown new episodes so they are going to wait for the El Rey shows to air and then air their shows.


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RESULTS

 

8/6 Monterrey (The Crash): Black Impulso b Thunder, Bestia II & Guerrero Vida b Chocolate & Larry Miranda Jr., Damian 666 & El Hijo del Espectro b Genocida & Psicotico, Bestia 666 & Black Taurus b Delta & Jack Evans, Cruiserweight title: Rey Fenix won title over champion Rey Horus, Sammy Guevara and Ultimo Ninja, Daga b Garza Jr.

8/10 Saga (All Japan - 515 sellout): Atsushi Maruyama b Yusuke Okada, Atsushi Aoki b Black Tiger VII, Zeus & The Bodyguard & Ultimo Dragon b Tajiri & Minoru Tanaka & Yohei Nakajima, Suwama b Yuma Aoyagi, Jun Akiyama & Ryoji Sai & Masakado b Takao Omori & Hikaru Sato & Koji Iwamoto, Kento Miyahara & Kai & Naoya Nomura b Shuji Ishikawa & Massimo & Danny Jones.

8/11 Fukuoka (All Japan - 586): Yuma Aoyagi & Atsushi Maruyama & Naoki Sakurajima b Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato & Yusuke Okada, Tajiri b Koji Iwamoto, Ultimo Dragon & Masakado & Carbell Ito b Yohei Nakajima & King & Koji Shimizumi, Naoya Nomura & Kai b Massimo & Danny Jones, TV title: Jun Akiyama b Takao Omori, Kento Miyahara & Zeus & The Bodyguard b Shuji Ishikawa & Suwama & Ryoji Sai.

8/11 Nagoya (Dragon Gate - 1,150): Shun Skywalker & Yuki Yoshioka b Katsumi Takashima & Hyo Watanabe, Ryo Saito & Genki Horiguchi b Takehiro Yamamura & Kaito Ishida, Lindaman b Jimmy Kanda, Big R Shimizu & Ben K b Masaaki Mochizuki & Don Fujii, Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida b BxB Hulk & Kzy & U-T, Yamato & Yosuke Santa Maria b Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kagetora, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Kotoka b Cima & Dragon Kid & Eita.

8/12 Philadelphia 2300 Arena (House of Hardcore - 900): Lance Anoa’i b Vik Dalishus, Nick Aldis b Bull James, Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson & Bully Ray b Sprit Squad, Joey Mercury b Tommy Dreamer, MVP b Rhett Titus, Petey Williams won four-way over Alex Reynolds, Anthony Blitz and Bobby Fish, Matt Striker NC Dan Barry, Jeff Cobb b Sami Callihan.

8/12 Iwakuni (All Japan - 450 sellout): Atsushi Maruyama b Yusuke Okada, Atsushi Aoki b Rey Paloma, Ultimo Dragon & Heat & Shirohebvi-oh b Tajiri & Hikaru Sato & Yohei Nakajima, Koji Iwamoto & Yuma Aoyagi b Massimo & Danny Jones, Shuji Ishikawa & Ryoji Sai b Zeus & The Bodyguard, Kento Miyahara & Kai & Naoya Nomura b Jun Akiyama & Suwama & Takao Omori.

8/12 Yokohama (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 319 sellout): Hitoshi Kumano b Jyunta Miyawaki, Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue b Yoshinari Ogawa & Ashley Istria, Masa Kitamiya b Cody Hall, Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm b Kenou & Daisuke Ikeda, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 b Tadasuke & Yo-Hey & Hayata, Naomichi Marufuji won four-way over Maybach Taniguchi, Go Shiozaki and Atsushi Kotoge, Daisuke Harada b Hajime Ohara.

8/12 Himeji (Dragon Gate - 700 sellout): Shun Skywalker b Hyo Watanabe, Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Susumu b Masaaki Mochizuki & Shachihoko Boy, T-Hawk b Kaito Ishida, Shingo Takagi & Lindaman b Naruki Doi & Ben K, Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu b Jimmy Kagetora & Ryo Saito, Cima & Dragon Kid & Takehiro Yamamura & Eita b Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy & Yosuke Santa Maria.

8/16 Toyohashi (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 205): Daisuke Harada b Jyunta Miyawaki, Hajime Ohara & Yoshinari Ogawa b Seiya Morohashi & MasaO Inoue, Cody Hall & Kazma Sakamoto b Akitoshi Saito & Hitoshi Kumano, Masa Kitamiya b Leona, Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi b Kenou & Daisuke Ikeda, Hi69 won three-way over Hayata and Yo-Hey, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Quiet Storm & Mohammed Yone b Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge & Tadasuke.

8/17 Orlando (GFW TV tapings): Knockouts title: Sienna b Gail Kim, X Cup finals: Dezmond Xavier b Taiji Ishimori, Ladder match for X title: Sonjay Dutt b Trevor Lee, Dave & Jake Crist b Jason Cade & Zachary Wentz, Matt Sydal b Bobby Lashley, Dave & Jake Crist b Elliott Russell & Sigmon, Eli Drake won gauntlet Rumble to win GFW title.

8/17 London York Hall (Revolution Pro - 1,200 sellout): Martin Stone b Eddie Dennis, Street fight: Bully Ray b Sha Samuels, Zack Gibson b Dalton Castle, Mark & Jay Briscoe b Ryan Smile & Shane Strickland, Jay White b Travis Banks, British cruiserweight title: Josh Bodom b Jushin Liger, British heavyweight title: Zack Sabre Jr. b Chris Brookes, Marty Scurll b Rey Mysterio Jr.

8/17 Osaka (Dragon Gate - 550): Punch Tominaga b Katsumi Takashima, T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida b Don Fujii & Yuki Yoshioka, Shingo Takagi b Ben K, BxB Hulk & Yosuke Santa Maria b Jimmy Kagetora & Jimmy K-Ness, Yamato & Kzy b Jimmy Susumu & Ryo Saito, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu & Kotoka b Dragon Kid & Eita & Takehiro Yamamura & Kaito Ishida.

8/17 Toyonaka (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 220): Masao Inoue b Jyunta Miyawaki, Yo-Hey b Ashley Istria, Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano b Yoshinari Ogawa & Seiya Morohashi, Masa Kitamiya & Akitoshi Saito b Cody Hall & Kazma Sakamoto, Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm b Kenou & Daisuke Ikeda, Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke b Katsuhiko Nakajima & Leona, Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge & Hayata b Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi & Hi69.

8/18 Orlando (GFW TV tapings): Grand championship: Ethan Carter III b El Hijo del Fantasma, Dave & Jake Crist b Fallah Bah & Mario Bokara, Petey Williams b Caleb Konley, Kongo Kong b ?, Low Ki b James Storm, Eli Drake & Chris Adonis b Eddie Edwards & Johnny Impact, Petey Williams & Sonjay Dutt b Trevor Lee & Caleb Konley, Sienna & Tarryn Terrell b Gail Kim & Allie, Pagano & El Hijo del Fantasma b Eddie Edwards & Ethan Carter III, GFW title: Eli Drake b Matt Sydal.

8/18 London York Hall (ROH - 1,000): Mark Briscoe b Ryan Smile, Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian b Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero, Jay Briscoe b Kenny King, Bully Ray won four-way over Jay Lethal, Silas Young and Sha Samuels, Six-man titles: Dalton Castle & The Boys b Jushin Liger & Mistico & Delirious, TV title: Kenny King b Titan, Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Cody & Young Bucks & Hangman Page & Marty Scurll.

8/18 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 7,000): Astral & Robin b Cholo & Espiritu Negro, Esfinge & Fuego & Stigma b Cancerbero & Raziel & Universo 2000 Jr., Marcela & Princesa Sugehit & Sanely b Metalica & Tiffany & Zeuxis, Stuka Jr. b Dragon Rojo Jr., Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & Soberano Jr. b Mephisto & Gran Guerrero & Ephesto, Juice Robinson & Marco Corleone & Matt Taven b Diamante Azul & Volador Jr.

8/19 Orlando (GFW TV tapings): Falls count anywhere for X title: Trevor Lee b Sonjay Dutt, Johnny Impact b KM, Taya b Ava Stone, Kongo Kong b Mahabali Shera, El Hijo del Fantasma & El Texano Jr. b Ethan Carter III & James Storm, Pagano b ?, X title: Trevor Lee b Petey Williams, Taya b Amber Nova, Johnny Impact b Low Ki.

8/19 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (All Japan Lucha Fiesta - 1,245): Koji Iwamoto b Yusuke Okada, Masa Fuchi & Alexander Otsuka b Minoru Tanaka & Atsushi Maruyama, Saori Anno & Natsumi Manki b Kysei Mongul & Mongul Gundan, Tajiri won Battle Royal, Kai & Naoya Nomura b Kento Miyahara & Yuma Aoyagi, Ultimo Dragon & Jun Akiyama & Caristico b Sam Adonis & Joe Doering & Diamante.

8/19 Hiroshima (Dragon Gate - 600): U-T b Katsumi Takashima, Masaaki Mochizuki & Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito b Shingo Takagi & Takashi Yoshida & Punch Tominaga, Dragon Kid & Gamma b Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy K-Ness, Jimmy Kagetora b Shachihoko Boy, Cima & Eita b T-Hawk & Lindaman, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu b Yamato & BxB Hulk & Yosuke Santa Maria.

8/20 Orlando (GFW TV tapings): Dezmond Xavier won six-way over Trevor Lee, Matt Sydal, Garza Jr., Sonjay Dutt and Petey Williams, Johnny Impact b El Texano Jr., Tag titles: Dave & Jake Crist b Ortiz & Santana to win titles, Petey Williams & Matt Sydal & Sonjay Dutt b Trevor Lee & Andrew Everett & Caleb Konley, Non-title: Dave & Jake Crist b Jon Bolen & Trey Miguel, James Storm & Dezmond Xavier & Allie b Andrew Everett & El Texano Jr. & Sienna, Sienna & Taryn Terrell & Taya b Rosemary & Gail Kim & Allie, GFW title: Eli Drake b Johnny Impact.

8/20 Edinburgh, Scotland (ROH - 900 sellout): Kenny King won three-way over Josh Bodom and Colt Cabana, Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero b Mark & Jay Briscoe, Bully Ray b Evil-DQ, Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Bushi b Kushida & Mistico & Titan, Hiromu Takahashi b Mark Haskins, Six-man titles: Young Bucks & Hangman Page b Dalton Castle & The Boys to win titles, Cody & Marty Scurll b Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian, Street fight: Silas Young b Jay Lethal.

8/20 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Fantasy & Ultimo Dragoncito b Pequeno Olimpico & Pequeno Violencia, Pegasso & Star Jr. & Starman b El Hijo del Signo & Inquisidor & Sangre Azteca, Angel de Oro & Guerrero Maya Jr. & Stuka Jr. b Cuatrero & Forastero & Sanson, Dragon Lee & Juice Robinson & Rush b Polvora & El Terrible & Vangellys, Diamante Azul & Matt Taven & Volador Jr. b Euforia & Mephisto & Negro Casas-DQ.

8/20 Fukuoka (Dragon Gate - 1,300 sellout): Jimmy Kanda & Jimmy Kagetora & Yuki Yoshioka b Don Fujii & U-T & Hyo Watanabe, Yosuke Santa Maria b Punch Tominaga, Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito b Gamma & Kaito Ishida, Masaaki Mochizuki & Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy K-Ness b Big R Shimizu & Ben K & Kotoka, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino b Yamato & BxB Hulk, Cima & Dragon Kid & Eita & Takehiro Yamamura b Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman.

8/20 Okazaki (All Japan - 502 sellout): Minoru Tanaka & Atsushi Maruyama b Yusuke Okada & Fuminori Abe, Takao Omori b Michio Kageyama, Kai & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Zeus & The Bodyguard & Yutaka Yoshie, Suwama & Atsushi Aoki b Koji Iwamoto & Yohei Nakajima, Joe Doering & Sam Adonis b Massimo & Danny Jones, Jun Akiyama & Caristico & Kento Miyahara & Ultimo Dragon b Shuji Ishikawa & Tajiri & Diamante & Black Tiger VII.

8/21 Brooklyn Barclays Center (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 12,100): Heath Slater b Curtis Axel, Brian Kendrick b Lince Dorado, Street fight: Enzo Amore b Big Cass, Nia Jax b Emma, Elias b R-Truth, Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali & Rich Swann & Gran Metalik b Drew Gulak & Ariya Daivari & Tony Nese & Noam Dar, Non-title: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins b Matt & Jeff Hardy, Finn Balor b Jason Jordan, Roman Reigns & John Cena b Samoa Joe & The Miz.

8/21 Albany, NY (WWE Smackdown - 2,300): Three-way for tag titles: Usos won over Tyler Breeze & Fandango and Big E & Kofi Kingston, Tye Dillinger & Luke Harper b Aiden English & Erick Rowan, Dolph Ziggler b Sin Cara, A.J. Styles & Sami Zayn b Kevin Owens & Rusev, 2 vs. 3: Naomi & Becky Lynch b Carmella & Tamina & Natalya, Shinsuke Nakamura b Baron Corbin, Last man standing for WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Randy Orton.

8/21 Aomori (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 201): Kenou b Jyunta Miyawaki, Hajime Ohara & Seiya Morohashi b Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue, Cody Hall & Kazma Sakamoto b Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke, Masa Kitamiya & Akitoshi Saito b Hitoshi Kumano & Quiet Storm, Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge b Mohammed Yone & Naomichi Marufuji, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 b Naomichi Marufuji & Hayata & Yo-Hey.

8/22 Brooklyn Barclays Center (WWE Smackdown/205 Live TV tapings - 11,500): Tyler Breeze & Fandango b The Ascension, Bobby Roode b Aiden English, Non-title: Usos b Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder, Handicap match: Shinsuke Nakamura & Samir & Samil Singh, Becky Lynch & Naomi b Natalya & Carmella, U.S. title/Baron Corbin referee: A.J. Styles b Kevin Owens, Cedric Alexander & Gran Metalik b Tony Nese & Drew Gulak, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, WWE title: Randy Orton b Jinder Mahal-DQ.

8/22 Orlando (GFW Impact TV tapings): James Storm b Chris Adonis, Rosemary b Ava Storie, Mahabali Shera b Caleb Konley, Moose b Bobby Lashley, Johnny Impact & Garza Jr. b Chris Adonis & Eli Drake, Ethan Carter III b Suicide, Non-title: Mahabali Shera b Trevor Lee, Taya b Rosemary, Johnny Impact & Dave & Jake Crist b Eli Drake & Ortiz & Santana.

8/22 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Apocalipsis & Cholo b Bengala & Sensei, Cancerbero & Raziel & Sangre Azteca b Oro Jr. & Principe Diamante & Starman, Puma & Tiger & Virus b Drone & Fuego & Stigma, Blue Panther Jr & Stuka Jr. & The Panther b Cuatrero & Forastero & Sanson, Angel de Oro & Titan & Valiente b Felino & Mr. Niebla & Negro Casas, Ultimo Guerrero b Mistico.

8/22 Akita (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 143): Go & Amigo Suzuki b Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Shimizu Mototsuga, Tadasuke b Ashley Istria, Kenou b Jyunta Miyawaki, Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano b Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue, Daisuke Harada & Yo-Hey b Hi69 & Seiya Morohashi, Maybach Taniguchi & Akitoshi Saito b Cody Hall & Kazma Sakamoto, Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm b Go Shiozaki & Masa Kitamiya, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Atsushi Kotoge & Taiji Ishimori b Eddie Edwards & Naomichi Marufuji & Hayata.

CMLL: Niebla Roja, who headlines this year’s anniversary show on 9/16 at Arena Mexico, said that after he takes the mask of Gran Guerrero, he’s going after both Ultimo Guerrero and Euforia. In an interesting note, Roja said that he brought up that his match is unpopular on social media as an Anniversary show main event, but said that people are still going to come. That’s probably the case because business is strong right now. As far as we know, the Princesa Sugehit vs. Zeuxis mask vs. mask match on the show if the first time in Anniversary show history that there has been a women’s stipulation match. There have only been two women’s championship matches ever on Anniversary shows.

The plan for the 9/1 World Grand Prix is for it to air as an iPPV for about $6 and the Anniversary show will also be an iPPV, for $9.

Anniversary tickets went on sale early. The original idea was to put them on sale on 9/2, after the World Grand Prix. The lower deck prices range from $20 to $133, which is higher than last year’s show when they did with the Dragon Lee vs. La Mascara mask vs. mask match, which I saw as a much bigger attraction than what they have this year. They aren’t putting the upper deck for sale yet but rumor has it the prices will be low for the upper deck as they want to fill the place. The feeling is this will be a very profitable show because the payoff for the loser of the women’s mask match and the Niebla vs. Gran Guerrero loser won’t be nearly as high as some of the main event payoffs they’ve had in other years.

The 8/18 Arena Mexico show was just building the angles for the two big shows. They drew 7,000 fans, which is really good because a show like this would have done 4,000 fans only a few months ago. The main event saw six of the World Cup participants battle in a trios match as Juice Robinson & Marco Corleone & Matt Taven beat Diamante Azul & Valiante & Volador Jr. in the main event. The match was said to be not so good. Robinson seemed lost at times and nearly rolled his ankle landing on a monkey flip spot. He seemed unhappy but the reports were that his subsequent matches were better. The crowd cheered the Mexicans as you’d expect, and booed when Corleone got the pin, even though on almost any other night, they cheer him like you wouldn’t believe. Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & Soberano Jr. beat Ephesto & Gran Guerrero & Mephisto in two straight falls with the focus on Roja and Guerrero. This had more heat than in previous weeks and the crowd was behind Roja, which they hadn’t been so far. Ultimo Guerrero, Titan and Mistico were in the U.K. for the ROH tour and Caristico and Sam Adonis were in All Japan. They also did a women’s trios match to push Sugehit vs. Zeuxis. Both women this past week said their goal out of their mask match is to get women’s matches up to semifinals and even main events after the match they put on at the Anniversary show. The problem is that the women’s matches in Mexico are usually not very good, so it’s just overcoming long-term tradition, but it’s not like the U.S. where the caliber of women is so high that you can put the women near or at the top of a show if you’ve got the right mix. Zeuxis said that she wanted her trainer, Negro Navarro, to be her second in the match. Navarro has disappeared due to an undisclosed injury more than a month ago..

The 8/20 show saw Robinson team with Dragon Lee & Rush to beat Polvora & Terrible & Vangellys. Taven & Diamante Azul & Volador Jr. wrestled Negro Casas & Mephisto & Euforia where Euforia fouled Taven for the DQ, to set up a Taven vs. Euforia singles match on 8/27. Azul & Taven & Volador had trouble getting along.

Corleone retained his CMLL heavyweight title beating Azul on 8/21 in Puebla.

Michael Elgin will be in this week. The 8/25 show is headlined by U.S. vs. Mexico with Azul & Ultimo Guerrero & Volador vs. Robinson & Elgin & Taven, plus Dragon Lee & Mistico & Niebla Roja vs. Gran Guerrero & shocker & Terrible, and Soberano Jr. vs. Cavernario.

Robinson has a singles match with Shocker on 8/26 at Arena Coliseo. This won’t be good at all unless Robinson can perform a miracle.

Ultimo Guerrero pinned Mistico in 2/3 falls, using the ropes in the third fall, in their return from the U.K. as the 8/22 Arena Mexico main event..

AAA: The TV plans for TripleMania are that Televisa Ch. 5, which is a network affiliate, will be airing most likely only the Psycho Clown vs. Dr. Wagner Jr. mask match main event, billed as “The Match of the Decade,” right after the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather fight on the same station. Given the lead-in, this will not only be the most-watched television match in Mexico, but it’s possible it could be more widely viewed in North America than any match this year. It is being said that the loser of the main event will get the biggest payoff in the history of Lucha Libre. Both are booked all over Mexico after the match where fans can see the loser without his mask, including some very small shows. The show will stream live on Twitch in both English and Spanish and the English version will be at Twich.tv/Luchalibreaa_En. The show is scheduled from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday.

The entire show will air on television an eight day delay in Mexico and Dorian Roldan said the show would air on Samurai in Japan (no surprise) and Univision in the U.S. (Big surprise, as Univision hasn’t aired wrestling in so long I can’t remember and getting on Univision at one point was seem as a way to have a booming U.S. promotion because the station in prime time does strong ratings.. Dorian Roldan has not announced anything about iPPV viewing, but this will not air on PPV in the U.S., and given the date, since live it goes against Mayweather vs. McGregor, it’s not like any cable provider is looking for another live show that night. What was previously billed as Copa TripleMania is now being called Torneo TripleMania 25. The difference is that it was originally going to be a Rumble style match or Battle Royal, and now will be an elimination match, and instead of being for a Cup, it’s going to be for a championship belt. It will still be 30 men, broken down into ten teams, but there will only be one individual winner when all is said and done. The teams are the Parkas, of La Parka & Bengala & Argenis; Team Relevos Increibles of Australian Suicide & Faby Apache & Pimpinela Escarlata; Team OGT of Averno & Chessman & Super Fly; Team GFW of Bobby Lashley & Moose & Jeff Jarrett; Team Guapos of Scorpio Jr. & Zumbido & Decnis (who worked for the promotion many years ago), Los Vipers of one of the many Psicosis characters (the original just had knee surgery) & Maniaco & Histeria; Los Perro Del Mal of Joe Lider & Halloween & Mr. Aguila; The Mexican Powers of Crazy Boy & Nina Hamburguesa & Lanzeloth, a Legends team of Intocable & Blue Demon Jr. & ? and an AAA Alumni team of Pirata Morgan (who has worked AAA of late) & Heavy Metal & Villano IV. Some of those names are interesting since Morgan did a video making fun of the idea he’d do the show claiming they were paying so little and Villano IV said he hadn’t come to terms to do the show. They also announced this match would be a Lumberjack match with some of the Lumberjacks being May Flowers, Picudo, Silver Cat and Ngyma. I’m not sure about Silver Cat but the other three are exoticos. They also announced that the women’s title match, originally announced as Sexy Star vs. Lady Shani, has become a four-way, although no Taya. The other two are Ayako Hamada and Rosemary from GFW. The rest of the card has Johnny Mundo defending his AAA Mega heavyweight title, his AAA cruiserweight title and his Latin American heavyweight title against El Hijo del Fantasma and El Texano Jr. in a TLC match, Pagano vs. Mesias in a street fight, Dark Cuervo & Dark Scoria defending the AAA tag titles in a four-way against Aerostar & Drago, Monsther Clown & Murder Clown and a GFW tag team, plus Mascara de Bronce & Big Mami & Dinastia & Estrella Divina vs. Hernandez & Hiedra & Mini Psycho Clown & Mamba in a man, woman, mini and exotico match. There will also be the finals of the Llave a la Gloria tournament for newcomers.

They’ve sold about 15,500 tickets of the 17,000 tickets available. I guess that’s good since Mexico is a walk-up market, but I’d have thought Wagner vs. Psycho would sell out in advance, particularly since months ago there were claims of a similar number of tickets already having been sold.

Gran Nikolai, who was a micro star of the 70s and 80s passed away on 8/19 at the age of 69. He had been in poor health for years due to complications stemming from his being a dwarf and he could no longer afford the medical care that he needed. Even after a recent benefit show, it came to a point he could no longer afford his needed medication which likely led to his death. He worked in AAA in its early days as a member of a mini version of Los Destructores and returned in 1999 when Antonio Pena was on a nostalgia kick brought him back to team with Gulliver. He at times also had worked as Andre El Enano, or Andre the Dwarf, dressed up to look like Andre the giant, but that gimmick didn’t work.

Vampiro is wrestling on a 9/7 show in Aguascalientes. Most had expected Vampiro vs. Kevin Kross at TripleMania, but we are only days away and it hasn’t been announced. Now the rumors have that match in October at the Heroes Inmortales show.

On 9/3, there is a show in Monterrey where Texano Jr. will team with the loser of the Wagner vs. Psycho match who will appear without his mask, against El Hijo del Fantasma & Pagano in the main event. The local promotion was looking this week to get posters printed which they wouldn’t release until after TripleMania, and take out newspaper ads that would run the day after TripleMania, but AAA won’t let anyone know who it will be.

Psycho Clown, Mesias (using his LU name of Mil Muertes) and Sexy Star are scheduled for the 10/9 LU show in Tokyo..

THE CRASH: The top matches for the 9/2 show in Tijuana are a three-way tag match with Carlito & Daga vs. La Mascara & Rey Escorpion vs. M-ximo & Garza Jr., Oraculo vs. Black Danger in a mask vs. mask match, a four-way for the GFW tag titles with Dave & Jake Crist defending against Santana & Ortiz of LAX, Black Boy & Arkangel Divino and El Hijo de Pirata Morgan & Ultimo Maldito in a match that will be taped for GFW television, plus Jack Evans vs. Bestia 666 and Low Ki, Laredo Kid, Dezmond Xavier (who is working the night before and the night after at Battle of Los Angeles, but has the middle night off to work here) and Desi Derata (the girlfriend of Jeff Cobb who has done some MMA and pro wrestling). Arkangel Divino and Ultimo Maldito are the two kids who were teenagers who gained fame a few years ago doing crazy Lucha spots at intersections and somebody taped them and Konnan saw them. They do all kinds of crazy spinning moves so if this match airs on Impact, they could make an impression but as far as pro wrestling goes, they are very green.

They announced a 10/9 debut in Nuevo Laredo, which is right across the U.S. border.

DRAGON GATE: All of the shows right now are based around the five faction feud with the losing group disbanding. On every show there are multiple tournament matches.

The big show of the week was 8/20 in Fukuoka before a sellout of 1,300 fans (they announced 1,800 but they are one of the few Japanese groups still inflating numbers as most are giving accurate figures these days) with a main event of Cima & Dragon Kid & Eita & Takehiro Yamamura beating Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman in the faction wars..

ALL JAPAN: Jun Akiyama did an interview with Daily Sports and said that he’d like to build the company up to return to Budokan Hall and he’d like to retire in that venue, since it was the site of most of his most famous matches. He also put over just how much more mainstream pro wrestling has gotten in Japan over the past year due to the increased New Japan popularity, and brought up that when he started, All Japan and New Japan were thought of at the same level and he’d love to bring those days back.

They are doing the Oudou tournament, which is a single elimination tournament, like their version of the New Japan Cup. It starts on 9/12 at Korakuen Hall with first round matches of Tajiri vs. Yoshitatsu of New Japan, Shuji Ishikawa vs. The Bodyguard, Zeus vs. Ryoji Sai and Kento Miyahara vs. Kai. They have another set of first round matches on 9/16 in Kitamoto with Joe Doering vs. Hikaru Sato, Atsushi Aoki vs. Kotaro Suzuki, Koji Iwamoto vs. Yuma Aoyagi and Suwama vs. Naoya Nomura. Second round matches will take place on 9/18 in Osaka and 9/19 in Nagoya, with the semifinals and finals on 9/23 in Yume.

They ran a show on 8/19 called Lucha Fiesta 2017 before 1,245 fans at Korakuen Hall, to commemorate Ultimo Dragon’s 30th anniversary as being a pro wrestler. Dragon, 50, began his career on May 13, 1987. They did a two of three fall Lucha style main event where Dragon & Akiyama & Caristico beat Joe Doering & Diamante & Sam Adonis and Dragon pinned Adonis to win both the second and the third falls.

They also used the CMLL guys on 8/20 in Okazaki before 502 fans, with Akiyama & Kento Miyahara & Dragon & Caristico beating Shuji Ishikawa & Diamante & Tajiri & Black Tiger VII in the main event when Caristico used La Mistica on Diamante. Adonis & Joe Doering beat Massimo & Danny Jones..

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: They are back at Korakuen Hall on 8/26 for a show headlined by Katsuhiko Nakajima defending the GHC title against Eddie Edwards. Two other title matches have Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi defending the GHC tag titles against Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge, and jr. tag champs Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 defend against the recent jr. tag tourney winners Hayata & Yo-Hey, plus Kenou vs. Leona (Fujinami’s son) and Quiet Storm vs. Cody Hall..

NEW JAPAN: Katsuyori Shibata said that after his appearance last week at the G-1 finals, he received a lot of messages and was thankful for all of them. He said he was very happy he got to go to Sumo Hall and feels it was great for him to get in the ring. He described it as that it may have been like shock therapy in the sense he was able to regain a feeling he had forgotten. He said it was a wonderful feeling of sunshine. He said when his doctors saw him two days later, they were surprised to see his facial expressions and that he’s full of gratitude and will continue fighting.

The complete lineup for the Destruction tour from 9/5 to 9/24 was announced as well as two matches for King of Pro Wrestling, on 10/9 at Sumo Hall. KOPW announced Kazuchika Okada vs. Evil for the IWGP title and Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii for the No. 1 contender spot. It’s possible one or the other could do another match for the defense of their positions, but last year they announced the Tokyo Dome main event after KOPW. I can’t see it being anything but Okada vs. Naito. The rest of the show won’t be announced until probably around 9/25 although I’m relatively sure that when the title matches happen on this tour, they’ll do post-match angles to where you’ll be able to figure out a number of next defenses.

The only surprise is that the Kenny Omega vs. Juice Robinson U.S. title match was announced as the main event for 9/24 in Kobe, and not for 10/15 in Chicago on the ROH show. Omega is, or at least was, defending the title in Chicago and that means they can’t announce his opponent until 9/25 at the earliest. At one point Omega vs. Robinson was strongly considered for that spot given Robinson is from Chicago. What’s notable is they are going with two foreigners and one of them being Robinson in the main event of the biggest show of the tour, which tells you how much they perceive Robinson has gotten over.

There will be five live shows this month on New Japan World. Three of them are PPV style shows, but with the title matches spread around and the heavyweights recovering from G-1, the September shows are usually not of the caliber of the usual PPV shows. Kevin Kelly and Don Callis will be doing the English announcing for the 9/16 and 9/24 shows as things are currently scheduled. .. 9/7 at Korakuen Hall at 5:30 a.m. Eastern has Shota Umino vs. Tetsuhiro Yagi, Yuji Nagata & Katsuya Kitamura vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Tomoyuki Oka, Togi Makabe & David Finlay & Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet & Hirai Kawato vs. Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Taka Michinoku, Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi & Baretta vs,. Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens, Robinson & War Machine vs. Omega & Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin & Kushida vs. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka & Desperado and an elimination match main event with Okada & Ishii & Toru Yano & Will Ospreay & Rocky Romero vs. Naito & Evil & Bushi & Seiya Sanada & Hiromu Takahashi.

9/9 at Korakuen Hall at 5:30 a.m. Eastern has Nagata & Kawato & Oka vs. Nakanishi & Kitamura & Umino, Goto & Yoshi-Hashi & Baretta & Jado vs. Fale & Yujiro Takahashi & Tonga & Roa, War Machine & Makabe vs. Archer & Smith & Michinoku, Ospreay & Romero vs. Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi, Robinson & David Finlay vs. Omega & Owens, Okada & Ishii & Yano vs. Naito & Evil & Sanada, and another 10-man elimination match with Tanahashi & Elgin & Kushida & Taguchi & Ricochet vs. Suzuki & Iizuka & Desperado & Kanemaru Taichi.

As for as the big shows go, Destruction in Fukushima will be 9/10 at 3 a.m. Eastern (a Saturday night at midnight on the West Coast) with Nagata & Kawato vs. Nakanishi & Umino, Oka & Kitamura vs. Goto & Yoshi-Hashi, Baretta & Jado vs. Yujiro Takahashi & Owens, Tanahashi & Makabe & Kushida & Taguchi & Ricochet vs. Iizuka & Michinoku & Desperado & Kanemaru & Taichi, a three-way for the IWGP tag titles with War Machine vs. Killer Elite Squad (Smith & Archer) vs. GOD (Tonga & Roa), Robinson & Finlay vs. Omega & Fale, Ishii & Ospreay vs. Naito & Hiromu Takahashi, Evil & Sanada & Bushi defend the six man titles against Okada & Yano & Romero, and Suzuki vs. Elgin for the Never title is the main event.

Destruction in Hiroshima is 9/16 at 5 a.m. Eastern and is really the biggest show of the tour. The card has Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask vs. Goto & Yoshi-Hashi & Jado, Romero & Baretta (billed as their final match as a tag team) vs. Yujiro Takahashi & Owens, Makabe & Elgin & Kota Ibushi vs. Suzuki & Iizuka & Michinoku, Taguchi & Ricochet defend the IWGP jr. tag titles against Kanemaru & Taichi, the same three-way for the IWGP tag titles with War Machine vs. KES vs. GOD, Okada & Ishii & Yano & Ospreay & Gedo vs. Naito & Evil & Bushi & Sanada & Hiromu Takahashi, Kushida vs. Desperado for IWGP jr. title (because Kushida is leaving after this show for ROH, this match was put on this show instead of on the Kobe show) and Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. for the IC title.

Destruction in Kobe is 9/24 at 3 a.m. Eastern with Tenzan & Kawato vs. Oka & Umino, Liger & Tiger Mask vs. Desperado & Michinoku, Makabe & Finlay vs. Elgin & Kitamura, Goto & Yoshi-Hashi & Baretta vs. Fale & Yujiro Takahashi & Owens, Tanahashi & Taguchi & Ricochet vs. Iizuka & Kanemaru & Taichi, the same three-way for the IWGP tag titles with War Machine, KES and GOD, Ishii & Yano & Romero vs. Naito & Sanada & Bushi, Okada & Ospreay vs. Evil & Hiromu Takahashi and Omega vs. Robinson for the U.S. title.

From the booking, it appears they are building toward an Ospreay vs. Hiromu match.

For AXS TV, the final three G-1 shows (the complete schedule up through 9/29 is in last week’s issue, is 10/6–Okada & Yano vs. Omega & Yujiro Takahashi (for the Okada vs. Omega tease for next week), Nagata vs. Fale and Tanahashi vs. Naito; 10/13–Tonga vs. Sanada, Elgin vs. Robinson and Omega vs. Okada; 10/20 Omega vs. Naito.

New Japan had a tryout camp in Australia over the weekend before a Melbourne City Wrestling show with Bad Luck Fale running it. Fale also mentioned New Japan’s plans on running a show in Australia. Names we’ve heard that were expected at the tryout were Damien Slater, Marcius Pitt, David Nero, Julian Ward (who trained under Lance Storm and was considered the best prospect out of Western Australia), Hayden Zenith, Aaron O’Malley and Taylor King..

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Stardom opened its Five Star Grand Prix tournament on 8/19 before a sellout 305 fans at Shinkiba in Tokyo. The Red block first night saw Xia Brookside beat Kris Wolf; Kagetsu beat Hiromi Mimura, Hanaa Kimura upset Yoko Bito and Viper beat World of Stardom champion Mayu Iwatani with an Avalanche Michinoku driver. The Blue block had an even bigger first round upset as ROH’s Mandy Leon pinned Io Shirai in 10:52. The other first round bouts saw Kay Le Ray pin Konami; HZK pin Tam Naano and Toni Storm pin Jungle Kyona. On 8/20 in the same building, Red block saw Mimura beat Wolf, Iwatani beat Kimura and Bito beat Kagetsu. Blue block saw Ray beat Nakano, HZK beat Konami and Shirai and Storm went to a 15:00 draw.

The Atsushi Onita vs. Matt Tremont explosive barbed wire match set up by CZW in the U.S. will be taking place on 10/8 in Yokohama. The match was advertised by CZW for Voorhees, NJ, but Onita refused to do a singles match and it was changed to a six-man tag the night of the show.

Real Japan Pro Wrestling announced that 23-year-old Yukio Naya will debut against Raijin Yaguchi on the 9/24 Korakuen Hall. Naya’s grandfather was apparently one of the greatest sumos of all-time..

HERE AND THERE: Tony Schiavone will be returning to announcing for the first time in about 16 years as he and Rich Bocchini (Rich Brennan in WWE) will be announcing the MLW One Shot show on 10/5 in Orlando for delayed streaming. Schiavone announced for Jim Crockett Promotions, WCW and WWF from 1983 to 2001, and was the lead announcer for Nitro during the heyday of the show, and for the TBS Saturday show during the peak period of JCP from 1985 to 1987. His run in wrestling ended when WCW shut down and WWF didn’t hire him, and he did sportscasting and minor league baseball radio announcing since. He returned to wrestling earlier this year doing a podcast about his experiences with Conrad Thompson. The MLW show has Ricochet vs. Shane Strickland, MVP vs. Sami Callihan plu Jeff Cobb appearing.

Olympic gold medalist Helen Maroulis was the first American to capture a gold medal in the 2017 World championships that are taking place in Paris, France. Maroulis, who won the world title at 121 pounds in 2015, Olympic gold at 117 pounds in 2016, dominated the field to win worlds at 128 pounds. She had the most outstanding world championship tournament of any woman wrestler in history, earning five tech falls, and outscoring opposition 53-0. She won the final match via an 11-0 tech fall over 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Marwa Amri of Tunisia. The U.S. team had a second woman medalist on 8/23, as Becka Leathers won a bronze medal at 121 pounds.

NBC Sports Network will be airing the matches with shows on 8/24 from 4-5 p.m., 8/25 from 7-9 p.m. .. A weird main event for the Revolucha show on 9/10 in Nuevo Leon has a version of Huracan Ramirez teaming with Mistico & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. against Jeff Jarrett & MVP & Sam Adonis.

Davey Richards will be returning to Evolve on 9/22 in Livonia, MI and 9/23 in Chicago.

Jessica Kresa, 39, better known as ODB, is now living in Port Orange, FL, running a small food truck business. She’s been doing this since November, running a food truck with photos of her, replica belts and a small screen showing footage of her matches. Kresa opened the food truck with Mickie James as her business partner, and when James isn’t busy, she sometimes works the truck with her.

Taz (Peter Senercia, 49), underwent surgery on his hand on 8/23 due to nerve damage. He’s had a loss of feeling in his right hand, which has led to an inability to grip things and muscle atrophy. He had to retire from the ring due to long-term effects of suffering a broken neck from an errant stuff piledriver during his ECW days. The hand issues are linked to his neck issues. Taz currently does a CBS radio show in New York and will be missing a few days due to the recovery.

Will Ospreay was back in Australia this weekend. He worked a three-way on 8/19 in Carlton, a suburb of Melbourne, before a packed house of 600 against Robbie Eagles and Adam Brooks, the two guys he faced a few weeks back. Historian Kirk Beattie, who also goes back to the WCW days, said that this was a ***** match and better than Ospreay’s matches two weeks earlier. The consensus was the third match played well off things from the first two matches and exceeded them..

EUROPE: Revolution Pro ran their big event on 8/17 in York Hall in London before their usual sellout of 1,200 fans, which they were very happy with given it was on a Thursday night. Was told that pretty much everything was good, but there were no super matches this time. Martin Stone beat Eddie Dennis in the opener. Sami Callihan was originally to face Stone but pulled out late due to an injury. Stone won a decent match and then got on the mic and put over how Dennis has quit his regular job as a headmaster to go full-time into being a wrestler. Bully Ray pinned Sha Samuels. Bully announced the match was being changed to a street fight. Bully won with a crossbody off the top rope in an entertaining match. Rob Lias, one of their wrestling school trainees, then hit the ring and attacked both guys. Bully and Samuels worked together to do the wazzup spot and to put Lias through a table. There were problems here with what they wanted and what happened to the point that this match will not air on the RevPro streaming service nor on the DVD. Promoter Andy Quildan said that they asked Bully to do things that made sense for the angle they were going with between Samuels vs. Lias, which was what the match was supposed to build for the future and Bully wanted to do things his way and they had other ideas. It was made clear that Bully was never asked to loose and it was never even considered, but they wanted him to win in a way to build their next storyline and he went into business for himself in their minds and they felt both Samuels and Lias both came out looking worse with the change in plans. But there was lot of bitterness and you never say never, but I can’t imagine him back with the promotion at this point. Zack Gibson pinned Dalton Castle. Mark & Jay Briscoe beat Ryan Smile & Shane Strickland. Lots of near falls and turned into a great match. The fans gave both teams a standing ovation when it was over, but one report we got is that it was quieter during the match than the prior matches. Jay White beat Travis Banks in a solid match winning with the lion tamer. It’s interesting that White worked this show so he was in the U.K. but didn’t work on the ROH shows. Said to be a good technical match but the crowd wasn’t as hot as some of the other bouts. Josh Bodom pinned Jushin Liger to keep the British cruiserweight title. This was set up when Liger pinned Bodom to win the British J Cup. The crowd was way behind Liger who got a lot of near falls. Bodom was really connecting with the crowd. While nothing was said, Liger gave the body language and there was a feeling that this would be Liger’s last match in London and with that feeling in the crowd, he got a big standing ovation when it was over. Zack Sabre Jr. beat Chris Brookes to keep the British heavyweight title. Brookes holds their tag title with Travis Banks and this was his highest profile singles match. Sabre had a submission on and threw lots of elbows and kicks at the same time and the referee stopped the match. Fans aren’t used to ref stoppages but my feeling is that they should educate fans to them, like with tapping out 20 years ago, where fans weren’t really into submissions that much, but now teased tapping in matches often gets the best reactions and if you can teach the drama of a ref warning a guy stuck in a hold refusing to tap you just add another element for drama, but it is an educational process. Really good stuff. The main event saw Marty Scurll beat Rey Mysterio Jr. Both got huge reactions. Scurll is probably the most popular wrestler in the U.K., but he was said to be more popular here than ever before. He and Mysterio were clearly seen as the stars of the show. Both did mic work after the match praising the other and Mysterio put over Scurll and the U.K. scene. Scurll talked about how Mysterio was his hero and inspiration and Mysterio talked about Scurll saying he was the future.

Their next show is 8/27 in Portsmouth with Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb vs. Mike Bailey and Jack Swagger vs. Dave Mastiff. They don’t have a next date at York Hall confirmed, but they are looking like doing two more shows this year..

LUCHA UNDERGROUND: They got a television deal in India with Dsports. It’s notable that they are not ahead of GFW, but they are ahead of New Japan, CMLL and ROH when it comes to international television deals..

ROH: They did a title change on the 8/20 show in Edinburgh, Scotland as The Young Bucks & Adam Page won the six-man titles from Dalton Castle & The Boys, which elevates those belts. The finish was said to be insane looking as Page set up the Rights of Passage on one of the boys, The Bucks turned him around in front to put him in the tombstone position, and then Matt & Nick both did springboard flip spikes or a double Meltzer driver on him to win the titles.

Minoru Suzuki and Kushida will be in for the PPV weekend which are shows on 9/22 and 9/23 at Sam’s Town in Las Vegas. As best I can tell, this will be only the second U.S. match in Suzuki’s 29-year career. The only U.S. match I have a record for him as having would be on March 20, 1992, he wrestled on a PWFG show in Miami at the Knight Center, losing to Ken Shamrock.

They are taping four weeks worth of television on 8/26 in Atlanta at Center Stage, which will shoot the last angles for the Death Before Dishonor PPV show. The only thing announced for the sold out (780 seats) show is an Honor Rumble with the winner facing Cody for the title later that night.

The London show did 1,000 fans, a virtual sellout although there were a few scattered seats unsold. The set-up was for about 200 less tickets due to production than the RevPro show which explains the attendance difference. But they had much higher ticket prices than RevPro (60 percent higher in certain categories), so they set the all-time record gate for pro wrestling in York Hall.

The Edinburgh show was a legit sellout of about 900 fans.

London was headlined by LIJ beating Bullet Club in a ten-men tag match. From what I was told, between the fan enthusiasm and the overall show, I was told this should have been the iPPV night. It was Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi beating Cody & Young Bucks & Marty Scurll & Hangman Page. Everyone did their trademark spots and the crowd got into a lot of the comedy. At one point all of the Bullet Club members did simultaneous figure fours which led to a “Nature Boy” chant. After the match Cody stated what most figured out, that it was a tribute to Flair and they offered their best wishes to him. They did a spot where everyone on the Bullet Club team went to hit Bushi with a moonsault and they all missed. All of them do moonsaults at times (Cody not as much as the others, but he does do them) but Scurll so the big build up was whether Scurll would do the move since he’s the big star on the U.K. scene. Scurll hit the moonsault. They took Darryl from ringside and the Bucks threatened a superkick to him, but Scurll put him in the chicken wing and Takahashi saved him. The Bucks then hit Takahashi with double superkicks and hit the Meltzer driver on Darryl which ended up being the most talked about spot on the show. Bushi blew mist in Page’s eyes and then Naito pinned Page after the Destino. I was told the crowd loved this match. After the match, Cody dedicated the match to Flair. He also noted this was Page’s first match in the U.K. Cody & Scurll then talked about my alleged bet with Cody regarding whether they could draw 10,000 fans paid to a show. This was from someone asking me a question on Twitter some time back whether I thought ROH would be able to sell 10,000 tickets to a show and I said no, given the company record is 3,500 and that was with the Hardys when the Hardys were really hot, doing a ladder match blow-off over Mania weekend against the Young Bucks. Cody then wanted to bet me on it and it’s become a stated goal of his to be able to get ROH to the level where they could do that. Obviously, it would be great if they could pull that off in this day and age because the other aspect is if they can, it would mean ROH’s popularity will have to grow greatly from its current levels, and obviously that’s a positive for the U.S. industry for a non-WWE company to get to that level. Scurll suggested trying it at Wembley Arena. The show ended with them leading the fans in chanting, “F*** the Revival,” which has become their gimmick catch phrase. Mark Briscoe beat Ryan Smile with a burning hammer. Fans were behind both guys. Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian beat Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero. Bucanero was crotched on the top rope and Daniels pinned him with his feet on the ropes. Guerrero went after both after the match and Daniels & Kazarian bailed. Good match. Jay Briscoe pinned Kenny King with a J driller. Said to be a basic match and the crowd wasn’t into it as much as the other matches on the show. Bully Ray won a four-way over Jay Lethal, Sha Samuels and Silas Young. The fans saw Lethal and Bully as the stars. Everyone got their moves in. Bully told Lethal to get the tables and the place went nuts. Bully said that ECW was his company but ROH is Lethal’s company. Dalton Castle & The Boys retained the six-man titles over Mistico & Delirious & Jushin Liger. The crowd was really into Liger and Castle. Mostly a comedy match as you’d think but the crowd loved it. Castle pinned Delirious with the bang a rang. In what was said to be the best match of the U.K. tour, Kushida beat Titan to keep the TV title. That’s saying something because the fans really didn’t even know Titan. Kushida did a top rope Spanish fly into an armbar. Titan went for his backspring elbow and Kushida turned that into an armbar as well. Kushida won with back to the future. Fans gave them all the positive chants and gave them both a standing ovation after the match.

Edinburgh opened with a surprise, as Colt Cabana, who wasn’t advertised, came out and turned the King vs. Bodom match into a three-way, which King won by pinning Bodom in a great match. Fans were really into Cabana because they were in Scotland and he’s really popular there for his association with Grado. They were doing Grado chants for him. Cabana was booked in Edinburgh to do a talk show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In a surprise result, Guerrero & Bucanero beat the Briscoes. The match was worked for the Briscoes to be the heels, except the crowd cheered them. Guerrero & Bucanero tried to get Lucha Libre chants going. Good match. Weird result to me because the Briscoes are a strong ROH act and Guerrero & Bucanero are outsiders who aren’t regulars. I grant that Guerrero is a superstar and all, but these days Bucanero isn’t such a major star that he shouldn’t have been the one taking the pin. This may be part of a long-term thing where it will make sense, since Mark & Jay argued after the match and if it’s building up a split tease, then they do have to lose matches for the frustration to make sense. Bully Ray beat Evil via DQ when Evil used Bully’s chain. This was a really hot LIJ crowd, even more than Bullet Club, although everyone from both groups got huge reactions all night. Bully put Evil through a table after the match and fans cheered the spot. Bully cut a promo saying that the fans were booing him the entire match and now cheering him, and the fans started chanting “We are fickle.” Bully said he’d never heard that one before. With Evil being groomed for a title shot at Kazuchika Okada soon, he couldn’t do the job here. Naito & Bushi & Sanada beat Kushida & Mistico & Titan. Naito & Bushi & Sanada were said to have gotten the biggest reaction on the show, particularly Naito. They still worked as heels as the finish saw Naito shove ref Todd Sinclair into the corner, so he missed the low blow on Mistico and Naito then hit the Destino. Hiromu Takahashi, also really over, pinned Haskins with the time bomb. Darryl was super over, and from a technical wrestling standpoint, was told this was the best match on the show. Next was the trios title change with Bucks & Page over Castle & The Boys. Not only did they do the double Meltzer finish, but during the match they did another version on the floor except instead of a springboard off the ropes, it was a spike piledriver on the floor by Matt on Castle with Page coming off the apron with a moonsault to do the spike. Cody & Scurll beat Daniels & Kazarian. Daniels & Kazarian came out in kilts and Roddy Piper T-shirts and in Scotland that was going to get them cheered. But they turned on the audience saying they were the only two who looked manly in kilts. Cody & Scurll as faces came out with a half U.S. and half U.K. flag and called themselves the Allied Powers, which was the name of a short-lived Lex Luger & Davey Boy Smith Jr. tag team in WWF in the 90s. Cody did an Orton style draping DDT and the crowd started chanting “Vintage.” Cody pinned Daniels with crossroads, while at the same time, Scurll got the chicken wing on Kazarian. Lethal beat Silas Young in a brutal street fight main event. They used everything from garbage cans to brooms to chairs to tables, and it came across as a fight and not a comedy hardcore match. Young got the surprise pin with an Attitude Adjustment off the top rope putting Lethal through a table. The negative is the match was real long and I was told a number of people wanted to go home to see the beginning of SummerSlam.

Jonathan Gresham had what I guess was a prelude to a wedding or a mock wedding with woman wrestler Jordynne Grace. The two were on a tour together in Canada for the CWE promotion and were married with Nikita Koloff presiding over the ceremony. It was first reported as a wedding but Grace noted that Koloff is no longer an ordained minister as he let his license expire, and the ceremony was just something they did for fun and plan to have an official wedding ceremony some time in the future..

GFW: The company has announced its own streaming service called The Global Wrestling Network. The one thing they should try and do with it is include shows from The Crash, NOAH and AAA, their partner organizations. The Impact shows will go up on the network and they will be available free. They also announced they will be coming to Germany, Switzerland and Austria “sooner rather than later.”.

Jim Cornette was among the many newcomers at the tapings this week. Cornette did a TV appearances on the live show seemingly as the new authority figure, replacing Bruce Prichard. They did an in-ring thing where Prichard announced that Alberto was suspended and voluntarily gave up the title and that they were giving the title to Bobby Lashley, the previous champion. Cornette came out at this point after they had been teasing a mystery guy was there. They ended up arguing and Prichard, who was playing a smarmy heel instead of his prior babyface authority figure role, wanted Cornette kicked out. Cornette then revealed that Anthem had hired him and they were tired of self-serving people running the company. Cornette announced that they were going to decide the new champion in the ring and not hand somebody the title, announcing a gauntlet match for the next week’s television. This was taped on 8/17 and will air on 8/24, and it came down to Eli Drake beating Eddie Edwards when they were the last two guys. Drake is a great talker but I don’t think he’s the guy you want as world champion right now when you are trying to rebuild a company. Cornette then fired Prichard. Prichard had commitments as they were filming an episode of his podcast in a live location in New York over the weekend and he’d made the commitment before these dates were announced. The way it was done on television led me to believe Prichard could come back as a heel feuding with Cornette. The way it was described to us is that Prichard is gone for now, given he wasn’t back at the and the next tapings aren’t until November. The angle seemed to leave it open that he could return, although one company source said that he was done and another said he was done at least for now. Regarding Alberto, based on the TV, the impression we have is that they are washing their hands of him. When Cornette did the interview, he specifically said that Alberto did not voluntarily give up the title (Alberto had publicly claimed so, and Prichard did in his interview), that they had taken the title from him and then wished Alberto will in his future endeavors, which sounded like he wasn’t coming back. What we were told is that he’s not going to be back anytime soon. Anyone not at TV wont’ be back until November at the earliest.

8/21 was the 35th anniversary of Jim Cornette’s debut as a manager of WMC-TV in Memphis.

In something predictable, Low Ki is gone, mad about booking, although he’ll be all over television for a number of upcoming shows since he did the tapings. Low Ki was booked to be part of a multiple person X division match at Bound for Glory and was unhappy about that. From one source, he showed up the first day at TV, where he was supposed to get a shot at the GFW title and Alberto in the main event, but that was canceled. When they laid out the GFW title picture, which involved Eli Drake, Johnny Impact, Matt Sydal and others, but not him, he was unhappy from day one. He worked the tapings and was complaining a lot to management and after being talked with, he wasn’t happy and made the decision to leave and both sides agreed to go their separate ways. We’re told reports this was money related aren’t accurate in the sense it was purely creative and he was under contract at a figure both sides had agreed to. He does have a history almost everywhere of leaving, very often over being unhappy with his creative. The company knew it was a risk bringing him back, but felt he’d fit in with the LAX faction, but he was only signed to a six-month contract with the idea anything could blow up at any time.

Other newcomers included the surprise return of Taryn Terrell (who had retired from wrestling 20 months ago after a long period debating about it saying that being in pro wrestling went against her religious beliefs), John Hennigan/Mundo/Morrison given the name Johnny Impact as a spoof because he was once Johnny Nitro in WCW as a flunkie for Eric Bischoff, his fiancé Taya, Dave & Jake Crist as OVE, who won the tag titles over Santana & Ortiz on the 8/20, AAA wrestlers El Texano Jr. and Pagano and the return of Petey Williams. Williams, 35, was with the company from 2004 to 2009 before they made the call not to renew his contract. He was the wrestler who popularized the Canadian Destroyer. He had been retired since 2014, but had just come back and done a few indie shows.

Besides the GFW singles and tag titles, Trevor Lee officially beat Sonjay Dutt in a falls count anywhere match on 8/19 to win the X Division title.

The Grand Championship, held by Ethan Carter III, and Knockouts title, held by Sienna, didn’t change.

The matches confirmed for the Bound for Glory PPV on 11/5 at this point are Drake vs. Impact for the GWF title, OVE vs. LAX in a 5150 street fight for the tag titles, Moose & UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar of Griffin vs. Bonnar fame vs. Bobby Lashley & King Mo in a cage match, Abyss vs. Grado in a Monster’s Ball match after Joseph Park turned heel lawyer on Grado and signed the match, a six-way for the X division title with Lee, Dutt, Matt Sydal, Williams, Garza Jr., and Dezmond Xavier and a four-way for the Knockouts title with Sienna, Gail Kim, Terrell and Allie.

A major storyline they did was an ATT vs. Impact with Dan Lambert, the owner of ATT as the outsider heel. It plays out over the next several months, ending with Lambert hating the fans at Impact, vowing to put Impact out of business and vowing to end the three generation Jarrett family run in pro wrestling.

There will apparently be stuff taped at both AAA’s TripleMania on 8/26 in Mexico City and The Crash’s 9/2 show in Tijuana for airing on Impact in future weeks for BFG angles.

The Pope is gone from the announcing team, which is now Jeremy Borash and Josh Matthews. He did a post saying that his contract had expired and that the arithmetic didn’t make sense. You can really see signs that they are just trying to keep this together and not lose too much money and don’t have a lot to work with..

Notes from the 8/17 tapings. Most of this aired on that night on a short tape delay, with other stuff taped for 8/24. The show-long theme seemed to be building American Top Team and a storyline where they want Lashley to leave pro wrestling to concentrate on MMA. Dan Lambert, the head of ATT, and a huge pro wrestling fan, was referenced constantly during the show with the idea that doing pro wrestling is hurting Lashley’s MMA career. Lashley only fought once last year and had told Bellator he wanted to concentrate on pro wrestling, and he’s also 41. They kept talking about how every time Lashley competes in pro wrestling, he’s not training for MMA, and Lambert isn’t making any money off him. They really pushed the idea of Lambert as this major character and showed Lambert and an entourage that included Conan Silveira (a coach at ATT) and current fighters Gleison Tibau and Colby Covington (who did an angle) entering the building with Lashley and talking with Jeff Jarrett while announcing Lashley vs. Sydal as the TV main event. Sienna retained the Knockouts title over Kim in 7:03. This was Kim’s first match back after back surgery, which was supposed to be minor and something she’d recover from quickly, but ended up putting her out more than ten months. They pushed the story that Kim is retiring at the end of the year and wants to retire as champion, and pushing the idea that Kim was the first Knockouts champion. The crowd was into Kim. The match was fine, although WWE level of women are way ahead of this. There were some problems in the closing seconds. Kim hit eat defeat and had it won. KM, at ringside, distracted Earl Hebner. Kim slapped KM and knocked him off the apron. With Hebner distracted, Terrell came out in an outfit that looked more like lingerie than a wrestling costume, and hit a stunner on Kim. Sienna then used the AK 47 on her for the pin. Terrell jumped on Kim and pretty much mounted her and taunted her. They pushed that Terrell was one of Kim’s greatest career rivals and is back. Prichard came out as an authority figure saying this past year was good but next year would be even better. He said Alberto El Patron, real name Alberto Rodriguez, is no longer champion, saying he voluntarily surrendered the title to concentrate on family and personal interests. Prichard, who after giving his real name, kept calling him Mr. Patron, which would be like calling Jerry Lawler Mr. King, announced Lashley as champion and brought out Cornette, who set up the gauntlet and fired Prichard. Cornette said that Prichard pushed his agenda and ideas that weren’t for the best and that the people were sick and fed up with him and fired him. He told security to kick Prichard out and Prichard said that this wasn’t the last you were going to see of him. Cornette said Mr. Patron didn’t relinquish the title, that he was stripped of the tilte and said this was a new day (he didn’t follow by saying “Yes it is”) and big stars weren’t going to be coming in with their reps from the past like it’s a vacation. LAX then came out. Konnan said Low Ki should be the No. 1 contender, since he was supposed to get the match with Alberto on the show. Konnan said they replaced one lying cracker with another. Cornette said he may be a cracker, but he’s not a liar. Even though Low Ki was confronting Cornette the crowd was chanting for Low Ki. Cornette said he had a fair point, so in the 20 man gauntlet, he would get to enter at No. 20 and have the best chance to win and told him to make the most of it. Dezmond Xavier won the Super X Cup tournament beating Taiji Ishimori in the finals in 8:42 with a double backflip into a Pele kick. Both of these guys are really acrobatic, but they didn’t work well and it was clunky at times. The crowd also wasn’t into them. Backstage, Prichard and Karen Jarrett were screaming at each other. Karen told him he would never set foot in this place again but Prichard vowed to return. Grado was backstage with Park. At this point, since he couldn’t get anyone to marry him, Grado was about to be deported. Park told him not to be like other guys who leave the company and complain about it on Twitter or do interviews with “poop sheets,” and that he should say his goodbyes next week on television. Grado was in tears about having to leave the country. Dutt beat Lee in a ladder match to retain the X title in 16:00. Dutt knocked Lee off nearly the top of the ladder and he took a bump on a ladder bridging that ladder and the top rope. The ladder he bumped on didn’t even budge. Dutt also at another point pulled Lee off the ladder and power bombed him through a table. Williams returned and hit Dutt with the Canadian Destroyer on the ramp. But Dutt came back to win, knocking Lee off the ladder and he went through another ladder bridge, and Dutt grabbed the belt. Lashley did an interview and called Sydal a loser. OVE beat Jason Cade & Zachary Wentz in 2:12 using the old total elimination finisher. Cornette was with Moose and EC 3 and told them they were both in the gauntlet. Drake came out and said that Cornette was old and out of touch. Cornette told him that he’s entering the gauntlet at No. 1. Sydal pinned Lashley in the main event in 15:02. Jeremy Borash pushed ATT as the premiere training facility in the country and was putting over Tibau and Covington’s background noting Tibau was tied for fourth for most wins in UFC history and Covington was ranked No. 8 and was a Pac-10 wrestling champion. Sydal didn’t do much flying here. He mostly sold and the match was worked like Lashley was too big and strong for him, but Sydal kicked out of moves like a Stampede and a Dominator. The only real flying move, a shooting star press, saw Lashley get his knees up. Lashley missed a charge and Sydal schoolboyed him and it was one of those pins where Lashley kicked out right at three that was made to be a fluke. After the match, Covington started choking Earl Hebner and Lashley tried to calm him down. They pushed the idea that the ATT fighters were hotheads who all sold like they were shocked when Lashley lost. The show ended with a video announcing the arrival of Johnny Impact, who noted being AAA and Lucha Underground champion. In stuff taped for 8/24, Terrell did an interview saying she was tired of this being the Gail Kim show. Kim came out and chased her to the back. OVE beat the Tennessee local tag team of The Heat Seekers, Elliott Russell & Sigmon when they pinned Sigmon after their version of total elimination. Grado and Park came out for Grado to say goodbye. Laurel Van Ness came out. She ditched her drunk gimmick and was made to look all hot and she got on her knees to propose to Grado. I hope Zack doesn’t here about this. He said yes. Kongo Kong then freaked out, because the gimmick is he’s a Kamala-like monster but has a crush on Van Ness. He went after Grado, but Mahabali Shera made the save. Next was the gauntlet for the title. The participants were Eddie Edwards (who left during the tapings with Ishimori for a tour with Pro Wrestling NOAH), Drake, Mario Bokara, Eddie Kingston, Braxton Sutter, Dick Justice, EC 3, Kong, Suicide, Shera, Chris Adonis, El Hijo del Fantasma, Impact, Garza Jr., Fallah Bah, KM, Ishimori, Lashley, Moose and Low Ki. I think it looks really bad when Cornette said how they were picking the 20 biggest and baddest on the roster for a title match, and used clear enhancement guys, basically exposing they have few stars on the roster and not even enough to do have enough stars for the tournament. Particularly since the gimmick for Justice is that he’s a standby wrestler who is backstage but never gets used. The final four were Edwards, Moose, Drake and Impact. Edwards threw out Moose. Drake eliminated Impact. This left Drake vs. Edwards and in GFW, the last two a singles match, and Drake pinned Edwards to win the title.

Notes from the 8/18 tapings. Ishimori pinned Suicide (Caleb Konley) in a match taped for Xplosion. This stuff was taped for 8/24 and 8/31. Drake was out celebrating his title win in a suit with Adonis and with cigars. Impact came out and said he was the AAA champion (interesting not saying Lucha Underground champion) and is after the title. Edwards said he wanted a title shot. Cornette announced there would be a tag match and on the 8/31 show, Adonis & Drake face Impact & Edwards. If Impact or Edwards wins, the person who takes the fall gets the next shot, but if they lose, then neither get a shot. EC 3 beat El Hijo del Fantasma to retain the Grand championship. Hector Guerrero has replaced Prichard as GFW judges with Scott D’Amore and Dutch Mantel. It went the distance to a split decision and Guerrero and Mantel scored it for EC 3. Fantasma was furious that a fellow Mexican judged against him and went after Guerrero. Pagano then hit the ring (he wears a clown outfit) and attacked EC 3 and Edwards made the save. OVE beat Mario Bokara & Fallah Bah. Their finisher is a combination doomsday device and sky high diamond cutter which looks good. Williams, with Lee in his corner, beat Konley with the Canadian Destroyer. Williams & Lee beat him down until Dutt made the save. Kong pinned Justice. He got destroyed with a top rope splash. He continued the beatdown until Shera made the save. Low Ki pinned James Storm when Konnan distracted the ref and Ortiz hit Storm with a belt shot. Drake & Adonis beat Edwards & Impact. Dueling chants of “We Want Johnny/No We don’t.” Drake pinned Edwards, meaning that Edwards & Impact can’t get a shot. Lashley came out with his crew from ATT. Cornette threatened to suspend him if he got in the ring. Cornette announced that next week, Drake would defend his title against Sydal. Dutt & Williams beat Lee & Konley. LAX beat John Bolen & Zachary Wentz in a quick squash when Konnan and Diamante both attacked Wentz before the match started. OVE issued a challenge for a title match. Konnan asked if their name were The Ovaries. Terrell & Sienna beat Kim & Allie. Sienna pinned Allie, who was distracted by KM and Braxton Sutter fighting outside the ring. The heels were beating on the faces. Rosemary tried to save, but Taya debuted here and teased going after Terrell & Sienna, before joining them and forming the new top heel women’s group. Cornette was talking about Drake vs. Sydal for the title. Impact came out and wanted a title match. Konnan said that Low Ki deserves the next title match because this isn’t WWE or Lucha Underground. Low Ki and Impact brawled. Pagano & Fantasma beat Edwards & EC 3 when Texano debuted and interfered and power bombed Edwards and Fantasma pinned him. The Mexican trio continued a beatdown until Storm made the save using a beer bottle. Drake beat Sydal to retain the title. After the match, Lashley and Moose had a f ace-off. Lashley said he was leaving GFW to concentrate on his MMA career but before he leaves, he wants one last match with Moose. Lashley leaving is an angle to build for something later. Lashley and a bunch of ATT members all beat down Moose..

Notes from the 8/19 tapings. Park did an interview talking about helping Grado to staying the U.S. Lee beat Dutt in a falls count anywhere match to win the X title. Konley helped Lee win the title. Impact beat KM. Taya beat Ava Storie. Taya and Rosemary started fighting after the match. Kong pinned Shera. Fantasma & Texano beat EC 3 & Storm. Pagano pinned someone whose name we didn’t get. Lee retained the title beating Williams. Taya beat Amber Nova. Impact beat Low Ki to earn a title shot. Impact was face to face with Drake, when Adonis attacked Impact from behind.

Notes on the 8/20 tapings. I believe this stuff will air 9/14, 9/21 and 9/28. Xavier won a six-way over Lee, Dutt, Williams, Sydal and Garza Jr. Xavier pinned Lee to win, which should set up Lee vs. Xavier for the title. That made sense to go in that direction with Xavier winning the tournament. Sienna did a promo saying that she beat Gail Kim, so she should be the person inducted into the Hall of Fame at Bound for Glory. If you recall, Storm was first supposed to be the one inducted this year and that’s been dropped completely. Kim, Terrell and Allie all wanted a title shot at Sienna and Karen Jarrett came out and announced the four-way for Bound for Glory. Impact pinned Texano. OVE beat Ortiz & Santana of LAX to win the tag titles. This will air on a TV show called Victory Road since the graphics were up for that show during this match. Borash came out and said that he has found out that Park has been stealing from Grado in his attempting to help him stay in the country. Park denied it and shoved Borash and turned heel as the crowd booed him. They announced the trial of Park would take place later in the show. Sydal & Williams & Dutt beat Andrew Everett & Konley & Lee when Sydal pinned Everett. Dutt challenged Lee to a title match at Bound for Glory. But Williams and Sydal also wanted a title shot. OVE beat Trey Miguel & Jon Bolen. Storm & Xavier & Allie beat Everett & Texano & Sienna when Storm pinned Everett. The Park trial ended up with Park finally admitting that he has been stealing from Grado but he still has his visa. This led to a situation where Grado was to wrestle Park and if Grado won, he’d be able to stay in the U.S. But he if hoses, he’s deported back to the U.K. Grado signed the contact, and then Park revealed the contract was for a Monster’s Ball match and Grado’s opponent would be Abyss. Victory Road logos were back up. Storm did a promo saying that the wrestlers from AAA have disrespected him because they know he’s the best in GFW. Texano came out. Fans were chanting “USA” at him. Storm shut down the chant saying this was not U.S. vs. Mexico, in a first of pro wrestling not playing up xenophobia. Storm and Texano went at it. Fantasma ran in to help Texano and EC 3 made the save. Fantasma did an interview where he said he supports GFW, but AAA is the best promotion in the world. The segment ends with Storm and EC 3 doing a handshake, after their big feud earlier in the year. Sienna & Terrell & Taya beat Rosemary & Kim & Allie when Sienna pinned Ali. Drake beat Impact to retain the title in the main event for Victory Road. Adonis helped Drake retain. Drake & Adonis were beating on Impact until Garza made the save. LAX then attacked Garza & Impact. Adonis & Drake attacked LAX and Adonis & Drake were the last ones left standing.

Notes from the 8/21 tapings. In a match for Xplosion, EC 3 retained the Grand championship over Moose with a low blow and roll-up. Storm pinned Konley after a superkick. Drake came out celebrating as champion and acting like Ric Flair. Impact wanted another title shot. Adonis vs. Garza Jr. ended in a no contest when Impact attacked Adonis. In the brawl, Impact also hit Garza and they went at it. They did a pull-apart which led to Cornette announcing Garza vs. Impact with the winner getting the title shot at Bound for Glory. Terrell did a promo which led to a pull-apart with Kim. Rosemary beat Hannah Hartford quickly. This led to an altercation with Taya. Rosemary went to blow the mist but Taya blew the mist at her first and laid her out. LAX came out to challenge OVE for the tag titles. They had a big brawl which leads to the street fight match for the tag titles. Impact beat Garza Jr. to earn another title shot. Adonis attacked Impact after the match. Lee beat Suicide to keep the X title in a match for Xplosion using the ropes. Xavier beat Everett with a double backflip into a Pele Kick. There was a segment where they were going to announce the new member of the Hall of Fame. The American Top Team guys came out with Lashley. Dan Lambert did an interview saying he was the biggest wrestling fan around. He has some incredible memorabilia and he actually brought out the old AWA world heavyweight title belt that he bought. This segment ended up with Moose & Bonnar vs. Lashley & Mo going at it and that turning into a BFG match. Impact beat Adonis. After the match, Drake attacked Impact and Garza made the save.

Notes from the 8/22 tapings. This was billed as Latin Night, yet the AAA contingent of Pagano, Texano and Fantasma all flew home prior to this taping. This was the final taping including the last TV show before Bound for Glory which would air on 11/2. They first taped some matches for Xplosion where Storm pinned Adonis, Rosemary beat Ava Storie and Shera beat Konley. The final episode before Bound for Glory had Moose, with Bonnar in his corner, beating Lashley, with Lambert in his corner. After the match, Lambert hit Moose with some kind of a trophy. There was a big brawl with the wrestlers against the fighters from ATT ending with Moose running them off with a chair. Apparently this segment got great heat as the wrestling fans hated the ATT guys. This led to the announcement that the Moose & Bonnar vs. Lashley & Lawal tag match would be in a cage, with the idea it replicates an MMA bout. They will be airing footage of some sort of an angle for BFG that is being shot this weekend at TripleMania. Impact & Garza Jr. beat Drake & Adonis when Impact pinned Adonis after a roll-up. Borash interviewed Gail Kim. They made the point that Bound for Glory would be the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the knockouts division and the first time Kim won the title, so it would be fitting for her to win it for the final time on the same stage. Kim vowed to do so. EC 3 beat Suicide. Lashley & Lambert came out for a promo. The crowd hated Lambert. Lambert did the anti-pro wrestling fans, anti-pro wrestlers promo where he vowed to destroy the company and end the Jarrett family in pro wrestling. Fans were hating this, it got a lot of heat but also a lot of loud “boring” chants. In a match for Xplosion, Shera beat X Division champion Lee. For Impact, Taya beat Rosemary with a Northern lights suplex and a double foot stomp. The main event saw Impact & Dave & Jake Crist over Drake & Santana & Ortiz when Impact pinned Santana after the end of the world. There was a big post-match brawl where the heels tore down the ring, undid the canvas and the mats and destroyed Impact on the boards. So the storyline is that Impact goes into his match with Drake injured..

UFC: Matt Hughes has recovered enough to where he was able to go on the mats and do some Jiu Jitsu rolling just two months after fighting for survival after being hit by a train while driving across train tracks.

Junior Dos Santos, who was to face Francis Ngannou in a major heavyweight fight on the next UFC PPV show on 9/9 in Edmonton, has been provisionally suspended based on the result of an out-of-competition drug test on 8/10, so that fight has been canceled. UFC hasn’t said that will happen with Ngannou, who is their most promising heavyweight on the way up. USADA never releases information on results of tests until the case is closed after fighters can give their explanation. Dos Santos’ side immediately went public, saying that he tested positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, and that they don’t know where this substance could have gone from. His team said that they requested a testing of his B sample, but conceded that most likely the results would be the same. They said they are looking at his nutritional supplements and medications and are going to have USADA test the two supplements he was using to see if they were contaminated. They also noted it was a very low concentration of the drug that he tested positive for. They’ve noted that he’s never failed a test previously. Dos Santos said, “I would never cheat. It goes against everything I stand for.” He said he hoped in the near future he can face Ngannou and he can give the fans the show they expected.

Stephen Wonderboy Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal and Fabricio Werdum vs. Derrick Lewis have been added to the 10/7 PPV show in Las Vegas. At this point the main event for that show looks to be Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee for the interim lightweight title. If Masvidal beats Thompson, it’ll come down to he and Robbie Lawler most likely for the next shot at welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, who is out of action with a torn labrum.

Guido Cannetti and USADA have come to an agreement where he will be suspended for ten months after testing positive for multiple prohibited substances that after an investigation, USADA has found came from a contaminated supplement. Cannetti, 37, tested positive for Ostarine, Stanazolol, two different forms of Hydroxystanazolol, as well as hydrochlorothiazide (the same diuretic that Junior Dos Santos tested positive for) and chlorothiazide in an out of competition test on 10/5. Ostarine, Stanazolol and Hydroxystanazolol are banned PEDs which would normally carry a two-year suspension. The latter two are diuretics that can be used as masking agents. Cannetti was able to provide USADA with a dietary supplement he had been using, and he had declared that he was using that supplement when he was tested, which was the key. The supplement he was using listed no prohibited substances on the label, and USADA tested both an open container that he was using at the time he was notified of the test failure, as well as sealed containers he had purchased but were not open, and found evidence of everything he tested positive for. USADA has added the supplement to its High Risk list of supplements on his data base. The ten-month suspension periods started on 10/28, the date his suspension started when he tested positive, which means it will end this week.

Two fights announced this week for a 10/28 show in Sao Paulo, Brazil are Lyoto Machida in his first fight back from suspension against Derek Brunson (which will be the five-round main event on the show), and Deivesan Alcantara (12-0, 11 stoppages and eight first round) vs. Jarred Brooks (13-0) in a flyweight battle.

Yordenis Ugas will replace Shawn Porter in a boxing match with Thomas Dulorme on this week’s Mayweather-McGregor undercard. Porter pulled out due to a death in the family. Ugas captured a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics and has a 19-3 pro record with nine knockouts. This will be the FOX main event before the start of the PPV.

Nick Roehrick, a light heavyweight, was put on temporary suspension due to results of an out-of-competition drug test taken on 8/8. Roehrick has fought once in UFC, a 7/7 loss to Jarrod Cannonier that he lost in the third round.

Cannonier will be facing Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on the 12/16 FOX card from Winnipeg. That and Alessio DiChirico vs Oluwale Bamgbose were the first two fights announced for that show.

Andrei Arlovski vs. Junior Albini, Angela Hill vs. Nina Ansaroff, Court McGee vs. Sean Strickland and Marcel Fortuna vs. Jake Collier have been added to the 11/11 show in Norfolk. Albini is 14-2, on a ten fight winning streak, and made an impressive UFC debut knocking out Timothy Johnson in as prelim fight on 7/22 at the Nassau Coliseum.

Jinder Mahal said that while he would be in attendance for former Canadian Olympic wrestler Arjan Bhullar’s UFC debut on 9/9 in Edmonton, he won’t be walking him to the ring.

Andre Fili vs. Artem Lobov and Marcin Held vs. Teemu Packalen have been added to the 10/21 show in Gdansk, Poland.

Felice Herrig vs Cortney Casey was announced for a 12/2 PPV show at the new arena in Detroit.

Nick Hein pulled out of the 9/2 show in Rotterdam, Holland with an undisclosed injury. He was to face Zabit Magomedsharipov. UFC is looking for a new opponent for Magomedsharipov.

Demian Maia vs. Colby Covington, who just came off some appearances in GFW, is slated for the 10/28 show in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Also on that show is Boston Salmon (that’s his real name) vs. Augusto Mendes. Salmon got his job with an impressive win on the Tuesday Night fights on Fight Pass, where at the end of the show, Dana White announces who from the show will get a contract. Mendes is a high level Jiu Jitsu competitor but has lost to Cody Garbrandt and Aljamain Sterling, the champion and one of the top contenders in the division.

Former strawweights Joanne Calderwood and Bec Rawlings are moving up to 125 pounds and face off on 11/19 in Sydney, Australia.

Terrion Ware vs. Sean O’Malley is the first fight announced for a 12/1 show in Las Vegas, which is one day before the PPV show in Detroit. This will be a Friday night final of this season of the Ultimate Fighter, including the finals of a match to determine the first UFC women’s flyweight championship. O’Malley got a contract from the Tuesday Night show on Fight Pass after a knockout win over Alfred Khashakyan, which gave the 22-year-old fighter an 8-0 record..

BELLATOR: Ryan Bader defends his light heavyweight title against Linton Vassell on 11/3 in State College, PA at the Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State University. Two former NCAA champions from Penn State, Ed Ruth and Phil Davis, will also be featured on the show.

Featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull Freire (26-4) will defend his title against Daniel Weichel (39-9) on 11/16 in Tel Aviv, Israel, where Bellator had a sold out event the first time they came in. Weichel lost to Freire two years ago but has won four straight since then. .. They have a show this week on 8/25 from Verona, NY with Andrey Koreshkov (19-2) vs. Chidi Njokuani (16-4), Fernando Gonzalez (25-14) vs. Brennan Ward (14-5), A.J. McKee (7-0) vs. Blair Tugman (9-6) and Veta Arteaga (2-1) vs. Bruna Ellen (2-1)..

OTHER MMA: Former UFC star Antonio Silva, cut after a series of losses, is now doing a fight that should never happen. Silva will face Rico Verhoeven, the Glory kickboxing world heavyweight champion and the best heavyweight kickboxer in the world. Silva has never had a kickboxing match while Verhoeven, who has a 51-10-1 record, has had 62. The bout takes place on 10/14 in Gangzhou, China. Silva, 37, is 1-8 with one no contest in his last ten MMA fights and seven of those losses were via knockout. His chin is gone and it’s criminal he fights the best kickboxer in the world under kickboxing rules.

Ben Askren defends his One welterweight title against Zebaztian Kadestam in the main event of the company’s first show in Shanghai, at the Oriental Sports Center on 9/2. That is awfully short notice to run a major show.

There is a very unique match coming at the ADCC submission championships that take place on 9/22 to 9/24 at the Espoo Metro Arena in Espoo, Finland. Chael Sonnen will face Leo Vieira. Viera is a two-time world champion, but won his titles at 145. So his skill level is far beyond Sonnen, but Sonnen will go in with a huge weight advantage. Vieira replaces Frank Mir, who just pulled out. Another match on the show pits Renzo Gracie, now 50, against Sanae Kikuta, 45. The two had an MMA fight the second Pride show ever on March 15, 1998, that Gracie won via submission with a guillotine in 50:43 back in the days of no time limit matches. As I recall, that fight was like watching paint try and I used to use it as a sleep aid.

Terrance Jean-Jacques, a former WWE developmental wrestler, will be challenging for the New England Fights amateur heavyweight championship on 11/3 in Portland, ME against champion Nick Gulliver. Jean-Jacques signed with WWE in the spring of 2016, but his career ended after he was arrested for assault on his pregnant girlfriend several months later. His background before wrestling was being a star athlete in Haverhill, MA, and was the starting heavyweight at Iowa as a freshman compiling a 22-6 record that first year. He left the school and ended up at Division III Rhode Island college, where he took second in the Division III nationals in 2015..

WWE: Cass suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury on the 8/21 Raw show in Brooklyn. He was doing a street fight match with Enzo and went over the top rope. In doing so, his left leg landed at a horrific angle. He knew he was hurt immediately and limped into the ring and tried to go right to the finish. He slammed Enzo and went right to his empire elbow finisher, but even doing that, the leg gave out. He was furious and the ref stopped them match and had to rule Enzo as the winner. He needed help getting out of the ring. He had an MRI done on 8/22 and the results indicated that he would need major surgery, which will be done this week. “It looks like he has an ACL tear, possibly a medial meniscus tear, but we’re going to wait for the radiologist to evaluate the MRI and give us their full report,” said WWE physician Dr. Chris Robinson. A torn ACL is the same injury Seth Rollins had and the usual return time is six to nine months.

As far as Enzo goes, he’s been moved to the cruiserweight division and will be doing a program with Neville for the title. This had been talked about and rumored for some time. Part of it was everyone was mad at him, although he’ll be in the same dressing room every Monday, and on the same road crew so it really doesn’t make much difference. Generally speaking, it could hurt his pay significantly but that may not be the case here because he’ll still get his Raw promo time and that’ll keep his merchandise sales up, and will likely be working the same house show schedule. Because he is so over with the audience, in theory this should help the viewership for 205 Live because he’s a much bigger name to general fans, so it does make sense as a business decision. Obviously he’s not going to be able to have the quality of matches as the other guys in the division, but that’s of minor concern given the struggling nature of the 205 Live show. When he debuted on the show, the crowd, which was better reacting than usual since it was more of a fly-in European crowd (hence “He’s a wanker” chants at Neville), exploded when Enzo showed up in what was the biggest pop I can recall on that show. .. Dwayne Johnson fell from first to second place in this year’s rankings of the highest paid actor in the world put out by Forbes. The magazine estimated Johnson as earning $65 million over the past year between movies and the TV show “Ballers,” second to Mark Wahlberg at $68 million, but well above third place Vin Diesel at $54.5 million.

Paul Levesque did an interview with CBS Sports In this Corner Podcast and when asked what promotion was WWE’s leading competition, he gave a clever answer. He said that WWE doesn’t have a promotion pushing them, but that Raw & Smackdown have a promotion right on their tail called NXT. The reality is from a business sense, WWE doesn’t have anyone pushing them as the difference in popularity of WWE and New Japan or ROH, whichever is really No. 2 in the U.S. marketplace, is enormous. The real competition really is the NBA and NFL, in the sense when they are on with big games, they can take a bite out of the audience. UFC was competition when they were strong in the PPV business, but since they aren’t, and UFC runs Saturday nights, UFC really isn’t competition to them right now except when it comes to Lesnar’s next contract. He was also on Jimmy Fallon on 8/18 pushing SummerSlam. Fallon made a joke about the name HHH sounding like an extra-strength hemorrhoid cream and he came out, with music, bodyslammed Fallon through a table (I believe that was a stuntman and not Fallon since later in the show Fallon joked about the segment and talked about his stunt team) and then sat in his chair and calmly plugged that SummerSlam was coming on Sunday.

Linda McMahon has taken some media criticism for not quitting Donald Trump’s cabinet. That’s going to be a hard one to do, because if she were to do it she’d make a powerful enemy in Trump for deserting him after he gave her a role that nobody else ever would have. In addition, there were stories that there would be people protesting SummerSlam trying to get WWE to kick Trump out of the WWE Hall of Fame.

Dallas McCarver, 26, a pro bodybuilder who was in preparation for the 2017 Mr. Olympia contest and the boyfriend of Dana Brooke (Ashley Sebera, herself a former fitness competitor), passed way on 8/22, reportedly from choking on food. According to Sebera, she said they were on the phone late Monday night when she called him from New York and he told her he was going to make dinner. The belief is that he choked on food shortly after midnight. McCarver was a ripped 300 pound monster whose shoulders and arms were so huge he almost looked like a cartoon character. He placed eighth in the 2016 Olympia, which is bodybuilding’s biggest event, would put him as one of the top bodybuilders in the world and he was thought to have potential to place even higher in upcoming years. She wrote that he once called her Mrs. McCarver and was clearly brokenhearted, obviously, about what happened. She was talking about setting up a Go Fund Me in honor of him to support his foundation to help underprivileged kids.

People have been very high on the women’s tournament which will have its first several episodes released together on 8/28. People raved about it live but they did a lot of post-production work which I’m told makes it even better. Levesque was asked this past week regarding the format of the finals on 9/12 and how that night will be done regarding the usual 205 Live show that would take place. There is nothing official right now, but the last working plan was to shoot a one-hour woman’s final, with the Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane match as the main event, airing live right after Smackdown ends in Las Vegas. As noted before, many, if not all of the 32 women are being brought to Las Vegas, including several being flown in from Japan or the U.K. just for this show. The idea is to have a series of other women’s matches, three being the going number right now, on that show. The expectation is for the next chapter of the Horsewoman vs. Horsewoman angle to take place, which in theory would mean Charlotte, Banks, Bayley and Lynch have to be positioned at ringside.

Charges against Saraya Jade-Bevis (Paige) from the incident at the Orlando Airport for domestic violence for throwing a drink at boyfriend Alberto Rodriguez were dropped this past week. The state district attorney’s office decided against continuing with the case since Alberto refused to press charges.

Shelton Benjamin, 42, returned this week to Smackdown and will be put in the old Jason Jordan spot as the tag team partner of Chad Gable. The storyline is that when Angle brought Jordan to Raw, that he made a deal with Bryan that he’d help him get one of his friends. Benjamin used to be part of Team Angle, with Angle and Charlie Haas, many years ago. In the introduction, Gable acted almost fanboyish about Benjamin, saying he grew up idolizing him since he was from Minnesota (Benjamin went to the University of Minnesota and was the starting heavyweight before his eligibility expired and they recruited Lesnar). Benjamin said he knew all about Gable, but gave a cocky look like it’s more likely Benjamin will turn on him and they’ll be feuding at some point. Benjamin was originally going to be brought back to be a name enhancement wrestler for Smackdown more than a year ago. He didn’t sign a contract but was in the process of medicals, and they had already started plugging his return in a vignette, but his medicals discovered he had a torn rotator cuff that he wasn’t aware of. He’d been wrestling in Japan since 2012. He was part of Suzuki-gun, so worked New Japan and then went to NOAH, when New Japan was basically running NOAH. After finding out about the injury, he had surgery, I believe in August. He was cleared to return on 3/30 and started taking indie dates. He had been in talks with WWE for some time. About five weeks ago there was a report in Pro Wrestling Sheet that he had signed. WWE denied that to us, as far as the actual signing, but it was well known they were in talks. He did sign more than a week ago. He was let go by WWE in 2010 in what was a surprise cut at the time. He had started in 2000 with WWF. He was an assistant wrestling coach at the University of Minnesota where he was a two-time All-American heavyweight, placing third in the nation as a senior. Gerald Brisco was scouting Brock Lesnar, and Benjamin, a childhood fan of Ric Flair pro wrestling, was looking to get in, so he was also signed. Benjamin was an amazing athlete, a great high school football wrestler and running back who got Division I offers for football. H e ended up in junior college in California where he is likely the only person in history to be the national JC heavyweight wrestling champion, and then followed by winning the national championship in the 100 meters. During his run in WWE, he was very well respected by the company. He worked for ROH after WWE and it started out good, but the crowd turned on he and partner Charlie Haas after a while

Phil Brooks (C.M. Punk) got a legal bill of $120,503.26 in regard to aspects of the slander lawsuit filed by Dr. Christopher Amann, which he has stated and it is believed is being funded by WWE. Fightful had a story on this stemming from Amann’s slander suit against both Brooks and Scott Colton (Colt Cabana) from Brooks’ much-talked about interview on the Art of Wrestling podcast where he claimed negligent medical care for a staph infection by WWE doctors. Both Brooks and Colton filed motions more than tow years ago to get the case thrown out, but it is still around. In an interesting wording of the pleading, among the claims of Brooks were that in many of his statements, Amann was not referred to by name and that the statements couldn’t necessarily mean it was Amann and not another doctor he was talking about. He also claimed Amann was a public figure, since he had appeared on television doing a doctor role with WWE as well as was used for storyline angles. Regarding the statements Amann claimed were false, their response was “Brooks made his challenged statements with good motives and for justifiable ends and even if the statements, at issue were not technically or literally accurate in every detail, no reasonable jury could find that the statements were not substantially true.” This does read as an admission that there was at least inaccuracies in some of the things he said on the podcast. His lawyers claimed Amann can’t prove any actual or special damages and that Amann repeatedly placed the interests of WWE over the medical interest of Brooks and other patients and engaged in unprofessional, incompetent and/or dishonest conduct in furtherance of the WWE’s entertainment and/or business interest that compromised and tarnished his reputation, professionalism and integrity, and claimed he had violated his physician/patient confidentiality with Brooks. Amann claimed that he was hurt substantially financially, claiming the statements on the podcast caused his medical insurance premiums to increase 63 percent and quadrupled his deductible. He said other carriers have refused to insure him and still others have given him even less favorable rates, and Amann said that he suffered anxiety, stress, loss of sleep, loss of weight and muscle mass as a result of probably false statements by Brooks. He also said he anticipates the statements will make it difficult to obtain a job promotion within WWE and hurt his reputation with prospective new employees and patients. This specific case involves a subpoena that Brooks and Colton filed looking for a number of items, including all communication between WWE and Amann including any decisions or agreements by WWE to either pay or reimburse Amann’s legal fees, all internal communication regarding Brook’s staph infection diagnosis and any potential concussion diagnosis or treatment as well as a number of other things related to the case. WWE legal then claimed the cost of gathering all the information asked for would be between $182,650 and $446,650 and WWE tried to get the subpoena thrown out objecting to just about every request. Another subpoena, this time narrower, was filed by Brooks. They were also looking for complete e-mail records regarding an aspect of this case for 20 different WWE employees including top executives like Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Levesque, Kevin Dunn, Michelle Wilson, Mark Carrano, Jane Geddes, John Laurinaitis, Amann and the rest of the medical and trainer staff and the key people in P.R. and legal. On 12/12, Judge Charles T. Lee in the Superior Court in Stamford ordered that WWE would search and produce e-mails for six key employees, but not the other 14 unless there is evidence linking the other 14 would have information relevant t the case, they would produce al video footage and still photos from one event per week from November 1, 2013 to January 1, 2014 (the period Brooks claims he was wrestling with a visible infection–it should be noted that WWE released footage of Brooks from the Royal Rumble which they used to claim, with no visible bump under his trunks that Punk had described on the podcast regarding the size of the infection to contradict Brooks’ claim about the size of the infection–Brooks’ time period would have ended before that Royal Rumble). He also ordered WWE & Brooks to split the costs to WWE of gathering all the information requested and they had until February 4, 2017 to comply with the information being ordered. WWE turned over the documents, footage and information they were required do and in June sent the bill of $120,503.26 to Brooks. Brooks’ side then claimed the cost was exorbitant, claiming they included legal expenses for resisting the subpoena and cost of other work that could not benefit him in the case and believed time related expenses were excessive and that his bill should be closer to one-third of that figure, or just under $40,000.

It was reported by ScreenRant.com that Cena is under consideration for the lead role in a movie spinoff of the 80s TV show “Knight Rider,” in the lead role originally played by David Hasselhoff. The story was that Cena was being looked at to play the character of Michael Knight, the star of the original show, and that Kevin Hart was being looked at to play the voice of the car.

Jericho’s latest book, “No is a Four-Letter Word: How I Failed Spelling but Succeeded in Life,” will be released on 8/29. It’s basically a book about chasing your goals, in his case being a rock star and being a pro wrestling star, and not listening to those who tell you that you can’t make them happen.

A new idea for New Day, and this may explain their quickie title win and loss this past week, is to not only make them the longest reigning tag team champions in WWE history, which they are, but to establish them as the so-called greatest tag team of all-time down the line by holding the titles more times than any team in history. Right now they have three title reigns. The record would be the Dudleys with nine title reigns.

An interesting note regarding the story about how Talking Smack would continue after PPVs when Vince McMahon ordered the cancellation of the weekly format is that the show didn’t air after SummerSlam. We’ll see if that’s permanent or not, as they did push that a preview special for the women’s tournament would follow SummerSlam.

Ranallo had minor surgery on 8/21 for a spider bite. He will be working at the NXT TV tapings on 8/24 and the Mayweather-McGregor fight on 8/26. The spider bite actually took place on 8/18, so before he did the Takeover show.

The New York Times in the arts section ran a lengthy profile on Mahal, with the story about him going from enhancement talent to champion and WWE using him to try and break into the Indian market. Michelle Wilson is quoted in the story about how 60 million people in India watch WWE programming every week. That’s one of those stats like the one about 20 million watching WWE programming in the U.S. At a recent investors call, the claim was that 13 million in India watch Raw, which is will about four times that of the U.S. and that at least sounds more reasonable. The goal is turning them into paying customers and given the drop in WWE Network numbers since Mahal won the title, which I don’t correlate to his winning, but that shows that it hasn’t made much of a difference as of at least the end of June in India, and if there was a sign that’s changed, I’d think we’d be hearing about it.

One thing WWE has been doing better than ever in its current form is not mainstream appeal, where it’s nowhere close to peak, but maintain acceptance by decision makers. WWE gets more coverage on a regular basis in places that in the past wouldn’t touch them because of the changing in media as evidenced in the McGregor/Mayweather story. That mainstream acceptance by decision makers has also led to a 25 percent increase year-over-year in business partnership revenue for the first six months of 2017.

WWE and 2K Sports had their annual big party on 8/18 in New York. Snoop Dogg was there as the host and guest celebrity lighting it up, which was notable given people noting Jim Ross was fired a few years ago off his performance in hosting the same event. Tons of talent was there and they shot an angle with Ambrose & Rollins vs. Sheamus & Cesaro, doing a pull-apart. I was told there were about 50 media members there and the biggest question to talent on the red carpet was asking about who would win between Mayweather and McGregor.

Jim Ross did a talk show with Paul Heyman on 8/18 at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York. The show had a lot of interesting moments. It’s the first time the two have done a show together. Heyman had done similar shows in the U.K. Heyman really took over and then he and Ross did a Q&A. During the show, Heyman ordered 300 orders of shrimp tempura for the crowd in attendance from the restaurant next door and it was delivered while the show was going on. Heyman claimed it wasn’t just any shrimp tempura but the best shrimp tempura in New York. Heyman said that he usually doesn’t do shows like this (he’s never done them in the U.S., only the U.K. tour) but that when Ross told him that working shows like this is what keeps him happy after the death of his wife, Heyman said he was so taken by that he agreed to do the show. Heyman was asked about C.M. Punk. Heyman said that Punk was miserable at the end of his WWE run and his leaving was the right thing for him to do. He said if Punk gets the bug to return, that he would 100 percent return, but if he never gets the bug to return, it is 0 percent he will return. The thing is, Punk is a free agent and if he wanted to wrestle, there are plenty of places he could, and I do know he’s in contact with the Young Bucks and as best I can tell has shown no interest at all in returning. When Ross was asked about Joey Ryan, Ross said that Ryan gets himself over. He said the gimmick isn’t for everyone and he understands why some don’t like it, but he said, who cares, he gets himself over with it and has become an attraction on the independent scene. He said some like it, some don’t, and if you don’t, then move on. Ross pushed that he’d like to see the Lesnar vs. Jon Jones fight be held on a WWE show. He said it would break all PPV records. He said if he was the booker, he’d give a $2 million bonus to the winner. I’m not sure what he meant there. Honestly, the worst thing they could do right now is do a match on a WWE show because most will feel it’s entertainment and it would work against the drawing power of the event. There’s a reason Lesnar’s MMA fights draw far better on PPV than his pro wrestling matches did, even though his biggest pro wrestling matches did draw. Heyman said that he won’t do conventions and autograph signings and that he never will, and that Lesnar feels the same way. Heyman was asked who he’d like to manage besides Lesnar. He said he didn’t think he could manage anyone on the roster to recapture the magic he has with Lesnar. Fans were chanting “Joe” during all this. Heyman did say he’d like to manage Charlotte for a WrestleMania match with Rousey. The show ended with Heyman talking about Jan Ross, saying she was a phenomenal human being and said aside from JR, there was no bigger fan of his wife than him (I would share that view by the way so at best he’s in a multi-person tie). Jim was clearly distraught, and cried on stage. Ross said the reason he did the shows in Orlando so soon after her death was because he wanted to be around the fans, because the fans make him happy and feel loved, and then gave a tearful thanks. The end of the show was said to be something to see.

Angle claimed that Ric Flair saved him from signing with WCW in an interview with TMZ. He said this at the WWE 2K party. He said that he was ready to sign a deal with WCW when Flair told him to go to WWE because Vince McMahon will know what to do with you. When Angle decided to try pro wrestling, that would have been 1998. The WWE had made him a $250,000 per year offer in 1996 which he turned down, and then he went back to them two years later after his career as a sportscaster didn’t pan out, although he didn’t get that level of an offer to start the second time. In 1998, Flair was in WCW at the time and all I know is that I’ve never heard that story before and Flair and I have talked countless times about Angle and he never brought that up and nobody has ever brought up Angle when it came to WCW. While I suppose it’s possible, it’s hard to believe a story that Angle was about to sign with WCW was kept quiet for 19 years, especially since I knew about lesser amateur wrestlers that WCW had talked about in that era. .. Regarding the deal last week with Corbin, who got a lot of heat for a minor Twitter beef with Rawley that led to him blocking a number of current talent, the other key situation (the thing with me was so minor and the idea that anyone thought they changed a book decision over that, while it looked like it due to timing, I don’t buy it for a split second), was with Mike Gilbert, the wrestling fan who served in the Air Force who Corbin called a loser indie fan, the photo of Gilbert and Vince McMahon wasn’t taken for the Tribute to the Troops special. It was Vince’s trip to Afghanistan in December 2015, and Vince was filming for the 2015 version of the show there, but that was not filmed. Gilbert said he deleted the tweet because he felt bad for pulling the military card after being insulted, and Corbin did apologize, plus he noted that his phone exploded from the controversy. He said the only reason he did so was to defend independent pro wrestling fans who get unfairly labeled as losers who live with their parents and can’t get women. At the end of the day when it comes to Corbin, Vince sees him as a big star and all the stuff about him failing on the cash-in being the end of him, I don’t buy that.

Bruno Sammartino met Bruno Mars for the first time this past week. As many know, Bruno Mars was named by his parents after Bruno Sammartino. His actual name is Peter Hernandez, but his father started calling him Bruno as a child. On 8/22, when Mars was performing that night in Pittsburgh at a sold out show at the PPG Paints Arena, he met Sammartino backstage. Sammartino told the AP that he was very impressed by Mars, saying, “I hope he’s like that in everyday life. He was the most humble, nicest guy. He couldn’t have been more respectful.” Mars told Sammartino, who was his father’s favorite wrestler, that he had looked up clips of him backstage, and had called his dad before the show to tell him he was meeting Bruno Sammartino and his father got really excited. .. The WWE was promoting Marti Belle for the Mae Young Classic as the first wrestler of Dominican descent in the history of WWE. I think it’s virtually a certainty that there have been a number of Dominican wrestlers in the company over the years, although perhaps none in the modern era, since pro wrestlers in the previous era came from all over the world and traveled all over the world. She lived in the Dominican Republic as a baby and lived there until returning to the U.S. at the age of seven. She was originally going to be pushed in the tournament, but looked so bad in her match with Rachael Ellering (as Rachael Evers) that in mid-match, the wrestlers got the cue that the finish had been changed and Ellering went over. Ellering wasn’t even originally in the tournament, as she was brought in to be an alternate and was a late add when plans changed, and she ended up going to the second round. Part of the idea of the tournament is to have women from multiple countries, so even though she’s lived most of her life in the U.S., she’ll be billed from the D.R.

Reigns vs. Joe vs. Strowman is being advertised for the Raw house shows this coming weekend.

WWE stock closed at $20.98 per share, slightly down this week, giving the company a market value of $1.618 billion.

For reasons I’m not clear of, the WWE Network ratings was only up through Saturday night so this only measured a few days and didn’t include SummerSlam, the SummerSlam pre-show and the Mae Young Classic bracketology, which would no doubt be the top two and MYC would probably be top five or six for the week. So with those eliminated, the top ten shows were: 1. NXT Takeover Brooklyn; 2. NXT Takeover pre-show; 3. NXT from 8/16; 4. NXT from 8/9; 5. Battleground PPV; 6. WrestleMania 33; 7. 205 Live from 8/15; 8. Ric Flair collection; 9. NXT from 8/2; 10. Table for 3 with Scott Hall, Sean Waltman and DDP.

Notes on the 8/21 Raw show in Brooklyn. The show itself was good, but the beach ball thing got out of hand. There were between seven and ten different beach balls flying around, notably in both the Jordan vs. Balor and the Reigns & Cena vs. Miz & Joe matches. Jordan and Balor tried to ignore it and continue to do their match even though the crowd wasn’t paying attention to them. There were several people kicked out during this. Cena actually played it up in his match and the cameras shot it which was a huge mistake, as it only called attention to it. Really, as great as the Cesaro thing was for improvising, in the long run it was a bad thing because it got the spot over and that takes away from matches and may turn into a thing. It was similar to a day after Mania crowd, which has its good and bad points. They were hot during a lot of the show, most notably the key opening segment and the segment setting up the Cena & Reigns vs. Miz & Joe main event. But it was a crowd trying to get itself over and really showed a lack of respect to the talent, particularly in the Jordan vs. Balor match where the two were putting on a good match, and the beach balls in the audience were the crowds focus. The crowd also did the wave during an eight-man cruiserweight match, and this wasn’t exactly Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia lack of action. The crowd has the right to do whatever it wants within reasonable boundaries and can react how it pleases, but it’s one thing to be quiet, or even to be negative, but it’s another to show a lack of respect for performers working hard trying to entertain you with a good match. None of the matches that the crowd seemed to pay no attention to were bad at all. The crowd was 12,100, so a little shy of a sellout. To try and help the walk-up, they announced a special $20 ticket price for both Raw and Smackdown to try and boost last minute sales. Main Event opened with Slater pinning Axel in a surprise with a roll-up. Kendrick beat Lince Dorado via submission with the captain’s hook. Raw opened with Lesnar & Heyman out. Lesnar showed no signs whatsoever of any injuries that would have resulted in him going out on a stretcher. But he did have a cut under his left eye. He seemed really happy as the crowd did the “Suplex City” chants. Heyman said that he doesn’t make predictions in his promos, he gives spoilers. He said he tells people what is going to happen in advance, hopefully so people can bet on it and make some money. He said there was a conspiracy to take the title from lesnar, but he pinned Reigns, which the fans cheered loudly. He said that there is nobody in WWE or UFC history who can conquer the one and only ruler. Strowman came out. He and Lesnar went face-to-face. He tried a choke slam, but Lesnar got out, but Strowman nailed him with a big boot and powerslammed Lesnar twice and left him laying. The place went nuts for Strowman. Enzo beat Cass in the match where Cass seemingly blew out his knee. Enzo got a big pop coming out. He said that Cass, he didn’t go to private school or NYU, but that book smarts don’t match street smarts. Well, except Enzo is like the worst when it comes to street smarts. He said he graduated Magna Cum Laude from the school of hard knocks. He talked about how they started out as friends 15 years ago playing basketball in the streets. Well, they actually did meet 15 years ago playing playground basketball, but it wasn’t until they got to Orlando together that they really became friends. He came out with a grocery cart filled with weapons. The match started as Cass threw Enzo a chair like he was giving him a chair to give him a fair chance. Cass then kicked him in the face when he went for the chair. Then Cass got hurt and the ref had to stop the match at 8:50. Emma was talking to Brooke. Emma complained about how she had the hard block and Brooke had the easy one in the eliminations. Brooke said that Emma tapped out in her match. Emma said that all Brooke had to do was get past Mickie James and Jax, noting that James was a six-time champion, but that was before the women’s revolution that she started. Emma then joked that Jax wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed and was a moron. Jax was standing right behind her when she said that. This led to Jax pinning Emma in 1:04 with a Samoan drop. Elias was singing and mocking R-Truth. There were fans both cheering and booing him. R-Truth interrupted him and that led to a match that Elias won in 1:22 with draft away. Elias’ selling was pretty bad here. Angle came out and announced Cena was there. Cena got a big response. He was talking about how he came to Raw for a specific opponent. Reigns then came out. Reigns played heel. Cena said that Reigns was the guy he was looking for. They squared off and were about to go when Miz came out with his group. Miz made a remark about looking around and seeing what a sold out Barclays Center looks like. That was because he was furious at SummerSlam when his match took place in front of an empty building because people were let in so late. Miz asked both guys how many moments do they each get. Everyone cheered him for that, which he didn’t expect. Miz said he was sick of waiting for his moment while Cena and Reigns get moments eery week. He said Raw didn’t need an addition like Cena when the IC champion was riding the pine at SummerSlam. He then asked the crowd if Raw needed Cena. They responded “No.” Not sure if that was expected or not. There were a few “Yes” responses but they were the clear minority. Cena then acted like he was going to leave since they said that. Miz said he wasn’t done talking to him. Miz said Cena was turning his moment into a joke. Miz then yelled at the crowd saying they didn’t know whether to cheer or boo Cena. Then he said the crowd didn’t know whether to cheer or boo Reigns. Actually they do on that one. Miz said he was the only current champion in the ring and he deserves too always be in the main events because he’s earned that spot for 12 years. He was doing a great promo and the people were getting behind him. About ten people started chanting “You deserve it,” but then the chant picked up to being fairly big. Really, he deserves the main events with that often crappy offense? Cena challenged Miz to pick one of his lackeys for a tag match against he and Reigns. Reigns gave him a dirty look for that one. Joe came out and the crowd was chanting bit for him. Joe said that he was going to be Miz’s partner. Joe then attacked Cena. Reigns laid out Miz, Axel and Dallas and threw them out of the ring. Joe put Cena in the choke and Reigns saved Cena with a Superman punch. Cena and Reigns were left in the ring and the crowd chanted, loudly, “You both suck.” Mustafa Ali & Alexander & Swann & Metalik beat Gulak & Daivari & Nese & Dar in 8:43. It should be noted that during the break Cena encouraged the fans to do whatever and have fun. That backfired on these guys as the crowd paid no attention to them and did the wave. Cole kept talking about Nese’s 12-pack. It’s about abs, not about beer drinking. A 12-pack is impossible. Eventually Graves corrected him, but not until he said it several times. Then the crowd chanted “This match sucks” while the guys were working hard. Metalik did a ropewalk Asai moonsault on Gulak and Daivari to the floor. In the ring, Alexander pinned Nese with the lumber check. Neville did a promo and called O’Neil a flesh eating parasite of an adviser. O’Neil and Tozawa showed up. O’Neil called Neville a gargoyle. They announced a title rematch for 205 Live. Jordan was with Angle. He wanted a match. Angle said that Miz was already booked in the main event. Jordan said he’ll get back to Miz, but he wants Balor. Angle questioned if he should be looking for that level of competition, but made the match. Ambrose & Rollins came out as champions. The crowd loved them. They said there would be a party. They said they knew Sheamus & Cesaro would be coming for a rematch. Ambrose said they would face Sheamus & Cesaro anytime and anywhere. A few fans started chanting “delete” and then the Hardys came out. Then the “delete” chants got loud. The Hardys congratulated them. Both Hardys teased with broken dialect. The Hardys issued a challenge for a match. Rollins said that they grew up idolizing the Hardys and accepted. Ambrose & Rollins beat The Hardys in 16:47. Rollins took a nasty fall off a double back suplex. He did a normal landing, but his head for some reason snapped back and the mat hard. He looked shaken up at first but continued like nothing was wrong. Jeff did poetry in motion off Matt’s back over the top rope on Ambrose & Rollins. Jeff missed whisper in the wind. The crowd got real quiet and parts of them match weren’t good. Graves was covering for some missed spots. It got better. Ambrose & Rollins did a double tope. Lots of near falls. It ended when Matt used the twist of fate on Ambrose and Jeff went for the swanton. Ambrose got his knees up. Rollins then hit the knee on Jeff and Ambrose hit the Dirty Deeds and Rollins pinned Jeff. Miz & Joe were backstage with Axel & Dallas. Miz talked about how great it was that Joe has joined the Mizterouge. Joe told him to shut up and he was making the orders. The crowd was really behind Joe. Banks did an interview saying that she may be from Boston, but her heart is in Brooklyn since she and Bayley stole the show at the Barclays Center. You would think that reference would get over, but the opposite was the case. She then talked about how she and Charlotte tore down the house as well. The fans booed her by this point. She then wished the best to Ric Flair, which the crowd couldn’t boo. This isn’t saying she did this to turn the crowd, because her words were scripted, and they were just saying this because they wanted someone to mention Flair during the show. Bliss came out and made fun of the idea that Banks can win the title, but always seems to lose it quickly. Banks challenged her to a rematch right now. Bliss teased she would but then turned her down. The fans didn’t really care about it one way or the other. Bliss agreed to do the match next week in Memphis. Balor pinned Jordan in 11:38. Good wrestling but the crowd hurt this one badly. Jordan used a butterfly lock and Graves, who clearly pays attention too wrestling in Japan, immediately recognized it as Yoshi-Hashi’s move. The beach balls were out here. The two guys had to work their match and ignore the beach balls, and there were several of them, while the crowd paid no attention to them. Balor won with a knee, the sling blade, a Woo dropkick and the coup de grace. Reigns & Cena beat Miz & Joe in the main event in 12:59. Nobody was paying attention to this match either early on due to beach balls. Then they started doing another wave. There was heat on Reigns most of the way. Cena got the hot tag. The crowd was booing Cena’s comeback. Joe put Cena in a choke. Reigns went to hit Joe with the Superman punch, but he moved and Reigns hit Cena. Joe went for a tope on Reigns but Reigns hit him with a Superman punch. Miz went for the skull crushing finale on Cena, but Cena escaped and hit the Attitude Adjustment on Miz for the pin. After the match, Cena was holding his jaw and they again teased Cena vs. Reigns. After the match, Cena cut a promo saying he was glad everyone had fun and talked about the beach balls like it was just people having fun. He said he wasn’t happy that security was taking the beach balls away from fans.

Notes from the 8/22 Smackdown tapings in Brooklyn. The fourth night drew 11,500 fans, with a good walk-up after the announcement of $20 tickets in the last few days. The crowd was clearly a lot of out-of-towners as even in New York you’re not going to be able to sell 10,000 tickets just to locals four nights in a row. In the dark match, Breeze & Fandango beat The Ascension. Smackdown opened with Styles out. Styles said he was the workhorse of the company and was starting the U.S. title open challenge right now. Owens came out. Styles said that he just beat Owens at SummerSlam and they’re done and it’s over. Owens looked really said. He said that history repeated itself at SummerSlam as a McMahon screwed a legendary Canadian out of a championship. Shane came out and said he called the match down the middle, and Styles won fair and square. Owens showed footage of Shane counting three when he had Styles pinned and also brought up how Shane had jumped off a hell in a cell and survived a helicopter landing in the ocean, but was slow in getting up when he had Styles pinned earlier. Owens asked how come the three count he made didn’t stand when the three count when Styles pinned him in their TV match when Owens’ shoulder was completely up did stand. Shane said he saw the foot on the ropes and that was the referee’s decision that it wasn’t a pin. Styles then said he was tired of Owens complaining and would give him a title match. Owens wanted it and Shane approved it. Owens said he was just asking for one thing, he didn’t want a WWE ref and he sure didn’t want Shane as ref, so he wanted to pick the ref. Granted this made no sense for a heel to be asking to pick the ref but Styles and Shane both agreed to it. But Shane said that this would be Owens’ last shot at the title and there were no more excuses. Bryan was on the phone when the Singh Brothers and Mahal showed up. Bryan questioned how Mahal beat Nakamura and Mahal called Bryan another xenophobic American, and that he was a hero. Bryan said that Mahal deserves retribution. Mahal didn’t want to face him, but Bryan said he meant against the Singh Brothers, so ordered both of them in a handicap match against Nakamura on the show. Owens then approached Zayn to be the referee. He said how they’ve had their problems but he’s looked back at their history and felt Zayn would call it fair and wanted him to do so, and said to Zayn that since he came to Smackdown, he really hasn’t been doing much anyway, and as a referee in this main event he can do something that counts. English was in the ring singing. He gets easy heat for that. Roode came out and the place went nuts. Roode would have been a face anyway before this crowd, but he was positioned as a complete face here. Roode kicked out of English’s finisher (yes, he has one, called the director’s cut) and then pinned him with the DDT in 6:26. Roode came across like a complete major superstar here. Renee Young then interviewed him and he said that Smackdown would become glorious. Bryan was taking with Gable, and introduced Benjamin as his new partner and announced they would debut as a team next week. Owens was backstage with Zayn and handed him a referee’s shirt. Zayn said that he’s thought about it, and remembered all the times over the years that Owens has stabbed him in the back. So he took the shirt and threw it back at Owens and turned him down. Usos beat Rawley & Ryder in 3:13 when Jimmy pinned Ryder after a superkick. Nakamura beat The Singh Brothers, Samil & Samil, in a handicap match with a triangle submission on one of them at 2:48. The Singhs got some heat when Mahal distracted Nakamura. They are keeping Nakamura vs. Mahal going as Mahal gave Nakamura a superkick after the match, but Nakamura came back and laid out Mahal with the Kinshasa, which explains why he didn’t win his match with it. Breeze & Fandango approached Owens about being the referee of the main event. Owens treated them like a joke and said “No way.” Corbin then walked up and said he would do it. But he wanted the agreement that if Owens wins the title, that he would get the first title shot. Owens agreed to that. Natalya did a promo saying she was going to restore honor and dignity to the title. Carmella and Ellsworth came out and said Natalya was on borrowed time, and said “ticktock ticktock.” She said when the time was right, she’d be cashing the briefcase in. Ellsworth then gave away the strategy saying in their tag match where they are partners, Carmella will just let Natalya get beat up by Lynch & Naomi and lose, and with Natalya beaten down, she’d cash it in. Carmella acted mad that he gave it away and the storyline was that Ellsworth was such a goof that he had let everyone know the strategy. Lynch & Naomi beat Natalya & Carmella in 7:26. Natalya was kind of like a babyface in here as she was cleanly wrestling both Lynch and Naomi and it was clear Carmella wasn’t going to tag in. The crowd paid no attention to them even though all four were working hard. There was a wave during the match and I think beach balls were flying as well. Natalya tagged Carmella before Carmella realized it. Carmella tried to run away, but she got thrown into the ring and Naomi pinned her with a split-legged moonsault so the idea was the plot was foiled. They announced that Ziggler was back, even though he never went anywhere and was just not being used on TV for a while. His gimmick is that he’s bitter and feels disrespected. He acted like all these people with gimmicks who aren’t at his level are on TV, talking about people singing, playing guitar, dancing like idiots, wearing fancy robes, and glowing in the dark. He said he’d be back next week and kind of teased like he’d have a gimmick so he would stand out. I wonder how many times they’ve restarted Ziggler, given him a shot, and then every time he winds up with them deciding he’s not ready for a top spot and he falls back to the bottom again. Lana and Tamina are backstage. So the Lana as a wrestler thing looks dead and now she’s Tamina’s manager and motivator with the idea of getting Tamina ready for a title run. The idea is that she’s trying to bring the rage out of Tamina saying how the other women talk behind her back and stuff. Lana said that the Ravishing Rage of Terror will begin next week. Styles bumped into Corbin before the main event. Corbin noted that Owens had promised him a title shot if Owens won the title. Styles said that if he retains the tilte, there would be an open challenge every week so he could get a shot. Styles retained over Owens in the main event in 12:54. They had their usual good match. The focus once again was on the referee. Corbin started out calling it fair. Styles got the calf crusher on and had the mach won. Owens must have just touched the ropes and Styles pulled him to the middle and had Owens beat. Corbin broke the hold and said he made the ropes. Styles said that you have to grab the ropes and he didn’t grab the ropes. Owens shoved Styles into Corbin. Corbin and Styles had words and Corbin shoved Styles and Owens schoolboyed him twice but Styles kicked out. Shane came out and told Corbin he was doing a terrible job as referee. While Corbin and Shane were arguing, Owens gave Styles a low blow. Corbin turned around and went to count the pin but Shane pulled Corbin out of the ring at two. Corbin and Shane argued again. Corbin took off his ref shirt, threw it at Shane, and then left. Shane then put the shirt on and took over as ref. Styles then hit the phenomenal forearm to win the match which ended the show. 205 Live opened with Metalik & Alexander beating Nese & Gulak in 7:48. It’s pretty clear they are building Alexander back up for a top spot and maybe a match with Neville down the line, although Enzo looks to be the next challenger. This was faster-paced and more high-spot oriented than the 205 Live matches have been. It was a hotter crowd so they were more into it, but still not that into it. Metalik’s personality isn’t over at all, but people react to his cool moves including a great Asai moonsault off the top rope onto Nese as well as a crossbody off the ring post as opposed to the top rope and his usual rope walking spots including a ropewalk splash. After a double dive spot, Alexander pinned Gulak with the lumber check. This felt like a style of match that would get 205 Live over more, but it’s never going to get past a certain level when it’s being taped after Smackdown. O’Neil was with Tozawa. O’Neil wanted Tozawa to rest up and wait a little while for his rematch with Neville. Tozawa said he was ready and would take back the title. O’Neil said he liked to hear that and they did a chant for Titus worldwide as well as a “Whoo” for Ric Flair. Gallagher came out for a duel. There was a table with weapons like a lead pipe, an umbrella, a kendo stick and a tire iron. Gallagher said that perhaps he’s been too much of a gentleman in the past. He wanted Kendrick to come out. Kendrick was on the screen and said that fighters don’t duel, clown duel. He then sent out a clown who they called Sprinkles the Clown. Sprinkles did the old spraying water from his lapel into Gallagher’s face several times until his face and shirt were all wet. Sprinkles took off his glove and slapped Gallagher in the face with it like he was challenging him to a duel. The fans did react to this chanting “Stupid idiot” at the clown. Gallagher head-butted him and put the boots to him. Gallagher teased using the various objects, but threw all of them on the ground and went to pick Sprinkles up for a power bomb through the table when Kendrick came from behind. Kendrick laid Gallagher with several umbrella shots and then power bombed Gallagher threw the table. Kendrick then challenged Gallagher to a no DQ match next week. TJP and Swann were backstage. TJP was still on crutches with his knee in a big brace. TJP claimed he injured his knee when he beat Swann a few weeks ago. He acted like he and Swann were still best friends but told Swann it was Swann’s fault he lost last week to Daivari. He said he just wanted to come out and watch the match and didn’t know they were going to play the music. He said Swann should have paid attention to the match. Swann said he wasn’t buying it. TJP said that he’s injured and that Swann needs to stop focusing on that he lost to him and focus on Daivari and getting his win back because he never should have lost the match last week. Swann said he would beat Daivari and then have his rubber match with TJP, and told TJP to focus on recovering. Neville beat Tozawa in 16:15 to retain the title in a ***3/4 match. The crowd wasn’t dead like usual for a 205 Live main event, but it wasn’t that hot either as this was a really well wrestled match with good technique, logic and cool moves. Neville worked on the left shoulder most of the way. Neville did a moonsault off the top rope to the floor and was in control most of the way. Tozawa came back with a tope and a flip senton of the apron. Tozawa tried a senton off the top rope the first time, but Neville got up and hit him so Tozawa was crotched on the top. Neville did a top rope superplex, but on landing, Tozawa cradled him for a near fall. After several near falls, Tozawa hit a high kick and went up for the senton again. This time he missed and Neville used the rings of Saturn for the submission. Fans were kind of on Neville with “You are a wanker” chants. Neville said how Tozawa’s title reign was only six days and he’ll go down as nothing more than a footnote in history. Enzo came out to a huge pop. He said 205 Live just became the realest show in the room. Neville walked out on him and Enzo said there’s only one word to describe Neville, and he was going to spell it out. The dark match main event saw Orton beat Mahal via DQ in a title match when both Singh Brothers interfered. Orton gave both Singh Brothers a double draping DDTs after the match. .. There were no NXT house shows this week and the only WWE brand house show was 8/21 in Albany, NY, a Smackdown show going against Raw. The show drew 2,350 fans which is the smallest crowd I can remember for that building. The Usos retained the tag titles in a three-way opener over Big E & Kingston and Breeze & Fandango. The match was mostly comedy involving New Day and Fashion Police with the Usos staying outside for much of the match. It picked up steam and Kingston even did a dive. The Usos won after a superkick party on Big E and a roll-up in about 10:00. Dillinger & Harper beat Rowan & English in about 10:00 when Dillinger pinned English after the tye-breaker(ushigoroshi). The fans were way behind Harper who is from upstate New York with tons of chants for him. English got a lot of heat with his singing. Ziggler pinned Sin Cara in 13:00 with a superkick. Ziggler got a big babyface reaction coming out. A lot of people thought he wasn’t with WWE since he hasn’t been on TV in a while. But he turned the crowd during the match going on the mic and turning on Albany. This was said to be the best match of the night. Fast paced with a lot of near falls. Zayn & Styles beat Rusev & Owens when Styles pinned Owens after Zayn used the helluva kick and Styles followed with the phenomenal forearm in 12:00 of a crisp match. Owens was cheered heavily when he came out but the faces weren’t booed at all. Naomi & Lynch beat Carmella & Natalya & Tamina in 10:00 when Naomi pinned Carmella after the rear view. It was 2 on 3 because Charlotte is in Atlanta with her father in critical condition. Even though she was on the heel side, Natalya got a big face pop coming out. Match said to be good. Nakamura pinned Corbin in 12:00 with the Kinshasa. Match was slow. Main event saw Mahal beat Orton to keep the title in a last man standing match in about 20:00. They did the same finish where Orton had the match won but one of the Singh Brothers distracted the ref as he got up and the other gave him a low blow to put him back down. Mahal then got up first to beat the count and won. Orton laid out the Singh Brothers and Mahal after the match with RKOs..