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July 24, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Brock Lesnar returning to UFC, WWE Battleground preview, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 July 24, 2017

 

NEW JAPAN G-1 CLIMAX FIRST DAY

Thumbs up 294 (99.7%)

Thumbs down 0 (00.0%)

In the middle 1 (00.3%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi 264

Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii 16

Yoshi-Hashi vs. Yuji Nagata 10

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Yano & Jado vs. Okada & Gedo 74

Bad Luck Fale vs. Togi Makabe 67

Opening six man tag 34

Suzuki-gun vs. Bullet Club 19

Based on phone calls and e-mails to the Observer as of Tuesday, 7/18

 

There were a ton of rumors going around that UFC wanted to put Stipe Miocic vs. Brock Lesnar on the 11/4 show at MSG.

That would look to be impossible, given Lesnar’s suspension, but there is clearly smoke to the fire in the sense that Lesnar will apparently be putting himself in the USADA drug testing pool. While he made no public announcement, that means he would no longer be considered a retired fighter. Several sources have said Lesnar had already put himself in the drug testing pool but Jeff Novitzky told MMA Fighting that as of 7/19, that was not the case, and that Lesnar had not even officially inquired about being put back into the testing pool.

In addition, UFC is attempting to put together Miocic vs. Cain Velasquez as the heavyweight title fight for later this year.

And even that isn’t close to happening, as Miocic’s management has said he’s not even willing to discuss a fight until contract issues with UFC are settled. Miocic was very upset that when he fought Alistair Overeem in Cleveland, his home town, where he was clearly the drawing card on the show, that Overeem, the challenger, earned more money then he did as champion. And Velasquez’s back is always an issue.

As for Lesnar, the key is that there is a four month window that a retired fighter has to be put in the pool before he would be eligible to fight again. In the case of Lesnar, it’s actually a five month window because he was under a one-year USADA suspension, which dates back to 7/9, for testing positive in two tests for Hydroxy-Clomiphene.

When he announced his retirement in mid-February, the one-year suspension was frozen. The only way to get the clock ticking on the suspension would be to be put back in the pool, so in doing so on 7/19 or 7/20, he would have five more months of suspension time, putting a return in mid-December at the earliest. It is possible the nature of him retiring and then coming back would extend the window to six months, putting his earliest return date as mid-January. UFC officials had not clarified whether it was five months or six months at press time, and that makes a big difference. Not fighting until late January would remove him from the Rumble show and could threaten WrestleMania. If the idea was not to fight until after this contract expires in April, he’d have had no reason to get back in the drug testing pool before until October, so that would indicate plans are for the fight before the end of his WWE contract, and that’s problematic given the time frame of WWE’s two biggest shows of the year.

UFC sources indicated that given the year they are having, of course, UFC would like to book a Lesnar fight if he’s interested. The December show is the one UFC has wanted for a Ronda Rousey return. Rousey is still in the drug testing pool and hasn’t retired even though Dana White continues to say he doesn’t think she’ll ever fight again.

For Lesnar, he’d need a minimum nine to ten week window of camp and fight week, which would mean no pro wrestling. He’d also have to almost surely drop the Universal title, because I can’t see WWE allowing a Universal champion being put in a position where he could look bad in a fight. When the plan was for Lesnar vs. Reigns at SummerSlam, the idea at that time was likely a title change. Of course that dynamic may have changed based on the last two weeks of WWE programming.

If he was to fight, the December show would fit timing wise because he could miss Survivor Series and be back for Rumble and Mania, but sources close to the situation have said he is not looking at fighting until 2018.

He’s also going to need Vince McMahon’s approval, if he fights prior to April, but the feeling is he can get that with the idea WWE will do what it takes to keep Lesnar happy and not put him in a mood where they cost him a $5 million plus payoff.

Lesnar’s WWE contract expires with the 2018 WrestleMania. Lesnar was in serious negotiations with UFC in 2015, the last time his WWE deal came due. He went with the WWE offer, even though the UFC offer would have been considerably more lucrative, with the idea that there was less risk of head trauma and greater almost guaranteed longevity at the top in controlled pro wrestling. In early 2015, the word going around was that Lesnar was probably leaving WWE and that he felt he had unfinished business in UFC, being robbed of his best years due to having Diverticulitis that limited him during much of his run there.

When it came down to the final decision, both WWE and UFC upped their offers in the last week, and he went on ESPN and announced he was staying with WWE, that he was an entertainer at heart and was retiring as a fighter.

But he ended up getting the best of both worlds, a three-year deal that made him the second highest paid wrestler in the promotion behind John Cena, even though working a limited schedule, and last year did a UFC fight against Mark Hunt where he was believed to have earned in excess of $5.5 million between his pay and PPV points, before being fined $250,000 for the failed drug tests, which went along with his one-year suspension.

He first announced he was retiring as a fighter first after his loss to Alistair Overeem in 2011, a second time in 2015 when he signed with WWE, and a third time this past February. There are reports that Lesnar is not looking at a new deal with WWE in April because he could earn considerably more money in UFC, but that could simply be negotiating leverage, similar to how everything went down in 2015. We did get feedback from those in WWE who believe that Lesnar is leaving at Mania, but keep in mind that was considered a given by many in 2015 as well. Those who know the situation have said that the Lesnar contract has option years in the sense that it does end in April, but it can continue past April if neither side informs the other they are leaving, and that Lesnar has not said that he’s leaving and it’s a decision he hasn’t made at this time.

Besides Miocic, potential opponents for Lesnar that would be viable are Velasquez and Alistair Overeem, who both beat him in the past, Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones. Jones would be the biggest money fight of all, provided Jones doesn’t lose to Daniel Cormier on 7/29. From a UFC standpoint, even though Jones would probably be outweighed by 40 to 50 pounds inside the cage, he’d probably be the heavy favorite and it’s a huge marquee fight and one that could bring Jones to the superstar level that he flirted with in the past. A fight with Ngannou wouldn’t be as big a box office fight, but Ngannou is seen as a superstar of the future in a weak heavyweight division, and such a fight would put his name on the map. For Miocic, it would be the biggest money fight possible for him as champion. Miocic has been trying to get a boxing match with Anthony Joshua, with the idea that, like Conor McGregor, he could make more money in that venue than he could for a title defense. And while UFC would not want its heavyweight champion losing to a boxing heavyweight champion, particularly since such a fight wouldn’t do anywhere close to Mayweather-McGregor numbers, they have set a precedent with allowing that fight.


The Brock Lesnar situation becomes even more interesting since the main event for SummerSlam on 8/20 in Brooklyn was to go to the winner of the 7/17 Raw match in Nashville between Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns.

But the match ended without a winner, and with Braun Strowman laying both men out. While nothing was officially announced, it certainly appeared that the Lesnar vs. Reigns title match plan was more likely going to0 be a four-man match with Joe and Strowman added.

If Lesnar has to lose the title now, and based on the timing of him fighting, he may not have to (although if he’s fighting in December or January, that would timetable no wrestling after mid-October to mid-November, if not earlier) this at least gives them three options as far as who to lose it to. They could continue with Strowman as the monster and put him over here to set him up for losing to Reigns at WrestleMania, which would be close to the original plan. But if Cena vs. Reigns is planned, that would necessitate Reigns to be champion probably no later than January. If they do a four-way, either Strowman or Joe winning and leading to losing in a singles match to Reigns makes more sense then Reigns winning now and then defending against Strowman, Joe and others until getting to Mania.

One thing is that if word gets out that Lesnar is leaving WWE, the fans will probably turn on him, and perhaps there is a window of opportunity for

Vince to have the Lesnar vs. Reigns match he’s been wanting for years and have it garner at least close to the reaction he always thought it would get when it was originally in the planning stages back in 2014.

They’ve also been booking strong heels so Reigns may still go over and then have Strowman, Joe and Bray Wyatt ready as contenders for the next few months and lead to John Cena at Mania, since the Free Agent storyline implies plans for a major program with someone on Raw.

While you could do both, having a four-way in that spot would make it overkill to have a four-way for the Raw women’s title. That seems less likely since on the 7/24 Raw in Washington, DC, Bayley vs. Sasha Banks was announced with the winner facing Alexa Bliss for the title at SummerSlam. I can’t imagine after doing a non-finish in a similar match one week, that they’d copy the same formula the very next week on the same show. Banks is the more over of the two, as they really hurt Bayley bad starting with when she lost the title in the manner she did and then got beat again the next night, and then the disaster of a kendo stick match. She’s not dead, but she was badly flattened out by the post-Mania booking. Banks is more over right now and beating Bliss the way she did via count out at Great Balls of Fire needs a rematch. Bliss vs. Nia Jax was teased, but it’s harder to get to this early when you’ve announced Bayley vs. Banks as the winner getting the title shot.

The final PPV before SummerSlam is Battleground on 7/23 in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center.

With so many tickets left on sale, they discounted Battleground’s least expensive tickets last week. The $125 seats have been cut to $75. The $75 tickets have been cut to $55 and the $55 tickets have been cut to $25. They are pushing you can get into see the show for just $25. Even with Cena, the Smackdown PPV shows are harder to sell tickets for than the Raw shows, and even though Philadelphia is an historically good wrestling market, the Wells Fargo Center would hold around 15,000 seats for a PPV making it larger than most venues they run in.

The lineup right now has Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton for the WWE title in a Punjabi Prison match as the main event.

The rules, as explained on Smackdown, is that there are two cages surrounding the ring, made up of thick bamboo as opposed to a metal cage. The idea is that there are four doors out of the first cage, all manned by a referee. Once out of the first cage, you can only win by climbing over the top of the second cage. The doors of the first cage can be opened by a referee when a wrestler signals he’s ready to leave. At that point, the door stays open for 60 seconds allowing one or both to leave. But if nobody escapes, that door closes and can no longer be reopened.

John Cena vs. Rusev in a flag match is the other top match, plus A.J. Styles vs. Kevin Owens for the U.S. title, Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis, a tag title match with The Usos vs. New Day and a five-woman elimination match with Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya vs. Tamina vs. Becky Lynch vs. Lana. They’ve beaten Lana like a drum and portrayed her as completely out of her league, and are pushing her in a way they pushed Eva Marie in NXT, but it’s not working here, with Tamina as her protector with a weird unexplained dynamic. Charlotte was also being given a heel edge, and lost via submission on television to Becky Lynch, which in WWE booking means she’s also a favorite to win. Based on traditional booking where you actually put the challenger over big and give her a streak, Lynch would make sense.

There will also be some kind of encounter with Tyler Breeze & Fandango against whoever will be revealed as the team that has attacked them, trashed their office and stole and dismembered Fandango’s stick horse Tully. The Ascension was ruled out. The Usos have bigger fish to fry. The Colons are out with Primo having knee surgery. An American Alpha heel turn is now also out. So it’s pretty much going to have to be a new team, which could be Sanity from NXT or creating a team from the existing roster. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan being put back together would make sense since nothing has been done with either of them in months and of late they’ve been both kept off television.


Opening night of the G-1 Climax tournament on 7/17 at the Hokkaido Sports Center in Sapporo saw five totally different A block matches, all of which delivered within their style.

Yoshi-Hashi scored a major win over Yuji Nagata, in his final G-1, in what would be a typical guy on the rise vs. veteran who can still go but isn’t pushed hard New Japan style match.

Bad Luck Fale’s win over Togi Makabe was the foreign powerhouse vs. Japanese brawler style match. It was short. Of the five tournament matches, it was the only one that wasn’t great. But the crowd was with it and both came across as players in a hard hitting match.

Hirooki Goto’s win over Tomohiro Ishii was exactly what you would think it would be. It was like every Goto vs. Ishii match with the hard hitting, the popping up from moves, big Ishii fire and excellent timing, both of when to do everything, and in the performance looking like a real hard hitting fight, and a completely different level from the prior match.

Zack Sabre Jr.’s win over Hiroshi Tanahashi was the big upset of one of the top guys that usually takes place on opening night. This match was all about Sabre’s submissions holds working on the right arm that Tanahashi suffered the biceps tear in. Tanahashi’s role was very different and this was totally unlike a big Tanahashi match. It was all about his selling and getting Sabre over as a threat in every match he’s in. The issue is that even though Sabre did get a win over Katsuyori Shibata, it was with a lot of interference, as opposed to a clean submission win here. In addition, Sabre was a long-time undercard junior heavyweight in NOAH, known for his technical excellence. But he was never established as a threat to beat the biggest stars, and was also not seen as having a mean streak. The idea now is that he’s a killer with his submissions as a British Suzuki disciple as opposed to someone who does pretty moves.

The result also set up a rematch as they made it very clear in the post-match that a Tanahashi vs. Sabre match for the IC title would probably be coming up on one of the fall major shows.

And then there was Tetsuya Naito’s win over Kota Ibushi. That was the long first night main event and blow away match with them setting the pace and standard for everyone to live up to in the tournament. It was the match that tells you G-1 is about special matches. It’s the start of the period when you get, perhaps not the best matches of the year as is the case in most years, because given the year so far, that would be impossible. But at least it gets the tournament over on day one that this will probably be the period of having the most great matches condensed over a three-week period.

The stories on winning streaks, losing streaks and comebacks that usually play out won’t be evident for about another week. The favorites coming into the tournament appear to be Naito in the A block and Kenny Omega in the B block, with the idea of Naito winning (Omega beat him last year in the B block final) and facing Okada in the Tokyo Dome main event.

Omega has been heavily pushing two items, the first is that even if he doesn’t win the tournament, if he beats Kazuchika Okada on 8/12, it’s a success. The other is pushing the idea of him facing Ibushi in the finals. If that doesn’t happen, one can easily see an Omega vs. Ibushi match with Omega’s U.S. title at stake on a major show, whether it be King of Pro Wrestling in October or Wrestle Kingdom in January.

The first night drew a legitimate sellout of 6,189 fans paid and the best gate they’ve done for a G-1 show in that building ever. Last year’s opening night in the same arena did 5,533, which was just shy of a sellout, and they were up from a legitimate sellout (but with more comps) from 2015.

New Japan World topped 60,000 subscribers worldwide on 7/17. The service has been a disappointment from the start, as while Japanese fans were very willing to buy monthly high-priced iPPV shows on the Internet, the idea of a streaming service that aired the same shows at a much lower price was not a success. No streaming service has made it big in Japan. New Japan had hoped for 100,000 subscribers in Japan after its first year, and instead after two-and-a-half years, they are likely below 50,000 for Japan.

This year has to be a disappointment in the sense they had 60,000 on 1/4, which was about 45,000 in Japan and 15,000 outside Japan. But even with all the great matches, the AXS coverage (although for whatever reason New Japan never advertised New Japan World on AXS, which would be the primary audience that would be interested in it, nor made it easy for all but the hardcore fans to sign up) the numbers dropped both in and out of Japan since then. They were about 50,000 going into Dominion, got a boost there, and may have gotten a U.S. boost for the Long Beach shows although we never heard that directly. They did get a boost leading into the first night of G-1 and the hope is to hit a higher peak for the last three nights at Sumo Hall from 8/11 to 8/13. Still, it has to be a disappointment to have put on so many great matches and not keep such a high percentage of subscribers.

Another aspect is that in no other year did so many of the top guys come into the tournament already beaten down. Tanahashi and Goto are nursing significant injuries to where they probably should be taking time off, and in the case of Tanahashi, it’s more like definitely. Okada and Omega have taken punishment from both having so many incredible matches this year. Tanahashi, Ishii, Nagata, Kojima, Makabe and Suzuki are all past 40. They are all smart enough to know what to do and when, and to coast on the off-days, but there are still physical limitations. Over the past few years, it’s not in G-1 where the issues really come out, as even the wrestlers who are injured in G-1 usually gut their way through it, the key guys continue to have great matches, and it’s in the fall where the bills come due.

If the first night is any indication, Tanahashi is going to have to go through the grueling event based on selling his arm every night. Others have less of an alternative, as the top workers, especially when against each other, are expected to work as a ridiculous standard. There is a standard from the 2013 to 2015 tournaments that may have been the best wrestling tournaments ever held for match quality, and even if last year was slightly down during the body of the tournament, it was pretty much impossible to match the last three night main events with Tanahashi vs. Okada, Omega vs. Naito and Omega vs. Goto.

Ironically, the first casualty of the tournament, on opening night, was announcer Don Callis. With all the excitement on the show, Callis’ voice started going early and got worse. By the main event, it was almost gone and for the last several minutes of Naito vs. Ibushi, it was Kevin Kelly going solo. He had until 7/20 to rest but then had three straight nights of shows from there. Messed up vocal cords are a bitch of an issue because it can take forever to recover and talking is something that you take for granted. And to recover, you have too stop talking, which isn’t exactly something he can do in real life, let alone as a pro wrestling announcer.

The undercard on the first night was used to set up the 7/20 B block matches at Korakuen Hall.

This week’s shows are:

7/20 at Korakuen Hall (B block) at 5:30 a.m. Eastern time: Ibushi & Hirai Kawato vs. Sabre & Desperado, Makabe & Nagata & Tiger Mask vs. Goto & Ishii & Gedo, Tanahashi & David Finlay vs. Fale & Chase Owens, Yoshi-Hashi & Jado vs. Naito & Bushi, Satoshi Kojima vs. Juice Robinson, Michael Elgin vs. Tama Tonga, Evil vs. Seiya Sanada, Okada vs. Toru Yano and Omega vs. Minoru Suzuki.

7/21 at Korakuen Hall (A block) at 5:30 a.m. Eastern time: Robinson & Finlay vs. Evil & Hiromu Takahashi, Suzuki & Taichi vs. Sanada & Bushi, Omega & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tonga & Owens, Elgin & Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Okada & Yano & Gedo, Nagata vs. Goto, Makabe vs. Ishii, Ibushi vs. Sabre, Tanahashi vs. Fale, Naito vs. Yoshi-Hashi.

7/22 at Korakuen Hall (B block) at 5:30 a.m. Eastern time: Makabe & Ibushi & Finlay vs. Goto & Ishii & Gedo, Yoshi-Hashi & Jado vs. Desperado & Sabre, Tanahashi & Katsuya Kitamura vs. Nagata & Tomoyuki Oka, Fale & Yujiro Takahashi & Owens vs. Naito & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi, Kojima vs. Yano, Robinson vs. Evil, Suzuki vs. Sanada, Omega vs. Tonga, Okada vs. Elgin.

7/23 at the Machida City Gymnasium (A block) at 5 a.m. Eastern time: Kojima & Tenzan vs. Elgin & Kitamura, Robinson & Finlay & Kawato vs. Suzuki & Taichi & Desperado, Tonga & Owens vs. Evil & Hiromu Takahashi, Yano & Jado vs. Omega & Yujiro Takahashi, Okada & Gedo vs. Sanada & Bushi, Yoshi-Hashi vs. Sabre, Tanahashi vs. Nagata, Fale vs. Naito, Ishii vs. Ibushi, Goto vs. Makabe.

7/25 in Fukushima at the Big Palette (B block) at 5:30 a.m. Eastern: Makabe & Taguchi vs. Ibushi & Shota Umino, Oka & Kitamura vs Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi, Nagata & Kawato vs. Naito & Hiromu Takahashi, Sabre & Taichi & Desperado vs. Fale & Yujiro Takahashi & Owens, Tanahashi & Finlay vs. Goto & Jado, Kojima vs. Elgin, Tonga vs. Evil, Suzuki vs. Robinson, Omega vs. Yano, Okada vs. Sanada.

7/26 in Sendai at the Sun Plaza Hall (A block) at 5:30 a.m. Eastern: Robinson & Finlay vs. Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi, Yano & Jado vs. Sanada & Bushi, Suzuki & Taichi vs. Evil & Hiromu Takahashi, Elgin & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Omega & Owens, Okada & Gedo vs. Kojima & Tenzan, Ishii vs. Yoshi-Hashi, Sabre vs. Fale, Makabe vs. Ibushi, Naito vs. Nagata and Tanahashi vs. Goto.

 

1. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Jushin Liger beat Juice Robinson & David Finlay & Michael Elgin in 7:48. This was guys coming in and out and hitting their big moves. Kojima’s machine gun chops in the corner on Robinson were really over and they were pushing those two against each other since they meet on 7/20. They went to trading big moves until Kojima pinned Finlay after a lariat. Kojima and Robinson squared off after the match. **3/4

2. Minoru Suzuki & Taichi & Desperado beat Kenny Omega & Tama Tonga & Chase Owens in 7:04. Suzuki and Omega were the focal points to build their 7/20 match. Suzuki went right after Omega and they fought all over the arena. Suzuki put him in a Kimura while fighting in the stands. Taichi used the bell hammer on Tonga. Omega worked the match wearing a Marty Scurll T-shirt. Suzuki used a penalty kick on Omega for a near fall. Suzuki pinned Owens after choking him out and then delivering the Gotch piledriver. Suzuki then went after Omega again and they brawled until they went through the curtain. **3/4

3. Evil & Hiromu Takahashi beat Seiya Sanada & Bushi in 6:52. This match was there to build Evil vs. Sanada on 7/20 and was a special match with LIJ members against each other, the type of match you would never see on a regular show. Everyone went for all of their finishes in the first minute but the opponents knew to escape. Takahashi did his overhead belly-to-belly on Sanada into the turnbuckles. Sanada did his double leapfrog and dropkick spot. Don Callis claimed that Sanada can jump from the ground to the roof of a pick-up truck, which doesn’t sound human. It is said that Sanada can legit do a 48 inch box jump, which is amazing. Some day he’s going to figure out how to engage in the struggle and realize how good he really is and he’ll be scary. Bushi hit a tope on Takahashi and Sanada used a springboard missile dropkick on Evil. Evil debuted a new finisher, a chicken wing and crossface, on Bushi, to give him a new big submission move for the tournament. This was really good while it lasted. ***

4. Toru Yano & Jado beat Kazuchika Okada & Gedo in 7:49. This was similar to the prior match as it was Chaos members against each other, including Gedo vs. Jado, who have been partners for most of the last 27 years. It was booked to set up Okada vs. Yano on 7/20. Jado would chop and go “Whoo” as part of his Ric Flair imitation. He also does the delayed face first bump in almost every match. Yano undid the turnbuckle padding and used a drop toe hold on Okada into the metal and then his outside cradle for a near fall. He did a hair pull and cradle for another near fall. Okada accidentally ran into Gedo when Yano moved. The story of the match was Yano continually outsmarted Okada, as that’s the only way to sell Yano having a shot in their match. For the finish, Yano used low blows on Okada and Gedo at the same time and pinned Gedo with a schoolboy. **1/4

5. Yoshi-Hashi pinned Yuji Nagata in 16:29. Just a great match. It started out hard hitting with Nagata used hard kicks to the chest and Yoshi-Hashi with hard chops. Nagata knocked him flying with a kick and used an exploder for a near fall. They traded big moves. Yoshi-Hashi did a sick head-butt and you’d think what happened to Katsuyori Shibata would make everyone rethink that, but you’d think wrong. This wasn’t as bad as Shibata, but was far worse then should be done in a pro wrestling match. The head-butt was a set up for a power bomb and bridge for a near fall. Yoshi-Hashi also used a swanton and a butterfly lock for a near submission. They teased Nagata nearly passing out but he finally made the ropes. They went back-and-forth with big moves and near falls including Nagata using an enzuigiri, running knee into the corner and a back suplex for a great near fall. Yoshi-Hashi landed a spinning kick to the jaw. Nagata missed a running kick and Yoshi-Hashi did a clothesline into the corner, a form of a GTS and finished him with a back stabber and karma for the pin. ****1/4

6. Bad Luck Fale pinned Togi Makabe in 9:25. Fale threw down the ring announcer, which he does on a lot of shows. He didn’t throw him down that hard, but the ring announcers’ shoe went flying which was a cool touch. Fale threw him into the guard rail and choked Makabe with Makabe’s own chain. They brawled into the stands. It turned into a hard hitting match in the ring. They did two double lariat spots where neither would go down, to set up Makabe finally putting Fale down with a third lariat. Makabe tried the King Kong kneedrop with Fale halfway across the ring, but Makabe stuck up his hand and caught Makabe landing with a choke, and then picked him up for the grenade and got the pin. ***1/4

7. Hirooki Goto pinned Tomohiro Ishii in 13:43. They ran at each other and did the big collisions and traded hard chops. Ishii did a head-butt and vertical suplex but Goto popped back up. They did a great cris-cross spot with Goto finishing with a clothesline. They were just laying it in on each other the entire match. Ishii went for a superplex, and from that position they traded head-butts until Ishii did the superplex off the middle rope for a near fall. Then they traded lariats and both refused to go down. Finally both landed at the same time and Ishii went down while Goto was knocked to a knee. They went back and forth with more hard lariats including a double knockdown spot. Then they traded elbows forever and it had a total real fight atmosphere that only Tanahashi and Sabre could equal, but they were having a submission real fight while this was two guys beating up each other with elbows, kicks and clotheslines real fight. Ishii used a head-butt to the jaw and Goto was bleeding from the mouth. Goto used a hard kick and got the pin after a GTR. ****1/4

8. Zack Sabre Jr. beat Hiroshi Tanahashi in 17:18. Desperado was in Sabre’s corner. The early part was a strong technical match with Tanahashi trying to protect the right arm. He did an elbow drop but Sabre caught him with an armbar on the bad arm. Tanahashi made the ropes. Sabre continued to work the arm with all kinds of different moves, including an abdominal stretch combined with twisting the right arm and then the fingers. Tanahashi used a dragon screw, a dropkick to the knee and another dragon screw and went for the cloverleaf, but Sabre went back to the arm. But Tanahashi got the move and Sabre made the ropes. Sabre did a jumping guillotine and worked on the arm at the same time, then held a body scissors while twisting the arm. Tanahashi escaped with the twist and shout. Sabre did his bridging pin for a near fall. Finally Tanahashi hit the sling blade and did a crossbody off the top. Desperado jumped on the apron and Tanahashi knocked him off. Tanahashi went for the high fly flow but Sabre got his knees up. He did this great armlock with his legs twisting the left arm and his arms twisting the other arm. He tortured Tanahashi, who was doing an incredible sell job. He then took the elbow sleeve that was protecting the torn right biceps off, and then tore off all the tape on the right biceps, continued to twist the arm in different directions until getting the submission with the Jim Breaks special armbar. After the match, Sabre grabbed the IC title belt and taunted Tanahashi, making it clear they are building to a title match. ****1/4

9. Tetsuya Naito pinned Kota Ibushi in 24:41. We’d be talking about this as a strong match of the year candidate in a normal year. The crowd was psyched for this and it was clear this was the bout that drew the house. There were rooting sections for both guys, but surprisingly, there were more fans cheering Ibushi than Naito. Naito spit at Ibushi and worked over his bad neck. He dropped the back of Ibushi’s neck on his knee twice. Naito used a hangman’s neckbreaker on the apron and used a full nelson, but using his legs instead of his arms. Ibushi hit a huracanrana out of nowhere and followed with the golden triangle moonsault to the floor. Naito came back with a German suplex and went for the flying forearm, but Ibushi side stepped him and hit a German suplex of his own. Ibushi followed up with hard kicks to the chest and turned him inside out with a hard lariat. Naito came back with a dangerous German suplex and a side slam for a near fall. The pacing in this match was awesome. It was slower than most matches, but perfect speed for maximum drama out of the moves. Naito hit a reverse Frankensteiner off the top rope for a near fall. That’s when the crowd kicked it into another gear. Naito went for destino, but Ibushi got out and hit the lawn dart spot sending Naito into the turnbuckles. That’s the spot that screwed up Tanahashi’s neck a few years ago and just looks brutal on the neck. My thought is if a move is almost never done, but when it is done, it hurts the other guy, it probably doesn’t need to be done. Ibushi got a near fall when he was standing on the middle rope inside the ring and Naito was on the apron, and he used a power German superplex to throw him back in the ring for a near fall. Ibushi tried a last ride power bomb but Naito got out and ran the ropes for a tornado DDT. Naito went for a Frankensteiner off the top rope, but Ibushi got out of it and hit a Pele kick on Naito who was on the top rope. Ibushi then gave Naito a piledriver off the middle rope for a near fall. Ibushi went for a double arm piledriver, but Naito escaped. Naito hit a koppo kick and destino, but Ibushi kicked out. Naito hit a second destino, which was a lot more devastating looking, and got the pin. ****3/4


The Kurt Angle reveal of Jason Jordan as his illegitimate son ended up flat from a live perspective on the 7/17 Raw show from Nashville.

You could sense they didn’t have confidence in it either, since it was clearly the main thing driving the ratings to the show but it was put on at 10 p.m., leaving the Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe match for the main event position.

The story was that Angle had dated a woman while at Clarion University, who gave birth to a baby boy who was then adopted and raised by a loving family. He claimed the boy ended up a great high school athlete who had a pro baseball offer that he turned down to go to college where he wrestled, and then turned down multiple offers out of college to go to the WWE. It was clear from the description that the fans, who weren’t happy, were thinking Chad Gable when he said Jordan. That was probably the WWE’s thought as well, so it would be a surprise with the idea its an interracial storyline.

There was no pop at all. People didn’t boo either. Very few people were standing and cheering but even as Angle cried in the ring and basically was begging for a reaction, he didn’t get hardly any.

The big speculation going in was either an affair with a woman, with Stephanie McMahon and Dixie Carter being the names most mentioned, or an illegitimate child, with Gable and Jordan being speculated on the most, with the idea they fit the age and were the highest level amateur wrestlers on the main roster.

While the McMahon storyline had the most potential, as it would lead to a program with HHH that had great potential, in the end, it was almost a sure thing that wouldn’t happen. Carter would have probably been a better crowd reaction, or at least from hardcore fans, but then what do you do with it? In the end, it was really something where anything that they did other than the one angle they wouldn’t do, would be a letdown after the months of build. But it is these week-to-week mystery storylines that help the soap opera aspect of the television and has led to ratings rebounding to a degree. The 7/17 show where it was advertised for a week that there would be a payoff on the angle, did the best Raw ratings in three months, dating back to the Superstar Shakeup show on 4/17. It’s similar to how the Enzo & Cass storyline also helped rebuild ratings.

If nothing else, this allows Jordan to get a career jump-start, but it is also a big career risk if the fans don’t buy it. There’s nothing worse than fans thinking a babyface is a complete fake. In another era, this angle would have flopped, but now when people are into ironic stuff, it does have a chance, but based on the early reaction, they are swimming upstream at first.

It breaks up American Alpha as a team, as Gable will stay on Smackdown, where he can hopefully get a Sami Zayn level role for now as a guy who has good matches with the top guys and at least gets programs. Jordan moves to Raw, and there are the obvious angles that could lead to Kurt wrestling either to team with Jordan against heels who jump one or the other, or come out of retirement to wrestle someone who injures Jordan, and eventually they could have Jordan go heel on Angle.

Even though the initial reaction wasn’t strong, the success of this depends on what happens next and if the people are willing to suspend their disbelief, in the sense this is one of those things that everyone knows isn’t true. In wrestling, the reaction could be that people reject it as an insult to their intelligence, or go with it with the idea of it being cool to pretend to believe it, and either could happen with the current fan base. The problem is it puts Jordan in a situation where he’s either over in an ironic way, which often is a flash in the pan deal, or he gets rejected in the role, which is actually far worse for his career than his current doing nothing situation.

The big problem is the storyline from the start teased a reveal that not only could threaten his relationship with his family, but end his career in wrestling. How this remotely could be viewed as the latter, or something that severe, is where it fell flat. And that aspect was taken care of in the promo where Angle said that his family was fine with it and WWE was fine with it.

After doing the angle, they did a post-show interview with Renee Young. Both handled it as well as possible. The idea is that Jordan was told after college he was adopted and hired a private eye, found his birth mother, who then told him that Angle was his father. They pushed how Jordan could never figure out where he got his athletic ability from.

It’s also never good to have a long storyline like this, which did help ratings a little, and have a bad payoff because the company gets the “cried wolf” reaction when they do something like this again.

Jordan, real name Nathan Everhart, was only told about the angle last week, and there had actually been hints given that American Alpha would be getting a new storyline on Smackdown. This explains them having nothing done with them of late.

As a team, the potential was there and they were over huge when they came out of NXT and each week got less over. Once the decision to move the New Day to Smackdown was made, they were no longer in the top face team spot and were doing stuff with the Colons, which was dropped quickly and wouldn’t have gone anywhere anyway. Then they worked with Tyler Breeze & Fandango, which was dropped when the latter team became character faces and took the No. 2 face team spot.

The decision of Jordan vs. Gable for the spot, which it clearly would have come to, is probably at least partially a rib on Angle’s known past for dating African American women. Jordan is the physically bigger of the two, but Gable was the better wrestler and stronger personality and was the key in getting the team over, as Jordan struggled in NXT for years, even though well liked, the feeling was he didn’t have the charisma and was used as a jobber often until they hooked him up with Gable. The WWE even used that storyline a decade back when Angle had the hots for Sharmell Sullivan while doing a program with Booker T.


An angle with the MMA Four Horsewomen vs. the WWE Four Horsewomen ended up being the most-talked about topic at the tapings of the Mae Young Classic tournament on 7/13 and 7/14 at Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL.

The tournament was taped through the finals, which will pit former UFC fighter Shayna Baszler, who turns 37 in a few weeks and between her age and look is completely different from the type of woman that WWE usually features, against Kairi Sane, the former Kairi Hojo, the former Stardom star who was easily the best worker in the tournament, and they in fact did not only allow her to use her elbow drop but featured it as her big move.

Baszler’s slot in the finals was clearly due to the tease of the feud, as on both nights, Ronda Rousey appeared at ringside. Rousey is also expected to be at ringside for the finals in Las Vegas on 9/12 at the Thomas & Mack Center, as are many of the main roster women on both brands, which will air live on the WWE Network right after the conclusion of Smackdown. Baszler and Sane have worked together in Japan on a tour earlier this year.

On the first night, they brought in a ton of WWE talent, both for atmosphere and also to make it appear more realistic when they did the angle.

Rousey, Marina Shafir (who WWE featured heavily last week on NXT TV as Roderick Strong’s wife, who was Rousey’s best friend and roommate for years) and Jessamyn Duke (who is still under contract to UFC but fights with Invicta) were all at ringside the first night for Baszler’s matches. WWE was also revolving around a ton of talent for shots like they were all fans at ringside. In actuality, in most cases, they’d come out, be shot, maybe sit for one match, and then leave, but Charlotte Flair and Bayley were there the first night.

On the second night, after Baszler beat Mia Yim (Jade in TNA) via choke, she put up the four fingers in front of Charlotte, Bayley (who was pulled from the house show that night in Roanoke to do this angle which tells you it was significant) and Becky Lynch. Charlotte and Lynch weren’t pulled from house shows since Smackdown doesn’t run on Friday nights. Sasha Banks wasn’t there because she was on a promotional tour previously booked in Australia. Rousey, Duke and Shafir were on the opposite side and it led to yelling and screaming between both sides. Baszler was pushed hard in the tournament, beating everyone with a choke, and going heel late in the tournament.

It was pretty clearly an angle, which will air on the WWE Network on 9/4, or a couple of weeks after SummerSlam. It seemed like stage one for a Mania angle, although if it was, it was a complete secret as this wasn’t something anyone was told to put over and announcer Jim Ross said on his podcast that he didn’t know about it ahead of time and wasn’t even aware of all of it based on the group’s being seated on opposite sides of the ring. If something will go forward will be a lot clearer if they continue it on the 9/12 live show, but it is notable that Baszler was pushed so hard with her clean finishes and being put in the finals against the person she would probably be able to have her best match with.

But while this is not confirmed, the feeling is that Baszler has already agreed to come in because they wouldn’t have booked her the way they did and shot that angle otherwise. They had a certain number of contracts they were expecting to offer coming out of this and we’re told based on what they saw that they have increased that original number.

The tournament was considered a big success. The quality of the matches was nothing close to last year’s cruiserweight tournament, but the vibe in many ways was superior. While the Cruiserweight Classic had trouble drawing, only drawing 250 for the first round, 350 for the second round and not selling out until the third round, both days of the Mae Young Classic were sellouts.

We were told that night two didn’t have the same buzz or crowd reactions as night one, even though the wrestling itself was good. The crowd was deflated for a number of reasons. One is that it was obvious Baszler and Sane were going to the finals, because Baszler was pushed as a monster, and they even did an angle where her choke injured crowd favorite Candice LeRae who sold it to the point Johnny Gargano, her husband, had to help her to the back.

The Cruiserweight Classic was a big success in the ratings for the WWE Network, almost always being the top rated non-PPV related show for its ten week run.

For whatever reason, likely because of copying how Netflix does things, the first day’s four episodes will be released on the WWE Network on 8/28, and the four episodes on the next day will be released on 9/4.

Another difference between this and the Cruiserweight Classic that WWE didn’t realize when they did the Classic, is that arguably the two best guys in that tournament, Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr., turned down WWE offers. One or the other would have won, but with neither agreeing to a contract, they put T.J. Perkins over, and while Perkins is technically great and had great matches with Ibushi and Gran Metalik (Mascara Dorada), it wasn’t the star power to help get the division over and Perkins really didn’t get over well, which is why they’ve tweaked his character.

Because there aren’t avenues for women to make the kind of money that Ibushi and Sabre can make outside WWE, there figure to be no issues with who WWE puts over since everyone was there to get signed, as opposed to going to make a name or to have fun but not wanting to commit to the company full-time.

The changes made were instead of four sets of tapings, all done weeks apart, they taped everything except the finals over two days. It made sense because unlike the Cruiserweight Classic participants, most of whom were very good and some great experienced wrestlers, this pitted mostly relatively inexperienced women against each other. They were all brought in a week ahead of time so they could work out their matches at the Performance Center. One person in WWE noted to us that the tournament was overall good, but it was a great move giving them a week to prepare their matches because if it was done like the Cruiserweight tournament it could have been very different.

I was told that nothing was great, but nothing was really bad, and with editing and such, everything should turn out good (I was told that the televised version of most of the matches in the Cruiserweight Classic was as much as one star better across the board as it was live).

Among the women heavily praised included Baszler, who it was said was able to project herself like a legit badass, Piper Niven (Viper from the U.K.), who was described as a female Bam Bam Bigelow as a surprisingly agile large woman, Bianca Belair, who was green but showed charisma and got great heat for using her pony tail to whip Sane in the face in one match and has an incredible looking 450 splash, and Lacey Evans, who had a good look and presence along with the expected athletic standout in Toni Storm.

The women who got over the most were Niven, Candice LeRae, Storm, Sane and far more than anyone, Jazzy Gabert, the wrestler/MMA fighter from Berlin, Germany, who, to the live audience was the star of the shows.

Gabert lost in the first round to Abbey Laith (Kimberly Frankele). She’s a large woman, fought at about 185 pounds and is probably 5-foot-11 or more, and played monster with no sell spots that got over. She worked briefly for TNA when they shot TV in Europe, and her wrestling name is The Alpha Female.

On the second night, she worked in the 14th match of a 16-match show, in a trios match, but based on the reaction from the fight night, they let her win. Fans were chanting loudly “Please Sign Jazzy” at her.

Later, when Paul Levesque, Stephanie McMahon and Sara Amato came out, with a segment designed to thank Amato for starting the women’s revolution (shouldn’t that be Mildred Burke or at the last Ronda Rousey and Serena Williams?), fans were chanting “Please Sign Jazzy.”

Besides those already mentioned, among the stars shuffled in-and-out for TV cameo time included Bayley, Carmella, Charlotte, Tamina, Natalya, Beth Phoenix, Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Emma, Maria & Mike, Gargano (as part of the LeRae/Baszler angle), Kassius Ohno (whose girlfriend, Rachael Ellering was there), Akira Tozawa and Montez Ford (whose fiancé is Bianca Belair). Ata Johnson, the mother of Dwayne Johnson, was there as well although she won’t likely be identified on camera.

Others on the second night including the women who did the Horsewomen angle, also there at ringside included Nigel McGuinness, Gargano, Shoichi Funaki, Emma, Drew Gulak, Lana and Kalisto.

Jim Ross and Lita did the announcing live. Madusa was announced as part of the broadcast team but she only did the backstage interviews and was never in front of the public.

Shantelle Malawski, who was formerly in WWE developmental as Shantelle Taylor in 2006-07 and better known for her 2008-2010 role as Taylor Wilde in TNA, was contacted for the tournament and said that she suffered an injury in training so has decided to stay retired from wrestling. In a little remembered fact, Malawski was once given a try-out by WWE in 2007 as a masked Japanese wrestler San Eye, who would wrestle guys. She wore a bulky full body suit and the idea was that you were supposed to think it was a small Japanese male wrestler and then at some point, it would be revealed it was a pretty young woman. She did work some TV tapings in dark matches before the idea was dropped.

Results from the 7/13 show:

First episode:

1. Princesa Sugehit from CMLL beat Kay Lee Ray with an armbar submission after a missed swanton. Sugehit, the oldest woman in the tournament at 37, was one of the better workers.

2. Serena Deeb, who formerly worked in WWE as part of C.M. Punk’s Straight Edge Society, before being fired for not being straight edge enough for that society, returned and pinned Vanessa Borne (Daniella Kamela, who is already under contract) after a spear. Deeb has ditched the gigantic implants she got years back which may have been the catalyst for her getting the original job in WWE since she was more over in OVW than all of the women called up, but at the time wasn’t even given a contract for developmental under the augmentation. She had left wrestling for a few years due to concussion issues.

3. Shayna Baszler beat Zeda via choke.

4. Piper Niven beat Santana Garrett (who was Brittany in TNA as well as having worked all over the world) with a Michinoku driver. This match was one of the best of the tournament.

 

Second episode:

5. Mia Yim (Jade in TNA) beat Sarah Logan (already under contract) using Gail Kim’s Eat Defeat finisher. Yim got a big reaction as the crowd knew who she was.

6. Mercedes Martinez beat Xia Li via dragon sleeper.

7. Rhea Ripley (Demi Bennett from Australia) pinned Miranda Salinas after a uranage. Salinas is from Houston and is a student of Booker T’s wrestling school.

8. Abbey Laith beat Jazzy Gabert via cradle after rolling through on a power bomb attempt.

 

Third episode:

9. Toni Storm beat Ayesha Raymond (Ayesha Ray, given Raymond as the last name due to having a Kay Lee Ray also in the tournament).

10. Dakota Kai (best known as Evie from New Zealand) pinned Kavita Devi from India with a double foot stomp off the top rope.

11. Candice LeRae pinned Renee Michelle with a middle rope neckbreaker. Michelle was said to be one of the best looking women, but did not look good at all here. LeRae, because of her indie fame, was one of the most popular women in the tournament. There were fans chanting “Candice Wrestling,” since her husband is “Johnny Wrestling.”

12. Rachael Evers pinned Marti Belle with a small package. Evers is Rachael Ellering, but they don’t want her using that name because Paul Ellering, her father, is an NXT character. Belle was booked to win this match and apparently looked so bad that they switched the finish midway through. It was said that she blew some spots and didn’t go up well for Evers’ slams and Evers is actually very strong as a competition powerlifter.

 

Fourth episode:

13. Bianca Belair pinned Sage Beckett with a spear. Belair is a former college track star who is considered the best actual female athlete in the company by many. Beckett worked years ago in TNA as Rosie Lottlalove, and before that as Baby Ruth, but lost a ton of weight since then.

14. Lacey Evans pinned Taynari Conti with a cradle belly to back piledriver. Conti, from Brazil, just started wrestling earlier this month.

15. Nicole Savoy beat Reina Gonzalez with an armbar submission. Savoy is very athletic and aggressive and just needs more ring time. Gonzalez, whose father is wrestler Rudy Gonzalez in San Antonio. Reina is her new ring name after starting as Victoria Gonzalez. She’s more than 6-feet tall and played college basketball, but doesn’t have what would have been the WWE look.

16. Kairi Sane beat Tessa Blanchard with the top rope elbow drop. This was said to be one of the best matches of the tournament and the first night’s standout match. Jim Ross called it the standout match. Both looked good and Sane got over instantly with her charisma and personality and was a super babyface. One person said that they’ve never seen anyone at Full Sail debut with that kind of babyface likeability from the start.

 

Results from the 7/14 show:

1. Deonna Purrazzo & Jessica James beat Barbi Hayden & Nicole Matthews when Purrazzo beat Matthews with a Fujiwara armbar in a dark match. These were the four women brought in to be tournament alternates. Lei’d Tapa, formerly with TNA and who did a fight with Rizin, was also in Orlando as an alternate and did one match at the NXT tapings.

 

Fifth episode:

2. Abbey Laith beat Rachael Evers with a power bomb and bridge. The crowd loved this match.

3. Piper Niven pinned Serena Deeb after a Michinoku driver.

4. Mercedes Martinez beat Princesa Sugehit with a fisherman buster after surviving the armbar.

5. Kairi Sane pinned Biana Bel Air with an elbow drop off the top rope. Super heat. Belair used power moves and got several near falls. She missed the 450 leading to Sane using the elbow for the pin.

 

Sixth episode:

6. Toni Storm pinned Lacey Evans with a neckbreaker over the knee.

7. Shayna Baszler beat Mia Yim with a choke. This was the spot they did the Horsewomen angle.

8. Dakota Kai pinned Rhea Ripley with a Del Rio style double foot stomp.

9. Candice LeRae pinned Nicole Savoy with a neckbreaker off the middle rope.

 

Seventh episode:

10. Mercedes Martinez pinned Abbey Laith after a fisherman buster. All four of the quarter final matches were in this episode.

11. Shayna Baszler beat Candice LeRae with a choke. Baszler refused to break the hold after the match and the idea was to make her a heel for later in the show. Johnny Gargano came out to help LeRae up and console her after the match.

12. Toni Storm pinned Piper Niven with a leg drop off the top rope.

13. Kairi Sane pinned Dakota Kai with an elbow drop off the top rope. This was another of the better matches over the weekend.

 

14. Tessa Blanchard & Jazzy Gabert & Kay Lee Ray beat Santana Garrett & Sarah Logan & Marti Belle when Gabert pinned Garrett after the dominator. Crowd was more into Gabert here than anyone on either night. This may air on NXT since the announcers out were Tom Phillips, Nigel McGuinness and Beth Phoenix.

 

Eighth episode:

15. This was the first of the two semifinals. They were given more time since just two matches were in the one-hour show. Shayna Baszler beat Mercedes Martinez with a choke. After the match, Paul Levesque, Stephanie McMahon and Sara Amato came out and gave Baszler flowers for her advancing.

16. Kairi Sane pinned Toni Storm with a top rope elbow drop. Hard hitting match. These two have worked many times against each other in Japan. There was a crazy spot where Sane did a plancha off the top rope to the floor, overshot, and landed face first on the ramp. Storm is Stardom’s top foreigner and Sane was one of the top two native stars. I was told that while this was technically good, the crowd was quiet. It was described as similar to a lot of recent NXT big matches that of late have been getting little reaction. The crowd liked both and neither played heel. This was said to be similar to the last three major Aleister Black TV matches (with Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly in particular) where the crowd just watches and doesn’t cheer for either but do enjoy the match. Both were also tired and this wasn’t as crisp as their bouts in the past but Sane emotionally tells great stories. When it was over, Levesque, McMahon and Amato came out again and then Baszler came out for a staredown to end the show.


The One Championship promotion based in Singapore has announced new major funding coming from the venture capital firms Sequoia India and Mission Holdings that they claim will enable them to have the financial resources to sign some of the best fighters in the world.

The wording in the claim is interesting because they claim the total capital raised to be $100 million, but that is not the total of this investment, but of the total investments the company has acquired dating back to its inception in 2011.

The group has claimed to be the No. 1 MMA group in Asia, but recently UFC released a television ratings comparison in most Asian markets of hours viewed which showed UFC significantly ahead of One in every key market, in most places to multiples.

One has drawn numerous big crowds in places like Indonesia, The Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar and Thailand, although some reports have indicated that those big crowds have included substantial papering of shows.

One Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong claimed goals for 2018 are 24 to 30 live events, and moving into Japan, South Korea and eventually India.

The money is being used for, among other things, bidding to get the top fights and to heavily invest in expansion into China.

The company has a few star fighters, former UFC star Brandon Vera, now 39, who is a major draw in The Philippines, Ben Askren, the former Bellator champion who is generally considered the company’s best fighter with a 16-0, 1 no contest pro record after being one of the best college wrestlers of the current generation with two Hodge Trophy wins. The top future star is Angela Lee, their atomweight champion, a 21-year-old who grew up in Hawaii and has an 8-0 record.


WWE officially canceled the weekly “Talking Smack” show this past week.

It was a combination of things. Vince McMahon made the call evidently after being unhappy with the 7/11 show, but scaled it back rather than canceled it. While the show had a good buzz on social media and the best interviews in the company, its numbers on the network really weren’t that good for a first-run show. Granted, 205 Live did worse almost every week, but “Talking Smack” was not doing well considering it was live fresh programming.

The thing is they could cancel “Talking Smack” and it’s not a big deal, but canceling 205 Live would pretty much ruin the cruiserweight division, and be a public admission of failure. Canceling “Talking Smack” really has no repercussions and can just be said was changing from doing the show after the one or two PPV shows every month instead of the four or five Smackdowns and Smackdown PPV each month.

The show will continue once or twice per month, after every PPV show.

That show, being unscripted, had the best interviews of any WWE program by a substantial level, which was awfully telling about the effectiveness of the overly-scripted Raw and Smackdown interviews. Some of the stuff with Miz, Cena and Bryan was really good and often a throwback to the 70s and 80s interviews.

Still, the production costs weren’t high since everyone involved in the show was already there. It wasn’t like Daniel Bryan was being flown in to do the show on weeks where he wasn’t booked for a segment on Smackdown. The show did lose a lot when Bryan wasn’t there, because Bryan was always saying things that he believed while staying in storyline, and it led to others using the show to get out their frustrations which made for a more interesting show.

McMahon, according to a Sports Illustrated note on the canceling, was unhappy with the show and strongly believed it didn’t serve the company’s best interests. A WWE source denied that story, noting that the show wasn’t canceled. If he did cancel it for that reason, why did he not cancel it, in the sense it was added after Raw PPVs and kept after Smackdown shows. The segments after the PPVs did far better numbers than the regular Tuesday night segments. Last week, the version after Great Balls of Fire was the second most-watched show on the network for the week, trailing only the PPV itself. Talking Smack, on the other hand, the week before it was canceled, finished 18th, and significantly trailed behind two episodes of the WWE’s version of ECW from 2006 and not just NXT, but the people watching NXT from the week earlier. If it was not about viewership at all, why keep the show?

That said, if he felt a show where talent said what they thought to the small degree they do there was detrimental to the company, his level of being a control freak is now way out of touch. As much as you may get a nugget of honest opinion from time-to-time on that show, or even often, the true openness pales in comparison to talent on UFC Tonight, just as an example, and in the sports world, the feeling is UFC is over-the-top when it comes to being adverse to the company narrative. I think one of the key things that makes the pro wrestlers themselves come across as less of stars and not really seen as heroes past a small cult audience as compared to stars of other generations is that very idea that these are guys who work for an oppressive boss and aren’t real tough guys as they are afraid of him and can’t stand up to him, more than athletes in real sports. The portrayals of the top wrestlers in the past, sometimes real, sometimes not, is that they were people who would stand up for themselves and real stars who don’t care about the ramifications of what they say. That’s a key part of the Conor McGregor phenomenon that dates back to most top stars historically as far as portrayal goes that is where WWE has lost touch with the mainstream.

Still, one WWE source denied the story noting the show is continuing after PPVs and it was only the lower watched episodes being canceled.

“Despite all rumors, Vince doesn’t hate Talking Smack. Also, he does not watch it but gets a weekly report about it every Wednesday. The one thing he didn’t like was when the New Day appeared right after Kofi (Kingston) got cleared (the 5/23 episode). That was technically their Tuesday night debut and Vince felt the first Tuesday appearance should have happened on Smackdown.”

Miz, who publicly was strongly negative on the move, pretty much revitalized his career going back-and-forth with Bryan and the Cena-Miz stuff on that show before Mania was some of the best interviews of the year.

“RIP Talking Smack. I enjoyed the freedom this show gave WWE talent to showcase what they could do. Renee Young brought the best out of all.”

The show had lost some steam when it was moved back about 50 minutes each week for 205 Live, but it was never nearly as popular with the viewing audience based on numbers as was the reaction to the show in places like our awards and social media. And really, since most WWE network programming except the PPVs is viewed at people’s convenience on VOD, the time slot change didn’t make that big of a difference anyway because the show didn’t do so great even before 205 Live was put in its original time slot.

The WWE’s statement was: “We continuously review WWE Network’s programming line-up based on a variety of factors, including viewership and subscriber reach. Talking Smack and Raw Talk will air following PPV events, and Tuesdays will continue to feature 205 Live.”

Evidently, this came out before they told the two hosts, Renee Paquette Good or Bryan Danielson (who in recent weeks has appeared infrequently on the show since being given time off of late).

Paquette Good (Renee Young) was asked about it on Twitter, and wrote, “Hmmm, that’s one way to get news.” Then she wrote, “Really disappointed about Talking Smack. We tried to make that show great. Guess I’ll go back to welcoming my guest at this time.” She also noted that Unfiltered with Renee Young was also canceled, but that hasn’t had a new episode in about a year.

Danielson, who doesn’t spend a lot of time on the Internet, said he also didn’t know of the show being canceled until hours after it had become news, saying he found out when going on-line.

The company got a lot of negative publicity using both Tweets with the idea that the hosts of a show found out about it being canceled hours after the story was broken and by reading about it on the Internet.


Pro Wrestling Guerrilla this past week announced the lineup for its biggest event of the year, and what has become the biggest independent event of the year when it comes to depth of stars and match quality, the Battle of Los Angeles tournament.

The lineups for the first two shows on 9/1 and 9/2 were announced. The show will stay in its 400-seat confines in Reseda. There had been talk all year of moving BOLA to a larger building. I would think they could sell out of 2,000-seat building for all three nights with this event. But PWG has its way of doing business and makes money with it, and instead, as the demand for tickets has increased, has raised prices to move revenue up rather than moved to a place where they could increase the consumer base. Because of such few tickets available and the lineup of stars, this would probably be the hardest tickets to get of the year.

The highlight match announced for the weekend would be on night two, which, by tradition, is the best show of the year, with the Young Bucks & Kenny Omega vs. Flamita & Rey Fenix & Penta 0M. Omega worked PWG for years and even won the 2009 Battle of Los Angeles, but this would be his first time back since his elevated international profile stemming from winning G-1 and the Okada matches. The Young Bucks have had great chemistry with Penta & Fenix, including a match over last year’s BOLA weekend that would have been talked about even more had it not taken place after the Young Bucks & Adam Cole vs. Will Ospreay & Ricochet & Matt Sydal match that was such a groundbreaking stylistic match and one of the best bouts of 2016 and PWG history.

The first night has tournament matches of Ricochet vs. Flamita (Flamita is one of the best flyers in the world, and he and Ricochet have worked together doing amazing things in Dragon Gate years ago, although Flamita has weaknesses in his game and hasn’t exploded as much on the international scene as many had figured based on when he started in Japan), Jonah Rock (a wrestler from Australia making his PWG debut) vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Matt Sydal vs. Penta 0M, Flash Morgan Webster (a name U.K. wrestler making his debut) vs. Marty Scurll (they usually match British wrestlers against other British wrestlers they are familiar with when they start in PWG since the style almost always gets over), Rey Fenix vs. Rey Horus and Brian Cage vs. Dezmond Xavier. Two other non-tournament matches will be Jeff Cobb & Matt Riddle, who regularly team up in PWG, facing Donovan Dijak & Keith Lee, and the Young Bucks facing the debuting South Pacific Power Trip of Travis Banks & T.K. Cooper, one of the U.K.’s top tag teams who are originally from New Zealand.

The second night, besides the Omega match, has Keith Lee vs. Walter in Walter’s PWG debut, Mark Haskins vs. Travis Banks in another U.K. battle (I know Banks isn’t from the U.K. but he’s wrestled there for years), Riddle vs. Michael Elgin, Cobb vs. Sami Callihan, Dijak vs. Trevor Lee, Sammy Guevara vs. Cooper as well as Ricochet & Sydal vs. Sabre & Scurll, who are two sets of teams that rarely team up these days but if they did, both would easily be in the top tier of tag teams worldwide.


Smackdown on 7/18 did 2,548,000 viewers, up three percent from the prior week’s show. Given last week was against the All-Star game, it’s not an improvement but still a good number.

Smackdown was second for the night on cable, trailing only Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, who did 2,626,000 viewers. It was ninth overall as it beat everything on FOX (all rerun) and most of the ABC rerun block, as USA would have been third over the two hours behind only CBS and NBC.

The show did a 0.65 in 12-17 (down 1.5 percent from last week), 0.65 in 18-34 (up 6.6 percent), 0.97 in 35-49 (up 6.6 percent) and 1.01 in 50+ (up 4.1 percent).

The audience was 58.9 percent males in 18-49 and 61.1 percent males in 12-17.

Raw on 7/17 did 3,150,000 viewers, the highest total since the 3,333,000 viewers for the 4/17 Superstars shakeup show.

The show was built around a week of promoting both the Kurt Angle payoff and the Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns match and that led to Raw being the highest rated show on cable for the night.

The first hour did 3,140,000 viewers. The second hour did 3,237,000 viewers. The third hour did 3,083,000 viewers, but it was still a lower than usual second-to-third hour drop. From what we were told, there was a significant turn off after the Angle reveal, which I don’t think to mean people turned off because they were mad at it as much as they saw what they came to see, and that’s why the rest of the third hour was down.

The show did a 0.83 in 12-17 (up 2.5 percent from last week), 0.87 in 18-34 (up 13.0 percent), 1.27 in 35-49 (up 8.5 percent) and 1.22 in 50+ (up 4.3 percent).

The audience was 62.6 percent male in 18-49 and 60.4 percent male in 12-17, which continues the trend of the fans that have been coming back to the show in recent weeks are a higher percentage of males.

“American Grit,” the John Cena hosted show on FOX, on 7/16 did 954,000 viewers. Even though most of network programming was reruns and that was first run, it was the lowest rated show on network television that night. In its time slot, all the other network shows ranged from 2.7 to 4.4 million.

Bellator on 7/14 with the Derek Campos vs. Brandon Girtz main event did 514,000 viewers, peaking at 628,000 for the main event, which is about normal for what the B shows have been doing of late. With +3 viewership, the numbers were 573,000 for the show as a whole, 775,000 for the fight and a 912,000 viewer peak. What that basically means is that with media reporting and social media touring Campos vs. Girtz as a potential fight of the year, that 147,000 people watched it after the fact, an increase over probably 60,000 to 90,000 that would have normally done so for just a normal event. It’s a key figure because it’s rare you get a fight like that to see what the value is when it comes to DVR viewership.

Impact on 7/13 was up to 374,000 viewers, its best number since the first Matt Hardy segment last September. That’s another eight percent up from the prior week.

Lucha Underground on 7/12 did 107,000 viewers at 8 p.m. and 43,000 for the p.m. replay, so that’s a 31 percent drop from the previous week.

Smackdown on 7/11 did a 1.65 rating and 2,465,000 viewers against the Major League baseball All-Star game, which is 1.63 viewers per home, a far better than usual VPH level.


RESULTS

 

7/12 Winter Park, FL (WWE NXT- 400 sellout): Jeet Rama b Mik Drakie, Ember Moon b Lei’D Tapa, Velveteen Dream b Cezar Bononi, Kassius Ohno b Hideo Itami-DQ, Johnny Gargano b Raul Mendoza, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli, Sonya Deville b ?, Aleister Black b Kyle O’Reilly, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Chris & JC Metro, Danny Burch b Oney Lorcan, Andrade Cien Almas b No Way Jose, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Lars Sullivan & Chris Silvio, Ruby Riot b Billie Kay, Roderick Strong b Drew McIntyre-DQ

7/12 Fukui (Dragon Gate - 600): Draztick Boy b Hyou Watanabe, Cima & Takehiro Yamamura b Flamita & Yosuke Santa Maria, Lindaman b Kzy, Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk b Dragon Kid & Eita, Yamato & BxB Hulk b Masaaki Mochizuki & Ben K, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu & Kotoka b Jimmy Susumu & Ryo Saito & Jimmy Kanda & Jimmy Kagetora

7/13 Vancouver, BC (WWE NXT - 1,500): No Way Jose b Kona Reeves, Ember Moon & Ruby Riot b Peyton Royce & Billie Kay, Tag titles: Authors of Pain b Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight, Lars Sullivan b Demetrious Johnson, Aleister Black b Velveteen Dream, Womens’ title: Asuka b Nikki Cross, Roderick Strong & Drew McIntyre b Bobby Roode & Andrade Cien Almas

7/13 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 705): Shunma Katsumata & Mao b Gurukun Mask & Shuri Joe, Mohammed Yone & Akitoshi Saito b Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue, Kaiser & Gaston Mateo b Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano, Eddie Edwards b Quiet Storm, Atsushi Kotoge & Kenou b Cody Hall & Kazma Sakamoto, Hayata & Yo-Hey b Phil Atlas & Seiya Morohashi, Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke b Taiji Ishimori & Hi69, Brian Cage & Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi b Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya & Go Shiozaki

7/14 Roanoke, VA (WWE Raw - 3,500): Heath Slater & Rhyno & Apollo Crews b Elias Samson & Curt Hawkins & Bo Dallas, Goldust b R-Truth, Akira Tozawa b Brian Kendrick, Finn Balor & Dean Ambrose b Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Mickie James & Dana Brooke b Alexa Bliss & Nia Jax, Tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro b Matt & Jeff Hardy, Seth Rollins b Bray Wyatt

7/14 Seattle (WWE NXT - 2,000): No Way Jose b Kona Reeves, Lars Sullivan b Demetrious Bronson, Aleister Black b Andrade Cien Almas, Drew McIntyre b Velveteen Dream, Tag titles: Authors of Pain b Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight, Ember Moon b Ruby Riot, NXT title: Bobby Roode b Roderick Strong

7/14 St. Augustine, FL (WWE NXT - 200): Buddy Murphy b Cezar Bononi, Mandy Rose b Aliyah, Eric Young b Chad Lail, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli, Sonya Deville b Liv Morgan, Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler b Fabian Aichner & Raul Mendoza, Hideo Itami b Kassius Ohno

7/14 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 9,000): Akuma & Arkangel de la Muerte & Metalico b Astral & Sensei & Star Jr., Amapola & Dallys & Zeuxis b Vaquerita & Marcela & Silueta, Dragon Rojo Jr. & Negro Casas & Sam Adonis b Blue Panther & Diamante Azul & Soberano Jr., Hair vs. hair: Pierroth b Vangellys, Dragon Lee & Caristico & Mistico b Mephisto & Luciferno &U Ephesto, Universal title tournament final: Volador Jr. b Ultimo Guerrero to win tournament

7/14 Tijuana (The Crash - 3,000): Eli Everfly & Famous B & Ultimo Maldito b Arkangel Divino & Black Boy & Ultimo Panda, Oraculo & Serptentico b Black Danger & Jonathan, Rey Horus & Rey Fenix won three-way over Ray Rowe & Hanson and Sami Callihan & Shane Strickland, Bestia 666 b Jack Evans, Garza Jr. & M-ximo b Daga & Santo Jr.-DQ, Penta 0M won four-way over Marty Scurll, Jeff Cobb and La Mascara

7/14 Danbury, CT (Northeast Wrestling - 1,400): Flip Gordon b Brad Hollister, Adira b Karen Q, Wrecking Ball Legurky b Mike Gamble, Vinny Marseglia DCOr Vik Dalishus, Jack Swagger b Donovan Dijak, Daniel Evans & Keith Youngblood b Tommy & JP Grayson, Brian Anthony b Chris Battle, NEW tile: Cody Rhodes b Ricochet

7/15 Huntington, WV (WWE Raw - 4,000): Heath Slater & Rhyno & Apollo Crews b Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson & Curt Hawkins, Goldust b R-Truth, Akira Tozawa b Brian Kendrick, Finn Balor b Elias Samson, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins b Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas, Mickie James & Dana Brooke b Nia Jax & Alexa Bliss, Tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro b Matt & Jeff Hardy, John Cena b Bray Wyatt

7/15 Pensacola, FL (WWE Smackdown - 3,500): Jason Jordan & Chad Gable & Sin Cara b Epico & Erick Rowan & Aiden English, Rusev b Zack Ryder, Three-way for tag titles: Usos won over Big E & Kofi Kingston and Tyler Breeze & Fandango, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b A.J. Styles, 3 on 4: Naomi & Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch b Natalya & Tamina & Carmella & Lana, Baron Corbin b Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura b Dolph Ziggler

7/15 Portland, OR (WWE NXT - 2,200): No Way Jose b Kona Reeves, Lars Sullivan b Demetrius Bronson, Drew McIntyre b Andrade Cien Almas, Aleister Black b Velveteen Dream, Tag titles: Authors of Pain b Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight, Ember Moon b Ruby Riot, NXT title: Bobby Roode b Roderick Strong

7/15 Gainesville, FL (WWE NXT - 150): Adrian Jaoude b Tino Sabbatelli, Sonya Deville b Aliyah, Buddy Murphy b Marcel Barthel, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe, Nick Miller b Chad Lail, Mandy Rose b Liv Morgan, Hideo Itami b Kassius Ohno

7/15 Troy, NY (Northeast Wrestling - 1,893): Bobby Fish b Donovan Dijak, Daniel Evans & Keith Youngblood b Wrecking Ball Legursky & Brad Hollister, Brandi Rhodes b Tessa Blanchard, Jeff Starr b Vik Dalishus, Ricochet b Flip Gordon, Foxx Vinyer b Chris Battle, Rey Mysterio Jr. b Vinny Marseglia, NEW title: Cody Rhodes b Jack Swagger

7/15 Ikuso (All Japan - 229): Masa Fuchi b Yusuke Okada, Atsushi Maruyama & Masashi Takeda b Kai & Yohei Nakajima, Jun Akiyama & Isami Kodaka b Takao Omori & Kazuhiro Tamura, Yuma Aoyagi b Koji Iwamoto, Zeus & The Bodyguard & Ryoji Sai b Kento Miyahara & Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura, Shuji Ishikawa & Tajiri & Massamo b Suwama & Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato

7/15 Nagano (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 211): Shunma Katsumata & Mao b Hayata & Yo-Hey, Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke b Kaiser & Gaston Mateo, Naomichi Marufuji & Yoshinari Ogawa b Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue, Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge b Maybach Taniguchi & Quiet Storm, Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 b Gurukun Mask & Shuri Joe, Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano b Phil Atlas & Seiya Morohashi, Brian Cage & Eddie Edwards & Cody Hall b Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya & Mohammed Yone

7/15 Fukui (Dragon Gate - 450): Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Ben K b Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito & Jimmy Kanda, BxB Hulk b Big R Shimizu, Gamma & Eita b Masaaki Mochizuki & Draztick Boy, Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kagetora b Dragon Kid & Takehiro Yamamura, Yamato & Kzy & Flamita b Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Lindaman

7/16 Lexington, KY (WWE Raw - 4,000): Heath Slater & Rhyno & Apollo Crews b Curt Hawkins & Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Goldust b R-Truth, Akira Tozawa b Brian Kendrick, Finn Balor b Elias Samson, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel, Mickie James & Dana Brooke b Alexa Bliss & Nia Jax, Tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro b Matt & Jeff Hardy, John Cena b Bray Wyatt

7/16 Tallahassee, FL (WWE Smackdown): Shinsuke Nakamura b Dolph Ziggler, Jason Jordan & Chad Gable & Sin Cara b Epico & Erick Rowan & Aiden English, Rusev b Zack Ryder, Three-way for tag titles: Usos won over Tyler Breeze & Fandango and Big E & Xavier Woods, 3 vs. 4: Becky Lynch & Naomi & Charlotte Flair b Lana & Tamina & Natalya & Carmella, Baron Corbin b Sami Zayn, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b A.J. Styles

7/16 Monterrey (AAA TV tapings): Australian Suicide & Mamba & Monsther Clown & Murder Clown b Bengala & Elegido & Estrella Divina & Marty the Moth, Kevin Kross b Mascara de Bronce, La Parka & Psycho Clown & Argenis b Averno & Chessman & Dr. Wagner Jr., Six-way for vacant Reina de Reinas title: Sexy Star won over Faby Apache, Hiedra, Lady Shani, Goya Kong and Big Mami, Mesias won three-way over Pagano and Angelico, Aerostar & Drago & Raptor b Carta Brava Jr. & Mocho Cota Jr. & Soul Rocker, AAA tag titles: Dark Cuervo & Dark Scoria b El Hijo del Fantasma & El Texano Jr., Dr Wagner Jr. b Psycho Clown

7/16 Takaoka (Pro Wrestling NOAH): Phil Atlas & Seiya Morohashi b Shunma Katsumata & Mao, Hayata & Yo-Hey b Gurukun Mask & Shuri Joe, Eddie Edwards & Yoshinari Ogawa b Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue, Go Shiozaki & Mohammed Yone b Brian Cage & Cody Hall, Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 b Kaiser & Gaston Mateo, Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano b Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya & Quiet Storm b Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi & Atsushi Kotoge

7/16 Numazu (Dragon Gate - 400): Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Lindaman b Dragon Kid & Gamma & Eita, Jimmy Susumu b Takehiro Yamamura, BxB Hulk & Flamita b Genki Horiguchi & Draztick Boy, Yamato & Kzy b Masaaki Mochizuki & Ben K, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu b Ryo Saito & Jimmy Kanda & Jimmy Kagetora

7/16 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Flyer & Robin b Apocalipsis & Camorra, Fuego & Oro Jr. & Pegasso b Disturbio & Sagrado & Virus, Cholo & Espanto Jr. & Inquisidor b Artillero & Canelo Casas & Espiritu Negro, Angel de Oro & Diamante Azul & Titan b Cuatrero & Negro Casas & Rey Bucanero, Caristico & Valiente & Volador Jr. b Euforia & Felino & Mephisto

7/17 Nashville, TN (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 8,800): R-Truth b Curt Hawkins, Luke Gallows & Karl “Anderson b Heath Slater & Rhyno, Non-title: Bayley b Alexa Bliss, Mustafa Ali & Jack Gallagher b Brian Kendrick & Drew Gulak, Finn Balor b Elias Samson-DQ, Ariya Daivari b Akira Tozawa, Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder b Matt & Jeff Hardy, Roman Reigns NC Samoa Joe

7/17 Columbus, GA (WWE Smackdown - 5,000): Shinsuke Nakamura b Dolph Ziggler, Tyler Breeze & Fandango & Sin Cara b Aiden English & Erick Rowan & Epico, Zack Ryder b Aiden English, Tag titles: Usos b Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b A.J. Styles, 3 on 4: Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch & Naomi b Tamina & Natalya & Carmella & Lana, Baron Corbin b Sami Zayn, John Cena b Rusev

7/17 Tokyo Sumo Hall (Big Japan - 3,179): Ryuichi Sekine & Tatsuhiko Yoshino b Kita Sekifuda & Yuya Aoki, Kojika & Tsutomu Oosugi & Hercules Senga b Kendo Kashin & Shu & Kei Brahman, Masakatsu Funaki & Kazumi Kikuta b Yoshihisa Uto & Takuya Nomura, Yuko Miyamoto & Isami Kodaka b Takumi Tsukamoto & Toshiyuki Sakuda, Jr. title tournament final: Shinobu b Kazuki Hashimoto to become first champion, Concrete block death match: Jake Numazawa & Masashi Takeda b Minoru Fujita & Kankuro Hoshino, Six man titles: Ryota Hama & Yasufumi Nakanoue & Shogun Okamoto b Kohei Sato & Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani, Strong World title: Hideki Suzuki b Ryuichi Kawakami, Tag titles: Abdullah Kobayashi & Ryuji Ito b Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi, Death match title: Masaya Takahashi b Takyuki Ueki

7/17 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (All Japan - 1,595 sellout): Koji Iwamoto & Yuma Aoyagi & Daichi Kazato & Fuminori Abe b Masa Fuchi & Yohei Nakajima & Kaji Tomato & Yusuke Okada, Takao Omori & Yuko Miyamoto & Kazuhiro Tamura b Jun Akiyama & Isami Kodaka & Atsushi Maruyama, Tajiri & Kai & Massimo b Atsushi Aoki & Osamu Nishimura & Ryoji Sai, Jr. Title: Hikaru Sato b Minoru Tanaka, World tag title: Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura b Zeus & The Bodyguard to win titles, Kento Miyahara b Joe Doering, Triple Crown title: Shuji Ishikawa b Suwama

7/17 Mie (Dragon Gate): Ben K d Draztick Boy, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu b Cima & Dragon Kid & Gamma, Ryo Saito won three-way over Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa and Kanjuro Matsuyama, Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk b Masaaki Mochizuki & Eita, Don Fujii & Yutaka Yoshie b Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman, Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy & Flamita b Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kanda & Jimmy Kagetora

7/17 Nagaoka (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 292): Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke b Shunma Katsumata & Mao, Phil Atlas & Seiya Morohashi b Gurukun Mask & Shuri Joe, Atsushi Kotoge & Yoshinari Ogawa b Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue, Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi b Go Shiozaki & Quiet Storm, Hayata & Yo-Hey b Kaiser & Gaston Mateo, Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano b Taiji Ishimori & Hi69, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya & Mohammed Yone b Brian Cage & Eddie Edwards & Cody Hall

7/18 Birmingham, AL (WWE Smackdown/205 Live TV tapings - 8,000): Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder b The Ascension, Jimmy Uso b Kofi Kingston, Mike Kanellis b Sami Zayn, Becky Lynch b Charlotte, Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin b Shinsuke Nakamura & A.J. Styles, 2/3 falls: Mustafa Ali b Drew Gulak, Brian Kendrick b Devin Bennett, Akira Tozawa b Ariya Daivari, John Cena & Randy Orton b Rusev & Jinder Mahal

7/18 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Pequeno Olimpico & Pequeno Violencia b Angelito & Fantasy, Akuma & Arkangel de la Muerte & Metalico b Flyer & Principe Diamante & Robin, Fuego & Oro Jr. & Pegasso b Disturbio & Nitro & Sangre Azteca, Vangellys b Johnny Idol, Gran Guerrero & Negro Casas & Hechicero b Rey Cometa & Titan & Valiente, Mephisto & El Terrible & Rey Bucanero b Angel de Oro & Caristico & Mistico

CMLL: In a surprise, they announced that the Anniversary show this year will be on 9/16, which is a Saturday at 5 p.m. The show has always been traditionally on Friday nights going back decades

The 7/14 Arena Mexico show did about 9,000 fans for the Universal tournament final as Volador Jr. beat Ultimo Guerrero in 24:19 clean with a top rope Spanish fly to win the three-week tournament of champions. It’s the first time Volador, the company’s top babyface, has ever won the tournament. I gave it ****, and I think a lot of people would see that as way low. The problem to me is that it wasn’t close to as good as their Japan match earlier this year, and it’s just every Volador vs. UG match in the sense you knew everything they’d do, the way they’d do it and how it would go. That said, the heat was molten and if you’re going just by heat it should be way above that. The one thing in CMLL because when they have that big of a crowd its new fans and a lot of tourists, they can do the same structure over-and-over and it works to the audience. Volador opened with a running flip dive and Guerrero caught him on the floor and power bombed him on the floor, and took the first fall with Pulpo Guerrero in 4:06. Volador did a plancha into a huracanrana and won the second fall with Code Red at 1:55. In the third fall, among the highlights were a Volador tope, a Guerrero leap off the top rope to the floor with a hip attack. Tirantes at one point counted awfully slow when Volador had a pin. There was the blocked Frankensteiner off the top by Guerrero into a power bomb off the middle rope. The crowd went nuts when Volador kicked out of that. Of course, that meant they’d do the spot again, and this time, Guerrero blocked, went for the power bomb and in mid-move Volador turned it back into the Frankensteiner. Guerrero did his running dive over the barricade wiping out Volador in the aisle two rows deep. Guerrero kicked out of the Super Frankensteiner. Guerrero hit the Guerrero special (the reverse superplex) and Volador rolled out of the ring to avoid the pin. The one new spot was Guerrero doing the rainmaker for a near fall. The other thing was that the undercard went way long and it was about 11 p.m. before the match started. CMLL shows usually end just before 11 p.m. to people can take the latest subway from the arena. But even though starting way late, they didn’t cut back their match at all, and the crowd stayed. The semi was ****1/4 because it had some mind blowing stuff with Dragon Lee & Mistico & Caristico winning 2/3 falls over Mephisto & Ephesto & Luciferno in 19:32. This had dives all over the place and well set up. The face team did a triple stage dive. There was a spot where at the same time, Lee did a tope, Caristico did a flip dive and Mistico did a top rope Asai moonsault. They went to near falls. There were several other dives including Mistico running down the ramp and jumping to the top rope and doing a dive onto the floor. Mistico also later did a springboard shooting star to the floor. Caristico ended up using La Mistica to get the third fall submission. Pierroth beat Vangellys in the hair vs. hair match. They kept it short as the three falls in total went less than 9:00. It could have been worse. It wasn’t good, or even average but it was better than the usual Pierroth. He was really gassed when it was over to the point he couldn’t even do his post-match interview. Dragon Rojo Jr. & Negro Casas & Sam Adonis (wearing an early 1990s Love Machine mask) beat Blue Panther & Diamante Azul & Soberano Jr. The significance of the mask is that they are building Adonis vs. Panther in a hair vs. hair, or it at least seemed that way. Love Machine and Panther had a super feud, where Panther beat him for his mask when Panther was a heel, and then the rematch which was even more legendary, was one of the greatest double turn main events of the last 40 years anywhere, where Love Machine went heel (and was one of the greatest heels you’ll ever see) and Panther went face, which really, by that stage in his career, Panther should have been because everyone liked him so much. The first match saw Panther win a mask vs. mask, which was tremendous and the second, even better for storytelling, saw Panther win a mask vs. hair. Both shows did about 20,000 fans. In this match, Panther pulled off Adonis’ Love Machine mask in the second fall. Adonis pinned Panther using the ropes in the third fall and that led to hair vs. hair challenges

The 7/21 show has Dragon Lee & Niebla Roja & Volador Jr. vs. Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Euforia on top, plus a non-stip Blue Panther vs. Adonis match and the 16 woman Copa Natalie Vazquez, an elimination Cibernetico with Marcela, Dallys, Estrellita, Amapola, Silueta, Zeuxis, Princesa Sugehit, Vaquerita, Comandante, Sanely, Metalica, Skadi, Seductora and Lady Maravilla. Maravilla is interesting as she had worked for AAA, and then quit the promotion claiming office worker and referee Copetes Salazar wanted sexual favors in exchange for getting her better bookings and a push.

AAA: The situation with Taya and her losing her Reina de Reinas title is even weirder than it seemed last week. The story actually dates back to when Johnny Mundo was being brought to Mexico for a photo shoot with all three of his belts. They said they were doing shoots with all the belts and asked Mundo to bring Taya’s belt with him when he came in. Then when he was there, they said they needed to shoot more photos with the Reina de Reinas belt, so asked him to leave the belt there so they could do that. Then, when they had possession of the belt back, they announced that Taya had been stripped of the title because she used a choke when she won the title from Ayako Hamada (which was back on 4/21 in Tijuana in what has been called the company’s best match of the year) and that the title could only change hands via pin or submission. Yes, they tried to argue a choke wasn’t a submission as their storyline reason for stripping her of the title. Keep in mind it was two months after the match, and worse, the Taya-Hamada match was a no DQ street fight. The public got on Vampiro’s case since he’s the figurehead and he was the one who made the announcement, as when AAA made the announcement, they may not have even remembered it was a no DQ match. Vampiro tried to babyface himself on Facebook and try to quell things with Taya since the company looked bad. But then at the TV tapings over the weekend in Monterrey, Sexy Star returned, which nobody knew was happening and she left with very bad feelings toward AAA for walking about after being asked to lose a match and drop the mixed tag team titles she was part of. On the 7/16 TV tapings in Monterrey, Vampiro announced the title was vacant and said that Taya had refused to come to Monterrey and defend the title, even though she had never been booked on the show in the first place and they had already stripped her of the title publicly with such a bad season. Sexy Star won the match over Faby Apache, Hiedra, Lady Shani, Goya Kong and Big Mami. Then Kevin Kross beat all the women up until Vampiro made the save. This looks to explain why all of this happened the way it did. While nobody will admit to this, it appears they must have promised Sexy the title as part of the deal to get her to come back, and figured for whatever reason that stripping Taya would be either easier or more beneficial than having her beat Taya. It should also be noted that they Sexy Star is from Monterrey. Taya’s last appearance was scheduled for 6/19 in Nuevo Laredo, but she missed that taping due to a neck injury. Sexy Star had left and refused to drop the mixed tag titles in February 2016 when booked to do so to Taya & Daga. She had also complained about Faby Apache being too rough on her to Marisela Pena, and Pena took Faby’s side, so Sexy quit when she did. She worked with her mask on, even though her boxing match aired on national network television and she didn’t have a mask

What makes that notable is that they also want Mundo to drop his titles which are the AAA Mega heavyweight, the cruiserweight and the Latin American heavyweight to Mascara de Bronce. Bronce had their version of a Money in the Bank briefcase, although he may not have it now since there was a winner gets the briefcase match on the 7/16 TV tapings where Mascara de Bronce lost to Kross. I don’t know how he’ll handle this but I can’t imagine he would be happy about any of this

Taya wasn’t happy about not being told anything and then finding out she was stripped of the title, and at the time nobody knew why. It was noted to us that she had remained loyal to the promotion when so many of her friends left for The Crash. After finding out what happened in Monterrey, Taya wished AAA well on its future endeavors on Twitter and noted that it wasn’t a work. Mundo and Taya are representing Lucha Underground this weekend at the San Diego Comic Con, as is Vampiro, Dario Cueto and Willie Mack, although Mundo and Taya are scheduled at a different time than Vampiro

Vampiro went on Twitter and then said it was Taya’s fault for refusing to go along with the creative plans and they can’t let talent dictate the plans to the hundreds of people (yes using that number) involved with creating storylines and lineups.

Mundo, on Twitter, wrote, “The locker room thinks you, Vampiro, are a 2 faced lying douche bag who believes his own lies. Office stooge.

Vampiro then changed again, putting over Taya and Mundo, including saying Mundo is one of the best in the world and one of the best of his generation, saying, “I do think that it was completely irresponsible how I went about the situation with her and for that I apologize;” “I am just a guy who is trying his hardest to do his job. I do not apologize for who I am, but do apologize if I have offended anyone and I do make professional mistakes.” It’s possible AAA is nervous about the three belts that Mundo has and if he’ll come back to drop them

The Cubs Fan noted that Dulce Garcia at the end of June took down her pinned Tweet saying Goodbye to the Sexy Star character. She instead asked fans if they’d like to see Sexy Star

They seem to be building a Vampiro vs. Kevin Kross match for TripleMania as they continue to shoot angles with the two of them

At a recent TV taping, a match between El Texano Jr. vs. Marty the Moth never aired on TV, but was released on the Internet. So Lucha Underground still hasn’t allow its characters like Marty to appear on AAA television, as this is the third time characters made it up LU like Marty, Matanza Cueto, Mil Muertes and Killshot have been at AAA tapings and in every case their matches never aired on TV. Still, at the 7/16 tapings in Monterrey, Marty was in an opening eight man tag match on the face side, and then turned on the team

At the 7/16 tapings there was first a six-man with Argenis & La Parka & Psycho Clown beating Averno & Chessman & Dr. Wagner Jr. Psycho won for his team, but Wagner then unmasked him after the match. Then they brought Wagner vs. Psycho out for a singles main event where Wagner again unmasked him and pinned him. Dark Cuervo & Dark Scoria kept the tag titles beating El Hijo del Fantasma & El Texano Jr. As part of the best-of-seven series for the trios titles, the face team of Aerostar & Drago & Raptor went up 2-0 over Carta Brava Jr. & Mocho Cota Jr. & Soul Rocker. Angelico returned in a three-way won by Mesias over Angelico and Pagano.

THE CRASH: There’s a really notable power play going on with CMLL telling ROH that as partners they shouldn’t allow their contracted talent work here because they consider it their territory. The ROH wrestlers who are under exclusive deals like the Young Bucks, Cody, Jay Lethal, Silas Young, the Briscoes and others, aren’t allowed to work anywhere in the U.S. except PWG, but they’ve been able to work outside the U.S. and Ontario. But the pressure by CMLL is to make that also include Mexico. Some are unhappy because CMLL isn’t giving them bookings but is costing them bookings and Crash pays foreigners better than CMLL

The 7/14 show in Tijuana was headlined by Penta 0M winning a four-way main event over Marty Scurll, Jeff Cobb and La Mascara. The winner will go into a match later to determine the first Crash heavyweight champion. Garza Jr., who is now a heel, teamed with M-ximo to beat Daga & Santo Jr. when Garza got a DQ win by faking he was hit with a low blow. Garza offered Bestia 666 a shot to join his heel version of La Rebelion (The original Rebelion was formed in February and they already doing the NWO vs. NWO Black & White feud with Garza leading the heel group). The reports are that Garza has been great as a heel. His father, Damian 666, and long-time partner Nicho, both told him not to do it. Bestia then attacked and beat down his father and long-time partner. Garza Jr. has also been teasing that Pagano, who is one of the main stars with AAA, would be joining La Rebelion. Let’s just say for now that there is no deal today, but he’s also not throwing around a name for no reason. Black Danger and Jonathan, who are undercard guys, helped Bestia. Bestia then beat Jack Evans in a singles match. The show stealer was set to be a three-way tag where Rey Fenix & Rey Horus beat War Machine and Sami Callihan & Shane Strickland. People were raving about that one like it was one of the best matches of the year in Mexico

They are back on 8/5 with Penta 0M vs. La Mascara

While this wasn’t a Crash show, a lot of the wrestlers worked for LyP Klandestino on 7/16 in Tlalnepantla, including Scurll beating Fenix and Penta 0M over La Mascara via DQ for an unmasking.

ALL JAPAN: They had a sellout of 1,595 fans at the 7/17 show at Korakuen Hall which had a lot of news. First, after a trios match they were both in, Takao Omori said that he wanted a shot at Jun Akiyama’s TV title. That will take place on 8/11 in Fukuoka with a special 25 minute time limit because this is Akiyama & Omori’s 25th year as pro wrestlers. Hikaru Sato retained the jr. title beating Minoru Tanaka in 13:18 with an armbar. Tajiri then came out and blew mist in Sato’s face and posed with the title. That match takes place on 7/30. Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura got their biggest push to date as they beat Zeus & The Bodyguard to win the world tag team titles in 11:28 when Nomura pinned Bodyguard with a Death Valley bomb. A rematch between the two teams will take place on 7/28. Kento Miyahara pinned Joe Doering in 8:28 with a German suplex. Shuji Ishikawa retained the Triple Crown over Suwama in 19:37 after the giant slam. Miyahara then came out and issued a challenge for the title at the 8/27 Sumo Hall show

Other matches announced for the company’s biggest show of the year on 8/27 are Satoshi Kojima vs. Suwama (with All Japan and New Japan now working together it’s really too bad Miyahara or Suwama weren’t in G-1 just for something different), Dory Funk Jr. & Hiro Saito vs. Great Kabuki & Masa Fuchi in a legends match, Caristico vs. Diamante (notable Caristico coming here and not New Japan) and Yuma Aoyagi vs. Taichi of New Japan

Also announced was the main event for Ultimo Dragon’s 30th anniversary show on 8/19 will be Ultimo Dragon & Akiyama & Caristico vs. Doering & Diamante & Sam Adonis

Also announced is the single elimination Oudou tournament, starting 9/12 at Korakuen Hall and ending with the semifinals and finals on 9/23 in Miyagi. The first round matches are Suwama vs. Naoya Nomura, Koji Iwamoto vs. Yuma Aoyagi, Lee vs. Atsushi Aoki, Sato vs. Doering, Ryoji Sai vs. Zeus, Ishikawa vs. Bodyguard, Miyahara vs. Kai and Tajiri vs. Yoshitatsu of New Japan.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: The new tour opened on 7/13 at Korakuen Hall before a very disappointing crowd of 705 fans. This tour is built around the annual junior heavyweight tag team tournament. But the main event saw Brian Cage pin GHC champion Katsuhiko Nakajima in a trios match to set up his title challenge on 7/27. Cage teamed with Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi to beat Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya & Go Shiozaki when Cage used the claw slam to pin Nakajima in 18:36. The tournament matches, Shunma Katsumata & Mao from the DNA promotion beat Gurukun Mask & Shuri Joe from the Ryukyu Dragon promotion when Katsumata pinned Joe after a 450 in 10:09. Kaiser & Gaston Mateo from Chile beat Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano in 9:17 when Kaiser pinned Kumano after a Kaiser drier, which is a double-arm piledriver. Hayata & Yo-Hey beat Phil Atlas (an Ontario based wrestler who has worked here in the past) & Seiya Morohashi when Yohei pinned Morohashi in 9:42. And GHC jr. tag champs Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 lost to Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke in 11:55 when Harada pinned Hi69 with a German suplex

They announced a 10/1 show in Yokohama as the next major show with Edwards and Moose from GFW plus the return of Ross & Marshall Von Erich.

NEW JAPAN: After the success of The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Cody, Marty Scurll and Bullet Club shirts at Hot Topic stores (the first two shippings sold out almost everywhere and one reader in D.C. a few weeks ago when wanting to see if there were any in stores anywhere close when they checked were told that the closest store to D.C. that still had any Young Bucks stuff was in New Jersey), they are expanding to New Japan merchandise. The first two items will be regular New Japan Pro Wrestling shirts and Los Ingobernables shirts, which will be in some stores in August and every store by September. The stores also carry a lot of WWE T-shirts

Don Callis, responding to Jim Ross talking about how he doesn’t live the product like Kevin Kelly and Callis, said that he’s got a full-time job outside pro wrestling that requires international travel, doing a podcast, teaching at a university and has a consulting company for international businesses besides doing his New Japan announcing job. “I don’t live the product either. I prepare and believe I am better than other color commentators in this business and carry myself that way. I would also point out that the loyalty of the boys to me and Kevin begins and ends with their perception of the job we do putting them over. This is wrestling and if the top guys thought someone else did it better, they would not stand up for us, nor what I expect them to.” Kenny Omega was on our show, and Omega is the guy who got Callis the spot with New Japan, and he said that while he always wants Kelly & Callis to do his matches that he was very happy with the announcing of his Long Beach matches when he watched them back.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Big Japan ran its biggest show of the year on 7/17 at Sumo Hall in Tokyo, drawing 3,179 fans, which for that promotion I’d consider a very good number. In the top matches, Shinobu beat Kazuki Hashimoto to become the first Big Japan jr. champion. Hideki Suzuki retained the World Strong championship over Ryuichi Kawakami in 13:55 with a sleeper. Daichi Hashimoto than came out to issue a title challenge to Suzuki. For the tag titles, Abdullah Kobayashi & Ryuji Ito won the titles from Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi retained the titles over Abdullah Kobayashi & Ryuji Ito in 21:09 when Kobayashi pinned Okabayashi with a flying elbow drop. The main event saw Masaya Takanishi retain the Death match title over Takayuki Ueki in 23:42 with a jackhammer onto a board of nails

Strigga on Twitter did an interesting comparison of attendance for Japanese women’s promotions. In 1998, Japanese women’s groups drew 683,926 on 575 shows. In 2016, it was 335 shows for 93,530 fans. The thing is, 1998 was years past the peak. The peak periods would be 1975-77 (Beauty Pair era), 1983-86 (Crush Gals/Dump Matsumoto era) and 1991-94 (Kong, Toyota, Kyoko Inoue, Hokuto era)

Sendai Girls drew 2,250 fans in Niigata for a main event where Chihiro Hashimoto won their world title over Hiroyo Matsumoto.

HERE AND THERE: Matt Cappotelli, the former Tough Enough winner whose promising career ended with a diagnosis of brain cancer more than a decade ago, said that the diagnosis of his latest tumor is that he has a Grade IV GiloBastoma Multiforme. He had a spinal tap on 7/14 to see if the cancer cells have spread to his spinal fluid. To say this is horrible news would be an understatement. That type of cancer is very resistant to treatment and spreads fast

Benjamin Mora Jr., who was the promoter in Tijuana during the 80s and 90s and headed the WWA, as well as at times ran a wrestling magazine in Mexico, passed away on 7/18 from a heart attack. Mora Jr. helped star the career of Rey Misterio Jr., Konnan, Psicosis, and promoted some major mask matches with El Hijo del Santo over the years

The web site “The Splash Report” talked about a planned movie project called “The Immortal,” which is to be based on the life of Hulk Hogan. The screenplay was written by Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman and is being shopped around Hollywood right now. The story, which, like the fictitious Vince McMahon movie we wrote about a few months back, is very loosely based on reality, features Terry Bollea as a fat kid in school who is considered a loser and got bullied (there is no evidence of either of those things past the idea that he wasn’t a star athlete or anything, but was a huge kid), and that one day he found out that pro wrestling was fake and began to harass wrestling promoter Mike Graham (Mike Graham was actually a classmate of his in high school and his father ran the wrestling company) who sends him to train with Hiro Matsuda. Actually it was Jack and Jerry Brisco who saw him playing bass guitar at a club and with his size, huge physique and long blond hair, they thought he could make money in pro wrestling. Then there’s the story of Matsuda breaking his leg (that story has been told so many times it’s become fact, but in actuality, the real story is that on his first day of training, he injured his ankle. He came back the next day limping but Matsuda told him he was hurt and should sit out a few days. Hogan changed that to Matsuda intentionally breaking his ankle and him disappearing and coming back weeks later after it healed). Then Vince McMahon’s father, Vince and Terry collaborate on the concept of Hulk Hogan (I guess that’s better than they just copied Superstar Billy Graham, who Hogan had been a copy of since the day he started his career since Graham was Hogan’s favorite wrestler growing up and the two met in the mid-ups during one of the Graham vs. Dusty Rhodes programs in Florida). The story has him discovering steroids while training with Matsuda and meeting Dr. George Zahorian. Actually he began using steroids a few years before he started in wrestling, either figuring out that Graham got to look like he did by using steroids, or Graham advised him to do so (Graham has told the story different ways), but Hogan went from 230 to 320 in one year and at 6-foot-5 ½ and 230, he was hardly a fat kid. It’ll cover meeting Sylvester Stallone and getting in Rocky III. It blamed his drug usage on working through injuries, and goes through the Arsenio Hall interview where he denied steroid use and how he protected Vince McMahon at the trial in 1994 (that’s actually true, even if Vince McMahon felt he didn’t) and how he restarted his career and had another run as a heel in WCW under Eric Bischoff

Libnan Ayoub, a pro wrestling historian from Australia whose father was a wrestling legend there, has apparently finished a DVD on World Championship Wrestling, the promotion that Jim Barnett ran that was the No. 1 wrestling company in the world for several years in the 60s. There is apparently going to be a launch date in Sydney

Historian Kirk Beattie from Australia noted regarding the death last week of “Beautiful” Buddy Wolff, that he did a 1972 tour during the heyday of World Championship Wrestling. Wolff, passed away on 7/11 after a lengthy battle with dementia at the age of 76. He donated his brain to Boston University for CTE research. Wolff spent most of his career as a heel who worked mostly in the middle but had brushes of main events, and in most places would get a singles feud with the top babyface but usually didn’t win major singles titles (he did hold the Florida and Texas belts). He spent years in the AWA, usually in the spot as the No. 2 heel tag team, that would lose to the babyface team as set-ups to then facing the heel champions, best known with Larry Heineimi. As noted last week, his most notable bouts from a trivia standpoint were that he lost to Andre the Giant in Andre’s MSG debut, and he had a match on ABC’s Wide World of Sports in 1976 against Muhammad Ali in Chicago, about two weeks before the Ali vs. Inoki match. Wolff’s role in Australia was similar to most places, as an upper mid card heel who would have brushes with the main event faces. He was described as a talented but unpopular heel. After beating prelim guys his first week in, he was in the main event by week two, teaming with Tiger Jeet Singh against babyface headlines Spyros Arion & Bob Roop in Sydney and Melbourne. Wolff then had draws and his biggest win of the tour in bouts with Thunderbolt Patterson. Wolff worked some singles bouts with Curtis Iaukea with a DQ finish that Wolff & Singh lost to Mark Lewin & Iaukea. It wasn’t until five weeks in that he lost his first singles match, to Lewin, who won with the sleeper. Then he started losing, including a title bout to Austra Asian champion Arion, as well as to Roop and Iaukea on the way out

Wolff did a 2006 interview with Slam Wrestling saying his career highlight was when he went to the WWWF and got there and the promotion felt that his wrestling-oriented heel style wouldn’t draw, and he said he sold out several arenas in title matches with Pedro Morales. Morales vs. Wolff worked more of the secondary markets and he never got a Madison Square Garden main event. He claimed he had a shot at making the 1964 Olympic team in wrestling, although that seems exaggerated given he wrestled at St. Cloud State, a small school, and never placed at small college nationals. He said he chose semi-pro football over continuing wrestling after college. He got into wrestling after Larry Heineimi, who was his training partner at St. Cloud State (Heineimi did place at nationals, wrestling at 191, while Wolff was the heavyweight), had started after being trained by Verne Gagne. Gagne then trained Wolff. Wolff stopped wrestling full-time in 1980, and lived in Hackensack, MN, and tried various small businesses such as running a T-shirt store, running a restaurant, and doing silk screening. Later, when he’d watch sports events and see banners getting blown off in the wind, he created a new business called banner savers which would mount banners at outdoor events so they were wind resistant

In an interesting approach, James Sweet and Chuck Mere, who did a YouTube channel called “Zombie Go Boom” that was destroyed, similar to those in pro wrestling, by YouTube’s decision to destroy ad rates for certain categories of programming, have filed suit against the company. Sweet and Mere noted the new policy cut their revenue down 90 to 95 percent. The key is Sweet and Mere are looking to recruit other content creators who were hurt like they were, to be part of a class action suit

Brooke Adams (Brooke Tessmacher in TNA), 32, and boyfriend Weston Piper are a couple on the reality show “Rattled” that airs on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. on TLC. The new season started on 7/18 with an episode built around her, filmed last September, when her water broke three weeks early and she was about to give birth. Part of the show covers Adams’ financial concerns from no longer working in wrestling and having an income. She said that she goes back-and-forth regarding whether or not she’ll try and go back to wrestling

Combat Zone Wrestling is pushing hard an 8/5 show in Voorhees, NJ called “Once in a lifetime,” built around using Atsushi Onita, the Japanese legend. I’m not sure what Onita means, since his peak was in the early 90s, but when CZW first started, the style that they used emulated what Onita had done with FMW. He’s facing Father Matt Tremont in the main event. Several other former FMW wrestlers including Raijin Yaguchi and Hideki Hosaka are being brought in for the show

Dale “TNT” Mann, who promoted independent wrestling in Tennessee and Kentucky for decades, passed away on 7/18. Mann wrestled underneath in the 70s for the WWA, which was Dick the Bruiser’s group out of Indianapolis as Billy Jack Mann. He also had worked for Nick Gulas’ territory and started his own promotion in Georgetown, KY in the late 70s. He worked some with Jerry Jarrett, using some Jarrett guys on his shows, and at other times worked with the Poffos and used some ICW guys along with his local crew. Eric Embry, Dan Greer and Bobby Fulton were his best known regulars during the 80s. He ran Mid Continental Wrestling and ran weekly shows on Sunday nights under selling to Greer, who was also known as Danny Fargo. He later ran a group called USA Main Event Wrestling out of Russell Springs, KY. He also had some legal complications including a manslaughter charge in a shooting death that he was acquitted of

Ron Wilkins, who was mostly an 80s enhancement wrestler for Jim Crockett Promotions, passed away on7/18

The reason Matt Sydal couldn’t do much in his match in Israel last week is because he just dislocated his shoulder at the GFW tapings

Lio Rush’s last indie match before going to Orlando will be on 8/12 for MCW in Joppa, MD. It was noted that he wanted his last match to be in the same building that he originally started his career training in just a few years ago. It’s really amazing how far he’s gotten in such a such a short period of time, but for pro wrestling, even though he’s very small, he is incredibly gifted as far as timing and athletic ability

Flo Slam has quietly dropped its monthly price from $30 per month to the former $20 per month for those ordering on a monthly basis

The Seattle-based Defy Wrestling group, which historian Matt Farmer is a key part of, and has been selling out with 500 fans as one of the group of major indies doing well, has made deals to promote combined shows with The Crash out of Mexico, and also is working with CZW. The groups share recognition of their champions. Davey Richards was champion and lost it to Shane Strickland on 7/7 in Voorhees, NJ in a four-way that also included Lio Rush and Joe Gacy

Seth Lesser, who was Simon Gotch in WWE, had his 90-day non-compete period expire this past week. So he would now be able to work for any promotion he would want to or sign with a new promotion

Kevin Nash, 58, had knee surgery last week after a meniscus tear. He was it was his 32nd surgery

Rex Bacchus, a Florida based independent wrestler who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and later with stage two cancer of the small intestine is doing a Go Fund Me. He’s been hospitalized four times so far this year and had 25 cm of his intestine removed. He will likely need both surgery and chemotherapy for the cancer and has been laid up and unable to work. His hospital bills are said to be in the range of $1 million

Walter of wXw will be headed to Evolve for the 8/11 and 8/12 shows, including defending his Progress Wrestling Atlas title against Fred Yehi the first night in Joppa, MD

Cody Rhodes beat Ricochet to keep the NEW title on their 7/14 show in Danbury, CT, in what I was told was a **** match. The show drew 1,400 fans. Rhodes won with a cradle after he got his knees up on a shooting star press by Ricochet. Rhodes then said NEW was his favorite promotion. Both worked as babyfaces but Rhodes was the superstar in the match to the crowd. Ryback was there but said that he couldn’t wrestle because he’s having stem cell therapy done for injuries but would be wrestling Wrecking Ball Legursky in the company’s annual biggest event of the year, Wrestling Under the Stars VI, at Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls, NY. He pushed his podcast and nutrition line. Jack Swagger beat Donovan Dijak. I was told that Swagger was really over with kids but the match wasn’t that good. Swagger brought his wife, who used the name Catalina Swagger, in his corner. The finish saw Catalina, a bikini model who has been on magazine covers, slap Dijak and Swagger used the ankle lock. The group also ran on 7/15 in Troy, NY, outdoors at Bruno Stadium, the home of the Tri-City ValleyCats baseball team, and drew 1,893 fans. Rhodes retained his title over Swagger with crossroads. Catalina of course interfered, which naturally led to a run-in by Brandi Rhodes (who had beaten Tessa Blanchard earlier in the show). They brawled all over the baseball field, in the stands, in the dugout and all over. Rey Mysterio Jr. pinned Vinny Marseglia. Ricochet beat Flip Gordon in what was said to be a great match and Bobby Fish beat Dijak. Mick Foley did a run-in and put Mr. Socko on heel manager Jared Silberkleit, who managed the heel team Adrenaline Rush of Keith Youngblood & Daniel Evans

AAW drew a packed house of 522 fans on 7/15 in Merrionette Park, IL as Jake & David Crist beat War Machine (interesting that the IWGP tag champs are losing on an indie show). Garza Jr. worked as a heel teaming with Trevor Lee against Penta 0M & Shane Strickland when Strickland pinned Garza. AR Fox & Rey Fenix were to defend the tag titles against Zachary Wentz & Dezmond Xavier, but Fenix still had Visa issues and couldn’t get appear. Jeff Cobb took his place, and Fox & Cobb lost what was a tag title match. Cobb did a heel turn. The match story is Cobb threw around his smaller opponents and told Fox to pin them. Later, Fox accidentally hit Cobb. Cobb later head-butted Fox in the chest hard and walked off. Later, in an I Quit match with David Starr vs. Eddie Kingston, Cobb suplexed Kingston through a table and more interference led to Starr winning. Sami Callihan beat Keith Lee in the main event to keep the AAW title. Lee may have suffered a broken nose as Callihan hit him with a chair to the head, which Lee was supposed to block with his hands, but didn’t get his hands up in time and part of the chair nailed the nose. Lee was fine after the match. They have an 8/31 show with Cody Rhodes in Berwyn, IL, granted in a small building of only a few hundred, that is sold out almost two months ahead of time

Petey Williams, who popularized the Canadian Destroyer move in TNA, wrestled on 7/16 for XICW in Clinton Township, MI in the same venue that he had his previous retirement match on July 5, 2014. He worked against former WWE star Zach Gowen

A group called Imperio Lucha Libre ran a show on 7/1 in Lima, Peru, taped for local cable television. The show drew about 600 fans. Alejandro Saez, who worked the cruiserweight classic and is from Chile, was the in-ring star in a match with Mansilla. The American names on the show were Paul London and Chuck Taylor. They announced a 9/16 return with Penta 0M, Rey Fenix and Carlito (who is their Imperial champion)

WrestleCircus out of Austin, TX, a group that brings in the top indie guys in the country, is pushing a first for 7/22, as they are putting Tessa Blanchard vs. Rachael Ellering for their title in the main event position on the show

Powerbomb.TV is doing an interpromotional tournament to crown an Independent champion. First round matches will be Shane Strickland vs. Fly Warrior on 7/29 in Monterrey, Mexico for Riot Lucha Libre; Desean Pratt vs. Buxx Belmar on 8/12 for C4 Wrestling in Ontario, John Silver vs. Joey Lynch on 8/26 for Anarchy Wrestling in Cordelia, GA, and Jigsaw vs. Jonathan Gresham on 9/9 for Grand Slam Wrestling in Old Forge, PA. The plan is to run quarterly streaming live events, rotating promotions, with the champion defending in the main events. The title will also be defended on different promotions affiliated with them.

EUROPE: The Pro Wrestling Elite promotion owned and run by Adrian “Lionheart” McCullum was the first promotion to pull Alberto El Patron from an existing booking. The promotion announced that as a result of receiving “facts and information about him from reliable sources” and “making a conscious, professional and moral decision” that they didn’t want him on their shows. They announced Pete Dunne would fill in for those bookings. Fans then said that was a massive upgrade. Zak & Roy Knight are very well liked by a number of U.K. promoters and their statements were taken pretty seriously

The Knight Family’s promotion announced Alberto has vacated their heavyweight title. They announced it at a show on 7/16 and said it was a unanimous decision from the WAW (World Association of Wrestling, the group the Knight family runs) Championship Committee. They announced a 32 man tournament that would take place over the next several months with the new champion crowned on a show in Norwich in December. That seems to mean they are no longer going to be booking Alberto. Ricky Knight, who runs the promotion, wrote, “Can I please put this out there. Alberto El Patron was not stripped of the WAW world title. It was done by both parties amicably for the best interest of WAW going forward. Can I also say that despite differences between myself and Alberto, personally as a pro the man was impeccable and raised the profile of WAW by a huge amount.

Dunne noted on Twitter that he’s looking for more bookings in September and October. There is still no word on the WWE doing the weekly U.K. show. As noted before, they had buildings booked starting in June for regular tapings and then pulled out. It’s pretty clear the entire U.K. division and signing the talent was to keep ITV from getting a foothold and the best young talent. Now they’ve got guys under contract who are actually quite good but they aren’t using them. They also spent a ton to bring Jim Ross back, and his major job was to host that show

The final match added to the 8/17 Revolution Pro show in York Hall is Mark & Jay Briscoe vs. Ryan Smile & Shane Strickland

Will Ospreay will face Rey Mysterio Jr. on 8/23 in Milton Keyes as part of What Culture’s World Cup tournament. It will be the first-ever singles match between the two of them.

LUCHA UNDERGROUND: Besides Rey Mysterio Jr. and Prince Puma, Angelico also signed a contract that expires with the end of the currently airing season.

ROH: The 8/19 show from The Olympia in Liverpool will be an iPPV airing through the company’s web site and the FITE TV app. This will be the first time the company has ever aired a live show from the U.K., and the first time they’ve ever done a PPV outside of the U.S. or Ontario. The only thing announced thus far is Cody vs. Sanada for the ROH title and a four-way elimination match for the TV title with Kushida defending against Dalton Castle, Marty Scurll and Hiromu Takahashi. Cody vs. Sanada is an interesting bout but Sanada is a curious choice for an iPPV main event. He’s not a major star in New Japan. He’s a great talent but is not pushed as a main eventer. I’m sure they’ll be loading up on the rest of the show with regular ROH and U.K. talents

The main event for the 8/18 show at York Hall in London was Young Bucks & Hangman Page & Scurll & Rhodes vs. Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Bushi & Sanada & Hiromu Takahashi

The company announced three new dates, shows on 10/2 in Buffalo, 10/13 in Pittsburgh and 10/14 in Columbus, OH with New Japan stars like Kushida, Lance Archer (who is expected to be cleared to return for wrestling in about a month after back surgery early in the year), Davey Boy Smith Jr., Hiromu Takahashi and Yoshi-Hashi

Announced for 8/20 in Edinburgh, Scotland so far is Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian vs. Cody & Marty Scurll, Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero vs. Briscoes and Bully Ray vs. Evil

They posted a listing that they are looking for a full-time Creative Associate Producer who would work out of their Baltimore office. This would include traveling to record live events, managing equipment maintenance and usage, the ability to script and edit short and long form content, the ability to write, shoot and edit content that tells a compelling story, post-production work and more.

GFW: The situation with Alberto El Patron now looks better for him to a degree, as the Orlando police have determined that Saraya Jade-Bevis, and not Alberto, should be the one charged with battery after investigating the case. There are cameras filming everything at the airport so reviewing those tapes were going to tell the story. Pro Wrestling Sheet first reported that “OPD detectives have found that probable cause exists to charge Saraya Bevis with Battery (Domestic Violence). Detectives have sent the information to the State Attorney’s Office for review and that State Attorney’s Office will determine whether to file charges in the case.” That doesn’t necessarily take Alberto off the hook but does change the situation somewhat. Even though he is listed as being under suspension, he is still being advertised for the August house show run in the Northeast

There is some interest in Rey Mysterio Jr., once his Lucha Underground contract expires. Mysterio was in Nashville this past week with Konnan at the GFW offices. There was also talk about Mysterio with WWE going around that day from Sports Illustrated saying he was talking with both companies. For what it’s worth, the talking with GFW when he’s free from his contract was confirmed to us and the talking with WWE was denied to us by those very close to the situation. It does make sense if he’s a free agent that he’d talk to everyone, including Lucha Underground. Mysterio was LU’s highest paid wrestler, and there were frustrations at times during the last season but he was always professional and put them over strong. SI listed that he’d be able to wrestle three months after the end of the current season finishes airing, which would be mid-January. His contract may be different from the others, but the contracts I’ve seen from LU all listed six months after the end of the last season on the contract

Another factor to be considered at this stage in his life, is his son Dominick, who is the same Dominick in the Eddy Guerrero angles when he was a child, has started training for pro wrestling and he may want to factor in the idea of being able to team with his son or be somewhere that enables his son to get the right break. Everyone should have some interest in him just as a brand ambassador as well as to work limited dates. Lucha Underground with its fan base would be the best equipped to push a son of Rey Mysterio, even though the standard of work is pretty high which makes it tough for a newcomer. But they also post-edit the matches extensively. GFW is also more apt to feature him, as the competition for spots in WWE is very high and there are sons of second generation wrestlers who struggle there because it’s not really much of a benefit unless you are Ric Flair’s daughter

Who also knows if Lucha Underground will enforce that post-season period so tightly, especially as it relates to TNA, given Lucha Underground contracted guys have been working here of late.

Nick “Magnus” Aldis isn’t with the promotion any longer. He turned down the contract offer they gave him. He worked the recent tapings on a handshake deal so they could protect the lineage of the GFW title which he dropped to Alberto

Apparently most of the new contracts GFW has signed with talent includes the company getting ten percent of all talent independent date money and that talent would not get cut at all into any merchandise sold with their likenesses if sold directly by the company

Shane Helms did an interview with The Sheet podcast talking about leaving the promotion. He said financial would be part of it but the reason there were too many agents is because Jeff brought in his buddies who weren’t qualified to be there. “So if you hadn’t brought in unqualified people to put into those positions, the situation would never have arisen.” Lots of talk going around the past week of Helms in WWE as a coach, but that’s not a definite thing

John Morrison and Taya, as well as Drago, are booked for the Northeast house shows in August. This booking was done before all the controversy with Morrison and Taya in AAA had happened. From what we were told, it’s not an issue with LU because none of the matches are being taped. LU would have to approve if they were to appear at the ensuing tapings

Bound for Glory will take place on 11/5

They are planning a Midwest house show run in October.

UFC: The final two legs of the Mayweather/McGregor press tour were 7/13 in New York at the Barclays Center and 7/14 in London at SSE Wembley. Both events were sold out. Toronto ended up being the highlight. New York was the worst for various reasons. After Mayweather arrived way late in Toronto, holding up the shows, I knew things were going to be screwed. McGregor always shows up late because he’s got that mentality that the star shows up when he wants to, so in this game of chicken, the press conference started two hours late. The fans were tired and McGregor came out with a mink coat and tried to be something he wasn’t doing a more rapper style of interview that sucked. Mayweather can draw money but this tour with the long promos (which were not a good idea) really exposed Mayweather as not being a good promo at all. People hated him and all, and it won’t hurt the drawing power, but it’s really clear that the Showtime editing in the 24/7 pieces that make Mayweather come off as this incredible personality is great work because he’s very one-dimensional as a talker. Both were criticized for promos, with the idea McGregor was being racist because he said he was half-black, and that he was black from the waist down, and Mayweather used a gay slur. McGregor came out at the start of his London promo to say he wasn’t racist. Mayweather’s promo was the same very night and not a good one. His focus was to act like he and Dana White were the smart ones because they’ve used the sport to make a ton of money while McGregor wasn’t in his league financially. It was actually a jab at White because he said he made his money underpaying fighters and that in this case, White is the pimp and McGregor is the ho. To a degree, you could say that from a shallow standpoint because UFC is making its cut while sending McGregor into a fight with somebody else’s rules that he really has little chance in (although it is amazing how many people think McGregor is going to win because he’s bigger and younger and mostly because he talks so confidently, and the way he smoked Aldo). However, it is McGregor who wants the fight, because he can make more money in one night than he’d make in his entire career as an MMA fighter, and is obviously willing to risk the loss for $60 million (conservatively) to $120 million or whatever his cut would be if this does the kind of numbers people are predicting. Mayweather bragged that his watch cost $1.4 million (inflation is something because Ric Flair in the 80s would brag about his $10,000 Rolexes). McGregor was much better in London, which had the hottest crowd. Showtime will be doing a 24/7 weekly series to build up the fight which starts on 7/28

Dana White said that he believed Showtime did shut off Conor McGregor’s mic in Los Angeles, noting that as soon as McGregor starting rebutting McGregor, not only was McGregor’s mic turned off, but White said his was as well. White is clearly angling for doing some boxing promotion since he was wearing a “Zuffa Boxing” T-shirt at the press conferences, and when asked about it, joked and hinted about it

What’s notable about Mayweather vs. McGregor is that it’s bigger among MMA fans, even though it’s a boxing match. The other thing I’ve noted from friends, who see this fight as a huge deal, is McGregor actually has them believing he can win. People see him as bigger and younger and he talks with so much confidence. The betting is solidly behind McGregor and the odds have kept falling. McGregor’s only chance is if Mayweather has completely lost it since his retirement because boxing is a unique skill and Mayweather is one of the greatest of all-time, and McGregor is not a boxer and has never even done one round as a professional

The viewership from UFC and Showtime boxing shows that the UFC fans have stayed interested and the boxing fans lost interest. UFC did 3.39 million views on Tuesday,. 2.2 million on Wednesday, 2.85 million on Thursday and 2.42 million on Friday. Showtime did 3.00 million on Tuesday, 2.72 million on Wednesday, 870,000 on Thursday and 190,000 on Friday

According to sources in the sports betting world, the original thought was the fight would be big, potentially near Super Bowl levels, but after all the bets taken last week stemming from the press conferences, the belief is from a sports betting standpoint, they believe it will be bigger than the Super Bowl. The vast, vast majority of betting is on McGregor with the odds to the point that it would be very bad for the gambling industry if McGregor wins, and disastrous if he wins by knockout. The over/under on PPV remains 4.99 million buys and the odds are down to Mayweather at -500 and McGregor at +350

Paulie Malignaggi, who was part of the coverage team at the press conferences, said he will be a sparring partner for McGregor in his preparation for the fight

Early estimates of the 7/9 UFC 213 PPV were hugely disappointing, coming in right now at about 130,000 buys. That would be the lowest of the year, and the lowest since 2006 for a show that wasn’t headlined by Demetrious Johnson. Worse, it was for the International Fight Week show that is usually one of the best of the year. The advertising was built around Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko. We don’t know how much of the low number is people deciding not to buy when the main event fell through that afternoon, or if it would have done a similar number anyway. That number would indicate to me losing the main event hurt more than I expected

The Demetrious Johnson win of the ESPY award for Best Fighter over Conor McGregor in a fan voted contest is a shock. Not that Johnson doesn’t deserve it more, but from a general public standpoint in a popularity contest one wouldn’t think he’d win. Over the year period in question, McGregor beat Nate Diaz via close decision and Eddie Alvarez solidly, while Johnson beat Tim Elliott and Wilson Reis, and his fight with Reis did terrible television ratings on FOX, while McGregor’s bout with Diaz set a PPV record and the Alvarez fight topped 1 million buys. Perhaps all the pushing of Johnson as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and most skilled fighter connected with more of the public, but not enough to where they actually cared enough to watch him try and tie that record. McGregor was up for a second ESPY, for Best International Athlete, which went to Usain Bolt

The promotional videos for Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier that have been airing on the various shows are some of the best work the company has done building a match in a long time. The negative is that this fight is being so overwhelemed by the pub for McGregor vs. Mayweather

The Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko bantamweight title match is now official for 9/9 in Edmonton

An interesting UFC note about different fan bases. At the Hall of Fame ceremony on 7/6, which drew 1,600 fans, the place went nuts for Kazushi Sakuraba with people having tears in their eyes and those fans saw him as a huge legend. Three nights later, before about 12,000 fans at the T Mobile Arena, when he was shown at the PPV, there was zero reaction

This week’s show is 7/22, the UFC’s debut at the Nassau Coliseum. The show opens with Fight Pass fights at 4 p.m. Eastern with Frankie Perez (10-3) vs. Chris Wade (11-3), Shane Burgos (9-0) vs. Godofredo Pepey (13-4), Junior Albini (6-2) vs. Timothy Johnson (10-3), Brian Kelleher (17-7) vs. Marlon Vera (9-3-1) and Kyle Bochniak (7-1) vs. Jeremy Kennedy (10-0). The rest of the show airs on FOX starting at 6 p.m. with Damian Grabowski (20-4) vs. Chase Sherman (9-3), Ryan LaFlare (13-1) vs. Alex Oliveira (16-4-1), Eryk Anders (5-0) vs,. Alessio DiChirico (10-2), Lyman Good (19-3) vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (16-5), Thomas Almeida (21-1) vs. Jimmie Rivera (20-1), Patrick Cummins (9-4) vs. Gian Villante (15-8), Dennis Bermudez (16-6) vs. Darren Elkins (22-5) and headlined by Chris Weidman (13-3) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (13-2). Almeida vs. Rivera is a freak sleeper fight

The Sage Northcutt vs. John Makdessi fight scheduled for 7/29 in Anaheim has been canceled since both fighters suffered injuries in the past week

Kickboxing champion Gokhan Saki vs. Henrique da Silva and Ulka Sasaki vs. Jussier Formiga have been added to the 9/23 show at the Saitama Super Arena. The main event on the show is Mauricio Shogun Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux

While this is not a done deal, UFC is trying to put together Paulo Borrachinha vs. Vitor Belfort for the 9/9 show in Edmonton

With Doo Ho Choi out with an injury, Andre Fili’s new opponent on 7/29 in Anaheim will be Calvin Kattar, who is 16-2 with the nickname the Boston Finisher, who has won his last eight

Boston Salmon and Kurt Holobaugh were given UFC contracts based on their performance on the 7/11 Dana White Tuesday Night Contenders show.

BELLATOR: Regarding the 6/24 PPV show, the estimates have ranged from 90,000 to 135,000, although the best source pegged it at 95,000 in the U.S., which would be well under the 200,000 prediction of Scott Coker. Viacom company policy does not allow a release of the PPV numbers by Bellator although David Schwarz of Spike wrote, “I can say we are all very pleased with everything from the Bellator PPV–that of course includes the record gate, record domestic attendance, strong numbers for Bellator 180 and great exposure for the brand, and great momentum as we plan our next PPV. Details coming.

The 7/14 main event from Thackerville, OK, with Derek Campos (19-6) winning via cut stoppage at the end of the second round over Brandon Girtz (14-7) in the third bout of their trilogy, was one of the best fights of the year. I’d go so far as to say that fight and the Michael Johnson vs. Justin Gaethje fight the week before in UFC were the two best. It was just an all-our brutal war with no defense, and an old school bloodbath. Jimmy Smith compared it to the old days of pro wrestling with all of the blood and Mauro Ranallo even pulled out the old Gordon Solie deal where Girtz’s face has turned into a crimson mask. I really didn’t expect the fight to proceed past the first round, because Girtz had a cut on the middle of his forehead that was as deep and sick as any cut you’ll ever see. It wasn’t a cut, it was a divot in the head. But John McCarthy let it go, with the idea that since the cut was right in the middle of the forehead, the blood wasn’t going directly into Girtz’s eyes and not compromising his vision. But at the end of the second round, the fear was the cut was so deep it could cause nerve damage and it was stopped. Fans were chanting “We want four” when it was over, in reference to a fourth match between the two of them. It was only the second trilogy in Bellator history. The first was Patricio Pitbull Freire vs. Daniel Straus, who have had four meetings. Campos was winning the fight, but Girtz was the epitome of a fighter who wouldn’t quit and kept firing back looking for the knockout and willing to take shots in order to have a chance too get it, since he had proved in the second fight that he had the power to knock Campos out. In the other TV fights, John Salter (14-3) beat former UFC star Kendall Grove (23-17) via choke at 4:37; Emily Ducote (6-2) beat Jessica Middleton (2-2) via decision and Joe Warren (15-6) beat Steve Garcia (7-2) vis 30-27 decision by outwrestling Garcia in a fight the fans booed

The PPV version of the 6/24 show in Madison Square Garden, with Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione and Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva, will air on Spike in the normal Friday night time slot on 7/28. This is interesting because taped shows seem to get no interest if you follow social media, but the last time UFC ran a PPV replay on FOX, it did incredible ratings numbers (4.7 million viewers, the second largest FOX numbers ever were for the taped show on Christmas Eve) and yet based on social media reaction, you’d have thought nobody watched it

Gegard Mousasi’s challenge for the middleweight title won’t be happening this year, as champion Rafael Carvalho signed to defend the title against Alessio Sakara on 12/9 in Florence, Italy. Sakara has been used as Bellator’s big star on shows in Italy. He’s 2-0 in Bellator but when he was cut by UFC in 2013 he had a four fight losing streak. Mousasi will debut on 10/20 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT, facing Alexander Shlemenko. Obviously the idea coming out of these two fights would be Mousasi challenging for the title in 2018, or if Shlemenko would win, he may get the shot. Also on the Mohegan Sun card will be Liam McGeary vs. King Mo Lawal, with the winner likely getting the next shot at Ryan Bader’s light heavyweight title

Eduardo Dantas was announced as defending his bantamweight title against former NCAA champion Darrion Caldwell on 10/6 in Thackerville, OK.

OTHER MMA: The Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev fight on 7/1 did only 130,000 PPV buys, which was a big disappointment. They had fought in November and the first fight did about 160,000 buys. Ward, no matter how many fights he’s won, even with him coming from the Olympics and being one of the best boxers of this generation, he’s never broken through as the superstar expected from him

The Edmonton Combative Sports Commission and the city of Edmonton have hired a third party to investigate the death of former UFC fighter Tim Hague, who died on 6/18 after being knocked out in a boxing match in the city two days earlier. The results of the investigation are expected in mid-September

The Professional Fight League, the former World Series of Fighting, has its first full show on NBC Sports Network under its new name on 7/29 in Everett, WA, headlined by Andre Harrison vs. Steven Rodriguez, and features two of the company’s best-known fighters, Jake Shields who faces Danny Davis Jr., and Yushin Okami, who faces Andre Labato

An amateur MMA fighter, Donshay White, 37, of Radcliff, KY, died after a fight on 7/15 in Louisville. White lost in the second round to Ricky Muse. He walked on his own power to the back, and then collapsed from what was believed to have been a heart attack, and was rushed to the hospital. As soon as that happened, the rest of the show was canceled. The Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Commission is reviewing the fight and its aftermath. White had only fought once previously a knockout win two years ago.

WWE: Shane McMahon, 47, was in the news this past week as a helicopter he was a passenger in had to make an emergency landing in the water near Giglo Beach on Long Island. McMahon and the pilot safely landed in the water and were wearing life jackets and were not injured in the crash that took place at 10:30 a.m. on 7/19. McMahon was on a flight from the airport at Westchester County and the pilot had sent a Mayday call out before the crash and a commercial flight heard the call and alerted FAA officials. McMahon was being flown via helicopter home from landing at the Westchester Airport that morning flying home from Birmingham where he had appeared on Smackdown. The story got some New York area publicity and McMahon was interviewed by local media after being rescued from the water. “I’d like to thank the man upstairs for looking out this morning and thanks to pilot Mario (Mario Regtien), Suffolk County Marine Bureau and Babylon Coast Guard,” Shane McMahon wrote on Twitter. McMahon said that since Regtien was completely calm and explained what was happening to him through the ordeal, so he was calm as well. Regtien said he heard some noise that made it clear the helicopter wasn’t going to be able to keep flying so he decided to land it in the water. The crash could be seen by those from the shore

Regarding the broken gimmick, a Sports Illustrated article said that the Hardys and Anthem had first agreed on the Hardys paying between $10,000 and $15,000 for the rights to the gimmick, with a clause that every time Reby Hardy would tweet about Anthem or people in Anthem, she would have to pay a $1,000 penalty the first time and $5,000 each subsequent time. The story claimed that Anthem ended up not signing off and instead wanted 50 percent of the revenue from all merchandise related to the gimmick

Bruno Sammartino will be going to Pizzoferrato, Italy, the city he grew up in and where he’s the local hero, in a few weeks. A large statue of him will be unveiled as the house he grew up in has been remodeled and taken over by the city to become the Bruno Sammartino Museum. In addition, they will be opening up the Emilia Sammartino Medical Center in the city, named after his mother, who kept him alive as a child in a story that really should have been made into a major motion picture (and it did come close)

Stephanie McMahon got a Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award as part of the third annual Sports Humanitarian Awards presented by ESPN on 7/11. The event was held at L.A. Live. McMahon was honored for WWE’s work with Make-A-Wish, the Special Olympics, Susan G Komen, The Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Be a STAR as well as the Connor’s Cure fund she set up. Ronda Rousey presented Stephanie with the award. WWE is definitely regarded as having real sports business credibility with ESPN between getting this award. Cena, who hosted the ESPYs last year, was part of the show (and several WWE performers attended as a celebrity guests) and presented the Jimmy V perseverance award to Jarrius Robertson, 15, who is best known as a New Orleans Saints superfan, but is also a huge pro wrestling fan. Robertson is super charismatic and WWE presented clips of him on Raw from when he attended a Raw event and met a lot of the talent

Mahal did an interview with The Times of India saying that “I know that I will be WWE champion when the moment comes (WWE touring India) and I want to be in India with my people as champion. I want to speak to my people in my language of Punjabi and it s not only me, all the WWE superstars are very excited to come back to India because the fans in India are very passionate and they showed their love and support the last time WWE was in India and the superstars can’t wait for their next visit to the country.” He said WWE is working on locking in dates for India and he expects an announcement

There is some sort of an angle being worked with Cris Cyborg and Becky Lynch. No sure what it is, but it’s clear both are working together with the idea of building up something. Cyborg has had talks with WWE in the past and even talked about going there at what point when her fight career was going nowhere. She’s under contract to UFC, but that’s not much of a hurdle since UFC owes WWE for allowing Brock Lesnar to do the show last year. I’m just not sure how that benefits anyone since Cyborg, unlike Ronda Rousey, isn’t a mainstream name that will pull new attention to the product. Lynch trains MMA and her boyfriend is a UFC fighter, Luke Sanders

Universal HD, which had been airing Raw and Smackdown reruns twice a week from 7 p.m. to midnight on Saturday nights and 5 a.m.to 10 a.m. Sunday mornings, went through its rebranding on7/14 and is now called The Olympic Channel. So the WWE replays have been canceled. .

 Regarding the death of George Romero on 7/16, the famous filmmaker known as the father of Zombie films for “Night of the Living Dead,” in the 70s Romero did a television documentary on Bruno Sammartino

WWE Studios’ movie “Birth of the Dragon,” a biography of Bruce Lee, will be in theaters on 8/25

Ric Flair was in Knoxville this past week campaigning for Glenn “Kane” Jacobs in his bid for Mayor of Knox City. Flair was out there promising residents that Jacobs would not increase their taxes

Regal and Sarah Stock were scouting talent this past week in Coacalco, Mexico on 7/15 as well as at Arena Coliseo in Mexico City. People all over Mexico were talking about that, with the idea nobody bought that Regal came to Mexico just to see an indie show headlined by Xtreme Tiger vs. Virus. The wrestlers, when they saw who was there, really had their working shoes on as you’d figure. It was noted how things have changed in six years as CMLL was furious when Mistico (now Caristico) left in 2011 and fired Durango Kid, who was an intermediary in Mistico going to WWE. Now WWE officials came in to a CMLL show and sat with Sam Adonis (the brother of Corey Graves) and were scouting talent

With his match with Mike Kanellis on Smackdown on 7/18, Zayn became the first WWE wrestler to do 100 matches so far this year. Mahal has 99 and Owens and Charlotte have 98

Going forward starting this coming weekend, the Raw house show tour lineups are Reigns vs. Strowman, Rollins vs. Wyatt, Miz vs Ambrose for IC title, Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Hardys vs. Gallows & Anderson for tag titles, Balor vs. Samson, Bayley & Banks & James & Brooke vs. Fox & Bliss & Emma & Jax, Neville vs. Tozawa for the cruiserweight title and Goldust vs. R-Truth

Raw on 7/24 in Washington, DC, announced three matches, Bayley vs. Banks with the winner getting a shot at Bliss’ title at SummerSlam, Balor vs. Samson in a no DQ match and Ambrose & Rollins vs. Miz & Axel & Dallas

On the Table for Three show with Henry, Charles Wright and Ron Simmons, Henry mentioned that his job in WWE was transferring from talent to employee over the next few months. For all real purposes, Henry has just about already retired. He’s only done three matches this year, and no house shows, two of which were the Rumble and the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at Mania, the other was a quick Raw TV loss to Strowman.

The stock has remained strong, at $20.81 per share giving the company at $1.59 billion market value at press time

With pretty much nothing in the way of new programming besides the regular weekly shows, the top ten most-watched shows on the WWE Network this past week were: 1. Great Balls of Fire; 2. WWE 24 Kurt Angle; 3. NXT on 7/12; 4. Battleground 2016; 5. WWE 24 Finn Balor; 6. WrestleMania 33; 7. Ride Along with Angle, Show, Sheamus and Cesaro; 8. 205 Live from 7/11; 9. Talking Smack from 7/11; 10. NXT from 7/5

Notes from the 7/17 Raw in Nashville. The interest in the show was built around the Angle situation. The Reigns vs. Joe main event was left open-ended so we’ll have another week to sort through what ends up as the main event for SummerSlam. The show drew 8,800 fans. R-Truth pinned Hawkins in the first match on Main Event. Hawkins claimed that he was more successful than Garth Brooks, more stylish than Johnny Cash and a better swinger than Luke Bryan. Anderson & Gallows beat Slater & Rhyno using the Magic killer. Raw opened with Ambrose out. He called out Miz, Axel and Dallas and threatened to knock Miz out so hard that he’ll wake up on Real World. Rollins came out and told Ambrose he shouldn’t pick a fight where the odds are 3-on-1 that he can’t win on his own. He told Ambrose that he appreciates his toughness, but he thinks they can come up with a better plan. Ambrose talked about how he never had a plan and last week he hit Miz and his cronies 176 times with chair shots on his own and Rollins just happened to be there. He told Rollins that this is his battle and to go find his own battle. Rollins said Miz involved him in it when Miz and his guys attacked him. Rollins asked Ambrose if he would stand in his way, or stand by his side. The crowd really wanted them to team. Rollins used the term brother and Ambrose said that he used to have brothers in The Shield, and said that he doesn’t know Rollins but he did know a guy who looked like him once, and that guy was a liar and a cheater and stabbed him in the back. Rollins said that was three years ago and he was sorry. Rollins got a big hand for saying he was sorry. Rollins said he had to live with that every day of his life. Rollins brought up that Ambrose and he tore each other apart in Hell in a Cell and Ambrose cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and beat him for the title. Rollins said that was all in the past, and he’s moved on from that and asked Ambrose what it would take for him to move on. Rollins said he’d let his actions speak. He gave Ambrose a chair and turned his back and gave Ambrose a free shot and told him to hit him with the chair if it would make him feel better. Ambrose paused for a while and finally threw the chair out of the ring. Miz and the whole group came out. Miz told Rollins that Ambrose will never forgive him and that Ambrose was the same lunatic fringe that he’s owned for months. Miz said that Ambrose didn’t have the wrestling ability or technical ability to beat him. The Dallas, Miz and Axel surrounded the ring with chairs. Rollins and Ambrose fought back-to-back but between the 3-on-2 and the chairs, they ended up being beaten down, and Miz doing a Skull crushing finale on a chair on Rollins. Miz and the entire group then left the building. Bayley pinned Bliss in a non-title match in 8:13. Bayley’s reaction was still flat and there wasn’t much heat. Jax was at ringside and distracted Bayley to allow Bliss to get the advantage. Banks attacked Jax at ringside and dropkicked Jax into the apron, while Bayley scored the pin on Bliss for the second week in a row with a belly-to-belly. They did a film feature on Cena at the ESPYs giving out the Jimmy V and Rousey giving Stephanie her award. Angle was all nervous backstage and said he didn’t know if coming clean was the right thing. Graves told him that we live in the social media age and that if Angle doesn’t come clean, his reputation and integrity would go down the drain and that he had nothing to be ashamed of. O’Neil, Crews and Tozawa were backstage. O’Neil is now a complete babyface manager who looks after the welfare of his guys and gives them pep talks instead of the money grubbing user that he first was. He told Crews how Strowman knocked his head off, but Strowman knocks everyone’s head off so there’s nothing wrong with that. Daivari came in and wanted a match with Tozawa because they had a DQ finish last week. Tozawa accepted. O’Neil didn’t like it because Tozawa had a shoulder injury from Neville putting him in the Rings of Saturn last week. Ali & Gallagher beat Kendrick & Gulak in 2:16 when Gallagher head-butted Kendrick and Ali hit the inverted 450 for the pin. They’ve ditched the idea of putting up the purple ropes for the cruiserweight matches since fans would see them put up the ropes and take a bathroom break, plus they had to do a bunch of backstage stuff while the crew would set up the ropes. So it’s a good thing. However, it made no difference. It’s not like this match had any crowd reaction. Enzo did an interview. His character is the weirdest booked babyface in history. People do like him, but he talks big, never backs it up, and is booked to be an embarrassment. In another era he’d be a big-time pussy heel. So even though Cass destroyed him, he cut a promo on Cass saying you win some and lose some. The problem is Enzo always loses. Enzo talked about fighting for what he believed in. He said he believed in what he was fighting for and it turned out he believed it more tan Cass. He talked about letting Cass throw him around with the rocket launcher because eh wanted to win. He said that Cass being seven feet tall didn’t win them any championships. He said he was a foot shorter and about 100 pounds lighter, but said that when Cass faced someone his own size, he folded like a lawn chair, in reference to the brawl with show last week. He said Cass wasn’t a G but her was a G. Cass came out and the fans were chanting “Casshole” at him. And he got heat. Enzo then jumped out f the ring and said he was smarter than the average bear and said he was going to sit at ringside. Show came out. Show and Cass started brawling. They went back-and-forth but this time Cass got the better of it. Show also ended up with a bloody nose out of this. The amount of accidental blood in WWE is way more than in even groups that do a more physical product. Enzo ran in to help Show, and Cass laid Enzo out with one kick. I’ve never seen a babyface who got as much promo time booked to be so impotent. The announcers really put Cass over as he ran through Show and you can see they’ve got big plans for him. Booker said that Cass is what Big Show once was, a 26 year old Stud. Well, he’s actually almost 31. Reigns did an interview. Charly Caruso noted that Joe has beaten Reigns twice. Reigns said that when the stakes are high, that’s when he’s at his best, noting he beat Undertaker at WrestleMania, but admitted that was the past, just like Joe’s two wins over him were in the past, and he’s beating Joe and then winning the Universal title. Ambrose and Rollins were arguing backstage. Angle came into the picture and said he was having a tough day, but offered them a tag match next week against Miz and either Dallas or Axel. Ambrose wanted all three and Rollins agreed, so the match was made. Samson was singing. Fans chanted “We Want Balor” at him and Samson said that were going to get that soon. Balor beat Samson via DQ in 5:06 for a guitar shot to the head. Samson was aiming for the shoulder, and the body of guitar nailed Balor in the shoulder. Unfortunately, the jagged edge cracked Balor in the side of the head and ended up splitting him open and knocking him silly. Then Wyatt cut a promo for a match with Balor, so it appears Samson is just there to bide time to transition into Balor vs. Wyatt for SummerSlam. Banks and Bayley were backstage and both wanted title shots. The idea was like they were friends. Bayley noted that she had pinned Bliss two weeks in a row while Banks only beat her via count out, although she did say she liked how Banks laid her out with the double knees (which were anything but double knees) off the announcers table. So that set up the match for next week. The Revival did an interview and said no flips, just fists and that nobody over the last 15 years has flipped more than the Hardys. Actually I think nobody has flipped more than Show. The Revival said that when they met the Hardys that the Hardys acted like they didn’t even know them. Daivari beat Tozawa in 2:56. The new gimmick is that Daivari is always praising Hassan Yazdani (real name Hassan Yazdani Charati), who won the gold medal for Iran in the 2016 Olympics in freestyle wrestling at 163 pounds. WWE is very interested in Yazdani and it has to be more than that because they wouldn’t be pushing his name so hard on television without expecting to have him. He’s about 5-foot-11 and 200 walk-around weight, so he’s not that small. He was pinned in the finals of the World Cup, moving up to 189 pounds, by David Taylor of the U.S., so he’s added a lot of weight in recent years and the story is he’s had interest in eventually going to WWE for three years and that’s one of the reasons he’s added so much weight. He is a hero in Iran right now so perhaps they see him as someone who can open up business in that part of the world. As a trivia note, three years ago when Yazdani was 19 and Aaron Pico was 17, they met in the finals of the 19-and-under world championships at 145 pounds and Yazdani beat Pico. When WWE continually brings up someone’s name, there is a reason so there must be something going on with him. Tozawa was selling the shoulder. Daivari kept working on it until O’Neil told the ref to stop the match. Tozawa was furious and started yelling that he would never quit. It was portrayed that O’Neil was only looking out for his long-term good, and that Tozawa needed to rest his shoulder so he could win the title. But the problem is that in pro wrestling, guys take far worse beatings constantly and always come back. To make this work, the beating has to be far longer and more severe and this wasn’t, so it didn’t really click like it should have. Next was the Angle and Jordan segment. The Revival beat the Hardys in 13:21. Most of them match was Matt being worked over. It didn’t have that much heat, but it wasn’t dead like most matches in that slot usually are. Jeff made the hot tag. He was on the top rope for the swanton when Wilder pulled his leg and Jeff was crotched. Dawson pinned him holding the trunks. They seemed to do an angle where Jeff’s shoulders weren’t down to build for a rematch. Joe did an interview for the match with Reigns where he said that he guaranteed that for him, the third time would be the charm. They pushed a Special Olympics powerlifter named Norris Peterson from the Nashville area, who led the fans in a “Yes” chant. Reigns vs. Joe ended up with a no contest at 19:00. Joe was seating like crazy all over Reigns. It started slow but built well. The crowd was getting into it when Strowman came out. The fans popped huge for Strowman, who eight days after being destroyed, was talking fun and aside from one arm taped up, didn’t have a scratch on him. So this is the Road Runner cartoon. They expected that Strowman would cost Reigns the match and Joe would win. Strowman ended up taking out both Reigns and Joe and left bot laying. At one point after Strowman was beating down Reigns, Joe got him in the choke and then Reigns recovered and hit Strowman with the Superman punch. Strowman recovered from that and hit the spinebuster on Reigns, a powerslam on Joe and a running powerslam on Reigns. I find it hard to believe somebody destroys the top two contenders like that and isn’t going to be in the top match at SummerSlam

Notes from the 7/18 TV tapings in Birmingham, AL. Some good wrestling on both TV shows for the go-home show for Battleground. The show drew 8,000 fans which is strong for a Smackdown taping, but now that Cena is back, the business dynamic and ratings dynamic of Smackdown has changed again. Rawley & Ryder beat The Ascension in the opening dark match when Ryder pinned Konnor. Smackdown opened with the Singh Brothers introducing Mahal. The Punjabi Prison structure was set up and they went through the rules. After they did that, Orton came out and said that Mahal was either the bravest person in the world or not very smart, because they chose being locked up with him and it takes the Singh Brothers out of the match. Orton said that the Singh Brothers are the only reason he won the title in the first place. Jimmy Uso pinned Kingston in 8:31 when Kingston came off the top rope with a crossbody and Jimmy rolled through for the pin. Kingston had gone for the Trouble in Paradise early only to have Jimmy counter with a Death Valley bomb into the turnbuckles. Shane McMahon was backstage with the five women in the elimination match. He said he wanted a singles match for tonight’s show. Charlotte challenged Lana. Then Natalya challenged Lana. Tamina then snapped at everyone in her weird role as Lana’s protector. Natalya then suggested Charlotte vs. Lynch. Charlotte said that doesn’t make sense because Shane wants a competitive match. Lynch got mad at that and Charlotte said she’s beaten Lynch every time they’ve wrestled. Lynch said that wasn’t the case and Shane set up the match. Renee Young interviewed Gable. Gable said that Jordan probably should have given him the heads-up since they were tag team partners, traveled together and trained together. But he said that Jordan did call him after the show. He said he had noticed Jordan being distant but he explained it all to him and he understands. Gable said that now he’s got some ideas for himself. Mike Kanellis pinned Zayn in 2:58. Zayn had him set up for the Helluva kick when Maria jumped in the ring. That distracted Zayn and Mike gave him a sucker punch and the falcon arrow for the pin. Cena came out and talked about the Battleground show. He ran through the top matches and said that on the card, everyone will remember one match, and that’s the flag match. He gave a Dusty Rhodes style patriotic interview. He said that he knows that not everyone likes him, but we can all agree that we all love the flag and the country. He then talked about how he promises everyone that he’s ready. He talked about the Civil War, Pearl Harbor, Normandy, recessions, depressions, the dust bowl the cold war but through it all the flag flew high. He talked about when the towers fell and then he climbed up and waved the flag. Rusev attacked him and laid him out with a kick to the face and put Cena in the accolade and held onto the accolade forever. Cena didn’t tap. Styles and Nakamura were backstage. Nakamura was looking at the U.S. belt and said that one day he wants a shot at it. So that makes them teasing for Styles to face both Cena and Nakamura soon. Lynch beat Charlotte in 8:57. A lot of the match was during the commercial break but what aired was a step above most WWE women’s matches of late. Lynch avoided natural selection and into the disarmer, but Charlotte reversed into a pin attempt. The match was face vs. face with Charlotte doing the subtle heel role. Charlotte missed a moonsault and Lynch used the disarmer. Charlotte made the ropes the first time, but Lynch got it on again and Charlotte tapped. They played up Charlotte being really upset about losing. This could head to her going heel since Naomi is a face and Charlotte was brought over to get the title. Next was this week’s Fashion Police segment, this time a spoof on the X Files. Fandango believed Tully, his stick horse, was stolen by ghosts and aliens. Breeze didn’t believe at first in ghosts aliens. Then they heard strange noises they thought were ghosts, but it was English warming up while singing. Then the light turned on. Fandango & Breeze thought it was aliens and Breeze said he always wanted to meet ET, Chewbacca, Alf and Max Moon. It was actually a delivery guy who just turned the lights on in the room. But the package he was delivering was the head of Tully with a note that read “Battleground,” so the idea is the mystery of who has been attacking them, trashing their office and stealing their horse will be revealed there. Corbin & Owens beat Styles & Nakamura in 9:05. They brawled on the ramp before the match. Nakamura sold until Styles got the hot tag. Even is a short match, this was at the ***½ level and Corbin looked really good working with both of them,. Styles got out of the End of Days and hit an enzuigiri and a Pele kick on Corbin. Corbin did a tag that Styles didn’t see. Styles set up the Styles clash on Corbin, but Owens superkicked him and hit the pop up power bomb for the pin. 205 Live opened with a ***3/4 match with Ali winning two of three falls over Gulak. Gulak has been very good in his role in this program, even it’s a campy worked shoot thing that has gotten zero crowd reaction when they wrestle. Vic Joseph pushed that they were 2-2 against each other going into this match. The crowd was dead, as they usually are, but worse following a hot tag match with Styles & Nakamura. Ali won the first fall in 1:51 with a cool sequence into a cradle. Gulak threw a temper tantrum from there. Even though the match was about ground based offense vs. flying, Ali won the first fall with ground based offense, and did no flying until almost 7:00 into the match. Then he did a springboard off the barricade into a huracanrana on the floor as the first flying move. But Gulak won the second fall at the 7:52 mark with a dragon sleeper. He eased not breaking the hold. They did all kinds of big moves and near falls in the third fall, including Ali doing a reverse huracanrana that spiked Gulak, and a flip plancha to the floor. Gulak suplexed him into the corner. The crowd remained quiet but the match was really good until Ali hit a tornado DDT that Gulak kicked out of. The crowd somewhat came alive for that. The story was that no matter what Gulak would do, Ali would kick out. So he got frustrated and went to the top rope. Then he got nervous and climbed down to the middle rope. He kept hesitating and Ali took him off the turnbuckles with a Frankensteiner and pinned him with the inverted 450, which they are calling the 054 at the 16:50 mark. Crews and Tozawa were backstage. O’Neil wasn’t there. Crews was trying to talk Tozawa out from being mad at O’Neil. He said he was really mad at O’Neil when he ended up in an ambulance after his match with Strowman, but when he watched it back, he saw that O’Neil stood up for him. Tozawa said that O’Neil had no right to stop the match the previous night. Crews said that O’Neil cared for both of them, and he was just looking out for Tozawa’s good. He said O’Neil knew he’d lose him as a client if he didn’t get him the rematch with Daivari tonight, but Crews told him Daivari was good and that maybe he shouldn’t do the match tonight. Kendrick beat Devin Bennett with the captain’s hook in 1:45. It was a one-sided bully type of win for Kendrick. The idea is that Bennett was from Manchester, England and he tried to get Bennett to say that Gallagher was a clown but he wouldn’t do it. Dasha Fuentes interviewed TJP. The idea is that TJP and Swann are friends who are very competitive with each other, and that TJP is still a heel for now while being friends with Swann. TJP said that it still bothers Swann that he eliminated him in the Cruiserweight Classic even though it was a year ago. TJP admitted he tried to upstage him last week. So he set up a challenge for next week, where each would get a mystery partner and they’d have a tag match. Tozawa pinned Daivari in 8:19. Most of the match saw Tozawa selling the shoulder. Tozawa did the tope on a comeback and then was back selling the shoulder. Tozawa kicked out of splash off the top to his back. From there, Tozawa cradled Daivari and got the pin. This was well done, solid offense and good selling, but you could see the young kids in the front row looking at their phones and just generally paying no attention to thee guys. Daivari threw Tozawa’s bad shoulder into the post after the match. Dark main event saw Cena & Orton over Mahal & Rusev. Orton got beaten on, and the Singh Brothers interfered freely. Finally they interfered and the ref saw them and kicked them both out. Cena got the hot tag and did his regular offense on Rusev. He set up the Attitude Adjustment and Mahal tried to save but Orton hit Mahal with the RKO and Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on Rusev and got the pin

Notes from the 7/12 TV show. The show opened pushing the return of Johnny Gargano and showed Roderick Strong, his mother and Marina Shafir after the match with Bobby Roode pretty much pushing the idea he’s getting another title shot at some point. Aleister Black pinned Bobby Fish in 9:57. The crowd was quiet for most of the match, but as far as a 10:00 long technical wrestling match, I don’t think there’s been anything quite this good in NXT in a long time. I can’t say they worked it like a shoot, but did work it believable and the execution was so much better than you will almost ever see in NXT, or for that matter, WWE. Nigel McGuinness made a reference to Fish having wrestled Kazushi Sakuraba which led to Mauro Ranallo going on a tangent about Sakuraba just being put in the UFC Hall of Fame and how he was the big star of Pride and did pro wrestling. Black’s strikes look as good as almost anyone’s, and the execution and sell job by Fish of the black mass was perfect. But the lack of crowd reaction would probably make it feel dead to some. Still, Black’s mannerisms, music and execution of strikes makes him feel like a superstar waiting to happen. Hideo Itami was shown pissed after his tag match last week. Kassius Ohno came out and Itami told Ohno it was all Ohno’s fault that they lost. Ohno said that all Itami has done since losing to Bobby Roode in Chicago is blamed everyone else and told him to have some accountability. Ohno said he’s done with this. That, of course, means he’s not done with this. There was a video for Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins, who are calling the team The Street Profits. There was an interview with the Velveteen Dream where he pretty much blew off the interview. Vanessa Borne pinned Jayme Hachey in what was pushed as a match to get into the Mae Young Classic. They are trying to make Borne look glamorous. Hachey is a former fitness competitor and high school wrestler, but both are very green. Borne won with a side slam at 1:50. This was way below the usual standards even when kept short. They did an angle in the parking lot. Alexander Wolfe jumped on Drew McIntyre’s car as McIntyre was ready to leave. That distracted McIntyre so Killian Dain jumped on him. McIntyre tired to fight both guys but they laid him out by throwing him into a garbage can. William Regal was with Bobby Roode. He said that since McIntyre and Dain are both undefeated and both want shots at the title, what should we do? Roode said he could beat both of them, but as a businessman, he’d make more money putting them against each other and see what happens. Regal said that Roode was just looking to have them soften each other up before they get to him. But Regal said such a match would interest a lot of people including himself, so he announced Dain vs. McIntyre for next week with the winner getting a title shot in Brooklyn. Gargano came out. He said whenever he’d hear the DIY music he’d get excited because he knew people would see something special. Gargano said that just like the fans, he never saw it coming,, and he never thought that a guy he’d be willing to take a bullet for would be the game that would pull the trigger on him when talking about Tommaso Ciampa. But he said he’s not here to dwell on the past, and he’s there to look forward and sometimes things happen that you can’t control . He said that Takeover Brooklyn is the biggest show of the year and he has to be on the show, no matter what, and said he needed to be Johnny Wrestling. They also announced Ember Moon vs. Ruby Riot for next week. Main event saw Authors of Pain keep the tag titles over Heavy Machinery in 8:53. Otis Dozovic has so much natural charisma. With his kind of build and charisma, he really should be studying Ishii to develop a different character and ring style from everyone else. He did a few things from the Ishii playbook like firing up after no selling clotheslines, which got as big a reaction as anything in the match. But it was mostly the quiet crowd. The crowd was less into it when Tucker Knight was in the ring. The crowd didn’t react to the near falls either. Heavy Machinery set up their double-team world’s strongest slam on Akam, but Rezar took out Dozovic and Akam escaped and DDT’d Dozovic and then Dozovic was pinned after the Last Chapter. Post-match saw Sanity, minus Eric Young (this was taped when his mother was ill) come out and paper fell from the ceiling. The idea is they were playing mind games because those were pages from a book. A book. Authors. And Wolfe was eating the pages. I mean, I get it, but that’s way past the silly scale to use in a program with a team being programmed like monsters like the AOP

Notes from the 7/12 NXT tapings. This is all the TVs leading into the Brooklyn Takeover show on 8/19. It would be for the shows that will air from 7/26 to 8/16. In a dark match, Jeet Rama beat Mik Drake. What appeared to be the first week, although they often tape out of order, opened with Ember Moon pinning Lei’D Tapa with the eclipse. Moon then demanded a title shot at Asuka in Brooklyn. A match with the Authors of Pain vs. two guys who were never announced, never took place as Sanity first laid out the opponents and then had a face-off with the Authors. They started brawling and the Authors, who are slotted as the babyfaces in the feud, got the better of it. Velveteen Dream pinned Cezar Bononi with an elbow drop off the top rope. Dream did a heel promo after the match. Drew McIntyre came out and cut a promo. He said he signed with NXT because everyone pushes everyone to be the best. He said the exception is Bobby Roode. Kassius Ohno beat Hideo Itami via DQ when Itami did an intentional low blow in front of the referee. This was said to be a great long match. After the match, Itami continued to beat on Ohno and hit him with two GTS’s. The second show opened with Johnny Gargano beating Raul Mendoza with the Gargano escape submission. Asuka came out for an interview. She accepted Moon’s challenge for Takeover. She said Moon wasn’t ready for her. Moon came out and said that Asuka isn’t ready for her. They brawled and Asuka put her down. Asuka started celebrating early and Moon came off the top rope to lay her out with the eclipse. Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight beat Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli with Heavy Machinery doing their assisted world’s strongest slam for the win. Sonya Deville beat a woman who was given no introduction by submission quickly. Itami did a backstage interview. He got mat and went to the ring. He refused to leave the ring and said he demanded respect. He said he wouldn’t leave the ring. Aleister Black then came out and laid out Itami with Black Mass after Itami tried to sneak attack him. Black pinned the debuting Kyle O’Reilly with black mass. It’s not a kiss of death or anything, but it’s never good when you’re debut is losing cleanly on television no matter what is said. They had a physical match that was given time. The third show opened with Sanity out. Nikki Cross challenged the Authors of Pain to come out. As they were coming out, Eric Young returned (he had time off because his mother died from cancer) and he attacked Rezar. In the ring, Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe beat down Akam. Young zip-tied Rezar to the guard rail. Sanity left both members of AOP laying when it was over. The Street Prophets, Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins, debuted with their new team name to beat Chris & J.C. Metro. The Street Prophets got a great reception. Next was an in-ring face-to-face with McIntyre and Roode. Regal was there. Roode came out with his own security. He claimed he had to hire security to keep Roderick Strong away from him. Roode talked about how Strong doesn’t deserve a rematch, which of course, means he’s getting a rematch. So this may wind up as a three-way with Roode vs. Strong vs. McIntyre although the indications were more that Roode vs. Strong would take place after Takeover. Strong came out and said he wants a rematch because Roode disrespected him and his family. Roode agreed to give him a title match if he can beat McIntyre next week. McIntyre agreed to the match and the stipulations were that if Strong beat McIntyre, he would get a match with Roode after Brooklyn. Danny Burch pinned Oney Lorcan. This was done like it was a fluke finish and the start of a program. Andrade Cien Almas beat No Way Jose. Almas had Thea Trinidad in his corner, using the name Zolita Vega. Vega cut a promo saying that Almas deserves the spotlight and said he would face Gargano at Takeover. The fourth hour opened with Asuka and Moon out for a contract signing. Moon said that when they wrestled before, Asuka had to take shortcuts, and Asuka never took shortcuts against anyone. She said she’s used that as motivation and will end Asuka’s reign of domination. Both signed the contracts. Asuka screamed something in Japanese and left. Ford & Dawkins beat Lars Sullivan & Chris Silvio. That was easy to predict. Silvio got pinned and Sullivan turned on and laid out Silvia after the match. Ruby Riot pinned Billie Kay after knocking Peyton Royce off the apron. After the match, Royce said that Riot got lucky and was nothing more than a gross, tattooed up loser. Strong beat McIntyre via DQ in the main event when Roode attacked Strong and McIntyre and laid both of them out. It’s possible based on this segment and the build that the Takeover match could turn into a three-way at the end. Roode’s catch phrase is that “This is my NXT” and McIntyre is that this is our NXT, not his NXT

The 7/10 Smackdown Laredo show that we didn’t get an attendance figure for last week drew about 800 fans. Kingston & Woods worked as the New Day team on the show

The NXT Pacific Northwest tour opened on 7/13 in Vancouver, BC, before 1,500 fans. The tour itself was a big success. Not sure why, but Portland and Seattle are two of NXT’s best markets. No Way Jose pinned Kona Reeves with the wind up punch. Ruby Riot & Ember Moon beat Peyton Royce & Billie Kay when Moon pinned Kay after the eclipse. Authors of Pain beat Heavy Machinery to retain the tag titles. The crowd was really into Akam (Sunny Dhinsa), who was Canada’s top amateur wrestler super heavyweight wrestler and is from British Columbia. He’s of Indian descent and lots of Indian fans were cheering him. They won using the last chapter. Aleister Black pinned Velveteen Dream with black mass as Dream was coming off the ropes with a springboard crossbody. Black was really over. Lars Sullivan pinned Demetrious Bronson, who was brought on the tour since he’s from the Seattle area. Fans crapped on this match with boring chants and “New Day Rocks” chants with the idea Bronson looked like Kingston. There were also “Goldberg” and “Ryback” chants during this match. Sullivan kept slamming Bronson over and over. Asuka beat Nikki Cross to retain the women’s title. Asuka was super over as a celebrity coming out, as well as after the match, but the crowd wasn’t that up during the match. Roderick Strong & Drew McIntyre beat Bobby Roode & Andrade Cien Almas when McIntyre pinned Almas after the Claymore kick. Roode was cheered by everyone since he’s Canadian. Roode played it up and tried to turn, saying he’d never been to Vancouver, had heard British Columbia was the most beautiful province and then said it was the buttcrack of Canada and a disgrace to the country. People still cheered that and were chanting “buttcrack.” McIntyre said that he’s from Britain and that the British always are behind Canada. There were non-stop chants for him. He tried to play heel but the crowd wasn’t going for it. They cheered Roode so much that McIntyre and Strong were laughing about it. They played it up as after the match Almas blamed Roode and was yelling at him and started shoving him. Then Almas slapped Roode in the face and Roode used the Glorious DDT on Almas to end the show

7/14 in Seattle drew 2,000 fans. Jose pinned Reeves. Jose was over big to open the show. Sullivan pinned Demetrius Bronson. Bronson was introduced as being a member of the 2014 Seattle Seahawks (he was in camp, never made the team). Lots of Seahawks chants. Sloppy match with Sullivan dominating. Sullivan is green but has a great powerhouse look and got over big with the live crowd. Black pinned Almas with Black Mass. Black got a big reaction. This was better than their Takeover match. Asuka came out for an interview. She spoke English well. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce came out and jumped her. Asuka laid both of them out. McIntyre pinned Velveteen Dream with the Claymore kick. McIntyre did an Air Guitar spot that led to 3MB chants. Good match. A lot of people cheered Dream. Authors of Pain beat Heavy Machinery to keep the tag titles. Dozovic was pretty over but lots of AOP fans and “AOP” chants even thought hey were working as the heels. Said to be the same match as they did on TV. Ember Moon pinned Ruby Riot with the eclipse. The crowd was hot for both men with loud dueling chants throughout the match. Much better than any women’s match on TV of late besides Asuka vs. Cross, and there were chants like “Fight Forever,” “Women’s Wrestling” and “Ruby Riot” throughout. Roode beat Strong in a **** main event with a low blow and DDT. Said to be better than their TV match, or at least as good. Roode was super over. They liked Strong but weren’t strongly behind him since Roode was the most popular guy on the show. When Roode grabbed a chair for heat, the crowd instead responded with “Use the chair” chants. After winning, Roode grabbed the chair again. Instead of using it as a heel, to get booed, he refused to hit Strong with it and threw the chair away and that finally got him booed. Strong then laid out Roode, put the chair on top of him and posed with the belt. Roode then told the crowd they sucke

. 7/15 in Portland, OR drew 2,200, which is one of the best house show crowds in a while. The show was similar to Seattle. Jose pinned Reeves with the windup punch. Sullivan pinned Bronson. Bronson wrestled in a Seahawks uniform, which made him an easy heel since fans in Portland often hate the Seattle franchises. The funny thing is it was clear WWE didn’t know that as Bronson was acting like it was the local team and trying to play face. Fans didn’t know Sullivan but as the match went on, the more he went heel, the more he got cheered. Short match, said to be mechanical but not terrible. Sullivan destroyed him after the match as well. McIntyre pinned Almas with the Claymore kick. Said to be very good. Similar Asuka interview spot. Not sure why they brought four women out to just do an interview segment and not wrestle. Perhaps Asuka was injured. She took no bumps but didn’t act like they was. Kay & Royce came out, as did Cross, who wasn’t part of the segment the night before. Asuka cleaned house on all of them. None of them wrestled on the show. Black pinned Dream with black mass in a very good match. Both came across like stars here. Dream copied the Kenny Omega collapse the first time Black went for black mass. The ring announcer at this point thanked the great crowd “Here in Seattle.” That was not planned for heat, but the ring announcer was the top heel every time he appeared the rest of the night. Authors of Pain retained over Heavy Machinery. The crowd was heavily behind Heavy Machinery since Knight comes from Oregon. Below average. Moon pinned Riot with the eclipse. The crowd was more behind Riot. Roode retained the NXT title over Strong after a ref bump with a low blow and an implant DDT. Both got a great response. Great main event, not quite as good as their TV match but better than most WWE house show main events. After the match, Roode tried to run away but Heavy Machinery blocked he aisle and threw him back in the ring where Strong laid him out after the match to end the show

The Florida NXT weekend opened on 7/14 in St. Augustine before 200 fans. Buddy Murphy pinned Cezar Bononi. Mandy Rose pinned Aliyah. In a battle of former TNA stars, Eric Young pinned Chad “Gunner” Lail. Lail being here shows just how different the mindset is from a few years earlier. Before, they wanted nobody over 31 in developmental and Lail is 35. It’s also notable they have a guy with his experience in developmental and he’s not even on television. Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford beat Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli. Sonya Deville pinned Liv Morgan. Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler beat Fabian Aichner & Raul Mendoza. Main event saw Hideo Itami beat Kassius Ohno

7/15 in Gainesville, FL, drew 150 fans. Adrian Jaoude beat Tino Sabbatelli. Deville beat Aliyah. Murphy pinned Marcel Barthel. Ford & Dawkins beat Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe in an upset since Sanity is going for the tag titles at the next Takeover. Nick Miller, with Shane Thorne in his corner, beat

Chad Lail. Mandy Rose pinned Liv Morgan. Itami pinned Ohno in the main event

Lots of people off the road for various reasons at the weekend house shows. Cena worked the Raw tour instead of Smackdown because there was no Reigns or Miz. Banks was off due to being in Australia. Bayley missed the first Raw show to shoot the angle at the Mae Young Classic. Orton was off shooting a movie, which finished up on 7/15 so he’s now back as a regular

Raw opened on 7/14 in Roanoke before 3,500 fans. 7/15 in Huntington, WV, featuring Cena, did 4,000 fans. 7/16 in Lexington, KY drew 4,000

Smackdown opened on 7/15 in Pensacola before 3,500 fans. We didn’t get an attendance figure for 7/16 in Tallahassee. 7/17 in Columbus, GA, did 5,000 fans which is a great crowd for a Monday night house show

Roanoke opened with Slater & Rhyno & Crews beating Samson & Hawkins & Dallas when Rhyno pinned Hawkins after a spinebuster. Goldust pinned R-Truth in a short match with a boot to the face and using the ropes for leverage. Tozawa pinned Kendrick after a senton off the top rope. Ambrose & Balor beat Gallows & Anderson when Balor pinned Anderson after the coup de gras. Brooke & James beat Bliss & Jax when James pinned Bliss after the old Mick kick. The idea is the women’s matches they always put the faces over. They also built it around James as the star since she’s from Virginia, and Bliss said how everyone in Virginia were losers. Sheamus & Cesaro beat Hardys when Cesaro pinned Matt after a small package after Sheamus snapped Matt’s neck on the top rope. Rollins pinned Wyatt with the jumping knee in the main event

Huntington opened with Slater & Rhyno & Crews over Anderson & Gallows & Hawkins when Slater pinned Hawkins after a DDT. Slater got a huge reaction, since he’s from West Virginia. It was also his birthday, as he turned 34. Goldust pinned R-Truth in 1:00 with his feet on the ropes. Tozawa pinned Kendrick with the senton off the top in a pretty good match. The Tozawa chant was over. Balor pinned Samson with the coup de gras. Decent match. Rollins & Ambrose beat Dallas & Axel in what was said to be the best match on the show when Ambrose pinned Dallas after Dirty Deeds. Brooke & James beat Bliss & Jax when James pinned Bliss again with the Mick kick. Bliss was cheered heavily. Sheamus & Cesaro beat Hardys in a good match when Cesaro pinned Matt with a cradle. Cena pinned Wyatt in the main event. Dueling chants. Hot crowd. Cena sang “County Roads,” which he always sings when they are in West Virginia. But this time a lot of fans booed and a lot cheered. They booed at first, then another group of fans sang with him, and then he was jumped by Wyatt. There was ref bump. Wyatt used a low blow with Cena kicked out. Wyatt got a chair but Cena ducked the chair shot and hit the Attitude Adjustment for the pin

Lexington was the same show. . In Pensacola, American Alpha & Sin Cara beat Epico & Rowan & English in 10:45 when Gable pinned English after the Sky high bulldog. Rusev beat Ryder using the accolade in 8:14. Usos retained the tag titles over Kingston & Big E and Breeze & Fandango in 9:16 when one of the Usos pinned Fandango after a splash off the top rope. The Usos were super over as faces since the fans know they grew up in Pensacola. Mahal pinned Styles in 14:00 to retain the WWE title using the Khallas after distraction from the Singh Brothers. Styles laid out the Singh Brothers after the match. Naomi & Charlotte & Lynch beat Natalya & Carmella & Tamina & Lana in a 3-on-4 match when Naomi pinned Carmella with the rear view. Crowd was hot for the match. Corbin pinned Zayn in 12:03 with the End of Days in the best match on the show. Nakamura pinned Ziggler in 13:25 with the Kinshasa in the main event

Tallahassee was the same show.

The New Day team was Big E & Woods

There were some changes in Columbus, GA with Jordan & Gable both off the show since Jordan was needed for his angle, and Cena was added to the show. The stuff that was the same was Nakamura over Ziggler with the Kinshasa as the opener, Mahal pinned Styles due to the interference of the Singh Brothers, the women’s 3 on 4 match and Corbin over Zayn with the End of Days. The new stuff was Breeze & Fandango & Sin Cara over English & Rowan & Epico when Sin Cara pinned Epico with a botched finish. English then refused to leave the ring and challenged anyone in the back. Ryder came out and pinned him with the Rough Ryder in ten seconds. Usos beat Woods & Kingston in the tag title match with Kingston being pinned. Woods was super over since he, like Styles were considered the hometown stars they are Georgia natives. Main event saw Cena over Rusev. Cena got a huge pop in a military town against a foreigner. Rusev waved the flag for heat at least seven times. There was a ref bump and Cena got Rusev to tap to the STF, but no ref. Rusev got a chair and went to use it but missed, Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment and that was a wrap.