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July 3, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Summerslam plans change, Cody Rhodes wins ROH World title, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 July 3, 2017

 

BELLATOR MSG POLL RESULTS

Thumbs up 53 (46.1%)

Thumbs down 20 (17.4%)

In the middle 42 (36.5%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Heather Hardy vs. Alice Yauger 74

Matt Mitrione vs. Fedor Emelianenko 16

Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva 10

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Ryan Bader vs. Phil Davis 92

Brent Primus vs. Michael Chandler 11

 

ROH BEST IN THE WORLD POLL RESULTS

Thumbs up 101 (80.8%)

Thumbs down 10 (08.0%)

In the middle 14 (11.2%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Bucks vs. Best Friends vs. War Machine 51

Kushida vs. Marty Scurll 41

Cody vs. Christopher Daniels 15

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Search & Destroy vs. Rebellion 38

Guerrero & Terrible vs. Taven & Marseglia 32

Based on e-mails and phone calls to the Observer as of Tuesday, 6/27.

 

The scheduled main event for SummerSlam, and possibly WrestleMania, changed a few weeks ago.

The only question is what they did change to. It was confirmed to us that a few weeks ago, probably just before the Roman Reigns interview where he said he wanted a shot at the Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe winner, that plans for SummerSlam on 8/20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn changed from Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman as the main event to Lesnar vs. Reigns.

That is probably still the main event for the show, but there is an outside chance that will change since everyone realizes how strong Samoa Joe has gotten over in the Lesnar feud. Originally Joe’s role was to just be the guy to put Lesnar over to set up the bigger match. But it’s been hard not to notice how strong this program is getting over.

Lesnar vs. Reigns, with Reigns winning the title, had been planned as the main event for the 2018 WrestleMania in New Orleans from before this year’s WrestleMania. But if anything, Reigns has gone from the old John Cena position of being cheered wildly at most house shows but booed on television, to being booed heavily at most house shows.

The idea could be to pull the trigger on the Reigns title win early, so they would have the Universal champion as a regular on Raw television and house shows. Or it could be part of a story they want to tell where Reigns doesn’t win now and builds to a Mania win. But normally, WWE doesn’t put the planned Mania match on PPV before Mania. The most logical conclusion is that a Reigns win over Lesnar would lead to a Reigns vs. Cena WrestleMania main event, given the Cena “free agent” who can work on both shows gimmick was introduced at the same time the Lesnar vs. Strowman match was changed. If Lesnar loses the title, that nixes plans for Lesnar title defenses prior to next year’s Mania with both Seth Rollins and Finn Balor, both of which had been teased a few weeks ago. Lesnar vs. Strowman could be saved for Mania or Rumble.

In theory, although wins and losses leading to big matches isn’t always the way WWE books, that would change the Reigns vs. Strowman ambulance finish to a Reigns win. Strowman was planned to go over in that match to set up his title bout with Lesnar, and likely make that a way to set up Strowman as a contender for the title when Reigns won. Joe, with two wins over Reigns, is clearly being set up as a contender, but that would theoretically mean they’d have to protect him to a degree in the match with Lesnar.

Another interesting note is that Lesnar is being booked on some Smackdown house shows coming up, and Cena is being booked on some Raw house shows. The Cena thing has already been explained.

Otherwise, the Great Balls of Fire show on 7/9 in Dallas is being built up largely as expected, with Lesnar vs. Joe, Reigns vs. Strowman in the ambulance match, Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt, The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose for the IC title (where Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel are likely to get involved), Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Hardys for the tag titles (this is not yet announced, and there would likely be a stipulation involved), Balor vs. Elias Samson, Neville vs. Akira Tozawa for the cruiserweight title, Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks for the women’s title and unannounced possibilities of Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass and R-Truth vs. Goldust.

From storylines, it also appears that Bliss vs. Nia Jax is actually the big women’s match upcoming, so it’s likely for SummerSlam.

On the Smackdown side, the 7/23 PPV, Battleground, from Philadelphia will be headlined by Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton in a Punjabi Prison match. It’s a gimmick match used once before in a Great Khali vs. Batista title match, and a way to keep the program going and keep some interest in a third straight main event.

The Punjabi prison is basically a double high cage match made up bamboo sticks. To win, you have to escape the first high cage, and then climb up and escape the second high cage.

Nothing else has been announced for the show but it’s clear there will be a Usos vs. New Day tag team title match and a Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin match. Another thing teased is Mike Kanellis (Mike Bennett) vs. Sami Zayn. Kevin Owens will defend the U.S. title against the winner of a 7/4 Battle Royal. There was a tease of Owens with A.J. Styles, which would make sense. They had Nakamura pin Owens a few times on television so it appeared at one point that was the idea, and still could be down the line. Tyler Breeze & Fandango will likely face the real team that was messing up their mock police station.


Cody Runnels may have lost the right to use his last name in major companies, but in a nine-day period he will have won the ROH world title and headline the first major interpromotional championship vs. championship match in the U.S. in 17 years.

Cody, despite the portrayal as the outsider heel and even shoving Cary Silkin, the former ROH owner and public face of the legacy of the company during the match, was cheered heavily in his 6/23 title win over Christopher Daniels in at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium. The cheering was to the point that the company completely changed its booking direction the next day.

Cody went from being the top heel to the top babyface at television. The win sets up the IWGP champion vs. ROH champion main event for New Japan’s AXS TV special on 7/1 against Kazuchika Okada. Regarding concern that he injured his right shoulder in the rematch with Daniels at the 6/24 tapings in Lowell, MA, which he won in two straight falls, the next night after his match with Hanson while on a Northeast Wrestling show in Bethany, CT, he said that he is having an MRI on the shoulder but he’s confident he’s fine.

The ROH champions and key stars, in the recent past, due to their contracts, haven’t been able to appear on indie shows in the U.S. and Ontario. Cody hasn’t at this point signed an ROH contract, although one has been offered. He will be appearing on independent shows at least through the end of August. At one point he said that would change and had told promoters in the U.S. he had worked with at one point he wouldn’t be available past that point. He indicated different at the Northeast Wrestling show over the weekend. He noted elsewhere that he got a very generous offer from ROH, but he hasn’t decided on whether to sign a deal, which would include exclusivity in the U.S. and Ontario. He noted that the schedule he’s been working, while fun, has been vary arduous. He just lost his big toenail because it was crushed, his mouth is filled with stitches that were then reopened at the TV tapings the day after he got stitched up, and he’s got an issue with his right shoulder and deltoid muscle that was tweaked at the 6/24 tapings, so he joked that scaling back on the schedule might be for the best but no decision has been made.

This is probably the first time in the U.S. where a match has been promoted ahead of time with the world champion of two different promotions against each other since the Ric Flair (WCW/NWA champion) vs. Tatsumi Fujinami (IWGP) title match in St. Petersburg, FL, program in 1991. Flair vs. Fujinami was a two-match series where Fujinami pinned Flair at the Tokyo Dome on March 21, 1991, but in the U.S. it was ruled a DQ finish because of an over-the-top-rope call beforehand but in the building Fujinami was announced as double champion. It created the strange situation where Fujinami was billed as IWGP and NWA champion in Japan (since the NWA name meant more than the WCW name at the time in Japan) while in the U.S., it was portrayed that Flair had retained the WCW title (at the time they weren’t mentioning the NWA title any longer) via the screw job. Flair pinned Fujinami, with only the WCW & NWA titles at stake, in a rematch in St. Petersburg on May 19.

In 2000, on Smackdown, there was a match with WWF champion HHH beating ECW champion Taz in an unadvertised Smackdown television match on April 18, 2000 in Philadelphia, the home base of ECW. This was during the brief period where Taz, as a WWF contracted wrestler, was brought to ECW to win the title from Mike Awesome, who was the champion but had quit to sign with WCW, but in a battle with Paul Heyman against WCW lawyers over tampering, the agreement was WCW had to send Awesome to ECW to drop the title and WCW had to put over ECW on its television show (which Tony Schiavone was told to do and refused to do which led to more issues). It was a heavily questioned booking decision that I never understood, in the sense booking a WWF undercard guy as your champion and giving WWF the ability to make your title look like crap, even though they claimed they were allies, because they couldn’t help themselves, especially in that era where there was more competition.

With WWF having the ECW champion, a guy who was an ECW legend but a guy WWF at the time wasn’t pushing, they then booked him to lose to HHH on television in ECW’s home city, and not only that, but HHH also laid out Tommy Dreamer, who was to be the next ECW champion as he was scheduled to and did beat Taz for the title a few days later. The message was as extremely clear as it could be to the hardcore fans, that HHH not only beat Taz like nothing but both ECW champions and legends got laid out at his hands.

And it was just for the hardcore fans as Taz was never billed on WWF television as the ECW champion. Taz also did jobs at house shows, including Madison Square Garden to Eddy Guerrero, during that brief period, as WWF was clearly sending a message to hardcore fans, and it was a bad idea in hindsight. Dan Severn, as NWA champion, also did jobs to WWF talent while champion but the NWA really wasn’t anything close to a major organization at the time.

Worldwide, the last example appears to be the IWGP champion vs. Triple Crown title match champion matches in 2005 with Satoshi Kojima (Triple Crown) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (IWGP champion) when Kojima was under contract to All Japan. Kojima became the first and only IWGP & Triple Crown champion at the same time on February 20, 2005, winning via knockout at Sumo Hall in 59:49 in a bout with both titles at stake. This set up a rematch on May 14, 2005, at the Tokyo Dome, where only the IWGP title was at stake and Tenzan regained the title for New Japan while Kojima went back to All Japan keeping his title. Kojima remains the only person to hold both of those titles at the same time.

Cody has become an interesting and polarizing person. If you read social media and message boards, you would read that his post-WWE run has not been successful and people upset that he’s been promoted as hard as he has been. If you talk with people in the industry, particularly independent promoters, and the other performers, you get a different viewpoint, as he’s perhaps the most sought after wrestler on the independent scene who is well regarded for his professionalism. The fan response to him is in direct contrast to what is being written, as even for an all-star show like Battle of Los Angeles in front of the most hardcore crowd around, he and Jushin Liger got the biggest responses of anyone.

The ROH crowd was completely behind him for his title win to the point of booing Christopher Daniels, a performer everyone respects for his long tenure in the business.

He has yet to have, at least on a big national ROH show, that blow away match, past reports of his matches from his big matches against top names like Kurt Angle on Northeast Wrestling and him having a great match with Pentagon Jr. that tore down the house on a live show that I saw.

This week will be interesting because he’ll be performing in front of a fly-in audience and a national television audience against one of the best wrestlers, perhaps the best wrestler, in the world in a big show main event.

There was a lot of negative said online about his getting the Okada match on the AXS show, with the idea fans would rather see a guy who has a history of blow-away performances or a New Japan full-timer in that spot. But still, it’s about telling stories and the Dominion show opened up a lot of different stories long-term with Okada, Kenny Omega and Bullet Club for down the line. The title vs. title program is theoretically strong for the ROH/New Japan alliance in North America. It’s the type of program that New Japan has done many times historically.

Title vs. title also brings up a lot of questions regarding the finish. A double count out, the usual historical finish of this type of match, would be a disaster live, as would a DQ on either man. A 60:00 draw, another favorite finish of this type of match was just done at Dominion and while it went over great, it’s still a very risky proposition in this day and age. A win by Cody opens up more storylines, but Okada is having a legendary run and big show business is up in New Japan. Still, Cody as champion opens up the whole New Japan roster as potential challengers as the Bullet Club is the key act for New Japan in the U.S. market. Gedo is willing to take risks even though very few ever get to be IWGP champion, as in the last. In the last six-and-a-half years, the only champions have been Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, A.J. Styles and Tetsuya Naito. Because it’s limited to only elite class wrestlers, it makes the title seem more important than any other. For what it’s worth, the IWGP champion is always in G-1 and Cody is not in the tournament.

Gedo went with Okada when it was heavily criticized and before Okada had made a name. In fact, Okada was a young boy who had never gotten a major push, coming off a terrible run in TNA. Okada was made quickly into a top act by getting the title. He went with A.J. Styles, a great worker, but small by the standards of a traditional American headliner in Japan, and even though he had great matches in TNA, he did not have the aura of a superstar to anywhere near the degree until he got the belt and had the kind of matches he did as champion. Okada has been established by this run as New Japan’s best native, and him in the chase situation isn’t the worst thing, particularly if he wins G-1. Cody is not over in Japan at the level of most of the people who get to be world champion, but neither were Styles and Okada when they were first given the title. In hindsight, both of those risks paid off greatly. And Okada did not have the history of great matches that Styles did when he was put in that position.

The shows in Long Beach sold out before anyone knew who was in the main event. Whether Cody just winning the title leading into this main event strengthens the television numbers and interest in the televised version will be interesting, as will be the crowd reactions, and match quality.

The 7/1 show airs live on AXS TV at 8 p.m. Eastern. If you don’t get AXS TV, you can order Sling TV for a free weekend and get the show. It also airs on The Fight Network in Canada. It will not air on New Japan World live in the U.S. (it will in Canada and the U.K.), although the 7/2 show will.

The match order for the first day is Mark & Jay Briscoe & Will Ospreay & Rocky Romero & Baretta vs. Young Bucks & Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi & Marty Scurll, Jushin Liger & Volador Jr. & Dragon Lee & Titan vs. Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi, Jay Lethal vs. Hangman Page (U.S. title tournament), Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Juice Robinson (U.S. title tournament), Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kushida & Jay White & David Finlay vs. Billy Gunn & Yoshitatsu & Yohei Komatsu & Sho Tanaka, Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa vs. War Machine for the IWGP tag titles, Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii (U.S. title tournament)), Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega (U.S. title tournament) and Okada vs. Cody, with only the IWGP title at stake.

There were only 44 tickets for the first day and 35 for the second day available on the secondary market and price for entry of $110 for the first night has gone up since the card was announced, while the second night it has stayed basically the same at $100. The secondary market isn’t as crazy as some WWE shows or the Nakamura debut on NXT, but higher than any non-WWE U.S. show in recent memory. SummerSlam, in a far larger arena and with far more tickets available, is still at$110 on the secondary market.

The second night, which airs live on New Japan World and the following Friday on AXS TV, won’t have the lineup announced until the day of the show past Young Bucks vs. Romero & Baretta for the IWGP jr. tag titles and Tanahashi vs. Gunn for the IC title, with both the semifinals and finals of the U.S. title tournament.

The Cody title win over Daniels in many ways resembled the type of title match TNA usually books and WWE does often as well, with the ref bumps and outside interference. Cody suffered a split lip early on when Daniels’ head hit him in the mouth when they did a shoving spot early in the match. Both Marty Scurll and Frankie Kazarian got involved in the match. The match went 19:16, but was scheduled to go considerably longer. The undercard went long and they had to adjust as the match went on because of the strictness of the three-hour PPV window. It was very good, but had to follow a crazy Young Bucks match which tore the house down. You could argue the Young Bucks should have gone no last, but the flip side is the Bullet Club celebration of Cody winning the title should have been the final scene of the show.

In a conference call to promote this weekend’s shows, he said that he hasn’t shut the door on returning to WWE, but said he would have demands that they would never meet. He said leaving WWE has been lucrative for his soul, but he’s also making more money than he made there.

If one considers the ROH title as a significant world heavyweight championship, then the Runnels family joins very few father-son combinations that have held significant world titles.

Dusty Rhodes was a three-time NWA champion. The only other father-and-son holding major world titles were the Von Erichs. But Fritz Von Erich only held the AWA title from July 27 to August 8, 1963, trading with Verne Gagne, and Kerry Von Erich only held the NWA title from May 6 to May 24, 1984. Kerry also held the World Class title four times (and brother Kevin held it once), but that was never considered a true world title with national recognition, although one could argue World Class was as significant as ROH even when past its prime and it had its own title.

A note on that is that the big storyline in Texas for roughly 20 year was the Von Erichs chasing the world title. Fritz’s AWA title was never mentioned and only when fans found out about it did he address it on TV. He said he won it, but downplayed it, saying the NWA title was the major world title and no Von Erich had ever won it until the Kerry win at Texas Stadium over Ric Flair.

The only other ones I can come up with are Brazo de Plata and son Maximo, who both held the CMLL world heavyweight title, and Dos Caras, a multi-time UWA heavyweight champion, and son Dos Caras Jr./Alberto Del Rio who has held CMLL, AAA and both WWE versions of the world title.


The complete G-1 Climax schedule was announced this past week, after teases on the 6/26 and 6/27 shows at Korakuen Hall.

The key to the tournament is that IC champion Hiroshi Tanahashi and his big rival this year, Tetsuya Naito, are the two big stars in the A block, and will be wrestling on 8/11 at Sumo Hall. The B block will feature IWGP champion Kazuchika Okada, and his big rival this year, Kenny Omega, who will wrestle on 8/12 at Sumo Hall.

The third Okada vs. Omega match is notable, because all IWGP tournament matches except the finals have a 30:00 time limit. It makes it hard to logically explain the match after the two did a 46 minute and 60 minute match and then they come back in a main event with a 30:00 time limit.

The finals, on 8/13 at Sumo Hall, has the A block champion against the B block champion in a no time limit match.

All wrestlers in each block have one singles match against everyone in the block, so the tournament consists of nine singles matches over three weeks. Those who have been in the tournament in recent years have called it the physically toughest and most emotionally rewarding thing they’ve ever done. The emphasis, not on every single show, but on the major shows, is to have your best matches of the year. In particular, for the guys who aren’t headliners, even if they lose a lot, if they have consistently great matches, it greatly helps their standing going forward. So, while guys like Juice Robinson and Yoshi-Hashi probably have little chance of making the finals, in some ways the tournament is more important to them than the established headliners, who already have their spots on top.

If Okada comes into the tournament as champion, and this goes with Tanahashi as IC champion, Minoru Suzuki as Never champion and whoever wins the U.S. title, they will all likely lose matches in the tournament, and those losses are likely to determine who they face in title matches on the big shows from September until the end of the year.

One of the big negatives of G-1 is that the wrestlers work so hard that the New Japan workrate, which has been great all year, is usually a notch down from September through the end of the year as the guys try to take it easy, well, as easy as you can being a full-time pro wrestler for a top promotion, and then look to rest up to peak again starting on 1/4 with the WrestleKingdom show at the Tokyo Dome.

The scoring system is two points for a win, one for a time limit draw, and zero for a loss. A double DQ or double count out is considered a loss for both guys, and not a draw. As is the case in every New Japan tournament, very often it ends in a tie, and the person going into the championship match is determined by their record in head-to-head competition against all the men who are tied for first place.

Besides Tanahashi and Naito, the A block also has Kota Ibushi, Tomohiro Ishii, Togi Makabe, Bad Luck Fale, Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshi-Hashi, Yuji Nagata (in his final tournament), and Hirooki Goto.

The B block has Omega, Okada, Minoru Suzuki, Michael Elgin, Seiya Sanada, Satoshi Kojima, Juice Robinson, Toru Yano, Tama Tonga and Evil.

All shows will air live on New Japan World. Seven of the 19 shows will have English commentary by Kevin Kelly and Don Callis, which will be the first four shows from 7/17 to 7/22, and the last three at Sumo Hall, on 8/11, 8/12 and 8/13.

The key events before the last three nights at Sumo Hall are the opening night on 7/17 in Fukuoka, and 7/29 show in Nagoya at Aiichi Gym, the 8/2 show in Fukuoka at the Citizens Gymnasium, the 8/5 show in Osaka at the Edion Arena and the 8/8 show in Yokohama at the Bunka Gym. Based on recent tradition, the Osaka card is often the show of the year, although that may not be the case this year as they didn’t load it up with big marquee bouts.

It always comes down to the final shows. The last night of the A block, on 8/11, has Sabre vs. Ishii, Fale vs. Nagata, Makabe vs. Yoshi-Hashi, Ibushi vs. Goto and Tanahashi vs. Naito.

The last night of the B block, on 8/12, has Kojima vs. Evil, Elgin vs. Robinson, Sanada vs. Tonga, Suzuki vs. Yano and Okada vs. Omega.

The first two shows at Sumo Hall, like the majority of tournament shows, start at 5:30 a.m. Eastern time and 2:30 a.m. Pacific. The final night, a Sunday afternoon in Japan starting at 3 p.m. in Japan, is a 2 a.m. Eastern start time at 11 p.m. Pacific on a Saturday night.

For what it’s worth, the betting favorites seem to go like this, which means they’ll probably be some swerves thrown. The idea is that Omega beats Naito in the U.S. title tournament, then Naito beats Tanahashi to win the A block, Omega beats Okada to win the B block, since he never has before, and that Naito beats Omega to win the tournament, building to Okada vs. Naito at the Tokyo Dome, since that’s a singles match that will have been avoided all year. That could also lead to Omega vs Ibushi at the Dome, since they were put in different blocks here, meaning they haven’t wrestled each other since Omega became a top star, even though they had a legendary match in 2012 at Budokan Hall for the DDT promotion.

There is a slight lack of excitement with no outsiders in the tournament this year, but it’s still G-1, and it’s the biggest period of the year for the company. It’s often the outsiders, in matches you’d normally never see, that are among the highlights, such as Naomichi Marufuji and Katsuhiko Nakajima last year.

A block: 7/17 in Sapporo at the Hokkaido Sports Center at 2 a.m. Eastern (this is a Sunday night at 11 p.m. Pacific time show): Makabe vs. Fale, Goto vs. Ishii, Yoshi-Hashi vs. Nagata, Tanahashi vs. Sabre, Naito vs. Ibushi.

B block: 7/20 at Tokyo Korakuen Hall at 5:30 a.m. Eastern: Kojima vs. Robinson, Elgin vs. Tonga, Okada vs. Yano, Sanada vs. Evil, Omega vs. Suzuki.

A block: 7/21 at Tokyo Korakuen Hall at 5:30 a.m Eastern: Tanahashi vs Fale, Makabe vs. Ishii, Nagata vs. Goto, Ibushi vs. Sabre, Naito vs. Yoshi-Hashi.

B block: 7/22 at Tokyo Korakuen Hall at 5:30 a.m. Eastern: Kojima vs. Yano, Elgin vs. Okada, Robinson vs. Evil, Omega vs. Tonga, Suzuki vs. Sanada.

A block: 7/23 at Tokyo Machida Gymnasium at 5 a.m. Eastern: Fale vs. Naito, Sabre vs. Yoshi-Hashi, Tanahashi vs. Nagata, Ibushi vs. Ishii, Makabe vs. Goto.

B block: 7/25 in Fukushima at the Big Palette at 5:30 a.m. Eastern: Elgin vs. Kojima, Suzuki vs. Robinson, Evil vs. Tonga, Yano vs. Omega, Okada vs. Sanada.

A block: 7/26 in Sendai at the Sun Plaza Hall at 5:30 a.m. Eastern: Sabre vs. Fale, Ishii vs. Yoshi-Hashi, Naito vs. Nagata, Tanahashi vs. Goto, Makabe vs. Ibushi.

B block: 7/27 in Nagaoka at Aore Nagaoka at 5:30 a.m. Eastern: Yano vs. Sanada, Tonga vs. Robinson, Okada vs. Kojima, Suzuki vs. Evil, Omega vs. Elgin.

A block: 7/29 at Nagoya Aiichi Gym at 5 a.m. Eastern: Sabre vs. Goto, Ibushi vs. Fale, Makabe vs. Nagata, Tanahashi vs. Yoshi-Hashi, Ishii vs. Naito.

B block: 7/30 in Gifu at Industrial Hall at 3:30 a.m. Eastern: Suzuki vs. Tonga, Yano vs. Evil, Sanada vs. Elgin, Okada vs. Robinson, Omega vs. Kojima.

A block: 8/1 at the Kagoshima Arena at 5:30 a.m. Eastern: Fale vs. Yoshi-Hashi, Goto vs. Naito, Makabe vs. Sabre, Tanahashi vs. Ibushi, Nagata vs. Ishii.

B block: 8/2 in Fukuoka at the Citizens Gym at 5:30 a.m. Eastern: Okada vs. Tonga, Sanada vs. Robinson, Yano vs. Elgin, Omega vs. Evil, Suzuki vs. Kojima.

A block: 8/4 in Ehime at Item Ehime at 6 a.m. Eastern: Ishii vs. Fale, Goto vs. Yoshi-Hashi, Nagata vs. Ibushi, Tanahashi vs. Makabe, Naito vs. Sabre.

B block: 8/5 in Osaka at Edion Arena at 4 a.m. Eastern: Yano vs. Tonga, Omega vs. Robinson, Suzuki vs. Elgin, Okada vs Evil, Kojima vs. Sanada.

A block: 8/6 in Hamamatsu at Act City at 3 a.m. Eastern: Goto vs. Fale, Ibushi vs. Yoshi-Hashi, Nagata vs. Sabre, Tanahashi vs. Ishii, Naito vs. Makabe.

B block: 8/8 in Yokohama at the Bunka Gym at 5:30 a.m. Eastern: Kojima vs. Tonga, Elgin vs. Evil, Robinson vs. Yano, Okada vs. Suzuki, Omega vs. Sanada.


Bellator ran the biggest show in its history on 6/24, and it was nothing if not newsworthy.

Literally. At times it was nothing. And at other times, it was a series of things you had to see to believe.

You had the almost surreal of Mike Goldberg being on a Bellator broadcast, which would be very much like Jim Ross or Michael Cole on Impact. Plus you had Mauro Ranallo on the broadcast. You had two of the biggest stars in Pride history in Fedor Emelianenko, out there a decade after the death of Pride.

And then you had the weird moments. Matt Mitrione and the man they call Fedor came out for the semifinal. Mitrione was a UFC heavyweight journeyman who is 38 years old. Fedor, the greatest heavyweight fighter of all-time, is 40. Yet somehow, there was a world of difference in age. Both men threw a right at the same time. Both men went down, simultaneously. Mitrione recovered first, was able to crawl over and start throwing punches at a still down Fedor and knocked him out.

Every bit as weird was Brent Primus’ win over Michael Chandler for the lightweight title.

Chandler, the champion, who later admitted he’s had problems with his ankle, was just starting the fight and stepped back and the ankle bent in a horrible contortion. He stumbled, took some punishment, got up, and was moving around when the ankle gave out again. Primus started kicking at the bad leg and Chandler stumbled. Then Chandler, on one leg, decked Primus. Then he fell down again and the referee stopped the fight to have the doctor check on him.

The problem, or maybe it isn’t, is that the rules don’t allow for a stoppage for the doctor to come in and keep the fight going unless it’s to check a cut or for something like a low blow or an eye poke. This situation brings up the question that maybe there should be a category for a medical issue not caused by the other fighter. Chandler was furious, particularly since he was pretty sure his ankle wasn’t broken. Still, as a fan, watching him fall down and get hammered a few times, even with him getting that knockdown, the referee needed to stop the fight.

It’s one of the craziest title changes since the seam of a glove from a punch sliced Randy Couture’s right eyelid, and while not hurt otherwise, his light heavyweight title fight with Vitor Belfort had to be stopped and the title changed hands.

After being examined, Chandler, who was furious about it being stopped and said he could fight. He did drop the guy just before it was stopped but you can’t fault the ref. If that wasn’t enough, after the fight, when it was stopped Chandler was sitting on his stool. He got up from it at one point, and a commission member in the corner moved it out of the way. Chandler didn’t know it was moved and went to sit down on it, but it wasn’t there, and he took a bump. Chandler said he knew his ankle wasn’t broken, and evidently knew the problem because he’d had it in the past. He suffered a drop foot, where you lose control over your foot for a split second at times and causes the foot to give out. Scott Steiner suffered from this many years ago.

After it was stopped, Chandler started hopping up and down on his bad foot to show he was okay. But you can’t blame the ref for that call. When Chandler’s leg would give out, Primus was all over him hurting him with shots.

Bellator CEO Scott Cooker noted that based on that, when Chandler is healthy, he’d book a rematch.

The fights themselves weren’t that great. The best one of the night was two women, one 38 and one 35, who made her debut in Bellator, having an exciting throw down. While New York’s Heather Hardy, a name woman boxer, really didn’t look good, the fight was great and she got over based on her personality like she could be a star.

The most hyped debut, however, was Aaron Pico, one of the greatest teenage wrestlers in the history of this country. From gym reputation, I’ve heard nobody hyped before their first fight like him since maybe B.J. Penn nearly two decades ago. The story was that his boxing was much better than his wrestling, which makes no sense. He was an age group world champion in wrestling and at 19, came one point from being the first U.S. teenager to make an Olympic team in freestyle wrestling in 40 years, and did so in a weight class that had tremendous depth. On the other hand, he had never boxed a round except as a young teenager when he won some Golden Gloves age group tournaments. He did have good hand speed, but boxing is a different sport where you need to compete in boxing at a high level before you can be called a great boxer. And MMA is different as well.

He and his coaches asked for somebody tough. They got it in Zach Freeman. And 24 seconds later, they got it again. Pico looked like he froze at first. Freeman nailed him with an uppercut that dropped him, and before he could recover, had clamped on a tight guillotine which Pico tapped to. It was actually one of the more stunning upsets in MMA history.

It’s not the end of the world and stuff happens in fights. Bernard Hopkins lost his first fight and became an all-time great. In hindsight, Pico looked small next to Freeman. He looked strong and powerful in wrestling fighting at 145, but this was at 155 against a guy who cut a lot to make 155. There was the experience difference. The funny thing is Coker’s trademark is giving prospects easy early fights to get acclimated and used to the sport before facing experienced opponents. At 20, he still has his hand speed and he should be a killer with his wrestling. He has years to get better. But he has to develop an MMA game, which is a different sport. But him going down with that uppercut was not a good sign because no matter how great someone is athletically, you can’t improve your chin muscles and the ability to recover from a hard shot is something needed in a top modern fighter.

But it was an notable choice of opponents, as there were insiders who thought Freeman would win, noting he’s an expert in Jiu Jitsu, while Pico had only a few months of Jiu Jitsu training. The feeling was that if Pico used his wrestling to take it to the ground, he’d be in trouble. In theory, Pico should have gone in with someone with less than ten fights, not so much bigger, and not so great in Jiu Jitsu as to negate the viability of Pico using his wrestling, which no matter what anyone says, is his real best weapon.

But that was just another of the crazy moments.

Coker and Jon Slusser of Spike talked about them now being a PPV company. Coker noted they won’t have a schedule like UFC where they book monthly dates and try to fill them, but will have PPV shows when they have the fights ready. He talked about early 2018 for another one, but it depends if the card presents itself. It also depends on how this show does. Bellator did a PPV in 2014 with King Mo vs. Rampage Jackson and did 110,000 buys. It took them three years to do another one.

There’s no early numbers but the indications are far from blow away. The prelims on Spike did 758,000 viewers, and it aired at the same time on CMT and did another 143,000. I was expecting more, but UFC has had a couple of PPV prelims that did worse this year than the Spike number, and if you combine both numbers, the total viewers were about identical to what UFC has averaged for PPV prelims (902,000 for UFC and 901,000 here). This did have a title fight with name fighters on it and all the hype of the biggest event in the history of the company.

The attendance at Madison Square Garden was 12,131. But that could be misleading because the day of the show there was talk of free tickets being out. I would have considered a paid of 10,000 as a success for Bellator, and we don’t know if they hit it or not.

With no actual numbers available, based on a number of reports, the live theater attendance wasn’t good.

But it’s all about PPV. Bellator was the second most searched for item on Saturday, with 200,000 searches. That was better than almost all Smackdown PPVs and about the same as most Raw PPV shows and less than the big four type of shows. The UFC shows this year have mostly been in the 500,000 search range, and those shows have been doing in the 200,000 to 300,000 buy range.

The Spike prelims were supposed to excite people to buy the PPV. And everything was going along fine, with a strong opener and a second bout that accomplished what it should have. Then came the Phil Davis vs. Ryan Bader light heavyweight title fight. The fight was five rounds of boredom, ending with Bader winning the title via a split decision.

I had it 48-47 for Bader, but almost nothing happened in almost every round so it could have gone either way in almost every round, with the last rounding deciding it. As it turned out, two of the judges went into the final round with Bader up 39-37 and the other had it still up in the air at 38-38.

Media scores were 50 percent for Davis, 44 percent for Bader and six percent even. Even though it was close, and they had a previous fight in UFC that was also close and boring that Bader also won via split decision in 2015 where media scores were equally split (50 percent for Bader 43 percent for Davis, seven percent even), I can’t see anyone caring about a rematch. The crowd hated the fight, and as it was going on, with neither doing much of anything, announcer Jimmy Smith noted that whoever loses is going to be haunted by this one because they know they could have done more.

Coker talked about putting Bader vs. King Mo Lawal in the next title fight. That was followed by the insiders fight with Douglas Lima defending his welterweight title against former UFC star Lorenz Larkin. That fight was equally boring, with Lima retaining via decision.

This likely leads to Lima defending next against Rory MacDonald, who was there.

The grudge match, years in the making, off Ultimate Fighter in Brazil, saw Chael Sonnen take Wanderlei Silva down constantly en route to a 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27 decision in a one-sided fight. Silva, 40, looked much older than his age. Both of these guys have drug testing issues in their past, but Silva was the one who looked like a completely different fighter, and went through the most physical changes. Sonnen, after the fight, wanted a bout with Fedor, although Coker nixed that idea. Sonnen also pushed that some day he’d like to face McDonald. That’s even less likely to happen any time soon.

Silva shoved Sonnen after the fight. Tito Ortiz was heckling Sonnen throughout the fight. Sonnen, who apparently thought all the booing for Ortiz’s behavior at ringside was meant for him, cut a heel promo on the crowd that had been cheering him.

1. Heather Hardy (1-0) beat Alice Yauger (4-6) at 4:47 of the third round in a women’s bantamweight fight. Hardy, from Brooklyn, is 35, which is late to start in this sport after being a popular woman boxer who has fought often in the New York area, but never at MSG. Yauger, who is 38, nicknamed soccer mom because well, she looks like a soccer mom, wasn’t particularly good as a fighter, but she was very tough. I can’t say Hardy’s boxing looked impressive but she showed heart and charisma. She landed punches early but Yauger threw a lot of knees late in the first round. Hardy was bloodied up. Both were landing solid punches and Hardy started to land well. Hardy started to land overhand rights. The crowd really got into it during the round. Hardy dropped her in the first round and kept landing punches. Then Yauger landed a great head kick. Hardy had a bad cut on her left eye from a head-butt. They both started landing again and Hardy dropped her a second time, let Yauger up and continued to pummel her until it was finally stopped.

2. James Gallagher (7-0) beat Chinzo Machida (5-3) at 2:22. Gallagher, from Ireland, is a training partner of Conor McGregor and Bellator is trying to push him. The idea seemed to be to set up a rivalry with Pico, but now that’s a long way from happening. At 20, Gallagher, a month younger than Pico, is Bellator’s youngest fighter. Machida, the older brother of Lyoto, is 40. Gallagher took him down, got the mount and a body triangle. Machida was bleeding from the left eye and Gallagher tapped him out with a choke.

3. Ryan Bader (23-5) beat Phil Davis (17-4) via split decision on scores of 49-46, 47-48 and 49-46 to win the Bellator light heavyweight title. Bader established early that Davis couldn’t take him down. Bader landed more punches and Davis landed some kicks in the first round. The crowd booing started late in the round. Davis landed some body punches and a body kick in the second round, and Bader landed a nice punch. In the third round, the only round clearly for Davis, he landed a combo and body kicks and was in control most of the round. Bader got the fight’s first takedown and got Davis’ back, but Davis got the top position escaping a guillotine. In the fourth round, ref Dan Miragliotta started yelling at both guys for not fighting. So they continued to do what they had been doing. Bader landed some uppercuts and Davis landed punches and a head kick. The fifth round was also even with little happening until Bader got a takedown. Davis got back up, but Bader did more and enough to win the fight.

4. Douglas Lima (29-6) beat Lorenz Larkin (18-6, 1 no contest) on scores of 50-45, 48-47 and 48-47 to retain the Bellator welterweight title. Larkin’s career record is interesting. He was 12-0, 1 no contest as a light heavyweight. He dropped to middleweight and was and went 2-4. He dropped to welterweight and is 4-2. He looks tiny compared to what he used to look like when he started. First round was slow. Nobody did anything until Lima landed a body kick and a right. The second round saw Larkin land a flurry and Lima was bleeding from the mouth. Larkin hurt him with punches and actually dominated the round until Lima dropped him with a left and followed it up with Larkin in trouble late. Very little happened in the third round. Lima landed some good punches late to win it. In the fourth round, Lima did a just enough to win it, which means very little. In the fifth, it was the same story, Lima did very little and Larkin did even less.

5. Zach Freeman (9-2) beat Aaron Pico (0-1) in :24 of a lightweight fight. Freeman landed a knee that didn’t hurt Pico but an uppercut dropped him and he got the guillotine on immediately for the win.

6. Brent Primus (8-0) beat Michael Chandler (16-4) to win the Bellator lightweight title at 2:22. This was the ref stoppage finish.

7. Matt Mitrione (12-5) beat Fedor Emelianenko (36-5) in 1:14 of a heavyweight fight. There was some sadness here. Emelianenko didn’t look in great shape. Mitrione was moving better but Emelianenko landed the first punch. Then they landed at the same time and both went down. Mitrione recovered and jumped on Emelianenko and started landing hard punches on the ground. The fourth punch put Emelianenko out and it was stopped. I think we should have learned when Fabio Maldonado really should have gotten the first round stoppage on Emelianenko but the Russian officials treated him like Japan would treat Sakuraba or Don Frye and you could see that they were never going to stop it.

8. Neiman Gracie (6-0) beat Dave Marfone (5-3) in 2:27 of the second round in a welterweight fight. Gracie’s real name is Neiman Starbowsky, but his great grandfather was Carlos Gracie, who was Helio’s brother, and his grandfather was Robson Gracie, who is Renzo’s father, so he’d be Renzo’s nephew and a cousin of Royce, who was at ringside while Renzo was in his corner. Marfone threw a punch and Gracie took him down. Gracie got a second takedown and later in the round, Marfone caught Gracie in a guillotine just as time in the round ran out. In the second round, Gracie jumped on Marfone’s back. Marfone tried to flip him over, but Gracie held on with a body triangle and got the choke.

9. Chael Sonnen (29-15-1) beat Wanderlei Silva (35-13-1) on scores of 3-26, 30-27 and 30-27 in a light heavyweight fight. Even though both of these guys were middleweights in UFC, this allowed them to have the fight and not worry about cutting much weight. What was weird is that while Sonnen looked about the same as he looked at 185, Silva looked smaller at 205 than he used to at 185. Sonnen took him right down and landed punches. Sonnen was just beating on him and went for a can opener submission. Silva got up and dropped Sonnen and jumped on him. But Sonnen took him down again. In the second round, Sonnen hit a flying knee. Silva landed punches but Sonnen took him down again. Both guys looked tired. John McCarthy stood them up and Sonnen took him down again and was pounding on him as the round ended. In the third round, Sonnen took him right down. Sonnen went for a Kimura, then moved to mount and landed. Aside from the first round knockdown, Silva did almost nothing.


ROH’s Best in the World show was a good show, not their best PPV of the year, but the effort was there up and down the show and the most pushed matches were all solid to great.

The show had a slower start than usual. It ended up some of the undercard going long. I’m not sure if that cut down on the tag title match which you’d think would go longer, although they did so much that it didn’t feel short. The Christopher Daniels vs. Cody main event title match had to readjust on the fly and had several minutes cut out as the live PPV couldn’t go past the three hour mark .

As expected, the two blow-away matches were the tag title match and the TV title match.

The tag title match was scheduled as Young Bucks vs. War Machine, but changed at the last minute to a three-way involving The Best Friends, Chuck Taylor & Trent Baretta, and then made a tornado match. The match was the complete insanity style that you usually get from The Young Bucks. It’s a series of countless big moves back-and-forth that almost always tears down the house. The TV title match was excellent, as Kushida and Marty Scurll are two of the best technical wrestlers in the business. As good as it was, it may have been slightly victimized by unreal expectations and the quality of matches in New Japan’s recent Super Juniors tournament.

The show drew 1,500 fans to the Lowell Memorial Auditorium, up from 1,200 the last time they ran a PPV from the building, with a similar caliber show where the big draw was The Young Bucks, Addiction and Motor City Machine Guns in a ladder match. By ROH standards, that’s a good number, but if you’re looking with the idea that ROH has great momentum, I’d say it shows more that they have improved in popularity since September. They did the number with minimal outside help, as Kushida and Ultimo Guerrero were the key outsiders. Both were over to the crowd, they weren’t going to make a big difference. The TV tapings the next day drew 500 fans, a number that has to be disappointing even though ROH has often struggled doing TV tapings in the same building after a PPV. I think the key take is that while ROH is drawing better than at any time in its history right now, and The Bullet Club sells a lot of merchandise, it’s by no means a hot promotion and it’s still high end indie. There was a feeling with Young Bucks vs. Hardys that they were taking a big step up, and perhaps if they were able to do that program they would have, but that didn’t happen.

They did a couple of spots on the show that relate to the New Japan shows in Long Beach. One was the injuring of Jay Lethal when Beer City Bruiser came off the top rope with a splash to the floor, which was supposed to injure Lethal going into the U.S. title tournament. The other was Cody doing the rainmaker and rainmaker pose to Christopher Daniels. They never specifically mentioned or hyped Long Beach and New Japan, but hinted at it in passing with the idea that everyone knows about it.

The next PPV will be on 9/22, back in Las Vegas. The show left with no clear direction on where things are going.

1. Sumie Sakai & Kris Wolf beat Deonna Purrazzo & Mandy Leon. Clips of this were shown on the PPV.

2. Cheeseburger & Yohei Komatsu & Sho Tanaka (Tempura Boys)beat Flip Gordon & Shaheem Ali & Leon St. Giovanni (Coast to Coast). Will Ferrara attacked Cheeseburger after the match. Cheeseburger then issued a challenge to him. Ferrara accepted, the bell ran, and then Ferrara walked to the back.

3. Ultimo Guerrero & El Terrible beat Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia in 11:08. Guerrero was pretty over for an outsider. The match didn’t click except when Guerrero was in with Taven. Terrible did a tope no both and Marseglia and Taven followed with dives. Guerrero pinned Marseglia with a schoolboy. **

4. Frankie Kazarian beat Hangman Page in 11:56 in a strap match. This was more of an old-style Country Whipping match than a strap match. They weren’t tied together but each had a belt and they were whipping each other with it. They were whipping each other hard with the belts. Kazarian did a plancha into a huracanrana. He also suplexed Page on the steps which came down from the ramp to the floor. Page at one point got Kazarian’s strap and threw it into the crowd and kept whipping him. He tied Kazarian to the ropes and was whipping him. Page brought in a strap that had nails and barbed wire on it. It was sick. First Page whipped Kazarian’s back with it, which sliced Kazarian’s back up something fierce. Kazarian then got the strap with the nails and barbed wire away and whipped Page, slicing up his back and then Kazarian choked Page out with a belt until he tapped out. ***

5. Search & Destroy of Jonathan Gresham & Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley & Jay White beat The Rebellion of Shane Taylor & Rhett Titus & Kenny King & Caprice Coleman in 12:36 in a match where the losing team had to split up. Taylor has dropped 60 pounds in recent months. There were a lot of good moves but something was missing. Coleman at one point did three straight Northern Lights suplexes on Gresham. Coleman did a leg drop off the top followed by Titus doing a splash off the top on White for a near fall. Taylor then did a splash on White who kicked out. There were all kind of big moves including Gresham with a shooting star press on Titus. The finish was a four-way submission with Gresham using the Octopus on Titus. After the match, Punishment Martinez hit the ring and dispatched all of Search & Destroy. White came back in the ring but Martinez left him laying with a choke slam to keep their program going. **1/4

6. Jay Lethal beat Silas Young in 16:26. Lethal hit Beer City Bruiser in the back and head (not a bad blow) with a chair and they started brawling. Lethal suplexed Young off the barricade onto the mats. Lethal missed an elbow drop of the barricade. Lethal hit two topes and went for a third but flew into a chair. Both got in at 18. Lethal went for the Lethal injection but Young got out. Young went for misery but Lethal got out. This turned into a very good match with all kinds of near falls. Young brought out Bruiser’s beer keg. He also shoved down ref Todd Sinclair. Young had the match won but Sinclair was down. Lethal then won with a cradle. After the match, Young gave Lethal misery on the beer keg. Young held Lethal and Bruiser squashed him into the keg three times. Young put Lethal on a table on the floor and Bruiser came off the top rope and splashed Lethal through it to the floor. That spot looked great. They pushed that Lethal hurt his ribs and how that affects him in the U.S. title tournament. ***½

7. Dalton Castle & The Boys won the ROH six-man titles over Bully Ray & Mark & Jay Briscoe. The story here is that there were problems with Bully Ray and the Briscoes. The idea is that The Boys weren’t on the level of the other guys and they’d get little offense in and not look effective, but Castle would tag in and do well. But it was Castle having to carry everything. They put the title match over like Castle & The Boys were super underdogs, and when they won, put it over like a major upset. There was a spot where Bully was no selling Castle’s chops completely. I can see him doing that with The Boys, but Castle is a guy who could be ROH champion or top contender, not to mention a babyface so he shouldn’t be that ineffective with the chop. Bully got a huge reaction doing his old ECW dance and doing the peacock pose that Castle does. The finish saw Jay do a tope on both boys. The Boys ran to the back. Jay went to chase them. Bully went after Jay to tell him to get his head in the game. While everyone was distracted, Castle cradled Mark to win the titles. They did a segment later in the show where Bully and the Briscoes were all yelling at each other with the idea they lost to a team they never should have lost to. ***1/4

8. Kushida retained the TV title over Marty Scurll in 14:56. This result surprised me since one would have thought Scurll could win this match here and get an IWGP jr. title match in Japan. Kushida came out with both his ROH belt, his IWGP jr. belt and his Best of the Super Juniors trophy. The crowd was really into it. Scurll did a lot of the old-school British style early. Kushida would work for armbars and the hoverboard lock. Scurll did the broken fingers spot and finally got the chicken wing, but Kushida made the ropes. Few are as good at struggling to the ropes as Kushida. Kushida came back with doing the broken fingers spot to Scurll, followed by back to the future off the middle ropes and another back to the future for the pin. ****

9. The Young Bucks retained the ROH tag titles in a three-way beating War Machine and Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent Baretta) in 12:26. This was one crazy spot after another, and the crowd was super hot for everything. There were tons of dives early. More in the middle. Matt did a praying moonsault to the floor. Taylor did a running flip dive off the stage having to clear all of the stairs that led to the ramp. Hanson did a flip dive. He’d already done a plancha earlier. There were several missed moonsaults in a row. Then there were a million superkicks. War Machine did the doomsday device on Baretta off the apron and a whoopie cushion on Matt. War Machine did the fallout on Baretta but Taylor saved. Nick did a springboard moonsault on War Machine. Taylor had Matt pinned after the awful waffle but Hanson pulled out the ref. Baretta was bleeding from the nose. The finish saw War Machine each have Baretta and Taylor up in the tombstone position. Nick came off the top rope with the springboard indie taker onto both Baretta and Taylor and Matt pinned Taylor. ****½

10. Cody beat Christopher Daniels in 19:16 to win the ROH title. Cody got his lip busted open badly right away and did some stalling in the crowd. Daniels missed an Arabian moonsault. Cody did a double springboard armdrag off the top rope. The crowd was chanting “Daniels sucks.” It’s a surprise since Daniels has been over as the veteran at the end of the line who finally won the big one. Plus, you’d think this kind of fan base wouldn’t boo Daniels, but you never know. Rhodes grabbed Cary Silkin to try and get the crowd mat at him. That didn’t work. After a ref bump by Todd Sinclair, Daniels had him pinned but no ref to count. Cody used a low blow and inside cradle and had Rhodes pinned for a count of six but no ref counted. Daniels by this point was cut from the top of his head. Marty Scurll came out and threw a chair to Cody. Cody went for the chair but Daniels stomped his fingers , but then did the Eddy Guerrero spot where he got the chair, threw it to Cody and fell down like he’d been hit and yelled at the ref. So the ref teased DQing Cody. The crowd really picked up from this point. Kazarian came out and attacked Scurll for the save. The fans booed Kazarian. Cody set up a table but Daniels did a downward spiral on the apron. Daniels got a near fall with a power bomb. Cody hit the rainmaker, did the rainmaker pose and hit the disaster kick. Daniels came back with a Saito suplex off the apron putting Cody through the table. They both barely beat the 20 count. Daniels used a downward spiral and Koji clutch but Cody made the ropes. Cody hit the crossroads and Daniels kicked out. It was a last split second kick out and the ref may have held up because the crowd was chanting “that was three.” Daniels went for Angel’s wings but Cody escaped with a huracanrana and then missed a disaster kick. Daniels used a rolling reverse cradle but Cody rolled through and hit crossroads for the pin. ***½


Mauro Ranallo returned to WWE after nearly four months away as the new lead announcer for NXT at the 6/23 tapings at Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL.

In a story that is both complicated and somewhat strange, after Ranallo and WWE had agreed to settlement terms on his contract in April after he left the promotion in early March, both sides were continuing talks for a return.

At certain points over recent months it appeared nothing would happen, particularly if you heard Ranallo call the Rizin show where it was clear he figured WWE was in his past. But for some time he’s talked about returning to wrestling sooner than you think, which for contractual reasons, would have had to have been with WWE. But others close to the situation on both sides felt a return was inevitable, citing that WWE wanted him with them rather than against them, that it was good for the company both to kill the story of why he left, and it is good for the company to have the leading voice of combat sport as part of their team. Another key is that if he wasn’t with them, it would probably have been a lock he’d have wound up back with New Japan on AXS. The same situation regarding Jim Ross doing the ITV project in the U.K., was and WWE not wanting Ross appearing on a high-profile rival show, was a key in his inking a new deal here just prior to WrestleMania. Whatever the reasons were, they wanted him back. It was a matter of working out an agreement that would be comfortable for both sides. Plus, when it comes to high-profile individuals, the history of WWE when people leave with well-known blow-ups is that they end up back. Paul Levesque has been a key point man in a lot of these situations, notably this one as well as Bruno Sammartino. That’s why, no matter what is said, WWE wants C.M. Punk back and even though Punk was adamant about never doing it, history tells you time heals a lot of wounds.

Ranallo is a pro wrestling announcer at heart, a job he started as a teenager working for Al Tomko’s All Star Wrestling in British Columbia. He had always stated a long-term goal of working for WWE, likely dating back to that time and is clearly happy announcing wrestling.

The new agreement allows both sides that had issues to not work with each other or even be around each other. It should be noted that the comments by John Layfield on the “Bring it to the Table,” show on the WWE Network show was the straw that broke the camel’s back and led to him leaving the promotion and suffering a severe breakdown. Layfield was not the reason he left, although obviously there were problems between the two that got weird to the point that Layfield would block anyone who even offered Ranallo best wishes on his health or praised him for his work on boxing shows. Layfield wouldn’t have been allowed to say what he said on the show on his own and for that reason, saying it was Layfield as the reason he was gone would be very much simplifying an issue that went deeper.

Ranallo’s public statement when the sides reached a settlement about Layfield having nothing to do with his leaving was at the request of WWE because they were about to be hit with more negative publicity on the story.

His public statement when announcing his return was to say, “WWE and I mutually agreed to end my responsibilities on Smackdown having nothing to do with rumors about disputes. As I remained under contract with WWE, we discussed a variety of options. Despite originally agreeing to part ways, there was always a desire to continue working together. We have come to terms on a new agreement that benefits both WWE and me, and I am thrilled to announce I will now be part of the NXT broadcast team.”

Ranallo signed a two-year contract, which replaces the previous contract he had with the company that he was still being paid on that expired in August. The key agreement is that he would be working with and for Levesque and Michael Cole as those in charge of him. Cole produces NXT and Levesque runs NXT. They were the two who made the original push to bring him on for Smackdown when the company was looking for changes in the show with the move to the USA Network in early 2016.

Levesque gave him a big introduction to the crowd at Full Sail University, including calling him the Bipolar Rock’n’Roller, a nickname that he had years back which had never been used previously in WWE.

The contract is for NXT TV tapings and Takeover shows, which would be probably around 18 to 20 dates per year as opposed to the roughly 75 to 80 dates he had been working between the 52 weeks of Smackdown, about a dozen PPV dates, and the Monday’s in between the PPV’s and Smackdown. If there are updates needed in the commentary for NXT after the original voice overs based on angle changes, or other things that change, he has a studio in his Los Angeles home where he can take care of them rather than having to fly in to Florida or Connecticut.

The new contract is similar to the old one, also unique among WWE announcers as he’s still not exclusive to the company. He will continue to work for Bellator and Showtime boxing.

While the timing of Ranallo both getting the Bellator gig and the official announcement of him as the play-by-play man for the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight, expected to be one of the biggest sporting events of the year in the U.S. would make it appear to outsiders that was the catalyst in his return, the idea he’d upped his profile and had gone on to better things and now they want him back. But his talks with WWE were going on for months and those deals upping his profile likely had nothing to do with it. Before getting the Bellator gig he said that a major announcement was coming, and had teased it being in pro wrestling. When the Bellator job was announced, he made it clear that wasn’t what he was teasing, so this deal had been close to being finalized for probably a month or longer.

At the time he returned, he made a vague reference to rumors about why he left not being accurate, and people can take that any way they want. Surprisingly, he went farther than that a few days later saying, “I was willing to walk away from my dream job, let’s leave it at that. In order for me to do that, I had to be true to my convictions and what makes you a human being.”

More than not returning for Smackdown, the key is he’s not returning for 205 Live, a lower pressure show but a show taped right after Smackdown weekly.

It ended up being a unique compromise. He’s working far less dates, but still appearing weekly as a regular announcer. He’s working on a show not on broadcast television that has far fewer viewers than Raw or Smackdown, but it’s away from the people that led to what happened the first time. He’s also away from Vince McMahon for the most part which would give him more latitude to announce the way he is comfortable, but still staying within the WWE system.

The role of NXT announcer in the past was to take young announcers to groom them for Raw or Smackdown. At one point, when Jim Ross was in the role of announcing the big matches on NXT to give them credibility, the decision was made by pull Ross with the idea that NXT was about grooming announcers for the future. That would no longer be the case at least now, although obviously fences are always mended in WWE over time. He worked his first taping with Nigel McGuinness and Percy Watson. While Watson doesn’t add a lot, Ranallo and McGuinness would likely be the best broadcast team in the company (if and when the U.K. show kicking into gear, that show would have Jim Ross with McGuinness, and they blended tremendously well on the last special) and on paper their backgrounds and styles of commentary would gel far better than Ranallo did on Smackdown with Layfield.

While some would say he would fit in better in NXT, that’s really not the case. Smackdown these days has longer matches with better wrestlers and his forte is making good matches more exciting. NXT is usually shorter matches and the quality of the matches and wrestlers isn’t as high. However, the Takeover shows are a different story, and he’d fit in great there since from a match quality standpoint, Takeover shows are the best major shows the company puts on.

In an interview for WWE, Ranallo said, “I know I’ve always been a polarizing individual with my calls–I’m not everyone’s cup of tea–but I’ve got to say the entire WWE universe, not just NXT, but I’ve heard from fans all over the world that are very happy that I’m back, and I can’t tell you how much it means to me. When I first signed with WWE, I let the world know that it was a dream job of mine, over 30 years in the making. One door closes but another huge door opens. I want to thank everyone. I cannot tell you how incredibly touched I am with all of the love, and I hope it continues.”


The major theme coming off the Bellator show on 6/24 was the plight of past legends Fedor Emelianenko and Wanderlei Silva and how people age at different rates.

In some ways, the UFC show on 6/25 in Oklahoma City had the same and worse. B.J. Penn, 38, was UFC’s first great lightweight star and many would say the best lightweight in company history. But unlike Emelianenko and Silva, his fight over the weekend was barely promoted, and was the opener, and not a featured fight on the main card.

Penn looked more competitive than he has of late, and even scored a second round knockdown, but still clearly lost to Dennis Siver, also 38, a fighter that wouldn’t have even been considered competition to Penn a decade ago.

Penn was the biggest star on the show, but UFC built the show around Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Lee, two fighters with nowhere close to the his name value and drawing power. Penn lost his fifth fight in a row against Siver, and his last win was in 2010 against Matt Hughes, whose career was just about over at the time himself. Perhaps a mistake is Penn fighting at featherweight, where he looks drawn out, as opposed to lightweight, although the modern generation of lightweights are much bigger than Penn. Still, Clay Guida, another veteran, who fought on the undercard, moved from featherweight, where he’s looked drawn out in all of his fights, to lightweight, and even though smaller tan most lightweights, he looked much stronger and utilized his wrestling better in scoring a win over favored Erik Koch.

Still, most of the talk revolved around the main event. Lee got Chiesa in a choke and it did look like Chiesa was in trouble. At that point, referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight. Clearly it was a bad call. Still, you can’t overrule a stoppage when the official does it based on fighter safety. The thing is, Chiesa wasn’t out and you can go out with a choke with limited harm. And Chiesa could tap. More likely than not, within two or three seconds, Chiesa would have been done. But people have escaped from far worse predicaments than that many times.

It felt like there should be a situation like this where you can do an instant replay, since it was the finish and it was a bad call. But then, it’s unfair to Lee who really did have the fight seemingly under control and on the verge of winning. This isn’t an armbar or a move that can do permanent damage where if a guy doesn’t tap, and the ref hears a pop or sees a bone break, he needs to stop it.

Chiesa was complaining. Lee talked about how Chiesa was born in Oklahoma, so if they do a rematch, he wants it on the Detroit PPV show in December. Chiesa said he wanted the rematch in Detroit. Lee later said he’s looking for Khabib Nurmagomedov, and in the postfight show, had words with Tony Ferguson as well. But this win did put Lee in a situation where he should be able to get a top level opponent and I wouldn’t put him with Lee next.

The fight was built around a brawl they had on the set of a media event months ago. Chiesa and Lee were on stage with most of the headliners on shows over a several month period. Lee made a remark about Chiesa’s mother. It really wasn’t that bad, but Chiesa started yelling about him and told him not to say anything about his mother. Chiesa went to where Lee was, and I just figured he was looking to build up the fight. But when he got there, Lee started throwing punches until it was broken up. It garnered the fight a lot more publicity than it would have gotten elsewhere.

Still, the numbers were nothing special. The show drew 7,605 fans to the Chesapeake Energy Center in Oklahoma City for a gate of $549,032.

The main card on FS 1 from 9 p.m. to midnight averaged 819,000 viewers, the second lowest for a Fight Night show so far this year. The show peaked at 905,000 viewers for the Penn vs. Siver and the Lee vs. Chiesa fights.

The prelims from 7-9 p.m. Eastern, airing on FS 2, did 319,000 viewers. That would make it one of the ten most-watched shows in the history of the station and second most watched Fight Night prelim in station history.

The postfight show did 268,000 viewers.

Another story revolved around Johny Hendricks, whose career has taken a tumble in recent years after being the wrestler with monster punching power that many thought defeated Georges St-Pierre in 2013. Hendricks, who wrestled at 165 in college, when he had to stay near the weight for a full season, moved up from 170 to 185 because he had missed weight twice in a row at 170. After making 185 and winning his first fight in the new weight class over Hector Lombard, he missed weight here. He was sick, with a 102 degree fever, in the day leading up to the show, and could only get down to 188.

1. Jeremy Kimball (15-6) beat Josh Stansbury (8-4) in 1:21 in a light heavyweight fight. Stansbury came out fast, but Kimball decked him with a right and landed hammer fists on the ground until it was stopped. Kimball got $74,000 for the win with his $50,000 performance bonus. Stansbury got $12,000 for the loss.

2. Tony Martin (12-3) beat Johnny Case (22-6) on scores of 29-28 across the board in a lightweight fight. First round was close. Martin hurt Case early with a punch. Martin bloodied up Case and had big punches and high kick at the end of round two. In the third round, Martin hurt Case with a knee and a right. He got a takedown and landed punches on the ground. Case reversed to the top but Martin reversed back to the top. Martin got $38,000 for the win and Case got $23,000 for the loss.

3. Jared Gordon (13-1) beat Michel Quinones (8-2) at 4:24 of the second round in what was supposed to be a featherweight fight. Gordon missed weight by three pounds and I always hate it when a fighter gets a loss on his record when going against a guy who missed weight. Gordon landed some good punches and got a takedown in the first round. In the second round, Gordon got a takedown and landed punches. Quinones got to his feet but Gordon knocked him down and almost finished him on the ground. Quinones got up but Gordon took him down and landed more punches on the ground until the fight was stopped. Gordon got $20,000 for the win on paper, but he was probably fined 20 percent of that, and Quinones got $10,000 on paper.

4. Darrell Horcher (13-2) beat Devin Powell (8-3) on scores of 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28 in a lightweight fight. Horcher just fighting was a win in itself. 13 months ago he was in a motorcycle accident and got thrown 100 yards in the air. Luckily for him, he landed on grass, but even so, tore both his ACLs, both is PCL’s, and suffered a broken arm. He had to re-learn to walk and came back and fought well here. In the first round, Powell went for the takedown but Horcher rolled through and landed on the top and stayed there the rest of the round. He had done better standing up to that point in time. In the second round, Horcher landed good punches and grabbed a guillotine. Powell escaped. Horcher dropped him with two lefts and remained on top. Powell was bleeding from the nose. In the third round, Horcher landed early but Powell got the takedown. Powell got a guillotine but couldn’t finish it and Horcher got out of trouble. I have no idea how anyone could give Powell any round other than the third. Horcher got $24,000 for the win and Powell got $10,000 for the loss.

5. Carla Esparza (13-4) beat Maryna Moroz (8-2) on scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 in a women’s strawweight fight. Esparza got the takedown in the first round and stayed on top. Moroz did go for a guillotine from the bottom but it was a mostly boring round. Esparza landed punches early and went for several takedowns but couldn’t get them. Esparza got a takedown later in the round and landed some punches before Moroz got up. The third round saw Moroz throw a kick, and Esparza took her down off it. Moroz got right back up. Esparza got a takedown and little happened. A stand-up was ordered, but Esparza got another takedown, and then a third takedown in round three to clinch the fight. Esparza got $66,000 for the win and Moroz got $23,000 for the loss.

6. Marvin Vettori (12-3) beat Vitor Miranda (13-6) on scores of 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 in a middleweight fight. Vettori’s nickname is “The Italian Dream.” He got the better of the standup and got a takedown in the first round. Vettori got two more takedowns in the second round. Miranda I thought took the third round getting the better of the standup as Vettori got tired. Vettori did take him down again in the third round. Vettori got $24,000 for the win and Miranda got $18,000 for the loss.

7. Clay Guida (33-14) beat Erik Koch (15-5) on scores of 29-28, 29-26 and 30-27 in a lightweight fight. I had this 30-25, with Guida getting 10-8s in round two and three. Even though it’s been years since he was one of the most popular undercard fighters in the company, Guida got probably the biggest pop on the card, perhaps except for Penn. He looked stronger in moving up to the weight class he looks his best at. The crowd was chanting for him a lot. He got a first round takedown and was the aggressor but round one was close. Guida landed a right and got a second round takedown. He dominated from there, getting mount and throwing tons of punches. He was throwing a lot of punches as the round ended to where it was close to being stopped. In the third round, Guida pushed him into the fence and got anther takedown. He moved to mount, and landed shoulder strikes as well as knees to the body. Then he landed a ton of punches from the top, as well as elbows, body punches and shoulder strikes. Guida got $110,000 for the win and Koch got $24,000 for the loss.

8. Dennis Siver (23-11, 1 no contest) beat B.J. Penn (16-12-2) on via majority decision on scores of 28-28, 29-28 and 29-27. I have no clue how a judge could score this 28-28. Aside from Penn getting a brief knockdown in the second round, so you could give him that round, it was easily Siver, and silver’s third round to me was a 10-8 round. Marcos Rosales gave Penn the first an second round, and I can’t see how he could get round one. 94 percent of media scores were for Siver with the other six percent a draw. Siver couldn’t get a takedown early, but landed a front kick, a spin kick to the body, a left that knocked out Penn’s mouthpiece and more punches and kicks. Penn dropped him with a jab and uppercut combination in the second round and threw knees to the body on the ground. It seemed even going into the third round. Penn looked really tired. Siver kept landing kicks and was hitting him at will late in the round. Siver hurt him late and landed hard punches while Penn walked away. Siver got $78,000 for the win and Penn got $150,000 for the loss.

8. Tim Means (27-8-1, 1 no contest) beat Alex Garcia (14-4) on straight scores of 29-28 in a welterweight fight. Garcia won the first round, landing punches and taking him down. In the second round, nothing much happened but Means landed a few punches. It came down to the third round. The crowd hated this, because they knew it was even and neither fighter appeared to be doing anything to win the fight. Means won the round close. Means got $78,000 for the win and Garcia got $31,000 for the loss.

9. Dominick Reyes (7-0) beat Joachim Christensen (14-6) in :29 of a light heavyweight fight. Reyes came into the UFC with five first round stoppages in his six wins. Reyes came out fast, throwing kicks and punches and dropped him with a left and it was stopped. He was like a freight train out there, looking super. This was the second fastest stoppage by a debuting fighter in the light heavyweight division in UFC history. You never know about guys who always win in the first round, but you couldn’t look better in a debut. Reyes got $74,000 for the win with his $50,000 performance bonus. Christensen got $16,000 for the loss.

10. Felice Herrig (13-6) beat Justine Kish (6-1) on scores of 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27 in a womens’ strawweight fight. This is Herrig’s second straight twin over an unbeaten fighter. After the fight she complained about how the UFC doesn’t think she’s young enough or pretty enough to be marketed. But then she noted that they book her in “hot girl” fights, which is true, they do that but she says that doesn’t do her any good. Herrig got her back right away, then took her down and landed all kinds of punches on the ground. She went for another takedown, but Kish landed on top. In the second round, she was landing punches and Kish came back. Kish was bleeding from the left eye. Both landed punches and Herrig got the takedown. Kish reversed . Herrig went for an armbar and Kish got out. Kish was landing punches from the top at the end of the round. Kish came out with punches in the third round until Herrig took her down. Herrig got her back and had the choke in tight, but somehow Kish escaped from what looked to be the end. Herrig got her back again and landed a lot of punches from that position. Herrig got $50,000 for the win and Kish got $14,000for the loss.

11. Tim Boetsch (21-11) beat Johny Hendricks (18-7) at :46 of the second round in a middleweight fight. Boetsch is a big middleweight while Hendricks should be a welterweight but he lets his weight get so out of control between fights that he’s had troubles making it. Boetsch landed low kicks, a left to the jaw and more punches and kicks to easily take the first round. In the second round, Boetsch rocked Hendricks with a head kick and a punch, landed two solid punches and then kept landing uppercuts until it was stopped. Boetsch got $184,000 for the win, with his $50,000 performance bonus. Hendricks got $100,000 for the loss.

12. Kevin Lee (16-2) beat Michael Chiesa (14-3) in 4:37 of a lightweight fight. Chiesa landed a left, got a takedown and went for a guillotine. Lee gt a takedown with a spinebuster slam. Chiesa worked for a triangle from the bottom. Chiesa was landing punches from the bottom but Lee got his back and worked for a choke. Lee gave it up to land more punches, and was landing hard shots and got the choke in. Chiesa looked in a lot of trouble but he wasn’t out and he was still alert and made no indication he was giving up when Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight. Lee got $138,000 for the win including a $50,000 performance bonus. Chiesa got $36,000 for the loss.


Tetsuo Sekigawa, who as Mr. Pogo was one of the top rivals of Atsushi Onita during the hottest period ever of violent hardcore wrestling, passed away on 6/23 at the age of 66.

Sekigawa underwent back surgery the day before at a local hospital in his home city of Gunma. During the operation, his blood pressure got extremely low after coming out of anaesthesia. He had heart arrhythmia and then suffered a stroke. He was moved to a bigger hospital and put in intensive care and passed away at noon the next day from a cerebral infarction.

“The death came out of nowhere,” said wrestler Tony Myers, a Tennessee wrestler who had been close with him and had traveled to Japan and was living with him. “Back surgery, after they botched the one last year, is not life threatening and this is a shock still to many of us. We weren’t prepared to deal with it.”

While best known as Mr. Pogo, Sekigawa used a ton of different names during a 45 year pro wrestling career, including Great Pogo, King Pogo, Mr. Seki, Great Seki, Tetsuo Sekigawa, Great Togo, Mr. Sekigawa, Judo Joe, Great Ninja and Ninja Warrior.

His death got a lot of coverage mainstream in Japan, talked about mainly as a top rival of Atsushi Onita and was called the King of the Death matches.

He first used the name Mr. Pogo in 1977, while wrestling in West Texas as a heel. He came to Texas and said his name was Mr. Togo, but Terry Funk kept calling him Mr. Pogo. Both men tell a hilarious story about how they first met and he kept telling Funk his name was Togo and Funk kept botching his name and calling him Pogo, and Sekigawa’s English at the time was far from fluent, and suddenly that was his ring name. He joked that it was his first chance to work on top and the money was good, so he kept quiet that let them call him whatever they wanted. After making his name there, he was almost exclusively Mr. Pogo, Great Pogo or King Pogo from 1985 until the end of his career.

Sekigawa had a background in judo growing up, starting in elementary school, and became friends with Hireaki Hamada in junior high school, who later became pro wrestler Gran Hamada.

He attended Chuo University, where he was a varsity judoka as a heavyweight. He crossed path early in college with Tomomi Tsuruta, who became one of the biggest Japanese pro wrestling stars ever as Jumbo Tsuruta. Tsuruta was a basketball player who had a dream go compete in the Olympics, but Japan didn’t have a strong basketball program. Tsuruta tried judo and wrestling and Sekigawa was a bully to him in judo since he had so much more experience in the sport, which he claimed was ordered to him by his coach. The story was that Sekigawa would make fun of him for being skinny and having a girls name. Tsuruta ended up being a college wrestling star who won the national championship within 18 months of picking up the sport and made the Olympics less than two years after he started.

When Sekigawa was a junior in college at the age of 20, his father, a local politician in Gunma, passed away. Because of his size and athletic ability, he was recruited by a sumo scout. He did well at first but suffered a left knee injury and was in a professional sumo league for only three months in 1971.

His next move was traveling with Hamada to apply to Japan Pro Wrestling, which in 1971, was the monopoly promotion that had been originally formed by Rikidozan, and at the time, was on two different networks in prime time weekly featuring Giant Baba & Kanji (Antonio) Inoki as its two top stars. Shinya Kojika, the same Great Kojika who still wrestles today, was running the dojo and turned away Hamada, because he was too small, but liked “the big boy.”

In 1972, he went to the New Japan dojo with Hamada and debuted with that promotion on March 20, 1972, just 16 days after the promotion opened, against Tatsumi Fujinami. But New Japan decided not to keep him. He decided to continue pro wrestling, and debuted in Hawaii as an undercard wrestler, Mr. Seki.

When he first arrived in California, working for the LeBell office, he was only making $20 a night and the promotion told him, at a time when you could still talk to talent like that, that since he was a “Jap” that he should work

in a “Jap” restaurant during the day. The positive is he learned to be a great cook of Japanese food during his stay in California.

In 1973, he came to Georgia, as Judo Joe, with his judo background, billed as an expert in the sport to do a series of judo vs.. wrestler matches against Tim “Mr. Wrestling” Woods. Over the next several years, he worked just about everywhere, using various different names, going from place-to-place and usually working underneath until The Funks gave him the Mr. Pogo name and started pushing him.

He used the name Judo Joe in Stampede Wrestling as part of a heel threesome with Chati Yokouchi and Yasu Fuji.

“He weighed almost 350 pounds and had a terrible build,” said Stampede historian Ross Hart. “In fact, he was made fun of by a lot of the other boys for being so overweight and having sagging pecs and not having any training or work ethic in comparison to the other Japanese wrestlers who worked so hard in and out of the ring. He only stayed here fo about a few months just working underneath.”

He later returned to Japan as Mr. Seki, the name he also used in California and other places, working for the IWE promotion.

His first real push came in 1977, working for The Funks, where he won the Brass Knux title and often teamed with Takashi Ishikawa and Kazuharu Sonoda.

While this wasn’t the reason he got his first push, one of the reasons he got his shot in Amarillo was his cooking ability. The Funks, in particular, learned to love Japanese good, particularly steak teriyaki, when Kinji Shibuya worked the territory and would cook for the wrestlers at barbecues at the Funk ranch on their rare days off. In fact, Sekigawa, who knew Onita from early on, when Onita told him that he was going to spend some time working the Amarillo territory, told him that it would be great for him if he learned to cook Japanese food.

When he returned to Stampede Wrestling in 1979, he had lost 50 pounds and his work and his look had improved so much that they used him as a main eventer, Mr. Sekigawa, managed by J.R. Foley. He became the company’s top heel and won the North American title from Don Gagne, who later became known as Frenchy Martin, before dropping it to Leo Burke and returning to the U.S.

He was a star for a number of smaller promotions for much of the 80s, and in 1985, started as a tag team with New Japan Pro Wrestling with Kendo Nagasaki. The two would work the U.S. in different territories and go to Japan as well, including doing the annual tag team tournament. They went to Puerto Rico in 1987 as the Ninja Express and had a strong run over the next two years, holding the WWC world tag team titles four times.

While in Puerto Rico, he was involved in a match that some have pointed to as one of the reasons Bruiser Brody was murdered. Brody and Sekigawa were actually very good friends, to the point that they were supposed to go out together on the night he ended up being stabbed by Jose Gonzalez.

Nagasaki & Pogo were the WWC tag team champions and wrestled Brody and a partner. At the time, Nagasaki & Pogo worked for New Japan but were middle-of-the-card guys, while Brody was the top foreign star for All Japan. When Brody noticed Japanese magazine photographers there, to protect his promotion and his role as a top guy he just ate up Nagasaki and Pogo to make sure that no photos of mid-card New Japan guys beating up on an All Japan top guy would appear in the magazines. But booker Jose Gonzalez was mad at Brody for disrespecting his tag team champions.

TETSUO SEKIGAWA

 

CAREER TITLE HISTORY

 

FMW WORLD BRASS KNUX: as Mr. Pogo def. Atsushi Onita January 6, 1994 Tokyo; lost to Atsushi Onita September 7, 1994 Sapporo; def. Atsushi Onita January 21, 1995 Sendai; lost to Atsushi Onita May 4, 1995 Nagoya

 

FMW WORLD BRASS KNUX TAG TEAM: as Mr. Pogo w/Hisakatsu Oya def. Big Titan (Rick Bogner) & The Gladiator (Mike Awesome) April 21, 1994 Aomori; lost to Atsushi Onita & Mitsuhiro Matsunaga July 3, 1994 Yokohama; w/The Gladiator def Atsushi Onita & Mr. Gannosuke for vacant titles October 28, 1994 Tokyo; lost to Atsushi Onita & Mr. Gannosuke February 4, 1995 Tokyo; w/ Yukihiro Kanemura def. Atsushi Onita & Mr. Gannosuke March 7, 1995 Iwate; lost to Hisakatsu Oya & Ricky Fuji May 5 1995 Kawasaki

 

WWC WORLD TAG TEAM: as Mr. Pogo w/TNT (Savio Vega) def. Mark & Chris Youngblood July 11, 1987 Caguas; lost to Mark & Chris Youngblood July 30, 1987; w/Kendo Nagasaki def. Mark & Chris Youngblood October 17, 1987 Caguas; lost to Invader I & III (Jose Gonzalez & Johnny Rivera) January 6, 1988 San Juan; w/Kendo Nagasaki def. Invader I & III January 16, 1988 Guaynabo; Titles held up after Mach 19, 1988 match with Mark & Chris Youngblood Caguas; w/Kendo Nagasaki def. Mark & Chris Youngblood April 12, 1988 San Juan; lost to Mark & Chris Youngblood May 17, 1988 Guaynabo; w/Kendo Nagasaki def. Mark & Chris Youngblood July 23, 1988 Arecibo; lost to Bart & Brad Batten August 6, 1988 San Juan

 

WWC CARIBBEAN TAG TEAM: as Mr. Pogo w/Kensuke Sasaki def. Huracan Castillo Jr. & Miguel Perez Jr. January 14, 1989 Caguas; lost to Mark & Chris Youngblood March 4, 1989; w/Kensuke Sasaki def. Huracan Castillo Jr. & Miguel Perez Jr. April 1, 1989 San Juan; lost to Bart & Brad Batten April 2, 1989 Dorado

 

WWC WORLD JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT: def. Huracan Castillo Jr. February 9, 1991 Caguas; lost to Ricky Santana April 20, 1991 Aguadilla

 

NWA NORTH AMERICAN HEAVYWEIGHT: as Mr. Sekigawa def. Don Gagne (Frenchy Martin) December 8, 1979 Edmonton; lost to Leo Burke February 1980

 

NWA INTERNATIONAL TAG TEAM: as Mr. Sekigawa w/Dynamite Kid def. Leo Burke & Hubert Gallant in tournament final December 21, 1979 Calgary; lost to Bret & Keith Hart January 26, 1980

 

NWA MID AMERICAN HEAVYWEIGHT: def. Rocky Johnson June 22, 1980; lost to Robert Gibson June 25, 1980 Nashville

 

NWA MID AMERICAN TAG TEAM: as Great Togo w/Tojo Yamamoto def. Gypsy Joe & Tom Renesto Jr. July 4, 1979 Nashville; w/Tojo Yamamoto def. Michael Hayes & Terry Gordy July 14, 1979 Chattanooga (Hayes & Gordy were recognized as champions at the time in that city); Vacated titles September 1979; w/Bobby Eaton def. George Gulas & Rocky Brewer June 1980; lost to Larry Latham (Moondog Spot) & Wayne Ferris (Honky Tonk Man) July 1980

 

NWA WORLD SIX MAN: as Great Togo w/Tojo Yamamoto & David Shults held titles 1979; lost to George Gulas & Ken Lucas & Prince Tonga (Haku) October 17, 1979

 

NWA WESTERN STATES TAG TEAM: as Mr. Pogo w/Akio Sato def. Dick Murdoch & Blackjack Mulligan January 9, 1979 Durango, CO; lost to Ted DiBiase & Merced Solis (Tito Santana) February 8, 1979 Amarillo; w/Akio Sato def. Ted DiBiase & Merced Solis February 15, 1979 Amarillo; lost to Ricky Romero & Takachiho (Great Kabuki) April 22, 1979 Albuquerque

 

NWA TEXAS BRASS KNUX: as Mr. Pogo def. Terry Funk October 20, 1977 Amarillo; lost to El Mongol 1979

 

NWA CENTRAL STATES HEAVYWEIGHT: as Mr. Pogo def. Harley Race January 10, 1985 Kansas City; lost to Marty Jannetty September 22, 1985 Des Moines

 

NWA CENTRAL STATES TAG TEAM: as Mr. Pogo w/Gypsy Joe def. Marty Jannetty & Tommy Rogers (Tommy Lane) October 11, 1984 Kansas City; lost to Bulldog Bob Brown & Marty Jannetty December 9, 1984 Des Moines

 

NWA ALABAMA HEAVYWEIGHT: as Great Togo def. Prince Tonga (Haku) in tournament final June 19, 1979 Birmingham; Vacated title leaving territory 1979

 

NWA TRI STATES HEAVYWEIGHT: as Mr. Pogo def. Terry Gibbs November 1980; lost to Terry Orndorff December 30, 1980 Springfield, MO; def. Tom Jones 1981; lost to Tom Jones 1981

 

BIG JAPAN DEATH MATCH HEAVYWEIGHT: as Great Pogo def. Mitsuhiro Matsunaga August 9, 1998 Kawasaki in tournament finals to become first champion; lost to Mitsuhiro Matsuanga August 23, 1998 Osaka

 

W*ING TAG TEAM: as Mr. Pogo w/Crash the Terminator (Bill DeMott) def. Head Hunters November 6, 1992 Sapporo; Titles vacated March 23, 1993 when Pogo no-showed title defense


Sekigawa lived and had a family in Puerto Rico at that time, and even when he was at his peak of stardom in Japan with FMW and W*ING, he was actually flown in from Puerto Rico for every tour as opposed to living in Japan. When it became ridiculous for him to continue to live in Puerto Rico because of how many dates he was working in Japan, they moved to Gunma, where he grew up. But the marriage didn’t last long. During that period when he was in Japan, he would let the Puerto Rican wrestlers that he knew stay at his house, and his wife, at the time, who was Puerto Rican, had an affair and left to return to Puerto Rico with Super Invader (a Puerto Rican wrestler).

Sekigawa noted that Super Invader was a prelim guy that he took a liking to, and got him booked in Japan.

Shortly after the FMW promotion started, Pogo was brought in to be the top heel rival of Atsushi Onita. The two mostly worked tag team street fights. One of the first real successes of the promotion was on November 5, 1990, when Onita beat Pogo for the to retain the WWA Brass Knux title before 7,352 fans at the Olympic Park Gym in Tokyo.

They had one of the first crazy death matches on May 5, 1991, in Osaka, a barbed wire barricade land mine explosive death match before 7,883 fans.

Onita later said that if it wasn’t for Pogo as his rival, that the company wouldn’t have been able to survive in those early years.

In August, he quit FMW and joined W*ING, a promotion attempting to copy the popularity of FMW but with Pogo as the top star, as he was offered $5,000 per week to be the top star of the company.

When he returned to FMW in 1993, he had already been the top star of a promotion so he was considered a bigger star than on the first run. FMW had also grown greatly in popularity. A no rope explosive barbed wire double hell death match where Onita beat him in his return on July 24, 1993, in Kitakyushu, drew 12,030 fans.

The match that is generally considered as the highlight of his career was on August 22, 1993, at Nishinomiya Stadium with Onita vs. Pogo for the World Brass Knux championship in an explosive no rope barbed wire match. The show drew 36,223 fans, with Onita winning once again.

Terry Funk was a regular in FMW at the time. One story Sekigawa loved to tell about this period was that after a match, when Funk was tired and thirsty, Funk grabbed Sekigawa’s water bottle. The problem is, Sekigawa had kerosene in the bottle, which he used to help him blow fire. Funk guzzled it down and said, “This tastes like shit.” Sekigawa kept telling him over and over, “It’s not water, it’s for my fire gimmick.” Funk started screaming, “No, no, no, I said it tastes like shit.”

His career nearly came to an end on August 1, 1996, in an explosive match at the Shiodome in Tokyo against Funk. During the match he suffered a legitimate broken neck. Funk blew fire at him and he took a bump into exploding barbed wire outside the ring. When he fell into the barbed wire, it pushed his chin and head back, breaking his neck. Funk, not realizing Pogo was paralyzed and motionless, but seeing that he wasn’t getting up, blew fire at him again. Eventually the match was stopped and it was believed his career was over.

But he returned a year later, and continued to work small shows with a variety of companies, often hardcore style, as late as this year.

In 2003, he ran for a seat in the Japanese Diet (House of Representatives) representing Gunma, but lost in the election.

He had a public feud with Mitsuhiro Matsunaga. It started in 2008 when Matsunaga said that he was reckless. Pogo went on television news shows and challenged Matsunaga to a real fight, not in the ring, and not for money. In 2016, when Pogo was in a hospital for his first botched back surgery, Matsunaga came to see him. Pogo said he thought Matsunaga came to make fun of him being crippled, but in no shape to fight, told Matsunaga, “You win.” Matsunaga said that wasn’t what he was there for, and said that they should be friends and he was sorry for what he said about him in the past. The two became very close over the past year and would talk on the phone with each other for hours. It also helped that Matsunaga gave Pogo $2,000 for Pogo T-shirts that he sold at his steak house.

Tadashi Tanaka, who co-wrote Sekigawa’s autobiography, noted that he had a way with women, even though he wasn’t a good looking guy, but had a sweet and gentle nature outside the ring so a lot of women loved him.

He had four children, two with a Japanese ex-wife, a daughter with a girlfriend in Puerto Rico and a daughter with a woman from Georgia, who divorced him after he lost in an election for mayor and the restaurant he owned failed, which he believed was his partner ripping him off. That woman met him in the early 80s, and they reconnected on Facebook and she came to Japan in 2014 to move back in with him, but she ended up moving back to Georgia pretty quickly.

He had made and saved a lot of money in his wrestling career, and in other businesses, but had also lost a lot of money in outside wrestling ventures, such as his running for political office, his restaurant and loaning money to relatives.


With a very heavy heart, I’ve just found out that my father is entering hospice care with pancreatic cancer and kidney failure.

He is 90 years old and my parents have been married for 66 years and for the most part, been together since meeting when both were teenagers. It’s something that just came up in the past two weeks. He was doing amazingly well for his age, every weekend still attending plays in San Francisco and Berkeley, taking mass transit one hour in each direction. Every single day, he walked to the convalescent home that my mom was at and would spend all afternoon with her. I was actually with him visiting my mother, who suffered a stroke on my birthday this past year, when we noticed he was looking jaundiced. At that age I was pretty worried and the first test results didn’t come up good, and last week I was told that he had cancer and at his age it would be terminal, but he would have some time left to live.

He had surgery on 6/27 and while he came through the surgery itself well, I was called the next day and said that the family needed to be together and we were told he only has a short time left, that the cancer was advanced and the kidney failure was rapidly getting worse.

My parents are absolutely the greatest parents in the world. I could never explain how much they’ve helped me in so many ways throughout my life, and always been there during all the good times and bad. Last year, when I was given the James Melby Award by the Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame, they made the trip and had the time of their lives. Honestly for me, it was a bigger deal them being able to be there and my mother meeting Charlie Thesz, because my parents were from the generation where Lou Thesz was the God of wrestling, than anything for me. I’m so happy that this happened when they were still alive and able to travel.

The last time I’ve missed a week of doing the Observer is in 2002, when my mother was hospitalized with a heart issue. I don’t anticipate missing any time, but if it does happen, I hope everyone will understand.

The timing is never good, but this really was bad because I was looking forward to taking my son on a number of trips this summer, to Long Beach this coming weekend since so many readers were flying in for the New Japan shows, to Las Vegas for the UFC Hall of Fame because it was so important to me to see Joe Silva in particular inducted, and I was planning on going to the Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame ceremony in Waterloo two weeks later because of the induction of Scott Williams. But things happen. My father was able to live a long and almost idyllic life, traveling to every corner of the world, in recent years against my wishes when he did trips to India and Brazil because those were places they had never visited. This is a period in life that almost everyone goes through but it is also just about the worst part of life there is.

Anyway, I’d just like to thank everyone for being understanding for the next short period of time. It’s been a terrible year, losing my longest lasting friend that I still saw regularly, having my cousin who is like an older almost twin-like sister battling advanced cancer, the sudden death out of nowhere of Scott Williams, and even things like the death of my mentor, Frank Deford and Jan Ross, the latter of which was just so sudden and sad. And the sudden death of Buddy Wayne, who I didn’t know well but was the trainer of Bryan Alvarez and his mentor, had everyone here hard.


Smackdown on 6/27 was basically identical with the week before, doing 2,603,000 viewers, the best number for the show since 4/11. It was up 6,000 viewers.

The increase last week was coming of the Money in the Bank PPV and the return of Daniel Bryan. I expected better this week since they built the show around a women’s Money in the Bank rematch and pushed it as a loaded up show with four advertised matches ahead of time.

Smackdown was third for the night on cable. It beat the College World Series no ESPN, which did 2,007,000 viewers.

The show did a 0.69 in 12-17 (up 21.1 percent), 0.67 in 18-34 (up 3.1 percent), 0.99 in 35-49 (down 5.7 percent) and 1.00 in 50+ (down 3.8 percent).

That pretty much indicates that the women’s Money in the Bank was a huge deal to teenagers, and in particular, teenage girls, but once you got past the age of 35, it meant a lot less.

It also drew a higher percentage of women, as the male audience was 57.0 percent in 18-49 and only 54.8 percent in 12-17.

Raw on 6/26 was down one percent in ratings and four percent from last week in viewers, with a 2.02 rating and 2,976,000 viewers (1.61 viewers per home).

The show was second for the night on cable, and really didn’t tell much of a story. It was unusual in the sense that the first hour and not the third hour was the lowest rated, and the second-to-third hour drop was less than usual. It appears that a summer pattern of people joining late and then being more apt to stay could be part of it, or the women’s gauntlet match in the third hour kept viewers better than most. The third hour actually stayed even in 18-34 from hour two and almost identical in 12-17. In 35-49, both men and women, particularly women, declined in the third hour so the women’s gauntlet seemed to have more appeal to men than women.

The show did a 0.83 in 12-17 (up 10.7 percent), 0.87 in 18-34 (up 7.4 percent), 1.21 in 35-49m (down 1.6 percent) and 1.13 in 50+ (down 5.8 percent).

The audience was 61.2 percent male in 18-49 and 55.5 percent male in 12-17.

John Cena’s American Grit on 6/25 was a disaster, doing 996,000 viewers on FOX, down 40 percent from the prior week and the lowest rated episode the show has done. No network show opposite it did less than 2,492,000 viewers.

Impact on 6/22 had another ratings increase, up 7.5 percent from last week to 342,000 viewers. It was the most-watched episode of the show since the 11/3 show did 359,000 viewers. This was even more impressive going against the NBA draft. There is no question that Impact is on a significant rise these days ever since the shows from India started airing. It does give the company a more major league feel and the TV production is noticeably better, but I thought the same thing about U.K. tapings and they didn’t seem to move numbers.

Ultimate Fighter on 6/21 did 456,000 viewers, making it the most watched episode of the show in 14 months. Everyone has been raving about this season where the ratings have grown weekly. Some of it is because the fighters in the house have greater familiarity as all ex-UFC fighters instead of newcomers, most notably Joe Stevenson, who was a former star and early TUF winner.

Lucha Underground on 6/21 did 111,000 viewers for the first run show and 52,000 for the replay.

Ultimate Fighter on 6/14 did 442,000 viewers same day and 202,000 as of the next three days via DVR.


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RESULTS

 

 

6/1 Nagoya (New Japan Best of the Super Juniors - 1,535 sellout): Taka Michinoku & Taichi b Jushin Liger & Hirai Kawato, Seiya Sanada & Evil & Hiromu Takahashi b Juice Robinson & Ricochet & Dragon Lee, Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa & Bad Luck Fale b Ray Rowe & Hanson & David Finlay, Kenny Omega & Marty Scurll & Yujiro Takahashi b Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay & Gedo, Yoshinobu Kanemaru b Desperado-COR, Ryusuke Taguchi b ACH, Bushi b Tiger Mask, Kushida b Volador Jr.

6/1 Orlando (WWE NXT - 300): No Way Jose b Brennan Williams, Sawyer Fulton b Demetrius Bronson, Ruby Riot b Mandy Rose, Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli b Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins, Aleister Black b Velveteen Dream, Lars Sullivan b Kishin Raftaar, Ember Moon & Liv Morgan b Billie Kay & Peyton Royce, Drew McIntyre b Andrade Cien Almas

6/1 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Dragon Gate - 1,850 sellout): Shun Skywalker b Yuki Yoshioka, Cima & Dragon Kid & Gamma & Eita b Don Fujii & Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Kanda & Jimmy K-Ness, Lindaman & Takashi Yoshida b Kzy & Yosuke Santa Maria, Naruki Doi b Takehiro Yamamura, Big R Shimizu b Yamato, Kotoka & Masato Yoshino & Ben K b Masaaki Mochizuki & Ryo Saito & Jimmy Kagetora, Jimmy Susumu b T-Hawk, Shingo Takagi b BxB Hulk

6/2 Trenton, NJ (WWE Raw): Apollo Crews & Curtis Axel & R-Truth & Kalisto b Elias Samson & Goldust & Titus O’Neil & Bo Dallas, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Austin Aries, Finn Balor b Curt Hawkins, Bayley & Sasha Banks & Mickie James b Alexa Bliss & Alicia Fox & Nia Jax, IC title: Dean Ambrose b The Miz, Seth Rollins b Bray Wyatt, Enzo Amore & Big Cass won three-way over Heath Slater & Rhyno and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Roman Reigns b Samoa Joe

6/2 Ocala, FL (WWE NXT - 250): Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Gabriel & Uriel Ealy, Sawyer Fulton b Babatunde Aiyegbusi, Mary Kate b Sarah Logan, Oney Lorcan b Jeet Rama, Buddy Murphy b Andrade Cien Almas, Lars Sullivan b Kona Reeves, Ruby Riot b Sonya Deville, Roderick Strong & No Way Jose b Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler

6/2 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 5,000): Shockercito & Stukita b Mercurio & Pequeno Violencia, Drone & Fuego & Guerrero Maya Jr. b Disturbio & Misterioso Jr. & Virus, Dragon Rojo Jr. b Rey Cometa, Hechicero & Pierroth & Rush b Negro Casas & Rey Bucanero & Vangellys, Gran Alternativa A block: Mistico & Star Jr. b Blue Panther & Pegasso, Ultimo Guerrero & Sanson b Espanto Jr. & Kraneo, Shocker & Forastero b Stigma & Titan, Atlantis & Esfinge b Mascara Ano 2000 & Cuatrero, Ultimo Guerrero & Sanson b Mistico & Star Jr., Atlantis & Esfinge b Shocker & Forastero, Ultimo Guerrero & Sanson b Atlantis & Esfinge

6/2 Tijuana (The Crash - 5,000 sellout): Jr. title: Arkangel Divino b Latigo, Oraculo won five-way over Black Danger, Jonathan, Black Boy and Ultimo Maldito, Cruiserweight title: Rey Horus b Flamita to win title, Jack Evans & Zorro b Bestia 666 & El Hijo de Pirata Morgan, Penta 0M & Rey Fenix b Black Terry & Skayde, Rey Mysterio Jr. & Daga & Garza Jr. b Damian 666 & Nicho & Mr. Aguila

6/3 Reading, PA (WWE Raw): Apollo Crews & Kalisto & Curtis Axel & R-Truth b Goldust & Titus O’Neil & Bo Dallas & Elias Samson, Finn Balor b Curt Hawkins, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Austin Aries, Bayley & Sasha Banks & Mickie James b Alexa Bliss & Alicia Fox & Nia Jax, IC title: Dean Ambrose b The Miz, Enzo Amore & Big Cass won three-way over Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson and Heath Slater & Rhyno, Seth Rollins b Samoa Joe, Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt

6/3 Bridgeport, CT (WWE Smackdown - 5,200): Tyler Breeze & Fandango won three-way over Jason Jordan & Chad Gable and Colons, Tye Dillinger b Aiden English, Luke Harper b Erick Rowan, Shinsuke Nakamura & Sami Zayn b Kevin Owens & Baron Corbin, Sin Cara & Mojo Rawley b The Ascension, 2 on 3: Naomi & Becky Lynch b Natalya & Carmella & Tamina, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b A.J. Styles

6/3 Venice, FL (WWE NXT - 250): Nick Miller b Wesley Blake, Adrian Jaoude b Cezar Bononi, Sonya Deville & Mary Kate & Mandy Rose b Liv Morgan & Sarah Bridges & Kimberly Frankele, Babatunde Aiyegbusi b Sawyer Fulton, Oney Lorcan b Tino Sabbatelli, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Gabriel & Uriel Ealy, Lacey Evans b Bianca Blair, Roderick Strong b Velveteen Dream

6/3 Nagano (Dragon Gate - 550 sellout): Naruki Doi & Kotoka & Ben K b T-Hawk & Lindaman & Punch Tominaga, Don Fujii b Yuki Yoshioka, Ryo Saito b Takashi Yoshida, Shingo Takagi b Jimmy Kanda, Cima & Dragon Kid & Eita & Jimmy Susumu b Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy & Yosuke Santa Maria

6/4 Glens Falls, NY (WWE Smackdown - 2,000): Tyler Breeze & Fandango won three-way over Colons and Jason Jordan & Chad Gable, Tye Dillinger b Aiden English, Luke Harper b Erick Rowan, Shinsuke Nakamura & Sami Zayn b Baron Corbin & Kevin Owens, Mojo Rawley & Sin Cara b The Ascension, Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch & Naomi b Natalya & Carmella & Tamina, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b A.J. Styles

6/4 Collinsville, IL (ROH - 500): Myron Reed b Curt Stallion, Frankie Kazarian b Flip Gordon, Rhett Titus & Caprice Coleman b Leon St. Giovanni & Shaheem Ali, Jay Briscoe b Shane Taylor, Jay White and Punishment Martinez co-won gauntlet Rumble, Jay White DCOR Punishment Martinez, Mandy Leon b Stacy Shadows, Bobby Fish b Jay Lethal, Mark Briscoe & Bully Ray b Silas Young & Beer City Bruiser, Tag titles: Young Bucks b Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia, Cody & Hangman Page b Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley, ROH title: Christopher Daniels won three-way over Jay White and Punishment Martinez

6/4 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 1,405): Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke & Hayata & Yo-Hey b Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 & Yoshinari Ogawa & Seiya Morohashi, Masa Kitamiya & Akitoshi Saito b Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano, Go Shiozaki b Kaito Kiyomiya, Brian Cage b Takashi Sugiura, Atsushi Kotoge b Kenou, GHC tag titles: Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi b Cody Hall & Randy Reign, GHC title: Katsuhiko Nakajima b Mohammed Yone

6/4 Kobe (Dragon Gate): Takehiro Yamamura & Kaito Ishida b Shun Skywalker & Yuki Yoshioka, Cima & Dragon Kid & Gamma b Masaaki Mochizuki & Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa & Yosuke Santa Maria, Eita d Big R Shimizu 20:00, Yamato & BxB Hulk b Jimmy Susumu &* Shun Skywalker, Shingo Takagi b Lindaman, T-Hawk b Kzy, Naruki Doi b Jimmy Kagetora, Masato Yoshino & Kotoka & Ben K b Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito & Jimmy Kanda

6/4 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Akuma & Inquisidor b Principe Diamante & Sangre Imperial, Cancerbero & Raziel & Sangre Azteca b Robin & Sensei & Starman, Polvora & Ripper & Sam Adonis b Flyer & Stuka Jr. & Titan, CMLL trios titles: Ephesto & Luciferno & Mephisto b Negro Casas & Puma & Tiger, Mistico & Caristico & Niebla Roja b Cavernario & Euforia & Shocker-DQ

6/5 Elmira, NY (WWE Smackdown - 2,000): Tyler Breeze & Fandango won three-way over Jason Jordan & Chad Gable and Colons, Tye Dillinger b Aiden English, Shinsuke Nakamura b Aiden English, Luke Harper b Erick Rowan, Sami Zayn b Baron Corbin, Sin Cara & Mojo Rawley b The Ascension, Naomi & Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair b Natalya & Tamina & Carmella, Randy Orton & A.J. Styles b Jinder Mahal & Kevin Owens

6/5 Aberdeen, Scotland (WWE NXT - 1,100): No Way Jose b Jack Gallagher, Pete Dunne & Wolfgang b Mark Andrews & Trent Seven, Nikki Cross b Ember Moon, Roderick Strong & Aleister Black b Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli, Kassius Ohno b Andrade Cien Almas, Women’s title: Asuka b Peyton Royce, Tag titles: Authors of Pain b Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain, NXT title: Bobby Roode b Drew McIntyre

6/6 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Artillero & Espanto Jr. b Bengala & Sangre Imperial, Acero & Aereo & Electrico b Pequeno Nitro & Pequeno Olimpico & Pequeno Violencia, Fuego & Johnny Idol & Stigma b Misterioso Jr. & Sagrado & Virus, Titan b Ephesto, Blue Panther & Blue Panther Jr. & The Panther b Cuatrero & Mascara Ano 2000 & Sanson, Cavernario & Shocker & Negro Casas b Volador Jr. & Valiante & Stuka Jr.

6/15 Richmond, VA (WWE NXT - 300): Kassius Ohno b Cezar Bononi, Ruby Riot & Ember Moon b Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville, Lars Sullivan b Oney Lorcan, Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain b Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli, Drew McIntyre b Velveteen Dream, Tag titles: Authors of Pain b Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight, Women’s title: Asuka b Nikki Cross, Roderick Strong & Aleister Black b Bobby Roode & Andrade Cien Almas

6/15 Tokyo Shinjuku Face (New Japan Lion’s Gate - 467 sellout): Desperado b Tetsuhiro Yagi, Gedo & Jado b Hirai Kawato & Shota Umino, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask b Takuya Nomura & Dinosaur Takuma, Manabu Nakanishi b Katsuya Kitamura, Yoshi-Hashi b Yuma Aoyagi, Satoshi Kojima & Ayota Yoshida b Yuji Nagata & Tomoyuki Oka

6/16 Edmonton (WWE Raw - 4,000): R-Truth & Kalisto b Titus O’Neil & Goldust, Elias Samson b Apollo Crews, Bayley & Mickie James & Sasha Banks b Nia Jax & Emma & Alexa Bliss, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b The Miz & Samoa Joe, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, Three-way for tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro won over Enzo Amore & Big Cass and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt

6/16 Bel Air, MD (WWE NXT - 800): Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic b Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli, Ember Moon b Nikki Cross, Aleister Black b Velveteen Dream, Tag titles: Authors of Pain b Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe, Drew McIntyre b Andrade Cien Almas, Kassius Ohno b Cezar Bononi, Ruby Riot & Asuka b Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville, NXT title: Bobby Roode b Roderick Strong

6/16 Reseda, CA (PWG - 400 sellout): Chuck Taylor b Trevor Lee, Dezmond Xavier won three-way over Jason Cade and Jake Crist, Keith Lee b Lio Rush, Michael Elgin & Brian Cage b Ray Rowe & Hanson, Sami Callihan b Matt Sydal, Jeff Cobb b Trent Baretta, Marty Scurll & Zack Sabre Jr. b Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly

6/16 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 7,000): Raziel & Virus b Magia Blanca & Sangre Imperial, Dragon Rojo Jr. & Misterioso Jr. & Polvora b Drone & Guerrero Maya Jr. & Stuka Jr., Shocker & El Terrible & Vangellys b Kraneo & Pierroth & Rush, Dragon Lee b Cavernario, Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & Valiente b Gran Guerrero & Negro Casas & Euforia-DQ, Gran Alternativa finals: Caristico & Soberano Jr. b Ultimo Guerrero & Sanson

6/16 Tokorozawa (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 225): Hi69 b Tadasuke, Daisuke Harada b Seiya Morohashi, Mohammed Yone & Yoshinari Ogawa b Hayata & Yo-Hey, Cody Hall & Masao Inoue b Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano, Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi b Kenou & Kaito Kiyomiya, Atsushi Kotoge & Go Shiozaki & Taiji Ishimori b Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya & Akitoshi Saito

6/16 Hakodate (All Japan - 460 sellout): Yutaka Yoshie b Yusuke Okada, Ultimo Dragon b Masa Fuchi, Zeus b Naoya Nomura, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Koji Iwamoto b Kento Miyahara & Jake Lee & Yuma Aoyagi, Suwama & Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki b Shuji Ishikawa & Kai & Minoru Tanaka, Jr. Title: Hikaru Sato b Yohei Nakajima

6/17 Calgary (WWE Raw - 3,800): R-Truth & Kalisto b Goldust & Titus O’Neil, Elias Samson b Apollo Crews, Bayley & Sasha Banks & Mickie James b Nia Jax & Alexa Bliss & Emma, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b The Miz & Samoa Joe, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, Three-way for tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro won over Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson and Enzo Amore & Big Cass, Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt

6/17 Poughkeepsie, NY (WWE NXT): Kassius Ohno b Cezar Bononi, Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe b Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss, Ruby Riot & Ember Moon b Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose, Lars Sullivan b Oney Lorcan, Drew McIntyre b Velveteen Dream, Tag titles: Authors of Pain b Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight, Women’s title: Asuka b Nikki Cross, Roderick Strong & Aleister Black b Bobby Roode & Andrade Cien Almas

6/17 Kyoto (Dragon Gate - 800): Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito & Jimmy Susumu b Gamma & Eita & Takehiro Yamamura, Jimmy Kagetora b Kaito Ishida, T-Hawk b Yosuke Santa Maria, BxB Hulk & Kzy b Kotoka & Ben K, Yamato & Don Fujii b Masaaki Mochizuki & Don Fujii, Shingo Takagi & Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman b Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi & Big R Shimizu

6/17 Sasukino (All Japan - 481 sellout): Naoya Nomura b Yusuke Okada, Kai & Yohei Nakajima b Minoru Tanaka & Yuki Kanzaki, Koji Iwamoto b Atsushi Maruyama, Masa Fuchi b Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, Zeus b Hikaru Sato, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Ultimo Dragon b Shuji Ishikawa & Yutaka Yoshie & Tomoya, Kento Miyahara & Jake Lee & Yuma Aoyagi b Suwama & Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki

6/17 Kasumigaura (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 205): Hajime Ohara b Masao Inoue, Daisuke Harada & Yo-Hey b Yoshinari Ogawa & Seiya Morohashi, Cody Hall b Hiroshi Kumano, Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 b Hayata & Tadasuke, Atsushi Kotoge & Go Shiozaki b Kenou & Kaito Kiyomiya, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya & Akitoshi Saito b Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi & Mohammed Yone

6/17 Merrionette Park, IL (AAW - 662 sellout): ACH b Garza Jr., Eddie Kingston b Jeff Cobb, Jake Crist won four-way over Paco Gonzalez, Davey Vega and Chuck Taylor, Zack Sabre Jr. b Mat Fitchett, Low Ki b Abyss, AAW Heritage title: Penta 0M b Trevor Lee, DJZ & Zachary Wentz & Desmond Xavier b Trey Miguel & Stephen Wolf & Myron Reed, John Morrison b Brian Cage, Ray Rowe & Hanson b Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly

6/18 Springfield, IL (WWE Raw - 3,200): Kalisto & R-Truth b Titus O’Neil & Goldust, Elias Samson b Apollo Crews, Sasha Banks & Bayley & Mickie James b Emma & Nia Jax & Alexa Bliss, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b The Miz & Samoa Joe, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Akira Tozawa, Four-way for tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro won over Matt & Jeff Hardy, Enzo Amore & Big Cass and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt

6/18 Tennai (New Japan - 1,385 sellout): Shota Umino d Tetsuhiro Yagi, Yuji Nagata & Tomoyuki Oka b Manabu Nakanishi & Katsuya Kitamura, Taichi & Desperado & Taka Michinoku b Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Hirai Kawato, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano b Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & David Finlay, Minoru Suzuki & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Yoshinobu Kanemaru b Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi & Gedo, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Juice Robinson & Kushida & Ryusuke Taguchi b Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi

6/18 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 4,000): Akuma & Espanto Jr. b Astral & Sensei, Dallys & Metalica & Zeuxis b Jarochita & Vaquerita & Princesa Sugehit, Gallito & Microman b Mije & Perico Zakarias, Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & Soberano Jr. b Felino & Pierroth & Hechicero, CMLL heavyweight title: Marco Corleone b El Terrible, Dragon Lee & Stuka Jr. & Volador Jr. b Mephisto & Shocker & Ephesto

6/18 Sasukino (All Japan - 541 sellout): Naoya Nomura b Atsushi Maruyama, Koji Iwamoto & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi b Minoru Tanaka & Yuki Kanzaki, Hikaru Sato b Masa Fuchi, Zeus & The Bodyguard b Kai & Yohei Nakajima, Trios tournament third place match: Suwama & Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki b Shuji Ishikawa & Yutaka Yoshie & Tomoya, Trios tournament finals: Kento Miyahara & Jake Lee & Yuma Aoyagi b Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Ultimo Dragon

6/18 Yume (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 202): Cody Hall b Seiya Morohashi, Yoshinari Ogawa & Akitoshi Saito b Hajime Ohara & Masao Inoue, Masa Kitamiya b Hitoshi Kumano, Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke b Kenou & Kaito Kiyomiya, Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi b Go Shiozaki & Mohammed Yone, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Hayata & Yo-Hey b Atsushi Kotoge & Taiji Ishimori & Hi69

6/18 Izumi (Dragon Gate - 1,200 sellout): Yosuke Santa Maria d Kaito Ishida, Masaaki Mochizuki & BxB Hulk b Jimmy Kagetora & Ryo Saito, Don Fujii & Ben K b Hiroaki Moriya & Shoichi Uchida, Kotoka b Jimmy Susumu, Genki Horiguchi b Big R Shimizu, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshida b Yamato & Kzy, Cima & Gamma & Dragon Kid & Eita & Takehiro Yamamura b Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman & Punch Tominaga

6/19 Evansville, IN (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 6,500): Kalisto b Rhyno, Matt & Jeff Hardy b Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Finn Balor b Bo Dallas, Akira Tozawa b TJP, Samoa Joe b Roman Reigns, Non-title: Sheamus & Cesaro b Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews, Nia Jax b Sasha Banks-DQ, Non-title: Dean Ambrose b The Miz

6/19 Indianapolis (WWE Smackdown - 2,300): Tye Dillinger b Erick Rowan, Jason Jordan & Chad Gable & Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder b The Ascension & Colons, Luke Harper b Aiden English, Sin Cara b Aiden English, Shinsuke Nakamura & Sami Zayn b Dolph Ziggler & Baron Corbin, Charlotte Flair & Naomi & Becky Lynch b Natalya & Tamina & Carmella, Three-way for tag titles: Usos won over Fandango & Tyler Breeze and New Day, Randy Orton & A.J. Styles b Kevin Owens & Jinder Mahal

6/19 Furukawa (New Japan - 614): Shota Umino d Tetsuhiro Yagi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima b Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Desperado & Taka Michinoku b Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Hirai Kawato, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano b Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & David Finlay, Minoru Suzuki & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Taichi b Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi & Gedo, Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil; & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Juice Robinson & Kushida & Ryusuke Taguchi

6/19 Nuevo Laredo (AAA TV tapings): AAA mixed tag titles: Nino Hamburguesa & Big Mami b Venum & Lady Shani to win vacant titles, Tag titles: Dark Cuervo & Dark Scoria b Hernandez & Mascara de Bronce, Trios titles: Carta Brava Jr. & Mocho Cota Jr. & Soul Rocker NC Aerostar & Drago & Raptor, Marty Martinez b El Texano Jr., Estrella Divina b Pimpinela Escarlata, Averno & Super Fly b La Parka & Argenis, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Mesias & Kevin Kross b El Hijo del Fantasma & Pagano & Psycho Clown

6/20 Dayton, OH (WWE Smackdown TV tapings - 3,100): Tyler Breeze & Fandango & Tye Dillinger b Colons & Aiden English, Big E b Jimmy Uso, Shinsuke Nakamura b Dolph Ziggler, U.S. title: Kevin Owens b Chad Gable, Non-title: Jinder Mahal b Luke Harper, Tony Nese b Jack Gallagher, Mustafa Ali b Drew Gulak, Non-title: Neville b Rich Swann, Non-title: Randy Orton b Jinder Mahal-DQ

6/20 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (New Japan - 1,258): Tomoyuki Oka b Tetsuhiro Yagi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Desperado & Taka Michinoku b Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Shota Umino, Yuji Nagata & David Finlay b Manabu Nakanishi & Katsuya Kitamura, Togi Makabe & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima b Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano & Jado, Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Hirai Kawato, Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi & Hirooki Goto b Minoru Suzuki & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Taichi, Never Open weight six-man titles: Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi b Ryusuke Taguchi & Juice Robinson & Kushida

6/20 Obihiro (All Japan - 703 sellout): Minoru Tanaka b Yohei Nakajima, Zeus & The Bodyguard & Yutaka Yoshie b Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Ultimo Dragon, Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura b Joe Doering & Koji Iwamoto, Kento Miyahara & Yuma Aoyagi b Shuji Ishikawa & Atsushi Maruyama, Suwama b Kai, All-Asia tag titles: Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato b Masa Fuchi & Atsushi Onita to win titles

6/20 Yokohama (Pro Wrestling NOAH): Yo-Hey b Kaito Kiyomiya, Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano b Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue, Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke b Akitoshi Saito & Hi69, Masa Kitamiya b Cody Hall, Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi b Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm, Go Shiozaki b Kenou, Atsushi Kotoge & Taiji Ishimori b Katsuhiko Nakajima & Hayata

6/20 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Fantasy & Ultimo Dragoncito b Pequeno Olimpico & Pequeno Universo 2000, Magnus & Metatron & Oro Jr. b Akuma & Canelo Casas & Sangre Azteca Jr., Puma & Tiger & Virus b Blue Panther Jr. & The Panther & Pegasso, Cuatrero & Sam Adonis & Sanson b Blue Panther & Fuego & Drone, Mephisto & Ephesto & Luciferno b Mistico & Caristico & Valiente, NWA welterweight title: Volador Jr. b Cavernario

6/21 Nagoya (Pro Wrestling NOAH): Yo-Hey b Hitoshi Kumano, Akitoshi Saito b Yoshinari Ogawa, Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 b Hayata & Tadasuke, Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm b Cody Hall & Masao Inoue, Atsushi Kotoge & Go Shiozaki b Kenou & Kaito Kiyomiya, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya & Daisuke Harada b Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi & Hajime Ohara

6/21 Kushiro (All Japan - 495 sellout): Yuma Aoyagi b Yusuke Okada, Ultimo Dragon & Minoru Tanaka b Takao Omori & Masa Fuchi, Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki b Kai & Yohei Nakajima, Shuji Ishikawa & Koji Iwamoto b Suwama & Hikaru Sato, TV title: Jun Akiyama b Yutaka Yoshie, Kento Miyahara & Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura b Zeus & The Bodyguard & Atsushi Maruyama

6/22 Cocoa, FL (WWE NXT - 250): Adrian Jaoude b Fabian Aichner, Mary Kate b Danielle Kameda, Gabriel & Uriel Ealy b Demetrius Bronson & Lars Sullivan, Kassius Ohno b Tian Bing, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake, Roderick Strong b Marcel Barthel, Ruby Riot & Lacey Evans b Sonya Deville & Taynara Conti, Aleister Black b Velveteen Dream

6/22 Sakata(New Japan - 1,024): Shota Umino d Tetsuhiro Yagi 10:00, Tomoyuki Oka d Katsuya Kitamura 10:00, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Taka Michinoku b Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Hirai Kawato, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano & Jado b Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi, Minoru Suzuki & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Desperado b Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi & Gedo, Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay

6/22 Nemuro (All Japan - 283): Minoru Tanaka b Yusuke Okada, Ultimo Dragon b Masa Fuchi, Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato b Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi, Suwama & Joe Doering b Kai & Yohei Nakajima, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Koji Iwamoto b Zeus & The Bodyguard & Atsushi Maruyama, Kento Miyahara & Jake Lee b Shuji Ishikawa & Yutaka Yoshie

6/22 Toyohashi (Dragon Gate - 900): Shun Skywalker d Yuki Yoshioka, Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Susumu b Dragon Kid & Draztick Boy, Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman b Jimmy Kanda & Jimmy Kagetora, Masaaki Mochizuki b Hyou Watanabe, Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk b Eita & Kaito Ishida, Yamamto & BxB Hulk & Kzy & Flamita b Naruki Doi & Big R Shimizu & Ben K & Kotoka

6/23 Winter Park, FL (WWE NXT - 400 sellout): Bianca BelAir b Aliyah, Velveteen Dream b HoHo Lun, Hideo Itami NC Oney Lorcan, Vanessa Bourne b Jayne Hachey, Hideo Itami b Oney Lorcan, No Way Jose b Cezar Bononi, Ember Moon b Ruby Riot, Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain b Hideo Itami & Kassius Ohno, Oney Lorcan b Danny Burch, NXT title: Bobby Roode b Roderick Strong, Aleister Black b Bobby Fish, Tag titles: Authors of Pain b Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight, Jeet Rama b Johnny Vandal, Drew McIntyre b Killian Dain, Womens’ title last woman standing match: Asuka b Nikki Cross

6/23 Goshogawara (New Japan - 1,248): Shota Umino d Tetsuhiro Yagi 10:00, Tomoyuki Oka d Katsuya Kitamura 10:00, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Taka Michinoku b Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Hirai Kawato, Hiroyoshi tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi b Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano & Jado, Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi & Gedo b Minoru Suzuki & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Desperado, Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay

6/23 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 6,500): Arkangel de la Muerte & Disturbio b Flyer & Robin, Electrico & Shockercito & Stukita b Mercurio & Pequeno Nitro & Pequeno Violencia, Estrellita & Marcela & Princesa Sugehit b Amapola & Dallys & Zeuxis-DQ, Vangellys b Pierroth, Angel de Oro & Dragon Lee & Niebla Roja b Gran Guerrero & Negro Casas & Rey Bucanero, Diamante Azul & Marco Corleone & Volador Jr. b Cavernario & Rush & Euforia

6/23 Tijuana (The Crash - 4,000): Oraculo b Black Danger Cruiserweight title: Rey Horus won over Matt Sydal, Lio Rush and Sami Callihan, Douglas James & Jack Evans & Joey Ryan b Bestia 666 & El Hijo de Pirata Morgan & Mr. 450 Hammet, Jeff Cobb & Keith Lee b Brian Cage & Willie Mack, Penta 0M & Rey Fenix b La Mascara & M-ximo, Nicho lost his hair in an escape the cage match with Daga, Garza Jr. & Damian 666

6/24 Vancouver, BC (WWE Smackdown - 6,000): Three-way for tag titles: Usos won over Big E & Kofi Kingston and Tyler Breeze & Fandango, Luke Harper b Aiden English, Mojo Rawley & Sin Cara & Jason Jordan & Chad Gable b The Ascension & Erick Rowan & Epico, Natalya b Charlotte Flair, Three-way for U.S. title: Kevin Owens won over Rusev and Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin b Tye Dillinger, Becky Lynch & Naomi b Carmella & Tamina, WWE title: Seth Rollins b Jinder Mahal-DQ

6/24 Lowell, MA (ROH TV tapings - 500): Bob Evans & Tim Hughes b Cam Zagami & Josh Briggs, Non-title: Dalton Castle & The Boys b Flip Gordon & Leon St. Giovanni & Shaheem Ali, Matt Taven b Ultimo Guerrero, Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley b Ray Rowe & Hanson, Kris Wolf b Sumie Sakai, Punishment Martinez b Jonathan Gresham, Joey Daddiego& Cheeseburger b Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu, Young Bucks & Hangman Page b Bully Ray & Mark & Jay Briscoe, Jenny Rose b Mandy Leon, Marty Scurll won six-way over Frankie Kazarian, Vinny Marseglia, Josh Woods, El Terrible and Will Ferrara, Beer City Bruiser b Brian Milonas, Kushida b Jay White, Karen Q won three-way over Kelly Klein and Deonna Purrazzo, ROH title 2/3 falls: Cody b Christopher Daniels

6/24 Gainesville, FL (WWE NXT - 250): Montez Ford b Marcel Barthel, Sarah Logan & Aliyah b Abbey Laith & Victoria Gonzalez, No Way Jose b Cezar Bononi, Nick Miller b Tian Bing, Aleister Black b Alexander Wolfe, Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake b Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch, Ruby Riot b Peyton Royce, Roderick Strong & Kassius Ohno & Buddy Murphy b Velveteen Dream & Lars Sullivan & Bobby Roode

6/24 Iwate (New Japan - 1,862): Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamiya b Manabu Nakanishi & Tetsuhiro Yagi, Desperado b Shota Umino, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Taka Michinoku b Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Hirai Kawato, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano b Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata, Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay, Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi b Minoru Suzuki & Davey Boy Smith Jr.

6/24 Melrose, MA (Evolve): Timothy Thatcher b Austin Theory, ACH b Chris Dickinson, Thomas Sharp b The Gatekeeper, Fred Yehi b Jaka, Tracy Williams b Jason Kincaid, Keith Lee b Ethan Page, Non-title: Zack Sabre Jr. b Matt Riddle

6/24 Austin, TX (WrestleCircus - 500 sellout): Tag titles: Rocky Romero & Trent Baretta b Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa, Scorpio Sky b Brody King, Women’s title: Rachael Ellering b Mia Yim, Adam Cole & Britt Baker b Sami Callihan & Jessica Havok, Scramble three fall match saw Laura James win the DDT Iron Man title, Tessa Blanchard won the Sideshow title and Jordan Len-X won the Scramble title all over Joey Ryan, Ladder match: Shane Strickland won over Dezmond Xavier, Lio Rush and Mr. 450, John Morrison b Luchasaurus, Matt Sydal b Zachary Wentz, Glory Pro title: Myron Reed b Michael Elgin, Penta 0M & Rey Fenix b Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly, Ringmaster title: Shane Strickland won over champion Brian Cage and Sammy Guevara to win title

6/24 Gifu (Dragon Gate - 750): Draztick Boy b Yuki Yoshioka, Dragon Kid & Gamma & Eita b Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kagetora, Shingo Takagi b Ben K, T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida b Don Fujii & Diablo, Masaaki Mochizuki & Ryo Saito b Jushin Thunder Ishikawa & Jushin Thunder Hulk, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshida & Big R Shimizu b Yamato & Kzy & Flamita

6/24 Bihoro (All Japan - 622 sellout): Yohei Nakajima b Yusuke Okada, Ultimo Dragon & Koji Iwamoto b Masa Fuchi & Minoru Tanaka, Jake Lee b Atsushi Maruyama, Joe Doering b Kai, Kento Miyahara & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Suwama & Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato, Shuji Ishikawa & Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori b Zeus & The Bodyguard & Yutaka Yoshie

6/25 Everett, WA (WWE Smackdown - 4,000): Three-way for tag titles: Usos won over Sin Cara & Mojo Rawley and Big E & Kofi Kingston, Tye Dillinger b Aiden English, Tyler Breeze & Fandango & Jason Jordan & Chad Gable b The Ascension & Erick Rowan & Epico, Women’s title: Naomi b Carmella, Three-way for U.S. title: Kevin Owens won over Sami Zayn and Rusev, Baron Corbin b Luke Harper, Tamina & Natalya b Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Shinsuke Nakamura

6/25 Ishikawa (Dragon Gate - 900 sellout): Draztick Boy b Shun Skywalker, Masato Yoshino & Ben K b Dragon Kid & Eita, BxB Hulk & Don Fujii b Masaaki Mochizuki & Gamma, Naruki Doi & Big R Shimizu b Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Susumu, Jimmy Kagetora & Ryo Saito b Cima & Takehiro Yamamura, Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida b Yamato & Kzy & Flamita

6/25 Fukushima (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 1,299 sellout): Kenou b Kaito Kiyomiya, Hajime Ohara & Yoshinari Ogawa & Hitoshi Kumano b Akitoshi Saito & Daisuke Harada & Masao Inoue, Yo-Hey b Hi69, Cody Hall b Tadasuke, Mohammed Yone b Quiet Storm, Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi b Go Shiozaki & Masa Kitamiya, GHC jr. title: Taiji Ishimori b Hayata to win title, GHC hwt title: Katsuhiko Nakajima b Atsushi Kotoge

6/25 Monbetsu (All Japan - 670 sellout): Koji Iwamoto b Yusuke Okada, Kai & Ultimo Dragon b Masa Fuchi & Atsushi Maruyama, Minoru Tanaka b Yohei Nakajima, Shuji Ishikawa b Yutaka Yoshie, Kento Miyahara & Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Suwama & Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato, World tag titles: Zeus & The Bodyguard b Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori

6/25 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Artillero & Templario b Magia Blanca & Sangre Imperial, Raziel & Sagrado & Virus b Astral & Star Jr. & Stigma, Dragon Rojo Jr. & Misteriso Jr. & Polvora b Drone & Fuego & Guerrero Maya Jr., Diamante Azul & Titan & Valiente b Kraneo & Pierroth & Rush, Mistico & Caristico & Niebla Roja b Ultimo Guerrero & Shocker & Euforia-DQ

6/25 Queens, NY (Evolve): Tracy Williams b ACH, Timothy Thatcher b Jason Kincaid, Fred Yehi b Chris Dickinson, Evolve title: Zack Sabre Jr. b Jaka, Ethan Page b Thomas Sharp, Trent Baretta b Austin Theory, WWN title: Matt Riddle b Keith Lee

6/26 Los Angeles Staples Center (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 11,600): Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder b Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Finn Balor & Matt & Jeff Hardy b Sheamus & Cesaro & Elias Samson, The Miz & Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel b Dean Ambrose & Rhyno & Heath Slater, Seth Rollins b Curt Hawkins, Non-title: Neville b Lince Dorado, Gauntlet series: Nia Jax b Bayley, Nia Jax b Mickie James, Nia Jax b Dana Brooke, Nia Jax b Emma, Sasha Banks b Nia Jax, Seth Rollins b Bray Wyatt

6/26 Bakersfield, CA (WWE Smackdown - 3,200): Sami Zayn b Baron Corbin, Jason Jordan & Chad Gable & Sin Cara & Tye Dillinger b The Ascension & Erick Rowan & Epico, Luke Harper b Aiden English, Becky Lynch & Naomi b Tamina & Carmella, Women’s title: Naomi b Lana, Three-way for tag titles: Usos won over Tyler Breeze & Fandango and Kofi Kingston & Big E, Rusev b Mojo Rawley, Charlotte Flair b Natalya, Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura b Jinder Mahal & Kevin Owens

6/26 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (New Japan - 1,305): Shota Umino d Tetsuhiro Yagi, Tomoyuki Oka d Katsuya Kitamura, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Taka Michinoku b Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Hirai Kawato, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano & Jado b Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi, Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Desperado b Kazuchika Okada & Gedo, Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay, Never Open weight title: Minoru Suzuki b Yoshi-Hashi

6/26 Osaka (Dragon Gate - 550): Kaito Ishida d Hyou Watanabe, Yamato & BxB Hulk & Flamita b Jimmy Kanda & Jimmy Kagetora & Draztick Boy, Kzy b Don Fujii, Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Susumu b Eita & Takehiro Yamamura, Cima b Katsumi Takashima, Masaaki Mochizuki & Gamma b Kotoka & Ben K, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu b Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Lindaman

6/27 San Diego (WWE Smackdown/205 Live TV report): Tye Dillinger b Erick Rowan, Non-title: Usos b Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley, Women’s title: Naomi b Lana, Baron Corbin b Sami Zayn, Carmella won Money in the Bank ladder match over Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Tamina and Becky Lynch, Jack Gallagher b Brian Kendrick-DQ, Mustafa Ali b Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari b Cedric Alexander, Shinsuke Nakamura & Randy Orton & A.J. Styles b Dolph Ziggler & Kevin Owens & Jinder Mahal

6/27 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (New Japan - 1,544): Shota Umino d Tetsuhiro Yagi, Taka Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru b Tiger Mask & Hirai Kawato, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & Jushin Liger b Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & Tomoyuki Oka, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano b Togi Makabe & Katsuya Kitamura, Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil & Hiromu Takahashi b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay, Minoru Suzuki & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Taichi & Desperado b Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi & Gedo, IWGP jr. title: Kushida b Bushi

6/27 Nayoro (All Japan - 363): Minoru Tanaka b Yusuke Okada, Jake Lee & Ultimo Dragon b Masa Fuchi & Kai, Zeus & The Bodyguard b Yohei Nakajima & Yutaka Yoshie, Joe Doering b Naoya Nomura, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori b Kento Miyahara & Yuma Aoyagi, Shuji Ishikawa & Koji Iwamoto & Atsushi Maruyama b Suwama & Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato

6/28 Kallang, Singapore (WWE Raw - 7,000): Hideo Itami b Chris Jericho, Titus O’Neil b Bo Dallas, Tag titles: Sheamus & Cesaro b Rhyno & Heath Slater, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b The Miz & Samoa Joe, Bayley & Sasha Banks & Asuka b Alexa Bliss & Nia Jax & Emma, Finn Balor b Karl Anderson, Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt

6/28 Asahikawa (All Japan - 409 sellout): Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Minoru Tanaka & Yusuke Okada, Atsushi Maruyama b Yohei Nakajima, Ultimo Dragon b Masa Fuchi, Joe Doering b Yutaka Yoshie, Zeus & The Bodyguard b Suwama & Atsushi Aoki, Jr. Title: Hikaru Sato b Koji Iwamoto, Kento Miyahara & Shuji Ishikawa & Kai b Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Jake Lee

 

Special thanks to: Stephen Ackroyd, Bryan Alvarez, James Argento, Steven Ashe, Dean Ayass, Will Bailey, Amdreas Bausch, Jonathan Beckner, Jon Bell, Jim Bennett, Richard Benson, Ross Blair, Ben Bradley, Leonard Brand, Todd Brantley, Michael Brooks, Jan Buxton, Brennen Chappell, Eoin Cheyne, Kevin Chiat, Chris Cruise, Himanshu D, Noah Dalton, Patrick Davenport, Alex Douglas, Kenny Douglass, Dave Doyle, John Drury, Lee Dunn, Sam Faulk, Emmanuel Figueroa, Joel Fragomeni, Kyle Funk, Thomas Gaggioli, Alessio Garbini, Tyler Himes, Michael Hottle, Adam Iacomacci, Louis Izzo, Mark Jackson, George Maxe Jekic, Barry Johns, Zachary Jones, Joe Kazmer, Richard Kelly, Paul Kacprzak, Jon King, Evan Kirby, Stanley Kosek, Robert Kurelicz, Mike Kuzmuk, Amos Lamb, Patric Laprade, Dan Lennard, Callum Leslie, Alvin Lin, Roy Lucier, Stephen Lyon, Ben Lypka, Nick Mahmood, Steve Mangus, Grant Manning, Martin Mathiasen, Ronan McLir, Travis Mickey, Henk Mulder, Dave Musgrave, Kurt Narten, Ben Norris, Rob O’Daniel, Mike Omansky, Bernard O’Neill, Joseph Onimus, James Peklicz, Mark Pickering, Ryan Pike, Jeff Pollard, Nick Perry, Juan Ramon Ramirez, Jake Rao, Chris Roberts, Derek Rufalski, Christopher Ruggles, James Ryder, Craig Seymour, Nathaniel Shephey, Tyler Shillman, James Stanios, Sam Stride, Phil Sturm, Gary Sweetapple, Ken Templin, Jordan Tew, Gregory Valko, Ricardo Vargas, Christian Wiksten, Tyler Winter, Kyle Whisenhant, Justin Whitener, Kerry Wilkinson, J.J. Williams

CMLL: In a surprise, since they just did the Gran Alternativa tournament, and also announced the World Cup tournament, they announced that the Universal championship tournament will take place on 6/30, 7/7 and 7/14 at Arena Mexico. All 16 different champions between singles in weight divisions, tag teams and trios, take part in a three-week tournament with the winner being the Universal Champion of Champions. Usually these tournaments consist of rushed matches the first two weeks and a long and usually very good final between the winners of the first two tournaments. The A block on 6/30 has Volador Jr., Dragon Lee, Angel de Oro, Valiente, Negro Casas, Shocker, Luciferno and Hechicero. They also announced the winner of Block A will receive the Bobby Bonales Cup. The award is usually an honor, not a match won, with a ceremony in the ring and usually goes to long-time veterans. Negro Casas has already won it but that may mean Volador or Shocker are winning. Volador is always a favorite in these types of tournaments since he’s really the top guy

The B block on 7/7 has Ultimo Guerrero, Mistico, Marco Corleone, Niebla Roja, Soberano Jr., Atlantis, Ephesto and Mephisto. Valiente scored the big upset win last year in the tournament over Guerrero and it really meant little or nothing ever since

Also on 6/30 will be Misterioso Jr. & Pierroth & Rush vs. Rey Bucanero & El Terrible & Vangellys and Atlantis & Blue Panther & Soberano Jr. vs. Dragon Rojo Jr. & Mephisto & Sam Adonis

For the World Cup tournament, which will be I believe on 9/1 at Arena Mexico, they’ve announced 13 of the 16 wrestlers, a strange group of Haku, Matt Taven, Juice Robinson, Satoshi Kojima, Marco Corleone, Volador Jr., Ultimo Guerrero, Dragon Lee, Diamante Azul, Euforia, Mephisto, Valiente and Rush

And if that wasn’t enough, they are also doing a women’s tournament on 7/21 at Arena Mexico called Copa Natalia Vasquez. Natalia Vasquez was the first famous woman star in Mexico, sort of like their version of Mildred Burke

The 6/23 show, which drew 6,500, had a great semi where Lee & Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja beat Gran Guerrero & Casas & Bucanero. Main event was Diamante Azul & Volador Jr. & Corleone over Cavernario & Rush & Euforia in two straight falls with Rush and Azul as the focal points. Rush unmasked him for a first fall DQ. Azul got a new mask for the second fall and pinning Rush clean. Vangellys also pinned Pierroth using the ropes and challenged Pierroth to a hair vs. hair match. Rush & Pierroth both beat down Vangellys after the match

On the 6/25 show, after Ultimo Guerrero unmasked Niebla Roja for a third fall DQ in the main event trios match, Roja offered to put up his mask against Guerrero’s hair

There is talk that Sanada will come here soon to join Los Ingobernables.

AAA: There is one of the company’s biggest house shows on 7/21 in Tijuana at the Auditorio. AAA really only concentrates on television and then sells its talent to local promoters, and the EMW promotion is running this show but it’s more loaded since they are going into the home market of The Crash, with Faby Apache defending the Reina de Reinas title against Taya and Lady Shani, a match for the first EMW heavyweight title with Mil Muertes vs. Pagano and Johnny Mundo defends the AAA heavyweight title in a three-way against El Hijo del Fantasma and El Texano Jr. .. As of right now, TripleMania is still 8/26 at Arena Ciudad, head-to-head with McGregor vs. Mayweather. The story is that advance ticket sales are strong so they don’t have to move the date. But if they want to do anything on PPV, obviously that date will be death. For what it’s worth Leo Riano of Record said that they are looking at airing at least some of the show live on Televisa and would do so head-to-head with the fight.

 

An interesting political note is that El Texano Jr. is booked in the main event for the IWRG promotion in Mexico City on a show that includes Caristico. The key notes on that is it would be a show in Mexico City with an AAA and CMLL guy on the same show, which has always been forbidden (and when it has looked like that in the past, usually one company forces a cancellation). Texano working the show along is also unique because in Mexico, AAA books its talent to promoters as a package deal where you bring in several wrestlers, especially when it comes to the bigger stars.

THE CRASH: They did another packed house of more than 4,000 fans at the Auditorio in Tijuana on 6/23 featuring a cage match with the last man left in getting his head shaved. Nicho lost against Daga, Garza Jr. and Damian 666. This felt like a way to get Nicho another good payoff since he’s getting knee surgery shortly. After the match, Nicho said this would be his last match in Tijuana for about eight months after the reconstructive knee surgery. One of the stories of the match was Garza Jr. turning apparent heel on Daga and betraying him and escaping. Garza Jr. was then asked by La Mascara and M-ximo to join their new heel group, which is called Los Ingober Indies. Penta 0M & Rey Fenix beat La Mascara & M-ximo. After the match, Rey Escorpion came out to help Mascara & M-ximo in a post-match beatdown so he’s officially in the Ingober Indies group. Jeff Cobb & Keith Lee beat Brian Cage & Willie Mack in the U.S. indies special match. Joey Ryan was also booked on the show. Rey Horus won a four-way cruiserweight title match which was said to have been the best thing on the show, beating Lio Rush, Matt Sydal and Sami Callihan, to retain the title. They announced coming back on 7/14, which may be the Jack Evans vs. Bestia 666 hair match they’ve done angles for.

ALL JAPAN: Zeus & The Bodyguard retained their World tag team titles beating Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori, the 25 year veteran combination, on 6/25 in Monbetsu before a sellout 670 fans. Bodyguard pinned Omori in 26:14 after a lariat. After the match, Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura issued a challenge for the titles

On 6/28 in Asahikawa, Hikaru Sato retained the jr. title with an armbar submission on Koji Iwamoto. Minoru Tanaka came out to issue a challenge to Sato, which from a style standpoint could be a great submission oriented match.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: A double title match show on 6/25 in Fukushima drew a sellout of 1,299 fans as Katsuhiko Nakajima retained the GHC heavyweight title over Atsushi Kotoge in 20:08 with a brainbuster. Nakajima will attempt to become both heavyweight and tag team champion as he teams up with Masa Kitamiya to face champions Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi on 7/20. Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm also said they wanted a title shot. Taiji Ishimori won the jr. title from Hayata of the Dove promotion in 17:09 with a 450 splash. Yo-Hey will get the next title shot

Nakajima’s next title defense will be on 7/27 at Korakuen Hall against Brian Cage. They also announced Eddie Edwards will be on the July tour and it appears they are grooming him for a shot at the winner. The 7/27 show will also have Edwards vs. Kitamiya, Go Shiozaki vs. Maybach Taniguchi and the finals of the junior heavyweight tag team tournament. .. Kaito Kiyomiya finished up on that show losing to Kenou. Kiyomiya will be going to Windsor, ONT, the home of Scott D’Amore, and maybe TNA for a while.

NEW JAPAN: Katsuyori Shibata gave an update on his condition on 6/21. He’s undergoing very difficult physical therapy which is sending currents to try and activate the damaged areas, a new form of treatment and there are only a few machines like the one he’s using in Japan. Both of his eyes have significant vision issues. The vision problems lead to him having depth perception issues so he sometimes walks into walls and people. He said he might be struggling in vain but he doesn’t want to quietly accept his fate, although his vision may be getting worse. He’s had issues with vision to a degree for nearly two decades but both wrestled with it and also fought with it. He’s had three eye surgeries. On 6/28, he said that his vision is improving

The 6/26 Korakuen Hall show was built around Minoru Suzuki retaining the Never title over Yoshi-Hashi in 26:13 with the Gotch piledriver. The show drew 1,305 fans and the rest was the typical undercard where the match quality is good but there’s nothing pressing to see. So once again they were 400 tickets shy of selling out Korakuen, which tells you they are running it far too often. The main event was another of those matches where the ref is made to look foolish with tons of interference while he just stands there. Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taka Michinoku and Taichi were helping Suzuki but Kazuchika Okada fought them off. Suzuki laid out Okada and the heels all beat down Yoshi-Hashi. After more interference, Okada made the save and cleaned house until Davey Boy Smith Jr. came out and took out Okada. Finally Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto and Gedo and Jado evened things up. Yoshi-Hashi nearly submitted Suzuki with the butterfly lock, but Suzuki made the ropes and finally won with a choke and a Gotch piledriver

The 6/27 Korakuen Hall show drew 1,544, the best of the three shows over the eight days, but still not sold out. It was built around Kushida beating Bushi in 19:21 with Back to the future to retain the jr. title. Hiromu Takahashi interfered during the match which was said to be not nearly as good as the tournament match the two had. After the match, Desperado nailed Kushida with a guitar shot, which seems to mean he’ll be getting the next title shot. .. The 6/24 show in Iwate drew 1,862 fans with Okada & Yoshi-Hashi beating Suzuki & Davey Boy Smith Jr. in the main event when Okada pinned Smith in 13:59 with the rainmaker.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: The King of DDT tournament concluded on 6/25 at Korakuen Hall before 1,333 fans. Tetsuya Endo pinned Harashima in 22:08 after a shooting star press about halfway across the ring. Endo will get a shot at the KO-D title on 8/20 at Sumo Hall in Tokyo for the company’s annual big summer show. Konosuke Takeshita’s final title defense before that show will be on 7/2 in Tokyo against Mike Bailey. The semifinals were earlier in the show where Harashima pinned Shigehiro Irie in 2:47 with a crucifix hold and Endo cradled Akito off a figure four in 11:39. DDT’s KO-D trios title changed hands on the show as Kudo & Yukio Sakaguchi & Masahiro Takanishi won the titles over Makoto Oishi & Shunma Katsumata & Mao when Takanishi pinned Oishi. They will defend on the Sumo Hall show against Antonio Honda & Dick Togo & Yasu Urano

Dave Crist starts with DDT in late July

The annual Fire Festival tournament, which is Zero-One’s version of the G-1, takes place from 7/9 to 7/30, opening in Nagoya , with the championship match between the two high point getters on 7/30 at Korakuen Hall. The names involved are Masato Tanaka, Yusuke Okada, Kohei Sato, James Raideen, Shogun Okamoto, Super Tiger, Yuko Miyamoto, Leona, Kenou from All Japan and Daiki Inaba.. . It should be noted that the 6/21 match where Mayu Iwatani beat Io Shirai to win the World of Stardom title, ending the 546 day reign, only drew 750 fans to Korakuen Hall. That’s not a good sign for them without Shirai and Kairi Hojo going forward.

HERE AND THERE: Matt Cappotelli, 37, who won the third season of Tough Enough with John Hennigan (Johnny Mundo), will be undergoing brain surgery due to a return of the cancer he had dealt with ten years ago. Cappotelli was thought to be a future WWE star. He was the star of that season and had gotten over as the top babyface in OVW, the developmental territory, and was OVW champion when a tumor was discovered in his brain. Paul Heyman, who was in charge of developmental at the time, was a strong proponent of his. On February 8, 2006, he announced on television that the tumor was cancerous and he ended up having surgery on May 1, 2007. The surgery was a success and he was cancer free. He never was able to return to wrestling. He wrote on 6/28: “Waiting to be taken for my MRI and get prepared for my second brain surgery tomorrow. Just found out that the tumor that I had removed ten years ago has come back much more aggressively and needs to be dealt with. It’s a very large tumor and there is a portion that is inoperable. The portion that they are hoping to remove will be sent to pathology, which will determine what exactly we are dealing with and provide insight on future treatment plans and the next steps for the inoperable portion in my brain stem.

In one of the craziest stories ever, after Vince Russo tried to bait Jim Cornette, Bruce Prichard, Eric Bischoff, Wade Keller and myself among others into a silly attention getting feud, which kind of worked with Cornette since they were cutting promos on each other the past few weeks (you can blame WWE for that since WWE decided to edit the long Table for 3 with Cornette, Bischoff and Michael Hayes into something focusing on Cornette and Bischoff getting along because they both thought Russo was a fraud, so Russo started cutting promos on both, and Cornette and Prichard both responded back. Prichard is more out for attention anyway and it wouldn’t shock me for Prichard and Russo to use it for their own attention while Cornette really does hate Russo and Bischoff has no regard for him. Russo this past week filed for a restraining order against Cornette, who was served at home after Cornette cut a Memphis-style promo on him during one of his podcasts. Russo claimed Cornette has been personally stalking him since 1999 and listed Terry Taylor as a witness. So Cornette was actually served and he’s not allowed near Russo, Russo’s wife, or their home. The silliest part about it is this after this week it likely backfires since Russo’s desperate attention getting game was all about Cornette and others to pay attention to him and Cornette may be giving him less attention now based on the restraining order. Cornette did cut a Memphis style pro wrestler promo on him, and then Russo responded with a pro wrestling promo of his own, making fun of how Cornette looks and complete with this whole thing about how Cornette doesn’t like him only because Vince McMahon and Dixie Carter each chose him over Cornette. Then, after he cut the promo, then he took out a restraining order. And for years he’s been trying to get Cornette to do something with him publicly for attention and Cornette has refused

Jay West, who was the ring announcer for Georgia Championship Wrestling when the show first got big on cable in the late 70s, passed away on 6/21 in his sleep. We don’t have much in the way of details, but West was a huge fan who wrote articles in the 70s and 80s for pro wrestling magazines and had subscribed to this publication for 34 years. He was the ring announcer during the period when Gordon Solie was the lead announcer and Freddy Miller was the host

The trademark issues that were holding up the NWA purchase by Billy Corgan have been settled. The various trademarks were assigned by International Wrestling Corporation, the name of Bruce Tharpe’s parent company, to Lightning One Inc., a company that is run by Corgan.. . Greg Anthony ended up having two stents put in his heart and will be starting a 90-day cardiovascular therapy. He is determined to wrestle again. Jerry Lawler had a similar surgery and it was eight months before he was cleared, but Anthony is almost 30 years younger than Lawler was when he almost died. They found out that Anthony has an issue where the arteries on one side don’t function so he would have blockages twice as fast as a normal person would

A much-talked about concept over the weekend was tried by the WrestleCircus promotion out of Austin, TX. They are another of the groups loading up shows with name indies and lots of fly-ins and have been selling out a 500-seat building every time out. They streamed their show live on Twitch, a site usually used for people streaming video games, using Rich Bocchini (Rich Brennan in WWE) and Lance Hoyt as announcers. The problem was the 11-match show went five hours and 22 minutes. The show, which aired for free, at one point had 7,564 viewers during a mixed tag with Adam Cole & girlfriend Britt Baker vs. Sami Callihan & girlfriend Jessicka Havok. By the eighth match they were down to 4,500 and were well below 4,000 by the time of the main event due to the length. The concept was the show was streaming free but fans could pledge money to help pay for the talent similar to the Mexican concept of throwing money in. I don’t know how well that worked out but since that’s not a U.S. concept, the promotion was criticized for it. Having seen it in Mexico I don’t have a moral opposition to it since nobody forces the fans to do it. That said, I think when the promotion itself pushes it hard, it make the promotion look bad to a lot of people. You would hope it doesn’t become a situation where it becomes too widespread and promoters cut down on paying talent on shows like that with the idea you can make your money off pledges. The best received match was a four-way ladder match where Shane Strickland won essentially a Money in the Bank briefcase over Dezmond Xavier, Lio Rush and Mr. 450. He cashed it in during the Brian Cage vs. Sammy Guevara Ringmaster title match, winning Cage’s title. The show was filled with name talent including Rocky Romero & Baretta winning their tag titles from Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa and Penta 0M & Rey Fenix over Bobby Fish (the day after working NXT) & Kyle O’Reilly

Walter from Germany (better known as Big Daddy Walter), Keith Lee, Travis Banks and Flamita of Crash have been announced for the PWG Battle of Los Angeles tournament at the end of the summer. Walter is a hard chopper who had an amazing match with Ilja Dragunov in the finals of the 16 Carat Gold tournament

Jeff Cobb tweaked his back at the 6/16 PWG show and weorked in Tijuana for Crash, but missed WrestleCircus over the weekend. He’s right now scheduled to return on 7/7 at the All Pro Wrestling show in Daly City

Evolve ran its champion vs. champion match with WWN champion Matt Riddle vs. Evolve champion Zack Sabre Jr. in a non-title match on 6/24 in Melrose, MA. The match was said to be awesome, what a shock, ending when Sabre won via submission with a dragon sleeper. On 6/25 in Queens, NY, they did a show with both titles at stake. Sabre beat Jake with a bridging pin. The post-match seemed to set up Sabre vs. former champion Timothy Thatcher in a no holds barred match when Thatcher head-butted him and also attacked Darby Allin, who was requesting a title shot. Riddle beat Keith Lee in the main event in a match people were raving about. Lee mostly used his power and size to dominate, but Riddle’s power spots on the 320 plus pound Lee such as a gut wrench, a German suplex and the Bro to Sleep got big reactions, with Riddle winning with a jumping knee. They did the deal where both were exhausted from such a grueling match, and Ethan Page then attacked both of them after. Tracy Williams was announced as facing Riddle on 8/12 for the title. Lee and Riddle cleaned house together and did a fist bump.

El Hijo del Santo had his first singles match in many years in London on 6/24 beating Bandido

Regarding the death of Buddy Wayne, Wayne was considered like the son-in-law of Moondog Moretti. Moretti, real name Ed Giovanetti, and wife Dale raised Dale’s niece like a daughter and she married Wayne. Small world. Wayne was Bryan Alvarez’s wrestling trainer and Moretti was a Bay Area guy who I met first when I was ten years old as Moretti and Roland Alexander were teenagers who went to all the area matches and were part of the local newsletter/fan club scene before both ended up in the wrestling industry

A promotion called Mucha Lucha Atlanta ran 6/24 in Norcross, GA, with a Border War tournament that drew more than 1,100 fans. They used a lot of the Lucha Underground guys like Brian Cage, Penta 0M, Rey Fenix, Mil Muertes (under that name) and Rey Horus (not as Dragon Azteca Jr.). Fenix beat Horus in the finals. In one semifinal, a three-way, Fenix beat Penta and Muertes when Fenix turned on his brother and pinned him

Pro wrestler Desi De Ratta, who we wrote about last week since she was at the WWE camp for a tryout, made her MMA debut on 6/24 in Oroville, CA. She was fighting a prelim match for the King of the Cage promotion under her real name of Jeslen Michelle Saenz, and defeated Lexi Terrama in 2:11 via armbar. She’s Jeff Cobb’s girlfriend who has been an extra on a couple of WWE TV tapings in the past in Northern California,

A Cleveland musician who goes by the stage name Double Murder Suicide (which, in fact, is named after Chris Benoit) has put out an album called Razor’s Edge Suitcase, which has sons about love, death, addiction, brotherhood and Scott Hall. The proceeds for the album will be donated to the Cauliflower Alley Club. He has released previous albums on Benoit, the Hart Family, Ric Flair and the end of WCW.

EUROPE: Preston City Wrestling ran a Tribute to the Troops weekend of three shows in Preston, England, with the 6/24 show at the Preston Guild Hall as the big one, before 1,200 fans. The reports were that it was perhaps the best show in company history with three matches in the **** range, a cage match with Bubblegum vs. Tyson T-Bone, a near 30:00 best of three fall match with Dean Allmark vs. Ashton Smith for the cruiserweight title and a match with the Knight family as Roy & Zak Knight beat Ricky Knight Jr. (Roy Knight’s 17-year-old son) & another nephew of Paige, 17-year-old P.J. Knight, who are both 17, and they tore the house down in a crazy brawl all over the hall. The four Knight family members also had a fantastic match against each other on 6/23 at a local club before 500 fans. The 6/23 show featured five members of the Knight family all wrestling on the same show as Sweet Saraya Knight beat Xia Brookside, who is the daughter of WWE coach Robbie Brookside. Moose, David Starr and Sean Waltman were brought in for the weekend

Progress Wrestling announced a U.S. show on 8/13 in Boston as part of a doubleheader with Beyond Wrestling.

LUCHA UNDERGROUND: Talent is really concerned regarding the future. Nobody has heard anything at all about future dates (some have asked me and I don’t know anything either) and it’s been a full year since they taped now. It’s all about whether the owners want to put up the money to tape another season. The TV mentality is different from the sports mentality in the sense sports are geared to last forever but TV shows only do a few seasons and 100 episodes, which have been taped, is like a magic number. El Rey will never cancel the show but El Rey doesn’t spend enough for the show to come close to covering costs. After the first season, the owners, after some time of it being up in the air, agreed to put up money for the next two seasons and the currently airing season would be it, unless they agree to fund a fourth season. We’d heard dates like November and January originally for season four filming so nobody knowing dates isn’t necessarily a bad sign since that is still far off, but a lot of the talent has been unhappy about not getting questions answered and wanting to be able to negotiate to go other places

Josh Matthews revealed in an interview that he was the first choice to be the lead announcer for Lucha Underground. He said he was offered the same seven-season contract that all the wrestlers were offered. He was living in Los Angeles at the time doing the TV show “Undercover Boss,” and got a call from Lucha Underground who said that the guy who they expected to be their lead play-by-play guy can’t get into the U.S. Not sure who that would have been, but they said he was in Mexico. He said he was called one day before the first taping so couldn’t make it work, so they flew in Matt Striker at the last minute and he became the voice of the show.

ROH: Regarding War Machine, since they’ve been asked about a lot this week with Bobby Fish showing up in NXT and others like Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole expected to follow, they are free agents right now. They were on the PPV in the tag title match, although they weren’t the ones who lost the fall. But they lost to the Motor City Machine Guns in their only match at the TV tapings. They are still working New Japan at this point. Regarding their future, the way it’s been described to me is that they are in the drivers’ seat right now

The original test run of T-shirts for the Bullet Club and its members at Hot Topic, which were at selected stores over the past few weeks was a big enough success that every Hot Topic store has ordered a full line of Bullet Club, Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes and Marty Scurll T-shirts. They started showing up in about 15 percent of the Hot Topic stores in the U.S. last week. The original deal was to eventually market Bullet Club shirts nationwide, but the individual shirts were test marketed, with the Young Bucks in about 143 of the 800 to 900 stores and Omega & Rhodes in a slightly lower number and Scurll not in many at all. But all the shirts greatly over performed and they will all now be in all stores starting roughly 7/17. The story behind this is execs from Hot Topic were in Orlando for WrestleMania and saw Bullet Club and Elite and Young Bucks stuff all over the place, and asked WWE why those popular shirts aren’t part of their deal. By calling, they found out they weren’t WWE shirts so made the deals themselves with the individuals.. . Notes from the 6/24 TV tapings in Lowell, MA after the PPV show. The taping was built around Christopher Daniels getting his ROH title rematch with Cody in a 2/3 fall match. The dark match opener saw Brutal Bob Evans & Tim Hughes beating Cam Zagami & Josh Briggs. The first hour opened with Daniels and Frankie Kazarian turning heel on the Lowell crowd for booing them the night before and cheering Cody over Daniels. Daniels wanted his match and said that if he regained the title, he would quit the promotion and go to NXT. Dalton Castle & The Boys beat Leon St. Giovanni & Shaheem Ali & Travis Flip Gordon. Castle pinned St. Giovanni with the bang a rang. Lots of comedy. The Boys did switches without tagging with the idea they both look the same. Matt Taven pinned Ultimo Guerrero after a ref distraction finish. Guerrero was very over to the crowd. First hour main event saw Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin beat War Machine in a great match. That result is interesting to me since War Machine wasn’t pinned at the PPV and it would feel like they’d still be the top challengers for the tag titles for another round. They taped a Women of Honor YouTube match where Kris Wolf pinned Sumie Sakai after a series of cradle reversals. What appeared to be the second hour open saw Cody come out. He put over the fans for their reaction to him winning, and then put down Sinclair Broadcasting. He said that Daniels had lost his smile, a reference to Shawn Michaels in 1997 when he retired rather than lose the title to Sycho Sid (Vicious), an interview that took place in this same arena. He said that Daniels would get his rematch, but it would be two out of three falls. Punishment Martinez pinned Jonathan Gresham. The size difference here was huge. Martinez power bombed Gresham on the apron at one point. After winning, Martinez kept beating on him until Jay White made the save. Cheeseburger & Joey Daddiego beat Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu. Two Japanese women who I guess are supposed to be Cheeseburger’s groupies started hugging him until ROH security took them away. Will Ferrara, who was in a security outfit, stayed and attacked Cheeseburger and left through the crowd. The second hour main event saw Young Bucks & Hangman Page beat The Briscoes & Bully Ray. After two ref bumps, Marty Scurll hit one of the Briscoes with the umbrella and Page pinned him. The Briscoes went crazy after the match, attacking crew members and grabbed chairs. It felt again like a split up with Bully. For what looked like episode three, Mikey Webb came to the ring and Shane Taylor jumped him from behind. Then they taped Jenny Rose pinning Mandy Leon in a Women of Honor match. The Young Bucks & Page came out for a promo and challenged Castle & The Boys for the six-man titles. Scurll then won a six-way over Josh Woods, Vinny Marseglia, Will Ferrara, El Terrible and Kazarian. Shane Taylor ran in during this match to destroy Woods and Ferrara. Woods was taken to the back. Kazarian used a diamond cutter on Marseglia, but Scurll shoved him out of the way and stole the pin. Beer City Bruiser pinned Brian Milonas with a frog splash. There is an angle where Jay Lethal isn’t around, I guess stemming from the PPV. So this will air 29 days after the PPV since Silas Young had a sign saying 29 days since anyone has seen Lethal, so 7/22. That’s notable with the U.S. title tournament coming up this week and Lethal in it. In the TV main event, Kushida pinned White to retain the TV title with back to the future. Kenny King came out and then challenged Kushida to a title match. The fourth show opened with the announcement of Cody vs. Daniels for the title as the main event. Young & Bruiser came out with a sign saying it’s now been 36 days since anyone has seen Lethal, so this should air on 7/29. One fan in the crowd started heckling and said they saw him yesterday. Karen Q won a Women of Honor match over Deonna Purrazzo and Kelly Klein. Young & Bruiser came out again, so this will be inserted in a show the week after the last one, saying it’s been 43 days since anyone has seen Lethal, so this airs 8/5. Cody beat Daniels in two straight falls. Cody worked as the babyface. His stitches reopened during the match. There was a ref bump in the first fall and both men used low blows. Kazarian ran in with a chair and Scurll made the save. Daniels picked up the chair but Cody rolled him up. After losing the fall, Daniels hit Cody with a chair. They teased a count out but Cody came back with crossroads to win the match in straight falls. The crowd was chanting “Boo Boo Face” at Daniels, a name Cody gave him earlier in the show. The taping ended with a Bullet Club celebration. They thanked the fans for sitting through a ten hour show (it was actually five hours) and ended with everyone saying “F*** The Revival,” which I presume is just for the live crowd

TK O’Ryan did an interview with Chuck Carroll at CBS Radio who said that he’s been pretty pain free of late after breaking his ankle at the PPV in Las Vegas four moths ago. But he said he’s still uncomfortable and still a ways away from getting back in the ring as his bones aren’t completely heated and his left leg is much smaller than the right leg. He said there is a small chance if the healing doesn’t go well that they’ll have to do another operation

Cody’s first match outside ROH as champion was on 6/25 in Bethany, CT for Northeast Wrestling in a small building that was 20 tickets shy of a capacity where he beat Hanson top keep his NEW title. It was the first time the two had ever wrestled in a singles match and multiple reports were that they had a hell of a match. At the show Cody said on the mic that he is not wrapping up doing indie dates and said he’ll continue to work NEW and he doesn’t consider them an indie. NEW promoter Mike Lombardi is tight with Cody and the family. He said he would return to NEW as IWGP champion.

IMPACT: The Slammiversary PPV on 7/2 in Orlando goes head-to-head with the second night of New Japan show in Long Beach (that won’t make much of a difference as there are probably only a little more than 10,000 U.S. subscribers to New Japan World although it may hurt this show slightly). The matches are Bobby Lashley vs. Alberto El Patron to unify the Impact and GFW titles with King Mo Lawal of Bellator in Lashley’s corner and Dos Caras in Alberto’s corner, James Storm vs. EC 3 in a strap match (likely for the No. 1 contender position), a four-way for the tag titles with LAX (who hold both the Impact and GFW tag titles) vs. Drago & El Hijo del Fantasma (King Cuerno in Lucha Underground) and two other teams, Sonjay Dutt vs. Low Ki 2/3 falls for the X title, Jeremy Borash & Joseph Park vs. Josh Matthews & Scott Steiner with the winner becoming the lead announcer for the show, Rosemary vs. Sienna to unify the Impact and GFW women’s titles, Eddie & Alisha Edwards vs. Davey Richards & Angelina Love in a full metal mayhem match and Moose & DeAngelo Williams (an NFL star) vs. Chris Adonis & Eli Drake

The company sent out a press release that Impact Wrestling has acquired Global Force Wrestling. The deal essentially is that the company Anthem Wrestling Entertainment is the new parent company of Impact/TNA Wrestling, and that Jeff Jarrett will be on the board of managers, be the Chief Creative Officer (the role he’s held already) and also be cut in for an ownership stake in the new company. In the release announcing this, they stated that all the Impact and GFW titles will be merged at Slammiversary, although that had been decided months ago

The tag title match politics are interesting because Konnan will be working against a tag team from AAA. Originally the idea was that Konnan had said he wouldn’t work with people from AAA since the groups are feuding, but they must have gotten him to okay it since he’d talked about it already. That also means Lucha Underground okayed it and changed their policy about not letting their talent appear on anyone else’s television since Drago and Fantasma have Lucha Underground contracts covering U.S. television. Dragon & Fantasma are at all four days of television next week so it’s not just PPV. They are looking at adding more talent from AAA for the August tapings and Impact is hoping to put together a deal for co-branded live events. That’s interesting because Lucha Underground had an underground buzz and has some hot talent as far as the indie level goes like Pentagon & Fenix and Impact has to figure out a way to tap into that type of audience and no longer be considered uncool

Buddy Dyer, the mayor of Orlando, has declared 7/5 as Impact Wrestling Day in the City. He will also appear at the tapings on that day and will ring announce two of the matches

Tom “Bram” Latimer suffered an undisclosed serious injury that required surgery on a 6/24 show in Rome, Italy. The only thing we know is that Nick “Magnus” Aldis, who was on the show, said Latimer was badly injured, but that there was no reason to panic and the surgery he had after the show went fine. Aldis said Latimer was in good spirits but shaken up. .. The Al Snow, Shane Helms and Pat Kenney releases weren’t budget cuts, but the feeling by management that seven agents for a two-hour weekly television show was overkill, since the booking team and Bruce Prichard were all serving as agents as well. The idea is they are reallocating funds to get new talent and improve the production. When Jarrett came in to run the wrestling end, he was going to use his guys in those roles

Grado will be returning at the tapings this weekend. He signed a new contract a few months back but his work visa expired so hadn’t been used. It’s since been taken care of.

UFC: The only update on Matt Hughes, from his sister Beth, is “Our family would like to thank everyone for your thoughts and prayers for Matt. Matt is improving and continues to show us his heart and determination each day. He has a long road ahead of him and your continued thoughts and prayers will help him with the journey. Please continue your prayers for Matt

Matt has always been a fighter, but he is now in the biggest fight of his life. We know he will continue to improve with God’s Grace and Mercy.

The UFC 8/19 PPV date has been canceled. That was the show they were earmarking for Seattle and a Demetrious Johnson going for the title defense record. UFC wanted it against T.J. Dillashaw while Johnson had agreed to face Ray Borg. The cancellation is because the date was one week before Mayweather vs. McGregor so it’s practically suicidal to do a PPV that night. That also explains why ESPN reported that Dillashaw had stopped trying to get his weight down to make 125 and would no longer be facing Johnson, and instead was looking to get a shot at Cody Garbrandt’s welterweight title. After the 7/29 UFC 214 show in Anaheim with Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier, UFC 215 will now be on 9/9 in Edmonton. With that being two weeks after Mayweather-McGregor, that’s also going to be a very difficult date to do a good number

The UFC’s attempt to make Cris Cyborg a world champion in a division with no fighters took another turn for the worst as Megan Anderson pulled out of the 7/29 fight with Cyborg due to personal reasons. With none of the top UFC 135 pound fighters willing to give up 20 pounds of real weight, and no quality 145 pounds available, UFC has signed Tonya Evinger, the Invicta champion at 135 pounds who heretofore was considered not even good enough to compete in UFC at her own weight class, is now good enough to be in a championship match in a weight class higher

Also added to the 7/29 show is Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia for the welterweight title, so that makes three title matches on that show

The Robbie Lawler vs. Donald Cerrone match scheduled for the 7/8 PPV will be delayed once again. Cerrone suffered what he called a super bad infection in his blood and won’t be ready for that date. The fight will still happen, perhaps as early as the 7/29 PPV show in Anaheim, although the latest word is that it probably would be after that date

Junior Dos Santos vs. Francis Ngannou has been set for the 9/9 PPV in Edmonton. A Ngannou win would put him ready for a title fight and this will be a real test because it’s the biggest name he’s faced

There is no show this weekend and the return will be shows on both 7/7 and 7/8 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The first night is a Friday night FS 1 show to be headlined by Michael Johnson vs. debuting Justin Gaethje as well as the final match of the current season of The Ultimate Fighter. The Saturday night PPV which has Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko for the women’s bantamweight title, Yoel Romero vs. Robert Whittaker for the interim middleweight title, Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum and Jim Miller vs. Anthony Pettis. July is a traditional big show and this is a deep lineup (although hurt by the loss of Cerrone vs. Lawler), but the main event is very weak as far as drawing power goes

The complete Fight Week schedule is a taping of UFC Tonight at the Park Theater on 7/5 at Noon, a Women of UFC panel discussion at 3:30 p.m. and a taping of TUF Talk at 7:30 p.m. On 7/6 at the Park Theater, there will be a UFC Legends panel at 3 p.m., and the Hall of Fame inductions at 7:30 p.m. All of the events at the Park Theater are free. There will be an autograph session at the T-Mobile Arena from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to Noon on Saturday, also free. There will be a UFC Fan Experience at Toshiba Plaza from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday

The Ballengee Group lawsuit against Nate Diaz noted last week, the lawsuit is actually against Diaz, Leslie Smith and attorney Sam Awad. According to the suit, they were representing Diaz and Smith. Both fired the Ballengee Group as managers last year. The group claimed they did so without paying what was owed. They also claim that both didn’t pay on the advice of Awad, who they are suing for tortuous interference in a contract

The Renan Barao vs. Aljamain Sterling fight on 7/29 in Anaheim will not be allowed to be contested by the California State Athletic Commission at 135 pounds. Barao has had issues making the weight in the past. The commission ruled he could fight at 140 or 145. So the fight will likely either take place at 140, or not take place at all, depending on Sterling agreeing to it

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations, the famed state commission, ruled against the appeal of Dustin Poirier, trying to overturn the no contest ruling in his 5/13 Dallas fight against Eddie Alvarez. Alvarez landed two hard knees while Poirier was on the ground in the second round of their fight. Referee Herb Dean ruled the knees were accidental and since they ended the fight, ruled it a no contest. Poirier’s team believed, and rightly so, that this was not an inadvertent eye poke type of thing and that Alvarez intended to land knees to the head. The difference is if Poirier had won via DQ, he’d have earned his $65,000 bonuses, which he didn’t get for the no contest. Poirier’s reps said that Poirier not only lost out on a potential win bonus, but hurt his chance to improve his ratings with the no contest, and also received a concussion from the blatantly illegal move. In my view, Poirier should have been declared the winner via DQ

Leslie Smith will be facing Amanda Lemos on 7/16 in Glasgow. Lemos (6-0-1), a Brazilian, who holds the Jungle Fight bantamweight title, will be replacing the injured Lina Lansberg

Derrick Lewis has already said that he’s not retiring, saying his announcement after his loss to Mark Hunt was a spur of the moment reaction

The lineup for the first episode of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders show, was announced this week. The weekly shows, shot at the UFC Gym in Las Vegas for Fight Pass, starting at 5 p.m. local time and 8 p.m. Eastern, will feature fighters looking to get into UFC. The first show main event is Matt Bessette, 32, (22-7, the CES featherweight champion who has a 7-2 record in Bellator) vs. Kurt Holobaugh, 30, (17-4, who was fought in UFC and Strikeforce in the past). Greg Rebello, 35, a heavyweight who is 22-7, faces Azunna Anyanwu, 35, a heavyweight who is 13-4. Boston Salmon (5-1) faces Ricky Turcios (8-0), middleweights Charles Byrd (7-4, whose nickname is Kid Dynamite) vs. Justin Jones (9-2, whose nickname is Black Dynamite) and flyweights Joby Sanchez, 25, (9-2, who went 1-2 in UFC in 2014 and 2015) vs. Manny Vazquez, 23 (11-2), who fought once for Bellator. The concept of the show seems to have changed. Originally it was going to be a combination of bringing in top independent fighters fighting to get into UFC as well as UFC roster veterans on losing streaks that would normally be cut, fighting for a chance to stay on the roster. The latest promotion for the show indicates only the former and not the latter

Amanda Ribas, who was scheduled to debut on the 7/7 show in Las Vegas against Juliana Lima, was pulled based on testing positive for Ostarine on a 6/7 USADA drug test. Ribas was put on a temporary suspension. Ribas claimed she has never used PEDs and has no idea to how she tested positive. She said she was working with USADA on trying to find out why

Randa Markos vs. Alexa Grasso has been added to the 8/5 show in Mexico City.

BELLATOR: With the Madison Square Garden show over, the schedule is slow with the next three shows on 7/14, 8/25 and 9/27. The 7/14 show is from Thackerville, OK, headlined by Derek Campos vs. Brandon Girtz. The 8/25 show is from Verona, NY, with Andrey Koreshkov vs. Chidi Njokuani and the 9/27 show is from San Jose at the SAP Center with Benson Henderson vs. Patricky Pitbull Freire and the debut of Roy Nelson vs. Javy Ayala. They have all of these championships and free agents and not one title fight until the late fall at the earliest. The San Jose show will be a combined MMA and kickboxing show, so they’ll have both the ring and cage set-up. The kickboxing card looks to be headlined by Karim Ghaiji (97-13-1) defending the welterweight title against Raymond Daniels (11-3)

Logan Storley, a four-time All-American from the University of Minnesota, signed and starts here on the 7/14 show in Thackerville against Kemmyelle Haley. Storley is 5-0 with five finishes, all by knockout, and all in two rounds or less.

WWE: The 8/19 Takeover show from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn will have Bobby Roode vs. Drew McIntyre for the NXT title, Asuka vs. Ember Moon for the women’s title, Authors of Pain vs. Sanity for the tag titles and Hideo Itami vs. Kassius Ohno as the top matches. They also appeared to be building No Way Jose vs. Andrade Cien Almas. Moon’s quest for the title was being pushed as a long-term chase and they’ve also been pushing Asuka’s winning streak, so this could be the title change. If the Moon chase was hot that would be the way to go. But after all the work and time in Asuka, I almost think at this point the best thing is for her in this unique circumstance since it’s also been pushed for more than a year, to bring her to the main roster as undefeated and make her special that way as the NXT champion who set the record win streak and never lost the title. Granted, someone leaving the territory without losing and giving up the title goes against usual protocol, but NXT isn’t a usual territory. It’s not like Samoa Joe or Balor or Nakamura or anyone else losing at the end in NXT hurt them once they started on the new show. They “lucked” into something that they probably won’t be able to do again for a long time and may as well use it to promote Asuka as something special. The AOP vs. Heavy Machinery and Roode vs. Roderick Strong programs were taken care of in one match title defenses. Unless Strong is going heel, and given how successful the videos were, they made a big mistake in the program. There are certain type of angles such as a babyface fighting for family honor where the face really has to go over or they shouldn’t do the program because there’s nothing more of a killer to a face is trying to stand up for your family and then failing. And Strong going heel would be a mistake based on the videos

Bobby Fish was the first of the recent ROH guys to start here, at the 6/23 NXT tapings. At the beginning of the year, Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, Donovan Dijak were all going to start here and it was pretty much expected that Adam Cole would follow when his contract expired. Due to legal threats, where the ones getting screwed unfortunately was the talent, WWE backed off on everyone for months. O’Reilly, who had already given notice to ROH and New Japan ended up screwed the most. Fish kept wrestling with ROH, signed a short-term deal, and when that ran out, continued to work there, but was obviously in a position where they weren’t going to push him past a certain level. What’s notable is Fish debuted on NXT and the first thing they did with him was have him put over Aleister Black

There have been different and contradictory stories going around, but according to one of Alberto Rodriguez’s close friends, Alberto told him that he broke up with Paige over the weekend. It’s always possible they could get back together, but it did happen. .. Bryan did a tease after Cody Rhodes won the ROH title congratulating him and saying, “If you hold the ROH title 462 days, I may have to come after you, which would be September 28, 2018. Be forewarned.” He did immediately tease that he was trolling. He also said that period he was ROH champion was one of the best times of his career. Rhodes said in response, “I don’t think it was a challenge, just fun. Daniel Bryan remains one of my friends. Final Countdown would be a welcomed tune, even as a competitor. I have always looked up to Dan. It would be major, major box office for all involved.

Anyway, it’s still more than a year until his contract expires and at that time he’ll make his decision. As noted, unlike others who are motivated either by fame or money primarily, Bryan really is the guy motivated by his love for wrestling. That said, there are a number of factors in play and his long-term health should be the key deciding point. The reality is that top level professionals who have examined him have come up with contradictory beliefs on whether he should wrestle again. Plus, as far as economics go, he can make a great living in WWE and he can make a great living outside of WWE. He can make more of a difference in the industry outside of WWE, but while that may be the best thing for the industry at large, that may not be the best thing for him

Regarding Bryan, Robert Fitzsimmons, the West Virginia-based attorney that represented Mike Webster, the former Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer, who was the player whose brain was examined by Dr. Bennet Omalu which led to the diagnosis of CTE, noted a few things about Dr. Joseph Maroon and his portrayal in the movie “Concussion.” Maroon is the WWE’s head of medical and also the neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers (who also has done surgeries on several WWE performer as well as being the surgeon who Bruno Sammartino credits for keeping him out of a wheelchair) and the movie “Concussion.” Maroon was portrayed as the villain doctor in a few scenes in the movie with the idea he wouldn’t accept Omalu’s diagnosis and was part of the NFL attempting to portray Omalu and his diagnosis as not being credible. He made the call that Bryan should not be cleared to wrestle ever again due to brain injuries related to multiple concussions and having seizures (as best as we know, and unless this has changed in the past few months, Bryan hasn’t had a seizure since 2012t). Since the movie came out, a number of people have claimed Maroon was portrayed unfairly in the movie and others have made him the villain since it was his call not to clear Bryan. The reality is that there have been a number of top tier doctors who has examined Bryan and they have come to different diagnoses of the situation. I don’t believe for a second that Bryan not being cleared is part of a conspiracy to make sure he doesn’t overshadow the company’s chosen babyfaces, but simply a medical opinion Maroon has made on the evidence he knows, and he’s not alone in that opinion, while at the same time others have disagreed with it. Bryan obviously badly wants to wrestle and my strong impression is that he feels good enough but also doesn’t want to do it if it is the wrong decision but if he’s got top doctors who tell him returning isn’t the wrong decision, if he feels good, he may be inclined to listen to them. When Austin was on top in 1997, and suffered the neck injury with Owen Hart that wound up ending his career several years early, he still came back and had the biggest years of his career. Given the amount of money he made the how many doors that opened for him, my guess is that with the benefit of hindsight, he’d believe not listening to the doctors who said he was done was the right move. At the time, WWE medical was very different. Then, if you could find a doctor to clear you and you wanted to come back, you would. Today, as happened with people like Edge, Christian and Mick Foley, the company made the decision for them, although in their cases, they were older and none had the inclination to wrestle any longer as in theory they could have waited out their contracts and wrestled elsewhere. With Edge, he’d pretty much figured he had only one year left so when he got the word, he just accepted it. Fitzsimmons said that he was actually present during the conversation with Omalu, Dr. Julian Bailes, Maroon and a fourth doctor that was depicted in the movie. He said that Maroon did not try to refute Omalu’s pathological findings and said it was the opposite, that he and the other doctor reviewed the slides from Webster’s autopsy and agreed with Omalu’s interpretation. He said that Maroon went to the NFL with this information, which set the wheels in motion to a number of changes in treatment of concussions and protocols. “Dr. Maroon then took what he saw in those slides and conveyed those findings to the NFL in such a convincing fashion that changes in the NFL began to be made in order to make the game safer. Without Dr. Maroon’s participation and stature as one of the most premiere neurosurgeons in the world, such changes would have been delayed.

The new India-based television show started over the weekend on SPN (Sony Pictures Network) in India. The show, called WWE Sunday Shamaal, which will combine taped matches from the U.S. and vignettes that are market specific for India, focusing likely on Jinder Mahal and the Singh brothers and the championship. It will air in English on TEN 1 and TEN 1 HD on Sundays at 10 a.m. This isn’t a new TV deal, but a new show, as both stations had been airing a two-hour edited version of Raw in those time slots

There is a television commercial project being worked on called “Cena 2.0,” which looks to be a short piece by WWE with the theme being how Cena has changed people’s lives. They are looking for people ages 10 to 80 of all ethnicities who have stories of how Cena has changed their lives. They want real stories that pull the heart strings of viewers and are offering $250 for every person who they decide to cast in the commercial

The company sent out a detailed survey to people who have dropped the network and asking them why they dropped it (giving all kinds of possible responses such as only sign up for certain shows, not enough time, not enough interest, technical problems, don’t like current star or storylines), why they subscribed in the first place (choices being to see NXT, older matches and PPVs, current PPVs, or original network programming) and trying to find out how much they watch the current TV, if they watch it on TV or streaming on Hulu, YouTube, Facebook or other on-line sites, as well as how interested they are with current storylines, and if they knew certain talents and knew who was WWE champion right now

WWE got a few nominees in the Teen Choice Awards. Banks and the Bellas are up for Favorite female athlete, and Cena is up for favorite male athlete

Mike Bennett was on Chris Jericho’s podcast and said that he and Maria were just about to sign a new deal with Impact when Owens told them not to and that there was an opportunity with WWE

Another reason WWE is branding Mae Young so heavily as the pioneer of women in wrestling is because they have talked about doing a Mae Young movie project which would then publicly establish her as the Babe Ruth of women’s wrestling and like she was a women’s sports pioneer

The relationship between ICW and WWE remains strong as ICW will be getting Pete Dunne’s first U.K. title defense actually in the U.K. on 7/29 in Glasgow, facing the winner of the 7/9 match in Glasgow between Wolfgang and B.T. Gunn

The brand split is becoming less and less of a thing as far as being hard and fast, with the Cena free agent angle, Lesnar working Smackdown house shows on 7/29 in Detroit and 8/12 in Tampa. Rollins worked one night for the depleted Smackdown crew this past weekend, when Nakamura couldn’t get into Canada, or at least that’s what they announced, given Nakamura has worked in Canada in the past

Io Shirai had a press conference on 6/22 in Japan. Since talent is not allowed to announce they are coming to WWE unless WWE announces it first, she said she would be out of action indefinitely due to a neck injury that she suffered on 5/14 after taking a piledriver by Toni Storm. She was definitely attended to backstage by the doctors. She said she had been fighting through the pain since she was champion, but now that she’s lost the title, she’s taking time off. She said that she is getting her neck evaluated next month to see if she needs surgery. It should be noted that she already had her WWE medicals done, and that would include a neck examination, so if she had it, she should have an idea what condition her neck is in. It likely ties in together as we’d heard that something came up in her medicals and the neck injury is legit, so she probably has to get this taken care of before signing with WWE. Her debut is now looking like the third quarter of this year so she has time too get her injuries taken care of

A child actor has been hired to play a young Bray Wyatt is some sort of a project

For the season currently being filmed for Total Divas, the newcomers are Carmella (which gets Cass on the show), Bliss (who at least was dating the invisible but talented Buddy Murphy) and Jax replacing Renee Young, Eva Marie and Paige

New women announced for the Mae Young Classic are Tessa Blanchard, Abby Laith, Taynara Conti, Jazzy Gabert, Bianca BelAir, Vanessa Bourne and Kavita Devi. Blanchard, 21, has been wrestling for three years all over the world. I’m actually shocked she wasn’t signed already although age may have had something to do with that. She’s worked on NXT shows and done cameos on Raw. She’s the daughter of Tully Blanchard and stepdaughter of Magnum T.A., girlfriend of Ricochet and worked as a stunt double in the Dwayne Johnson/WWE Paige movie. Laith, as noted last week, is the new ring name for Kimberly Frankele, who is under contract already. Conti, 22, real name Taynara Melo, is a Brazilian who was signed by WWE because of her look and her background in judo and Jiu Jitsu. But the stories that she nearly made the Brazilian Olympic team in judo are greatly exaggerated. She is a black belt who competed but was not high-level in competition or world class or anything like that, and is far better known for her beach photos than for any accomplishments in judo. Both WWE and ESPN claimed she competed in the Olympic trials and narrowly missed making the team. Gabert is better known as Alpha Female and has worked for TNA in the past. She has done some MMA including recently fighting for Rizin, where she lost to the much-smaller King Reina Miura (who uses the name King even though she’s a woman). Gabert did well in working an angle with Gabi Garcia for a fight that is unlikely to happen. BelAir is the former Bianca Blair given a new name. Bourne is the former Daniella Kamela, also given a new name. Devi works independent shows in India and was trained by Great Khali and is a powerlifter who won the South Asian Games last year in the 165 pound weight class.

As talked about here several weeks back, it is now confirmed Jim Ross and Lita will be doing the announcing for that tournament. The entire tournament up through the finals will be taped on 7/13 and 7/14 at Full Sail University. They will release four episodes on 8/28 on the WWE Network, so that would likely be the first round of 16 matches taped on 7/13. So that would be four matches per show, which, with intro features and such, means mostly under 10:00 matches. They will tape 14 matches on 7/14, which will be the everything but the finals. Those matches will be released on 9/4 over four shows, so again they’ll be somewhat limited in time although probably the later round matches will get more time. The finals will be done live on the 9/12 Smackdown tapings in Las Vegas at 10 p.m., right after the conclusion of Smackdown. Really I’d like to see the finals on Smackdown because it would make it more of a big thing. Not sure if it’ll be produced as part of 205 Live, which usually starts at 10 p.m., or something will change

In a trivia note, both Matt Hardy and his wife Reby and Mike Bennett and Maria each met for the first time while working for Northeast Wrestling

T.J. Wilson is back working for the company as a producer. He was at the TV tapings this week and in a coincidence, ended up sitting next surgeon that saved his life on his flight to TV. Wilson, 36, was injured in a July 7, 2015, match with Samoa Joe when a muscle buster went awry and his neck was broken. The break was one that is fatal in 95 percent of the cases, and the few that survive, like Christopher Reeve, end up quadriplegic, so his recovery was a miracle. It’s likely the reason they’ve also had Joe stop doing the muscle buster after it was his main go-to-move in NXT. Wilson will also return to Total Divas as Natalya’s husband next season. When things weren’t as swimmingly as they are now, even though she was still on the show, they had removed him and any mention of him

Raymond Rougeau and Jess Brassard will be the new French language announcing team for PPV shows starting with Great Balls of Fire. They were the announcing team for France and Quebec from 1994 through 1998, when WWE had a French language television show in the Province, and through 1999 in France. Rougeau had worked with WWE from 1986 as a wrestler and then through 2002 doing announcing and other jobs. .. A number of former WWE women were at the Raw show at the Staples Center this past week including Lilian Garcia, Torrie Wilson, Sharmell Sullivan Huffman, Candice Michelle and Christy Hemme. Lisa Varon said she was at the show in San Diego and wanted to congratulate the women after their Money in the Bank match but was not allowed backstage. One would think that’s a misunderstanding

They were selling “Los Angeles 3:16" T-shirts at Raw which led to the obvious speculation that Austin would make a surprise appearance, which didn’t happen. .. Flair is going to the Knoxville area on 7/12 to campaign for Glenn Jacobs (Kane) in his race for Mayor of Knox County

WWE stock closed at press time at $20.38 per share giving the company a $1.558 billion market value

The most-watched WWE Network shows for the past week were: 1. Ride Along with Jericho & Owens (this aired in the prime slot right after Raw, was promoted on the show and noted it was taped before their split); 2. Money in the Bank; 3. NXT on 6/21; 4. WrestleMania 33; 5. Table for 3 with Maryse, Eve Torres and Kelly Kelly; 6. Ride Along with Gallows, Anderson & R-Truth; 7. Extreme Rules PPV; 8. 1992 Beach Blast PPV Steamboat vs. Rude Iron Man, Cactus Jack vs. Sting falls count anywhere; 9. Talking Smack; 10. Ride Along with Miz, Maryse, Bliss and Carmella. 205 Live with the Neville vs. Swann match was 12th

Notes from the 6/26 Raw tapings in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. It was an angle-laden show with the key stuff being the Enzo/Cass follow-up, which was predictable but well put together, a strong angle with Joe and Lesnar and a long women’s gauntlet match that made Jax a monster, buried everyone else but Banks, and had a great conclusion with Banks beating the monster Jax to get a title shot, but clearly keeping Jax strong. Then there was the stuff with the Ball family, which would have been an all-time train wreck if not for Miz somehow holding it together. The entire segment didn’t work as they counted on LaVar to be smoother and more dynamic talking and on Lonzo to get a far bigger reaction than he did. Really, the crowd didn’t like the family. Usually fans are big on outside celebrities but it felt like this crowd didn’t like them from the start with the idea they didn’t belong in wrestling. The big surprise was when they gave Lonzo Ball the big entrance, since he was the second draft pick in the NBA draft, by the Lakers, who play at the Staples Center. But the crowd didn’t react much to him. He got light cheers and there were light boos as well, and in most cases if you bring out a first round draft choice for the team that plays in the arena, the reaction would be quite different. I was told that LaVar is so polarizing that a lot of people are just tired of him and his family. He did get more cheers when putting over the Lakers. When LaVar took off his shirt, after Miz had taken off his shirt, and Ambrose was coming out, LaMelo, who is a high school basketball star at Chino Hills High, on a live mic, said “Beat that,” and followed with the N word twice. Most people both watching on television and in the arena didn’t hear it, but some did. I think they caught it on television in the seven second or so delay but some reported hearing it plain as day twice. Backstage, when the word got around, instantly, they were furious and wanted to rush out of the segment, Kevin Dunn in particular. The WWE responded to the incident to the Los Angeles Times by saying, “The inappropriate language used by a guest during the Miz TV segment was not scripted, nor reflects WWE’s values. The screw ups regarding how it was scripted apparently started when LaMelo was supposed to get into Miz’s face when LaVar told him to handle his light work. When that happened, Miz, thinking on his feet, went back to talking to LaVar. He pulled this off without it being noticeable thinking on his feet. Kevin Dunn was already “in a panic” so ordered Ambrose out about a minute earlier than originally planned as LaVar was running around with his shirt off doing these Kung Fu 1982 Superstar Billy Graham like motions. As Ambrose came out, LaMelo said the words into a live mic and immediately they cut his mic, so he probably did say it twice but the second one was after they cut the mic. Backstage and in the production truck people were freaking out and the PR department was already expecting a shitstorm, which really didn’t happen. The plan was for the Ball family to be at ringside during the six-man tag and perhaps get involved in some form, but they were quickly taken to the back. Miz did get visibly frustrated at one point and Maryse quickly calmed him down. I was told this segment was much better when they did the practice run earlier in the day. The Lakers had made it clear that Lonzo could not touch anyone or do anything physical

The show drew 11,600 fans, which is about 2,400 shy of the usual Staples Center big show sellout. The only match for Main Event saw The Revival beat Gallows & Anderson. Gallows & Anderson worked as the babyfaces. Really surprised that The Revival didn’t return with more of an emphasis on Raw, and instead only had a cameo of being two of the guys pulling Joe off Lesnar since they were teased for a few weeks with the background stuff with Enzo & Cass. The show opened with Reigns out. He was heavily booed and there was a light “We Want Strowman” chant that didn’t really get going. He said that Joe put him to sleep last week. The fans popped for that. Reigns prefaced that by saying he’s going to say something people like, so he knew and acknowledged he knew fans would pop for that. He said Strowman was a coward because last week he came out when he was down and picked the bones and then challenged him to the ambulance match. Reigns accepted. An ambulance came out. Reigns figured it was Strowman, ran toward it and opened the back door. But it was a trick, as Strowman jumped him from behind and both hip tossed him far on the ramp and then threw him off the ramp to the side of the ambulance. Strowman then put him in the ambulance and shut the doors. The message was that it was easy and took almost no time for put him in the ambulance, and that he could win the match quickly. Balor & Hardys beat Sheamus & Cesaro & Samson in 17:24. All three heels teased singing before the match, but before they could, the Hardys music played and they came out. The match seemed to be a backdrop for Josh Duhamel of Transformers fame, plugging a movie he’s doing for a 2018 release with WWE Studios called “The Buddy Games.” He noted it would be about guys doing Go Kart racing, ping pong, and paintball and things like that. He said it films in August and Sheamus will be in it, meaning Sheamus will be taking some time off. That would likely indicate a tag title change before August. Duhamel clearly had no clue of pro wrestling, as when a guy made a save for his partner in a tag match he thought it was cheating. The match itself was good, ending when Balor used a running flip dive, and then a sling blade and Woo dropkick on Cesaro and the coup de gras for the pin. Jeff took out Samson with a dive while Matt used a twist of famous on Sheamus on the floor during the finish. Goldust did a promo talking about how tonight would be The Shattered Truth. He continues to come across like a major league persona doing this style of interview. Goldust vs. R-Truth never got started. The new Goldust has his personal camera man in gold. Goldust suckered R-Truth and beat him down and pulled his body into the post. R-Truth sold it big like he was injured and the match never happened. The problem with this segment is what Goldust did to him was less severe than the heat spot in almost every tag team match. And those guys get up and do long matches and comebacks after. It just wasn’t enough or violent enough for R-Truth to sell it the way he did and have the match called off. Charly Caruso tried to put it over in the immediate reaction before Heyman came out for an interview. Joe showed up and put his arms around Heyman’s throat but told him he wasn’t going to waste his energy on Heyman and that Heyman’s client tonight will get what is meant for him. They put up a graphic mentioning that Ad Week hade named Stephanie McMahon one of the most powerful women in sports. Stephanie is something of the public face of the company now and they are a very large and successful sports organization. WWE is pushing her or things like this and the key thing they are pushing is how she was responsible for rebranding the Divas to women superstars. Throughout the show they pushed the women’s gauntlet main event with everyone coming in and taking balls out of a tumbler to draw their number like used to be done in the past for Royal Rumble numbers. Next came the Miz TV segment with the Ball Family. Maryse is still with Miz, while Axel and Dallas are also linked to him as well in a group called the Miztourage, similar to the Maryland indie group the Ecktourage headed by former WWE writer Kevin Eck. That’s better for all concerned as even though Miz’s talking has been so on point these last several months that he should be a top guy anyway, Maryse is still a major positive for the act. I can’t say Dallas or Axel are a positive based on week two and the crowd reaction, but maybe being pushed for a while can give them a little fan credibility. It’s not like Mahal didn’t go from zero to hero in record time, although he was also the leader of his group and had the rich foreign menace thing going for him. The crowd didn’t like LaVar at all, and given his son was just drafted in the first round by the Lakers, I don’t think they expected that. He was out there pushing his Big Baller Brand, which is actually where the idea of the Titus Brand came from. When the crowd didn’t pop for Lonzo like they expected, Miz tried hard to put him over as the new face of the Lakers. The Balls were supposed to be babyfaces where the smug Miz thought they would become partners and they’d shoot him down. It went off the rails. Miz then said he was the Michael Jordan of WWE, since LaVar always tries to say his son will be better than Jordan. Miz took off his shirt. LaVar took off his shirt and started running around. Ambrose was sent out early with a Big Baller Brand T-shirt and did a quick promo and they got out of the segment. Miz & Axel & Dallas beat Ambrose & Rhyno & Slater in 12:18. The crowd was so dead for this one. It felt like Axel & Dallas and Rhyno & Slater were pulling Ambrose and Miz down in quicksand. Unlike in Smackdown where Rhyno & Slater had that cult thing going, they’ve been dead here since people see them aren’t being pushed. Axel & Dallas right now dragged Miz down by association as they didn’t pop for he and Ambrose except for a few trademark spots like Miz doing his terrible looking kicks while the fans chant “Yes.” Axel hit Rhyno with a lariat like move from outside the ring and Dallas pinned him. Heyman was backstage waiting for Lesnar. Enzo came out. He did his promo but when he couldn’t do the “This is Big Cass and he’s seven foot tall and you can’t teach that” line it sort of took the air out of the crowd reaction. This turn is a real weird deal. Fans really liked Enzo & Cass for their entrance and the sing-along thing and the idea is they are mad at Cass for having it taken away. But it takes a lot away from Enzo. The thing is, they were always stronger as a unit than apart, but the feeling is Cass can be a superstar and they want to give him a heel run before a face run. This segment ended up pretty good. Enzo said he’s called Cass all week and how they were like brothers but Cass hasn’t called him back. He said he’s even called Cass’ mother. He said he wanted to put it all behind them because they are brothers. He wanted Cass to come out. He said last week Cass said a lot of hurtful thing, but he was right about a lot of them. He said he’s not the biggest guy, but he has the biggest mouth, and sometimes his mouth bites off more than he can chew, and Cass has made it okay by always having his back. He talked about how when he was knocked out at the PPV and how Cass was there and how Cass cried in the hospital. He said he refuses to let Cass break their bond before they win the tag team titles. Cass asked for the mic. He said he’s ashamed at what he did and was sorry. The crowd didn’t buy this at all. They shook hands and hugged. The timing of this was good in the sense every single person in the building expected Cass to turn on him again. Then they left the ring together. Finally, after the point that fans actually thought maybe he wasn’t turning on him, he did. Cass pressed him overhead and threw him down the ramp. Later, Cass threatened Corey Graves, who exposed him last week. He said that Angle told him he can’t lay a finger on Graves and he doesn’t know what the dirt is that he has on Angle where Angle would protect him like that, but it must be good, but told him to stay out of his business. That was the only tease this week regarding the Graves/Angle deal. Booker then wanted to know what Cass was talking about and Graves wouldn’t answer him. Rollins pinned Hawkins with a jumping knee in 2:58. Hawkins before the match asked fans if they thought he’d lose, and they cheered, and if they thought he’d win, and the place went almost quiet. Wyatt was on the screen and did a promo basically saying that he’s inside Rollins’ mind. Heyman came out for another interview, this time in the ring. He said that he knows Joe doesn’t fear Lesnar. But he said that if he wanted to get into a fight with someone, he’d take a cheap shot in front of a low of people because he knows people would separate us, just like Joe did. He said Joe took a cheap shot, and then when people separated them and Brock was dragging all of them, Joe took cheap shot No. 2 and kicked Lesnar in the face. Heyman said that Joe having no fear doesn’t impress him and called him the Samoan dumbass, that Joe doesn’t have the intelligence that he has and told Joe if he was smart, he should start fearing Lesnar. He said the bathroom break is now over, hit the record button on your DVR and this is what you’ll all be talking about tomorrow. Lesnar came out, and when he did, Joe got him from behind and choked him hard. Lesnar broke it once by driving him into the screen, but Joe got it back. Dawson & Wilder & Anderson all came out to pull Joe off. Lesnar never went out, but did turn purple so Joe really did put it on with some pressure. Lesnar sold it like he was almost out. Fans were chanting “Let them fight.” This was another strong segment in what has been the best build for a WWE title match in a while. Neville beat Lince Dorado in 2:59 with the Rings of Saturn. Dorado did a nice tope con giro. After the match, Tozawa took off his jacket and started taking off his shirt. O’Neil came out and said he had signed Tozawa for a title match and told him not to fight for free. He said that Tozawa was the newest superstar under contract to Titus Worldwide. Heyman did yet another promo, this time with Charly Caruso backstage, recapping the angle. He said that Samoans are proud people, gladiators who take the fight to your face. He said the Samoans don’t claim Joe as their own because he snuck up from behind Lesnar to apply the Coquina clutch. But, he said, if Joe gets the hold on Lesnar, Heyman said that he would have an ex-champion and WWE will have a new Universal champion, and as a promoter, he’s loving every minute of this. He said that Lesnar truly has his back against the wall and he has to have his back against the wall so Joe can’t sneak up on him and get him from behind. He said this won’t be a trip to suplex city. This will be a brutal fight and Lesnar will have to go through a lot before he can take him to suplex city and hit an F-5 on him. He said Joe will wake up with smelling slats and go, “Oh dear God, this is what it’s like to fight the beast.” Jax and Bliss were backstage. Bliss said how the two of them are more alike then Jax thinks, because everyone always judges both of them based on their looks and it’ snot right. She said everyone thought I’d fail and even my mother laughed at me. Bliss wished her good luck in the matches and Jax said that she doesn’t need it, they aren’t the same, and she’ll see her at the PPV. The gauntlet was all about getting Jax over, but coming up short. It wasn’t that great while Jax was running through everyone. Everyone else looked like crap. And even Jax vs. Banks was kind of dull most of the way, but the way it was worked with Banks in the underdog spot, it did work and the finish with Banks winning got a big reaction. Jax first pinned Bayley in 3:36 after a Samoan drop. WWE has proven over-and-over that they can bury people, but with a few wins, a lot of people can get back over to a degree. But I think the peak of Bayley and getting her to the level she already was has been squandered. This was nothing to tell a story for her coming close and losing but just the first person to get steamrolled out of many. Jax pinned James in 2:41 after just running her over. James did some bad looking Miz caliber kicks. She got a near fall with a Thesz press off the top rope. Jax powered out of a DDT attempt before the finish. Jax pinned Brooke in :25 with a leg drop. Jax pinned Emma in :35 with a Samoan drop. This left Jax vs. Banks, with Banks winning to get the next title shot in 15:10. There was a good spot where Banks used a tope and Jax caught her. Jax tried to throw Banks into the post but it ended up with Banks throwing Jax into the post. Banks also did double knees off the apron. But the match went long and wasn’t very exciting. Jax missed a seated splash and Banks hit a shining wizard. But Banks hooked on the bank statement standing and after a long time in the move, Jax tapped out to a big pop. Angle came out to congratulate Banks. Bliss then came out and Banks dropkicked Bliss and grabbed the title belt to end the show. After Raw ended, in the dark match, Rollins pinned Wyatt after the flying knee in about ten minutes of a basic match

Notes from the 6/27 Smackdown tapings in San Diego. This was a weird show in the sense they advertised four matches for Smackdown, but when it was over, I have no idea why they even had the first two, because they appeared to accomplish nothing unless there is some future storyline thing where they needed to be part of it. The show drew 5,300 fans. The pre-show dark match saw Dillinger pin Rowan with a roll-up. Smackdown opened with Bryan out. He ran down the show and Carmella came out. Carmella said that there were no rules and that the first person to get possession of the briefcase wins, and noted that several times in the past there was outside interference leading to the win. It should be noted, as crazy as this sounds, but the word briefcase is now banned and the word they kept using was “contract.” It made for yet a new part of awkward dialogue as both Bryan and Carmella kept talking about the briefcase without being able to use the word. Bryan said that Carmella made some good points, that there are no disqualifications and in past years there has been interference. But he said that nobody in history has ever climbed up and grabbed “the contract’ and given it to someone. Those were good points but they were the exact same points both already went through in their identical argument on last week’s show. Bryan also noted that he’s banned Ellsworth from ringside. Ellsworth then called Bryan a gutless, spineless coward who can’t compete in the ring so he made up a hokey injury to get out of wrestling. Rather than get upset, Bryan just laughed it off and said he could fire Ellsworth, but then said he was going to not just ban him from ringside, but kick him out of the building. Security came to take him away. He tried to run away, but security caught him. He broke free but they caught him again and kicked him out. Of course he was back by the end of the show. Usos won a non-title match over Ryder & Rawley in 5:39 when Jimmy pinned Ryder after a splash off the top rope. What was weird was almost this entire match came during the commercial break, and when they came back, they went to the finish in seconds. Unless Ryder is turning on Rawley and they needed this awkward loss to be part of the story, this made no sense. Why didn’t they have a title match? But more, why just have the finish seconds after coming back from the break. The New Day came out after the match. The Usos said New Day didn’t deserve a shot. This build up for a rap battle on next week’s show. There was a Fashion Police vignette. So the key is that The Ascension wasn’t the team that was thrashing their office. The Fashion Police were back doing the Miami Vice gimmick. Both members of The Ascension said that they didn’t thrash the office, and they only came out at that time because they wanted to have a match on PPV. The Fashion Police tried to bribe them with tickets to an Eddie Money concert. Breeze was carrying several different water guns. Later, they found that their new offices were thrashed and that was with The Ascension in custody. So we’re left with this being the Colons, a heel turn for Jordan & Gable since they are doing nothing with them, or bringing in a new team. Naomi pinned Lana to retain the women’s title in :40. Naomi kicked out of the spinebuster and immediately hit the split legged moonsault. As confusing as the first match was, this was even more confusing. Why even have the match to bury Lana as a wrestler that badly when she needs all the booking help she can get, unless they’ve already decided to nix her as a wrestler. English was in the ring singing. Orton’s music interrupted him. Then they came back from a commercial break. Orton was sitting in a chair. They showed a replay of Orton giving English an RKO during the break. Orton wanted a rematch for the title, but said first he was going to beat his ass backstage. Shane came out. Orton said what he was going to do. Shane noted that Orton used to do stuff like that in the past to his family. Orton said Shane could fire him, and he’d come to the arenas, and attack Mahal and he doesn’t care if he goes to jail for it. Or Orton said you can make the wise decision of giving him a title match. Shane gave him a rematch again but said that as part of the deal, Mahal gets to pick the stipulations. Mahal came out and said that Orton isn’t worthy of a rematch. But he said that Khali was his personal hero (Khali is a big favorite in India and this was Mahal doing his heel in North America but babyface in India promo) and that he would follow in Khali’s footsteps with a Punjabi Prison match. Bryan was backstage. Styles showed up. Then Owens showed up. Styles wanted a U.S. title match. Owens said that he already beat Styles. Bryan announced a Battle Royal for next week’s show where the winner would get the shot at Owens at Battleground. Mike & Maria Kanellis were out showing their love for each other. In the middle of their segment, Zayn’s music played and he came out, so it looks like a Zayn vs. Kanellis program. Corbin then pinned Zayn in 8:09 with the End of Days. This was nothing special as a match. Corbin dropped Zayn on the barricade at one point. They showed Nakamura watching backstage, so seemingly they are doing Nakamura vs. Corbin next. Nakamura did an interview setting up a program with Corbin. Next was the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match which Carmella won again in 24:28. Evidently they felt the Money in the Bank ladder match would be a big draw, which is why they cut back the time in the other matches. Carmella figured to win, given Lynch and Charlotte aren’t the right people to win right now. Also, they have a face champion, so a heel should win, and they never push Natalya and Tamina much, even though Natalya performed so well in her Nikki Bella program a few months ago. Tamina just doesn’t say much and Carmella has the look and Ellsworth. It was a typical multiple-person ladder match with lots of climbing up ladders and being pulled down from ladders, being knocked off ladders and tipping ladders over. This was sloppier than their first match and it was also toned down as far as spectacular spots. But it was much longer with a lot more climbing and being pulled down spots. Carmella did a crossbody off the ladder. The finish saw Ellsworth return and start cheering on Carmela. Ellsworth went to climb up the ladder again. Lynch did a shining wizard that missed on Carmella, and then tipped over the ladder and Ellsworth crotched himself on the top rope on the way down. Lynch climbed up. Carmella pulled Lynch off and hit her twice in the back with chair shots and climbed up to win. The audience cheered the match. The idea of women in a MITB match is over, and the crowd gives them a lot more leeway than they’d give the guys. They all worked hard. For 205 Live, Gallagher came out and talked about how Nese faked the injury against him and he fell for it and it cost him the match. He said he wouldn’t make the same mistake this week. Gallagher beat Kendrick via DQ in 3:04. Kendrick came out dressed like Gallagher in a suit, with an umbrella, and came out to Gallagher’s music. He also had fake mustache and had his hair like Gallagher. Kendrick first did an interview saying that Gallagher was a caricature and a one trick pony whose act has gone stale. He said Gallagher doesn’t even realize he’s an embarrassment and the laughing stock of England. He called him a pint-sized imitation of Regal. Kendrick worked the match in the suit and fake mustache. The wrestling was good but nobody cared at all, and Kendrick working in the suit looked ridiculous, even though Low Ki is doing the same thing on Impact. Kendrick hit Gallagher with an umbrella to the gut for the DQ. Kendrick was beating him down with the umbrella until it broke. Then he grabbed the umbrella that Gallagher had brought to the ring and continued to beat on Gallagher with it until it was bent over Gallagher’s ribs. They may be doing a rib injury angle. Next up was a gulak interview. Gulak said that he may have lost the match to Ali last week, but he proved his point since Ali beat him without flying moves. He said the match sent the message of “Safe and Sound and feet on the ground.” Ali came out and asked Gulak why he hated flying moves. Ali said the real reason is that “High flying is something that Drew can’t do.” Ali pinned Gulak in 6:52. The story here was that they had a match where Ali did no flying but wrestled with him. Then Gulak got the advantage and went to the top rope. The idea was that Gulak was all nervous and his feet were shaking as he climbed the ropes. He did the Snuka “I love you” pose and then missed the splash off the top. Ali cradled him for the pin. Backstage, Dar was with Daivari. He apologized for throwing Daivari’s solid gold bag in the river last week. He said he thought it was Cedric Alexander’s bag. So he told Daivari he should blame it on Alexander and not him. That was funny. Daivari offered to pay him the $15,000 that the suitcase was worth. Daivari said that to him $15,000 is peasant money and he wouldn’t even bend over to pick up $15,000. Dar thanked him and said that was good because he was broke because Fox is running up gigantic phone bills by constantly being on face time. Fox then called her again and he was being all nice to her. Daivari grabbed his phone, hung up on Fox and threw the phone into the wall. Daivari told Dar that he doesn’t want his money, but that Dar owes him. Daivari pinned Alexander in 4:58 when Dar interfered. Dar distracted Alexander. Alexander punched him off the apron and when Alexander turned around, Daivari pinned him after a lariat. Dar beat down Alexander after the match. Dar then said his issues with Alexander are done and over. Dar said it was time to move on, which in 205 Live code language means they are never ending this feud. The show ended with a segment with Neville out. Neville told Tozawa not to show up for their match at Great Balls of Fire. He said that if he does, he’ll be smacked in the face with the cold, hard realization that he doesn’t even belong in the ring with Neville. Neville said that Tozawa isn’t even close to the Neville level. He said that if Tozawa doesn’t believe it, ask everyone that has come before him. Tozawa came out. The crowd responds to his “ah” chant. Neville kept asking him questions and every response was “Ah.” Tozawa finally threw a few kicks at Neville, which knocked Neville out of the ring and Neville bailed out. That dark match main event was Orton & Nakamura & Styles beating Ziggler & Owens & Mahal. Nakamura was the most over of the three, followed by Orton. Everyone did their big moves in a quick match that ended with Styles pinning Owens after the phenomenal forearm

Notes from the 6/21 NXT TV show. This was the final show of the current tapings. They pushed from the start that they would show footage of an incident with Roderick Strong and Bobby Roode. Ember Moon pinned Peyton Royce in 7:27. Royce worked on Moon’s bad shoulder. Moon did a plancha on Billie Kay after Kay got involved. The crowd was dead for this, although that’s the case with almost everything on NXT these days. Royce hit the widow’s peak but Moon kicked out. There was some reaction to that. Moon won with the eclipse. The match wasn’t good. Hideo Itami was backstage with Kassius Ohno. Itami said that he hasn’t had the success in NXT that he had in Japan and he’s let it get to him. He told Ohno that he was sorry for everything. He just said he got angry and frustrated. Ohno said he understood since he thinks he’s in the same position where he hasn’t had the success he wanted but he’s got plenty to give and he’s starting tonight with Black. Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe beat Gabriel & Uriel Ealy in 3:19. The crowd was dead for this. The Ealy brother are big twins and when you look at them you think there’s something but as of right now they’re just big. Young pinned Uriel after a diamond cutter off the ropes with Wolfe holding him up. Sonya Deville beat Rachel Evers (Rachael Ellering) in 2:39 with a Kimura submission. This match wasn’t good either. The Full Sail crowd likes Evers but once the match started it didn’t get much of a reaction. It was booked as squash so that may have been part of it. Deville plays her gimmick well and you can see they want to push her, and she did have good aggression and Evers did a good job selling for her aggression. Roode was doing a photo shoot when Strong and girlfriend Marina came in wit her rolling in a baby carnage. Roode mouthed off to Strong and told Marina that if she’d like to be with a real man to let him know. Strong went after him and they had a pull-apart with Roode saying he’ll fight Strong at any time. They announced a Roode vs. Strong match in two weeks. Aleister Black beat Ohno in 15:07. The crowed was totally quiet most of the way as they mostly exchanged holds. Black used a quebrada and a kick for a near fall. They traded kicks. They continued to mostly trade kicks back-and-forth. The crowd got into the match pretty big near the finish, and then Black won with black mass. It was a very good match and perhaps part of the silence early was both as babyfaces, although Full Sail has been a dead crowd for months now ever since the rowdy 100 or so fans that gave it the rep and atmosphere stopped going

Notes from the 6/23 tapings. They taped several weeks of shows. And these tapings were out of order, in the sense the final match taped was Asuka vs. Cross, which airs on 6/28. I was told the crowd was much better as far as reactions went than has been in the building in some time, and that was due to a generally higher quality of matches. The show opened with HHH introducing Ranallo, who was part of the Bellator production in Madison Square Garden the next night which meant flying in and out to do this. He called him the bipolar rock ‘n’ roller which is his old nickname and one that he was never referred to previously in WWE. They made a big deal live to the fans about his return. Bianca BelAir beat Aliyah in a Mae Young qualifying match. Even with her athletic ability, the biggest pop was her twisting her head to her braided hair went flying into Aliyah’s face. The result is notable since Aliyah has been around for years and BelAir has just started wrestling. BelAir used a spear for the finish. Velveteen Dream pinned HoHo Lun with the elbow off the top rope. A match with Hideo Itami vs. Oney Lorcan ended up being stopped. Lorcan landed a stiff shot and Itami started bleeding from the nose or mouth. Since it’s taped, they just stopped the match immediately and figured they could clean him up, work on the cut and come back and do it later. Vanessa Bourne pinned Jayme Hachey, which is the new name for Jayne Jameson. This was a quick Mae Young tournament qualifying match. Johnny Gargano came out. He cut a promo on Tommaso Ciampa. He said he’s coming back (he was never injured in the first place) and will be on the Brooklyn show. The planned Brooklyn match was Gargano vs. Ciampa, but Ciampa’s surgery eliminated that. Itami pinned Lorcan in the do-over match with the GTS. This match was said to be short but great. Itami called grabbed the mic and called out Ohno. Before anything happened, Sanity attacked both of them and left them laying. No Way Jose pinned Cezar Bononi. Jose won with the knockout punch. Almas and Thea Trinidad were watching the match and then Almas attacked and beat down Bononi after the match. Almas then pointed at Jose so they are going to be doing a program. Moon pinned Riot in a match that likely will be pushed as the winner getting a title shot. Even though both are faces, the crowd was hot for this with dueling chants. Riot did a top rope huracanrana for a near fall but Moon came back to win with the eclipse. Sanity, as in Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe, beat Itami & Ohno in the grudge match. Itami sold and whenever he went for the tag, Sanity would distract Ohno, who wasn’t there for him. Itami started getting mad at Ohno. Dain hit a running crossbody on Itami for the pin. They teased frustration with Ohno and Itami after the match. Lorcan beat Danny Burch with a half crab. This was another physical match. Burch asked for a rematch and Lorcan agreed to it. Roode pinned Strong to retain the NXT title. The crowd was hot for this. Strong kicked out of the first DDT. Strong used his backbreaker but Roode got his foot on the rope. Roode then won with the DDT. This was said to be the caliber of a Takeover main event and will be airing on the 7/5 TV show. Marina Shafir, Strong’s fiancé and mother of his child and best friend of Ronda Rousey, was shown at ringside and she’s been all over this stuff being a key part of the video that got him over and the angle that led to this match. Strong did sell being devastated by the loss. I don’t know here mentality as far as doing pro wrestling, but it’s not like a number of people haven’t brought her up because of her look, she knows a lot of people in the business and was a world class judoka when she was younger. Aleister Black pinned Fish. Fish got a big entrance. The crowd didn’t know how to react and Black won clean with Black mass. Authors of Pain retained the tag titles over Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic. Fans were chanting “Steaks and Weights” at Heavy Machinery and the crowd got behind them. Dozovic has a unique charisma which carries Knight, who is a big good athlete but doesn’t have the charisma on his own. AOP won clean with the last chapter, so the idea of Machinery was clearly just to fill the time between Takeovers and not do a long-term program with the champs. Sanity came out and had a staredown with the AOP. Jeet Rama pinned Johnny Vandal in a quick match. Rama is another guy they are trying to fast-track due to the targeting of India. McIntyre pinned Dain in a match where the winner would become the top contender for the title. McIntyre won clean with the Claymore kick. The final match taped, which is the 6/28 TV main event, was Asuka beating Cross to keep the title in a last woman standing match. Very brutal match with chairs and garbage cans. Cross kept hitting neckbreakers, her finisher, and Asuka would get up by ten. Asuka kept hitting German suplexes, and Cross would get up. The finish saw Asuka suplex Cross off a ladder and through the announcers table. Both were out, but Asuka got up right before ten and Cross didn’t

The first NXT show of the weekend was 6/22 on Cocoa, FL, before 250 fans. Adrian Jaoude pinned the debuting Fabian Aichner. Aichner was in the cruiserweight classic and this was his first house show match. Mary Kate pinned Danielle Kamela with the black hole slam. Gabriel & Uriel Ealy beat Demetrius Bronson & Lars Sullivan when the Ealys did the switch since they are identical twins. Of course Sullivan then destroyed Bronson after the match. Ohno pinned Tian Bing with the rolling elbow. Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight beat Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake. Roderick Strong pinned the debuting Marcel Barthel, who is German star Axel Dieter Jr., in his first NXT match. Barthel was said to have looked great. Ruby Riot & Macey Evans beat Sonya Deville & Taynara Conti when Riot pinned Deville. This was Conti’s first match as they are getting ready for her in the women’s tournament. Main event saw Black pin Velveteen Dream with black mass in a good match

The other weekend show was 6/24 in Gainesville, FL, before 250 fans. Montez Ford pinned Marcel Barthel after a frog splash. Sarah Logan & Aliyah beat Abbey Laith (Kimberly Frankele) & Victoria Gonzalez (the former college basketball player and second generation Texas wrestler). Jose pinned Bononi with the knockout punch. Nick Miller of TM 61 returned to action pinning Tian Bing. Black pinned Wolfe with Black Mass. Blake & Cuter beat Lorcan & Burch when Cutler pinned Burch. Riot beat Peyton Royce. Strong & Ohno & Buddy Murphy (who reappeared from hiding) beat Dream & Lars Sullivan & Roode when Strong used a backbreaker to pin Dream. .. Because the Raw crew went from Los Angeles after Raw to Singapore, and then heads to Japan and right back to Phoenix this week, they were given the weekend off

The Smackdown crew was skeleton with Styles, Orton, Ziggler and Nakamura out. Styles, Orton and Ziggler were given the weekend off but to return for the Monday night show in Bakersfield. Mahal vs. Nakamura was scheduled to headline the weekend shows but Nakamura missed the shows as well and they contacted Rollins and had him come in as the replacement

The only Raw event was the first date of the three-day overseas tour on 6/28 in Kallang, Singapore, which drew 7,000 fans. Evidently Jeff Hardy wasn’t allowed on this tour, which may be his felony conviction from a few years back. Jericho was brought in for the tour because he loves working Japan, and Itami and Asuka were also brought in

Smackdown opened on 6/24 in Vancouver before a healthy crowd of 6,000. The crowd being up from most Smackdown shows is likely due to Mahal and the Singhs, as Mahal was a super over babyface because they have a large Indian community who came to the show and the Singhs are from Vancouver and have worked indies there forever. 6/25 in Everett, WA, drew 4,000. 6/26 in Bakersfield drew 3,200

Raw in Kallang, Singapore opened with Jericho pinning Itami after the GTS. Jericho got a huge babyface reaction, but then turned heel on the crowd to make Itami the face. But most fans didn’t know who Itami was so he wasn’t cheered that much. It was noted to us that neither Itami nor Asuka were advertised, and there is a Japanese community in Kallang that probably would have helped attendance had they been advertised, and they’d have been more over with that community there. The fans were doing the “one fall” deal that came from the U.K. O’Neil pinned Dallas in a quick match with Clash of the Titus. O’Neil was the babyface here. Sheamus & Cesaro retained the tag titles over Rhyno & Slater. Rhyno did a dive over the top rope. Fans gave “Holy shit” chants for that one. Fans chanted “ECW” a lot in this one for Rhyno. Sheamus & Cesaro worked as the heels but the fans still cheered them. Sheamus pinned Rhyno with the Brogue kick. Enzo came out and did the same segment on Raw where he wanted to get back together with Cass. Cass came out, said he was sorry. Really the same thing as Raw. The crowd didn’t buy Cass at all, and in the end, Cass turned on him again, gave him a high kick and left him laying. Rollins & Ambrose beat Miz & Joe when Ambrose pinned Miz after Dirty Deeds. The fans reacted to Rollins as the biggest star of the four. Bayley & Banks & Asuka beat Bliss & Jax & Emma when Asuka beat Emma with the Asuka lock. The crowd saw Banks, Bliss and Jax as the star, and not Bayley or Asuka. Balor pinned Anderson with the coup de gras. Lots of “Bullet Club” cants in this one. Good match. Reigns pinned Wyatt in the main event with a spear. There were chants of “We Want Strowman” and for Undertaker. Reigns was booed heavily and Wyatt was the clear babyface. However, go figure, they cheered for Reigns when he won. Reigns did taunt the fans as a heel with mic work midway through the match

In Vancouver, they opened with the Singh Brothers & Mahal out. Since they are from the area (Singhs from the area itself, Mahal is from Calgary but a lot of Indians live in B.C.) and there were a lot of Indians in the crowd, they were super babyfaces on this show. Mahal still played it like a heel, even though being cheered heavily, and said that Nakamura couldn’t get into Canada and called for a referee. Charles Robinson came out and Mahal told him to count to ten and declare him the winner over Nakamura via forfeit. Robinson got to seven when Rollins came out to a big pop and said that Bryan called him that morning and told him Nakamura couldn’t make it and that he has a title shot in the main event. Usos retained the tag titles in the opener winning a three-way over New Day, being Big E & Kingston, and Breeze & Fandango when Jimmy rolled up Fandango. Match was said to be fun. Harper pinned English with a discus clothesline. Jordan & Gable & Sin Cara & Rawley beat The Ascension & Rowan

Epico after Gable pinned Epico after grand amplitude. Natalya beat Charlotte clean with the sharpshooter. Since they knew Natalya would be a super babyface in Western Canada, she played face and Charlotte worked as the complete heel, and they did a different finish than they would have done outside of Canada. Owens won a three-way over Zayn and Rusev. This was Rusev’s first match back after shoulder surgery. Rusev was cheered when he came out and fans were chanting for Lana, who wasn’t there and even if she was, they’ve split them up as an act. Owens pinned Zayn with a power bomb. Corbin pinned Dillinger with the End of Days in a somewhat one-sided match. Lynch & Naomi beat Carmella & Tamina when Naomi pinned Carmella with the rear view. Main event saw Rollins beat Mahal via DQ in a title match when the Singh Brothers interfered after Rollins had him pinned after a frog splash. The guys were rooting for Mahal but the women and kids were rooting for Rollins. The crowd was hot for this. Rollins made a comeback on all three and ended the show putting Mahal through a table with a power bomb. The funny part is that Mahal was the most over wrestler on the show and his merchandise sold out.

Everett was a weird show, in the sense they ended with three straight heel wins and changed up the show from Vancouver. Also, only one advertised match, the main event with Mahal vs. Nakamura, actually took place. Usos won a three-way over Kingston & Big E (Woods wasn’t there) and Rawley & Sin Cara (Ryder wasn’t there although Ryder wasn’t advertised). Sin Cara & Rawley replaced Breeze & Fandango even though Breeze & Fandango were there. They worked hared and even did dives ending with Jey pinning Sin Cara after a kick to the head and a schoolboy. Dillinger pinned English with the tye breaker. Crowd was really into the match. Breeze & Fandango & American Alpha beat The Ascension & Epico & Rowan when Fandango pinned Epico. The crowd laughed as Epico did spots he’d normally do with Primo, but with Rowan. Naomi retained the title over Carmella with a split-legged moonsault. There was a “Where’s your suitcase” chant at Carmella. Owens retained in a three-way over Rusev and Zayn in the best match of the show. Rusev had Zayn in the Accolade and Owens superkicked Rusev and Owens then power bombed Zayn. Rusev then chased Owens to the back. Corbin pinned Harper with the End of Days. Lots of “Boring Corbin” chants. Slow match coming out of intermission. Tamina & Natalya beat Charlotte & Lynch, which was a surprise finish as Tamina superkicked Lynch and Natalya pinned her. Mahal pinned Nakamura. Lots of “3MB” chants at Mahal. Nakamura set up the Kinshasa. The Singhs jumped on the apron for distraction. Nakamura knocked them both off and Mahal hit the Khallas and got the pin. All three were beating on Nakamura after the match, but he made his own comeback, cleared the ring of the Singhs and finished the show with the Kinshasa on Mahal

Bakersfield was a different show. Zayn pinned Corbin to open the show with a roll-up in 11:00. American Alpha & Sin Cara & Dillinger beat Ascension & Epico & Rowan in 8:00. Harper pinned English with the discus clothesline in 12:00. Lynch & Naomi beat Tamina & Carmella in 12:00. Lana then came out as a surprise and challenged Naomi for a title match, which Naomi won in 6:00. This was to get them more time working together before the TV match this week. Usos kept the tag titles in a three-way over Breeze & Fandango and Kingston & Big E when the Usos won via roll-up. Rusev squashed Rawley with the accolade in 3:00. Charlotte beat Natalya with the figure eight in 10:00. The main event saw Nakamura & Orton beating Mahal & Owens when Orton pinned Owens in 21:00.