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May 1, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Vince McMahon movie in development, Mauro Ranallo/WWE situation, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 May 1, 2017

 

The life of Vince McMahon will be the subject of a major motion picture, “Pandemonium,” which is expected to be distributed by TriStar Pictures.

The idea of a McMahon movie actually dated back to last summer according to the Hollywood Reporter, and was being shopped around at the time. The story said that the script, written by Craig A. Williams, was viewed well, but WWE and McMahon were not on board nor had any control, and the studios didn’t want to get into an inevitable fight over how McMahon would be portrayed.

Andrew Lazar, the producer of “American Sniper,” then negotiated a deal with McMahon for the rights to his life story. Once McMahon was on board, and McMahon’s WWE Studios were part of the production team, the idea made the rounds in Hollywood and garnered interest from multiple parties.

The reports said that TriStar Pictures was in negotiations for the movie, and went all out in the pitch, even to the point of decorating their offices with WWE merchandise.

Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the director and Executive Producer of the television drama “This is Us,” are in talks to direct the movie, and the producers will be Lazar, Michael Luisi (WWE Studios) and Adam Goldworn of Aperture Entertainment. Charlie Gogolak of Zaftig Films will be the Executive Producer.

The story will trace McMahon from his roots in Pinehurst, NC, and eventually meeting his father, Vincent James McMahon, as 12, and growing up around pro wrestling, and starting out as a promoter, ring announcer and television announcer for the Worldwide Wrestling Federation, which ran the Northeastern territory. He purchased the company, that was likely grossing nearly $10 million per year and drawing monthly big crowds in places like Madison Square Garden, the Boston Garden, the Spectrum in Philadelphia, The Nassau Coliseum, The Meadowlands, the Capital Centre and the Pittsburgh Civic Center, for $1 million in 1982 (four quarterly installment payments of $250,000, and he’d forfeit the money and rights to the company if he couldn’t make all four of the payments on time) from his father and business partners including Arnold Skaaland, Bob Marella (Gorilla Monsoon), Phil Zacko and others.

He started expanding into Los Angeles in 1982 and then San Jose in 1983, and by the end of 1983, after signing Hulk Hogan, Paul Orndorff, Gene Okerlund, Roddy Piper and David Shults, moved into St. Louis by purchasing the rights to the legendary Wrestling at the Chase television show from KPLR-TV. St. Louis became the architect, where they’d go into existing markets, pay stations to get the established local television time, and start running in the markets. The results were hit-and-miss, with success in markets that had weak local wrestling, and struggling against the strong promotions of the era, notably Mid South Wrestling, Southwest Sports (also known as World Class Championship Wrestling), Jarrett Promotions and Jim Crockett Promotions. But in time, as more talent came in and Hogan became a big hit, celebrities like Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper came on board and the success of the first WrestleMania, WWF, as it was known, was dominating the industry. Within a few years, most of the competing promotions were dead, and the few that were alive were weakened badly.

It ended up on a national basis as a battle between the Turner Broadcasting-owned WCW, which had purchased Crockett Promotions in late 1988, and McMahon’s WWF. It was still one-sided through late 1995, when, with WCW Monday Nitro, the game started being competitive. WCW took over as the most popular promotion in the summer of 1996 due to signing one of them most incredible talent rosters in history and with the power of the NWO angle, headed by Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. But once that ran its course, and McMahon ended up with new hot acts such as Steve Austin, himself as a heel, as well as DX and The Rock, the tide had turned in 1998, partially due to all the attention of using Mike Tyson a few months earlier at WrestleMania and the rub Austin, who became for a short time the biggest drawing card in wrestling history, got off the Tyson angle.

WCW went into a collapse, and by the summer of 1998, McMahon’s company was the leading wrestling promotion in the world, and has been ever since.

The fact WWE is involved in this movie probably limits it in many ways and will likely tell a story similar to WWE’s self–produced documentaries. An unvarnished McMahon story would have a lot of fascinating twists and turns, but it would be difficult to do because, just for time constraints, you’d have to leave a ton of important things out.


The Mauro Ranallo and WWE saga had a unique twist this past week as the sides reached an agreement of sorts, but the story may not be fully played out.

As part of the agreement, both sides released statements, as Ranallo told Newsweek, “WWE and I have mutually agreed to part ways. It has nothing to do with JBL.”

John Layfield also released a statement saying, “Admittedly, I took part in locker room pranks that existed within the industry years ago,” he said. “WWE addressed my behavior and I responded accordingly, yet my past is being brought up because of recent unfounded rumors. I apologize if anything I said playing `the bad guy’ on a TV show was misconstrued.”

Both also put those statements up on twitter.

Ranallo at this point remains under contract with WWE until 8/12 and presumably will not be allowed to do any pro wrestling broadcasting until that time, although that has not been made clear. The date is immaterial as the only true full-time announcing job that looks to be opening up would be the World of Sport show, and Ranallo’s name had never been mentioned as being under consideration.

Ranallo has stated that he will announce pro wrestling in the future, which was widely expected. His contract with WWE from the start always enabled him to broadcast anything but pro wrestling, and he even was allowed to not just keep his CBS and Showtime boxing gig, but take on any new gig, such as his brief role hosting “Inside MMA” with Bas Rutten until the recent cancellation of the show, and his new role with Rizin.

The timing of this was because a major news outlet was working on a story on the subject, and WWE needed Ranallo to essentially absolve Layfield to either weaken or kill the story. It is not certain whether the story will or won’t run, because many interviews were already done, but the key to the story was how it related to Ranallo’s situation.

As far as why he did, the explanations given that he, in the end loved wrestling, and he was begged to do, so still leaves the unanswered questions.

While it appears that both sides have parted ways, as Ranallo’s statement would indicate, and there is paperwork in place that they have, the idea of Ranallo coming back is not a dead issue.

There has at least been preliminary dialogue on that subject, but at press time, nothing was at the serious level of discussion. Ranallo is currently in England preparing for the broadcast of the Anthony Joshua International Boxing Federation heavyweight championship fight against Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium in England for Showtime. The event is expected to draw 90,000 fans, 1 million PPV buys in the U.K. alone (which is a ridiculous number when you consider the population), and will air on Showtime in the U.S. He was to be focused all week on boxing.

There is always the idea of him coming back, and WWE taking credit and pushing the company as being behind mental health awareness, and using him as an advocate, and using it for public relations is a possibility. But it is far from a lock he would be returning.

In the end, you can rationalize the statement in the sense that while it was the statements made by Layfield on the WWE Network “Bring It To The Table” show that was the final straw, there were a series of things building up that led to his departure. And even if that statement was the final straw, ultimately, it was not Layfield’s call, as it was people above him who agreed to what would be said and how it would be said, and it was on a taped show that was to be edited by management to ultimately fit whatever narrative they wanted to present.

You can say Layfield wasn’t the primary reason for his departure. You can’t say he had nothing to do with it, since he was the one who go upset, first when Ranallo tweeted about winning the Announcer of the Year voting, which led to the segment on the website show which was the final thing that triggered Ranallo’s situation. And in the end, trying to examine the statement and find a rationalization for it misses the point, because the statement was part of things negotiated between the sides and WWE needed it at the time it came out, to head off future coverage.

Those interviewed for the story were disappointed and felt the Ranallo comments likely killed the story. One of the reasons, and this can best be explained if you followed the reasoning of why pro wrestlers are listed as independent contractors and not employees, is that unless you have no intention of ever working for WWE again, and also don’t mind being in a public fight that will cause a lot of stress, you are not going to try and publicly challenge them on major issues like that. In the case of the independent contractors claim, as an example, it was challenged, but it was by talent that had given up on every coming back, and this way so far after they had last worked there that their claim was thrown out based on the statute of limitations before there was even a legal fight over whether the actual claims had validity. The only people who will speak out are those who have given up the dream, and it usually takes years (there are exceptions to that) before people say to themselves that they really never want to go back, or that it’s never going to happen. In this situation, it was the same, as the only people who were going to publicly say anything are those who either truly don’t want to return, or those who have give up hope on returning.

Bas Rutten had of late cited non-disclosure agreements in telling people who couldn’t give anymore details or talk about the subject, past he never softened his stance on Layfield.

With the exception of Ranallo’s statement about JBL, the finality that both sides would go public with a statement and that neither would speak badly publicly about the other was always the likely end result. Things had been in negotiations over the past few weeks. Everything said was clearly part of lawyers and representatives for both sides negotiating an agreement.

I do know there are some who had felt that as an advocate for mental health that he should have fought a public fight. And I can see that sentiment from the outside. In real life, that doesn’t happen, and in his case, the reality is it would not have been good. It would have been terrible for his health, as well as his career, more likely than not. He was just recovering from his worst period since he became a public figure as an announcer. An even more public battle was not going to be a positive for him.

It would not be a positive for a future career in broadcasting to be seen as someone who maligned the company he worked for, and then got in a public dispute where his work and character would be attacked at every turn. I’ve seen too many of these situations, and as far as right or wrong goes, those kind of fights ruin lives. The idea that he already has jobs in broadcasting and is very good at what he does, so he should fight this fight misses the point that he just had a bad episode and what triggered it was nothing compared to a big public fight. And for WWE, it goes the same way, or else there would have been no settlement, he’d have been released for failure to show up for work and that would have been the end of it.

Obviously, the behavior on Twitter alone with Ranallo and Layfield in recent weeks tells you there was extreme heat between the two of them, yet Ranallo was the one who may have saved Layfield, as well as the company, from likely another series of more negative articles on his behavior over the years.

There are plenty of clear public actions between the two sides both right before his departure, and when Ranallo returned to the grid in social media and Layfield’s reaction to him that show, particularly from the Layfield side with blocking anyone who sent well-wishes to Ranallo on his recovery, or who just followed Ranallo, even if his name was never mentioned.


The first WWE PPV show since WrestleMania, Payback, takes place on 4/30 in San Jose.

The build-up in the end for the show was weak, particularly when it came to the go-home show. The lineup is stronger as far as star power goes than most “B” shows because of the timing of the roster split and using talent from both rosters on the show. There was a strong angle on 4/10 involving Braun Strowman destroying Roman Reigns to set up the main event, but the follow-up was weak with no televised Reigns interviews and the only interview, on the website, tying in the death of his brother. In the end, the big angle came across like a Road Runner cartoon with ridiculous levels of destruction, but in the end, no serious injury.

In addition, there was no explanation of what a House of Horrors match entails. The Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt match is now a non-title match. Everyone already knows Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the title headlines the 5/21 Backlash show in Chicago. It appears from the explanation on television is there will be some sort of a House of Horrors set-up, and it may be a pre-tape. The explanation is they will fight there for a while and eventually enter the arena and finish the match in the ring. But that was only hinted and never made clear.

The rest of the show has Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho for the U.S. title, with the result obvious given Jericho’s last night on the schedule is the Raw the next night in Sacramento, and Owens vs. A.J. Styles is also on the books for Chicago. Other matches are Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins, Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss for the women’s title, Hardys vs. Sheamus & Cesaro for the tag team title, Neville vs. Austin Aries for the cruiserweight title, Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson in a pre-show match, plus a Miz TV segment interviewing Finn Balor.

Given the TV, it appears the Miz vs. Ambrose and Wyatt vs. Balor programs going forward may change to Miz vs. Balor and Ambrose vs. Wyatt, but that would be made clear over the next week.

Tickets are virtually sold out. There are scattered seats here and there, and not only that, but there are only a few hundred seats on the secondary market.

The Backlash show is really an example of the difference between the PPV era and the network era. With PPV, if you presented a show with matches that didn’t drive money, you would die. With the network, the business has been shown to be seasonal, and predictable. A super attractive PPV doesn’t move network numbers in a positive way, nor does a weak show hurt them. Adding the second PPV in a month, giving you more value per month, didn’t drive greater numbers.

It’s not even a ticket thing, because in Chicago, even with a weak show, there are only 700 tickets left since almost all the seats were sold before any matches were announced, because people expect big shows out of PPVs. Chicago is usually the company’s best major market for fan reaction. Still, they are also asking a lot for a Chicago-style market to accept some of the matches they are presenting as PPV worthy going in. Of course, it’s also up to the performers, most notably Mahal, Tyler Breeze and Fandango, in the sense that if they deliver in the big matches, they’ll greatly elevate their status.

Right now, the top matches are Orton vs. Mahal for the WWE title, Owens vs. Styles for the U.S. title and Usos vs. Breeze & Fandango for the tag team titles. So in two of the three main matches, we’ve got guys who three weeks ago were enhancement guys barely on television, and when they were, were there to lose quickly, going for titles. Breeze & Fandango are supposed to be the faces against the Usos. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn are also on the show. They can do Luke Harper vs. Erick Rowan, since it’s being done at all the house shows, to help fill the card. From television, the program is more a trios thing with Naomi & Charlotte Flair (as a babyface) & Becky Lynch vs. Natalya & Tamina & Carmella. It looks right now they are building to a trios match on PPV, but that can be broken up for a singles match, and eventually will have to be.

The idea of the Flair turn seems to be to make her the women’s face of the Smackdown brand. Ultimately, with her name and ring presence that was always the long-term goal, similar to the original goal for Madusa and Wendi Richter that never fully panned out. But it feels soon for the turn and they have no real opponent for her. Tamina has size, but has never been given a major push nor connected. Carmella is awfully light to be the big opponent as a far bigger and stronger looking face, plus James Ellsworth dooms the thing to mid-card fodder. Natalya has been pushed as the leader of the new heel group and is the best wrestler on the Smackdown women’s roster. She and Charlotte have done programs before. Their NXT stuff really helped change the face of the women and put Charlotte on the map in many ways. Their Raw stuff was a disappointment due to some bad finishes and cut times of the big bouts. Now the roles are reversed, which is okay. But the problem with Natalya is still the people who watch Total Divas like her. It comes across that she’s this nice pretty woman always struggling with her position in the company and hoping for a break. That makes her someone people can relate to, and is being told to play bad guy in an attempt to do something with her and is struggling with getting over in that role. That’s not exactly a heat getting heel role.


Less than one year ago, Brandon Moreno was an unknown small promotion fighter who lost in the first round on The Ultimate Fighter.

Today he may be the next person in line for a shot at the UFC flyweight championship. A combination of his scoring three UFC wins in seven months, two over ranked opponents, a likable quality about him in his broken-English interviews, and Demetrious Johnson having run through just about everyone else has led to Moreno and Ray Borg as seemingly the most logical next title contenders.

In comparing the two, who would likely be battling for a spot as the victim when Johnson breaks Anderson Silva’s all-time record for consecutive title defenses, Moreno is 3-0 in the UFC with a first round submission win over Louis Smolka and a second round submission win over Dustin Ortiz, both ranked fighters, since his elimination from TUF.

Borg is 5-2 in UFC, with his biggest win being via decision over Smolka, and he also has a win over Jussier Formiga da Silva, and a loss to Ortiz, who Moreno just beat.

This would indicate Moreno has the strongest case this side of Joseph Benavidez, who Johnson has beaten twice and who doesn’t look like he’s getting a shot since he was just booked against Ben Nguyen, while Johnson is still looking for a next opponent.

Moreno’s win over Ortiz was a prelim fight on the 4/22 Fight Night from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

The show was strong from start-to-finish. Cub Swanson, after beating Artem Lobov in a strong main event, challenged the winner of the 6/3 bout with Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway featherweight title fight. Swanson suffered a broken hand in the fight.

Swanson has losses to both Aldo (2009, which lasted eight seconds) and Holloway (2015) by complete domination. The real key fight is Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodriguez on the 5/13 show in Dallas. If Rodriguez wins, he would likely get the next title shot. If Edgar wins, it’s up in the air. If Holloway wins the title and Edgar wins, a Holloway vs. Edgar fight is most likely, since Edgar totally dominated Swanson when they fought. But if Aldo and Edgar win, because Aldo recently beat Edgar, that could lead to Swanson getting a title shot.

The show drew 10,144 fans paying $755,180. It was the biggest UFC gate to date in Nashville.

The ratings were a mixed bag. The show went against a Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trailblazers game that did 4,384,000 viewers, as well as boxing on Showtime and the NHL on NBC.

The main card on FS 1 averaged 745,000 viewers from 10:32 p.m. to 1 a.m. It was also hurt by starting 32 minutes late due to a long baseball game. Fight Nights usually do about 900,000 viewers, although they obviously vary greatly based on the card and competition. The peak was the Swanson vs. Lobov fight at 831,000 viewers.

However, the unannounced airing of the Mike Perry vs. Jake Ellenberger on FS 2, instead of FS 1, did 430,000 viewers, making it the second most-watched show in the history of the station, trailing only the record 582,000 viewers under similar circumstances the night of UFC 200 last July.

The scheduled two hours on FS 2, headlined by Thales Leites’ win over Sam Alvey, averaged 320,000 viewers, making it the eighth most-watched show ever on FS 1.

The postfight show on FS 1 did 224,000 viewers.

The $50,000 bonuses went to Swanson and Lobov for best fight, and to Moreno and Perry for individual performances.

1. Hector Sandoval (14-3) beat Matt Schnell (10-4) in 4:24 of a flyweight fight. Great action. Schnell got a guillotine but Sandoval slammed him out of it, got on top, and finished him with hammer fists.

2. Bryan Barbarena (13-4) beat Joe Proctor (11-5) at 3:30 in a welterweight fight. Both were trading and Barbarena landed the better shots, put him down and won after a ref stoppage from punches on the ground. Another good fight.

3. Alexis Davis (18-7) beat Cindy Dandois (8-3) via straight 29-28 scores in a women’s bantamweight fight. The first round was back-and-forth with exchanges on the ground, Davis won. Dandois won the second with two takedowns. Dandois took her down in the third round but Davis was more active going for submissions and nearly got one. This was a rare case where a fighter won a decision even though she was on her back much of the fight.

4. Danielle Taylor (9-3) beat Jessica Penne (12-6) via straight 29-28 scores in a women’s strawweight fight. This was a close fight that could have gone either way. All three rounds were tight. Really, the stats tell the story as significant strikes landed were 22-19 Taylor in the first, 31-29 Penne in the second and 21-19 Taylor in the third. Penne got two takedowns in the third round as well. Taylor landed more punches at the end of the second round, because Penne probably won the third and that was the difference in a close second round.

5. Scott Holtzman (10-2) beat Michael McBride (8-3) on scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26 in a lightweight fight. It was a one-sided win for Holtzman, with me giving 10-8s in both rounds two and three. Holtzman got a huge reaction, given he was from Nashville and he was landing ridiculously hard punches all three rounds. McBride has an amazing ability to absorb direct hard shots as few could have lasted through the beating Holtzman gave him. That’s a good thing as far as surviving in a fight, but really not a good thing in the big picture, because it was three rounds of hard punches landed to the head. Fans were chanting “Let’s Go Hot Sauce” since that’s Holtzman’s nickname. In the first round, Holtzman dropped him with a left and landed punches on the ground. In the second round, it was more of the same. McBride had a sick welt on his left hamstring from low kicks. In the third, it was just amazing that McBride was able to stay up from all the hard shots he was taking. Holtzman landed uppercuts, head kicks, punches, hard elbows on the ground after a takedown and punch after punch. Holtzman called McBride “Gumby” after the fight for his ability to bounce back from everything.

6. Brandon Moreno (14-3) beat Dustin Ortiz (16-7) at 4:06 of the second round in a flyweight fight. Ortiz got two takedowns in the first round. Moreno reversed and got to the top into mount. Ortiz reversed from there and got Moreno’s back and was punching him from there. In the second round, Moreno came out with low kicks. Moreno was doing better standing until Ortiz took him down again. After Moreno got up, he landed a left high kick that landed perfectly and put Ortiz down. Moreno was working for a choke, gave it up, landed punches from back position and sunk in the choke. Ortiz wouldn’t tap and went all the way out before it was stopped. Ortiz then said that sometimes you get knocked out, but you keep fighting and told Nashville to give it up for Moreno. Moreno vowed to be a champion someday.

7. Thales Leites (27-7) beat Sam Alvey (30-9, 1 no contest) and straight 30-27 scores in a middleweight fight. Leites was too fast and outstruck Alvey throughout the first round. It was more of the same in the second round. Leites also got a takedown and got his back. During this fight, Brian Stann exposed a trick. He noted that somebody in the corner had a telephone and said that what they do is have someone at home watch the broadcast when they don’t go to a commercial and show one corner giving instructions and then the guy at home calls up the people in the other corner to tell them what was said. Leites continued to have the edge in the third round.

8. Mike Perry (10-1) beat Jake Ellenberger (31-13) at 1:05 of the second round in a welterweight fight. Ellenberger got a takedown in the first round. After Perry got up, Ellenberger landed the better punches. Perry’s nose looked busted. In the second round, Perry landed a left hook and knocked Ellenberger cold with a short right elbow. After the fight Perry did both a spinnaroonie and then did the tranquillo pose. When asked who he wanted to face next, Perry said, “Whose life do you want to ruin next?”

9. Stevie Ray (21-6) beat Joe Lauzon (27-14) via majority decision on scores of 28-27, 29-27 and 28-28 in a lightweight fight. Lauzon took him down in the first round and just destroyed him with punches and elbows and also went for a choke. Ray was lucky to last the round, which was clearly a 10-8. Ray landed a lot of shots in the second round to clearly win it, and even got a late takedown. In the third round, both landed and Lauzon got a takedown. Ray was landing elbows off his back. When Ray got up, Lauzon was exhausted and Ray was teeing off on him. My feeling was Lauzon was in a lot of trouble in the third and had it 10-8, so that would give Ray a 28-27 win. But you could also go with a 28-28 draw. The 29-27 score was tougher because that would mean a 10-9 first, which it clearly wasn’t, and a 10-8 third, which was possible, but the third couldn’t be a 10-8 if the first was a 10-9.

10. John Dodson (20-8) beat Eddie Wineland (23-12-1) on scores of 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 in a bantamweight fight. This was a cautious and mostly boring fight. Dodson wasn’t aggressive but was clearly winning. The crowd started booing in the second round. Wineland was bleeding from cuts above the left eye and below the right eye. Dodson was landing more and winning, but he wasn’t aggressive enough to make anyone want to see him again. The crowd booed heavily when the fight was over.

11. Ovince Saint Preux (20-10) beat Marcos Rogerio de Lima (15-6-1) at 2:11 of the second round in a light heavyweight fight. De Lima missed weight by four pounds, coming in at 210. Saint Preux was 206 without even cutting weight the last day. Because de Lima had missed weight before, he was fined 30 percent of his purse, which went to OSP. De Lima was landing body kicks and more kicks to win the first round. OSP took him down in the second round, and stared landing and then tapped him out with a Von Flue choke. He was the first guy in UFC history to win two different fights with the Von Flue choke.

12. Al Iaquinta (13-3-1) beat Diego Sanchez (29-10) in 1:38 of a lightweight fight. Iaquinta hadn’t fought in more than two years, after getting his real estate license and working selling homes. Still, even though he had retired, he was still, two years later, ranked in the top 15. Iaquinta dropped him twice and it was stopped. Iaquinta couldn’t have looked better, as he landed hard and accurate shots. Sanchez probably shouldn’t be fighting after this.

13. Cub Swanson (25-7) beat Artem Lobov (14-13-1, 1 no contest) on scores of 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45 in a featherweight fight. Lobov surprisingly got a first round takedown. They traded most of the round but Lobov was getting the better of it. But Swanson took over from the second through fifth rounds. Both landed a lot of good punches and kicks in the second round, with Swanson clinching the round with a takedown and getting his back. In the third, Swanson landed a left hook and more punches. He landed enough to where Lobov’s late takedown didn’t mean anything. In the fourth, Lobov was landing more early but Swanson landed big punches late in the round to take it and really clinch the fight. The crowd popped big for the start of the fifth round as this was a hell of a fight. It wasn’t fight of the year, but it was that tier below. Lobov tripped him down. Swanson landed a great judo hip toss and got Lobov’s back on the ground. Swanson landed strong punches late. After being announced as the winner, Swanson issued a title challenge to the Aldo-Holloway winner.


Maurice Smith's listed record of 14-14 hardly looks Hall of Fame worthy, but it's impossible to argue him as anything but an overall combat sports Hall of Famer and a significant historical MMA figure.

The UFC on 4/22 announced Smith as the second member of its 2017 Hall of Fame class, following the announcement of Urijah Faber. The two, along with a couple of others to be named over the next few weeks, will be inducted on July 6 during International Fight Week in Las Vegas.

Smith was 35 years old, and had what today is listed as a 5-7 MMA record, although nobody looked at win-loss records back on July 27, 1997, when he debuted in the UFC in a championship match in Birmingham, AL. He was a heavy underdog, although in those days there were no listed odds or widespread gambling on fights, when he faced UFC heavyweight champion Mark Coleman. Coleman was 6-0 at the time and had destroyed everyone he had faced.

It should be noted at least one, if not more of Smith's so-called MMA losses at the time were actually pro wrestling matches with the RINGS promotion, which did mostly pro wrestling matches and some real matches, on the same shows, for most of its existence until it turned into a totally legitimate competitive group years later. For reasons unclear, many pro wrestling matches of that era are listed as part of older fighters' MMA records.

MMA was a grappler-dominated sport with strikers looked at as flashy but easy meat for the wrestlers and Jiu Jitsu stars who dominated the game. However, Smith had already broken the game of grappler domination nine months earlier when he came from behind to knockout Marcus "Conan" Silveira with a head kick in Tulsa to win the Extreme Fighting Championship. The EFC at the time was UFC's main competitor. After Smith retained the title with another knockout win over Kazunari Murakami, a fighter who later became a pro wrestling star in Japan, the EFC folded.

Smith was brought to UFC for a battle of champions. Coleman took Smith down right away, as expected, and pounded on him with punches and head-butts (which were still legal at the time), as expected, for nine straight minutes.

In those days, most UFC fights were short, explosive and went to conclusive finishes. Stamina wasn't something even talked about. And striking credentials weren't taken seriously inside an Octagon.

And the next nine minutes changed all of that.

Smith escaped from the bottom, and the monstrous Coleman was exhausted. Smith picked Coleman apart with punches and low kicks for the rest of the 12 minute regulation time, as well as through two-three minute overtime periods. He scored an easy unanimous decision. While today it's talked about as the night striking beat wrestling for the first time in a championship fight, it was really stamina and game planning that were the key aspects of Smith's win.

Smith vs. Coleman was the MMA match of the year in 1997, and Smith was named Fighter of the Year.

Smith was named an inductee in the Pioneer Wing of the UFC Hall of Fame, which is for fighters who started their pro careers before November 17, 2000, when most of the current unified rules of MMA were adopted.

"It will be an honor to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and be forever connected to the sport," said Smith. "I was the first world-class striker to win a UFC title because I worked with the great training partners to evolve into a well-rounded fighter. I'm proud of the titles I won in MMA, but helping advance the game toward the mixed martial arts of today is my greatest accomplishment in the sport."

The UFC title was Smith's fifth different combat sports world championship. The UFC title followed the EFC title. Preceding that, he had held the World Kickboxing Council (WKC) world light heavyweight championship in kickboxing, the WKA (World Kickboxing Association) world heavyweight championship in kickboxing, a title he held for ten years, and the ISKA (International Sport Karate Association) world heavyweight championship in Muay Thai.

His UFC title came several years after his fighting heyday which was from 1983 to 1992, a period when he went undefeated in kickboxing.

It was his kickboxing fame that brought him to Japan, first in 1983 losing a decision to Don "The Dragon" Wilson in what would be his last loss in that sport until the new generation of kickboxers emerged, and he lost a decision to Peter Aerts in 1992.

It was the exposure in Japan that brought him into pro wrestling as an outsider, doing matches at the Tokyo Dome against later MMA pioneers Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki. When Pancrase, Japan's first MMA organization was formed, Smith knocked out Suzuki on one of the company's earliest shows in a kickboxing rules match, and then lost in a rematch in 1994 under Pancrase rules.

Smith trained at the time at the Lion's Den, the fight major U.S. fight camp, headed by Ken Shamrock, which also produced early UFC and Japanese stars like Frank Shamrock, Guy Mezger, Jerry Bohlander and Pete Williams.

Smith, Frank Shamrock and Tsuyoshi Kosaka, a pro wrestler who had a strong judo background and was one of the early Japanese MMA stars, later formed a group called "The Alliance.” The idea was it was three fighters from completely different backgrounds who trained each other in their specialties. Smith was the kickboxer, Shamrock was the ground submission guy and Kosaka was the judo and throws guy. It was the beginning of well-rounded fighters as most of the early fighters were one sport specialists testing out their sport in the Octagon.

Smith made one successful UFC title defense, beating Tank Abbott with leg kicks, before losing the title via decision to Randy Couture on December 21, 1997, at the Yokohama Arena in Japan. Smith fought regularly through 2000, trading wins and losses, and then did several nostalgia fights from 2007 to 2013 between the ages of 45 and 51.

Smith will be part of what will be the biggest Hall of Fame class ever when it comes to key figures in the history of the industry.


Pro Wrestling Guerrilla looks to be doing monthly shows now in Reseda, CA with shows upcoming on 5/19 and 6/16.

The 4/21 show didn’t have anything resembling a match of the year, but had nothing but good matches, plus the ring announcer opened the show at 7:57 p.m., what may have been an all-time record for an evening show.

The audience for pro wrestling has changed a lot in recent years, and even more so on the underground which from a fan standpoint is a few years ahead of the curve as a lot of the reactions and chants at WWE are similar to what was in a promotion like ROH and other promotions like that years earlier. PWG, being that the crowd is mostly a fly-in crowd of people coming from all over, they are expecting a lot but don’t turn on the product, and if someone does a negative comment or chant that doesn’t fit the bill, it’s very different. It’s okay for the crowd to be negative toward the heels, but insider negative leads to shout downs.

One really notable thing happened in the opener, a pretty spectacular match with Lio Rush vs. Rey Fenix. Late in the match, Fenix came off the top rope with a double foot stomp, nailing Rush, who was standing up but bent over. I guess the move drove Rush’s head into the mat and it was clear he was knocked silly. He was wobbly when he got up, and then took a superkick, and perhaps by being wobbly he was too close, but the kick nailed him hard, busted up his mouth and he fell awkwardly. The match continued, and he seemed to regain his legs and was back doing flying moves maybe 30 to 45 seconds later. Seeing the blood from the mouth and the stiff superkick would have been a turn on for most audiences. But here, it was the opposite. Since people knew the difference between a possible concussion and a blow that really connected, as opposed to a hard worked blow that makes noise but is relatively safe, they were concerned. It actually took people out of the match.

The other thing related to Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly. In both cases, the audience belief is that both won’t be around much longer and are headed to WWE. O’Reilly was first expected to be there sometime back, but the ROH legal threat to WWE regarding tampering changed the dynamic, and there doesn’t seem to be any movement by WWE to sign former ROH contracted wrestlers. But when Cole (vs. Matt Riddle) and O’Reilly (vs. Michael Elgin) were doing good moves for near falls, the crowd reacted, but you could tell they didn’t believe in Cole or O’Reilly’s near falls. Both matches still ended up good, but Cole vs. Riddle would have been great had people not thought Cole had no chance of winning.

There was also a noteworthy match which in a sense shows how little belts mean. The Young Bucks, the current ROH tag team champions, wrestled War Machine, the current IWGP tag team champions. The Young Bucks didn’t bring their belts while War Machine did. It wasn’t pushed at all as a battle of champions, and there was a clean win by the Young Bucks.

1. Lio Rush pinned Rey Fenix in 18:17. For speed and big moves, this was the match of the show. A lot of people liked it the most, but the reality taking over took the crowd out of the match and they had to work to get them back. If you’re a fan of all kinds of fast-paced big moves, this match worked. The negative is they did so much in this match that it took until the Young Bucks match to ever get the crowd as up as they were here. Rush got the pin after a frog splash. ***3/4

2. Matt Riddle beat Adam Cole in 13:52. Riddle is just over the top charismatic. He really has a shot at being a better working version of Kerry Von Erich. Cole has great command of the crowd and carries himself like a big star. Riddle’s matwork in getting submission after submission is coming along great. He ended up winning with the twister, which is called the Bromission. ***3/4

3. Jeff Cobb pinned Keith Lee in 19:07. People were up for this one. Cobb, who is probably in the 250s legit (he was over 260 but he has dropped weight and looks better) looked tiny next to Lee, who is a legit 330. They went too long. What the crowd was into really big were Lee’s agility spots and Cobb’s throws, because he was throwing around a guy so big, at times doing a Lesnar suplex show. When they weren’t doing as many big moves, the crowd was quieter, but it hurt coming off two such great matches to open. Cobb threw him around with the Tour of the Islands for the pin. ***1/4

4. Michael Elgin pinned Kyle O’Reilly in 20:22. This was the most solid hard-hitting match. It was the most like a strong Japanese match but there was something missing. The reaction to O’Reilly wasn’t as good as it usually is, which I take from him being off the grid since January. He also himself felt like he was rusty. But it was a well worked good match. I think part of it was people knew how this was ending. Elgin won with an Elgin bomb. ***½

5. Young Bucks beat War Machine in 21:29. This was great nonstop action and got the biggest response of anything on the show. It was very similar to their match in Japan, but this was longer and the heat was better and overall slightly better. What as interesting is that the Young Bucks in the early part of the match, in selling the power moves, played chickenshit heels. But then, when they were selling for long periods of time, they were doing the faces in peril. As far as the crowd went, they cheered both teams. They built to a spot where Matt finally was able to pick up Hanson for a tombstone, and really a Meltzer driver, but Rowe broke it up. War Machine is really a great team when you see them live, with much improvement over the last two years. They used to be big guys who did some cool stuff, but now they’re the complete working package. They were dominating but Nick ended up pinning Rowe with a front rolling cradle. War Machine got over big in their debut and people wanted them back. ****1/4

6. Zack Sabre Jr. pinned Dick Togo in 23:09. This was a non-title match, probably because everyone knew Togo was only in for one shot, so it if it was a title match, everyone would know the outcome. At least with a non-title match, there’s the idea that most of the time in non-title matches the champion loses. This was mostly a technical match. Togo didn’t do anything flashy but it was all very good. Sabre won with a bridging pin and there were “Please come back” chants for Togo. ***½

7. Chuck Taylor pinned Marty Scurll in 18:45 of a street fight. They brawled all over parts of the building. There were chairs used and thrown at each other. They also used garbage cans and umbrella shots onto the garbage can over people’s heads. There was one ref bump. Taylor, who turned 31 at midnight, and under normal circumstances for PWG this match would have ended after midnight, but actually didn’t, pulled out a gift bag “To Dustin (Taylor’s real name is Dustin Howard) from Greg” (Trent Baretta’s real name is Greg Marasciulo) and pulled it out and it turned out to be a ton of thumbtacks. Another ref came in. They were taking some bumps into thumbtacks when Scurll got a bag of his own, and pulled out powder. He was about to throw it when Taylor kicked Scurll’s hand and the powder went in his eyes. Scurll couldn’t see, grabbed the ref and broke his fingers. Taylor then piledrove Scurll but the ref was holding his hand and didn’t count. After all this, Taylor got Scurll in his own chicken wing submission and Scurll submitted. Excellent main event. ****

The lineup for the 5/19 show has Sabre Jr. vs. Baretta for the title, Penta 0M & Rey Fenix vs. Young Bucks for the tag titles, Sami Callihan vs. Cole, Mark Haskins vs. Lio Rush, Bobby Fish & O’Reilly vs. Cobb & Riddle, Shane Strickland vs. Elgin and Keith Lee vs. Trevor Lee

 


Smackdown on 4/25 did a 1.71 rating and 2,493,000 viewers (1.60 viewers per home), a one percent ratings drop and two percent audience droip and the lowest in each category since 12/13, or just before the return of John Cena.

The big culprit was NBA Playoffs, a Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game, which did 4,145,000 viewers, up from the playoff game doing 3,368,000 head-to-head the week before, which is likely the full explanation for the drop.

The playoffs led to a major departure of male viewers, as the male skew was only 54.7 percent in 18-49 and 58.7 percent in 12-17.

Smackdown was sixth for the night on cable.

The show did a 0.57 in 12-17 (down 10.9 percent), 0.63 in 18-34 (down 10.0 percent), 0.87 in 35-49 (down 5.4 percent) and 1.09 in 50+ (up 14.7 percent).

Raw on 4/24 did a 2.03 rating and 3,003,000 viewers (1.62 viewers per home), making it the lowest rated and the fourth lowest-watched non-holiday show outside of football season since 1997.

It was the lowest rated Raw not on a holiday or not against football since a March 3, 1997, show did a 1.9 rating going head-to-head with Nitro. The three shows, all of which did higher rating, but fewer viewers, were shows last year against a monster NBA Playoff game and two weeks head-to-head with the Olympics. There was an NBA game head-to-head with this week’s show that did 3,019,000 viewers, but that’s hardly monster numbers to the point it would be a reason for the drop.

It was just a lackluster show, but the first hour being just under three million viewers is significant, because it shows it was a lack of interest in the show from the start as compared to most weeks, as the first hour was down 12 percent from the previous week so it says the drop was more lack of interest in the show this week as opposed to a bad show driving off a larger than usual number of viewers as it went on.

The previous lowest mark in that regard would have been when the 3/20 show did a 2.11 rating and 3,036,000 viewers. Viewership was down ten percent overall from last week, which went against a higher-rated game. It was fourth for the night on cable.

The first hour did 2,999,000 viewers. The second hour did 3,141,000 viewers. The third hour did 2,881,000 viewers.

The show did a 0.84 in 12-17 (down 6.7 percent), 0.88 in 18-34 (down 15.4 percent), 1.18 in 35-49 (down 11.9 percent) and 1.14 in 50+ (down 8.1 percent).

The audience was 59.9 percent male in 18-49 and 61.5 percent male in 12-17.

Bellator on 4/21 did 674,000 viewers for the show headlined by Patricio Pitbull Freire beating Daniel Straus to win the featherweight title. They beat NHL playoffs on NBC Sports Network (642,000) head-to-head and it was a solid number for the promotion. Including +3 DVR viewership, the viewership was 733,000, and the main event averaged 949,000 and peaked at 1,033,000.

Impact on 4/20 for the almost live show did 320,000 viewers, up from the 302,000 the week before. It’s not a big jump from month old programming but it was a jump. They had advertised Bobby Lashley vs. James Storm for the title as the main event.

Total Divas on 4/19 did 589,000 viewers, almost identical with the prior week.

The first episode of the new season of Ultimate Fighter did 288,000 viewers (and another 212,000 via DVR over the next three days making 500,000 total), which is the lowest rated season opener and probably one of the lowest rated episodes ever. The prior season’s first episode did 370,000 viewers.

For the 4/18 Smackdown show, the rating as 1.72 with 2,544,000 viewers, which was an unusually high 1.61 viewer per home. For ratings, it was the lowest for the show since the 12/13 episode.

Raw on 4/17 did a strong 2.25 rating and 3,333,000 viewers which was also 1.61 viewers per home.

A key to the viewers per home rising to record levels is that it’s the homes with less than two fans that are more likely to be the type of people who would drop cable. But the lower ratings indicates a lower percentage of homes that still have USA are also watching the show than at any time since the Monday Night Wars when there was head-to-head competition from Nitro.

The prevailing theory of the kids that watch on YouTube is what is causing the ratings drop seems to fall apart by the larger viewers per home figure. It just seems to indicate that in homes where there is wrestling on, multiple people are more likely to be watching in a hoime than at any time since the Attitude era (where VPH’s hit 1.7). But fewer homes than ever by percentage of those that still get cable or satellite are still watching Raw.


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RESULTS

 

4/17 Columbus, OH (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 8,000): Titus O’Neil b Curtis Axel, Ariya Daivari & Tony Nese b Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado, Samoa Joe b Chris Jericho, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson b Big Cass & Enzo Amore, T.J. Perkins b Jack Gallagher, Alexa Bliss won four-way over Nia Jax, Sasha Banks and Mickie James, Finn Balor b Curt Hawkins, Jeff Hardy b Cesaro, Braun Strowman NC Big Show

4/17 Bowling Green, KY (WWE Smackdown - 3,300): Tyler Breeze & Fandango & Mojo Rawley b The Ascension & Jinder Mahal, Luke Harper b Erick Rowan, U.S. title: Kevin Owens b Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura b Dolph Ziggler, Six-way for women’s title: Naomi won over Charlotte, Natalya, Becky Lynch, Tamina and Carmella, Tag titles: Usos b Jason Jordan & Chad Gable, Three-way for WWE title: Randy Orton won over Baron Corbin and A.J. Styles

4/18 Louisville (WWE Smackdown - 8,000): Tyler Breeze & Fandango b The Ascension, Jinder Mahal won six-way over Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn, Mojo Rawley, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper, Non-title: Charlotte Flair b Naomi, Primo & Epico Colon b Jason Jordan & Chad Gable, Non-title: Kevin Owens b Gary Bandy, A.J. Styles b Baron Corbin-COR, Akira Tozawa b Tony Nese, Ariya Daivari b Mustafa Ali, Austin Aries b T.J. Perkins, Shinsuke Nakamura b Dolph Ziggler

4/18 Fukushima (All Japan Champion Carnival - 514 sellout): Kai b Ryoji Sai, Daichi Hashimoto b The Bodyguard, Jun Akiyama & Dory Funk Jr. & Shuji Ishikawa & Ultimo Dragon b Osamu Nishimura & Daisuke Sekimoto & Yohei Nakajima & Koji Iwamoto, Kento Miyahara & Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Suwama & Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato & Dalton Drellich, Takao Omori d Kengo Mashimo 30:00, Zeus b Joe Doering

4/19 Winter Park, FL (WWE NXT TV tapings - 400 sellout): Jeet Rama b Max Stardom, Hideo Itami b Kona Reeves, Killian Dain b Danny Burch, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b ?, Sonya Deville (Daria Berenato) b Lacey Evans (Macey Estrella), Aleister Black b Cezar Bononi, Hideo Itami b Roderick Strong, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b HoHo Lun & Dylan Miley, Drew McIntyre b Sean Maluta, Kassius Ohno b Andrade Cien Almas, Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano b Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss, No contest finish in women’s Battle Royal, Authors of Pain b Eric Young& Alexander Wolfe-DQ

4/19 Hachinohe (All Japan Champion Carnival - 411 sellout): Kai b Jake Lee, Kengo Mashimo b Daichi Hashimoto, Kento Miyahara & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Zeus & Koji Iwamoto & Yusuke Okada, The Bodyguard b Takao Omori, Daisuke Sekimoto b Ryoji Sai, Suwama & Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato b Jun Akiyama & Shuji Ishikawa & Ultimo Dragon & Yohei Nakajima

4/20 Orlando (Impact TV tapings): Non-title: Ortiz & Santana b Joe Coleman & Jake Holmes, Knockouts title: Rosemary b ODB, Kongo Kong b Chris Silvio, Impact title: Bobby Lashley b James Storm, Six-way for X title: Low Ki won title over Trevor Lee, Andrew Everett, Suicide, Sonjay Dutt and Dezmond Xavier, Mahabali Shera b Jon Bolen, GFW title: Christina Von Eerie b Ava Storie, Grand Champion: Moose b Davey Richards, Kongo Kong b ?, Mayweather & Wilcox b Fallah Bah & Mario Bokara, Tag titles: Ortiz & Santana b Abyss & Crazzy Steve

4/20 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Dradition - 1,800 sellout): Super Tiger & Ryuta Hasumi b Tsubakichi Sanshu & Nobuyuki Kurashima, Leona b Kennichiro Arai. Great Kabuki & Shinjiro Otani b Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Mitsuya Nagai & Kenso b Yoshihiro Takayama & Takuma Sano, Tatsumi Fujinami & Riki Choshu & Shiro Koshinaka b Vader & Keiji Muto & AKIRA

4/20 Miyagi (All Japan Champion Carnival - 440 sellout): Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato b Yuma Aoyagi & Yusuke Okada, Ultimo Dragon & Yohei Nakajima & Koji Iwamoto b Jun Akiyama & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Aizawa #1, Takao Omori b Daichi Hashimoto, Daisuke Sekimoto b Jake Lee, Suwama b Naoya Nomura, Shuji Ishikawa b The Bodyguard, Joe Doering & Kengo Mashimo & Kai b Kento Miyahara & Zeus & Ryoji Sai

4/21 Rapid City, SD (WWE Raw): R-Truth & Goldust & Sin Cara b Primo & Epico Colon & Curt Hawkins, Finn Balor b Jinder Mahal-DQ, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Austin Aries, Women’s title: Bayley won four-way over Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair and Nia Jax, Sheamus & Cesaro b Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Big Cass b Titus O’Neil, Seth Rollins b Samoa Joe

4/21 Crystal River, FL (WWE NXT - 200): Demetrious Bronson b Kaon Reeves, Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe won three-way elimination match over The Singh Brothers and Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford, Adrian Jaoude b Cezar Bononi, Kassius Ohno b Dyan Miley-DQ, Women’s title: Asuka b Mandy Rose, Jack Gallagher b Ariya Daivari, Lana b Liv Morgan, Hideo Itami & No Way Jose b Patrick Clark & Andrade Cien Almas

4/21 Orlando (Impact TV tapings): KM b Jake Holmes, Matt Sydal b Trevor Lee, GFW title: Sienna b Christina Von Eerie to win title, Ethan Carter III b Jon Bolen, GFW title: Magnus b Matt Morgan, Kongo Kong b William Waits, Laredo Kid & Garza Jr. b Idris Abraham & Hakim Zane, GFW title: Sienna b ODB, Matt Sydal b Eddie Edwards, Grand championship: Moose b Marshe Rockett, Laurel Van Ness b Ava Storie, Alberto El Patron b Eli Drake

4/21 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Canelo Casas & Espanto Jr. b Flyer & Robin, Drone & Fuego & Rey Cometa b Nitro & Raziel & Virus, Guerrero Maya Jr. b Luciferno, Sanson won Block B of Copa Juniors over Blue Panther Jr., Esfinge, Magnus, Stigma, Star Jr., Forastero and Artillero, Diamante Azul & Stuka Jr. & Valiente b Pierroth & San Adonis & Mr. Niebla, Cavernario Barbaro & La Mascara & Negro Casas b Caristico & Dragon Lee & Volador Jr.-DQ

4/21 Tijuana (AAA TV tapings - 4,000 sellout): El Hijo del Medico Asesino & Fantastik b Clasico & Enigma, Monsther Clown & Murder Clown b Mesias & Pagano, Ricky Marvin b Chessman, Street fight for Reina de Reinas title: Taya b Ayako Hamada to win title, Aerostar & Drago b Killshot & Marty the Moth, Tag titles: Dark Cuervo & Dark Scoria b Australian Suicide & Bengala, Tables match: Kevin Kross b El Hijo del Fantasma, Trios titles: Carta Brava Jr. & Mocho Cota Jr. & Soul Rocker b Dr. Wagner Jr. & Psycho Clown & Fabi Apache to win titles

4/22 Bismark, ND (WWE Raw - 5,500): Sin Cara & R-Truth & Goldust b Curt Hawkins & Primo & Epico Colon, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Austin Aries, Big Cass b Titus O’Neil, Finn Balor b Jinder Mahal-DQ, Four-way for women’s title: Bayley won over Sasha Banks, Nia Jax and Charlotte Flair, Sheamus & Cesaro b Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Seth Rollins & Chris Jericho b Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe

4/22 Kalamzoo, MI (WWE Smackdown - 3,300): Alexa Bliss referee: Becky Lynch & Mickie James b Carmella & Natalya, Mojo Rawley b Dolph Ziggler, Jason Jordan & Chad Gable won three-way over Tyler Breeze & Fandango and Heath Slater & Rhyno, IC title: Dean Ambrose b Baron Corbin, Apollo Crews & Kalisto b The Ascension, Luke Harper b Erick Rowan, Three-way for WWE title: Randy Orton won over Bray Wyatt and A.J. Styles

4/22 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (New Japan - 1,689 sellout): Hirai Kawato b Shota Umino, Yoshi-Hashi b Tomoyuki Oka, Takashi Iizuka & Taka Michinoku b Toru Yano & Jado, Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa & Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens b Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura, Hirooki Goto & Will Ospreay & Rocky Romero & Baretta b Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Desperado, Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet & Yoshitatsu, Kenny Omega & Bad Luck Fale b Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii

4/22 Orlando (Impact One Night Only TV tapings aft. Show): Mahabali Shera b Marshe Rockett-DQ, Dezmond Xavier b Marshe Rockett, KM b Joe Coleman, Laurel Van Ness b Ava Stone, Mahabali Shera b Marshe Rockett, Davey Richards b Suicide, Rosemary b Sienna, Eddie Edwards b Eli Drake, Impact title: Bobby Lashley b Moose

4/22 Orlando (Impact TV tapings): Andrew Everett won four-way over Matt Sydal, Dezmond Xavier and Caleb Konley, Alisha b Angelina Love-DQ, Ortiz & Santana b Garza Jr. & Laredo Kid, GFW title: Alberto El Patron b Magnus to win title, Braxton Sutter & Mahabali Shera b KM &Kongo Kong, Dezmond Xavier b Suicide, Kongo Kong b Braxton Sutter, James Storm NC EC 3, Ultimate X for X title: Low Ki won over Trevor Lee and Andrew Everett

4/22 Tokyo (All Japan Champion Carnival - 885 sellout): Kai & Minoru Tanaka & Koji Iwamoto b Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato & Yusuke Okada, Yuma Aoyagi b Dalton Drellich, Jun Akiyama & Dory Funk Jr. & Ultimo Dragon & Ryoji Sai & Yohei Nakajima b Takao Omori & Masa Fuchi & Osamu Nishimura & Yutaka Yoshie& Atsushi Maruyama, Shuji Ishikawa b Naoya Nomura, Jake Lee b Zeus, Kengo Mashimo b Suwama, Kento Miyahara b Joe Doering

4/22 Niigata (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 882): Hayata b Tadasuke, Daisuke Harada & Yo-Hey b Yoshinari Ogawa & Rionne Fujiwara, GHC jr. tag titles: Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 b Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano, Mohammed Yone & Akitoshi Saito b Kaito Kiyomiya & Takuya Nomura, Cody Hall & Randy Reign b Takashi Sugiura & Kenou, Robbie E & Bram b Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya b Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi

4/22 Fukuoka (Dradition - 780): Nobuyuki Kurashima b Ryuta Hasumi, Junji Tanaka b Kodai Nozaki, Ryota Chikuzen & Hitamaru Sasaki b Asosan & Naoki Sakurajima, Super Tiger b Leona, Great Kabuki & The Bodyguard b Mitsuya Nagai & Fifth Black Tiger, Tatsumi Fujinami & Shiro Koshinaka & Koji Kanemoto b Vader & Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Takuma Sano

4/23 Fargo, ND (WWE Raw - 4,500): R-Truth & Goldust & Sin Cara b Primo & Epico Colon & Curt Hawkins, Cruiserweight title: Neville b Austin Aries, Big Cass b Titus O’Neil, Finn Balor b Jinder Mahal-DQ, Four-way for women’s title: Bayley won over Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax, Sheamus & Cesaro b Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows, Chris Jericho & Seth Rollins b Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe

4/23 Hammond, IN (WWE Smackdown - 3,200): Six-way for women’s title: Naomi won over Becky Lynch, Mickie James, Natalya, Carmella and Alexa Bliss, Mojo Rawley b Dolph Ziggler, Jason Jordan & Chad Gable won three-way over Fandango & Tyler Breeze and Heath Slater & Rhyno, IC title: Dean Ambrose b Baron Corbin, Kalisto & Apollo Crews b The Ascension, Luke Harper b Erick Rowan, Three-way for WWE title: Randy Orton won over A.J. Styles and Bray Wyatt

4/23 Orlando (Impact One Night Only tapings): Mahabali Shera b QT Marshall, Marshe Rockett b Chris Silvio, Mahabali Shera b Fallah Boa, Trevor Lee b Suicide, Braxton Sutter b KM, Dezmond Xavier b Mario Bokara, Rosemary b Laurel Van Ness, Eli Drake b James Storm, Impact title: Bobby Lashley b Eddie Edwards

4/23 Orlando (Impact TV tapings): KM & Kongo Kong b Mahabali Shera & Braxton Sutter, Wilcox & Mayweather b Fallah Bah & Mario Bokara, Eddie Edwards & Alisha b Davey Richards & Angelina Love, No DQ: Ethan Carter III won three-way over Magnus and James Storm, Marshe Rockett b Mahabali Shera, Grand championship: Moose b Eli Drake, Allie b Amber Nova, GFW tag titles: Santana & Ortiz b Mayweather & Wilcox to become new champions, Three-way for X title: Low Ki won over Andrew Everett and Sonjay Dutt, Cage match for GFW title: Alberto El Patron b EC 3

4/23 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (New Japan - 1,714 sellout): Hirai Kawato & Tomoyuki Oka b Katsuya Kitamura & Shota Umino, Will Ospreay & Jado b Desperado & Taka Michinoku, Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa & Yujiro Takahashi b Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & avid Finlay, Hirooki Goto & Toru Yano & Rocky Romero & Baretta b Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi, Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet & Yoshitatsu, Bad Luck Fale & Kenny Omega & Chase Owens b Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson b Tetsuya Naito & Evil

4/23 Philadelphia (House of Hardcore - 1,100 sellout): Matt Striker b Chuckles, Alex Reynolds b Little Guido Maritato, Vik Dalishus & Hale Collins & TJ Marconi NC Pat Buck & ? & ?, Juventud Guerrera b C. W. Anderson, Brian Cage won three-way over Action Ortiz and Rhett Titus, MVP b Bull James, Matt & Jeff Hardy b Tommy Dreamer & Bully Ray, Penta 0M b Sami Callihan

4/23 Fukuoka (Dragon Gate - 1,200 sellout): Gamma & Eita & Takehiro Yamamura b Masaaki Mochizuki & Don Fujii & Jimmy Kagetora, Ryo Saito b Yosuke Santa Maria, Yamato & Kzy & Flamita b Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Susumu & Draztick Boy, T-Hawk & Lindaman b Big R Shimizu & Ben K, Masato Yoshino b Punch Tominaga, Open the Twin Gate titles: Cima & Dragon Kid b Jimmy K-Ness & Jimmy Kanda, Naruki Doi & BxB Hulk b Shingo Takagi & Cyber Kong

4/23 Nagaoka (All Japan Champion Carnival - 590 sellout): Osamu Nishimura & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Dory Funk Jr. & Atsushi Aoki & Yusuke Okada, Jun Akiyama & Shuji Ishikawa & Ultimo Dragon b Yohei Nakajima & Koji Iwamoto & Dalton Drellich, Joe Doering b Jake Lee, Suwama b Takao Omori, Ryoji Sai b Zeus, Kento Miyahara b Kai

4/23 Kanazawa (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 423): Daisuke Harada b Hitoshi Kumano, Taiji Ishimori b Rionne Fujiwara, Hajime Ohara b Yoshinari Ogawa, Cody Hall & Randy Reign b Robbie E & Bram, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya b Kaito Kiyomiya & Takuya Nomura, Takashi Sugiura & Kenou b Mohammed Yone & Akitoshi Saito, Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi b Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge

4/23 Osaka (Dradition): Leona b Ryuta Hasumi, Super Tiger & Nobuyuki Kurashima b Takaku Fuke & Hideaki Sumi, Magnitude Kishiwada & Cougar b The Bodyguard & Tomohiko Hoshimoto, Koji Kanemoto b Super Delfin, Great Kabuki & Masakatsu Funaki b Mitsuya Nagai & Black Tiger, Tatsumi Fujinami & Riki Choshu & Vader b Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Shiro Koshinaka & Takuma Sano

4/23 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Camorra & Cholo b Fiero & Magia Blanca, Vaquerita & Marcela & Skadi b Amapola & Seductora & Tiffany, Drone & Fuego & Rey Cometa b Metalico & Puma & Tiger, Angel de Oro & Guerrero Maya Jr. & Stuka Jr. b Bobby Villa & Dragon Rojo Jr. & Polvora, Caristico & Marco Corleone & Maximo Sexy b Rey Bucanero & El Terrible & Vangellys

4/24 Kansas City (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 8,500): Rhyno b Titus O’Neil, Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik b Tony Nese & Drew Gulak, Matt Hardy b Sheamus, Austin Aries & Jack Gallagher b Neville & T.J. Perkins, Dumpster match: Kalisto b Braun Strowman, Dana Brooke b Alicia Fox, Seth Rollins & Finn Balor & Big Cass b Samoa Joe & Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Sasha Banks b Alexa Bliss-COR, Apollo Crews b Curt Hawkins, Handicap match: Dean Ambrose & Chris Jericho NC The Miz

4/24 Peoria, IL (WWE Smackdown - 2,300): Three-way for WWE title: Randy Orton won over A.J. Styles and Baron Corbin, Tyler Breeze & Fandango b The Ascension, Mojo Rawley b Aiden English, Tag titles: Usos b Jason Jordan & Chad Gable, Shinsuke Nakamura b Dolph Ziggler, Luke Harper b Erick Rowan, Six-way for women’s title: Naomi won over Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Becky Lynch, Tamina and Carmella, U.S. title: Kevin Owens b Sami Zayn

4/24 Kagoshima (Dragon Gate - 400): Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Lindaman b Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Susumu & Ryo Saito, Masaaki Mochizuki b Ben K, Gamma & Takehiro Yamamura b BxB Hulk & Yosuke Santa Maria, Naruki Doi & Big R Shimizu b Jimmy Kagetora & Jimmy Kanda, Yamato & Kzy & Flamita b cima & Dragon Kid & Eita

4/24 Gifu (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 212): Hayata & Yo-Hey b Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano, Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke b Taiji Ishimori & Rionne Fujiwara, Takashi Sugiura & Kenou b Kaito Kiyomiya & Takuya Nomura, Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge b Cody Hall & Randy Reign, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya b Robbie E & Bram, Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi b Mohammed Yone & Akitoshi Saito

4/25 Des Moines (WWE Smackdown/205 Live TV tapings - 5,500): Mojo Rawley b Aiden English, A.J. Styles b Baron Corbin, Jason Jordan & Chad Gable b Primo & Epico Colon, No DQ: Randy Orton b Erick Rowan, Tyler Breeze & Fandango b The Ascension, Women’s title: Naomi NC Charlotte Flair, Rich Swann & Akira Tozawa b Brian Kendrick & Noam Dar, Tony Nese b Mustafa Ali-DQ, Non-title: Neville b Jack Gallagher, Shinsuke Nakamura b Dolph Ziggler

4/25 Osaka (New Japan - 1,247 sellout): Hirai Kawato b Shota Umino, Tomoyuki Oka d Katsuya Kitamura 10:00, Yoshi-Hashi & Jado & Rocky Romero & Baretta b Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Taka Michinoku, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & David Finlay b Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa & Chase Owens, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet & Yoshitatsu b Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi, Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano b Kenny Omega & Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi, Hirooki Goto & Will Ospreay b Minoru Suzuki & Desperado

4/25 Nagoya (All Japan Champion Carnival - 631): Kengo Mashimo b Yuma Aoyagi, Zeus & Ultimo Dragon b Yohei Nakajima & Michio Kageyama, Shuji Ishikawa b Daichi Hashimoto, Suwama & Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato b Jun Akiyama & Kai & Keisuke Ishii & Koji Iwamoto, Naoya Nomura b Takao Omori, Ryoji Sai b Jake Lee, Kento Miyahara d Daisuke Sekimoto 30:00

4/25 Nagasaki (Dragon Gate - 550): Draztick Boy b Hyou Watanabe, Dragon Kid & Gamma & Eita b Masaaki Mochizuki & Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Susumu, Jimmy Kagetora b Kzy, BxB Hulk & Flamita b Cima & Takehiro Yamamura, Ryo Saito & Jimmy Kanda b Yamato & Yosuke Santa Maria, Naruki Doi & Big R Shimizu & Ben K b Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Lindaman

4/25 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Canelo Casas & Espanto Jr. b Flyer & Magnus, Oro Jr. & Starman & Stigma b Arkangel de la Muerte & Metalico & Sangre Azteca, The Panther b Sagrado, Rey Bucanero & El Terrible & Vangellys b Esfinge & Guerrero May Jr. & Drone, Angel de Oro & Blue Panther & Johnny Idol b Gran Guerrero & Luciferno & Mephisto, Dragon Lee & Mistico & Valiente b Ultimo Guerrero & Euforia & Niebla Roja

4/26 Kakogawa (New Japan - 1,019): Hirai Kawato b Shota Umino, Tomoyuki Oka d Katsuya Kitamura 10:00, Toru Yano & Yoshi-Hashi & Jado b Takashi Iizuka & Desperado & Taka Michinoku, Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa & Yujiro Takahashi b Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & David Finlay, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi b Hirooki Goto & Rocky Romero & Baretta, Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet & Yoshitatsu, Kenny Omega & Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens b Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Will Ospreay

4/26 Osaka (All Japan Champion Carnival- 841): Yohei Nakajima & Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi & Billy Ken Kid b Takao Omori & Ryoji Sai & Ultimo Dragon & Koji Iwamoto & Yusuke Okada, Jun Akiyama & Daichi Hashimoto & Keisuke Ishii b Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato, Daisuke Sekimoto b Kai, Shuji Ishikawa d Kengo Mashimo 30:00, The Bodyguard b Suwama, Zeus b Kento Miyahara

CMLL:

The 4/21 show at Arena Mexico saw Sanson win Block B of the Copa Juniors. The order of elimination was Artillero, Stigma, Star Jr., Magnus, Esfinge, and Forastero, leaving Sanson vs. Blue Panther Jr. Diamante Azul & Stuka Jr. & Valiente beat Mr. Niebla & Pierroth & San Adonis. The main event had Cavernario & La Mascara & Negro Casas beat Dragon Lee & Caristico & Volador Jr. via DQ. The finish saw Mascara fake he got a low blow and started selling the non-existent move, and the ref called the DQ.

They are expecting big crowds on both 4/28 and 4/30. The 4/30 show is Kids day and it falls on a Sunday which makes it even bigger. The card itself is nothing special with Caristico & Lee & Mistico vs. Euforia & Niebla Roja & Ultimo Guerrero on top and the battle of the mascot tag team match which they have been pushing hard since it’s aimed at young kids. The 4/28 show has Volador Jr. vs. La Mascara in a non-stop match, Caristico & Lee & Mistico vs.. Negro Casas & Mephisto & Cavernario plus the Soberano Jr. vs. Sanson Copa Juniors final match.

AAA:

Verano de Escandalo, which is AAA’s version of SummerSlam, was announced for 6/4 at the Gimnasio Municipal Josue Neri Santos in Ciudad Juarez, with a main event of Dr. Wagner Jr., Soul Rocker, Psycho Clown, Murder Clown, Carta Brava Jr. and Monsther Clown in a match where the last guy left at the end loses his mask. Obviously Wagner and Psycho can’t lose since they have a mask vs. mask match at TripleMania. They also announced Pimpinela Escarlata vs. Mamba in a hair match, El Hijo del Fantasma vs. Kevin Kross, Dark Scoria & Dark Cuervo defend the tag titles against Mesias & Pagano, Argenis & La Parka & Ricky Marvin vs. Averno & Chessman & Super Fly, and Drago & Aero Star & Bengala vs. Mascara de Bronce & Lanzeloth & Australian Suicide.

They taped TV on 4/21 in Tijuana and packed the building, so they went to Crash’s home turf and packed it with 4,000 fans while Crash didn’t pack Juan de la Barrera Gym in Mexico City. The sellout was drawn by an advertised Dr Wagner Jr. vs. Psycho Clown singles match, which is the company’s most-pushed program. This new version of AAA, with Christopher DeJoseph and Vampiro doing the creative, has changed from Mexico mentality where you deliver what is advertised to WWE mentality where you advertise whatever and deliver whatever as long as you try and have the people advertised at least appear on the show. It’s come to the point where nobody really cares about the lineups knowing there’s a good chance they won’t happen. The problem, in theory becomes that if you do that enough, when you come and advertise a big match in the future, you’ll become the boy who cried wolf. Although WWE has done fine with this mentality since it’s not the matches themselves that draw but the idea of WWE and the key personnel appearing. There were two title changes as Taya won the women’s title (Reina de Reina) over Ayako Hamada, who isn’t listed on any upcoming dates.

Carta Brava Jr. & Mocho Cota Jr. & Soul Rocker also won the AAA trios titles. The champions were Gran Apache & Faby Apache & Mary Apache. This was an impromptu match as Brava & Cota & Soul Rocker just came out and demanded a title match. Faby came out, but instead of her father and sister, she came out with Wagner Jr. & Psycho Clown as partners, and they defended the titles. The Brava team won when Taya interfered and hit Faby with a chair and Fabi was pinned. Kevin Kross beat El Hijo del Fantasma in a tables match. El Texano Jr. was out with Fantasma and said that his neck injury is recovering but wont’ be back or while. Dark Cuervo & Dark Scoria kept the tag titles over Australian Suicide & Bengala. After the match, Aerostar & Drago, Pagano & Mesias and Suicide & Bengala all wanted title shots. Aerostar & Drago beat Killshot (Shane Strickland) & Marty the Moth, playing their Lucha Underground characters.

THE CRASH:

Demus 3:16 talked to SoloWrestling and said he left CMLL because he felt limited. He was used as a mini which meant he was always in the first or second match and felt as long as he was there, that would never change. He said he was having more fun and working higher on the card when he did indie dates because he didn’t work as a mini. He noted he was taller than Super Astro (who was about 5-foot) and Astro never worked as a mini. He said CMLL should get rid of the minis division and let all of them see how they can do on their own. Konnan has pitched Demus to Impact with the idea of having him feud with Mascarita Dorada.

They announced a 5/30 show in Queretaro with Rey Mysterio Jr., Penta 0M, Daga and Garza Jr. as the top names.

DRAGON GATE:

Masato Yoshino, who was thought to be out of action six months minimum due to an injury, ended up back in three months this weekend as an unannounced surprise on 4/23 in Fukuoka before a sellout 1,200 fans (announced as 1,800). Punch Tominaga called out anyone from the back and Yoshino came out and then won the match in just 2:08. Cima & Dragon Kid retained the Open the Twin Gate titles beating Jimmy K-Ness & Jimmy Kanda. Lindaman & T-Hawk will be the next challengers as they attacked the champions after the match.

ALL JAPAN:

At press time, the standings in the Champion Carnival are: A block: 1. Kento Miyahara and Daisuke Sekimoto 3-1-1; 3. Kai 3-2; 4. Ryoji Sai and Joe Doering 2-2; 6. Zeus 2-3; 7. Jake Lee 1-5; B block: 1. Shuji Ishikawa 3-1-1; 2. Suwama and The Bodyguard 3-2; 4. Kengo Mashimo 2-1-2; 5. Daichi Hashimoto 2-3; 6. Takao Omori 1-3-1; 7. Naoya Nomura 1-3.

Atsushi Onita has been trying to get Suwama to appear in FMW and do death matches. Suwama kept saying he has no interest. So FMW announced a 4/27 show in Tokyo at Shinkiba with Onita & Ichiro Yaguchi & Hideki Hosaka vs. Masao Inoue & mystery partner and a third wrestler called Chicken Suwama in the main event. All Japan President Jun Akiyama came out and said that FMW was given no permission to advertise the Suwama name, let along put the name on an event poster. He said that they were falsely advertising Suwama and that the All Japan company shareholders are against this happening and demanding they remove the name.

They are having a good tour in the sense they sold out all but two of the shows on the current tour, albeit in small buildings. The company isn’t strong by any means but they are gaining in popularity and there has been a lot of underground praise of Kento Miyahara in the position as the top star.

4/19 in Hachinohe before a sellout 411 fans saw Kai pin Lee in 15:04, Mashimo pinned Hashimoto in :37, the Bodyguard pinned Omori with a right high kick in 9:35 and Sekimoto pinned Sai with a German suplex in 16:08.

4/20 in Miyagi before a sellout 440 fans saw Omori pin Hashimoto in 12:49 wit the axe bomber; Sekimoto beat Lee in 10:51 with the scorpion deathlock, Suwama pinned Nomura in 10:04 with a Last ride power bomb; and Ishikawa pinned Bodyguard in 5:56 with a running knee.

4/22 in Tokyo before a sellout of 885 fans at the ballroom at the famous Shinagawa Prince Hotel, Ishikawa pinned Nomura in 9:19 with the splash mountain (Razor’s edge, Bad Luck fall), Lee pinned Zeus in 6:13 after a back suplex in a big upset, Mashimo beat Suwama in another upset in 15:00 with an Achilles tendon submission and Miyahara pinned Doering with the blackout in 13:12.

4/23 in Nagaoka before a sellout of 590, Doering beat Lee with a Boston crab in 8:17, Suwama pinned Omori with a power bomb in 14:02, Sai pinned Zeus in 14:22 and Miyahara pinned Kai with a German suplex in 26:43.

4/25 in Nagoya before 631 fans for the only non-sellout, saw Ishikawa pin Hashimoto in 6:28 with splash mountain, Nomura pinned Omori in :48 with a spear which was a huge upset, Sai pinned Lee with a double foot stomp in 6:14 and Miyahara went to a 30:00 draw with Sekimoto.

4/26 in Osaka before 841 fans saw Sekimoto pin Kai in 5:53 with a German suplex, Ishikawa drew Mashimo over 30:00, Bodyguard upset Suwama in 5:42 with a lariat and Zeus handed Miyahara his first tournament loss clean with a jackhammer in 13:32. This also will likely set up a Miyahara vs. Zeus Triple Crown title match at some point.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH:

Three shows in, this is the standings in the Global Tag League tournament: 1. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya 3-0; 2. Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi, Cody Hall & Randy Reign and Takashi Sugiura & Kenou 2-1; 5. Mohammed Yone & Akitoshi Saito, Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge and Robbie E & Bram 1-2; 8. Kaito Kiyomiya & Takuya Nomura 0-3.

The tournament was messed up as far as the planned booking because on 4/26, Bram (Thomas Latimer) was suspended for the rest of the tournament and all matches he and Robbie E were scheduled for were forfeited. The day before, he was in Gifu and went to a convenience store and jumped into a fridge and posted an instagram photo of him. It wouldn’t have been an issue, except the fact he posted an instagram photo of it meant it couldn’t be covered up and it related to something that had been a big news story in the country. The next day, NOAH President Masayuki Uchida and Latimer publicly apologized for his actions. Uchida even said that they may have to do seminars for the foreign talent to learn how things are done in Japan and promised that inappropriate behavior of the wrestlers would never happen again. Latimer’s out of the ring behavior, getting into a fight with a police officer, in particular, led to him being fired by WWE, as the feeling there was he had potential. The incident made mainstream news in Japan as well.

Kazma Sakamoto is being brought in for the rest of the tour to replace Bram, but the matches would not be tournament bouts.

The tournament opened on 4/22 in the Niigata City Gym before 882 fans. Mohammed Yone & Akitoshi Saito beat Kaito Kiyomiya & Takuya Nomura in 15:55 when Yone pinned Kiyomiya with a muscle buster. Cody Hall & Randy Reign (pushed as the new giant tag team since both are big guys scored a big upset over Takashi Sugiura & Kenou when Reign pinned Kenou after he and Hall did a double-team sit down choke slam in 11:34. Robbie E & Bram from TNA beat Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge in 17:48 after Bram pinned Kotoge with a piledriver. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya beat Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi in 18:16 when Kitamiya used the old Masa Saito prison deathlock on Marufuji in another surprise finish.

4/23 in Kanazawa saw Hall & Reign beat Robbie E & Bram when they used the double-team choke slam on Robbie E, Nakajima & Kitamiya beat Kiyomiya & Nomura when Kitamiya pinned Kiyomura with a Saito suplex, Sugiura & Kenou beat Yone & Saito when Kenou pinned Saito after a double foot stomp, and Marufuji & Taniguchi beat Shiozaki & Kotoge.

4/24 in Gifu before 212 fans so Sugiura & Kenou over Kiyomiya & Nomura when Sugiura pinned Nomura with an Olympic slam in 15:01, Shiozaki & Kotoge beat Hall & Reign in 12:08 when Shiozaki pinned Reign after a lariat; Kitamiya & Nakajima beat E & Bram in 12:54 when Nakajima pinned E with a brainbuster and Marufuji & Taniguchi beat Yone & Saito in 15:13 when Taniguchi pinned Saito.

NEW JAPAN:

The new tour opened on 4/22 and 4/23 at Korakuen Hall before sellouts of 1,689 and 1,714 paid respectively. It’s the usual stuff doing tag team matches to heat up the big matches that will be taking place this week on the three big shows. The first night main event saw Bad Luck Fale & Kenny Omega beat Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii in 17:20 when Fale pinned Okada with a tombstone piledriver. The tombstone is one of Okada’s usual big moves and the idea is to give Fale the grenade, Bad Luck Fall and tombstone all as big finishers leading to his IWGP title match. The result was a big deal because even though challenger pinning the champion before the title match is booking done all the time here, I don’t think Okada has been pinned since the G-1 tournament and the idea he’s taken the best from a wide variety of different opponents, but the idea also is that the killer matches are wearing him down and this is the sign of it. Omega and Fale also laid out Ishii to set up the Omega vs. Ishii singles match. The had a ten-man with Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi beating Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson & Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi & Yoshitatsu when Yoshitatsu lost to Sanada’s skull end. The focal point was Tanahashi vs. Evil, Robinson vs. Naito and the real highlight was Takahashi vs. Ricochet.

The second show featured what was called an excellent main event where Tanahashi & Robinson beat Naito & Evil in 21:33 when Tanahashi pinned Evil with the high fly flow. They really pushed Robinson, to the point he did the air guitar show closer scene with Tanahashi. Ishii’s nose was all busted up in an Omega & Fale & Chase Owens win over Okada & Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi. Hiromu Takahashi came out with dolls with Ricochet written on them.

Katsuyori Shibata was going to face Zack Sabre Jr., on one of the big shows on the current tour. In fact, Sabre Jr., was pulled from the tour because everything booked for him had to do with interaction with Shibata and the cards had all been made and he’d have had no spot. Shibata still has weakness on the right side and also will be undergoing another brain surgery in May.

They should be announcing the complete Best of the Super Juniors tournament which runs from 5/17 to 6/3 later next week, after the Fukuoka show. War Machine is on that tour, although obviously not in the tournament, so that tour will likely build for a tag team title match with them.

There are three key shows this week. The 4/27 show in Hiroshima at the small gym at 5:30 a.m. Eastern has Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi defending the IWGP jr. tag titles against Rocky Romero & Baretta and Hirooki Goto vs. Minoru Suzuki for the Never Open weight title plus the usual tags. 4/29 in Beppu at 4 a.m. Eastern has Takahashi vs. Ricochet in the jr. title match, Tanahashi vs. Evil and Naito vs. Robinson fr the IC title. Wrestling Dontaku is 5/3 in Fukuoka at 3:40 a.m with Cody vs. David Finlay, War Machine vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa in a three-way for the IWGP tag titles, Tanahashi & Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi defend the trios titles against Sanada & Evil & Bushi, Omega vs. Ishii and Okada vs. Fale for the IWGP heavyweight title.

Zack Sabre Jr. and The Young Bucks return in early June for the Dominion show on 6/11 in Osaka.

Had the Hardys stayed with Impact, and done their planned long feud with the Young Bucks in ROH and Impact, they were also going to have a match on one of the Long Beach shows.

There will be another Lion’s Gate show on 5/9 at Shinjuku Face in Tokyo. The main event is Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura. You can tell they’ve got high hopes of Kitamura due to his physique. He won’t be pushed anytime soon, but they want him getting as much experience as possible for down the line. Oka is in the same boat.

Also on that show they will debut another new wrestler, 25-year-old Tetsuhiro Yagi, who is 193 pounds and started training one year ago.

Tanga Loa in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel gave the reason for all the swearing in their three-way tag title match with Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma and Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii at Wrestle Kingdom on 1/4 at the Tokyo Dome was due to her mother, who they note is actually the toughest one in the family. “Right before we went on our way from the hotel to the stadium, our mom had some advice for us. It (ticked) me off. I just let it out in that match. She’s been around the business all our lives, so she has plenty of wisdom to back up her advice, and even though I didn’t want to hear it, she was right to give it.”

OTHER JAPAN NOTES:

Shiro Abe, who was the first full-time heel referee that I’m aware of, passed away on 4/25 at 11:59 a.m. due to pneumonia at the age of 77. Abe was the referee who would favor Dump Matsumoto, Crane Yu and Bull Nakano and others in their battles with the Crush Gals and Jumping Bomb Angels for All Japan Women in the 80s, and because the women’s pro wrestling audience on television was so big in those days (more people watched All Japan women weekly on Saturday afternoons than the combined audience that watched Raw & Nitro combined during the high point of U.S. wrestling even though the population of Japan was only 44 percent of what it was in the U.S. when you compare the mid-80s Japan to late 90s U.S). In recent years, he had been working as a promoter for FMW house shows. Besides being the heel ref, he also promoted All Japan women house shows during the period they ran 300 shows a year. During the 80s, when All Japan women would be doing 14 ratings on television on Saturday afternoons, he was really famous for a few years as the heel ref screwing with The Crush Gals and numbers were even bigger when All Japan Women were on weekly in prime time during the Beauty Pair (Jackie Sato & Maki Ueda) vs. Black Pari (Yumi Ikeshita & Shinobu Aso) period. They didn’t use the heel ref gimmick years later during the last boom in the early and mid-90s. Abe was no longer a heel referee and mostly worked for the group as a house show promoter. He stayed with All Japan women as a promoter until the company closed, and then worked as a regular referee for IWA Japan. Until he died he worked behind-the-scenes for smaller promotions promoting local shows and selling tickets. Abe grew up in a family of actors and did a lot of traveling in his youth. His family was friends with the Matsunaga family, who ran Japanese women wrestling. He was hired and did everything from setting up the ring, selling tickets at the door, running the concession stand and working in security until he started as a referee in the mid-70s.

Vader passed out on his first show in Japan on 4/20 at Korakuen Hall. The main event had just ended and Antonio Inoki, Akira Maeda and Kengo Kimura all came out to talk about Fujinami since this was his 45th anniversary show. Vader was said to be dehydrated and fainted. He was able to be helped to his feet, left on his own power, and did attend the post-show party. When talking about the issue, he noted that he was also dropped on his head during them match. He did wrestle two nights later. The show itself legitimately sold out Korakuen Hall, although there is no way they did the 2,473 fans they claimed, but it was overcrowded with standing room all over the place, so probably close to 1,800 or more in the building. Fujinami & Riki Choshu & Shiro Koshinaka won the nostalgia main event over Vader & Keiji Muto & AKIRA, with AKIRA clearly being the guy to do the job for Fujinami and the dragon sleeper in13:09. Leona, the son of Fujinami, scored his biggest career win, beating Dragon Gate’s Kennichiro Arai with a backslide, which was one of Fujinami’s old finishers. The show also featured older stars like Yoshihiro Takayama, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Great Kabuki and Shinjiro Otani.

Vader seemed in a very good mood when he came to Japan, doing a lot of magazine interviews. He was very open about his medical condition and his diagnosis of congenital heart failure. He said he has decided he was going to live out his lief the way he wants to live, and that’s why he accepted Fujinami’s offer to work the tour. The feeling is, while unsaid, even before he passed out, that this would probably be his last time in Japan.

The second show of the tour on 4/22 drew 780 in Fukuoka with a main event of Fujinami & Koshinaka & Koji Kanemoto beating Vader & Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Takuma Sano in 10:30 with Fujinami beat Sano with a dragon sleeper. The final show on 4/23 in Osaka at the smaller Edion Arena, which sold out, saw Fujinami & Choshu & Vader over Fujiwara & Koshinaka & Takuma Sano when Fujinami used te dragon sleeper on Sano in a short match.

Regarding Stardom, a correction from last week. Rosa Negra isn’t Kobra Moon from Lucha Underground. Kobra Moon’s other wrestling name is Thunder Rosa.

In the weekly watch of the booking regarding Kairi Hojo coming to WWE, on the 4/22 Stardom show in the city of Hikari saw Hojo retain her Wonder of Stardom championship beating Hans Kimura. They are doing a storyline where she is going for the all-time record for title defenses with that belt. She has eight and the record is nine held by Santana Garrett. There is still no official word as to when she’s finishing up.

Big Japan announced a major show for 5/5 at the Yokohama Bunka Gym with a Death match championship bout with Abdullah Kobayashi defending against Masaya Takahashi, the Strong heavyweight title with Hideki Suzuki defending against Yuji Okabayashi and a tag match with Daisuke Sekimoto & Masato Tanaka vs. Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani.

With Akebono out of action, he and Shogun Okamoto vacated their NWA IC tag team titles for Zero-One. Nothing new has been said regarding his condition past he’s off all of his upcoming shows. Akebono & Okamoto were to face Bob Sapp & Taru on 5/12 in Nagoya. Atsushi Onita has stepped in saying he’s like to face Sapp in an electric dynamite match on that show and it’s since been made official. Sean Guinness beat Kotaro Suzuki to win Zero-One’s Tenkaichi Junior tournament on 4/26 at Korakuen Hall. Earlier in the show, Guinness won the A block final over Shinjiro Otani and Suzuki had won the B block final over Tatsuhito Takaiwa.

HERE AND THERE:

The Hardys, who finish up their indie bookings on 4/28, were not allowed to do anything physical. This actually went down about three weeks ago. WWE first told them they would have to cancel their independent bookings. They were told there was too much of a financial investment being made in them and they couldn’t risk it to do an injury, with the feeling guys on indie shows often take more risks. They pushed hard to keep their dates because they had told promoters they were available until 5/1 and didn’t want to mess up those who had advertised them. The company reached a compromise saying they could appear at shows, but couldn’t do anything physical. That actually happened at one show a few weeks ago that was under the radar. House of Hardcore knew ahead of time, although it’s not clear how much ahead of time, that the Hardys couldn’t wrestle but would be at their shows. They knew enough ahead of time that they put together a deal with ROH and The Young Bucks to replace the Hardys at the 4/22 show in Philadelphia. A Dreamer vs. Broken Matt Hardy street fight (and the Hardys did their broken gimmick both nights) led to an sellout several days in advance on 4/21 in Metuchen, NJ. But instead Matt was in the ring for the match and they shot an angle which instead led to a main event of Dreamer & Bully Ray over The Spirit Squad.

There was also an issue on that show with Matt Riddle being advertised, but he worked PWG. They said at the start of the show that Riddle had double-booked himself. Riddle’s PWG booking was announced a month ago. It’s notable ROH would make that deal, because the Bucks aren’t allowed to work anywhere but PWG in the U.S., but Bully Ray is now in ROH so they have that relationship. Nick Jackson then got violently ill the morning of the show and couldn’t appear. Dreamer contacted WWE and it went all the way to Vince and Paul Levesque, and understanding that Dreamer tried to get a replacement and now was in a lurch, they did agree to let the Hardys wrestle although the proviso was they had to work a very safe match. Since people knew about Matt not being able to wrestle the night before and this was Philadelphia, they turned it into a big angle. Dreamer & Bully Ray came out and Dreamer talked about how HOH isn’t about politics but about wrestling, but Dreamer then started talking about politics, started doing the crying and said how the match with the Hardys tonight can’t take place. The deal had been cut hours earlier so this was pure angle.

The Spirit Squad came out and cut a promo on Dreamer & Bully, so strong including saying that those two should get a shovel and dig some of their friends up (since so many of the old ECW guys have passed away). Wow. So everyone figured it would be the Spirit Squad until the Hardys came out doing the Broken character completely. A big brawl started with Bully power bombing Kenny through a table. Matt talked about how they were going to do the match even though they would risk getting fired on Monday night by “MeekMahon and the man with 3H’s.” They did a safe match with Jeff pinning Dreamer with the swanton. They all hugged after and talked about how the Hardys could finish out strong. Normal booking since Dreamer & Bully are the stars of the promotion and Hardys aren’t coming back would go the other way, but WWE wasn’t going to allow its tag team champions to also lose. Dreamer then talked about how he owed Joe Koff a favor (The Young Bucks were never mentioned and nobody at the time knew what the Joe Koff reference was to), and Dreamer said he also owed WWE, Vince and HHH a favor. Matt asked Dreamer that if they get fired for doing this match, could they come back. The match was hot because of the personalities, but they followed with a big action hot moves main event with Penta 0M beating Sami Callihan in a great match with both guys getting standing ovations when it was over. Dreamer also brought in Juventud Guerrera for the first time at the 2300 Arena in many years. Sandman, with all his injuries, showed up in a prelim match to do his big entrance and cane everyone. Ricky Steamboat also got involved physically for the first time I’ve heard of in years, since he had the issue with bleeding on the brain. Alex Reynolds cut a promo on Steamboat and old guys hogging up the spotlight. Steamboat cut a promo back and then hit the ring and threw some chops to clear the ring. Blue Meanie and Velvet Sky also did run-ins during the show.

MGM Television Partners and Mark Burnett, the same people who do Lucha Underground, announced its Women of Wrestling syndicated show, working with Jeanie Buss of Los Angeles Lakers management fame and Barry Poznick of MGM Television along with David McLane, the creator of the original GLOW Wrestling in the 80s that this series would be modeled after. Santana Garrett, who was at the last Impact tapings and was also there previously under the name Brittany, said on Twitter that she’s got a role on the show. The promotion has been running shows in Downtown Los Angeles for the past year at a night club and in some Long Beach venues under the radar. Katie Forbes, the girlfriend of Rob Van Dam, is said to be with the promotion. They target the kind of non-wrestling fan that would attend a Lucha Va Voom show as opposed to the local wrestling fans.

Evolve on 4/22 in Queens, NY saw Matt Riddle beat Timothy Thatcher to keep the WWN title using the Bromission. The Drew Galloway vs. Zack Sabre Jr. match never took place as Ethan Page and The Gatekeepers got involved. Galloway went to hit Sabre with a sledgehammer, I guess with the HHH reference, but Keith Lee made the save. Kyle O’Reilly pinned Lee with a brainbuster. Chris Dickinson & Jake beat Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi to win the Evolve tag team titles. In the main event, Ethan Page beat Darby Allin in a last man standing match. This was a brutal match, including Allin doing a stage dive. Page bled. Tons of objects were used and Allin took crazy punishment.

On the 4/23 show in Brooklyn, Lee beat David Starr in a match that did well with the audience. O’Reilly beat Yehi with an armbar. Sabre Jr. retained the Evolve title over Lio Rush in a very good match and Riddle beat Galloway via submission with the Bromission in an I Quit match which was Galloway’s last match with the company. Galloway delivered incredible punishment including three Future shock DDT’s and a fourth one on a chair. He also tied Riddle’s arms behind his back and started punching him but Riddle wouldn’t quit. After the match, Lee saved Riddle from a sledgehammer shot by Galloway and after the save it looked like the direction was Riddle vs. Lee for the WWN title.

Allin had surgery on 4/24 on his elbow which was sliced to the muscle from a shovel shot. He was hospitalized and they found out the elbow was broken and also had a chipped bone in the elbow. He wrestled several minutes more after the injury.

Sean Burke, who was one of the Gatekeepers, finished up over the weekend. They did an angle where Sabre Jr. broke his arm, which ended up an irony with Allin’s legit injury. Burke had decided to leave pro wrestling, stating, “As tends to happen in contact sports, cumulative injuries take their toll. I am no different and it is time to walk away from professional wrestling. To everyone who has supported or helped me along the way, thank you and God bless.” Burke, who also wrestled as Flex Rumblecrunch, was a New England independent wrestler who has been around since 2010. Gabe Sapolsky on Galloway: “He went (to WWE) way too early last time, wasn’t ready for the behind-the-scenes stuff. Now he is and if given a chance will be a main eventer on any of the brands. Galloway has been a huge asset to us, giving us a break on price so he could always work for us. I have nothing but great things to say about him.” O’Reilly vs. Yehi was said to be the best match of the weekend in Evolve and the major angle was splitting up the Catch Point group. Stokely Hathaway is now managing Williams & Dickinson. Riddle is on his own as a top babyface and Williams will be a top heel, while Fred Yehi will be pushed as a major singles babyface.

Eric Bischoff, on Lilian Garcia’s podcast, trying to sell himself as being valuable to a organization said, “I am worth way more to you as a consultant or as an executive producer not because of the successes I’ve had, but because of the mistakes I’ve made. I’ve learned I’m way way way more valuable because of the depth and breath of failures and mistake than I am from my successes.” That’s an interesting viewpoint. So many in wrestling only learn from their successes and repeat them over-and-over until they become their failures but don’t learn from their failures. An interesting admission is that with all the work he’s done in so many places, he is not financially independent right now. “To be honest right now I’m not financially independent. I don’t have the ability to take care of my kids the way I would like to take care of my kids, so that they don’t ever have to worry about some of the things that we all have to worry about from a financial point of view. I haven’t reached that level of success yet, and that’s kind of my goal.

I’m happy driving a 1995 Ford pick-up truck. I don’t need things anymore. I’ve had all the things that I ever wanted to have and then some. For now, success to me now is just being completely independent, whatever that means.

The Thesz/Tragos Hall of Fame weekend announced that in conjunction with the ceremony, where they’ll induct Dusty Rhodes, Paul Orndorff, Magnum T.A., Stan Hansen, Mike Van Arsdale and the late Scott Williams, and Impact Pro Wrestling (not TNA but a local group) will have a show on 7/21 featuring a one-night tournament with Shelton Benjamin, Matt Riddle, Chuck Taylor, Penta 0M, A.J. Smooth, ACH and two more to be named. Given that their Hall of Fame is generally about people who were amateur wrestlers who used that to become pro stars, Benjamin and Riddle are both likely future inductees. Of the names this year, Rhodes and Orndorff don’t exactly fit that bill, but the induction rules have been relaxed since the death of Lou Thesz in 2002. And they always favored legit tough guys and Orndorff actually fought in what would be considered today MMA rules fights before he was a pro wrestler. Magnum was a state champion high school wrestler who wrestled in college, although his award was more for his life outside the ring, as is Hansen’s. Williams is getting the Jim Melby award that I got last year.

The Chilanga Mask promotion on 4/23 in Coacalco had a Hanson vs. Ray Rowe match set up. Both guys thought it would make more sense at this point to do a tag match, so they switched and beat Rey Fenix & Extreme Tiger in what was said to be a very good match.

Doc Young, who for years was part of the Wrestling Observer website, passed away this past week due to complications with neurological issues he had been suffering from for years. For a long time his doctors weren’t able to diagnose what was wrong with him and his health had been in a rough way. I believe eventually they diagnosed him having Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Young, before his health issues became severe, did an audio show on the site with Les Thatcher and also booked guests for Figure Four Daily. I didn’t know him well past e-mails we exchanged which were more about his health issues, which were really bad.

I also want to mention the death of Dave Korner, who almost none of you would know, but was one of my oldest friends, having first met him 37 years ago when we were both at San Jose State. He was also one of the first subscribers to this publication and I would say, more than anyone, he was responsible for this version of the newsletter to start up which of course changed my life in ways I’d never dreamed. We were in college together at San Jose State and he and a few other guys, but him more than any of the other guys, were always asking me wrestling questions because they followed it on TV but there was no outlet to go to for real news. These were people who had no interest in wrestling magazines, and all had reporting and news backgrounds, mostly in sports. I had done a newsletter during the 70s but then drifted away from it. But he and a few others made me feel that I should go back and do it again and became some of my first subscribers. He had been battling brain cancer for many years. He beat it once but then it came back. Without getting too long-winded because I could talk about him forever, he was someone who always elevated the mood when he was around, always positive and funny. Unless health issues, such as chemotherapy were doing a number on him, he would come to my home to watch PPVs and always bring everyone sandwiches. I’m always concentrating and taking notes during shows, so his role was always to break my concentration. He had gotten worse earlier this year, needing a cane to get around, but would refuse any help in getting up and down the stairs. This guy at one point in his life was one of the top 500 or 1,000 triathletes in the world and was the hardest trainer and single best-conditioned person of anyone I was close to. He did say last year at one point that he was okay if he died. It came out of the blue, he said it in the tone, almost upbeat, like, “What kind of sandwich do you want me to get,” except it was, “I’m okay if I die.” Even when he said it, and through the cancer and at times it was bad, I always thought he’d beat it again. It’s the only time he ever brought it up. I refused to believe it because when he was around, we were like college kids again. At WrestleMania a few weeks ago he never e-mailed that morning, and when the show was on, and my friends asked about if he was coming, it kind of hit all of us. When my friends asked about if he was coming and I said I hadn’t heard from him, and then I said, “You know that isn’t good,” but still even not hearing from him on WrestleMania day, it never entered my head. Brad Muster, the former Chicago Bears and Stanford football star (Dave introduced me to him more than 30 years ago as he found out Muster was a big wrestling fan and I think went on the practice field one day and immediately became friends with him), sent me a text saying, “Sorry to learn about DK’s passing.” At first I thought he meant Dynamite Kid but after a few seconds it registered. Muster said Korner was the person most responsible for him riding with Ric Flair in the Horseman limo when they came to Chicago. In fact, that was the night before the famous Flair-Steamboat Chicago PPV match. When we were in college, during lunch, we’d use our connections with the people in the video room room to hook up videotapes and watch matches in a big room with a lot of people, watching matches like Patterson-Slaughter, Tiger Mask-Dynamite Kid, Flair-Kerry Von Erich, Brody-Terry Funk, Flair-Race, Lawler-Dutch Mantel and the other great matches of that era over-and-over again. When I look back, without him, my life would be so completely different than it turned out to be, because there’s pretty much no way I’d have started this publication. I know almost none of you know him, but the reality is, without him, none of you would have known me either.

One indie promoter told us that Jack Swagger, who is coming on the market, has been asking for $4,000 per show coming out of the blocks, which they felt was high. That’s a big number for most indie promotions. He is working in May for FULL in Mexico in matches against Alberto El Patron, renewing their old WWE program. He’s working an overseas tour in Australia with Tommy Dreamer in June although given it’s Dreamer and it’s multiple dates, that could be a very different amount.

So after all the different versions of the debut of the three-way match, it now looks like it was the December 26, 1966, show in Fort Worth booked by Danny Plechas that was the first one. Lucha Libre writer and historian Ernesto Ocampo said the June 25, 1965, match that Matt Farmer had unearthed as a three-way with Rey Mendoza vs. Karloff Lagarde vs. Benny Gallant was actually a tag team match with Lagarde & Gallant vs. Mendoza & Vengador Azul. His best research is the first three-way may have been December 4, 1971, and that was Tauro vs Condor vs. Astro in a three-way mask match, but even that was a series of singles matches with three people and not a three-way match as we would have now.

Aaron Haddad (Damien Sandow) was left definite about retiring in an interview with Sean Waltman this past week. He said he didn’t know if he would wrestle again. “I’m not going to lie and say oh I’ll be back. You know I don’t know if I’ll be back. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.” He said he misses entertaining the fans but that right now life is taking him in a different direction.

Fox Business Channel ran a piece on their TV show “Strange Inheritance” on 4/10 (and again on 4/12) devoted to former Roller Derby legend Ann Calvello. Calvello saved tons of her memorabilia from her career, and when she passed away in 2006, she left it to Jim Fitzpatrick, who was former skater and promoter who grew up as a big fan of her’s. I know they had been working on this show for years, with it being approved, not done, etc. until they finally did it. Besides Calvello’s living relatives, also featured were Judy Arnold, one of the Golden Girls of Roller Games in the early 70s as the top woman star of the Eastern Warriors (and as noted in the piece was the stunt double for Raquel Welch in the movie “Kansas City Bomber”), Stacey Blitch (the star of RollerJam on TNN in the late 90s who later became something of a protégé of Calvello’s) and Jerry Seltzer, the promoter of the Roller Derby and son of Leo Seltzer, the founder. Even though not that much footage remains of her, it was a pretty cool show, especially the footage from the early 50s when Derby was pulling big numbers on network TV. Even though almost nothing remains, there was a fight during that era and her jersey was torn up and she was left showing her bra which was so far ahead of the times in that era as far as being racy to the point they were warned never to do that again. Seltzer noted that after that, the networks had a rule regarding not showing cleavage on television and the women uniforms had zippers in the front and there was a rule of how far you could have the zipper down, and how even back then she was always violating that rule. There was no mention of the Calvello Cup or how Calvello was the inspiration to the modern women’s Roller Derby leagues all over the world. But there was something that almost nobody today was aware of. In the program sold for the 1971 Ali vs. Frazier fight (shown on television), arguably the biggest event ever held at Madison Square Garden, there were pages in the program with galleries of great athletes who had appeared at Madison Square Garden, and there were two pretty sizable photos of Calvello listed as among the greatest sports stars of the era who performed there.

Phyllis Talabach of Millis, MA, who passed away on 4/10 at the age of 90, was listed in her Boston Globe as the loving companion of Walter “Killer” Kowalski for 48 years.

EUROPE:

Dan Hinkles of Five Star Wrestling said that the promotion and 128 man tournament are very much still alive. He said that they will be starting a 30-week tournament on 6/10 with a show in Liverpool at the Echo Arena with John Morrison, Carlito and P.J. Black as the top stars. Nothing was mentioned about a TV partner. They had originally announced that all of the shows would be on either TV-5 or Spike U.K., but Impact just started on Spike U.K. Hinkles said that Drew Galloway was not planned to win the tournament although he did say Galloway was a major part of the company’s plans. He said the company would be running 30 major shows between that date and the end of December, so pretty much weekly. They announced a second show on 6/17 in Blackburn, England, which is most famous in the U.K. as the arena where Sid Vicious and Arn Anderson got into an argument which led to another argument at the hotel and then Vicious and Anderson had their fight later that night when Vicious came to Anderson’s hotel room door and smashed him in the head with a chair as he opened the door and then they went at it, with Arn Anderson bringing in scissors that he would trim his beard with, Viciuos getting them away and allegedly stabbed Anderson over-and-over with them with blood going all over the hotel aisle. Viciou was scheduled to win the WCW title shortly after this, but ended up being fired, and Starrcade (where Vicious was to beat Vader for the title) ended up being changed to Ric Flair’s famous title win in Charlotte over Vader.

Progress on 4/23 in London before a sellout of 700 fans saw the last appearance of the South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper & Travis Banks), who are returning to New Zealand to get a new working visa. During the show, they said that Pastor William Eaver had just run the London marathon in three hours and 50 minutes and he’d be in the upcoming Super Strong Style 16 tournament. Regular Paul Robinson announced that he was suffering from a hereditary blood condition and suffered a recent blood clot, so he was retiring from wrestling. Axel Deiter announced he was leaving to go to the WWE Performance Center.

LUCHA UNDERGROUND:

Sexy Star, without her mask obviously, made her pro boxing debut on 4/22 in Mexico on a nationally televised show as Dulce “Sexy” Garcia. She won a four-round decision over Yanely Hernandez, who came into the fight with a 6-16 record. She clearly won, was quicker, looked fine technically for a first fight although was given an opponent to beat and you really couldn’t tell much from it in the sense she didn’t show any power in her punches but moved and threw okay. There was nothing that made you think she would be a star and while she had some chants, considering she’s a celebrity, it’s not like the crowd was going wild for her.

A lot of the key talent was at the C2E2 convention this past weekend. There wasn’t much in the way of news. Rey Mysterio was there, which is notable because his contract expires at the end of this season. When asked about going back to WWE, he said you could never delete that idea. In coverage by The Cubs Fan, Eric Van Wagenen said that they find that it’s easier to get people to buy into their stories the farther away they get from reality. He pushed that if they were a wrestling show they couldn’t get on Netflix. They talked about guys like Pentagon and Fenix like they were still going to use them.

ROH:

Hot Topic, the well-known mall clothing outlet, has signed a deal with The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega for various T-shirts. Young Bucks, Omega, Bullet Club and Elite shirts will be popping up shortly in some of the stores and obviously, depending on how well they do, the deal will expand to all of the stores.

Cody told Sports Illustrated that his days of traveling the world are coming to an end. He said he’s about to make a decision and sign full-time with a home promotion. He didn’t say ROH, but he wasn’t at the Impact tapings and he’s getting an ROH title match as the main event of the 5/12 PPV show. Regarding the Rhodes name, he said he doesn’t mind that WWE has blocked him from using the Rhodes name. He said he wants it back and has a plan to get it back, but the longer he hasn’t used it, the more he’s okay with not having it. He said it’s an intellectual property law that can be remedied.

The War of the Worlds PPV on 5/12 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York has a three-way title match on top. Daniels and Cody are two. The third will be the winner of a four-way earlier in the show with Jay Lethal vs. Hangman Page vs. Silas Young vs. Jay White, plus Young Bucks vs. Tetsuya Naito & Bushi for the ROH tag titles, Bully Ray & Briscoes defending the six-man titles against Hirooki Goto & Rocky “Romero & Baretta, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Adam Cole and Marty Scurll vs. Matt Sydal for the TV title, the New Japan Japanese wrestlers on this tour are also Kushida, Evil and Gedo. The show sold out three weeks in advance which would be 1,800 tickets.

The New Japan wrestlers will be on all four of the War of the Worlds tour events from 5/7 to 5/14. The main event on 5/7 in Toronto will be Kenny Omega & Young Bucks vs. Tanahashi & Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian, with Hirooki Goto vs. Shane Taylor, Cody vs. Will Ospreay, and Jay Lethal vs. Kushida also announced. Omega is only working the Toronto show due to visa issues that are being taken care of as we speak. Apparently it’s harder with the new Trump administration getting this stuff done and that delayed the visa. The 5/10 show in Dearborn, MI is headlined by Young Bucks & Cody & Page vs. Goto & Will Ospreay & Rocky Romero & Baretta, Christopher Daniels vs. Matt Taven for the ROH title, Bully Ray & Briscoes defending the trios belts against Sanada & Evil & Bushi, Kushida vs. Silas Young and Naito vs. Punishment Martinez. For 5/14 in Philadelphia, which will be a TV taping, is Scurll vs. Kushida for the TV title and Cody vs. Kazarian.

They return to action this weekend with the final shows before the War of the Worlds tour on 4/28 in Milwaukee with Bucks vs. Daniels & Kazarian non-title, Jay Lethal vs. Silas Young, Bully Ray & Briscoes vs. War Machine & Dalton Castle non-title, Marty Scurll vs. Delirious for the TV title, Adam Cole vs. Jay White, Beer City Bruiser vs. Shane Taylor vs Punishment Martinez vs. Cheeseburger and Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley vs. Taven & Vinny Marseglia. 4/29 in Hopkins, MN as Bucks vs. Daniels & Kazarian, War Machine vs. Rebellion, Briscoes vs. Sabin & Shelley, Taven vs. Cole, Bully Ray vs. Young, Lethal vs. Bruiser and White vs. Martinez.

Sinclair Broadcasting is purchasing Bonten Media Group, which owns 14 small market stations in eight markets, for $240 million. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year. If ROH is put on the new stations, which is normally the case with Sinclair acquisitions, that would be the Tri-Cities in Tennessee/Virginia, Greenville, NC, Chico and Eureka, CA, Missoula and Butte, MT, Abilene, and San Angelo, TX.

IMPACT:

The theme at the tapings from 4/20 to 4/23 was that Impact and Global Force Wrestling have merged. Karen Jarrett, pushed as the co-Founder of Global Force, made the statement. So the GFW titles started being defended. Magnus lost his title on 4/22 to Alberto el Patron. Christina Von Eerie lost her women’s title to Sienna on 4/21. They did a tournament for the vacant GFW tag titles (when GFW stopped taping, The Bollywood Boyz were champions) which saw LAX of Santana & Ortiz become dual GFW & TNA tag team champions beating Mayweather & Wilcox, who are called the VOW (Veterans of War). Mayweather used to be Crimson. His real name is Anthony Mayweather. Wilcox is Jax Dane. Another title change saw Low Ki return and win the X title in a six-way on the show that aired on 4/20.

They may be building to unification matches on PPV. The 7/2 Slammiversary main event will be Bobby Lashley vs. Alberto El Patron as TNA vs. GFW champion as well as the match to determine who would be the lead announcer with Jeremy Borash & Joseph Park (Abyss with his old gimmick back as a lawyer) vs. Josh Matthews & Scott Steiner. The story is that when Matthews lost at the last taping which meant he was no longer announcer, it was just something he said but it wasn’t in writing. He showed up about an hour into the show the next week and just started announcing again. Late in the show his explanation was that he lost, he said he was going to leave, he left, Borash & Pope were doing terrible, so he came back. The idea is that they put it in writing and they were just living up to their word and Matthews’ word isn’t good. Well, except Impact advertised it with the stips. Anyway, there is a big picture problem here and that is doing that stuff when the public already has a bad idea about the promotion isn’t a way to change that feeling, and going back to the old tricks that no longer work isn’t going to turn things around either. The 4/20 show ended with Matthews saying Borash wasn’t man enough to hit him, so Borash punched him just as the show was going off the air. This led to Borash getting suspended the next week because, in a WWE spoof, Matthews complained to management that he was being bullied at the announcers desk and that Impact had no choice but to suspend him. Park was then hired as Borash’s attorney and got him off suspension and he comes back. Then both are announcing and continue their bickering during the shows which already ran its course and now will be continuing until early July.

The return of Park is because Decay has been dropped and was literally buried, with a funeral and all. That’s because Crazzy Steve finished up with the promotion on 4/20. He had a WWE developmental offer a few months back so the presumption is that’s where he’s headed. Because of the ROH legal letter, WWE is backing off on signing a lot of people right away coming off working for ROH or TNA. It’s not a rule of thumb since they brought in the Hardys right away, but everyone else that was first offered deals to, or at least thought they were since legally they were under contract with others, and then gave notice, has had things pulled back. I’m not sure the mentality but it may be that guys who it got out were approached while under contract, or word got out they were because saying they were is tampering, are on hold. The bottom line of all this is Steve will be doing indies for what he said was “a limited period of time,” and that’s likely until the actual offer comes through, or the time lag for him to get all his physicals and stuff done and squared away before WWE will officially offer him a deal.

The basic feeling watching this week’s TV is that it’s really good to follow trends in modern wrestling. Non-WWE wrestling, after years of being weak business-wise, is the strongest it has been in a long time whether it be the U.S., Japan or the U.K. In all three countries, the winning concept is based on a variety of different styles but in all cases, hard wrestling is the key component. The argument that doesn’t work on television is hurt when the New Japan show on AXS which is just matches from months ago, with mostly Japanese performers, does better considering the number of homes it is in, than either Impact or Lucha Underground, which both try to do the soap opera stuff. This isn’t to say the soap opera stuff is a negative, but the cheesy stuff WWE can get away with as the major league, but if you want to establish your spot in the current world, its feels so much smarter to rely on a style that is working now as opposed to a style that has failed in the non-WWE world for 20 years.

Eddie Edwards is undergoing surgery to take care of lingering knee issues so is now out of action. The surgery is said to be minor and the word is he’ll only be out of action a short period of time.

The tapings covered the rest of April and all of May. The next set of tapings will be 5/30 and 5/31 in Mumbai, India where they’ll tape four weeks of shows for June, with the final angles for Slammiversary.

Matt Sydal debuted on the 4/21 tapings and is getting a big push with wins on his first night over Trevor Lee and Eddie Edwards.

There was a big backstage argument at the tapings on 4/23. It started with Karen Jarrett and Bob Ryder, and then escalated to Jeff Jarrett and Bob Ryder. The first argument was over Ryder forgetting to book a hotel room. Jeff and Ryder’s argument was apparently very heated and it appeared at the time that Jarrett was going to fire him. Jeff told him to leave the tapings, which he did in the middle of the show. But after the tapings were over, both were back at the office in Nashville working like nothing had happened.

There was a funny thing as TNA released to DirecTV before the 4/20 live show this message for the 4/27 show, “Newly crowned X Division champion Low Ki appears; Moose defends his Impact Grand Championship against Chris Adonis (which ended up not happening).” If this was another point in time, that would have gotten out before the live show and spoiled the Low Ki appearance, but so few people actually found it, and I never even heard about it until after the 4/20 show was over and I sensed almost nobody knew of the Low Ki title win until it took place in the building just before it aired on television.

The Mascarita Dorada (Torito) and Swoggle program we wrote about last week is not happening.

Travis Flip Gordon isn’t coming in. He was offered a per date deal, but Impact would also be in control of his outside bookings. He was getting 10-12 dates per month, and that would probably be added to since he’s starting to make his name. He’s also had an offer from ROH. The feeling is that because TNA is looking at charging their own brokering fee on bookings that most promoters aren’t going to be booking TNA talent unless they are top names worth the hassle and the increased fee.

Dezmond Xavier also debuted as an X Division wrestler.

Kongo Kong will be headed to the U.K. for the World of Sport tapings.

Notes from the 4/20 tapings. The TV show opened with a strong video package for the Bobby Lashley vs. James Storm title match. Ortiz & Santana, as LAX, beat Joe Coleman & Jake Homes on 2:32. Coleman & Holmes are from Detroit and are students of Scott D’Amore. Coleman looks to have potential. LAX won with a double-team blockbuster off the top rope on Holmes, called the street sweeper. Konnan did an interview and said LAX was as serious as a late period. Decay came out and there was a pull-apart brawl which ended with Santana doing a running flip dive over the top onto everyone. Karen Jarrett, called the Queen of the Mountain, came out. She said she was the co-founder of GFW and that GFW and Impact Wrestling have merged. If that’s the case, how come Chael Sonnen isn’t announcing and Pope is still there? The fans politely applauded, kind of like they thought they should have. Karen is usually very good on interviews but she was shaky here. She said tonight’s show was the Night of Champions and ran down the show. Sonjay Dutt showed up and said he wanted to make the Trevor Lee vs. Andrew Everett match into a three-way because he’d never held the X title and was back and looking for a chance. He talked about how he and others made the X Division and how the X Division was the cornerstone of the company, and said he thinks it should be the main event. Everett came out and he didn’t think Dutt belonged in the match. Lee & Shane Helms were out. Helms said that if Dutt was here for years and years and never won the title, maybe it means he sucks. Bruce Prichard came out and first ordered a three-way, but then said the ring had six sides so he was going to add three more guys. This led to a brawl with Helms & Lee vs. Dutt & Everett. Everett & Dutt cleaned house and both grabbed the belt.

They did a personality profile on Mayweather. He said his name was Anthony Mayweather, that he used to be Crimson, talked about growing up without a father, showed his football photos from high school and said after high school he went to college, partied too much, and was gone, so he enlisted and now he’s part of the VOW team. Rosemary beat ODB to keep the Knockouts title in 3:44 with the F-5, which is called the red wedding. This match was bad. Swoggle came out. MacKenzie Mitchell interviewed Prichard and Karen Jarrett and asked who the other people in the X title match would be. Prichard said Suicide was one of them but said the others would be a surprise, and said he Karen had to now watch the Knockouts title match and left. The only problem is this interview was placed after the Knockouts title match had ended. Oh well. Sienna confronted Karen and wanted the GFW women’s champion.

Kongo Kong beat Chris Silvio in 1:17 with a splash off the top rope. Laurel Van Ness, still in her wedding dress and drinking heavily, manages Kong, who is basically a much flabbier version of Kimala, but also not African-American. Storm did a promo saying he knows that Lashley can’t sleep at night because he’s scared of losing the title. Alberto El Patron did a taped promo from a Combate Americas show saying he wanted the winner of Lashley vs. Storm. He also said he hoped it would be Lashley. Mitchell interviews Magnus who said that Alberto doesn’t deserve a title shot because he’s done nothing in this promotion. He said it doesn’t matter what you’ve done elsewhere. Of course that was silly since he had the GFW belt and wanted an Impact title shot based on what he had done elsewhere. He challenged Alberto to a match. Lashley pinned Storm in 17:06. Josh Matthews came out with Lashley. Lashley was announced at 278 pounds, which is ridiculous because not only is he clearly not, but when he fights, he’s in the 240s. At one point Matthews tried to give Lashley a bottle to use, but EC 3 came out and stopped him. The arguing among the announcers all through this took away greatly from the match. It was not good either. It seemed like they got lost and a lot of stuff looked off, particularly late. Lashley tried a chair shot but Storm missed, the chair hit the ropes and rebounded hitting Lashley in the head. It didn’t look that good. There was a ref bump, which is exactly something they should have put a moratorium on for a while under they re-established themselves and the titles. Storm hit two superkicks but no ref. Storm then got a beer bottle but EC 3 took it away from him and turned heel, hitting Storm with it. Lashley then hit the spear and got the pin.

Mitchell interviewed Dutch Mantel, who said the fifth person in the X match was Dezmond Xavier, saying people don’t know him, but by the end of the match they will. They showed an angle from Border City Wrestling in Windsor, ONT, which is D’Amore’s promotion, where Chris Adonis (formerly Chris Masters) laid out Moose with the Adonis lock. Moose challenged him to a match next week. Adonis came out with his arm in a sling and said he broke his arm and wouldn’t be ready to compete by next week. Davey Richards then attacked Moose and beat him down while Angelina Love taunted Moose. Low Ki won the X title in 19:04 in the six-way over Suicide, Xavier, Dutt, Everett and Lee. Low Ki worked the match in a suit, dress pants and even a tie, but wearing MMA gloves and pro wrestling boots. This turned out to be a really good match. Lee is so talented and Xavier is a great high flyer and everyone else in the match can go. There was a spot where all five gave Lee a dropkick at the same time. Low Ki in landing, his foot landed on Dutt’s right eye. His right eye started swelling up badly. It looked like a broken orbital bone but apparently he was okay. He kept working, including doing a moonsault to the floor. Xavier did a space flying Tiger drop on everyone. Suicide did a springboard backwards Nestea plunge. Everett did a springboard shooting star press to the floor. Everett used reverse Frankensteiners on Xavier and Lee. Low Ki pinned Lee clean with a double foot stomp to the back. After the match, with another argument with Matthews and Borash, was where Borash punched him.

They taped some stuff after for 4/27. EC 3 did an interview saying he carried the company on his back for three years and said the fans can kiss his ass and he’d win the title back at Slammiversary. Storm came in and said he knows EC 3 is jealous. Storm said he’s been with the company from the start and lost his position because they gave new guys a chance. Storm said he wants a fight with EC 3, telling him that his family can’t protect him anymore. EC 3 refused. Then they started a fight, and EC 3 laid out Storm with a low blow. Von Eerie beat Ava Story to retain the GFW title. Moose vs. Richards for the Grand title ended when Edwards ran in, as did Gary Barnidge of the Cleveland Browns and DeAngelo Williams. This was an attempt to get Sports Center and mainstream pub because Barnidge bodyslammed Richards. Swoggle and Spud were running around and Spud pulled Swoggle’s pants down. Kong beat somebody. Mayweather & Wilcox beat Fallah Bah & Mario Bokara. Swoggle came back and attacked Spud. Santana & Ortiz retained the tag titles beating Abyss & Steve in a street fight.

Notes from the 4/21 tapings. This stuff will air in May, but not sure dates. Matthews came out with Scott D’Amore, Pat Kenney and another person who played a role that may have been a lawyer and they announced the Borash suspension. Sydal beat Trevor Lee with a shooting star press. Sienna beat Von Eerie to win the GFW title. EC 3 beat Jon Bolen with the one percenter. He vowed to win the title at Slammiversary, although he ended up not in the title match. Borash was walking around the building with a “Free JB” sign and the crowd chanted “Free JB.” Magnus beat Matt Morgan to keep the GFW title with a low blow. Kongo Kong, managed by Laurel Van Ness, beat William Waits. They are building a mixed tag program with Kong & Van Ness vs. Braxton Sutter & Allie. Sutter & Allie came out during this segment. Laredo Kid & Garza Jr. beat Idris Abraham & Haki Zane. Sienna retained the GFW title over ODB. Sydal pinned Edwards with a shooting star press in what was said to be really good. Davey Richards & Angelina Love attacked Edwards & wife Alisha. Moose beat Marshe Rockett to keep the Grand championship. EC 3 did a promo mocking James Storm, pretending to be a cowboy and sang a parody of “Friends in Low Places.” Storm came out. They had a brawl which led to EC handcuffing him to the ropes, pulling off his shirt and whipping Storm with a belt. When Kenney tried to break it up, he got whipped a few times as well. Alberto beat Eli Drake with the double foot stomp. Tyrus was interfering but got kicked out. Alberto did an interview which was probably just for the live crowd considering he told Matthews to “Get the F*** out” and about how he left Paige in San Antonio and didn’t bring her here because he didn’t want her getting in trouble.

Notes from the 4/22 tapings. Borash was still suspended here and they got fans to chant “Free JB.” Everett won a four-way over Sydal, Xavier and Konley. Alisha beat Love via DQ when Love used Brass Knux. Edwards was on crutches from an attack earlier. Richards attacked Edwards with his crutches. LAX (Santana & Ortiz) beat Garza Jr. & Laredo Kid in the first round of the GFW tag title tournament when they pinned Garza. Alberto beat Magnus with the armbar to win the GFW title. In his promo after winning, Alberto said he left that other place because he was so miserable but has no found a place he can call home. Kong pinned Sutter. KM, Sienna, Van Ness and Kong beat down Allie & Sutter after the match. Shera made the save to set up Shera & Sutter vs. Kong & KM. Kevin Matthews is going by KM because they already have Josh Matthews. Next was the Funeral segment for Decay. LAX was there and Konnan said they were going to blaze one up in Decay’s honor and said this funeral also represents all the other tag teams. A planted fan waved an American flag and Konnan said that flag was as useful as toilet paper. This led to the Veterans of War destroying LAX. EC 3 was wrestling Storm. Magnus was at ringside, with the idea he was injured. Magnus started arguing with Storm. Prichard came out and kicked Magnus out. EC 3 then attacked the ref and started whipping ref Brian Stiffler with a belt. Magnus came back out and attacked Storm. Prichard ordered a three-way. Prichard once again cut a promo on EC 3, with the idea he’s a Carter and from the old administration. Prichard told EC 3 that he needed to find his balls. EC 3 then beat down Prichard. So this angle set up Prichard hiring Tyrus as his bodyguard. After the funeral for Decay, Joseph Park showed up as the lawyer for Borash and announced he had been reinstated after his suspension. Park announced Borash is back as the lead announcer immediately. Matthews said that everyone knows Park is Abyss. This set up the announcement of Park & Borash vs. Matthews and a mystery partner. The main event on the show saw Low Ki retain the X title in a three-way ladder match over Lee and Everett.

Notes from the final tapings on 4/23. They did an afternoon taping for a One Night Only show with Lashley beating Edwards to retain the title in the main event. For Impact, Borash announced that Josh Matthews won’t be on the show. Prichard has hired Tyrus as his bodyguard because of what EC 3 did. They announce EC 3 vs. Magnus vs. Storm in a no DQ match for the No. 1 contender for Lashley. KM & Kong beat Sutter & Shera when KM pins Shera. After the match, Sienna and Van Ness beat up Allie until Rosemary made the save, blowing mist at Sienna and Laying out Van Ness. In the other semifinal in the GFW tag title tourney, Mayweather & Wilcox beat Bah & Mario Bokara when Mayweather pinned Bokara. Josh Matthews came out and asked Borash to come to the ring. Matthews said he’s made a lot of mistakes. He apologized to Mike Tenay for taking his job. He said he unblocked Dave Penzer on Twitter and made up with Shark Boy. He apologized to Borash. Park told him not to do it. Borash asked who his partner is. Matthews wouldn’t tell him. Scott Steiner then showed up and laid out Park and Matthews announced he was the partner. Steiner chased Borash away so Matthews did commentary the rest of the show. Edwards & Alisha beat Richards & Love. Alisha pinned Love but Love put Alisha through a table while Richards held back Edwards. The main event of that show is EC 3 over Magnus and Storm in a no DQ match. This was a weapons match which ended when Storm superkicked Magnus, but EC 3 gave Storm a jumping knee from behind and stole the pin on Magnus. The final show taped starts with Moose over Drake via decision in a Grand Championship match. The judges were Prichard, Dutch Mantell and Scott D’Amore. Allie beat Amber Nova, a Florida indie wrestler, in a short match. They brought out a Barber Shop quartet called The Orange Blossom Quartet to sing songs about EC 3. Alberto came out and Karen Jarrett and Prichard announce EC 3 vs. Alberto with the winner facing Lashley in the Slammiversary main event. Santana & Ortiz beat Mayweather & Wilcox in the finals of the GFW tag tourney. Konnan hit Mayweather with a pipe and Ortiz hit Wilcox with a belt shot. Low Ki kept the X title in a three-way over Everett and Dutt when Low Ki pinned Everett. They did an angle where Rockstar Spud beat down Swoggle with a hammer so they’re doing a program. Alberto beat EC 3 in the cage match with a double foot stomp followed by a frog splash to get the title shot. This was said to be a really good bout.

UFC:

With Conor McGregor such an important part of UFC’s financial future, given the declines throughout business this year with him on the sidelines, if he does make $75 million against Floyd Mayweather (and he’s claiming it’ll be more than $100 million because $75 million is based on conservative PPV projections–although historically McGregor has exaggerated significantly when it comes to PPV), exactly what will it take to get him to fight after that payoff? Will he come back for $10 million or $15 million, and if he won’t, how much can UFC pay him for a 1 million buy show while maintaining its usual profitability? And keep in mind, nobody draws outrageous numbers forever.

McGregor was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world this week. It’s the second time someone from MMA made the list as Ronda Rousey was on it last year. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote a piece on McGregor for the magazine.

Speaking of Rousey, she and Travis Browne got engaged while they were on a vacation in New Zealand under a waterfall. He’s been married twice before, most recently to model Jenna Webb, who he married in 2015 and then they split when he got with Rousey several months later and they were divorced.

Dana White claimed on the Fight Pass show “The Exchange,” that there was a $5 billion bid for the UFC last year. He claimed the offer wasn’t taken because Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta didn’t agree with the people making the bid’s vision for the company and were more sold on the WME IMG group. The Ferittas were able to maintain stock in the company with the WME IMG group. I wouldn’t know who that bid was from. We’d been told it came down to WME IMG and China Media Capital, and both bids were very close to the same number, with both bids at just under $4 billion. White claimed, “One of the million things I respect about the Ferittas, they weren’t just going to let this thing go for the money. They were going to make sure it went to somebody who could actually take it and bring it to the next level.” White said he never thought about retiring, like Joe Silva did, with all the cash he got out of the deal. White, besides getting his cash, also got a piece of the company and an annual contract that pays him nine percent of the year-end EBITDA. If last year’s margins hold up, that number would be in excess of $16 million, although with PPV being much lower this year, it may be a little lower, although there was also a ton of cost cutting done to keep the margins up. For all the talk of things getting bad, and ratings and PPV are way down this year (but that’s also in comparison to a ridiculously good year last year), the profit margins remain extremely high. Of course, that leads to a lot of unhappy fighters.

The idea of Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre headlining on 7/8 looks dead. Bisping, on his podcast, said they were doing the fight, but GSP didn’t want to fight in July and Bisping said he’s got a bad knee and could use the extra rest as well. Bisping felt the fight would take place in October.

That means, for now, the top match they have for the 7/8 show in Las Vegas, which is the International Fight Week show, is Cody Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw for the bantamweight title. The impression is that they are going to add a Tyron Woodley title defense to the show.

There isn’t another show until 5/13 in Dallas, which is UFC 211 with the most loaded lineup so far this year with Stipe Miocic vs. Junior Dos Santos for the heavyweight title, Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Jessica Andrade for the strawweight title, Demian Maia vs. Jorge Masvidal, Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodriguez, Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis and Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier in the top bouts.

C.M. Punk will be on the show “The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros.” The show features sports figures doing athletic challenges against former winners of MTV reality shows like Road Rules and Real World. The show debuts on 5/16. The athletes will be competing for different charities, with Punk competing for PAWS Chicago, an animal shelter. Punk is listed as a UFC fighter. The other athletes for former Olympic team members, two former NFL stars, one former WNBA star, a surfer and a snowboarder, including Lolo Jones, Shawne Merriman, Kamerion Wimbley and Tia Blanco.

Frank Mir was officially suspended for two years, although he’s already served one year of the suspension, for a positive test for DHMCT, an anabolic agent. He tested positive for the drug on March 20, 2016, in an out of competition test. They evidently have a new test for the drug as they also retested his sample from a February 5, 2016, drug test, and it was positive for it as well. Mir, 37, made a statement saying that he did not knowingly take any banned substance. He said he’s been focusing on trying to find out what caused the test, which he was told would have been from consuming something six weeks prior to March 20. He said he was frustrated because he was first told the February test was clean, only to be told that it wasn’t, and that the DHMCT could have been in his system for as long as two years, which he noted is when he was using TRT (he was given an exemption).

Luke Rockhold was on Submission Radio pushing for a fight on the 7/8 show against Robert Whittaker. Rockhold noted that 7/8 was his target date to return due to problems with his left knee that took him out of fighting Ronaldo Jacare Souza. He said UFC asked him about 6/3 in Rio de Janeiro and facing Anderson Silva, and while early, he accepted the fight because he liked the idea of it. But Silva didn’t agree to the fight. He said UFC wanted it, he agreed to it, Dana wanted it and Anderson didn’t. He said the idea of facing Silva was 100% not happening. Rockhold said he was less interested in facing Gegard Mousasi (who is a free agent right now as his contract expired with his win over Chris Weidman), but still would like to move to heavyweight and face Fabricio Werdum. Rockhold on the show said, “I fight heavyweights every day in the gym. I know where I stand with the best heavyweights in the world and what I’m capable of.” “You want to talk about a chicken? You’re talking about a middleweight coming up to fight you at heavyweight that you declined that the UFC was into. So who’s the chicken?” Rockhold also said that he heard GSP doesn’t want to face Michael Bisping until September, and he thinks that’s holding the division up for too long. He’s pushing for Bisping to fight Yoel Romero first, and while there is time for that, if Romero beats Bisping, it kills much of the incentive of the GSP vs. Bisping fight because it takes away GSP going for a title. And I’m skeptical of GSP wanting to face Romero because of how they match up and the size difference. Rockhold said that he’s been able to throw left kicks and get them checked without any pain so he can finally train hard.

Right now they are looking at doing a major show in late August.

Fight Pass has dropped Combate Americas, which is the group Alberto El Patron is the public face of. There was likely an issue when it came to viewership numbers, but it probably didn’t help matters when they constantly talked about being in competition with UFC and claimed they were beating UFC in Mexico.

Tom Breese will be out of action for a long period of time after suffering a torn right ACL and meniscus.

Paul Craig vs. Khalil Rountree, Ryan Janes vs. Jack Marshman and Mark Godbeer vs. Justin Willis were all added to the 7/16 show in Glasgow. That show hasn’t announced a main event.

Marc Diakiese (who is 12-0 and looked great in his last fight) vs. Drakkar Klose (7-0-1) and Jared Cannonier vs. Steve Bosse have been added to the 7/7 show in Las Vegas, which would be the Friday night on FS 1 event. Bosse is coming off one of the best brawls in recent years in his fight last June with Sean O’Connell.

Darren Till vs. Jessin Ayari, Omari Akhmedov vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan have been added to the 5/28 show in Stockholm.

Luan Chagas vs. Jim Wallhead has been added to the 6/3 PPV show in Rio de Janeiro.

BELLATOR:

Ryan Bader replaces an injured King Mo Lawal to challenge Phil Davis for the Bellator light heavyweight title on the company’s biggest show in its history on 6/24 in Madison Square Garden. Bader defeated Davis by close decision in a fight that could have gone either way in the UFC. The five-round fight will air as the TV main event on Spike before the PPV starts. Because of the fight being five rounds and it has to end by 10 p.m., they are only doing three TV fights, with the other two bouts being James Gallagher (6-0) vs. Chinzo Machida (5-2), who is Lyoto’s brother, and Neiman Gracie (5-0) vs. David Marfone (5-2). Another famous family name, Ryan Couture, moves up from lightweight to welterweight and faces Haim Gozali in a prelim match on the Internet. The final spot on the PPV card, the PPV opener, will feature the MMA debut of Aaron Pico, who has never even had an amateur fight, facing Zach Greeman (8-2), a six-year vet. Notably, Pico, who wrestled at 145, is moving up to 155 as a fighter. Pico has been training boxing with Freddie Roach and Jiu Jitsu with Eddie Bravo of late, and fights out of the AKA camp in San Jose, where we’ve heard people say that as a fighter, he’s got as much potential as anyone, but as far as being a superstar, he still has to work as marketing himself. I can’t think of anyone since B.J. Penn who had more hype on his debut than Pico, who was a freshman in high school when people were first talking about him being a future MMA champion.

Patricio Pitbull Freire (26-4) regained the featherweight title in his fourth match with Daniel Straus (24-7) on 4/21 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. Freire was recovering from a broken leg and Straus from a broken hand. As Straus went for a takedown to start the second round, Freire got him in a guillotine at :37. Freire then climbed on the cage to celebrate and the Mohegan Tribe Commission fined him $2,500. Commission head Mike Mazzuli said that seven different times at weigh-ins the fighters were told no climbing on the cage. Freire has now beaten Straus three of four times and said he wants to move on, and in particular said he wants to challenge lightweight champion Michael Chandler, since Chandler and the Pitbull Brothers have had problems and Chandler knocked out his older brother. In other TV bouts, Ilima MacFarlane (6-0) beat Jessica Middleton (2-1) via armbar in 2:15. Saad Awad (20-9) beat Ryan Quinn (13-7-1) via decision and in a match between guys that were considered major prospects, A.J. McKee (8-0) knocked out Dominic Mazzotta (12-2) with a high kick in 1:15. The two former amateur wrestling stars they’ve been pushing also won. Ed Ruth beat David Mundell with strikes at 3:13 of the second round. Tyrell Fortune won a straight 29-27 decision over Branko Busick. Busick, a former college football player, is the son of former pro wrestler Nick “Big Bully” Busick, who was in his son’s corner. With Sean Grande being such a huge wrestling fan, he pointed out that. This was Busick’s first pro fight. Fortune ran through him, but lost a point for a low blow. However, Busick did knock Fortune down in the second round.

The next show is 5/19 from SSE Wembley with Rory MacDonald’s debut with the promotion against Paul Daley.

They also announced a 7/14 show from Thackerville, OK with a Patricky Pitbull Freire vs. Derek Campos rematch (Freire beat him three years ago).

OTHER MMA:

The One promotion based in Singapore, which runs throughout Asia, noted that their television is now airing in 118 countries.

In another end of an era story, Gong Kakutogi, which was for years the leading martial arts magazine in the world, published its final issue on 4/22 after 31 years. It was created as an offshoot of the Gong Magazine of wrestling fame and outlasted its wrestling counterpart. It covered kickboxing and karate and early versions of different real fighting sports and evolved into an MMA magazine.

Miguel Torres, 36, the former WCW bantamweight champion who was considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport in 2008 and early 2009, announced his retirement this past week. Torres started fighting in 2000 and had compiled a 32-1 record, mostly fighting people much larger than him, when he was signed by the WEC in 2007. In his second fight with the organization, he defeated Chase Beebe on February 13, 2008, too become the WEC bantamweight champion, which is the belt that is not the UFC bantamweight championship. At the time, he and Urijah Faber were the two stars of the WEC and considered two of the best all-around fighters in the sport. But he was knocked out by Brian Bowles on August 9, 2009, in Las Vegas and lost the title in what was a major upset. Bowles ended up losing the title to Dominick Cruz, who dominated the title for years between injuries. Torres moved to UFC and lost to Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson, before being knocked out by Michael McDonald on August 21, 2012, in Atlanta, in his last fight with the UFC. He moved to WSOF, both lost both of his fights there and faded to smaller shows.

A correction from last week’s story on WSOF being sold and renamed. We had listed WSOF as airing on TSN in Canada, but they have not aired on TSN since TSN picked up UFC. They air in Canada on The Fight Network after a period of time when they had no television there.

WWE:

After all the success of “Fate of the Furious,” not only are two more movies from that series planned for the next three or four years, but Universal is looking to build a spin-off movie that Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham would star in, using their characters from the last two movies, to form an unlikely alliance. That movie would be filmed before the next Fast and Furious installment. Deadline.com reported this being in its early stages. “Fate of the Furious” is now at $908,609,923 in worldwide gross with $164 million coming in the U.S. It’s on is way to being the fastest movie in history to break the $1 billion mark, and will so this week.

According to those in the company, the push of Jinder Mahal has everything to do with a new strategy earmarking India. The strategy is a likely response to Impact’s deal to have a television show in the market produced in India. The push of Mahal and the former Bollywood Boys, Harv & Gurv Sihra, now named The Singh Brothers, Samir & Sunil Singh, started just before WWE announced the hiring of Sheetesh Srivastava as the new Vice President and General Manager of WWE India, indicating going stronger into the market. WWE has more social media followers in India than anywhere else, including the U.S. It’s been noted that most of the social media followers WWE has comes from countries that they don’t make much money in. Srivastava comes from the Walt Disney office in India here he worked in business development for Disney Media Networks overseeing content creation, distribution, marketing and syndication. It’s very clearly a last minute decision since they had done nothing to position him as a non-prelim guy, and then snapped their fingers and made him a main event championship contender. Sometimes this stuff works, although usually it only works with actual new characters and not someone who had been around for years. But you never know what will work on top if it isn’t tried, and the luxury of current WWE is that more than any other promotion, they take no hits if they try and fail. It’s been done before, such as the R-Truth heel turn and move into a main eventer role, which didn’t work and R-Truth wasn’t as low on the totem poll as Mahal, but people didn’t see him as a main eventer and he didn’t last in that position. With Mahal, it’s a different issue as if they are doing it for the Indian market, even if it doesn’t click in the U.S. market, it may still be an effective international strategy. The one thing is, if he is pushed as a headliner, whether it takes in the U.S. or not, he will get over to people in India watching and he is like a million times better than Mahabali Shera or Great Khali, although obviously Khali did have the unique size to make him someone that would get over in a new market.

Another aspect of this is the company holding tryouts in Dubai 4/26 to 4/29. The key is that they are looking at getting anyone with any potential from Khali’s school. That beats Impact to the punch since Impact and Sony Six were planning a television show for India using locals as the top stars, and looking at getting the best students from Khali’s school (Jesus “Ricardo” Rodriguez was the actual trainer but they used Khali’s name since he’s a big celebrity there). The idea is to heavily target the Indian market and the fact Impact got a local TV deal to use local talent meant the process sped up immediately. Names at the tryout are Ha Rman Saini (the champion of Khali’s local promotion), Sukhi Grewal, Giant Wonder, Shanky Singh (billed at 7-feet tall), Dinesh, Panjak (half of the tag team champions), Walid Yari (a bodybuilder), Saurav Gurjas (a kickboxer), James Garrad (a professional strongman from the U.K.), Islam Gongon (a bodybuilder from Egypt), Mo Ismail (a champion bodybuilder from Egypt who was living in Massachusetts who was in the Guinness Book of World Records for having supposed 31 inch arms, and his arms were at the time enormous to a level I’ve never seen before, but he’s dropped a ton of weight since then and he looks like any other bodybuilder now), M Munaf (an MMA fighter), Crimson Cage (who wrestles in Dubai), Fayez Al Emerate (another Dubai wrestler) and female wrestler Davi Kavita (who we wrote about last week).

Mick Foley had his hip replacement surgery on 4/19 which went well and he’s hoping this will lead to a lot more pain-free existence. With the wisdom of experience, he is very much questioning all of those elbows off the apron and other hip trauma he did during his career. Besides the hip itself being a mess, I think it was one of the worst hips of someone his age that the doctors had seen aside from accident victims. That shouldn’t be a surprise because aside from possibly a stunt man, who would damage their hips more by the age of 50 unless you were in a bad car accident or something like that. Foley had, besides the hip damage, both muscular and neurological damage in that part of the body.

Jericho’s final show for now will be this coming week’s 5/1 Raw in Sacramento. He’s going back to Fozzy and music. With Jericho, he always keeps it secret as far as when he’s planning on returning and how long he’ll be gone. One would think with this last run being one of the most fun and successful he’s had, he’s said it’s been his favorite since the 2008-2009 run, that he’ll be show up unannounced at some point.

Jim Ross’ book “Slobberknocker,” co-written by Paul O’Brien (the late Scott Williams also had a hand in the book) will be released in October by Skyhorse Publishing. Vince McMahon will do the foreword and Steve Austin will also pen a piece in the book.

WWE taped a Table for Three with Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash and A.J. Styles. The reason Styles was there with them was to talk about the idea of a Styles vs. Michaels match. Styles went on social media trying to push the match. Unlike when Steve Austin cut that promo on Lesnar and Vince McMahon got mad because they did such a good job hyping a match he couldn’t deliver, Vince didn’t get mad at all. Michaels said that while writers have asked him over the years about doing another match, this was the first time Vince himself ever asked him, which would have been for a match at the Rumble in San Antonio. In the end, Michaels didn’t want to come out of retirement, although he spoke about how there is a part of him that would love a match with Styles. Nash there joked that he watches Styles and thinks when he sees him and Styles could carry him.

Corbin attacked Zayn on Talking Smack on 4/25, to help build their upcoming program. There was a storyline one week suspension. Since there are no Smackdown shows this weekend, it doesn’t matter other than they may hold him off television next week.

Roderick Strong (real name Chris Lindsay, 33) and fiancé Marina Shafir, 29, an MMA fighter and best friend of Ronda Rousey, had a 7-pound 11-ounce baby boy Troy Venian Lindsey, on 4/24.

Cena turned 40 on 4/23. Vince McMahon sent out a Tweet and called Cena the Babe Ruth of the WWE.

Shaquille O’Neil on why the match with Show never happened at Mania: “Because they kept playing. First they said it was me and Big Show. Then they said it was going to be 3 and 3. Then they canceled it, so when they canceled it, I made other arrangements. And then they tried to call back and tried to get it done, and I just said, `I’m not going to do it.’ They messed it up..

Wilder had surgery on 4/21 to get his jaw wired shut. He noted that after surgery, he went to the gym that day to do shrugs

It doesn’t look like the Jonathan Good/Rene Paquette wedding was taped. Paquette told E! that they had gotten a marriage license six months ago, and the wedding was a spur of the moment thing where they just called up a 24-hour pastor. She said they were about to go to bed when he pulled out a ring and suggested getting married right there. She went on Yelp, found a poastor to cmoe to the hir hoem and got amrried in their backyard. They said they luckily found a pastor who lived around the corner from them and got married at 1 a.m. late Saturday night on 4/15.

Regarding the last time before Orlando that a WWE championship was defended on a non-WWE event appears to be Gillberg defending the light heavyweight title on an indie show on January 15, 2000, show in Mt. Holly, NJ. At least that’s the last we’ve heard at this point.

Tajiri, 46, has returned to Japan. He made a statement saying that after his recovery from his knee injury, he was cleared, but instead of wrestling, has been coaching at NXT. He gave the impression that due to his age that the company decided not to use him, but said he is open to return. .. Regarding PW Torch reports on Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis coming in, while we can’t 100 percent confirm that, it’s been strongly hinted to us that was the case since they left TNA. The impression we have is they are just waiting to start, and the way they’ve been booked in Northeast Wrestling would seem to indicate they aren’t going to be there much longer. Right now Bennett is filming a movie in Rhode Island that stars legendary actor Ed Asner of “Lou Grant” and “Mary Tyler Moore” TV fame. Asner has a pro wrestling connection in that he grew up and was friends from high school football with Bob Orton Sr., Randy’s grandfather and they kept in touch the rest of Bob’s life, as well as he was the star of the original 1974 movie “The Wrestler,” produced by Verne Gagne, and remained friends with Gagne, even visiting Gagne several years ago.

Wendy Barlow, the fiancé of Ric Flair, was in a serious auto accident on 4/25. She was hospitalized, but after a battery of tests, the injuries weren’t serious and she was back home and resting by the next morning.

Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford are now being called The Street Prophets.

There is nothing funnier to me than hearing pro wrestlers talk about how Shane McMahon would be able to fight and do well in UFC. Tommy Dreamer and Bully Ray actually went on TMZ and claimed he’d do well in UFC. The guy is 47 years old and he’s not Herschel Walker who was one of the greatest athletes our generation and he’s not Dan Henderson who made two Olympic teams in wrestling and has scary punching power. He has no combat sports experience. This isn’t to say he may or may not have been able to do anything 25 years ago, but even then, there’s no kickboxing or Jiu Jitsu or wrestling competition background that could even lead you to saying anything back then. After writing this, Paul Lazenby, a movie stunt man who in the 90s competing in MMA and kickboxing, and was also a pro wrestler (and later a commentator for fighting sports in Canada), appeared on the “Killing the Town” podcast hosted by Lance Storm and Don Callis and essentially cut promos on everyone involved. He noted he was older than Shane and he’d love to face Shane on a Rizin show, but also noted that he has nothing against Shane and it wasn’t Shane making the comments, but pointed out how ridiculous the comments were. He then went completely off on Taz and challenged him as well, although Taz has serious neck issues which is why he retired from wrestling and doesn’t even do angles where there’s any contact involved. He was furious at Taz for outright claiming that the Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm fight was fixed, which admittedly, was kind of embarrassing that he went strongly in that direction and never backed off of it.

Larry Richert of KDKA television in Pittsburgh is putting together a tour of Italy bringing Bruno Sammartino for the first four days. The tour will be 8/3 to 8/14 with Sammartino there until 8/6. Sammartino will go to Abruzzi, Italy, which is near where he grew up and where he was billed from at times during his career, and then to Pizzoferrato, the town near Abruzzi where he actually grew up and is considered the town’s hero. They will have a special dedication to Sammartino when he’s there.

There was a ceremony on 4/24 at Rikidozan’s grave site (which is something of a historical monument in Japan) with WWE officials presenting the Hall of Fame Legacy plaque to Mitsuo Momota and Chikara Momota, the son and grandson of Rikidozan. Mitsuo Momota said that this was a great honor. A lot of Japanese celebrates were there including Takeshi Kitano of “Beat Takeshi” fame, who was in the 80s described to me as the Johnny Carson of Japan (or for a more modern reference, David Letterman or Jay Leno in their primes but much bigger), as well as the original Tiger Mask.

Developmental wrestler Chris Atkins, 28, was released on 4/25. Atkins, from Australia was a bodybuilder who also worked as an independent wrestler earlier in his life. He was from Melbourne, Australia and moved to Los Angeles in 2014 more for bodybuilding, but was a fan of John Cena from the age of 14. He started pro wrestling at 19, but then drifted away to compete in bodybuilding. He had good size and a good luck and while training in the gym, someone from WWE happened to be there and took his photo and sent to the powers that . He was invited for a tryout and was signed after the tryout. He got on some Florida shows and did a few TV matches as enhancement but never got farther.

Also released was Andria Ocampo (Andria D’Marco), one of the many pretty brunette clones hired to be an announcer. She hosted house shows and did interviews for a period on NXT.

It used to be that you could figure out who would win on PPV based on the go-home show. In the sense that the guy on top on the go-home show would lose. But they’ve been mixing things up more. So far in 2017 winners on the go-home show went on to win on PPV 53 percent, while losers on the go-home show went on to win 60 percent of the time. In specifics when they are in tags or facing each other both on Raw and the PPV, right now the winners of the TV match and losers of the TV match have this year so far each won 50 percent of the time, so there’s no predicting who wins and loses on PPV on a formula based on the go-home Raw.

Neville, Gallagher, Trent Seven, Wolfgang, Pete Dunne and Tyson T-Bone have all been added to the NXT tour of the U.K. in June.

WWE stock closed at $21.27 per share this week. Really, if the Trump plans to cut business income tax to 15 percent goes through, the stock should go way up as on a $70 million pre-tax profit, that would change overall profits from $46 million to closer to $60 million. The market value of the company is now $1.63 billion.

With little in the way of new programming on the network this week besides the wrestling shows, the actual wrestling shows did better than usual. The ten most watched shows were: 1. NXT from 4/19; 2. WrestleMania; 3. 205 Live from 4/18; 4. Talking Smack from 4/18; 5. Ride Along with Swann, Perkins, Gallagher and Kendrick; 6. NXT from 4/12; 7. Ride Along with Miz, Maryse, Carmella and Bliss 8. Royal Rumble 2017; 9. NXT Takeover Orlando; 10. Beyond the Ring: Scott Hall.

Notes from the 4/24 tapings in Kansas City. It wasn’t much of a show. There was a lot of strange booking. Reigns was there in the building but never used. He had taped a promo talking about the death of his brother and the Strowman match, but instead of putting it on TV, they put it on the website. But they kept plugging the interview and pushing people to go to the website to see it and instead put quotes from it up. It was tacky to use the death of his brother as part of his storyline. It wasn’t done as badly as I’ve seen it done elsewhere to the point it really didn’t bother me watching it, but when you think about it, you shouldn’t use real deaths in pro wrestling angles. Some compared it to the 1986 thing in Dallas where they did an angle where Gino Hernandez blinded Chris Adams after they broke up as a team and were going to do a big feud, but right after, Hernandez overdosed and died, and Bill Mercer early in the show said, “We’ve had two horrible tragedies, Chris Adams is blind and Gino Hernandez is dead.” This was Reigns saying this was among the worst two weeks of his life because he was physically beaten down by Strowman and then had to deal with his only blood brother passing away. Considering this was the go-home show, that was a weak build. I guess the idea was that Reigns wasn’t there since he never confronted Strowman, who was booked as a monster. Strowman actually lost his match to Kalisto, but it was a dumpster match and the loss was in such a fashion that it not only didn’t hurt Strowman, but didn’t help Kalisto since he was destroyed after and came off like someone who might as well have been enhancement talent. When they talk about results that don’t matter, that was the epitome of it.

They largely did nothing that would get you excited for the PPV show. The crowd was 8,500. For Main Event, Rhyno pinned O’Neil after a spinebuster. Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik beat Nese & Gulak. The crowd didn’t react to any of the four but they were into the match. Metalik pinned Gulak with the Dorada screwdriver. Jericho came out to open Raw with the Highlight Reel. He said this would be the last Highlight Reel ever on Raw, because on Sunday he’s going to Payback and when he beats Owens to win the title, he’ll be headed to Smackdown Live. He said Owens looks like the baby of the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Grumpy cats. He said Owens wasn’t the face of America but the hemorrhoid of America. Miz and Maryse came out. Fans were chanting that Miz sucked, but he said he couldn’t possibly suck because he’s not from Kansas City. He said the Highlight Reel has been canceled and will be replaced by Miz TV. They took off the top mat and put in the props for Miz TV. Ambrose came out and called for them to bring in the props for the Ambrose Asylum. Ambrose talked to Jericho and noted that Jericho broke a potted plant over his head but he destroyed Jericho’s lighted jacket. Ambrose gave Jericho a gift. It was a cheap suit with some Christmas tree lights. Ambrose told him to “Try it on, man.” Miz said the jacket was hideous. Miz told Ambrose he was devaluing the IC title every day he has it. Ambrose laid Miz out with Dirty Deeds and Jericho then did a big speech that ended with him putting Maryse on the list. This went way too long. They had three of the best talkers in the company but nobody should be out there doing that stuff for that long.

Matt Hardy pinned Sheamus in 9:59. Matt mostly played the old Matt Hardy but did a few teases of the new character. There was a light “delete” chant when he made his comeback and teased the broken character in a few spots. Jeff distracted Sheamus. Cesaro pulled Jeff on the apron and Matt got the pin after a twist of fate. So leading into the championship match, the challengers have lost twice in a row to the champions. That’s how you build up anticipation in a match. All four shook hands when it was over and Sheamus raised Matt’s hand. Angle was on the phone when Miz walked in, mad that he had to wait two minutes outside the office. He complained about how Jericho and Ambrose ruined Miz TV. Angle said that he was scheduling a tag match with Jericho & Ambrose vs. Miz and a partner of his choosing. Aries & Gallagher beat Neville & Perkins in 6:50. About 4:00 of that was during the commercial break. What aired was good. Aries hit a tope on both. The finish saw Gallagher knock Neville out of the ring with a head-butt and Aries pinned Perkins with a discus fivearm.

Kalisto beat Strowman in the dumpster match in 5:08. Strowman did an interview first telling the fans that were all trash and stuffing Kalisto in the dumpster would be like stuffing every one of you in this. They noted it had been 17 years since the last time WWE had a dumpster match. I wasn’t missing it. Kalisto came off the ropes and Strowman caught him in mid-air in vertical suplex position and threw him. Kalisto nearly did the Benoit/Big Show guillotine spot to get over him the top rope into the dumpster, but Strowman suplexed him back in the ring. Kalisto got out of a press slam and dropkicked Strowman into the dumpster. Strowman then destroyed him after with three choke slams. Strowman got a bloody nose from the match. Strowman threw him into the barricade and threw him into the Dumpster and close the lid. He then locked him in the dumpster and shoved him off the ramp. It was only a couple of feet but when they did this in 1997 with Terry Funk and the New Age Outlaws put him in the Dumpster and threw him off the ramp, Funk was hurt badly by it. He was told it was a safe spot and it wasn’t, so this looking so cheesy but done safer isn’t a bad thing.

Wyatt did an interview. We still don’t know what a House of Horrors match is. Wyatt has such an awesome interview delivery but when he’s done, I remember not a word of what he says. But he is a charismatic star people react to. Brooke pinned Fox in 1:22 with what was something close to a Michinoku driver. It was short to hide the idea these two could have weaknesses. But even in 20 seconds it wouldn’t be short enough. The match was terrible. It was like watching both regress to their second month of training. Emma was watching. After the match, Emma came to the ring and hugged Brooke. Brooke was all weirded out by Emma. Maybe she was just hugging her for sympathy knowing Brooke was about to get lambasted all over social media for the prior 82 seconds. Joe & Gallows & Anderson did a promo for their match. It was supposed to be Enzo & Cass & Rollins vs. Joe & Gallows & Anderson. Joe took out Cass while Gallows & Anderson laid out Enzo with a magic killer on the floor. Then all three started beating on Rollins. Cass then made a comeback. Angle then ordered a replacement for the injured Enzo, and Balor came out. Not sure why, but Balor is very much missing something since he came back. Balor & Cass & Rollins beat Joe & Gallows & Anderson in 5:55. They brawled for a long time before the mach. Rollins did a tope onto Joe and Anderson. The finish saw Rollins tease the pedigree on Anderson, but instead did a new finisher, which was a jumping knee. It’ll take time to get that one over.

Miz was backstage trying to recruit Sheamus or Cesaro to be his partner. They turned him down. Bliss did an interview. She was getting the “What” treatment. She shut them down. It was so much more fun when fans chanted “We don’t wanna hear it” when they wanted to screw with an interview, and the heel said, “Well, you’re gonna hear it.” Bliss did manage to shut down the chant right away. Bayley came out and said that Bliss was the kind of a girl who talks behind people’s backs instead of saying things to her face. She pushed that Payback would be in her hometown. Bliss got all excited saying that means Bayley’s dad is going to be at ringside. Luckily Russo isn’t writing because next week we’d do a segment where Bliss was sleeping with Bayley’s dad. Bliss said that she gets to humiliate her in front of her own father. She called Bayley a pathetic sheltered little child and asked if she’s ever kissed a boy. God was that the worst verbiage ever. The only thing remotely entertaining was Aaron Solow then posting that it must mean he’s never kissed a girl (Solow lives with Bayley and they’ve been together forever and are engaged). Banks came out and called Bliss a troll doll wannabe. Banks decked Bliss. This set up Bliss vs. Banks. Bliss didn’t want the match. Angle ordered it. Banks beat Bliss via walk out count out in 2:37. Yes, this is how they try and excite you do see Bliss go after the championship, by having her go two minutes and walking out of this match. Bayley was on commentary and went to throw Bliss back in the ring, but Bliss broke free and ran to the back. Then Bliss ran back out of the back and attacked Bayley from behind. Banks came running from the ring and Bliss ran away again.

Jericho & Ambrose were backstage. Ambrose wanted Jericho to take him off the list. At first Jericho said that once you’re on the list, you can’t be taken off. Jericho noted that Ambrose did buy him the new jacket, so Jericho took Ambrose off the list. Ambrose celebrated like it was something momentous. But then after Ambrose left, it looked like Jericho put him back on the list. Charly Caruso was talking with Axel and Slater about working on the last Marine movie. Miz & Maryse came out and he asked both of them if they’d team with him. That’s pretty desperate right there. And both turned him down. Slater said he already had a partner. Rhyno showed up eating cheese whiz. Miz & Maryse said “the two of you will never make it in this town.” They thought the meant Kansas City but Maryse said she meant Hollywood. She also shoved over Rhyno’s plate of crackers. Miz then got a note and was all smiles saying he had an awesome tag team partner. Crews pinned Hawkins in 2:07 with an enzuigiri and a spinning power bomb. Once again, O’Neil came to the ring to try and recruit Crews. Crews was having none of it. Graves was speculating on who the mystery partner was and suggested it could be Vin Diesel, the Australian guy who plays Thor or George Brett (an all-time great baseball star who played for the Kansas City Royals from 1973 to 1993). They announced that Kalisto and hip and cervical trauma from being thrown off the stage in the dumpster.

Aries said that he wanted a Raw main event and handed Angle a banana. Angle then moved on to talk to Miz, who was bragging about his partner. Just then, the Drifter showed up playing guitar in the background. Angle was surprised Drifter was the partner, but Miz said it wasn’t him. Jericho & Ambrose were in the ring. Miz came in and announced his partner. Nobody came out. He announced it again and nobody came out. Miz said he wanted to postpone the match until his partner got there. Angle said he was told he had to find himself a partner, and if there’s no partner, he has to do a handicap match. One heel against two faces is usually death to the faces. Miz was hiding behind Maryse early. He threw the terrible looking kicks. He tried to walk out but Ambrose chased him. It looked like Ambrose was going to put him through the announcers table, but the lights went out and when they came on it was Wyatt on the table and Miz had disappeared. Wyatt laid out Ambrose giving him Sister Abigail into a wall. Miz & Wyatt were both beating on Jericho and threw him in the ring. But Jericho hit the codebreaker on Miz. Wyatt laid out Jericho with Sister Abigail as Miz celebrated. Then Wyatt laid out Miz as well with Sister Abigail and the show ended. It appeared from this that they may move away from Ambrose vs.. Miz as the IC title match to Ambrose vs. Wyatt. After Raw was over, Jericho just did a promo to end the show and put the crowd on the list.

Notes from the 4/25 Smackdown tapings in Des Moines. The main stuff on the show was to turn Charlotte babyface, push Mahal and the Singh Brothers as a foreign heel group, and make Backlash the weakest PPV lineup Chicago has ever seen. Rawley pinned English with a running punch in a dark match. Smackdown opened with Nakamura out. He didn’t even get a word out before Ziggler came out. Ziggler did the Roddy Piper bit where he tried to interview him and would pull the mic away every time Nakamura started to answer a question. Ziggler said Nakamura’s real name is Michael and he’s from Gary, IN and his brothers and sisters like LaToya, Jermaine and Janet. You know, he’s Michael Jackson, and said he was the biggest weirdo in the family. After that, he showed up in Japan as Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura then grabbed the mic and insulted Ziggler. Ziggler kicked him in the stomach, but Nakamura avoided the superkick and hit Ziggler with a reverse powerslam. He set up the Kinshasa but Ziggler bailed out. Nakamura doing the interview with a mouthpiece in isn’t a good look and it makes his English come across worse. The segment came across scripted and forced, and granted, it was, but it’s not supposed to come across that way. Styles pinned Corbin in 10:47 with a Toyota roll. Owens was at ringside on commentary. Match was solid, but once again, nothing compared to a usual Styles singles match. Owens and Corbin beat down Styles after the match until Zayn made the save. Owens ran off and Zayn gave Corbin a Helluva kick. Owens then nailed Zayn from behind and laid out Styles with a pop up power bomb. It appears Corbin vs. Zayn will be the next thing. You know how that ends up. Charlotte did a promo. They pushed her as a four-time women’s champion and she called her goal now the “Drive for Five.”

In a beat the clock challenge, Jordan & Gable beat the Colons ion 5:17. Gable pinned Epico after Grand Amplitude. The crowd wasn’t much into this. Rusev did a taped promo. They aren’t acknowledging he’s injured and had shoulder surgery. Instead, he’s refusing to come to Smackdown because he doesn’t like Bryan or Shane. He gave them until Money in the Bank to give him a title match or he’s moving back to Bulgaria. So he’s getting a shot at one of the singles belts on the Money in the Bank PPV. Makes sense to work with Orton since most of the top guys will be in the MITB bout on that show, although if Styles beats Owens, it could be Styles vs. Rusev. If it was Christopher DeJoseph booking, it would be Naomi vs. Rusev but then Vince would overrule it and people would grumble Vince would out of touch. Lynch did a promo. Dasha Fuentes was reading her lines setting up the promo even more robotically than usual. Natalya, Tamina and Carmella showed up and said that you’re either with them or against them. Orton pinned Rowan in a no DQ match with the RKO in 12:13. The crowd wasn’t that into it until Orton knocked Rowan off the apron by running and hitting him with a kendo stick. Rowan fell off the apron and through a table. The finish saw Rowan set up a chair in the corner. He went for a charge but Orton moved and Rowan crashed into the chair in the corner and Orton hit the RKO. Orton did an interview saying that the House of Horrors match would be Wyatt’s eternal hell. I keep thinking the WrestleMania match was our eight minutes of hell. Mahal came out to interrupt. Mahal said he has more wealth, more talent, more class and more culture than anyone in this arena. He should have just taken off his shirt and said he’s got better traps and it’s because he eats a stricter diet than anyone in this arena. Orton laid him out but then the Singh Brothers hit the ring. All three beat down Orton with Mahal using the cobra clutch slam as his finisher on him. Mahal then stole the belt and he and the Singh Brothers left the arena in a super long white limo.

The rest of the show was entertaining because the announcers had to describe this angle about how the foreign heel stole the WWE title belt, without using the words foreign or belt. Breeze & Fandango beat The Ascension in 2:39 when Fandango pinned Viktor with a falcon arrow. Since they beat the time of Jordan & Gable’s win, they get the tag title shot in Chicago. Naomi did an interview. They gave her some horrible verbiage as well. Naomi vs. Charlotte for the title went to a no contest in 10:31. These are the two best athletes on the main roster, but in both matches, they haven’t jelled. Then again, here, she was performing just hours after her father’s fiancé was in a serious auto accident and you do learn to turn things on and off as a performer, but it’s pretty much impossible under the circumstances that the match would be the key thing in her mind at that moment. The crowd got into the near falls at the 9:00 mark. After a moonsault by Charlotte with Naomi getting the knees up, Natalya, Carmella and Tamina attacked both women for the no contest. This was the Charlotte face turn. For 205 Live, Swann & Tozawa beat Kendrick & Dar in 5:23 when Tozawa pinned Dar with a shining wizard. Tozawa & Swann did a double dive right away. Tozawa noted that this was Lesson No. 4, always choose wisely, with the idea Kendrick chose a bad partner here.

Neville did an interview saying that aside from Perkins, there was nobody on the show on the Neville level. Nese beat Ali via DQ in 7:23. Gulak came out with his “No Fly Zone” poster. The last guy running around in WWE with signs like that was C.J. Parker, and look where that got him. Yeah, I know, he’s in the main event of a PPV this week as Juice Robinson. Hopefully Gulak’s career has the same trajectory. Gulak was talking trying to get fans to chant “I’m not lying, no high flying.” Of course they didn’t, nor did anyone expect them to. Ali went to the top rope. Gulak pulled Nese out of the ring. So get this, the ruling was because Gulak put his hands on Nese, that Ali was DQ’d for outside interference. After the match, Ali nailed Gulak with a flip dive off the top rope. Gulak ran off. Main event saw Neville beat Gallagher in 10:50 via submission with the Rings of Saturn. This was the best match on WWE television this week. Neville took the umbrella and threw it almost to the curtain. Too bad they don’t have umbrella throwing as an Olympic event. They pushed that Neville hasn’t lost a singles match since October. It’s also not true as he lost several matches in December to Swann. After the match, Gallagher put him in the Rings of Saturn on the ramp until Aries made the save. Aries hit the discus fivearm, that actually was off, and then put Neville in the last chancery on the ramp. In the dark match main event, Nakamura beat Ziggler with the Kinshasa in the same match they’ve been doing, which is Nakamura selling for several matches and then doing a quick comeback and winning.

Notes from the 4/19 NXT TV show. This would have been the second show from the last Orlando tapings. Aside from the opening angle and the main event, the crowd was pretty dead. Roode made his glorious ring entrance and claimed that he had single-handedly sold out the Amway Center. He said that made him the biggest box office superstar in the business today. Nobody bought that nor did they react all that strongly to what he was saying. He said the future of the NXT brand was in his control. He noted that last week he was not one of the wrestlers on the stage clapping for Nakamura in his farewell. He said he wasn’t standing there like a moron because he wasn’t going to listen to the crap that came out of Nakamura’s mouth. He said he wasn’t going to listen to a lie. He said Nakamura didn’t move up from NXT, that he beat Nakamura and embarrassed him so badly that Nakamura tucked his tail between is legs and got out of NXT. He said it made him sick when the people cheered and chanted and sang for Nakamura while he won that match is stands here as the champion. Itami then came out and slapped Roode in the face. Roode smiled, but Itami picked Roode up and gave him the GTS, which got a big pop. Roode carries himself great and has the aura of a superstar, especially with the music. Itami didn’t say one word in all this.

Tyler Bate and Jack Gallagher were together for an interview pushing a U.K. title match on TV the next week. They reluctantly shook hand. Bate is hell of a wrestler, particularly considering his age. But he needs a lot of work on promos and in look. Gallagher came across as the much bigger star when they were together. They shot a angle at the Performance Center. The idea was that Tucker Knight was going to bench press 495 pounds. We never actually saw that, but behind Knight & Otis Dozovic, who looks like he can squat the Cayman Islands, we saw Galloway sitting on an incline bench. He had words with Andrade Cien Almas, which led to them announcing a bout next week. Almas pinned Danny Burch, who wrestles everywhere else as Martin Stone, in 2:15 after running double knees and a hammerlock DDT. The crowd was dead for this one.

They show a video asking the question on “Who will beat Asuka?” Asuka came across like a star. It’s pretty clear at this point that somebody, and that somebody should be Ember Moon, has to beat her. Aliyah & Liv Morgan beat Billie Kay & Peyton Royce in 3:12. This wasn’t good and the crowd wasn’t reacting. At least in this environment, having pretty women wrestle below average matches doesn’t seem to work. Aliyah pinned Royce with a sunset flip. Kay & Royce threw a tantrum after the match. People didn’t react to the tantrum either. Dillinger beat Eric Young in 12:54 in a cage match. This turned into a very good match. They threw each other into the cage. Young ended up with at least three cuts, one of the bridge of his nose and two on the forehead. He was bleeding pretty good here. The crowd wasn’t that hot until Young came off the top of the cage with an elbow drop. Dillinger kicked out and the crowd was hot from that point on. Dillinger did the Tye-breaker and was about to walk out the door when Killian Dain, Alexander Wolfe and Nikki Cross blocked the door and then locked it. Roderick Strong and Kassius Ohno came out. Dain laid both of them out. Dain was climbing the cage but Dillinger kicked the cage and knocked him off. Wolfe tried to climb the cage and Dillinger did the same to him. Dain ended up in the cage and Dillinger did a crossbody off the top of the cage onto Young and Dain. Dillinger then climbed over the cage to win the match.

Notes from the 4/19 NXT tapings in Orlando. This is how the shows were taped. As we’ve seen in the past, the matches may be taped in a different order from when they air. They opened with a dark match as Jeet Rama pinned Max Stardom. The Bollywood Boys were in the corner of Rama. I guess that means the idea is for Rama to eventually be part of their group. In what appeared to be the start of hour No. 1, Itami pinned Kona Reeves after a GTS. Killian Dain pinned Danny Burch with the One Winged angel. Heavy Machinery beat two guys who weren’t introduced. It was a quick squash and Heavy Machinery challenged the Authors of Pain to a tag title match. The crowd was into them. So that sounds like the tag title match for Takeover in Chicago. Sonya Deville, who used to be Daria Berenato, pinned Lacey Evans, who used to be Macey Estrella. Deville won with her feet on the ropes. Aleister Black pinned Cezar Bononi with a spinning kick. Itami pinned Roderick Strong in a match to determine who faces Roode at Takeover with the GTS. This was said to be a good match and they were given a lot of time. After Itami left the ring, Sanity came out and destroyed Strong. The second hour opened with Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford, given the name the Street Posse, beating Dylan Miley & HoHo Lun. Lun was pinned and Miley turned on and beat down Lun after the match. McIntyre pinned Sean Maluta with the Claymore kick. After the match, McIntyre said he’s gotten the attention of Wesley Blake. This is evidently a match to bide time for McIntyre, either for television or for the next Takeover. Kassius Ohno pinned Andrade Cien Almas. Ohno won with a spinning elbow. Thea Trinidad, who is in real life the girlfriend of Austin Aries, was in the front row with the idea Almas has a hot Latin girlfriend. Puerto Rican. Mexican. It’s all the same in WWE even though it isn’t in their cultures.

Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa did an interview. Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli came out, which led to a match. Gargano & Ciampa won clean with the running knee and running kick finish. William Regal came out to announce Authors of Pain vs. DIY in a ladder match for the tag titles at Takeover. Paul Ellering came out and said that the blood of DIY is on Regal’s hands. The third hour opened with Roode doing a promo. He said that Itami may have knocked some people out, but that in WWE, Itami has been hurt several times. Roode said he beat Nakamura so bad he left with his violin tucked between his legs. He said Itami will also fail. Itami came out. They had a big pull-apart with the end result of Itami once again laying Roode out with the GTS. Next was a Battle Royal for the shot at Asuka for the women’s title. It came down to Ember Moon, Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross. Asuka then did a run-in and laid out all three, so that resulted in the announcement of a four-way at Takeover. Others in, who may be people in the women’s tournament later this year, were Candice LeRae making her debut, Rachael Ellering, Liv Morgan, Aliyah, Peyton Royce, Kimberly Frankele, Sarah Bridges, Victoria Gonzalez, Bianca Blair, Billie Kay, Deville and Evans. The biggest reactions were to LeRae and Ellering since they are indie favorites. The last match which may or may not have been taped for TV, saw Authors of Pain beat Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe via DQ when Killian Dain interfered. There was a big post-match brawl with both teams throwing around security.

The only NXT house show of the weekend was 4/21 in Crystal River, FL before 200 fans. Demetrius Bronson pinned Kona Reeves with a roll-up. Bronson getting a win over Reeves this early says they must see some potential in him. Sanity won a three-way over the Singh Brothers and the Street Prophets (Dawkins & Ford) in an elimination match. The Singh Brothers talked about Mahal becoming the next world champion. Fans chanted “Jinder sucks” at them. Ford pinned one of the Singh Brothers with a running shooting star press for the first elimination. Killian Dain and Nikki Cross distracted Dawkins & Ford in the second fall so Young & Wolfe got the pin. Oney Lorcan came out for a promo. Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli interrupted him. They ended up in a brawl where Sabbatelli hit Moss with a clothesline when Lorcan ducked. Lorcan laid out Sabbatelli with a running uppercut forearm and used a blockbuster on Moss. Adrian Jaoude beat Cezar Bononi in a battle of amateur wrestlers from Brazil with a guillotine choke. Ohno beat Dylan Miley via DQ. Miley was choking Ohno on the ropes and threw down the ref. So that says something as well about their thoughts on Miley protecting him from a pin here. Asuka beat Mandy Rose after a head kick. Asuka was a tweener here as they are making her a subtle heel for Ember Moon. Gallagher pinned Daivari with a running dropkick in the corner. Lana pin Morgan. They turned out the lights. When they were turned back on, Lana did a dance with a chair. Bianca Blair was in the corner of Lana and distracted Morgan, allowing Lana to use a spin kick for the pin. Main event saw Itami & No Way Jose over Patrick Clark & Almas when Itami pinned Clark with the GTS. After the match, Jose got Itami to dance with him.

The Raw shows were missing a lot of people for various reasons over the weekend. Rapid City missed Owens and Jericho who always had the night off. Reigns was then given the weekend off presumably due to the death of his older brother. The Hardys had the weekend off due to their commitment to Tommy Dreamer and when they signed with WWE them saying they had indie dates they wanted to keep until the end of April. On the Smackdown side, the Usos had the weekend shows off as well, likely for the same reason as Reigns. Naomi also missed the Saturday show and she’s part of the family. Naomi returned on Sunday, while the Usos returned on Monday.

We didn’t get an attendance figure for the 4/21 show in Rapid City, SD. 4/22 in Bismark, ND drew 5,500, which is a good crowd for that market. 4/23 in Fargo, ND, drew 4,500.

The Smackdown crew opened on 4/22 in Kalamazoo before 3,300 fans. 4/23 in Hammond, IN drew a near sellout 3,200 fans. 4/24 in Peoria drew 2,300.

Rapid City opened with Strowman out cutting a promo about Reigns being hurt. He challenged anyone in the back. Instead of Reigns coming out, it was Zayn out. Zayn called Strowman an insecure bully. Instead of Zayn cleaning house for the big comeback, it was Zayn who got destroyed, and put through a table. R-Truth & Goldust & Sin Cara beat The Colons & Hawkins when R-Truth pinned Primo. So even though it was the old rosters until Sunday this week, Hawkins went on the Raw crew because of the numbers game. Balor beat Mahal. This may have been a DQ since they did a DQ in every other, although the report we got said it was a coup de gras finish. But in the other cities, Balor did the coup de gras after a DQ finish when Mahal hit him with a chair as they are protecting Mahal even in house show booking. Neville retained the cruiserweight title over Aries using the Rings of Saturn. Bayley won a four-way to retain the women’s title over Flair, Jax and Banks when she pinned Flair with the belly-to-belly. Sheamus & Cesaro beat Gallows & Anderson when Sheamus pinned Gallows after Cesaro hit a 619 and Sheamus then used the Brogue kick. Cass pinned O’Neil with a running boot. Enzo was in Cass’ corner. Rollins pinned Joe in the main event.

Bismark was the same show. Balor beat Mahal via DQ. Mahal got mic work asking if people dislike him because he’s different or because he’s a pro at something they’ll never be good at. He also vowed he would become the WWE champion. Mahal got DQ’d for a chair shot, but Balor gave him the coup de gras after the match. Owens and Jericho were added to the tour here so Rollins & Jericho beat Owens & Joe when Jericho pinned Owens with a codebreaker.

Fargo was the same show as Bismark. Enzo, Cass and Bayley got the best undercard reaction but Jericho & Rollins were seen as the biggest stars and the main event was said to be the best match.

Kalamazoo opened with Lynch & James over Carmella & Natalya with Bliss as referee when Lynch beat Carmella with the disarmer. Not sure what happened but Naomi was booked and it was to be a trios match. But she wasn’t there and Bliss, who was to be the third heel in the match, instead was the guest referee. Rawley pinned Ziggler with the running punch. Jordan & Gable won a three-way over Breeze & Fandango and Slater & Rhyno when they used the sky high bulldog to pin Breeze. Ambrose pinned Corbin to retain the IC title with Dirty Deeds. Crews & Kalisto beat The Ascension when Crews pinned Viktor after a power bomb. Harper pinned Rowan with the discus elbow. Rowan was doing an evil clown gimmick which he’s done at other house shows. He’s got a clown face painted on his sheep mask and brought balloons out. Orton won a three-way over Wyatt and Styles when Orton pinned Wyatt after an RKO.

Hammond was the same show except for the women’s match. Naomi was there so they did a six-way for the title that involved Lynch, James, Natalya, Carmela and Bliss. They had a good match. One report said best of the show.

Peoria had the roster switches. They opened the show with the WWE title match as Orton retained over Styles and Corbin when he used the RKO on Corbin. Breeze & Fandango beat The Ascension. Rawley pinned English. After the match, Mahal attacked Rawley and then cut a promo talking about his upcoming title match. Usos returned and retained the tag titles over Jordan & Gable. Nakamura pinned Ziggler with the Kinshasa. Harper pinned Rowan with the discus lariat. Naomi won a six-way to retain the women’s title over Flair, Natalya, Carmella, Lynch and Tamina in a strong match. Owens retained the U.S. title in the main event over Zayn.