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October 16, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: WWE Hell in a Cell review, Tokyo Dome main event, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 October 16, 2017

 

WWE HELL IN A CELL

Thumbs up 117 (51.1%)

Thumbs down 37 (16.2%)

In the middle 75 (32.8%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Usos vs. New Day 137

Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon 60

Corbin vs. Styles vs. Dillinger 18

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura 120

Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler 41

Charlotte vs. Natalya 29

Randy Orton vs. Rusev 20

 

UFC 216

Thumbs up 123 (91.8%)

Thumbs down 0 (00.0%)

In the middle 11 (08.2%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Lando Vanatta vs. Bobby Green 103

Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee 16

Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham 14

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Poliana Botelho vs. Pearl Gonzalez 48

Matt Schnell vs. Marco Beltran 30

 

NEW JAPAN KING OF PRO WRESTLING

Thumbs up 137 (100.0%)

Thumbs down 0 (00.0%)

In the middle 0 (00.0%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii 66

Will Ospreay vs. Kushida 62

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Yano & Goto vs. Sabre & Suzuki 26

Omega & Cody & Scurll vs. Yoshi-Hashi & Baretta & Jado

22

Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Fale & Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga 15

KES vs. GOD vs. War Machine 9

 

Based on e-mails and phone calls to the Observer as of Tuesday 10/10.

 

Sami Zayn did a heel turn, moving Kevin Owens out of the way of a Shane McMahon elbow drop off the top of the cell, probably about 17 feet down and McMahon went through a table in the 10/8 Hell in a Cell PPV show.

McMahon went out on a stretcher and there were mainstream media outlets that reported on his storyline injuries as being real.

The four hour show was bookended by Hell in a Cell matches, opening with New Day vs. Usos, where the Usos regained the tag titles, and ending with McMahon vs. Owens. The two ended up being the matches that stole the show.

The other take was just how unimportant the WWE title felt, very much like a prelim title, in the Jinder Mahal title retention over Shinsuke Nakamura. Mahal, who is bothered by a shoulder injury (he has it taped up most nights but I guess they don’t want people to see it taped up on television), beat Nakamura clean to seemingly end their program.

The finish left a question over what is next in the title picture. Mahal has beaten Randy Orton and Nakamura. The next guy one would think would be A.J. Styles, but after the way Styles lost to Baron Corbin on Smackdown on 10/10, that would seem unlikely. They can do anything, but if Styles was the guy in line for the next title program, one would think they’d have avoided doing what they did on the show. Even if he wasn’t, that Corbin vs. Styles finish on a television match made no sense because one would think there would be mileage in the story of Styles going after the title that he was never pinned for. Corbin had won the title at Hell in a Cell in a match that was changed to a three-way, with Tye Dillinger added hours before the show (likely planned all along) and Corbin pinning Dillinger to win. If nothing else, in its own way, the Dillinger win over Corbin on Smackdown, that appeared at the time to make no sense, did pay off because Dillinger was added to the match and Corbin won.

Regarding Mahal, unless there is a heel turning face (Rusev needs to turn right now and there was a slight tease many weeks ago when Rusev said he wasn’t his friend and wants the title, but it was never followed up on), you’re left on the face side with Bobby Roode, or if they bring John Cena back. With the next PPV being Survivor Series on 11/19, it’s possible they can avoid that title since it’s a dual-branded event, and wait until 12/17 in Boston, which is the final Smackdown PPV show of the year.

The other weird result on the go-home show with Natalya making Charlotte submit in a tag match five days before Charlotte was the babyface challenging for the title, with hindsight, made no sense. Natalya retained the title with a DQ finish for a chair shot, and it appears that program will continue.

Hell in a Cell was the company’s first event at the new Little Caesar Arena in Detroit. They announced a sellout crowd of 16,200. WWE policy is usually to not use the word sellout unless it really is (that’s not 100 percent, but it’s 90 percent), although the number itself is almost always inflated, usually by 2,000 to 3,000 for arena shows and far more for stadium events. There was no tarping but there were a lot of empty seats, with the real figure being about 13,000.

The biggest WWE news was actually at Raw, regarding Neville (Ben Satterly, 31). The scripted plan for Raw on 10/9 was for the main event to beat Enzo Amore beating Neville in a non-title match. When Neville found out, he walked out. It was a last second decision by Vince McMahon, said to be because nobody could come up with a better idea at the last minute, to put the title on Kalisto, rather than have Amore beat somebody else. The plan is to get the title back on Amore, which is only logical given they have the show built around him.

What that means regarding Neville is still up in the air. Neville wasn’t back for the 10/10 show. At this point the belief within the company is that he’s gone, including one person close to the situation insisting he’s 100 percent gone. The company’s official word is that he is still with the company and never quit. At press time, this was a situation that wasn’t fully sorted out.

There were a couple of changes on Raw regarding the TLC show. The main event will be a three-on-four match with the reunited Shield of Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose facing Braun Strowman & Sheamus & Cesaro & The Miz. It’s pretty clear the way the storylines have gone that this was the plan, since there was nothing else for Strowman on the card.

With no Universal champion, and the IC and tag team champions in the main event, that doesn’t leave a lot for the undercard. There will be a Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt match, which hopefully is the end of the program because it’s not doing Balor any favors. On TV this week, Wyatt revealed that he is Sister Abigail, as they did a taped skit with him with a veil on and woman’s voice and tried to sell it as creepy. The only other matches that looked locked in place are new cruiserweight champion Kalisto vs. Enzo Amore, women’s champion Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James and the debut of Asuka vs. Emma.

Asuka vs. Emma was always the plan for Asuka’s debut, so even though the idea for the match changed at least twice on the day of the show, in all incarnations of the match, Emma was winning.

Asuka and Emma had a great match at the December 16, 2015 NXT Takeover show at SSE Wembley in London. Then again, there have been a lot of great women’s matches that have taken place on NXT specials that were then run on WWE shows and for a number of reasons, never came off nearly as well. Asuka has worked extensively with Bayley and had great matches with her, but you can build to that. Sasha Banks would have been the best opponent, but there’s no point in doing that match so soon when the whole thing for this show should just be about Asuka going over strong.

The original idea was for a three-way match with Emma, Banks and Nia Jax where the winner would face Asuka. Then it was changed to Emma & Jax & Alicia Fox vs. Bayley & Banks & Dana Brooke where the winner of the fall would get the match with Asuka. Then it was changed again to a five-way match, and Jax was taken out of the mix, likely because after she lost to James and the idea is still Bliss vs. Jax as a major program, it made no sense for Jax to be in the match.

The weird thing about the match is that it was announced as a five-way where the first pin would win, and then Bayley pinned Brooke after a Bayley-to-belly. At that point Michael Cole said that it was an elimination match, which was something the announcers were just informed about. Clearly the wrestlers and the referee knew, so they must have forgotten to have told the announcers when they were making the change. Since it was a deal where everyone but Emma was getting pinned, it made no sense to put Jax in the match at that point because she’d have had to have been pinned. She was just sort of beaten by James, although they protected her from the actual pin last week, so two straight weeks of her with the idea she lost made no sense since they are protecting her for the program down the line with Bliss so they are delaying as long as they can, which is where James comes in, basically just to fill time and delay that program.

1. Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable beat Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder in 10:21. A funny comment early in the match by Corey Graves was how Benjamin & Gable are traveling from town to town and Gable is picking up all this knowledge from him. The funny part is that until 10/10, Benjamin hasn’t worked any house shows. Gable was the star of the match. The Hype Bros set up the Hype Ryder, and while the Hype Bros weren’t booed, the fans did boo them setting up their finish. There was a brief dissension spot. Benjamin & Gable won when they pinned Ryder with the power bomb and clothesline combination. **3/4

2. The Usos regained the Smackdown tag titles beating the New Day, in this case Big E & Xavier Woods in a Hell in a Cell match in 21:56. They did a lot of weapons brawling with a chain and kendo stick introduced. Jimmy dove over the top on Woods. Big E tackled Jey off the apron and into the cage and E went head first into the cage. Woods broke the latest Francesa on Jey twice, and then found another trombone under the ring. Cymbals were also introduced. Fans wanted tables. They used kendo sticks in front of Jey to trap him in the corner of the cage. Jey escaped from that far too quickly and not by being saved. It felt like they did the spot with no idea of how to get out of it, so it was cool but didn’t make sense in the match. Jey put E on his shoulders while on the floor and Jimmy hit a tope. The Usos each splashed on E, who kicked out. The Usos handcuffed E to the corner and Woods to the post like and had him hanging from the post like he was being crucified. They gave Woods a ton of kendo stick shots while he was hanging there defenseless. Somehow both escaped the handcuffs, as the ref came equipped with a handcuff key. They did a ton of superkicks on E. Keep in mind that when you do a million superkicks in WWE, you are not an indie geek with no psychology, nor are you being unoriginal, no matter how much your cousin doesn’t think before speaking. They did a double splash off the top on E but Woods saved. Jey used five kendo stick shots to the body of Woods and they did a double splash onto a chair that was on Woods and Jey pinned him. Great match. ****

3. Randy Orton beat Rusev in 11:37. Solid match. Good work with Orton doing his usual stuff like the backbreaker on the barricade and the twisting powerslam. Rusev used a fall away slam and high kick, but as he went for the accolade, Orton rolled out of the ring. Rusev missed a splash and Orton hit the draping DDT. Rusev came back, went for the accolade, Orton escaped and hit the RKO for the pin. ***1/4

4. Baron Corbin won a three-way over A.J. Styles and Tye Dillinger in 19:19. Corbin threw Styles rib first into the post and started working on Dillinger. Corbin knocked Styles off the apron into the announcers table and threw him into the barricade. Styles turned into a real force here. He went over the top into a forearm. But Corbin threw Styles’ shoulder into the post. Corbin used a Deep Six on Dillinger and a choke slam int a backbreaker off the top rope onto Styles. Corbin did a charge into the post (that spot is done way too often, almost like a crutch for a big heel) and Styles hit the 450 on him, but Dillinger saved. Styles hit the forearm on Dillinger, but Corbin threw him out of the ring and got the pin to win the title. ***½

5. Charlotte Flair beat Natalya via DQ in 12:15 so Natalya retained the women’s title. Solidly worked match with Natalya working on the left knee. Charlotte was doing a ton of Ric Flair stuff. She mostly sold the left knee. Natalya got the sharpshooter in the middle but Charlotte escaped. Charlotte did a moonsault off the top rope to the floor, selling the knee on landing. Natalya then hit Charlotte in the knee with a chair for the DQ. The match was going good until the finish. Natalya delivered several more chair shots to the knee after the match. ***

They did a Fashion Files segment. The crowd popped for the idea of it. The Ascension showed up in disguise and Breeze & Fandango figured out who they were, not like it wasn’t obvious. The Ascension wanted to be their friends and Breeze & Fandango said they were ugly and smelled bad. It hurt their feelings. And they were then off to a new case.

6. Jinder Mahal beat Shinsuke Nakamura in 12:02 to retain the WWE title. This was such a nothing match. Mahal rammed Nakamura’s back into the post twice and threw him into the front row. Nakamura came back with kicks. The Singh Brothers interfered. Nakamura used a Kinshasa off the middle rope but the ref was distracted by throwing the Singh Brothers out. Nakamura hit the Kinshasa but the ref was too slow to make the count. The finish saw Nakamura miss a charge into the corner and Mahal pinned him with the Khallas. **

7. Bobby Roode pinned Dolph Ziggler in 11:29. These two had been tearing it up on the house shows, but this just felt like another match. They traded near falls. Ziggler mocked Shawn Michaels by tuning up the band and going for a superkick. Roode sidestepped it and hit the spinebuster. Ziggler went for a rolling reverse cradle. Roode reversed it and grabbed the trunks. Ziggler reversed it and grabbed the trunks even harder. Roode reversed it and grabbed the trunks even more than that and got the pin. After the match, Ziggler laid Roode out with the zig zag. **3/4

8. Kevin Owens beat Shane McMahon in 38:42 in a falls count anywhere Hell in a Cell match. They brawled outside the cell right away. Owens ran away and jumped into the cage and tried to hold the door shut so McMahon couldn’t get in. McMahon kicked the door in his face and got in. Owens was grinding Shane’s face into the cage and they shot Shane’s sons at ringside laughing about this. Thank God Jim Cornette wasn’t backstage. Owens went for a senton off the top, but Shane got his knees up. Shane hit a tornado DDT, but missed a shooting star press. Owens used a frog splash off the top but Shane kicked out. Owens went for a power bomb but Shane turned it into an armbar. Then he went for a triangle. Owens, while caught in the move, power bombed Shane on the ring steps. Fans were chanting for tables. That ended up being timed perfectly because the next step in the match was Owens pulling out a table. So that got a big babyface pop. He set the table up in the corner of the cage. Owens went for a cannonball into the corner but Shane moved and Owens went through the table. Shane hit him twice with parts of the broken table. Shane did the coast-to-coast dropkick into a chair into Owens’ face. Shane then told the ref to open the cage door. The ref wouldn’t do it, so Shane got bolt cutters. That was awkward because it took him a while to break the lock. So they fought outside the cage and Shane hit Owens with a garbage can and Owens DDT’d him on the ramp. Owens crotched him on the cage door and started grinding his face into the cage again. Owens put Shane on the table and climbed to the top of the cell. But Owens got scared to jump. He went over like he was going to do it and stopped every time. Shane got off the table and climbed up. They were fighting on the top. Thankfully the roof of the cage was secure because if they had done a Mick Foley accident, both would have broken their backs or necks. Shane gave Owens a Russian leg sweep, a body slam and a suplex on the top of the cage. Owens gave him a senton. Owens power bombed him on the top of the cage. They ended up climbing down. Shane head-butted Owens who fell from about the ten foot mark on the side of the cage through a table. Shane put him on the table and went for an elbow off the top of the table, when suddenly Sami Zayn appeared and pulled Owens off the table. Shane crashed through the table and Zayn pulled Owens on top of Shane for the three count. Shane went out on a stretcher to end the show. ****1/4


To the surprise of nobody, Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito is now the official main event for 1/4 at the Tokyo Dome, and Okada will set two records for the championship.

On 10/22, Okada will break the 489 day record for longest title reign, held by Shinya Hashimoto, who held the title from April 29, 1996, when he defeated Nobuhiko Takada at the Tokyo Dome, until August 31, 1997, when he lost to Kensuke Sasaki at the Yokohama Arena.

On 1/4, Okada will break the 1,358 total days as champion for a career record, held by Hiroshi Tanahashi. With the quality of matches in Okada’s current reign, which started on June 19, 2016, when he defeated Naito at Dominion, this will likely be looked back on as one of the greatest title reigns in history, with memorable matches with Naito, Naomichi Marufuji, Minoru Suzuki, Katsuyori Shibata and most notably both title matches with Kenny Omega, as well as killer performances in both the 2016 and 2017 G-1 Climax tournament.

Okada defeated Evil in the main event of King of Pro Wrestling on 10/9 at Sumo Hall in Tokyo in what was actually one of the weaker singles matches of this title run in his final title defense before the Tokyo Dome. It’s hard to say what was wrong, as the match was very good, but for whatever reason, never quite reached the level that most of his big matches have reached. It wasn’t the opponent, since Okada vs. Evil in G-1 was one of the best matches of an incredible tournament. Perhaps there was the realization that there was no way Okada was losing, but that certainty of the ending didn’t stop the Naito win over Tomohiro Ishii that preceded the main event from being a match that could have won match of the year in a number of different years (although would struggle to be top ten this year because of how crazy a year it’s been).

The show ended with Okada winning with the rainmaker in 33:26, and Gedo cutting a promo, and calling Naito to the ring. Naito cut a promo, and was about to do his catch phrase finish that everyone does with him when Okada interrupted. This got a mixed reaction, and some saw it as cool and ballsy that Okada interrupted him, and others were mad because they wanted to hear Naito do the closing catch phrase where he names all the members of his team, talks Spanish and says, “Los Ingobernables De Japon.”

The four-and–half hour show drew a sellout of 9,234 paid. The show didn’t sell out in advance, and they didn’t sell tickets to jam people in the Sumo boxes like they do for the final night of G-1, but it was a legitimate sellout, equivalent to the kind of a crowd that would have been announced at 11,000 in the old days where they counted total in the building instead of paid.

Considering it took years to build to Sumo Hall selling out for non-G-1 final shows, it’s a good sign that they did with the top matches so predictable as far as the outcome went, but it wasn’t in advance so you can’t say they are on fire.

It was an overall strong show, not a show of the year, but most of the matches were good, and several were excellent. There were two title changes, both in the junior heavyweight division.

Roppongi 3K turned out to be Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu, who will be called Sho & Yoh, managed by Rocky Romero. They defeated Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi to win the IWGP jr. tag titles. The crowd popped huge when they came out, and they had a great match, with Ricochet being pinned after a double-team move that was a combination of a 3-D but instead of a cutter, the impact move is a downward spiral. The move looks like it will be called the 3K.

Ricochet losing immediately opened up questions regarding his future, since it’s not exactly a secret that he’s been interested in going to WWE when he’s legally able, which would be roughly 1/16, as he becomes a free agent 90 days after the final episode airs of the current season of Lucha Underground. This is not a done deal, but it’s also notable that it is ACH, and not Ricochet, who is teaming with Taguchi in the upcoming junior heavyweight tag team tournament.

That tournament is weaker than expected since Ricochet is off the tour and The Young Bucks turned down the tour because they wanted to spend more time with their family. The Bucks also turned down appearing on this show which may have sped up the debut of Roppongi 3K.

Will Ospreay beat Kushida to win the IWGP jr. title, using the Oscutter in a typically spectacular match. The story behind this match is that Kushida had beaten Ospreay in all four of their prior matches, twice when Ospreay challenged for him for the jr. title in 2016, as well as in the finals of this year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament and the finals of the What Culture Pro Wrestling World Cup tournament this year in the U.K.

The match wasn’t quite as good as their Best of the Super Juniors final classic earlier this year, but it’s almost unfair to compare it with that one, and it was still a blow away match that would be a contender for match of the year in a normal year.

After the match, Hiromu Takahashi came out to challenge Ospreay. But before he could do so, Marty Scurll came out and broke Takahashi’s fingers, asked for the shot, and Ospreay accepted. Scurll was Ospreay’s biggest rival in the U.K., and defeated Ospreay in this year’s Best of the Super Juniors. In the U.K., Scurll, who was the bigger star at the start of their program, got the vast majority of wins over Ospreay. The way things look, it appears that Ospreay will probably retain at Power Struggle, and that would lead to the Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi match that has been teased at house shows of late for the Tokyo Dome.

They also did a video coming out of intermission for a wrestler called Switchblade, who will be debuting soon. The belief is that it will be Sami Callihan. At one point the plan was for Callihan & Kota Ibushi to form a tag team in the heavyweight tag team tournament in November and December.

The next tour starts 10/18 in Yamagata and will end with the Power Struggle show on 11/5 at the Edion Arena in Osaka. That is the night the clocks are moved back an hour, so this show will start at 3 a.m. Eastern time that Saturday night and midnight Pacific, so roughly 90 minutes or so after UFC ends (since UFC has three title bouts and will probably go well after 1 a.m. that night).

Announced for the show is Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi for the IC title as the main event, Ospreay vs. Scurll for the jr. title and Minoru Suzuki vs Toru Yano in a bullrope match for the Never open weight title. The show will also have the finals of the Super Juniors tag team tournament.

We don’t have a full schedule for New Japan World but there will be five more live shows between now and the end of October.

The Lion’s Gate show on 10/12 (6 a.m. Eastern) from Shinjuku Face is headlined by Yuji Nagata vs. Daisuke Kanehira plus Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima face All Japan’s Yuma Aoyagi (who is starting to get a push here) & Go Asakawa. There will also be three matches to start the Young Lion’s tournament with Hirai Kawato vs. Ren Narita, Katsuya Kitamura vs. Tetsuhiro Yagi and Tomoyuki Oka vs. Shota Umino.

10/21 in Togane (5 a.m. Eastern) features a unique main event with Nagata vs. Manabu Nakanishi, celebrating both men’s 25th anniversary in New Japan, plus the normal tags headlined by Okada & Ishii & Gedo & Yoh & Sho vs. Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi.

10/23 at Korakuen Hall (5:30 a.m. Eastern time) has Oka & Umino vs. Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga, Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Taguchi & ACH vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Desperado & Taichi & Taka Michinoku, Yano & Hirooki Goto vs. Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka, Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Kitamura vs. Ibushi & Juice Robinson & David Finlay, Okada & Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Naito & Evil & Sanada, as well as first round matches in the Super junior tag tournament with Kushida & Kawato vs. Yoh & Sho, and Dragon Lee & Titan vs. Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi.

10/29 at Korakuen Hall (5:30 a.m. Eastern time) has Robinson &

Finlay vs. Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga, Goto & Yano vs. Suzuki & Iizuka, Yoshi-Hashi & Baretta & Ospreay vs. Kenny Omega & Chase Owens & Scurll, Tanahashi & Kushida & Kawato vs. Ibushi & Lee & Titan, Okada & Ishii & Gedo & Yoh & Sho vs. Naito & Evil & Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi, and the other first round tournament matches with Liger & Tiger Mask vs. Kanemaru & Desperado and Taguchi & ACH vs. Taichi & Taka Michinoku.

The 10/30 Korakuen Hall show (5:30 a.m. Eastern time) will be built around the semifinals of the junior tag team tournament.

Charting out the jr. tournament, I would think Sho & Yoh would be in the finals, and probably lose and you could make a case for any of the four teams on the other side (Liger’s team, Kanemaru’s team, Michinoku’s team and Taguchi’s team) for the other. Of the four, I’d favor Taguchi & ACH just to establish them as the new team, but they could go with Sho & Yoh having to face the heavy interference of a Suzuki-gun team and build a program there.

The final tour of the year will be the heavyweight tag team tournament which starts on 11/18 at Korakuen Hall, with major shows on 11/26 in Nagoya, 11/30 at Korakuen Hall, 12/2 in Osaka and 12/8 in Hiroshima, with the finals on 12/11 in Fukuoka.

1. Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi beat Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga in 6:44. The story here is that Hiromu was after Fale for what he did to Darryl the stuffed cat and he jumped all over him. The crowd totally goes with it and was into Takahashi. Tonga has shown incredible improvement in just a few weeks. He doesn’t do anything spectacular, but he’s 6-foot-8, is more comfortable and his stuff looks better. Sanada looked great doing a running dive over the top on Tonga. Tonga may have strained a muscle doing a high kick. Fale was destroying Bushi and had him up for the Bad luck fall, when Hiromu pulled out Darryl, which distracted Fale. Bushi then blew mist in Fale’s eyes and cradled him in a huge upset. Fale then went all Suzuki on the young boys and everyone around ringside after the match. ***1/4

2. Hirooki Goto & Toru Yano beat Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr. via count out in 9:18. What’s notable here is the finish would be a major groan if it was in any other promotion, but because of the storyline, the crowd went crazy. The basic deal is that everyone knows Suzuki could and should kill Yano. But Yano always outsmarts him and has beaten him over and over, including knocking him out of the G-1 and New Japan Cup. It’s a multi-year storyline where Suzuki hates Yano so much that he leaves himself open to mistakes. This match was good. Goto came off the top rope with an elbow and Sabre caught him with an armbar. Sabre had Goto in the octopus but Goto powered out into an ushigoroshi. The finish saw Suzuki pull a bullrope from under the ring and go to tie Yano up. So Yano is all tied up with his hands at his side. Suzuki is slapping the hell out of Yano, who can’t defend himself. Suzuki is paying no attention to the count. Then, suddenly, Yano kicks Suzuki low and jumped into the ring to beat the count. Normally I’d hate this kind of a finish because usually they are done as a crutch, but this was a clear storyline developer which the crowd popped huge for. With Suzuki still selling, Yano stole his Never title and left with it. Suzuki went on a rampage after the match and Sabre put the ref in a guillotine. I’m just not a fan of wrestlers abusing refs so blatantly with no storyline repercussions. That remains one of New Japan’s drawbacks. ***1/4

3. Sho & Yoh beat Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi in 14:25 to win the IWGP jr. tag titles. There was a video with Romero with two guys who you couldn’t see. Then Romero came out with fog blow torch. Sho & Yoh came out of the fog to a really big pop. They were prelim guys when they left, but all the fans knew they were already really good. Sho now has bleached blonde hair and Yoh has red hair. Instead of being their manager, Romero is their Director. They opened with both doing a dropkick and both doing a flip dive. The match was just okay early but when Ricochet tagged in it was great. It turned into an excellent match. Taguchi went for the three amigos, but as he went for the third, Sho caught him in a guillotine. Ricochet did a Fosbury flop dive on Sho and hit the benadryller on Yoh, but Yoh kicked out. Ricochet flipped out. He hit the shooting star press, but Sho pulled him off Yoh and hit three German suplexes. Sho did three German suplexes on Taguchi. Yoh dropkicked Ricochet and they did the 3K on him for the pin. Sho has the chance to be a major singles jr. division player in a very short period of time. ****

4. Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. retained the IWGP tag titles in a three-way elimination match over War Machine and Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa in 16:10. They worked hard and did a lot of good moves. There were a ton of weapons shots, like a WWE style match with the garbage cans, chairs, tables and a kendo stick. It was different, but I felt like it hurt the match more than helped it. This wasn’t as good as their previous match in Kobe. War Machine did the Fallout on Loa, but he kicked out. War Machine was looking all over at one point to find where the table was put under the ring. Archer & Smith did the double-team killer bomb on Loa to eliminate Tonga & Loa in12:43. But even though it was Archer & Smith who beat them, Tonga & Loa attacked War Machine with garbage can lid and garbage can shots, beating them down. That was weird. They used the killer bomb on Rowe, but Hanson came off the top rope with a splash to break it up. Hanson was on the top rope looking to moonsault on Archer, but Smith pulled him off and power bombed him through a table. Then they did the killer bomb on Hanson and Archer pinned him. Archer also choke slammed Hirai Kawato after the match and Smith hit Tomoyuki Oka with a garbage can lid shot. ***1/4

5. Kenny Omega & Cody & Marty Scurll beat Yoshi-Hashi & Baretta & Jado in 13:42. The idea was to build for Omega vs. Yoshi-Hashi but that really didn’t happen the way you’d like it to. Omega took Yoshi-Hashi’s T-shirt and wiped his ass with it. Fans started chanting for Yoshi-Hashi, but the majority of the audience then started chanting “Kenny.” Baretta did a flip plancha onto everyone brawling on the floor. The match really wasn’t much. It was okay, they did some near falls and such. Scurll used the chicken wing to make Jado submit. There were no teases at all of dissension with Omega and Cody. Omega then did quite the unique promo for the Chicago match with Yoshi-Hashi, saying that nobody believes Yoshi-Hashi can win, and that even if Yoshi-Hashi has a great match with him which he will, nobody will care about him after the match and told him to enjoy his flight to the U.S.. **1/4

6. Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson beat Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe in 10:26. The crowd was hot for Ibushi vs. Tanahashi. They worked great together but didn’t do anything too spectacular, just it was basic stuff that looked great with Tanahashi selling big for him. Ibushi kicked the hell out of Tanahashi until Tanahashi caught his leg and did the dragon screw. The finish saw Tanahashi take out Ibushi with a pescado. In the ring, Makabe power bombed Robinson and went for the King Kong kneedrop, but missed. Robinson then hit the pulp fiction on Makabe for the pin. The crowd popped pretty big because they see Makabe at a higher level than Robinson, but are behind Robinson climbing the ladder and him getting this win at Sumo Hall meant something. The one thing about booking where results matter for months and may be brought up a long time later is that it’s easier to make people care about the results. ***½

7. Will Ospreay beat Kushida in 15:32 to win the IWGP jr. title. They came out fast and had a super match. Ospreay tried a shooting star off the apron to the floor but Kushida moved and Ospreay landed on his feet. Kushida dropkicked him over the guard rail. In a great spot, Kushida set up a chair to do a sprint on the floor where he’d springboard off the chair and over the barricade onto Ospreay, but Ospreay got up and springboarded off the guard rail and nailed the flying Kushida with a forearm. Then Ospreay did a space flying Tiger drop and Kushida caught him in landing with an armbar which was their way of one-upping the Demetrious Johnson submission from two days earlier. They had to break it up since it was outside the ring. Kushida used the cattle mutilation, which seemingly was meant to tease Bryan Danielson in a year. Both were standing on the top rope and Kushida got an armbar. Ospreay did a Spanish fly into a DDT. Ospreay also did an inverted 450. There were all kinds of moves and counters until Ospreay hit the Oscutter for the pin. After, Hiromu Takahashi came out, followed by Scurll. Scurll said that no matter how good Ospreay thinks he is, he’ll never be as good as him and wanted the next title shot. Ospreay agreed while Hiromu was lying on the ground selling his fingers that Scurll broke, and then Hiromu smiled. ****½

8. Tetsuya Naito pinned Tomohiro Ishii in 23:56 to retain his briefcase and earn a Tokyo Dome IWGP title match. Naito did the tranquillo pose and Ishii jumped on him and started pounding on him, which was something nobody expected. Ishii has the greatest timing in the world for knowing when to do what he does, and thus makes the most of everything he does. Naito worked on Ishii’s right knee until Ishii started on Naito’s left knee. Ishii did the hard chops and elbows, but those hard chops to the throat are a terrible idea. He did four of them and hit the brainbuster, but Ishii was so hurt he couldn’t cover in time. Ishii did head-butts to the neck. Ishii went for a superplex but Naito started punching behind the knee. This was really a psychology masterpiece of deliberately working and making everything count. Naito slapped Ishii hard in the back of his head and Ishii made the face and started a comeback. Ishii did a German suplex into the turnbuckles and Naito was selling the neck. Ishii used a last ride power bomb for a near fall and a top rope superplex. There were the trades of elbows. Naito did a koppo kick, German suplex and Frankensteiner off the top. Naito hit a missile dropkick to the back of the head. Naito hit a dragon suplex but Ishii popped up, and Ishii spit on Naito and hit a sliding lariat for a near fall. Naito used a calf slicer on Ishii using his legs. Ishii went for a brainbuster, but Naito reversed into a destino, but Ishii kicked out. Naito went for another destino but Ishii blocked and powered him into a brainbuster, but Naito kicked out. Ishii then started hitting his head own head into the turnbuckles. Naito slapped the hell out of Ishii, who came back with head-butts to the chest and a running lariat. Naito again got out of a brainbuster twice and hit destino, but Ishii kicked out again. He hit destino again and finally got the pin. ****3/4

9. Kazuchika Okada pinned Evil in 33:26 to retain the IWGP title. Evil put a chair around Okada’s head and threw him into the post. Evil did a baseball bat swing with another chair to nail the chair around Okada’s neck. This was much nastier than usual. Evil went for a neck crank. Okada dropkicked him to the floor, whipped Evil into the guard rail and kicked him over the guard rail. In what was the spot of the match, Okada went to do his sprint and crossbody over the barricade, but as he was running, Evil threw a chair at him (he did this in an earlier match and nailed Okada) but Okada as he was running suddenly ducked and the chair flew over his head and then Okada from crouching down did the crossbody over the guard rail and nailed Evil, knocking him over the front row and into the second row. Okada, because he went so low to avoid the chair, barely cleared the rail. Evil then gave him a German suplex and Okada took the bump way too high on his neck. Evil went for the banshee muzzle and Okada was in it for a long time before making the ropes. Okada hit the dropkick out of nowhere and a great Savage elbow off the top. Okada ran into ref Red Shoes Unno when Evil moved. Evil brought a ton of chairs in the ring and piled them up. Evil used a fisherman suplex into the turnbuckles and darkness falls, but Okada turned it into a huracanrana on the chairs. Okada used a tombstone. They traded elbows and Evil used a half nelson German suplex, a lariat and a super fisherman buster (superplex position but fisherman buster instead of a suplex) for a near fall. Okada used a German suplex. Evil ducked a rainmaker and used a head-butt. Evil used a reverse suplex for a near fall, but Okada hit two rainmakers. Evil ducked the next one and went for the STO, but Okada got out, hit a spinning tombstone piledriver and another rainmaker and it was over. When you go over the match, it really was great in layout but something was missing. They were almost four hours into the show when it started and they were following two incredible matches. But that’s probably not a good excuse, because Okada is usually headlining four hours into a show and following incredible matches. I think it really was that nobody thought Evil could win so it was entertainment that was good, but didn’t have the high stakes feel of a usual IWGP title match where people think the title can change. ****


Demetrious Johnson clinched his record setting 11th straight title defense by using a German suplex into an armbar finisher in the fifth round to submit Ray Borg in a fight he had already won every round in.

Johnson retained his flyweight title in the semifinal, underneath Tony Ferguson winning what was billed as an interim lightweight title fight, also by submission, over Kevin Lee in the main event of UFC 216 on 10/7 at the T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Johnson’s 11th straight successful title defense broke the record held by Anderson Silva of ten, during a middleweight title run from October 14, 2006, beating Rich Franklin, until losing on July 6, 2013, to Chris Weidman.

Johnson became the first UFC flyweight champion on September 22, 2012, when he won the tournament final of Joseph Benavidez. At 31, and with no signs of slowing down, he may end up with a record that will be very hard to beat. Given his record, his complete domination of the division, as he hasn’t even had anything close to a competitive fight since early 2013, has led to people talk that Johnson is the greatest fighter in the history of the sport.

From a technical standpoint and lacking weaknesses, you can make that argument. Johnson has it all, speed, technique and particularly stamina. The longer the fight goes, it is to his benefit because he never takes a deep breath nor seemingly gets tired. He rarely takes punishment because his defense and movement is so strong.

On the flip side, the division he’s in is not talent-laden. If you compare his opponents with others with long periods on top, like Aldo, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones or Georges St-Pierre, there is a huge difference. Now, you can only beat who they put in front of you, and he’s done all he could do, rarely losing rounds, and was a title contender a weight division up in 2011, and he’s a far superior fighter today. Now, if the argument is that someone with drug test failures can’t be considered the greatest ever, an argument being made nowadays, that does eliminate Silva and Jones, but not St-Pierre or Fedor Emelianenko.

It’s also notable how little interest UFC fans have in records. No matter how many times the media says they should be interested in Johnson because he’s great, and how many times UFC pushed him as the pound-for-pound best, he’s not a draw.

Nor is the lure of a great fight, because Ferguson vs. Lee, on paper, spelled fireworks. Ferguson is even a good talker, and because of a wild style where he leaves himself open, but seems to have an iron will, Ferguson has a propensity for great fights.

The show did an announced 10,638 fans and a gate of $677,999.50. Keep in mind that in the last decade, the UFC has only had three PPV shows in Las Vegas do less than a $2 million gate. The previous low of $1,362,7000, for UFC 191 on September 5, 2015, was for Johnson’s second fight with John Dodson, who was the last guy to give him a competitive bout.

That number of fans would indicate either extremely heavy papering, or greatly discounting tickets after so few would have bought when they went on sale. We should know more about that next week.

As far as the other stats go, the prelims on FX did 653,000 viewers, peaking at 756,000 for the Cody Stamann win over Thomas Duquesnoy fight. That would be the lowest number of the few times prelims have aired on FX. There have been three prelims on FS 1 in history that have done lower numbers, but none since October 25, 2014. Aside from shows on FS 2 and the 9/9 show on FXX that did 418,000, it would be the lowest number for prelims in almost three years.

The show did have heavy competition, going head-to-head with five nationally televised college football games.

The pre-show on FX did 324,000 viewers. The postfight show did 221,000 viewers. The weigh-ins the night before did 171,000 viewers.

As far as PPV goes, prelim indications aren’t that strong. Very early indicators look up about 20 percent from last month, but that was a rock bottom 100,000 buy show. And by this point, the giant McGregor vs. Mayweather fight shouldn’t be a major factor.

We already know Johnson isn’t a draw, and Borg wasn’t a guy he would draw with. But the bulk of the promotion was geared toward Ferguson vs. Lee, and it was a bad sign for Ferguson.

After the show, Dana White said that they are looking at putting Ferguson next against Conor McGregor, and said that it could come by the end of the year. With all the main events set, if it does happen, it would headline the 12/30 show in Las Vegas, or it would take place in early 2018. Still, if Nate Diaz will fight for a reasonable price, the business realities may still end up with McGregor vs. Diaz III, which would draw far better.

Ferguson went hard verbally, hard enough that it feels like he and McGregor would have a great dynamic in the build, no matter what the UFC 216 numbers were. McGregor would appear to have a standing edge, because his striking is faster and sharper. Ferguson would appear to have the edge on the ground, as well as the stamina edge. While you never know, given the track record of both men, it’s hard to believe it wouldn’t be an exciting fight.

For Johnson, there are a few choices. One is to move up in weight, which he should only do for a title fight against the Cody Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw winner. In the past, he’s been negative about moving up a weight class, and that should be and is his prerogative. If you are the best in your weight, and nobody can beat you, that doesn’t mean you need to vacate your title and fight guys bigger than you because you are so good nobody your size can beat you.

But such a fight would create more interest than anything he could do at flyweight. What is notable is that both Dillashaw and Garbrandt have said that they could get to 125, although physically looking at both of them, they’d have to take pretty extreme measures to do so. If not, Johnson’s next fight would likely be with the winner of Sergio Pettis vs. Henry Cejudo on 12/2 in Detroit, or facing perennial No. 2 Benavidez.

Overall, the show was strong, featuring a surprising two draws, which were the two best fights of the night, one with Lando Vannata vs. Bobby Green, and the other with Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham.

In both cases, there was very little controversy over the draw. Media scores in MMA Decisions for Vannata vs. Green were 29 percent for Vannata, 57 percent a draw and 14 percent for Green. For Dariush vs. Dunham, the media scores were 69 percent a draw and 31 percent for Dariush, with none for Dunham. UFC’s low ratings couldn’t come at a worse time, since this is their period for negotiating a new television contract.

There were several late changes. Nik Lentz had to pull out due to problems cutting weight. Lee, who noted the day before that he weighed 174 pounds and had to get to 155 for his title fight, showed up at the last minute and weighed 156. After doctors cleared him to be okay to try and lose the last pound, he was given one hour, arrived back almost on deadline, looking drawn as hell, and weighed in at 154.5 pounds meaning the title was still at stake. He claimed that night, after the fight was over, that he was 185 pounds in the cage. He looked considerably heavier than Ferguson, and in doing so, had the power advantage early. But having to lose so much weight, then put it back on, and then go fight the next day does wonders for your long-term stamina, and by the second round, he was at a major conditioning disadvantage.

Yet another controversy is that Lee entered the cage with a visible staph infection, but was still cleared with all that happening. Lee said he had the infection but didn’t take antibiotics because he knew they would tire him out for the fight.

Derrick Lewis, who was to face Fabricio Werdum, woke up with horrible back problems diagnosed as two bulging discs in the lower back. That led to Walt Harris, originally scheduled for Fight Pass fight with Mark Godbeer, to be asked if he’d step in. Werdum almost considered not taking the fight, as it was just a few hours before fight time and he was in the arena, when he was first told Lewis pulled out and he wasn’t fighting. Five minutes later he was asked to fight Harris. In a sense he saw it as a no-win situation, but then he agreed to fight. Godbeer was paid both his guarantee and his win bonus for stepping aside.

The PPV opened with a nice speech by Dana White regarding the shooting in the city the previous weekend. They gave free tickets to all first responders as well as to any victims and introduced several of them before the first PPV match, and showed many others during the event. One not shown in the crowd was John Alessio, a Las Vegas police officer and one of the first responders, who is a former UFC fighter.

UFC had donated $1 million to the families of the victims. This was all well done, and it’s a shame White made the comments about Jason Aldean, who they invited to sing the national anthem, and he instead turned it down in order to play on Saturday Night Live, like how he somehow owed it to Las Vegas to perform at UFC rather than on network television in New York that night. Ashley Picone, a regular UFC ring card girl, who worked the show, was at the concert where the shooting happened, but wasn’t hurt.

1. Brad Tavares (16-4) beat Thales Leites (27-8) on scores of 30-27, 30-26 and 30-26 in a middleweight fight. Tavares got the better of the striking, and avoided the takedowns. Tavares really took control in the third round, where he put Leites down with a low kick and hurt him late. Tavares got $74,000 for the win and Leites got $57,000 for the loss.

2. John Moraga (18-6) beat Magomed Bibulatov (14-1) in 1:36 of a flyweight fight. Moraga landed low kicks early, and then knocked him old cold with a left. Moraga got $118,000 for the win, including a $50,000 performance bonus. Bibulatov got $17,000 for the loss.

3. Matt Schnell (11-4) beat Marco Beltran (8-7) on scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27 in a flyweight fight. Boring fight with little crowd reaction. Schnell’s stepfather had just passed away six days before this fight. Little happened in round one with Schnell landing a few punches late to seemingly win it. The second round was similar, with Schnell landing more. In the third round, Beltran got a takedown but Schnell worked for a guillotine. Schnell got $20,000 for the win and Beltran got $14,000 for the loss.

4. Poliana Botelho (6-1) beat Pearl Gonzalez (6-3) on straight 30-27 scores in a women’s strawweight fight. Gonzalez pushed her into the fence and went for a takedown but never got it. Gonzalez controlled her against the fence, while Botelho threw elbows. The judges scored it for Botelho for throwing the elbows rather than Gonzalez, who was pressing the action but doing nothing significant on offense. The same thing happened in the second round. In the third round, it was more of the same. The crowd booed this fight a lot. Botelho landed a spin kick and head kick late, and then Botelho got a takedown as the round ended. Botelho got $20,000 for the win and Gonzalez got $10,000 for the loss.

5. Bobby Green (23-8-1) drew Lando Vannata (9-2-1) on scores of 29-27, 27-29 and 28-28 in a lightweight fight. This was a great fight. Both were throwing. Vannata knocked him down and was punching on the ground. Vannata had Green in a lot of trouble but then threw what appeared to be a hard knee to the head. It turned out it was the thigh, and not the knee, that hit the head, but Green was on the ground and the blow was illegal. Herb Dean took a point away, which is why the fight ended up being a draw. Vannata got a takedown late in the round. It was clearly Vannata’s round but with the penalty point, it was 9-9 after one. The second round was close. Green started landing punches and Vannata tired himself out trying to finish. Vannata got a takedown but Green was back up. Green got a takedown and Vannata reversed it and got his back, but Green got back up again. Vannata landed a hard shot and Green came back with punches and a knee. Really exciting stuff. In the third round, Green kept landing and Vannata couldn’t take him down. Green landed a lot of punches and Vannata was covered in blood, in a literal crimson mask. Both were landing big punches late but Green hurt him toward the end of the round, and this was Green’s round. Green got $74,000, including a $50,000 best fight bonus. Vannata got $75,000, including a $50,000 best fight bonus.

6. Cody Stamann (16-1) beat Thomas Duquesnoy (15-2, 1 no contest) via split decision on scores of 29-28, 28-29 and 30-27 in a bantamweight fight. I thought all three rounds were clear, with Stamann winning rounds two and three so the right guy won. Stamann got a takedown in the first round but Duquesnoy got back up and did better standing. Stamann got a second takedown in the round but Duquesnoy had the best of the standup. In the second round, Stamann took him down and landed punches from the top. He got a second takedown and landed more punches on the ground to win the round. The third looked to decide it. Duquesnoy landed hard kicks, but Stamann came back. Stamann got the better of the round and when Duquesnoy took him down late, he didn’t do enough to win the round. Another good fight. Stamann got $24,000 for the win and Duquesnoy got $23,000 for the loss.

7. Beneil Dariush (14-3-1) drew Evan Dunham (18-6-1) on scores of 29-28 Dariush and two scores of 28-28 in a lightweight fight. Yet another good fight. Dariush dropped him with two punches and had him almost finished on the ground with punches from the top. Dunham survived the onslaught and went for a kneebar, but Dariush escaped. I had this as a 10-8 round for Dariush. Dariush was tired from trying to finish him. Dunham won the second round with a takedown and some punches. In the third round, both traded but Dunham looked to win the round. Both were going for it late but missed on their wild shots. Dariush got $48,000 while Dunham got $40,000.

8. Mara Romero Borella (12-4-1) beat Kalindra Faria (18-6-1) in 2:54 of a women’s flyweight bout. Borella was the first Italian woman ever to compete in UFC. Borella took Faria down, got mount, got her back and finished with a choke. Borella got $24,000 for the win and Fair got $12,00 for the loss.

9. Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1) beat Walt Harris (10-6) in 1:05 of a heavyweight fight. Werdum took him down immediately, got mount, faked like he was going for a choke and in doing so, when Harris defended, opened him up for the armbar. It was a brilliant finish. Werdum said that he wanted a rematch with Stipe Miocic for the title. Werdum got $400,000 for the win and Harris got $28,000 for the loss.

10. Demetrious Johnson (27-2-1) beat Ray Borg (11-3) to retain the UFC flyweight title at 3:15 of the fifth round. Johnson won all four rounds before finishing in the fifth. He controlled almost the entire fight and took no punishment. Even when Borg could get him down, he could do nothing on the ground but hold him there. Johnson took him down and got his back. He also worked for a Kimura in the first round. In the second round, Borg got the takedown and jumped on Johnson’s back. Johnson flipped him over and ended up on top and landed punches from the top. Johnson took him down into side control as well. In the third round, Borg couldn’t get the takedown. Johnson was on top in side control and threw knees to the body, and got his back again. Borg tried for a guillotine late. In the fourth round, Johnson took him down into side control, got a second takedown and was going for an armbar at the end of the round. In the fifth round, Johnson took him down three times. Then he went for a German suplex and in mid-air, turned it into an armbar for the submission. This will be a candidate for submission of the year. Johnson said that he does this move in practice all the time and was waiting for the chance to do it in a fight. Johnson got $420,000 for the win, including a $50,000 performance bonus. Borg got $100,000 for the loss.

11. Tony Ferguson (24-3) beat Kevin Lee (16-3) at 4:02 of the third round in a lightweight fight. Lee started strong with a head kick and dropped Ferguson with a right. Ferguson got up and dropped Lee with a right. Both traded punches. Lee got the takedown but Ferguson worked for a triangle. Lee escaped and was throwing knees to the body. Lee started landing punches from the top and hard elbows from the mount as the round ended. Lee was tired going into the second round and Ferguson took over. Ferguson landed with punches and kicks with Lee getting some offense in. In the third round, Lee got a slam takedown but Ferguson got up. Lee got another takedown and Ferguson got him in an armbar. Great escape by Lee, but Ferguson got the triangle from there for the submission. Ferguson then told Conor McGregor to either defend his tile or vacate it. Ferguson got $500,000 for the win and Lee got $250,000 for the loss.


A 12-year-old incident came to the forefront over the weekend and led to arguably the two biggest names at the return of pro wrestling to Cobo Hall show to be gone before the evening show.

In 2005, Anthony Carelli, then known as Johnny Geo Basco, was a Canadian independent wrestler who had a judo background, and even did one MMA fight in Japan. He went to OVW in Louisville, since OVW was the pipeline to the WWE as its developmental territory.

He had only been there for a few weeks, was in the beginners class, and among the roles was too fill the bleachers on TV night and act as fans. Marty Wright, was a 40-year-old competition bodybuilder with unique charisma, and WWE wanted to make him a big star as The Boogeyman. He had no experience wrestling so he was sent to OVW for a crash course in getting a gimmick over.

Jim Cornette was the booker of the OVW television show, and tried to present a serious version of wrestling. The Boogeyman didn’t exactly fit, but his marching orders were to give him experience with the gimmick and get him over. He instructed the wrestlers in the bleachers to, when the Boogeyman came out, sell for him, to basically act scared, like the fans in real life used to do when guys like Abdullah the Butcher, Kevin Sullivan, The Mongolian Stomper and Bruiser Brody used to run around arenas.

Carelli didn’t act scared and kind of laughed. He shouldn’t have done it, but at the same time, it really wasn’t that bad. Cornette flipped out, yelling at him after the incident and slapped him over-and-over. Cornette, who was already on thin ice with WWE after an argument with Linda Miles, one that from all accounts Miles started, was suspended for the incident, and later fired by WWE, and also WWE pretty much forced him out of OVW, which he was 50 percent owner of.

One person with full knowledge of what happened and was there noted that while Cornette was absolutely out of line to be slapping him around, Cornette hit him less hard according to one person there than he would hit trainees when demonstrating to them about how to do realistic slaps and not to do them looking weak, and hitting the slap hard to the neck and avoiding the ear or jaw.

The Miles incident saw an argument start by Miles, and it escalated to both cussing each other out. She complained to management about what he said about her, leaving out that she started the argument and was the first to start swearing, but Cornette was on thin ice already.

Carelli, who had no affiliation at the time with WWE, may or may not have called the company, and in doing so, Cornette was eventually fired. One person there said that he absolutely called the company. One person in WWE at the time who would know said that as far as they know, he never called them and that the decision to fire Cornette was made by John Laurinaitis that night, he called Stephanie McMahon right away and was about to call Vince McMahon, who then asked Laurinaitis why Cornette wasn’t fired already.

With Cornette gone, Paul Heyman was brought in as OVW booker, and Heyman wanted to do a gimmick where a smaller guy was portrayed as a shooter, basically trying to reprise Fedor Emelianenko, who was the top MMA heavyweight in the world at the time.

The start of his push actually came in Heyman’s third week. Heyman was pushing Daniel Puder, who was coming off winning Tough Enough and had an MMA background and was trying to push him as a shooter. As part of the gimmick, he assigned Carelli to be one of Puder’s corner men. Danny Davis freaked out when he saw Carelli on television. Heyman at the time was said to have not even made the connection that the Carelli guy being pushed was Johnny Geo Basco, the name that everyone did know was the guy in the Cornette incident shortly before. But Davis made it clear he didn’t want Carelli on television, so he wasn’t.

Several months later, Heyman wanted to do a Fedor Emelianenko gimmick and thought Carelli was the guy for it. Davis was against it but Heyman pushed that he was from WWE, that WWE was paying OVW and that he was just going to have to accept Carelli on TV being pushed. In addition, Heyman liked him and his work visa was coming due and if he didn’t get something soon he’d have to return to Canada.

Carelli was given the name Boris Alexiev, and given the same background, a judo and sambo expert, and would submit everyone in a minute or less. He got over with the gimmick, as most due when their gimmick is beating everyone in one minute. The character got talk, also because Fedor was hot at the time, and at that point Laurinaitis wanted to get him signed.

David Lagana, Ed Koskey and Brian Gewirtz all saw him on top and had roster ideas for him. When they did a show in Milan, Italy, the idea was for him to be an Italian fan in the crowd who would somehow end up in the ring and luck into winning the IC title. At the time, the plan was not for him to be a comedy guy. They really just had the idea for a spot to get people talking, and from the next few weeks, it was clear that after that spot, they had no idea what to do with him. But when he was around they thought his mannerisms were funny and then turned him into the comedy character he portrayed.

So he became the Italian comedy character, Santino Marella. Marella worked in WWE from 2007 to 2014, and retired due to needing neck surgery. He later had a second neck operation, although he did do a match earlier this year, and after it, said he could never wrestle again.

Over the years, both have cut promos on each other. Carelli, after gaining some fame as Santino, challenged Cornette to a fight in 2007. He also did an interview once more recently where he outright said he’d like to see Cornette and repay him for what he said and for the incident from years back, where he knew that if he fought back against Cornette, he’d likely have no shot at making it in the business.

Carelli said that in 2014, after he had his neck surgery, a friend of his called, but Cornette was there and took the phone and went on a tirade on him on the phone. Cornette apparently claimed no such thing happened, and when it was brought up to him, on his podcast, denied it happened again and cut another promo on him on the air.

Cornette often cut promos on Marella, blaming him for getting him fired from WWE, always bringing up the incident with Boogeyman, and calling him a disgrace to the business and all that. While Cornette would say it was for the best that he was fired and the reality is once John Laurinaitis replaced Jim Ross as the head of talent relations, there was no chance of it working out since Cornette and Laurinaitis had issues, he said getting fired didn’t make him mad, but he was mad that Carelli didn’t know it would be to his benefit and worked to get him fired.

Both were booked by the Monroe family’s XICW promotion, which ran the first pro wrestling event at Cobo Hall since a 1993 WCW show. In fact their merchandise tables were put near each other. In that sense, that was a bad idea from the start.

Cornette was there well before Noon for the convention, while Carelli was only booked to appear for the evening show.

Carelli, 43, showed up at about 5 p.m., put his bag by his table and in the main lobby, confronted Cornette, 56. Carelli went to shake Cornette’s hand. Cornette said he shook his hand. Carelli was talking to him and said that Cornette should apologize to him. Cornette said that they had nothing to talk about, and that he didn’t respect him as a wrestler, and went to leave. Carelli blocked him from walking away. Cornette then tried to go in another direction and Carelli blocked him again. According to an eye witness who was right there, he said Carelli started goading Cornette to slap him again, saying you know you want to hit me, very clearly with the idea that if Cornette hit him first, he could then retaliate. Cornette, then loudly, to call attention, said this motherf***er won’t let me leave, and he wants me to hit him so he can sue me. Eventually Carelli left.

Cornette was said to be furious, and wanted to leave. He was beet red and one person said they were scared he might have a heart attack right there he was so upset. Cornette said that he wanted to leave and didn’t want to be in the same building as Carelli. A few people tried to calm him down so he’d stay for the evening show.

The sister of Malcolm Monroe Jr., had an argument with Cornette, since he was booked for the evening show and now wanted to leave. She started screaming at him and then Cornette was screaming back. Security came and he yelled at them and then a police officer came and Cornette settled down. Then Carelli started smirking at him and goading him again, and Cornette got upset again. Cornette left on his own but was on the verge of being kicked out. Carelli started singing “Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Goodbye” as Cornette left. The feeling was that Carelli had instigated it at every turn, not that anyone was defending Cornette as everyone wished he’d have stayed calm after the first incident and stayed for the evening show. Carelli was also kicked out, which meant the evening show went on without two of the biggest stars there.

Both released statements long statements, mostly tearing down the other.

It wasn’t over by a longshot.

The next day, Cornette and Bruce Prichard did a podcast together before a packed house. Cornette cut a several minute promo on Carelli. At some points he was cheered for what he said about Carelli. At other points the audience reacted like they were uncomfortable at what he was saying.

At another point, there was a cardboard cutout of Vince Russo and Cornette got up and pretended he wanted to piss on it. He pulled his sweatpants down to tease like he was going to do it. Evidently his penis was visible although he said that was not the intent and said he didn’t realize it was, the fans there popped at the idea he was going to piss on a Russo poster, and continued on with the show.

He said he never thought anything about it again until the next day when he found out there were headlines that he exposed himself.


Here is a look at the June through August business comparisons for WWE, Impact (or whatever it’s being called this week) and ROH.

For June, Raw this year averaged 2.90 million viewers. The previous year was 3.20 million viewers, so the decline was 9.4 percent.

Smackdown this year averaged 2.40 million viewers, up from 2.13 million last year. That’s also comparing the live show with a different roster with the B show on tape last year. The increase in viewers was 12.7 percent.

This year, Raw TV tapings averaged 7,975 fans per show, while Raw house shows averaged 3,563. Smackdown TV tapings averaged 5,100 and Smackdown house shows averaged 3,775.

Last year Raw TV tapings averaged 8,250 per show, while Smackdown TV tapings averaged 4,500. House shows weren’t broken down into Raw and Smackdown but they averaged 4,175.

So Raw TV tapings were down 3.4 percent and Smackdown TV tapings were up 13.3 percent. House shows were down 12.1 percent.

NXT shows outside of Florida in the U.S. averaged 1,033 this year and 967 last year or an increase of 6.8 percent.

NXT shows in Florida this year averaged 275 per show and averaged 308 last year, a decline of 10.7 percent.

ROH averaged 983 per show this year and 583 per show last year, or an increase of 68.6 percent.

Impact averaged 308,000 viewers per show this year and 324,000 per show last year, for a drop of 6.7 percent.

For July, Raw averaged 3.04 million viewers for the month, down from 3.07 million last year, so the numbers were almost identical.

Smackdown averaged 2.47 million viewers per month, down from 2.55 million last year, a decline of 3.1 percent. However, two shows were taped and airing on Thursday, and one was the draft show that was artificially high, so the only real direct comparison show was 2.74 million last year.

Raw TV tapings averaged 8,840 fans per show this year and Smackdown TV tapings averaged 6,833. Raw house shows averaged 4,041 per show and Smackdown house shows averaged 3,242 per show.

Last year, Raw TV tapings averaged 8,250 and Smackdown TV tapings averaged 5,500, so Raw TV’s were up 7.2 percent and Smackdown TV’s were up 24.2 percent. There weren’t separate Raw and Smackdown house shows yet but the house shows averaged 3,667 per show, so this year they were down 0.7 percent.

NXT shows outside of Florida averaged 1,700 per show this year and NXT shows in Florida averaged 317 per show this year. Last year the shows outside of Florida averaged 1,467 and those in Florida averaged 308 per show, so the out of Florida shows were up 15.9 percent and those in Florida were up 2.9 percent.

ROH averaged 1,100 this year as compared to 825 last year, or an increase of 21.2 percent.

Impact averaged 341,000 viewers per show this year as compared to 357,000 last year, a decline of 4.5 percent.

For August, Raw averaged 3.29 million viewers this year and 3.17 million viewers last year for a rare increase of 3.8 percent. That’s misleading because the two shows against the Olympics last year changed the average from what would have been 3.34 million viewers, so throwing that out it’s a decline, but not as much as a decline most of the year. The solidifying and ending of the huge year-to-year declines with Raw have to do with the stronger main event scene, which really started with Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe and the four-way and Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman as the key programs, along with the return of John Cena to the brand.

Smackdown averaged 2.57 million viewers this year and 2.62 million last year, for a decline of 1.9 percent. Keep in mind that like Raw, two of the weeks in August would have been way down from usual due to the Olympics. In addition, for all the shows, the huge increase in people watching the news effected everyone in television last year given the nature of last year’s presidential election.

Raw averaged 9,975 per Raw taping, 7,540 per Smackdown taping, Raw house shows averaged 4,188 and Smackdown house shows averaged 2,828 per show.

Last year’s Raw tapings averaged 10,425 per show, Smackdown averaged 5,125, so Raw TV’s were down 4.3 percent and Smackdown TV’s were up 47.1 percent. House shows last year averaged 4,171, so it’s roughly a 15.9 percent decline.

NXT shows outside of Florida averaged 1,600 this year and 575 last year, for an increase of 178.2 percent. NXT shows in Florida 318 per show this year, up from 314 last year.

ROH in August averaged 750 for only one show (which was an advanced sellout so that was all they could average) , down from 1,000 last year, a decline of 25.0 percent.

Impact averaged 292,000 viewers in August this year, down from 340,000 last year, a decline of 14.1 percent.


UFC star Henry Cejudo, who at one point was heavily recruited by WWE, suffered burns on his foot and lost his Olympic gold medal in the Northern California fires.

Cejudo was in the area as part of a fundraiser at the Mayacama Golf Club in Santa Rosa put together by former NFL star Ronnie Lott. Because of the fire, many of the athletes quickly evacuated from the Fountaingrove Inn, where they were staying.

Cejudo was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle as having had to jump out of the second story balcony when the hotel caught on fire. The initial story was that he suffered a broken ankle, but Cejudo said he didn’t break his ankle, but did suffer burns on his right foot from the fire before having to jump out of the balcony to escape.

One of the victims of the fire was Santa Rose-resident Brad Muster, a former Stanford and Chicago Bears star who has been a subscriber of this publication for more than 30 years. Muster, who sat next to me in Chicago during the 1989 match where Ricky Steamboat won the NWA title from Ric Flair, and was a huge supporter of this publication, lost everything in the fire, although his family was not harmed. Dave Korner, who we wrote about a few months ago when he passed away from brain cancer, was the person who introduced us as he had read that Muster was a big pro wrestling fan when he was playing at Stanford, and went to a practice to meet him, and found out he was a huge fan, in particular of Ric Flair and we ended up becoming great friends during that era.

At press time, Cejudo is still scheduled to face Sergio Pettis on 12/2 in Detroit, in a fight that could determine the next challenger for Demetrious Johnson.


With no baseball playoff competition like the prior week, and coming off the PPV show, Smackdown did normal levels on 10/10 with 2,467,000 viewers, up six percent from last week.

The show was fourth for the night on cable.

The show did a 0.65 in 18-34 (up 22.6 percent), 0.69 in 18-34 (up 6.2 percent), 0.91 in 35-49 (up 9.6 percent) and 0.99 in 50+ (up 4.2 percent).

The audience was 59.4 percent male in 18-49 and 54.8 percent male in 12-17.

Raw on 10/9 did a surprisingly good 1.96 rating and 2,894,000 viewers (1.61 viewers per home), given the strong competition, up 4.6 percent from the prior week.

The keys to the number were that women, who usually tune out in significant numbers in the third hour, stuck with the show, and teenage boys in particular peaked in the third hour. This offset the usual level of people over the age of 50 leaving in hour three.

Considering the third hour main event was built around Enzo Amore, and his impromptu title loss to Kalisto, and last week’s drop off wasn’t so big either, his claims in his promos about being money and ratings looked good at least this week.

The main competition was Dancing With The Stars, featuring Nikki Bella (which WWE isn’t promoting at all on television, for the obvious reasons of it being head-to-head with Raw), doing 9,246,000 viewers on ABC (up two percent from the prior week), a Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings game did 10,281,000 viewers (down 14 percent from the prior week) and a New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians Major League baseball playoff game on FS 1 did 4,492,000 viewers.

Raw was third for the night on cable behind the baseball and the football game.

The first hour did 3,008,000 viewers. The second hour did 2,894,000 viewers. The third hour did 2,711,000 viewers, which is better than the third hour has been doing in recent weeks.

The key to the rating would have to be The Shield Reunion, since the storylines and show have been built around it. But that was mostly done in the first two hours, as the third hour was promoted more around Enzo Amore and the cruiserweight title lumberjack match.

Most notable, is that the third hour was nine percent among males 12-34 and 13 percent among males 12-17, which is not the usual patterns.

The show did a 0.70 in 12-17 (up 6.1 percent), 0.86 in 18-34 (the same as last week), 1.06 in 35-49 (up 6.0 percent) and 1.06 in 50+ (down 3.6 percent).

The audience was 59.6 percent male in 18-49 and 57.0 percent male in 12-17.

Bellator on 10/6, a show headlined by Darrion Caldwell winning the bantamweight title from Eduardo Dantas, drew 437,000 viewers, which tied a September 7, 2013, show headlined by Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brett Cooper as the lowest number they’ve done since starting on Spike. It should be noted that Spike is in a lot fewer homes now than in 2013, but however you try and portray it, the lowest number of the year, no matter what the competition is, is not a positive. They had competition from College Football on ESPN and Major League baseball playoffs on TBS.

If there is a positive, it’s that with DVR +3 viewing, it was up 19 percent to 521,000 viewers with a peak of 671,000 for the Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Daniel Straus fight. It would appear that the high DVR number and peak for the semi and not the main with DVR viewing would be based on word-of-mouth coming out of the show about how you should go out of your way to see Sanchez vs. Straus. It’s very rare you see a movement like this based on match quality word-of-mouth in social media, but this is a minor example of it.

Bellator Kickboxing, taped from a few weeks ago in San Jose, which aired right after Bellator at about 11:30 p.m. did 268,000 viewers.

Impact on 10/5 did 251,000 viewers, down five percent from the 264,000 the week before. This week’s show went against both the NFL (New England Patriots vs. Tampa Bay Bucs) and Major League baseball playoffs. The NFL game did 19,338,000 viewers between CBS and the NFL Network. The baseball playoffs did 3,782,000 viewers.

Total Bellas on 10/5 did 539,000 viewers, down four percent from the prior week.

Ultimate Fighter on 10/5 did 242,000 viewers, up ten percent from the prior week.

Lucha Underground on 10/5 did 92,000 viewers and 8 p.m. and 54,000 viewers at 9 p.m. for a total of 146,000, which was up 33 percent from the 110,000 total of the week before. We had a mistake last week as we listed the 9 p.m. audience for Lucha Underground as 22,000 viewers when it was 32,000. The 8 p.m. audience was 78,000 so the total was 110,000, not 100,000 as listed last week.


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RESULTS

 

10/4 Winter Park, FL (WWE NXT - 400 sellout): No Way Jose b Marcel Barthel, Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli b Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch, Nikki Cross won Battle Royal, Andrade Cien Almas b Roderick Strong, Nikki Cross b Taynara Conti, Fabian Aichner b Johnny Gargano, Tag titles: Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe NC Authors of Pain, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b ?, Kairi Sane b Billie Kay, Velveteen Dream b Cezar Bononi, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli, Lars Sullivan b Raul Mendoza, Ember Moon b Mercedes Martinez, Adam Cole NC Roderick Strong,

10/5 Dade City, FL (WWE NXT - 150): Nikki Cross b Vanessa Borne, Adrian Jaoude b Chad Lail, Dakota Kai b Bianca Blair, Buddy Murphy b Babatunde Aiyegbusi, Raul Mendoza b Lio Rush, Kairi Sane & Liv Morgan b Shayna Baszler & Lacey Evans, Killian Dain b Cezar Bononi, Tag titles: Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe b Authors of Pain

10/5 Tijuana (The Crash - 3,800): Impact tag titles: Dave & Jake Crist b Black Boy & Black Danger, Christi Jaynes & Keyra b Baronessa & Diosa Quetzal, Arkangel Divino & Laredo Kid & Mascarita Dorada b Demus 3:16 & Steve Pain & Ultimo Maldito, Impact X title: Trevor Lee b Ultimo Ninja, Impact X title: Trevor Lee b Daga-DQ, Bestia 666 & Black Taurus & Mr. 450 b Jack Evans & Willie Mack & M-ximo, Crash cruiserweight title: Rey Fenix b Flamita, Rey Mysterio Jr. & Penta 0M & Brian Cage b Rush & Pierroth & La Mascara

10/5 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Dragon Gate - 1,850 sellout): U-T & Shun Skywalker & Hyo Watanabe b Gamma & Kaito Ishida & Shachihoko Boy, Yosuke Santa Maria b Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa, Big R Shimizu & Ben K b Dragon Kid & Eita, Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy b Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Jason Lee, Great Sasuke & Taka Michinoku & Jinsei Shinzaki b Cima & Don Fujii & Masaaki Mochizuki, Shingo Takagi & Takashi Yoshida & T-Hawk & Lindaman & Punch Tominga & Yasshi b Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kagetora & Jimmy Kanda & Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito & Jimmy K-Ness

10/6 Arlington, TX (WWE Raw - 3,400): Finn Balor b Karl Anderson, R-Truth & Apollo Crews & Heath Slater & Rhyno b Goldust & Elias & Dash Wilder & Darren Young, Non-title: Enzo Amore b Mustafa Ali, Tag titles: Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins b Cesaro & Sheamus, Four-way for women’s title: Alexa Bliss won over Sasha Banks, Mickie James and Nia Jax, Matt Hardy & Jason Jordan b Curtis Axel & The Miz, Last man standing: Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman

10/6 Coral Gables, FL (WWE NXT - 350): Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli, Lars Sullivan b Oney Lorcan, Ruby Riot b Sonya Deville, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake, Velveteen Dream b Roderick Strong, No Way Jose b Kona Reeves, Ember Moon b Mandy Rose, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly & Adam Cole b Drew McIntyre & Johnny Gargano & Kassius Ohno

10/6 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 5,000): Mercurio & Pequeno Nitro b Shockercito & Stukita, Blue Panther Jr. & Fuego & The Panther b Misterioso Jr & Sagrado & Vangellys, Hechicero b Valiente, Cavernario & Felino & Negro Casas b Pierroth & Rush & Sam Adonis-DQ, Dragon Lee & Mistico & Soberano Jr. b Luciferno & Rey Bucanero & Mephisto, Caristico & Diamante Azul & Marco Corleone b Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Shocker

10/6 Oberhausen, Germany (wXw World Tag Team League - 350): Jaxon Stone b Jay Skillet, Angel Ortiz & Mike Draztik b Homicide & Low Ki, Lucky Kid & Tarkan Aslan b Spirit Squad, Julian Nero b Da Mack, David Starr & Jurn Simmons b Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani, Robert Dreissker b Ivan Kiev-DQ, Timothy Thatcher & Walter b Mark & Jay Briscoe

10/7 Tulsa, OK (WWE Raw - 4,500): Finn Balor b Karl Anderson, R-Truth & Apollo Crews & Rhyno & Heath Slater b Goldust & Elias & Dash Wilder & Darren Young, Non-title: Enzo Amore b Mustafa Ali, Tag titles: Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b Sheamus & Cesaro, Four-way for women’s title: Alexa Bliss won over Sasha Banks, Mickie James and Nia Jax, Jason Jordan & Matt Hardy b The Miz & Curtis Axel, Last man standing: Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman

10/7 Canton, OH (WWE Smackdown - 2.800): Tag titles: Big E & Kofi Kingston b Usos, Bobby Roode b Aiden English, Tyler Breeze & Fandango & Chad Gable b The Ascension & Mike Kanellis, Last man standing: Randy Orton b Rusev, Charlotte Flair & Naomi & Becky Lynch b Lana & Tamina & Natalya, Four-way for U.S. title: A.J. Styles won over Tye Dillinger, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Shinsuke Nakamura

10/7 Fort Pierce, FL (WWE NXT - 400): Lio Rush b Raul Mendoza, Vanessa Borne won Battle Royal, No Way Jose b Buddy Murphy, Velveteen Dream b Roderick Strong, Adam Cole & Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly b Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake, Lars Sullivan b Kona Reeves, Kairi Sane b Vanessa Borne, Drew McIntyre & Johnny Gargano b Hideo Itami & Andrade Cien Almas

10/7 Uonuma (New Japan - 1,401 sellout): Manabu Nakanishi & Tetsuhiro Yagi b Yuji Nagata & Ren Narita, Kushida b Hirai Kawato, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taka Michinoku & Taichi & Desperado b Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Ryusuke Taguchi & Shota Umino, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima b Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe b Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura, Hirooki Goto & Toru Yano b Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka, Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi & Gedo & Jado

10/7 Oberhausen, Germany (wXw World tag team League- 550): Mark & Jay Briscoe b Angel Ortiz & Mike Draztik, Ivan Kiev won four-way over Alexander James, Avalanche and Bobby Gunns, Jinny b Killer Kelly, Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani b Lucky Kid & Tarkan Aslan, Homicide & Low Ki b Timothy Thatcher & Walter, David Starr & Jurn Simmons b Spirit Squad, wXw title: John Klinger b Ilja Dragunov-DQ

10/8 Rockford, IL (WWE Raw - 3,000): Finn Balor b Karl Anderson, Apollo Crews & R-Truth & Heath Slater & Rhyno b Elias & Dash Wilder & Goldust & Darren Young, Non-title: Enzo Amore b Mustafa Ali, Tag titles: Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b Sheamus & Cesaro, Four-way for women’s title: Alexa Bliss won over Sasha Banks, Nia Jax and Mickie James, Matt Hardy & Jason Jordan bg The Miz & Curtis Axel, Last man standing: Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman

10/8 Oberhausen, Germany (wXw World tag team league finals - 500): Mark & Jay Briscoe b Homicide & Low Ki, Spirit Squad b Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani, David Starr & Jurn Simmons b Lucky Kid & Tarkan Aslan, Timothy Thatcher & Walter b Angel Ortiz & Mike Draztik, Dirty Dragan & Ilja Dragunov & Julian Nero & Avalanche b Da Mack & Ivan Kiev & John Klinger & Pete Bouncer, Mark & Jay Briscoe b Francis Kaspin & Jay Skiillet, Bobby Gunns b Homicide, Tournament finals for wXw tag titles: Timothy Thatcher & Walter b David Starr & Jurn Simmons

10/9 Indianapolis (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 8,000): Rhyno & Heath Slater b Curt Hawkins & Dash Wilder, Akira Tozawa b Tony Nese, Jason Jordan b Karl Anderson, Elias b Apollo Crews, Braun Strowman b Matt Hardy, Brian Kendrick & Jack Gallagher b Mustafa Ali & Cedric Alexander, Emma won five-way over Dana Brooke, Alicia Fox, Sasha Banks and Bayley, Cruiserweight title: Kalisto b Enzo Amore to win title, Tag titles: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins b Sheamus & Cesaro

10/9 East Lansing, MI (WWE Smackdown - 2,000): Four-way for tag titles: Usos won over Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston, Tyler Breeze & Fandango and Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin, Bobby Roode b Dolph Ziggler, Tye Dillinger & Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder b The Ascension & Aiden English, Randy Orton b Rusev, 3 vs. 4: Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch & Naomi b Natalya & Lana & Carmella & Tamina, Sami Zayn b Mike Kanellis, A.J. Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura b Jinder Mahal & Baron Corbin

10/9 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (All Japan - 1,301): Kotaro Suzuki b Koji Iwamoto, Masa Fuchi & Taiyo Kea & Manabu Soya b Tajiri & Yohei Nakajima & Fuminori Abe, Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi & Kai b Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato & Yusuke Okada, Bang TV title: Osamu Nishimura b Danny Jones, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori b Zeus & the Bodyguard, Joe Doering b Shuji Ishikawa, Triple Crown title: Suwama b Kento Miyahara to win title

10/9 Tokyo Shinkiba (AAA - 290 sellout): Aerostar b Marty the Moth Martinez, Angelico & Son of Havoc b Masamune & Taiji Ishimori, Pagano & Psycho Clown b Minoru Fujita & Nosawa, King Cuerno b Drago, Mil Muertes NC Vampiro

10/9 Osaka (Dragon Gate - 846): U-T b Hyo Watanabe, Gamma & Ryo Saito b Don Fujii & Genki Horiguchi, Masaaki Mochizuki & Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa b Hiroaki Moriya & Tomoya Sasaki, Takashi Yoshida b Yosuke Santa Maria, Kagetora b Jason Lee, Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu & Ben K b Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy, Cima & Dragon Kid & Susumu Yokosuka & Eita b Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Lindaman & Yasushi Kanda

10/10 Grand Rapids, MI (WWE Smackdown/205 Live - 4,200): Tye Dillinger b Mike Kanellis, Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable won over Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder, Tyler Breeze & Fandango and The Ascension, Becky Lynch b Carmella, Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura b Rusev & Aiden English, U.S. title: Baron Corbin b A.J. Styles, 2/3 falls: Rich Swann b TJP, Kalisto & Mustafa Ali b Enzo Amore & Ariya Daivari, Three-way for WWE title: Jinder Mahal won over Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler

10/10 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Pro Wrestling World Cup - 873): Pagano & Psycho Clown b Cody Hall & Quiet Storm, Kendo Kashin & Nosawa b Mil Muertes & Vampiro-DQ, Taiji Ishimori Hi69 b Marty the Moth Martinez & Son of Havoc, Andrew Everett & DJZ b Aerostar & Drago, Heidi Katrina & Recca & Taylor Adams b Danny Jones & Diego & Sumire Natasu, Pagano & Psycho Clown b Kendo Kashin & Nosawa, Taiji Ishimori & Andrew Everett & DJZ, King Cuerno b Angelico, Tournament final: Pagano & Psycho Clown b Taiji Ishimori & Hi69

10/10 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Apocalipsis & Artillero b Bengala & Flyer, Vaquerita & Lady Maravilla & Marcela b Comandante & Metalica & Tiffany, Disturbio & Misterioso Jr. & Sagrado b Esfinge & Fuego & Pegasso, Polvora b Rey Cometa, Mascara Ano 2000 & Rey Bucanero & Vangellys b Drone & Guerrero Maya Jr. & Titan, Cavernario & Felino & El Terrible b Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & Valiente

10/11 Kissei (All Japan): Kai b Yohei Nakajima, Tajiri & Keeichi Sato b Atsushi Maruyama & Yusuke Okada, Great Mucha & Hiroshi Torsen b The Yotchan & Masked Marko, Zeus & The Bodyguard b Koji Iwamoto & Fuminori Abe, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori b Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato, Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa b Joe Doering & Danny Jones, Kento Miyahara & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Ryoji Sai & Rikiya Fudo & Ishinriki

CMLL: The first Friday night show at Arena Mexico after the earthquake on 10/6 felt like a normal show. The crowd was 5,000, a little lower than they had been doing, but the feeling is it’ll take a few more weeks to get things back to normal after the earthquake. That could be why they’re jumping into the Leyenda de Plata tournament next week, as a way to get people back in the rhythm. It should be noted that a lot of crowd is tourists, and with tourism down, crowds will be down. It felt like a normal show, a fun Friday night with everything fine and a very good semifinal. Caristico & Diamante Azul & Marco Corleone beat Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Shocker on top. The show stealer as expected was the semifinal with the Mistico & Dragon Lee & Soberano Jr. team doing a great high flying match and the rudos of Luciferno & Mephisto & Rey Bucanero were there for them. No big angles came out of the matches. Hechicero beat Valiente in a good lightning match (one fall, ten minute time limit) with Valiente doing a lot of cool stuff. The angles saw a trios match where Sam Adonis used a low blow on Negro Casas to get DQ’d, and then motioned like he wanted Casas’ hair. Earlier, Misterioso Jr. and The Panther were tearing at each others’ masks

Next week’s show features the Leyenda de Plata tournament. Because of who is in it, this should be worth going out of your way to see. It wasn’t explained if the entire thing will be in one match, or they’ll go down to the final two and then bring them back on 10/20 in a singles match. For 10/13, the names in the match are Caristico, Mistico, Volador Jr., Dragon Lee, Soberano Jr., Guerrero Maya Jr., Titan, The Panther, Mephisto, Cavernario, Negro Casas, Sanson, Forastero, Virus, Puma and Tiger. Usually when they do matches with this level of talent and elimination style they’ll go 30 to 50 minutes and you’ve got a tecnico side that is going to all be out to steal the show, and it’s notable how quickly Sanson and Forastero are already being put into these top worker show case matches. The other top matches are Diamante Azul & Kraneo & Corleone vs. Rush & Ultimo Guerrero (very notable he’s not in the tournament) & Euforia, and Valiente vs. Pierroth which will be something

Niebla Roja defends the CMLL light heavyweight title against Rey Bucanero on 10/14 at Arena Coliseo in Mexico City

Corleone vs. Rush for the CMLL heavyweight title headlines the 10/16 show in Puebla

Marco Corleone Dallys beat the unmasked Princesa Sugehit on 10/9 in Puebla to keep the CMLL women’s title.

AAA: According to Lucha writer Leo Riano, what happened with the heart attack of Fantasma (the father of El Hijo del Fantasma/King Cuerno) is that he wrestled in a match in Cancun and his heart felt bad. He went to the hospital in Cancun the next day, but they didn’t have the right equipment to check his heart. His son found a doctor who could operate on him in Cozumel, which was a two-and-a-half hour drive. His son rented an ambulance, which rushed him to Playa del Carmen to diagnose what the problem was, and he needed emergency surgery there. He is doing better now

The reason AAA lost its television in the U.K. on Frontrunner was due to an issue with a show broadcast on 7/5. The U.K. has much stricter rules on what can air on television prior to 9 p.m.. Frontrunner TV was airing AAA at 7 p.m. and the show had a match with Pagano vs. Psycho Clown, which, according to a report published by OFCOM (the country’s television regulatory board) regarding complaints and sanctions in recent months, listed the show. Ofcom reported the show contained several instances of violence, blood and the use of weapons. Listed were Pagano tying barbed wire around Psycho’s face after his mask was ripped, Pagano hitting him in the head, already bloodied, with a chair, Pagano wrapping barbed wire around Psycho’s arm and two chair shots to the barbed wire digging it into the arm and showing close up footage of the bloodied up arm. Psycho also used the barbed wire around his arm to clothesline Pagano in the face. Psycho also used a fork into the arm leading to Pagano being covered with blood. Psycho then wrapped his body with barbed wire and splashed onto Pagano. They also both took a bump through a table covered in thumbtacks. Pagano also took a bump into a table that was on fire. Frontrunner TV acknowledged that the show should not have aired in that time slot, and that they were no longer airing the program.

THE CRASH: Konnan, 53, is scheduled for another hip replacement surgery in November or December. When he gets the new hip put in place, he’s going to start training with the idea of doing a farewell tour here in 2018 which in theory would be a way to try and get the promotion some interest and momentum once they get television. Even though starting up is very difficult these days because AAA has almost 26 years and periods they were super hot so the name has value, and CMLL is 84 years old and has the great tradition in Mexico City, and television is fragmented, Crash does have the best overall talent on its shows. The problem is a lot of that talent, due to contract issues, he can’t put on television, although if Lucha Underground goes down and he maintains his relationship with Impact, that situation would change

They ran 10/5 in Tijuana at the Auditorio with a lot of stuff taped for Impact. They drew a little over 3,800 fans, or just short of a sellout. The show was on a Thursday and Tijuana wrestling is traditionally Friday night, or sometimes Saturday, so that probably kept it from selling out. One person noted to us this, not in make-up, but in behavior, was a different crowd. Because it was a work night, alcohol sales were down, and with less alcohol, the crowd wasn’t as hot as traditional, but they still reacted good, but not over the top, and still threw money in during one of the matches. This was a TV pilot taping and a five-camera shoot. Dave & Jake Crist (OVE) retained their Impact tag titles over Black Boy & Black Danger. Black Boy & Black Danger had dissension during the match. After a trios match, Mascarita Dorada issued a mask vs. hair challenge to Demus 3:16. Trevor Lee vs. Ultimo Ninja vs. Daga was announced for the X Division title. Due to not getting clearance from Lucha Underground for Daga to appear on Impact, they had to change it to two singles matches. I guess the deal is that Lucha Underground will let its talent appear on Impact TV, but not on a Crash show taped for Impact TV. Lee first beat Ultimo Ninja. Lee beat Daga via DQ in a match that wasn’t taped, for a low blow finish. Bestia 666 & Black Taurus & Mr. 450 beat Jack Evans & M-ximo & Willie Mack when Bestia pinned Evans to build their upcoming hair vs.. hair match. Rey Fenix pinned Flamita to retain the Crash cruiserweight title. Believe it or not, this match didn’t click and didn’t get a good reaction. Main event was Rey Mysterio Jr. & Penta 0M & Brian Cage over Rush & La Mascara & Pierroth. This match was said to have great chemistry. One idea has been to book Penta 0M vs. Rush as a major feud. Nicho, the original Psicosis, who has been out of action with knee surgery, made a surprise appearance and the place went nuts. There were some boos in Fenix vs. Flamita saying the match lacked intensity and fans by that point on a long show wanted to see the main event. Others said it was a great match.

Crash drew 3,200 fans on 10/9 in Nuevo Laredo, which is a good crowd for them on a Monday night. They ran head-to-head with Cantu promotions, which uses AAA talent, and they drew 2,200 fans

The complete lineup for the return to Tijuana on 11/4, has the Bestia 666 vs. Evans hair match, Mysterio Jr. vs. Rush vs. Penta 0M vs. La Mascara in a four-way to crown the first Crash heavyweight champion, plus Flamita & Rey Fenix vs. Sammy Guevara & Flip Gordon, a three-way with War Machine vs. Cage & Keith Lee vs. Mack & Mr. 450, Carlito & Damian 666 & M-ximo vs. Black Taurus & Pierroth & El Hijo de Pirata Morgan

11/6 in Nuevo Laredo has Cage & Daga & Mysterio Jr. vs. Mascara & Pierroth & Rush, Penta 0M & Fenix vs. War Machine vs. Bestia 666 & Black Taurus, Flamita & Flip Gordon vs. Sammy Guevara & Ultimo Ninja, Mack vs. Mr. 450 and Carlito & Jack Evans & M-ximo vs. Morgan & Keith Lee & Laredo Kid. 11/7 in Queretaro is Carlito & M-ximo & Penta 0M vs. Mascara & Rush & Pierroth, War Machine & Keith Lee vs. Flamita & Gordon & Ninja, Daga & Fenix & Christi Jaynes vs. Cage & Mack & Keyra and more

11/11 at Arena Naucalpan, outside of Mexico City, a Saturday night, is headlined by Penta 0M vs. Garza Jr. vs. Mascara, plus Mack & Fenix vs. Mr. 450 & Flamita, Carlito & M-ximo & Evans vs. Bestia 666 &* Morgan & Taurus, Daga vs. Keith Lee and more. There is also a Crash vs. Lucha Libre y Passion interpromotional match with Arkangel Divino & Black Boy & Black Danger & Ultimo Maldito vs. Dinamic Black & Aramis & Toxin & Fly Warrior that I’ve been told will be an incredible spectacle.

DRAGON GATE: The Jimmyz Final Goodbye show took place on 10/5 at Korakuen Hall before a sellout 1,850 fans. As would be Japanese tradition, the Jimmyz went out on their back, losing to Shingo Takagi & Takashi Yoshida & T-Hawk & Lindaman & Punch Tominaga & Brother Yasshi. The finish of the match saw Jimmy Kanda turn on Jimmy Susumu which allowed T-Hawk to pin him in 23;12 with the Night Ride. Kanda then joined Verserk and said he was Yasushi Kanda (his name before he was part of the Jimmyz), and said that the Jimmyz were a garbage team and he was happy to see that part of his career over. Takagi then told the rest of the Jimmyz to go away forever. They beat down Susumu until Eita & Dragon Kid made the save, and they asked Susumu to join them. Susumu will go back to his old ring name of Susumu Yokosuka. Susumu said he would love to join Eita & Dragon Kid to take over Verserk. Takagi wanted it four-and-four and told them to get another partner. Ryo Saito came out but Takagi said the Jimmyz were broken up so he couldn’t be Susumu’s partner. Then Masaaki Mochizuki came out and said he’d be the partner. Takagi said that Mochizuki was old and feeble and nobody wants to watch the elderly get beat up. They announced the new eight-man as the main event for the next Korakuen Hall show. Then Susumu said that with the Jimmyz done, he’s now Susumu Yokosuka, and he wants a Dream Gate title shot at Mochizuki. Mochizuki accepted and the match will take place on 11/3 for the Gate of Destiny show at the Edion Arena in Osaka, which is the same building New Japan is running for Power Struggle two days later. Susumu said that the Jimmyz started with him losing and ended with him losing. He said that he hated the Jimmy Susumu name and it was embarrassing to introduce himself by that name for six straight years. The Jimmyz then did their Jimmyz Train and did a farewell. Jimmy Kagetora will go back to being just Kagetora. Jimmy K-Ness will go back to just being K-Ness. The other big match at the Korakuen Hall show saw Cima & Don Fujii do their 20th anniversary match, bringing in Great Sasuke & Jinsei Shinzaki & Taka Michinoku, three of the original stars of Michinoku Pro, which was the first Japanese promotion to do something like the Dragon Gate style. Sasuke & Shinzaki & Michinoku beat Cima & Fujii & Mochizuki

The next Korakuen Hall show is 11/8 with Takagi & Yoshida & Lindaman & T-Hawk vs. Mochizuki & Dragon Kid & Eita & Yokosuka

Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa, who always loses, was on the winning side of a tag team match on the 10/9 show in Osaka, teaming with Mochizuki to beat Hiroaki Moriya & Tomoya Sasaki.

ALL JAPAN: The 41st annual World’s Strongest Tag League tournament will start on 11/19 in Sapporo. The teams announced are Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu, Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori, Zeus & The Bodyguard, Joe Doering & Taiyo Kea, Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi, Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi (current world tag team champions), Manabu Soya & Black Tiger VII, Tajiri & Kai and Ryoji Sai & Masakado. On paper, this looks tremendous, as there are a number of matches that will be great given the way they match up. I’m guessing this will blow away the New Japan version of the tournament that takes place at the same time, even though it’ll be a lot lower profile. The cards haven’t been announced yet

They ran Korakuen Hall on 10/9 head-to-head with New Japan’s show at Sumo Hall, but still did a healthy for them crowd of 1,301, but it was for a loaded show where Suwama won the Triple Crown title from Miyahara in 31:03 using a last ride power bomb. Most likely this was an outstanding match because Miyahara is one of the best sellers and overall workers in wrestling. This was Suwama’s sixth title win, breaking the all-time record for the title that he shared with Mitsuharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada. Given the level of the promotion when Misawa and Kawada were on top in the 90s, it’s not really a fair comparison at all even if accurate from a trivia standpoint. In the semi, Joe Doering pinned Shuji Ishikawa with a running body attack, so that sets up Suwama vs. Doering in a grudge match as the main event of the 10/21 show at the Yokohama Bunka Gym, which is a major one for them. The show is being billed as the 25th anniversary show for both Akiyama & Omori, who started together in All Japan in 1992. Akiyama also turned 48 on 10/9. Akiyama & Omori beat Zeus & Bodyguard when Omori used a sliding axe bomber on Bodyguard, This leads to Omori & Akiyama challenging Sekimoto & Okabayashi for the world tag team titles on that show, and given the interpromotional world title aspect and 25th anniversary aspect, plus the talent level of three of the four guys, this may end up being a memorable match as well. They also did a match for the BANG TV title where Osamu Nishimura retained over Danny Jones in :34 of a the third round in a rounds style match. Atsushi Maruyama came out to challenge Nishimura after. Kea, 41, the last protégé of Giant Baba, returned in an undercard match teaming with Soya of Wrestle-1 & Masa Fuchi to beat Tajiri & Nakajima & Fuminori Abe

Keiji Muto will return for the 11/19 show in Sapporo, in a special tag team dream match with Muto & Miyahara & Dory Funk Jr. & Ultimo Dragon to face Sekimoto & Tajiri & Black Tiger VII & Dalton Drelich (a student of Funk’s in Florida)

Yuki Kanzaki, who has fought in MMA, 21 years old and 165 pounds, will be starting as a regular on 11/19. He had done pro wrestling before but signed with All Japan on 9/1 and has been training for his debut with the promotion

Nomura & Aoyagi retained the All-Asia tag titles beating Soya from Zero-One and Black Tiger VII on the 10/5 show in Shinkiba in Tokyo. The finish came in 18:23 when Aoyagi pinned Tiger. Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sat issued the next challenge for the titles.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: The NOAH, AAA, Lucha Underground, IGF and Impact World Cup tag team tournament took place on 10/10 at Korakuen Hall before 873 fans. I’m not sure what the purpose of this was, since it didn’t draw well and you were flying people in from all over the world with little storyline advancement. Pagano & Psycho Clown from AAA beat Cody Hall & Quiet Storm of NOAH in 9:08 when Psycho pinned Hall after a diving head-butt. Kendo Kashin & Nosawa of IGF beat Vampiro & Mil Muertes of Lucha Underground in 6:09 when Nosawa hit ref Piero with a chair but the ref thought Vampiro did it. Vampiro then attacked the ref after the match and went all Suzuki on a young boy. Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 of NOAH beat Marty the Moth Martinez & Son of Havoc from Lucha Underground in 8:11 when Ishimori pinned Havoc. Andrew Everett & DJZ of Impact beat Aerostar & Drago of AAA in 7:51 when Everett pinned Drago after a 630. In the semifinals, Psycho & Pagano beat Kashin & Nosawa in 5:14. After a ref bump, Nosawa gave Psycho a low blow, but then Vampiro ran in and hit Nosawa with a chair and Psycho pinned him. Ishimori & Hi69 beat Everett & DJZ. They first went to a 10:00 draw. Because it’s a tournament, they restarted and did a sudden death period where Ishimori pinned DJZ in 2:11. Pagano & Psycho beat Ishimori & Hi69 in the finals when Psycho pinned Hi69 with the Canadian Destroyer in 6:38. After the match, they gave awards out. Ishimori won Best wrestler. Son of Havoc won best move, for a crazy dive. And Everett & DJZ vs. Aerostar & Drago won best match. AAA ran a show on its own last year at Korakuen Hall and drew double this, but that show had Rey Mysterio Jr. on it.

NEW JAPAN: Tickets for the Tokyo Dome show went on sale to New Japan club members on 10/7. This was in advance of the 10/25 public on-sale. We’re told all the best seats are gone and almost the entire floor (which is about 7,000 tickets) was gone. Basically, they are roughly where they were last year in December as far as ticket sales go, which speaks once again to how much big show interest has increased

For AXS TV, the Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito A block final of G-1 airs on 10/13, the Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada B block final airs on 10/20, the Omega vs. Naito final airs on 10/27, and 11/3 will air the final night from Sumo Hall bouts with War Machine vs. Cody & Hangman Page and Young Bucks vs. Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi jr. title change.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Chris Carlton uncovered a wrestling magazine that had the minute-by-minute ratings of the Rikidozan vs. The Destroyer match on May 24, 1963 on NTV where Rikidozan challenged for the WWA world title. That was, as best as anyone can tell, the single most-watched live wrestling match worldwide in history, even though it only aired in Japan. The ring introductions did a 43.4 rating, and the first minute did a 49.0. By the fifth minute it was up to a 60.6. At 15 minutes it was 62.1. At 30 minutes it was 66.7. At 40 minutes it was 69.7. At 50 minutes it was 71.2. The peak in the last minute of the match, was a 72.7 rating and 83 share. The number of viewers in the final minute of the match were 70 million and the average for the television show (which included pre-match & post match) was 60 million viewers. The population of Japan was significantly smaller back then, and there probably were a lot less TV stations so there are different variables. Rikidozan drew an 87.5 rating against Lou Thesz in 1957, but that was before every home had television set so the total audience was smaller. This is still among the most-watched television shows in Japanese history. At the time it was the most watched but since then there are probably 10 to 15 shows that have passed it. But I don’t know of anything comparable anywhere in the world. Even today it’s doubtful any WWE show on a worldwide basis live has done much more than 20 million viewers if that, and this was 60 million in one country

I haven’t had a chance to see it, but the 9/20 Big Japan tag team tournament match with Kohei Sato & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Yuji Okabayashi & Shingo Takagi was called by a few people as a near match of the year contender. Was told it was a ****½ match

DDT ran a big show on 10/9 in Susukino. The main event ended unexpectedly. It was Naomichi Marufuji & Harashima defending the KO-D tag titles against Kudo & Masahiro Takanishi. Kudo suffered a concussion in the match and was completely blacked out. They saw the problem and stopped the match, and rushed him to the hospital in an ambulance. The diagnosis was a concussion for no other issues, but that will put him out of action until he can be cleared

DDT has a 10/22 show at Korakuen Hall with Konosuke Takeshita vs. Danshoku Dino for the KO-D title. Dino won a fan voting over who should be the No. 1 contender for this card. Also for that show are an extreme title match with Daisuke Sasaki defending against Harashima, and singles matches with Tetsuya Endo vs. Takanishi and Triple Crown champion Suwama vs. Keisuke Ishii

Zero-One ran Korakuen Hall on 9/30 for a show to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Shinjiro Otani and Tatsuhito Takaiwa, who started with New Japan. In the special match it was Otani & Takaiwa losing to Tatsumi Fujinami & Koji Kanemoto in 21:33 when Kanemoto pinned Takaiwa with a moonsault. The main event on the show was a hardcore match for the Zero-One world heavyweight title where Masato Tanaka retained over Yuko Miyamoto in 21:07. . Yasuko “Tsubasa” Kuragaki, 41, a woman wrestler, promoted what was billed as her 20th anniversary show on 10/1 at Shinjuku Face in Tokyo. In actuality Kuragaki has been wrestling more than 22 ½ years, since she started in January 1995 with JWP, a promotion she worked for until 2013. In the main event, she teamed with Sonoko Kato to beat Aja Kong & Commando Boilshoi.

HERE AND THERE: The WWN crew has announced its WrestleMania plans for New Orleans, with the events taking place at the Pontchartrain Civic and Convention Center, which holds about 4,000 fans. At this point the plans are for 4/5 (Thursday) for Evolve at 8 p.m. and another group at 11:55 p.m. For the Friday, Progress will run at Noon, Evolve at 4 p.m., the WWN Supershow at 8 p.m. and Joey Janela’s Spring Break at 11:55 p.m. For Saturday, there will be another Progress show at Noon, plus shows with promotions not announced at 4 p.m., 8 p.m and 11:55 p.m

Right now, Evolve has shows for this weekend that they will stream at www.WWNLive.com. Gabe Sapolsky has been at NXT shows of late working as a consultant there. There is still a mystery as far as what the message meant in the video about Evolve and the end. The 10/14 show is at 6 p.m. Eastern with Matt Riddle vs. Keith Lee last man standing for the WWN title, Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Jaka, Tracy Williams vs. Fred Yehi, Darby Allin vs. Jarek 1:20 and the 10/15 show in East Haven, CT at 6 p.m. Eastern has Sabre vs. Williams for the Evolve title, Riddle vs. Yehi non-title and Lee vs. Allin

Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore promotion has signed a deal with Twitch, to do live streams of HOH shows (not necessarily all of them, but most of them) as well as a weekly TV series. The TV show will be to build storylines that will pay off at the arena shows. The first show that will air will be the 11/18 show from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. The plan is to sign wrestlers to short-term deals to make sure they are available to complete storylines and allow the company to do long-term bookings. They will also be running an April show in New Orleans over WrestleMania weekend

Blade Runner 2049, which opened this past weekend, which had Dave Bautista in a lead role, where he’s gotten positive critical reviews, did $32,756,122 at the box office in its opening weekend. It was No. 1 , doing more than triple No. 2 (“The Mountain Between Us”). However, it was well below the predictions of $45 million to $55 million that had been projected going into the weekend

Eric Denis, 40, passed away after a match on 10/9 in Montreal. He was doing a match for the ICW when he suffered a heart attack in the ring. Medics rushed to revive him but were unable to do so. Every year the ICW promotion in Montreal, the oldest still-active promotion in the area, runs a two-day benefit show to raise money for Crohn’s disease. They do six-hour shows and the wrestlers do multiple matches over that time. Denis had done five matches the day before, although they were all short matches. He did one match earlier in the day. When he got in the ring for a second match on 10/9, he started hard, threw some chops took one chop and was whipped into the ropes and collapsed. Two guys in the back rushed to help him and 911 was called. They tried to get his heart beating. Paramedics arrived in less than ten minutes and worked on him for an hour trying to get his heart beating. They were able to get his heart working but as they were putting him on some machines, the heart stopped again and this time they couldn’t get it back. The belief is the death was due to a heart attack but autopsy results aren’t in. He had six children. Denis had been wrestling for 21 years and his uncle wrestled as Black Diamond for International Wrestling. His father was a manager on area indies in the 90s. Based on notes from his friends, Denis never used cocaine, steroids and wouldn’t even drink energy drinks, and his only vice was smoking pot an occasion, and drinking a little. He was in good shape. His 14-year-old son was there and had to witness his father pass away. He was very well liked by the local wrestling community and knew Kevin Owens, who had worked on shows with several times

Matt Morgan, 41, is running for District Four Commissioner in Longwood, FL, his home town. The election will take place on 11/7. He’s been going door-to-door talking to people in the community. He noted in an interview that one afternoon he went out for three hours in the rain, soaked with water and ruined his shoes. Among the things he’s pushing for is the local police department to get a raise

When David Letterman was giving the speech as the Indianapolis Colts over the weekend unveiled a statue of Peyton Manning, he talked about growing up in Indianapolis and said made a mention that when he was a kid, the biggest sports star in Indianapolis was Dick the Bruiser, which got a pop. Letterman has mentioned many times being a wrestling fan and Bruiser and Wilbur Snyder, who were the two top babyfaces (and co-owners of the territory, amazing how that was)

Another bad sign regarding the future of FloSlam, which looks to be dead is that IPW U.K., the one company that they still had on their schedule last week, announced that they were no longer with FloSlam

The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Wichita Falls, TX is under investigation by local police after discrepancies were found in financial records and when board members discovered them, they all resigned. All local members of the board resigned on 8/24. On 10/4, an embezzlement complaint was filed with the Wichita Falls police saying that a review of the monthly bank statements conducted by current and previous board members on 8/30. They found that the Hall of Fame’s bank account was significantly overdrawn and that looking at bank records they found significant expenses that looked to be questionable and found significant spending that was done without board approval nor that the board was even aware of. Some were found to have no correlation with the operations of the Hall of Fame. Former wrestler John Lusk, better known as Cowboy John Mantell, who is the President of the Hall of Fame, said that there were internal issues and they are in the middle of trying to work out their internal problems, but wouldn’t say anything more

With tickets for the 10/20 PWG show not selling out, they’ve jacked up the card to make it stronger on paper, adding Penta 0M and adding a new main event. The new card continues to have Adam Brooks vs. David Haskins, Joey Janela vs. Trevor Lee, Travis Banks vs. Flash Morgan Webster, and Ricochet vs. Walter. The matches are Keith Lee vs. Jonah Rock, Sammy Guevara vs. Flamita vs. Rey Horus and the new main event is Penta 0M & Rey Fenix defending the tag titles against Jeff Cobb & Matt Riddle

A book called “Crazy Like a Fox - The Definitive Chronicle of Brian Pillman 20 Years Later,” will be released later this month by Amazon and other online book retailers. The book features extensive details on both his wrestling and football careers (trivia is that his best sport was actually ice hockey even though he ended up a first-team All-American in college football). The book features extensive comments from different members of his family, as well as myself, Kim Wood (the former Cincinnati Bengals assistant coach who was like a father figure to him), Bruce Hart (who was one of his closest confidantes in wrestling and his first tag team partner), Raven, Jim Cornette, Mark Madden (who was one of his closest friends in wrestling), Les Thatcher and many more. The book was written by Liam O’Rourke, a sports and medicinal journal writer from the U.K

wXw in Germany did its annual World Tag Team League from 10/6 to 10/8 in Oberhausen. The teams involved with EYFBO (the team that is LAX in Impact), Homicide & Low Ki (who wrestled each other on the first night with EYFBO winning), Lucky Kid & Tarkan Aslan, The Spirit Squad, David Starr & Jurn Simmons, Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani, Timothy Thatcher & Walter and Mark & Jay Briscoe. Thatcher & Walter beat Starr & Simmons to win it, and also give them the vacant wXw tag titles. Was told the final was an incredible match. On 10/7, in a match with Low Ki & Homicide vs. Thatcher & Walter, Low Ki did a double foot stomp on Walter on the ramp and slipped off him and said he felt his upper leg separate from his lower leg. He went to the hospital after, and said he’d have tests done when he got home. He did work the next night

MLW and Court Bauer did a comeback show on 10/5 in Orlando before 274 fans built around Shane Strickland beating Ricochet in 34:00 via submission. The show featured the return of Tony Schiavone to wrestling announcing after 16 years (Schiavone was in TNA briefly in the Nashville days and Vince Russo wanted to do a Schiavone vs. Mike Tenay angle for the announcing job but Schiavone quit after a week). MVP beat Sami Callihan. Tom Lawlor beat Jeff Cobb, which was done to set up a Lawlor vs. Matt Riddle match on their next show in Orlando on 12/7

Reports are that the AAW show on 10/7 in LaSalle, IL featured three incredible matches, with AR Fox over Callihan, Keith Lee & Strickland over Michael Elgin & Myron Reed and Rey Fenix keeping the AAW title over his brother, Penta 0M. Strickland suffered a split bottom lip. This promotion is running 10/13 and 10/14 in Berwyn, IL at the Eagles Club for the Jim Lyman Memorial tournament. The first round matches are Fox vs. Dezmond Xavier, DJZ vs. Andrew Everett, Mark Haskins vs. Eddie Kingston, Callihan vs. Mat Fitchett, ACH vs. Curt Stallion, Cobb vs. Zachary Wentz and Brian Cage vs. Myron Reed, plus they have Riddle & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Keith Lee & Strickland

Ricky Steamboat, 65, worked as a referee on the 10/7 Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling show in Swansea, IL, and came off the top rope with a crossbody onto manager Travis Cook. Don’t know it this is accurate, but he said it was the first time in seven years that he’s come off the top rope

10/7 was the 45th anniversary of the death of Whitey Caldwell, who was the most popular babyface star in Eastern Tennessee at the time of his death and known for a legendary bloody feud with Ron Wright. Caldwell died on October 7, 1972 in a car crash coming home from a show in Morristown, TN, after earlier in the day he had wrestled in Knoxville for TV. He was hit head on by a speeding driver coming in the other direction. Area historian Beau James noted that Caldwell was a such a big local star that his death was covered on the front pages of many of the newspapers in that part of the state. For decades, fans would leave flowers at his grave. The local TV station that aired wrestling ran a special on him

Sheldon Goldberg, the long-time promoter of New England Championship Wrestling, suffered a serious shoulder injury in a bad fall. Goldberg’s right shoulder was fractured in five different places and will be undergoing surgery. Goldberg is a longtime friend of this publication and a huge supporter of women’s wrestling in particular, having helped get a lot of women in New England started

Terry Funk did another appearance on 10/6 for Pacific Coast Wrestling on a show in Wilmington, CA. He did a signing and then got involved during a brawl with the tag team of War Beast vs. Sandman & Masada. He took some cane shots, got beaten down with a spike and bled a lot. The angle is scheduled to lead to a 12/1 show in the same building with Sandman & Funk vs. War Beast

Eric Bischoff and Josh Barnett got into a Twitter thing of sorts which makes no sense on a number of levels. Bischoff, who clearly had never seen New Japan on AXS before, wrote, “Watching NJPW on AXS TV. Jim Ross is awesome. Whoever the color man is–not so much.” The irony is that this was the show with the Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki 30:00 draw in G-1, which was one of the best matches of the year, and it actually came across better with the commentary on AXS than at first view. And while Ross is really good the emotion, because of the product knowledge aspect, Barnett was extremely valuable, more so in this match than most others because it was Suzuki (granted, every announcer from Ian Riccaboni to Don Callis to Kevin Kelly are almost always great in Suzuki matches because of his unique character). Anyway, it escalated from there. Bischoff then admitted he had never seen the show before, which was the point he doubled down on the criticism. , and really it was Bischoff putting his foot in his mouth worse each time. He first said that the play by play guy should say what is happening and the color guy should say why, and from a character point of view, which because of Suzuki, and Okada, that’s exactly what they did. He said he would rather have a color commentator who provides unique insight, ironically exactly what Barnett was doing in that match explaining the different submissions and talking about how he himself trained with and how it is training with Suzuki and what made him unique. The punch line was when he compared him with Larry Zbyszko, who was almost tragic comedy when he threw most of the Mexicans under the bus by saying that their moves were stupid when, given the way they were booked, it was their only hope of being noticed since the bookers buried them so badly.

EUROPE: Over the Top has sold around 2,000 tickets for a 12/9 show at Dublin National Stadium. There are 300 tickets left. The show features The Young Bucks, Marty Scurll and Dalton Castle

Ryan Smile and Will Ospreay’s Lucha Forever promotion on 10/5 in London, drew just under 700 fans in attendance. They key talent from overseas was Moose and Naomichi Marufuji. Marufuji went to a 20:00 draw with Pete Dunne in what was said to be a great match. Toni Storm also beat Viper in a rematch from the Mae Young Classic, The main event was Zack Sabre Jr. & Marty Scurll & Ospreay as a team against Chris Brooks & Travis Banks & Jimy Havoc. Havoc kept eye poking Ospreay. At one point Sabre had a submission on all three opponents. Ospreay pinned Havoc after an Oscutter.

LUCHA UNDERGROUND: The latest on the future is this. The owners are trying now to make a television deal away from El Rey. Essentially they are shopping the show around hoping that another station will pick it up and pay enough to produce the show at nearly the previous levels. The people who put the money in for the last two seasons are not putting anymore in because the show drove almost no revenue. As noted, El Rey will pay something for programming, but not nearly enough to produce the show at close to the level it as been done at. El Rey and Robert Rodriguez would maintain having an ownership stake if it moves to a new station. The obvious issue is what television station would want a show with a budget of $400,000 per episode that draws 100,000 to 175,000 viewers weekly over two airings, and more importantly, where viewership generally has been down this season and not up, and overall buzz is way down. According to one person close to most of the parties involved, there is a major divide among the management team. On one side, they want to shut the project down, arguing that the costs are too high and after three seasons they’ve never made any money. The feeling on that side is that you know where you stand, the audience isn’t growing, and anything more would be throwing good money after bad. Two key executives are of that belief. On the other side is Eric Van Wagenen, Dorian Roldan and Vampiro, who all believe in the project and feel it just needs time and better exposure to watch on. Alex Garcia and Antonio Cue-Navarro, who put up the money for the last two seasons, have refused to put more money into the project. Right now it appears that unless they can find new funding, or get a new TV station to pay the costs, the choice is to stay on El Rey for a heavily stripped down version or to close it down. El Rey does like the show, but we get tons of promotion from E Rey for the new Bushido Battleground show, and have gotten literally nothing in months from them regarding Lucha Underground, which I don’t consider a good sign. However, what has to be considered a positive sign is that the El Rey Network will be airing a private premier for media and some invited fans of the final episode taped, on 10/17 (which airs on 10/18) at L.A. Live. 4DX adds moving seats and effects like wind, water and lightning to enhance the experience of watching the show. There are only nine 4DX theaters in the U.S. The ratings leveling off this season was a bad sign because it’s hard enough to get a TV station these days to pay for wrestling, let alone fund this show that doesn’t have a track record of success. Pop at least took Impact on the guise it used to get 1 million viewers, and AXS took New Japan because the product had a history and was on fire underground, and it wasn’t a huge money undertaking

Besides the World Cup, which is covered in the NOAH section, AAA taped television on 10/9 in Shinkiba in Tokyo, before a sellout estimated at 290 fans. They tried to set the ring up like the Temple and headlined with Vampiro going to a no contest with Mil Muertes and King Cuerno over Drago.

ROH: Besides the Chicago show on 10/15, which will air as a live iPPV show on Fite TV, ROH has announced that the 10/13 show in Pittsburgh and the 10/14 show in Columbus, OH will both air live and free to ROH ringside members on the ROH web site. The 10/13 show will start at 7 p.m. Eastern, the 10/14 show will start at 4:30 p.m. Eastern and the iPPV from Chicago will start at 7 p.m. Eastern

All four shows this week sold out in advance pretty much going clean as soon as it was announced Omega was on the shows

The only show not airing live will be 10/12 in Buffalo, which has Young Bucks & Kenny Omega vs. Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan, Mark Briscoe & War Machine vs. Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr., Will Ospreay vs. Punishment Martinez, Hiromu Takahashi vs. Christopher Daniels, Jay Lethal vs. Frankie Kazarian, Yoshi-Hashi & Toru Yano vs. Mary Scurll & Cody, Kushida vs. Hangman Page, Rhett Titus & Will Ferrara vs. Shaheem Ali & Leon St-Giovanni and Mandy Leon vs. Jenny Rose

10/13 in Pittsburgh has Cody & Omega & Scurll vs. Ospreay & Yoshi-Hashi & Yano, Three-way for tag titles with Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley vs. Young Bucks vs. Marseglia & O’Ryan, Smith & Archer vs. War Machine in a non-title match, Suzuki vs. Silas Young, Chuckie T & Trent Baretta vs. Daniels & Kazarian, Lethal vs. Jay White, Mark Briscoe vs. Hiromu Takahashi, and a six-way with Kenny King vs. Martinez vs. Page vs. Josh Woods vs. Kushida vs. Taven. In that match, if anyone can beat King, they will then immediately get a TV title shot

10/14 in Columbus, OH has Cody vs. Kushida for the ROH title, Omega & Young Bucks vs. Gordon & Chuckie T & Baretta, Suzuki & Smith & Archer vs. Ospreay & Yano & Yoshi-Hashi, Daniels & Kazarian vs. Jay White & Jonathan Gresham, Lethal vs. Hiromu Takahashi, Sabin & Shelley vs. Silas Young & Beer City Bruiser non-title, Josh Woods vs. Shane Taylor and Sumie Sakai vs. Holidead

The iPPV show has Omega vs. Yoshi-Hashi for the U.S. title, Cody & Young Bucks & Page vs. Sabin & Shelley & Gresham & White, Scurll vs. Hiromu Takahashi, Ospreay vs. Gordon non-title, Lethal & Mark Briscoe & King vs. Suzuki & Archer & Smith, Kushida & Cheeseburger vs. Daniels & Kazarian, Yano vs. Colt Cabana (in a pure comedy match), and Young & Bruiser vs. Baretta & Chuckie T

Apparently Cody came back from Japan and ended up with a 103 degree fever on 10/10, but he was feeling better by 10/11. He was sick while in Japan and evidently Kevin Kelly could see it and told him to see a doctor, but he didn’t do so and it got worse when he got home. .. Hiroshi Tanahashi was announced for the 4/7 Supercard of Honor show at the UNO Lakefront Arena. What will be interesting, because with the 9,000-seat arena, if ROH will make this a regular PPV show the night before WrestleMania and head-to-head with NXT Takeover. It’s also notable because New Japan traditionally runs the April Sumo Hall show that weekend

So the day after the Young Bucks got their cease and desist letter, the WWE 2K video game people asked them to work on doing motion captures for next year’s game because so many people in last year’s game were using Create-a-wrestler mode to play as The Young Bucks that they felt they needed to get all their signature moves in the next game

Stan Lee also personally requested they appear at his Los Angeles Comic Con 10/27 to 10/29 at the Los Angeles Convention Center

Hot Topic will be carrying Bullet Club Funko Pops starting next summer. Hot Topic is already pushing it as one of the main new items they’ll be selling for 2018

Two first round matches were announced for the Soaring Eagle Cup which will be a 10/28 tournament at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant, MI. The two bouts are Lethal vs. Taven and Cody vs. Daniels. Others on the show and likely in the tournament include Sabin, Shelley, Young, Nick Jackson, Kazarian and Gordon.

IMPACT: The Global Wrestling Network officially launched on 10/10. Right now it is not launching with any partner libraries such as NOAH (which has a hell of a great library historically, although there’s really only a smaller number of people in the U.S. and U.K. who would have interest in it), but it will launch with about 1,000 hours of programming from the TNA library as well as several other libraries that The Fight Network purchased, most notably a few years of Wrestling at the Chase from St. Louis, purchased from Larry Matysik many years ago. They will also have Scott D’Amore’s Border City Wrestling collection, some Canadian independent stuff they own the rights to and a collection of old stuff that Aaron Weiss owned that had been marketed as PPV specials years ago in Canada. The first month will be free and it will be priced at $7.99 per month from there. The weekly Impact and Xplosion shows will be on the network shortly after they air on television. It will be available on the iOS and Android platform and they are expected to have it on Roku, Xbox, Amazon Fire TV and Smart TVs shortly

Garza Jr. had his shoulder surgery on 10/3 and will be out of action until Bound for Glory

Laura Dennis (Allie) came out publicly this past week saying she had been suffering from depression most of her life.

UFC: Dana White pushed that they are working on a Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm featherweight title fight. Cyborg had claimed she felt disrespected because she was offered less to fight Holm than she got to face Tonya Evinger in her last fight, but it’s also Cyborg so you can’t rely on the idea that’s 100 percent

Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny has been added to the 12/30 PPV show from Las Vegas. Condit hasn’t fought since August 27, 2016, when he lost to Demian Maia. He had been talking retirement prior to that fight, concern about long-term brain damage even before his loss to Robbie Lawler in a welterweight title fight that many believed he won

There is no show this weekend. The next show will be a Fight Pass show on 10/21 from Gdansk, Poland, with Darren Till vs. Donald Cerrone in a main event. Till has looked great so this one is a real test. Karolina Kowalkiewicz faces Jodie Esquibel in the No. 2 fight. The show starts at 11:45 a.m. Eastern time. After that is the 10/28 show from Sao Paulo, Brazil featuring the return of Lyoto Machida after his suspension, facing Derek Brunson, and Demian Maia vs. Colby Covington (fresh off a series of appearances as a heel on Impact Wrestling)

UFC announced a new partnership with Modelo Especial beer, which will kick in for 2018. What is notable is that means with Modelo Especial as the official beer of the UFC, that the long-time sponsorship from Bud Light will end at the end of this year. This is said to be a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal where Modelo Especial will be listed as the sponsor for several PPV events per year as well as the VIP Experiences at U.S. based live shows, and will be a sponsor shown in the Octagon. Modelo will also use UFC stars in its own advertising

Mauricio Shogun Rua had surgery on his left knee on 10/4 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The knee injury kept him out of the main event on the 9/23 show in Saitama, where he was scheduled to face Ovince Saint Preux

Regarding Anthony Johnson and a possible return, Ariel Helwani reported that Johnson was 250 pounds this past week. I saw Johnson a few months ago and would have guessed his weight at 260, but he usually does look lighter because he has a small waist (when he lived in San Jose, and I’d bump into him, I’d guess him at 220 and he’d tell me he was 208 because he was so small in the waist--this was when he was fighting at 170 which was as insane as it sounds). Anyway, he did say if he was to come out of retirement, he’s fighting as a heavyweight and because he retired and took himself out of the drug testing pool, that means he’ll have to re-apply for the pool, which means he has to officially come out of retirement, and then pass clean tests for six months before he can fight

Ian McCall was on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani and said that he had gotten a release. His career has been plagued for years due to injuries and concussion issues. But he said he was still interested in fighting, but didn’t want to fight for anything less than $50,000 to show and $50,000 more to win, and brought up hoping to fight in Rizin. But if he said he didn’t get the money he wanted, he may not fight again. I’m not sure what the market is right now for fighters at his level, and there is a good market in Russia, but in Japan, it would be very hard to see him getting that. He had four fights in a row fall through at the last minute, twice due to his opponent, but also noted he had been hospitalized six times in the past year. He said his goal was to get some fights outside the UFC, and then return, but with a better contract. He’s also been open about his own substance abuse issues

Mark Hunt was pulled off his 11/19 main event fight in Sydney, Australia against Marcin Tybura. Fabricio Werdum, since he took no damage this past weekend, will now face Tybura in the main event. It appears things went down like this. Hunt did an interview recently where he was complaining about UFC, talking about all he had done, how he’d risked his life for the sport, and said that he was starting to slur his words. The basic story behind this is Hunt said to Players Voice, “My body is f***ed, but my mind is still here. I’ve still got my senses about me and I know what’s right and wrong, which is the main thing. Sometimes I don’t sleep well. You can hear me starting to stutter and slur my words. My memory is not that good anymore. I’ll forget something I did yesterday, but I can remember the shit I did years and years ago. That’s just the price I’ve paid. The price of being a fighter. But I’ve fought a lot of drug cheats and copped a lot of punishment from guys who were cheating and that’s not right. “ The Telegraph reported that UFC’s response to this was to say, “The health-related statements made by Hunt in the article was the first time UFC was made aware of these claims. Athletes health and safety is of the utmost importance to the organization and it would never knowingly scheduled an athlete complaining of health issues before a fight. The organization will require that Hunt undergo further testing and evaluations prior to competing.” The key here is Hunt already has a lawsuit out against the company, claiming they conspired with Lesnar to allow Lesnar, who he claims was cheating and used banned substances, to fight by bending the rules to allow it. So it becomes an issue, because Hunt has publicly stated these problems he has, and if UFC books him in fights while they are now clearly aware of these problems, they set themselves up for more potential legal action. So Hunt doing that article may have ended his career, especially given his age. (43). UFC wanted Hunt to undergo a check of his brain, so he went to a specialist in Sydney, who then cleared him and said that there was no sign of any issues and he cleared him to fight. The UFC then came back saying that they weren’t comfortable with him fighting, based on what he said, and would like him to get more tests done, and with that, the results wouldn’t be back prior to the Sydney show so they pulled him off the show. To say Hunt was unhappy, given he makes very good money to fight, would be an understatement. On Instagram, Hunt said, “Dana White U piece of shit motherf*****, why U f***ers pull me from the fight. U getting another lawsuit. U f***wit. U can kiss my ass U bald headed prick. U put that chicken shit bitch in get f***ed cocksucker.

Jeff Novitzky, UFC’s Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance, who said comments he made about the Jon Jones case on Bruce Buffer’s podcast were taken, sensationalized and made misleading, did say he was not insinuating anything and just laying out possibilities. But he did say that signs did point to unintentional ingestion of Turinabol based on his passing random out-of-competition drug tests in early July and failing the test on the day he knew full well he was being tested

Kurt Holobaugh was suspended on 10/10 for nine months and fined $750 by the Nevada Athletic Commission for IV use to rehydrate after weigh-ins. This stemmed from using the IV on 7/10, the day before a fight on the Dana White Contenders show on Fight Pass where he beat Matt Bessette via first round knockout. The impressive win led to White offering Holobaugh a UFC contract. As part of a questionnaire when he signed his contract, he noted he had used the IV for his fight in July, and that honesty led to the Nevada suspension. The UFC bans the use of more than 50ml of an IV over a six month period without medical authorization beforehand and it’s specifically banned for rehydrating after weight cutting. While White Contenders fights are not considered UFC fights and not under those USADA and UFC rules, the Nevada commission has similar rules

As the story goes, by 10/10, three days after his fight, Tony Ferguson was weighing 200 pounds.

After Madison Square Garden on 11/4, the next PPV will be the 12/2 show from Detroit. Official fights listed for that card are Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar for the featherweight title, Alistair Overeem vs. Francis Ngannou which could be for a heavyweight title shot, Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje coming off the Ulimate Fighter show, Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis which could be for a flyweight title shot, Drakkar Klose vs.; David Teymur, Felice Herrig vs. Cortney Casey, Amanda Cooper vs. Angela Magana and Dominic Reyes vs. Jeremy Kimball. Alex Oliveira vs. Yancy Medeiros wasn’t listed but that match has been talked about for the show. It’s another show that look to have some interesting fights and good action, but isn’t going to do much on PPV, which is kind of the story of the year

Former kickboxing champion Gokhan Saki’s second UFC fight will be on the 12/30 PPV show from Las Vegas against Khalil Rountree

Trevor Smith has pulled out of the 10/21 show in Gdansk, Poland, where he was to fight Ramazan Emeev. Sam Alvey will be taking his place. Emeev is the M-1 Challenge (top Russian group) middleweight champion who will be making his UFC debut

New fights for the 11/25 show in Shanghai, China are Kailin Curran vs. Xiaonan Yan of China, Ginza Mazany vs. Yanan Wu, Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chase Sherman in a heavyweight fight, and Zabit Magomedshapirov (who looked great in his UFC debut) vs. the debuting Sheymon Moraes. Sheymon Moraes is 9-1, with his only loss coming when he challenged Marlon Moraes for the World Series of Fighting bantamweight title

Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega was announced as the main event for a 12/9 Fight Night in Fresno. Ortega is 12-0, with 1 no contest in a fight he won but where he failed the drug test. Ortega is on an amazing streak of four straight third round stoppages, with several of them in fights he was about to lose the decision in. Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Davi Ramos has been added to the show, as has a battle of fighters whose current and former girlfriends are the most famous halves the their couple, Luke Sanders, the boyfriend of Becky Lynch, faces Bryan Caraway, the ex-boyfriend of Miesha Tate

Rick Glenn vs. Myles Jury was added to the 12/30 show in Las Vegas.

BELLATOR: Darrion Caldwell (11-1), a former NCAA champion, defeated Eduardo Dantas (20-5) on scores of 48-47, 48-47 and 50-45 to win the bantamweight title in the main event of the 10/6 show in Thackerville, OK. The show drew 1,247 paying $108,459. The match was pretty intense for five rounds with Dantas behind on the scorecards but had Caldwell’s back and was working to find a submission as time ran out. Emmanuel Sanchez beat Daniel Straus at 1:56 of the third round in a featherweight bout. Sanchez probably earned himself a title shot at Patricio Pitbull Freire with the win, as Straus is a former champion. This was a great fight. Former champion Pat Curran returned and beat John Teixeira via 29-28, 30-27 and 30-26 scores, and the TV opener saw Leandro Higo beat Joe Taimanglo via decision on scores of 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27. Taimanglo, notably, held a win over Caldwell

Some updated Bellator gates. The 8/25 show in Verona, NY, which was headlined by Andrey Koreshkov over Chidi Njokuani, drew 4,390 fans and $521,313. The 9/23 show in San Jose which was headlined by Benson Henderson vs. Patricky Pitbull Freire, drew 9,347 and $993,115. Liam McGeary suffered an undisclosed injury and is off the 10/20 show at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. McGeary was originally to face King Mo Lawal, but Lawal was injured and pulled out. Bubba McDaniel was put in his place but with McGeary off, the fight is off the show. The current lineup for the show as far as TV fights have Ana Julaton (a 37-year-old former world champion boxer who is 2-2 in MMA) vs. Lisa Blaine, Neiman Gracie vs. Javier Torres, Heather Hardy (also a champion woman boxer who is 1-0 in MMA) vs. Kristina Williams, David Rickels vs. Brennan Ward and a main event of Gegard Mousasi vs. Alexander Shlemenko.

OTHER MMA: The Rizin show will be 10/15 in Fukuoka and will air as an iPPV on Fite TV. This is the show with the Frank Shamrock vs. Kazushi Sakuraba grappling match. It’s heavy with pretty women, because, as noted, Rizin has done its biggest television ratings with pretty women fighting, notably Reina (Kubota) and Miyu Yamamoto. Reina faces Andy Nguyen. Another Reina King Reina (who has wins over Jazzy Gabert and Shayna Baszler) faces Crystal Stokes. Yamamoto faces Irene Rivera. Her son, Ersen Yamamoto, faces Manel Kape. Other major names include Jerome LeBanner against Roque Martinez and Tatsuya Kawajiri facing Gabriel Oliveira.

WWE: Dana White this past week, when asked about Lesnar, said that Lesnar was under contract to WWE until August and that WWE would not let him fight again while under contract. They did sign off on him fighting Mark Hunt, which could have been a disaster had he lost via knockout, but he ended up winning. But there was the embarrassment of Lesnar failing the drug test and being suspended. So this is the story regarding his contract. Lesnar last dates for wrestling on his current deal would be the upcoming WrestleMania, or perhaps television the next day, but April. There is an option built into the contract that would renew, and most expect that it will be renewed, given that Lesnar will be 41 next summer and that’s simply not the age you sign a three-year contract and turn your back on WWE. And Lesnar’s programs with Goldberg, Joe and Strowman jump started the main event scene at two different times that ratings were in the toilet and things were kind of blah. WWE does have certain rights to Lesnar that, if a new deal isn’t signed, will go through the first week of August. The entire dynamic has changed in the sense the Jon Jones fight would have been so lucrative that Lesnar would have let his contract expire, signed with fight Jones, and then, after the fight, probably returned to WWE. But that fight is off, and unless Jones gets a one-year suspension out of all this, it will probably never happen. The feeling across the board right now is that Jones vs. Lesnar will never happen. If Lesnar does want to do another UFC fight, if they wait until August, that would be the cleanest way to do so in the sense WWE would have no rights to him. One thing is that Lesnar evidently felt the deal last year, where he wrestled through Mania and fought in early July, left him too little time to get into top shape. It worked out because he won, but he would rather have a four month window as far as getting back into that kind of shape before a training camp, so if he did want to fight next year and the opportunity came up, he really wouldn’t want to do so until August anyway, so that explains why White said that date. Plus, those inside say that even though WWE is repped by WME IMG, the owners of UFC, that things aren’t smooth. White has said he has a good business relationship with HHH, but it’s more difficult with Vince. The gist is that unless they agree to a new deal, which they probably will, Lesnar would be done at WrestleMania, but if he does want to fight again at 41, the earliest would likely be August and not July

Richard Dietsch of Sports Illustrated wrote a preview after seeing an advanced copy of the Ric Flair 30 for 30 piece that will air on 11/7. Rory Karpf, who directed the piece, interviewed 46 people for it (I was one of them, but I don’t know that I’d be in the finished copy given the direction is more personal life than professional I wouldn’t fit as much into the personal life aspect as all the different family member interviews). The piece looks at the idea that Flair could never deal with living as a normal person, and that he always had to be Ric Flair. “The Nature Boy was me. I have sacrificed everything for wrestling. I always wanted to be The Man. I could never live just being a man. I gave my entire life to the wrestling business. I paid the price.” The only people Karpf wanted to talk with who refused were Heyman, Steve Austin and Dwayne Johnson. He found the most compelling people he talked with were Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat and Michaels, and Dietsch said that Michaels was the most interesting character in the piece, as Michaels essentially felt that Ric spent his life being Ric Flair and never learned who Richard Fliehr was. “I don’t know that he’s ever taken the time to get to know him or to find out who in the world he is.” Michaels said that Ric Flair was a myth and Richard Fliehr is the real person. There were multiple interviews done with Flair over two years, as well as with his two daughters, Megan and Ashley (Charlotte) and son David, and other names listed were Sting, HHH, Undertaker, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Jim Ross, Leslie Jacobs (his first wife). The Leslie Jacobs stuff won’t be a positive for his image because he’ll be portrayed as someone who destroyed that family by being Flair and was never around for his oldest children (they lived in Minnesota while he was based in Charlotte), which wasn’t uncommon for wrestlers of that generation, who were always on the road going from place to place, especially the top wrestlers. Flair saw the piece three weeks ago while still in the hospital. Karpf said that when it was over, Flair told him he liked and it was fair. There is expected to be a premiere in Atlanta soon with Flair attending. Flair’s recent health issue won’t be gone into in detail. It won’t be part of the documentary itself since that was pretty much completed by that time, but there will be a director’s statement addressing his health issues that will air on ESPN between segments. The most dramatic stuff apparently relates to the death of son Reid, and Flair admitting that right now he lives through his daughter and her wrestling success. I do remember years ago that he and his long-time wife Beth would have issues because Ric very much was the parent who lived through the sports success of Reid and Ashley growing up, and Reid ended up being a very good high school wrestler, and Ashley was a top volleyball star, but both gave up their sports in college as Reid didn’t do well and wanted to get into pro wrestling, and Ashley got married, a marriage that was stormy and didn’t last long. Karpf said that some people will watch the piece and come out of it was a very negative opinion of Flair, and others will watch the piece and see him very differently

By coincidence, the piece will run on the same night as Fathom Theaters around the U.S. (about 600 to 700 theaters) will be doing a one-night special release event called “The Price of Fame,” a documentary on the life of Ted DiBiase, that his son, former WWE star Ted DiBiase Jr. helped put together, which airs across the country at 7 p.m., so to 80s fans when Flair and DiBiase were contemporaries and two of the best in the business, with similar lifestyles in certain ways, at least at times, you get perspectives on both as they’ve grown older

Jimmy Jacobs (Chris Scoville, 33), who had been on the writing team, is no longer with the company. Jericho used to praise him, saying a lot of the ideas that he had that clicked like the list and the scarf came from Jacobs. Owens had also heavily praised him. Multiple sources, including in WWE, have said he was fired for posting a photo on Instagram taken before Raw in Ontario when he posed with The Young Bucks, Adam Page and Marty Scurll. This came shortly after Owens, Zayn and Styles all appeared as characters on the Being the Elite show. Jacobs was actually let go about a week ago, but it didn’t come out until 10/11. The photo was posted during the afternoon, before anyone would have known that WWE would have reacted the way it did to the Bullet Club publicity stunt. It was posted before it was known that taking a photo with the Young Bucks would be considered toxic in the WWE environment. As soon as the news broke, Jacobs was ready, as he had a T-shirt design made with design of a newspaper headline and the words “Unprofessional,” showing the photo in question that got him fired. Jacobs had been a writer with WWE since March 2015, and before that, had been with ROH most of the time from 2003 to early 2015. At that time, he obviously didn’t realize the company’s reaction to the spoof of the DX Invasion would be what it was, because literally nobody predicted what it would be ahead of time. But there is a different standard for talent, since Danielson has gone on social media to tease angles with Cody and the Young Bucks. Wrestling is really the weirdest business. Can you imagine if Bruce Buffer posted a photo on his instagram with Mike Goldberg and Dana White fired him over that

After it came out that the release of “Fast & Furious 9" was delayed from 2019 to 2020, it became an issue with Tyrese Gibson and Vin Diesel putting the blame on Dwayne Johnson. Apparently the heat is that Johnson chose to do a Fast & Furious spinoff with Jason Statham for 2019 which delayed the next movie for a year. Gibson said that the other actors had been offered other movie roles for that time and had turned them down since they had agreed to do the movie for 2019. Well, Diesel was more subtle, just posting on Instagram a photo of the other stars, including the late Paul Walker, but not Johnson, and wrote under it “Brotherhood.” Well, if you remember, when they were filming the last movie, there were problems with Diesel and Johnson and Johnson went on Instagram and talked about one of the co-stars of the movie, saying he was a Candy Ass

PW Insider reported that Bradley Cooper is waiting for an updated script of the proposed movie “Pandemonium,” a story based on the life of Vince McMahon, to decide whether to accept the offer to play the lead role. They reported that the current plans would be to film the movie in the spring. WWE Studios is now involved with the project which means that it has a better chance of happening, and it won’t be the total fiction of the original script

The Sun in the U.K. reported that Conor McGregor was in talks to do a match at WrestleMania. WWE claims the story is completely inaccurate and there have been no talks at all with him. There are a couple of reasons why it wouldn’t appear likely a deal would make sense for this year’s Mania, but you never know. The first and obvious one is that Ronda Rousey is on that show and paying big money to two UFC stars or having two matches with UFC stars feels like overkill, especially when, without PPV, the amount of extra network revenue that will be derived from having McGregor on the show even with the pub they’d get from him pushing it couldn’t possibly make up for the price he’d charge. And if anything, the price one would think would be much higher now than last year, when the sides didn’t come close. But if he just decides he wants to do it and gives them a good deal, there’s no reason for them not to do it, and there are different ideas they can do with it. And McGregor would be more valuable now because his name value is so high coming off the Mayweather fight

Speaking of Rousey, it should be noted that all Four women in her group have been in extensive training for wrestling of late. Rousey has been training with Brian Kendrick in California. Marina Shafir, the name who hasn’t been talked about, has been in training in Florida

The Miz will be hosting the MTV show “The Challenge”: Champs vs; Stars” which will be an eight-week show that debuts on 11/21 in a Tuesday at 8 p.m. time slot. UFC’s Michelle Waterson will be a cast member. The show features reality show stars and athletes in eight weeks of competition fighting for charity. Shawn Johnson and Terrell Owens will be among the athletes competing. Ariane Andrew, who was Cameron in WWE, will be on the reality show team

After being off TV for months, Harper & Rowan are being brought back as a heel tag team, The Bludgeon Brothers. Smackdown is now loaded with teams that for the most part aren’t being pushed, so we’ll see what happens here. Originally they were to be the mystery team in the Fashion Files storyline but if that was still the case, it would make no sense to introduce them on a video on the show rather than a Fashion Files reveal in some form or an angle where they attacked Breeze & Fandango first

“Psych: The Movie,” after the old USA Network TV show of the same name, will debut on 12/8 at 8 p.m. Both Cena and Charlotte are in the movie

Both Wyatt and Dallas have been off the road of late. Not sure what the situation was with Wyatt, but Dallas was ill. Wyatt was advertised for all the weekend house shows and was replaced by Anderson. Wyatt was on Raw with the Sister Abigail reveal, but it was a segment that was previously taped so he physically wasn’t at Raw. On television, Miz did wish his best to Dallas

Jim Ross’ book “Slobberknocker,” which was just released last week, is already in its second printing

Nikki Bella got 24 points on Dancing With the Stars on 10/9, which put her in a six-way tie for fourth place. Three teams were ahead of her and two were behind her out of the 11 remaining

Reigns did a WWE conference call and when the subject of independent wrestlers came up, he said, “We don’t need guys running around doing too sweets and we don’t need guys acting like they are DX from, you know, 15 years ago. We need original characters.” Matt Jackson then wrote, “You expect old-timers, shock jocks to bury you, but not current, young top-guys that you respect. Disappointing.

One of the weirdest coincidences regarding the shootings in Las Vegas at the Jason Aldean concert is that David Lowman, who helped do the staging and lighting for Aldean and was there when the shootings took place, was also in Kansas City doing the staging the night Owen Hart died. The crew who worked the show and Aldean were very shook up by the incident. The WWE was using the same staging company back in 1999 for their sound. Lowman was also heavily against the Owen Hart stunt the night of the show for all the reasons that came out after the fact, feeling the shackle (which released early and led to Hart falling to his death) wasn’t safe and there needed to be a back-up

Bret Hart was on Sam Roberts’ podcast and ripped on Eric Bischoff. “I think WCW would kill any kind of joy in your life. I think I just started to hate money, the money they paid me was insane. I would be off and then they would pay for first-class plane and car and then just before, Eric Bischoff would tell me I had the day off. I didn’t go down to dog it. I came to work. They were so bad, they would kill any hope in anybody. I don’t have anything good to say about Eric Bischoff or anything he ever did. Talk about a Midas touch, he had the opposite. He could kill a career and wouldn’t even know it. You could have a passion and a genius for the business and he wouldn’t have a clue. He was the worst loser, maggot, that ever got into wrestling. He was a nice enough guy, but he was just the worst. They had everything and all they needed was someone who knew what to do, someone with half a brain.” He was also asked about Bischoff saying Hart was broken mentally when he came to WCW. “I’ve heard this quote, which is why I get pretty hostile about him, about me coming to WCW as a broken toy who didn’t have the same fire. I could strangle him when I hear that. That is so not true. I was on fire. I wanted to take the world on. I wanted to kick Vince right in the teeth. Give me Booker T. Give me Benoit. But he was such an idiot. I would tell him that right to his face if he was here. Look at wrestling today. It’s a monopoly, so the wrestlers themselves have no leverage of any kind. They can’t say, `Oh, I’ll go to WCW.” It was so much better for the wrestlers when they had a bargaining table and that’s all Eric Bischoff’s fault. He killed the wrestling business.”

WWE officially announced a 12/7 show in Abu Dhabi which would be the same Raw tour that then goes to New Delhi, India. Mahal and the Singh Brothers, who were keys to the India tour, were not listed for the Abu Dhabi show

A correction from last week’s issue, apparently there was a War Games in 2000 in WCW as they were going down the drain, but it wasn’t on PPV, so that would be the last match in WCW that used that name. Indie groups used War Games over the years, but TNA had to use Lethal Lockdown since WWE owned the intellectual property and TNA modified the rules to make it worse

A new series of documentaries are going to be released on the network called 365, about a year in the life of. Owens is scheduled to be the first one released in November

Lawler wasn’t on the Hell in a Cell panel this weekend. Not sure of the situation, but he was at Lance Russell’s funeral in Memphis (the post-funeral party was at Lawler’s restaurant) the day before. Obviously the two were close, like almost father/son close. It is notable that WWE never posted a graphic nor made a mention on any show of Russell’s death except Mauro Ranallo on NXT. Like I mentioned last week, there is no other similar form when someone who was that much of an industry icon wouldn’t have been mentioned on a live broadcast that took place the day of his death

There was another WWF Rock & Roll Express match we missed listing in last week’s issue, which took on the September 27, 1993, Raw taping in New Haven

Raw on 10/16 will be in Portland, OR with an announced TV main event of Reigns vs. Strowman in a cage match, which given the direction, is likely to involve all the heels getting into the cage. Smackdown will be 10/17 in Seattle, with Roode vs. Ziggler as the match announced for TV

U.K. ratings for the week of 9/25 to 10/1 (most up-to-date numbers at this point) saw live Raw did 45,000 viewers, live Smackdown did 16,000, Wednesday Raw replay did 21,000, Friday Raw replay did 14,000 and a Sunday WWE Experience show did 18,000

The stock at press time closed at $23.21 per share, giving the company a market value of $1.796 billion

The top ten most-watched shows of the past week on the WWE Network were: 1. Hell in a Cell; 2. Hell in a Cell post-game show; 3. Hell in a Cell pre-game show; 4. Story Time episode three; 5. Story Time episode four; 6. No Mercy 2017; 7. NXT from 10/4; 8. Story Time episode two; 9. Story Time episode one; 10. WrestleMania 2017. 205 Live was down to 15th place this week, including behind two an Asuka special and a NXT episode from a few years ago that they were pushing on the network which had Asuka’s NXT debut on it, as well as behind this year’s SummerSlam show

Notes from the 10/9 Raw tapings in Indianapolis. This show had a lot of late changes. The show was built around The Shield reunion and building the 3 vs. 4 main event, and that was done well. Reigns was cheered all night as part of The Shield, and even mentions of him that would be booed in most cities were cheered. The timing was notable because the debut of The Shield was in the same arena, and the breakup of The Shield was also in the same arena, so it’s a unique coincidence of booking that they were putting them back together in the arena. They drew 8,000 fans. For Main Event, it opened with Rhyno & Slater over Hawkins & Wilder in about 9:00 when Rhyno pinned Hawkins with a spinebuster I guess because of Reigns, Rhyno hasn’t been doing the gore any longer. Tozawa pinned Nese in the other match in about 9:00 with the senton off the top rope. Tozawa was over pretty big to kids. Raw opened with Miz & Axel out. Miz was doing his Mizzy awards. He had a table with some trophies. He announced the Perseverance award, which he gave to Axel. Axel dedicated it to Dallas and they wished him well. Miz then said that Axel was one of the most talented superstars on the entire roster. The next award was for Best Supporting Actor, which he gave to Sheamus & Cesaro. Sheamus thanked Reigns and said, “Yo, Roman, we did it,” as a spoof of the line from one of the early Rocky movies, “Yo, Adrian, we did it.” The final award was for the guy who led the charge as the Big Dog of WWE, himself. Reigns came out. Miz tried to goad him into the ring since there were four of them. Miz said all the rumors about a Shield reunion were just rumors. Reigns said “Who said anything about rumors,” and then Ambrose and Rollins came out. They circled the ring. Miz ran off and the fight was on. Reigns threw Axel into the post and hit Superman punches on both Cesaro and Sheamus. Ambrose hit a rebound lariat on Cesaro and Rollins used the knee on Sheamus. They cleaned house. Then all three surrounded Miz and Ambrose gave him Dirty Deeds. Then they gave Miz the old Shield triple power bomb and did their fist bump. This was a good opening segment. The fans cheered Reigns the strongest they have on Raw in a long time. Jordan pinned Anderson in 8:24. Booker and Cole got in an argument and Booker pulled the “You’ve never been in the ring” card except Graves noted he was in the ring and Cole then noted he had a great record at WrestleMania. Jordan won with a back suplex into a neckbreaker. Jordan wrestled well but nobody cared. Miz was in the trainers room with ice and in pain. Angle showed up. Miz talked big saying he wanted to get his hands on The Shield. Angle said that Miz provoked them and that’s what you get when you provoke them. Angle then announced Miz & Sheamus & Cesaro vs. The Shield in a TLC match. Elias came out singing a song and cutting a promo on Crews. Hasn’t he already beaten Crews to death? O’Neil was playing a banjo backstage while Titus tired to play his guitar to interrupt him. Then O’Neil came out with the banjo. Elias pinned Crews with drift away in 3:13. Enzo came out and was strongly cheered. Fans were chanting “How you doin” at him, so they didn’t get the memo. Enzo called it the loserweight division and called himself Sugar Ray Amore. He called out Angle to tell him that Angle had agreed that anyone who attacked him while he was doing his interview last week would be banned from getting a title shota and fired. So Enzo wanted to know why Kalisto wasn’t fired. Angle said that the doctrine only applied to people who had signed their contract before he wrote the letter, and Kalisto signed after. Enzo said that Angle had just hustled him. Angle then said the title change wouldn’t be on 205 Live, but would be tonight. Enzo said he’d only do it if it was the main event. I thought for sure this would kill the third hour, and it really didn’t. Angle and Enzo both shook hands on the deal. Then Angle told him it would be a lumberjack match with all the cruiserweights at ringside, and the clause about being banned was off. Strowman pinned Matt Hardy in 6:30. Strowman played power house. Matt finally hit the twist of fate and Strowman did a one count kick out, and then choke slammed Hardy and powerslammed him for the pin. After the match, he picked up Hardy and was carrying him to the back when The Shield came out. Strowman didn’t back down and went after Reigns and drove him into the video wall. But Rollins & Ambrose jumped on him. This was a three-on-one heel beatdown but the crowd was cheering it because it was the old Shield. Reigns speared Strowman and they triple power bombed Strowman through the announcers table. The three were all wearing new Shield T-shirts. Reigns said that they were the workhorses who run the place now. Mickie James came out. She was given the most Godawful material, but to her credit, she had a great delivery and made it work. She said that Bliss talks behind her back and hides behind her bodyguard, Jax. Bliss came out and showed a video package that looked like a 1950s Newsreel talking about James being a senior citizen and such. Bliss called her grandma. James wanted to fight her and Bliss came to the ring and backed off. James then jumped out of the ring and started pounding on her. Bliss finally escaped and ran off. Backstage, Bayley, Banks, Emma, Brooke, and Fox all wanted to face Asuka in her debut on the TLC show. Angle said they would settle it in a five-way. Kendrick & Gallagher beat Alexander & Ali in 3:36 when Kendrick pinned Ali with sliced bread. Miz came out and told Angle that the Shield said they didn’t care if it was four guys or five guys, and he wanted a fourth partner. Angle was incredulous he could get another partner,. Angle said he could have a fourth partner, which of course, made no sense at all. Strowman then came out and got face-to-chest with Angle and Angle acted like he’d blown the call. Balor did an in-ring interview saying that Wyatt was desperate for attention. He told Wyatt to bring on his whole family. Wyatt was on the screen (this was taped last week as I guess they knew in advance Wyatt was going to be off). Wyatt then introduced Sister Abigail, which was him dressed like a woman and with a woman’s voice. Balor acted freaked out. So the five-way women’s match turned into an elimination match. Bayley first pinned Brooke in 2:25 with the Bayley-to-belly. The announcers thought Bayley had won the match but everyone kept wrestling and then they were told it was an elimination match. Graves said that Sister Abigail was so creepy it turned Brooke’s hair gray. Booker started going off about how Mike Tyson went to the Tokyo Dome to fight Buster Douglas, who was a 42-to-1 underdog and Douglas knocked him out and made his career in one night. I guess that’s the explanation of why people were fighting to get a shot at Asuka. I mean, it was never really explained so I’m trying to make sense of it. By the way, could they dress Brooke any less flattering? Fox pinned Bayley with an ax kick in 3:10. Bayley was the most over she’d been in a while and the fans were not happy she was eliminated. Banks used a back stabber and bank statement for the submission on Fox in 9:28. And then, immediately, Emma snuck up from behind Banks and gave her a schoolboy holding the trunks to win the match at 9:39. Balor did another interview, saying that last week he just thought Wyatt had lost his mind talking about Sister Abigail. He said that Wyatt couldn’t beat the man and he couldn’t beat the demon, and he couldn’t cope with that. But he said after seeing Sister Abigail and hearing her words, he thinks Wyatt may have unleashed something awful. When she spoke, he said, the words were echoing in his head. I guess he was finding out how Randy Orton lived. Balor said he felt pure evil. No, that’s the guy Okada was facing. Kalisto did an interview and said he looked up to and wanted to be like Mysterio and Eddy Guerrero, and they inspired him to travel the world and make his dream a reality. Enzo came out for another interview. For the most part, it was silence except they all chanted “SAWFT” with him. Kalisto pinned Enzo in 14:26 to win the cruiserweight title. The crowd was dead for this match. All the heel lumberjacks attacked Kalisto. The faces threw Kalisto back in. At one point Enzo attacked Ali. Ali decked Daivari. Kendrick attacked Ali. There was big brawl on the floor. As everyone was brawling, Kalisto superplexed Enzo off the top rope to the floor. They landed on a few people but everyone went down like it was one of those dominos demonstrations. The crowd, which didn’t care about the match, suddenly exploded due to that spot. Enzo used eat defeat, but Ali pulled Enzo off him and out of the ring. The idea is that Ali was getting back at Enzo for attacking him earlier in the match. Enzo clotheslined Ali and crotched Kalisto. But Kalisto came back and had the Salida del Sol on Enzo off the middle rope for the pin. The crowd went pretty wild for the unexpected title change. After Raw ended, Rollins & Ambrose came out for a dark title match with Sheamus & Cesaro. Rollins saw Kalisto’s ring jacket and put it on and started doing the Kalisto “Lucha” chant to celebrate Kalisto’s title win. Rollins worked most of the match. The finish was the same one they’ve been doing at the house shows where Rollins hits the knee on Cesaro and Ambrose follows with Dirty Deeds. Sheamus carried Cesaro to the back after the match and kept losing his balance and dropping him which is something they’ve done at house shows. Fans expected a Reigns vs. Strowman street fight so stayed. Even during the show they played a commercial telling fans it was coming. After the tag title match, Rollins took the mic and talked about how Reigns was getting the beers on ice and talked about how great a crowd Indianapolis was and how the city was special for all of their careers, and then they plugged a 3/13 Smackdown taping in the arena

Notes from the Smackdown tapings on 11/10 in Grand Rapids, MI. The show drew 4,200 fans. Dillinger pinned Kanellis with the tye-breaker in the opening dark match. The show opened with the Usos out. They were mostly cheered, which makes sense since they’ve got a great act and have been tearing it up of late. They walked slowly to sell the Hell in a Cell match. They called out the New Day. Woods & Big E also moved slowly but still danced their way to the ring. Jey said how they went to war, made history and compared to them, all the other teams in the back suck. Big E said he wouldn’t say that the other teams suck. Woods said they were like Ali and Frazier and made it hard for everyone to follow. The Usos talked about what a beating they took in the match and the only ones who could understand would be you three. Well, two, since Kingston wasn’t in the match. The Usos said they respected them, and really the Usos did total face promo. They were about to shake hands when the Hype Bros came out. The fans booed the Hype Bros which was more due to the timing of interrupting the handshake. Rawley said it’s the same two teams every week taking all the credit and leaving everyone else out in the cold. Jey told him to sit on the sidelines like he did during his NFL career. That line got a pop. Gable & Benjamin, Breeze & Fandango and The Ascension all came out. For whatever reason, the Colons weren’t used here even though Primo is back from his knee injury. Jimmy challenged everyone. Bryan then came out and put over the Hell in a Cell match, told everyone to get out of the ring, and ordered a four-way with the Hype Bros, Breezango, Ascension and Gable & Benjamin for a title shot. Gable & Benjamin won in 9:19 when they did the double-team power bomb and Benjamin pinned Breeze. Ryder & Rawley did their own arguing spot. The match got good in the end. Gable was the real standout. Natalya was backstage with Tamina and Lana. Natalya is treating the title belt like it’s her baby. Lana said that Tamina would be getting the title. Carmella was there as well. They argued and Natalya said the one thing we agree on is we all deserve to be champion more than Charlotte. Charlotte came out and Natalya asked her if she broke her pathetic father’s heart. Charlotte attacked her. Then Lynch and Naomi joined in and we had a brawl while Charlotte was beating on Natalya on the floor. Corbin did an interview running down Styles saying Styles was the one who squandered his opportunity. Lynch beat Carmella in 2:57 with the disarmer. What’s so cool about WWE booking is that every Carmella loss means that she’s one step closer to cashing in and winning the title. Owens came out and said that he sent Shane to hell and that Shane is never coming back. He was limping, his left arm and his neck were all taped up to sell the match. Owens said he was standing at the Pearly Gates, waiting to see St. Peter, there was a long line and he was impatient and wanted to cut in lie when St. Peter waved him to the front. St. Peter told him that they still needed Kevin Owens on Earth, and gave him a personal guardian angel in Sami Zayn. Owens said his new purpose is to turn Smackdown into paradise, “Kevin’s Heaven.” Zayn came down. He was dancing like he always does but in kind of a mocking way. He cut an amazing promo, talking about how he was so excited to come to Smackdown and how Shane had promised him the opportunity that he deserved after Raw had mistreated him. He said that once he signed, that he never ever spoke to Shane, but didn’t worry about it because Shane is busy. But he said a few weeks ago when he warned Shane about Owens and what he would do, that Shane blew him off. The Smackdown booking of late hasn’t been the best and God knows the title situation is a disaster, but the idea that backstage deal played out the way it did was some great storytelling. He said when Shane blew him off, he realized Shane never cared about him and never wanted him to get an opportunity. Zayn said when the match started, he was rooting for Shane to win. He said that Owens has been his best friend, his biggest rival but in the end, he’s his brother. He said he saw Shane on top of the cell and realized Shane didn’t care about him, or anyone, and wanted to end Owens’ career, so he saved his brother because it was the right thing to do. He said he saved Owens because Shane had become a psychopath. He said he thought he despised Owens, but what he despised is that in the end, Owens was right. He talked about how Owens had won all the titles while he hadn’t, but he could look at himself in the mirror and fans liked him. But he realized he was wrong. They hugged. They both were trying to get the fans to boo, and the fans booed, but not that much. Orton & Nakamura beat Rusev & English when Orton hit the RKO on Rusev and Nakamura hit the Kinshasa on English for the pin in 5:57. This came off more like an enhancement match and Rusev like the prelim guy who loses on TV but in the tag match, it’s his partner that does the job. Rusev needs a face turn at this point. He’s got qualities that people like and he’s going nowhere as a heel. Styles did an interview. They aired the video or Harper & Rowan being put back together. Roode came out. He called out Ziggler. Ziggler said that he exposed Roode as a fraud on the PPV. He said he showed he was the better wrestler and everyone could see it and Roode panicked. They showed a photo of Roode holding the tights for the win. Ziggler wanted a rematch. Roode accepted and wanted it right now. Of course Ziggler walked off. Ziggler has gotten new long blond hair extensions. Or maybe Renee Young just sold hers to him. In a weird match, Corbin pinned Styles clean in 11:35 to retain the title using the End of Days after throwing him like a heaving slam on the floor. The first 7:30 wasn’t much but the crowd came alive when Styles knocked Corbin over the announces table. When Styles used an ushigoroshi, Graves used the term twice. Tom Phillips used to use the term until he suddenly stopped. Graves probably didn’t get the memo. The Enzo Show opened with Kalisto being interviewed by Renee Young. He pushed that he was the first Luchador to win the 205 Live title. He pushed that he won it on Eddy Guerrero’s birthday. Guerrero was born October 9, 1967, so it would have been his 50th birthday. They gave him very little mic time, just to get the Eddy line over before the sent Enzo out for the first of his interviews. Daivari is now Enzo’s full-time sidekick. As scary as this is to say, Enzo is the MVP of WWE streaming television because he’s the only guy who is put in the position of single-handedly carrying a show and breathing new life into it. He called Kalisto “Tostito,” said that he can’t carry the load, Enzo noted he main evented Raw three weeks in a row and compared Kalisto’s celebration for winning to be like the end of the “Rudy” movie. Enzo said that Kalisto was like Eddy Guerrero because he had to lie, cheat and steal to win the title. He said he’s going to talk in Spanish and said he’s got mucho dinero and the only green Kalisto is touching is guacamole. Daivari hit the ring to go after Kalisto. Enzo joined in and beat him down until Ali made the save, to set up a tag match. Swann won two straight falls from TJP in 11:45. This was the usual match between them in the sense they work so well together, the match is super smooth, but the crowd is just okay with it. You can see they aren’t bored, and there is more of a reaction than a lot of the 205 Live matches, but it’s still not loud. Swann did a flip dive before the bell. Swann won the first fall in 1:07 with a bridging pin off a kneebar attempt by TJP. The second fall featured one near fall after another until Swann got the pin with a Phoenix splash. I don’t think anyone thought Swann would take the second fall here so that worked. Enzo did another interview saying Ali and Kalisto were dirtbags. Gulak showed up. Daivari called him Captain Underpants. Gulak wanted to join their group. Gulak said that Kalisto tries to get fans to do the “Lucha” chant and said that any champion who endorses the fans chanting is a world he doesn’t want to be part of. That was meant to be ironic since Enzo’s interviews are all about getting fans to chant. He said he doesn’t always agree with Enzo and how he dresses and his bombastic style, but wants to join with him. Tozawa came out for a match but Gulak attacked him. The crowd reacted more than usual to the attack. The crowd does react better to Tozawa than almost all the other cruiserweights, probably because of the chant and the facial expressions. He ran Tozawa into the video wall and hit him in the throat with his sign. The idea is that Gulak is after Tozawa’s throat so he can’t lead the crowd in chants, making it a big heel move. That is old school psychology. Alexander did an interview saying that Gallagher & Kendrick say he doesn’t have an edge or a plan. He aid he’s got a plan, but he doesn’t break rules or stab his friends in the back, but isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Right now this is a one-on-two feud. Ali & Kalisto beat Amore & Daivari in 6:56. For whatever reason, Enzo calls Ali “Mufasa Ali.” After Enzo did the SAWFT thing, McGuinness so low key, said, “After all this time you’d think he’d realize that’s not how you spell soft.” Kalisto and Ali did a double dive with Ali doing a flip dive and Kalisto a tope. The finish saw Kalisto pin Daivari clean with the Salida del Sol. Enzo had just thrown Ali into the post so it was weird that Enzo had to sell that he couldn’t make the save. The live show ended with a dark match where Mahal kept the title in a three-way over Roode and Ziggler. Roode and Ziggler worked most of the match together. Mahal’s bad shoulder was all taped up and he didn’t do much. Roode hit the DDT on Ziggler and Mahal threw Roode out of the ring to get the pin

Notes on the 10/4 NXT TV tapings. This was the first taping in a long time without Paul Levesque running things. He was out of the country due to business so Brian James and Shawn Michaels were in charge. Once again, this is how it appeared to have been taped in order, but they often air things out of order. No Way Jose pinned Marcel Barthel in a dark match with the wind-up punch. The first hour opened with Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli beating Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch. So Lorcan & Burch debut with a loss, but this did making booking sense since Moss & Sabbatelli were being built for the Street Profits late on. Moss & Sabbatelli won with a double-team Gori especial bomb. Nikki Cross won a Battle Royal for the final spot in the NXT women’s title match. In the Battle Royal were Billie Kay, Sarah Logan, Mercedes Martinez, Candice LeRae, Zeda, Vanessa Borne, Taynara Conti, Santana Garrett, Lacey Evans, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Sage Beckett, Reina Gonzalez, Abbey Laith and Dakota Kai. It’s notable that they protected Shayna Baszler from being in there. William Regal then posted with Cross, Ember Moon, Peyton Royce and Kairi Sane. Aleister Black was in the ring for a match when Velveteen Dream attacked him, tied him up in the ropes and kept yelling “Say my name,” which was what Muhammad Ali said to Floyd Patterson in their famous fight in the 60s and what Ric Flair used to say to enhancement guys in the late 70s. Zelina Vega cut a promo about how Drew McIntyre is ducking Andrade Cien Almas. Almas beat Roderick Strong with a DDT after Vega gave Strong a huracanrana into the ring steps. After the match, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole came out to talk with Strong. That seemed to be the end of the first hour. The second hour opened with Cross beating Conti with a fisherman neckbreaker. Then in a surprise finish, Fabian Aichner pinned Johnny Gargano in a very good match by rolling through on a crossbody. The idea seems to be that Gargano is having mental issues that losing to people he shouldn’t be losing to. Drew McIntyre came out for a contract signing but was attacked by Almas. Almas signed the contract. He then took Vega’s gum and put it on the contract the stuck it on McIntyre Main event saw a tag title match with Alexander Wolfe & Eric Young defending against The Authors of Pain. Fish, O’Reilly and Cole ran in to attack both teams. Hot match. Strong came out and they teased he would join Undisputed, but instead Strong attacked Cole. They had a big brawl until Regal came out and announced there would be a Triple threat match at Takeover, and that it would be a War Games match. The crowd went nuts for the War Games announcement which is amazing given there hasn’t been a good War Games in 20 years. For the third hour, it opened with Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight winning a squash match. The opponents weren’t announced. They used the double-team world’s strongest slam for the finish. Sane pinned Kay using the elbow off the top rope. Velveteen Dream pinned Cezar Bononi. Dream said he would make Black say his name at Takeover. For the fourth hour, The Street Profits beat Moss & Sabbatelli. Lars Sullivan pinned Raul Mendoza with the muso. Sullivan went to attack him after the match when Kassius Ohno ran in to stop him, so Sullivan vs. Ohno is the next program. Moon pinned Mercedes Martinez with the eclipse. Sane, Royce and Cross all came out after the match. McIntyre did an interview. Almas came out. Vega distracted McIntyre so Almas could attack him with a chop block to the knee and left McIntyre laying. Based on promos, while this was the fourth hour, it appeared the third hour main event would be Cole vs. Strong, which was taped last. This ended with everyone from War Games interfering

The first NXT show of the weekend was 10/5 in Dade City, FL. It only drew 150 fans, one of the smallest NXT crowds of the year. Cross pinned Borne. Adrian Jaoude beat Chad Lail. Dakota Kai beat Belair. Buddy Murphy pinned Babatunde Aiyegbusi. This may be Aiyegbusi’s first loss and the way they think when it comes to guys who are 6-foot-9 and 375 pounds, the idea that Murphy beat him may be a test, but it’s more likely to mean they’ve soured on him. Mendoza pinned Lio Rush. Sane & Liv Morgan beat Shayna Baszler & Lacey Evans. Dain pinned Bononi. The main event saw Wolfe & Eric Young retain the tag titles over the Authors of Pain

The 10/6 show in Coral Gables, FL (near Miami), drew 350 fans. It opened with the Street Profits over Moss & Sabbatelli. Marcel Barthel cut a promo and said that nobody can do what he can do on he mat. Lorcan came out and challenged him to a match. Barthel said that he’s not going to wrestle him, but he has someone who will. Sullivan came out and pinned Lorcan after a diving head-butt off the top rope. Ruby Riot pinned Sonya Deville with a senton. Heavy Machinery beat Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake using the double-team world’s strongest slam. After the match, Fish & O’Reilly and Cole attacked Heavy Machinery. Cole then did a promo and claimed that by the end of the night, everyone would see that they are untouchable and undisputed. Velveteen Dream pinned Strong with the elbow off the top rope. Entertaining match. Dream set up the finish with an eye poke. Jose pinned Reeves with a wind-up punch. Reeves did a lot of stalling here. Jose and Jessica Carr danced together after the match. Moon pinned Mandy Rose after a superkick. Short but good match. Main event saw Fish & O’Reilly & Cole beat Ohno & Gargano & McIntyre. Best match on the show by far we were told. Fish pinned Ohno using the trunks. After the match, Heavy Machinery came out and they blocked the exiting by Undisputed so they had to go back into the ring. Gargano used a superkick on Fish. Ohno hit O’Reilly with the elbow and McIntyre ended the show hitting the Claymore kick on Cole

The final weekend show was 10/7 in Fort Pierce, FL, before 400 fans. Rush pinned Mendoza. Borne won a Battle Royal where it was announced the winner would get a match with Sane later in the show. Also in the Battle Royal were Baszler, Mandy Rose, Royce, Kai, Sarah Logan, Belair, Evans, Morgan, Deville, Laith, Reina Gonzalez, Zeda and Jesse Elaban. Jose pinned Murphy. Dream pinned Strong. Cole & Fish & O’Reilly beat Sanity in a six-man tag. Heavy Machinery beat Cutler & Blake. Sullivan pinned Reeves with a muso. Sane pinned Borne after the elbow. Main event saw McIntyre & Gargano over Hideo Itami (who has been missing for two straight sets of TV tapings) & Almas

Raw opened on 10/6 in Arlington, TX before 3,400 fans. Usually when they come to Dallas they run the American Airlines Center, but downscaled to the college basketball gym at the University of Texas at Arlington. I guess with the decline of house show attendance that running the major market NBA arenas doesn’t make as much sense as running smaller

buildings. 10/7 in Tulsa drew 4,500. 10/8 in Rockford, IL, drew 3,000

Smackdown opened on 10/7 in Canton, OH before 2,800 fans. The 10/9 house show in East Lansing, MI, drew 2,000 fans

Arlington opened with Balor pinning Anderson. Anderson subbed for Wyatt, who was advertised. Gallows was in Anderson’s corner. Balor won using the coup de grace. R-Truth & Crews & Slater & Rhyno beat Goldust & Elias & Wilder & Young. This was mostly played for comedy. Most of it was Goldust running away from R-Truth. Amore pinned Mustafa Ali in a non-title match, so they continue to enforce the stipulation regarding all the guys who touched Enzo on that Raw episode not getting a tittle shot. Enzo’s house show deal is he does the sing along and the fans sing along. Then he turns on the fans and the city. Then he encourages them all to chant SAWFT with him. Rollins & Ambrose beat Sheamus & Cesaro to keep the tag titles. Bliss retained the women’s title in a four-way over Banks, James and Jax. Matt Hardy & Jordan beat Miz & Axel. Matt was leading the crowd in “Delete” chants. Hardy pinned Axel after the twist of fate. Reigns beat Strowman in a last man standing match after spearing him through a table. Crowd was 80 percent pro-Reigns here

Tulsa was the same show as Arlington. Balor vs. Anderson said to be really good. Rhyno pinned Young after a spinebuster in the eight-man tag match. After the match, R-Truth told everyone it was Rhyno’s birthday (he turned 42) and everyone sang Happy Birthday to him. Amore came out and he was cheered by everyone. He worked hard to turn the crowd, which he was able to do. Ali worked hard but crowd wasn’t that into the match. Enzo won with eat defeat. Rollins & Ambrose over Sheamus & Cesaro was good, but not at the level of their best stuff. Rollins used the knee on Cesaro and Ambrose then hit Dirty Deeds and pinned him. Sheamus carried Cesaro to the back after the match since he was still selling the two finishers. In the women’s title four-way, Banks and Bliss got the best reaction while James didn’t get much of a reaction. Banks had James in the bank statement when Bliss came in and rolled up Banks for the win. Jax chased Bliss to the back after the match. Reigns got the loudest face reaction on the show, with only a few boos

Rockford was also the same show. The eight-man, as is usually the case, is used as comedy relief. During the Matt Hardy & Jordan vs. Miz & Axel match (no Dallas on the road this week), they spent nearly ten minutes going back-and-forth about it being Miz’s birthday. He turned 37

Smackdown in Canton opened with New Day, beating Big E & Kingston, beating Usos in a tag title match. Roode pinned English with the DDT. Breeze & Fandango & Gable beat The Ascension & Kanellis. Orton beat Rusev in a last man standing match after an RKO through a table. Charlotte & Naomi & Lynch beat Lana & Natalya & Tamina. Styles won a four-way to keep the U.S. title over Corbin, Dillinger and Zayn. Most likely Owens was working out his match with Shane ahead of time. Main event saw Mahal beat Nakamura to keep the title with the help of the Singh Brothers in the same match they’ve been doing everywhere

East Lansing was a somewhat different show. The show opened with the Usos retaining the tag titles in a four-way over Woods & Kingston, Breeze & Fandango and Gable & Benjamin. Jey pinned Woods with a roll-up. Woods seemed banged up from the match the night before. I was told Benjamin seemed to be avoiding using his left arm. Roode pinned Ziggler after a DDT in a match very similar to their PPV match. Ziggler still used the no entrance music gimmick. Ryder & Rawley & Dillinger beat Ascension & English. The Hype Bros didn’t tease any dissension. Dillinger pinned Viktor with the tye-breaker. There was no reaction to The Ascension. Orton pinned Rusev in a longer match than they had on the PPV. Charlotte & Lynch & Naomi beat Natalya & Carmella & Lana & Tamina in a 3 on 4 match. Naomi at one point pulled out some of Lana’s extensions. Lana got a lot of ring time, which is what they need to do with her. Ellsworth wasn’t there and there was a quick “We Want Ellsworth” chant that was booed out. Charlotte beat Lana with the figure eight. Zayn came out and was booed out of the building more than anyone on the show. He didn’t play to the crowd, which chanted “Shane O Mac” and “You sold out” at him. The match went back-and-forth with Kanellis as the face, but the crowd was chanting “Who do we cheer for?” About 3:00 into the match, Owens limped out and got on the mic and congratulated Kanellis for his impending birth of a baby. This distracted Kanellis and allowed Zayn to hit him with the helluva kick for the pin. Owens was all bandaged up to sell the match and limped heavily. He cut a promo with a mock apology to Kanellis for his bad timing, and then said that he took out Shane McMahon, was now the biggest star in the company and challenged anyone in the back to come out, but then he left saying that the fans don’t deserve to see him wrestle. What was notable is that even though Zayn was booed heavily, Owens was cheered. Styles & Nakamura beat Mahal & Corbin. Mahal cut a promo in Punjabi which led to a chant of “You’re Canadian” at him. There was also a 3MB chant which Mahal played to using the belt like a pretend guitar and playing it. Styles chased the Singh Brothers to the back. Nakamura hit Mahal with the Kinshasa and then Styles pinned Corbin with the phenomenal forearm.