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September 7, 2015 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Snuka indicted, shooting at WWE Performance Center and tons more

Jimmy Snuka indicted for murder charges, Hulk Hogan begins doing media, details on shooting at WWE Performance Center and tons more.

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 September 7, 2015

 

After 32 years, in a shocking move, the Lehigh County (Pennsylvania) Grand Jury indicted pro wrestling legend Jimmy Snuka on charges of third degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of mistress Nancy Argentino.

The indictment is a victory of sorts in a three-decade long quest by the Argentino family to get what they considered justice after her death.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Louise Argentino-Upham, Nancy’s sister who had been one of the key people keeping the story alive. “She was only 23 and she really didn’t deserve what happened to her. They did the right thing by gathering all the evidence now and arresting him. Somehow it all got muddled back then.”

Argentino passed away in the early morning of May 11, 1983, of injuries suffered when her head hit a stationary object.

Snuka, 72, turned himself in to authorities on 9/1 after receiving word of his indictment and was arraigned in Lehigh County, and sent to county jail, where he was being held on $100,000 bond. Snuka posted ten percent of that figure as bond and was released later that day.

Snuka was in a wheelchair and hooked up to a feeding tube when he surrendered to authorities, accompanied to five relatives, including both his current wife, Carole, who he married in 2004, and his prior wife, Sharon Georgi, who testified before the Grand Jury that she was beaten by him in 1983, just a few months after the death of Argentino. It was Georgi who posted bond for Snuka.

“He is not in good shape physically or mentally,” said William Moore, his attorney, to the Allentown Morning Call. “I’m not sure he realized what was going on. I’m not sure what his cognitive abilities are.”

Few expected charges to be filed against Snuka in the investigation, given the time frame and that the original investigation was largely dropped shortly after Argentino’s death with no charges filed.

Over the years, there had been media stories, including by Jeff Savage in 1992 and Irv Muchnick in 1999. Muchnick, the nephew of former NWA President Sam Muchnick, who was the most powerful man in the pro wrestling industry from the 50s throughout he mid-70s, later wrote a 2007 book “Wrestling Babylon” with a chapter on the Snuka story. On the 30th anniversary of the incident in 2013, with help from the Argentino family, he wrote the ebook “Justice Denied: The Untold Story of Nancy Argentino’s Death in Jimmy Superfly Snuka’s Motel Room.”

At the same time, in a story based on the 30th anniversary of her death, the Allentown Morning Call, wrote an in-depth front page feature opening up the case, including an autopsy report from forensic pathologist Isidore Mihalakis who wrote in his report in 1983 that the injuries suffered by Argentino were consistent with being hit with a stationary object, and that the case should be investigated as a homicide until proven otherwise.

This resulted in District Attorney James B. Martin of Lehigh County saying he would take a fresh look at the case. A Grand Jury investigation was opened in early 2014. Then, after one year, it was extended another six months.

Martin said that they are not pursuing first degree murder charges as he didn’t think they could meet the burden of proof necessary for a conviction. That would entail proving Snuka’s actions were willful and premeditated. Third degree would be a murder without prior intent.

What is weird about the involuntary manslaughter charge is that in Pennsylvania, there is a statute of limitations on that charge that would have been up decades ago.

Third degree murder carries up to 40 years in prison. Pennsylvania law defines third degree murder as a killing caused by neither an intentional murder (which would be first degree) nor doing the commission of another felony (which would be second degree).

Martin also thanked the Argentino family for their patience regarding the case, saying it was the family contacting him in 2013 which led to him ordering the new investigation.

Snuka was subpoenaed by the Grand Jury but never took the stand, refusing to testify in the case.

Detective Gerald Procanyn, who was involved in the original investigation that never charged Snuka with any crime in 1983, was involved in the investigation. The Grand Jury completed its investigation and recommended a charge of criminal homicide against Snuka on 7/17 .

Martin held a press conference, and noted bail was granted to Snuka because he was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer and didn’t want taxpayers to be burdened with his medical bills if he was in jail before the trial.

Snuka underwent surgery last month to remove his lymph nodes and part of his stomach due to cancer. The doctors believed that they had removed all the cancer and that he would make a full recovery.

Martin said that the Grand Jury came to the decision to charge Snuka due to additional witnesses coming forward and Snuka’s own inconsistent statements about the incident to various people he spoke with after the incident happened, as well as in later years in the media and in his autobiography.

Martin noted this was the oldest case ever to result in charges filed ever in Lehigh County.

Moore, who said he would not represent Snuka at the trial, may have given a hint for his defense, saying that whoever is the lawyer would focus on whether Snuka is mentally competent to stand trial. He said in his recovery from surgery, it has left him in need of daily care, and that he is also suffering from partial dementia from decades of head injuries.

“He’s suffered a number of concussions with all the antics he’s done. I don’t see it ever getting better.”

“His faculties are so compromised you wouldn’t know what he’s saying. He doesn’t understand a simple conversation. You put him up against a sharp prosecutor, asking, `remember 30 years ago when you said this,’ (and) he has no recollection.”

Muchnick said that in his own 1992 reporting on the case that Procanyn told him that Snuka had told one consistent story, that Argentino slipped and hit her head in a fall after they stopped their car and she got out to urinate on the side of the road.

However, documents later came out that showed Snuka had told several parties, including the police themselves, as many as five different descriptions of how Argentino fell, shortly after her death. Those who testified before the Grand Jury that had spoken with Snuka on the night of the accident gave very different accounts.

Among the stories involved Snuka pushing her either during horseplay or a lovers’ quarrel. There were marks of abuse on Argentino besides the head injury, including more than two dozen cuts and bruises, on her head, ear, chin, arms, hands, back, buttocks, legs and feet.

At least five different people were told by Snuka, including the responding police officer, that he shoved Argentino earlier that day, causing her to fall and hit her head. But he later claimed those people misunderstood him, and told the story that he has since told consistently, including in his autobiography, that was the same story as Procanyan claimed.

There was no bramble or dirt on Argentino’s body or clothing that would be consistent with a fall on the side of the road. The police never brought Snuka to the scene of where he claimed the fall took place on the side of the road to gather evidence to back up that version of the story.

The grand jury heard or read testimony from 20 witnesses and observed 37 exhibits regarding Argentino’s death, including the paramedic, emergency room and autopsy reports from the day of her death, as well as written statements made at the time from the medical and hospital personnel who attended to Argentino. They also heard testimony of paramedic emergency room professionals who recalled what Snuka said to them that evening.

The Grand Jury concluded that the evidence indicated that Snuka repeatedly assaulted Argentino on May 10, 1983, and then allowed her to lie in bed at the George Washington Motor Lodge without obtaining the necessary medical attention that could have possibly saved her. They believe the combination of his assault and failure to get medical attention results in her death via homicide.

The key testimony was from Mihalakis, who conducted the autopsy. Mihalakis said that Argentino died from craniocerebral injuries, the pattern consistent of a moving head striking a stationary object, but the injuries are not consistent with a singular fall because of all the scalp, facial and bodily bruises and abrasions. He wrote the night of her death that “The multiplicity and magnitude of the injuries may even be suggestive of `mate’ abuse.”

He also wrote, “I personally checked the clothing that Ms. Argentino was wearing at the time of her injury, that is the slip and fall on the berm of the road, and find no evidence of dirt or tears on the fabric. They were subsequently submitted for evaluation. The hair and scalp were also examined at the time of the autopsy and no gravel or any other similar dirt particles were noted.”

Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim also affirmed that after reviewing police interviews of many officers and medical personnel, as well as the statements given by Snuka, and testimony the Grand Jury heard, that he believed Argentino’s death was a homicide.

Snuka was one of the most popular wrestlers in the world in 1983 at the time the incident took place. With Bruno Sammartino having retired in 1981 and Hulk Hogan not arriving until 1984, it was Snuka who had surpassed champion Bob Backlund as the WWF’s biggest and most popular star of that period. Snuka had been a major star in a number of circuits, most notably in Oregon, Texas, Georgia and the Carolinas for years. He was mostly a high flying babyface, before being brought in as a heel managed by Lou Albano to face Backlund in a series of title matches. Because the WWF had less in the way of high flying than other promotions, Snuka, a powerful heavy steroid using bodybuilder who had won contests in that sport in the past both before and during his wrestling career, with his majestic splashes off the top rope, got over stronger than any title challenger of the era. Before long, he was starting to get cheered. Once, in Philadelphia, in a rarity at that time, the crowd booed the hell out of Backlund and manager Arnold Skaaland, and cheered the normally hated Albano, during a title defense against Snuka.

It was an easy and obvious decision to turn Snuka. A storyline was created where Buddy Rogers, who hosted the Rogers Corner talk show segment on WWF syndicated shows, investigated and found out that Albano had been robbing him blind and Snuka wasn’t making anywhere near the money he should have been. The scenario played out weekly until Snuka started to understand and the crowd wanted him to turn well before he did.

Albano finally turned on Snuka and had Ray Stevens piledrive him on the floor. Snuka was then managed by Rogers, although that was short-lived and Rogers suffered a dressing room fall, sued the promotion, and was never seen again. Snuka became a huge favorite with high-profile programs with the likes of Stevens and Don Muraco.

His most notable moment was at the October 17, 1983, Madison Square Garden show, in a cage match, where Muraco retained the Intercontinental title. After them match, Snuka came off the top of the cage with a Superfly splash. While Snuka had done the move in cage matches before in a number of promotions, because it was in Madison Square Garden and was promoted heavily after the fact in WWE’s history, it became one of the most remembered moments in pro wrestling history. When Roddy Piper was brought in a few months later, it was Snuka who he shot his most famous angle with and had a program that was among the best drawing non-championship programs in company history.

Argentino, who traveled the WWF circuit with Snuka, was injured either as the two were traveling to Allentown for a television taping, or in the hotel, after they had checked in for a show on May 10, 1983, at the Allentown Agricultural Hall.

Snuka said that the two of them overslept that day, and he arrived late, after 1 p.m., for a full day of interviews. He came back to check on her after interviews but before the live show, and said she was in bed and not feeling well.

“I left the Fairgrounds at 6 o’clock (after doing interviews),” he said to Procanyan at the motel in a taped interview the morning after Argentino’s death. “I came back here and looked at her, and she just looked like she was sleeping, breathing and everything. So I got a towel, soaked it in the ice and put it over her head. She was not up. She was laying down in bed. She did not complain. She just had a big lump on her head. It was swelled. There was no blood. She had marks on her back from me trying to help her when she fell. So right fro there, I thought maybe she was tired, just laying there and breathing. So I had to go back to work on TV now. This was about ten minutes to eight when I left to go because I was on the second tape (hour of taping). She was okay when I left her. She was laying down and I kept putting the towel ono her head and she just kept mumbling around. She didn’t talk tome. She mumbled so I kept wetting the towel and putting it on her head.”

When asked why he didn’t call a doctor, he said, “Well, she wasn’t even answering me so I just looked at her and said, well, she’s resting there. So I said I have to go to work and I’ll be right back.”

After the taping, when he returned to his motel room, he found Argentino gasping for air and oozing yellow fluid from her mouth and nose. She was pronounced dead at Lehigh Valley Hospital a few hours later, with the cause of death being traumatic brain injuries.

Snuka, whose legal name was James Reiher at the time, but he had since changed his name to Jimmy Snuka, was never charged. The investigation of the Argentino death went cold on June 1, 1983, after an interview with Whitehall police with both Snuka and the current Vince McMahon. Snuka, in his autobiography, said that McMahon came with a briefcase to the interview.

The world was very different at that time. Even though Snuka was very popular, the mainstream media rarely touched pro wrestling, feeling any dealing with it was beneath their dignity. The death of Argentino got no national news coverage, a little bit of local coverage in the Allentown area, and maybe one small newspaper story at the time in the New York market. In most other major WWF markets, the story wasn’t even covered.

In those days, celebrities had a much easier time getting off on things. Cash talked when it came to both avoiding negative publicity and legal problems.

Most fans were not even aware of it. At the May 23, 1983, show in Madison Square Garden, Snuka was cheered wildly in his match against Afa the Wild Samoan. But there was a vehement contingent of fans, mostly Puerto Ricans, and especially women, who did scream at him for being a killer. But by the next show in June, nothing of the sort happened.

There was far more coverage for an incident in Syracuse, NY, on January 18, 1983, a little less than four months earlier, where police were called to the motel the two were staying at. A nude Snuka started fighting police before being subdued.

Also testifying in the case was Ruth Rogers, the wife of the deceased Buddy Rogers. They also saw photographs that depicted Snuka assaulting then-wife Sharon Snuka (now Sharon Georgi) in October 1983 that led to her being hospitalized. Sharon Georgi also testified to being assaulted by Jimmy Snuka and to what Jimmy told her about Argentino’s death.

Shirley Reeve, a paramedic, who had notes from that evening, said she and her crew arrived at Room 427 of the first floor of the George Washington Motor Lodge in Whitehall Township, shortly before midnight after Snuka had come back to the room after the tapings. When they arrived, the room door was open and police officer Alfred Rhoads, Snuka and two other wrestlers (Don Muraco and Harry “Mr. Fuji” Fujiwara) were there with Argentino, who was lying on her back on the bed, unconscious, with no clothes and a sheet over her. Her breathing was weak, and at times she stopped breathing. Reeve believed she had suffered a head injury and attended to her. She was put on a backboard and rushed to the hospital.

Dr. Joseph Fassl, the emergency room physician, testified they did everything they could to revive Argentino, but she never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at 1:50 a.m.

Reeve and Fassl both said they had questioned Snuka about her extensive injuries. Both said that Snuka told them he struck her and she fell, hitting her head on concrete. Two of the attending nurses testified they were told by Snuka that he and Argentino had an argument and he admitted that he hit her and she fell back, hitting her head. Precise accounts of those conversations were recorded by police in interviews at the time.

Given that evidence, it is now virtually amazing that no charges were ever pressed at the time and the case was quickly dropped.

Mihalakis testified about her skull fracture and injuries to the head, as well as 39 different contusions and abrasions on her arms, forearms, back, buttocks, legs and feet. He suggested the injuries were from “mate” abuse and that the abuse took place 12 to 24 hours before her death. She said the delay in contacting emergency medical professionals complicated any attempts to provide any extraordinary procedures that may have saved her life.

Snuka told a chaplain at the hospital after Argentino’s death that it happened on the highway traveling to the motel, but told the story the injuries came when he shoved her and she fell backwards, hitting her head on concrete. When speaking to Procanyn, he told him that she was injured due to a fall on the highway, but did not say he struck or shoved her, and instead stated that she slipped while getting out to urinate.

Rhoads, who arrived at the room first, said Snuka told him that he and Argentino were fooling around when he pushed her and she fell, striking her head. Reeve said Snuka told her that he and Argentino must have wrestled a little too much the previous night, and she hit her head on the concrete. Fassl said Snuka told him that they were fooling around, he pushed her and she fell, striking the back of her head. Snuka told him she lost consciousness and he picked her up by the arms and she came to. Snuka said they went into the room and went to sleep and the next day they were fooling around again and gave her a light slap on the face. Then they went back to sleep and he got up around Noon after oversleeping, and left to go to work.

Susan St. Clair, a nurse working in the emergency room, said she tried to talk to Snuka but he just stood in one spot and stared at Argentino and he said that they got into town late the night before, both were tried, they got into an argument, he pushed her and she fell back and hit her head.

Carol McBride, who also worked in the emergency room, said Snuka smelled of alcohol, and she asked him what happened, and he said that they came to town the previous night, had an argument, were pushing each other and he pushed her and she fell, hitting her head.

Barbara Smith Derickson, the chaplain, said Snuka told her they stopped on the road to go to the bathroom, and they started clowning around, he shoved her and she fell backwards on her back and hit her head on the concrete and was out for a minute or two, and he slapped her face a few times to bring her out of it. When they arrived at the motel, Argentino said she had a headache and wanted to go to bed. Snuka went to the diner to get some food and brought it back. He said she passed out in the room and hit her head on the side of the chair or the bed. He said she was breathing okay when he left to go to work and when he came back to the room yellow stuff was coming out of her nose and mouth and he called for help.

They also noted Snuka gave different accounts in his autobiography and in two radio interviews in 2013 talking about Argentino’s death to promote the autobiography.

In the autobiography, he said that he was driving in his Lincoln Continental with her from a show in Connecticut to the tapings in Allentown, and that they were both drinking beer and she asked to stop the car so she could pee on the side of the road.

“When she came back, she told me she slipped on the way and hit her head. I didn’t see it happen, but I remember she told me she was jumping over a little river or stream that was there and she slipped. She seemed okay, and when I asked her if she was feeling alright, she said, `Yes.’ I didn’t see any blood anywhere, so neither of us were concerned and we kept driving to Allentown.”

He said after they arrived at the motel, she went to lie down and rest and he went out to hang around with several of the wrestlers and when he got back in the room that night, she was sleeping and he went to bed.

Peter Bronstad, a former Captain in the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department testified about the Syracuse incident at the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge.

He testified that they had received a call at 1:40 a.m. by a clerk working the front desk that a guy was dragging a naked female down the hallway. Two officers arrived and he said they saw Snuka dragging a naked Argentino, who was covered by a blanket, down the hallway by the hair. She was screaming that she wanted to get away. He said the officers reported Snuka dragged her by the hair into their room, and she was yelling and crying for Snuka to let her go while he yelled at the deputies to go away. The deputies, seeing the size of Snuka, called for backup.

Bronstad was part of the backup, with several more deputies and a canine unit. They attempted to get Snuka to open the door. When he didn’t Bronstad said he ordered the deputies to take down the door and arrest Snuka since Argentino was still crying for help. After a struggle with a number of officers and police dogs, they arrested Snuka and handcuffed him while Argentino was in the corner of the room, crying in pain.

It took eight deputies and two dogs to get Snuka under control. He was taken in and booked on charges of obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest and counts of assault related to both Argentino and the deputies. Argentino was hospitalized at that point with injuries to her head, back and scalp from being dragged by the hair. Snuka plea bargained down to reduced charges and paid a fine that was donated to charity, and apologized.

At the time, the view among wrestling fans who did know about the Syracuse incident is that it got Snuka over even stronger, because the news reports talked about how Snuka was able to fight off eight officers and two police dogs before finally being subdued. At the time fans wanted their wrestlers to be real-life badasses, and if anything, this made Snuka even more popular, as it legitimized his “Fijian wildman” persona. In stories about the incident in the Syracuse market, fans reacted to Snuka like his wrestling character, saying that he used to be a bad guy but, with his babyface turn, he had changed.

Today, either of those incidents would have likely gotten him fired and given the company significant negative publicity. Instead, he remained one of the top babyface’s in the company and was not even suspended for either incident. In that era, wrestlers were often in trouble and, like with other sports and entertainment stars, the incidents were often covered up and part of the protocol was to clean up the mess of the stars. That still existed even into the early 2000s, but it is far harder to cover things up today.

Debbie Rogers, the widow of Buddy Rogers, talked about an incident where she claimed Snuka beat then-wife Sharon in October, 1983. At the time the Rogers’ and Snuka’s were neighbors in Haddonfield, NJ. Rogers kept notes about the incident and photos of the injuries to Sharon, who had to be hospitalized.

Sharon Georgi, then Sharon Snuka, corroborated Rogers’ story. She said there were a series of beatings in the fall of 1983 that resulted in her being hospitalized and both Rogers and Georgi talked about his use of alcohol and drugs in 1983.

Argentino worked as a dental assistant in Brooklyn and became a fan of Snuka. Snuka was married at the time to Sharon, and had four children who were living in North Carolina, before they later moved to New Jersey. Son James Jr. was 11 at the time, who later wrestled as Jimmy Snuka Jr., Sim Snuka, Deuce and Deuce Shade during a career from 2000 to 2009. Daughter Sarona, who now works in WWE as Tamina Snuka, was five at the time.

The Argentino family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Snuka, and won a default judgment of $500,000 in 1985. Snuka never paid, claiming he was broke. Snuka remained a top star in WWF through 1985, where issues with drugs and a problem on an overseas tour that cost the company sizeable money to get him out of, largely ended his tenure with the company.

He came back from 1989 to 1991 but with far less of a push in a lower card role, and worked occasional WWF matches over the next few years, and worked independents regularly into his late 60s. He worked a few WWE matches in 1992 and 1993. After that point, he was brought back four times as a legend on PPV shows, at the 1996 Survivor Series, a 2005 PPV show, a 2007 PPV show where he and Sgt. Slaughter faced Snuka’s son Deuce & Domino (Cliff Compton), a cameo in the 2008 Royal Rumble, and his final in-ring appearance for the company at the 2009 WrestleMania.

On that show, Snuka was one of the three legends (along with Ricky Steamboat and Roddy Piper) from the first WrestleMania who would face Chris Jericho, in succession, in a match that led to Jericho being hit with a knockout punch by Mickey Rourke.

He continued wrestling on indies through 2011, but he needed surgery which led to him being out for a long time, and came back for a few matches in 2013, at the age of 70, but has worked little if at all in the ring since that summer.

Some media outlets claimed a sensationalized story that his own autobiography caused his indictment. It is true that what Snuka said in his 2012 autobiography may have helped add a layer to stories written, but it was really the 30th anniversary of the case that led to the local newspaper doing the story that uncovered details of the autopsy report and some of the interviews, which suggested that the handling of the original investigation was negligent.

Whether there is enough evidence for a conviction is a very different situation.

“Many terrible things have been written about me hurting Nancy and being responsible for her death, but they are not true,” Snuka wrote in his autobiography. “This has been very hard on me and very hard on my family. To this day, I get nasty notes and threats. It hurts. I never hit Nancy or threatened her.”

The WWE released a short statement after the indictment, but did not answer questions regarding Snuka and his current position in the WWE Hall of Fame.

“WWE expresses its continued sympathy to the Argentino family for their loss. Ultimately, this legal matter will be decided by our judicial system.”



Snuka Murder Indictment Asks Some of the Right Questions -- Also Begs a Few Big Ones
 

by Irvin Muchnick

 

The indictment of Jimmy Snuka in the Nancy Argentino death finally -- as in after 32 years, finally-- brings the criminal justice system of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, into some alignment with reality.

Whether Snuka is guilty of third degree murder and involuntary manslaughter is for a trial to determine. But no one in charge of law enforcement should ever have been making the preposterous argument that there wasn’t a triable case here. Now, to the relief of everyone not stubbornly planted in an alternate universe, no one is.

Though the case against Snuka was circumstantial, the defendant incriminated himself by heaping lies about this mysterious incident atop a disturbing and substantial record of violence against women. Nancy’s injuries were anything but incidental and accidental. And there was no semblance of a third-party assailant or a claim of one -- only Jimmy and her in Room 427 of the Whitehall’s George Washington Motor Lodge prior to May 1983 syndicated TV tapings in Allentown for the then-WWF.

One of the byproducts of three-plus decades of justice denied is that what we wind up with a grotesque spectacle at the back end: in this instance, deciding the fate of a 72-year man with cancer who banks on sympathy wherever he can find it, as well as on the selective memories of those easily mesmerized by celebrity, wealth, and power. I could find myself persuaded by either side of the argument as to whether a prison term for such a broken figure, with such a broken legacy, meaningfully meets the definition of Justice with a capital J.

As a journalist, I am content to declare victory with the process that was the county’s Seventh Investigating Grand Jury. District Attorney James Martin tackled the Snuka-Argentino scenario -- pro wrestling’s answer to Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick Bridge -- way too late, but at least he got it right.

Where I would like to turn the public’s attention next is to remaining questions that the grand jury artfully dodged: What is the accountability of local public officials, including some of the very ones participating in Tuesday’s press conference to explain the presentment of the charges?

DA Martin’s predecessor in 1983, William Platt, is now a senior judge. Snuka’s autobiography goes to the trouble of highlighting that Vince McMahon carried a briefcase into a climactic meeting with Platt and others. They decided not to prosecute. Yet they never officially closed the case, either -- which meant that the records of their “open police investigation”could remain sealed from the prying eyes of, first, me in 1992 and, then, the Allentown Morning Call’s Adam Clark and Kevin Amerman on the 30th anniversary in 2013.

An even more malodorous specimen of the smell test is Gerald Procanyn, who is still working as an investigator in the DA’s office.

In 1983 he was a Whitehall police detective. In 1992, as chief of detectives, he told me one untruth after another in Snuka’s favor. The core lie -- demolished by my reporting and later the Morning Call’s, and ultimately exposed in devastating detail in the indictment attachments -- was that Snuka was consistent in maintaining that Nancy had slipped, fallen, and hit her head during an impromptu roadside urination. Procanyn’s serial lies, which in turn covered those of his eternal “person of interest,” were as gratuitous as they were outrageous.

But the 2015 prosecution proceeds by pretending that only the defendant’s happened.

From wrestling fans, the most frequently asked questions of me are “Did McMahon actively cover this up? and “Will evidence along these lines be introduced? The continued presence of Procanyn as a face for the prosecution suggests that the answer to the latter is “No.”

On June 16, 2008, in the course of a long email complaining about my reporting on the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide, WWE lawyer Jerry McDevitt wrote, “[Y]our insinuation that Mr. McMahon in some unspecified way kept the authorities from charging Jimmy Snuka for murder in 1983 is an odious lie.”

What I wrote was that McMahon sped back to Allentown and, in the observation of an investigator at the time (whom I named, by the way), served as Snuka’s “mouthpiece” during the wrestler’s interrogation -- while Snuka, essentially, worked his naive jungle-boy gimmick.

I also quoted Richard Cushing, the Argentino family’s first attorney, saying this: “The D.A. seemed like a nice enough person who wanted to do nothing. There was fear, I think, on two counts: fear of the amount of money the World Wrestling Federation had, and fear of the size of these people.”

 

Irvin Muchnick’s 1992 story on Snuka and Argentina -- commissioned but never published by New York’s Village Voice -- was first published online years later, and then as a chapter in the 2007 book Wrestling Babylon. The 2013 ebook Justice Denied: The Untold Story of Nancy Argentino’s Death in Jimmy “Superfly Snuka’s Motel Room, annotates the original article and benefits a women’s shelter in Nancy’s memory. You can order the ebook for $2.99 on Amazon Kindle ( http://amzn.com/B00CPTP6VM ) or a PDF copy by email (send $2.99 via PayPal to nancyargentino@gmail.com).



There was little doubt that Hulk Hogan would resurface in a very public way at some point and ask for forgiveness after the stories in late July about him admitting being racist, using the n-word, and more in a 2006 taped conversation.

The conversation was part of a sex tape that showed Hogan, real name Terry Bollea, with Heather Cole Clem, the then-wife of Hogan’s best friend Bubba the Love Sponge Clem. Bubba had brokered the deal, claiming that Hogan wouldn’t leave him alone and kept asking to sleep with his wife. Heather Cole Clem allegedly slept with several other celebrities whose names would be widely recognized, either set up or approved by Bubba, during that time period.

Bubba tape recorded his wife sleeping with the celebrities. On one of the tapes involving Hogan, Bubba and his wife joked that the tape was worth millions to them down the line, insinuating potential blackmail money. When the tape got out in 2012 and Hogan found out about it, he sued Bubba, which he later dropped, but their friendship ended.

Hogan took a hit which included WWE washing its hands of him, firing him and erasing all mentions of him on the web site with the exception of not taking his archived footage off the WWE Network.

The question was whether Hogan would be able to return as anything but a heavily damaged brand, and how long it would take, given the nature of the racial remarks.

Hogan clearly didn’t have much patience, or believed that it would blow over quickly given barely five weeks after the story broke, he did a round of media with ABC including appearing a taped interview on 8/27 that appeared on the 8/31 episodes of “Good Morning America” and “Nightline.”

Hogan’s appearance was predictable. He said he was sorry, claimed the use of the N word had to do with his upbringing. It was noted in graphics that he had black celebrity friends like George Foreman and Dwayne Johnson,.who had defended him. And of course, he talked about wanting to get back in with WWE.

The interview was also covered with clips shown during ESPN Sports Center and in other media outlets.

“At this time, the WWE remains steadfast in its decision,” the company stated after the appearance.

Vince McMahon was very dismissive of Hogan on the recent investors conference call, stating losing Hogan would have no affect on its business and that the company would rather concentrate on people who could still perform in the ring.

In the interview, it was spoken as if WWE had attempted to remove Hogan from its history. Hogan, it can be argued, was the biggest star in company history. Without a question, on a worldwide basis, he was the most famous wrestler of modern times. The company’s national expansion in 1984 was built on his back, and he was the key to the company’s success from 1984 through early 1992. When he took a sabbatical after WrestleMania in 1992, the company went into its worst business tailspin in history, and didn’t recover until the rise of Steve Austin and the U.S. vs. Canada feud in 1997, and exploded the next year behind Austin vs. Vince McMahon as the lead program.

Hogan’s title reigns are still acknowledged. WWE has not commented on questions as to whether or not they consider Hogan part of the company’s Hall of Fame. Hogan was removed from the web site listing of the Hall of Fame when the company made the decision to remove mentions of him on the site, but at the time we were told that doesn’t constitute his not being considered in the Hall of Fame. The company has not made any updated clarifications and questions about his status have gone unanswered.

It was noted to us that while McMahon downplayed his role, Hogan was very valuable when it came to public relations. For example, when it came to doing major event publicity, there was nobody in the company who could deliver as much mainstream media interest in a market as Hogan. But he couldn’t do that role now, because if put in that role, all the questions would be about himself and his racial remarks as opposed to questions about whatever events WWE was trying to promote.

Hogan was almost in tears at different points of the interview.

“I’m not a racist,” he said. “I never should have said what I said. It was wrong. I’m embarrassed by it. But a lot of people need to realize that you inherit things from the environment and when I grew up, it was South Tampa. It was a rough neighborhood, very low income, and all my friends, we greeted each other saying that word. That word was thrown around like it was nothing.”

He claimed that when he had sex with Cole, it was at the lowest point in his life and that he was suicidal.

The timing doesn’t match earlier things he had said and written. In the past, he claimed that the tape was done when he was running wild and between marriages, but his first wife didn’t file for divorce until 2007 after finding out about an affair he had with one of his daughter’s friends, Christiane Plante, which took place in 2006.

Both the affair with Planete, sleeping with Cole and the tape being recorded took place during the 2005 to 2007 period when the “Hogan Knows Best” reality show was being taped which portrayed the Hogans as having a loving but eccentric family.

Plante had said her affair with Hogan took place while Hogan and his wife were separated, which would indicate that while they were pretending to be a loving family on the reality show, they were actually split up. Hogan has on many occasions said the reality show wasn’t real, most notably when his son Nick got into legal trouble and people would bring up his character on the show.

Hogan talked about being suicidal and nearly killing himself at the time he said those words on tape. However, that was in 2006. Hogan’s previous stories about being suicidal and nearly killing himself in his second autobiography were from 2008, two years later, when he claimed he was talked out of killing himself by Laila Ali, who co-hosted the “American Gladiators” television show with him at that time. Ali, of course, had no knowledge of any such thing. In selling his second autobiography, where, in the promotion of it, he noted the first WWE-released autobiography wasn’t exactly real, he only talked about the Ali incident.

It is highly suspicious that Hogan and his friends would have greeted each other growing up using the N word. That was decades before that word had any connotation in society past being a term used by racists, with the exception of industries like pro wrestling where it was actually a business term for black performers as far back as anyone can remember. If anything, his picking up using that word in conversation would have more likely come from the industry because that word was part of the so-called secret language, along with similarly demeaning terms for Mexicans, and in Tennessee, the term for women fans (called AR’s or Arena Rats in most territories) was “blowjobs.”

The term was regularly used everywhere through the 80s, including by people who were not racists and spoke of it as the business term, but only to those in the business. It was still used in that vernacular in the 90s, which led to a successful minorities lawsuit against WCW.

But the problem in this story is that the context of his usage of the word was not in any kind of a fun-loving matter. It was very strong hate speech, using the term to describe black men, f***ing n


, in a very negative way, and not a good-natured way.

On the show, when asking for forgiveness, if people didn’t know the story, they may have come to the conclusion that Hogan, with no negative connotation, was caught on a sex tape using the word, and it blew up in his face and led to him getting fired from his job.

He asked for forgiveness, and if you weren’t familiar with the story, came across like a nice guy who years ago was caught saying a word in public that he was sorry for.

WTSP television in Tampa did a news story that night regarding Hogan’s claims about how the word was used in his neighborhood growing up which, as expected, completely contradicted his claim.

Linda Bryant, who said she grew up with Terry Bollea in South Tampa, said she can’t ever even remember hearing the word when she grew up in the 60s and 70s near him.

“That was not the culture when Terry grew up here,” she said.

“Terry was the first guy to ever be a role model for this neighborhood and he had the kids wrapped around his finger. He had the biggest fan base you could imagine and he did nothing with it.”

Another neighbor, whose children grew up with Bollea as their next door neighbor, said, “There was a time this area was poor, but we didn’t say that word. My daughter’s not like that. My son’s not like that.”

Another neighbor on the air said that if he said what he said, he should own up to it.

Still, while many, like Donald Sterling, Marge Schott or Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder either never recovered from being removed from sports due to racial comments and Sterling was forced to sell his business and forced out of the NBA, none were childhood heroes to a generation of wrestling fans, who often live in a world where they take fantasy above reality. In those instances, it’s not so much the fantasy that wrestling is real, but the fantasy of ignoring things that would cloud childhood memories. Because of that, many people would defend Hogan for anything short of murder.

When asked if he thought it was fair to say he inherited a racial bias, he said, “I would say that is very fair. The environment I grew up in, all my white friends, all my black friends, to hear that word on a daily basis, that’s how they would greet me in the morning.”

Again, that’s very suspicious to say the least. I grew up in the same period, and unless it was a discussion within the wrestling business, where I was uncomfortable with people using that word but it was part of the vernacular in a business built around often outdated stereotypes, that was not a joking around word in that era. It was used only in a derogatory way and people who used the word were considered racist.

“Please forgive me,” he said. “I’m a nice guy. I’m not the Hulk Hogan that rips his shirt off and bang, bang slams giants. I’m Terry Bollea. I’m just a normal man.”

“Just because a person makes a mistake, you don’t throw them away completely,” he said. “If everybody at their lowest point was judged on one thing they said and all of a sudden their entire career was wiped out because of one thing they said, ten or 20 years ago, it’d be a sad world.”



An obsessive wrestling fan who had been arrested twice the previous month at the WWE Performance Center for trying to meet Amy “Lita” Dumas at the Performance Center, was shot in the parking lot of the facility on 8/31 after local deputies attempted to arrest him.

Armando Montalvo, 29, showed up at about 1:30 p.m. and was not allowed in the facility. Performance Center staff members believed he was carrying a knife, and called deputies who were in the area. Deputies were well familiar with Montalvo not just for his arrests and problems caused at the Performance Center this summer, but also for a significant criminal past. Corporal Stephen Wahl and Deputy Dave Richardson showed up and drew the guns in an attempt to arrest him.

Montalvo allegedly charged at Wahl, who kept backing up from him, before firing a shot to his body. Montalvo was taken to the Orlando Regional Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings at a press conference said that Montalvo had become fixated on a female wrestler, who he did not name. WWE staff had contacted the Sheriff’s Department to hire extra deputies to work there off duty due to the problems Montalvo caused, but nobody was working there at the time of the incident.

“When the deputies encountered him, they had their weapons drawn,” said Demings. “At some point, the individual charged a deputy. The deputy retreated 75 to 100 feet backwards, with his gun out, and it some point the individual began to close in on him. He fired one shot and struck the individual. This all happened very quickly–in a matter of seconds.”

At the press conference, Demings was vague when asked if a knife was actually found on him, saying that they were under the impression based on what they were told that he had a knife.

The WWE had filed a restraining order against Montalvo on 8/14, which claimed that “for reasons that are not entirely clear to Plaintiff, Defendant has made WWE the focus of Defendant’s unhealthy and dangerous obsession.”

The WWE also said that Montalvo had trespassed on their property, had purposely vandalized the facility with his own excrement and terrorized employees with verbal threats of harm and by threatening the use of deadly weapons. The company claimed Montalvo had also done $5,000 worth of damage to the facility.

Montalvo had yet to be served with the restraining order. Deputies tried to serve his mother on 8/18 but she refused it.

Montalvo, whose social media accounts showed evidence of first being obsessed with A.J. Lee some time back, had apparently become obsessive with Lita, who had been at the Performance Center regularly the past three months as a coach on Tough Enough. With the season now over, Dumas was not at the facility when Montalvo showed up on 8/31.

On 8/4, Montalvo showed up waving a chain and causing damage to the structure of the building. Police showed up and arrested him at gun point on that one. He also had a chair, binoculars, and a white board in his car with big lettering that read, “Lita, I love you.”

When he was being taken in, a deputy in the car with him said Montalvo kept asking if he saw Lita while he was inside the Performance Center, and kept talking about how attractive she was and that he loved her. He was laughing and saying how awesome it was as he was being transported to jail.

At another point, he came to the Performance Center and dumped his own feces and urine on the building, and even posted a video of him mixing his feces with low fat milk in a bucket before bringing it to the building.

On several other occasions, he showed up, in a wrestling outfit, banged on the windows when not allowed in (security doesn’t let anyone in the building unless they have an employee card to open the door) and threatened to kick people’s ass.

At another point, just this past week, Montalvo said that, after all he’d done, that he was going to go there and ask for a job, saying, “What’s the worst they could say?”

Montalvo has a long criminal record in the Orlando area which included violating a domestic protection order, assault on a law enforcement officer and assault on someone over the age of 65. Demings noted that police in the area all know of him.

WWE released a statement saying, “Unfortunately, a deranged individual with no WWE affiliation, who had a court order prohibiting him from being on WWE property, was involved in an accident with an Orange County sheriff’s deputy in the parking lot of the WWE Performance Center. We defer to the Orange County Sheriff’s for further comment and information.”

Those in WWE were largely told to keep quiet over the incident. One person noted to us the frustration with a system that allows someone like that to stay on the streets, noting that what happens after he’s out of the hospital and released from prison, figuring he’ll probably come back again.



Due to the late breaking Snuka story and all the other news of the past week, we’ll have our coverage of the Battle of Los Angeles tournament in next week’s issue.

Zack Sabre Jr. won a three-way final over Speedball Mike Bailey and Chris Hero, with Bailey being eliminated first and then Sabre Jr. beating Hero by submission. This led to a post-match standoff between Sabre Jr. and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla champion Roderick Strong, to build a title match at a date yet to be announced.

The three shows all sold out within minutes to the American Legion Post in Reseda, CA, the 400-seat home of the promotion. I attended the first two shows. The second show was one of the best live pro wrestling shows I’ve ever attended when it came to match quality, with no matches being anything less than good and blow away bouts with Hero vs. Timothy Thatcher, Aero Star & Fenix vs. Pentagon Jr. & Drago, Bailey vs. Drew Galloway, Ricochet vs. Sabre Jr., and a street fight style main event with the Young Bucks & Super Dragon vs. Biff Busick & Andrew Everett & Trevor Lee. Others told me it was the best show in the 12-year history of the promotion.

The first night was excellent. The third night, which went five-and-a-half hours, I was told was not as good as the second night, but better than the first night.

While there was nothing that I’d rate as a match of the year qualifier, all three nights were loaded with **** matches with a wide variety of styles. Even more than a major New Japan show, you had a little bit of everything. You had top-tier level Lucha Libre from Fenix, catch almost shoot style with the world’s greatest facial expressions from Thatcher, hard hitting old school Johnny Valentine style from Hero, the best of modern technical style from Sabre Jr.; the best in kick-oriented offense from Bailey; Ray Stevens style little extra selling and crisp offense from Roderick Strong; Modernized Midnight Express style tag team wrestling from The Young Bucks; Super modern high flying from Matt Sydal; the single most gifted athletic performer in the business in Ricochet; and perhaps the best wrestler with three years or less experience in the business today in Will Ospreay of the U.K.

Like many thought at WrestleMania weekend, it was Hero vs. Thatcher who had the best match. The two gel perfectly with Hero’s offense ad Thatcher’s facial expressions selling.

Sabre Jr. reached the finals with wins over Ricochet, Pentagon Jr., and Marty Scurll. Hero reached the finals with wins over Thatcher, Biff Busick and Jack Evans. Bailey reached the finals with wins over Galloway (who not only should be in WWE right now, but as far as a live show performer, he’d be in the top tier on the current roster if he could erase the rejected overpush from his debut there when he wasn’t ready for it), Tommy End and Ospreay.

Among those who were at the shows as spectators included Konnan, Rey Mysterio (with his son Dominick) and Dorian Roldan of AAA, MMA fighters Tom Lawlor and Jessamyn Duke of UFC, and Marina Shafir and Shayna Baszler of the Four Horsewomen as well as Lisa Marie Varon.



Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who at one time was considered the best MMA fighter on the planet, officially announced his retirement on 9/1 while accepting a job as an Athletic Relations Ambassador for UFC Brazil.

His retirement was not unexpected, given that on 8/1, after he lost a decision to Stefan Struve in Rio de Janeiro, Dana White said that he wanted Nogueira to retire and that Nogueira did not disagree, and said that Nogueira would be offered a full-time job with the company similar to that of Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes and Forrest Griffin. But later Nogueira stated he still wanted another fight with Frank Mir, who beat him twice.

The UFC announced that Nogueira, 39, will serve as the company’s liaison between athletes, sponsors, media and governing bodies, as well as act as a mentor in the developmental of young athletes. Nogueira will also scout prospective Brazilian talent for the promotion.

Nogueira’s career was highlighted by being the first-ever Pride world heavyweight champion, winning a match to determine the title over Heath Herring on November 3, 2001, at the Tokyo Dome, before a sellout crowd of 53,000 fans, the first time an MMA event had sold the building out (the actual draw was Kazushi Sakuraba going for revenge against Wanderlei Silva).

Nogueira came into the fight regarded as the top heavyweight in the world, having beaten Mark Coleman via submission with a triangle choke in 6:10. Coleman had been considered the top heavyweight in the sport after winning the Pride Grand Prix tournament in 2000.

Nogueira wasn’t in the tournament, as he was first signed by RINGS in 1999, after debuting with two submission wins in the U.S.

Nogueira and his smaller twin brother, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, started training in judo at the age of four, boxing at 14 and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at 18. Both brothers quickly became experts at submissions and parlayed their Jiu Jitsu reputation into getting MMA fights in the primitive days of the sport. Nogueira fought twice in the U.S., at a time when such fights were a rarity in Brazil, and was discovered by pro wrestling Hall of Famer Akira Maeda at that time, who signed him for a 32-man open weight tournament in his RINGS promotion in the fall of 1999.

RINGS was really a pro wrestling promotion from its inception, with Maeda and Volk Han as the two biggest stars. However, they denied being pro wrestling and produced shows with the idea it was a sports contest. Most, but not all, of the early matches were worked, although worked in somewhat realistic style. But with Vale Tudo, UFC, Pancrase and the early Pride events, the worked shoot style that was very popular into the mid-90s was being exposed because the fights looked different from the actual real fights that were becoming more popular. Maeda made the move he felt was needed for survival, as groups like UWFI and PWFG (which were mostly worked matches), as well as Pancrase (which by that time was nothing but shoot matches) were staring to lose popularity. His shows contained more and more shoots to lead to becoming an all-shoot promotion.

The real kickoff of this all-shoot promotion was the 1999-2000 King of Kings tournament. Nogueira won via submission over Valentijn Overeem (Alistair’s older brother, who was a big star in Japan at the time) and Yiuri Kochkine, and then won a split decision over Andrei Kopylov in the semifinals, before losing a split decision in the finals to Dan Henderson in a fight that he really should have won.

Nogueira won the 2000-2001 King of Kings tournament with wins over Achmed Labasanov, Kiyoshi Tamura, Han, Hiromitsu Kanehara and beating Overeem in the finals in 1:20 via arm triangle. However, after winning the tournament, RINGS lost Nogueira to Pride, which had far greater financial resources.

Nogueira beat Coleman and Herring and was Pride’s best heavyweight, and generally thought of as the world’s best heavyweight. His most famous match was on August 28, 2002, as part of the Shockwave show at Tokyo National Stadium, which drew 71,000 fans, where he fought Bob Sapp. He charged at the 360-pound Sapp, who picked him up and power bombed him to the mat, and remained on top, beating on Nogueira in the ten minute first round. Nogueira was able to win via submission with an armbar from the bottom at 4:03 of the second round, a gutsy performance which exemplified his reputation as a guy who would take a terrible beating in fights, but never mentally break, and find the submission at the end.

Nogueira lost a decision to Fedor Emelianenko on March 16, 2003, at the Yokohama Arena. Nogueira was generally considered the No. 2 heavyweight in the world, behind Emelianenko, for the next several years. When Emelianenko was injured and missed a scheduled title defense, Nogueira beat Mirko Cro Cop on November 9, 2003, also at a sold out Tokyo Dome, to become Pride’s interim heavyweight champion. That sellout was part of a triple main event show with Sakuraba vs. Kevin Randleman and Wanderlei Silva vs. Rampage Jackson in the middleweight (now light heavyweight) Grand Prix finals.

This led to the second fight with Emelianenko on August 15, 2014, which ended when Emelianenko was cut deeply from an accidental head-butt and the fight was stopped and ruled a no contest in a unification match. Nogueira always claimed that as his victory over Emelianenko, but Emelianenko beat him via decision on December 31, 2004, in the second attempt at a unification match. With the exception of a close decision loss to Josh Barnett, that he avenged in a rematch, Nogueira won the rest of his Pride fights until the organization folded in early 2007.

With Nogueira coming to UFC, a dream match with Randy Couture, UFC’s top heavyweight, was expected, but Couture quit the promotion, feeling he could make more money on the outside for a dream match with Emelianenko. But Couture had a valid UFC contract, so the match was never made.

Nogueira then faced former UFC champion Tim Sylvia on February 2, 2008, and took another beating for two rounds from his much larger adversary, before he caught Sylvia in a guillotine choke at 1:28 of the third round to become interim champion.

At UFC 92, Nogueira was again part of a major event, a 1 million buy show that included Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva and Griffin vs. Rashad Evans for the light heavyweight title. Nogueira was to defend his title against Frank Mir, in a fight he was heavily favored to win. The winner would face Brock Lesnar, who had beaten the returning Couture, to unify the titles. In a shocker, Nogueira looked like a zombie, looking old and very slow. Nogueira’s hallmark was that in 37 pro fights, he had never been stopped. But in this case, he had come off knee surgery and a staph infection and was clearly not even a shell of what he once was. Mir finished him with punches in the second round.

Nogueira continued to fight another six years in UFC, although aside from a win over Couture in a great fight, he lost whenever matched with top-tier competition. His last win came in 2012 and since then, had lost to Fabricio Werdum via submission, Roy Nelson via knockout, and Struve via decision.

Over the last year plus he had undergone knee surgery for an ACL tear, and stem cell treatment for his elbows, hips and knees. But the combination of the beatings he had taken, and age, had taken an irrevocable toll on his body and it was considered merciful, and not controversial, when White stated last month that he wanted Nogueira to retire.



Thomas Latimer, 29, who works as Bram with TNA, was suspended on 8/31, the day after an arrest on felony counts of domestic battery by strangulation and false imprisonment.

Latimer is the former husband of Ashley Fliehr, who is Charlotte in WWE. Fliehr was not involved in the incident. The two split up earlier this year and, according to a family source, are officially divorced.

The alleged incident was listed by police as having taken place at 6 a.m. on 8/30 at an apartment at 3205 58th Street South in Gulfport, FL that Latimer and girlfriend Ashley Allen were living in.

The arrest took place after officers responded to a call about a disturbance. When they arrived, they encountered Latimer and a woman who identified herself as his girlfriend. Latimer and Allen have had photos of each other together all over social media dating back a few months to Latimer and Fliehr splitting up.

According to a release by the Gulfport Police Department, the officers observed evidence of a physical altercation and their investigation revealed that, after the couple had been arguing, the woman felt threatened and sought refuse in her bedroom.

The release stated that Latimer followed her into the bedroom, closed the door, and refused to allow her to leave. He then pushed the woman onto the bed and was holding her down by the throat.

Latimer was being held in the Pinellas County Jail but was released on 9/1 on $6,000 bond.

TNA released a statement saying:

TNA has been advised by the Gulfport, Florida Police Department that Thomas Latimer, known as Bram, has been arrested and charged with two felony counts of domestic battery and false imprisonment. TNA is working to gather facts and obtain additional information related to the arrest.

“The charges against Thomas Latimer are serious, and he is immediately and indefinitely suspended from any future TNA-sanctioned events awaiting the outcome of the case,” said TNA Executive Vice President of Television and Talent John Gaburick.

Latimer had been with WWE and was part of the original Ascension tag team, when the group was supposed to be a spooky Undertaker-knockoff team instead of a bad Road Warrior knockoff team. He used the name Kenneth Cameron in WWE, as part of Florida Championship Wrestling.

He was released from the company on November 30, 2012, after being charged with battery of a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct due to intoxication. He also had a January 2011 arrest for a DUI.

Latimer, who is from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England, started wrestling on small shows in 2003 and because of his size and look, was given a developmental contract with WWE at the end of 2010. The Ascension idea was originally Kenneth Cameron, Conor O’Brien (Ryan Parmater, who is Konnor in the current team) and Tito Colon (Orlando Colon, Fernando of Los Matadores), managed by Raquel Diaz (Shaul Guerrero, Vickie & Eddy’s daughter). Ricardo Rodriguez was with the group during its debut. The group broke up when O’Brien was injured and Colon was called up to form the Primo & Epico tag team. When O’Brien returned, he and Cameron became The Ascension as a tag team. They were working as a team until Latimer’s second arrest and subsequent release, at which point Viktor (Eric Thompson), wrestling as Rick Victor, replaced him.

After getting a good word from Nick (Magnus) Aldis, TNA gave Latimer a tryout and signed him in a role of a street fighting thug who grew up with Magnus in England and thought Magnus had gone soft. The two split up and feuded while TNA taped in England.

Many in TNA were high on Latimer’s potential because of the way he carried himself and some similarities to the late Bruiser Brody. But it’s very difficult given the current TNA platform for anyone to get over as a new star. Bram is on yet to be aired TNA matches that were taped at the most recent Orlando tapings. It is not clear whether he’ll be removed from the shows.

Because of the heightened negative public opinion of domestic abuse as compared to other times culturally coming off the Ray Rice situation, and because Latimer was not a major star, this could be the end of him with a major promotion. I can’t see WWE even considering bringing him back under any circumstances. Even if another significant promotion resurfaces, unless he gets off completely on all charges, he’d be seen as too much of a risk.



Eiji Ezaki, 46, who was best known as Hayabusa, one of the best high flyers in wrestling until he was left nearly paralyzed by a ring accident 14 years ago, walked to the ring at Korakuen Hall on 8/5 in an emotion-filled event that featured many of the biggest name wrestlers in Japan.

After debuting in 1991, Ezaki became one of the top stars of FMW in 1995 as the masked Hayabusa. On May 5, 1995, at Kawasaki Baseball Stadium, a main event of Atsushi Onita beating Hayabusa in an exploding ring explosive barbed wire steel cage match drew 50,000 fans paying $2.5 million. While Onita and his supposed retirement match was the big draw, it is notable that Hayabusa had just returned to Japan after wrestling on small shows in Florida.

After Onita, the company’s biggest star, retired, Hayabusa became the new top star. On May 5, 1996, also at Kawasaki Stadium, a crowd of 33,231 saw Terry Funk & Mr. Pogo beating Hayabusa & Masato Tanaka in the main event in a no rope explosive barbed wire match.

Over his six plus years as Hayabusa, and also as H, he was noted for being one of the best and more graceful high flyers in wrestling, and held various versions of the company’s top singles title, which changed from being the FMW World Brass Knux title, to the Independent world heavyweight title to the World Entertainment Wrestling world title, six times.

But his career came to literally a crashing end at the age of 32. On October 22, 2001, at Korakuen Hall, he was wrestling in the main event against Mammoth Sasaki. During the match, Hayabusa did one of his trademark moves that he did in virtually every match, the quebrada, known in the U.S. as the lionsault that Chris Jericho uses. It was the one time, he slipped badly, didn’t get all the way over, and landed right on the top of his head.

He broke his neck in two places and was wheelchair bound. The loss of Hayabusa was so big that many claim it was the key reason for the folding of the promotion a few months later. In reality, the promotion was already deeply in debt, as the move from being a death match promotion to a WWE style entertainment promotion didn’t draw. The company was more than $1 million in debt when it folded in early 2002, and owner Shoichi Arai was reported to have hung himself a few months after the promotion declared bankruptcy due to having an outstanding debt to the Yakuza.

In August of 2002, Hiromichi “Kodo” Fuyuki, who was dying of cancer at about the same time (Fuyuki passed away in March of 2003 at the age of 42), urged Ezaki, who had basically given up, as he’d been wheelchair bound and was only able to barely move one arm, to keep fighting.

As the story goes, when Ezaki told him that he doesn’t think he will ever get out of the wheelchair, Fuyuki told him, “I don’t have much time left. I already know it’s over for me. But you? Your chances of getting better are not zero. Don’t lose hope. You can do it.”

Eventually Ezaki was able to regain some use of his legs and stand on his own.

He traveled several times to the U.S. and was affiliated with Dragon Gate.

The ceremony saw Ezaki, wearing his Hayabusa mask that he always still wears in public, use his cane to get out of his wheelchair while fans and wrestlers were moved to tears. He was able to take small steps and walk with his cane, and even with help, get up the ring steps and into the ring, where he gave a speech in the ring.

Among those in attendance included Genichiro Tenryu, Keiji Muto, Naomichi Marufuji, Kenta Kobashi, Tatsumi Fujinami and long-time rival Mr. Gannosuke.



Travis Browne, 33, and the alleged current boyfriend of Ronda Rousey, was reinstated by the UFC this past week after they had put him on ice pending an investigation due to allegations of domestic abuse by his wife, fitness model Jenna Renee Webb.

The UFC announced that a seven-week-long investigation conducted by a former FBI agent with 25 years of experience, who interviewed both the individuals and friends of both, found inconclusive evidence to support the domestic abuse claim. After the report, the UFC reinstated him.

The UFC claimed that they had hired the Las Vegas law firm of Campbell & Williams to find a third party to conduct a thorough investigation after learning on 7/8 that Webb had photos of her with a number of bruises and claimed it was from Browne and that she was breaking up with him.

The investigator spoke with nearly a dozen individuals in several states, including Browne, Webb, former spouses, doctors associated with both, as well as friends of both. The investigator also obtained electronic data showing interactions of the two both with each other and with others.

Webb had of late been critical of Rousey for both dating a married man and for being critical of Floyd Mayweather Jr., for his domestic violence past, while dating Browne.

Webb said, “I told them the truth. I gave them photos. I gave them a dated and detailed journal, and how they came up with those results is beyond belief. The investigator got this info and helped the UFC come to this conclusion. My family and I are totally baffled. It just shows what an abused person from a close family in Florida faces when they go up against an ex-FBI investigator, Campbell & Williams, and the UFC. They have more money than we do. They appear to be the winners. We believe that in the end truth prevails.”



Zahra Schrebier, 28, a WWE developmental wrestler and the girlfriend of champion Seth Rollins, was fired on 8/31 after a number of offensive remarks and drawings dated back several years surfaced in social media over the weekend.

Schreiber, who was shown in the audience at the NXT Takeover special, next to Rollins, but not identified, had just debuted on a live event on the 8/29 NXT show in Ft. Pierce, FL, doing a gimmick where she was the sister and manager of Solomon Crowe.

“WWE released Zahra Schrebier due to inappropriate and offensive remarks she made that were recently brought to our attention,” said WWE in a statement.

Among the other things found in her account included use the F***ot word describing gay man, making fun of overweight women, making fun of skinny women, and black women.

This all came out because a wrestling fan went through her Instagram account and found a photo with a swastika hanging up behind her in her home, as well as a drawing of a “My Little Pony” with a swastika armband doing a Nazi inspired gesture.

In 2012, when it was posted, she got into arguments with people on social media defending it by writing, “The swastika means prosperity and luck. It was around way before Hitler turned it into an icon. Take it how you want. I could care less. This is too funny.”

The excuse could have worked with the symbol in the home, as far-fetched as it could have been, but it was clearly meant as a Nazi symbol on the “My Little Pony” drawing.

In 2011, she posted “Why do girls who are just out of relationships use it as an excuse to be whores? “Girls are so slutty on Twitter. Ya, ok, if that’s how you can get followers.” “One time some lady in her 40s kept touching Chad and hitting on him so I hit her and that bitch hit the ground.” “When f***ots talk shit on the Internet because they’ll never have to face that person. F***ing coward bitches.” “Unattractive. Just think it looks weird when girls who don’t take care of their bodies buy tits. Same if they’re too skinny.” “Girls who aren’t thin or in great shape should not get boob jobs, or girls with wide heart shaped asses.”

When the controversy erupted, she took down the offensive posts.

It is notable that Kanako Urai (Kana), who the company is in the process of getting ready to sign, used to wear a Nazi outfit as part of her wrestling attire in Japan. Of course that is a very different situation, as one was playing a wrestling character in a different society, and that in all fairness, should not be held against

Schreiber had a nude photo of her make social media in February, believed to have been discovered by Rollins former girlfriend on his phone and then she posted it for the world to see, along with a nude photo of Rollins.

One person in WWE noted to us that all prospective wrestlers wanting to get into the promotion should delete anything that could be deemed questionable from their past when it comes to social media. For women, it was suggested to delete all heavily sexually themed photos as soon as possible.



The 22nd season of the Ultimate Fighter, with Urijah Faber and Conor McGregor as coaches of Team USA vs. Team Europe, will debut on 9/9 at 10 p.m. Eastern and run weekly on Wednesday nights through early December.

The debut episode will feature the usual 16 fights to get into the house. The fights on that two-hour first show will be all American vs. American and European vs. European fights, so there will be eight American winners and eight European winners.

At that point, they will start a tournament in the first round, although after the first round, fighters from the U.S. could fight each other and fighters from Europe could also fight each other.

As noted, at this point there are no plans for the coaches to fight, although should McGregor not beat Jose Aldo and win the featherweight title, it would then make sense to have McGregor vs. Faber.

The attempt here is clearly to hope that McGregor can help build up the show’s ratings. In the early seasons of the show, the right mix of coaches were clearly a ratings draw. But in recent years, that wasn’t as much the case. The numbers for Chael Sonnen and Ronda Rousey as coaches weren’t that big, although they were considerably bigger than other seasons at about the same time. When the show was still on Spike, the season with Brock Lesnar was a ratings disappointment.

Both McGregor and Faber understand the role and are both always promoting, so the hope is that McGregor can work his ratings magic here.

The season will have 12 episodes, with the finals on 12/11, a special Friday night show in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the night before the McGregor vs. Aldo fight.



Here are the business numbers for WWE & TNA for the month of July.

For the month of July, WWE averaged 4,958 paid per house show (not including the Battleground PPV show). That’s virtually identical with last year’s 4,948. The 2013 number was 5,544 and the 2012 number was 5,464.

Based on the headliners, The Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose title matches drew an average of 4,813 paid. The John Cena vs. Kevin Owens matches drew an average of 6,583 paid (during the summer of 2014, Cena vs. Bray Wyatt averaged 6,000). The Randy Orton vs. Sheamus main events drew an average of 2,250 paid.

The Cena vs. Owens main events were the strongest main house show main event numbers for any match over a full month period in some time. What that says it the idea that Owens can’t draw on top based on his look is bullshit because even though he is with Cena, other guys in the same position with Cena haven’t done as well. The thing about wrestling is you can have your ideas and rules about who and what qualities appeal the most to the masses, and those heavily influence who get chances in the business. But ultimately, there is a very simple test of what gets over, and that is who is put in the position to get over and then delivers, and you can point to flaws in everyone and strengths in everyone but if you’re beating everyone else in the same position, either you’ve had a program that people got into and/or your strengths mean more than your weaknesses. And no matter how you look or talk, if the opposite is true, it means your strengths on paper don’t translate.

Raw in July averaged a 2.66 rating and 3.67 million viewers. That’s down 11 percent in ratings (the rating is key figure to look at because it, being a percentage of the homes that have access to the station, factors out cord cutting) and 15 percent in viewership, which is really a hell of a drop. In looking at the past July’s, 2014 averaged a 2.99 rating and 4.32 million viewers, 2013 averaged a 2.97 rating and 4.00 million viewers and 2012 averaged a 3.35 rating and 4.91 million viewers. So over a three-year period, they’ve lost 21 percent in ratings and 25 percent in viewers. Viewers per home were 1.44 this year, compared to 1.49 last year and 1.37 the year before.

Smackdown averaged a 1.70 rating and 2.32 million viewers in July, down four percent in ratings and eight percent in viewers from the prior year, even though last year was on a worse night for television, Friday, and with one of the shows on July 4th. Throwing out July 4th, the ratings are down 11 percent and viewers down 15 percent. Throwing that out, the 2014 average was a 1.91 rating and 2.72 million viewers, the 2013 average was a 1.79 rating and 2.41 million viewers and the 2012 average was a 1.92 rating and 2.78 million viewers. Smackdown had dropped less than Raw which is partially due to improving its night. Viewers per home was 1.46 this year.

DVD shipments in July were 137,000, down 25 percent from the prior year’s 182,000. The 2013 number was 231,000 and the 2012 number was 357,000.

Over the past nine months, the most shipped WWE DVDs were WrestleMania 31 at 109,000 (down from 143,000 at the same point in 2014), Slam City was 101,000, Attitude Era Volume 2 was 66,000, Rock vs. Cena Once in a Lifetime was 65,000, and Macho Man: The Randy Savage story was 62,000.

Web merchandise continues to be a big growth sector as they averaged 1,452 orders per day, up 67 percent from 871 in 2014, 774 in 2013 and 548 in 2012.

Impact averaged 315,000 viewers for the first show and 72,000 for the replay show for an average of 387,000 total viewers. Last year in July, Impact averaged 1.33 million viewers on Spike. Based on loss of coverage because Destination America is in less homes, the audience should have dropped 40% or a normalized expected drop even giving the benefit of two shows over one should be 798,000 viewers. So if we add up both shows, the drop in actual popularity is 52 percent and if you only figure the first-run show it’s 61 percent. Actual total viewership drop comparing the one show on Spike to two shows today is 71 percent if you combine the two shows and 76 percent just using the first show.



The WWE Battleground PPV, headlined by Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar, drew 24,000 buys in North America and 52,000 outside North America for a total of 74,000.

In 2014, Battleground, which featured John Cena defending the WWE title against Roman Reigns, Kane and Randy Orton, did 36,000 domestic buys and 80,000 buys outside North America. That’s with network penetration not as strong as this year.

This is an updated PPV chart for the first seven months of the year.

Buys, in thousands, are total worldwide buys (W) and domestic buys (D), which consist of U.S. Canada and Puerto Rico.

 

15W 15D 14W 14D 13W 13D

Rumble 163 56 517 337 579 364

Chamber/

Fast Lane 52 29 203 159 241 181

Mania 291 116 684 420 1104 662

Ex Rules 56 21 107 45 245 137

Payback 54 19 66 29 209 108

MITB 57 20 121 53 223 169

Chamber 41 0

Battlegrd 76 24 116 36 119 84

 

A notable point is that even though WWE Network is adding places, not losing, while domestic numbers are steady, overseas people are ordering PPV at a higher rate. Fast Lane only did 23,000 overseas buys, while Extreme Rules did 35,000, Payback did 35,000, Money in the Bank did 37,000, Chamber did 41,000 and Battleground did 52,000, so the increase has been both consistent and very significant. All are “B” shows, available in similar territories. Battleground featured Brock Lesnar, who, along with Dwayne Johnson, are still the biggest PPV drawing cards, so that explains the difference. But this gives the impression that if they had not switched models, PPV would be rising right now, just as it is for UFC and boxing.



Raw on 8/31 did its best audience since 6/15, which was the show after Money in the Bank and after the death of Dusty Rhodes.

The show did a 2.73 rating and 3.89 million viewers (1.49 viewers per home), up five percent from the show after SummerSlam, likely caused by the buzz of that show with challenges by Lesnar (not followed up), the return of Sting and the return of the Dudleys. Raw was also helped, and perhaps this even more than anything, by the fact there was no football nor any other strong shows on cable as compared to most weeks, with Raw being no. 1 and no shows other than the much-older skewing talk shows on Fox News Network even hitting 2.4 million viewers.

The rating was virtually identical to recent weeks, so the increase meant more viewers per home were watching.

The three hours were fairly stable, with the first hour doing 3.87 million viewers, the second hour doing 3.99 million viewers and the third hour doing 3.83 million viewers.

The Countdown to Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson, airing at 5:30 p.m. on FS 1 on 8/30, did 83,000 viewers, which by itself tells you the limits to the effectiveness of such a show in pushing buys. During the Spike era, these shows always did 500,000 viewers and for the biggest fights could top 1 million viewers.

The Premier Boxing show on ESPN on 8/29 headlined by Leo Santa Cruz beating Abner Mares drew 1,217,000 viewers, the largest audience for an ESPN boxing match since 1998. The show drew another 355,000 viewers on ESPN Deportes, peaking with 453,000 for the main event, making it the most-watched boxing event ever on that station.

Bellator on 8/28, headlined by Melvin Guillard vs. Brandon Girtz, drew 666,000 viewers, which is right at their average for a non-major event. Considering the name value of the show was below average, I guess that’s good.

Smackdown on 8/27 did a 1.62 rating and 2.20 million viewers (1.45 viewers per home), which would be the fourth lowest audience the show has done on Syfy when airing first-run in its normal time slot. The show trailed the July 4, 2014, episode which had the excuse of the date (1.88 million viewers), the 7/16 episode from this year (2.15 million) and the 8/13 episode (2.08 million). The show was sixth for the night on cable, which included the Little League World Series on ESPN that did 2.43 million viewers.

TNA Impact on 8/26 did 279,000 viewers at 9 p.m., and the replay at midnight did 83,000 viewers. The combined 362,000 viewers was down nine percent from the prior week.

ROH on 8/26 did 149,000 viewers, which is what the show is doing just about every week with one show airing in the 11 p.m. time slot.

A real bad sign is that both TNA and ROH both had an median viewership age that night of 57.

The UFC on 8/26 on FS 1 drew 79,000 viewers for UFC Tonight at 8 p.m., 82,000 viewers on 9:30 p.m. for Ultimate Answers and 155,000 viewers at 10 p.m. for a replay of the first Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson fight.

The final episode of the Tough Enough season on 8/25 only did 981,000 viewers, which has to be a disappointment. It was essentially flat from the previous week.

Total Divas on 8/25 did 920,000 viewers, an 11 percent drop from the prior week.

Some notes on DVR viewership of the main wrestling shows for last week. Raw on 8/24 had 473,000 viewers watch over the next three days on DVR (88.7% live/11.3% delayed), Impact had 47,000 (85.6% live/14.4% delayed) and Smackdown had 288,000 (88.4% live/11.6% delayed).



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RESULTS

 

8/24 Puebla (CMLL): Astro & Asturiano & Stukita b Ares & Espiritu Maligno & Sauron, Comandante & Tiffany & Zeuxis b Estrellita & Lluvia & Marcela, Brazo de Plata & La Mascara & Maximo b Barbaro Cavernario & Felino & Mr. Niebla-DQ, Euforia & Niebla Roja & Ultimo Guerrero b La Sombra & Valiente & Volador Jr., Mexican national light heavyweight title: Atlantis b Mephisto to win title

8/25 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Apocalipsis & Espanto Jr. b Bengala & Robin, Astral & Electrico & Shockercito b Demus 3:16 & Mercurio & Pierrothito, Hombre Bala Jr. & Starman & Super Halcon Jr. b Cancerbero & Nitro & Raziel-DQ, Zeuxis b Dark Angel, Barbaro Cavernario & El Terrible & Rey Bucanero b Angel de Oro & Fuego & Triton, La Mascara & Maximo & Titan b Gran Guerrero & Kamaitachi & Ultimo Guerrero-DQ

8/26 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Seadlinning - 855): Takumi Inoue b Eri, Kyoko Inoue d Syuri, Kaori Yoneyama & Mizuki b Tsubasa Fujimoto & Sareee, Yumiko Hotta & Manami Toyota & Kotori b Emi Sakura & Hiroyo Matsumoto & Arisa Nakajima, Ayako Hamada & Nanae Takahashi b Amazing Kong (Awesome Kong) & Meiko Satomura

8/27 Tampa (WWE NXT): Apollo Crews b Tucker Knight, Riddick Moss b Dino Sarnitelli, Dana Brooke & Nia Jax b Peyton Royce & Billie Kay, Jason Jordan & Chad Gable b Angelo Dawkins & Sawyer Fulton, Non-title: Finn Balor b Tye Dillinger, Samoa Joe b Tyler Breeze, Women’s title: Bayley b Emma, Tag titles: Aiden English & Simon Gotch b Blake & Murphy

8/27 Kanazawa (Dragon Gate - 850 sellout): Shachihoko Boy d Draztick Boy, Masato Yoshino & Akira Tozawa b T-Hawk & Gamma, Shingo Takagi b Kzy, Cima & Flamita b Naruki Doi & Mondai Ryu, Yamato & Cyber Kong b Genki Horiguchi & Naoki Tanizaki, BxB Hulk & Masaaki Mochizuki & Dragon Kid b Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kanda & K-Ness

8/28 Fort Myers, FL (WWE - 6,000): No DQ: Dolph Ziggler b Rusev, Jimmy Uso b The Miz, Charlotte & Paige & Becky Lynch b Sasha Banks & Naomi & Tamina Snuka, Tyler Breeze b Baron Corbin, Dean Ambrose b Kevin Owens, Jack Swagger b Adam Rose, Tag titles: Big E & Kofi Kingston b Titus O’Neil & Darren Young, WWE & U.S. title: John Cena b Seth Rollins-DQ

8/28 Temecula, CA (Bellator MMA): A.J. Matthews b Emiliano Sordi, Brent Primus b Derek Anderson, Ilima Mac Farlane b Maria Rios, A.J. McKee b James Barnes, Curtis Millender b Steven Ciaccio, Adrienna Jenkins b Lissette Neri, Luc Bondle b Ray Sloan, Johnny Cisneros b Gabriel Miglioli, Marloes Coenen b Arlene Blencowe, Justin Wren b Josh Burns, Patricky Pitbull Freire b Saad Awad, Brandon Girtz b Melvin Guillard

8/28 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 10,000): Pegasso & Stigma b Arkangel de la Muerte & El Hijo del Signo, Rey Cometa & Stuka Jr. & The Panther b Misterioso Jr. & Pierroth & Sagrado, Blue Panther Jr. & Canelo Casas & Delta & Guerrero Maya Jr. & Negro Casas b Bobby Zavala & Disturbio & Esfinge & Flyer & Virus, Dragon Lee & Marco Corleone & Valiente b Ephesto & Mephisto & Rey Escorpion, Dr. Wagner Jr. & La Sombra & Rush b Atlantis & L.A. Park & Volador Jr.

8/28 Cocoa Beach, FL (WWE NXT): Apollo Crews b Elias Samson, Steve Cutler b Riddick Moss, Dana Brooke & Emma b Peyton Royce & Billie Kay, Tye Dillinger b Noah Kekoa, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady b Angelo Dawkins & Sawyer Fulton, Women’s title: Bayley b Nia Jax, Tag titles: Aiden English & Simon Gotch b Jason Jordan & Chad Gable, NXT title: Finn Balor b Solomon Crowe

8/28 Harrisburg, PA (Global Force Wrestling - 250): Pat Buck b Dirty Money, Pepper Parks b Kevin Matthews, Kimber Lee b Cherry Bomb, Eddie Smooth won over BLK Jeez and Sonjay Dutt, Chris Mordetzky b Brian Myers, Handicap match: Doc Gallows b Ali Akbar & Seiya Sanada

8/29 San Juan, PR (WWE - 13,000): IC title: Ryback b Big Show, Cesaro b Bo Dallas, Natalya b Emma, Neville b Stardust, Chris Jericho b Luke Harper, Randy Orton b Sheamus, R-Truth b Heath Slater, Los Matadores b Sin Cara & Kalisto, Street fight: Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt

8/29 Orlando (WWE - 6,500): Dean Ambrose b Kevin Owens, Jimmy Uso b Baron Corbin, Charlotte & Paige & Becky Lynch b Sasha Banks & Naomi & Tamina Snuka, No DQ: Dolph Ziggler b Rusev, Jack Swagger b Tyler Breeze, Tag titles: Big E & Xavier Woods b Titus O’Neil & Darren Young, WWE title: John Cena b Seth Rollins-DQ

8/29 Tokyo Sumo Hall (IGF - 5,250): Shogun Okamoto b Keisuke Okuda, Kendo Ka Shin & Wang Bin b Knux & Tyrus, Hideki Suzuki b Shinichi Suzukawa, Daichi Hashimoto b Shinya Aoki, Kazuyuki Fujita b Atsushi Sawada, Kiuma Kunioku b Edmond Kaneko, Justin Willis b Rizvan Kuriev, Satoshi Ishii b William Penn, Fernando Rodrigues Jr. b Yosef Ali Mohammad, Oli Thompson b Chris Barnatt

8/29 Atlanta (ROH - 1,000): Mike Posey b Slim J, Cedric Alexander b Corey Hollis, Michael Bennett & Matt Taven b Will Ferrara & Takaaki Watanabe, Michael Elgin b Adam Page-COR, Hanson & Raymond Rowe b ACH & Matt Sydal, Mark Briscoe b Romantic Touch, Roderick Strong b Caprice Coleman, Jay Briscoe b Moose-DQ, Jay Briscoe & Moose b Cedric Alexander & Adam Page, Adam Cole & Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly b Jay Lethal & Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian

8/29 Fort Pierce, FL (WWE NXT): Mojo Rawley b Angelo Dawkins, Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder b Elias Samson & Tucker Knight, Riddick Moss b Sawyer Fulton, Dana Brooke & Nia Jax b Peyton Royce & Billie Kay, Apollo Crews b Tye Dillinger, Women’s title: Bayley b Carmella, Solomon Crowe b Alexander Wolfe, Aiden English & Simon Gotch & Jasmin b Blake & Murphy & Alexa Bliss

8/29 Richmond, VA (Global Force Wrestling - 250): Pat Buck b Dirty Money, Pepper Parks b Kevin Matthews, Kimber Lee b Cherry Bomb, Sonjay Dutt b BLK Jeez, Chris Mordetzky b Brian Myers, Handicap match: Doc Gallows b Ali Akbar & Seiya Sanada

8/29 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (All Japan - 1,385): Takashi Sasaki & Toru Sugiura b Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi, Kenso b Masao Inoue, Akebono & Yutaka Yoshie b Shuji Ishikawa & Ryuji Hijikata, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Yohei Nakajima b Masa Fuchi & Coconuts Sabro, Zeus & The Bodyguard & Shigehiro Irie b Suwama & Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato. Jr. Title: Kotaro Suzuki b Ultimo Dragon, World tag title: Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara b Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori

8/29 Gifu (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 285): Super Crazy b Shiro Tomoyose, Mohammed Yone & Yoshinari Ogawa b Mikey Nicholls & Captain NOAH, Atsushi Kotoge & Quiet Storm b Akitoshi Saito & Hitoshi Kumano, Naomichi Marufuji & Katsuhiko Nakajima & Taiji Ishimori b Kenou & Hajime Ohara & Mitsuhiro Kitamiya, Yoshihiro Takayama & Maybach Taniguchi b Takashi Iizuka & Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Taichi & Taka Michinoku b Takashi Sugiura & Daisuke Harada & Genba Hirayanagi

8/29 Omuta (Dragon Gate - 600): Lindaman d Shachihoko Boy, Ryo Saito & K-Ness b T-Hawk & Kzy, Shingo Takagi b Genki Horiguchi, Flamita & Draztick Boy b cima & Eita, Masato Yoshino & Akira Tozawa b Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kanda, BxB Hulk & Masaaki Mochizuki & Dragon Kid b Naruki Doi & Yamato & Mondai Ryu

8/29 Blackpool, England (Preston City Wrestling - 1,200/free show): Viper & Ken Anderson b Ryan Smile & Damian Dunne, Mickie James b Toni Storm, Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards b Martin Kirby & Joey Hayes, Dave Mastiff b Nick Aldis, Lionheart b Sha Samuels-DQ, Noam Dar b Ashton Smith, Dave rayne b Gilligan Gordon, Ken Anderson & Brian Christopher & Scotty 2 Hotty b Bubblegum & Rampage Brown & Leslyn Rees

8/30 Daytona Beach (WWE - 4,000): Dolph Ziggler b Rusev, Jimmy Uso b Tyler Breeze, Paige & Charlotte & Becky Lynch b Naomi & Sasha Banks & Tamina Snuka, Dean Ambrose b Kevin Owens, Jack Swagger b Baron Corbin, Tag titles: Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston b Titus O’Neil & Darren Young, WWE title: John Cena b Seth Rollins-DQ

8/30 Tallahassee, FL (WWE - 7,000): IC title: Ryback b Big Show, Cesaro b Bo Dallas, Natalya b Emma, Chris Jericho b Luke Harper, Randy Orton b Sheamus, Neville b Stardust, R-Truth b Heath Slater, Sin Cara & Kalisto b Los Matadores, Street fight: Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt

8/30 Fukuoka (Dragon Gate - 1,800): Lindaman & Kaito Ishida b Shachihoko Boy & Takehiro Yamamura, Masato Yoshino & Akira Tozawa & Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa b Don Fujii & Mondai Ryu & Punch Tominaga, Cyber Kong b Yosuke Santa Maria, Eita & Kotoka b Kzy & Big R Shimizu, Cima & Gamma & Flamita b Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito & Jimmy Kanda, BxB Hulk & Masaaki Mochizuki & Dragon Kid b Jimmy Susumu & Naoki Tanizaki & K-Ness, Open the Win Gate titles: Naruki Doi & Yamato b Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk, Cima & Masato Yoshino & Akira Tozawa & T-Hawk & Shachihoko Boy b Shingo Takagi & Naruki Doi & Yamato & Eita & Kotoka

8/30 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 3,500): Leono & Sensei b Camorra & Cholo, Amapola & Dallys & Seductora b Vaquerita & Lluvia & Skadi, Fuego & The Panther & Triton b Puma & Sangre Azteca & Tiger-DQ, Angel de Oro & Rey Cometa & Titan b Nitro & Olimpico & Ripper, CMLL lightweight title: Dragon Lee b Kamaitachi, La Sombra & Brazo de Plata & Valiente b Mr. Niebla & Shocker & Vangellys

8/30 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Wrestle 1 - 1,231): Hiroshi Yamato & Seiki Yoshioka b Hiroki Murose & Shotaro Ashino, Ryota Hama b Koji Doi, Shuji Kondo b Kazma Sakamoto, Manabu Soya b Jiro Kuroshio AKIRA & Kumagoro & Andy Wu won three-way over Kai & Minoru Tanaka & Yasufumi Nakanoue and Masayuki Kono & Nosawa & Mazada, Great Muta & Great Kabuki & Tajiri b Shiro Koshinaka & Men’s Teioh & Kaz Hayashi, Manabu Soya b Shuji Kondo

8/30 Hamamatsu(Pro Wrestling NOAH - 432): Atsushi Kotoge b Shiro Tomoyose, Katsuhiko Nakajima b Quiet Storm, Mikey Nicholls & Captain NOAH b Akitoshi Saito & Yoshinari Ogawa, Naomichi Marufuji & Mohammed Yone & Taiji Ishimori & Hitoshi Kumano b Kenou & Hajime Ohara & Super Crazy & Mitsuhiro Kitamiya, Takashi Iizuka & Taka Michinoku b Maybach Taniguchi & Genba Hirayanagi, Takashi Sugiura & Yoshihiro Takayama & Daisuke Harada b Minoru Suzuki & Taichi & Desperado

8/31 Tampa (WWE Raw/Superstars TV tapings - 9,000): R-Truth b Adam rose, Neville & Sin Cara & Kalisto b Stardust & The Ascension, Dolph Ziggler b Rusev-DQ, Becky Lynch b Alicia Fox, IC title: Ryback b Big Show, Charlotte b Brie Bella, Kevin Owens b Cesaro, Braun Strowman b Dean Ambrose-DQ, Paige d Sasha Banks, Non-title: Dudleys b Big E & Kofi Kingston, John Cena & Randy Orton b Seth Rollins & Sheamus

8/31 Tehuacan, Mexico (AAA TV tapings): Gran Apache & Hiedra & Black Mamba b Ludxor & Nino Hamburguesa & Fabi Apache, Australian Suicide & Super Nova & Venum b Carta Brava Jr. & Machine Rocker & Super Fly, Aero Star & Argenis & Bengala b Daga & El Hijo del Pirata Morgan & Steve Pain, Dark Cuervo & Dark Escoria won three-way over Angelico & Jack Evans and Joe Lider & Pentagon Jr., Latin American title: Psycho Clown b Chessman to win title, Mesias & Myzteziz b Rey Mysterio Jr. & Fenix

8/31 Puebla (CMLL - 4,000): Marcela & Skadi & Vaquerita b Seductora & Tiffany & Zeuxis, Kamaitachi & Morphosis & Okumura b Delta & Guerrero Maya Jr. & Stigma, Blue Panther & Brazo de Plata & Stuka Jr. b Kraneo & Olimpico & Ripper, Marco Corleone & La Mascara & Maximo b Negro Casas & Mr. Niebla & Shocker-DQ, NWA historic middleweight title: Ultimo Guerrero b La Sombra to win title

9/1 Miami (WWE Smackdown/Main Event TV tapings): Zack Ryder b Heath Slater, Kevin Owens b Jack Swagger, Adam Rose b Fandango, Paige & Becky Lynch b Sasha Banks & Naomi, Dudleys b Titus O’Neil & Darren Young, Sheamus b Cesaro, Bo Dallas b R-Truth, Charlotte b Tamina Snuka, Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose b Big E & Kofi Kingston-DQ, Street fight: Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt

9/1 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Molotov & Sensei b Camorra & Espanto Jr.-DQ, Astral & Electrico & Shockercito b Demus 3:16 & Mercurio & Pierrothito, Dark Angel & Estrellita & Princesa Sugei b Amapola & Dallys & Zeuxis, The Panther b Okumura, Blue Panther & Titan & Triton b Dragon Rojo & Felino & Sangre Azteca, Maximo & Mistico & Rush b Euforia & Gran Guerrero & Niebla Roja

CMLL: With Dark Angel (Sarah Stock) announcing this past week she was leaving the promotion, the plans were for her final appearance to be on the 9/18 Anniversary show, in a singles match. What is unique about Angel leaving is that with almost everyone who leaves CMLL, there is bitterness and for the most part the idea is they’ll never be allowed back. But with her, perhaps because she was up front about things, she’s leaving on very good terms. She was promised a farewell singles match on the 9/18 Anniversary show. The anniversary show, due to the Atlantis vs. La Sombra match, is expected to do a $1 million gate, roughly the same as last year’s record set by Atlantis vs. Ultimo Guerrero. The mentality now is that the days of drawing big crowds multiple times per week in Mexico City are over. Instead of looking at big weekly business, the idea is to build four major shows per year and jack up the prices and look at those shows to carry the business for the entire year. Stock had a lot of press regarding her announcement on 8/26 that she was leaving. She was also very popular with the Mexican press. Originally from Winnipeg, she started wrestling in early 2002 for Top Rope Championship Wrestling in Manitoba. She moved to Mexico in 2003 because she felt she would be able to get regular work and improve her skills. She started as the masked Dark Angel in Monterrey, winning that circuit’s women’s title, but lost her mask to Princesa Sugei on April 2, 2004, in Monterrey. While she remained based in Mexico, living in Mexico City since 2004, she has worked all over the world. She even went to OVW briefly when it was a WWE developmental territory, but didn’t get signed. She started in late 2004 in CMLL, and her popularity, as much with the press as the fans, led to CMLL booking women on a regular basis instead of just rarely as an attraction. After making a name for herself in Mexico, she was recommended by Mike Tenay, who had seen her in matches in CMLL, to TNA, when TNA was looking to expand its womens division. She had a few tryout matches and became a regular in 2009 as Sarita, of the tag team of Rosita (Thea Trinidad) & Sarita. She worked regularly in TNA through 2012, before she was released. She was also well known for bodybuilding, as she won the women’s division in CMLL’s annual bodybuilding contest open to the wrestlers in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014

The return of Dr. Wagner Jr. and L.A. Park to CMLL after seven years drew just over 10,000 fans to Arena Mexico on 8/29, the biggest crowd for a non-major show in recent memory. Wagner Jr., working as a heel, teamed with La Sombra & Rush to beat Park & Volador Jr. & Atlantis in the main event when Sombra pulled off Atlantis’ mask and Atlantis covered up and lost to protect his face, while Wagner gave Park a low blow and pinned him after a Wagner (Michinoku) driver. The match was said to have super heat. The match focused on Rush vs. Park and Atlantis vs. Sombra. Dragon Lee & Marco Corleone & Valiente beat Ephesto & Mephisto & Rey Escorpion in what was said to be a great semifinal match. They also had the Busca en un Idolo “Pro Bowl” match (after the finals they have the anti-climactic bout where the coaches and all the wrestlers do an elimination match). Negro Casas’ team of Casas (who was back working a few weeks after his torn pec) & Guerrero Maya Jr. & Delta & Canelo Casas & Blue Panther Jr. beat Virus’ team of Virus & Flyer & Esfinge & Disturbio & Bobby Zavala, when Maya Jr. pinned Zavala after a brainbuster when they were the last two left

Park is really heavy, and when asked, said he weighed 291 pounds. Park also said he’s not back in CMLL full-time. The feeling is that Park and Wagner are there to help build things up through the Anniversary show on 9/18, but won’t be around much after that. Still, this was a step taken by CMLL that it had never taken in the past. Park said he’s back only to take Rush’s hair, and he thinks that he should be the main event of the Anniversary show because he against Rush is a bigger match than Atlantis against Sombra. It isn’t. By the way, while not announced, the belief is that the Anniversary show will stream live, but that it won’t be announced until the last minute so as to not hurt live ticket sales

Park said that the crowd on Friday showed and he and Wagner are the biggest stars but he thinks Wagner is a sellout for pandering tot he fans and being friendly with Los Ingobernales

Mistico has been chosen for the cast of “Si Se Puede,” a reality show that airs on TV Azteca in Mexico and Telemundo in the U.S. The show has celebrities that each week have to do different forms of entertainment, like magic, dancing and things like that

The 9/4 Arena Mexico show has Wagner Jr. & Sombra vs. Atlantis & Park, plus Mistico & Valiente & Volador Jr. vs. Cavernario Barbaro & Mr. Niebla & Casas

Ultimo Guerrero beat Sombra on 8/31 in Puebla to win the NWA middleweight title before a nearly packed house of 4,000 fans. It’s a surprise result seeing Sombra lose his title a few weeks before he’s headlining the anniversary show

Atlantis beat Mephisto on 8/24 in Puebla to capture the Mexican national light heavyweight title, winning the third fall via submission with the torture rack

Dragon Lee retained the CMLL lightweight title over Kamaitachi on 8/30 at Arena Mexico, continuing their series of what may be the best singles matches in the promotion. Fans were throwing money in the ring after that match.

AAA: I’m not sure what this exactly means, but at press time we were told by someone with full knowledge of the situation than any hope for AAA to do another PPV show in the U.S. and Canada was dashed over this past week

The tour with Rey Mysterio Jr. and Alberto El Patron in Bolivia last week was a success. They had a nearly full house in La Paz. The fans there watch Lucha Underground, AAA and WWE and when they arrived at 2 a.m. there were 200 fans at the airport, including a bus that came in from Peru and another from Chile. The weird back story is that about six years ago, a promoter brought in a fake Rey Mysterio Jr. and he went on a talk show and the host noticed the tattoos didn’t match up and it became a scandal. Well, that promoter tried to claim that this show, promoted by a rival promoter, had a fake Mysterio coming. Two members of the Garza family were also on the tour and they may end up in AAA as they looked impressive. Humberto Garza III is 22-years-old, who is the son of Hector Garza’s sister. He wrestles and looks like Hector. Ultimate Ninja is 19-years-old, and he’s the son of Humberto Jr., who is Hector’s older brother, and he’s said to be fantastic

They taped TV on 8/31 in Tehuacan. We don’t have a lot of notes on the show other than it sold out, and that Psycho Clown beat Chessman to win the Latin American heavyweight title, winning with the Canadian Destroyer. The main event saw Mesias & Myzteziz beating Mysterio Jr. & Fenix when Mesias pinned Fenix after a splash off the top. Myzteziz had good heat. There were also two good undercard trios matches with Argenis & Aero Star & Bengala over Daga & Steve Pain & El Hijo de Pirata Morgan, and Australian Suicide & Super Nova & Venum over Super Fly & Carta Brava Jr. & Machine Rocker

They announced a 9/20 show in Monterrey headlined by Rey Mysterio Jr. & La Parka vs. Brian Cage & Myzteziz, The Psycho Circus vs. Cibernetico & El Texano Jr. & El Hijo del Fantasma, Angelico & Jack Evans vs. Daga & Steve Pain vs. Joe Lider & Pentagon Jr

A number of AAA wrestlers competed in the Mr. Mexico Luchador bodybuilding contest on 8/29 in Mexico City. In the under 187 pound weight class, Daga won, with Mini Charly Manson second. In the over 187 pound class, El Hijo del Fantasma placed second, Cibernetico placed fourth and referee Copetes Salazar placed seventh. Taya Valkyrie won the women’s contest, which may have only been a two woman contest with Sexy Lady as the other participant.

WRESTLE-1: They ran a major show on 8/30 at Korakuen Hall before 1,231 fans, built around the final four in a tournament to crown the top contender for Kai’s Wrestle-1 world title. Manabu Soya beat Shuji Kondo in the finals in 20:42 with a lariat. Soya had beaten Jiro Kuroshio with a lariat in 13:22 and Kondo pinned Kazma Sakamoto in 10:44 with a lariat due to distraction by Masayuki Kono. The Kai vs. Soya match headlines the 9/21 show at Korakuen Hall. The big attraction match was the three generation of green mist trio of Great Kabuki (who owns a steak house now far from Korakuen Hall) & Great Muta & Tajiri beat Shiro Koshinaka & Men’s Teioh & Kaz Hayashi when Muta pinned Hayashi with a shining wizard. After the match, Muta & Kabuki & Tajiri talked about Genichiro Tenryu. Tenryu will be doing one of his last shows for this group on the 9/21 show.

DRAGON GATE: The two blocks were announced for the Summer Adventure Tag League, which starts on 9/5 in Okinawa. The A block has Naruki Doi & Yamato, Jimmy Susumu & K-Ness, Dragon Kid & Flamita, BxB Hulk & Kzy and Eita & Kotoka. The B block has Cima & Gamma, Masato Yoshino & Akira Tozawa, Don Fujii & Ryo Saito, Shingo Takagi & Cyber Kong and T-Hawk & Big R Shimizu. The tournament matches on the 9/9 show at Korakuen Hall, has Dragon Kid & Flamita vs. Hulk & Kzy, Cima & Gamma vs. Fujii & Saito and Yamato & Doi vs. Susumu & K-Ness. The semifinals and finals will be on 9/27 in Kobe

Yamato & Doi retained the Open the Twin Gate titles on the 8/30 show in Fukuoka, which drew 1,800 fans. They beat Takagi & T-Hawk when Yamato pinned T-Hawk after Takagi turned on him. Everyone destroyed T-Hawk after the match, including former partners Eita and Kotoka who joined in. The whole idea is to get fans from booing T-Hawk (he’s this company’s version of Roman Reigns in the sense he was the chosen one this year as the best young worker in the company, but the crowd crapped on him ascension). He took a chair shot and bled all over the place. Yoshino, Tozawa Cima an Shachihoko Boy all made the save. This led to an impromptu ten-man tag team match where Yoshino & Tozawa & Shachihoko Boy & Cima & T-Hawk beat Yamato & Doi & Takagi & Eita & Kotoka, when Shimizu interfered to help T-Hawk pin Eita.

ALL JAPAN: They had two title matches headlining the 8/29 show at Korakuen Hall, which drew 1,385 fans. The tag title match was said to be super with Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara retaining the world tag titles beating Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori in 25:12 when Shiozaki pinned Akiyama after a lariat. In the jr. title match, Kotaro Suzuki pinned Ultimo Dragon in 16:12 with a Tiger driver

Zeus, who has been working here regularly as a free agent, has signed a full-time deal that went into effect on 9/1

The 16-man Open tournament starts on 9/10 at Korakuen Hall. First round matches include Zeus vs. Yuji Hino, Omori vs. Shuji Ishikawa and Shiozaki vs. Akiyama. Other first round matches are 9/12 in Osaka with jr. champ Suzuki vs. Atsushi Aoki and Akebono vs. The Bodyguard. On 9/13 in Takamatsu, Yoshinobu Kanemaru faces Kenso and Suwama faces Hikaru Sato, who is one of his usual regular tag partners. The final first round match is 9/16 in Ehime with Miyahara vs. Yutaka Yoshie. Shiozaki has said that he wants to meet tag partner Miyahara in the finals, saying they would put on the best match possible

Taru & Yasshi will return on the 10/4 show in Tokyo in a tag match against Suwama & Atsushi Aoki.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: The match set up on the 8/22 ROH show in Brooklyn, The Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) defending the GHC tag titles against War Machine (Hanson & Rowe), takes place on the 9/19 show in Osaka. War Machine won a non-title match on the ROH card. Their ROH match was said to be good but it’ll be tougher here because people don’t know War Machine at all in Japan and even though the non-title win in the U.S. makes sense logic-wise to build the match, it’s not like the NOAH fans saw it. Plus, the heat is the Suzuki-gun guys holding the NOAH belts and the idea would be for NOAH guys to win them back as opposed to outsider vs. outsider type of deal. The show is headlined by Minoru Suzuki vs. Takashi Sugiura for the GHC heavyweight title, which has the makings of a great match given the styles of the two. They also have Taichi vs. Daisuke Harada for the jr. title, Maybach Taniguchi vs. Takashi Iizuka in a match with no DQ and no count outs, and three junior heavyweight tag team tournament matches with Super Crazy & Hitoshi Kumano vs. Buffalo & Billy Ken Kid, Yoshinari Ogawa & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Taiji Ishimori & Masamune and Desperado & Taka Michinoku vs. Kudo & Kota Umeda. Harada is one of the most underrated wrestlers around, but Taichi isn’t the easiest guy to have a good match with, but he’s an effective outsider heel

For the NTV G+ junior heavyweight tag team tournament, the A block teams are Desperado & Michinoku, Ogawa & Sabre Jr., Genba Hirayanagi & Captain NOAH, Ishimori & Masamune and Kudo & Kota Umeda (from DDT). The B block teams are Kenou & Hajime Ohara, Atsushi Kotoge & Harada, Crazy & Kumano, Shiori Asahi & Kaji Tomato (from K-Dojo) and Buffalo & Billy Ken Kid (free agents who came from the old Osaka Pro Wrestling group). The opening night on 9/5 at Differ Ariake in Tokyo has Crazy & Kumano vs. Asahi & Tomato, Kenou & Ohara vs. Kotoge & Harada and Michinoku & Desperado vs. Hirayanagi & NOAH. The biggest shows are 9/14 at Korakuen Hall and 9/19 in Osaka. The finals are 9/22 at Korakuen Hall with Kotoge & Harada vs. Buffalo & Billy Ken Kid, Kenou & Ohara vs. Asahi & Tomato, Hirayanagi & NOAH vs. Ishimori & Masamune and Desperado & Michinoku vs. Ogawa & Sabre Jr.

NEW JAPAN: If Hiroshi Tanahashi main events the Tokyo Dome on 1/4, it will be his 10th Tokyo Dome main event. Keiji Muto and Shinsuke Nakamura each have eight and Shinya Hashimoto, Kensuke Sasaki and Nobuhiko Takada have seven

The 10/12 show at Sumo Hall headlined by Kazuchika Okada vs. A.J. Styles is selling briskly this far out

Jax Dane won the NWA heavyweight title from Hiroyoshi Tenzan on 8/29 in San Antonio for the NWA Branded Outlaw Wrestling promotion. Dane has been here before as both the bodyguard type as well as tag team partner for Rob Conway when he brought the NWA title here.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: The Inoki Genome Federation ran Sumo Hall on 8/29, drawing 5,250 fans, for combination worked and shoot show. Satoshi Ishii won a shoot match over William Penn in 3:07 with a choke sleeper. In the tournament for their world title, Oli Thompson beat Chris Barnatt via decision in one bout and Fernando Rodrigues Jr. beat Yosef Ali Mohammad in 1:39 in the other. One champion Shinya Aoki did a pro wrestling match, losing to Shinya Hashimoto’s son Daichi via armbar in 6:09

A new women’s promotion called Seadlinnng debuted on 8/26 at Korakuen Hall before 855 fans, using stars from the end of the All Japan women’s era like Manami Toyota, Kyoko Inoue, Nanae Takahashi and Yumiko Hotta plus more recent stars like Meiko Satomura, Ayako Hamada, Hiroyo Matsumoto and Emi Sakura, as well as TNA’s Awesome Kong as Amazing Kong

Joey Ryan is headed to DDT this month

Tommy Dreamer and Sabu will be working a 10/10 show in Tokyo at Shinkiba for Nosawa.

HERE AND THERE: Regarding last week’s mention of the movie “Crossface,” according to one of the producers, the mention on Liev Schrebier playing Chris Benoit in the movie was “premature” and not the case as of now, but the movie is still happening. The story of Schrebier playing the lead role broke a few years ago, but were denied at the time, and resurfaced last week. According to one person originally involved in the project, they hadn’t heard anything about it in years and noted that originally it was going to be based on Irv Muchnick’s book on the Benoit case until it changed to Matt Randazzo’s book. Randazzo is one of the producers of the proposed movie

A note on the Verne Gagne title history in last week’s issue. The world title in Montreal that Gagne held was never called the AWA title. Paul Bowser, the previous promoter, called his world championship the AWA title. But by the time Gagne won it, Eddie Quinn was the promoter and it was called the world heavyweight title, or sometimes the Montreal Athletic Commission world heavyweight title since 1939 or so

The Oxford dictionary of the English language this year added the word “Kayfabe.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League retired the No. 68 jersey of Angelo Mosca this past weekend. This got a ton of press in Ontario and aired nationally in Canada. Mosca was the most famous player in the history of the franchise and later a top babyface for Maple Leaf Wrestling as the Canadian heavyweight champion. Mosca played from 1958 to 1972 with the Tiger-Cats, during a period where they went to the Grey Cup finals nine times, including winning four times. He had started wrestling late in his football career through Stu Hart, and then went full-time into wrestling after retiring from football and was a headliner everywhere he went, with his best success coming in Ontario. He has been working as an ambassador for the team, and is currently battling the onset of Alzheimer’s

Global Force Wrestling ran on 8/28 in Harrisburg, PA, drawing about 250 fans to the local minor league baseball field. Longtime indie wrestler and promoter Pat Buck pinned Dirty Money. To make Buck the babyface, he was announced as being from Harrisburg. The next night, in Richmond, VA, he was announced as being from Richmond. Pepper Parks pinned Kevin Matthews with the back stabber. Jeff Jarrett came out for an interview. He was interviewed by Brandon Baxter, who said that GFW was all about presenting pro wrestling the way it used to be. That was Jim Cornette’s catch phrase when he formed Smoky Mountain Wrestling some 23 years ago, “Wrestling as it used to be and as you like it.” They announced Karl Anderson wasn’t there due to travel issues. Anderson had been taken off the shows earlier in the week. Ali Akbar (Mohammed Ali Vaez from OVW) and Seiya Sanada came out and Akbar cut a promo building up the new main event which was Akbar & Sanada vs. Doc Gallows, with wife Amber in his corner, in a handicap match. Kimber Lee beat Cherry Bomb with the alligator clutch. Eddie Smooth won a three-way over Sonjay Dutt and BLK Jeez when Smooth pinned Jeez after an elbow drop. That was said to be the best match on the show. Chris Mordetzky beat Brian Myers with the masterlock submission. Mordetzky was the show’s only heel win, but the fans were cheering him anyway since he was the one of the few guys on the card that the fans knew. Kevin Nash came out and said he was passing the torch from the NWO to the Bullet Club. The NWO hasn’t had a torch to pass that means anything since early 1999, and torches are supposed to be passed when a legend does a clean job on a big show main event for a new person being groomed to carry the company for years. Then, the only Bullet Club guy on the show, Gallows, beat Akbar & Sanada in a handicap match. Gallows was being double-teamed when Jarrett came out and gave Gallows a baseball bat (not even a guitar) and he used it on Akbar for the pin. They did pretty much the same show in Richmond, VA, the next night, and even more a lot more local publicity, they still only drew 250 fans. Jarrett and Nash helped Gallows in the same handicap match main event

The reason they were in Richmond but didn’t use Nick Aldis and Mickie James, who live in Richmond, is because they were booked on a show that day in the U.K. for Preston City Wrestling in Blackpool on 8/29. It was the first time Preston City Wrestling booked a show outside of Preston. The Blackpool Council bought the show, similar to some of the government purchased shows that AAA did over the past year, and then made it free to attend. There were about 1,200 fans in a 3,000 seat arena, which is the same Blackpool arena that NXT is running in on 12/13. Besides Aldis and James, appearing on the show from the U.S. were Ken Anderson, Eddie Edwards, Davey Richards, and Brian Christopher & Scotty 2 Hotty as Too Cool

FOX has a television drama series based on pro wrestling in development undergoing script revisions

Elliot Maron, known as Professor Elliot in the Northeast, passed away on 8/27 at his apartment in Brooklyn. He was 64. Maron was a fan who got his break hosting a radio wrestling talk show in New York in the early 70s that was super popular in its era. He later worked for the WWWF. He would take tapes of the shows to the television stations, sometimes did ring announcing at spot shows and was notable as being the ring attendant for years in Madison Square Garden where he’d take guys ring jackets to the back. He had been found unconscious in his apartment due to a drop in his blood sugar which had caused a diabetic coma, which led to a fatal heart attack. Maron had been in poor health for some time. He did the Monday Night Wrestling radio show on WHBI-FM in New York in the early 70s, which aired after midnight but had a huge following. I remember it being almost impossible to call in because the lines were jammed because wrestling was so popular and there was no other outlet in the city, or for that matter the country, to talk the subject. It was a big deal because in those days, the Madison Square Garden shows were often on Mondays so they’d cover the show right after it ended and then go over the next month’s lineup, that would be announced at the show. Maron was friends with Ernie Roth, the Grand Wizard, as well as Lou Sahadi, who wrote for wrestling magazines. Sahadi introduced him to Vince McMahon Sr. He said that he did ring announcing at small shows, carried guys ring jackets to the back every month at the Garden as well as other area shows, was the timekeeper, sold programs and claimed he even babysat Shane and Stephanie McMahon. In 1987, he suffered an auto accident, which ended up being the luckiest break because while in the hospital they found a huge tumor in his brain, most of which was removed in surgery. But he started having serious health problems, including suffering from diabetes. His right leg, from the knee down, was amputated in 2007. He had since suffered several heart attacks, including one in March that left him bedridden for four months. For years he had been pretty well confined to his apartment in Brooklyn, with nothing but a television set and a phone as his connections to the outside world

Rey Mysterio Jr. will be doing talk shows in the U.K. with dates on 10/26 in London at Picadilly Circus and 10/28 in Manchester

Mysterio vs. Low Ki, a match that WWE had talked about doing when Low Ki started with the promotion the first time in 2009, will take place for the first time ever on the Jersey All Pro Wrestling show on 11/14 in Rahway, NJ. The original idea was for Low Ki to come in as a masked adversary of Mysterio, but it fell through when Mysterio was injured and they decided to just have him go as Low Ki

Jesse Neal, 35, announced on 829 at an In Your Face Wrestling show that he was retiring. He has announced retirements in the past. Neal was a former U.S. Navy serviceman who was on the USS Cole when a suicide bomber attacked. His best friend died in the attack. They both talked about becoming wrestlers so he was living his friends dream as well his own when he started training in 2007 with Team 3-D at their wrestling school. He progressed well and wrestled for TNA from 2009 to 2011, leaving the promotion when they wanted him to train at OVW in Louisville and he didn’t want to relocate. He’s worked indies ever since. He’s married to woman wrestler Brittany Savage and the couple has a child, and he’s cut back on bookings since his daughter was born last year. He also suffered several concussions in a short period of time as a pro wrestler. .. Somehow, probably because CMLL never found out about it and Lucha Underground is shut down for now, the UIPW in East Los Angeles were able to do a match where their champion, Volador Jr. of CMLL, worked a three-way title match with Mephisto of CMLL and Johnny Mundo, who works AAA. The politics are that AAA wouldn’t care about Mundo working a U.S. match against CMLL talent since he only does big occasional AAA shows, but CMLL usually freaks out about their guys working on shows with AAA talent, let alone in a match against one. Volador pinned Mephisto to retain the title

MVP will be working on 10/11 in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, against Xtreme Tiger (Tigre Uno of TNA)

The WWC’s 42nd anniversary will be shows on 9/26 in Bayamon at the Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum and 9/27 in Isabela. The main event will be Carlito vs. Mr. 450 Hammet in a cage of death (weapons match in a cage) for the Universal title, and Chicano vs. Apolo. Chicky Starr called someone from the U.S. to help him against La Revolucion and Orlando Toledo

J.J. Stokes, 42, who played from 1995 to 2002 with the San Francisco 49ers, including several years as a starting wide receiver, made his pro wrestling debut on 8/29 with the HoodSlam promotion in Alameda, CA, working a Battle Royal. Stokes also played with the New England Patriots in their Super Bowl winning 2003 season.

LUCHA UNDERGROUND: While no deal has been announced, negotiations are ongoing with Televisa, which would open up the show to the Mexico market and pretty much guarantee a second season.

ROH: The issues with transmission fees between the Sinclair Network and Dish were settled this past week

Cliff Compton suffered a seizure backstage before the 8/29 show in Atlanta. He was rushed to the hospital but was released later that night and was able to return home to Louisville the next day

The updated 9/18 PPV lineup from San Antonio is Silas Young vs. Dalton Castle with Young getting possession of The Boys if he wins, Cedric Alexander vs. Moose in a no DQ match, ACH vs. Matt Sydal in match three of a best-of-five series, Mark & Jay Briscoe vs. a mystery team, Michael Elgin vs. A.J. Styles vs. Roderick Strong vs. Adam Cole in a match where the winner gets an ROH title shot, Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian defend the tag titles in a three-way against Matt Taven & Michael Bennett and The Young Bucks, Jay Lethal vs. Bobby Fish for the TV title and Lethal vs. Kyle O’Reilly for the ROH title headlines

Stevie Richards did a surprise angle on the Atlanta show with Lethal. He came out and said that he had wanted to compete in ROH long ago, but never had the chance. But now, he’s happy to just watch. He talked about several ROH wrestlers he’d have loved to compete against. He never mentioned Lethal’s name, so Lethal came out and said he was disrespected by Richards since he’s got both singles titles. It ended up turning into a pull-apart brawl and Richards got the better of it. It was then announced Lethal vs. Richards would take place on 9/26 in Lockport, NY (near Buffalo), with no titles at stake, one week after the PPV show

Taelor Hendrix is also in with a new role as the second for Jay Lethal

Strong and Sydal both worked this show and Battle of Los Angeles. In the case of Sydal, he flew out at 4 a.m. Friday to Los Angeles and worked the show. By the time the show was over, it was nearly 1 a.m. Pacific time, which is 4 a.m. in Florida where he’s from so he was up 24 straight hours. Then the first thing the next morning he and Strong flew to Atlanta. Then on Sunday morning, they both flew back from Atlanta to Los Angeles

Over the weekend, I spoke to a few people who attended the ROH weekend shows and the WWE shows and saw everything, and to a person, they all said the best match of last weekend was the Strong vs. Kazuchika Okada match in Brooklyn, ahead of the Cena vs. Rollins, Strong vs. Lethal or Bayley vs. Banks matches that would have been the other contenders. I didn’t say either of the ROH matches, but I thought Cena vs. Rollins was pretty much phenomenal and Bayley vs. Banks was the best WWE women’s match I can ever recall

Reports were that the Atlanta show, which drew slightly more than 1,000 fans, was a great show. The number was good as the debut show in February drew 1,200, but that was also with A.J. Styles, who is local, returning to the market. Alexander pinned Corey Hollis in the opener. Bennett & Taven beat Will Ferrara & Takaaki Watanabe. Elgin beat Adam Page via count out. Elgin got a big pop which was described, considering how cold he had been, that it was from people who see him differently from the G-1 coverage. Elgin had Page pinned but B.J. Whitmer pulled him out of the ring to safety and he didn’t return. Whitmer, recovering from knee surgery, was in Page’s corner, and had four security guards with him, who were local indie wrestlers Fred Yehi, Jeremy Foster, Brian Blaze and Elijah Evans. Elgin laid out security after the match. Hanson & Raymond Rowe beat ACH & Sydal by pinning Sydal. Mark Briscoe beat Romantic Touch, who was the replacement for Compton. Strong pinned Caprice Coleman with the double knee gutbuster and sick kick. Jay Briscoe beat Moose via DQ in 3:00 when Page interfered. Alexander then attacked Moose. This turned into a tag match with Jay Briscoe & Moose vs. Page & Alexander, where Briscoe pinned Alexander after Moose speared Alexander and Briscoe followed with the doomsday device. Steve Corino went after Whitmer, who cited his injury and backed off. In the main event, Cole & Fish & O’Reilly beat Lethal & Daniels & Kazarian in 19:00 when Lethal was pinned after Chasing the Dragon.

TNA: Even though we are now in September, nobody from Discovery, Destination America or TNA has said anything about the future of Impact. As noted here before, the Discovery Network sent out a memo in May stating that it would be dropping TNA programming at the end of September. While TNA signed a multi-year contract with the Discovery Network, its first option period to cancel was at the end of September. At the time it was stated that the issue wasn’t ratings, but the cost of the programming and the difficulty in selling ad time. Since that memo went out, TNA was moved from Friday to Wednesday, and put in a wrestling block with ROH (whose deal with Destination America would expire in December unless it is renewed). Ratings declined with the move from Friday to Wednesday, and never bounced back to the Friday levels. Wednesday should have been a better night and the addition of ROH should have given synergism to help both shows. One would have to consider ratings for both shows of late to be disappointing, and Destination America already removed the prime time version of ROH at 8 p.m., leaving it only with an 11 p.m. airing. Nobody from TNA to this day has said anything when asked if they would be on the air on Destination America next month. Worse, with all the shows taped through the end of September, there has still not been an announcement of an October television taping. What can’t be considered a good sign is that Discovery en Espanol, which would air Impact replays in Spanish on Saturday afternoons, has pulled the show, while Discovery Romania and the Discovery-owned Eurosports Finland have also pulled the show as of this week. One of the deal points when the new contract was made was that Discovery would be able to syndicate Impact in any market that TNA didn’t already have an existing television contract.

UFC: Robbie Lawler suffered a thumb injury which made him the first casualty of UFC’s big run that started in October and goes through early January. The Lawler vs. Carlos Condit welterweight title fight is being postponed, with no new date announced. So with a 70,000-seat Etihad Stadium needed to fill, UFC asked Ronda Rousey to move up her title defense against Holly Holm from Jan. 2 in Las Vegas to 11/15, and she agreed, so that’s the new main event. UFC wanted to put Joanna Jedrzejczyk defending her title on the same show. The idea was to have them both defend on the same show with the idea that the unique fan base Rousey brings in would end up being fans of Jedrzejczyk as well. With all the speculation regarding Rousey retiring, it makes all the sense in the world to market them together and try to make Jedrzejczyk a bigger star. Claudia Gadelha, who was to face Jedrzejczyk, has a hand injury and wasn’t going to be ready in time. They asked Valerie Letourneau, who beat Maryna Morosz on 8/23 in Saskatoon, if she’d face Jedrzejczyk on 11/15, but she was injured coming off the fight and wouldn’t be ready

I had been told by people in Melbourne that they believed that even with Lawler vs. Condit, that the idea of the first UFC ever in the city, because the city does so well with what are considered “important” sports events, that it would sell out. The feeling with the new main event is that it has a much better chance to sell out, but with already throwing around the 70,000 figure, that doing 56,000 like WWE did in 2002 in the same stadium would come across as a disappointment. They are going to do a week’s worth of activities in conjunction with the show to get the word out, similar to what WWE does at the Mania host cities

Rousey was on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast and said that she doesn’t want to be fighting in her 30s, and said by that, she means, at the age of 31. She’s now 28, so that seems to put early 2018 as the end of her career if she doesn’t change her mind. A lot can happen by then, including her losing or getting so big in other places, or the money increasing to a level it’ll be hard to walk away. She said that right now her career feels unfinished and said that a fight with Cris Cyborg would provide an element of finality to her career. There were hints that she could fight Cyborg as a retirement fight, as when Rogan brought up if she fought her would you feel like your career was over, and she said, “that definitely would.” By that standpoint, maybe UFC is the one that should drag that out. “If she never steps up, I’ll know. I’ll probably go on a little longer waiting for her, see if she shows up sooner rather than later. I don’t know how much longer I’d go.” “You see what happens when people get off steroids. You see what they look like. It’s very easy for them to drop down. They immediately shrink up. It changes everything. It’s all an insecurity thing. When you look at these people from when they were using and after, they look entirely different. Cyborg looks and weighs exactly the same. If she gets off, it will be very easy for her to make the weight.

Since everything Rousey does makes news, she also agreed to attend the Marine Corps Ball in December in Camp Lejeune, NC, on a date with U.S. Marine Jarrod Haschert, which ended up covered in a ton of media this week including ESPN Sports Center. Haschert, who had never met Rousey, posted a video on Facebook asking her to the ball on 12/11, which ended up being viewed more than 4 million times. She had not responded, nor did anyone expect her to, given she was to fight on Jan. 2 and she’s very much against things that conflict with training (she didn’t even go to Las Vegas this year to get her fighter of the year award at the televised ceremony because it was one month before her fight with Cat Zingano). She said when she first saw the video, she thought it would be impossible due to the timing of her fight, but with the fight being moved up, she said on a video to TMZ that she accepted his date, as long as he can get three of his single friends to date her three friends (Marina Shafir, Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler). She said not only impressed with him doing the video, but thought he was cute

Fight Pass is doing a “Powered by Ronda” promotion for September, built around releasing her fight with Bethe Correia, so that every championship fight of Rousey’s career and most of her career fights (there are a few early amateur fights and maybe one pro fight that UFC as of yet doesn’t own broadcast rights to and the owning promoters are asking a very high price for) will be on the service. The new series, “The Third Degree” which is the Kyra Gracie series written about last week where she goes to different gyms and learns different fighting styles, including a trip to Wigan, England to learn catch-as-catch-can wrestling, will also debut. They will also have a live Invicta show on 9/12 headlined by Tonya Evinger vs. Pannie Kianzad for the bantamweight title from Kansas City, a 9/19 Titan FC show, a 9/25 show in Moscow for the promotion that in Russia is known as Fight Night, but will be called EFN MMA here because Fight Night is a UFC term for television shows on FS 1 and FS 2, and a 9/27 Shooto Brazil show. The ultimate goal for Fight Pass is weekly live events. There are two more UFC Fight Pass shows scheduled for this year, a 10/24 show in Dublin and a an 11/28 show from Seoul, South Korea. Right now the plans are for four Fight Pass exclusive shows in 2016 from UFC

Lots of rumors floating around about UFC and Fedor Emelianenko signing, but at this point nobody in UFC will confirm them. The word from Bellator is that they are not making a play for him, but Japanese hoping to revitalize the MMA business there (and Nobuyuki Sakakibara, who formerly ran Pride, is looking to start something up), supposedly have had dialogue with his people. .. UFC is also making major plans for UFC 200 in July with the idea of it being just like a WrestleMania week. Among the ideas are multiple shows from smaller promotions the week of the event. The idea is to do it the opposite of WWE, which has no affiliation with the smaller shows and tries to make it difficult for them (although the key people all were able to get venues this year in Dallas, whereas last year ROH had to move all the way to Redwood City), that UFC would have different promotions like Invicta and some others run shows during the week and air them on Fight Pass

What will almost surely be one of the two weakest PPV numbers of the year will be the 9/5 show from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Both that and the Montreal show in April will have the same theme, being headlined by a Demetrious Johnson flyweight title fight. The April show was estimated at 125,000 buys, so if the number is up to 150,000, it shows that the Ronda Rousey/Conor McGregor popularity has upped the absolute PPV base, but if not, they haven’t. The show starts at 7 p.m. Eastern on Fight Pass with Nazareno Malegarie vs. Joaquin Silva and Joe Riggs vs. Ron Stallings. FS 1 at 8 p.m. has Clay Collard vs. Thiago Trator, Jessica Andrade vs. Raquel Pennington, John Lineker vs. Francisco Rivera and Paul Felder vs. Ross Pearson. The PPV at 10 p.m. has Paige VanZant vs. Alex Chambers, Corey Anderson vs. Jan Blachowicz, Anthony Johnson vs. Jimi Manuwa, Andrei Arlovski vs. Frank Mir and Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson for the flyweight title. Dodson was in Las Vegas getting ready for the fight when he got the call on 8/31 that his girlfriend was going into labor more than a week early. He rushed home and made it to Albuquerque in time for the birth of his daughter, Delilah, well after midnight Monday night

The live advance was said to be the weakest for a UFC PPV show in Las Vegas in some time. If you think about it, that makes sense. Look at the lineup and in particular, the main event, and everyone already knows about the 12/12 show which is loaded and there is a 12/11 show as well, and that they also have a Jan. 2 show and probably the early February Super Bowl Eve shows in Las Vegas

There has been at least talk of trying to do three title matches on Jan. 2, which would be Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez, T.J. Dillashaw vs. Dominick Cruz and Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha if all works out. A lot depends on if all are ready, plus they also need a main event for 2/5. Lawler vs. Condit would probably be ready to go during that time frame as well. The light heavyweight title should, if everything goes right, possibly be ready for February or March, and if Jon Jones is back that would be a big fight. Then we should have a lot ready from April to July, but the July show, as UFC 200, pretty much has to be loaded. The key there is if Jose Aldo wins over Conor McGregor, then UFC 200 pretty much has to have Ronda Rousey or Jon Jones on top, and there is no time frame right now on Jones

25-year-old Jordan Mein announced this past week that he was retiring. Mein has had 39 pro fights, starting at the age of 16, where he lost to a 16-year-old Rory MacDonald. He was a good technical fighter but I remember meeting him years back with his father and it felt to me he was living his father’s dreams of being a fighter by the dynamic of everything. He seemed like he’s been bred and trained from a young age (fighting as a pro at 16 is pretty unusual) to do it but it seemed he was doing it like Bret Hart did amateur wrestling

Chad Mendes has been pushing for a fight with Conor McGregor on a full camp, saying with a full camp he beats McGregor ten times out of ten

Jose Aldo was confronted by Jeff Novitzky and Dana White about his comments that he was going to use an IV even though it’s against the rules. Aldo told them it was the fault of reporters who misinterpreted his remarks when he said, “I will continue to use an IV, I don’t care. I’ll tell them I’m going to eat and do it instead. They won’t take me out of the f***ing fight, so I don’t care,. They can say whatever they want, but it’s scientifically proven the best way to rehydrate. Only if they put a security guard with me 24 hours a day I don’t care.” Aldo said that the interview was translated wrong (it wasn’t) and that he was only kidding anyway when he said that

Rousey’s DNB T-shirts sold 56,797 units in two weeks. It was only to be available for a short period of time

The UFC is folding its magazine with the final edition after six years being the October/November issue. This comes on the heels of WWE also folding its magazine

Michelle Waterson vs. Tecia Torres has been added to the 12/12 show in Las Vegas which matches No. 11 and No. 5 in the strawweight division

Urijah Faber and Anthony Pettis both want fights in December

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will be undergoing surgery on his right shoulder after his 8/1 win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. There is no timetable for Rua to return

UFC has cut light heavyweight Hans Stringer, middleweights Dan Miller, Ildemar Alcantara and Tom Kong Watson, welterweights Andrew Craig and Igor Araujo, lightweights Anthony Christodolou and Yosdenis Cedeno, featherweights Niklas Backstrom and Aaron Phillips, bantamweights Cody Gibson and Royston wee, and flyweight Darrell Montague

Stefan Struve vs. Jared Rosholt is being targeted for the 11/15 show in Melbourne

Piotr Hallman vs. Alex Oliveira has been added to the 11/7 show in Sao Paulo

Keita Nakamura will be replacing Kiichi Kunimoto as the opponent for Li Jingliang on the 9/27 show at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. That show starts at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time. To get the card airing at the “right time” in the U.S. for FS 1, it will be starting at 8:30 a.m. in Japan on a Sunday morning, and Saitama is a suburb of Tokyo which means very early wake-up for people who want to be there for the prelims

Hayder Hassan vs. Vicente Luque and Leon Edwards vs. TUF 21 winner Kamaru Usman have been added to the 12/19 show in Orlando. Hassan and Luque faced during the last season of the Ultimate Fighter with Hassan winning a split decision

Doo Ho Choi vs. Sam Sicilia has been added to the 11/28 show in Seoul, South Korea.

BELLATOR: The company announced Phil Davis vs. Emanuel Newton and Linton Vassell vs. King Mo Lawal as the first round pairings in the 9/19 light heavyweight tournament in San Jose. It’ll be a one-night tournament with both of those fights going two rounds, and then the two winners would meet in a three-round fight. The winner of that will likely face the winner of Liam McGeary vs. Tito Ortiz, the show’s main event, sometime early next year for the title. The TV card right now is scheduled as Francis Carmont vs. Philipe Lins in the light heavyweight tournament alternates fight, Kerri Taylor-Melendez (who did kickboxing a decade ago for Scott Coker’s old Strikeforce promotion before retiring and marrying Gilbert Melendez) in a kickboxing match with the debuting Hadley Griffith, Josh Thomson vs. Mike Bronzoulis, Paul Daley vs. Fernando Gonzalez under kickboxing rules, the light heavyweight tournament, Saulo Cavalari vs. Zack Mwekassa for the Glory light heavyweight title, and Ortiz vs. McGeary

In the tournament, if the winner of a first round fight is injured, the loser of the fight will go into the finals. The only way the Carmont-Lins winner would go to the finals is if both fighters in one of the first round fights were injured and unable to continue. If a first round fight is ruled a draw, on 19-19 scores, the judges will then do a second scorecard where they have to pick a winner based on the overall fight. Similarly, in the tournament final, if for some reason it ends up as a draw, the judges will do a second ballot where they have to pick an overall winner

Borrowing from wrestling, or perhaps really from Japanese MMA, they are going to have names for their four big events of the year. The biggest show of the year will be called “Dynamite,” with the first one being the San Jose show. The 11/6 show in St. Louis will be the last big one of the year, called Vengeance, with Patricio Pitbull Freire vs. Daniel Straus for the featherweight title, Will Brooks vs. Marcin Held for the lightweight title, Pat Curran vs. Justin Lawrence, plus fights with Bobby Lashley and Michael Chandler

The October show will be 10/23 in Uncasville, CT, with two title fights, as Brandon Halsey will face Rafael Carvalho for the vacant middleweight title underneath the bantamweight title main event of Marcos Galvao defending against former champion Eduardo Dantas. Halsey, 9-0, defeated Alexander Shlemenko to win the title in 35 seconds via choke on September 25, 2014. His first title defense was scheduled on 5/15 against Kendall Grove, but he missed weight for that fight and was stripped of the title, but defeated Grove via ground and pound in the fourth round

The San Jose Fan Fest was announced for 9/18 at 7 p.m. at Dave & Buster’s in Milpitas, with Fedor Emelianenko, Royce Gracie, Frank Shamrock, Randy Couture, Cung Le and Kazushi Sakuraba

The last show until San Jose, a rare show with no title matches, took place on 8/28 in Temecula, CA. The first TV match saw the return of former Strikeforce champion Marloes Coenen (23-6), who beat Arlene Blencow (6-5), in a one-sided fight, ending with an armbar at 3:23 of the second round. Justin Wren, who left MMA five years ago, moved to Congo in Africa doing missionary work with the Pygmies, made his return. He was given Josh Burns, a thick punching bag who had lost his last five Bellator bouts, including one to Bobby Lashley. Wren said he used the fight to spread the word about issues involving the pygmies in Africa. Wren won via decision 30-27, 30-26 and 30-26 to up his record to 11-2, while Burns fell to 8-9. Patricky Pitbull Freire (14-6) beat Saad Awad (18-7) via decision on straight 30-27 scores, and Freire issued a challenge to Brooks. Brooks has been feuding on Twitter with both Pitbull brothers. The main event saw the debut of apparently washed up former UFC star Melvin Guillard (34-14-2), who lost via split decision to Brandon Girtz (12-4), who was meant to be an opponent to build Guillard up for a title shot. Girtz won on scores of 29-27, 28-29 and 29-27. Guillard suffered a shattered hand in the fight, which later was said to be a clean break and he was to undergo surgery already. A heavyweight fight scheduled with Lorenzo Hood vs. Raphael Butler was canceled just two hours before the show started due to Hood suffering a knee injury.

OTHER MMA: Former UFC fighter Chris Leben was sentenced to 120 days in prison and three years probation after pleading guilty to charges related to breaking into the San Diego apartment that he had previously lived in before he and his wife split up. Leben, 35, will report to custody on 9/21, serve 30 days in prison, and spend another 30 days on work furlough. If he completes the 60 days with no problem, the remaining 60 days will be turned into probation time. He is also banned from any contact with his estranged wife for ten years. His wife, Kaleena, had gotten a protection order against him, which he violated in the June break-in, where he was charged with causing $3,000 to $4,000 worth of damage

. Starting on 1/1, California is going to be testing out a rule with amateur fights, implementing the same bylaws when it comes to weight cutting as the NCAA does for wrestling. Every year, every amateur fighter will be tested while fully hydrated with their bodyfat tested and will be given a minimum healthy weight, which will be the lowest weight they can get their body to by cutting down to a healthy fit bodyfat percentage. That will be their lowest allowable fighting weight for the year. Andy Foster, who heads the commission and has said in the past that he thinks weight cutting is the biggest problem in MMA, said that he expects in the years to come that this, like in wrestling will become standard for pros in MMA as well. The problem with MMA is that it is governed by commissions that often don’t understand the sport, so any changes at all move very slowly if not at all. It’s like the judging issues that probably will never change simply because commissions don’t like change

Chael Sonnen’s latest gig is being signed as the television analyst for the World Series of Fighting on NBC Sports Network, starting with their 9/18 show in Phoenix.

WWE: Phillymag.com reported this past week that the city has put in a bid for WrestleMania 34, in 2018. The story stated that Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles, would host the show. It’s notable that Lincoln Financial Field is an outdoor stadium, and in the Northeast, that could be trouble due to weather, although WWE set the precedent running New Jersey. Lincoln Financial Field holds 69,000 for football, so a WrestleMania set up would be about 64,000 legit. The story stated it would also include NXT and Raw Events at the Wells Fargo Center (the story did not mention the Hall of Fame, which would also be part of the week) as well as the Fan Fest at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The story stated that the rumor is WrestleMania 33 would be in Minneapolis. It also stated that Larry Needle, the executive director of the Philadelphia Sports Congress said the city was interested in bidding in 2015 and 2016, but declined because the facilities to hold ancillary events weren’t available. In 2014, when San Jose/Santa Clara and the 49ers were bidding for WrestleMania, sources we were involved with during the entire bidding process had said it had come down to San Jose or Philadelphia for 2015. Minneapolis and Orlando were believed to be the two cities under consideration for 2017. A video for the opening of U.S. Bank Field in Minneapolis a few weeks ago outright said that WrestleMania would be in the stadium. If WWE is still taking bids now for 2018, that would make Minneapolis seem to be a lock for 2017 because the video specifically said WrestleMania would be in Minneapolis, not giving a year, but it was stated as a fact. WWE responded quickly to that video, not denying it, but just saying no announcement had been made regarding the 2017 show. WWE likes to keep things quiet, as every city when they get the show, they are told not to let anyone know because the company wants to announce it themselves. According to one company source, the belief is that the 2017 location will be officially announced in December, and it’s been noted that Raw on 12/21 will be at the Target Center in Minneapolis. The other reason people are speculating Minneapolis and not Orlando, is that Orlando is getting the 2016 Royal Rumble, and the feeling is they wouldn’t book the Rumble in a city they are going to Mania in the next year, particularly a market the size or Orlando

The 12/16 NXT show at SSE Wembley Arena in London will be a live network special

The updated 10/3 Madison Square Garden show is headlined by Lesnar vs. Show, which was decided upon this past week. The rest of the current card, which will likely be changed almost weekly, has Rollins vs. Cena but only the U.S. title will be at stake, Jericho vs. Owens, Ziggler vs. Rusev, Sheamus vs. Orton plus appearances by the Dudleys, Henry, New Day, Bellas and Stardust

We do have confirmation that Kana (Kanako Urai) has been signed, or technically, is on the verge of being signed pending passing her medicals, which we believe are scheduled for October in Pittsburgh. Nikki Storm of Scotland, who was part of the cast of season two of TNA British Boot Camp, is in the same boat, as she’s scheduled to go to Pittsburgh in October for her physicals. There may be one other indie name who will also be getting physicals at about that time, including Adrienne Reese, 26, or Athena from Shimmer and Shine. She just recently was trying to get a Stardom tour of Japan before October, which wasn’t going to happen, and in doing so said she was retiring from independent wrestling in October, wanted to do a tour of Stardom before that happened, and that coincides with a lot of rumors of her being WWE-bound. Sarah Stock, who was Dark Angel in CMLL and Sarita in TNA, has been signed for a trainer position similar to that of Sara Amato, since Amato is doing more work now with the main roster. When Stock first started coming to the Performance Center to teach Lucha Libre moves to the women, we were told that they were not going to use her as a wrestler due to age, as she’s now 36, although she trains like a bodybuilder and looks a lot younger. She’s coming to Stardom in Japan in October, but it will be her wrestling farewell, so she’s likely to start at her new job in November

Urai is almost 34, but I guess they think Japanese women don’t age as fast or something. Nobody in Japan, including Stardom promoter Rossy Ogawa and the Japanese press that covers women’s MMA were aware of her being on the WWE’s radar, let alone going. She didn’t go to the 7/4 tryouts at Sumo Hall. However, other Japanese media sources said they were aware of the deal for a few weeks before she appeared on the NXT show in Brooklyn sitting next to Flair and Sgt. Slaughter. One of her best traits was her promo ability, but that probably won’t translate into the U.S. due to the language barrier. It was said that Kana and Hikaru Shida were carrying the Reina group, even though Syuri was pushed as the top star. Kana worked Arsion years ago with Sara Amato of WWE. Rich Swann and Biff Busick are believed to be in the same position, and Johnny Gargano may be as well. Gargano was said to have a lot of supporters and may have gotten an offer but there were also those who believed he has the “doesn’t look like he can kick people’s ass” thing that the key people in charge believe all WWE male talent should have. The fact he and Tommaso Ciampa were put over on television in the first round of the Dusty Rhodes Memorial tag team tournament says that both are going to be at the next NXT tapings and thus have to be at least under consideration

Regarding Mysterio Jr., as well as Alberto El Patron, their mentality right now is they aren’t looking to come back, and would only do so with a reduced schedule because they are doing very well working when they want to. WWE is always looking to create the bilingual Hispanic star, but Alberto was the closest they ever came to pushing and creating one. Vince McMahon liked him because he was tall, good looking and had a good physique so he got the big push, but he fell to the middle. Mysterio Jr., and Eddy Guerrero, were different animals in the sense the fans made both of them and the company, slowly, went with both of them

Tickets for the December NXT shows in the U.K. have gone well. They are running some of the same buildings they usually run with WWE tours, which are 10,000 seat arenas. However, they are all being set up for a small capacity at first, and if they fill them, then they may open up more of the building. It’s not like they’ve sold out the smaller capacity setups immediately, but the general vibe is things went well. There was some concern over timing I’d heard just because WWE was coming in with a November tour, and this would be so quickly after, but the U.K. is real hot for pro wrestling and for the Hardcore fans who watch NXT, it’s the first tour so it’s the first chance for many to see a new product live

At this point the October Austin interview looks to be with Sting

The 10/3 Madison Square Garden show will be the 25th anniversary of Jericho’s pro debut, on October 3, 1990, in Ponoka, Alberta, against Lance Storm

Things are going back-and-forth on whether there will be a Diva Search before the end of the year. It would be on the WWE Network, but after Tough Enough, there are people with cold feet about doing another show like that

There is talk of repackaging Los Matadores

WWE Studios announced acquiring the rights to do a feature film based on the documentary, “Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story,” about the first man with only one arm to play Division I basketball

NXT announced a 10/2 date in Nashville

Barrett is going to be gone for a while shooting a WWE movie called “Eliminators” in the U.K

A few years back, when the company had the idea that Sheamus was going to be a top babyface star, they commissioned a ton of action figures for him, and then he didn’t get over, and the action figures didn’t sell at all compared to the production numbers. When it comes to action figures, faces still significantly outsell heels, and those who are taken off TV usually drop off terribly unless it’s someone like Austin or Rock who sell no matter what. The women on Total Divas saw their figures increase in sales considerably and the hottest right now on the women’s side is Paige

Rich Brennan is now the official lead announcer on Smackdown, with the idea that Byron Saxton will be full-time on Raw. So Brennan, Booker T and Jerry Lawler will be doing Smackdown and Michael Cole, Saxton and JBL will be doing Raw regularly. Booker had been doing Raw until Saxton replaced him when Booker became a coach on “Tough Enough.

In the replays, as well most likely in the DVD of SummerSlam, two notable edits are The New Day’s singing the parody of “Empire State of Mind” during their ring entrance was edited off the show, as was Lesnar flipping off Undertaker right before he passed out from Hell’s Gate. They digitized the latter while the former was removed. Most likely in the case of The New Day, they were concerned over potential legal action from Jay Z and Alicia Keys, although I would think parodies of songs would be okay. With the latter, it’s the PG nature of the product, but on the network, there is plenty of older footage showing Austin and Vince McMahon flipping people off when it was part of Austin’s basic character from 1997 to 2003

It was pretty low class for WWE to promote Charlotte, Baley, Banks and Lynch as the Four Horsewomen, particularly since they had already acknowledged the original group on their TV when courting Ronda Rousey. That may be the reason Rousey rushed to trademark DNB, because they never trademarked Four Horsewomen and WWE took it. It would be one thing if WWE asked nicely about it, considering several of those women would probably love to do something short or longer with WWE at some point

In the Dr. Christopher Amann lawsuit case against Scott Colton (Colt Cabana) and Phil Brooks (C.M. Punk), the lawyers for Colton and Brooks filed a motion to throw the case out, with the claim in the case of Colton that he was acting as a media member doing an interview and in the case of Brooks, that he never specifically stated who the doctor was who mistreated him. There was a reference to Amann, actually two, but he was never specifically mentioned in connection with that Brooks said was negligent treatment of a staph infection. Brooks only referred to the person attending him as “Doc,” without mentioning a name. However, the judge ruled that the case would continue and ordered both sides to go into Discovery

The lawsuits filed by Michelle James (girlfriend of Matt “Doink” Osborne and mother of his daughter) in Texas and Cassandra Frazier (wife of Nelson Frazier aka Mabel, Viscera and Big Daddy V) in Tennessee were both successfully moved by WWE to Connecticut. That means that every lawsuit filed by Konstantine Kyros and those affiliated with him on the concussion issue has now been moved to Connecticut, which are small victories for WWE because they have shorter statutes of limitations and statues of repose. At this point neither the Frazier nor James cases have been combined with the other cases, but the odds are good that they will be. The plaintiffs have indicated they are going to amend both the Russ McCullough and Frazier lawsuits, and they have until 9/20 to do so. The WWE is attempting to find out the names of other wrestlers who have signed up with Kyros who have yet to file suit. WWE has filed a motion attempting to force Kyros to do so, so that the company can fire pre-emptory strikes against them as was the case with Blackjack Mulligan, Ivan Koloff, Dynamite Kid and Koko Ware. Sometime after that date the judge will rule one way or another on WWE’s claim that all of these cases are time barred under Connecticut law

Stephen Amell stated that sales of the T-shirt design that he wore at SummerSlam raised $228,867.60 for Emily’s Care, a children’s hospice in Canada. There is talk that Amell did well enough that they may use him again in a singles match with Stardust

In an interview with The Sun in the U.K., and TalkSport, Ambrose opened up about his relationship with Renee Young. “I wouldn’t be with anything less than the optimal, most beautiful, most tremendous girl in the world.” “But the bottom line is, she’s far too good for me. But it’s far too late and I’ve got my claws tucked into her now. She can’t go anywhere now.” “Would a girl like that want to be with anyone but the legendary Dean Ambrose? So, it’s going to work.

At the tapings in Providence, when the Smackdown show was over and the house show was ending, with Ambrose, the show closer, talking to the fans, a fan hopped the rail and starting charging at him. Right before he got to Ambrose, one of the security guys tackled him down. A TMZ report said that fans thought the guy had a metal object with him that may have been a knife

If you don’t think Sara Lee, who will be making $250,000 on her new one-year contract, isn’t going to have it bad, think about this. According to one person in the company, Leva “Blue Pants” Bates has a ton of heat, and none of it is her doing. There is the resentment that she was flown to Brooklyn, put in an angle with the tag champs and Alexa Bliss that every woman on the roster would have wanted, that she has and sells her own merchandise and doesn’t have to split the cut, isn’t under contract so he’s not at the Performance Center going through all the daily training, and can do indies, and her rate has increased, so they believe she’s making more than they are, and being pushed more and getting over. But HHH in NXT, totally unlike the main roster, goes with people who get over to the Full Sail crowd, and to be fair, as shown in Brooklyn, San Jose, Philadelphia, etc. that unlike the day after WrestleMania crowd whose actions are forgotten the next week on Raw, the Full Sail crowd leads the NXT crowd when it comes to reactions and getting people over wherever they go

The WWE stock had a bad day on 9/1, with the market overall being down. The stock fell $1.84 per share, closing at $18.22, and leaving the company with a market value of $1.38 billion

Dory Funk Jr. trainees Gabriel Zimmerly and Christian Boley were scheduled for tryouts at TV this past week

Notes from the 8/31 Raw tapings in Tampa. They drew 9,000 fans for the show. The crowd didn’t get up for much on the show, which was overall lackluster. For Superstars, R-Truth pinned Rose. Neville & The Lucha Dragons beat Stardust & The Ascension when Neville pinned Viktor with the red arrow. Sting opened the show doing a scripted promo that was clearly written by people who had no clue as to his character. The entire promo was about putting HHH over. They could telegraph a Rollins vs. HHH program without having Sting hit you over the head with it to the point that his own match with Rollins came across secondary. And who even knows, because think of all the teases and angles they did for months on Rollins vs. Kane, which ended up going nowhere (and I’m not complaining, but that was a ton of teasing for no payoff). Sting was said to be the guy who put Starrcade on the map. Given that with the exception of 1997 and 1998 (and he was not even in the main event in 1998), the heyday of Starrcade was 1983-86, and Sting wasn’t on any of those shows, that is the equivalent of saying Bret Hart is the guy who put WrestleMania on the map. Sting talked about his match with HHH. You know, HHH beat him in his last match but he’s getting a title match because HHH is so much better than Rollins anyway. He even had to say, “I’ll always have respect for HHH,” while the live crowd groaned. His main theme for the promo is Rollins wasn’t as good as HHH. If that’s the case, why isn’t HHH wrestling him on the next PPV? Anyway, since WWE is the best, I hope Conor McGregor was taking notes so the theme for his promotion for 12/12 will be that Jose Aldo isn’t as good as Ricardo Lamas. Sting mentioned that the only title that eluded him during his career was the WWE title. Well, given that he’s only had one WWE match to date, it would be pretty hard to win it. Anyway, on 9/20, he is going to prove that Rollins isn’t half the man HHH is. Sting was in great shape for a guy who is 56 years old. You can see he’s dropped weight since Mania. After all the great promos the guy did in TNA and this terrible one here (and it’s not his fault), that’s a hell of an indictment on the writing team. Rollins was backstage with Stephanie, as HHH wasn’t on the show, which made sense given him being there would have hurt the long-term tease. Rollins said that Sting was spitting in the face of The Authority with that promo. Well, where I come from, a blowjob and spitting in the face aren’t the same thing. Stephanie told him that beating Sting will only cement his legacy. Rollins said that in the ring he’s better than anyone. Stephanie said that Sting actually said that you’re not better than HHH and you’re not half the man HHH is, and as much as I hate to agree with Sting, he’s right. But one day we hope to get you there. I wonder if Gedo was saying that in Japanese two weeks ago to Okada when Tenryu came out. Rollins countered saying that with all due respect, they only build statues for legends, and he wants his statue to be ready for Night of Champions. Stephanie told him if he wanted it, to go ask Sting. Ziggler beat Rusev via DQ in 14:18. Crowd wasn’t much into it so the match dragged. They did a good double count out tease. Ziggler escaped the Accolade and hit the Zig Zag, but was slow in covering. When he covered, Summer Rae interfered for the DQ. Lana attacked Summer Rae. Lana was in a super short jeans skirt to give the obligatory panties shot. Crowd was hot for the women rolling around. After it was all over, Ziggler and Lana were making out. They were backstage making eyes at each other when Renee Young showed up. He ended up blowing off the interview so he could take a shower. She was doing a standup, and in the background, you could see Summer sneaking into his dressing room. Nikki Bella did a promo noting she was 14 days away from being the longest reigning Divas champion in history. At least they are calling attention to stuff like this and it gives them more meat for future storylines when records can be used. It’s also, in it’s own way, causing people to care about that title that nobody cared about before, even if it’s just to get mad at silly things like Nikki being the one who is going to set the record or that she didn’t defend it at the last two PPV shows. Next came the Beat the Clock challenge. The deal is that because Team PCB won the three-way at SummerSlam, they would be the ones who would battle for the title shot. It wasn’t said ahead of time, so this was Stephanie’s version of Dario Cueto’s secret Aztec Medallion storyline. Lynch beat Fox in 3:21 by reversing out of a reverse cradle into the Fujiwara armbar. Even though it was a singles match, they brought the other women to ringside to cheerlead in case the crowd didn’t react. Well, even with that, the crowd didn’t react. Ryback came out and said his match with Show was a few months in the making. Well, except that they’ve wrestled each other twice on TV just in the past few weeks. They showed Summer Rae running out of Ziggler’s dressing room while Ziggler only had a towel on. Ryback beat Show to retain the IC title in 7:19. Miz was at ringside, which seems to indicate the three-way program is continuing. Fans chanted “Please retire” at Show and he yelled back at them to find someone who can retire him. Ryback kicked out of a choke slam and later a spear. Miz distracted Show and Ryback pinned him with shell shock. Charlotte, in the Beat the Clock challenge, pinned Brie Bella in 1:40 with Natural selection. The crowd didn’t know the finish and the announcers weren’t ready and didn’t call it either, so it came off flat. They also had one of those fake inset promos that gets people under before the match. The Dudleys did a promo. They’ve gone from calling them the most decorated tag team of all-time, I guess because of the Von Brauners (actually probably somebody figured out they were counting the TNA tag titles in their history)l, to the most decorated tag team in WWE history with nine tag team title reigns and their goal is No. 10. Owens pinned Cesaro in 16:03. Good match although not as good as the PPV match. They did a cool spot where Cesaro picked him up for a vertical suplex and held him. Owens started punching from that position and Cesaro started punching back, while still holding him in the suplex position. Cesaro did a gut wrench off the middle ropes. Cesaro using core strength, actually stopped Owens’ momentum as he came off the ropes with a tornado DDT, and turned it into a face first drop and then a crossface. Owens knocked Cesaro off the apron and he took a ribs shot on the announcers table. He got up selling his ribs. They teased in commentary the idea that maybe the doctor should stop the match because Cesaro was bleeding. Owens superkicked him in the ribs and then used the pop up power bomb for the pin. Cesaro wasn’t nearly as over here as he had been for the previous weeks. Lana confronted Ziggler about what happened with Summer Rae. He said she showed up while he was taking a shower, he quickly grabbed a towel and she left, but nothing happened. Ambrose beat Strowman via DQ in 3:09. I was really surprised they put Strowman in a singles match this quickly. The crowd wasn’t buying him as a monster. He was killing Ambrose and Reigns to little reaction. I was told that of all the call-ups the company has done in years, he is, by far, the least ready. Wyatt did an interview constantly talking about Sister Abigail, so you can see they’re at least thinking of introducing her as a character. He said that Sister Abigail gave him her greatest gift in Strowman. Strowman was destroying Ambrose when Reigns tried to help out for the DQ. Strowman threw Ambrose over the table and threw Reigns over the barricade. He took out both. His head and arm choke on Ambrose looked totally unconvincing. After he laid out Reigns, Wyatt gave Reigns Sister Abigail and left him laying. Young interviewed Rollins. Rollins demanded that Sting return the statue. He said that Sting needs a subscription to the network so Sting can see what he’s capable of. He pointed out he was the first man to hold the U.S. and WWE titles at the same time (actually Pedro Morales was the first). Paige vs. Banks was next with Paige having to win in less than 1:40. Paige hit the Rampage and looked like she’d win but Snuka and Naomi pulled Banks out of the ring. That should have been a DQ and Paige should have beaten the clock, given they did it right in front of the ref. But instead, the ref didn’t call this one as a shoot and time just ran out. So Charlotte backdoored in. Charlotte was a mixture of happy for herself and sad because Paige got screwed. The segment was completely flat, in the sense when it was over, with the babyface backdooring into the title shot, she had no momentum. Renee Young interviewed Lana. They showed a video of Summer Rae being interviewed saying that Ziggler called her into the dressing room. She went in, thinking maybe he wanted to make peace and they could end this four-way program. But instead, he stripped naked in front of her and she said she was mesmerized by him. Then he got into the shower and asked her to join him. She said she was captivated by him and he was trying to seduce her, but she couldn’t do it because of Rusev, and she ran out of the dressing room as quickly as she could, but she will never forget the image of him naked. Lana walked off. The New Day came out and had a table in bubble wrap. The idea is that they are protecting the nearly extinct species known as tables. Woods has new straight hair. O’Neil compared the Dudleys return to when Michael Jordan returned to the NBA. I guess it slipped their minds to compare it to when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. The Dudleys won a non-title match from E & Kingston in 12:31. They need to keep O’Neil away from JBL because whenever they get into a discussion, O’Neil’s wit is so quick he makes JBL look like a fool. They were both football players in college and discussing playbooks and when they asked O’Neil about when they were going to ask for their rematch, O’Neil asked JBL about giving away the playbook before a game. JBL said they always had a playbook going into the game and O’Neil had to explain you don’t have a playbook from the opposing team. Anyway, the point in all this being that what is likely a three-way for the tag titles isn’t ready to be announced. They won with the 3-D and Devon pinned Kingston. JBL kept pushing this as the Dudleys first match back together in ten years, when they had just wrestled together on Smackdown the prior week. Well, it was their first match back on Raw in ten years. They went to put E through the table, but Woods saved him. The final segment opened with Rollins out. He said when he was growing up, he revered Sting as a legend and an icon in this industry, but then Sting stole his statue and ruined his ceremony. He said it’s obvious why WCW went out of business. It is obvious, but Sting didn’t have much to do with it. He called Sting out and he wanted Sting to take back saying HHH was better than him. He said that everyone knows he’s as good as HHH, and maybe one day, I’ll be better. Stephanie came out instead. She walks far more menacing than Sting anyway and more people back down from her than Sting. She told him to stop talking about HHH. Yeah, dude, we’ve got a main event to promote and he’s not in it. Rollins said that HHH’s time has passed and now he’s the man. She said that Sting is doing one of the oldest tricks in the books. What, bad scripted interviews haven’t been around that long? She said this isn’t about HHH and it’s not about some statue. Rollins demanded Sting come out and tell him where the statue is. Cena then came out. Cena said that Rollins is the biggest idiot ever because he thinks he’s friends with The Authority. He said the only reason they chose him is because he was the only member of The Shield that would stab his friends in the back and do what was best for business. He said to look at Orton, Batista and Kane to see the loyalty The Authority has. Cena then asked for a U.S. title rematch at Night of Champions. Rollins laughed it off and said, “Not a chance.” Cena called him Captain Morgan and pointed out that as the former champion, he has the right to a rematch, and that Stephanie had already said that every WWE title would be at stake at Night of Champions, so he asked Stephanie if he’s getting a title shot. The crowd was chanting “Yes” at this one. This crowd booed Cena far less than most Raw crowds. Stephanie than said “Yes.” After the show ended, they had a dark match where Cena & Orton beat Rollins & Sheamus when Orton pinned Sheamus in 10:00 after Cena gave Sheamus the Attitude Adjustment and Orton followed with the RKO

Notes from the 9/1 Smackdown tapings in Miami. Ryder pinned Slater in a dark match. Owens pinned Swagger with a power bomb. Rose, doing a new gimmick, beat Fandango. He came out with black tights, glasses and a polo shirt and had no entrance music. He was far more intense than he had been in the past. Lynch & Paige beat Banks & Naomi. Smackdown opened with the New Day coming out with signs saying that the Dudleys were endangering furniture. The Dudleys came out and the Prime Time Players did as well. This led to a Dudleys match with the Prime Time Players that the Dudleys won. The New Day stayed at ringside to do commentary. Stardust was to wrestle Neville next, but The Ascension, apparently working on orders from Stardust, beat down Neville and laid him out. Cesaro was doing an interview and this led to Sheamus coming out. This set up a match between the two which Sheamus won. Don’t ask me. Next was Miz TV with Lana & Ziggler. They were talking about Raw when Summer Rae came out and she and Lana got into it. Miz and Ziggler had to pull them apart. Dallas pinned R-Truth. Charlotte beat Snuka. This match ended with Team PCB in the ring and Team Bella on the stage staring each other down while Nikki held up the title belt. Reigns & Ambrose beat Big E & Kingston via DQ in the main event. The dark match saw Reigns pin Wyatt in a street fight

Notes on the 8/26 NXT show. This was a 90 minute (well, 84 minute) special from the Barclays Center. The crowd was super hot, particularly for Enzo & Cass, and really Enzo. Corey Graves sardonic commentary worked on this show. Dasha Fuentes announced The Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder) at a combined 590 pounds, which, if Rawley is 270, that makes Ryder 320. The former New York love for Ryder was gone as when he was in, the fans chanted “We Want Enzo.” Chad Gable has something. I know he wears the singlet because he wrestled in the Olympics and Kurt Angle wore a singlet his entire career, but for he and Jason Jordan, it doesn’t feel like the right look. Just because you wrestled amateur doesn’t mean you should wear a singlet. Lesnar, the Briscos, Gagne, Thesz, Gotch, Hodge, Tsuruta, Hase, Choshu, Misawa, Kawada, etc. never wrestled in singlets and in most of those cases, had they done so, it would have been to their detriment. He seems like a natural in there given his level of experience. They tried to compare Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder to the Brainbusters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard’s WWF name for the year or so they were there). I didn’t see it at all. They came across as a solid but colorless team. Balor did an interview about beating Owens. The show felt really bloated in the sense it was a one hour show with tons of video packages stretched out. I’m a fan of video packages on a wrestling show to develop characters and the ones they did were good, but on this show if was too many. Plus, they had a lot of promos, and most of the people here are not that good at scripted promos and granted, that’s why it’s developmental, but you really notice it on a show like this. The crowd wants Eva Marie to fail. It’s a total push-back. There are two issues with her. The first is that the announcing trying to make her out to be a good wrestler makes it easy for a push-back. The second is, if they want to do Sable wrestling, and that’s fine, it worked for them, then Eva Marie’s outfit is awesome. If they want to do women in sports and all that, her outfit is a total contradiction, and you can’t have it both ways because the sex tease undoes any pretense of the other way. It’s like lingerie football vs. women’s MMA, even if they had women who were good football players in lingerie football, the reality is it gets zero respect and even though football is a million times more popular than fighting, the women in fighting are bigger sports stars and get more respect. Eva vs. Carmella was tough because they’re both so green. It was like two inexperienced people doing a slow motion attempt at a wrestling match. It wasn’t terrible, but it was definitely not good. Eva made motions of wanting a title shot and she wouldn’t have done it unless the next direction was Bayley vs. Eva. Granted, they will get crowd reaction for that, but that will be a tough match. Right now the plans are for Bayley’s opponents to be Brooke, who is still pretty green, and Eva. They really want to validate Eva by making her champion to tell the story about how through all her hard work she proved her naysayers wrong, but that’s going to be a touchy deal. Tyler Breeze teased more Jushin Liger when he talked about how “Don’t think we’re even close to being done.” He said that he gets to walk around looking like he does while Liger has to wear a mask because he’s so ugly. They did a curtain call video and pushed the Four Horsewomen idea. Even if they got permission from Ronda Rousey to use it, that comes across so lame using that term when the Rousey group has gotten national publicity with it last year. Bull Dempsey’s new gimmick seems to be to sell the entire match, then Hulk up, which they call Bulling up, doing the no sell spots and wins with a sitting splash off the top. Not sure how well his hips are going to hold up at 300 pounds using that as a finisher. The Bull Fit gimmick is okay, but to make it work, he really needed to change his body. He may have lost a few pounds, but for the most part, he looks exactly the same, while the announcers fawn on him for having lost all this weight. Samoa Joe did an interview, and he wants a title shot. Apollo Crews did an interview. He came off very likeable but got tongue-tied on his promo. Blake & Murphy & Alexa Bliss did an interview. It’s very clear that Blake & Murphy are the Bodydonnas and Bliss is Sunny, in the sense the two guys are just two guys and the woman is the clear star of the team. She’s going to make it as a manager. She cut a promo on Blue Pants. The four way with Emma vs. Dana Brooke vs. Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch was going along fine, which says something about how quickly Brooke is taking to this. They had the botched finish. You could see ref Drake Weurtz ever so slightly hesitate on the count but he had no choice. Then Charlotte speared Emma and had the crowd count to three, before the figure eight on Brooke and disarmer by Lynch on Emma to end the show. The actual finish that was supposed to happen was the double submission but with Charlotte getting her hand raised, not the spear and pin as we listed in last week’s issue

The first NXT house show of the weekend was 8/27 in Tampa. They did an early angle. Riddick Moss beat Dino Sarnitelli, and then Blake & Murphy attacked Moss and beat him down. The Vaudevillains made the save. This led to challenges to set up the show’s main event, a tag title match where The Vaudevillains retained. The other title match saw Bayley beat Emma to keep the women’s title. Balor pinned Tye Dillinger on the show. In a surprise to me, they had Samoa Joe on the show pinning Tyler Breeze. Usually they haven’t used Joe on these small house shows that only draw a few hundred people, saving him for the higher profile shows like TV tapings or house shows expected to draw more than 1,000 fans. They also tried out Dana Brooke & Nia Jax as a heel tag team

The 8/28 show in Cocoa Beach featured taping one match for the Dusty Rhodes Memorial tag team tournament. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady advanced by beating Sawyer Fulton & Angelo Dawkins. Bayley did a promo and said that if it wasn’t for the crowds in Florida, NXT would have never been able to draw so many people in Brooklyn. She said that all her friends have moved on and she doesn’t know when she’ll be wrestling them again. She then offered an open challenge to anyone in the back. Nia Jax came out. The story was that Jax played monster and dominated the match, until Jax missed a shoulderblock in the corner and Bayley rolled her up to retain the title. The Vaudevillains retained the tag titles over Jason Jordan & Chad Sable. In the main event, Balor pinned Solomon Crowe to retain the NXT title with a double foot stomp

The final show was 8/29 in Fort Pierce. They had another Rhodes tag team tournament match as Dawson & Wilder advanced, beating Samson & Tucker Knight in a match that was being taped for television. Crews and Dillinger reportedly had a great match, working it back-and-forth instead of TV squash style like their Takeover match. Bayley issued an open challenge for the women’s title and Carmella came out. Bayley pinned her. Ironically, as this came during the controversy, Zahra Schrebier debuted under that name, cutting a heel promo. Her gimmick was that she was the sister of Solomon Crowe. Crowe then pinned Alexander Wolfe. The Vaudevillains & Jasmin in the main event beat Blake & Murphy & Bliss

Greg Hamilton, who had been hosting the NXT live events, is being moved up to the main roster. His last house show was 8/28 in Cocoa Beach. He will still work some of the major NXT shows outside Florida as the host and still work the TV, but most of his work will be main roster

The Cena tour opened on 8/28 drawing 6,000 in Fort Myers. They drew 6,500 on 8/29 in Orlando and 4,000 on 8/30 in Daytona Beach. The Reigns tour opened drawing a near sellout of 13,000 fans in San Juan, a market WWE hasn’t been in for a long time, and a surprisingly good crowd of 7,000 on 8/30 in Tallahassee

In Fort Myers, Ziggler opened by pinning Rusev in a no DQ match. They did a Lana and Summer Rae catfight spot. After Lana knocked out Summer, Ziggler used the Zig Zag for the pin in 13:00. Jimmy Uso pinned Miz in 10:00 with the splash off the top rope. Mostly comedy. Even a guy not used on TV gets the house show win if he’s a face. Well, at least if he faces Miz. Charlotte & Paige & Lynch beat Banks & Naomi & Snuka. Fans were into Paige and Charlotte but didn’t seem to care about the other four, particularly Snuka. Naomi worked almost the entire match since Banks is still banged up. Lynch used the armbar for the submission on Banks. Breeze, working as a face, pinned Corbin. Corbin laid Breeze out after the match. Crowd didn’t care about either guy and lots of people acted like it was intermission. Ambrose pinned Owens clean with Dirty Deeds in 14:00. Swagger beat Rose with the Patriot lock. Match lasted less than one minute. New Day, being E & Kingston here, retained the tag titles over the Prime Time Players in 12:00 when Kingston pinned Young to retain. Main event was advertised as Rollins vs. Cena in a no DQ match for the title. But when the match was introduced, they didn’t announce it as a title match or a no DQ. Then, after Rollins had the advantage and was beating on Cena, then he said that he was putting both the WWE & U.S. belts on the line, winner takes all. Very good match. Rollins kept escaping from the attitude adjustment

until Rollins did a low blow right in front of the ref for a DQ at 20:00. Cena then left Rollins laying with an Attitude Adjustment after the match was over

Orlando opened with Ambrose pinning Owens with Dirty Deeds. This was said to be the best match of the show. At one point Owens did a top rope fisherman buster for a good near fall. Next was Miz TV with Jimmy Uso. Rose then came out and said that the party was over. Uso laid Rose to waste with a superkick. Somehow this led to Miz vs. Uso in a dance-off. The segment ended with Uso laying Miz out with a superkick. Uso then pinned Corbin in a short match with a splash off the top rope. Uso kicked out of End of Days. Charlotte & Paige & Lynch beat Banks & Naomi & Snuka when Charlotte made Snuka submit to the figure eight. The crowd was into the faces but even in Orlando, there was very little reaction to Banks. It really showed that the few hundred that attend the NXT shows in Orlando are not representative at all of the general fan base in that city, nor that the wrestling fan base in that city doesn’t have much knowledge of NXT, even though it’s a local product. Ziggler vs. Rusev was the same match, with Rusev distracted by Summer and Lana fighting, and Ziggler using the zig zag for the pin. Swagger beat Breeze with the Patriot lock. Again, almost nobody knew who Breeze was here. E & Woods beat Prime Time Players when Woods pinned O’Neil in kind of a botched finish as O’Neil was in the ropes and the ref didn’t count it. Same Cena vs. Rollins scenario as the previous night. After the match, both Cena and Rollins cut promos talking about Rumble tickets being on a sale and there was a long line for tickets after the show

A similar show in Daytona Beach saw Uso instead pin Breeze with a splash off the top rope instead of beating Corbin, after the same scenario where he had the dance-off with Miz after being on Miz TV, and superkicked Miz. In the Team PCB vs. Team Bad match, the finish was Paige making Snuka tap out to the PTO. Renee Young was at the show and did an interview in the ring after the match and they talked about the Beat the Clock challenge and posted the interview online. Corbin lost to Swagger via ankle lock submission. Woods & Kingston made up the New Day team, winning over the Prime Time Players when Kingston rolled up O’Neil and held onto the ropes. Same Cena-Rollins match as the previous two nights

San Juan opened with Ryback pinning Show in 8:00 to keep the IC title after shell shock. Crowd popped big for him picking up such a big guy. Show worked as a heel but then turned babyface after the match was over. I think they’re trying to have him be the first guy to hit 100 turns. Cesaro pinned Dallas after the neutralizer in 7:00. Natalya beat Emma with the sharpshooter in 7:00. Natalya then picked up a sign from the crowd which read “We Want Natalya in the Divas Revolution.” Neville pinned Stardust in 8:00 with the red arrow. Both spit water on the other. Jericho pinned Harper in 9:00 with the codebreaker. Harper cut a promo before the match saying that there was nobody backstage who would fight him. Jericho then came out and cut him off and started hitting catch phrases. Orton pinned Sheamus with the RKO in 16:00. Good match and great pop when Orton hit his finisher. Orton was the most popular wrestler on the show, even with Los Matadores who are from the most famous wrestling family in that country. R-Truth pinned Slater in 5:00 with the jumping reverse STO. Los Matadores beat Lucha Dragons. They reversed this from what they’d normally do. I guess they figured that even though Los Matadores are masked and supposed to be from Mexico (or Spain, depending on the week), that everyone really knows they are the Colon family cousins under masks. Fans were chanting “Eddie,” and not for Eddy Guerrero, but for Eddie Colon, who is Diego. Some crazy dives including Torito doing one. Eddie did his father’s trademark cartwheel spot. After winning, Diego grabbed the mic and thanked the fans. Orlando Colon (Fernando) then said that they may be announced as being from Spain, but they are really Puerto Ricans, which got an easy big pop. Then they posed on the entrance stage with the Lucha Dragons. Main event saw Reigns pin Wyatt in 19:00 in a weapons style match. Fans loved the table spot. Harper interfered. He and Wyatt were double-teaming Reigns. Fans were looking for someone to make the save, but instead Reigns made his own comeback and hit the Superman punch on Harper and then speared Wyatt to get the pin. Match was close to ****

Tallahassee was the mostly the same show. Ryback kicked out of both the choke slam and knockout punch before winning with shell shock. Slater before his match with R-Truth told people they were going to see the quickest match in WWE history. Then R-Truth came out and gave him an ax kick right away. The only change is since they weren’t in Puerto Rico, the Lucha Dragons were the faces and beat Los Matadores. Fans cheered both teams coming out but Los Matadores worked as the heels including bullying Torito for easy heat. Sin Cara pinned one of them after Torito took out the teammate. Braun Stroman worked here in the main event. Reigns beat Wyatt. Reigns had taken out Wyatt and Harper and the lights went out and Stroman was in the ring. Stroman no sold Reigns stuff and choke Slammed Reigns. R-Truth tried to make the save but Stroman choke slammed him as well. Neville then ran in and got choke slammed. Ryback then ran in and hit Stroman with the clothesline and Reigns gave him a Superman punch, knocking Stroman out of the ring. For the finish, Reigns then speared Wyatt. An unintentionally hilarious moment was when they played the network on the big screen and there was buffering.