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November 6, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: WWE quarter financials, Manami Toyota retiring, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 November 6, 2017

 

The WWE just had its most profitable quarter for wrestling in years, and at the same time, the key popularity indicators were disappointing.

For the three months ending on 9/30, the company grossed $186,325,000 and ended with a $21,843,000 profit. Last year’s similar quarter was $164,162,000 in revenue and $10,319,000 in profits.

It was different from most quarters going back many years, where the profit covered the dividend of $9,754,000.

The numbers exceeded Wall Street predictions of $172 million in revenue and $15 million in profits, and led to a significant increase in the stock price. At press time, the stock is at $26.53 per share, giving the company a $2.05 billion market value. It’s the highest the stock has been since the stock price collapsed when WWE signed its USA Network deal in 2014 for far less money than the company had indicated it would get to stockholders.

The price may stay at this level, since Benchmark and Guggenheim both this past week listed its target price for the stock at $28 per share. Benchmark noted that the brand extension has led to increased profits from doing more events and increased the value of Smackdown, and expect good news from next year’s television rights fees negotiations and long-term growth from China (which right now produces negligible revenue). Bloomberg was more cautious, noting that some investors have noticed how much growth has subsided on the WWE Network, and the price per share figured in stronger annual network growth.

Due to some spending cutbacks, WWE’s prediction of its first year of $100 million in OIBDA in its history (misleading because in 2001 they would have hit that total easily in wrestling but XFL losses were heavy) looks to be underplayed as they now expect to hit the $108 million to $112 million mark for this year and $115 million for 2018. What’s notable is that it could be higher, since TV revenue contractually guaranteed would be at least $25 million more next year from the three major country deals.

While there are many revenue streams, the keys to WWE business are television rights fees and the WWE Network.

Rights fees, largely based around what is paid by the USA Network for Raw and Smackdown, as well as the two key overseas deals in India (Sony) and the U.K., (Sky Sports) contractually increase annually, which is the key to the revenue increase.

The key for growth going forward, with the network seemingly hitting a plateau no matter what the product that is offered, is television. And that doesn’t depend on the product as much as two factors, which are the state of the television, or OTT business as far as people willing to spend upwards of $150 million per year for the WWE contract.

The current signs, as noted last week, look good. Even though the number that FOX offered UFC currently to renew was a disappointment, it still represented a significant increase over the terms of the last deal, and more than USA pays WWE, even though WWE brings in far more viewers.

It is believed the value of UFC will serve as a benchmark for the value of WWE, and WWE is no longer losing viewers at a high rate as in the past, so the fear of it being yesterday’s news and wrestling as a declining industry really isn’t there now. I mean, it’s not increasing unless you use fake stats like social media, but the fan base is more willing to spend more money and the fan base is steady, with the mature total fan base numbers (TV ratings and attendance) declining some, and the newer parts of the business (WWE Network) increasing at a slow level. But last year at this time they were in double-digit declines, and that’s been steadied.

Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios noted that the current contract with USA for Raw and Smackdown ends on September 30, 2019, while the U.K. contract with Sky (which has seen drastic drops in audience in recent years) expires on December 31, 2019, the same date as the other of the big three deals, with Sony Pictures in India.

He said to expect an announcement of a new U.S. deal between May and September of next year, or more than a full year before the current deal expires. That would seem to indicate a renewal with USA if a new deal is being announced that far in advance, and that they are in talks and happy enough with how the talks are going and probably in the ballpark from a money standpoint. Losing Raw would be a huge blow to USA because they have nothing they can put on that would generate the kind of numbers WWE gives them for five prime-time hours weekly.

While not said, WWE is targeting late 2018 for finalizing and announcing a new long-term deal in the U.K., and early 2019 for doing the same in India.

“We still believe in the Pay TV platform,” said Barrios. We think bundles will exist. There may be different bundles but we think they’ll exist. Raw and Smackdown have proven to be pretty powerful tools of engagement that allows our partner to monetize through advertising and subscription. We’ll see what the market is like next year. We’re having these discussions. We don’t know. So, nobody likes to see the ratings go down, but relatively speaking, Raw and Smackdown in the U.S., specifically, other markets like India are, were powerful aggregators of eyeballs. And what that means in the marketplace, we’ll see.”

The network, while losing subscribers at almost exactly last year’s similar seasonal rate, is still above last year, and with cost cutbacks as far as less original programming, the profit margin was up far more than the subscriber number would indicate.

But there was a huge lesson, and that is, when it comes to business, booking and creative no longer matter.

WWE pushed strong main events on Raw PPV’s during the quarter, with Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe, Lesnar vs. Joe vs. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns, and Lesnar vs. Strowman as well as a Smackdown show built around Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton. They also heavily pushed the Mae Young Classic. The result was a season decrease of 61,000 subscribers worldwide, based on 392,000 new subscribers and 453,000 canceled subscriptions. It also indicated, which has been the case every year since the network came, that SummerSlam, as hard as it is pushed, isn’t a major driver for either getting new subscribers or bringing back older ones.

For the same period last year, new subscribers were 388,000 and canceled subscribers were 455,000, or almost identical. The four PPVs that year were headlined by Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. Reigns, Ambrose vs. A.J. Styles, Lesnar vs. Orton and Kevin Owens vs. Rollins.

Of the 61,000 drop, it was 52,000 in North America and 9,000 outside of North America.

On 9/30, the WWE Network had 1,105,500 North American subscribers and 401,700 subscribers outside North America for 1,507,200 total. There were also 71,000 free subscribers. I would consider that number disappointing because the product has seemed better, but it didn’t translate into new buyers. It’s become clear that the WWE Network is all about growth from January through WrestleMania, or perhaps the month after WrestleMania because they allow people to see Mania for free, the slow declines until the next January.

One year ago this week, WWE projected that the worldwide subscriptions on this date would be 1,629,000. This year they are making no predictions about network numbers past giving a projected fourth quarter average of 1,470,000 paid.

Last year’s fourth quarter lost 41,000 subscribers, and if this year is similar, as it was last quarter, the year-end number would be in the range of 1,466,000 subscribers.

There is still overall year-to-year-growth, but it’s slow, slow enough that the idea of even two million subscribers at a steady state isn’t happening soon and the three to four million numbers they talk about is a fantasy.

Last year on the same date, the WWE Network had 1,070,800 North American subscribers and 373,400 subscribers outside the U.S., for a total of 1,458,000, plus 42,000 getting it for free. So as far as full-year growth, it was up 44,000 in North America, or 4.1 percent, and 28,000 outside North America, or 7.5 percent.

Based on similar annual growth, and that probably isn’t the case because growth has slowed every year and not stayed steady, it would be 2025 before they would hit the two million mark.

“I think if you said two years from now what will the network look like, it probably has multiple tiers in that it allows different types of our consumers to experience it,” said Barrios. “And it probably is in at least one additional language. I think that’s what’s coming. But it’s less about the competition. It really is about the timing, back to the element of investing versus driving earnings growth with balancing that and so that goes into the discussions around timing.”

The key, as in all aspects of the business today is that the attempts to expand the fan base have not been successful for whatever reason. So it’s about maximizing revenue with the existing fan base.

Michelle Wilson, the company’s Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer, noted that the company’s most important network content (the major shows) are already provided in eight different languages.

“We’re getting out ahead of that to market that locally as well as we were kind of testing through that, so we’re feeling good about that as a key driver of local viewership.”

Overall television ratings were similar, and house shows were down eight percent, from a 5,300 per show average to 4,900 in North America, but house show profitability went up due to running more events and the increase in floor and in particular ringside ticket prices.

The key to WWE business, and really the entire pro wrestling business outside of the guaranteed television money, is that they are charging more and making significantly more money per customer from a slightly dwindling fan base.

Ultimately the company, largely due to the guaranteed money from television, is, a first for a major pro wrestling company, they are guaranteed profitability unless they suddenly do things really stupid like WCW did at the end, regardless of the product they deliver. Indeed, in this current environment, the worst of WCW would have been a profitable entity because television revenue would have overcome all the losses based on people no longer paying money for the product.

As far as the Jinder Mahal question, the short-term answer is that it hasn’t hurt the company, but hasn’t helped where it was geared to either. When it comes to total revenue from Asia/Pacific, which would be mostly India and some Japan, it was $18,736,000 for the quarter, up from $18,419,000, so essentially unchanged, and that includes the television contract escalators, meaning while we can’t break this down and there is Japan and South Korea involved, the Mahal play short-term as world champion has not generated any new revenue out of India that wouldn’t be there already. At the same time, there is no evidence at all that Mahal as champion has hurt business in the U.S., although we’ll break down the September and October business, and breakout Smackdown from Raw, in a week or two.

Revenue from the U.K., the company’s No. 2 market behind the U.S., was $15,826,000 this year in those three months, while last year during the same period it was $17,290,000.

Overall, while the company is gearing overseas for growth, it was the North American market, which saw a 19 percent growth in revenue, largely from television, while overseas ($45,685,000 this year; $45,635,000 last year) was almost identical.

Those numbers contradict the social media growth that the company touts, because 70 to 80 percent of social media and YouTube viewership comes in the markets where revenue is stagnant. The company has gotten strongly behind pushing social media numbers with the idea it will lead to growth, but thus far there is no evidence of growing the fan base, and the markets with the most social media growth have grown revenue.

Vince McMahon spoke of the new battle plan of doing a local language television weekly This Week in WWE highlights show like they have in places like India, the Middle East, Mexico and Central America, as well as China, with the idea of getting the stars over in a language other than English, as well as doing interviews and segments in the country to tie to the stars more into the local culture.

McMahon pushed the launching of the WWE Network in China, but as the network subscription totals show, at this point, the number of subscribers looks to be negligible. Obviously, it’s a long-term play, but you’d hope for something at least significant enough to be mentioned from the start.

“I think the growth eventually, and especially in some of the larger developing markets,” said Barrios. “We know a pretty good fan base (is) India or the Middle East or Latin America (and growth) will come through that localization.”

Regarding China, no specific information was given.

“So again, it’s early days there as you know, and early days for us and early days for SVOD services in China,” said Wilson. “So really, too early to tell. Again, it’s definitely a long play in that market. What I will say is the activation and the subscribers that we’ve seen come on board in the first couple of months, we’ve been pleased, our partners have been pleased but nothing beyond that. I think we’ll disclose at some point but again a longer play in that market as SVOD continues to grow in the marketplace.”

It was funny when McMahon brought up they signed up Kavita Davi from India and Shadia Bseiso from the Middle East, and didn’t know the names, and nobody else in the company on the call knew Bseiso’s name past she was from Jordan, and Wilson noted that 40 percent of the talent at the Performance Center comes from outside the U.S.

McMahon pushed that there are now 200 different advertisers that do business with the company and 70 of them have come along in the past three years.

Wilson noted the key additions include Nationwide Insurance, Toyota, Cricket Wireless, Sprint, Pfizer and Craft. Many of those are the type of companies that a decade ago wouldn’t have touched pro wrestling.

Barrios said that the only revenue stream that is in decline is home video.

Here is a breakdown of what revenues come from what part of the world over the past three months and a comparison as to how that has changed over the past few years.

  2017 2016 2015 2014
North America 75.5% 72.2% 75.8% 78.1%
Europe/Middle East/Africa 13.2% 15.0% 13.7% 9.7%
Asia/Pacific 10.1% 11.3% 9.6% 11.4%
Latin America 1.2% 1.5% 1.0% 0.8%

 

While again, it’s too early to tell anything and the next quarter would be a far better gauge, but at least initially, the big thing McMahon talked about, having local language television shows in the markets like India, the Middle East, Mexico and Central America, that weren’t there a year ago, have not resulted in any new revenue that wasn’t there a year ago, and considering the TV deals have escalators, staying even in those markets means actual consumer spending in those markets has decreased.

In looking at profits, by division (in millions of dollars) for the quarter, this is the comparison with the past few years.

 

  2017 2016 2015 2014
Live events (tickets/merch) $9.31 $8.16 $8.19 $5.48
PPV/network $25.93 $17.40 $17.65 $2.32
Television $36.48 $33.36 $26.55 $20.71
Licensing $6.75 $4.61 $7.06 $5.83
Home Video $0.71 $0.90 $1.34 $1.28
Digital (website/YouTube) $3.30 $2.64 ---- ----
WWE Shop $1.44 $1.30 ---- ----
WWE Studios -$0.21 $0.88 -$0.90 -$0.42

The combination of Digital and WWE shop profits were $4.30 million in 2015 and $2.73 million in 2014.

 

The WWE Network generated $47.5 million in total revenue during the quarter, up from $42.8 million last year, which is an 11 percent increase in revenue even though subscriptions were only up four percent.

Where the stronger PPV lineup did make a difference is that PPV revenue for the quarter increased 22 percent and actual PPV buys were up 24 percent, but unfortunately, that’s now a very small part of the business, as it’s only the difference of $2.3 million compared with $2.8 million. Essentially this shows that the stronger PPV lineup did make a significant difference in PPV sales, but not network sales. So to say booking and strength of the show no longer has an effect in WWE wouldn’t be the case, but it has the least impact on business success than at any time with any company in industry history. The value of a great program really doesn’t mean a lot and bad booking really doesn’t hurt a lot, although terrible creative for a long period of time probably would still hurt somewhat, but it’s also unlikely creative will ever be terrible given the people in charge have far more understanding of the fans and the product and what makes it work compared to people in eras when companies that had the financial resources to succeed were destroyed from within.

The increased profits from the segment, which were significant, came from a combination of things including the PPV increase, the network revenue increase as well as lowering both the production costs and lowering the amount spent on new programming.

Television revenues increased from $56.3 million to $64.7 million. Most of the increase came from increased money paid for Raw, Smackdown and other shows, as well as the airing of four episodes of Total Bellas in the quarter, when last year no episodes of Total Divas or Total Bellas aired during the quarter.

More money was spent on production of Raw and Smackdown during the quarter. The company spent about $1,019,231 per episode of Raw and Smackdown to produce the shows this year. Last year that figure was about $946,154.

Home entertainment brought in $2.3 million in revenue this quarter as compared to $2.5 million in the same quarter last year. The number of units shipped declined from 346,700 to 241,700. While 30 percent fewer units were shipped, that was offset by the raising of prices as there was a 28 percent increase in the average price per unit sold.

Digital media brought in $7.9 million for the quarter, up from $6.5 million last year. The increase was mostly due to increased advertising on the company’s website. The gigantic number of YouTube watching would be in this category but the revenue is so insignificant that it isn’t even broken down.

Total live event revenue increased from $28.0 million for the quarter to $31.0 million. The North American revenue increased from $21.0 million to $25.8 million, but the overseas revenue declined from $7.0 million to $5.8 million.

Venue merchandise increased in total from $5.1 million to $5.5 million due to the addition of 14 more shows.

Last year for the quarter there were 71 shows in North America which averaged 5,300 tickets sold and $267,703 in ticket revenue per show and $56,763 in merchandise per show. This year there were 89 shows that averaged 4,900 tickets sold and $260,239 in ticket revenue per show and $51,646 in merchandise per show. The average ticket price rose from $50.51 to $53.11. Merchandise purchased per head was $10.71 last year and $10.54 this year, which is in the usual range over the past decade.

Outside of North America, last year there were 11 shows that averaged 8,200 tickets sold for $591,466. This year in the quarter there were seven shows that averaged 6,800 tickets sold $727,396.

Last year in this quarter, NXT ran 44 shows and averaged 911 tickets sold and $33,265. This year in the quarter, NXT ran 45 shows and averaged 884 tickets sold for $37,058.

Licensing revenue increased from $9.0 million for the quarter to $11.3 million. $900,000 of that increase was due to the WWE Supercard game.

WWE shop revenues, a number that has been increasing for years, actually declined from $7.5 million to $7.2 million, even with the average order price increasing from $42.48 to $47.02. For the first time in years, orders were down, from 1,877 per day to 1,677 per day. However, profitability in this category is still up.

The cost of the Performance Center, in a category that also includes talent travel expenses and appearance fees, increased from $5.4 million last year in the quarter to $5.6 million.

The company has $263 million in cash and cash equivalents on the balance sheet, but that is misleading because $216 million of that comes from money being loaned. On 12/31, they had $267.1 million in cash and cash equivalents and $202.7 million of that was from loans.

The company’s 50 percent ownership in Tapout resulted in $34,000 in profits for the quarter, down from $310,000 for the same period last year.

The recent investment in Cloud9 was $2 million.


Documentaries on Ric Flair, Conor McGregor and Ted DiBiase will be coming out in the U.S. over the next week.

The Flair 30 for 30 piece will debut on 11/7 on ESPN at 10 p.m. Eastern, shortly after a one show Fathom Events theatrical release covering the life of DiBiase in a documentary called “The Price of Fame,” at 7 p.m. (Check your time zone as it may vary). The next night, there will be a one show release of the documentary “Notorious,” covering the last four years of the life of McGregor, at 7:30 p.m.

The McGregor documentary will include an interview with McGregor, filmed on 11/1, during the world premiere in Dublin.

McGregor made a remark that negotiations to return to UFC, that are ongoing, may not end up so simple.

“They’ve got to entice me now because I come from a billion dollar fight. I want equity. I want pay-per-view. I want to be a true partner. You have to entice me now. I want to be a partner. I want to be a promoter and I want to be a fighter for me to continue.”

The Flair documentary is a gripping and often exaggerated account of the life of Flair, particularly during his heyday, which lasted a couple of decades, when he was one of the best performers in the history of the business.

Of course, most of the exaggerations, which will likely be talked about the most, came from a series of interviews with Flair, such as the idea he slept with 10,000 women over the course of his lifetime, which is likely to get more attention with people trying to debunk the number than the heavier issues that come out.

While there will be a mention of his recent health issue, in the actual documentary, the decision was made not to include it.

The film is mostly Flair telling stories, people talking about Flair flashing himself on an airplane, or drinking, and trying to analyze why he was what he was.

He portrayed himself as a guy who drank heavily every single night, was around women every single night, and clips from pro wrestling television shows and vignettes, promotional clips of him traveling in a private jet and having models with his for some of his television interviews were shown with the idea that was his real life. And some of the time, it was, although it was strange using clips from pro wrestling television shows and models brought in to enhance his persona and act like that was real life. But real life and television persona weren’t that different, and when Flair was asked about what was the source of his famous interviews and talking about women, and he replied, “the night before,” or talking about when he was on TBS and would tell people the hotel he and his crew were staying at to draw crowds for after-show partying that was where real life and television portrayals were often hard to distinguish. In those days, pro wrestlers were encouraged to live their gimmick. And in his case, he probably didn’t need much encouraging.

Rory Karpf did a great job as far as producing a gripping and entertaining piece that different people will take in different ways.

To some, people will be in awe of the life he led, while others will think it was sad. Flair clearly loved talking about his heyday, but no story about him can be complete without the moment that in many ways overrode his entire life, the death of son Reid at the age of 25 from a heroin overdose, or the clips showing him at 60 working and taking bumps in thumbtacks and bleeding while working for TNA after his WWE retirement. At the same time, the retirement was not his choice, and he was no longer working for WWE at the time, and had three (soon to be four) ex-wives.

There is so much to Flair that you really only got a slice of things. You certainly were given the impression that he was a huge star in wrestling, pretty much that he and Hulk Hogan were the two biggest stars of the 80s, and his promo ability is out there hitting you in the face. Even so, his stature internally, whether he was the greatest of all-time or at worst, one of the few guys in that discussion, wasn’t quite as clear. His financial issues and legal issues stemming from those financial issues were really not touched upon.

There was an attempt to portray him as someone who was an adopted child and whose parents had a completely different value structure and never came to his matches or saw him as a headliner, and perhaps that’s why he was always craving attention.

Every parent in the situation of losing a child to drugs will look back and question where they went wrong. The idea portrayed is that he was never around, which actually wasn’t the case with Reid and Ashley, and Ashley did talk about him being at her practices and all of her games as a high school volleyball star. Reid followed his lead when it came to drinking, and after that, ended up using street drugs like black tar heroin, which he couldn’t cope with and Ric couldn’t fully understand how to deal with, but few parents could.

Flair is portrayed as a bad parent, someone who was never home, and he said that himself, even though that really wasn’t the case with his youngest two children, since from the mid-90s, he worked a far more manageable schedule than the insane schedule as world champion, and the very tough schedule he had as the top star in the Carolinas who also took bookings all over the world because of his stardom before the world champion run.

He was, in fact, heavily involved in their lives and in particular, their sports careers. In fact, his ex-wife Beth, who was not shown in the documentary, had said that if anything, he was too devoted to their sports and that he was living his life vicariously through their athletic achievements.

It’s something he doesn’t argue, noting that the greatest thrill of his life in wrestling was Ashley winning the WWE women’s title and admitting that he lives through her current success.

Of course, that means a lot of frustration, because her path in the business is very different from his. While she has been involved in breaking some key barriers, her match with Natalya on an NXT Takeover was a key moment in changing the face and perception of women inside the WWE, and even more so, her match with Sasha Banks in San Jose a few years ago was even bigger since Vince McMahon was there live for the event and saw the two tear the house down in a way that no women’s match on the main roster ever had. Against McMahon’s wishes, but with one person after another trying to convince him, Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks were put on last, in the main event position, on a WWE PPV show.

The death of Reid is the heaviest portion of the documentary and the take that will resonate the most, including the controversial airing of Ric’s panicked 911 call as he saw his son in a hotel room next to death from an overdose. The scene near the end, showing clips of Ric, Reid and Ashley, all using the figure four one after another and noting that Ashley’s success in wrestling was not her dream, but her living her little brother’s dream out.

Ashley becoming a wrestler, something she never considered until John Laurinaitis tried to sell her on it, came because Reid thought it would be cool for them to move to Florida and train together. But Reid never made it to Florida, as he failed a drug test that he had to pass before he would be offered a WWE contract.

It wasn’t noted how many close calls there had been in the past, or the money spent on rehab that didn’t work. In fact, Reid’s working for All Japan Pro Wrestling with the hope that getting him out of Charlotte and away from the bad influences he hung out with was the best thing to turn his life around. But he was brought back from Japan to do some shows with Ric and attend WrestleMania. The night before they were to leave to go on the road, with them staying at a hotel room to get ready for a flight out the next morning, he overdosed. Unlike the other times, this wasn’t a near miss.

The film has extensive clips from Flair’s first wife, Leslie, who has never spoken publicly about him, and his two older children, Megan and David, the latter of whom is resentful over Flair never being around during the era where he was really working 300 nights a year, with double-shots on some weekends and some holidays.

Ric has a strained relationship with son David. “He’s just bitter about wrestling and bitter about me not being there,” he said.

David wrestled for WCW but was pushed onto television way too fast and promoted stupidly, and used in bad storylines either designed to get heat on heels for beating up Ric Flair’s son, or heat on Ric Flair for not caring about his son getting beaten up, depending on which day the wind blew. He may not have made it either way. He had some experience when he was in WWE developmental at Ohio Valley Wrestling and never stood out there, and never made the main roster.

It appeared Karpf saw it as a big thing to get Undertaker out of character, and to have Hulk Hogan, who became good friends with Flair in later life, admit that Flair was a far better wrestler than he ever was.

The star of the piece was Paul Levesque, who was his close friend as well as the closest person to his boss during the last six years of Flair’s WWE career. Levesque minces no words in describing Flair as someone who they teach aspiring wrestlers about, both the positives of him as a performer and as a cautionary tale of what happens when you live that kind of a lifestyle. Indeed, the larger than life type of lifestyle 24 hours a day that people like Flair and Dusty Rhodes played, which made them larger-than-life, is also something that is frowned upon today, which many people feel is why characters of that caliber aren’t in today’s wrestling world.

Flair was a mess about Reid’s death, drinking daily from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., and eventually, Levesque was able to convince him, by insisting to him, that he had to go to rehab. Still, he kept drinking after rehab, although now, due to his death scare, he claims his drinking days are over. In the documentary, which ends before the health scare, Flair claimed that why would he ever stop.

Flair, when promoting his first book in 2004, was on “Off the Record” and you could see the questions in his head about looking back on life. He acknowledged not being around for his oldest children, but noted that the nature of how the business was at the time, particularly when he was world champion and constantly on the road, that it was how it was. He noted he never could have been the wrestling star he was during that era as far as being the NWA world champion and been around. At the time, he said that he thought he made the wrong decision.

But the documentary ends with him seemingly looking back and, whether it was good or bad, that was his life, noting that he would never be considered the greatest husband of all-time, or the greatest father of all-time, but maybe he would be considered the greatest and most entertaining pro wrestler of all-time.

There were screenings this past week in both New York and Atlanta for the show.

A lot of WWE talent was brought to both screenings as WWE had a hand in the film.

“I wouldn’t even begin to think about drinking,” he said to the AP this past week at the Atlanta screening. “If you ever hear that I’m out drinking again, say, `Ric, you deserve whatever you get.’”

The DiBiase film, which his son, former wrestler Ted DiBiase Jr., had a hand in putting together, was a look at how DiBiase living the life of his Million Dollar Man character nearly ruined his real life. There are some similarities, just as having too much fun on the road while making big money being one of the biggest stars in the business, between Flair and DiBiase.

The biggest difference is that DiBiase wanted to save his family when confronted by his wife for his infidelity, and then found religion, and has made that his passion. While DiBiase did work in wrestling, a stint as a manager in WCW that kind of became useless when Eric Bischoff put himself in the same role with the same group, and later worked in WWE creative but had issues with how the business has changed, for the most part, he’s spent the last decades working as a traveling minister around the country. He noted that he’s not rich, even though he played the character, and is very happy with that.


It’s almost buried among the news that arguably the single greatest in-ring pro wrestler competitor in history is retiring this week, and the person who fits that description is a woman.

Manami Toyota, 46, has what is being pushed as the final show of her career and the end of her retirement tour on 11/3 at the 650-seat Osanbachi Hall in Yokohama. Toyota was one of the major stars, and often the top babyface for All Japan women in the early and mid-90s, which was not the popularity peak of the promotion, but was its peak as far as in-ring quality when they were producing many of the best matches in the world of that era. A number of the women wrestlers today who were real students of pro wrestling list her as their all-time favorite.

The format of the show is that Toyota will do 50 consecutive one minute long matches, complete with full ring introductions of her 50 different opponents, some of whom are coming out of retirement, including Bull Nakano and Carlos Amano, who both didn’t even wrestle on their own retirement shows.

Oz Academy, the promotion run by Mayumi Ozaki, which drew the largest women’s wrestling crowd in several years on 10/29 for Toyota’s last major singles match with Aja Kong, is promoting the event.

Osanbachi Hall was picked for its look, considered perhaps the most beautiful small arena in Japan, and because Toyota called it her favorite arena to work in. The hard camera faces a back window that overlooks the harbor and ships sail by during the matches. It’s like a Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat stage.

Some of the 50 wrestlers in the match include Tequila Saya, Bolshoi Kid, Akino, Risa Sera, Kaori Yoneyama, Sonoko Kato, Leon, Chigusa Nagayo, Nakano, Amano, Ryuji Ito (a male wrestler from Big Japan), Jaguar Yokota, Kaoru, Tsukasa Fujimoto, Hikaru Shida, Yumiko Hotta, Ikuto Hidaka (another male wrestler from Zero-One), Isamu Kodaka (a male wrestler from Pro Wrestling Basara), Etsuko Mita and Toshiyo Yamada.

Nagayo, the most popular woman wrestler of all-time was one of Toyota’s childhood heroes. Nakano was one of the big opponents during the period when Toyota was 18 and 19 years old when she was getting over huge as a star. Yamada was her most famous tag team partner and who she had some of her best singles matches against and tag team matches with. Hotta and Mita were also her contemporaries during the glory days of that promotion. Yokota was the first truly super women’s worker, whose heyday came when Toyota was in grade school.


The WWE health scare and other talent concerns are largely over as Bray Wyatt, Bo Dallas, Nia Jax and JoJo Offerman all returned this past week.

All but Wyatt appeared on Raw on 10/30 in Baltimore and have been cleared. Roman Reigns, suffering from the mumps, wasn’t cleared yet and was pulled from the European tour. Reigns is scheduled to return on the 11/13 Raw in Atlanta and to be on Team Raw for the Survivor Series on 11/19 in Houston.

HHH is replacing Reigns on at least the first week of the Raw tour of Europe and on the first show in Glasgow, he was part of The Shield, wearing a Shield costume while teaming with Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins against Cesaro & Sheamus & Wyatt. He has not been announced for the second week of the tour.

As noted here, Jax’s situation was only that she was taking a few weeks off and was always scheduled to return for the European tour, although the Baltimore Raw was her first show back. Baltimore was where everyone was flying out of to go to Glasgow to start the tour.

With Reigns expected back, the plans for the Raw vs. Smackdown match, which is the real main event for Survivor Series, is Kurt Angle (as team captain) & Reigns & Braun Strowman & Samoa Joe & Finn Balor vs. Shane McMahon (as team captain) & A.J. Styles & Bobby Roode & Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura in an elimination match .

All members of the Smackdown team have been announced except Styles, who at the moment is scheduled to earn his spot by beating Rusev on the 11/7 Smackdown show in Manchester. The only Raw team members announced at this point are Angle & Strowman.

What’s notable is that they are giving Kane the megapush to be Strowman’s opponent, but if that match doesn’t take place at Survivor Series, the next time the Raw talent will be on PPV won’t be until the Royal Rumble on 1/28 in Philadelphia, which seems like an awfully long time for WWE to hold off a match. Kane and Strowman are scheduled for at least some house shows going forward.

The rest of Survivor Series remains the same, with the four battles of champions, Raw vs. Smackdown, with no belts at stake, being Brock Lesnar vs. Jinder Mahal (the plan is for a special referee that has not yet been announced), The Miz vs. Baron Corbin, Alexa Bliss vs. Natalya and Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins vs. The Usos.

The other match will be a five-on-five women’s elimination match with Raw captain Alicia Fox teaming with Nia Jax & Bayley & Sasha Banks & Mickie James against Smackdown captain Becky Lynch teaming with Charlotte Flair & Tamina & Carmella & Naomi.


New Japan’s week was built around its annual Super Juniors tag team tournament, a single-elimination tournament that concludes on the 11/5 Power Struggle show in Osaka with IWGP jr. tag champions Sho & Yoh facing Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH.

The tournament has been good, but nowhere near the level of the singles Best of the Super Juniors tournament earlier in the year. Thus far, the two best matches involved Hiromu Takahashi & Bushi, in their first-round win over Dragon Lee & Titan, and their semifinals loss to Sho & Yoh.

The complete Power Struggle show, which starts at 2:40 a.m. Eastern time (factoring in clocks already moving back) and 12:40 a.m. Pacific (with the idea that the clocks don’t move back until 2 a.m.), will have, in order, David Finlay vs. Katsuya Kitamura, Young Bucks vs. Dragon Lee & Titan, Juice Robinson & Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Kushida & Hirai Kawato vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Desperado & Taka Michinoku, Togi Makabe & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs. Cody & Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens, Taguchi & ACH vs. Sho & Yoh, Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi & Gedo vs. Tetsuya Naito &

Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi, Minoru Suzuki vs. Toru Yano in a bullrope match for the Never open weight title, Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll for the IWGP jr. title, Kenny Omega vs. Baretta for the U.S. title and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi for the IC title.

Baretta got the title shot after challenging Omega after both the 10/29 and 10/30 shows at Korakuen Hall. Baretta on both shows used the Dudebuster to win the falls in trios matches teaming with Ospreay & Yoshi-Hashi over Omega & Scurll & Owens, both times over Owens. The second match was a comedy match where the Bullet Club was dressed up like characters from Aladdin. The match built to a kiss on the mouth with Scurll and Omega as Aladdin and Jasmine, which then resulted in Ospreay knocking both out of the ring and doing a Space flying Tiger drop. Ospreay then used a 450 splash while holding the magic carpet on Owens to set up the Baretta pin.

Suzuki vs. Yano probably won’t be a good match, but their interaction because of their unique and divergent ring personalities usually end up entertaining. I can’t recall a New Japan bullrope match so who knows what you’ll get. The top three bouts look great.

This is really the last major show of its kind before the Tokyo Dome, because the December tag tourney final usually doesn’t have big singles matches, and the post-tag tourney shows should be tag matches involving the Dome participants.

The participants in the tag team tournament that runs from 11/18 to 12/11 will be announced either at this show or at a press conference a day or two later. It is likely that angles related to a number of championships at the Tokyo Dome, it could be as many as the IWGP jr. tag, jr. singles, Never, IC and U.S. titles for Wrestle Kingdom will be shot in Osaka, which sold out weeks in advance. One would expect if not all, that most of those titles will have their Dome match-up shot in Osaka.

In addition, the identity of Switchblade will be revealed in Osaka. The names mentioned the most are Jay White, who has been losing a lot in ROH, and Sami Callihan, who at least as of several weeks ago was supposed be debuting in the tag team tournament.

As far as the tag tourney goes, all three shows sold out Korakuen Hall, with the 10/23 show doing 1,654 paid, the 10/29 show doing 1,726 paid and the 10/30 show doing 1,728 paid. In fact, this current tour has been a big success with every show but two selling out.

For 10/23, the Sho & Yoh win over Kushida & Hirai Kawato in 12:39 was a great storytelling match. Kawato was the star of the match and reminded me so much of Nobuhiko Takada at the same stage of his career where you can see the ability and how much the fans get behind him and want him to win. Kawato did big moves that the crowd was behind until falling victim so a backstabber by Sho and the 3K finisher in a **** match.

The other match the first night was Hiromu Takahashi & Bushi over Dragon Lee & Titan in 20:20. This was more spectacular because there are few wrestlers on the planet that work together as well as Takahashi and Lee. The match ended up great but not everything worked. They were killing each other with chops early and the crowd wasn’t buying the chops big. There were spots where the crowd was just waiting for them to do something spectacular, but they always did. Lee & Titan looked too good to lose in the first round but obviously, they wanted Takahashi vs. Lee. The Mexicans did a simultaneous double flip dive. They brawled in the stands. Bushi went after Titan’s mask and ripped it up and Takahashi did the same to Lee. Earlier, Lee stomped on a Kamaitachi (Takahashi’s name in Mexico) mask, supposedly rubbing it in that he beat Takahashi for his mask. I went ****1/4 for this and so much of it was spectacular. At one point it looked like Titan was going to do an Asai moonsault on Bushi. Instead, he switched in mid-move and monkey flipped Takahashi. Then Lee did a tope under Titan’s legs and Titan hit the Asai moonsault. Lee & Titan came off the top rope in the same corner together with a splash and leg drop combo. Lee went for his jump over the top rope into a huracanrana on Takahashi off the apron, but this time Takahashi blocked it and power bombed Lee on the apron. The finish saw Takahashi hit Lee with a Canadian Destroyer, and then Takahashi & Bushi did a double codebreaker on Titan for a near fall. The finish saw Takahashi put Titan on his shoulders in Doomsday Device position and Bushi came off the top rope with the MX, which they called the Double Impact MX, on Titan for the pin.

On 10/29, it was Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Desperado beating Tiger Mask & Jushin Liger in 17:28. This ended when Kanemaru blew whiskey in Liger’s facer, and then Desperado hit Liger with the whiskey bottle and he used the Pinche Loco (pedigree) on Tiger for the pin. I’d go **3/4 for that one.

The other saw Taguchi & ACH beat Taka Michinoku & Taichi in 18:42. Lots of comedy early. ACH looked great here, but he’s in a horrible position having to take the place of Ricochet on Team Taguchi. Taguchi had a rip on the seat of his pants, which may have been done ahead of time since Taichi was tearing up his pants and Taguchi himself did it as well. Taguchi missed a Silver King dive to the floor and crashed. ACH missed a pescado and crashed himself on the floor. The finish saw a combination of a Dodon and an X-factor, which they are calling the Super 69, and Taguchi pinned Taichi. **½

On 10/30, ACH & Taguchi beat Kanemaru & Desperado in 17:06. ACH’s ribs and right thigh are both injured. But he looked good here. After the first few minutes, Taguchi had his working boots on. The thing with this crowd is that they know Taguchi relies on comedy a lot and are okay with it. But they also know when he’s serious, he’s great, and when he did a Silver King dive and hit it, and followed with a running flip dive over the top, they went nuts seeing it was a serious Taguchi match. At the finish, Desperado pulled the ref out of the ring and Kanemaru pulled out the whiskey bottle and went to blow into his opponent’s face, but ended up blowing it into Desperado’s face. ACH hit a 450 on Kanemaru and Desperado saved, but they did the Super 69 and Taguchi pinned Kanemaru. ***3/4

Sho & Yoh advanced over Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi in 20:34. It should be noted that there’s been no Darryl for these matches. There were Darryl’s in the crowd, but not like in the U.S. It’s clear Darryl is way more over among the American fan base, even though the Japanese are into him. I don’t know what Yoh did over the past week, but his chest on the left side was just destroyed, like he’d spent a week working singles with Walter. It was like Ric Flair during the Ronnie Garvin feud, where it was so busted up that it was bleeding from several cuts after the first few Takahashi chops. This was Wahoo vs. Valentine stuff. They had a super match. Bushi is having a great tournament and Takahashi has figured out that he can’t kill himself in every match and be alive much longer which is actually for the best. Cutting down the daredevil moves has led to him to come up with new ideas for matches and they were all over the place. Sho & Yoh did a double flip dive. Bushi & Takahashi did a double codebreaker on Yoh. The finish saw them do the 3K on Bushi for the pin. ****1/4


Going head-to-head with the World Series, the UFC show on 10/28 in Sao Paulo, Brazil was the UFC’s least successful prime-time show of the FS 1 era.

A show that featured top Brazilian stars Demian Maia and Lyoto Machida both getting beaten by Americans Colby Covington and Derek Brunson, the latter leaving the vocal crowd deathly quiet, ended up hitting a ratings low for a UFC prime time show on FS 1.

The three-hour main card averaged 588,000 viewers, peaking at 671,000 for Maia vs. Covington. The previous lows were 609,000, set twice, once on May 31, 2014, for a show headlined by Stipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado, and on July 13, 2016, which was the fourth UFC show in a seven day period, on a Wednesday night, which was headlined by John Lineker vs. Michael McDonald.

The peak being for the semi instead of the main event is because Brunson beat Machida in 2:30, leaving little time to build up the audience, while Maia vs. Covington went the full three rounds.

The World Series game which drew 15,400,000 viewers was the obvious reason, although the same level of card against the World Series last year would probably have done significantly better and there is also an overall strong decline in product interest.

All MMA numbers are down this year, and the key is the lack of the big stars being around. Another thing to think about, since there’s been another drop in the past few months, is whether the McGregor vs. Mayweather fight hurt the short-term interest of the sport because it was very much portrayed as MMA vs. boxing, and even though anyone who knows the game knew it was strictly a money grab that McGregor had no shot at winning past Mayweather getting a freak injury in the middle of the fight, to the public it was the big talking MMA superstar being unable to back his mouth up and his backers who bet like crazy on him were the ones who looked foolish in the end.

The prelims, on FS 2 because FS 1 was carrying college football (which did 769,000 viewers for a Minnesota vs. Iowa game), did 198,000 viewers. That’s the lowest number among the shows that FS 2 has carried the prelims on in three years, but that’s no surprise going head-to-head with the World Series.

Brunson and Covington ended up as the stars of the show. Brunson issued a challenge to Luke Rockhold, a smart choice in the sense that if Rockhold agrees, and Brunson wins, he would be in line for a title shot. Rockhold could also sit up and likely get a middleweight title shot, although it wouldn’t be until late next year since the Georges St-Pierre vs. Michael Bisping winner will first face Robert Whittaker, and from there, that winner would at this point likely face Rockhold.

Covington was the big story of the show. Coming off his run as a heel in the Bobby Lashley ATT storyline on Impact, he went full 70s pro wrestler. In fact, his anti-Brazilian promos infuriated his own team, many of whom are Brazilian.

For whatever reason, Covington’s anti-Brazil promos stuck a nerve with the UFC office, unlike when Chael Sonnen and later Conor McGregor did the same thing. Granted, both of them had far more charm, while Covington came across pure heel. He called the crowd filthy animals, and later apologized–to filthy animals, for comparing them to Brazilians. When he left the cage to go to the back, fans were pelting him with anything not laid down. He also pushed for a title fight with Tyron Woodley, who he claimed he made quit in practice (the two had trained together in the past as both are affiliated with ATT) while Woodley claimed nothing of the sort ever happened. Woodley said that he wouldn’t reward that kind of behavior with a title shot.

On paper, Woodley would have the advantage in the fight as the wrestling should cancel, but Woodley is a much harder hitter.

Machida losing his third in a row, at age 39, makes on question whether he should continue fighting, especially with how quickly he was knocked out.

Other TV numbers for the show were 54,000 viewers for the prefight show on FS 2, and 265,000 viewers for the postfight show on FS 1.

The show drew a sellout of 10,265 fans to the Ginasio do Ibirapuera.

The performance bonuses of $50,000 went to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and Max Griffin for fight of the night, and to Brunson and Pedro Munhoz for best performances.

1. Marcelo Golm (6-0) beat Christian Colombo (8-3-1) in 2:08 in a heavyweight bout. Golm was making his UFC debut. He landed good shots standing, took Colombo down and landed punches from the top. Colombo turned his back and Golm got the choke for the submission.

2. Deiveson Figueiredo (13-0) beat Jarred Brooks (13-1) via split decision on scores of 27-30, 29-28 and 29-28 in a flyweight fight. Brooks got 60% of the media scores which tells you it was close enough that the fight could have gone either way. He also got 67.5% of fan votes. Figueiredo did say that he thought he was going to lose the decision. Brooks got two slam takedowns and punches from the top in the first round. Figueiredo got some good punches in the second round before being taken down. Figueiredo went for two guillotine attempts and Figueiredo got a late takedown. In the third round, Brooks took him down but Figueiredo reversed and went for a choke. Brooks got another takedown, and a suplex. Figueiredo started taking control late as Brooks was tired. Figueiredo got the decision through taking the third round.

3. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (18-5) beat Max Griffin (13-4) on scores of 29-28, 29-27 and 29-28 in a welterweight fight. I’d go 29-27, with a 10-8 first round. The crowd was really hot for this. Griffin knocked dos Santos down early, which would be the argument for not going 10-8. Dos Santos then hurt Griffin standing, landing big punches and lots of punches on the ground. Dos Santos worked for a choke, and gave it up. He then kept punching Griffin on the ground and the fight was on the verge of being stopped as the round ended. Griffin looked done, but in the second round, he came back and scored another knockdown with a fight. Dos Santos was bleeding from the left ear. Griffin was landing good punches early in round three, but dos Santos hurt him with a right and knees. Griffin was hurt again in this round. This was a hell of a fight.

4. Jared Gordon (14-1) beat Hacran Dias (23-6-1) on scores of 29-26, 29-27 and 30-26 in a lightweight fight. Dias landed good punches early. Gordon shoved him down and was on top, but Dias got up and landed more. Gordon had a flurry late so the first round was close. Gordon came out landing and barely missed on a killer head kick, Gordon took him down and landed a lot of punches and elbows on the ground. Gordon asked the ref to stop it once because he was tired of hitting Dias. Gordon got to the mount and landed more punches. He was mad at the end of the round that it wasn’t stopped. Gordon landed more punches in the third round and took Dias down. Dias reversed but Gordon reversed back. Gordon started landing a ton of punches and again asked the ref to stop it. That never works, and psychologically, if you do that, a lot of refs will then not stop it. The ref touched Gordon, who thought that meant it was stopped and let up. He was really mad at that point. Dias worked for an armbar in the waning seconds.

5. Antonio Carlos Jr. (10-2, 1 no contest) beat Jack Marshman (22-7) in 4:30 in a middleweight bout. Carlos is huge for the weight class. The crowd was going nuts for him, because he was a TUF Brazil winner when the show was doing huge ratings. Carlos took him down with a trip, got mount, got his back and finished with a choke.

6. Vicente Luque (12-6-1) beat Niko Price (10-1, 1 no contest) at 4:08 of the second round in a welterweight fight. Price came in unbeaten, but Luque outstruck him the entire fight. Price was bleeding badly from near the left eye by the second round. Luque continued to land punches, dropped Price with a right. He landed a hard left on the ground and finished him with a second attempt at a D’arce choke. Luque looked far better than his record would indicate here.

7. John Lineker (30-8) beat Marlon Vera (10-4-1) on scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 in a bantamweight fight. Lineker is so short for this division. The one thing he has is great power as an equalizer and is one of the top contenders. Vera towered over him. Lineker was not his usual aggressive self coming out. Fans were booing after all the action earlier in the show. Lineker landed a lot of hard punches later in the round to clearly win it, but his punches weren’t hurting Vera like they usually do. In the second round, Vera started with low kicks, but Lineker continued to land hard punches. Vera slipped on a kick and Lineker jumped on him. Lineker was landing hard punches from the top. Lineker was landing more body punches in the third round, but got tired and Vera came back to win the third round.

8. Thiago Santos (16-5) beat Jack Hermansson (16-4) at 4:59 in a middleweight fight. Santos dominated here, landing a lot of punches. At the ten second mark, Santos just exploded, knocking him down and landing hard punches on the ground. It was stopped a split second before the round ended.

9. Francisco Trinaldo (22-5) beat Jim Miller (28-11, 1 no contest) on straight 29-28 scores in a lightweight fight. Here’s a crazy stat. Since he turned 36, more than three years ago, Trinaldo has gone 8-1, and beaten some good people like Paul Felder, Yancy Medeiros, Miller and Ross Pearson in a speed weight class. His only loss was to Kevin Lee, who is one of the top guys in the division. Miller won the first round with two takedowns. In the second round, Miller landed a good punch in a trade. Miller got a guillotine but Trinaldo popped out and was on top, which gave him the round. Miller was exhausted going out for the third round. Trinaldo landed body shots and knees to wear Miller out. Miller threw a kick but Trinaldo used it to take him down and that takedown clinched him the fight.

10. Pedro Munhoz (15-2, 1 no contest) beat Rob Font (14-3) in 4:03 in a bantamweight fight. Font had never been finished in his career. Font got a takedown but let Munhoz up. Munhoz won by landing a punch and quickly grabbing a guillotine.

11. Colby Covington (13-1) beat Demian Maia (25-8) on scores of 29-27, 30-27 and 30-26 in a welterweight fight. Covington was booed like crazy coming out because of all the interviews he’d done in recent weeks about beating Maia. He was playing pro wrestling heel, like Chael Sonnen did years ago. It wasn’t a Sonnen reaction but it was really loud. Covington is very small for the division, as he went into the cage about 180, and most here are closer to 190. Covington was able to block all of Maia’s takedowns. He was landing low kicks. Covington was bleeding from the right eye and was clearly bothered by the blood. Both were landing punches. Covington fought a smart fight as he kept up a fast pace, and Maia came out hard wanting to knock him out because of all the things Covington had said. Covington figured, and correctly so, that Maia would get tired first. The first round was close. In the second round, Covington started landing more punches and continued to block takedown attempts. Maia was exhausted by the end of the round and his takedown attempts got weaker and weaker. In the third round, it was one-sided as Maia was exhausted and Covington kept landing. Maia was bleeding from the nose. By the end of the fight, Maia was bleeding like crazy. Two judges went 10-8 in the third round.

12. Derek Brunson (18-5) beat Lyoto Machida (22-8) in 2:30 in a middleweight fight. Machida landed some early but Brunson landed two hard lefts, the second of which put Machida down. He was knocked out cold with three punches on the ground and the place went quiet.


Another Hall of Fame retirement took place this past week, but it may be harder to take this one seriously, given history.

Atsushi Onita, who just turned 60 last week, and whose idol is Terry Funk, had his seventh retirement on 10/31 at Korakuen Hall before an overflow crowd of 2,000 fans.

Onita first retired in 1985 due to knee problems, and then had a huge retirement at the peak of his popularity in 1995, after losing a retirement match in 1994 with Genichiro Tenryu. He then milked that out saying after losing that he would wrestle one more year. He managed to pack Kawasaki Baseball Stadium twice, for his match with Tenryu and the next year for his retirement match with Hayabusa. He returned 19 months later, doing a gimmick where he was called Mr. Liar, for breaking his vow.

At the time, the Japanese held the idea of retirements as something that it was disrespectful to lie about. When Terry Funk retired in 1983, after a long build and in one of the most emotional retirement ceremonies in wrestling history, and came back, his popularity was never the same. But the feeling in Japan was that he was an American, and Americans do that type of thing. With Onita, who was a huge drawing card, one of the biggest stars of the era as the father of a style of wrestling that later became called hardcore wrestling in the U.S., it was different.

Still, Onita built up retirements again in 2003, 2005 (he stayed out of the ring almost three years for that one), 2009 and 2010, with him returning rather quickly the previous two times.

At his retirement ceremony, he pushed that age has caught up to him and his knees have gotten worse. He said that he now has trouble walking up and down the stairs. Over the past few months, he’s insisted that this retirement is real, and at his age, that does make sense. But he’s also Terry Funk’s protégé. It is known that Onita wanted to bring in Funk for his retirement, and Funk did a couple of shows recently to test out whether he’d be able to still work at 73. Considering he wasn’t here, that may indicate we’ve also seen the last of Funk, at least in Japan, but history always proves that one to be false as well.

Onita said that he doesn’t want to ever wrestle again, but does want to continue to contribute to pro wrestling in a noteworthy way, and said he would explain that soon.

Onita was a unique character. He dropped out of high school at the age of 15 and started training for Giant Baba’s All Japan Pro Wrestling, making his debut at 16. He was the first graduate of All Japan’s training school, beating Masa Fuchi by a few weeks. Since the Baba’s never had children of their own, they treated Onita & Fuchi like their first two children. Onita idolized Terry Funk, who was one of All Japan’s legends of that era. Onita & Fuchi later became a regular tag team, including winning the Southern tag team titles three times, and being in the famous second concession stand brawl in Tupelo, the wilder of the two, with Ricky Morton & Eddie Gilbert.

After the popularity of New Japan’s Satoru Sayama as Tiger Mask caused more of an interest in smaller high-flying wrestlers, Baba picked Onita to be his junior heavyweight star. Onita was a good wrestler, with some babyface charisma, but he suffered a terrible knee injury in a 1983 match with Hector Guerrero and retired, and was gone for years before coming back in the jeans, t-shirt doing the street fight match gimmick.

While Onita’s style, given how huge it got in Japan in the early 90s, was what Paul Heyman copied with ECW, and for a time, it seemed like every independent company wanted to copy ECW, Onita really took it from the wild brawls he was in and saw working in Tennessee.

Onita’s popularity was such that FMW, with no television and considered as an indy, became a strong company that drew well everywhere, including filling baseball stadiums for Onita’s biggest matches.

While these listed attendance figures are all exaggerated, probably in the range of 9,000 to 10,000, it speaks to his popularity that for a non-television promotion he was able to successfully run stadium shows from 1991 to 1995.

His first Kawasaki Baseball Stadium show was September 23, 1991, beating Tarzan Goto before 33,000 fans. On September 19, 1992, at Yokohama Baseball Stadium, he drew what was announced as 30,000 fans for a match against Tiger Jeet Singh. On May 5, 1993, at Kawasaki Stadium, his first explosive barbed wire match with Terry Funk drew a reported 41,000 fans (the real number was 32,000). On August 22, 1993, he drew an announced 36,223 for a win over Mr. Pogo at the Osaka Baseball Stadium. On May 5, 1994, he sold out Kawasaki Stadium with an announced 52,000 for a loser must retire match with Tenryu, which he lost. And his retirement show, which was the end of the FMW glory era, on May 5, 1995, also at Kawasaki Stadium, where he beat Hayabusa (which was very controversial because of the feeling by most with him retiring and Hayabusa having to carry the company going forward and needing that big career win, that Hayabusa had to win) was announced at 50,000. The latter two shows were legitimate sellouts.

FMW never came close to that level of popularity without Onita, nor when Onita returned.

Onita’s latest retirement match was a street fight tornado bunkhouse death match where he teamed with Dragon Gate’s Shingo Takagi and freelance All Japan wrestler Kai to beat the unique team of MMA star/pro wrestler Kazuyuki Fujita & Kendo Kashin & Nosawa, when Onita used his trademark thunder fire power bomb to win Nosawa in 16:48.

Dump Matsumoto, the legendary woman’s wrestling heel, came out and asked Onita to return. Taru came out and then said that Onita would never really retire and Fujita said that he wanted a singles match with Onita if he ever came back.

Two nights earlier, Onita & Kai & Yoshitatsu beat Masashi Aoyagi (who was Onita’s big rival in 1988-90 when he was beginning his second career as the pro wrestling street fight who would face so-called martial arts stars) & Minowa-man (a well known MMA star from its glory days in Japan & Nosawa in Nagoya.


The combination of Halloween and the World Series led to Smackdown on 10/31 doing 2,119,000 viewers, the third lowest since it went live. The combination led to a 21.5 percent decline from the prior week.

For those reasons, you can really throw out any comparisons as being meaningful. The only lesser watched episodes were November 8, 2016 (1,921,000 viewers) on Election Night, and 6/13 (2,072,000 viewers) going against the Warriors-Cavs NBA finals.

Smackdown was ninth for the night on cable.

World Series game six did 19,614,000 viewers.

The only demo info we have is that 18-34 did a 0.50 rating (down 21.9 percent from the previous week), 35-49 did a 0.80 (down 18.4 percent) and 50+ did a 0.88 (down 20.0 percent). None of this is as bad as it sounds because it was coming off an unusually high number because of the Under Siege angle the night before, and this was unusually low for the obvious reasons.

I would suspect next week won’t bounce back to the 10/24 numbers, but will get close to regular numbers.

Raw on 10/30 was down four percent from last week’s high mark, and once again, the show did well in its first two hours and collapsed in the third hour. The show did a 1.94 rating and averaged 2,830,000 viewers (1.59 viewers per home), putting it in fifth place for the night on cable.

The Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos NFL game did 10,420,000 viewers and Dancing With The Stars, the final week with Nikki Bella on, did 9,930,000 viewers. The most notable thing is that Raw’s ratings collapse in the third hour, when Dancing With The Stars, so it’s clearly not the larger women viewership of Raw watching Nikki Bella that is hurting the ratings. Even though the show was clearly building the Braun Strowman return much of the way, which didn’t pay off until after 11 p.m., the third hour was weak with a terrible Halloween themed comedy tag match, a quick cruiserweight match and an Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James main event.

The first hour did 3,102,000 viewers. The second hour did 2,943,000 viewers. The third hour did 2,517,000 viewers. The third hour was the lowest since 5/30 even though the average was along the lines of what it has been this football season.

As far as where the second-to-third hour decline came from, in Women 18-49, the tune-out was 17.6 percent, Men 18-49 was 8.1 percent, Girls 12-17 was 36.4 percent, Boys 12-17 was 4.9 percent and 50+ was 15.3 percent. However, from hour one-to-three the declines were 22.8 percent, Men 18-49 was only 2.6 percent, Girls 12-17 was 47.6 percent, Boys 12-17 was up 4.9 percent from the first hour to the third and 50+ was down 23.7 percent.

It’s the second straight week with this huge decline, and when you see heavy it was among teenage girls, the notable thing is that neither John Cena nor Roman Reigns were on the show.

The show did a 0.67 in 12-17 (down 8.2 percent from last week but remember last week was coming off a PPV and unusually high for the first two hours before a third hour collapse ), 0.81 in 18-34 (down 5.8 percent), 1.07 in 35-49 (down 10.8 percent) and 1.16 in 50+ (up 4.5 percent so even though the tune-out factor was huge, the first two hours were well above the prior week).

The audience was 62.2 percent male in 18-49 and 56.7 percent male in 12-17.

Impact on 10/26 did 231,000 viewers, down 13 percent from the week before. Some of what was because of an NFL game that did 14,146,000 viewers between CBS and the NFL Network, and some of which was the show, which aired clips from shows in Tijuana, Irapuato, Yokohama and Windsor, ONT as well as a main event from Orlando. It felt like Pro Wrestling This Week from the 80s, and it’s just not the kind of a show people today are used to.

The final episode of the Total Bellas season on 10/25, built around the WrestleMania proposal, did 674,000, up 19.7 percent from the week before. The audience was 71% women in 18-49 and 84% girls in 12-17, as completely different from other WWE programming as would be possible. As far as the age group stuff, it was 0.18 in 12-17, 0.26 in 18-34, 0.34 in 35-49 and 0.20 in 50+, so the largest audience usually fo Raw and Smackdown (50+) is the smallest for this show, it under the age of 50, it’s still 35-49 which is the highest.

Smackdown on 10/24 did a 1.87 rating and 2,699,000 viewers (1.57 viewers per home).

Raw on 10/23 did a 2.02 rating and 2,936,000 viewers (1.58 viewers per home).


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RESULTS

 

10/20 Metepec (AAA TV tapings): Chicano b Rugido, Big Mami & Nino Hamburguesa b Hiedra & Villano III Jr.,Angelikal b El Hijo de Vikingo & Lanzeloth b Angel Mortal Jr. & Australian Suicide & Tiger Boy, Dave the Clown & Monsther Clown & Murder Clown b Dark Cuervo & Dark Scoria & La Parka, Aerostar & Drago & Raptor b Averno & Chessman & Super Fly-DQ, Marty Martinez & El Texano Jr. b El Hijo del Fantasma & Pagano, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Psycho Clown b Hernandez & Rey Escorpion

10/21 Shawnee, KS (Impact One Night Only tapings - 160): Malice won four-way over Trevor Lee, DJZ and Diego Del Sol, Ortiz & Santana b Cody Dixon & Chandler Hopkins, Gail Kim b Rebel, Ross & Marshall Von Erich b Ky-ote & Kid Kash, GFW tile: Eli Drake b Montego Seeka, Alberto El Patron b Bobby Lashley, Jake Hager (Jack Swagger) b Ky-ote, MVP b Damon Windsor

10/21 Tokyo Sumo Hall (Inoki ism - 3,500): Shinichi Suzukawa b Diego Anzai, Ryota Sakurai b Yasshi, Rocky Kawamura & Max the Body b Taka Kunou & Ryuta Hasumi, Hammerstone b Montanha Silva, Muay Thai rules: Nadaka Yoshinari b Sergei Lachianon, Ryuta Sakurai b Shinichi Suzukawa, Scott Norton b Peter Aerts

10/21 Kobe (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 288): Minoru Tanaka b Leona, Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue b Quiet Storm & Junta Miyawaki, Go Shiozaki & Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 b Kenou & Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano, Masa Kitamiya b Cody Hall, Kazma Sakamoto b Yuko Miyamoto, Atsushi Kotoge b Akitoshi Saito, Mohammed Yone b Maybach Taniguchi, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke b Naomichi Marufuji &* Hayata & Yo-Hey

10/21 Ishikawa (Dragon Gate - 750): Dragon Kid & Gamma b Yamato & Yosuke Santa Maria, Genki Horiguchi b Ryo Saito, Masaaki Mochizuki & Kagetora b Susumu Yokosuka & Jason Lee, BxB Hulk & Kzy b Cima & Eita, Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman b Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu & Ben K

10/22 Tochigi (New Japan - 887 sellout): Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga b Tetsuhiro Yagi & Ren Narita, Tiger Mask & Dragon Lee & Titan b Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH & Shota Umino, Jushin Liger & Kushida & Hirai Kawato b Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Desperado & Taka Michinoku, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii b Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka & Taichi-DQ, Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson & David Finlay b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Katsuya Kitamura, Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi & Rocky Romero & Yoh & Sho

10/22 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Akuma & Inquisidor b Bengala & Fiero, Mercurio & Pequeno Olimpico & Pierrothito b Electrico & Stukita & Ultimo Dragoncito, Drone & Fuego & Stigma b Misterioso Jr. & Sagrado & Tiger, Diamante Azul and El Terrible were finalists in Mexican national heavyweight title tournament over Rush, Shocker, Stuka Jr., Gran Guerrero, Blue Panther Jr., Euforia, Vangellys, Pierroth, Cuatrero and Kraneo

10/22 Hiroshima (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 405 sellout): Minoru Tanaka b Masao Inoue, Maybach Taniguchi & Masa Kitamiya b Cody Hall & Sheldon Jean, Kenou & Hajime Ohara & Yoshinari Ogawa & Hitoshi Kumano b Quiet Storm & Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 & Leona, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Hayata & Yo-Hey b Naomichi Marufuji & Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke, Akitoshi Saito b Kazma Sakamoto, Atsushi Kotoge b Yuko Miyamoto, Go Shiozaki b Mohammed Yone

10/22 Mie (Dragon Gate - 1,200 sellout): Cima & Gamma & Eita b Masato Yoshino & Ben K & Jason Lee, Kagetora b Takashi Yoshida, Naruki Doi & Big R Shimizu b Kzy & Yosuke Santa Maria, Masaaki Mochizuki & Genki Horiguchi b Susumu Yokosuka & Dragon Kid, Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Lindaman b Don Fujii & Yamato & BxB Hulk, Don Fujii won Battle Royal

10/24 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Artillero & Inquisidor b Bengala & Sensei, Akuma & Cancerbero & Raziel b Astral & Magnus & Star Jr., Blue Panther Jr. & Fuego & Pegasso b Puma & Sagrado & Tiger, Angel de Oro & Blue Panther & Johnny Idol b Hechicero & Misterioso Jr. & Polvora, Pierroth & Rush & Kraneo b Negro Casas & Felino & Mascara Ano 2000, CMLL light heavyweight title: Niebla Roja b Cavernario

10/24 Yokohama (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 308 sellout): Mohammed Yone & Yoshinari Ogawa & Masao Inoue b Akitoshi Saito & Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano, Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 b Minoru Tanaka & Leona, Maybach Taniguchi & Kenou b Cody Hall & Sheldon Jean, Masa Kitamiya b Mitsuya Nagai, Atsushi Kotoge b Kazma Sakamoto, Naomichi Marufuji & Hayata & Yo-Hey b Go Shiozaki & Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke, Masato Tanaka b Quiet Storm, Katsuhiko Nakajima b Yuko Miyamoto

10/25 Hachinohe (New Japan - 1,506 sellout): Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga b Tomoyuki Oka & Tetsuhiro Yagi, Jushin Liger & Kushida & Hirai Kawato b Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH & Shota Umino, Taichi & Desperado & Taka Michinoku b Tiger Mask & Dragon Lee & Titan, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi b Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru-DQ, Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson & David Finlay b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Katsuya Kitamura, Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo & Sho & Yoh

10/26 Tampa, FL (WWE NXT- 250): No Way Jose b Buddy Murphy, Reina Gonzalez b Abbey Laith, Adrian Jaoude b Chris Dijak, Hideo Itami b Lio Rush, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch, Nikki Cross b Sonya Deville, Johnny Gargano & Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Chad Lail & Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler

10/26 Akita (New Japan - 1,472): Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga b Tomoyuki Oka & Ren Narita, Tiger Mask & Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH b Kushida & Hirai Kawato & Shota Umino, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Taka Michinoku b Jushin Liger & Dragon Lee & Titan, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii b Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka & Desperado-DQ, Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson & David Finlay b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Katsuya Kitamura, Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi & Sho & Yoh & Rocky Romero

10/26 Tsushima (Dragon Gate - 400): Ryo Saito & Jason Lee b Dragon Kid & Gamma, Kagetora b Yosuke Santa Maria, Yamato & BxB Hulk b Genki Horiguchi & Hyo Watanabe, Masaaki Mochizuki & K-ness b Susumu Yokosuka & U-T, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu & Ben K b Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman

10/27 Des Moines, IA (WWE NXT - 800): Roderick Strong b Fabian Aichner, Kairi Sane b Vanessa Borne, Killian Dain b Brennan Williams, Lars Sullivan b Kassius Ohno, Tag titles: Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe b Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly-COR, Ember Moon b Bianca Belair, Aleister Black b Velveteen Dream, Three-way for NXT title: Drew McIntyre won over Adam Cole and Andrade Cien Almas

10/27 Sanford, FL (WWE NXT - 350): No Way Jose b Ming, Jason b Kona Reeves, Dan Matha b Tian Bing, Shayna Baszler won Battle Royal, Lio Rush b Buddy Murphy, Hideo Itami b Adrian Jaoude, Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford b Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch

10/27 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 5,000): Starman & Stigma b Metalico & Nitro, Amapola & Dallys & Reyna Isis b Jarochita & Vaquerita & Marcela, Cuatrero & Forastero & Sanson b Esfinge & Guerrero Maya Jr. & The Panther, Soberano Jr. b Mephisto, Diamante Azul & Marco Corleone & Niebla Roja b Rey Bucanero & El Terrible & Vangellys, Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Euforia b Mistico & Volador Jr & Valiente

10/27 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Dradition - 1,212): Kazuhiro Tamura & Ryota Hasumi b Nobuyuki Kurashima & Tsubakichi Sanshu, Super Tiger & Shogun Okamoto b Ryota Hama & Leona, Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa b AKIRA & Super Delfin, Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Shiro Koshinaka b Mitsuya Nagai & Hiro Saito, Mil Mascaras & Keiji Muto & Tatsumi Fujinami b Great Kabuki & Jinsei Shinzaki & Kazma Sakamoto

10/28 Omaha, NE (WWE NXT - 1,200): Roderick Strong b Brennan Williams, Ember Moon b Vanessa Borne, Killian Dain b Fabian Aichner, Lars Sullivan b Kassius Ohno, Tag titles: Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe b Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly, Kairi Sane b Bianca Belair, Aleister Black b Velveteen Dream, Three-way for NXT title: Drew McIntyre won over Adam Cole and Andrade Cien Almas

10/28 Cocoa, FL (WWE NXT - 250): Chris Dijak b Kona Reeves, Shayna Baszler & Sage Beckett b Dakota Kai & Liv Morgan, Buddy Murphy b Babatunde Aiyegbusi, Lio Rush NC Chad Lail, Lio Rush & Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler & Chad Lail, Ruby Riot b Sonya Deville, Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli b Gabriel & Uriel Ealy, Johnny Gargano b Hideo Itami

10/28 Chichibunomiya (New Japan - 1,989 sellout): Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga b Tetsuhiro Yagi & Ren Narita, Jushin Liger & Dragon Lee & Titan b Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH & Shota Umino, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Desperado b Tiger Mask & Kushida & Hirai Kawato, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi NC Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka & Taka Michinoku, Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson & David Finlay b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Katsuya Kitamura, Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Hiromu Takahashi & Bushi b Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo & Sho & Yoh

10/28 Mt. Pleasant, MI (ROH - 1,800 sellout): Ryan Nova & Jay Rose b Jay Briscoe-DQ, Dalton Castle b Flip Gordon, Frankie Kazarian b Jay White, Matt Taven b Jay Lethal, Cody d Christopher Daniels 15:00, Silas Young b Cheeseburger, Three-way for tag titles: Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley won over Rhett Titus & Will Ferrara and Nick Jackson & Hangman Page, Dalton Castle won four-way to win Soaring Eagle Cup over Silas Young, Frankie Kazarian and Matt Taven

10/28 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 885): Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 & Yoshinari Ogawa b Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano & Masao Inoue, Maybach Taniguchi & Akitoshi Saito & Minoru Tanaka b Quiet Storm & Cody Hall & Sheldon Jean, Takashi Sugiura & Kenou b Katsuhiko Nakajima & Leona, Naomichi Marufuji d Mohammed Yone 30:00, GHC jr. tag title: Yo-Hey & Hayata b Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke, Go Shiozaki b Masa Kitamiya, Masato Tanaka b Atsushi Kotoge

10/28 Gifu (Dragon Gate - 700): Shun Skywalker b Hyo Watanabe, BxB Hulk Misterioso b Shingo Takagi & Lindaman, Susumu Yokosuka b Eita, T-Hawk & Yasushi Kanda b Ryo Saito & Diablo, Yamato & Kzy b Kagetora & Jason Lee, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu & Ben K b Masaaki Mochizuki & Dragon Kid & Gamma & Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa

10/29 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (New Japan - 1,726 sellout): Juice Robinson & David Finlay b Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto b Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka-DQ, Yoshi-Hashi & Baretta & Will Ospreay b Kenny Omega & Chase Owens & Marty Scurll, Kota Ibushi & Dragon Lee & Titan b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kushida & Hirai Kawato, Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo & Yoh & Sho, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Desperado b Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH b Taka Michinoku & Taichi

10/29 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Acero & Aereo & Ultimo Dragoncito b Mercurio & Pequeno Olimpico & Pequeno Universo 2000, El Hijo del Signo & Sangre Azteca & Virus b Flyer & Oro Jr. & Star Jr., Nitro & Polvora & Sagrado b Drone & Johnny Idol & Rey Cometa, Mistico & Caristico & Stuka Jr. b Cavernario & Felino & Negro Casas, Mexican heavyweight title: El Terrible b Diamante Azul

10/29 Osaka (Dradition - 1,300 sellout): Fugumen Desler & Evilman b Bushi-Katsuo & Destroyer, Nobuyuki Kurashima b Jun Gang Caul, Leona b Takashi Tachibana, Koji Kanemoto & Super Delfin b Takuma Sano & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Mitsuya Nagai & Hiro Saito b Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Takaku Fuke, Mil Mascaras & Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami b Great Kabuki & Shiro Koshinaka & AKIRA

10/29 Kobe (Dragon Gate - 1,000 sellout): Misterioso b Yosuke Santa Maria, Dragon Kid & Don Fujii & Jason Lee b Big R Shimizu & Ben K & Shun Skywalker, U-T b K-Ness, Ryo Saito b Takashi Yoshida, Masaaki Mochizuki & Kagetora b Genki Horiguchi & Susumu Yokosuka, Kotoka & Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi b Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy, T-Hawk & Shingo Takagi & Yasushi Kanda & Lindaman b Cima & Gamma & Eita & Mondai Ryu

10/29 Isawa (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 211): Masao Inoue b Junta Miyawaki, Masa Kitamiya b Sheldon Jean, Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 b Hajime Ohara & Yoshinari Ogawa, Takashi Sugiura & Kenou b Hayata & Yo-Hey, Go Shiozaki & Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke b Naomichi Marufuji & Mohammed Yone & Hitoshi Kumano, Akitoshi Saito b Quiet Storm, Cody Hall b Maybach Taniguchi, Katsuhiko Nakajima b Atsushi Kotoge

10/30 Baltimore (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 5,500): Jason Jordan b Curt Hawkins, Cedric Alexander b Tony Nese, Nia Jax b Bayley, Samoa Joe b Apollo Crews, IC title: The Miz b Matt Hardy, Asuka b Stacie Cullen, Finn Balor b Cesaro, Kane b Seth Rollins, Trick or street fight: Heath Slater & Rhyno b Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Kalisto b Drew Gulak, Women’s title: Alexa Bliss b Mickie James

10/30 Raleigh, NC (WWE Smackdown - 2,000): Tag titles: Usos b Big E & Xavier Woods, Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder & Tyler Breeze & Fandango b The Ascension & Primo & Epico Colon, Bobby Roode b Dolph Ziggler, Rusev b Tye Dillinger, Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura b Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn, 2 vs. 3: Charlotte & Becky Lynch b Tamina & Lana & Carmella, U.S. title: Baron Corbin b Sin Cara, Non-title: A.J. Styles b Jinder Mahal

10/30 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (New Japan - 1,728 sellout): Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask b Taichi & Taka Michinoku, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto b Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka-DQ, Yoshi-Hashi & Baretta & Will Ospreay b Kenny Omega & Chase Owens & Marty Scurll, Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson & David Finlay & Dragon Lee & Titan b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Kushida & Hirai Kawato & Katsuya Kitamura, Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada b Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo, Super jr. tag tourney semifinals: Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH b Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Desperado, Yoh & Sho b Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi

10/31 Norfolk, VA (WWE Smackdown/205 Live TV tapings - 4,000): Becky Lynch & Charlotte & Naomi b Natalya & Carmella & Tamina, 2/3 falls: Bobby Roode b Dolph Ziggler, Non-title: Baron Corbin DCOR Sin Cara, A.J. Styles b Samir Singh, Rusev b Big E, Shinsuke Nakamura b Kevin Owens, Akira Tozawa b Drew Gulak, Rich Swann b Brian Kendrick, Mustafa Ali won four-way over Gran Metalik, Tony Nese and Ariya Daivari, Randy Orton & A.J. Styles b Jinder Mahal & Sami Zayn

10/31 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Atsushi Onita retirement show - 2,000 sellout): Electric current blast wind death match: Pandita b Buatsu Dainita, Bat Ranger won Battle Royal, Ichiro Yaguchi & Dump Matsumoto & Zap & Onryo b Hideki Hosaka & Nene & Bad Nurse Nakamura & Crusher Maedomari, Masato Tanaka & Taru & Takuya Sugawara b Shinjiro Otani & Yusaku Obata & Sean Guinness, Street fight tornado bunkhouse death match: Atsushi Onita & Shingo Takagi & Kai b Kazuyuki Fujita & Kendo Kashin & Nosawa

10/31 Hiroshima (Dragon Gate - 900): U-T b Hyo Watanabe, Susumu Yokosuka & Kagetora b Genki Horiguchi & Misterioso, Masaaki Mochizuki b Jason Lee, Ryo Saito & Ben K b Cima & Gamma, Naruki Doi & Big R Shimizu b Dragon Kid & Eita, Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy & Yosuke Santa Maria b Shingo Takagi & Yasushi Kanda & Lindaman & Punch Tominaga

10/31 Mino (Dragon Gate- 450): U-T b Misterioso, Gamma & Eita b Yamato & Yosuke Santa Maria, Masaaki Mochizuki & Kagetora b Masato Yoshino & Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa, Dragon Kid & Jason Lee b Big R Shimizu & Ben K, Naruki Doi & Kotoka b BxB Hulk & Kzy, Cima & Don Fujii & Susumu Yokosuka b Takashi Yoshida & Yasushi Kanda & Lindaman

10/31 Tokyo Shinkiba (All Japan - 352 sellout): Tajiri & Yoshitatsu & Kai b Jun Akiyama & Yohei Nakajima & Fuminori Abe, Saori Anno & Nigasa Nozaki b Natsumi Manki & Saki, Manabu Soya b Takao Omori, Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato won four-way over Koji Iwamoto & Yusuke Okada, Masashi Takeda & Atsushi Maruyama and Kotaro Suzuki & Keiichi Sato, Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa b Masayuki Kono & Takanori Ito, Daisuke Sekimoto & Daichi Hashimoto & Takuya Nomura b Kento Miyahara & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi

10/31 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Flyer & Magia Blanca b Apocalipsis & Cholo, Electrico & Shockercito & Stukita b Mercurio & Pequeno Olimpico & Pierrothito-DQ, Zeuxis b Lady Maravilla, Disturbio & Misterioso Jr . & Sagrado b Blue Panther Jr & Johnny Idol & The Panther, El Terrible & Rey Bucanero & Vangellys b Blue Panther & Guerrero Maya Jr & Soberano Jr., Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & Marco Corleone b Mephisto & Ephesto & Luciferno

11/1 Saitama (New Japan - 964): Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga b Tomoyuki Oka & Tetsuhiro Yagi, Tiger Mask & Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH b Kushida & Hirai Kawato & Shota Umino, Jushin Liger & Dragon Lee & Titan b Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Desperado & Taka Michinoku, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto & Gedo b Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka & Taichi, Yoshi-Hashi & Baretta & Will Ospreay b Kenny Omega & Marty Scurll & Chase Owens, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Katsuya Kitamura b Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson & Tomoyuki Oka, Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Rocky Romero & Sho & Yoh

11/1 Nagoya (Dragon Gate - 400): Misterioso b Shun Skywalker, Yamato & BxB Hulk b Gamma & Eita, Jason Lee b Kzy, Ryo Saito & U-T b Yasushi Kanda & Punch Tominaga, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino b Shingo Takagi & Lindaman, Susumu Yokosuka & Genki Horiguchi & Big R Shimizu & Ben K b Masaaki Mochizuki & Kagetora & Cima & Dragon Kid

CMLL: They had another strong Arena Mexico show on 10/27 with the big thing being the return of the Super Sky Team, being Mistico & Volador Jr. & Valiente, in the main event losing to Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Euforia in their usual great match. The crowd was down to 5,000, which looks to be the normal Friday night numbers these days. There were two other strong matches on the show, and Soberano Jr. did his usual high flying showcase pinning Mephisto after a corkscrew plancha off the top rope and the new Dinamitas, Cuatrero & Forastero & Sanson, beat Esfinge & Guerrero Maya Jr. & The Panther

The 11/3 show is billed as the Dia de Muertes show or Day of the Dead, which is similar to our Halloween show. The show usually draws a good crowd and features what should be a very good Ciberneticos match with Diamante Azul, Mistico, Soberano Jr., Valiente, Cuatrero, Forastero, Hechicero and Sanson so they loaded up the workers. This is for the newly created Rey del Inframundo championship, and the one thing CMLL needs like UFC or WWE needs, is another championship that doesn’t matter. They just did a Cibernetico two weeks ago and in that one, everyone got so carried away by dives that the spectacular became normal. It was still a great match, and a lot of times because of the evolution of in-ring, people see too much of something but the crowd is going nuts for it and that’s not a bad thing. But two weeks ago it was clearly dulling the crowd’s senses. They also have Caristico & Volador Jr. & Rush as a weird team against Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Euforia, which on paper looks like one of those matches where the tecnico partners can’t get along even though Rush also feuds with los Guerreros, and Dallys defends her CMLL women’s title against Marcela. This was where CMLL booking is so haphazard since Marcela on 10/28 was pinned in a trios match by Reyna Isis the week before she gets a title shot. For those who watch the show live, because Mexico goes into Daylight Savings time one week before the U.S., this week, and only this week, will start at 10:30 p.m. Eastern and 7:30 p.m. Central, and it’ll revert back to the regular time slot for the 11/10 show

In a surprise of sorts, El Terrible, who hasn’t been around much of late, won the Mexican national heavyweight title beating Diamante Azul, the crowd and tournament favorite, on the 10/30 Arena Mexico show after they were the last two in the Cibernetico match the week before

Tetsuya Naito and Kamaitachi (Hiromu Takahashi) will be on the 11/12 Arena Mexico show.

AAA: Ricky Marvin announced that he’s quit the promotion. He’d been on the outs with the promotion for some time. One issue was that his girlfriend was in a contest the company was doing to find new talent, but they didn’t choose her to advance

They are trying to bring L.A. Park back, which from the timing of it, is likely precipitated because he was starting at the end of the month with Crash.

THE CRASH: Nacho de la O, the owner of the promotion, said this past week that they’ve delivered a television pilot and hope to know something soon. He said that the tag team titles are vacant and will be decided on the 11/6 show in Nuevo Laredo in a match with Penta 0M & Rey Fenix vs. War Machine vs. Mecha Wolf 450& Willie Mack. He also said they are trying to make a deal with CMLL to get dates on Dragon Lee and be able to use Will Ospreay and Kenny Omega. Right now the wrestlers who are under regular contracts with New Japan as their primary employer, like Ospreay and Omega, are only allowed to work for CMLL in Mexico. He also talked about running the U.S. in 2018. They also announced the Young Bucks would be returning before the end of the year. They are already committed to a show in New Orleans over WrestleMania week

They announced a 12/21 show in Tapachula at the bullring with Rey Mysterio Jr & Penta 0M vs. La Mascara & Rush on top, plus Rey Fenix & Daga vs. Bestia 666 & Garza Jr., and Flamita vs. Jack Evans.

DRAGON GATE: Ricochet vs. Eita was added to the 11/3 show in Osaka at the Edion Arena. I believe Ricochet wanted to do one last match or matches for Dragon Gate, the group that put him over as a star first in Japan, and that’s why he’s there. Cima announced it and termed it a limited engagement with Eita as his first opponent, which would seem to indicate more than one match. Besides that, The Gate of Destiny show, which is a PPV show in Japan and on NicoNico.com it can be ordered in the U.S. (It starts at 4:30 a.m. Eastern time) and has Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Susumu Yokosuka for the Open the Dream Gate title, Cima & Dragon Kid vs. Ben K & Susumu Yokosuka for the Open the Twin Gate tag titles, Kagetora defends the Open the Brave Gate title against Genki Horiguchi and Shingo Takagi & Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman defend the Open the Triangle Gate titles against Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy and Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Kotoka

The Misterioso that is working here now is the Southern California wrestler of that name, and not the CMLL wrestler.

ALL JAPAN: Attendance as of the end of October was up 58 percent from last year, which speaks volumes as there’s no major promotion who had that kind of year-to-year growth

They did a few angles on the 10/31 show in Shinkiba. They headlined with an All Japan vs. Big Japan match where the outsider team of Daisuke Sekimoto & Daichi Hashimoto & Takuya Nomura (the brother of All Japan’s Naoya Nomura) beat Naoya Nomura & Kento Miyahara & Yuma Aoyagi when Hashimoto pinned Aoyagi with a shining wizard. Masayuki Kono & Takanori from Wrestle-1 appeared and lost to Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa. A masked Black Spider attacked Hikaru Sato. Sato said it was Minoru Fujita, but the masked man denied that was him.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: Takashi Sugiura returned from heart surgery on the 10/28 show at Korakuen Hall, before 885 fans. Sugiura & Kenou beat Katsuhiko Nakajima & Leona in 16:55 when Sugiura pinned Leon after the Olympic slam. Also on the show, Hayata & Yo-Hey kept the GHC jr. tag titles beating Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke in 17:50 when Hayata pinned Harada. They also announced Moose would be returning in December. In the tournament matches on the show, Marufuji drew Yone in 30:00; Shiozaki pinned Kitamiya in 5:19 after a lariat and Tanaka pinned Kotoge in 15:10 after a sliding D

10/29 in Isawa before 211 fans saw Saito pin Storm in 11:32 after an enzuigiri; Hall upset Taniguchi in 12:12 after a choke slam and Nakajima pinned Kotoge in 13:03 after a brainbuster.

NEW JAPAN: In one of the weirdest things, roughly 24 hours after Tokyo Dome tickets were put on sale, due to the demand from overseas that far exceeded expectations, New Japan announced that no more tickets were available outside Japan. Yes, the building isn’t close to sold out, but they said no more tickets were available. A couple of days later, more tickets were put on sale. While no numbers have been released, the advance remains well ahead of last year

Even though there are still two months left in the year, New Japan has now surpassed 2017 for total attendance as it was about 321,000 for the year as of the end of October for a year-over-year increase over the first ten months of 17.7 percent.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: The biggest woman’s wrestling crowd of the year, announced as 3,789 fans, took place for a show on 10/29 at the Yokohama Bunka Gym promoted by the Oz Academy promotion, which uses a lot of the women stars from 25 years ago. That figure, by the way, is exaggerated and the real number was closer to 2,000, which is still a great crowd for a women’s show. The main event had Yoshiko, the woman who ended Act Yasukawa’s career by shooting on her in a match and it was very, very controversial she was brought back, facing Hiroyo Matsumoto, who held the group’s title for one year. Yoshiko won. The show also featured what was billed as the last-ever singles match with Manami Toyota (about to retire) against Aja Kong. Kong won in 20:26 with a spinning backfist

The ode to a 1979 dream match at Budokan Hall took place on 10/27 at Korakuen Hall before 1,212 fans. On August 26, 1979, Tokyo Sports, the daily sports newspaper promoted what was called the Pro Wrestling Dream All-Star card, where all three major promotions of that era, All Japan, New Japan and the IWE, worked together. The main event was the last time Giant Baba & Antonio Inoki were on the same show, working as a tag team against their big rivals at the time, Abdullah the Butcher (Baba’s rival) & Tiger Jeet Singh (Inoki’s rival). But what was remembered as the show stealer was the No. 2 bout, where Tatsumi Fujinami & Jumbo Tsuruta & Mil Mascaras beat Akihisa Takachiho (who later became Great Kabuki) & Tiger Toguchi (who was also known as Kim Duk and Tiger Chung Lee) & Masa Saito. Obviously, due to age and health, some of this couldn’t be duplicated, and Tsuruta passed away 17 years ago. But they did get Fujinami & Mascaras & Keiji Muto (in the Tsuruta role) against Kabuki & Jinsei Shinzaki & Kazma Sakamoto to headline. Mascaras, who claims to be 75 but based on his age when he was a star in judo in Mexico, he’d be 78, still worked and did a flying body press off the top rope onto Sakamoto to win. The big surprise was that after the match, Satoru Sayama came out as Tiger Mask with flowers to present to Mascaras, telling him that it was because of him that he became a pro wrestler and how he inspired a generation of people to get into pro wrestling. It’s hard to explain Mascaras in Japan in the 70s, but he was the kids hero, probably like Hulk Hogan in the U.S., but in a sense far bigger because wrestling was on prime time network television several times a week in Japan. While Baba was a huge mainstream star and Inoki later became something of a national hero, it was Mascaras, with his flying and his colorful costumes that attracted the kids, and he was a huge attraction during the summer when school was out, and the rule of thumb was he’d almost never close clean. But he was the inspiration for Tiger Mask, and the childhood hero of Sayama and so many others from that era. Not just the wrestlers, but the leading writers of that generation grew up as kids with him as their favorite wrestler. In fact, the leaders of the Mil Mascaras fan club as kids ended up becoming major figures in the business during the 80s and 90s. Mascaras did an interview and noted how much he loved Japan and his 52 years as a pro wrestler. Another nostalgia match on the show saw Shiro Koshinaka & Yoshiaki Fujiwara beat Mitsuya Nagai & Hiro Saito when Koshinaka used a hip attack off the top rope on Saito

They also brought Mascaras to Osaka on 10/29, and drew a sellout of 1,300 fans at the ATC Hall for Mascaras & Fujinami & Riki Choshu over Kabuki & AKIRA & Shiro Koshinaka when Mascaras pinned AKIRA in 8:53 with a flying body press

For those into Japanese history, here is a story that I don’t know was ever reported, because I never knew it. The original Tiger Mask and Dynamite Kid, who really exploded the popularity of lighter weight wrestling in Japan and were the impetus in junior heavyweight wrestling become popular in Japan to this day, never wrestled after 1983. In 1983 or 1984, after Sayama left New Japan and was ready to go to the first UWF, and before Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith had jumped to All Japan, attempted to recruit both of them for the original UWF. He flew to Seattle to meet with Dynamite and when both realized that they were probably never going to wrestle again since they were going to different companies, they went to a gym in Seattle and had their last match together in front of zero spectators and at that time, nobody thought to film it. They were in a six-man tag many years later but Dynamite was broken down by that point to where he couldn’t do anything. They did a match on mats with no ropes and did it more like a shoot style. The story just came out in the new Kaminoge magazine in Japan with photos as Sayama met with Dynamite with photographers.

HERE AND THERE: I’m sorry to report the end of the oldest pro wrestling radio show in the country, Toronto’s Live Audio Wrestling, which Jeff Marek debuted with Dan Lovranski in 1997 as an Internet show and started on The Fan in Toronto and has moved to other stations along the way. I joined the show in early 1999 and did the show weekly, both on Saturday nights (regularly during dates in those days, can you imagine stepping out for 20 minutes every week doing that, I have memories of being in restaurants that no longer exist and finding quiet places to do the show) and later Sundays. Marek moved on long ago to become a sports talk show host and hockey announcer. Of late, it’s been Jason Agnew, Lovranski and John Pollock working on the show which broadcast on radio in Toronto and Vancouver. We got the word on 10/30 that the show was dropped when Pollock was let go by The Fight Network, a victim of cost cutting at Anthem likely due to trying to keep Impact afloat. The Fight Network had laid off much of its staff months ago after the purchase of Impact. This was such a big part of my life, and really my family’s life in recent years because we’d go out every Sunday night that there wasn’t a PPV and in recent years visited my parents and the routine was to either leave during a late dinner, or more of the time, find an empty room at the movie theater we always went to, or stop in parking lots on different exits on the way home. I’ve been doing the show before either of my kids were born, and they only know of Sunday nights at some point me having to do the show. The show was also good because it would get me ready with different ideas for my regular Sunday night show with Bryan Alvarez that I’d do later each night. There is talk of Live Audio Wrestling returning with a completely different format as the actual description is that the show was put in hiatus, and one would think it would probably be an Impact show rather than a wrestling news show.

Former friends from long before wrestling, Hulk Hogan and Ed Leslie (Brutus Beefcake), who have been estranged, went at it on Twitter over Leslie promising a tell-all book and telling Hogan “It’s about to get real.” Problems between the two worsened when Barbara Leslie, the ex-wife of Ed, put on Twitter, “Had a blast hanging with Terry last night honey and he can’t stand you! You’re trash and he knows it. Officially off Team Hogan for life. Ah Ha ha ha!” The two haven’t been close for years but Leslie made it clear he was mad at Hogan bashing him all weekend and hanging out with his ex-wife. Leslie did say he wouldn’t comment on drugs in the book. Leslie claimed that Jesus was his savior and for Hogan to keep praying to that false God of his. Hogan then responded for Leslie to “get a good lawyer, brother.” Leslie also claimed his daughter has sided with her mother against him

The Young Bucks were officially announced for next October’s Chris Jericho cruise. For those thinking the Jericho/Kenny Omega twitter stuff was serious, that should answer any questions

A correction from last week. The parent company that William Patrick Corgan (the new name Billy Corgan is going as, in the music industry as well) is Lightning One Productions, not Lightning Rod. The NWA has been releasing regular videos produced by David Lagana and announced their first major title match under the new ownership with Tim Storm vs. Nick Aldis at the 11/12 Championship Wrestling from Hollywood TV tapings. Corgan is all over the video talking about how as a child, his two loves were music and wrestling and talked about working in TNA, putting money in TNA (including showing footage shot at Cummins Station in Nashville, which is where the TNA offices were for years) and then being kicked out of TNA, but now he owns his own company and put over the history and lineage of the NWA title showing lots of Harley Race and Ric Flair footage from the Houston wrestling library

The city of Memphis made the decision to mothball the Mid South Coliseum, which these days is best known as the home of Monday night wrestling in the 70s and 80s. There was talk of a renovation of the building, as well as tearing it down, both of which could still happen. Members of the wrestling community including Jerry Lawler and Dave Brown have campaigned to keep the building open in some form. Lawler and Brown are featured in a documentary that comes out this week about the history of the building which was put together in hopes of keeping it alive. Right now the plans are to rebuild the roof and seal leaks and doors. There is talk of reopening the building as a youth sports facility as well

Negro Navarro, 60, hasn’t wrestled since 7/30 due to heart related health issue in August and won’t be cleared until things return to normal. Things had been kept quiet but he kept missing dates, with his only appearance being in Zeuxis’ corner at the CMLL anniversary show

Sami Callihan’s Wrestling Revolver promotion has a 2/16 show in Dayton with Tetsuya Naito vs. Michael Elgin as the main event

One of the craziest stories of the week was that documents released this week by the National Archives regarding the John F. Kennedy assassination in 1963 had a small pro wrestling tie-in. In the documents, there were notes from a wrestling promoter (Roy Shire) who had been contacted and may have been an FBI informant at the time, noting that at the Cow Palace during that period that Ray Stevens beat Don (sic) DeNucci and Carl (sic) Gotch. Shire was talked with by agents about Lloyd John Wilson, who was a Bay Area wrestling fan who went to Shire shows, who claimed to have given Lee Harvey Oswald $1,000 in August to kill Kennedy as part of a conspiracy. Shire said that he didn’t know Wilson, nor recognize him. Given that Shire was drawing huge crowds at the time, the odds of him knowing an individual fan would be pretty slim. The secret service also knew Wilson for writing a threatening letter to Kennedy. Investigators found a photo of Wilson taken at a show in the San Jose Civic Auditorium. The FBI and Warren commission investigated a claim that Wilson and Oswald (who killed Kennedy) met at the Cow Palace at a wrestling show in late August or early September 1963 where he gave him the money to kill Kennedy. The FBI checked this out and found shows that year on August 10 and September 14. Oswald was actually interviewed by FBI agents on August 10 so he couldn’t have been at the Cow Palace. On September 14, there was no information where Oswald was, but he was in New Orleans just before and just after that date. The Warren Commission at the time investigated and concluded that he could not have been in San Francisco at that time. Wilson was investigated and diagnosed as delusional, hostile and potentially homicidal and perhaps paranoid and they determined he never met Oswald and made the story up

Kevin Nash has a recurring role in the U.K. TV show we wrote about a few weeks ago where he and Buff Bagwell were in the television commercial. The show is called “Living the Dream,” and it airs on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. on Sky One. Six one-hour episodes were taped about a family from Yorkshire, England who moves to Florida to run a trailer park. Nash plays a retired pro wrestler who lives in the trailer park

Rey Mysterio Jr. was supposed to face Juventud Guerrera on a show this weekend in Brazil. Mysterio was on vacation in Bahrain with his family and there was a flight cancellation and he missed his connection and didn’t make it to Brazil

WALEMania in 2018 will take place on 4/5, which is the Thursday before WrestleMania, at Republic NOLA

Jake Hager (Jack Swagger) did an interview with The Wrestling Estate and noted that he’s trying to use his wife, Catalina, who he met when both were training in WWE developmental, as part of his act on the indies. He’s gotten very positive responses when we’ve talked with indie people on dealing with him and he was one of the few who made the call himself to leave, being frustrated with his plight in WWE. He also in the interview talked MMA. It should be noted that when his last WWE contract was about to expire, I knew people in MMA who told me they expected he’d let his contract expire and move to MMA. I didn’t think it was a good idea because even though he has great size and the wrestling background, it’s hard to learn the new skills needed at his age (he was 33 then, now he’s 35). Still, the heavyweight division isn’t deep and he’d be one of the better athletes in the division. But he signed a new WWE contract. He said being away from WWE made his life busier since he has to make his own deals, but also said it’s less stressful. Regarding MMA, he was asked specifically about Bellator, and said, “I’m considering going into MMA. Like I said earlier, combat sports is at an all-time high in popularity. I’m lucky that I still can go and have exposure outside of MMA. I’ve been training. I’m still trying to figure out the best route. I’m 100 percent serious about it because the reward that could come from it would be astronomical. Plus, it’s something I’ve done all my life. Maybe not MMA totally, but it’s very similar to competing in wrestling, just with punches. It’s kind of a natural transition for me. When you leave WWE, you need to find a new way to use that exposure for whatever you want. This would be a great way. I just have to learn to bob and weave a little bit, and don’t get tapped out. But I’m very excited about it. The sky is the limit and my body has never felt better, which is surprising at 35 and after 10 years of traveling.

Alberto El Patron missed a 10/28 show in Arizona which was to be a TV taping for Championship Wrestling from Hollywood but did send a video message that they played saying he had to be in Mexico due to a family health issue. There was no announcement about him not being there until they played the video at the end of the show, so fans weren’t exactly happy

Frank “Chic” Cullen was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of fame in Scotland on 10/27. Cullen started as an amateur wrestler and got into pro wrestling after meeting Orig Williams, the biggest star from Wales. He started wrestling at the age of 16, in 1976. He got the nickname Chic, after the Scottish wrestler Chic Purvey, and had his first match on national television in 1981. That summer he went to Stampede Wrestling in Canada under the name Rockin Robbie Stewart, and got a push there. This was when Bruce Hart was bringing in a lot of talent from the U.K., including Giant Haystacks, Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith and others. On March 21, 1984, he defeated Alan Kilby for the British heavy middleweight title at Albert Hall in London. He feuded with Fit Finlay over that title. On October 30, 1985, he defeated Rollerball Mark Rocco (the first Black Tiger in Japan) to win the world heavy middleweight title in Leicester. He won that title a second time. He held the title several more times before retiring . He is the third inductee into their Hall of Fame after George Kidd and Andy Robin

There was an independent show this past week in Brownsville, TX, headlined by Penta 0M & Rey Fenix vs. Ultimo Ninja (the cousin of Garza Jr.) & Mecha Wolf 450 which drew about 1,500 fans

Marvin Ward’s Awesome Wrestling Entertainment announced a 2/24 show in Waynesboro, NC, called “The Night of the Horsemen,” featuring a reuniting of Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson and Lex Luger, saying it would be the first time in 30 years that the four appeared together as the Horsemen. Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson will be wrestling on the show

Also, the most recent Cobo Hall show was actually a Saturday Night’s Main Event in 2006

This is the latest list from WrestleCon for the people they are bringing to their autograph show in conjunction with WrestleMania: Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Eric Bischoff, Road Warrior Animal, Demolition, Steiner Brothers, Brutus Beefcake, Billy Gunn, Steve McMichael, Kevin Sullivan, Sabu, Shane Douglas, Mil Muertes, Drago, Allie, Sienna, Rosemary, Laurel Van Ness, Tony Atlas, Teddy Long and Paul Orndorff

Evolve is going to discipline Chris Dickinson in-house. At a recent show, Dickinson & Jake were facing The Ugly Ducklings and one of them didn’t catch Jaka on a dive. Dickinson retaliated with some live shots on them, and the company has said that it won’t tolerate that

On the RDS 2 French wrestling television show that airs ROH and the local IWS promotion in Quebec, the announcers are Ben Cossette, a radio personality and Stephane Morneau, and RDS broadcaster. We had one Stephane’s name wrong last week

Sexy Star, under the name Sexy Dulce, wrestled on 10/22 in Monterrey against Tiffany. She hadn’t wrestled since AAA cut ties with her after the bad publicity coming from TripleMania and her hurting Rosemary

There is an interesting situation going on in Torreon, a city in Mexico. There is a stalemate going between the wrestling commission and wrestlers. A number of wrestlers, said to be more than 70 percent, haven’t gotten licenses and don’t want to pay for them because they see it as something of no benefit. The promoters then are stuck because the wrestlers they want to book aren’t licensed that the commission threatened to shut down shows this weekend with unlicensed wrestlers. Right now, as a way to keep the shows going, the commission has given the wrestlers a temporary extension to get licensed without shutting down events..

EUROPE: Adam Blampied, who was supposed to be running the new Cultaholic promotion, which many of the people who had been working for What Culture were moving onto, was let go after he admitted publicly that he had solicited several women to send him nude photos of them. One woman went public after he said so, noting she was 19, was pressured by him into sending nude photos and claimed several other women were emotionally abused by him. He first said he would be taking a leave of absence, but later, as the story grew bigger, said he was through with the company

Some notes on Walter, who has been killing it in PWG of late. Walter and Zack Sabre Jr., who had the match of the weekend, have wrestled each other at least ten times in wXw since 2008, including once doing a UWFI style match. The reason Walter doesn’t work more in North America and isn’t on the international stage is that he works full-time for wXw, and they run almost every weekend in Germany, and is the head trainer at their wrestling school. He and Timothy Thatcher run the wXw Academy. He’s had WWE tryouts but has always said he wanted to stay based in Europe with the goal of building Europan wrestling

And as a coincidence of sorts, the weekend match that everyone was talking about was a match with Walter vs. David Starr from the wXw show in London

Update on the big Revolution Pro shows with New Japan. The 11/9 show in London at York Hall has Hirooki Goto & Will Ospreay vs. Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr., Tetsuya Naito vs. Marty Scurll, Yuji Nagata vs. Zack Gibson, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Keith Lee, Rocky Romero & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Chris Brookes & Travis Banks, Matt Riddle vs. Desperado and Gedo &Toru Yano vs. No Fun Dunne & Lord Gideon Gray. The 11/10 show in Walthamstow has Sabre Jr. vs. Ospreay for the British heavyweight title, Riddle vs. Suzuki in a first-time ever match, Ishii vs. Dave Mastiff, Goto & Gedo & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Chris Brooks & Travis Banks & Kid Lycos and Ryan Smile vs. Desperado.

ROH: Final Battle on 12/15 at the Hammerstein Ballroom has already sold out

After it became the best selling shirt at Pro Wrestling Tees from day one, Hot Topic will be stocking “Cease and Desist” T-shirts before Christmas. That has become the best selling non-WWE T-shirt outside of Hot Topic

ROH did immediately sell out the 11/17 show in San Antonio within a day of the announcement of Kenny Omega being there. They didn’t have a ton of tickets left before. That’s going head-to-head with the most heavily pushed NXT house show in its history with Shawn Michaels as referee of Drew McIntyre vs. Adam Cole for the title

Ray Rowe, 33, of War Machine, just got engaged to his girlfriend, Sarah Bridges, 24, who wrestles as Sarah Logan in NXT and was better known previously as Crazy Mary Dobson

The Young Bucks and Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels shot an angle on 10/29 at Stan Lee’s Comic Con in Los Angeles. Daniels & Kazarian attacked them first and the Young Bucks retaliated with superkicks, putting them through a table with an indytaker done with Nick jumping off a table

The 11/11 main event in Fort Lauderdale is the Young Bucks & Omega vs. Kenny King & Dalton Castle & Jay Lethal. The 11/12 Lakeland, FL, show is a TV taping, with Young Bucks & Omega vs. Rocky Romero & Chuckie T & Baretta as the main event

They ran one show this weekend, which was 10/28 at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant, MI, which did a sellout of 1,800 fans, actually one of the bigger crowds in company history, for a sold show. The show was built around a one-night tournament for the Soaring Eagle Cup. The opener saw J-Rocc face Ryan Nova. They went a short period of time when Jay Briscoe came out, as a total heel. He challenged them to a handicap match and destroyed both guys with chair shots and got DQ’d. The tournament opened with Castle pinning Flip Gordon in a good match. Castle countered a flip into the bangarang for the pin. Kazarian pinned Jay White in a good match ending when Kazarian used a low blow to win. The show was filled with kicks to the groin. Matt Taven pinned Lethal in an upset. Taven also won after a kick to the groin. I guess they decided to all pretend they were in Arena Mexico. Cody went to a 15:00 draw with Daniels, which eliminated both of them. Cody then wanted five more minutes. Daniels said he had no reason to wrestle him anymore unless the title was on the line. He also said he wanted Kazarian to win the tournament and with the draw, he’d eliminated Cody so it was fine by him. Cody then offered to put the title on the line. Daniels still refused to wrestle and left. Cody then noted that his wife’s parents and other family members were at ringside. He called his niece to the ring and had his niece pin him in the ring. Silas Young came out and said that due to Daniels & Cody eliminating each other, a spot has opened up in the tournament and he pinned Cheeseburger to advance. Next came a three-way for the tag titles where Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley retained over Will Ferrara & Rhett Titus and Nick Jackson & Adam Page. Matt Jackson wasn’t at the show because it was his daughter’s birthday (that’s the reason they weren’t in the Super Juniors tag tournament in Japan, was that he had never been home for years due to Japan for Halloween and his daughter’s birthday but now are in position to turn down bookings). Even though Sabin & Shelley as Motor City Machine Guns in Michigan were booked as the favorites, the crowd was behind Jackson & Page as the Hung Bucks. Lots of flying and comedy and the crowd loved the match. The Dawgs did a lot of miscommunication spots with each other. The tournament came down to a four-way with Castle, Young, Kazarian and Taven. They started out with everyone kicking each other in the groin. Ref Paul Turner got kicked in the groin as well. It was elimination rules. Castle pinned Young with the bangarang. Castle made Kazarian submit to the ankle lock. Castle then pinned Taven with the bangarang. It’s notable that instead of what we’d call modern booking where a guy would get a pin and then be the next guy eliminated, this match was all about getting the winner (Castle) over as the best guy, clearly the rightful winner, and he also happens to be the guy facing Cody for the title on the Final Battle PPV show. The match was marred by a fan throwing something in the ring. Not sure if it hit Taven or not, but Taven jumped out of the ring and went after a fan, who security threw out

Rey Cometa and Esfinge debut for ROH on 11/17 in San Antonio and 11/18 in Dallas.

IMPACT: The company’s biggest show of the year, Bound for Glory, takes place on 11/5 in Ottawa. The current lineup is Eli Drake vs. Johnny Mundo for the Impact title, OVE (Dave & Jake Crist) vs. LAX in a 5150 street fight for the tag titles (rules are that all members of LAX are allowed in the match which means Homicide & Diamante & even Konnan along with Santana & Ortiz, although OVE is expected to counter with the debuting Sami Callihan), an X title match with Trevor Lee defending against Sonjay Dutt, Dezmond Xavier, Matt Sydal, Petey Williams and Garza Jr., Sienna defends the women’s title against Gail Kim and Allie, a cage match with Bobby Lashley & King Mo vs. Moose & Stephan Bonnar, Rosemary vs. Taya first blood, Grado vs. Abyss Monster’s Ball match and Ethan Carter III & James Storm & Eddie Edwards vs. El Texano Jr. & El Hijo del Fantasma & Pagano in an Impact vs. AAA grudge match. Alberto El Patron will also be on the show in some form. The original idea was for him to face Rey Mysterio, but that fell apart when talks with Impact and Mysterio fell through over issues with Impact and Crash (even though Konnan stayed, Mysterio wasn’t happy with Impact making the deal with AAA behind their backs) and then Alberto was going to be built for a match with Jeff Jarrett, and that’s off the table as well

The Bound for Glory show is sold out, which is about 1,100 seats. Ticket sales for the TV tapings the next several nights aren’t strong

PW Insider wrote about different things here which we’ll clarify. They stated that Don Callis would be leaving New Japan and coming here. Callis responded by saying he wasn’t leaving New Japan and said he will be with New Japan as long as they want him. Callis is scheduled to go to Osaka this weekend for Power Struggle. Both Power Struggle and Bound for Glory are on 11/5. There is a time difference in the sense that Power Struggle in Osaka would end about 11 hours before Bound for Glory starts. Even so, you can’t make it from Osaka to Ottawa in 11 hours and even 14 hours with customs and such isn’t going to happen. Callis said that he would not be at the Impact tapings from 11/6 to 11/10. It is not out of the question that Callis could at some point end up here behind the scenes (and continued to announce for New Japan) given he’s tight with Scott D’Amore and Jeff Jarrett is gone. But as of this moment, there is no deal for such a thing in place, and even if there was, that wouldn’t preclude him from working both places. It’s a funny business because when WCW and ECW went down in 2001, I can recall Callis telling me that the business was too uncertain regarding the future and he needed to get out and work a regular job, which he did and didn’t even follow the business all that closely for about 15 years until Kenny Omega suggested him to replace Steve Corino as an announcer. As far as other things said, they reported Tessa Blanchard was coming which has been denied to us by multiple sources at Impact who said they have no idea where the name is coming from as she was never talked about at any creative meetings and we’re told she’s not booked for the tapings. But she is not coming in. They said Ricochet was being talked with, which we reported a long time ago. Everyone, whether it be New Japan, Impact, ROH and WWE, has interest in Ricochet. The key is that he is not taking any independent dates after the end of January, including in markets that wouldn’t fit into the New Japan/ROH alliance (ie companies Kenny Omega, who is New Japan full-time and can’t work for anyone but ROH in the U.S. or CMLL in Mexico), which strongly indicates WWE, which is what everyone believes, but he’s got months to make a decision. Those in TNA say Ricochet had already turned them down some time back

Braxton Sutter is not booked for the upcoming tapings

Even though Impact is currently working with NOAH in Japan, Scott D’Amore and Ed Nordholm did attend a New Japan show during the week they were in Japan several weeks back. They made a pitch to New Japan including apologizing for the last relationship between the sides noting it was different people in charge at the time. D’Amore and Nordholm said that there are new people in charge, and that both Jarrett and Dixie Carter have nothing to do with the current company. It was reported and confirmed to us that D’Amore personally apologized to Kazuchika Okada over his treatment when he was in Impact

Still, it is doubtful that New Japan would at this stage change its working relationship from ROH to Impact, considering how mutually beneficial with ROH/New Japan alliance has been to both companies

Impact is also trying to open doors with ROH. There were talks of doing that months ago, and a deal was worked out for the Hardys vs. Young Bucks to do a lengthy program and both companies would work together, but then Impact sent out the legal letter after the Hardys had left which caused Dish Network to pull the PPV show with the Hardys vs. Young Bucks at the last minute. Sonjay Dutt in creative here has a long-time connection with Hunter Johnston who books ROH

Jessie Godderz has a starring role in a new movie, “Days Like This.

Rockstar Spud (James Curtin, 34) and Reno Scum (Adam Thornstowe & Luster the Legend) are no longer under contract here. They haven’t been used in a long time. Spud won the 2012 reality series that TNA sponsored called British Boot Camp, beating out Marty Scurll believe it or not for an Impact contract. He was pushed hard because of his comedic timing in the role of something of a butler type for Dixie Carter who the heels would beat up, and then became a heavily pushed babyface and twice held the X title. Spud asked for his release and was not in his case a budget cut. There was a report that Impact had screwed up on his visa, but we’re told the problem was an issue with the immigration offices in the U.K. and issues with getting people into the country due to the Trump administration making it harder to get people in so there was a time he couldn’t get in. Impact actually spent nearly $20,000 in legal fees to straighten out everything with Spud, and to get him back in the U.S., and two weeks after he returned, he asked for his release, which took place in September

Reno Scum was getting a push until April when Thornstowe suffered a torn biceps and it kind of looks like OVE got their spot. This is all part of the heavy cost cutting going on

Referee Brian Hebner has also asked for and been granted his release.

UFC: This week’s show will be one of the company’s two biggest events of the year, the 11/4 Madison Square Garden show headlined by Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre. The show opens with Fight Pass fights at 6:30 p.m. Eastern with Aiemann Zahabi (7-0) vs. Ricardo Ramos (10-1), Corey Anderson (9-3) vs. Ovince Saint Preux (21-10) and Curtis Blaydes (8-1) vs. Aleksei Oleinik (55-10-1). FS 1 at 8 p.m. has Mickey Gall (4-0) vs Randy Brown (9-2), Michal Oleksiejczuk (12-2) vs. Ion Cutelaba (13-3), Walt Harris (10-6) vs. Mark Godbeer (12-2) and Joe Duffy (16-2) vs. James Vick (11-1). The PPV at 10 p.m. has Johny Hendricks (18-7) vs. Paulo Borrachinha (10-0), Stephen Wonderboy Thompson (14-2-1) vs Jorge Masvidal (32-12), Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-0) vs. Rose Namajunas for the women’s strawweight title, Cody Garbrandt (11-0) vs. T.J. Dillashaw for the bantamweight title and Michael Bisping (30-7) vs. George St-Pierre (25-2) for the middleweight title. It’s the biggest show of the year as far as having three title fights and the overall depth. Right now there are 2,100 tickets left unsold in the primary market with the lowest priced at $175. They are offering 25 percent off the original prices for a lot of the unsold tickets. Ticket demand is nothing like the first show, where at this point you couldn’t get into the building for less than $1,000 this late in the game. But it wasn’t going to be like the first show no matter what. I don’t feel the buzz for the show that I expected when the main event was announced, but that’s usually the case before every big show until the day before or the day of, because everyone said that for Jones vs. Cormier which did 860,000 buys or Mayweather vs. McGregor where people knew it would be big but didn’t think it would touch the Pacquiao fight and ended up overall head of it worldwide and pretty much the same in North America. There are early signs as far as orders well in advance that are promising, but PPV shows are all about impulse buys on the day of the event and it’s really up to media coverage and the selling job that Bisping and GSP do over the last few days. The Canadian media hasn’t covered the return of GSP the way a lot of people expected. There will be a lot of late talk by Bisping. There will be curiosity the day of the fight as to how GSP will look and it is a deep card. GSP is 36 now, and hasn’t fought in four years, and he wasn’t a power guy, he was a speed, timing and technique guy, and with more size and ring rust, that time off and the added size on paper should all hurt him. He says he’s better than ever. Everyone says that. If he is better than ever, he is certainly good enough to win. Still, it was an ominous statement by Kristof Midioux, his original trainer, who in an interview with Patrick Cote and reported in Le Journal, Montreal’s biggest French language newspaper, saying that he doesn’t think GSP should be fighting. “Moreover, when I see Georges’ eyes, they do not tell me anything good. During his face-to-face (with Bisping) in Las Vegas, I would have liked him to give a slap to Bisping to show him what was waiting for him on November 4th. The guys who have their hands in their pockets like Georges did, they do not feel like fighting. You have to have the urge and the rage to do it.” “I think he needs help and think the people around him are hiding things from him. I witnessed his sparring and I did not see what I wanted to see from him.” My feeling is in the big picture, anything under 700,000 for this should be a disappointment. Being in New York will help with the last week pub and Canada still may come in big. Canada was a giant market for GSP in the past and it’s still him going for a title after a four-year layoff and by all rights that should be big. UFC put together a special on GSP to reintroduce him to the new audience, but the problem is that years ago these type of specials on Spike would draw 500,000 to 1.2 million viewers and that made huge difference in selling the fight and people would talk about the specials, and today they are on FS 1 and you never hear a thing about them

Bisping and Masvidal ended up in an argument at the hotel on 11/1. Not sure what started it, but given we are in a world where everyone has a cell phone, where the video picked up was Bisping calling him trash and Masvidal saying he wanted to fight him. As you can imagine, in a war of words, it was pretty one-sided, but it was mostly Bisping calling him trash like his steroid-taking friend Yoel Romero, and Masvidal saying Bisping has him by 40 pounds (well, probably not nearly that much) and won’t mess with him. Masvidal also bragged about having abs even though he’s eating cheeseburgers all week. I’m not sure what that had to do with anything, but then again the entire argument didn’t seem to have a purpose. Masvidal also called Bisping the dreaded gay slur word right before Bisping got in the elevator

Raquel Pennington, who was in line to be the next challenger for Amanda Nunes’ bantamweight title, suffered a broken leg in an auto accident on 10/23. The accident came just after both sides had agreed to a title fight on 12/30 in Las Vegas. Pennington went on a hunting trip with her family and then come down from the mountain in an ATV. It was snowing and when she made a turn the ATV flipped, and threw her and part of the ATV landed on her leg. Her cousin climbed out and lifted the ATV and she was able to drag her leg out. She was rushed to the hospital. She said she was saved by having tall hunting boots or else her leg would have been shattered and she probably would have needed it amputated. Her calf was smashed but she believes she will recover from the injury, but won’t be fighting any time soon. Pennington had been out of action for a year since her win over Miesha Tate in last year’s Madison Square Garden show, having had right shoulder surgery, a wrist operation and a mouth operation. Nunes side told MMA Fighting that she doesn’t think she’ll be fighting again this year because she felt Pennington was the only fight that made sense. No other challenger makes sense. Holly Holm is being groomed for Cris Cyborg rather than Nunes, which is a UFC decision as they seem to think Cyborg is the bigger draw of the two and thus Holm, who is the biggest star of all the women they have left to the general public, would face her. Julianna Pena is pregnant, Ronda Rousey makes no sense at this point and isn’t fighting, and Cat Zingano hasn’t won a fight in three years (the last fight she won was against Nunes) but is still No. 6 contender, which tells you about the depth in the division

Dana White wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph regarding the situation with Mark Hunt. “Mark Hunt was never cleared to fight Marcin Tybura in Sydney, Australia this November. Period. And the statements he’s been making, saying that he is, are just not true. Let me tell you what I know. Mark Hunt recently wrote an o-ped piece for an Australian website that described some serious symptoms. He wrote that he’s starting to stutter and slur his words. He wrote that he’s not sleeping well. He wrote that he can’t remember something he did yesterday. These are his words, from him, but now he’s saying it was taken out of context. How can you take your own words out of context? So you know what I did. My team contacted his management within the first week of learning about these symptoms and offered to fly him to Las Vegas first class to visit the Lou Ruvo Brain Center–which is the best in the world for brain research–to get more tests done. And you know what? He absolutely refused. How can I put a guy with these symptoms he said he’s experiencing immediately back in the Octagon without additional test? I definitely wasn’t going to do that. So I did the only thing I could do–which is to pull him off an event that would have him fighting just nine weeks after writing his piece so he can have the proper time to see a specialist. Let me remind you that this is an event I already had signed contracts for and spent a lot of money marketing and advertising, so this was a big loss. But it was the right thing to do. So here we are now. After all of this, Mark is saying that I have it out for him and I am holding a grudge because he filed a lawsuit. Let me ask you this: Would I have placed him in two additional fights, including one in which he headlined the event? Or paid him $1,645,0000, which includes a $50,000 Fight of the Night and a $25,000 discretionary bonus? All of this was AFTER the lawsuit, so how can anyone say I have any issues with this guy? Bottom line, my job is to put on the best fights in the world and part of that is to protect these guys from themselves. I get it. They’re fighters and they want to fight. But this only works is safety comes first, and that’s always been my goal–to provide a level playing field and a safe, regulated environment for our fighters to compete in. I’ve been doing that for almost 20 years, and I’m not going to stop now.

Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov has been added to the 12/30 show in Las Vegas

Conor McGregor apologized for using the gay slur f***ot backstage when talking to teammate Artem Lobov about his fight in Poland with Andre Fili. McGregor was on “The Late Late Show” in the U.K., a popular talks show, on 10/31 and said that he was sorry and didn’t mean to disrespect the LGBT community. At the same time he complained that it was blown out of proportion. “I was whispering in his ear and I was speaking on that and I said what I said. I meant no disrespect to nobody of the LGBT community. I didn’t mean no disrespect. You’d swear I was screaming at two people of the same sex kissing. I campaigned when we were trying to get same sex marriage legalized. I was campaigning for that. It is another one where things just get blown out and they love to just, any chance they get, they love to throw me under the bus. It is what it is. I’ll just say sorry for what I said and that it, and try to move on from it..” McGregor did another interview where he said he was in negotiations for a fight with Tony Ferguson for the lightweight title, saying that he feels his next move should be to legitimize the lightweight title. He said there are other possibilities, including a title defense against Nate Diaz (Diaz’s asking price is holding that one up), a fight with a famous boxer under UFC rules or even another boxing match. Paulie Malignaggi’s name wasn’t mentioned but frequently comes up

The first PPV of 2018 will be on 1/20 at the TD Garden in Boston. That will be a big night, as it’ll go head-to-head with Bellator at the Forum in Los Angeles with Douglas Lima vs. Rory MacDonald. The second PPV of the year is a surprise, because they’re going to Perth, Western Australia, for the first time with a show that will take place on 2/11 in Australia (a Sunday morning show live) which is usual PPV prime time on 2/10 in the U.S

Darren Till, who fought at 170 pounds on 10/21, said on 10/30 that he weighed 205 pounds. That’s why fighters get tired and so many end up in the hospital the last few days before fights

Brandon Moreno has been cleared after a drug test failure for Clenbuterol, which was taken on 8/6, after his 8/5 fight in Mexico City. Clenbuterol is routinely found in Chinese and Mexican beef, and it was determined because of the low concentration of the drug in his system that the concentration was so low and he had been eating meat while living in Mexico and believed that was the reason for the positive test

Jim Wallhead tested positive for a banned substance in a 10/7 test and is on a temporary suspension.

BELLATOR: They have a show on 11/3 at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, PA, built around two former national champion wrestlers from Penn State, Phil Davis and Ed Ruth. The main event has Ryan Bader defending the lightweight title against Linton Vassell. Emily Ducote will face Ilima MacFarlane to crown the first major U.S. promotion flyweight (125 pound) champion since UFC won’t be crowning a champion in that division until next month, Davis vs. Leonardo Leite, Ruth vs. ? and Saad Awad vs. Zach Freeman.

OTHER MMA: The biggest combat sports event of the weekend was the 10/28 Anthony Joshua heavyweight title defense over late replacement Carlos Takam at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Joshua won via tenth round stoppage. Joshua dominated the fight, which set the new indoor attendance record for boxing with 78,000 fans selling the stadium out. However, it was hardly a big deal in the U.S., as the audience watching on Showtime was only 334,000 people. The old record for indoor attendance for boxing, which was set 39 years ago, was for the September 15, 1978, fight with Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks rematch at the Superdome in New Orleans which drew 63,350 fans. That fight was put on network television in the U.S. and had 90 million viewers and did a 46.7 rating and it was nowhere near as big as Ali’s fights with Joe Frazier and George Foreman. I guess that tells you just how big Ali was mainstream, as in far bigger than anyone today. Joshua is gigantic in the U.K. right now, but the fight really didn’t have a lot of buzz at all in the U.S. Takam wasn’t in Joshua’s league, although the stoppage was ridiculous. Takam was bleeding from the eye from the fourth round. Takam, 36, took the fight on 12 days notice. He was taking shots standing but didn’t appear hurt badly at all when the ref stopped it. The crowd and the announcers were clearly stunned the fight was stopped at that time. Even people like myself who usually complain about refs letting things go too long and are cautious in these situations couldn’t make rational sense out of stopping it there

Combate Americas has gotten a deal with NBC Sports Network, kicking off on the 11/11 show in Cancun. The show will now air in Spanish on Telemundo (the first time MMA has ever aired on that station) and in English at 11:30 p.m. with a one-night eight-man bantamweight tournament, with the semifinals and finals airing on both stations. NBCSports.com will air the prelims along with TelemundoDeportes.com

Combate also announced the signing of Erik Perez, who won his last three fights in UFC and let his contract expire. Perez, who UFC pushed heavily years back as its Mexican star and got a lot of media attention in the early days of running in Mexico, had already been working with Combate Americas as a TV announcer while being under a UFC contract as a fighter (Julianna Pena had a similar deal). He’ll debut with the promotion as a fighter in January

ONE announced one of its biggest shows to date for 11/24 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, with the already announced Ben Askren vs. Shinya Aoki welterweight title match as the main event. Askren. 17-0, has said this will be his last fight. In addition, the company’s top woman star, Angela Lee will defend her atomweight title against Mei Yamaguchi, who she won the title from last year

Former UFC heavyweight contender Gabriel Gonzaga, now 38, made his boxing debut on 10/28 in Worcester, MA, scoring a four-round majority decision win over Alejandro Esquilin Santiago of Tampa, who was also debuting.

WWE: Dwayne Johnson was at Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con over the weekend and said, “I think `The People’s President’ has a really nice ring to it, I’ll just say that.

A 25th anniversary of Raw special is scheduled for 1/22 with a dual show, both running the Barclays Center in Brooklyn as well as the Manhattan Center, with matches and angles taking place at both venues. The last time they did a big anniversary show like this, which was the 1,000th episode of Raw, they drew a monster number, the likes of which they’ve never come close to, so this will probably do huge numbers. They’ve announced Undertaker, Michaels and Kevin Nash appearing and will bring back other stars of the past as well. As part of the 25th anniversary, the company will also be putting out a Best of Raw anthology DVD as well as a history of Raw book next year. Given the timing, it would appear that we’ll know based on if they shoot an angle with him, whether Undertaker will wrestle at Mania this year. The belief is he’s retired every year, but the amount of money he makes for the one show makes it very tempting to get fixed up and try again. The only issue is that the only match he should work would be Reigns, and Reigns vs. Lesnar has been planned all year. It is interesting in the press release that they credited Raw with being the launching point for pop culture icons and the names listed were Dwayne Johnson, Austin, HHH, Cena, Undertaker and the Bella Twins. The least they could do is promote Reigns on that list given they are so hot on making him the face of the company, and Lesnar, given how much they pay him and that he did become a real sports superstar springboarding off WWE. The Manhattan Center live event will probably be limited to about 800 tickets priced from $805 down to $78

WWE announced on 10/29 the releases of Emma (Tenille Dashwood, 28), Summer Rae (Danielle Moinet, 33)and Darren Young (Frederick Rosser, 34). Summer and Young both fell victim to getting injured, losing their spots, and then when they were cleared their spots had disappeared. Emma had been used mostly as enhancement talent on the women’s side, ironically having just gotten a small storyline with Mickie James and then the Asuka matches. Summer hasn’t been in the spotlight since her angle with Rusev was dropped due to Lana publicly revealing she and Rusev had gotten engaged, which killed their storyline where Summer was with Rusev. They hooked Summer up in storyline with Breeze, but that was dropped even though they had no ideas for either. She suffered a neck injury in August and although was cleared months back, hadn’t been used since. Young was doing an angle where Bob Backlund was his mentor, but he suffered a hyperextended right elbow in January. After surgery, he returned in September, but Backlund was gone, he never appeared on Raw and worked undercard house show matches mostly as a heel, but a few times as a face. In one way, the release of Rosser wasn’t a surprise since they were doing nothing with him, but in another, given he was the only wrestler in the promotion who is publicly gay, that could have been an impetus to keep him. As it was, people have completely forgotten that and when he was released, that subject came up nowhere. Dashwood started training for wrestling in Australia at the age of 13, came to Calgary to train with Lance Storm first in 2008, and started appearing on Shimmer shows in 2009. She was signed by WWE in March 2011 and debuted on NXT television in August 2012. Her angle as far as being the person who started the women’s revolution wasn’t all fantasy, as her matches with Paige in NXT was better than the women’s matches on the main roster and she got over as a quirky babyface in NXT. She was brought to the main roster in January 2014 to do an angle doing an awkward relationship backstage with Santino Marella. That ended when Marella needed neck surgery and had to retire. She was sent back to NXT in January 2015, where she went heel to reinvent herself doing the same mean girls tag team gimmick that has been done over-and-over in NXT (currently Billie Kay & Peyton Royce do it) with Dana Brooke. She returned to the main roster as a pair with Brooke in March 2016, but that ended quickly as she suffered a back injury in May, which kept her out of action for months. While out of action, she had posted some bikini photos which got a lot of attention and the company decided to go with a new angle to make her the glamorous Emmalina. They started pushing her imminent return in October, and several times it was stated she’d debut the next week. She didn’t debut in February, and producers were unhappy, feeling she couldn’t play the role, and it was dropped and it wasn’t until this past April that she returned. She’d mostly been in an enhancement role until a minor feud with Mickie James and the recent program with Asuka. Her being released at this time only makes the Asuka booking last week even more confusing, but that’s part for the course

Rosser played college football at Farleigh Dickinson University and started training at the IWF school in Paterson, NJ in 2002. He worked as Fred Rosser and Fred Sampson on the indies, and did some enhancement work on the old WWE C television shows like Heat and Velocity. He was signed by WWE in 2009 and started in developmental as part of The South Beach Party Boys with current NXT announcer Percy Watson. He was part of the first television season of NXT and was part of the Nexus angle in 2010. After that ran its course, he was going nowhere and ended up in NXT as tag team partner with Titus O’Neil, as the Prime Time Players. They were brought up in 2012 to the Smackdown brand, holding the tag titles at one point, until O’Neil turned on him in early 2014. He suffered a torn ACL that April and when he returned in January, 2015, the Prime Time Players were put back together. They broke up in May 2016, when Young was put with Bob Backlund, a pairing that never really got out of the prelims and ended when Young suffered his elbow injury and needed surgery. Summer Rae was Danielle Moinet, the most pushed player and poster girl for the Lingerie Football League from 2008 to 2011, who was a legitimate athlete and was picked for the group’s all-star game. She was signed by WWE in November 2011. At the time, due to her look, she was earmarked to be a major star. She was pushed asa General Manager, and pretty much any other role that could put her on TV wearing sexy attire before they had gotten her trained as a wrestler. She was pushed hard as the leader of a mean girls group called the Beautiful Fierce Females, usually with Charlotte and Sasha Banks and she was actually the star of the group and the one that was supposed to be the big deal when they came up. She was brought up in April, 2013, after WrestleMania, to be Fandango’s dancing partner. That broke up a year later when WWE tabbed her to star in one of their “Marine” remakes, so they did a breakup angle and a feud when she returned from filming the movie. Then came the Rusev storyline and when that fell apart, they did the Breeze storyline and that went nowhere and her injury pretty much killed use of her. The truth when it came to her is something nobody will say and can say, but she was thought to be a superstar because of her looks, and it was the super hot young blond girl look like Stacy Keibler, but she got older and when you’re super hot, and then they decide you aren’t, and every role is based on you being the next Keibler and it didn’t happen, that’s the end result

In all three cases, it was injuries that derailed their careers, and with the two women, a little bit of getting older in a young woman’s game. None of the three will be able to use their names elsewhere, and will probably all be put on 90 day non-competes. The independent scene isn’t a good place for women to make money although all should be able to get regular bookings if they want to continue to pursue pro wrestling. Emma looks like she’s going to start working under her real name, Tenille Dashwood. Impact could possibly be an option but they are mostly cutting back on talent expenses these days so it’s not a great time for them

Lio Rush got himself into an incredible amount of hot water with a bad attempt at humor after Emma was fired, writing, “I guess there are things that happen when you’re not truly ready for Asuka.” A lot of WWE talent went at him for that and there was talk within hours that he may be gone from the promotion. He clearly meant it as a joke, but the timing was awful and he issued a very quick and long apology within hours. Jack Gallagher and Dash Wilder were still critical of his apology in public. William Regal backed him, saying that everyone makes mistakes and was critical for people for piling on. It was pretty clearly nothing more than an ill-advised horribly timed attempt at comedy which he quickly apologized for. But the guy is going to have to work to get heat off of him. Had he not apologized quickly, I don’t think he’d still be with the company based on what we were hearing between the post and the apology

Vice did an article on the WWE’s using Ultimate Warrior as the poster boy for the Susan G. Komen stuff this past week and their Warrior Award. It’s the same stuff I wrote about the first week they did it. They noted that all of Warrior’s controversial blog posts have now been deleted. They noted that the Susan G. Komen Foundation wouldn’t comment on it. Dana Warrior did make a statement saying, “I will not be disloyal to my husband’s memory or speak ill of a man who is not here to defend himself. I can, however, tell you his heart was changed by conversations with his two daughters. The true testament of the man behind the character is his ability to evolve. My husband did just that.” Here’s the problem, and it’s a big one. If that was the case, he had however many years when this light bulb went on in his head to repudiate his remarks. He never did so. Did he ever apologize to Bobby Heenan or for his remarks about Bobby Heenan, given the fact Heenan’s poor health was not a secret. No. Hulk Hogan said far less repugnant things, and apologized for every one of them, and is considered a corporate liability. Warrior isn’t, largely because he wasn’t the celebrity Hogan is so his remarks didn’t get the media exposure, even though they were far worse. The other aspect is that while wrestling does get more mainstream coverage now than ever before, the media covering it is for the most part a gutless, fan boy media. There are exceptions, and this year there were several stories, this being one of them, where you can see the real from the fake. And outside of wrestling, few will touch it because it’s wrestling. If the NFL had someone who made the remarks that Warrior did, never apologized for them (or even if they did for that matter), gloated when cancer hit someone, there isn’t a chance in hell that person’s name would be used for such a campaign, and if it was, the reaction to it would be so huge it’s not funny. WWE did also make a response saying, “WWE’s `Unleash Your Warrior’ breast cancer awareness campaign and annual `Warrior Award’ recognize individuals that exhibit the strength and courage of WWE’s legendary character The Ultimate Warrior. Any attempt to distract from the mission of these initiatives and take the spotlight away from the honorees is unfortunately misguided.” Of course, nobody attempted to take any spotlight away from the honorees and if there was any distracting from the mission of the initiatives it’s because WWE steeped them in controversy by attaching Warrior’s name to them. And the irony of all this is that perhaps more than anyone, the person, given how he fought for 15 years with a disease that cruelly took away a gift that few in the world had, was, and deserved such an honor was one of its own–Bobby Heenan. Of course it’s a year too late for that, but it would be nice for it to be posthumous, except because of the name of the award it would also be in the worst taste possible

Nikki Bella was eliminated from “Dancing With The Stars” on 10/30. Her team scored 24 points, which tied for last place (seventh place out of the eight remaining teams) after she’d done well in previous weeks. There were two eliminations. We had heard that even though she has a big social media following and used it to push votes, she was not getting strong voting response from viewers compared to the others and compared to her performance. The last place finish on a week with double eliminations sealed her fate

The Bella Twins have launched a lifestyle and active wear clothing line called Birdiebee, which will be promoted on Total Divas and Total Bellas. Birdie is named after Brie’s daughter Birdie

Brie Bella was on “Busted Open” radio and said that there will be a Bella Twins comeback as wrestlers in 2018. She said she wasn’t looking at it as a long-term thing because of her baby, and they do want a second baby, but she said she wanted a comeback between baby one and baby two

WrestleMania ticket prices ranging from $35 to $2,000 go on sale on 11/17, with on-line pre-sales on 11/15

There will not be a Raw-specific brand PPV until February. The crazy schedule of a show every few weeks will be broken up at the end of the year. After Survivor Series, there will be a Smackdown PPV on 12/17 from Boston–Clash of the Champions, and then nothing until Royal Rumble on 1/28 in Philadelphia. February will have two shows and then they’ll do the build for Mania

Multiple producers have expressed interest in doing a film on Jim Ross based on his book, “SlobberKnocker.

The angle on the 10/23 Raw show where Smackdown attacked was mostly shot in the afternoon before Raw. The decision was made to do it ahead of time to make sure it looked violent enough and there were scenes edited out that they felt didn’t look enough like a fight. They couldn’t do the retribution angle this week because the Raw crew had to fly out to Glasgow before Smackdown. On 11/7, Raw has a show in Birmingham at the same time as Smackdown takes place in Manchester. The cities are 87 miles apart so they could easily do a pre-tape since the Raw crew will be in Manchester the night before, but couldn’t do it on the live show itself unless they wait until the 11/14 show in Charlotte

Jerry Lawler is featured in a Jim Carrey documentary called “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond,” that is being released. The documentary is about the making of the 1999 movie, “Man on the Moon,” about the life of Andy Kaufman, that featured Kaufman’s foray into pro wrestling and his feud with Jerry Lawler in the Memphis circuit and the angle on the David Letterman Show. Lawler played himself in the movie (there was talk at one point of Disco Inferno playing Lawler), and Jim Ross had the role of Lance Russell, which was weird because Russell himself was in the movie, but as the ring announcer instead of the television announcer of Memphis wrestling. Lawler and Carrey got into a fight of sorts backstage (I thought it was a publicity stunt but it turned out it wasn’t) because Carrey got so into playing Kaufman and drove Lawler crazy. The studio had kept the footage under wraps for about 20 years because I guess the footage shot makes it appear that Carrey completely flipped out and people would believe he was nuts or on drugs. The film will be released on Netflix on 11/17.

PW Insider reported that Hideo Itami and Rockstar Spud are being looked at for the cruiserweight division. Itami makes sense from their perspective. He’s been in NXT for long enough but it’s also a huge disappointment in the sense he doesn’t do the flying style and he was considered a major superstar signing when he first came, and cruiserweight division is a low ceiling. Spud is entertaining, but we’ll have to see the role he fits into

Cena was advertised as doing a talk show on 12/4 in Sheffield, England at the DSA Arena, but the show was then canceled this week

Mick Foley will be going back on the road for 20 talk shows in 2018 from April through June, now that he’s got his hip and knee both done. He’s pushing it as the 20th anniversary of his Hell in a Cell match with Undertaker

Regarding questions we’ve gotten about Toni Storm (Toni Russell, 22), who to me was one of the standout performers in the Mae Young Classic and would rank at the top in my mind of people they’d sign as she can work, and she’s young which in theory means a longer career with the company and is international (born in Australia, but now lives in the U.K. and works regularly in Japan and is Stardom’s top foreign star). WWE told both her and Kim Benson (Viper in the U.K., Piper Niven in the Mae Young Classic) that they would be in touch after the finals of the tournament and the belief is that neither has been contacted since. Talent is also told if they have agreed to not tell anyone, although there are no rumors in that regard nor either of them telling promoters that they aren’t available for future dates

The reason WWE passed on Io Shirai was not due to her back but due to an issue they found with her heart. The fact is, she has been cleared by doctors in Japan from both her neck and heart but WWE’s doctors suggested passing on her

Diane Black, the House Budget Committee Chairwoman, is the wife of Dr. David Black, who formerly headed the WWE drug testing program. Dr. Timothy Robert is the interim head of the program right now

Les Thatcher was teaching this week at the Performance Center

Here are the U.K. ratings for the week of 10/16 to 10/22: Live Raw did 38,000 viewers. Live Smackdown did 24,000 viewers. A Wednesday 10 p.m. Raw replay did 30,000 viewers. A 5p.m. Thursday Raw replay did 21,000 viewers. Main Event did 12,000 viewers. The Friday at 10 p.m. Smackdown replay did 24,000 viewers

With the European tour in full swing, the TV’s are 11/7 and 11/8 in Manchester. Matches announced for Smackdown are Styles vs. Rusev for the final spot on the Smackdown team and the Usos vs. Gable & Benjamin tag title match

The ten most-watched shows this past week on the WWE Network were: 1. Table for 3 with The Shield; 2. TLC PPV; 3. Ride Along with The Shield, Banks & Bayley; 4. NXT; 5. 205 Live (the second straight week this show has finished well above what it had been doing); 6. Hell in a Cell PPV; 7. Story Time episode 5; 8. WCW Halloween Havoc 1995; 9. WrestleMania 33; 10. Halloween Havoc 1994

Notes from the 10/30 Raw show in Baltimore. The big news was the return of Stephanie McMahon, who ordered Angle into being captain of the Raw team at Survivor Series and blamed in for the attack last week. The show drew 5,500 fans, which is really bad for a Raw in Baltimore. Jordan pinned Hawkins in the opener for Main Event. Alexander pinned Nese with a lumber check in a match that the live crowd didn’t react to. Raw opened with Angle out. He apologized to everyone for letting his friendship with Shane blind him. Stephanie came out. The crowd cheered her and she pushed the 25th anniversary of Raw. She claimed that Raw has been on television longer than any show in television history. That is so not true it isn’t even funny. Some people will still try and rationalize that it is true. It is the longest lasting show named Raw in pro wrestling history, though. Stephanie said that for Raw, it took 20 years to build a reputation and 20 seconds to lose it. She told Angle that she didn’t want to hear his pathetic excuses. She said that everyone thinks Shane is a great guy, but he’s shallow, conniving and manipulative. Where did shallow come from? She said that Shane couldn’t get the job done at Hell in a Cell so he picked on her show, and somehow thinks that makes him a winner. She said that Shane exploited his friendship with Angle and exposed Angle’s kindness for weakness and embarrassed and humiliated him. Angle let 25 years of what her father has worked for turn into a mockery. She talked about Angle’s three I’s, and said there is a fourth I, for incompetence. One thing I have to say. Stephanie & Vince McMahon are the greatest Stephanie & Vince McMahons possible. She told Angle that she’s making him the team captain on Raw, she expects victory and total annihilation and if she doesn’t get it, she’s picking a new General Manager. Well, I don’t think she’s getting total annihilation. Miz then showed up late. Dallas was back. Miz was mad that Angle got rewarded for being a bad General Manager. Angle asked where Miz was when they were under siege. Angle said that Miz was either selfish or a coward. Angle ordered him to defend the IC title later in the show and wouldn’t tell him who he was facing. Jax pinned Bayley in 7:24. It was so sad at the lack of reaction to Bayley, but that’s the main roster booking for you. It’s not like they weren’t warned at every turn. Fox was on the stage with a ship captain’s hat acting like a loon. She was pretty funny at it. Jax won with a spear and leg drop. Fox said she was the captain and Jax was the first pick for Team Raw. Joe came out for a promo. Fans cheered his return. Joe said that none of the fans sent him any cards while he was injured so he doesn’t care about any of them. It’s not like anyone would know where to send them. I think if you wrote a letter and addressed it to Joe in Samoa, given he’s living in Florida, he may not have gotten it yet. Joe beat Crews with a uranage and choke in 3:37. O’Neil jumped in the ring and Joe backed off. O’Neil then turned his back to check on Crews, and Joe choked him out. They teased the idea of Joe vs. O’Neil. Michael Cole then talked about how Raw has been around longer than The Simpsons (factually incorrect as the Simpsons have been around for 29 years), Lassie and Gunsmoke. Well, they were around longer than Lassie and Gunsmoke, but talk about dated references, those were shows canceled in 1974 and 1975. The Miz beat Matt Hardy in 13:00 to keep the IC title. Matt has cut his hair and he was doing none of the Broken mannerisms. That said, after a rough start, with some stuff that didn’t look good, the crowd popped big for this when Hardy got a near fall with a moonsault. Hardy hit the twist of fate but Miz rolled out of the ring. Hardy went after him and Miz snapped Hardy’s neck on the top and hit the skull crushing finale for the pin. Angle was backstage with Bliss. Bliss asked Angle if they could cut dead weight like Mickie James. And they got mad at Lio Rush when their own writers are scripting stuff like this one day after releases. Bliss said they could replace her with someone from the Mae Young Classic. Angle was mad at her for doing nothing last week when they were under siege. Well, she was protected from that in storyline. Anyway, Angle announced Bliss vs. James for the title. If they were going to do this, and they always were, why did they do a blow-off finish at the PPV instead of a finish to build a rematch? Asuka beat Stacie Cullen in 1:38 with a spinning kick and the Asuka lock. This is what they should have done last week. Asuka was killing her with knees and hard kicks, as well as slaps. Angle was backstage when he started screaming red alert and panicking, that they were under attack. But it was only Bryan, coming alone, since everyone else was in Raleigh. Bryan said he came alone, that Shane doesn’t even know he’s there and he doesn’t agree with a lot of what Shane has done. Angle said to give Shane a message that he’s bringing his gold medals and he’s going to take Shane and Smackdown out. Bryan was on the phone in Angle’s office and suddenly the lights went out and the door was locked and he knew something was wrong. Kane then showed up and choke slammed him. At least in theory. They wouldn’t even allow Bryan to take a choke slam bump. We just heard the idea of a choke slam and then saw Bryan taken out on a stretcher. I wonder if we’re going to get months of trying to devalue him as a potential wrestler with the idea he’s probably leaving. Balor pinned Cesaro in 11:25. This was a good match but it didn’t get much in the way of heat. Some cool stuff including Cesaro doing a power superplex and Balor backdropping him over the top rope and doing a running flip dive. The finish saw Cesaro bent over but standing and Balor came off the top rope with a double foot stomp to the back of the head and neck for the pin. They teased the idea of Balor vs. Sheamus next. So it looked like an attempt to rehab Balor, except then Kane came out and destroyed him again. They picked a bad camera shot because the big move was to be a tombstone on the stage, but they shot too close and you could see Kane making sure Balor’s head came nowhere close to the stage. Rollins & Ambrose then came out to confront Kane. This led to Kane pinning Rollins in 5:40. I didn’t mind this one like the Balor one last week because at least there were distractions and Rollins got some offense in. Rollins did a tope. He went for a second one and I’m guessing Kane was supposed to hit him, but forgot because Rollins went flying but Kane never hit him. Sheamus & Cesaro came out to beat on Ambrose. Rollins hit a pescado on both of them. He then went for a springboard into the ring but Kane caught him with a choke slam. Kane went for a second choke slam on Rollins, but Ambrose saved Rollins and hit Dirty Deeds. Kane then sat up and Kane, Sheamus and Cesaro beat up on Rollins and Ambrose. The idea was for The Shield to work with Sheamus & Cesaro & Miz, and Kane wasn’t booked on house shows, but it looked here like the angle is for Strowman vs. Miz and Kane & Sheamus & Cesaro with The Shield when Reigns returns. Miz & Axel & Dallas were ready to leave, to eat some seafood and drink champagne. Miz then noticed a bad smell in his dressing room. Maybe it’s chloroform. But no, they were garbage in the middle of the room. Miz immediately deduced by seeing garbage that Strowman was back. He was acting scared. Dallas said not to worry, because they’ve got his back and they weren’t at TLC but are here now. Miz then said now he’s even more worried. Miz went to Kane and told him he thought Strowman was back and how Kane was the one who put him in the back of the garbage truck. Kane said that they all did but if Strowman wants to find him, he knows where to look. Miz was happy that Kane had his back and said it’s good we’re on the same team. Kane said, “Team? You’re on your own” and started laughing. Gallows & Anderson came out dressed as Chad 2 Badd & Sex Ferguson of Southpaw Pro Wrestling. They were to face Slater & Rhyno, dressed up as Santa Claus & Mrs. Claus respectively, in a Trick or Street fight. There were pumpkins everywhere, which in wrestling means pumpkins on the heels’ heads. They stuffed Slater’s face in the water where they had set up bobbing for apples. So here’s the deal with this stuff. In the 80s, in WWF, this stuff probably would have worked. But this crowd was so dead and not buying it. It came off like a worst match of the year candidate. Rhyno put the pumpkin on Gallows’ head. Pumpkin insides were poured all over Slater. Rhyno put a pie in Gallows’ face. Anderson looked like he was wearing an old Ribera jacket with the insignia taken off. Gallows destroyed Slater & Rhyno with kendo sticks. The finish saw Anderson, also with a pumpkin over his head by this point, coming off the top rope and Rhyno caught him and gave him a belly-to-belly suplex through a table and pinned him in 4:51. Miz was backstage with Sheamus & Cesaro. Sheamus told Miz to relax and said that there’s no way Strowman could have recovered from being compacted in one week. Like you get grinded up in the back of a garbage truck and you can come back in three weeks? Miz was thankful that they were on his team and you guessed it, Sheamus said, “Team? You’re on your own.” Elias came out singing about Jordan. Jordan, who was supposed to be injured from the guitar shot last week, came out, and did act like his shoulder was sore, but suplexed Elias and Elias ran. Elias left his guitar in the ring and Jordan stomped through it. Miz, Dallas and Axel were rushing to get out of there when Angle stopped them. He said that they already arrived late, and they’re not leaving early. He told them they had to stay, “or else.” We never heard what “or else” was. Enzo & Gulak came out together. Gulak was mostly cutting the promo for Enzo, event though Enzo did get some of his voice back. This was to set up the spot where Gulak said he was going to spell it out, and said, “SOFT, soft.” Enzo didn’t seem happy at all about that. Kalisto then pinned Gulak with the Salida del Sol in :57. After the match, Enzo laid out Kalisto with the Jordanzo. The main event saw Bliss pin James in 11:11 to retain the women’s title. The crowd was dead. They started chanting C.M. Punk. Then other fans booed the chant. The fans didn’t care putting these two on this late. James was getting all kinds of near falls with no crowd reactions. Then, after Bliss kicked out of move after move, Bliss hit her with one forearm and got the pin. This was the same thing they did earlier with Miz and Hardy where the face does all these moves for near falls and then the heel just hits one move quick and gets the pin. Those kind of finishes make the face look so bad, but in both cases, these are faces they don’t really care about how they look. The show ended with Miz, Axel and Dallas in a limo trying to leave. But a garbage truck showed up. Miz told the driver to get around it. Strowman came from the back of the garbage truck and started chasing Miz. He knocked down Dallas and Axel. They all ended up back in the arena. Strowman threw Miz into the wall and beat up all three. He threw all three of them down the ramp and they rolled to the ring area. Strowman hit a powerslam on Axel. The fans chanted “One more time.” He then hit three more powerslams on Axel, to make four, and Booker T talked about how Strowman had just given him five powerslams. Strowman then carried Axel to the back and gave him a powerslam through the announcers table to end the show

Notes on the 10/31 Halloween night show in Norfolk. The main themes of the show were Roode and Nakamura earning spots on the Smackdown team and Shane announcing he was the captain. They are also starting a New Day vs. Rusev & English feud. The show drew only 4,000 fans. Natalya & Naomi & Lynch beat Carmella & Natalya & Tamina when Naomi pinned Carmella opened the show. The show opened with Shane McMahon out. There was a fan in the front row during his interview parading his Darryl doll over the rail. If was there for a while. I’m guessing at some point somebody figured out what it was, because we didn’t see it later. Shane said that Raw has always looked at Smackdown as the inferior brand (keeping in mind that it’s only been a year since this brand split and lots of people have switched sides and Shane they share several of the same announcers). He said the way to change that was to go to Raw and put them under siege and kick them in the mouth. He talked about Bryan going to Raw. He said he went there and was violently attacked and blamed Angle for setting him up and said there would be hell to pay for that. Shane said he’d be the captain for the Smackdown team. Roode beat Ziggler in a 2/3 fall match for a spot on the team in a total time of 11:29. Ziggler won the first fall with a superkick in 3:43. Roode won the second fall with a cradle after catapulting Ziggler into the post at 3:16 of the fall. They traded near falls including Ziggler getting a near fall with the zig zag before, after a series of reversals, Roode hit the glorious DDT for the pin in 4:30. This was their best TV match to date. Roode did an interview after and didn’t say much. Backstage, the New Day was dressed up for Halloween. Kingston was dressed as Brother Love. Woods was dressed as Jimmy Hart. Big E was dressed as Akeem during the period when they used George Gray to mock Dusty Rhodes as The African Dream. Of course today everyone denies that. Rusev & English bumped into them and started yelling at them as they were giving candy to strangers telling them that the strangers could be spies from Raw. Rusev said Halloween was a dumb holiday for dumb children and dumped their candy on the floor and stomped on it. Big E got mad and challenged Rusev to a match. Lynch had a pep talk with the Smackdown women’s team and Lana was there. Ellsworth was there dressed up for Halloween like a dog, in a dog costume and Carmella told him to “sit” and “stay.” Natalya showed up and talked about how she should be the captain but she has to go against Bliss and claimed that she ran Bliss off to Raw. Corbin no contest Sin Cara in 3:04. They were giving Sin Cara a push and trying to put over the value of the mask. Corbin kept going for the mask during the match. It ended with them brawling on the floor and Sin Cara tackled Corbin over the table. The crowd booed the finish. Sin Cara threw one of the announcers’ chairs at Corbin and they had Corbin running away from him, so this was designed to do something with Sin Cara. Renee Young was backstage with the Usos doing their rap about Sheamus & Cesaro. Gable & Benjamin came out and did their own rap to set up next week’s tag title match. The Singhs came out to introduce Mahal. They mocked the Heyman introduction of Lesnar spot. Mahal did an interview and said he was going to beat Lesnar and become the Beast Master. He started speaking in Punjab when Styles came out. Styles pinned Samir Singh in :34 with the Styles clash. Mahal attacked Styles after and beat him down, throwing Styles’ ribs first into the post and bending his back around the post. Mahal then gave Styles the Khallas twice. Mahal had a lot of heat by the end of this segment. Owens & Zayn were backstage. They were complaining that Shane said Smackdown was the land of opportunity, but Shane made himself captain and put himself on the team, taking away a spot one of them could have had. Owens said he’d beat Nakamura and help Smackdown win the match at Survivor Series and then Shane would owe him and he’s make it the Sami & Kevin Show. Rusev pinned Big E in 7:33. Boring match early. Big E made a comeback. English stood on the announcers table and started singing. Woods started playing the trombone. English attacked Woods. Big E hit the big ending on English, but this allowed Rusev to hit a side kick for the pin. Next was a Fashion Police video called Strangerer Things. This was one of their worst one. The big spots were Dillinger dressing in drag and arguing, teasing the idea of a heel turn. Konnor was dressed up as Kane. The lights then went out and it appeared everyone was being beaten up on. The inference is it was the Bludgeon Brothers doing it, so after all these months, since the Fashion Police vs. Rowan & Harper was talked about a long time ago, they are finally there. Nakamura pinned Owens to earn a spot on the team in 12:21. Very good match. Zayn distracted Nakamura and Owens went for a cradle but Nakamura kicked out. Owens also did a falcon arrow of the middle rope for a near fall. Owens kicked out of a Kinshasa when Nakamura didn’t have enough room to get a full run. Nakamura went for another one but Zayn pulled Owens out of the ring. Zayn distracted Nakamura and Owens threw Nakamura into the post. Owens hit a frog splash for a near fall. Owens told Zayn to clear out the announces table. Orton then came out and back suplexed Zayn on the table, which didn’t break. Owens was distracted and Nakamura hit the Kinshasa for the pin. 205 Live opened with Gulak having ideas to make Halloween better. He did a Power Point Presentation. He’s trying like crazy to get heat for saying “Power Point Presentation” and some are reacting but most aren’t. He said Halloween would be better if there was no candy and no trick or treating. At that point Tozawa came out. Tozawa pinned Gulak in 5:55 with a senton off the top. The match was good, and Tozawa did a tope where it was like he was levitating in the air. Tozawa was still selling his throat and selling that he couldn’t chant, but the fans were chanting for him. McGuinness has the best wit of anyone in WWE by far, but it’s so understated I don’t know if a lot of people see it. That said, when Tozawa came off the top with his high senton, McGuinness said he was coming from 20 feet in the air, which is the kind of bullshit that modern announcers really shouldn’t be doing. Swann & Alexander were backstage. Alexander told Swann that how Kendrick & Gallagher thought he’d turn on Swann just because they told him to. Swann said he didn’t even pay attention to what they said. Alexander said that he should because they called him a clown. Somehow this led to Swann & Alexander both dressing up as clowns and coming out to clown music. Swann, in a full clown outfit, pinned Kendrick in 9:35 with a Phoenix splash off the middle rope. The crowd was dead for the clown stuff. Then Swann started working a serious match while dressed up as a clown. Fans did pop when Swann did the top rope huracanrana. Kendrick did a double arm superplex for a near fall. Swann also did a running flip dive. Daivari did a promo with pumpkins all over the ring. This led to the main event, a four-way match with a Halloween theme that had some cool moves and tons of ridiculousness. The problem, like on Raw, is the silly Halloween stuff wasn’t over in the least. Maybe they’ll learn. If it was, it would be a different story. McGuinness was great when Ali threw a pumpkin in the face of Nese and McGuinness said that was okay because those were complex carbs, and then freaked out when Ali tried to make Nese eat a candy bar. Daivari put on a mask and did some cartwheels. Ali put the mask on and then put it on a skeleton. Ali threw the skeleton off the top rope like it was doing a crossbody on Daivari. Nese started throwing pumpkins at Ali while doing ab work. Nese pulled out a bag of what he thought was thumbtacks, but somebody infiltrated his bag and put candy corn in it. Then they traded a ton of big moves which seemed totally out of context with all the pumpkins around the ring and candy in the ring. Metalik backdropped Nese through a table. Ali pinned Daivari after throwing a pie in his face and giving him a leg drop while holding a broomstick and using the broomstick for the leg drop for the pin in 12:57. The dark match main event saw Orton & Styles over Mahal & Zayn when Styles pinned Zayn after the phenomenal forearm

Notes on the 10/25 NXT show. The show opened with Regal announcing that due to what happened with Taynara Conti screwing Nikki Cross out of her shot in the four-way, that there will be a Battle Royal for the final spot in with Ember Moon, Peyton Royce and Kairi Sane and Cross would be in the Battle Royal. He also announced Sanity vs. Authors of Pain on next week’s show for the tag titles with the third member of Sanity then barred from ringside. Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli beat Oney Lorcan & Danny Butch in 4:02. Lorcan & Burch got a big reaction coming out, but you can see Moss & Sabbatelli have the look. I don’t sense Lorcan & Burch will get much of a chance, but things can happen, because Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa were brought in to be enhancement guys and ended up as tag team champions. Lorcan threw an amazing dropkick on Moss. Sabbatelli should be a superstar. He’s got the look. He’s a fantastic athlete. He exudes cocky arrogance. He’d have been huge in the 70s and 80s, but you need more now and he just doesn’t connect as a star. The finishing move was Moss using a Gori especial on Lorcan and Sabbatelli giving him a bulldog out of that position. Next was the women’s Battle Royal which Cross won by throwing out Billie Kay in 12:19. Candice LeRae got the biggest pop, but she’s not under contract so she’s just there for enhancement work. She always get a big reaction and looks good and wrestles better than most, but sometimes the decision making isn’t the easiest to figure out. Conti has a great look but obviously can’t wrestle yet and was the first one eliminated. After that was Rhea Ripley, Zeda, Dakota Kai, Aliyah, Vanessa Borne, Sage Beckett, Santana Garrett, Abbey Laith, Sarah Logan, Lacey Evans and LeRae. Cross was booked to be the babyface star of the match, and did most of the eliminations. Bianca Belair lifted LeRae overhead and threw him over the top onto a ton of people waiting to catch her. That was the spot of the match. Belair was whipping Kay with her hair. Cross eliminated Belair and Mercedes Martinez. Cross then eliminated Kay to win. Royce and Cross were arguing after the match. Moon came out as well. They did an interview with Drew McIntyre outside the building. Zelida Vega came out and said that McIntyre needs to quit ducking Andrade Cien Almas She said she keeps asking for a match. McIntyre said that as soon as Almas comes up to him like a man and asks him, he’ll give him a shot, and then told her adios. Aleiester Black came out for a match. Velveteen Dream snuck up from behind him and threw him into the steps and tied Black up in the ropes. He kept telling Black to “say my name,” which is what Muhammad Ali did in his fight with Floyd Patterson in the 60s and what Ric Flair used to do against enhancement guys in the late 70s. Black finally got loose from the ropes and Dream ran off. The main event saw Almas beat Roderick Strong in 9:16. Lots of good stuff here. Strong is excellent. At this stage of the game the three best male wrestlers on the roster, and given Asuka hasn’t looked great of late, really the best three overall are Styles, Strong and Gargano. Strong gave Almas a final cut on the apron. Storm used a tarantula. Strong back suplexed Almas on the apron. Strong took over and was on the verge of winning when Vega came off the apron with a huracanrana on Strong, flipping him into the ring steps. That was the spot of the show. The only issue is it was a heel doing it but it was so impressive, and also because it was a woman who did it, the place went nuts for it in a babyface way. Almas then got the pin with the hammerlock DDT. Vega said that next week, Almas will meet McIntyre face-to-face and said that McIntyre was scared. The show ended with Bobby Fish, Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly out. They invited Strong to join. Strong is a face and they are heels and the crowd was desperately wanting Strong to join. Cole pulled off his armband and handed it to Strong. Strong took it, which was the tease he was joining (he isn’t) and everyone cheered

We didn’t get anything on the first night of the Midwest tour on 10/26 in Spencer, IA

10/27 in Des Moines drew 800 fans. Roderick Strong pinned Fabian Aichner in the opener. Kairi Sane pinned Vanessa Borne with the elbow off the top rope. Killian Dain pinned Brennan Williams after a Vader bomb. Lars Sullivan pinned Kassius Ohno. Really good finish with Ohno knocking Sullivan around with hard elbows and kicks until missing one and getting nailed with the muso. Alexander Wolfe & Eric Young beat Fish & O’Reilly via count out to keep the tag titles. Good match. I was Fish’s 38th birthday. The finish was a walk out count out. Ember Moon pinned Bianca Belair with the eclipse. Belair should a lot of good athletic skills. Aleister Black pinned Velveteen Dream with the black mass. One of the best matches on the show. Dream did the “Say my name” routine. When he did that, the crowd would yell, “Patrick,” which was hilarious. Main event saw McIntyre beat Cole and Almas in a three-way to keep the NXT title. Great match with a lot of hard wrestling. The heels double-teamed McIntyre a lot. McIntyre pinned Almas after a Claymore kick in 23:00. Cole got the biggest reaction on the show. After the match, Fish & O’Reilly came out and beat down McIntyre. Sanity came back out and attacked them. Sanity ended up leaving. The

show ended with Cole celebrating and McIntyre giving him a Claymore kick

The last show of the tour was 10/28 in Omaha before 1,200 fans. Strong pinned Brennan Williams in a short match. Moon pinned Borne with the eclipse. Dain beat Aichner. Aichner has some impressive power moves. Sullivan pinned Ohno with the muso. Wolfe & Young retained over Fish & O’Reilly. Sane pinned Belair with the elbow off the top. Black pinned Dream with black mass in a very good match. This match has been getting strong reports across the board. McIntyre won a three-way over Almas and Cole when he pinned Cole with the Claymore kick. This match has also been getting strong reviews. Cole is really over at the house shows. Fish & O’Reilly then attacked McIntyre until Sanity made the save and McIntyre ended the show laying out Cole with the Claymore kick

The first match of the Florida tour was 10/26 in Tampa before 250 fans with some interesting results. No Way Jose pinned Buddy Murphy in the opener. If/when they finally decide Murphy has been in developmental so many years and let him go, I hope somebody gives him a shot as he’s a good worker with a good look. He doesn’t stand out, but would be a solid guy in any company. Reina Gonzalez beat Abbey Laith. Adrian Jaoude pinned Chris Dijak. Chris is actually Donovan Dijak’s real first name. They like to test people, so that explains this, but still, it’s kind of funny. Hideo Itami pinned Lio Rush. The Street Profits beat Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch. Nikki Cross pinned Sonya Deville. The main event saw Johnny Gargano & Heavy Machinery beat Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler & Chad Lail, the latter getting his first taste of a main event

10/27 in Sanford, FL, drew 350 fans. Jose pinned newcomer Ming from China. Jason pinned Kona Reeves with a roll-up. Dan Matha beat Tian Bing with a choke slam into a backbreaker. There was a person Battle Royal won by Baszler, who was dressed up as Darth Vader. It was mostly women but Riddick Moss and Wesley Blake were in it for comedy reasons. Nikki Cross dressed up like No Way Jose. Baszler used her Vader super powers to choke slam Moss. Lio Rush pinned Murphy in what was described as one of the best NXT house show matches of the year. Itami pinned Jaoude. Main event saw the Street Profits over Lorcan & Burch in a good match

The final weekend show was 10/28 in Cocoa, FL. Dijak pinned Reeves, who once again had Ming (who they are high on because of his size and being from China) in the corner. Baszler & Beckett beat Kai & Morgan when Baszler made Kai submit to a choke. Murphy pinned Babatunde Aiyegbusi after a bodyslam. As noted before, the handwriting looks clear that they’ve given up on Aiyegbusi. Rush vs. Lail saw Blake & Cutler attack Rush. Heavy Machinery made the save and we ended up with a six-man tag match where Rush & Machinery won. Riot pinned Deville. Moss & Sabbatelli beat Gabriel & Uriel Ealy. The main event saw Gargano beat Itami using the Gargano escape

The main crew had the weekend off. Raw didn’t do any house shows to give people time off before the European tour while Smackdown only did the show in Raleigh on 10/30 which drew 2,000 fans. We didn’t get an attendance figure for Raleigh but live reports indicated that it wasn’t good

The Raleigh show opened with Usos retaining the tag titles over Big E & Woods with a roll-up on Woods. Breeze & Fandango & Rawley & Ryder beat The Ascension & The Colons. That’s strange since Breeze & Fandango and The Ascension are now friends on television. Fandango pinned Epico with a falcon arrow to win. Roode beat Ziggler in the same type of match they’ve been doing, winning with the glorious DDT. Rusev beat Dillinger. This match was notable. It started out like you would expect. Then they did a double turn in the match. The crowd completely went with the double turn. So this had to be a market test for both. As we’ve noted, it’s just time for Rusev to turn. With Dillinger, the “ten” chant was really over but in a way that was like the “what” chant in that it could have been a long-term mess with fans chanting it at near falls and count outs. So they pretty much nipped that in the bud, but the problem is that without it, Dillinger really didn’t have anything special. He’s a good wrestler but he’s not the kind of guy they are going to give a big push to. Rusev made the babyface comeback and won with the accolade. Nakamura & Orton beat Zayn & Owens when Orton pinned Zayn after an RKO, after Nakamura had knocked Owens out of the ring with a Kinshasa. Charlotte & Lynch won a two-on-three handicap match over Lana & Tamina & Carmella when Charlotte beat Lana with the figure eight. Corbin retained the U.S. title pinning Sin Cara clean with the End of Days. Main event was a non-title match where Styles beat Mahal. We’re told that Styles was able to have a better match with Mahal than anyone to date on this title reign. The Singhs both interfered regularly but Styles took them out, got out of the Khallas twice and won with the phenomenal forearm.