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October 23, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Brock Lesnar vs. Jinder Mahal, Observer Hall of Fame candidates, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 October 23, 2017

 

ROH GLOBAL WARS IPPV

Thumbs up 121 (98.4%)

Thumbs down 0 (00.0%)

In the middle 2 (01.6%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Will Ospreay vs. Flip Gordon 107

Bullet Club vs. Search & Destroy 10

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Titus & Ferrara vs. Johnson & Pusser 83

Based on e-mails and phone calls to the Observer as of Tuesday, 10/17.

 

Brock Lesnar vs. Jinder Mahal in a non-title battle of champions will headline the Survivor Series on 11/19.

The idea of a Raw champion vs. Smackdown champion match for Survivor Series was actually floated for a long time. On paper, it sounds like a big deal, except titles mean less in most cases than ever before, although right now the Universal title does feel like it means something and the WWE title feels like it means nothing. So the basic rule is the champion makes the belt. I don’t want to say the belt doesn’t make the champion, because Mahal is a far bigger star with it than without it so it does mean something. But it doesn’t feel like a real top level championship.

It’s the idea that the Smackdown title doesn’t feel like it means much after weak Mahal programs with Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura, that is part of the reason the excitement level doesn’t seem like much. In addition, it doesn’t feel like the match will be that good, and as a non-title match, it won’t mean a lot anyway. The finish becomes notable because after Lesnar beat guys like Samoa Joe, Bill Goldberg and Braun Strowman quickly and decisively, him losing to Mahal makes no sense. But Smackdown already feels secondary, and its champion losing will only emphasize that. They could do an outside interference DQ, but nobody would be happy with that as a modern major show finish.

Mahal issued the challenge on the 10/17 Smackdown show, and Lesnar will be accepting on 10/23 in Green Bay, when Lesnar returns to Raw.

Right now, the mentality is that this is not considered a major match, and it’s just something for Lesnar on a big show to get him to bigger matches, and that after SummerSlam, the big show priorities are Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. With The Shield likely together at the Rumble, or in the Rumble itself, the timing would seem to make sense for Lesnar vs. Finn Balor, since they’ve been teasing that match on television for months, and it was in the books originally for Balor, Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins originally as the guys to occupy Lesnar’s time until they got to Reigns at WrestleMania.

With the Nakamura program completed after last week’s PPV, Mahal is moving on to A.J. Styles. That makes less than no sense, given that Baron Corbin seemingly needlessly pinned Styles clean with the End of Days, just last week. I mean, you can do this, but it just continues to teach people that results of matches are meaningless, and it leads to less heat in the matches and interest in what the matches mean.

Some would think they would protect Mahal from losing at Survivor Series so shortly before the India tour, but that makes little sense. He’ll still be going in as champion, and these are two house shows in a market where you can’t charge much for tickets, so why worry about that when Lesnar has been booked so strongly all year specifically because beating him was to be saved for Roman Reigns at WrestleMania.

Smackdown doesn’t have a brand specific PPV until the 12/17 Clash of Champions, and it’s not clear what the makeup of Survivor Series will be. Both brands should start promoting that show strongly next week, with the teases of the lineup.

The final Raw PPV of 2017 is 10/22 in Minneapolis at the Target Center for the TLC show. Unlike in years past, where TLC meant four different gimmick matches, a TLC match as well as an individual tables match, ladder match and chairs match, this year it’s just the main event TLC match.

Angles on Raw this week has changed the main event to the reformed Shield (Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins) in their first match back against five men, Braun Strowman & Kane & The Miz & Sheamus & Cesaro. Kane was added on Raw when he came from under the ring to help Strowman beat Reigns in a cage match. Kane, 50, is back to being the red masked version.

He’s been out of action since the first week of December, or about ten months, resting up nagging injuries, working at his Allstate insurance business in Knoxville and running for Mayor of Knox County.

WWE went to great lengths to hide his return, not letting any of the talent know. He actually didn’t fly into Portland, but flew into a different airport, was driven to Portland and hid the entire time. The show was constructed to make you think that a mystery fifth man that would join the heel team would be Curtis Axel. When it came out that it wasn’t a lot of speculation was on Samoa Joe, who is ready to return any time now. His return angle was strong and with all the gimmicks and all the people involved, it should be a wild match. But it’s very much a one-match show.

The rest of the show has Finn Balor, under his Demon guise, against Bray Wyatt, who will be dressed up as Sister Abigail, Kalisto vs. Enzo Amore in a cruiserweight title match, Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James in a women’s title match, Asuka vs. Emma and Rich Swann & Cedric Alexander vs. Brian Kendrick & Jack Gallagher. The main event is expected to be very long.

Alicia Fox vs. Sasha Banks was announced as the preshow match and Drew Gulak is supposed to do a preshow interview in the ring doing his power point presentation gimmick. If needed, there is still Matt Hardy & Jason Jordan vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows out there to fill space, as well as different ideas for Elias.


Coming off the Young Bucks playing up the Cease & Desist letter they got from WWE, the group and Bullet Club as a whole appeared to never have been hotter, culminating in the Global Wars PPV show on 10/15 in Villa Park, IL at the Odeum.

The four straight sellouts had nothing to do with it. Those were drawn by Kenny Omega’s first time in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Columbus, OH and Chicago since he became a huge star coming off the Tokyo Dome match with Kazuchika Okada.

But when it comes to that, everything still has to be taken into perspective. The 10/12 show in Buffalo was still only 1,000 tickets, as was Pittsburgh the next night. Columbus was 1,200. It’s not even like they are out there booking 3,000 or 5,000 seat arenas. Chicago ended up with 2,500 fans, the second largest ROH crowd in history, a show that sold out in three days and when it sold out, the only thing announced was that Omega would be there. There have been times that TNA drew numbers like that, and with nowhere near the level of talent, but also TNA didn’t sell places out weeks in advance when they did it. Buffalo was sold out before the announcement Omega was coming, and Pittsburgh and Columbus sold out immediately after the announcement. ROH has been coming to Chicago as one of its key markets for years, and one-third that number was always considered a good Chicago crowd for the group.

But it’s not just Omega, as the 10/20 television tapings in Philadelphia at the 2300 Arena also sold out in advance, with no Omega (standing room only tickets may still be available).

There’s no arguing that ROH is the strongest it has ever been. And the merchandise lines for the Bullet Club members have been such that it only seems like the tickets are being sold more for meet and greets, since people wait in line for hours for photos, as the matches themselves are secondary. What that means is uncharted because it’s really never been like that in wrestling.

Indeed, for Global Wars, while most of the matches were good, it was clearly not the lure of the matches themselves, but the idea of the event that was the draw. It was the most big-time ROH has ever felt as far as this iPPV went, with improvements in production and micing the crowd.

The wrestling was good, but there was a lot of shtick, really more than any ROH major show I’ve seen. It’s clear that the talent is more over as stars, meaning they can get away with doing less, and they have go-to- spots that aren’t going to break down their bodies like a break-neck attempt to do the best pro wrestling match possible will do.

Omega, without the belt itself, retained the U.S. title in the main event beating Yoshi-Hashi. A lot of people complained ahead of time that this was the wrong opponent, and well, it was. Yoshi-Hashi never turned it in like someone in his position should have. Omega didn’t treat this with the urgency of a normal big match. It’s too bad in a sense, because if the Juice Robinson match would have taken place on this show, with this hot of a crowd, it would have not only torn the house down, but made Robinson into a star in Chicago, where he’s from, and elevated his name to the hardcore audience. But it took place in Kobe instead.

Still, the main event ended up being really good, strangely, because of all the outside interference among Bullet Club and Chaos members, as well as Flip Gordon and Chuck Taylor, as opposed to having to overcome it.

The show seemed to have had a purpose of a few things. One is trying to position themselves as the hot up-and-coming alternative to WWE, the position ECW tried to position itself in the late 90s. That does lead to stronger reactions and fan loyalty to the brand, but the long-term of that mentality is tougher. The other purpose of the show seemed to be to get new talent, in particular Adam Page, Shane Taylor, Jonathan Gresham and Gordon over, with various degrees of success. In the case of Gordon, who lost to Will Ospreay in the show-stealing match, he came across like a guy who is probably two years away from superstardom. His athletic ability is off the charts and just needs experience and some work on connecting with the crowd, and he’s very much like Ospreay himself was not that many years ago.

The anti-WWE movement was clear, from the start of the show with Cody, as the brand champion, pushing the company’s current success and taking shots at WWE’s face, Roman Reigns. There were all kinds of teases about what could and couldn’t be said regarding “Too sweet,” there were “cease and desist” signs and gimmicks all over the place. There were “F*** the Revival” chants at several points during the show. And the show ended with Jimmy Jacobs, recently fired by WWE, making a cameo by coming out and shooting a photo of the Bullet Club celebration.

It’s good marketing. From a WWE standpoint, the attempt to bully them into quieting down clearly backfired and made them bigger stars. The firing of Jacobs probably did the same. Reigns actually responded just hours before the show to a comment by Cody that gave them ammo for the opening segment. If this encourages WWE to go after more talent, that would at least be in the talents best interest.

The real question that can’t be answered regards Omega’s staying power. When he comes back to markets a second time, will there be a similar run on tickets? And there is no way of knowing that. And, at least in theory, if Omega does get a run as IWGP champion, which would make sense to happen in 2018, will that increase his drawing power or will that title not matter. And some of that is New Japan, as New Japan really should be planning a major event in 2018 in the U.S. with Tetsuya Naito vs. Omega, before G-1, in a major arena and make people think that’s the title switch, to really gauge exactly what their limits in the market are.

The show went four-hours, which felt long for a Sunday night PPV show. The extra hour was more good than bad, as I’d hate to cut an hour off of this show as the matches would have been hurt with more time cut. The unannounced tag match didn’t need to be there on such a long show, but it was more there to set up the Jay Briscoe interview. The Bully Ray segment, while very good, could have shorter.

The one negative for those at home was having an intermission. I understand that it’s the merch business that is so big in ROH right now so financially it makes sense. But for the TV viewer, it was just a blank screen for 15 minutes. The least they could do was put on interviews building the second half of the show, or do what New Japan does, and show highlights of the earlier matches either for those who tuned in late, or in the case of the Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian match, where the stream went down and nobody saw the finish.

The show opened with Cody saying that this was the most financially successful tour in ROH history, but said a Tweet got under his skin. The back story is that he had done an interview earlier in the week claiming that he was responsible for the last two ROH PPVs being the best selling in company history (I can’t confirm that as accurate but the PPV numbers are way up from the past) and claimed he was the biggest draw in all of wrestling. It was clearly a Ric Flair style world champion promo.

Reigns responded, “I don’t even need to click the link and watch it,” when someone brought it up to him. “If that house didn’t draw over 100K, he’s just talking silly.”

Well, obviously Reigns is a bigger draw than Cody right now due to platform, even if Reigns 100K crowd isn’t accurate either.

Cody said that a tweet got under his skin, and talked about Reigns as a guy who wears a vest in his matches to hide his gut and to hide his failed drug tests. He said that Reigns was really hiding envy, that ROH isn’t an indie, it’s a club. He then asked Cary Silkin to kiss his ring. Silkin refused. He then said he would bring a fan into the ring to kiss his ring.

There was a fan in a costume that you couldn’t miss. The key to this is that fan was walking around everywhere all day to make sure people saw him. But it was not the same person. They had a regular sized 160 pound guy in the costume, wearing a Cody T-shirt, and made sure all the fans saw him. However, the guy in the crowd here was Dalton Castle, who did an injury angle and this was too set up Cody vs. Castle as the main event for Final Battle in December. So Castle came into the ring, and in a nice touch, tripped over the ropes like someone who had never walked into the ring. So he was brought into the ring to kiss the ring. Cody asked that they film this for “Being the Elite,” and while Cody was talking, the fan unmasked , Castle suplexed Cody and started beating him up on the ground. Cody ran off. The crowd was completely behind Cody the entire segment, but still, the way it was done, it worked well and I don’t think the fans saw this as an angle even if it was kind of clear when he walked into the ring it was Castle.

1. Silas Young & Beer City Bruiser beat Chuckie T (Chuck Taylor) & Baretta in 13:01. There was a lot of comedy early. They were doing some of the Yujiro Takahashi stuff with Baretta, but with Bruiser telling Baretta he’s not a heavyweight. Baretta’s triceps were all bruised up. T & Baretta did a double flip dive on opposite sides of the ring. Baretta got a near fall with a piledriver on Bruiser, but Young saved. Baretta tried a piledriver on Bruiser on the apron, but Bruiser backdropped out of it and did a bodyblock off the apron. The finish saw Chuckie bounce off the ropes but get hit with a beer keg by Bruiser, and then Young used misery on Taylor for the pin. **3/4

2. Marty Scurll beat Hiromu Takahashi in 14:21. Again, lots of comedy. Takahashi has allowed himself not to kill himself by picking his spots better and using Darryl the stuffed cat, who is just ridiculously over. The announcers talked about the Darryl and Carol wedding (this was covered in the Japanese press last week, Carol being another stuffed animal). The crowd reacted to both of these guys like superstars. With Scurll challenging for the title next, it was his time to win, and he did, cleanly. Takahashi used a dropkick off the apron. Scurll grabbed Darryl and started arguing with him. He hit Takahashi with Darryl for a near fall. Both tried to steal pins with their feet on the ropes but ref Paul Turner caught both of them. Scurll worked the match as the heel, even though the crowd cheered both guys throughout. Takahashi did the sunset flip power bomb to the floor. But this was still worked like an entertaining prelim and not like these two would likely work a serious match or a title match. After a series of near falls, Takahashi went for the time bomb but Scurll reversed into a chicken wing for the submission. ***½

3. Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian beat Kushida & Cheeseburger in 8:00. There were some rough spots early. It was a lot better when Kushida was in, but that’s to be expected. Kushida did a flip dive on Daniels. Kushida kicked out of Celebrity Rehab. The feed went out for the finish, but Daniels & Kazarian won with the Best Meltzer Ever, which is Kazarian with a tombstone and Daniels coming off the top rope with a moonsault to spike him. After the match was over, Daniels & Kazarian got a table and Kazarian was about to power bomb Cheeseburger through the table when Bully Ray ran in to break it up and ended up power bombing Kazarian through the table. **1/4

Bully Ray came out for a promo and talked about wrestling at the Odeum in 1999 for ECW and lighting a table on fire. He did the teasing retirement interview he did in every city. He did it well, saying, “It’s time.” Fans were chanting “No.” He said for the first time he needed to worry about himself and his own health. The crowd gave him a standing ovation and “Thank you Bubba” chant. He said “Thank you,” and that Chicago was one of his favorite places to wrestle. He then grabbed a piece of the broken table and brought in another fan in a Cody T-shirt into the ring. Bully said that tonight you (a kid) represent every fan I’ve been in front of, and he said he can’t thank every single fan, but said “Thank you,” handed a piece of the broken table to the fan and said that this is the last table I’ll ever break and told the kid to hold the piece of the table high in the air. He apologized if he was taking up too much time, but said that ROH was always a place he wanted to go and if this was his last day, he wants to thank God he got to set foot in an ROH ring. The announcers played it up like he was retiring. It was really well done.

4. Young Bucks & Cody & Hangman Page beat Jay White & Jonathan Gresham & Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley in 14:25. Lots of playing to the crowd early and crowd chants of “F*** the Revival,” “One sweet” and “Cease and desist.” The place was filled with censored signs. Then everyone came out and missed moves doing no water in the pool spots. Cody did a springboard dive onto the other team on the floor. Page did a moonsault off the top rope to the floor that looked awesome. Matt did a running flip dive off the stage onto everyone. Nick was about to do a big move when Search & Destroy attacked his leg and did “too sweet.” Page did a moonsault and running shooting star press at one point. The Bullet Club went for a quadruple sharpshooter spot, but White instead reversed and got Cody in the sharpshooter. The Bucks released their sharpshooters, gave White a double superkick and then the Bullet Club did the four-way sharpshooter spot. That ended with a rope break. Page & Matt did a shooting star Meltzer driver on the floor. Cody hit the crossroads on White. Gresham told them to “suck it” and then Gresham was hit with a four-way superkick. Nick did a springboard corkscrew dive onto Shelley, Sabin and White on the floor and Page pinned Gresham to win it with the Rights of Passage. ****

5. Rhett Titus & Will Ferrara beat Brian Johnson & Justin Pusser in 5:02. Titus & Ferrara are known as The Dawgs. Johnson & Pusser are known as One Mean Team. The crowd didn’t care about this at all. The finish was a crossbody and front suplex combination on Johnson. *

Jay Briscoe came out and destroyed Johnson & Pusser, hitting a J driller on Johnson. Jay never brought up Bully Ray at all, which is where the angle was going. Instead he talked about Mark, noting that they’ve got to get back to being the baddest tag team in the world, and that Mark has been too worried about singles matches, TV title matches and six man titles. Jay said he told Mark to ice his elbow, heal up quick and its time for the Briscoes to take this stuff over.

Shane Taylor did an interview saying he gets paid to take people out, and that he’s replacing Mark Briscoe in the next match.

6. Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. beat Shane Taylor & Kenny King & Jay Lethal in 16:45. Suzuki’s ring entrance was over and he was clearly the star of the match. The crowd was most into Suzuki vs. Lethal. They weren’t into Taylor even with the promo, and King was sloppy in a lot of his stuff. Lethal and Suzuki traded hard chops and Suzuki laughed in his face when Lethal threw all out chops. Smith did a top rope superplex on Lethal. Archer used an overhead choke slam on King. King did a corkscrew dive on Archer. The finish saw Suzuki and Taylor in the ring. The story is that Suzuki wanted to beat Taylor with the Gotch piledriver. He’d choke him down and go for it, but Taylor, at nearly 350 pounds, was too heavy. Smith & Archer went for a killer bomb on Taylor but Lethal & King broke it up. Suzuki tried the choke and Gotch a second time, but couldn’t get him up. He did it a third time, and this time got Taylor up, paused at the top and dropped him with it for the pin. Suzuki then said, “We are Suzuki-gun, Ichiban.” **3/4

7. Colt Cabana beat Toru Yano. This was pure comedy, but that’s what it was supposed to be. Cabana brought out his “Wrestling Road Dairies Volume three” tape and Yano had his Chaos tape. They traded and then Yano threw the Cabana tape into the crowd. Cabana threw the Yano tape away. Yano grabbed his tape and sold it to someone in the crowd for $20. They dueled with the turnbuckle padding that Yano had ripped off. Yano taped Cabana’s hands together at one point. Cabana won but the feed was out during this time.

8. Will Ospreay beat Flip Gordon in 15:21. Even this match started with comedy with Ospreay doing his cat spots. Gordon did an amazing handstand spot. He also did an incredible Mistica type move into a head scissors. Gordon said “Too sweet” and did a middle rope moonsault to the floor. He also did a one legged standing moonsault to the floor. Ospreay did a twisting splash and a space flying tiger drop. Gordon did a double springboard twisting dive onto the floor which was the move of the show. Ospreay did a Samoan drop, a running shooting star and a middle rope moonsault for a near fall. Gordon even used an Oscutter on Ospreay and the crowd went nuts for that. Gordon used a springboard sling blade and a 450. He did a springboard off his knees and a 450 but Ospreay moved. Ospreay then did a shooting star press to the back of Gordon as Gordon was draped over the top rope. The crowd was chanting “Fight Forever” late in the match. Ospreay followed with a Robinson kick and the Oscutter. ****½

9. Kenny Omega pinned Yoshi-Hashi in 25:22 to retain the IWGP U.S. title. The story behind Omega not having the belt is that one of the New Japan reps was supposed to bring the belt to the show. I guess signals were crossed over which one and nobody brought it. Omega did a double leapfrog and stomp spot. He did the “You can’t escape” on the floor ending with a moonsault off the barricade. Yoshi-Hashi used a suplex on the floor. The big problem here was that nobody thought Yoshi-Hashi had a chance to win and nobody was buying his offense, which meant the match was, in the fans eyes just an Omega exhibition to do his trademark stuff. He did a lot of them, such as the Terminator dive, putting Yoshi-Hashi through a table, hitting the V trigger, and the snap dragon suplex. Yoshi-Hashi turned an attempt at a One Winged Angel into a DDT for a near fall. He used double running knees, and a power bomb and folding press for a near fall. Yoshi-Hashi went for karma, but ref Todd Sinclair was knocked out of the ring. The Young Bucks and Scurll then came out to attack Yoshi-Hashi. Omega stopped them from interfering, saying he wanted to win it on his own. Page and Cody came out. They started arguing. Yano, Ospreay, Chuckie T, Baretta and Gordon came out. They did the ten boots gimmick. Omega came back and hit the doctor bomb, V trigger knee and One Winged Angel but Yano pulled Sinclair out of the ring so he couldn’t make the count. That led to a million big moves. Among them, Baretta used a dudebuster on Omega. Page lariated Baretta. Chuckie gave Page a knee. The Young bucks superkicked Chuckie. Yano gave both Bucks low blows. Scurll kicked Yano’s knee. Gordon superkicked Scurll. Cody used Crossroads on Gordon. Ospreay used the Oscutter on Cody. Ospreay then used a shooting star press to the floor on everyone. Nick then gave Gordon a 450 off the top rope through a table. The finish then saw Yoshi-Hashi go for the swanton. Omega got his knees up, hit the V trigger and One Winged Angel and got the pin. ****


Dave Palumbo, who handles the nutrition for Paul Levesque, was on independent pro wrestler Matt Riviera’s podcast this past week.

There was a notable exchange where Riviera asked him what HHH does to look like he does at Mania. He said Levesque was easy to work with, eats very strict, you tell him what to do and he does it. He said wrestlers can’t take drugs except hormone replacements (a nice way of saying they are shooting test, which means taking steroids).

When pressed, Palumbo said that wrestling wasn’t a real sport so it’s good so guys can get TRT injections and use HCG and HGH is acceptable and a lot of the wrestlers are doing it. He said HHH can’t take large doses “but I’m sure he would love to do it.”

“If you’re getting on that stage to wrestle, you’re gonna be tested. The good thing about wrestling is it’s not a professional sport, per se, it’s more entertainment.”

Riviera noted that he knew full-time talent was tested, but not part-time. Obviously everyone knows this is the case and even when they were strict and it was a hot button issue after the Benoit murder, it was always conceded that a lot of the guys who make good money were using HGH (it’s expensive to get the good stuff so unless you have a good friendly connection it is going to cost considerable money). Still, when WWE names came out using HGH and HCG in the 2007 Signature Pharmacy raid, they were all suspended for 30 days and if it was a second offense, for 60 days, and given a strike out of the three allowable strikes. One office employee, Mike Bucci, who wrestled as Simon Dean and before that in ECW as Super Nova, was fired as WWE, with Bucci and Kip Sopp (Billy Gunn) seems to have a policy that while office employees aren’t tested, if it comes out in some place that they are using or had purchased a banned substance, they will be fired on a first offense.

It was still surprising to hear Levesque’s own trainer to essentially out that a lot of the guys were doing stuff. He never specifically said Levesque was doing anything but when Riviera asked him what supplements he was using, he started talking about the aforementioned drugs, and not over-the-counter supplements. He wasn’t even asked about steroids, although from Riviera’s tone, I’m not sure he meant supplements when he was asked what supplementation HHH was using so he could look so good at WrestleMania.

“They’re allowed to take hormone replacement,” Palumbo said on the podcast. “They can go to an HRT place and get, ya know, testosterone replacement 100 mg a week, whatever they prescribe nowadays. They can get HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin), HGH (Human Growth Hormone) if they want. Those are acceptable. A lot of wrestlers do it, and it’s not for me to say who’s using what but they’re very minimal doses.”

It should be noted that the WWE’s Wellness Policy clearly lists HGH and HCG as being banned substances, although mentions that it is banned for non-medical use. WWE allows performers to use drugs with prescriptions, but the company has to approve the prescriptions, which means any usage of HGH or HCG would have to be approved by company doctors. Any use of HCG for wrestlers would be for post steroid cycle therapy, meaning just approving it would be a red flag of usage, which is why it is banned by WWE and tested for. HGH can be tested for in blood, but I’m still very skeptical how accurate the tests are due to so few failures. WWE does not blood test, so while it is a banned substance, it is not tested for, so wrestlers know they can use it, but probably would only get in trouble for it if they were caught with it and it became a legal issue. However, it is almost impossible to believe there would be actual medical usage of HGH among pro wrestlers, since medical use of the drug is to combat dwarfism, a category that no active wrestler fits into.

“Dave Palumbo is misinformed,” said a WWE spokesperson. “Your understanding of the first point (that any usage of HGH or HCG would have to be approved by company doctors) is correct. The policy does not allow for it. An individual’s endocrinologist and WWE medical staff would need to approve of a legitimate medical need.”

Other sources confirmed the same thing, noting that the wrestlers who are approved for using TRT in WWE, which is a small percentage of the roster, first have to see an endocrinologist for an exam to show medical need, and then have the diagnosis approved by WWE physicians. Still, as small a percentage as it is, the percentage with “medical need” is ridiculously higher than the general population of men and women who are mostly in their 20s and 30s, and a few in their early 40s.

It should be noted that Palumbo, 49, was a bodybuilder of some renown. He did time in federal prison after a 2004 guilty plea for selling counterfeit HGH in San Diego. He has been training Levesque since 2011.

He did his first bodybuilding contest, a natural contest, in 1990, weighing 168 pounds. He was up to 212 pounds in competition shape, which would likely be well under his walk-around weight, probably by 30 pounds, if not more, by 1992. By 1995 he was competing on stage at 258 pounds, and in 1998, stepped on stage of the North American championships at 281 pounds and was walking around at more than 310 pounds. He dropped to 258-268 in his last two years of competition, 2003 and 2004.

The WWE said after the Benoit incident that nobody new would be signed and allowed to use TRT going forward. There were a few guys that would be grandfathered in, and honestly, they should have been.

If you allowed guys to use it, in some cases it could endanger their health having to stop because their bodies had become reliant on it and wouldn’t produce enough testosterone without it. That also may be a crutch as well. Most of the fighters who were on TRT and had to stop, you could see changes in their bodies and their performances in the ring declined as a lot of them were older guys who were still competitive, but it’s not like they couldn’t train or stay in good shape without it and it was clear their medical need was suspicious and most fighters with the benefit of hindsight call it cheating.

When Ryback was let go and admitted he had been using it for the very reason he’d done so many steroids that his body couldn’t produce enough testosterone, that was a complete contradiction of what the stated policy used to be, but they did rewrite the policy in late 2013 to bring that loophole back. Whenever you see a freaky guy, while I know guys who can look pretty darn impressive clean (it is harder on the road in some ways, but if you hang around with the right crew of like-minded people the eating part of it takes discipline but it’s far from impossible), there is a limit and the few that cross the limit, the loopholes are the answer.

The WWE has said that right now, about seven percent of the company’s contracted talent have therapeutic exemptions, and that not all are for testosterone. There are slightly over 200 full-time contracted wrestlers that are subject to the Wellness policy, so there would be 14 or 15 total exemptions in the company. Most sports have therapeutic use exemptions, but many, like UFC, don’t allow TUE’s for testosterone. I don’t know of any sport where the percentage of players with TUE’s would be close to that high. And another factor in those percentages is most sports we would be comparing this to, like football or baseball, don ‘t have a large percentage of women fit in to skew the percentages. I’m pretty darn certain that no women are getting TUE’s for testosterone, so the seven percent is in some form, is misleadingly low.

For all the excuses, probably bogus, that weight cutting and fighting decreases testosterone and that’s why usage in UFC was high, on a percentage basis, UFC approved usage would have been lower than two percent, a number that most doctors felt was high for that age group and athletes, before it was ended. For WWE there is no weight cutting (past the original 205 Live weigh-ins which were legit) and people don’t take punches to the head of anywhere near the same impact. But the high level would likely also have to do with wrestlers, whether they do so now, by and large, used more steroids at some point in their lives, enough to hurt natural production, than fighters in that era did. UFC did start using women in 2013, but the numbers were few, and the TRT ban came in early 2014.

And the Lesnar situation exposed publicly that it’s only the full-time guys that get tested, or are even subject to the policy, a fact that at least most of the full-timers didn’t even know (although I don’t think anyone was surprised certain people weren’t subject to the policy because talent isn’t naive when it comes to this stuff). Billy Gunn was fired as a trainer because he tested positive and was suspended from the sport of powerlifting even though they don’t test coaches and the office. But Lesnar, one of the company’s two biggest stars, tested positive in a UFC match and was suspended from that sport, and to WWE, it was a non-issue, although that was specifically in his contract that he wasn’t subject to the Wellness policy.

At the end of the day, there are two reasons for testing, one of which is easily understandable, the other of which is a more difficult concept that a lot of people can’t grasp.

The most important is the health of the competitors. From 1984 to 2010, the death rate of major league pro wrestlers was ridiculously high. You can take nearly any profession, and even by percentage, people who served in wars (and we’ve run those numbers and people got inflamed by the results in all the wrong ways), rock stars, NFL players, and the death rates, particularly heart attack death rates of people who were heavily into pain pills and steroids, was high. The WWF did test seriously from 1992 to 1996, and during that period, things got a lot better. But for a combination of financial reasons, and competition reasons, they dropped the program. WCW tested, but everyone involved would acknowledge the WCW testing was a farce and during the early stages of the wrestling war, a generally older WCW main event roster was more physically impressive than a younger WWF roster. At one point Vince McMahon got so mad about it they ran skits accusing Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage of being on steroids, and at another point challenged WCW to do the same level of testing they were doing. When WCW started gaining in popularity, McMahon made the call to drop the testing. The death rate of wrestlers in the late 90s, and this cut across WWF, WCW and ECW, and all were bad, on a percentage basis there wasn’t much difference, was horrible. It was not the same in Japan and Mexico.

In early 2006, spurred on by the death of Eddy Guerrero, WWE brought back drug testing. The testing got a lot more serious in late 2007 after Chris Benoit, who was given a TUE for steroid use, and had failed drug tests based on the normal allowable standards, but with the TUE it was considered fine, even though he was using far more testosterone than he ever should have been allowed to do. When Benoit died, his home was filled with steroids. At the time of his death, his TE radio was 59.6-1, when 4-1 is considered a failure in most sports.

Then, after trying to defend the issue , the Signature Pharmacy raid in 2007 showed that from just one source, between 15 and 18 percent of the active roster was getting PEDs, whether they be steroids or HGH, all of whom were subject to testing. And it should be noted that we know of two WWE performers of that period, because they called me about it, who admitted they were also being supplied by that same source and worried if their names would later come out (I didn’t have the master list from the raid, but did know people who did), and for that reason, know that the list was not complete and the real percentage could be slightly higher.

That said, since 2010, younger wrestlers are dying with far less frequency, to the point it’s thankfully become almost a non-issue. That is also across the board, as it’s the same in Japan and Mexico as far as the classic pro wrestling young heart attack of a gassed up wrestler death. A great part of this is the changes in lifestyle and changes in standards.

Part of the change in standards has been a business that has gone from a body being the main component of how far you can go, to your actual ability. If you look at the top guys across the board, while they are generally in better cardiovascular condition, they are smaller and slimmer. A good physique is an advantage, and you can strongly argue that a good physique obtained naturally through diet and exercise is part of the package and it should be an advantage. Still, a guy like Kevin Owens, who would have never been signed by WWF in the 80s and 90s, can flourish and be a major star today. A.J. Styles would have been a prelim wrestler in the 80s WWF and he’s a superstar today. Sami Zayn wouldn’t have gotten a roster spot. Dean Ambrose would have had a hard time getting to the top, although he may have made it since he’s tall and talks great. Those changes are a key reason why older people who had power in the past look at today’s wrestling and can’t get in touch with today’s wrestling because their minds of what they think a star wrestler should look like is in so many cases completely different from what today’s star wrestlers look like.

Some older fans are the same. But for all the complaints of guys doing too much, and those complaints at times are valid, right now when it comes to health, those guys are not dropping dead and they are not having the painkiller issues that the guys who did less had. Some of what is also the schedule. Some of that is that they are smaller and working at a more natural weight, rather than a blown up body weight.

The point is, testing has been a major positive for the business. It’s far from perfect, and it’s the lifestyle and changes that have made more difference because ECW never tested and ROH never tested, and ECW was drug infested and filled with young deaths, and when was the last time an ROH wrestler showed up in no condition to perform or loaded, and there is no indication there will be a rash of deaths of those competitors when they hit their 40s.

The other reason for testing, and this is the tricky one, is that the single biggest misconception about pro wrestling, is that it is not a competitive sport. Because it is not a competitive sport in a traditional way, in the sense winning and losing of matches is predetermined, it blinds people to the fact this is athletics, these guys are athletes, and it is tremendously competitive. In the 80s, because of the choices made by the promoters, and then accepted and were taught by the fans, it was all about big muscular bodies. People believed they were the real tough guys and they were given the biggest pushes. It was worse than football or baseball. If you had, in those days, a wrestler who could work and who could talk, but didn’t have a great physique, there were only rare exceptions, and even most of them were doing steroids at the time, who were given top pushes and the biggest money. The long-term of this may be a lot of nostalgic memories, but the human cost was enormous.

Some people, for years, hid behind the crutch or personal choice and that the business should be blameless. And a large percentage of the guys doing steroids in that era would have done them even if they aren’t in pro wrestling, because they were big gym guys, and in the 80s, that’s what big gym guys do. The reality is this is also part of lifestyle changes throughout culture. If you go into a gym today, while the roid freaks still exist, it is a completely different world than in the 80s, both the drug usage and the way people train. The modern version are generally smaller and healthier, and that’s a good thing, just as in wrestling. Of course there are exceptions to every rule.

That said, a lot of people were also doing steroids and painkillers in that era because that’s what they had to do, or at least thought they had to do, to keep up the schedule and because that’s what the promoters and the fans were judging them on, which was how they looked, not how they performed.

Testing forced changes because, while again, there are always people who are going to find ways to circumvent the system, and even today it doesn’t take long to point to guys who have gotten spots based more on bodies than their ability, but it’s still a far better off business. The push of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart to championship status when they were arguably two of the three or four best guys in the WWF in the late 80s and used as mid-card tag team guys, was a direct component of the effects of drug testing, that you can’t stand out as much for your body because most of the freaky bodies were gone, and thus you can stand out for freaky ability. And today, we have a business of people who have emulated Michaels and Hart, and not Hulk Hogan, The Road Warriors or Ultimate Warrior who ruled the prior era, even though the late 90s we had the second wave where bodies ruled and many of the best performers were stuck in the middle.

But look is going to be important. And if you look at Hollywood actors in their 40s, you can see that they don’t look like normal people who are in their 40s.

Still, a guy like Tino Sabbatelli would have been guaranteed a major spot in another era, and today, he’s struggling in NXT, and not only that, but the guy is a great athlete, it’s not like he’s some stiff unathletic bodybuilder. And he’s in WWE, an organization run by a life-long bodybuilder, and whose No. 2 guy in charge, is the same Paul Levesque whose great physique at WrestleMania in recent years started this whole discussion. Levesque competed as a bodybuilder in his youth, and I think one year his wife gave him a present with posters of all the Mr. Olympias. That’s not a bad thing, but the point is, you have the guys who are judging talent both being bodybuilders at heart, and yet, the decision making process for who are stars is so different than it was 17 years ago.

There are a number of reasons why things are better, and fans themselves are a big part of it. Some would argue those differences are also why fewer people watch wrestling and attend wrestling, because the stars come across as every day people and not larger-than-life stars, even if those attending are willing to spend more money on it than ever before.

The point of all this is things are better. The talent knows the history and especially the ones who grew up following the business, for the most part, they know that bad aspect of its history and didn’t follow in those footsteps. Things aren’t perfect. There are exceptions to every rule. There are loopholes and questions in every policy, and the reality is, nobody else even has a policy like WWE does, but the problems of the prior generation aren’t there in those places like in the past. Perhaps it’s the fewer matches and more recovery time, although ECW ran fewer shows and the long-term track record from there was bad, but they also did a style that had a lot of physical punishment.

So in conclusion. Heavy PED usage doesn’t trump talent today, at least not most of the time. Sometimes it still is a factor. Usage still exists, and when it does, it in some form still affects the competitive balance, and those people driven hard for top positions are still going to have some encouragement and voice in the back of their heads regarding questions to take out-of-the-ring health risks. But it’s better than it was. The drug testing is a good thing, and even if talent can use things to improve their physiques that probably wouldn’t be allowed in real sports, and that is still an issue, they aren’t dropping dead young of heart attacks on a regular basis. There are a ton of factors involved in this, including what gets over to fans, and because they are consistent outside of drug tested organizations, the changes are not all, or at this point even mostly, due to that drug testing.


Bobby Heenan, as he got older, used to joke that he spent his entire adult life trying to get people to hate him, and when he looked back, he said that he realized that he failed miserably.

Of course, nearly everything Heenan, the man of a joke every 20 seconds, would say, was more to get a laugh. It was how he got through life, but unfortunately, in a cruel irony, throat cancer robbed him of his speaking ability, but not his brain. In the end, the jokes were probably there every 20 seconds in his head, but because of his being unable to talk, there was almost no audience left for him except his wife, Cindy, that could still understand his faint attempts at talking. Toward the end, one of Heenan’s best friends, Baron Von Raschke, remarked to her, “Cindy, you know you’ve become one of the funniest people I know.”

Heenan passed away on 9/17, at the age of 72, exactly 36 years after the day that Ric Flair, who Heenan called one of the three best wrestlers he ever managed (along with Curt Hennig and Ray Stevens), won his first world title. It was not a surprise, and he outlasted his own predictions, given that in the summer of 2015, after Dusty Rhodes and Roddy Piper had both died, he mentioned to Mike Tenay about what a terrible year it was in wrestling, saying “Dusty, Roddy Piper and me.”

Tenay was Heenan’s best friend in wrestling from shortly after the death of the person who he would always say was his best friend in wrestling, Gorilla Monsoon.

“Gino was my favorite,” he’d tell Tenay. “You can never take that top spot. But you’ll always be No. 2 to me.”

Heenan often talked of the death of Joey Marella, the referee who was Monsoon’s son, as one death that affected him badly.

Another would have been the death of Curt Hennig.

“Curt idolized Bobby and Bobby loved Curt,” remembered Tenay. “Bobby and Curt would play off the other. It was magic seeing Bobby Heenan and Curt Hennig together.”

Tenay and Heenan were traveling companions during the heyday of Monday Nitro in the late 90s, when they worked together. Tenay described his after-the-show exploits with Heenan, in rent-a-cars, hotel bars, airports and 7-11s as akin to having a favorite movie and watching it over-and-over again, and never getting tired of it.

After every Nitro, no matter the city, the pattern was to leave the building, get off on the first exit and head to a convenience store. Heenan would get out of the car first, grab a six pack and some snacks and head to the cash register.

Tenay would get out of the car a little later, so they wouldn’t come in at the same time and people wouldn’t think they were together. Tenay would grab his stuff, and get in line behind Heenan.

When Heenan would get to the cash register, it was show time.

“The area right around the cash register was such fertile ground for him,” Tenay said.

He’d find something, like a rack with some key chains. Heenan would then fall and knock over the rack. The stuff would fly everywhere. Heenan would then get all apologetic and try to put everything in its place, only, like you’d see in a comedy sketch on television or in the movies, in trying to put stuff back, he’d knock something else down and make more of a mess.

The person behind the cash register would react in different ways. Usually sympathetic, sometimes mad that this customer who was making a mess, but was seemingly trying to clean it up, and felt bad, but kept making it worse.

“He’d say he was so sorry, get up, and then knock over the Bic lighters and now they’re flying.”

At times, the clerk would just tell him nicely, or not nicely, to leave and they would clean it up. Sometimes they wanted him out so badly they wouldn’t even ask him to pay. Then he’d back up, always knowing where the newspaper rack was, and would knock it over, grabbing one of the newspapers on the way out.

Tenay would watch all this with a straight face, and after Heenan would leave, would to the clerk and say, “Can you even imagine people like this?”

The airport was another place he’d like to put on a show. Often, they’d be there early in the morning to fly back home, and the airport would be relatively empty and if someone was cleaning up, Heenan was ready. He had a knack for being able to walk near the cord of a vacuum cleaner or sweeper, and get his leg tangled in it. Then he take a bump, and it would be the spot where he’d wake up after being put in the sleeper by Greg or Verne Gagne in a weasel suit match, and wake up, with the suit already on him, look in the mirror, freak out, and try to get up, and slip and slide and fall down all over the ring. People at the airport would see it, not realize he was putting on a show, and be scared that a lawsuit was about to happen.

In hotel bars, every night, Heenan would be near the bowl of chips, and by the end of the night, somebody would have it poured over his head. Tenay noted that was his role many a night. Not everyone was so good natured about it. Heenan did it once to Gene Okerlund, who was so upset, that the two of them weren’t on speaking terms for 18 months.

Raymond Louis Heenan was born November 1, 1944, in Chicago. He never knew his father, or that his father’s name was Robert Heenan. He was raised by his mother, his aunt and his grandmother and his father was never talked about.

As he got older, in his 50s, he started to get more and more curious about his father. He started investigating and found out his father’s name was of all things, Robert Heenan, and that at one time he printed the racing form in Chicago, and later ended up in Las Vegas.

He had two brothers who lived in Las Vegas that he never knew about. One worked not far from the Showboat Hotel, and in the early 80s, would drive by the hotel and often see the marquee for the AWA shows in the building and see the name Bobby Heenan, and find it a funny coincidence, given that was the name of his brother and father.

His brother, the other real Bobby Heenan, had no clue about his namesake. He was a teacher at Bishop Gorman High School. He was likely there at the same time Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta were high school classmates.

By the late 90s, for six months, wrestling personality Bobby Heenan was trying to investigate and find his father, and in doing so, came to the conclusion that he had an actual family in Las Vegas. He would go back-and-forth on whether or not to act on it. Tenay lived in Las Vegas with wife Karen, and they both pushed him to go to the house he thought they lived in because they felt he needed those answers.

So one day, while he was in Las Vegas visiting the Tenays, he got in his rental car and drove to the address where he thought his brother lived. He got to the house, parked his car and sat in front of the house. He waited and waited and wouldn’t get out of the car. Then he decided this was a silly idea and left.

Then he changed his mind again and went back. He and Cindy stayed in the car and finally, he came up with his plan. He told Cindy to go to the door and say that she was lost and needed to find an address, see if they would invite her in, and if she got inside, to look and see photos in the house and see if they looked like him.

She got invited into the house and was looking at all the photos. Then she got her information and left. She got back in the car. She told Bobby that they looked like him and she thought it was legit. Then both of them went to the door, apologized, said it was just a ruse that she was asking for directions, and they said they think they are related. After talking, they found out they were, and he had himself a new family.

While Heenan was known as “The Brain,” he joked that he dropped out of school in eighth grade because he needed to work to help support his family. He started going to wrestling in the late 50s in Chicago. At one point he got a job carrying ring jackets to the back. He later became a driver for The Sheik.

The Sheik had so much heat and drove a big Cadillac, and figured that if fans would spot it, they may deface it or wreck it. Heenan’s job was to drive the car and let Sheik out to where he could walk to the building, and then park it far away. Then, after the show, he’d get the car, drive back to the building after the show, and pick Sheik up. After he’d done that a few times, he went through the glove compartment, and found the car registration, and learned that Sheik was Ed Farhat.

Eventually his family relocated to Indianapolis. They lived near Dick the Bruiser, who along with Wilbur Snyder, owned the Indiana territory. He befriended Bruiser and became his gofer, and convinced Bruiser to let him into the wrestling business. He started as Ray Heenan, but Bruiser said he didn’t like that name, and also felt that Heenan was too small to be a top wrestler, so made him a manager. He started out as Ray Heenan, but Bruiser decided he didn’t like the sound of that name.

He renamed him Bobby Heenan, because he said that Heenan reminded him of Bobby Davis, who was considered the best manager in the business in the late 50s.

Bruiser had him do the talking for a masked heel tag team, The Assassins, a knockoff of the more famous tag team of that era that used the same name. The team was John Hill & Joe Tomasso. He managed them in 1965 and 1966 as they battled the area top stars like Snyder, Bruiser, Yukon Moose Cholak and Luis Martinez.

He quickly became known as “Pretty Boy Bobby Heenan,” from Beverly Hills, CA.

Hill would work on-and-off for Bruiser over the years under names like Guy Mitchell, The Stomper, The Strangler, Jerry Valiant and even Guy Heenan and Jerry Heenan, as Bobby’s brother.

“We would go to the matches periodically,” said David Letterman in an interview with Bob Costas in 1989. “They always had a big Thanksgiving card. Even then I thought it was a real touch of genius (for) Bobby Heenan to be introduced as being from Beverly Hills. You couldn’t have said anything more irritating to those people.”

His act of being a rich playboy type from Beverly Hills, who would insult the audience by calling them “humanoids” and “ham and eggers,” stayed fresh for decades. He had the ability to do certain gimmicks, like the weasel suit match, or work in a tag match where the babyface team consisted of a top star and a midget, where of course, he’d get pinned at the end by the midget, which should work once. But he’d do them all the time, most of the time they drew big crowds, and in the building, they always worked. The idea in those days was that you protected the manager, where the faces wouldn’t get to him for a long time, because once they did it would kill their heat, but Heenan could bleed for Bruiser & Crusher every month in Chicago, and he was working that city on-and-off for decades.

“Bobby Heenan was a one-of-a-kind multi-talented human being that will never be topped or duplicated in our lifetime,” said Les Thatcher to the Charleston Post-Courier, who was working in Indiana when Heenan was starting out. “He should automatically be inducted into every Hall of Fame and place high on any top ten listing, and his name will be mention in any conversation involving greatness in pro wrestling. His passing is leaving a great void in the wrestling world. But for me, I will always remember with fondness the young man that worked at the Ford dealership and carried jackets who became my friend all those years ago.”

After they left, in 1966, Heenan started managing the new top heel tag team, The Devil’s Duo, of Angelo Poffo (the father of Randy Savage) & Chris Markoff.

It was Bruiser who convinced Sam Muchnick to book Heenan in St. Louis in 1968, and it took a lot of convincing, since Muchnick tried to run wrestling like a sports event and the idea of a manager who interfered was the kind of gimmickry that he hated. Muchnick gave it a chance and the Blackjack Lanza/Heenan duo was a big success at the box office.

In what may have been Lou Thesz’s last major program in St. Louis, Lanza piledrove him on television after Heenan distracted him. This set up a Kiel Auditorium match on September 7, 1968, with Pat O’Connor as referee. Thesz had just come off an appearance on “The Tonight Show,” which was the type of mainstream publicity very rare for wrestlers of that era. Heenan tripped Thesz and Lanza was able to hit a kneedrop and O’Connor counted to three. There was almost a riot, as fans stormed ringside. O’Connor ended up changing the decision to a DQ win by Thesz, which led to Lanza vs. O’Connor, a show that didn’t draw well. But the duo was successful enough that Lanza became a headliner, including two NWA title matches with Gene Kiniski in early 1969, and later matches against the biggest stars of that era like Jack Brisco, Dory Funk Jr., and of course, Bruiser.

Heenan said he would always get to St. Louis, find Muchnick, and tell him, “`Sam, I’m getting color (blood) tonight,’ I’d say that at every show.” Muchnick, who barely wanted a manager there but saw how good Heenan was, was a promoter who only wanted blood used sparingly and for a reason. While other promotions used blood to get fans up at every show, he didn’t like that, and the last thing he wanted was for a manager to bleed, which Heenan, of course, knew.

He did it to get a rise out of Muchnick, joking that Muchnick would so emphatically shake his head and say “No!” that his jowls were flying every which way.

At the same time, Jim Raschke, who would go on to become one of Heenan’s best friends, also started appearing in St. Louis. He had started doing the German gimmick as Baron Fritz Von Raschke in Montreal, and had moved to Detroit to work for The Sheik.

Muchnick wasn’t about to let him to called Fritz, given Fritz Von Erich was not only a huge drawing card in St. Louis, but was one of his close friends. So he was originally brought in as Baron Von Raschke, which lasted exactly one show, as Muchnick said not to call him Baron, noting “He’s not a Baron. He played football and wrestled at Nebraska.”

The Fritz ended up being dropped and he was Baron Von Raschke everywhere for the rest of his career, but in St. Louis, he was simply Von Raschke.

Heenan loved to tease him about it, and would call him “Vaughn” like it was his first name, for years.

“He was a great friend and a superb manager, the cream of the crop” said his pal Vaughn, who in later life her just called Pal, because they would joke that Wally Karbo, who worked in the AWA office, would always call everyone Pal. “He was great to work with and a great worker on his own. This business is about timing and he had timing in everything he was doing. It was fun to be on the road with him and a delight to be around.”

He became a national star when he was paired with Lanza, and was regularly on magazine covers, with his face and blonde hair covered in blood from matches against Bruiser and The Crusher.

“There’s a case to be made that Bobby The Brain Heenan is the best all-around performer in wrestling history,” wrote Chris Jericho after his death. “From a commentating standpoint, the best, from a managing standpoint, the best, from a promo standpoint, the best, from a wrestling standpoint, he could work better than 90 percent of the boys.”

In the ring, Heenan would emulate his style after Buddy Rogers and Ray Stevens. While he would always say that he couldn’t pick between Stevens, Curt Hennig or Ric Flair as to who the best wrestler he ever managed was, at other times, when asked who the best wrestler he’d ever seen was, would always say Stevens was the best all-around, and Red Bastien was the best working babyface.

Later in his career, when he became better known for his television comedic timing in working with Monsoon on Prime Time Wrestling, people who saw the show, and others in wrestling who were around him on the road and saw his ability to find humor in almost everything, thought he should be a stand-up comedian.

Few knew it, but Heenan tried it, and in his own words, he wasn’t very good. He noted that he couldn’t do stand-up, that he needed people or situations that he could respond do, but couldn’t go out and do material. He performed in a club owned by Ray Combs of “Family Feud” fame, who he had become friends with when Combs appeared at WrestleMania and the Survivor Series in 1993.

If Heenan’s act was copied from Davis, it was Jim Cornette, who grew up adjusting the rabbit ears of his television set to get Bruiser’s wrestling from Indianapolis as a kid, who saw Heenan as what a manager was supposed to be.

“He formed in my mind as a fan and performer what I thought a manager should be,” said Jim Cornette. “Best ever. He was even better than me when using my own gimmick.”

Heenan always said that his most fun period in his career was the mid-to-late 1970s, working in the AWA, with people like Stevens, Nick Bockwinkel, Bobby Duncum, Lanza, Crusher, Larry Hennig and Von Raschke.

At one point, Heenan managed both the AWA champion, in Bockwinkel, and the tag team champions, in Lanza & Duncum. In 1979, he decided to leave the AWA with Lanza and head to Georgia, to work for Ole Anderson, even though Bockwinkel was still the champion. He returned later that year, after Anderson had fired him, just weeks after telling him to settle down in Georgia and he had a job for life. Bockwinkel and Heenan, due to their long run together and success, are likely to be remembered as the greatest wrestler/manager duo in wrestling history.

He first met Tenay in January 1993, when Tenay was a national wrestling radio talk show host and both were on the same flight from Sacramento to Las Vegas, after that year’s Royal Rumble. They met again when Heenan was a guest on Tenay’s “Wrestling Insiders” show before that year’s WrestleMania in Las Vegas.

They did a show the night before WrestleMania, and Tenay asked him about the AWA, Billy Robinson and Verne Gagne, and Heenan immediately blew him off. Tenay immediately figured that he didn’t like that period of time, not realizing it was the marching orders from Vince McMahon that nothing else ever existed.

During a break, he explained the situation.

“I can’t make any money talking about Verne Gagne and Billy Robinson,” he said. “I’m a representative of the WWF. I have to talk about WrestleMania.”

“He was 100 percent a company man,” said Tenay. “He knew he was on the show to sell PPVs and he was telling me in a direct way. We’re not making any money talking about Billy Robinson and Verne Gagne. We have to talk WrestleMania. I thought he hated talking about the old days, but the reality is he loved talking about the old days, but he was just being business.”

Unlike most who left the AWA, and for that matter the WWF, Heenan might joke about them, but he would never in public run down Verne Gagne or Vince McMahon. Even as others would do so, long after he was done working for either, his motto was he worked for both for many years, and he felt it would reflect negative on him to run them down after he worked so many years for them. However, his tenure at WCW did change that motto.

While his public claim was always that he came to WCW because they offered him insurance, and he could then get his needed neck surgery, the real reason was that his WWF contract as an announcer for $275,000 per year had an option in it and if renewed, his money would increase to $350,000.

McMahon, even then, was a thing about age of the people on television. Heenan was close to 50, and McMahon felt that was too old for television, that and the size of the contract. He was going for a youth movement, and dumped both Heenan and Okerlund, who both went to WCW, and had great success there, and it extended both men’s career.

But Heenan was drinking heavily as the years went on in WCW. He never wanted to be in creative, but he had great experience in territories and had seen them up and down. Even though WCW was riding high, he could see mistakes being made left and right. There were things being done that he felt would kill the company and he wasn’t happy broadcasting them and watching the arrogance and stupidity going on all around him.

In 1998, when he would go out of his way to promote Bill Goldberg so heavily, it was because he sensed Goldberg was the savior who was allowing the company to still draw while making mistakes that should be killing them. When they beat Goldberg at Starrcade 1998 in Washington, DC, he and Tenay, driving from the arena, both were talking about what a huge mistake was made and that the place would be going down. It started declining fast a few months later.

It wasn’t hard to know nights that Heenan was on the air lit up. The company was unhappy with him, but didn’t replace him. Finally, he no-showed a Nitro, calling in sick. That led to his being replaced.

He would always joke that Vince Russo thought they needed a new young look, and replaced him with Mark Madden, although that’s not exactly how it really went down.

It did bother him that when he was in WCW, he didn’t endear himself to Eric Bischoff because he refused to knock WWF or McMahon on the air, but that all the people who did knock McMahon and WWF ended up being brought back while he wasn’t, except for a few cameo guest appearances over the years.

Through all his health issues, he retained his sense of humor, and also took it as a learning experience, as it taught him who his true friends were. He was hurt at some people who thought they were his friends, who never contacted him after he started having his health issues in 2002. But he also recognized the ones who did, even when they knew that they really could no longer have a long conversation with him.

Although he was one of the greatest all-around personalities in the profession, he would still make fun of himself, with the idea that he had very minimal job skills.

Once he got a government form to fill out and it said Occupation, and he wrote, “Wrestling manager.” It then said, Job skills, and he wrote, “Trip, distract and pass Knux.”

And he looked at it and said, “That’s the only thing I’m qualified for in life. What other possible job could I ever have?”


It’s currently Hall of Fame balloting season and this year is interesting. When you look at the list, there are no obvious people that are going in this year. But obviously, everyone on the list has a reason to be there.

So let’s first look at this year’s list:

 

U.S./ CANADA HISTORICAL PERFORMERS: Red Bastien, June Byers, Wild Bull Curry, Don Fargo, Pepper Gomez, Archie “Mongolian Stomper” Gouldie, Chavo Guerrero Sr., Dick Hutton, Rocky Johnson, Sputnik Monroe, Pedro Morales, Blackjack Mulligan, George Steele, John Tolos, Enrique Torres, Von Brauners & Saul Weingeroff, Johnny “Mr. Wrestling II” Walker, Tim “Mr. Wrestling” Woods, Bearcat Wright

 

MODERN U.S./CANADA: Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson w/J.J. Dillon, Junkyard Dog, Edge, Bill Goldberg, Curt Hennig, Randy Orton, C.M. Punk, Sgt. Slaughter, Trish Stratus, A.J. Styles, Kerry Von Erich, Ultimate Warrior

 

JAPAN: Jun Akiyama, Cima, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Hayabusa, Kota Ibushi, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Yuji Nagata, Tetsuya NAito, Mike & Ben Sharpe, Minoru Suzuki, Kiyoshi Tamura, Akira Taue

 

MEXICO: Los Brazos (Brazo de Oro & Brazo de Plata & El Brazo), Caristico/Mistico, Sangre Chicana, Cien Caras, Ultimo Guerrero, Ruben Juarez, Karloff Lagarde, Blue Panther, L.A. Park, Huracan Ramirez, Los Misioneros de la Muerte (El Signo & El Texano & Negro Navarro), Vampiro, Villano III, Dr. Wagner Jr.

 

AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND/PACIFIC ISLANDS/AFRICA: Spyros Arion, Johnny Barend, Dominic DeNucci, Killer Karl Kox, Mark Lewin, Mario Milano, Steve Rickard

 

EUROPE: Big Daddy, Horst Hoffman, Billy Joyce, Kendo Nagasaki, Jackie Pallo, Rollerball Mark Rocco, Johnny Saint, Ricki Starr, Otto Wanz

 

NON-WRESTLERS: Bill Apter, Lord James Blears, Dave Brown, Chyna, Jim Crockett Jr., Jim Crockett Sr., Gary Hart, Jimmy Hart, Howard Finkel, Ed Francis, Jerry Jarrett, Larry Matysik, Don Owen, George Scott, Stanley Weston

 

The criteria for the Hall of Fame is in-ring ability, drawing power and historical importance (in a positive matter, not a negative matter and over the long haul). The idea is a candidate should have something in all three, but if you are top tier is any of the first two, you should go in. If you are among the best in-ring performers of your era, you should be in, whether you were a big draw or not. If you were one of the best draws of your era, even if you weren’t good in the ring, you should be in. And some people for historical importance should be in.

First off, even though wrestlers are listed in various places, they should be voted on for their entire career. Caristico’s WWE stay obviously does count and works against him, even though he’s in the Mexico category. Ricki Starr’s U.S. work counts, as does Rollerball Rocco’s Japan work, or Horst Hoffman’s U.S. and Japan work, or Otto Wanz’s U.S. and Japan work as well.

The process shouldn’t be easy. There are people like John Cena or Hiroshi Tanahashi who pretty much defined an era, and they are no brainers, and those are easy picks. Kazuchika Okada won’t be eligible until 2019, but he would pretty clearly be a no-brainer. But there aren’t a lot of others around now and 60 percent is a very difficult threshold to reach, as it should be. For those who have an easier standard for the Hall of Fame, you should go with the idea that everyone on the ballot should be in, because everyone on the ballot has a case or they wouldn’t be on the ballot in the first place.

The reality is that everyone on this ballot for the most part has either been there before, or for the new people, the reason they weren’t there before is that nobody even bothered to nominate them.

Drawing power is a fairly easy category. Work is obviously more debatable. A lot of people have different minds and say that since work is debatable, they will look at a top tier in-ring guy and throw him out based on not having drawing power. And then, with modern wrestlers, the drawing power thing becomes a lot harder because very few guys are real needle movers. And the ones that are, they are going in without question because there are so few of them. But then we’ve got the guys on this list.

The top ten finishers last year that didn’t get in were Cien Caras, Villano III, Pedro Morales, Blue Panther, Mike & Ben Sharpe, Hayabusa, Gary Hart, Bill Apter, Los Misioneros de la Muerte and Jerry Jarrett. That would make then the favorites for this year.

As far as looking at this list and guys who clearly have the drawing power, Cowboy Bob Ellis and Morales are the noteworthy ones of the historical figures. Pepper Gomez, Rocky Johnson, Blackjack Mulligan, John Tolos and Bearcat Wright all had it in notable levels at times in their career. When going over careers, Gomez and Johnson were on the border. Tolos was an absolute Hall of Famer for his Los Angeles run 1970-73, but the question becomes if a few years in a long career is enough. Because, while a star for decades, he was not a Hall of Fame level star except for a few years. Really, you could say the same about Gomez, except Gomez had more years as a top singles star between Texas and California, and was a star everywhere he went. Wright was unique because he spent much of his prime not getting any kind of a push before exploding and he was a major star in the 60s. His longevity as a main eventer is the question mark, some will hold his refusing to drop the WWA title against him, although it’s not like the Hall of Fame doesn’t have several who did similar things, perhaps not as colorfully or as high profile.

Does Wright become a historical figure for being the first black wrestler to win a true major world championship in pro wrestling alone? And Wright held multiple versions, the WWA belt (recognized in California and Japan and at the time was considered one of the big three in magazines), the IWA belt (in Australia, which was the best paying territory), as well as a Boston version that he won from Killer Kowalski.

And unlike Ron Simmons, who gets credit for that even though it was 29 years later in the world or revisionist history, Wright drew big as champion. Really, the Wright of the 60s drew in a lot of places and was on top everywhere. He was a problem with some promoters, but even after Los Angeles, he was able to work the major circuits on top. He may have been hurt because he never worked WWWF nor was on top in St. Louis or Japan. But he was big everywhere he worked, including Australia and Northern California, which were two of the major territories of the era.

Gomez is an interesting case because he was the biggest star in Texas wrestling in the late 50s, and was one of the biggest drawing opponents of Lou Thesz. One of the famous storylines of the era was, after the NWA stopped using Strangler Lewis as Thesz’s manager, that the Texas office would use Lewis on their own as manager of Gomez with the idea that Lewis was training Gomez to beat Thesz, and they did classic matches. Still, Gomez will always be best remembered for his matches with Ray Stevens at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. In the 60s, Roy Shire was honored by the Cow Palace for drawing the most people ever in the building, with a Stevens vs. Gomez match, more than 17,000 in a building that held 15,000, and that was a verifiable athletic commission number.

Still, Stevens drew with everyone. When Stevens was injured and Gomez was put on top, unless it was The Sheik or Kinji Shibuya, he struggled. Because of his San Francisco rep, he was used well almost everywhere, but not at anywhere near Hall of Fame level.

Gomez probably would have been a legit Hall of Famer, except one thing never happened. And you can’t get voted in based on theoretical what could have but didn’t (even though we probably just had someone voted in based on that logic in recent years). When his program with Stevens had peaked, the plan was to book a summer show at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. But Stevens suffered a broken ankle go-kart racing. Until his death, Gomez was furious. There are those who believe Gomez vs. Stevens would have drawn in excess of 40,000 to 45,000 fans. There is really no way of knowing because it never happened, although those around at the time believe it would have done 30,000 minimum. Gomez felt that had he and Stevens broken the Pat O’Connor vs. Buddy Rogers record, that he’d have been a made worldwide legend and used better the rest of his career, which given the way the business was then, is probably the case. He thought he’d have been NWA champion, which, given his size, probably was not the case. But had that happened, he probably would have been a lock for the Hall of Fame, and that also didn’t happen. From a credential standpoint, Gomez is almost identical to that of Wilbur Snyder, although Snyder was more of a worldwide star, and Snyder got votes forever, but never got in either.

Mr. Wrestling II was the top star in Georgia during several years in the 70s and was always a good wrestler, but for most of his career he was Johnny Walker, who was not a Hall of Famer. It’s not really a lock that even those good years makes him a Hall of Famer, as he was a big local draw in Georgia and kind of the local legend, and used as a star everywhere he went from 1974 to about 1983. But most local legends don’t make the list, and those that do were bigger stars in more places or for more of the totality of their careers.

With Ellis, whose best years were the late 50s and early 60s, although he had a long career as a headliner, what hurts him is that while he was still active into the early 70s, he was no longer a major star, and very few were around during that period. From a pure stats standpoint, looking at where he was, and his ability to draw, he should be in. But as a wrestler, nobody would consider him of that level. He was a good looking guy who drew women, and drew big with Buddy Rogers in Madison Square Garden or Ray Stevens at the Cow Palace, or the Bruiser in Indianapolis, and was the top babyface in St. Louis and one of the key players in the early success of Wrestling at the Chase and St. Louis becoming such a powerhouse market in the 60s.

Morales was WWWF champion for three years and a tremendous draw in Madison Square Garden. On a percentage basis, only Superstar Billy Graham tops him for sellout percentage as an MSG headliner. He was also WWA champion in California. Morales hasn’t fared well in the balloting, although has done better in recent years. The negatives on him is that while his MSG sellout percentage is great, the reality is that the WWWF begged Bruno Sammartino to come back and gave Sammartino a sweetheart deal, a higher percentage of the gate and fewer dates, and power that few were ever given, to replace him in 1974. The fact that the McMahons had a world champion and a business relationship with New Japan where they supplied talent, yet they couldn’t send their champion to New Japan (Sammartino refused to wrestle in Japan for anyone for rival All Japan because of his loyalty to Giant Baba) tells you if Morales was a success overall, they’d have never had to make such concessions. So while his big gates in the Garden are impressive, and on the surface should get him in, that reality tempers those stats. Still, he was huge on the West Coast as well. His career post 1974 was not impressive, although he had a strong several year run as perennial No. 2 babyface and IC champion when that title meant No. 2 babyface in WWF in the early 80s. He had slowed in the ring, but after being gone for years, he got a huge reaction for his return, and he was usually put in with the best workers.

Of the list, Bastien stands out as a great worker. Bobby Heenan said he was the best babyface in the ring that he ever saw. But Bastien was rarely a true headliner, although had some runs where he was used well. His best period was as a tag team wrestler in the AWA in the early 70s, but among his peers, he was always considered among the best workers. Based on that alone, he should be a strong candidate, but the ballot is filled with great workers who don’t get in. What Bastien did have more than most is longevity, as he started young and wrestled until nearly 50 on a full-time basis. He was one of the best acrobatic wrestlers, but he had the real wrestling skill from being a carnival shooter and extensive legit training. He was a standout as a worker even in his late 40s. When he was near the end of his career, Antonio Inoki wrestled him in Madison Square Garden, and he was under a mask as Texas Red. I remember watching and granted, the quality of talent at that time wasn’t always the best, but this unknown masked guy who was nearly 50 was clearly a class, or two, above almost everyone else on the show at that time.

June Byers had a long run as the world women’s champion as backed by Billy Wolfe, as the replacement for Mildred Burke. She had great respect among the women, many of whom considered her the toughest and the best of the women wrestlers of her era. But Byers was never the star nor could draw like Burke. In the sense, if you have different standards for women and the best of an era, which she clearly was, gets in, than she should. Judged by men’s standards if you look at who the top ten people would be on this ballot, she would not make it. You could make the same argument for Trish Stratus, although with Stratus there’s the North American-centric aspect. She was the biggest female star of her era and was a great athlete, didn’t main event as much as Byers did and often on PPV shows was put in the buffer match which was the worst spot on the show. She was hardly the wrestler somebody like Meiko Satomura was during the same period, but he was as big a star as a woman wrestler would have been allowed to be in her era. Still, was she pushed at the level of, say, Randy Orton. Obviously not even close.

As a pure wrestler, Chavo Guerrero Sr. would be the best of the historical performers with the possible exception of Bastien. Based on his era and standards, he could do it all. His drawback, and this was similar to that of Bastien, was both were small and in those days, most promoters were not going to do anything with small guys. Guerrero did have a tremendous run for years in Southern California as the top babyface and got a lot of magazine publicity, but that was really not the best period, not his fault, but the talent was often cheap and not very good. Still, he was a standout in the ring, and Tatsumi Fujinami, who wrestled everyone, had said that Guerrero was the best guy he’d been in with. Terry Funk ranked Guerrero as far as a babyface world title challenger with Jack Brisco as the best ones of the era, and these are guys wh worked with everyone. I saw Guerrero’s heyday, and he was a real territorial star, and granted there were a ton of them, but he was one of the best in-ring guys in the world by the standards of the time. He could wrestle and he could fly, he had fire and he could sell. Because styles have changed and much of what he did that was considered spectacular then was normal today, I didn’t get it as much looking at his matches today. But his matches did have a strong sense of realism even with the acrobatic spots. His problem is longevity, not that he didn’t wrestle for a long time, because he was still wrestling in Japan shortly before his death, but after he left the Los Angeles territory, he was never used as a huge star anywhere except for a period in South Texas. He was not that old when WWF went national, but they used him as a prelim guy, because of his size, and he hated that. When the steroid monster era came, and the steroid monsters didn’t move much, a small guy like him wasn’t going to thrive. The funny thing is, if he came along today, with his wrestling and gymnastics background and innate working ability, and his promo ability, and Hispanic heritage, he’d be a superstar. But he didn’t come along today so that really doesn’t matter.

The Mongolian Stomper, Archie Gouldie, was a headliner almost everywhere he went. He may have been the all-time biggest star in Stampede Wrestling. He was a legend in East Tennessee in particular. When you study his career, he is one of those classic borderline figures. He absolutely could go in, but he’s not a lock.

Dick Hutton is a guy who will always get votes and probably never go in. Hutton is best known for being one of the greatest (and now most underrated) college wrestlers in history. He wrestled four years as a heavyweight, and only lost one match. He won three NCAA titles and lost in the finals the other year on a very controversial criteria decision to Verne Gagne in what was considered the biggest heavyweight match in college history until the recent Kyle Snyder vs. Nick Gwiazdowski final. But Hutton was injured in the 1948 Olympics and while he was considered a strong gold medal possibility, he didn’t medal at all due to elbow problems. Lou Thesz, when he left as NWA champion in 1957, hand picked Hutton to be his successor. Thesz remarked to me many times he considered Hutton as the best heavyweight wrestler he ever saw or worked with. In the history of the NWA title, when it really was the key title in the world, from 1949 to 1983, Hutton is the only true champion (forgetting about the few days of Tommy Rich) who is not in the Hall of Fame. But Hutton was not a good draw as champion, and the truth is from the departure of Thesz in 1957, until Thesz returned as champion in 1963, the NWA was very close to falling apart. Lots of promoters didn’t want to use Hutton and left he alliance to create their own champion. Hutton retired earlier than most. His case is really based on the fact all the other truly nationally recognized long-term world champions in that time frame are in.

Sputnik Monroe’s case is also unique. As a wrestler, he was mostly a journeyman. He was a good talking heel who did well in some territories, but was never a major star in the major territories. He would not even be considered had it not been for his role in integrating public events in Memphis in 1957. As a historical figure in Memphis, he should be in the city’s Hall of Fame, whether sports or non-sports. He and Billy Wicks, and it was really more he than Wicks, were the top stars in the first real record setting business period in Memphis. While he was always a star when he came back to Tennessee, he wasn’t anywhere close to Jackie Fargo or Jerry Lawler as a headliner after that big run. His case is only about local historical significance.

Enrique Torres was a Mexican-American from Southern California who was made world champion very quickly after he started wrestling, in that part of the country. Because Los Angeles wrestling was on national television, Torres became a huge star, although the real star was Gorgeous George. George and Torres were doing huge business and Torres remained a star through the late 60s. Torres’ world title was only recognized in Southern California, but he was on top during a major business run, and was kept as world champion for four straight years, from late 1946 (before there even was television) until the end of 1950. He remained a headliner throughout his career, later as part of the headline babyface brother tag team with Alberto & Ramon Torres in Georgia it the 60s.

The Von Brauners held more world tag team titles than any other team in history, and carried territories. They were legends in Tennessee and put Championship Wrestling from Florida on the map in the early 60s. It was an emotional act. The two Nazis with their Jewish manager, Gentleman Saul Weingeroff. They were easily the most hated tag team of their era. Part of the deal was there were different incarnations of the Von Brauners. But they were a longstanding and may have held as many as 40 different reigns as world tag team champions across ten different territories over 15 years. The mainstay was Doug Donovan, who was a star wrestler in Oregon in the 50s before joining with Jimmy Brawner in 1960 as Karl & Kurt Von Brauner. After Jimmy Brawner left, there was Eric Von Brauner, who was Eric Donovan, the younger brother of Doug Donovan. There was also a Fritz Von Brauner. And finally, there was the second Kurt Von Brauner, Willy Rutkowski, who was German but a Nazi prisoner during the war and later portrayed a Nazi as Kurt Von Stroheim, a Von Brauners knockoff team. Donovan & Rutkowski wrestled together until 1975.

This is the first year on the ballot for Wild Bull Curry. Curry was the King of the Brawlers in Texas, being synonymous with the Brass Knux title in that state, which he held at least 24 times. He had great longevity, as he started wrestling in the 1930s and was still a major star in the early 70s. He was in hid mid-60s when Paul Boesch brought him to Houston for a controversial match as he was pushing Bruiser Brody with the idea that the original King of the Brawlers would face the young King. Gary Hart tried to talk Boesch out of it feeling it was a terrible idea, but Boesch thought it would be box office since Curry was such a memorable figure. I don’t know if it was box office or not, but Brody wasn’t going to sell for a guy that old and 90 pounds lighter given his character and the match was considered a sad final curtain call. Curry was a carnival shooter as a teenager and later became a police officer in Hartford where he had the rep in town of being the badass cop that nobody wanted t mess with. Curry did a gimmick where he was great at throwing hands, with the idea he was a great boxer. There was a legendary Houston match with Curry vs. Johnny Valentine that was incredible, as, aside from the gimmicked finish, looked as much like a real fight (and much of this was Valentine’s selling, but Curry’s offense was believable) that was probably right around 1970, meaning Curry would have been about 57 at the time.

The modern era is more tricky with some people still wrestling and a number of people hot button issues or romantic favorites because certain periods have become nostalgic.

Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson with J.J. Dillon are on the ballot for the first time. Arn Anderson has been on before and never got past a low level of support. On the positive side, as far as a working heel tag team, the two best of the last 35 years were the Midnight Express and Blanchard & Anderson. And they were key players of a very strong business period. The negative is the brevity of the period. Blanchard & Anderson were only a regular tag team from mid-1987 through late 1989. And Dillon was only with them for about a year as a team. They did team as part of the Four Horseman before that, but Blanchard was more of a singles wrestler and Arn Anderson teamed with Ole Anderson. But they were a great team, and did hold both the NWA and WWF tag titles during a hot period of a wrestling war.

Junkyard Dog was a great drawing card and the key player in the growth of Mid South Wrestling from 1980-84. He also had a few strong years in WWF before being phased down, and eventually out, due to drug issues. He was not great, or for that matter, even average, in the ring, and at times he was terrible. It also should be noted Mid South did better after JYD left, with the exception of the last Stampede, which he was part of but it was Bill Watts who was the draw there. But then it faded, and New Orleans was never as strong, but New Orleans business dropped when they made the decision to have Mr Wrestling II beat JYD with a loaded kneelift in the Downtown Municipal Auditorium and having the old man beat the star (who Watts, based on the advice of Ernie Ladd, never beat in New Orleans) saw people walk about of the arena and think Dog took a dive and threw the match because JYD was out of position for the knee and they had seen him take so much and come back and didn’t buy it. He never drew big in New Orleans for WWF after that point either. In fact, he was one of the few people that Ric Flair couldn’t even get a decent match out of, although that was also past Dog’s prime. In a regular sports Hall of Fame, a guy like him wouldn’t be considered. But his drawing power was significant, particularly considering cities like New Orleans and Oklahoma City weren’t giant markets (Houston was the only true major market he was a top draw in).

Edge, to me, was a great performer. He was not a super individual draw, but more a cog in the wheel. In many ways, he reminds me of Ted DiBiase, although DiBiase was probably he better wrestler, but Edge still had more great matches than all but a few of his era. He was an excellent talker, part of memorable angles and had the ability to carry angles better than almost anyone, and carried Smackdown on his back. When you look at a list of most great matches and you see him so high on it, combined with his verbal skills, you get a strong total package performer. Still, I can’t objectively say that he stands out above everyone else on a ballot.

Bill Goldberg, on for the first time, is similar in many ways to Ultimate Warrior. They are both famous. They both drew well at times, but neither had longevity in the business. In the case of Goldberg, you’re really talking only 1998, and he did spark interest in his comeback in late 2016 for a nostalgia run. That’s really it. Now, he was huge during 1998. If we are talking about one pop in the Georgia Dome and a memorable match, he’s got that. But as a wrestler, he’s not close to there, and as a draw, you need more than a couple of months twice, 18 years apart.

Curt Hennig was one of the best in the world from 1986 to 1991. The Mr. Perfect gimmick was one of the most remembered gimmicks of the era. At his best, he was absolutely a Hall of Fame talent. After his back injuries and his comeback, it was a very different story. He doesn’t have the drawing power, but he’s a workrate category guy. Is the six years enough? And does the decade plus living off the rep not count because he was hurt, or work against him since this is supposed to be about the full career, and not just one-third of a career?

Randy Orton is an interesting case. He has gotten minimal support so far even though for drawing, his numbers are far above Hall of Fame level, since from 2004 to 2009 his matches were well above what most were doing in the same position so dismissing him for the brand is the draw is okay in recent years but not the totality of his career. He’s a great worker, but having said that, his ability to go at a certain level and get by and knowing it has limited him compared to others who work harder but aren’t technically as good. I sense Orton is someone whose long-term will be more about how people judge him in ten years than now. Some, like Sting, were considered almost jokes on the ballot, getting no support, and later through nostalgia glasses people viewed him differently, and there was a longevity issue. Orton will probably work for a long time and have amazing tenure on top based no modern standards.

C.M. Punk is another interesting case. To some, the pipe bomb promo was a revelation, while others will point to business not really picking up from it and how the company went out to kill his momentum. Still, he had a one year run working with Paul Heyman as very much of a Bockwinkel/Heenan champion.

Sgt. Slaughter had a 1979-84 run where he was a Hall of Fame level performer. He was a big guy who was a great worker, involved in some amazing feuds (Patterson, Iron Sheik, Steamboat & Youngblood, Wahoo) and drew. It’s like the others who had the big successful run. Is it enough? That’s a question. If there are those who had 20 year runs in a top position, then three to six years isn’t as impressive. Slaughter was also very famous, due to time, place and gimmick, being the prototype for G.I. Joe.

Trish Stratus was as big a star as a woman wrestler could be in her era. To her credit, she got in because she was the hottest fitness model in the country, and helped because she was athletic and liked wrestling. She was rushed onto television way too fast, and overcame a period where people’s first impressions of her was someone nervously doing promos but getting a push because of her looks. She was not in the position to main event shows. But does being a woman wrestler and being relatively good make her a stronger candidate than a man who, like say, Dick Murdoch, who never got in, who had more longevity, was far superior as a worker and main evented shows all over the world, with Stratus’ edge only being that there were so few women, the quality was lower than the men, and she was the best of her era.

A.J. Styles is a super worker. Two years ago he fell off the ballot. Since then he’s had two years as a major WWE star, and arguably its best performer. He also had a great run in New Japan. He’s also won two Wrestler of the Year awards. Nobody who has won one isn’t in except Mistico. He’s been one of the greatest wrestlers in the world for more than a dozen years and was a top guy in the two major promotions after a career in TNA where he did better than any home-grown talent ever did.

Kerry Von Erich from 1983-85 had a Hall of Fame run. Not the greatest wrestler, but he had great matches with the right people. He was as charismatic as anyone in that era besides Hulk Hogan and he drew in that era everywhere he went outside of his territory. I saw Kerry Von Erich in Oklahoma City and he got every bit as big or bigger reaction than Junkyard Dog, and you can’t say the same about Junkyard Dog in Dallas. When St. Louis had been stripped dead, Ric Flair could still legitimately sell out only with Bruiser Brody and Kerry Von Erich. But injuries and drug issues limited that run.

Ultimate Warrior was another who was a major star, but the time was limited. He wasn’t much of a wrestler, and he did fail as Hulk Hogan’s replacement. He was very memorable and in many ways was he epitome of the steroid era of wrestling. But he is famous, and a lot of people watched him and got hooked on wrestling because of him. His first match with Hulk Hogan was gigantic and he had a great program with Randy Savage. He was WWF champion when that title was the farthest thing from a pass-around belt and beat Hogan for it, at a time when Hogan hadn’t lost a clean match via pin in close t nine years. He wasn’t as good a wrestler as Von Erich, but because he was on top in WWF, he was a far bigger worldwide star and had more longevity as far as a comparison would go. I see him as similar to Goldberg, with the difference that Goldberg was bigger at his peak because wrestling was bigger at that time, but Warrior had more longevity as an effective star, and Warrior was also one of the biggest early major merchandise movers.

The Japan category has a lot of interesting and debatable names. You can make case for every one, and also a case that every one falls short, but perhaps just short.

Jun Akiyama has been a great wrestler from day one, in 1992, one of the best I’ve ever seen in his first match, until today. Some would argue he was as good as anyone in the last 20 years, and people who believe that should vote for him, because being great is a major category. From a star standpoint, you’ve got your superstars like Tanahashi and Okada are now, like Tsuruta, Tenryu, Misawa, Kobashi, Muto, Hashimoto, etc. They wanted Akiyama to be in that list and as a wrestler he was good enough, but for whatever reason, he’s on the second tier list. So that’s the argument for not putting him in, as he was lacking the ability to carry a major promotion as the idea for NOAH was to build around him, but they had to keep going back to Misawa and Kobashi, because Akiyama was always the B side.

Cima has had a long career, very good wrestler, and the biggest star ever for Dragon Gate. But there has never been a guy whose career was truly in a minor promotion of that level who has made it in. You can say Atsushi Onita, but Onita was such a big draw and star that they aren’t comparable.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara has the longevity. He’s been a star since the early 80s and is cool to see even now in his late 60s as a nostalgia act, because he can still do the Fujiwara shooter submission spots. To me the key is numbers, as I can’t see him as one of the ten best on this ballot.

Hayabusa got a lot of support last year, after his death on March 3, 2016. The one thing that I didn’t realize, because of all the support he got from younger wrestlers, is how many kids grew up watching tapes of him as inspiration to do high flying stuff. For his era he was a great flyer. I don’t se him as one of the ten best on this ballot either.

Kota Ibushi is a weird name on the ballot. He’s 35 and has been wrestling for 13 years. Because he looks so young, people think of him like a Japanese younger guy who is on the rise as opposed to a veteran Hall of Famer. So his positive is that he is a legitimate drawing card, particularly drawing women, and he’s a fantastic all-around wrestler, one of the best in the world. Just for match quality alone, I see him as someone I’d support. But there is a threshold that he absolutely should cross, but hasn’t yet. For that reason, I list him as a guy I expect to be voting for regularly in a few years, provided he continues at his current pace, but it feels too early.

Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan are a legendary team. They also both had strong singles careers, and a great feud against each other in 2005 in particular. To me, in the pantheon of stars, they are just below Akiyama, and Akiyama is the best of the three. Kojima & Tenzan are both very good, but not at the level where you’d go that you don’t need any evidence of drawing, an they weren’t Hall of Fame draws, to get them in.

Yuji Nagata is very similar to Akiyama. He’s been a great worker since the beginning of his career. The fact he can go at this level at 49, and was almost always having incredible matches when given the opportunity in recent years is notable. For longevity, that’s a huge plus, few ever have been as great as he has been for as long. As a star, you have the similarities with Akiyama. You can go either way with both of them.

Tetsuya Naito is the hottest wrestler and biggest merchandise seller in Japan. I think for him it’s early. Based on the last two years, these are easy Hall of Fame caliber years. But before that, while a star, it’s not enough just yet. Barring an injury, given his star power and the way they book in Japan, and his smart working ability, he is a guy who as the overall package will surpass the Nagata and Akiyama level.

The Sharpe Brothers dominated the world tag team title in the 50s and the first great feud in Japanese pro wrestling was Rikidozan & Masahiko Kimura vs. The Sharpe Brothers. Those were the matches where the photos of tens of thousands of people in parks watching the giant screens all over Tokyo came from. The Sharpes were probably the premier tag team of the 50s and have a level of historical importance in Japan that makes them strong candidates.

Minoru Suzuki is an interesting one. He’s been a star now for just about 30 years. As one of the key figures in starting Pancrase, he has that historical thing going for him. The fact that in his mid-to-late 40s and he won match of the year twice (once with Tanahashi; once with Styles) and this year had incredible matches with Okada and Kenny Omega speak volumes. He was never the guy who carried a successful promotion single-handedly, but that’s not a prerequisite. His ability to use a unique style, make it work, and have so much longevity with it is a major feather in his cap. It’s funny because a few years ago I saw him as below Akiyama and Nagata, but his ability to still be going strong and come across as a major legend on a big stage now makes him a yes for me and one of the strongest ones on the ballot. It’s funny because he was having killer matches in recent years when dominating NOAH as GHC champion, but it didn’t seem to help him because NOAH was low profile and not drawing well.

Kiyoshi Tamura is someone I’ve voted for many times. He used to come close. Now he doesn’t. The plus for him is that of wrestlers over the last 30 years, nobody has the ability to make a pro wrestling match seem real at the Tamura level. His worked matches look as much like shoots as such matches could, and were super exciting. He had great matches with people who most couldn’t get an acceptable match out of. He was a star, and did once sellout the Tokyo Dome with Nobuhiko Takada (although that was really the Takada retirement that was the reason). But with the deal of RINGS and that style of wrestling dying, his name value hasn’t held up. When a style dies, its history often dies with it. That may also be the reason Volk Han fell off the ballot. Both were tremendous wrestlers, groundbreaking for their era. They both drew well for a couple of years, not Hall of Fame draws, but them on top wouldn’t be a negative and they were candidates based on groundbreaking match quality. I think both are the prime examples of why it’s important to have guys eligible close to the context of their prime, because years later, the context is lost and this isn’t a stat sport, especially when it comes to companies that no longer exist and were outside the U.S.

Akira Taue was part of the big four pillars of the All Japan native side in the 90s, with Kenta Kobashi Mitsuharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada. He was a distant fourth as far as getting over, and in the ring, but he was in a top of off-the-charts tag matches and did have big singles matches. When he was put on top as a single, he could sell out and have great matches, even though those touring often felt he was one of the harder guys to get a good singles match out of. Kawada & Taue aren’t usually on most lists, but they have to be high on the list of the greatest tag teams ever.

I think most consider the U.S. and Japan as fairly represented. The U.K. is another subject but Mexico has the strongest candidates on the ballot of all the places.

On this year’s ballot, to me, there are four people or acts, Karloff Lagarde, L.A. Park, Los Misioneros de la Muerte and Ultimo Guerrero who I’m convinced are Hall of Famers. Lagarde & Rene Guajardo were the top tag team of their era, and their era was a tag team era, and were top stars as singles, and probably would rank as one of the two or three most significant historical tag team in Mexican history. Park was a four-time MVP, and you don’t get many four-time MVP’s that aren’t in the Hall of Fame. He’s got longevity. He was a big draw. His only problem is that he was always very hard to deal with by promoters and didn’t do well in listening to orders, so for years has worked on the indie scene. But he’s had some of the best brawls in wrestling and while a very different look, he is as much like Bruiser Brody in the ring as anyone active. The original Los Misioneros de la Muerte, El Signo & El Texano & Negro Navarro, were the groundbreaking team that made trios wrestling popular in the early 80s. They are so much more important historically than The Freebirds, who are in, in the sense they had bigger feuds and more longevity. They changed the entire main event scene to one dominated by tag matches on top to trios bouts. Guerrero to me is a slam dunk. He’s been on top for too long, headlined during boom periods and is a great worker. He ticks every box. He and Rey Bucanero were the best tag team in Mexico for years, and he was the star of that team. Then he was part of other main event trios. For all real purposes, the two biggest gates in the history of Mexican promotions were both really drawn by he and Atlantis and their mask vs. mask match was one of the emotional highlights of pro wrestling in the last 15 years. Given his tenure on top in a major league promotion, high standard of working, legendary status, and being a key part of a lot of success, he’s as strong a candidate on the ballot.

But everyone on the Mexico ballot is strong. It’s just tough for me to go with more of them because of the limitations.

Los Brazos have an argument as probably the other really enduring trio. Caristico was an incredible draw during the last boom period. He’d probably have been a no-brainer except the WWE run hurt him a lot, and also hurt him when he returned to Mexico. Cien Caras, Villano III and Dr. Wagner Jr. had great longevity and were part of very successful periods. Caras was a long-time headliner and was the headliner with Konnan on the biggest show ever in Mexico, as well as with Rayo de Jalisco Jr., in one of the biggest matches ever in Arena Mexico. What keeps me from voting for him is that I saw him live so often, and for years before that on television, and at no point did I ever think the guy was a Hall of Famer. The fans didn’t react to him like they would a Hall of Famer, and when you saw him, he was a guy that you questioned why he was a headliner. Villano III was very good and I think he belongs in, but having seen him live a lot, the same thing was the case. But he was a very good wrestler and was one of the key guys in the late 70s and 80s El Toreo run, and headlined lots of big gates. Dr. Wagner Jr. was really good and when I did see him live, he did come across like a Hall of Famer, like people like El Hijo del Santo or Negro Casas, but not quite Perro Aguayo.

I’m not going to get into Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Africa and Europe. As far as a pure career goes, Mark Lewin had great longevity at the top, and went everywhere as a headliner for three decades. Ricki Starr was huge in both the U.S. and the U.K. and a major Madison Square Garden drawing card.

On the non-wrestlers side, it is a tough comparison because you have so many different types of people.

Bill Apter and Stanley Weston represent the magazines. Weston was the publisher of the leading wrestling magazines from the 50s through the 80s. He is also in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Apter was the most visible writer of his era, because he appeared regularly on television in the 80s as the face of the magazine. Apter would get support from those who were around in the 80s, and Weston for those who went back farther than that. In both cases, the argument is about how valuable the magazines were or weren’t, at different times.

Lord James Blears and Ed Francis represent Hawaiian wrestling, as the brains behind the unique promotion. Given the geographical location and cost of travel, as well as the small population base, it was very difficult to run a successful promotion. At their peak, the television wrestling show was gigantic and the crowds were huge on a weekly basis. The flip side is the longevity, as the promotion was really strong from 1961 to about 1973, and I don’t know if that’s long enough for a regional group to make its brains the Hall of Famers, although both were huge in the local culture. I’ve also always thought the Hawaii wrestling culture of the 60s would be one of the most interesting to do a movie about because of the power of wrestling culturally, the scenery, the politics behind the scenes, the rise and fall and the amazing characters and interviews (Hawaii, as legend had it, had the best interviews anywhere in the world).

Dave Brown is notable because of the death of Lance Russell. Brown had the longevity and was a major name outside of wrestling in his local culture. To this day I think Russell & Brown were the greatest announcing pair to ever work together and I do think Brown should be a Hall of Famer. The problem with Brown is it’s a Memphis thing, in the sense everyone who grew up with him would vote for him, but if you didn’t, you wouldn’t.

Some would question Chyna in the non-wrestler category. The deal is that she was a famous wrestler during a hot period for the business and had name recognition. But the reality is she didn’t wrestle often, and most of that time, the matches were kept short. When she passed away and I was looking over her record, she only had a handful of matches in her career that went more than ten minutes. You really can’t make a case for her as a wrestler, as really her hottest and most successful period was as the bodyguard for HHH, not when they put her in the ring wrestling men, and even less when wrestling women.

The Crockett father-and-son are two very different candidates. Jim Sr. was something like Don Owen. He was the successful promoter of a nice regional territory. It was never a major territory where the top stars worked for long periods of time, but it always had a lot of good territorial wrestlers. I’d say Crockett Sr. would be a stronger than Owen, as he ran a larger geographical territory which did far more business, and employed more people. Crockett Jr., in the 70s, with the help of George Scott, who brought in a much higher quality of talent, made the Carolinas and Virginia into the strongest wrestling territory in the U.S. That’s very noteworthy when you are running with Greensboro, Charlotte, Norfolk and Richmond as your key cities, as opposed to the size of markets that many other promoters ran. Crockett was able to thrive in 1985-86 when WWF was strong, although they did start running into trouble in 1987 and had to sell by the end of 1988. But having attended lots of JCP shows in the 80s and Roy Shire shows, and watched both companies, to me if Shire is in, Crockett Jr. should be in as well.

Gary Hart has fared well in recent years and he’s deserving to me in the sense if you rank the greatest managers of all-time, he has to be top five, and he was successful as a booker. Jimmy Hart in Memphis was for his years there, the greatest manager ever. He was better than the AWA Bobby Heenan or the WCW Jim Cornette. The downside of Hart is that it was only a few years, and then he went to WWF, where things were different and he wasn’t nearly as good.

Howard Finkel was a great ring announcer. He should have had more longevity but the decision was made that the ring announcer should be good looking rather than a great ring announcer.

Jerry Jarrett was a great booker and successful promoter. Memphis per capita drew better than almost anywhere. A lot of that was Jerry Lawler and his announcers. One can argue that the best year ever for Memphis was probably 1972, when Nick Gulas was still running things, but Jarrett was booking Memphis at the time. It’s just that the last dozen years of the promotion saw it go downhill badly, and the promotion always had the reputation for not paying well.

Larry Matysik was the television announcer in St. Louis. During the 70s, it was always Gordon Solie, Russell and Matysik as the big three when it came to announcing. He later became co-booker and is track record was outstanding. But things changed and once Sam Muchnick left, Matysik had one year where he was in charge of St. Louis, and business stayed great, but then he left and it collapsed. You can trace the collapse of St. Louis to Matysik no longer being in charge, and that’s a feather in his cap. But his announcing was about a dozen years, which for an announcer, is somewhat short, and his booking period was only a few years. He later worked for WWF, but was never utilized much.

Scott also has a good case as a booker in the Carolinas, as he took it from a solid regional company to the best regional company for several years.

In the non-wrestler category I’ve got five votes, so I’m going with Brown, Crockett Sr., Crockett Jr, Gary Hart and Jarrett. It’s not meant as a slight to anyone else.

For wrestlers, my first round of picks are Pedro Morales, Bearcat Wright, Edge, A.J. Styles, The Sharpe Brothers, Minoru Suzuki, Kiyoshi Tamura, Ultimo Guerrero, Karloff Lagarde, L.A. Park and Los Misioneros, which makes 11. The final cut is hard, but I guess it’s Tamura for this year.


A combination of the opening of the NBA season and Major League baseball playoffs led Smackdown to drop slightly to 2,320,000 viewers on 10/17, a six percent drop, which isn’t bad considering the competition.

Smackdown was ninth on cable. The major head-to-head competition was the Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers season opener on TNT which did 5,598,000 viewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs baseball on TBS that did 6,008,000 viewers and the end of the New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros playoff game on FS 1 that did 4,742,000 viewers.

Still, the number was the lowest since a 6/13 show that went against the NBA playoffs. The show will likely go lower in the weeks to come against the World Series, although the NBA won’t be putting up numbers like this again during the season.

The show did a 0.50 in 12-17 (down 23.1 percent), 0.62 in 18-34 (down 10.1 percent), 0.84 in 35-49 (down 7.7 percent) and 0.96 in 50+ (down 3.0 percent).

The audience was 59.9 percent male in 18-49 and 64.8 percent male in 12-17.

Raw on 10/16 did 2,685,000 viewers, the lowest number for the show since 6/12, and a drop of 7.2 percent from last week.

The decline was a combination of going against a stronger baseball number involving the New York Yankees, the baseball team that has traditionally hurt Raw’s numbers more than any other. The positive is that there are no more playoff games on Monday, so unless there is an NFL blockbuster or a natural disaster of some sort, this should be the lowest Raw rating during football season.

Raw was third for the night on cable, trailing the Monday Night Football game with the Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans, which did 8,382,000 viewers, which is very low for that show (down from 10,281,000 last week), and the Yankees vs. Houston Astros playoff game at 5,108,000 viewers (last week’s Yankees game did 4,492,000 viewers). Dancing With The Stars, featuring Nikki Bella, was up to 9,565,000 viewers (last week’s show did 9,246,000 viewers).

The good news was the lack of a significant third hour drop, with them saving the Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman cage match for last. There was still a decline, mostly with older viewers, but there was actually a second to third hour increase in younger male viewers.

The drop was strongest with teenage girls, a demo that was down 25.0 percent from last week, while teenage boys were up 8.8 percent from last week.

The first hour did 2,731,000 viewers, which would be the lowest first hour since 5/23, and third lowest of modern times, trailing that show and the July 4, 2016 show. So there was less interest in seeing Raw, but the show itself held the audience well. The second hour did 2,728,000 viewers and the third hour did 2,606,000 viewers.

The second to third hour essentially stayed even with both men and women 18-49. There was a drop in teenage girls and an increase in teenage boys. The decline in those over 50 was in hour one to hour two.

The show did a 0.66 in 12-17 (down 5.7 percent), 0.78 in 18-34 (down 9.3 percent), 1.04 in 35-49 (down 1.9 percent) and 1.04 in 50+ (down 1.9 percent).

The audience was 61.0 percent male in 18-49 and 65.8 percent male in 12-17.

Impact on 10/12 did 279,000 viewers, up 11 percent from the prior week.

The 10/11 episode of Total Bellas did 552,000 viewers, up from 539,000 the week before..

The 10/11 episode of Lucha Underground did 96,000 viewers at 8 p.m. and 43,000 viewers at 9 p.m. for a total of 139,000, down slightly from the 146,000 the week before.

The final Smackdown rating for 10/10 was a 1.73 rating and 2,467,000 viewers which was a lower than usual 1.55 viewers per home.


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RESULTS

 

10/1 Casper, WY (WWE Raw): Finn Balor b Bray Wyatt, Non-title: Neville b Enzo Amore-DQ, Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews b Elias & Dash Wilder, Three-way for tag titles: Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose won over Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel and Sheamus & Cesaro, Five-way for women’s title: Alexa Bliss won over Sasha Banks, Mickie James, Emma and Bayley, IC title: The Miz b Jason Jordan, Last man standing: Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman

10/1 Spokane, WA (WWE Smackdown - 2,500): Three-way for tag titles: Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods won over Usos and Tyler Breeze & Fandango, Rusev b Chad Gable, Luke Harper & Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder b The Ascension & Erick Rowan, Sami Zayn b Mike Kanellis, Sin Cara b Mike Kanellis, Four-way for U.S. title: A.J. Styles won over Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens and Tye Dillinger, Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch & Naomi b Natalya & Carmella & Lana, Bobby Roode b Dolph Ziggler, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Shinsuke Nakamura

10/1 Yokohama Bunka Gym (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 2,274): Yoshinari Ogawa & Seiya Morohashi & Ashley Istria b Masao Inoue & Tadasuke & Jyunta Miyawaki, Ross & Marshall Von Erich b Kenou & Daisuke Ikeda, GFW title: Eli Drake b Cody Hall, Hi69 & Garza Jr. b Hajime Ohara & Ultimo Ninja, Minoru Tanaka b Hitoshi Kumano, Maybach Taniguchi & Akitoshi Saito & Shiro Koshinaka b Tatsumi Fujinami & Mitsuya Nagai & Leona, Moose & Yuji Okabayashi b Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya, GHC jr tag titles: Hayata & Yo-Hey b Shunma Katsumata & Mao, GHC jr. title: Daisuke Harada b Taiji Ishimori to win title, GHC tag titles: Mohammed Yone & Quiet Strom b Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge, GHC hwt title: Eddie Edwards b Naomichi Marufuji

10/1 Fukuoka (Dragon Gate - 1,200 sellout): U-T b Yosuke Santa Maria, Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito & Jimmy K-Ness b Don Fujii & Kaito Ishida & Jason Lee, Jimmy Kagetora b Shun Skywalker, Kzy b Gamma, Yamato & BxB Hulk b Lindaman & Punch Tominaga, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu & Ben K b Cima & Dragon Kid & Eita & Takehiro Yamamura, Shingo Takagi & T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida b Masaaki Mochizuki & Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kanda

10/1 Sanjo (All Japan - 595 sellout): Tajiri b Atsushi Maruyama, Takao Omori & Yutaka Yoshie b Shigeno Shima & The Roykan, Danny Jones & Kyoboku Futoshi b Yohei Nakajima & Massimo, Atsushi Aoki & Koji Iwamoto b Hikaru

Sato & Kotaro Suzuki, Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuya Aoki & Great Kojika b Jun Akiyama & Masa Fuchi & Yusuke Okada, Suwama & Zeus & Shuji Ishikawa & Ryoji Sai b Kento Miyahara & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi & Kai

10/1 Ontario, CA (Heroes of Lucha Libre - 2,500): Pierrothito & Demus 3:16 b Mini Rey Misterio & Octagoncito, Mascara Sagrada & Oriental b Pirata Morgan & El Hijo de Dos Caras, Canek Jr. & Fishman Jr. b Huracan Ramirez Jr. & El Hijo de L.A. Park, Blue Demon Jr. & Tinieblas Jr. & L.A. Park b Trumposo & Sam Adonis & Russian Hacker

10/2 Denver, CO (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 6,500): Heath Slater b Dash Wilder, Rich Swann & Lince Dorado b Noam Dar & Tony Nese, Braun Strowman b Seth Rollins, Elias b Titus O’Neil, Mickie James b Nia Jax-DQ, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows b Matt Hardy & Jason Jordan, IC title: Roman Reigns b The Miz-DQ, Bayley & Sasha Banks b Alicia Fox & Emma, Street fight: Finn Balor b Bray Wyatt

10/2 Pueblo, CO (WWE Smackdown - 4,000): Three-way for tag titles: Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods won over Tyler Breeze & Fandango and Usos, Rusev b Chad Gable, Luke Harper & Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder b The Ascension & Erick Rowan, Sami Zayn b Mike Kanellis, Sin Cara b Mike Kanellis, Three-way for U.S. title: A.J. Styles won over Baron Corbin and Tye Dillinger, Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair & Naomi b Carmella & Natalya & Lana, Bobby Roode b Dolph Ziggler, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Shinsuke Nakamura

10/2 Newcastle, England (What Culture Pro Wrestling iPPV): Mike Bailey b David Starr, Four-way for hardcore title: Primate won over Jimmy Havoc, Bad Bones and BT Gunn, Liam Slater b Johnny Moss, Travis Banks & Joe Coffey b Ashley Dunn & Kelly Sixx, Women’s title: Kay Lee Ray b Bea Priestley, Marty Scurll won seven-way briefcase match, Martin Kirby b Alex Garcia-DQ, Tag titles: Ray Rowe & Hanson b Young Bucks, WCPW title: Marty Scurll won three-way over Will Ospreay and Joe Hendry to win title

10/2 Aizu Wakamatsu (All Japan - 276 sellout): Yuya Aoki b Yusuke Okada, Hikaru Sato b Atsushi Maruyama, Zeus & The Bodyguard b Yutaka Yoshie & Koji Iwamoto, Daisuke Sekimoto & Great Kojika & Tajiri b Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Yohei Nakajima, Suwama & Atsushi Aoki b Shuji Ishikawa & Kotaro Suzuki, Kento Miyahara & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi & Kai b Ryoji Sai & Kyoboku Futoshi & Massimo & Danny Jones

10/3 Denver (WWE Smackdown/205 Live - 5,600): Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin b Primo & Epico, Natalya & Carmella b Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch, Bobby Roode b Maria Kanellis, Tye Dillinger b Baron Corbin, Randy Orton b Aiden English, Kalisto b Ariya Daivari, Mustafa Ali b Drew Gulak, Jack Gallagher b Cedric Alexander-DQ, Shinsuke Nakamura & Randy Orton & A.J. Styles b Jinder Mahal & Rusev & Baron Corbin

10/3 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 1,000): Fantasy & Pequeno Olimpico b Electrico & Ultimo Dragoncito, Astral & Pegasso & Starman b Arkangel de la Muerte & Metalico & Templario, Vaquerita & Marcela & Princesa Sugehit b Seductora & Tiffany & Zeuxis, Guerrero Maya Jr. b Tiger, Dragon Rojo Jr & Felino & Polvora b Rey Cometa & Stuka Jr. & Titan, Marco Corleone & Niebla Roja & Volador Jr. b Cavernario & Euforia & Gran Guerrero-DQ

10/5 Tokyo Shinkiba (All Japan - 292 sellout): Keiichi Sato b Yusuke Okada, Daiki Inaba & Seiki Yoshioka b Yohei Nakajima & Koji Iwamoto, Koji Doi & Kumagoro & Andy Wu b Takao Omori & Atsushi Maruyama & Fuminori Abe, Jun Akiyama b Kotaro Suzuki, All-Asia tag titles: Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Manabu Soya & Black Tiger VII, Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa & Atsushi Aoki & Tajiri b Kento Miyahara & Kai & Hikaru Sato & Danny Jones

10/7 Hamamatsu (Dragon Gate - 500): Hyo Watanabe b Shun Skywalker, Dragon Kid & Eita & Kaito Ishida b Susumu Yokosuka & Yosuke Santa Maria & Jason Lee, Don Fujii b Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa, Kagetora & Big R Shimizu b Masaaki Mochizuki & Ryo Saito, Naruki Doi & Ben K b Lindaman & Punch Tominaga, Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy b T-Hawk & Takashi Yoshida & Yasushi Kanada

10/8 Toyama (Dragon Gate): BxB Hulk & Kzy b T-Hawk & Punch Tominaga, Susumu Yokosuka b Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa, Susumu Yokosuka b Hollywood Talker Ichikawa, Eita & Jason Lee b Don Fujii & Yosuke Santa Maria, Yamato & Ryo Saito b Dragon Kid & Kaito Ishida, Masaaki Mochizuki & Naruki Doi & Ben K b Yasushi Kanda & Takashi Yoshida & Lindaman

10/8 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Apocalipsis & Cholo b Bengala & Magnus, Pegasso & Robin & Stigma b Cancerbero & Raziel & Sangre Azteca, Drone & Guerrero Maya Jr. & Rey Cometa b Disturbio & Puma & Tiger, Marco Corleone & Stuka Jr. & Valiente b Kraneo & Olimpico & Polvora, Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Euforia b Angel de Oro & Mistico & Niebla Roja

10/8 Norcross, GA (Mucha Lucha Atlanta - 1,000): CB Suave b Gil Quest, Priscilla Kelly won three-way over Kiera Hogan and Kamilla Kaine, Septimo Dragon b Heros, Joey Lynch won three-way over Jeff Cobb and Anthony Henry, Global title: Rey Horus b A.R. Fox to win title, Serpentico & Poder Nocturno b Alex Cruz & Vary Morales, Rush won three-way over Mecha Wolf and Caristico to win the MLW title

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

10/12 Jacksonville, FL (WWE NXT - 250): Lio Rush b Marcel Barthel, Kairi Sane & Ruby Riot b Sonya Deville & Sage Beckett, Kassius Ohno b Chad Lail, Tag titles: Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain b Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler, Bianca Belair b Rhea Ripley, Velveteen Dream b Johnny Gargano, Oney Lorcan b Jason, Shayna Baszler b Liv Morgan, Drew McIntyre & Roderick Strong b Andrade Cien Almas & Hideo Itami

10/12 Buffalo, NY (ROH - 1,000 sellout): Deonna Purrazzo b Sumie Sakai, Rhett Titus & Will Ferrara b Shaheem Ali & Leon St. Giovanni, Kushida b Hangman Page, Jay Lethal b Frankie Kazarian, Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. b Ray Rowe & Hanson & Mark Briscoe, Mandy Leon b Jenny Rose, Hiromu Takahashi b Christopher Daniels, Cody & Marty Scurll b Yoshi-Hashi & Toru Yano, Punishment Martinez b Will Ospreay, Trios titles: Young Bucks & Kenny Omega b Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan

10/12 Tokyo Shinjuku Face (New Japan Pro Wrestling - 462 sellout): Hirai Kawato b Ren Narita, Katsuya Kitamura b Tetsuhiro Yagi, Tomoyuki Oka b Shota Umino, Manabu Nakanishi b Kotaro Yoshino, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima b Yuma Aoyagi & Go Asakawa, Yuji Nagata b Daisuke Kanehira

10/13 Saskatoon, SK (WWE Raw - 5,500): Cruiserweight title: Kalisto b Enzo Amore, Goldust & Darren Young b Curtis Axel & Curt Hawkins, Elias b R-Truth, Three-way for tag titles: Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose won over Sheamus & Cesaro and Heath Slater & Rhyno, Emma referee: Sasha Banks & Dana Brooke b Alexa Bliss & Alicia Fox, IC title: The Miz b Jason Jordan, Last man standing: Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman

10/13 Orlando (WWE NXT - 350): No Way Jose b Marcel Barthel, Sonya Deville b Sarah Logan, Buddy Murphy b Babatunde Aiyegbusi, Lio Rush b Fabian Aichner, Street Profits b Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler, Nikki Cross b Sage Beckett, Oney Lorcan b Jason, Liv Morgan won three-way over Bianca Belair and Mandy Rose, Adam Cole & Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly b Drew McIntyre & Johnny Gargano & Kassius Ohno

10/13 Pittsburgh, PA (ROH - 1,000 sellout): Shaheem Ali & Leon St. Giovanni b Brian Johnson & Justin Pusser, Hiromu Takahashi b Mark Briscoe, Chuckie T & Baretta b Will Ferrara & Rhett Titus, Jay Lethal b Jay White, Three-way for tag titles: Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley won three-way over Young Bucks and Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan, Mandy Leon & Jenny Rose & Deonna Purrazzo b Britt Baker & Sumie Sakai & Faye Jackson, Kenny King won six-way over Punishment Martinez, Adam Page, Josh Woods, Matt Taven and Kushida, Non-title: Ray Rowe & Hanson b Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr., Minoru Suzuki b Silas Young, Trios title: Cody & Marty Scurll & Kenny Omega b Yoshi-Hashi & Will Ospreay & Toru Yano

10/13 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 5,000): Drone & Esfinge b Cancerbero & Raziel, Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & Stuka Jr. b Gran Guerrero & Luciferno & Rey Bucanero, Valiente b Pierroth, Ultimo Guerrero & Rush & Euforia b Diamante Azul & Kraneo & Marco Corleone, Caristico and Volador Jr. won Leyenda de Plata over Mephisto, Mistico, Cavernario, Negro Casas, Dragon Lee, Sanson, Soberano Jr., Forastero, Guerrero Maya Jr., Virus, Titan, Puma, The Panther and Tiger

10/13 Berwyn, IL (AAW Jim Lyman Memorial Tournament - 400): Zema Ion b Andrew Everett, ACH b Curt Stallion, Mark Haskins b Eddie Kingston, Jeff Cobb b Zachary Wentz, Rey Fenix b Trevor Lee, Keith Lee & Shane Strickland b Zack Sabre Jr. & Matt Riddle, AR Fox b Dezmond Xavier, Myron Reed b Brian Cage, Sami Callihan b Mat Fichett, Michael Elgin b Penta 0M

10/14 Regina, Saskatchewan (WWE Raw- 4,200): Cruiserweight title: Kalisto b Enzo Amore, Goldust & Darren Young b Curtis Axel & Curt Hawkins, Elias b R-Truth, Three-way for tag titles: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins won over Sheamus & Cesaro and Heath Slater & Rhyno, Emma referee: Sasha Banks & Dana Brooke b Alexa Bliss & Alicia Fox, IC title: The Miz b Jason Jordan, Last man standing: Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman

10/14 West Palm Beach, FL (WWE NXT - 600): Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins b Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler, Liv Morgan b Sarah Logan, Lars Sullivan b Kishin Raftaar, Sage Beckett b Dakota Kai, Adam Cole & Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly b Kassius Ohno & Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight, No Way Jose b Hideo Itami, Raul Mendoza b Brennan Williams, Shayna Baszler & Bianca Belair b Ruby Riot & Rhea Ripley, NXT title: Drew McIntyre b Andrade Cien Almas

10/14 Columbus, OH (ROH - 1,200 sellout): Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian b Jonathan Gresham & Jay White, Jay Lethal b Hiromu Takahashi, Tag titles: Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley b Silas Young & Beer City Bruiser, Yoshi-Hashi & Toru Yano & Will Ospreay b Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr., Sumie Sakai b Holidead, Shane Taylor b Josh Woods, Kenny King & Colt Cabana b Marty Scurll & Adam Page, ROH title: Cody b Kushida, Trips titles: Young Bucks & Kenny Omega b Chuckie T & Baretta & Flip Gordon

10/14 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 789): Minoru Tanaka & Sheldon Jean b Hajime Ohara & Masao Inoue, Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm & Yoshinari Ogawa & Hitoshi Kumano b Maybach Taniguchi & Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 & Leona, Mitsuya Nagai b Cody Hall, Masato Tanaka b Akitoshi Saito, Masa Kitamiya & Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke b Atsushi Kotoge & Hayata & Yo-Hey, Katsuhiko Nakajima d Kenou 30:00, Naomichi Marufuji b Go Shiozaki

10/14 Hasuda (All Japan - 505): Kai & Takuya Nomura b Hikaru Sato & Yusuke Okada, Masa Fuchi & Koji Iwamoto b Osamu Nishimura & Fuminori Abe, Ryoji Sai & Atsushi Maruyama b Tajiri & Ishinriki, Manabu Soya & Black Tiger VII b Takao Omori & Yohei Nakajima, Jun Akiyama & Zeus b Joe Doering & Danny Jones, Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa & Atsushi Aoki b Kento Miyahara & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi

10/14 Berwyn, IL (AAW Jim Lyman Memorial Tournament - 400): Zema Ion b ACH, Michael Elgin b Myron Reed, Jeff Cobb b AR Fox, Sami Callihan b Mark Haskins, Teddy Hart won four-way over Steven Wolf, Andrew Everett and Brian Cage, Michael Elgin b Zema Ion, Jeff Cobb b Sami Callihan, Davey Vega & Mat Fitchett won three-way over Connor Braxton & Curt Stallion and Paco & Eddie Kingston, Rey Fenix & Penta 0M b Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz, Tournament finals: Michael Elgin b Jeff Cobb

10/14 Kyoto (Dragon Gate - 800): Susumu Yokosuka & Don Fujii & Jason Lee b Masaaki Mochizuki & Cima & Eita, U-T b Punch Tominaga, Genki Horiguchi b Kagetora, Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi b Lindaman & Shingo Takagi, Ben K & Big R Shimizu b Dragon Kid & Gamma, Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy b Yasushi Kanda & Takashi Yoshida & T-Hawk

10/14 Queens, NY (Evolve): Dominic Garrini b Rayo, Chris Dickinson b Jason Kincaid, Austin Theory b Brandon Watts, Darby Allin b Jarek 1:20, Tracy Williams b Fred Yehi, Non-title: Jaka b Zack Sabre Jr., Last man standing match for WWN title: Keith Lee b Matt Riddle

10/15 Yakima, WA (WWE Raw - 3,900): Cruiserweight title: Kalisto b Enzo Amore, Goldust & Darren Young b Curtis Axel & Curt Hawkins, Finn Balor b Elias, Three-way for tag titles: Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose won over Sheamus & Cesaro and Heath Slater & Rhyno, Emma referee: Sasha Banks & Dana Brooke b Alexa Bliss & Alicia Fox, IC title: The Miz b Jason Jordan, Last man standing: Roman Reigns b Braun Strowman

10/15 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL): Principe Diamante & Sensei b Cholo & Espanto Jr., Akuma & El Hijo del Signo & Warrior Steel b Flyer & Magnus & Robin, Fuego & Guerrero Maya Jr. & & The Panther b Disturbio & Universo 2000 Jr. & Virus, Hechicero & Sam Adonis & Shocker b Niebla Roja & Rey Cometa & Soberano Jr., Caristico & Volador Jr. & Valiente b Ultimo Guerrero & Mephisto & Cavernario

10/15 Hamamatsu (All Japan - 338): Hikaru Sato b Yuma Aoyagi, Koji Doi & Kumagoro & Seiki Yoshioka b Zeus & Koji Iwamoto & Yusuke Okada, Atsushi Aoki & Danny Jones b Tajiri & Yohei Nakajima, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Atsushi Maruyama b Ryoji Sai & Rikiya Fudo & Ishinriki, Joe Doering b Kai, Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa b Kento Miyahara & Naoya Nomura

10/15 Numazu (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 335): Minoru Tanaka & Sheldon Jean b Junta Miyawaki & Leona, Quiet Storm & Yoshinari Ogawa & Tadasuke b Hajime Ohara & Hitoshi Kumano & Masao Inoue, Kenou b Akitoshi Saito, Naomichi Marufuji b Cody Hall, Go Shiozaki b Mitsuya Nagai, Masa Kitamiya b Mohammed Yone, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Daisuke Harada & Hayata & Yo-Hey b Atsushi Kotoge & Maybach Taniguchi & Taiji Ishimori & Hi69

10/15 Yokkaichi (Dragon Gate - 600): Masato Yoshino & Big R Shimizu b T-Hawk & Lindaman, Genki Horiguchi b Takashi Yoshida, Naruki Doi & Ben K b Kagetora & Eita, Susumu Yokosuka & Don Fujii b Masaaki Mochizuki & Jason Lee, Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy b Cima & Dragon Kid & Gamma

10/15 East Haven, CT (Evolve): Shane Mercer b Mikey Webb, Jaka 1:20 b Brandon Watts, Dominic Garrini b Cyrus Satin, Austin Theory b Jason Kincaid, Keith Lee b Darby Allin, Tag titles elimination match: Chris Dickinson & Jaka won over Gym Nasty Boys and Ugly Ducklings, Richard Holliday b R.J. Rude, Fred Yehi b Matt Riddle, Evolve title: Zack Sabre Jr. b Tracy Williams

10/16 Portland, OR (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 7,000): Rhyno b Dash Wilder, Mustafa Ali b Drew Gulak, Jason Jordan & Apollo Crews & Titus O’Neil b Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows & Elias, Cedric Alexander b Jack Gallagher, Sasha Banks b Alicia Fox, Tag titles: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins b Sheamus & Cesaro, Bayley & Mickie James b Emma & Alexa Bliss, Cage match: Braun Strowman b Roman Reigns

10/16 Abbotsford, BC (WWE Smackdown - 2,250): Bobby Roode b Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn b Mike Kanellis, Aiden English b Sin Cara, Tyler Breeze & Fandango won three-way over Primo & Epico Colon and Mojo Rawley & Zack Ryder, Three-way for women’s title: Natalya won over Carmella and Charlotte Flair, U.S. title: Baron Corbin won over A.J. Styles, Tye Dillinger and Rusev, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Shinsuke Nakamura

10/17 Seattle, WA (WWE Smackdown/205 Live TV tapings - 5,000): Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin & Tye Dillinger b Primo & Epico Colon & Mike Kanellis, Charlotte Flair & Naomi & Becky Lynch b Tamina & Natalya & Lana, Non-title: Sin Cara b Baron Corbin-COR, Dolph Ziggler b Bobby Roode, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn b Shinsuke Nakamura & Randy Orton, Rich Swann b Jack Gallagher-DQ, Kalisto & Mustafa Ali b Enzo Amore & Ariya Daivari, Non-title: A.J. Styles b Jinder Mahal

10/18 Yamagata (New Japan - 1,324 sellout): Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga b Tetsuhiro Yagi & Ren Narita, Tiger Mask & Dragon Lee & Titan b Kushida & Hirai Kawato & Shota Umino, Jushin Liger & Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH b Taichi & Desperado & Taka Michinoku, 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 & Hirom7u Takahashi b Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo & Yoh & Sho

10/18 Ashikaga (All Japan): Hikaru Sato b Yuma Aoyagi, Kai b Atsushi Maruyama, Kotaro Suzuki & Keiichi Sato b Koji Iwamoto & Yusuke Okada, Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori b Manabu Soya & Black Tiger VII, Kento Miyahara & Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Ryoji Sai & Rikiya Fudo & Hs8inhriki, Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa & Atsushi Aoki b Joe Doering & Tajiri & Danny Jones

CMLL: Volador Jr. and Caristico were the two finalists in the 10/13 Leyenda de Plata match at Arena Mexico. The finishes saw Sanson pin Puma with a kneedrop in 6:53. Soberano Jr. pinned The Panther with the infrared in 10:13. Forastero pinned Tiger in 11:51 with the swanton. Dragon Lee pinned Virus with the Del Rio double foot stomp in 13:27. Titan made Guerrero Maya Jr. submit in 14:47. Mephisto pinned Forastero with a Devil’s Wings (pedigree) off the middle rope in 17:26. Negro Casas pinned Titan with la magistral cradle. Cavernario pinned Casas in 19:36 with a splash. Volador pinned Mephisto in 24:12 with a backstabber. Sanson pinned Lee with the burning hammer in 26:49. Soberano pinned Cavernario with the fire driver in 27:50. Sanson pinned Mistico with a German suplex in 37:13 and finally Caristico used La Mistica on Sanson in 37:43. Volador and Caristico fought after the match and issued challenges. They have a 2/3 fall match that will be on the 10/20 show. The match was a collection of great high spots, one-after-the-other. It was really good and I couldn’t go less than ****, but it was very much a situation where it was too much. This was the prime example of psychology in the sense when you do 35 things spectacular in a match, and the whole match is nothing but guys coming in and out and doing the spectacular, the spectacular becomes normal and that’s what the match turned into at times. But it was fun to have different combinations like Volador vs. Lee, Titan vs. Mistico, Casas vs Cavernario and others. The hottest seemed to be Mistico vs. Caristico, because they combined mask ripping with their high flying so it stood out. Caristico said this match showcased just how much great young talent was now in the promotion, and they very much showcased people like Sanson, Forastero and Soberano Jr., who are going to be superstars and probably in a short amount of time. Volador noted that he already won the Universal title tournament beating Ultimo Guerrero, and said Guerrero is a great wrestler and that Caristico isn’t in Guerrero’s league. The semi saw Ultimo Guerrero & Rush & Euforia beating Diamante Azul & Kraneo & Marco Corleone in an increibles match, since Kraneo is a rudo, and Rush and Guerrero usually feud. It’s also notable and Niebla Roja and Gran Guerrero, who headlined the anniversary show, were down to working the second match. The show drew 5,000 fans, which is disappointing to me considering the main event. The problem is CMLL on Friday night is based around drawing tourists, and with the earthquake, the tourism in Mexico City is down

Even though both are faces, Volador vs. Caristico is a big singles match and a match that would not be usual so we’ll see if that helps business. They are also doing a feud between the two as it’s not just a tournament final. Volador and Caristico had problems on the 10/15 show at Arena Mexico, and on 10/16 in Puebla, where Volador & Mistico & Caristico beat Mephisto & El Terrible & Rey Bucanero, Volador stole a pin that Caristico had, and after the match, Volador & Mistico turned on Caristico and pulled off his mask. Volador & Caristico will be teaming again on the 10/23 main event with Valiente as their third man

Marco Corleone retained the CMLL heavyweight title beating Rush in the 10/16 Puebla main event

The company is reviving the Mexican national heavyweight championship. There will be a Cibernetico match on 10/22 at Arena Mexico to crown the new champion with Rush, Shocker, El Terrible, Diamante Azul, Stuka Jr., Gran Guerrero, Blue Panther Jr., Euforia, Vangellys, Kraneo and Cuatrero. The title history can be traced back to 1926, which would be even before CMLL was formed. In the late 60s, the belt was valuable because if you held the Mexican national heavyweight title you could be brought to California, either for Roy Shire or Mike LeBell, and being brought in as the former Mexican heavyweight champion would mean you’d get a push. Black Gordman, Great Goliath, Raul Reyes, La Pantera Negra, Enrique Vera and others were brought in first billed as former or current Mexican heavyweight champions. CMLL had the title until Pierroth jumped to AAA as champion. Historically those belts were sanctioned by the commissions even though the promotion would decide who would hold them. But because they were commission belts, if you were the champion and left the promotion, as long as you stayed working in Mexico City, you could take it to another promotion. From 1994 to 2013 the belt was in AAA. Hector Garza was the last champion and never lost the title when he passed away. So CMLL is bringing it back

Besides the usual Arena Mexico show on 10/15, CMLL sent wrestlers to a show at Juan de la Barrera Gym in Mexico City, which is AAA’s usual arena, which was a show purchased by a company and drew more than 5,000 fans. What’s notable is the local promoters used CMLL talent as well as L.A. Park and El Hijo de L.A. Park in the main event. CMLL usually doesn’t allow its talent to work on shows with Park

They announced Dia de los Muertos shows (Day of the Dead), which are the big Halloween week shows, which will be 11/3, 11/5 and 11/7 .. Beside the Caristico vs. Volador main event, the other top matches on 10/20 are Azul & Mistico & Valiente vs. Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Mephisto, and Pierroth & Rush & Sam Adonis vs. Casas & El Terrible & Rey Bucanero

The company has signed a sponsorship deal with Spotify.

AAA: Johnny Mundo will be back on the 11/19 show in Ciudad Juarez, which is also scheduled for the debut of El Hijo del Dr. Wagner Jr. The billed main event is Mundo & Hernandez (Super Mex from TNA years ago) vs. the father & son Wagners, although AAA advertising for a TV taping is like WWE advertising for a TV taping. It means nothing and they feel no compunction to deliver the matches advertised. However, the talent itself advertised usually does appear

Kevin Kross, who was getting a huge push that seemed to be building for a program with Vampiro, has quit the promotion.

THE CRASH: Konnan said that it looks like he will have another hip replacement surgery in November, and then after he recovers from that, he will start training with Rey Mysterio Jr. and do a retirement tour. He has wanted to do a Mexican retirement tour for years but physically hasn’t been able to do so yet. I can see a mentality of doing that if/when they get a strong television deal, and given the climate right now, that could possibly come tomorrow and possibly never come

They announced more loaded up shows for November. The 11/9 show in Metepec has a three-way with Mysterio Jr. & Penta 0M against both Rush & La Mascara and Brian Cage & Carlito on top. Other big matches are Flamita & Rey Fenix & Willie Mack vs. Bestia 666 & Mr. 450 & Keith Lee and Daga & Jack Evans & Mascarita Dorada (Torito in WWE) vs Flip Gordon & Laredo Kid & Sammy Guevera

11/13 in Salamanca has Penta 0M & Fenix vs. Rush & Mascara vs. Bestia 666 & Garza Jr. on top, plus Carlito & Mack vs Cage & 450

11/14 show in Guanajuato has Mysterio Jr. & Fenix & Mack vs. Cage & Carlito & Mr. 450 on top, plus Rush vs. Penta 0M vs. Garza Jr., Daga vs. La Mascara vs. Flamita vs. Bestia 666 and Damian 666 & Evans & M-ximo vs. Black Taurus & El Hijo de Pirata Morgan & Pierroth

11/15 in Tulancingo has Mysterio Jr. & Penta 0M vs. Mascara & Rush, Daga & Fenix vs. Garza Jr. & Super Crazy and Evans, Aeroboy, Bestia 666 and Mr. 450 in a four-way

This is going to be very interesting because they are running 11 loaded up shows between 11/3 and 11/15, a lot with Mysterio Jr. as the main draw, and he hasn’t worked this heavy a schedule in years

Veteran mat wrestlers Black Terry, 65, and Solar, 61, who can both still go, will be working an 11/30 show in Pachuca against Daga & Fenix.

A 12/18 show in Irapuato has a main event of Mysterio Jr. & Blue Demon Jr. & Penta 0M vs. L.A. Park & El Hijo de L.A. Park & Fenix, which is quite the unique collection of talent.

DRAGON GATE: Several new matches have been announced for the 11/3 show at the Edion Arena in Osaka, which now has Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Susumu Yokosuka (formerly Jimmy Susumu) for the Open the Dream Gate title, Lindaman & Takashi Yoshida & Shingo Takagi defending the Triangle Gate titles in a three-way against Yamato & BxB Hulk & Kzy and Naruki Doi & Kotoka & Masato Yoshino, Cima & Dragon Kid defending the Twin Gate titles against Big R Shimizu & Ben K and Kagetora defending the Open the Brave Gate title against Genki Horiguchi. Horiguchi earned his title shot beating Kagetora in a non-title match on 10/14 in Kyoto. Shimizu & Ben K got their shot beating Dragon Kid & Gamma, when Shimizu pinned Kid.

ALL JAPAN: I saw the Kento Miyahara Triple Crown title loss to Suwama from 10/9. A lot of people have been giving it ***** and calling it the best non-NJPW match this year. I actually thought the Miyahara vs. Shuji Ishikawa match from Sumo Hall was just as good if not better, but I’d go the same ****3/4 as this was an incredible match. Miyahara’s selling and timing is just incredible and the crowd at the end was exactly what you’d want a crowd at the end of a world title match to be like. The match went 31:03 and was paced so well it felt much shorter.

Big Japan’s Yuji Okabayashi is out with an injury. Okabayashi & Daisuke Sekimoto hold the group’s world tag team titles and were to defend against Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori on the 10/21 Yokohama Bunka Gym show, which is headlined by Suwama vs. Joe Doering for the Triple Crown. Ryuji Ito of Big Japan will team with Sekimoto against Akiyama & Omori for the now-vacant titles. They also announced that Toshiaki Kawada would be at the show, but not wrestling.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: Takashi Sugiura, 47, is scheduled to return on 10/28 after a July heart operation due to an irregular heartbeat. He was just cleared and his heart has been beating normally

The singles Global league tournament opened on 10/14 at Korakuen Hall before 789 fans. Given who is in it, this tournament is likely to produce a lot of great matches. On the first day, they had two A block and two B block matches. In the A block, Mitsuya Nagai beat Cody Hall with a knee in 7:59 and Naomichi Marufuji pinned Go Shiozaki in 16:07. In the B block, Masato Tanaka pinned Akitoshi Saito in 10:17 with the sliding D and Katsuhiko Nakajima went to a 30:00 draw with Kenou. Not sure how the injury to Yuji Okabayashi changes the booking here, but Okabayashi is out of the tournament.

NEW JAPAN: While not a done deal, it looks like Jim Ross will be renewing his gig for another year. AXS wants to keep him and he wants to keep doing it, so it’s a question of terms, and if WWE won’t try and block a deal, which up to this point, WWE has not done. Part of the deal is that Ross is not working any television for WWE right now, and is on a limited date deal, and due to the U.K. show not happening, which is what he was brought in for, he hasn’t done anything with WWE since the Mae Young Classic

The 11/5 Power Struggle show headlined by Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi for the IC title and Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll for the jr. title at Osaka Edion Arena is officially sold out. New Japan will be making a major announcement that night

Kazuchika Okada will be working an 11/11 show for Melbourne City Wrestling in Australia against Slex. Tickets were put on sale on 10/17 and the web sites for taking orders crashed due to the high level of demand. It was so bad that the promotion announced they were going to have to reschedule the first onsale date

Even though Matt Riddle did have some bookings during the period, Riddle & Jeff Cobb are both debuting in the tag team tournament that starts in mid-November

An interesting trivia note, this past week I was asked about the mentality of New Japan’s Japanese language announcers, like if they do comedy, or shtick, or play heel and face. The mentality they have is to describe the action and are taught to do it the same way radio announcers that do sports like the NFL and NBA do it. That’s why they are so much more descriptive as compared to people trained American style for television, who are taught to describe less and more tell a big picture. Anyway, after explaining that, Sean Grande, the former Bellator announcer who has been a wrestling fan since childhood and for years has been the voice of the Boston Celtics for 16 years and has done announcing for other sports dating back to 1989, said that he and his broadcast partner try to announce NBA games with the mentality of doing what the New Japan announcers do

They had a Lion’s Gate show on 10/12 in Tokyo at Shinjuku Face. They opened the Kotetsu Yamamoto Memorial Young Lions Cup with Hirai Kawato over Ren Narita in 7:14 with a high kick; Katsuya Kitamura pinned Tetsuhiro Yagi in 8:32 with a jackhammer slam and Tomoyuki Oka beat Shota Umino in 10:50 with a Boston crab. The tournament will continue with an 11/16 show at Shinjuku Face with Oka vs. Narita, Kitamura vs. Umino and Kawato vs. Yagi. The 12/17 at Korakuen Hall, it’ll be Umino vs Yagi, Kitamura vs. Narita and Kawato vs Oka. 12/18 at Korakuen Hall has Umino vs. Narita, Oka vs. Yagi and Kawato vs Kitamura. 12/21 at Shinjuku Face will be the final day with Yagi vs. Narita, Oka vs. Kitamura and Kawato vs. Umino

The new tour opened on 10/18 in Yamagata before a sellout crowd of 1,324 fans. It was all multiple person matches with a main event of Los Ingobernables of Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi beating Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo & Sho & Yoh in just 9:51 when Sanada used the skull end on Gedo

There will be live New Japan World shows on 10/21 from Togane with Yuji Nagata vs. Manabu Nakanishi in a rare singles main event for both (we’ll really get to see how good Nagata is here, the last time these two wrestled in a big singles match, it was shockingly good), as well as 10/23 at Korakuen Hall which features two first round matches in the Super Juniors single elimination tag team tournament with Kushida & Kawato vs. Yoh & Sho and Lee & Titan vs. Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi

For AXS, the upcoming lineup is 10/20: Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada III from G-1 (Jim Ross did the voice overs of this match a few weeks ago and said it was one of the greatest matches he ever announced); 10/27: Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito G-1 final (this was voted best of G-1 and for this year, that is saying something since it beat out Omega vs. Okada III for that honor and would be one of the five or six best matches I’ve ever seen); 11/3: War Machine vs. Cody & Hangman Page for IWGP tag titles and Young Bucks vs. Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi for IWGP jr. tag titles; 11/10: Minoru Suzuki vs. Michael Elgin for Never title, Evil & Sanada & Bushi vs. Okada & Toru Yano & Rocky Romero for six-man titles and War Machine vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer; 11/17: Kushida vs. Desperado for IWGP jr title, Ricochet & Taguchi vs. Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru for IWGP jr. tag title; 11/24: Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. for IC title, War Machine vs. Tonga & Loa vs Smith & Archer for IWGP tag titles; 12/1: Omega vs. Juice Robinson for U.S. title, War Machine vs. Tonga & Loa vs. Smith & Archer for IWGP tag titles

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Big Japan concluded its tag team tournament on 10/15 at Korakuen Hall before 1,427 fans. They had a unique tournament as Big Japan has two styles on their shows, the death match style with weapons and blood, and strong style, where they have some of the most high quality powerhouse type matches. Each group was kept separate in the tournament, and the Strong style block was won by Daichi Hashimoto (Shinya’s son) & Hideyoshi Kamitani. The Death match block was won by Abdullah Kobayashi & Ryuji Ito. The final was a hardcore rules match which Hashimoto & Kamitani won

Stardom started its annual tag team tournament on 10/14 with AMZ & Starlight Kid, Kelly Klein & Bea Priestly, Natsuko Tora & Shiki Shibusawa, Chardonnay & Scarlett Bordeaux, Konami & Hiromu Mimura, Kagetsu & Hana Kimura, Yuko Bito & Jungle Kyona and Io Shirai & HZK. Stardom ran Korakuen Hall on 10/17 drawing 725 fans for Bito retaining the Wonder of Stardom title going to a 30:00 draw with Takumi Iroha. They are returning on 11/19 with Bito defending against Shirai.

HERE AND THERE: Marvin Nelson, who wrestled as Jimmy Jones and Burrhead Jones in the 60s, 70s and 80s, mostly in the Carolinas and Georgia, as a prelim wrestler, passed way on 10/15 at the age of 80 in a new York hospital. Nelson grew up working the cotton fields in Berkeley County in South Carolina. He noted that as a prelim wrestler, it was tough as sometimes on the road he had to spend nights in the car or the bus station because he needed to save money. Nelson was the cousin of Carey Lloyd, better known as Rufus R. Jones, who was a major star. The two trained together before wrestling, and both worked together as a team in the WWWF in the 60s and later in the Carolinas in the 70s. Jones was mostly just enhancement unless he teamed with Rufus, and also had a 1976 angle with Blackjack Mulligan

; . While on Howard Stern, Billy Corgan touched on pro wrestling, saying he bought the NWA, and called it the oldest recognized wrestling organization in the world. He brought up putting $1.8 million into TNA, that he filed a suit and did get all his money back. He said that they would be running shows by spring 2018

It’s pretty clear Flo Slam was an expensive and failed experiment, as they canceled their deal with wXw right before the tag team tournament. They did it without even telling wXw, as wXw contacted Flo Slam a few days before the weekend to them to ask a question and then were told the deal was off. In the tag team tournament, they had a battle of LAX members as Homicide & Low Ki faced EYFBO (who are LAX in Impact) which was a hot match. David Starr & Jurn Simmons vs. Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani was said to be I the **** range. EYFBO also had a great match with the Briscoes and Homicide & Low Ki had a great match with Walter & Timothy Thatcher. The best match was the finals where Walter & Thatcher beat Jurn Simmons & David Starr in 21:25 when Thatcher used a choke on Starr. IPW U.K., the other promotion on Flo Slam, broadcast its show over the weekend free on Facebook instead. It had been originally scheduled for Flo Slam. They will also be starting a streaming service

From the WrestleCon side of WrestleMania, the update for events at the Ernest Morial Convention Center is Wildkat Sports (Luke Hawx’s promotion from Louisiana) at 6 p.m. and the WrestleCon Supershow at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday. Friday will have The Crash at Noon, Revolution Pro at 4 p.m. and Impact at 9 p.m. Saturday will have Pro Wrestling Revolver (Sami Callihan’s promotion) at 11 a.m., Combat Zone Wrestling Best of the Best tournament at 4 p.m. and a late night, as in around 11:30 or midnight House of Hardcore show. The idea for House of Hardcore is they are going super late night trying to get people who are attending the NXT or ROH shows at night, and give them one more show to see

The WWN side has now announced for events at the Pontchartrain Convention Center, that Thursday will have Evolve at 8 p.m. and Beyond Wrestling at 11:55 p.m., for Friday they’ll have Progress at Noon, Evolve at 4 p.m., WWN Supershow at 8 p.m. and Joey Janela’s Spring break at 11:55 p.m.; and Saturday will have Progress at Noon, Shimmer at 4 p.m., Style Battle at 8 p.m. and Kaiju Big Battel at 11:55 p.m

Wrestling still hasn’t returned to Puerto Rico after the hurricane because the island is still in touch bad shape. Today less than 30 percent of the people have clean water. The 10/30 show there with Zack Sabre Jr. was canceled

Tetsuya Naito will be wrestling A.R. Fox for Michael Elgin’s Glory Pro Wrestling for its one-year anniversary show on 2/18 in Alton, IL

House of Hardcore will start streaming live on Twitch with its 11/18 show from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. All future shows will be on Twitch

Mil Mascaras did an interview and it was brought up that two of his nephews, Alberto (El Patron) and Guillermo (El Hijo de Dos Caras) feel he’s too old to be in the ring. Most people think that. He was also asked about Alberto's claim that he was a bigger star than Mascaras ever was. Mascaras said both nephews were ignorant and said that they don’t have the wisdom that comes with age. He said that he traveled all over the world, and unlike Alberto, he wrestled the biggest names all over the world while Alberto only wrestled talent from within his home promotion. He said that he considers himself a wrestler while his nephews are sports entertainers. He also said that his brother, Dos Caras, is very respectful but that his kids are nothing like him

AAW held its Jim Lyman Memorial tournament this past weekend, on 10/13 and 10/14, in Berwyn, IL, before full houses of 400 fans each night. Michael Elgin pinned Jeff Cobb in the finals in 20:01 with a burning hammer bomb. This likely sets up Elgin vs. their champion, Rey Fenix. It was a loaded up tournament with Elgin beating Penta 0M with a burning hammer in 19:46 in the first round, and then beat his student, Myron Reed, in 13:29 with a power bomb in the second round. Cobb had beaten Zachary Wentz and AR Fox to reach the finals. Matches that got a lot of positive buzz were first night bouts with Zema Ion vs. Andrew Everett, Mark Haskins vs. Eddie Kingston, Elgin vs. Penta 0M and what was called an easy **** match with Keith Lee & Shane Strickland vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Matt Riddle and the AAW title match where Rey Fenix pinned Trevor Lee. On the second night, top matches included Sami Callihan vs. Haskins, Elgin vs. Ion and the finals

PWG is running All-Star weekend this weekend with shows on 10/20 and 10/21. The 10/20 show is sold out, including standing room, after it making news by being the first PWG show in about three years not to instantaneously sell out. When they revamped the card and added Penta 0M & Fenix vs. Cobb & Matt Riddle for the PWG tag titles, the tickets then sold out. The first night has Adam Brooks (an Australian wrestler getting his first shot after doing a ****½ match with Will Ospreay) vs. Mark Haskins, Travis Banks vs. Flash Morgan Webster, Joey Janela vs. Trevor Lee, Keith Lee vs. Jonah Rock, Ricochet vs. Walter, Flamita vs. Sammy Guevara vs. Rey Horus and the Penta & Fenix vs. Cobb & Riddle. The 10/21 show has Matt Sydal vs. Horus, Banks vs. Trent Baretta, Janela vs. Marty Scurll, Young Bucks vs. Webster & Haskins, Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Walter and Chuck Taylor vs. Ricochet for the PWG title. However, Banks on Twitter said that in attempting to renew his working visa, he had to send his passport, and it’s not back, so he won’t be able to get into the country for his two matches

“Blade Runner 2049,” with Dave Bautista, was second at the box office this past weekend doing $15,492,244 giving it a domestic two-week total of $60,970,631. Those numbers are well below projections that would have had it closer to $95 million at this point. It is doing well overseas with a worldwide total of $157,995,840. Bautista has signed on for a voice role in an animated movie, Groove Tails,” which stars Jamie Foxx. It’s a movie about mice who compete in street dancing competitions. Bautista is currently busy shooting “Avengers 4.

Court Bauer is considering doing monthly MLW shows in Florida, based in Orlando, but also running other markets like Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville. He promoted the MLW name using major names and having television from 2002 to 2004. His next show is 12/7 with Matt Riddle vs. Tom Lawlor

Sports Illustrated had an embarrassing list of the 50 fittest athletes in the world. Any article of that type is going to be silly because the reality is guys train for the demands of their sport and when it comes to fitness, marathoners and triathletes are going to be more fit than just about anyone else, and for all-around functional fitness a decathlete would be as well, as would long distance bicycle racers, soccer players at the top level and tennis players. Baseball and football players, even if they train hard, are not going to be close to as fit. Anyway, some notable names on the list were Conor McGregor at No. 9, which is a joke considering his m.o. is that he gets tired midway through a fight. Geez, Floyd Mayweather’s strategy was based on the idea that by round eight he’d be gassed and it worked. Jordan Burroughs was No. 10, and world class wrestlers are fit in a different way because they have to go almost all out for six minutes and in their own way they are very fit. Gennady Golovkin was listed at No. 11, which is notable since he lost his last few rounds with Canelo Alvarez just a few weeks ago. Demetrious Johnson was listed at No. 15, and at least if you were going to pick a fighter, he would be the guy, since MMA is far more taxing because it includes wrestling, which is more tiring than boxing, and he’s gone 25 minutes and the guy never gets tired. John Cena was listed at No. 24 which is such a joke. I mean, he’s a big guy who is really strong and he usually doesn’t get tired doing pro wrestling matches, but there are plenty of wrestlers who go harder and longer at a faster pace and don’t get tired. The very idea that when they put together a list they had to pick famous stars from different sports and picked McGregor and Cena, and Cena because they clearly had to pick one pro wrestler (listing his credential of 16-time WWE champion as equivalent to Cam Newton’s NFL MVP award or Johnson’s UFC flyweight title is really sad for credibility). On the women’s side, they listed Claressa Shields at No. 6, Holly Holm at No. 12 (to her credit, I haven’t seen her gas out in fights but it’s not like she fights at a pace where nobody else can keep up and starts tearing people up in late rounds like Joanna Jedrzejczyk), Karolina Kowalkiewicz at No. 22, Charlotte Flair at No. 29 (who is a good athlete who trains hard, but a very fit pro wrestler is not going to have fitness at the level of a competition world class athlete in a sport where fitness is paramount), and they also had Danica Patrick, a race car driver, on the list as well

Evolve tried out a lot of new people on its weekend shows on 10/14 in Queens, NY and 10/15 in East Haven, CT. Without the Flo Slam money, things are very different economically. Some new talent included Dominic Garrini, Rayo, Brandon Watts, a three-some called The End of Parrow & Odinson & Drennan, Shane Mercer, Mikey Webb, Cyrus Satin and Jarek 1:20. Expect to see more from Mercer and Jarek

Gabe Sapolsky’s big surprise is an attempt to change Evolve. He said booking shows filled with top indie stars right now aren’t profitable and they can’t keep doing the same thing. His original idea for the Evolve style was the stuff that guys like Timothy Thatcher, Drew Gulak and Biff Busick (Oney Lorcan) were doing but they’re all gone. The first night main event saw Keith Lee beating Matt Riddle to win the WWN title in a last man standing match. Main event was said to be excellent and Zack Sabre Jr.’s match with Jaka was also said to e good. The next night, Lee vs. Darby Allin, Riddle vs. Fred Yehi and Sabre vs. Tracy Williams were all said to be strong. The next shows are 12/9 in Queens, NY and 12/10 in Melrose, MA with Walter coming in

Now that he’s no longer writing for WWE, Jimmy Jacobs is back wrestling with his first announced booking being on 11/12 in Somerville, MA for Beyond Wrestling

Scott D’Amore’s Border City Wrestling, which has a strong Impact affiliation right now considering D’Amore is on the creative team, ran a loaded up show at St. Clair College in Windsor, ONT on 10/14 with Rey Mysterio Jr. & Cody Deaner, managed by Santino Marella, beating Kongo Kong & RJ Cit, managed by D’Amore, in the main event. Impact tag champions Dave & Jake Crist beat Phil Atlas & Brent Banks, Impact champion Eli Drake beat A-1, and WWE U.K. champion Pete Dunne beat Aiden Prince

Sheldon Goldberg, the promoter of New England Championship Wrestling, who suffered a broken right shoulder in a fall, after consulting with a trauma surgeon last week, the decision was made to not do surgery and try and rehab it through physical therapy

A Mucha Lucha Atlanta show on 10/8 in Norcross, GA drew more than 1,000 fans bringing in Caristico and Rush from Mexico. Rush won a three-way main event to win their title over Caristico and Mecha Wolf, who is Mr. 450 in Crash.

EUROPE: What appears to be the debut of a weekly live Thursday night prime time wrestling show on FreeSports in the U.K. will be a 3/8 show in Aberdeen, Scotland. Five Star Wrestling, which announced a big tour last year of major arenas, and then bailed out, giving bogus reasons, canceling every show and leaving area wrestlers furious, is the promotion. They announced Rob Van Dam as their first major show

The Revolution Pro show on 11/9 in London at Bethnal Green has Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Hirooki Goto & Will Ospreay, Tetsuya Naito vs. Marty Scurll, Yoshi-Hashi & Rocky Romero vs Chris Brookes & Travis Banks, Matt Riddle vs. Desperado, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Keith Le and Yuji Nagata vs. Zack Gibson. The 11/10 show in Walthamstow has the first ever meeting of Suzuki vs. Riddle.

LUCHA UNDERGROUND: The final episode of the season, and perhaps the show, aired on 10/18. It’s unclear how long people will be held to their contracts. The case of Ricochet and Rey Mysterio Jr. are different since both men’s contracts expired with this season, so they will both be free agents in January. A lot of the talent wants out, and believe that since they haven’t been paid since the summer of 2016, that the contracts are void. But nobody, including WWE, is testing that and offering deals to those guys until they get releases because nobody wants the legal problem. If the show isn’t renewed, there is a lot of good talent on the free agent market and even though WWE is making money and ROH and New Japan have both grown, the latter two already are overloaded with talent, and while I could see ROH making a play for guys like Penta 0M and Fenix, or perhaps others, there’s a finite number of people they can probably add. WWE can add as many as they want, but WWE is cutting back on spending to get their profit margins up and it’s not that there is a hiring freeze (although that term has been given to me when it comes to some departments), but they are very judicious in who they sign and most of the offers are not big money offers. The group that would benefit the most from the guys becoming free agents is The Crash, since Konnan was heavily involved in the initial recruiting for Lucha Underground before they got rid of him, and when they are released, it would allow him to use that talent if he can get television in both the U.S. and Mexico. Of course as we all have seen, getting television is a big if.

ROH: Mark Briscoe suffered a nasty dislocated elbow on the 10/13 show in Pittsburgh. He was wrestling Hiromu Takahashi and he did a forward roll that he does in just about every match, and the elbow popped out. One of the things I’ve noticed is that the some of the guys who do crazy things or take a lot of punishment, and Mark does a lot of big bump spots, for whatever reason, they often get hurt doing nothing. It does make sense that the crazy stuff makes you more susceptible. But it’s like Honma, who worked a really hard style for decades, and seemed fine, and then ended up nearly paralyzed taking a draping DDT that looked like any other draping DDT. Briscoe rolled out of the ring and was in great pain. The referee checked on him and the match was immediately stopped, which is serious, because the Briscoes are the type of guys who will just keep going and ignore injuries most of the time. He had to spend all night in the hospital and then flew home. The belief at this point is that he will be out of action eight to ten weeks

Joe Koff this past week in an interview with the AV Club said that ROH would have a streaming service launched by sometime in early 2018. He said that if ROH is perceived by people as a step to get to WWE, “I’m not sure that’s a terrible thing. They have their own developmental program, but it seems like the guys that come from ROH have somewhat more cachet.” I think that’s pretty obvious because if Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly had never become stars in ROH, it’s unlikely either would have gotten anywhere close to the level of push they’re getting now. Another quote that a lot of people have talked about was him mentioning he’s asked a lot if ROH is helped a lot due to its connection with New Japan and he said he wondered if the press is asking in Japan whether ROH is the reason why New Japan is so great. No, I don’t think the Japanese press is asking that

One of the things notable on the tour is that they’ve changed the booking of the six-man titles. The deal is that they have made it Freebird rules, which they now call Bullet Club rules, which means that any combination of Bullet Club members can defend the belts. The Young Bucks & Adam Page were the team that won the title and had been defending them. But in Buffalo, it was the Bucks & Kenny Omega who defended them. That was at least close. But in Pittsburgh on the second night of he tour, it was Omega & Cody & Marty Scurll, which meant that there was a title match with a trio where none of the three had been the listed champions. I know titles mean nothing and a trios title is never going to be that serious. As a fan I can accept if they have one member as a replacement for a reason, such as if one of the three has a grudge match so the other two have to defend the title with a new partner. I’m not in favor of it, but that can make sense. But having three different guys defending the title than the listed champions just kills any credibility and meaning the titles would have

They are doing four weeks of television tapings on 10/20 in Philadelphia at the 2300 Arena for a show called Philadelphia Excellence. Matches announced are Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley defending the tag titles against War Machine, Silas Young vs. Jonathan Gresham, Matt Taven vs. Flip Gordon, Punishment Martinez vs. Josh Woods, Deonna Purrazzo vs. Karen Q and an appearance by Bully Ray, plus Cody and the Young Bucks. The show was having to be rewritten due to the injury to Mark Briscoe and because Will Ospreay returned to the U.K. due to a family emergency and will be missing the show. Because of the way both were involved in the original booking, it forced major changes across the board

Matthew Massie Sr., the father of the Young Bucks, who does a lot of the music for the “Being the Elite” show, has released a single called “Cease and Desist.” Give that family credit, as best I can tell they are the first people to actually make money from a legal threat for WWE

The tour opened on 10/12 in Buffalo. Deonna Purrazzo beat Sumie Sakai in 8:06 with a Fujiwara armbar. Rhett Titus & Will Ferrara beat Shaheem Ali & Leon St. Giovanni with a combination top rope superplex and big splash in 9:15. Kushida beat Page in 9:56 with a hoverboard lock into a superplex with him holding onto the hoverboard lock for the submission. Jay Lethal beat Frankie Kazarian in 13:17 with the Lethal injection. Lethal got a big reaction. Silas Young came out to do commentary and watch Minoru Suzuki. Suzuki & Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. beat Mark Briscoe & War Machine in 17:53. The crowd sang some of Suzuki’s theme. Well, the last line, which is the only thing almost anyone knows and it’s the only line they sing in Japan as well. It would be pretty hard to sing the whole song since it’s in Japanese. Crowd was going crazy for Suzuki and for some of War Machine spots. Very hot crowd for this, ending with Suzuki pinning Briscoe in 17:53 with the Gotch piledriver. Young was yelling at Suzuki to notice him but Suzuki paid no attention to him. Bully Ray came out and got a gigantic reaction with ECW chants. He put over the idea the injuries from Jay Briscoe could be career ending injuries. The crowd threw streamers like crazy at him and he was cheered. He was very convincing. Jay Briscoe wasn’t even on the tour this week. Mandy Leon beat Jenny Rose with a pump handle driver in 8:23. Leon kissed Colt Cabana after the match to get a reaction. Hiromu Takahashi beat Christopher Daniels in 13:21 with a triangle submission. This was all about Darryl comedy. The Darryl gimmick was way over with fans chanting, lots of Darryls in the crowd. Crowd went crazy when Daniels bit Darryl. Daniels hit Takahashi with Darryl, which led to Takahashi making a Superman comeback. After the match, Darryl punched Daniels who sold it like he was knocked out. Cody & Scurll beat Yoshi-Hashi & Tory Yano in 9:43 when Cody pinned Yano with crossroads after a low blow. Yano seemed shocked at how over he was. Punishment Martinez beat Will Ospreay in 13:00 in a super match as Martinez stayed with Ospreay. Main event saw Young Bucks & Omega face The Kingdom. The Omega reaction was huge. Fans chanted One sweet. The Young Bucks said they were doing Freebird rules so this was for the six-man titles. There was a loud “cease and desist” chant. The finish was a One Winged Angel into the Indy taker, but they named it the One wing Meltzer driver in 24:44. After the match there was a big Jimmy Jacobs chant. Omega thanked the fans for the reception and said originally he was only working Chicago but the law of supply and demand got him for the whole week. Matt started talking about the Invasion of Raw. The funny part of that is that the whole Raw invasion would have been a cute pop and forgotten, and WWE really made it so much bigger than it was based on the reaction. Matt talked about how he won’t get fired for taking a photo with his friend. Matt talked about how the fans here feed their families, and in another knock at WWE, Nick said how they will be with their families on Christmas (a shot at the WWE wrestlers who have to work this year on Christmas, which most aren’t happy about). Fans started a “F*** Vince” chant and Matt talked about how Vince takes the fun away from the fans and the fans started chanting “Too sweet.” Omega then started quoting from Brave Heart about never taking away their freedom

The 10/13 show in Pittsburgh opened with Shaheem Ali & St. Giovanni beating One Mean Team, which was Brian Johnson & Justin Pusser. Hiromu Takahashi beat Mark Briscoe in the match where Briscoe was injured. They had only gone a few minutes,. Takahashi was throwing kicks in the corner and Briscoe rolled out of the ring. The referee checked on him and then stopped the match. Chuckie T & Baretta beat Titus & Ferrara. They were supposed to face Daniels & Kazarian, but Daniels & Kazarian came out in street clothes and just said that they weren’t going to wrestle on the show, which was weird. Titus & Ferrara then came out to replace them. Baretta pinned Titus for the win. Lethal pinned White with the Lethal injection in a long match that built really well. This was a Japanese type match where both took a lot of punishment, and both after the match sold what a grueling match it was. Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley retained the tag titles over Young Bucks and Marseglia & O’Ryan. The match was super hot and ended when Sabin pinned Matt Jackson with a cradle out of nowhere. Mandy Leon & Rose & Purrazzo beat Britt Baker & Sumie Sakai & Faye Jackson when Purrazzo used an armbar on Jackson. Kenny King won a six-way over Martinez, Page, Josh Woods, Taven and Kushida. King pinned Woods after two sloppy Royal Flushes. The rules were that if anyone beat King, they’d get an immediate title shot, so they did the surprise finish of King winning clean. War Machine beat Archer & Smith in a non-title match. So this should set up an IWGP tag title match at some point. Rowe pinned Archer after fallout. Bully Ray did his interview talking about a head injury and said that he doesn’t know if he’ll ever wrestle again. Suzuki beat Young in a good match. There was a ref bump and Smith interfered. Suzuki hit Young with a chair and used a Gotch piledriver for the pin. Main event saw Cody & Omega & Scurll keep the trios titles over Chaos, Ospreay & Yano & Yoshi-Hashi. The match went 20:00 and the crowd was going nuts the entire time. Omega was clearly the star of the show. The Young Bucks & Page got involved near the end. Scurll beat Yano with the chicken wing for the finish. The show ended with Cody and Omega doing a promo taunting the WWE and Omega doing his signature “Good bye and good night.

The Columbus show was done in the afternoon because they wanted to avoid going head-to-head with the Saturday night Ohio State football game. The show opened with Daniels & Kazarian doing an interview, saying they are responsible for the sellout crowds and said that Sabin & Shelley were dodging them, so the were going to beat the other two members of Seek and Destroy. Daniels & Kazarian beat White & Jonathan Gresham when White was pinned after Celebrity Rehab. White losing could tie into speculation that Switchblade who is coming to New Japan later this year could be White’s big return. King came out for an interview and said with Mark Briscoe hurt, he would face both members of the B team of the Bullet Club, Scurll & Page, by himself. Scurll said there was as reason King couldn’t get a date (referring to his appearance on “The Bachelor”), and said he could choose anyone to be his partner. Cabana, a fan, a referee or a TV announcer. Cabana, who has been working as a TV announcer, then came out and agreed to team with King. Lethal beat Hiromu Takahashi, winning with a Lethal injection in a great match. They did some hard chops exchange. Sabin & Shelley kept the tag titles over Young & Bruiser. Sabin & Shelley were doing some Randy Savage tribute stuff because Savage was born in Columbus, even though few know that. The Machine Guns retained with a combination top rope crossbody and a neckbreaker on Bruiser. Yoshi-Hashi & Yano & Ospreay beat Archer & Smith & Suzuki. It was a surprise finish as Ospreay hit Archer with a springboard forearm and Archer fell into a roll-up by Yoshi-Hashi. They probably gave Yoshi-Hashi the win here because of his iPPV match with Omega the next night. Sumie Sakai beat Holidead with a small package. Shane Taylor pinned Josh Woods with a sit out tombstone piledriver. King & Cabana beat Scurll & Page. King sold most of the way. There was a comedy spot where Scurll went to do the finger break spot on Cabana, but Cabana pulled an oven mitt from his tights as a counter. He then slapped them around with it. King pinned Page after the Royal flush. This really came across as trying to push King to the next level as a star. Cody beat Kushida to retain the ROH title. Cody did lots of stalling early, trying to get Kushida to kiss the ring and arguing with fans. Cody kept jumping out of the ring when Kushida would get momentum. It built to a good match and the crowd was really hot by the end, when Kushida went for his back to the future but Cody reversed and hit crossroads for the pin. Main event saw Bucks & Omega beat Chuckie T & Baretta & Flip Gordon. They booked the match to make Gordon shine as a new high flying star. A lot of comedy until they started turning it up in the end. Scurll, Page and Cody all came out to interfered but eventually were kicked out. Taylor & Baretta double choke slammed one of the Young Bucks off the stage through a table. Taylor & Baretta both went through a table after superkicks. Gordon was then given a Meltzer driver on the floor with Nick coming off the stage. He sold it like he was out cold. They dragged his limp body to the ring and Omega pinned him with the One Winged Meltzer driver.

IMPACT: Jake Crist, who holds the tag title with brother Dave, and are scheduled to defend against LAX, as in all the members in a 5150 Street fight at the 11/5 Bound for Glory event is out with a broken foot. The belief is he’ll be fine by the time of the show

Garza Jr. made an interesting observation, saying that right now there is better Lucha Libre in the U.S. than in Mexico City, and how a lot of the companies in Mexico are now using the American model and running shows like the U.S. independent scene

The angle to set up the Stephan Bonnar & Moose vs. Bobby Lashley & King Mo match at Bound for Glory saw Moose go to the American Top Team gym in Boca Raton and a bunch of the fighters beat him up and Lashley threw him out. He went there because of the idea that Lashley and the ATT guys beat him down and then Lashley quit pro wrestling, so he had to get his revenge on Lashley where he knew he was. This led to the second week where Moose and a mystery guy, who turned out to be Bonnar, showed up at the ATT gym at night when everyone was gone except a receptionist and the doors were unlocked, and they took pipes and bashed in the trophy case and tipped out the merchandise and left with some title belts and merchandise, all the while the receptionist is smiling and not calling the police or anything. Bonnar has very little pro wrestling experience but he’s good talking on television and has the natural facial expressions so he was actually quite good in the segment

The company will be taping a “One Night Only” PPV show for a few months down the line on 10/21 in Shawnee, OK at the Fire Lake Arena, which will be the return of Alberto Del Rio, and even though in storyline, he’s left TNA, Bobby Lashley will be on the show since it won’t be airing for months. It’s possible not all of these matches will air, but the bouts scheduled are Eli Drake vs. Montego Seeka, MVP vs. Damon Windesor, Ethan Carter III vs. Jack Swagger, Gail Kim vs. Rebel, LAX vs Young Guns, Ross & Marshall Von Erich vs. Arrow Club and Trevor Lee vs. DJZ vs. Malice vs. Fuego del Sol

The promotion is trying to mend fences with different groups, including ROH.

UFC: Michael Bisping has gone into heavy promotional mode for his 11/4 Madison Square Garden fight with Georges St-Pierre. Bisping, who at 38 knows he’s only got a few fights left and this will be the biggest payday of his career, is going all-out on the promotion. GSP historically works well as a drawing card with guys like that, because he’s the great contrast. The big question is will GSP bring back his old fan base, particularly in Canada. This will be the second biggest UFC PPV of the year unless Conor McGregor fights on 12/30, of what has been really a disastrous PPV year. But this one is really uncharted water. I can’t see it doing less than 500,000 buys, but it also wouldn’t shock me if GSP brings his old fan base back, with the story of going for a title in a weight class above after four years off, that it could do appreciably more than that. If this was 2012 and somehow Bisping was middleweight champion and GSP was challenging, it would do a minimum 900,000 buys. As noted here a few weeks back, UFC did a survey of recent PPV buyers and found that to the McGregor and Rousey crowd, who largely came to the sport after GSP left, that most have no connection to GSP and many don’t really know the name. But as a general rule, a giant draw coming back after a long absence going for the title is a great money storyline. And it’s a hard fight to call. When I envision it playing out, I see Bisping as being too big and having good enough takedown defense to stop GSP, and beating him standing. I think GSP’s added size will work against him, he’ll be slower and get tired faster, and no matter what he says, he’s not going to be better at 36 than he was at 30. Still, Bisping is beatable. Dan Henderson was 46 and nearly beat him. GSP was one of the most talented fighters in the history of the sport, I’d say easily top five overall of all-time. As of the weekend, there were about 3,000 tickets left for sale in the primary market, which some will see as a bad sign, but this was a high scale. The cheapest priced tickets are $245, but there were very few priced under $300. There are tickets as cheap as $200 on the secondary market. Bisping played heel and went hard at him, even playing the steroid card, accusing him of using steroids and that he went to the mountains on vacation to avoid USADA. You could see GSP was frustrated when they went in that direction as he hates the steroid label. They also had a backstage argument , totally instigated by Bisping as an attempt to get in GSP’s head

Regarding the biggest money fight UFC could make as far as MMA goes, which would be McGregor vs. GSP, Dana White was asked by TSN about it and said it would be a year-and-a-half down the line before they could even think about that fight. On the St-Pierre side, if he beats Bisping, he is contractually obligated to defend the title against Robert Whittaker. He has said if he loses, or when he loses next, he will retire, but Dana White doesn’t see St-Pierre retiring on a loss. GSP said he would never ask for a fight with McGregor due to the size difference, but that if the fight was offered, he would be honored to take it. White said he think if GSP loses, that he’ll go back to 170.

The documentary “Conor McGregor: Notorious,” is being released theatrically in the U.S. for one night, a Wednesday, 11/8 airing in theaters across the country. It will first be released in Ireland on 11/1. The documentary, which was shot over the last four years, covers McGregor’s life before UFC, where he was an apprentice plumber needing government assistance, living in his mother’s spare bedroom with his girlfriend, and climaxes with the Floyd Mayweather fight that made him somewhere in the range of $100 million in one night. The release will also include an interview with McGregor that will be taped in Dublin at the world premiere of the movie. There will be plenty of UFC footage and tons of behind-the-scenes footage. The trailer looked really good

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Robbie Lawler was announced as the main event of the 12/16 FOX show from Winnipeg. The show is built around that fight and Glover Teixeira vs. Misha Cirkunov. Dana White said this match will determine who gets the next shot at welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. There is always the wild card if GSP or Conor McGregor would want to fight Woodley and no matter what, they’d get precedence, but McGregor may have already realized fighting at 170 isn’t in his best interest. Also announced for that show is Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas and Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Mike Perry. Aldo vs. Lamas is a lock for FOX itself. Ponzinibbio vs. Perry could be on the show as well. Aldo vs. Lamas was a weird fight to make as they had a 2014 featherweight title fight that Aldo won, and Lamas was somewhat timid and it wasn’t a good fight at all. Both are still top guys but it’s not a fight I’d ever thought I’d see again based on the first one. The one thing about both training is that with Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar as the 12/2 main event, while they wouldn’t be peaking exactly, it is a situation where if Holloway or Edgar are injured, you’d have Aldo hopefully ready and willing to sub if needed

While nothing has been announced, C.M. Punk is back in fight camp at Roufus Sport and getting ready

Julianna Pena, 28, the No. 3 ranked contender at women’s bantamweight behind Valentina Shevchenko and Holly Holm, announced this past week she was pregnant. Pena is also a television announcer for Combate Americas. Pena’s boyfriend is a police officer in Chicago and she moved from her home in Spokane, WA, to Chicago to be with him. Pena came one fight, a loss to Shevchenko, from getting a title fight with Amanda Nunes

One of the strangest back-and-forth Twitter deals involves Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm. The two aren’t signed to fight yet, but that is the direction UFC is looking. The problem is Cyborg of all people, is making steroid accusations. Cyborg noted that she just took her third test over the past month, and said she wanted a guarantee that Holm is being tested as much as she is, given her gym has a history, and asked to name a gym with more violations than JacksonWink. I think whatever gym is home to Jon Jones is going to be among the leaders in that category. Holm responded that, “I don’t mind fighters trying to promote fights, but let’s be real for a minute. She said she’s been tested by USADA and wants me to be tested just as much, and she probably should have looked on their public records on the USADA web page and seen I’ve been tested nine times compared to her eight. I’m in no race. I really don’t care. I just know I compete clean and they test me all the time. So, I just never needed an applause for passing my tests. In the meantime, I’ll just spend my time training and she can spend her time complaining and making false accusations and false memes.

This week’s show is a Fight Pass card on a Saturday morning and afternoon from Gdansk, Poland. The show starts at 11:45 a.m. Eastern time or 8:45 a.m. on the West Coast. The lineup is Josh Emmett (11-1) vs. Felipe Arantes (18-8-1), Aspen Ladd (5-0) vs. Lina Lansberg (7-2), Warlley Alves (10-2) vs. Salim Touahri (10-1), Artem Lobov (13-13-1) vs. Andre Fili (16-5), Sam Alvey (31-9) vs. Ramazan Emeev (15-3), Damian Stasiak (10-4) vs. Brian Kelleher (17-8), Anthony Hamilton (15-8) vs. Adam Wieczorek (8-1), Nasrat Haqparast (8-1) vs. Marcin Held (22-7), Oskar Picchota (9-0-1) vs. Jonathan Wilson (7-2), Devin Clark (8-1) vs. Jan Blachowicz (19-7), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-2) vs. Jodie Esquibel (6-2) and a main event of Donald Cerrone (32-9) vs. Darren Till (15-0-1) which is a chance for Till, who has looked great of late, to really take a huge career step up or not

Touahri, who has won his last five fights, four by knockout, is a Polish fighter who is a late replacement for Jim Wallhead, who pulled out due to an injury

This marks the start of a stretch with 12 events over the next 11 weeks, with a show every weekend and the first weekend of December has shows on both 12/1 in Las Vegas and 12/2 in Detroit. No time off until Christmas

Demetrious Johnson was bothered by a knee injury going into his fight with Ray Borg

Michelle Waterson vs. Tecia Torres and Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder have been added to the 12/2 show in Detroit which are two more name fights on what sounds like a strong show, but another show not likely to do much on PPV given the main event of Max Holloway vs Frankie Edgar

Jesse Taylor’s hearing and due process is over and it was announced he was suspended for one year for a positive test for Clomiphene on 8/22. It was announced he had failed the test last month but the substance isn’t released until due process has been completed. Clomiphene, the same substance that both Brock Lesnar and Jon Jones tested positive for in 2016, is usually used after the end of a steroid cycle, as it kick starts the body producing testosterone after the steroid cycle has caused the body to cut back or shut down its natural production

Luan Chagas, who was to face Niko Price on the 10/28 show in Sao Paulo, is out of action with a broken foot. Price will now face Vicente Luque

Walt Harris vs. Mark Godbeer, which was supposed to take place on 10/7 in Las Vegas at UFC 216, but Harris was moved up to face Fabricio Werdum on that show at the last minute, will now take place on the 11/4 show in Madison Square Garden

The Patrick Cummins vs. Corey Anderson fight on the MSG show is out. Cummins picked up a bad staph infection and at this point his IV antibiotics aren’t working on it, and he realized he doesn’t have enough time left to get in shape. Anderson was not sympathetic, saying on 10/17, “I’ve had staph before. It can be cured by Saturday.” Cummins had to pull out of a December 2016 fight

Edson Barboza said that he’s been offered and accepted a bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov for 12/30, and it’s now up to Nurmagomedov to accept

With the injury to Jeremy Kennedy, Alexander Volkanovsky will now face Humberto Bandenay on the 11/18 show in Sydney. Volkanovsky, who is 15-1, has a 12 fight win streak. Also on that show, Tim Means will replace Jesse Taylor, who failed a drug test, and take on Belal Muhammad

Rani Yahya vs. Aljamain Sterling, Benito Lopez vs. Albert Morales and Iuri Alcantara vs. Alejandro Perez have been added to the 12/9 show in Fresno.

BELLATOR: There is 10/20 show at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT, which has had a few changes at the last minute. The Gegard Mousasi vs. Alexander Shlemenko main event is still on, which would likely lead to Mousasi, if he won, getting a title shot at middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho. Brennan Ward vs. David Rickels, a major match for the local fans as Ward is a big draw and favorite there, is off due to Ward being injured. Rickels was then pulled from the show. Javier Torres also pulled out due to injury. He was to face Neiman Gracie. Gracie will now face Zak Bucia (18-8), making his Bellator debut. The other television matches are former area boxing star Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams, Ana Julaton vs. Lisa Blaine and Ryan Quinn vs. Marcus Surin

A.J. McKee replaces the injured James Gallagher in the main event of the 11/10 show in Dublin. Gallagher will face Brian Moore, a teammate of Gallagher’s from Ireland. Baby Slice, real name Kevin Ferguson Jr., the son of Kimbo, who trains with McKee and Aaron Pico, will also fight on this show

Jeremiah Lobiano, who was to face Gallagher in the Dublin main event, has been moved to the 11/17 show in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he’ll face Israeli star Noad Lahat.

OTHER MMA: The match that would have been one of the biggest fights of the era had it taken place 15 years ago, with Frank Shamrock and Kazushi Sakuraba, took place but little happened on 10/15 at the Rizin show in Fukuoka. Shamrock, 44, and Sakuraba, 48, had a grappling match which ended in a ten minute draw that never ended up on the ground. The two were in a clinch and Shamrock was able to block Sakuraba’s low takedowns, which obviously are not what they once were given his age and injuries. Shamrock tried to wear Sakuraba out in the clinch but that strategy didn’t work within the allotted ten minute time limit. Shamrock only had few weeks of training, after not doing any training at all in the fighting game since probably 2009 or 2010 (he did some training after his loss to Nick Diaz before coming to terms with the fact his injuries wouldn’t allow him to train hard enough to fight again), so given that and his age, you can only do so much. Rena (Kubota), who Rizin is pushing as a headliner because she’s a pretty girl who draws ratings, beat Andy Nguyen via knockout in 3:23 in the main event. King Reina (Reina Miura), who is coming off wins over Shayna Baszler and Jazzy Gabert, beat Crystal Stokes with the gimmick that Reina is 5-foot-2 but fights at 150-170 against much taller women; former UFC and Pride/Dream star Tatsuya Kawajiri, fighting at 139 in an attempt to make bantamweight, was knocked out at 1:00 of the second round against Gabriel Oliveira. Both the mother and son in the famed Yamamoto family lost. Erson Yamamoto, while a great age group wrestler growing up and they wanted him to be a big star because of the family name, was knocked out in 1:11 by Manel Kape. His mother lost via armbar at 2:26 of the second round to Irene Cabello. 44-year-old kickboxing legend Jerome LeBanner, who hasn’t fought in MMA since 2010, lost via submission to a scarf choke in 2:09. Two matches from the show aired live on the Fuji Network, which ended up being Rena vs. Nguyen and 19-year-old kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Yamato Fujita, a boxer who nearly made the Japanese Olympic team because the promotion is pushing Nasukawa as its biggest star for the future and it was a star kickboxer against a Japanese boxer, and the fans there still love that kind of a style mix. The show aired on a Sunday night from 7-10 p.m. and overall did a 7.1 rating, which in Japan means more than seven million viewers. The hardcore Japanese MMA fans were mad because none of the four who appeared on the live network show are strong MMA fighters, although Nasukawa is a top tier kickboxer. But they had three hours and it was all video features and the like built around the four people when they had plenty of time to show more fights with name fighters. The Nasukawa fight did a 10.3 rating and the Rena fight did a 9.9 rating. It is hard to understand why they didn’t put Miyu Yamamoto, Sakuraba and LeBanner’s fights on given how much time they had, but from a ratings standpoint the show was a success. The live show lasted eight hours, and had far too many fights

After being released by UFC last week based on his own request, Ian McCall will return on 12/29 for Rizin as part of its bantamweight tournament, with the shows on 12/29 and 12/31 at the Saitama Super Arena. The first round matches on 12/29 will have Kyoji Horiguchi vs. ?, Manel Kape (who just beat Erson Yamamoto on 12/15) vs. McCall, Takafumi Otsuka vs. Khalid Taha and Shintaro Ishiwatari vs Kevin Patshi. The semifinals and finals will be on the New Year’s Eve show

Khoury Gracie, the 20-year-old son of Royce Gracie, quietly debuted beating Ben Clark via decision on a show on 9/22 in Memphis. It’s notable that Royce Gracie’s son debuting fell so beneath the radar

The Combate Americas eight-man bantamweight tournament on 11/11 from Cancun, Mexico will have the semifinals and finals airing live at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time on Telemundo, which is the No. 2 Hispanic network in the U.S. It will be the first time Telemundo has ever aired live MMA. Telemundo will stream the entire show at www.TelemundoDeportes.com The first two rounds of the tournament will be three three minute long rounds, while the final will be three five minute rounds. There will be a blind draw of the brackets on 11/2. The eight fighters involved are John Castaneda (14-2), Ricky Palacios (9-1), Marcelo Rojo (12-4), Carlos Rivera (10-2), Mikey Eroswa (12-5), Marc Gomez (20-10), Andres Ayala (11-4) and Kevin Moreyra (4-1)

Greg Hardy, a former NFL star who was part of a domestic violence case in 2014 where his girlfriend claimed he assaulted her and threatened to kill her (the charges were later dropped when the alleged victim failed to testify), will make his MMA debut on an 11/4 show for the Rise of the Warrior promotion in Fort Pierce, FL. Hardy, 29, was dropped by the Carolina Panthers after the girlfriends claim was brought up. He ended playing in 2015 and 2016 with the Dallas Cowboys, but they cut him last year

Another unique name making his MMA debut on 10/27 in Lincoln, RI, for the CES promotion, is John Gotti III, who is the grandson of the famous John Gotti. The New York Times wanted to do a story on this but his father wouldn’t allow him to be interviewed.

WWE: WrestleMania tickets go on sale to the public on 11/17, but the travel packages will go on sale on 10/30 at Noon Eastern time at www.wrestlemaniatravel.com The travel packages include all WWE events of the week, including Fan Axxess, Hall of Fame, NXT Takeover, Raw and Smackdown. Tickets are priced from $35 to $2,000. The first nine rows are priced at $2,000, which includes a VIP stadium entrance and the commemorative WrestleMania chair

While doing media in India to promote the upcoming shows on 12/8 and 12/9, Mahal said that he wanted to defend his title against Cena at WrestleMania this year. With Smackdown having most of the weekend off, Mahal was sent to New Delhi, India to promote the shows. While there he met with Sachin Tendulkar, who is considered the greatest batsman in the history of the Indian cricket leagues and cricket is by far and away the biggest sport in the country. Tendulkar said he would be attending the 12/8 show

Although we noted this last week, Dana White was on Good Day New York to promote the Madison Square Garden show, and when asked about Conor McGregor at WrestleMania said it wasn’t true. He said he had text messages from Vince McMahon to prove it. The text messages from McMahon said that any talk of McGregor with WWE was news to him and that it may be a good idea someday, but not now. It’s well known WWE wanted McGregor for last year’s WrestleMania and they were far apart on price. This year it makes no sense since they are committed at this point to Ronda Rousey and it would be a waste of money and overkill to use McGregor on the same show

Austin Aries claimed that he already had commitments where he would make more money the next six weeks working indies than he did in his last four months in WWE. It doesn’t always last that way. In the indies, when someone leaves WWE there is a big demand to use him, and sometimes, like with Cody, who is still the exception in the sense he’s doing better away, guys get good reps and don’t charge too much and can continue to get full-time bookings at that price. With others, the demand falls and you have to drop your price or you won’t get a full schedule of bookings. It’s a situation that changes as What Culture being out of the picture, at least at the level it was, that dries up. ROH is more viable than ever but there is still a limitation of how many high dollar people they can afford running the size of buildings they do, but Impact is cost cutting heavily, Lucha Underground, if it does survive, isn’t going to be offering big money and it’s not something anyone should be banking their future around. New Japan is over loaded

. The company will be reporting third quarter earnings on 10/25. The predictions right now are in the line of $173 million in revenue and $15 million in profits for the quarter. Both would be up from last year, but things should be up since they continue to increase in television rights fees and they are spending less on new network programming while likely increasing revenue. If the last quarter was as successful when it comes to PPV interest as last year (and this year should be well ahead of that given the main events) the numbers would be about 1,009,000 U.S. network subscribers and 402,000 outside the U.S. for 1,501,000 total. If the numbers end up higher, and it would be a major disappointment if they didn’t, because the booking on the Raw side as far as the main events go, and it’s the main events that drive the number, has been so much more interesting this year, then it shows this year’s PPVs had more interest than last year. If they end up lower, like last quarter when growth was virtually non-existent due to a record setting number of cancellations, I’d say that’s a really bad sign given this quarter had Lesnar vs. Joe, the SummerSlam four-way and Lesnar vs. Strowman/Reigns vs. Cena PPV main events, which all felt like they had above the usual levels of interest. Last year’s similar major PPVs in the quarter were Reigns vs. Rollins vs. Ambrose, Lesnar vs. Orton and Owens vs. Rollins, which is nowhere near as strong and caused declines of 67,000 subscribers between 7/1 and 9/30. Really, this year’s PPVs should wind up with an increase, but staying even would be 1,568,000

Sean Waltman said that he talked to Neville a few months back and Neville told him he was very frustrated with how things were going. He said that you can make money and pay the bills, but if you love wrestling and it means as much to you as it does to people like Neville, creative satisfaction become important, whether it should be or not, and it can drive you crazy if you can’t perform up to the level of your ability. But Waltman said he thought Neville handled it wrong, as he should have taken his time rather than walked out, and if you wanted a release he should have asked for it. The situation with Neville remains up in the air. It’s clear he’s gone but it’s unknown what he’d be free to do and what his contract situation is. It’s funny because we have a grass is greener situation with a lot of people on both sides. Really, most, with the exception of the few key people who are making money on their own terms, would jump at the chance of being in WWE. Ricochet was doing great on the indie scene and everyone expects that’s his next move. Konnan mentioned that Ricochet told him what would be his final Crash date he can work (I believe the date was 12/15), but Konnan said he didn’t know if that meant he was signing with New Japan (guys who are full-time contracted New Japan regulars, which he wasn’t, can’t work for Crash) or WWE. WWE is where most assume he is going. WWE is the one where guys are not allowed to tell anyone over fear the contract will be rescinded that they are signed until WWE announces it first. On the flip side, Neville, who in many ways is similar to Ricochet, maybe not charisma-wise, but both are top tier in-ring workers who are spectacular flyers, after being there, he’d rather not be there. Neville, like Austin Aries, was unhappy that his match was left off the WrestleMania DVD and the ceiling that being in the 205 Live division leaves you underneath. He’s not talking publicly, and really can’t until he gets a release, but he is said to be very happy about his decision

Jax (Saveline Fanene, 33) has apparently taken a leave of absence from the promotion for personal reasons according to a number of reports going around and sources we have indicate that is accurate, but WWE has officially denied that story being accurate. She has been pulled from some appearances and among the wrestlers the word was she asked for a leave of absence for reasons not explained. She is still booked on the European tour and when asking company officials when she’s expected back on the road, and if she’ll be on the European tour, they said that she never left. There is talk about her being unhappy with her creative, which does make sense since her creative really hasn’t made sense of late. What is weird is that she tweeted on 10/16 about being excited for Raw, but she was never even at Raw. They had done an angle where she gave Bliss the electric chair and challenged her for the title, which they’d spent months building, and then she was back in almost a bodyguard role for Bliss a couple of weeks later, still aligned with her, with the angle forgotten, which made no sense. Most likely she would have been programmed with Banks, because Banks beating Fox clean last week on TV, only to set up a rematch where Banks won with the same tap out finish, to build up a PPV match feels like Banks was being built up for someone other than Fox. Others have indicated Banks vs. Jax was scheduled for the TLC show

All of this stuff in a short period of time has led to stories going around regarding a mass exodus from the company. I don’t buy that at all. There are guys who will explore options when their contracts are up, and really only a few of them. For the most part, unless you are young and single and not supporting a family or a special case, or somebody like Bryan who just loves wrestling and is determined to do so and WWE won’t let him (and he’s the only guy in the world in this situation), and you can make good money on the indies, I don’t see people making that decision on their own. It is possible there will be a guy here and there, and if I was in the position of not being used well, I’d explore it, but there’s not a lot of guys who can do better on the outside, especially now. The only reason to leave is if one is totally miserable and really wants to prove themselves, and if that’s the case, they probably could be happier and shouldn’t be scared of not being in WWE. Drew Galloway and Cody were major successes being gone, Galloway it wasn’t his choice, but in hindsight it ended up being the greatest thing for him. Cody was his choice but he had a plan set up and it probably worked out even better than his greatest expectations as a lot of things fell into place. But the speculation and rumors going around about a mass exodus are way overblown

Jericho will be hosting the Loudwire Music Awards which will air live on 10/24 at 10 p.m. Eastern on AXS TV. It will also be streamed live on Jericho’s Facebook page. The event will take place at the Novo in Los Angeles and will include musical performances by Avenged Severnfold, In This Moment, Anthrax and many others. There will be a lot of celebrities there including Sammy Hagar, Zack Wylde, Tony Ionmmi of Black Sabbath and The Miz

Brie Bella is targeting November to start training for a comeback and would like to be back in the ring by January. 

ickie James was honored this past weekend as she was inducted into the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame at the 17th annual ceremony on 10/14 in Niagara Falls, NY. She was also awarded song of the year for her song called “Shooting Blanks.

Jericho did an interview with the web site Metalinjection.net and had a lot of comments on Jimmy Jacobs. “Jimmy’s good and if I was there, I would’ve tried to help him out, but it’s not the smartest of moves. If I work at McDonalds and post a picture of me hanging out with guys from Wendy’s and hashtag `Wendy’s is great,’ McDonalds might not be too happy about it. I think Jimmy’s a smart guy and maybe wouldn’t surprise me if he knew something was going to happen. Maybe he was getting sick of it. I don’t know. I just know as soon as I saw that picture, I was just like `oof,’ with the hashtag #BCInvasion.’ You can’t do that. I mean, you can’t. Was it a fireable offense? Well, it’s not my decision. Obviously Vince though it was, which tells me there was probably some other stuff going on and that was the final straw. And I will say this, last year, 2016, Jimmy Jacobs was my co-writer on all of it. All of it. And the weeks he wasn’t there, I was like, `Ah, fuck, I don’t like this, I want Jimmy.’ So he’s very talented, and he really got me. I worked with him a few times and I went to Dave Kapoor (who was the head writer on Raw at the time) , `I want Scoville,’ which is his real name, Chris Scoville, on every Jericho promo. No one else. Because that’s how much I trusted his talent, his instincts.

Big Show is back in the gym training after undergoing minor hip surgery

Nikki Bella got 27 points on the 10/16 edition of Dancing with the Stars, She was tied for fourth place with that score out of the ten remaining teams

We’re told WWE is prioritizing the idea of a South American star. That’s probably where the Taynara Conti push comes from, because she looks like they want a star to look and is a real athlete. Cezar Bononi has the size and look, and picked up realistic selling, almost at Japan quality in spots, but he’s still very green

WWE announced the signing of Kavita Devi from India (who had reported her signing months ago) and Shadia Bseiso from Jordan. Devi was in the Mae Young Classic, and in proof of how much of YouTube viewing is from India, her match got 7.8 million views, a number so far ahead of every other match it wasn’t funny. For a comparison, the Baszler vs. Sane final did 207,000 views. It’s also another reason why you shouldn’t take YouTube viewer numbers that seriously in translating to money, because all those Indian views translate into almost nothing. Devi was a powerlifter who won a gold medal in the 2016 South Asia Games. She’s already being pushed as the first female wrestler from India to perform in WWE

Bseiso’s signing got mainstream publicity in a lot of major publications and web sites because Reuters covered it as the first Middle Eastern woman signed by WWE. It got the company a ton of pub in places that they normally wouldn’t be covered in. Bseiso grew up in Jordan, went to college in Lebanon and then moved to Dubai where she was working as a television host. She applied for the role as they were looking for a pretty girl host of a new WWE television show in Arabic that would air weekly highlights from Raw and Smackdown but would use local cut-ins to try and give it more of a local flavor. When she was going through casting, she had mentioned to the casting director that she loves competing in Jiu Jitsu tournaments. They alerted WWE, who saw her and with her background, asked her to try out to be a wrestler rather than a host, and she was brought to the recent Dubai tryout camp. She stood out at the tryout, not necessarily for her athletic ability, but supposedly everyone in the company after the tryout when asked, said she was the person who caught their eye. Both aren’t scheduled to come full-time to Orlando until January

This isn’t new as it was in the game last year, but the WWE 2K 18 game is using star ratings for matches. One reader picked up the new game and it has a new concept of points during matches, saying it’s fairly easy to get a two or a three star match, and tougher to get a four and five is especially hard. The points are based on targeting a specific limb or injuring a body part, reversals in key moments, high spots at the end, and getting timing down or submissions and near falls. Points are taken away for relying on the same move too often, going for weapons too early or trying to pin someone with high stamina too early or going for pins when someone is near the ropes

Adam Cole and girlfriend Britt Baker are going to be featured on the 10/22 edition of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” on CNN, airing at 9 p.m. Eastern time. It’s actually a travel show focusing on Pittsburgh but the host was intrigued by Baker, who is part-time pro wrestler, girlfriend of a pro wrestler, and a fourth-year dental student at the University of Pittsburgh, one year from graduation

WWE had a training camp this past week. Names at the camp were: Taishan Dong, 29, a 7-foot-tall boxer from China with a 6-0 record, known as the Great Wall, who at one time was signed by Oscar de la Hoya; Trish McNair, 28, is a U.S. army veteran who trained at the Team 3-D wrestling school and played college rugby; Weslye Saunders, 28, a 6-foot-6, 255-pound tight end who played three seasons in the NFL, with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011 and Indianapolis Colts in 2012 and 2013; Mandel Dixon,. A former University of Tulsa football player; Edward Ard, a 6-foot-8, 300 pound semi-pro football player; Munraj Sahota, the son of former Stampede Wrestling star Gama Singh, which means he’s the cousin of Jinder Mahal; Andrews Nakahara, 34, a Brazilian MMA fighter with a 5-4-2 record, who competed at a high level in karate through 2007 and went into MMA in 2008, who fought many times with the Dream promotion in Japan where he had losses to Kazushi Sakuraba and Ryo Chonan; Harpreet Singh, who wrestled in Chaotic Wrestling and New England Championship Wrestling; Ashley Lomberger (using that name) 31, who was Madison Rayne in TNA and is the wife of Josh Matthews (Josh Lomberger). Lomberger had been working in creative for the women in Impact Wrestling and was let go as part of recent budget cutting. We didn’t hear much about the camp but the one thing we did hear is that Madison Rayne was the most impressive, which actually makes sense given she’s the one with the most experience at doing this; Victor Ortiz, 27, who wrestles in Puerto Rico as Mike Mendoza, and is the grandson of El Vikingo. It’s a big surprise in Puerto Rico as Mendoza was a prelim wrestler who was nobody special and is thought to be not nearly on the level of some of the talent there like Mr. 450, who WWE may be straying from using due to knee injury he received allegedly while working a TV match for them, as Star Roger; Jeremey LaTour, who won Canadian national amateur championships in the 215 and 285 pound divisions; Jesse Sumsel, 26, a 6-foot-4, 315 pounder who played offensive line at Saginaw Valley State University; Alex Rohde, a West Coast independent wrestler known as Alexander Hammerstone, who I’ve seen wrestle a number of times and has a good look and physique; Johnathan Hatch, 24, who placed in the national Junior College tournament for Southwester Oregon JC; Bill Vavau, a 6-foot-4, 300 pound lineman from Utah State and who later played indoor football for the Colorado Crush and Spokane Empire; Shykeera Booker, a 23-year old CrossFit competitor; Logan Holler, a 26-year-old still active (she’s fought twice this year) woman boxer who has an 8-0 record on small shows in the Carolinas and was on the equestrian team at South Carolina University; John Washington, a 30-year-old independent wrestler for six years who uses the name Owen Travers on shows around the Michigan and Ohio area; Kareleen Allie, who wrestles under the name Karleena Gore in the Pacific Northwest, and is also a stunt woman; David Vidot, 27, who was a star rugby player in Australia’s National Rugby League who WWE has been in contact with for two years and it was well known there was interest. He had been brought to a previous tryout; Natalie Markova, a Russian fitness model who has wrestled in Shine, and started wrestling on an indie promotion in Russia and has since worked in the U.S., Japan and Europe.; Darley Dessmot, a New England independent wrestler; William Bradley, a 6-foot-4 , 235 pound bodybuilder and Navy veteran; Jeremiah Jones, a 280-pound former college football player at Northern Michigan University who later played in Canada and also indoor football; John Harltey, a U.S. Marine who trained under Brian Kendrick and was a machine gunner in the service; Karen Yu, 26, who wrestled as Karen Q, a Northeast independent wrestler who has been on ROH shows and has been wrestling for three years. She’s of Chinese ethnicity, which explains why they’d consider her valuable, and competed in volleyball in college; Sean Dawkins, a 6-foot-4, 235 pound two-time provincial high school wrestling champion who was also a competitor in bobsleigh; Matt Knotts, 24, a former football player at Indiana University in Pennsylvania, who is 280 pounds and has trained at the Team 3-D Wrestling Academy in Florida; Jarrell McKinney, 25,who is 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds and was a lineman at Western Michigan University, was in camp with the Houston Texans and played pro football in a league in Denmark; Federica Pezzulla, 24, a fitness and bikini model who played multiple sports growing up; Matt Hannan, a 6-foot-1, 225 pound independent wrestler known as Matt Justice who has worked in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York for the past 11 years; Leroy Gordon, 27, an independent wrestler in IWA Mid South among other promotions who claims to be the fastest wrestler alive; Haleem Ramdoom, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound independent wrestler in the Midwest who uses the name GT Vega; Marilyn Bailey, 26, a model in Dallas who competed in a number of sports growing up; Raquel Dyer, who has wrestled in Florida for three years as Lea Nox; Ryan Meehan, 21, a 6-foot-4, 240 pound bodybuilder; Alexis Halcomb, who competed in bodybuilding in the bikini division in a 2015 contest; and the Luchador El Hijo del Medico Asesino, who was likely picked because WWE favors having tall Luchadors and he’s 6-foot-1

Serena Deeb, who was in the Mae Young Classic, was doing a guest coaching gig this past week at the Performance Center.

Donald Anderson, a cameraman who had filed a $1.2 million lawsuit against Thaddeus Bullard (Titus O’Neil), added WWE as a defendant in the suit on 10/2. Anderson is claiming an unsafe working environment as he claimed he was physically attacked by Bullard while filming for the WWE Network TV show “Swerved.” In the incident, Saraya Jade-Bevis (Paige) shocked Bullard with a shock stick and Bullard became enraged, kicked the camera out of Anderson’s hands and Anderson claimed he suffered injuries to his hand, wrist and fingers and could not work for the next six months. He’s suing on the grounds of battery, assault, willful misconduct, negligence and gross negligence, emotional distress. He also claimed medical bills in excess of $150,000

Both Wyatt and Dallas missed the second straight week house shows and television, this week, as did ring announcer JoJo Offerman (who Wyatt is currently dating). Wyatt wasn’t at Raw last week but they had a pre-taped segment where he turned into Sister Abigail, which makes you think it was something they were aware of in advance. But Wyatt, who was in a key PPV match, wasn’t on the go-home show. The only thing we’ve heard and WWE confirmed this was that Dallas was still sidelined with an undisclosed illness as of this past week, but the idea Wyatt and JoJo would be gone this long over his brother being ill makes you worry. The only thing acknowledged was last week on television when Miz wished Dallas well

These are the current planned lineups for the November European tour. The Raw brand shows are listed as Reigns & Rollins & Ambrose vs. Strowman & Sheamus & Cesaro on top, Banks vs. Bayley vs. Jax vs. Bliss vs. James in a five-way for the women’s title (no word on what the status of Jax will be at that time), Matt Hardy & Jordan vs Miz & Axel, Balor vs. Wyatt, Kalisto vs. Enzo for the cruiserweight title and Emma vs. Asuka. There will also be U.K. talent on the Raw shows with different matches on different shows. Pete Dunne will have title defenses against Mark Andrews and Wolfgang on the Raw shows and there will also be tag matches. Balor vs. Wyatt will have at least one last man standing match. The 11/6 Raw TV show in Manchester is advertised around The Shield vs. Sheamus & Cesaro & Miz

On the Smackdown side, the cards are Mahal vs. Styles for the WWE title, Corbin vs. Roode vs. Ziggler for the U.S. title, Nakamura vs. Owens, Usos vs. New Day vs. English & Rusev for the tag titles, Zayn vs. Sin Cara, Naomi & Charlotte & Lynch vs. Natalya & Carmella & Lana & Tamina in a 3 on 4 and Breeze & Fandango vs. Harper & Rowan, plus a U.K. match. Orton will not have to do the entire tour, but when he does arrive later in the week, he’ll face Owens, Nakamura will face Zayn and the rest will be similar. Advertised for the 11/7 Smackdown TV in Manchester is advertised around Mahal vs. Styles in a street fight and Orton & Nakamura & Roode vs. Owens & Zayn & Ziggler

The 12/26 Madison Square Garden main event has been changed to The Shield vs. Sheamus & Cesaro & Miz, so it looks like they are going use The Shield in trios matches for main events the next few months. Since Rollins already turned on him and they’ve wrestled a million times, one would think that means at some point in 2018, probably after Reigns is anointed as the full-fledged top guy and champion, that Ambrose would finally turn on him

For TV this week, Raw will be 10/23 in Green Bay, which will feature Lesnar returning to accept the Mahal challenge for Survivor Series. Smackdown on 10/24 will feature the return of Shane McMahon, looking for revenge on Owens & Zayn

Dr. Ranjan Chhibber was awarded Professor of the Year honors at Florida State University at Jacksonville this past week. Chhibber was a former WWE writer. He came out to accept the award wearing a Los Ingobernables T-shirt. After he left the company, the Ranjan Singh character that Dave Kapoor played as Great Khali’s brother, was done in part to mock Chhibber

Foley’s latest book, “Saint Mick: My Journey from Hardcore Legend to Santa’s Jolly Elf,” was released this past week and he will be promoting it

The ten most watched shows on the WWE Network this past week were: 1. Hell in a Cell 2017; 2. NXT from 10/11; 3. Story Time episode five; 4. Story Time episode four; 5. TLC 2016; 6. No Mercy 2017; 7. 205 Live from 10/10; 8. WrestleMania 33; 9. Story time episode three; 10. This Week in WWE

The stock closed at press time at $22.54 per share giving the company a $1.74 billion market value

Notes from the 10/16 Raw tapings in Portland, OR. Good show, one of the stronger go-home shows in a while with the Kane return angle at the end to make the PPV main event a three vs. five match. The show drew 7,000 fans, which is the smallest Raw crowd for Portland that I can ever remember. For Main Event, Rhyno pinned Wilder with a spinebuster. Ali pinned Gulak with an inverted 450. The “no chanting” policy led to a lot of chants for Ali against Gulak. The crowd was more up for this than most pre-show matches so the Gulak gimmick is starting to work. Raw opened with a narrator telling the story of recent weeks while showing old clips. Angle came out to announce the PPV main event. The Shield came out, all in the same Shield outfits and doing their original entrance through the crowd. The crowd treated this like a really big deal including “This is awesome” chants just for them walking to the ring. They sort of does dilute the value of the cant. They all talked, noting that their first match together as a unit was at the TLC PPV five years ago. Rollins said that after all their success it ended, never bring up the ending but said they are back and better than ever. Ambrose said that maybe last week when he said we’d take on four or five guys that it wasn’t the best thing to say, but he’s not taking it back. He challenged all four of the opponents to come out. They came out and Angle said this is not happening now. He announced there would be a tag team title match with Ambrose & Rollins vs. Sheamus & Cesaro and a cage match with Reigns vs. Strowman tonight. Elias, Gallows & Anderson were together. Elias played the guitar while Anderson sang the words for the old Honky Tonk Man entrance song. That was fun. Then they sang a song about Jordan being a nerd to the beat of Angle’s entrance music. Jordan & Crews & O’Neil beat Gallows & Anderson & Elias in 6:50 when Crews pinning Anderson with a spinning power bomb. The result was a surprise. Most of the match took place during the commercial break. Renee Young interviewed Emma. Emma claimed she was a social media superstar. Bliss came out and thanked Emma for starting the women’s revolution. Bliss was mad that James and called her biscuit butt. They really tried to get fans to chant that at her but it didn’t take. Bliss said how the younger superstars need to stick together and asked Emma to team with her. Alexander pinned Gallagher in 3:21 with the lumber check. Gallagher came out with Kendrick and Alexander came out with Swann. Kendrick tried to interfere and Swann laid him out with a great looking tornado DDT off the steps to the floor. Miz was in the ring with Strowman, Cesaro, Sheamus and Axel. Miz said that Angle stopped them from fighting because he was afraid he’d lost his TLC main event if they destroyed The Shield tonight. Miz called The Shield an overtype nostalgia act. Strowman said that none of them could stop him on their own so they had to joined together to give him a triple power bomb, but at the PPV, he was going to beat them one at a time until they were gone forever. He noted that tonight will be a cage match so Reigns can’t run away (weird choice of words since the cage match gimmick is that it’s about escaping the cage rather than having to win inside the cage). Miz noted that Ambrose said they’d gave any four or five guys, so he wanted a fifth guy. Fans started chanting “We Want Axel.” Angle said no way, and told Miz to shut up. But they argued back-and-forth until Angle agreed that if Strowman beats Reigns in the cage match, that they can have a fifth member added to the team. But if Reigns wins, then it’s a three-on-three match and Strowman is out of the match. Miz hesitated to accept those terms, but Strowman said that they accept. Angle then said during the tag match and the cage match, everyone is banned from ringside. Hopefully that loose end is taken care of next week, since Sheamus, Cesaro, Rollins and Ambrose all ended up out there brawling during the match. Banks beat Fox in 2:42 with the bank statement. Fox said that she never tapped last week, that she was just scratching her nose when it appeared she was tapping and complained about not having a T-shirt. Charly Caruso was interviewing Banks. Fox attacked her and lid her out. Fox shoved down a ref and the other refs tried to calm her down. Fox was very good here playing the crazy woman. The only thing is when she was on 205 Live doing this act, it got old after a few weeks. Enzo came out. He acted like he was mad about the fans booing him. He said he was screwed out of his title by a corrupt General Manager. He didn’t get to say much, and they avoided him doing the catch phrases where people would cheer him. Kalisto came out quickly. Kalisto started talking in Spanish. Then in English he said Enzo was like a 7/11, in that his mouth never closes. At this point Dar, Daivari, Gulak and Nese all hit the ring and attacked Kalisto. Daivari had been with Enzo and Gulak teased being with him last week. Dar and Nese joined with him for no reason, which has a lot of holes because all of these guys were banned by Enzo from getting title shots by them attacking him and he was insulting all of them on his promos. As they were beating down Kalisto, Enzo was trying to lead the crowd in chanting “You deserve it.” They didn’t chant it. Ali came out and gave Nese a huracanrana on the floor and a superkick to Gulak on the floor. Ali then clotheslined Dar and gave a high kick to Daivari. But Enzo cheap shotted him and all the heels worked Ali over. Nese laid out Kalisto with running knees into the corner. Enzo was bragging about how his tennis shoes don’t’ even come out fr anther three weeks, and then laid out Kalisto with the eat defeat, which he calls the Jordanzo. Ambrose & Rollins retained the tag titles over Sheamus & Cesaro in 12:03. This was a good match, although not close to their PPV quality bout. Ambrose and Rollins opened by taking both out with pescados at the same time. It was mostly Rollins selling until a hot tag to Ambrose. They teased the spot there Cesaro got hurt, as Ambrose catapulted him into the corner but instead of going face first into the post, Cesaro landed on the middle rope and used a crossbody. Rollins did a tope on Sheamus and Ambrose did a tope on Cesaro. Sheamus & Cesaro tried the old Hart attack spot, but it took Sheamus forever to get Rollins into position and when they did it, the timing was off. The finish saw Rollins use the knee on Cesaro, and Ambrose followed with Dirty Deeds for the pion. Backstage, Axel was in a room with Cesaro and Sheamus. He tried to give them a pep talk after their loss. He noted that Strowman has to win the match tonight because he has to be the fifth man. Axel talked about the show being in Minneapolis, which is his home town. Axel said he was so mad he wanted to fight Reigns right now. Strowman told him to then find Reigns and do it. He got all hesitant at that point. Cesaro said that it looks like you’re scared of Reigns. Strowman then said that the fifth member of the team can’t be afraid to take on Reigns. Axel then agreed he was going to find Reigns and beat him down. Balor was out. This segment was death. The crowd didn’t react at all to him. The Wyatt thing went on too longer and who knows when it’s going to end at this point. He started talking about being young and reading stories about monsters and after seeing Sister Abigail, he saw that they weren’t stories and they were real. That got over to the crowd like the idea Jordan is Angle’s son. People will go for wink wink silliness like Darryl Takahashi where we all know it’s a gimmick, but not pure bullshit monster stuff that is taken seriously like you’re insulting our intelligence. Plus, the way the Sister Abigail thing bombed last week, that’s usually a sign not to double down. He said he was going to slay a monster using demons of his own. They did special effects where Balor would turn into the Demon and out of the Demon as the interview was going. It was too soon, since they just did the Demon two PPV’s back, and with this same opponent, to go back to the Demon. So the idea is the Demon is facing Sister Abigail. Wyatt badly needs a new direction. Bayley & James beat Emma & Bliss in 11:20. Bayley Hulked up on Emma. Mostly it was Bayley selling to set the stage for the hot tag to James. The finish saw Bliss knock Bayley out of the ring and turn around into a Mick kick for the pin. That was the right finish to do on the go-home show before the PPV. Axel was shown looking for Reigns. He found all three Shield members hanging out together. Then they went to a break. In another part of backstage, Miz showed up and saw Strowman, Cesaro and Sheamus together. Miz asked what happened to Axel. Strowman said that Axel said he wanted to beat up Reigns, so I told him to do it and he left. Miz wasn’t happy to hear that. James & Bayley were together. Caruso asked James about how Bliss has been making fun of her “veteran status.” James said how Bliss’ words really hurt. She said she was a three-year-old at home and he is everything to her. She said she wants to bring the title home to Donovan. She said that she’s going to get the last laugh when she whips biscuit butt all over TLC. The next thing we saw was Axel being hung by his feet upside down on a rope. Renee Young, now dressed like a biker chick, interviewed Miz. Miz said that he’s concerned about Axel, but Axel was never the fifth man in the match. Strowman pinned Reigns in the cage match in 17:18 thanks to interference from the returning Kane. Reigns kept trying to escape. At one point Reigns was over the top of the cage and ready to drop to the floor when Sheamus and Cesaro climbed up to block him from getting to the floor. This brought out Rollins and Ambrose. So much for the idea that everyone was banned from ringside. They cut away from the match as Rollins, Ambrose, Sheamus and Cesaro all brawled all over ringside and to the back. They were still brawling in the back when they went through a door. Miz then closed a mechanical door with the idea all four were trapped. This was good storytelling because it gave a reason that Ambrose and Rollins couldn’t save Reigns at the end. Reigns was already over the top of the cage when Strowman pulled him back with his superhuman strength and superplexed him off the cage and back into the ring. Reigns made a comeback and hit three Supermen punches for a near fall. At this point Kane’s music played and he came from under the ring. Kane choke slammed Reigns twice. Strowman powerslammed Reigns. Kane used a tombstone piledriver on Reigns and Strowman did another powerslam on him to get the pin, and it was announced that Kane was the fifth member of the team

Notes from the 10/17 Smackdown tapings in Seattle. The highlight of the show saw Zayn and his interactions with Bryan in the first segment. They even put Zayn over Orton in a tag match, although history tells us that Orton will always gets his revenge in the end. Roode vs. Ziggler continued to disappoint, and inexplicably, they were given less than 4:00, and had a commercial break in those 4:00 before Ziggler won. It’s amazing how they take these guys who come in so over and make them so less over. It’s become an inescapable pattern. The show drew 5,000 fans. Gable & Benjamin & Dillinger beat The Colons & Kanellis in the dark match opener. Gable & Benjamin did their double-team power bomb finish on Kanellis. Smackdown opened with Bryan out. Since they were in Seattle, he got the biggest reception he’s gotten in months. Michael Cole was there. They announced Tom Phillips is on assignment for a few weeks and Cole will be filling in. Well, we all knew the idea they’d keep the shows from having crossovers was never going to last, and now we’ve got three announcers (Cole, Renee Young and Graves) on both shows each week. The fans chanted “Yes” for a long time. Zayn came out and fans were singing his theme and he was doing this hilarious heel version of skipping around. Zayn was the star of the show. He said that he took the ownership of his career back. The fans were booing him and Zayn said he got that the fans would be made at him but was disappointed Bryan was. Zayn said that they are similar in that we were both “gifted in ring performers. Well, I still am. Management never believed in either of us. But you had them.” He explained that Bryan was never going to get a push from management and never believed in him. It’s amazing they are doing a storyline about how bad of an eye for talent the people in charge of the company area. Zayn said the difference was the fans got behind Bryan so big that he became a top star who headlined WrestleMania. “But with me, they didn’t uphold their end of the agreement.” Zayn explained that the agreement was he works hard for them and they cheer so loud that make it impossible for management not to push him, but they never did that for me. He said he didn’t care anymore now. Then Zayn said that if Bryan had worked smarter instead of harder, he wouldn’t have had to retire in this very building. Boy are there some games being played here, since pretty much everyone at this point knows that barring a negative brain examination or WWE changing its position that Bryan will be wrestling next year outside WWE. Fans were chanting “Sami sucks.” The one thing is him making the snide remarks about Bryan in Seattle was going to make him come off like a big star. Zayn then said he considered Bryan a once-in-a-lifetime performer. Ric Flair isn’t even a once in a lifetime performer, nor is Shawn Michaels, or Okada, or Tanahashi. Zayn said that Bryan was the performer of our generation. He said he spent his entire career trying to catch up with Bryan, but every time he would reach Bryan’s level, Bryan had moved two more steps ahead. But he said now Bryan is the last person he’d ever want to be like. He said he was a man who gave his body for the adulation of the fans, only to end up as a housewife. Owens then came out. Owens said Bryan has become a pathetic martyr, and said Bryan is practically Mr. Bella, and now he’s becoming something far worse. He’s become what he fought against for so long, part of the authority and that makes him a hypocrite. Zayn said Bryan has become a sell out. Zayn said that he could have ended up that way but Owens saved him from it and they hugged. Bryan just walked off. They taunted him and Bryan said he’s going to find a couple of dudes to punch them in the face. Charlotte & Lynch & Naomi beat Natalya & Tamina & Lana in 8:40. Carmella was at ringside doing commentary with Ellsworth on the dog leash. Naomi hit a pescado on everyone. Charlotte got a hot tag. Lana’s selling of her chops was awful. Charlotte won clean with a figure eight on Lana. After the match, Natalya attacked Charlotte and threw her into the announcers table. Charlotte came back and kicked Natalya in the face when Natalya tried to hit her with a chair. Charlotte got the chair and Natalya ran into the crowd. Bryan was backstage with Zayn & Owens. Bryan said that Orton & Nakamura would be their opponents. There was another Fashion Files segment. People love these, but this was the worst one, it was as if the writers were almost out of ideas. Breeze was dressed like a woman again. He ate a cheeseburger and fell over like he was dying because he was allergic to pickles and they were in the bun. The Ascension were there and said they could save him but only if Fandango agreed that they would all be friends. So he agreed. Just then, with no help from The Ascension, Breeze got up like nothing was wrong and said the bun was disgusting. The Ascension said it was gluten free and Breeze said he likes gluten. And that was pretty much it. But Fandango & Breeze now have to be friends with The Ascension. The clue of 2B was brought up that it could be the Bludgeon Brothers, which is who it was supposed to be months ago. In a non-title match, Sin Cara beat Corbin via count out in 1:17. Corbin said that his U.S. title open challenge is closed for good. Sin Cara opened with a tope, and then came off the top of the post with a plancha onto the floor. Corbin was shockingly counted out. I’d think this is just being done to set up a rematch that Corbin wins as opposed to a PPV match. Renee Young interviewed the Usos like they were the faces. Gable & Benjamin came out to mock the Usos interview delivery. Gable & Benjamin wanted to shake hands, and when the Usos went to accept, Gable & Benjamin pulled their hands away and walked off. They did a Bludgeon Brothers (Rowan & Harper) video. They showed a video of Mahal in India this past week. They showed him at a gathering before a huge crowd and clips of some of the media he did. They pushed that he would be defending his title in India in December. Fans chanted “You can’t wrestle” at Mahal. Mahal told a story about a kid he met in India who inspired him to challenge Lesnar. After that, Styles came out. The crowd was hot for Styles. Mahal called Styles a loser and told him to go to the back of the line. Styles then attacked Mahal with the old KENTA series and a Pele kick. After a commercial, Mahal and the Singh brothers came up to Bryan. Mahal demanded that Bryan do something about that attack from Styles. Bryan wasn’t into punishing Styles so Mahal said he’s make Styles pay, and next week he wants Samil to go against Styles. That was different. Ziggler pinned Roode in 3:54 holding the tights. So they build a character around him being a great in-ring performer and he comes back and had another nothing match. Everything about this match, from the amount of time they were given, to what they did, to the finish, just sucked. It didn’t help Ziggler and it was like pouring ice on Roode, who came in so hot. It’s so funny now that people say the reason guys don’t get over strong as individuals now is because they have to be on TV every week. Like being forced to be on TV means you can’t stay over. No, it’s being booked like chimpanzees in situations like this why guys can’t stay over doing weekly television. English was singing backstage and some people working backstage didn’t care. The New Day came out. Then the people backstage were dancing like it was a big deal while the New Day poured cereal all over them. Rusev came out and talked about it being Rusev Day. English wanted to sing about it but Rusev said this isn’t the time. So with the Usos occupied by Benjamin & Gable, we’re doing New Day vs. Rusev & English as a program. Well, it helps English and hopefully it can lead to a transition of Rusev into a top player and a turn. Zayn & Owens beat Orton & Nakamura in 13:02. They got heat on Nakamura. Orton made the hot tag. He back suplexed Owens on the barricade. Zayn tried a flip dive but Orton punched him in the face. Orton tried a draping DDT onto the floor on Zayn but he blocked it. But Orton back suplexed Zayn through at able. Zayn hit a low blow on Orton and pinned him. This was a good match. Backstage, Owens & Zayn mad fun of Bryan and said after they had beaten his two top stars, who is he going to put against them next week. Bryan said that it’s not up to me, it’s up to Shane who is returning. After all that, Owens & Zayn came out to mock Orton & Nakamura, so that program is going to continue, which is has to due to the depth issue and them having everyone else tread water. 205 Live opened with Enzo out. He said he was going to send Kalisto to the hospital, but noted it would be the children’s hospital. He didn’t go on too long, and was talking about how much charisma he had when Kalisto came out. Kalisto hit Enzo with a springboard dropkick and Enzo ran off. Swann beat Gallagher via DQ in 7:22. Kendrick and Alexander were at ringside. Kendrick attacked Swann behind the refs back. Gallagher is still working in his tie and dressed up, which looks silly, although it did look funny with him in that outfit throwing a great dropkick. The match was well wrestled. Gallagher threw Alexander into the barricade and both Kendrick and Gallagher attacked Swann for the DQ. Kendrick & Gallagher continued the beat down until the faces made a comeback. Swann was on the top rope ready to deliver the Phoenix splash on Gallagher when Kendrick pulled Gallagher out of the ring. Gulak did an interview coming out with his “No Chants” sign. He told the audience that he considers himself like their fathers. He’s trying to teach them to avoid doing things like enjoying dives and unnecessary chants. He said he took control of the situation by hitting Tozawa in the throat with his sign so Tozawa can’t chant anymore. I like this character but the crowd was responding first with the “What” treatment and later with “This is boring.” Gulak’s ninth out of 277 points in his Power Point presentation is “No Defying Authority.” He claimed he’ll release all 277 slides at the PPV on Sunday during the pre-game show. Kalisto & Ali beat Enzo & Daivari in 9:21. It was mostly heat on Kalisto. Ali did a twisting dive on Daivari and Kalisto pinned Enzo with the Salida del Sol. The champion pinning the challenger on the go-home show makes no sense, but they do it all the time now. Usually it means the championship is changing hands, but you never know. The plan when Kalisto won the title was that Enzo would win it back on the PPV, and even if you didn’t know that, that would make the most sense. After the match, Kalisto hit a tope on both Enzo & Daivari. He was beating down Enzo again on the ground until Enzo got up and ran away. The dark match was a non-title match where Styles pinned Mahal clean after a phenomenal forearm

Notes from the 10/11 NXT show. Basic show with a real good main event. It’s surprising how easy to watch the short squash match format with limited interviews is. It has its hits and misses and this one was helped because Lio Rush, Lars Sullivan and Montez Ford all have unique charisma. The opener was a match to get into the women’s title final four with Peyton Royce winning over Liv Morgan and Nikki Cross in 6:43. The wrestling in this match wasn’t good at all. Undisputed came out with Taynara Conti. She’s got a great look which is why they rushed her onto television, but I’m not sure she’s ready. Her facial expressions weren’t there but they limited her stuff so it wasn’t bad. The story of the match was that Conti was making sure Cross didn’t win, obviously building an Undisputed vs. Sanity program that would include both women. Cross had Morgan pinned and Conti pulled Cross out of the ring. Cross started chasing Conti around the ring and Conti wasn’t believable at all running way from her. Cross ran into a spin kick by Royce and Royce pinned her with a fisherman suplex. Velveteen Dream pinned Lio Rush in 2:41. These two started together as a tag team in Maryland Championship Wrestling. Rush tore the house down on his first spot and they were going crazy at a level rarely seen at Full Sail. Dream has a star act. They really need to do something with Rush because he’s got it. Dream won with a Death Valley bomb and an elbow off the top rope, which they call the purple rainmaker. Lars Sullivan pinned Danny Burch in 2:58 with the muso. This was exactly how they should be booking Sullivan on television. The Street Profits beat Damien Smith & Marcos Espada in 1:51. Espada never got in the ring. Montez Ford has absolutely ridiculous charisma. They have good music and Ford can be a main roster superstar with not that much more experience. They’ll be one of the most over acts in NXT from this point forward. Ford pinned Smith with a frog splash. They announced Undisputed vs. Sanity in a six-man tag for next week. Main event saw Andrade Cien Almas beat Johnny Gargano in 14:19. This was really good. Not as good as their Takeover match or close to as good as the house show match I saw, but one of the better Full Sail matches of late. Almas is getting more comfortable with the style. He’s still not coming off like close to the level or star, nor even close to as impressive in the ring, as he was with his own style. The crowd wasn’t that hot most of the way but they did come up as the match went on. Gargano was on the top rope at one point when Almas pushed the ref into the ropes and Gargano was crotched. A good spot was Gargano looking for a sunset flip out of the corner and Almas went over and landed on his feet. After several near falls, Gargano had Almas in the Gargano escape. Zelida Vega then took off her jacket and she was wearing a DIY T-shirt. Gargano momentarily gave up pressure on the hold, although he put it back on hard, but the momentary distraction did allow Almas to reach the ropes. Almas won with a drop toehold into the turnbuckles and two sets of double knees to the back of the head, leading to the hammerlock DDT for the finish

NXT only ran a Florida tour this weekend. The first show was 10/12 in Jacksonville before 250 fans. Rush pinned Marcel Barthel. Kairi Sane & Ruby Riot beat Sonya Deville & Sage Beckett when Sane won using the elbow drop. Kassius Ohno pinned Chad Lail. Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain, with Nikki Cross in the corner but not Eric Young, kept the tag titles over Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler. Bianca Belair pinned Rhea Ripley with a reverse power bomb. Velveteen Dream pinned Gargano with a DDT when Gargano was doing his spear from the apron into the ring. This result tells you they must be really high on Dream. And Gargano’s storyline is built around him losing his confidence and losing a lot of matches. Most of the time those storylines work wonders for killing upward mobility, but this is NXT where it really doesn’t matter. Oney Lorcan pinned Jason, who is one of the new trainees from China. Shayna Baszler beat Liv Morgan via choke. Main event saw Drew McIntyre & Roderick Strong beat Hideo Itami & Andrade Cien Almas when McIntyre pinned Itami with the Claymore kick

10/13 in Orlando drew 350 fans. No Way Jose pinned Barthel with a pop up punch. Deville beat Sarah Logan with an armbar. Buddy Murphy pinned Babatunde Aiyegbusi with a bodyslam and pin. When they have guys slamming and pinning their giants in this promotion, it usually means they’ve given up on them and are just beating them. Rush pinned Fabian Aichner with a kick to the head. Street Profits over Blake & Cutler with the Ford frog splash. Cross pinned Beckett with a crossbody off the top rope. Lorcan pinned Jason with a roll-up. Morgan won a three-way over Belair and Mandy Rose when she pinned Belair. Main event saw Cole & Fish & O’Reilly beat McIntyre & Gargano & Ohno when Fish pinned Ohno. After the match, Almas attacked McIntyre and Sullivan then attacked Ohno

The final weekend show was 10/14 in West Palm Beach, which drew 600 fans. The bigger crowd is because NXT rarely runs West Palm Beach while most of the cities they go to are regular markets in a small geographical area and they really only draw from the hardcores. The Street Profits beat Blake & Cutler with a Ford frog splash as the finisher. Morgan pinned Logan. Sullivan beat Kishin Raftaar with the muso. Beckett beat Dakota Kai. Cole & Fish & O’Reilly beat Ohno & Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight when Cole pinned Ohno. Jose pinned Itami. It really doesn’t mean a ton on a spot show in a sense, but it still gives you an idea where Itami is slotted. He probably should go back to Japan. They missed the timing when he was hot at the Santa Clara WrestleMania, and while he’s a very good worker when you see him live, it’s the kind of very good worker that gets the match over but doesn’t get himself over. Raul Mendoza pinned Brennan Williams which is a really small guy beating a really

big guy, but the small guy is really good and the big guy is very inexperienced. Mendoza won with the Phoenix splash. Belair & Baszler beat Riot & Ripley when Baszler being Ripley via choke. Main event saw McIntyre retain the NXT title over Almas

The Raw tour opened on 10/13 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the home of Lesnar, who didn’t work the show. They drew 5,500 fans. 10/14 in Regina, Saskatchewan drew 4,200. 10/15 in Yakima, WA, drew 3,900

There was only one Smackdown brand house show this weekend, which was 10/16 in Abbotsford, BC, which drew 2,250 fans. The Smackdown crew had the weekend off, only working Monday and Tuesday because they were flying from Seattle after Smackdown on Tuesday to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where they have two shows on 10/19 and 10/20 and then to Santiago, Chile for dates on 10/21 and 10/22 before flying back for TV in Milwaukee on 10/24

In Saskatoon, Kalisto opened by pinning Amore in 8:00 with the Salida del Sol to keep the cruiserweight title. Amore opened the show cutting a promo to turn himself heel, but a lt of people cheered him. Goldust & Darren Young, who have been working as heels on the road, and Goldust is clearly a heel on TV worked as faces beating Axel & Hawkins when Goldust pinned Hawkins in 10:00 with the final cut. Elias pinned R-Truth with drift away in 8:00. Elias sang before the match. Ambrose & Rollins won a three-way to keep the tag titles over Slater & Rhyno and Sheamus & Cesaro. The crowd was really hot for Ambrose & Rollins, because of the Shield reunion timing. The finish saw Rollins used the knee and Ambrose follow with the Dirty Deeds on Cesaro. Lots of ECW chants for Rhyno. Banks & Brooke beat Bliss & Fox with Emma as referee when Banks beat Fox with the bank statement in 10:00. The gimmick was Emma was always making mistakes as ref. Miz pinned Jordan with the Skull Crushing Finale to keep the IC title after Axel interfered. Miz did a long promo before the match. They had a solid 15:00 match. Reigns beat Strowman in the same last man standing match they always do. The crowd was hot for this match, but they worked very slowly. The weapons used were the ring steps and tables. Reigns was booed early but by the end they were cheering him

Regina was the same show as Saskatoon. Amore opened the show with heel mic work and said that he took out Big Cass and made Neville quit the promotion. The crowd cheered Enzo like crazy when he came out, but when he ran down Regina, they booed him, but still cheered him later on. Crowd was into Goldust as a face. Crowd didn’t care about the women’s match. The crowd cheered and booed Miz, but didn’t get into Jordan. Reigns was booed early on in the Strowman match but by the end the crowd was solidly for him

Yakima was almost the same show. The only difference is that Balor joined the tour and he pinned Elias with the coup de grace. R-Truth wasn’t on the show. Enzo got heel heat because he refused to spell out SAWFT, went to the top rope and climbed down without jumping, and constantly taunted the crowd. Goldust was wearing pink face paint, which may have to do with the Susan G. Komen thing. In the tag title match, it was Sheamus who was pinned after the knee by Rollins and the Dirty Deeds by Ambrose. Emma worked as a heel ref but Fox was tapping for so long she reluctantly had to signal for the bell. Reigns was cheered by almost the entire crowd here. He came out and held up a Shield shirt, so that was part of it. Lots of positive chants for him as well

For Smackdown in Abbotsford, BC, it opened with Roode pinning Ziggler when he reversed out of a Zig Zag and hit the glorious DDT. Match was decent. Zayn pinned Kanellis quickly with a helluva kick. Zayn came out and cut a promo that came off bad because he said he was disappointed in the fans for cheering Kanellis over him. The only problem is that isn’t what was happening. He then said he did the right thing at Hell in a Cell. English pinned Sin Cara in a boring match. English mocked the Canadian national anthem to get heat. Breeze & Fandango won a three-way over Ryder & Rawley and the Colons. Nobody reacted to the Colons. Lots of fans didn’t even know who they were. This was a long match. Fandango pinned Primo with a falcon arrow. Natalya kept the women’s title in a three-way over Charlotte and Carmella. Natalya got a big reaction since they were in Canada. Natalya and Carmella both beat down Charlotte. Charlotte came back and had Carmella in the figure eight when Natalya broke it up and then pinned Carmella. Good match. Corbin retained the U.S. title over Styles, Dillinger and Rusev. Said to be the best match of the night. Corbin pinned Dillinger clean with the end of days. A lot of fans left the arena at this point rather than stay for the main event, which surprises me since Nakamura is Nakamura (even if the bloom is way off the rose with him) and Mahal is from Western Canada. Mahal did get a big babyface reaction as Abbotsford, BC has a large Indian population. No Singh Brothers, which was surprising since they are from the area and were major indie stars in that city. Maybe they were afraid that with the Singh Brothers, the crowd may have booed. Mahal got a mixed reaction to a promo in Punjabi. So-so match. With no Singhs, it was a clean finishes win by Mahal using the Khallas. About half the crowd cheered