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October 30, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter:WWE TLC reviewed, Survivor Series lineup, plus tons of news

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 October 30, 2017

 

WWE TLC PPV POLL RESULTS

Thumbs up 218 (54.4%)

Thumbs down 68 (17.0%)

In the middle 115 (28.7%)

 

BEST MATCH POLL

Finn Balor vs. A.J. Styles 316

3 on 5 TLC match 65

 

WORST MATCH POLL

Enzo Amore vs. Kalisto 200

Jason Jordan vs. Elias 104

3 on 5 TLC match 28

Sasha Banks vs. Alicia fox 14

Asuka vs. Emma 10

Based on e-mails and phone calls to the Observer as of Tuesday, 10/24.

 

One of the strangest weeks in WWE history saw a viral contagious disease outbreak that took out two key wrestlers from the TLC PPV show, and led to a late decision to both put Kurt Angle in the ring for the main event, and have A.J. Styles, who himself was ill earlier in the week, fly from Chile to Minneapolis to have an unannounced first match ever with Finn Balor.

The issues started weeks ago when Taylor Rotunda (Bo Dallas) took ill. By last week, there was some question whether his older brother, Windham Rotunda (Bray Wyatt) would be able to wrestle on the show.

Then, by midweek, Joe Anoa’i (Roman Reigns), the company’s most pushed full-time star, was diagnosed with the mumps and also had to be taken off the show.

On 10/19, all the Raw talent was told they needed to immediately gets shots for mumps, measles and rubella. Aside from Anoa’i, there is no confirmation of what either Rotunda brother, or JoJo Offerman (the ring announcer who is Windham Rotunda’s girlfriend) were diagnosed with. WWE officials denied either had viral meningitis, which was the word going around, and WWE talent was only told what to get shots for and not the specifics.

The TLC PPV was originally looking like a one-match show, with most of the key talent in the main event, a 3-on-5 match built around the return of The Shield, Reigns & Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins, facing Kane & Braun Strowman & The Miz & Sheamus & Cesaro. The loss of Reigns killed the entire lure of what the show was built around. Vince McMahon made the call to do something that would be considered equally special, one of the few things, and maybe the only one left on the table, which was the return of Angle to a WWE ring after 11 years. Angle was already slated for a program, likely for WrestleMania. There was a lot of belief that they sacrificed what could have been a huge deal with a strong build to get Angle out of retirement, for something just to save the show and squander the Angle return storyline. It was noted that Angle has been back for months, and usually WWE rushes into these things, like with Bill Goldberg when they put the first Brock Lesnar match at last year’s Survivor Series even though Goldberg felt he needed more time to get fully ready (although they protected him in the match so it wasn’t a factor). So the argument was if they were going to do a long build, why give it away now.

But to the fans, the Angle return felt as big or bigger than The Shield reunion, and they can still do the Shield first match soon.

There is no timetable regarding the return of those who are ill, but the mumps is only a few week thing so Reigns is expected back shortly and the house show main events for months are scheduled to be built around six-man tags with The Shield vs. Miz & Sheamus & Cesaro.

The problem is that Ambrose & Rollins are already booked for Survivor Series against The Usos as part of the champions vs. champions theme of the show. There won’t be another PPV where The Shield could return at until January, which means their first match back will be either at house shows, or in a match with a short-build on Raw. There’s no way they can avoid putting them together until January or February.

Many had figured when Reigns was out that they would call Brock Lesnar, given the PPV was in Minneapolis, where Lesnar went to college and lived for many years and is considered a hometown star. But Lesnar was never even called.

The TLC match was built more around a series of stories. Angle was taken out early and came back to win it for his team. Braun Strowman was turned babyface after being turned on by Kane, to set up that program. There were a lot of bumps through tables, but the real dangerous crazy falls off ladders were toned down, the risky ladder bumps were toned down, and the bumps onto ladders were non-existent. It wasn’t as wild as most TLC matches, but it had more of a story. It got silly, since the heels ended up putting Strowman in the back of a garbage truck, and he was broken down and compacted. The crowd jokingly chanted about it being a murder, even though Strowman will be back in a few weeks for revenge on Kane. The match delivered. Some didn’t like the story aspect but it worked for most.

The decision was made to bring Styles in for the show to work against Balor, as The Demon Finn Balor. We don’t know how many ideas were considered before making the decision to take Styles off the sold-out South American tour. We do know that Chris Jericho was contacted, but he’s on tour right now doing Fozzy concerts.

At the same time, Kevin Owens, also on the South American tour, rushed home due to a family issue. The family has kept it private what it was, and talent only knew he went home. What we do know is that the issue appeared serious, serious enough that he rushed home, but everything ended up being fine, and he was back to work for the 10/24 Smackdown show in Milwaukee.

It is believed, based on comments made by Hugo Savinovich, who has connections and runs his own major shows in Chile, that a local promotion paid $900,000 for the shows (not sure if that’s for both shows or one show), but were not happy that both Styles and Owens were going to be off the second show on 10/22. So as a make good, WWE had HHH fly to Santiago, Chile to do the second show, where he worked as a babyface, got the biggest reaction on the show, and beat Rusev with a pedigree.

In the end, under trying circumstances, in all cases things ended up arguably better for the fans. Angle returning seemed to have more interest in the last day than The Shield reunion, even though The Shield reunion has been the hottest thing on television. And the reunion and the run of them as the top babyfaces is still going to happen soon. It’s hard to say if the match was any better or not with Angle instead of Reigns. Angle being in there required them to tell a different story.

But there’s no doubt that Styles vs. Balor was a far better match than Balor vs. Wyatt would have been, and which had already been done three times, before. The program was killing Balor and not helping Wyatt either because to keep it fresh, it had gotten so goofy that people were groaning at it every week. The crowd in Minneapolis, from before the lock-up, was clearly far more interested in Styles vs. Balor than they ever would have been for what had been built up.

Both were the leaders of the Bullet Club in New Japan, with Balor the guy in charge when the club was created. He signed with WWE about the same time that Styles chose not to sign with TNA and started working for New Japan. They actually crossed paths for one day. Balor’s last day with the promotion was April 6, 2014, the Invasion Attack show, where he lost to Ryusuke Taguchi. Styles debuted that same night, attacking Kazuchika Okada to start their feud over the IWGP title.

While the two had never had a singles match, they did face each other once, on the January 4, 2008, show at the Tokyo Dome, in the opening match no less. It was a six-man tag match. Styles was part of a TNA team, with Christian Cage & Petey Williams, facing the New Japan trio of Devitt & Milano Collection A.T. (who is currently a New Japan television announcer) & Minoru (Minoru Tanaka), which ended when Styles pinned Milano.

Even though the two have been among the best wrestlers in the world for a long period of time, and until 2014, neither was in WWE, this may have been their first ever match.

The problem going into the match is that it was a tough one to book. Styles was coming off a loss to Baron Corbin that made absolutely no sense, because he was to come off that loss right into a WWE title program with Jinder Mahal. Given he’s in that program now, he shouldn’t be losing. Granted, it really doesn’t matter today, but the very reason it doesn’t matter is the reason nobody cares about finishes and there is so much silence during matches, because the people know the finish doesn’t matter. Balor shouldn’t lose as the Demon, and Balor was still scheduled for a title shot soon with Brock Lesnar. So this was the wrong time for him to lose as well. The mentality is that losses on one brand mean nothing on the other decreed that Balor would go over, which he did.

But that got even stupider, because the next night, on Raw, Balor was given little offense and squashed like a bug against Kane. If they weren’t going to protect Balor, then why should Styles have lost to him? And the clear story told was that Balor was much to small to take on the big guys, which is the absolute wrong story to tell when the idea he’s in line for a title shot against a guy the size of Lesnar. It could be that now Lesnar vs. Balor is off, as really the only time for it would be January or February.

Right now, the talent out of action, Reigns, Wyatt and Dallas, are scheduled to all be evaluated on 10/30 to have a better idea where their health stands and when they can return. The hope was that everyone getting the shots would prevent the disease from spreading, but there is still the fear things aren’t done.

The next PPV is Survivor Series on 11/19 in Houston, at the Toyota Center. There will be four champion vs. champion matches, all non-title, although in all cases, they haven’t made that clear publicly.

When you look at the matches, the first thing you note is how weak the in-ring is of so many of the champions. With the exception of the tag title situation, with the Usos vs. Sheamus & Cesaro, the other three matches don’t look appealing at all.

Lesnar vs. Jinder Mahal has an American babyface vs. foreign heel, but with no title at stake, I can’t see much interest in it. Nobody takes Mahal at the Lesnar level. The hope is to spruce it up with a special referee. While not announced, there has been talk of John Cena as referee. The first conclusion is that it could lead to Cena challenging Mahal, a match Mahal himself was pushing for WrestleMania. However, while Cena is a candidate for the spot, Vince McMahon was also considering Dwayne Johnson and Steve Austin. In both cases, the issue would be if they want to do it, and with Johnson, whether his schedule will allow him to do it and how much it would cost. Johnson and Lesnar did wrestle in the past, but it’s been 15 years. Austin and Lesnar never wrestled, as Austin walked out of WWE the night they were scheduled to have their first match. In both cases, it’s doubtful either match will ever happen. Johnson vs. Lesnar was the actual planned main event for WrestleMania 30 in 2014 in New Orleans, but Johnson suffered series of muscle tears in his 2013 Mania match with Cena, which led to a delay in filming “Hercules.” Movie studios have frowned on Johnson wrestling since and he’s never done a serious match since. Austin is done as a wrestler, and hasn’t wrestled in more than 14 years, but is a legend who hasn’t been in a storyline in a long time and there’s still the intrigue of Austin and Lesnar in the ring together, and the idea that even in likely losing (since Lesnar is in the Mania match and has been booked ridiculously strong and losing to Mahal makes no sense), that they can use the mentality that Mahal benefits by being in the same ring as the two bigger stars.

Plus, Mahal has yet to have a great PPV match, and his most recent match with Shinsuke Nakamura felt like it had very little interest as compared to most PPV world title matches.

The U.S. champion vs. IC champion is Baron Corbin vs. The Miz. Stylistically, this doesn’t look good at all, even aside from being two heels.

The womens’ match is Alexa Bliss vs. Natalya, which is a similar situation as on paper it doesn’t look like any kind of a special match that fans were demanding to see.

The show will also feature five-on-five elimination matches with Raw vs. Smackdown. The men’s match is sketchy, but if Reigns is ready, he’d be the leader of the Raw team. The Smackdown team has Randy Orton with others to be determined in matches over the next few weeks, but most likely Bobby Roode & Shinsuke Nakamura will be two of them.

The women’s match looks to be Alicia Fox (captain) & Sasha Banks & Bayley & Mickie James & Nia Jax (she’s scheduled back next week and much of what has been written about her situation in the last week isn’t true) vs. Becky Lynch (captain) & Charlotte Flair & Naomi & Carmella & Tamina.

The men’s elimination match has to be long since there are so many falls and when you shotgun falls, the match usually sucks. The women’s match should be long, but in the past, when it comes to these women’s matches, they have shotgunned falls and it has sucked.

Since there doesn’t appear to be another place for it, one would think the Kane vs. Strowman match would be on the show. They are also keeping the Enzo Amore vs. Kalisto program alive, and I could see that as a possible pre-show match if it’s not put back on 205 Live.

As far as TLC goes, the last two matches made the show. The only title change was Enzo Amore winning the cruiserweight title from Kalisto, which was a foregone conclusion and only made sense since the Kalisto win was never planned and only done because Vince wanted a title change for TV that week.

The negative on the show was the debut of Asuka. There were two ways to go. You could either have her blitz Emma to get her over as a killer, which was probably the way to go. Or you could have them try and do a great match. The latter was a small risk, but they already proved in NXT that give time, even in a cold match, they did a match that was as good as anything on this show. And given all the segments with Elias on the show, it’s not like they didn’t have time. Instead, they did neither. It came across as just another match, a little better than average because Asuka is a very good worker, although at her best, she’s as good as anyone in the company and she was given no chance to show it here. I’m at a loss for the decision-making here.

The show drew 11,000 fans to the Target Center in Minneapolis, which was a little shy of capacity.

1. Sasha Banks beat Alicia Fox in 10:12. Fox played her crazy gimmick. To her credit, Fox does one of the greatest bridging Northern Lights suplexes anywhere. Fox missed an ax kick, and Banks used a back stabber and bank statement for the submission. **1/4

2. Asuka beat Emma in 9:25. Asuka quickly got an armbar. The chain wrestling between the two was good, but for that to work, the match should have been longer and built from there. Emma got some offense in and the crowd died. The problem with the Asuka character, and this was clear in NXT, is that her matches die with lengthy selling. It’s similar to Bill Goldberg, even though she’s a million times more talented than Goldberg. It’s just the aura people want from her. Asuka won with a head kick and the Asuka lock. **½

The first segment with Elias happened. He came out to sing. Jason Jordan came out to throw lettuce at him, and then switched to other vegetables and some fruit. And then it ended.

3. Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann beat Jack Gallagher & Brian Kendrick in 7:55. They all wrestled well, like their usual matches. Alexander did a flip dive onto both heels and landed on his feet on the floor. The problem is that he actually appeared not to touch, or at best only grazed either of them. During this match, Nigel McGuinness said that Gordon Solie used to say that sports entertainment is a game of human chess. Well, he did say the second half of that. Kendrick had Alexander in the captain’s hook when Swann came off the top rope with a Phoenix splash to break it up. Swann was throwing kicks but Gallagher head-butted Swann while Alexander used the lumbar check on Kendrick for the pin. ***

4. Alexa Bliss retained the women’s title over Mickie James in 11:23. In the pregame show, James noted with the match being built around her portrayed as old, that she’s not the oldest woman on the roster (Tamina is) and there are several women near her age (Natalya is close, Maryse and Nia Jax are still a few years younger) and that half the men on the roster are older than her. (I’m not sure about that, but plenty are). James mostly sold her shoulder. Bliss missed twisted bliss. James hit an ugly missile dropkick. Fans lost interest in the match and were chanting “We Want Tables.” They really didn’t deserve that as the match was fine. Bliss threw her into the turnbuckles and beat her clean with a DDT. After the match, James was interviewed in the ring. She said she was proud of her performance, gave her heart and soul and hoped she proved being worthy of the title shot and that it won’t be the last time she gets a title shot and that she’ll someday win the title again. **3/4

Elias came out again. He got booed pretty heavy. Jordan threw more food at him. It was weird how Graves, the heel commentator, was backing Jordan while Cole was backing Elias in this situation.

Enzo came out. His voice was really hoarse and he didn’t even talk on Raw and barely talked on 205 Live the next day. But he said his voice was the only thing he was losing.

5. Enzo Amore beat Kalisto in 8:49 to win the cruiserweight title. Kalisto hit a tope early. Enzo knocked Kalisto off the top rope and Kalisto landed face first on the turnbuckle. There was a light “We Want Neville” chant. Enzo went to the top rope, and then climbed down to get easy heat. But he actually didn’t get much heat for it. Enzo did his jumping off the top rope into a DDT spot. The finish saw Enzo bring the apron drape into the ring. The ref then got it from him and went to put it out of the ring. Enzo used a thumb to the eye and hit eat defeat, which he calls the Jordanzo, for the pin. *3/4

6. Finn Balor pinned A.J. Styles in 18:15. The fans were chanting “This is Awesome” before it started. Then they were chanting “Too sweet.” Styles did his great dropkick spot. Balor did a high kick to knock Styles out of the ring and followed with a running flip dive. Balor did a jumping foot stomp to the side of Styles’ face. Styles used a calf crusher but Balor slammed his head on the mat to break it up. He set up the phenomenal forearm, but Balor shoved him off the rope and Styles landed on the floor. Balor went outside after him. Styles tackled him over the German announcers’ table. They traded elbows until Balor hit Pele kick. Balor used a final cut and the Bloody Sunday DDT as well as a Woo dropkick. Balor went to the top rope but Styles hit the Pele kick. Styles used a Frankensteiner off the top rope but missed a springboard 450. Balor used another Woo dropkick and hit the coup de gras, which looked a lot more devastating than usual, to get the pin. They both held up the “too sweet” sign to each other after the match. Apparently, this was not something they were supposed to do, but they did it to acknowledge the importance of The Bullet Club and New Japan Pro Wrestling to their careers, saying they wanted to show that they haven’t forgotten where they came from. It’s weird because in WWE this match was so much better than most that it felt special, but the Chuck Taylor vs. Ricochet match the night before was significantly better and I gave it a lower rating. I think it really shows how the standard of wrestling up and down a show makes it harder for guys to stand out. But this would have been the ninth best match had it been on All-Star weekend. ****1/4

7. Jason Jordan pinned Elias in 8:47. Elias came out singing again and mentioned that he was having a match with Jordan. This was put in the death spot on the show. Jordan is such a good wrestler, but his gimmick kills him and the fans weren’t into this at all. Jordan won with an inside cradle. This was a mess. Based on how the announcers called the finish, Elias was supposed to kick out and get his shoulder up and the ref was to count three, and thus be a controversial ending to build a rematch. The problem is they go to the ref screws up finish far too often at this point. **

8. Kurt Angle & Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose beat The Miz & Cesaro & Sheamus & Braun Strowman & Kane in a TLC match in 35:29. Before the match, in an interview, Miz promised they were going to great the other team like garbage and take them to the dump. Earlier in the show, Rollins & Ambrose gave Angle Shield gear, so he worked with that on. The match opened with Angle & Rollins & Ambrose using chairs to beat down Kane. Fans were doing the “Yes” chant during this. Ambrose and Rollins used a double tope. Angle used a ladder on Strowman. Rollins used the springboard knee of Kane and Ambrose dropkicked Kane out of the ring. Rollins came off the apron with a clothesline on Kane. Cesaro started using chair shots. Rollins went after Strowman with chair shots and threw Strowman into the post. Rollins and Ambrose climbed the ladder and Ambrose splashed Kane off the top of the ladder through an announcers table. Rollins did the same to Strowman. Cesaro attacked Angle with chair shots to the gut. The fans were booing when they got heat on Angle. Miz & Cesaro & Sheamus acted like they were going to give Angle the Shield style triple power bomb, when Ambrose & Rollins made the save. Angle used three German suplexes on Miz, and then one on Sheamus and another on Cesaro. The crowd went wild for Angle Angle put the ankle lock on Kane but Strowman broke it up and threw Angle into the barricade. Strowman powerslammed Angle through a table on the floor. Angle was then taken to the back like he was injured and that made it five-on-two. Fans were chanting “We Want Lesnar.” Kane accidentally hit Strowman with a chair shot. They had given a tease earlier in the show during an interview that they may not get along. Strowman then shoved Kane down. Sheamus & Cesaro were supposed to give Ambrose a double crucifix bomb through a table. However, Ambrose bounced off the table when it didn’t break. They quickly recovered from that as the table was put in the corner and Strowman threw Ambrose into it hard and he went through it. Miz then called for the garbage truck to come out. The heels threw Ambrose & Rollins into the back of the garbage truck. Ambrose & Rollins fought back and dove off the truck onto the floor on Kane, Cesaro, Strowman and Sheamus. With all four taken out, Ambrose & Rollins went after Miz. Kane saved Miz. Kane then attacked Strowman and choke slammed Strowman through a gimmicked part of the stage. There was a set up with a line of chairs hung from the ceiling and Kane pulled down all the chairs which fell on Strowman. One of the chairs cut up Strowman’s elbow. Kane then choke slammed Ambrose and Rollins through a table. Ambrose landed badly on that one. Sheamus & Cesaro recovered at ths point. Strowman got up from the part of the stage he went through and was now a babyface, and he threw Miz into the wall. He then decked Cesaro. Strowman went after Kane. He started beating on Sheamus & Cesaro until Kane decked him. They all started beating on Strowman. Then they all threw Strowman into the back of the garbage truck. The garbage truck turned on the compactor and Strowman was killed in Road Runner cartoon fashion. Fans chanted “This is murder.” The garbage truck drove off and that was it for Strowman. Everyone surrounded Rollins and started beating him down. Miz hit a DDT on him. Sheamus & Cesaro gave him a stuff white noise. Ambrose recovered and saved Rollins. Angle then came back out and went wild, including giving Sheamus an Olympic slam on the floor. He gave Cesaro an Olympic slam through a table. Angle knocked Miz out of the ring but then Kane took over on Angle. He went to tombstone Angle when Rollins hit Kane with a chair shot to the back. Ambrose & Rollins gave Kane a double tackle through the barricade. Miz hit the skull crushing finale on Angle, but he kicked out. Angle put the ankle lock on Miz, but Miz kicked Angle off and out of the ring. Miz was selling the ankle and Rollins hit him with the knee and Ambrose followed with Dirty Deeds. Angle than used the Olympic slam on Miz. Then Ambrose & Rollins called for the Shield triple team power bomb, with Angle in the Reigns position. They nailed Miz with it and Angle pinned him. ****1/4


Bill Kersten, the voice of All-Star Wrestling promoted by the Heart of America Sports Attractions, from 1965 to 1982, passed away on 10/20 from natural causes at the age of 84.

Heart of America promotions, headed by Gust Karras and Bob Geigel, was better known as Central States wrestling, a smaller promotion that ran weekly shows at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, as well as in places like St. Joseph, MO, Wichita, Hutchinson, Salina and Emporia in Kansas, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines in Iowa and smaller markets in that geographical area.

Kersten, who later served a term from 1995 to 1997 as the Mayor of Liberty, MO, was well known in the area for opening every show saying, “Hellooo wrestling fans.”

He noted that decades after he was last on television, and was working as a ticket taker at a local movie theater, that not a day would go by when he’d be at his job and he’d hear people scream out to him,“Hellooo wrestling fans.”

Born June 21, 1933, in Kansas City, he was a lifelong fan. His father was a fan before him and he started attending shows when he was a young child.

He actually started working as an usher at the weekly matches at Memorial Hall in Kansas City in 1947, while still a high school freshman.

He continued to work at the shows, with the exception of time away serving in the Korean War. He became the ring announcer at the shows in 1956, and since the shows were televised, he also handled interviews and was the timekeeper. In around 1965, he moved on to become the lead announcer on the television show.

Kersten was similar to Boyd Pierce, a contemporary who was an approachable nice man that the local fans liked. He was not a great television announcer by any means, and would never be compared to people like Gordon Solie, Lance Russell or Larry Matysik. But he was, like Pierce, a storyteller who served his purpose with the small promotion and was a fixture to the local fans, who at the time saw no other wrestling on television most of the time. Geigel kept him in the position until 1982, when he was replaced by Rick Stewart, a younger and very underrated announcer.

But he still remained around the promotion and working for Geigel, who he remained close friends with until, the promotion closed up in 1988.

Geigel and Kersten, along with people like Roger Kirby and Tom Andrews from the Central States territory were regulars at the Cauliflower Alley Club for years.

Kersten’s biggest thrill was being the announcer for a couple of major world title changes at Memorial Hall, the 1973 match where local star Harley Race defeated Dory Funk Jr., ending a legendary four plus year reign as world champion, and the 1981 match where Ric Flair won his first title from Dusty Rhodes, in one of life’s great mysteries why that match was booked in Kansas City instead of somewhere like Atlanta, Charlotte or Greensboro where Flair was a local icon.

“Bill Kersten reached the people who needed to reach in wrestling on television and on radio,” said his gruff long-time boss Bob Geigel to Slam Wrestling in 2009. “Bill Kersten talked the language of the working class people because he was a working class person. Besides that, he had a nice personality, and I liked him.”

After leaving wrestling, he hosted a local radio show, worked as a ticket taker at a local movie theater to be around people, and served on the Board of Directors of the Clay County Health Department, the Liberty Chamber of Commerce and the B&B Theater. He had four grandchildren, 12 great- grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

“A special part of my life is professional wrestling,” he told Greg Oliver. “A special part of my life is the wrestling family, not only the wrestlers, but the fans. I’ve said it once. I’ve said it a thousand times. The wrestling fan is the most dedicated professional sports fan in the world. You take 18 inches of snow or 108 in the shade, if there’s a wrestling match going on, that person will be there.”

Kersten was given the Lou Thesz award for charitable work outside of wrestling in 2009 at the Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame ceremony, and that same year was honored by the Cauliflower Alley Club in a surprise award introduced by Race.


Darren Till made the most of his chance to become a star this past weekend.

Till, a 24-year-old Liverpool native who came into the 10/21 UFC show in Gdansk, Poland with a 15-0-1 record, was give a main event with Donald Cerrone, one of the most popular fighters in UFC.

Whether the fight was a sign that Till has championship potential, or a sign that Cerrone, who has lost three in a row, is losing ground after years of wars, is still to be determined. Till landed a punch to Cerrone’s nose, and hurt him with punches until it was stopped at the 4:20 mark of a Fight Pass show that was a big success on the streaming service, likely thanks to Cerrone’s popularity

After the fight, Mike Perry came to the cage and he and Till went back-and-forth to build a fight, but Perry first has a fight against Santiago Ponzinibbio coming on 12/16 in Winnipeg.

The show drew 11,138 fans at Ergo Arena, for a gate of $677,000 in the country with the hugely popular old-school pro wrestling style MMA promotion KSW as a fixture.

Till and Jan Blachowicz both earned $50,000 performance bonuses while Damian Stasiak and Brian Keller also got $50,000 bonuses for fight of the night.

The local star of the show was Poland’s Karolina Kowalkiewicz, who used her reach and superior hands to win a solid 30-27 decision over Jodie Esquibel. Kowalkiewicz after the fight issued a challenge to Jessica Andrade. 1. Josh Emmett (12-1) beat Felipe Arantes (18-9-1, 2 no contests) by scores of 30-26, 30-26 and 30-25 in a featherweight fight. Emmett dominated the first round with multiple knockdowns, to the point one judge scored it a 10-7, a number extremely rare. The second round was closer, but Emmett won it with a late takedown. Emmett landed more and harder shots in the third round and it ended with a great exchange.

2. Aspen Ladd (6-0) beat Lina Lansberg (7-3) at 2:33 of the second round in a women’s bantamweight fight. This was Ladd’s UFC debut. Lansberg dominated the first round landing more working a clinch. Ladd got a second round takedown and worked for submissions, as well as landed lots of punches from the top until it was stopped.

3. Warlley Alves (11-2) beat Salim Touahri (10-2) on scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 in a welterweight fight. Alves had a huge size advantage here and Touahri also took the fight late. He took the first round with better stand-up and several takedowns. The second round was closer, and both were tired in the third round where little happened but Alves won it with a takedown.

4. Andre Fili (17-5) beat Artem Lobov (13-14-1, 1 no contest) on straight 30-27 scores in a featherweight fight. Lobov had Conor McGregor in his corner. Fili bloodied Lobov up to win the first round. Both landed good shots in the second round but Fili got a takedown. The ref also yelled at McGregor who was standing on the apron during the fight. The third round saw Fili get a takedown and went for a head-and-arm choke. Fili ended up with five takedowns to win the round and the fight.

5. Ramazan Emeev (16-3) beat Sam Alvey (31-10, 1 no contest) on straight 30-27 scores in a middleweight fight. Alvey missed weight, coming in at 189. Apparently, he was 226 when he got called a few weeks ago to be a late replacement. He was said to still be 220 about a week ago. He got to 189, and still looked soft. All that weight cutting in a short period of time did him no good because he put his body through too much stress trying to make weight. Emeev took him down and landed a lot of punches when Alvey got up. In the second round, he landed more. Alvey tried for a guillotine. The third round was closer as Alvey landed a lot of punches late in the round.

6. Brian Kelleher (18-8) beat Damian Stasiak (10-5) at 3:39 of the third round in a bantamweight fight. Stasiak, who is from Poland, came out to “Wild Boys,” which honestly should be retired as an entrance song since it’s so associated with Mirko Cro Cop. Both landed good shots in the first round and Kelleher went for a few guillotines but couldn’t finish. Stasiak got a takedown in the second round but Keller got up and landed a lot of punches that left Stasiak bleeding. He also got a late takedown. In the third round, both were throwing wild punches. Kelleher finally dropped Stasiak with an uppercut and landed lots of punches on the ground until it was stopped.

7. Marcin Held (23-7) beat Nasrat Haqparast (8-2) on straight 30-27 scores in a lightweight fight. Held was a big favorite here. Fans were chanting his name. Held got a takedown and landed elbows from the top to take the first round. Haqparast dropped him with a left and landed good shots. Held got a few takedowns and ended the round in side control. Close round. Held got a takedown in the third round and was working for a can opener submission and an armbar. Haqparast got on top late I the round and landed punches. Fans gave both a nice ovation when it was over.

8. Oskar Piechota (10-0-1) beat Jonathan Wilson (7-3) on straight 30-27 scores in a middleweight fight. It started slowly until Piechota got a takedown and kept working for a choke, dominating the round. Nothing happened in the second round and fans were whistling at the lack of action. Wilson was about to win the round when Piechota dropped him with a right hook just as the round ended. In the third round, Piechota got a takedown and was working with a choke, landing punches on the ground, worked for an arm triangle and a regular triangle and an armbar that he had locked in just as the round ended. I thought either the first or third rounds could have been 10-8s.

9. Jan Blachowicz (20-7) beat Devin Clark (8-2) at 3:02 of the second round in a light heavyweight fight. Blachowicz landed knees in a clinch early. Clark came back later in the round and landed more. In the second round, Blachowicz landed hard body kicks. Clark went for a takedown but Blachowicz reversed and got him down. It was the first time Clark had been taken down in UFC. Clark got up and Blachowicz just snatched a standing choke on him, similar to the finish of the fight where Carlos Newton beat Pat Miletich for the lightweight title years ago.

10. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (11-2) beat Jodie Esquibel (6-3) on straight 30-27 scores in a womens’ strawweight fight. Kowalkiewicz standup game looked great here. She had strong combinations throughout the fight and was able to use her reach to dominate. In the second round Kowalkiewicz tripped Esquibel down and got her back. She was working for an armbar, but Esquibel punched her from the top. In the third round, they traded knees and Kowalkiewicz kept landing knees and combos as well as a spinning kick.

11. Darren Till (16-0-1) beat Donald Cerrone (32-10, 1 no contest) in 4:20 in a welterweight fight. This was the fight where Cerrone being small for a welterweight made a difference. He looks much healthier and stronger here than at lightweight, but Till looked 15 pounds heavier in the cage. Cerrone was going for takedowns early. He got one, but Till was right back up. Til started connecting. He started landing lefts and busted up Cerrone’s nose. Cerrone landed a body kick but Till staggered him, put him down with a flurry of punches and it was stopped.


With Battle of Los Angeles, PWG had three of the best shows of the past week. Coming back with the All-Star weekend doubleheader for a crowd that is mostly fly-ins, with the high ticket priced events, was a challenge.

While the 10/21 show sold out instantly, the 10/20 show had tickets on sale for a few weeks, not selling out until Penta 0M was added to the show, and it was shifted around and given a Penta 0M & Rey Fenix vs. Jeff Cobb & Matt Riddle PWG tag title main event. While the 400 tickets are still not a lot, and they would be able to sell tons more if there was the space, they are now doing $70 and $90 for regular show tickets, including standing room, making them the most expensive non-WWE tickets in North America.

The weekend featured two title changes, as Cobb & Riddle won the tag titles the first night, and in the biggest weekend story, Ricochet won the PWG title from Chuck Taylor on the second night.

The latter result was a surprise since it’s hardly a secret that Ricochet’s independent days are nearing an end, and that he is likely to be with WWE within a few months.

PWG usually has long title reigns. Before Taylor beat Zack Sabre Jr., on 7/7, Sabre had a 489-day reign as champion, which was preceded by a 449-day reign by Roderick Strong, a 203-day reign of Kyle O’Reilly and a 538-day reign by Adam Cole.

So it was early for Taylor to lose, and Ricochet is leaving shortly. Well, he said he wasn’t, but that’s another issue.

The match was notable as Ricochet did a heel turn, well, as much as he could with this crowd, and first pinned Taylor in 17:30 after a belt shot and a low blow. But ref Rick Knox came out and overturned the decision and the match was restarted. Usually, in those circumstances, you get a quick face win after the restart. Instead, they went 13:15. During this period, Taylor undid the top rope. This played back to Taylor’s title win over Sabre, where Sabre, tired of Taylor getting rope breaks on submissions, undid the middle rope.

Presumably, the story here was that Ricochet’s best moves are off the top rope, and by taking down the top rope, it would eliminate them. Ricochet still did both a shooting star and a 450 off the middle rope, but couldn’t get the pin. But he used another low blow, and hit a move similar to a rock bottom and got the three count.

Some expected, given the Wednesday night Lucha Underground title match finish where Ricochet, as Prince Puma, shockingly won the title from Johnny Mundo on his last night, leading to Pentagon Dark coming out for an impromptu match, figured that someone, perhaps Walter, would come out and take the title.

Instead, Ricochet did a heel interview, saying that the stories of him leaving aren’t true, and that by winning this belt, it shows he’s here to stay. He did the interview in clear hero mode, including thanking Taylor for helping him get his start 14 years ago, and then telling Taylor to get out of his ring, which Taylor did.

Most likely Ricochet will return on the next show, which isn’t until 1/12. Ricochet has told independent promoters that he won’t take any dates after the end of January.

As far as why Ricochet won BOLA and followed it up winning the PWG title when he’s likely not long-term, my guess it’s both a sign of respect and perhaps a feeling of foresight on history. PWG has been the place where some of the best North American talent of this generation, from Kevin Owens, A.J. Styles, Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn, Kenny Omega, Neville, C.M. Punk, Low Ki, Christopher Daniels, Cesaro, Samoa Joe and many others had some of their best matches before becoming international stars.

Ricochet is very clearly at their level, and in history, he became the first guy to win BOLA twice, and he was not on the list of former champions that includes Low Ki, Omega, Styles, Bryan Danielson, Sabre, Strong, El Generico, Kevin Steen, Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole and others where you look back and say they recognized the talent before most did.

But the real story of the weekend was the continued high quality up-and-down the show. While there is nothing in PWG at the level of the top six or seven New Japan matches this year, that’s a pretty high standard. But PWG very rarely has any matches that aren’t good. This may have been the most consistent series of very strong matches on two nights that I’ve ever seen from a promotion, with only one match less than ***½, and I was just about the only person who gave Brian Cage vs. Flash Morgan Webster ***1/4, because the two did a great match given the limitations of two guys with a ridiculous size discrepancy.

Some are going to take this the wrong way, but after being at this show and going home to watch the WWE TLC show the next day, I had to reprogram myself, because the A.J. Styles vs. Finn Balor match, which was a great match, was so slow and told less of a story and wasn’t nearly as crisp as a number of matches on this show, and forget about comparing heat. On this stage, Styles vs. Balor would have been ***3/4, and the ninth best match of the two days. That’s how big a difference there is in wrestling and heat on a consistent basis.

On the flip side, the match of the weekend, by far was Walter vs. Zack Sabre Jr. I’ve given ***** to two PWG matches so far, both of which, by coincidence, ended with “five star match” chants. This one had no such chants, but still had people coming up to me individually saying that. Live it was, as it reminded me of being live for the 1989 Flair vs. Steamboat match in Chicago except Walter’s chops were much stiffer. Flair-Steamboat did have an element of artistry and a feel of a historic match between the two best guys around battling for a real world title that this one couldn’t touch. But this was more physical and far more heated. Still, because the key to the match was the chops, and physical matches always translate better live than on television or later viewing, I don’t think people viewing this later would go *****. It was a better version of the Walter vs. Ilja Dragunov match in wXw earlier in the year that I didn’t see live and gave ****3/4, but people live thought was the best match they’d ever seen and saw it get consistent *****’s live. Sabre is better than Dragunov and Walter is the same Walter, so this match felt better to me but at that level, they’re all great.

The first night on paper didn’t look as strong, but the last four matches were like watching a major NJPW show and it was pretty close to BOLA level.

 

OCTOBER 20

1. Flash Morgan Webster beat Brian Cage in 10:39. This was a well worked big man vs. little man match, with Cage being outsped and Webster being outpowered. It was mostly Cage, but in the end, Webster got the big upset pop with a cradle off a power slam. ***1/4

2. Mark Haskins beat Adam Brooks in 18:14. There was some shtick early, mostly by Brooks, who was making his debut. This was a match filled with great moves and near falls, but would have been better about four minutes shorter even with this crowd. ***½

3. Joey Janela pinned Trevor Lee in 14:51. This match started with Janela doing two tope’s on two different sides of the ring. Then he did a flip plancha to the third side of the ring. The negative is that this was all within the first three minutes and while it got the crowd big into the match and they stayed with it, they never reached that level of fever pitch again. Lee’s more of a great live worker than somebody who does a ton of crazy moves, so they really in that sense were great opponents. But I worry for what Janela is putting himself through to get himself a name. Janela won with a reversal of a cradle. ***3/4

4. Keith Lee pinned Jonah Rock in 18:35. This was a super big man’s match. It was a little slow early but you’ve got two guys who are both 315-325 pounds who were moving and never got tired. Lee didn’t do the crazy stuff he did in the Donovan Dijak match, but this was extremely hard hitting and the finish was great. Rock came off the top rope with a crossbody. Lee caught him, hoisted Rock overhead and onto his shoulders like John Cena would do, except Rock is 100 pounds heavier than the people Cena throws around. From that position, Lee gave him a jackhammer slam for the pin. Rock looked much better here than at BOLA. It’s really telling and sad how few full-time places there are when a guy with the size and charisma of Lee isn’t with a major promotion. In many ways, he reminds me of Mark Henry, if Mark Henry had the agility of Bruiser Brody. ****

5. Sammy Guevera won a three-way over Rey Horus and Flamita in 13:54. This match was designed to just be a series of spectacular moves and they hit it 100 percent. Guevera has the ability to be the next Ricochet in Japan or the indies, as he has charisma and comes across as really cocky in a good way for a wrestler. Flamita and Horus (Dragon Azteca Jr. in Lucha Underground) have spectacular moves but can be hit and miss, but were all on point here. Guevara pinned Flamita with a 630. ****½

6. Ricochet pinned Walter in 16:46. Walter just beat him to death with chops and power moves. Ricochet would come back with all kinds of flying moves, including a Fosbury flop late. Hard hitting, great storytelling as this was not the kind of match you’d normally see Ricochet in. In the end, he was able to do some power moves back on Walter. ****½

7. Matt Riddle & Jeff Cobb beat Penta 0M & Rey Fenix in 17:35 to win the PWG tag titles. The crowd went nuts for Riddle vs. Penta. There were some really cool submissions used by Penta & Fenix. The one thing is that the most spectacular spot by Riddle & Cobb, which is Cobb having Fenix on his shoulders and Riddle jumping off the top rope with a flying knee (because he hits the knee about nine feet in the air, it looks amazing in still photos) wasn’t used as the finish. Cobb had Fenix on his shoulders and threw him like a GTS but into Riddle’s knee for the pin. The fans threw a good deal of money into the ring after this was over. ****½

 

OCTOBER 21

 

1. Jonah Rock pinned Adam Brooks in 10:43. Another big man/little man match that got great heat. Rock won with a power bomb off the middle rope. Both are these guys are from Australia and familiar with each other so had great chemistry throughout. ***½

2. Young Bucks beat Flash Morgan Webster & Mark Haskins in 17:46. Weird seeing the Young Bucks not doing any merch sales, coming out for this match early, and leaving. The match itself was great. Because Webster is smaller, even Nick Jackson got to play bully, but the size difference wasn’t as much as Webster usually has so he got to show a different light. The story of the match, was that Webster & Haskins would do the “too sweet” hand gesture and “suck it” and the Bucks had to sell it since they “aren’t allowed to do it” (in actuality they can do it all they want but in their storyline they can’t). They did the two boots, four boots (with Marty Scurll coming out) and six boots (with ref Rick Knox) that got over big. The finish was a Meltzer driver on Haskins and a double sharpshooter. Haskins & Webster both did the “too sweet” hand gesture just before tapping out. ****1/4

3. Marty Scurll beat Joey Janela in 14:03. Scurll said that he was a proper wrestler and Janela was nothing but a spot monkey. Tons of near falls back-and-forth ending with Scurll winning with a chicken wing. ***3/4

4. Walter beat Zack Sabre Jr. In 20:02. This was just a match of some of the hardest chops you’ll ever see thrown by Walter. It was amazing live because they’d go into the crowd and then do those chops where it sounded like a shotgun was fired. They played up the size difference. There were people who said this was the best PWG match ever, although I wouldn’t go that far, but it was an incredible live spectacle. Walter threw some great suplexes and when it was time to sell, he was great there. I’m really not sure why Walter isn’t more on the international stage given his size and how well he works. His body is soft, but he comes across like a Big Bill Miller sized guy and is far better than Miller ever was, and Miller was a great star. I’m not sure how his personality when it comes to talking would hold up but as far as the ability to work and get a match over and come across like a tough big guy and not destroy the opponent, he’s incredible. Sabre went for a cradle and Walter got behind him for a choke for the submission. *****

5. Trent Baretta won a three-way over Rey Horus and Matt Sydal in 17:00. They played up the heavyweight Trent stuff from New Japan, where he was the bigger guy of the three. Sydal looked great. Baretta did as well. Horus did good stuff but also missed a few things. There were all kinds of near falls that got over until Baretta finally pinned Sydal with the Dudebuster. ***½

6. Ricochet pinned Chuck Taylor at 30:45 to win the PWG title. The story was Ricochet working as a heel. But he still pulled off big moves but didn’t fly around like he did the night before. He did a lot of top rope moves early which led to Taylor taking down the top rope after Ricochet had used the low blow and belt shot to get the first pin. The crowd was going nuts late in the match with all the near falls. Ricochet won, gave his speech, Matt Sydal came out to congratulate him even though Sydal worked as a face and Ricochet as a heel, they were long-time tag team partners. ****


The angle on Raw where Smackdown invaded was a big success in carrying over viewers as the 10/24 show did 2,699,000 viewers going head-to-head with the World Series. It was the best number for the show since 9/12, but probably the most impressive number, except possibly the 7/4 number, given the competition.

That means that it’s likely both hours of Smackdown beat the third hour of Raw the night before, and beat what Raw did the week before. The number was up 16 percent from the prior week. Smackdown was third for the night on cable.

Game one of the World Series, on FOX, did 14,968,000 viewers head-to-head.

The show did a 0.58 in 12-17 (up 16.0 percent from last week), 0.64 in 18-34 (up 3.2 percent), 0.98 in 35-49 (up 16.7 percent) and 1.10 in 50+ (up 14.6 percent).

The audience was 61.7 male in 18-49 and 51.5 percent male in 12-17.

It’s notable that teenage girls tuned out of Raw in droves on Monday, but the teenage girl audience on Smackdown was up 60 percent from the prior week. It sounds like a ton of people, heavily teenage girl skewed, who didn’t like Raw and tuned out early, and usually don’t watch Smackdown, ended up watching Smackdown because they heard what they missed on Raw.

On the flip side, when it comes to teenage boys, who didn’t tune out to the third hour to anywhere near the same degree. In that demo, Raw is usually still gaining in the third hour many weeks. They declined this week, but the decline was 7.8 percent from the previous low rated week, which seems to confirm that theory. Indeed, when you look at the numbers, the correlation between the people who tuned out during Raw and the increases the next day on Smackdown is pretty strong.

The 10/23 Raw show had one of the most unique results to date. Overall the show did well, averaging 2,936,000 viewers based on the PPV bump coming from the TLC show. Overall, it was the best number since football season started, and up nine percent from last week, which was the lowest number since June.

The first hour was the best first hour since football season started. But the third hour was the second lowest third hour since football season started. The 23.6 percent loss of viewers from hour one to hour three was the biggest in the history of the show. That pattern would usually be considered a show that a lot of people were interested in seeing, but the show itself was terrible and drove people away. I don’t think that’s the case here. The first hour was so unusually high based on curiosity, probably having to do with Kurt Angle wrestling for the first time in a WWE ring, the Braun Strowman angle on the PPV, and perhaps information on Roman Reigns. It was clear by the end of the first hour that the Angle thing had been addressed, Strowman wasn’t going to be around, and Reigns wasn’t being mentioned. The second hour to me was the normalized hour, but the third hour drop was among the largest second to third hour drops in history, which was a bad sign. That’s more because what they were pushing for hour three, a women’s match for the team captain, a ten-man cruiserweight match and the naming of Team Raw for the Survivor Series, were evidently things people weren’t that interested in. That also means the big angle for the show, which came last, likely came at a time when viewership was extremely low.

The biggest competition was a Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins football game that did 11,275,000 viewers. Dancing With the Stars with Nikki Bella did 9,149,000 viewers.

The first hour did 3,332,000 viewers. The second hour did 2,969,000 viewers. The third hour did 2,557,000 viewers.

As far as the drops in the different demos from hour one to hour three, the 18-49 women’s drop was 18.6 percent, the 18-49 male drop was 18.6 percent, the 12-17 girls drop was 49 percent, which sounds almost unbelievable, the 12-17 boys drop was 9.8 percent and the 50+ drop was 20.5 percent.

Raw was third for the night on cable, trailing the NFL game and the SportsCenter episode after the game.

The show did a 0.73 in 12-17 (up 10.6 percent), 0.86 in 18-34 (up 10.3 percent), 1.20 in 35-49 (up 15.4 percent) and 1.11 in 50+ (up 6.7 percent).

The audience was 62.8 percent male in 18-49 and 61.6 percent male in 12-17.

Bellator on 10/20 did 476,000 viewers (523,000 including DVR viewership within three days or 9.9 percent growth), which can’t possibly be viewed as a positive for the debut of Gegard Mousasi and the amount of money it had to cost to get him from UFC. The peak number, for the Mousasi vs. Alexander Shlemenko main event, including DVR viewership, was 792,000.

The likely reason for such a low number was that the final game of the American League Championship Series with the Houston Astros eliminating the New York Yankees, which drew 8,225,000 viewers head-to-head. There was also an NBA game at the same time that did 2,387,000 viewers, so the competition was much tougher than a usual Friday night.

Impact on 10/19 did 267,000 viewers, down four percent from the 279,000 the week before.

The 10/18 episode of Total Bellas did 563,000 viewers, up from 552,000 the previous week.

The final episode of Lucha Underground season three, the two-hour Ultima Lucha Tres show, did 140,000 total viewers, almost identical to the 139,000 the week before. It was broken down at 114,000 at 8 p.m. and 26,000 for the 11 p.m. replay. The 114,000 average from 8-10 p.m. was actually up 19 percent from the 8-9 p.m. first run average the week before. It’s misleading to compare the combined hours since the replay on 10/18 was at 11 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. The bad news for El Rey is that Bushido Battleground, the show making its debut that El Rey has been pushing really hard, followed Lucha Underground at 10 p.m. and only did 27,000 viewers. One of the reasons they delayed the season so much is that El Rey wanted to use Lucha Underground as a lead-in for the first episode of the new show, thinking the audiences would be similar, but the wrestling audience didn’t stay at all.

The 10/17 Smackdown did a 1.62 rating and 2,320,000 viewers (1.56 viewers per show).


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RESULTS

 

10/19 Buenos Aires, Argentina (WWE Smackdown - 7,200 sellout): Tag titles: Usos b Big E & Kofi Kingston, Bobby Roode b Aiden English, Sami Zayn b Sin Cara, Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair & Naomi b Carmella & Natalya & Tamina, Randy Orton b Rusev, Three-way for U.S. title: Baron Corbin won over Kevin Owens and Tye Dillinger, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Shinsuke Nakamura

10/19 Macon, GA (WWE NXT - 940): No Way Jose b Fabian Aichner, Lacey Evans & Sarah Logan b Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville, Johnny Gargano b Dan Matha, Roderick Strong b Hideo Itami, Adam Cole & Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly b Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain, Velveteen Dream b Kassius Ohno, Nikki Cross b Sage Beckett, NXT title: Drew McIntyre b Andrade Cien Almas, NXT title: Drew McIntyre b Adam Cole-DQ

10/19 Daytona Beach, FL (WWE NXT - 150): Lio Rush b Chad Lail, Marcel Barthel b Donovan Dijak, Lars Sullivan b Eric Bugenhagen, Buddy Murphy b Jason, Kairi Sane & Ember Moon & Ruby Riot b Shayna Baszler & Peyton Royce & Rhea Ripley, Danny Burch b Sawyer Fulton, Liv Morgan b Vanessa Borne, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler

10/20 St. Louis (WWE Raw - 4,500): Dana Brooke referee: Bayley & Sasha Banks b Emma & Alicia Fox, Matt Hardy b Dash Wilder, Goldust & Titus O’Neil b Darren Young & Curt Hawkins, Braun Strowman b Finn Balor, Women’s title: Alexa Bliss b Mickie James, Cruiserweight title: Kalisto b Enzo Amore, Street fight for tag titles: Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b Sheamus & Cesaro

10/20 Buenos Aires, Argentina (WWE Smackdown - 7,200 sellout): Becky Lynch & Naomi b Carmella & Tamina, Tye Dillinger b Aiden English, Women’s title: Natalya b Charlotte Flair, New Day & A.J. Styles b Usos & Rusev, Bobby Roode b Sami Zayn, U.S. title: Baron Corbin b Shinsuke Nakamura, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Randy Orton

10/20 North Charleston, SC (WWE NXT - 2,000): No Way Jose b Dan Matha, Lacey Evans & Sarah Logan b Zeda & Sage Beckett, Velveteen Dream b Johnny Gargano, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly & Adam Cole b Eric Young & Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe, Kassius Ohno b Fabian Aichner, Nikki Cross b Sonya Deville, Drew McIntyre & Roderick Strong b Andrade Cien Almas & Hideo Itami

10/20 Venice FL (WWE NXT 250): Lio Rush b Sawyer Fulton, Lars Sullivan b Danny Burch, Liv Morgan b Vanessa Borne, Donovan Dijak b Boa, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake, Angelo Dawkins b Tino Sabbatelli, Babitunde Ayegbusi b Jeet Rama, Kairi Sane & Ember Moon & Ruby Riot b Shayna Baszler & Peyton Royce & Rhea Ripley

10/20 Philadelphia (ROH TV tapings - 1,000 sellout): Vinny Marseglia & TK O’ryan won three-way over Rhett Titus & Will Ferrara and Leon St. Giovanni & Shaheem Ali, ROH title: Cody b Brian Nova, Tag titles: Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley b War Machine, Jenny Rose won four-way over Nikki Adams, Jessie Brooks and Sumie Sakai, Punishment Martinez b Josh Woods, TV title: Kenny King b Mark Briscoe, Chuckle T & Baretta b Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian, Dalton Castle b Hangman Page, Karen Q b Deonna Purrazzo, Matt Taven b Jay White, Shane Taylor b Cheeseburger, Silas Young b Jonathan Gresham, Young Bucks & Hangman Page & Marty Scurll b Flip Gordon & Scorpio Sky & Leon St. Giovanni & Hasheem Ali

10/20 Niigata (New Japan - 1,922 sellout): Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga b Tetsuhiro Yagi & Ren Narita, Jushin Liger & Dragon Lee & Titan b Kushida & Hirai Kawato & Shota Umino, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Taka Michinoku b Tiger Mask & Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii b Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka & Desperado-DQ, Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson & David Finlay b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Katsuya Kitamura, Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi & Yoh & Sho & Rocky Romero

10/20 Mexico City Arena Mexico (CMLL - 8,000): Disturbio & Sangre Azteca b Oro Jr. & Star Jr., Misterioso Jr. & Polvora & Sagrado b Guerrero Maya Jr. & Pegasso & Rey Cometa, Cuatrero & Forastero & Sanson b Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & Soberano Jr., Negro Casas & Rey Bucanero & El Terrible b Pierroth & Rush & Sam Adonis-DQ, Ultimo Guerrero & Mephisto & Gran Guerrero b Diamante Azul & Mistico & Valiente, Leyenda de Plata finals: Volador Jr. b Caristico

10/21 Mankato, MN (WWE Raw - 3,100): Dana Brooke referee: Sasha Banks & Bayley b Alicia Fox & Emma, Matt Hardy b Dash Wilder, Goldust & Titus O’Neil b Curtis Axel & Darren Young, Braun Strowman b Finn Balor, Women’s title: Alexa Bliss b Mickie James, Cruiserweight title: Kalisto b Enzo Amore, Street fight for tag titles: Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose b Sheamus & Cesaro

10/21 Santiago, Chile (WWE Smackdown - 11,000 sellout): Xavier Woods & Big E & A.J. Styles b Usos & Rusev, Tye Dillinger b Aiden English, Sin Cara b Aiden English, Becky Lynch & Naomi b Tamina & Carmella, Bobby Roode b Sami Zayn, Women’s title: Natalya b Charlotte Flair, U.S. title: Baron Corbin b Shinsuke Nakamura, Last man standing match for WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Randy Orton

10/21 Aiken, SC (WWE NXT - 200): No Way Jose b Fabian Aichner, Johnny Gargano b Dan Matha, Lacey Evans b Sarah Logan, Roderick Strong b Hideo Itami, Adam Cole & Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly b Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain & Eric Young, Velveteen Dream b Kassius Ohno, Nikki Cross b Sonya Deville, NXT title: Drew McIntyre b Andrade Cien Almas

10/21 Citrus Springs, FL (WWE NXT - 200): Angelo Dawkins b Ming, Rub Riot b Rhea Ripley, Lars Sullivan b Eric Bugenhagen, Tian Bing b Sawyer Fulton, Lio Rush b Tino Sabbatelli, Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight b Brennan Williams & Jason, Donovan Dijak b Boa, Kairi Sane & Ember Moon b Shayna Baszler & Abbey Laith

10/21 Yokohama Bunka Gym (All Japan Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori 25th anniversary show - 1,817): Yohei Nakajima & Kotaro Suzuki b Koji Iwamoto & Yusuke Okada, Maseshi Takeda & Atsushi Maruyama b Masa Fuchi & Osamu Nishimura, Saori Ano & Natsumi Manki b Saki & Haruka Kato, Yutaka Yoshie & Danny Jones & Fuminori Abe b Ryoji Sai & Rikiyo Fudo & Ishinriki, Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu & Kai b Zeus & Shuji Ishikawa & The Bodyguard, All-Asia tag titles: Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi b Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato, Jr. Title: Tajiri b Ultimo Dragon to win title, World tag titles: Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori b Daisuke Sekimoto & Ryuji Ito, Triple Crown: Joe Doering b Suwama to win title

10/21 Togane (New Japan- 2,050 sellout): Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga b Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi & Desperado b Shota Umino & Tetsuhiro Yagi & Ren Narita, Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Dagon Lee & Titan b Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH & Kushida & Hirai Kawato, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi b Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka & Taka Michinoku-DQ, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima b Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson & David Finlay, Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo & Yoh & Sho, Yuji Nagata b Manabu Nakanishi

10/22 Santiago, Chile (WWE Smackdown - 11,000 sellout): Big E & Kofi Kingston & Randy Orton b Usos & Sami Zayn, Sin Cara b Aiden English, Women’s title: Natalya b Naomi, HHH b Rusev, Charlotte & Becky Lynch b Tamina & Carmella, Three-way for U.S. title: Baron Corbin won over Bobby Roode and Tye Dillinger, WWE title: Jinder Mahal b Shinsuke Nakamura

10/22 Johnson City, TN (WWE NXT): No Way Jose b Dan Matha, Lacey Evans b Sage Beckett, Velveteen Dream b Johnny Gargano, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly & Adam Cole b Eric Young & Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe, Kassius Ohno b Fabian Aichner, Nikki Cross b Sonya Deville, Drew McIntyre & Roderick Strong b Andrade Cien Almas & Hideo Itami

10/23 Green Bay, WI (WWE Raw/Main Event TV tapings - 4,900): Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows b Apollo Crews & Titus O’Neil, Matt Hardy b Curt Hawkins, A.J. Styles & Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins b Sheamus & Cesaro & The Miz, Kane b Finn Balor, Asuka b Emma, Jason Jordan b Elias-DQ, Alicia Fox won three-way over Bayley and Sasha Banks, Kalisto & Gran Metalik & Mustafa Ali & Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann b Enzo Amore & Ariya Daivari & Drew Gulak & Tony Nese & Noam Dar

10/23 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (New Japan - 1,654 sellout): Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga b Tomoyuki Oka & Shota Umino, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Desperado & Taichi & Taka Michinoku b Jushin Liger & Tiger mask & Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto b Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka, Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson & David Finlay b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Katsuya Kitamura, Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada b Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi, Super Jr. Tag tourney: Sho & Yoh b Kushida & Hirai Kawato, Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi b Dragon Lee & Titan

10/24 Milwaukee (WWE Smackdown/205 Live - 6,000): Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley & Tye Dillinger b Primo & Epico Colon & Mike Kanellis, Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin b Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods, Non-title: Sin Cara b Baron Corbin-DQ, A.J. Styles b Sumil Singh, Becky Lynch won five-way over Charlotte Flair, Tamina, Carmella and Naomi, Randy Orton b Sami Zayn, Rich Swann & Cedric Alexander b Tony Nese & Noam Dar, Drew Gulak b Gran Metalik, Cruiserweight title: Kalisto b Enzo Amore-DQ, Shinsuke Nakamura & Bobby Roode b Jinder Mahal & Dolph Ziggler

CMLL: Volador Jr. beat Caristico to win the Leyenda de Plata tournament before nearly 8,000 fans, the biggest crowd by far since the earthquake, on the 10/20 Arena Mexico show. As noted weekly, with the problems with the earthquake and tourism being down, crowds are down and the expectation will be down for a while. The match went 26:25 and I’d go ****½ with it. It was Caristico’s best CMLL singles match I’ve seen since his return to the promotion, even though he came in with his back all jacked up. It was, for the most part, a face vs. face style technical flying match, but Volador did a few subtle heel things. The crowd was still more behind him as they chanted for him and not for Caristico, even though Mistico, who the crowd hated, was in Volador’s corner. Volador spit on Caristico’s hand right away. Caristico did a Fosbury flop dive in the first fall, but Volador won in 3:06 with a back stabber. The second fall went 2:20 with Volador doing a running flip dive and Caristico getting the pin with a Toyota roll. The third fall was the big one. The one thing I noted is that they were working a slower pace than most Arena Mexico singles matches, which was a good thing because it made the actual moves mean more since the crowd soaked them in and they were built rather than non-stop moves that are often done here, like in last week’s main event. In the third fall, Mistico distracted Caristico so Volador could attack him from behind. Volador crotched him on the barricade. Caristico did a pescado into a huracanrana. Volador did a stage dive. Caristico did a monkey flip on the stage. Volador then kissed a girl at ringside. Caristico whipped Volador over the barricade. Caristico did a springboard off the barricade into a flip dive with Volador two rows deep. Volador then grabbed drinks from fans and started pouring a few drinks all over Caristico. Then he grabbed a Pepsi and poured it all over himself. I’m not sure why anyone would do that. Caristico did springboard huracanrana off the barricade. Then he did a running flip dive over the top. Then he did a plancha over the post t the floor. Volador came back with a Super Frankensteiner for a great near fall, since that’s his usual finish. Caristico did a springboard Del Rio foot stomp and a moonsault, but Volador got his feet up. Caristico used a Spanish fly off the top rope for another near fall. Caristico then did an Asai moonsault off the top rope to the floor but Volador got his feet up. Volador hit the back stabber that he won the first fall with, but Caristico kicked out. Caristico got the La Mistica, but Volador made the ropes. Volador got a near fall with a Canadian Destroyer. Caristico used a powerslam for a near fall until Volador hit his second Super Frankensteiner for the pin in 18:28 of the fall. The storyline going into this is that Caristico had never beaten Volador on a CMLL show at Arena Mexico, and this kept that streak alive. Caristico bowed to Volador after the match. The fans loved the match to the point they threw money in the ring, and that very rarely happens at Arena Mexico. Volador had done some strong interviews during the week pushing how Caristico’s star power has decreased greatly since he went to WWE and claiming he betrayed the company by leaving. Fans mobbed both main eventers for a good 20 minutes after the match. The throwing money actually happened in two matches on the show, as people were calling it one of the best shows of the year and raving about the Cuatrero & Sanson & Forastero win over Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja & Soberano Jr. bout which was in the mid-card. The new Dinamitas are going to be huge superstars in a few years time, and Soberano, barring injury, will be one of the most talked about underground stars in the near future. He did some incredible things here. Also Negro Casas & Rey Bucanero & El Terrible beat Pierroth & Rush & Sam Adonis via DQ in two straight falls, which were mostly building Casas vs. Adonis. Adonis was disqualified by Tirantes in the second fall as he faked that Casas gave him a low blow, and Tirantes not only didn’t buy it but got so mad he just DQ’d him for bad faking. The semi saw Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero & Mephisto beat Diamante Azul & Mistico & Valiente. It was clear watching this that a lot of fans from the past came back because it was the old reaction with Mistico getting the Roman Reigns TV treatment. That used to happen, but Mistico won the new fans over with how hard he worked, but the people who came back for this main event still had the old mindset

The 10/27 show is headlined by Mistico & Valiente & Volador Jr. facing Ultimo & Gran Guerrero & Euforia, Azul & Marco Corleone & Niebla Roja vs. Rey Bucanero & Terrible & Vangellys and Soberano Jr. vs. Mephisto, so really a nothing show as compared to recent weeks

El Hijo del Santo was upset publicly about CMLL doing the Leyenda de Plata tournament, since it honors his father, and he’s been on the outs with the promotion for years

The revival of the Mexican national heavyweight title took place on 10/22 at Arena Mexico with another elimination match which came down to Diamante Azul and El Terrible, who will have a 2/3 fall match for the title on 10/29, which is the title Hector Garza held when he passed away. The other of elimination was Vangellys, Stuka Jr., Blue Panther Jr., Kraneo, Shocker, Rush, Cuatrero, Pierroth, Euforia and Gran Guerrero

They are doing yet another Cibernetico tournament on the 11/3 show, called the first of what will be an annual Rey del Inframundo championship. That is translated as King of the Underworld. The winner will get a new championship belt. Exactly what this company doesn’t need is another Cibernetico (even though they are usually fun) and another title belt. The names announced are Diamante Azul, Mistico, Volador Jr., Soberano Jr., Hechicero, Sanson, Cuatrero and Forastero. At least the quality of the guys is high and it’ll probably be a really good match

Niebla Roja retained the CMLL light heavyweight title beating Cavernario on 10/24 at Arena Mexico in what was said to be a good match.

AAA: Sean Waltman asked Johnny Mundo about still working for this company after what happened with his fiancé where she was double-crossed out of her Reina de Reinas title and then bad-mouthed and never came back, while he continued to wrestle there. It’s also notable that Mundo and Vampiro did an angle based on all this, and now that all is said and done, what a waste that ended up being as they never even got to doing a Vampiro vs. Mundo program. His answer was, “Wrestling art imitates life or life imitates art of vice versa. As far as that goes there’s a lot of complexities that I don’t want to delve into right now because it can affect a lot of things that we already have in the works. I think that’s what a lot of people thought was best for business at the time and for all parties involved to continue t work together, that’s what was decided and everyone kind of agreed that for AAA, Lucha and Impact and me and Taya. That regardless of what we thought, that would be the best call to make.

They drew a bad crowd for the 10/20 tapings in Metepec. Hernandez replaced Kevin Kross, who said he has quit the promotion, in the main event, teaming with Rey Escorpion to lose to Dr. Wagner Jr. & Psycho Clown. The semi was advertised as El Texano Jr. & El Hijo de Fantasma & Pagano against three mystery guys, who were supposed to be Impact guys but something fell through so it became Fantasma & Pagano vs. Texano & Marty the Moth Martinez with Martinez pinning Fantasma. Only one of the six advertised matches took place with a heavy underneath push for a La Parka vs. Dave the Clown feud

In what comes across as a bad sign, the 11/3 tapings in Queretaro have been moved from a 4,000 seat building to a 1,500 seat building.

THE CRASH: The Crash has announced L.A. Park coming in for some dates. There is a track record for everyone that uses Park is that he draws well early on, and then there is a blow up and he’s gone. Park’s first date is 11/29 in San Luis Potosi, with Park & Daga & Penta 0M vs. Rush & La Mascara Pierroth. Rey Fenix vs. Flamita is on the show. They are debuting a Puerto Rican trio on that show with Mr. 450 teaming with Mike Mendoza, who just got a WWE tryout, and Angel Fashion, to face Jack Evans & Mascarita Dorada & Willie Mack. Konnan saw Mendoza & Fashion in WWC and apparently didn’t see anything in them because of how old fashioned WWC was and how the matches were constructed, but when he saw them in WWL, he was really impressed with them against LAX. Vanilla Vargas from Puerto Rico will also be working that show.

ALL JAPAN: One of the really underplayed human interest stories of the year took place on 10/21 at the Yokohama Bunka Gym as Joe Doering pinned Suwama to win the Triple Crown in 20:10 with the revolution power bomb. Doering was diagnosed with brain cancer on February 25, 2016, and underwent surgery and went through the whole chemotherapy and radiation process. He returned to the ring in January. Granted, it’s a work and All Japan is no longer a major promotion, even though the young guys are really good and people think they are on the rise. Suwama had just won the title from Kento Miyahara on 10/9 at Korakuen Hall in a must-see match. At PWG it was the current match that people were talking about the most. Even though All Japan has made great strides this year, the Yokohama show only drew 1,817 fans, which was less than half full for a show built around the 25th anniversaries of Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori. They had pushed an appearance of Toshiaki Kawada at the show. As it turned out, unadvertised, Kenta Kobashi was also at the show to honor Akiyama & Omori. They had a ceremony at intermission and besides those two, they played taped videos from Dory Funk Jr., Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi, since Nagata & Nakanishi started their careers in New Japan at the same time Akiyama & Omori started their careers in All Japan. This was pushed as the company’s biggest show since the Sumo Hall card. Doering had held the title in 2014-15, so this in his second reign. The big surprise, to me at least, was that the person who came out to issue the challenge next was Yoshitatsu, and the match will take place on 11/9 at Korakuen Hall. The All Japan crowd hates when New Japan undercard guys are pushed as big-time stars on All Japan shows and did not react well to this. Akiyama & Omori celebrated their anniversary by capturing the vacant world tag team titles, beating Daisuke Sekimoto & Ryuji Ito. Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi were champions, but Okabayashi was injured last week and had to vacate. Akiyama pinned Sekimoto in 18:43 with a wrist clutch exploder. The third title change saw Tajiri beat Ultimo Dragon to win their world jr. title in 9:44 blowing green mist and hitting a buzzsaw kick. After the match, Yohei Nakajima issued a challenge for a match that has been announced for 11/5 in Nagoya. Tajiri also talked about a future title defense against Atsushi Aoki. Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi, who are two of the guys Akiyama is grooming for the top in a few years, retained their All-Asia tag titles beating Aoki & Hikaru Sato in 18:17 when Aoyagi pinned Sato. Nomura & Aoyagi will next defend against a team from South Korea, Kim Nan Seok & Dr. Monz Jr., from the Land’s End promotion, on 11/3. The unknown team in Japan was billed as being hand-picked by Ryoji Sai to come in from the South Korean circuit to challenge for the titles. The company’s biggest star, Miyahara, was in a mid-card trios match teaming with Yoshitatsu & Kai to beat Zeus & Shuji Ishikawa & The Bodyguard with Yoshitatsu using a triangle on Zeus to get that over as his big move his title challenge

Yoshitatsu will have a singles match with Akiyama on 11/5 in Nagoya. Since Yoshitatsu is getting a Triple Crown title shot, he would figure to win this match, which will make All Japan fans really unhappy that a guy New Japan barely ever uses is beating their legend, if that happens, even if Akiyama has moved himself out of the major singles spotlight

Yuki Kanzaki, who had been training with the promotion, suffered a blood clot near the brain. His scheduled debut has been canceled and his career is in serious jeopardy. Kanzaki made the announcement in tears saying he doesn’t want to give up wrestling. Jun Akiyama told him that life is more important than wrestling and you have to think of that first. Akiyama said that after Kanzaki takes care of the blood clot that they would have an office job ready for him

With the injury to Okabayashi, the Big Japan spot in the Real World Tag League, which opens on 11/19, will be decided in an 11/9 match with Big Japan’s own tag team tournament winners, Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani, facing Sekimoto & Takuya Nomura.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: The standings for the Global League as of 10/26 were: A block: 1. Masa Kitamiya 4-0; 2 Naomichi Marufuji 3-0; 3. Go Shiozaki 3-1; 4 Mitsuya Nagai and Mohammed Yone 2-2; 6. Maybach Taniguchi 1-1; 7. Cody Hall 1-3, 8. Yuji Okabayashi 0-7, (forfeited all of his matches due to injury ). B block: 1. Atsushi Kotoge 3-0; 2. Masato Tanaka 2-0 3. Katsuhiko Nakajima and Kenou 1-0-1; 5. Akitoshi Saito and Kazma Sakamoto 1-2; 7. Quiet Storm 0-1; 8. Yuko Miyamoto 0-3

10/21 in Kobe drew only 288 fans in the building Dragon Gate always sells out as their 900-seat home arena for a tournament show as Kitamiya pin Hall in 9:17 with a Saito Suplex; Sakamoto beat Miyamoto in 11:32 with a Michinoku driver; Kotoge beat Akitoshi Saito in 13:30 with a small package; and Yone pinned Taniguchi in 12:13 with a muscle buster..

10/22 in Hiroshima drew 405 fans as Akitoshi Saito beat Sakamoto in 6:02 with an enzuigiri; Kotoge beat Miyamoto in 12:38 with the killswitch; and Shiozaki pinned Yone in 17:10 with a short clothesline

10/24 in Yokohama before a sellout 308 fans had Kitamiya pin Nagai in 9:30 after a Saito suplex; Kotoge pinned Sakamoto with a rolling bridging pin in 2:47, Tanaka pinned Quiet Storm in 12:19 with the sliding D and Nakajima pinned Miyamoto in 14:21 with a brainbuster.

` NEW JAPAN: Tokyo Dome tickets went on sale to the public on 10/25 (10/24 in the U.S.) and while we don’t have actual numbers, the advance is way ahead of last year and the company has been shocked at the number of tickets that have been sold outside of Japan. It’s like nothing before for any Japanese pro wrestling show in history, but New Japan’s international profile has never been close to what it is now, even if within Japan, it’s nowhere close to what it was from the mid-70s to about 1999

Matt Riddle is not on the New Japan Tag League tour after all, and there’s no word who Jeff Cobb will be teaming with. The story is that Riddle had been in talks to do the tour and it was just about a done deal, but before being finalized, things changed. The belief is that Bushiroad, the New Japan parent company, found out about his UFC marijuana test positives and in Japan, marijuana has more of a stigma than in most places, and the deal fell apart and there is no start date. Marijuana is viewed very differently in Japan, as has been noted many times, as Matt Sydal no longer being with the promotion shows and how Paul McCartney was banned for decades from coming. Riddle twice failed tests in UFC and had wins overturned due to positive marijuana tests. This is a key reason why WWE has held up on ever making him an offer. Some time back at a conference call I was talking with Paul Levesque on this subject and Levesque said that everyone deserves a second chance, although I don’t know they’ve made him an offer even though it was WWE who originally hooked him up with Evolve after he did so well in a tryout shortly after he started in wrestling, but they wanted to test how he’d do before offering him a deal. He succeeded far greater and quicker than anyone could imagine. It ended up being a blessing because he progressed much faster and likely made a bigger name quicker working in places like Evolve and PWG and touring the U.K. so frequently. But he’s ready to be a major league star. Usage of marijuana is prevalent in pro wrestling which is why this seems so weird from a WWE standpoint, since WWE does fine people $2,500 a shot for marijuana, but doesn’t suspend them for it, and it’s viewed in WWE as the pot tax

Davey Boy Smith Jr. saved a women’s life on 10/22. He was driving in Calgary and saw a woman crying and hanging off a bridge with someone trying to talk with her. He stopped, jumped over a barricade and tried to talk with the girl. She was crying and an emotional mess and told Smith she was going to jump if he got closer. People were on the ground pleading with her not to jump. Smith grabbed her to take her from jumping. He said she wasn’t a small woman but he knew from all his years of grappling training to pull her from hanging off and jumping and knew not to grab her clothing because she would have ripped through it. He pulled her and yanked her off the bridge and pinned her down in a mount position and wouldn’t let her move. She told Smith she had a gun and was crying and then said she just wanted a hug. Smith said he couldn’t hug her because she said she had a gun and told her, “Miss, you’re not going to move unless I want you to. I’m an expert grappler and you’re not going to shoot me. We will get you help. Life is a precious thing and I’m here to help you.” He held her down until the police arrived and thanked him for his help. Smith said he got great response for the most part, but he wasn’t looking to be a hero but just wanted to promote to people that if they see a situation like this to try and stop and help, because he’s had friends who have taken their own lives and he wished people could have reached out and helped them with their problems and also to promote that nobody should feel like there is weakness is asking for help

The junior heavyweight tag team tournament opened on 10/23 at Korakuen Hall before a sellout of 1,654 fans. The two first round matches, both of which were said too be really good, saw Yoh & Sho beat Kushida & Hirai Kawato in 12:39 when Yoh pinned Kawato after the 3K, and Hiromu Takahashi & Bushi beat Dragon Lee & Titan in 20:20 when Bushi pinned Titan after the MX. They put the two junior matches on last on the show and Takahashi’s match was the main event, so they were being counted on to put on a great performance. Takahashi & Kawato vs. Sho & Yoh will be one of the semifinals on 10/30 at Korakuen Hall

The other first round matches are 10/29 at Korakuen Hall with Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Desperado and Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH vs. Taichi & Taka Michinoku. The favorites are Kanemaru & Desperado and Taguchi & ACH from that side of the bracket. The two winners also face off on 10/30. With the tournament results not known, there will be no full card announced for 10/30, which goes live at 5:30 a.m. Eastern on New Japan World

The 10/29 show will be live at 5:30 a.m. Eastern on New Japan World with Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Yujiro Takahashi & Leo Tonga, Toru Yano & Hirooki Goto vs. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka, Yoshi-Hashi & Baretta & Will Ospreay vs. Kenny Omega & Chase Owens & Marty Scurll, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kushida & Kawato vs. Kota Ibushi & Dragon Lee & Titan, Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo & Yoh & Sho vs. Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi, and the two tournament matches ending the show

Chris Jericho, Omega and The Young Bucks went back-and-forth on Twitter. It started with a fan who had seen the third Okada vs. Omega match from G-1 saying, forget Chris Jericho, Omega is now the best in the world. Jericho responded, writing back Omega isn’t the best in the world, and he’s not even the best wrestler from Winnipeg. Omega then wrote about never meet your heroes, lest they be a corporate stooge. The corporate stooge is a reference to a made up character in the “Being the Elite” series from WWE who is terrorizing the Bullet Club by stealing Cody’s last name and banning them from doing their mannerisms. The Bucks acting disappointed that a wrestler they looked up to reacted like this. Jericho, who right now is not under contract with WWE, has said for years that he would never wrestle for anyone other than WWE. That said, the nature of this looks awfully suspicious to me even if it clearly just started with Jericho having fun with a fan response. At worst, they’re just having fun with each other but feels like they’re working an angle for something, whether it’s NJPW or Jericho’s 2018 cruise. Jericho is already working with ROH on the cruise and in fact, ROH on its web site for upcoming events specifically lists Jericho’s cruise, where a lot of ROH talent will appear and there will be live matches

Speaking of the third Omega vs. Okada match, Jim Ross was on ESPN promoting his book the day that match aired and said that it may have been the best match he’s announced in his 40 years as an announcer, which is surprising he’d go that far given his main job and most secure long-term job is with WWE. Ross in the past said that the Flair vs. Steamboat trilogy in 1989 were the best matches he’d ever called, but of late has mentioned the three Omega vs. Okada matches, and I’m sure there are others he’d put in that boat. The funny thing is, which talks to the quality of New Japan’s biggest matches this year, is that the readers here only thought that was the second best match of that three-day Sumo Hall swing (Omega vs. Naito ran away with the best in G-1 voting)

Announced as coming in from CMLL from 1/12 to 1/22 for the Fantastica Mania tour are Atlantis, Volador Jr., Mistico, Dragon Lee, Niebla Roja, Angel de Oro, Soberano Jr., Star Jr., Fuego, Ultimo Guerrero, Gran Guerrero, Negro Casas, Barbaro Cavernario, Sanson, Cuatrero, Okumura (who is usually managed on these shows by Mima Shimoda), Puma and Disturbio. This is a strong crew

They did a unique show on 10/21 in Togane, to celebrate Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi’s 25th year in wrestling. They put the two of them in a singles main event, which Nagata won in 17:47 with an exploder. The show drew a sellout 2,050 fans. While they didn’t play any major venues, New Japan did sellout every show this past week

The main themes of the tour are Okada and Naito on opposite sides captaining Chaos vs Los Ingobernables, as well as Finlay & Ibushi & Robinson being used as a regular trio.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Hiroshi Hase, 56, was elected to another term in the Japanese Diet in the 10/22 elections. Hase, who is a member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet for the last two years, has been serving in what is equivalent to the U.S. House of Representatives since 2000 and been a significant politician since retiring as a full-time wrestler in 1995

Big Japan Pro Wrestling has announced a new streaming service that starts on 11/1, it will be for 888 yen per month ($7.83)

Antonio Inoki held his living funeral as a gimmick on 10/21 at Sumo Hall in Tokyo for his Inoki ism promotion. They announced a full house of 7,000 fans but the real number was only 3,500. They held a four-man Karl Gotch Cup tournament, using rounds as a gimmick, where former MMA fighter Ryuta Sakurai beat Shinichi Suzukawa with a shoulder lock submission at 2:20 in the finals. The main event saw Scott Norton return to beat the retired kickboxing legend Peter Aerts via towel being thrown in when Norton had him in the Boston crab. Inoki is the biggest living name in Japanese wrestling but his product doesn’t connect at all

Atsushi Onita announced for his retirement countdown a 10/31 show at Korakuen Hall where he’ll team with Dragon Gate’s Shingo Takagi & All Japan’s Kai against Kazuyuki Fujita & Kendo Kashin& Nosawa in a street fight tornado bunkhouse death match with barbed wire boards

DDT ran its Korakuen Hall show on 10/22 before 1,433 fans as Konosuke Takeshita retained his KO-D title over Danshoku Dino (who got the title shot by winning a fans vote) in 22:30 with a cross-arm German suplex. With his ninth straight defense, Takeshita set the all-time record for defenses of that title. He’ll next defend on 12/24 against Colt Cabana. Suwama from All Japan worked the show beating Keisuke Ishii with a last ride power bomb

Naomichi Marufuji returns to DDT on 11/2 in Tokyo at Shinkiba beating with Harashima to defend the KO-D tag titles against Yukio Sakaguchi & Masahiro Takanishi

Stardom went on the road to Taiwan and Toni Storm beat Bea Priestley to retain both the SWA title and the World of Stardom title on a 10/21 show in Taipei.

HERE AND THERE: Bert Smith, better known as Stan “Big K” Kowalski, a long-time AWA star who came from University of Minnesota, passed away on 10/20 at the age of 91. Smith, who was born May 13, 1926, was one of the oldest living pro wrestlers. Stan “Krusher” Kowalski & Tiny Mills were considered one of the top tag teams of the late 50s and early 60s, known as Murder Inc. Al & Tiny Mills, real life brothers, were the original Murder Inc., team, but Al Mills was getting out and Tiny Mills and Stan Kowalski were both in Hawaii at the same time in 1958 and formed a tag team and kept using that name. They came back to Minnesota and were the recognized world tag team champions in the Minnesota promotion a few times, and were champions in 1960 when the AWA was formed. They were first billed as the NWA world tag team champions. There were a number of different teams around the country who were billed as NWA world tag team champions in that period as the NWA itself never recognized world tag team champions until it was pretty much done in its original form in the 80s. Even the Carolinas version, which were recognized in Georgia as well, were one of many NWA world tag team champions into the late 70s. Murder Inc. Was recognized in the Midwest, primarily Minnesota, booked out of the Minneapolis Boxing and Wrestling Club. When Verne Gagne bought the promotion, formed the AWA, largely to create his own world championship that he could dominate, the NWA belts were changed to the AWA world tag team championships, giving them the distinction of being the first champions in a line of legendary teams that held those titles. Smith studied journalism and was on the University of Minnesota football and wrestling teams. He only got in on one play in football and was Gagne’s back-up and training partner in wrestling. He then became a pro wrestler in 1950, and wrestled regularly until 1976. In 1960, a Gagne vs. Krusher Kowalski main event drew 7,000 fans in Minneapolis, at the time the largest crowd in the city in years, as this was a period when wrestling was regularly drawing 2,000 to 4,000 before it got hot. He became Stan “The Big K” Kowalski, dropping the Krusher name after losing a match for the name against the more famous Reggie “Crusher” Lisowski in 1962. In 1970, he went to the WWWF and headlined the March 9, 1970, show in Madison Square Garden against Bruno Sammartino for the title. Because Killer Kowalski was such a legend, he went to the WWWF as Krippler Karl Kovacs. At other times, when he wasn’t wrestling full-time, he worked as a police officer. During the early 70s heyday of the AWA, The Big K was the manager of Shozo “Strong” Kobayashi and later Ivan Koloff. Koloff was for a time the promotion’s top singles heel, and Kowalski was something of a player-coach, as he still wrestled, and often teamed with Kobayashi and later Koloff, being there to lose the falls. He towered over Koloff since he was a legit 6-foot-2 and 270 pounds at the time. He also did television announcing at the end of the AWA’s run. Around Minneapolis, he was well-known in recent decades for his charitable work, most of which he did behind-the-scenes to little fanfare. He served in World War II, enlisting at the age of 17. He was the leader of Minnesota’s Veterans of Foreign Wars, worked with the United Way, and did so much that they have a Stan Kowalski award. Just a few months ago, the wheelchair-bound Smith was honored at a Minnesota Twins game and raised the flag while they sang the national anthem. In 2016, he was honored for his work outside the ring by the Waterloo, IA-based Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame. At the Hall of Fame, the Smith family and my family were sat at the same table so we all got to meet him and his family. We’ll have more on Smith in an upcoming issue

Power Uti, 55, a promoter and the top star wrestler in Nigeria, was arrested in Lagos after the death of his wife, Toyin, 38. Uti had called authorities on 10/16 and said his wife had died in their home and he discovered the body. Uti, real name John Eke Uti, was charged on 10/24 on two counts of murder, with him being charged with both the murder of his wife and also locking up the corpse to decompose. Police believed that the murder took place on 10/10 at the couple’s home and that Uti beat his wife to death and left the corpse in a room. If found guilty, Uti is facing the death penalty. The couple had been married for four years and had four children, all under the ages of nine. Uti was billed as the world champion for years in Nigeria and would bring in American wrestlers for him to beat. That went on for decades and there were horror stories from wrestlers who had bad experiences when doing those tours.

WWN reported a record-setting first day of sales for WrestleMania week events. They only put on sale WWN VIP packages, which was a $499 ticket which got you front row for all the WWN events that week and almost every ticket was gone immediately, and only a few are left. Tickets for the shows individually go on sale on 11/1

The new Lucha Libre promotion that Aroluxe (Ron & Don Harris) are behind with the idea they’d be looking to sign up talent from Lucha Underground that could get out of their deals or if LU is done, is scheduled to tape a pilot from 12/9 to 12/11 in Nashville. That’s the company that was interested in Vince Russo for creative, but I don’t know that the deal with him is in place or not

Chuck Coates, a longtime Carolinas independent wrestler who did enhancement work for WWF and WCW in the 90s, is battling lymphoma. It is his third bout with cancer. He wrestled from 1986 to 2010, often under a mask as the German Storm Trooper or Russian Assassin, but mostly under his real name. He thought he beat cancer a second time in early 2016, only to have it return. Coates is an honored hero in the Durham, NC, area for his fight against cancer as named by the Duke Cancer Institute

All Pro Wrestling has announced for the 11/10 show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, a main event of Penta 0M & Rey Fenix vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. & Juventud Guerrera. The show is being called Clash at the Cow Palace. Jeff Cobb vs. Jack Swagger for the APW title and Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae vs. Colt Cabana & Tessa Blanchard is also announced, plus Michael Elgin & Brian Cage vs. Reno Scum. This show doesn’t have the buzz the first show had which was a huge success as the first California-based promotion show at the Cow Palace since 1981 and the first pro wrestling event in the building in many years

Billy Corgan, who is for pro wrestling purposes being known as William Patrick Corgan, is running a company called Lightning Rod Productions for NWA video releases that David Lagana is putting together. Lightning Rod is an LLC that Corgan set up years ago as a business, and Lightning Rod will be the parent company of the NWA

A correction from last week. We reported in covering the stuff at Cobo Arena that the last major show at the Arena before the indie show a few weeks ago where Jim Cornette and Santino Marella had their incident was a 1993 WCW show. Actually there was a 1997 Raw taping that sold out the building. UFC also ran the building in 1996 for the second Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn fight, which some think was the worst fight in company history, where Severn won the title via decision. That show sold out and was UFC’s most successful live event in history, but the main event was a disaster for the promotion as buys dropped big after the fight

Celeste Bonin, who was Kaitlyn in WWE before retiring after getting married (her marriage has since split up and she’s looking at returning) went public that she has gone through drug detox. She said she abused alcohol due to chemical imbalances, panic attacks and depression. She said she’d never abused drugs previously

Kevin Nash appeared in a trailer and will be on an episode of a new U.K. comedy show called “Living the Dream” on Sky One. It’s about a family that moves from the U.K. to Florida. Buff Bagwell also has a split second in the trailer

VICE was filming at the recent MLW show in Orlando

Ultimo Dragon’s AAW debut on 11/4 in LaSalle, IL will be Dragon & Sami Callihan vs. Michael Elgin & Rey Fenix

Josh Barnett will face Timothy Thatcher on a 12/16 Empire State Wrestling show in Buffalo, NY. Thatcher has gone down to Southern California to learn catch wrestling submissions from Barnett

Jimmy Jacobs shot an angle with Sami Callihan on the 10/21 WrestleCircus show in Austin, TX. Callihan beat Len-X in a street fight after a piledriver off the rope through a table. Callihan then said he was the King of the Indies. At that point music played and Jacobs came out and said that he hated to interrupt but this was the first time in two-and-a-half hears he’s been officially back in the ring in front of a crowd and it feels good. Jacobs said in the two-and-a-half years he’s been away from the ring, he’s been working in an office wearing a suit and writing promos for guys who can’t even hold his microphone. Hasn’t be been writing promos for Jericho and Owens, who can hold a mic next to anyone in history. Jacobs said he’s going to get back training to take Callihan’s so-called Kind of Indies title. Callihan said they’re both in the ring now and punched Jacobs. He went for a spike, but Jacobs made a comeback and hit a spear. Jacobs then said that he will see Callihan again because the Zombie Princess is back from the dead. I haven’t seen the two of them, but got reports that Rich Bocchini (who was Rich Brennan in WWE) and Lance Hoyt (Lance Archer) who do the commentary for WrestleCircus on Twitch are a great announcing team. They also continually talk about things happening all over the world, as well as wrestling history. John Morrison and fiancé Taya Valkyrie teamed up against Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae, and with Ryan & LeRae being called the World’s Cutest Tag Team, Morrison & Valkyrie called themselves Team Abs and Ass. Their next show is 11/18, which means it’ll be head-to-head with a NXT’s show and House of Hardcore. The WrestleCircus promotion is pushing Tessa Blanchard wrestling men as a regular deal as she kept her Sideshow title beating Dave Crist from Impact’s OVE tag team. Brian Cage won the Wrestle Circus title over Shane Strickland in more than 30:00 when Scorpio Sky hit Strickland with a briefcase.

EUROPE: British legend Jim Breaks, who is currently in custody since his 6/30 arrest on suspicion of the murder of sometime girlfriend Donna Cowley, was in the news this past week as his credit card was used to make 75 purchases recently while he was incarcerated. Police believe they found the perpetrator, a 30-year-old male who claimed he found the credit card, who has multiple previous arrests, which was used for a number of low dollar purchases so he would never have to give a pin number. Breaks, 80, is being held in Gran Canaria, the island he lived in for more than 20 years. Regarding the Hall of Fame, the reason Breaks is not on the ballot this year is because he is still being held and under suspicion for murder, since some asked why he was taken off the ballot. Breaks is battling dementia. He is expected to be tried at some point in 2018

Austin Aries vs. Mark Haskins was announced for a 12/17 IPW show in Rochester, UK.

LUCHA UNDERGROUND: The last episode of season three aired on 10/18 and the final graphic said “To Be Continued.” People are hoping that meant something but there is still no deal made going forward. The last show was the final week of Ultima Lucha Tres and featured two title changes. These were all taped during the summer of 2016, where Prince Puma (Ricochet) on his last show, beat Johnny Mundo with a 630 in 18:23 of a tremendous match where Puma would have to retire if he lost. Mundo’s Worldwide Underground got involved and Angelico, who hadn’t been around for a long time, made the save. This was similar to what they did in PWG in the sense that everyone knew about Ricochet leaving so they knew he was losing, but he won. But then immediately, Pentagon Dark beat Puma to win the title after a hot 8:27 with a running package piledriver in a match where the loser would have to retire. Pentagon broke Puma’s arm, but Puma continued with his arm all wrapped up and worked with one arm. He came back and had the match won, but Vampiro pulled Pentagon out of the way from a Puma 630 and Vampiro celebrated with Pentagon. Puma was then shown leaving the temple for the last time. He unmasked, with his back to the camera, and put the mask down, with the idea that somebody else may pick up the mask and come in as the new Prince Puma so they can keep the character alive. Rey Mysterio Jr., who isn’t coming back, was shown in the final episode locked up in a cell. Fenix and Melissa Santos drove off together as a couple. Matanza Cueto is also back in the cell. The show ended with Agent Winter, who has been out for Dario Cueto, shot Cueto twice in the gut and left. Cueto, dying, called somebody up and then passed out. The show ended with the sound of Cueto’s heart stopping, so the idea is he was dead, but he was never said to be dead and that was the cliffhanger ending

Christopher DeJoseph was on The Midweek War show teased the idea of Prince Puma continuing as a character, saying he’s got more in mind for the character. Obviously, if the character continues it would be somebody else playing the role. When asked about the future of Sexy Star, he said that decision will be made by people pay grades above him but they try and resolve every story. He did bring up being high on Rey Escorpion and Averno

Chris Roach, one of the writers, was on The MMM show and talked about how the reason they put the title on Sexy Star was a way to build heat for Mundo to cheat to have to beat her. The feeling is that if Pentagon was the guy who Mundo beat that his losing without coming back strong for revenge would have hurt him, and the idea for the season was to put as much heat on Mundo.

ROH: For Final Battle on 12/15 at the Hammerstein Ballroom, the matches made clear are Cody vs. Dalton Castle for the ROH title, Kenny King vs. Punishment Martinez vs. Shane Taylor vs Silas Young for the TV title, Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley vs. The Kingdom vs. Chuckie T & Baretta for the tag titles, Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian vs. War Machine, Marty Scurll vs. Jay Lethal and the tease is Bully Ray & Tommy Dreamer vs. The Briscoes in a street fight. With Mark Briscoe’s elbow injury, that date would be touch and go, but knowing the Briscoes, you’ve got to figure the odds are he’ll make Final Battle. The Young Bucks match wasn’t teased, but it’ll be Young Bucks & Hangman Page defending the six-man titles against three high flyers to be determined, figuring Flip Gordon as one of them. Kenny Omega won’t be at Final Battle, although he and Will Ospreay are both working the November shows in Florida. That will be interesting because Florida, being so oversaturated with NXT shows, is a difficult market for indies, but Omega appears to be the biggest indie draw right now

Omega was also announced for the WrestleMania weekend show on 4/7 at the Downtown New Orleans Municipal Auditorium, the house that Junkyard Dog built

There is a house show on 10/28 in Mt. Pleasant, MI at the Soaring Eagle Casino. The sold show is built around a one-night Soaring Eagle Cup tournament with first round matches of Cody vs. Daniels, Matt Taven vs. Lethal, Castle vs. Flip Gordon and Kazarian vs. Jay White. Nick Jackson is scheduled but not Matt Jackson, as it is his daughter’s birthday. The two turned down the New Japan jr. tag tourney this year because Matt wanted to be home for his daughter’s birthday for the first time in years

They shot the angles for the aforementioned matches at the TV tapings in Philadelphia on 10/20, which drew 1,000 with it selling out about a week in advance and that number included standing room. It was said that 75 percent of the crowd had Bullet Club shirts on. We don’t know exactly what will air when, but this was the order things were shot. They opened with a three-way tag match with The Kingdom team of Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan beating The Dawgs (Rhett Titus & Will Ferrara) and Coast 2 Coast (Leon St. Giovanni & Shaheem Ali). A lot of action. Marsegila had St. Giovanni up for an Attitude Adjustment and then O’Ryan picked Marsegila up and dropped him like an Attitude Adjustment while Marseglia still had St. Giovanni up in a cool looking move. Cody came out and promised he would defend his title in the match everyone wants to see. So he teased it would be Castle, but instead he called out Brian Nova. He told Nova to kiss the ring. Nova did, but then sucked the ring off his finger and got a few quick roll-ups. Cody immediately hit crossroads, picked him up at two and used the Indian deathlock for the submission in 1:00. After the match, Castle came out and said he’s been disappointed with Cody because of all of his title defenses have been bad. He said he wanted to give him the chance to give the fans a title match they would want to see. Cody said that Castle can’t beat him and said he would put him in touch with Jane Geddes (she was the head talent relations in WWE at one point but she hasn’t been there in years so that was a weird reference) and Paul and help get him a guaranteed developmental deal like all of his buddies who left ROH, and that maybe he can go there, get good, and come back and be good enough to get a title shot. Cody told him to think about it and left. Castle chased him down, threw him in the ring and hit the bangarang, and said he was staying in ROH and would be taking Cody’s title. Sabin & Shelley beat War Machine to keep the tag titles in the first TV main event. War Machine had the match won when Daniels & Kazarian came out and sprayed silly string on War Machine. Rowe then threw Daniels out of the ring, but that allowed Sabin to roll Rowe up from behind to retain. The action was good before the WWE style finish. Jenny Rose won a four-way for Women of Honor over Nikki Adams, Jessie Brooks and Sumie Sakai with a spear and roll-up on Adams. The second show opened with Punishment Martinez pinning Josh Woods with a sit out choke slam. This was the first of a series of three matches to determine the four people in a four-way TV title match at Final Battle. Good back-and-forth match. Lethal came out and said he’s had a rough couple of months but wants to focus on getting the ROH title back. Scurll came out. He said Lethal was on the list of guys he wanted to face when he came to ROH because he thought Lethal was a villain himself. But he said Lethal has changed and his career has gone nowhere since. Lethal said he acted like a villain because he could, but Scurll is a villain because he needs to be, since he can’t get it done otherwise. This led to a challenge to a match where Lethal said he’s going to bring back the old Lethal and show Scurll some new tricks. They announced next was King defending the TV title against Mark Briscoe. Mark came into the ring, which surprised everyone since he just got hurt last week. Jay Briscoe came out and threw in the towel as soon as the match started. Mark and King never touched. The referee rang the bell and said King won via TKO. Mark started yelling at Jay and Jay walked off, saying that he wants Mark to stop worrying about other title belts and they need to concentrate on being a tag team and getting the tag team titles back. At this point Martinez attacked King. Jonathan Gresham, Silas Young, Shane Taylor and Cheeseburger all ended up in the brawl. The segment ended with everyone fighting on the floor and King laying all of them out with a running flip dive. Chuckie T & Baretta beat Daniels & Kazarian in a good match. Sabin & Shelley were doing commentary. The Kingdom came out to watch the match. Daniels had a chair, but War Machine stopped Daniels from using it. Chuckie hit Daniels with the awful waffle for the pin. It ended with separate stare downs as the Best Friends (Baretta & Chuckie) had one with Sabin & Shelley, while War Machine had a staredown with Daniels & Kazarian. Castle beat Hangman Page in a hard hitting match. Castle toned down the shtick here and was more aggressive than ever before. He hit the bangarang but Cody pulled the ref out of the ring. Then Cody held Castle for Page to hit him. Castle moved and Page nailed Cody. Castle hit another bangarang and used a submission that was described as looking like an Anaconda vise for the win. Cody & Page beatdown on Castle after and Cody laid Castle out by punching him with his ring. Bully Ray came out in street clothes to do the big angle at the tapings. Lots of ECW and Bubba chants. I think everyone was aware the retirement was an angle, but played along with it, although Bully was very convincing in his speeches. He talked about being in the building that ECW made famous, that he loved ECW, now he loves ROH and he’s still got time left on his contract so he’s backstage helping the guys. Joe Koff came into the ring and thanked Bully for his time in ROH and said he always has a home in ROH. Jay Briscoe ran in and asked Bully if he’s really going out like this and called him a bitch. Bully wanted to fight but Koff got in between them. Jay ended up cheap shotting Bully from behind and Bully went down hard, selling like he took a serious blow after a concussion. Velvet Sky, Bully’s girlfriend, ran into the ring. She’s never worked here before. Tommy Dreamer also ran in. Mark Briscoe ran in to break things up. But then Mark gave Dreamer a low blow and hit Dreamer in the back with a chair. The Briscoes then gave Bully a 3-D. Bully laid motionless after taking the move. The Briscoes then got in Velvet Sky’s face. They left. Medical personnel tended to Bully. They really tried to make this come off as real as they announced an intermission. The ring announcer started to announce another Bullet Club meet and greet until being cut off like there was something serious going on. Bully didn’t get out of the ring until about five minutes into intermission. This was the final segment of an episode and the angle was said to come across great. They did a Women of Honor match where Karen Q (who was at the last WWE tryout) beat Deonna Purrazzo after a chair shot. Matt Taven beat Jay White with a headlock DDT. White was on the top rope and O’Ryan tripped him up and White crotched himself on the top rope. The Kingdom beat down White until Sabin, Shelley and Gresham made the save. We’ll see when it’s announced, which could be on the 11/5 show, but New Japan is bringing in a mystery man with a push and White has been losing more here. Shane Taylor beat Cheeseburger in a match to determine who would get into the four-way TV title match. Short match with Taylor winning with a choke slam and a punch. The final qualifier saw Young beat Gresham in a good match. A lot of comedy here. Beer City Bruiser interfered and Young hit Misery for the pin. That appeared to be a main event. For what appeared to be the final hour, War Machine was to face Daniels & Kazarian. They got jumped and brawled. There was a set up spot where Hanson went to lawn dart Kazarian into Daniels. Daniels moved and Kazarian crashed into a female fan who sent flying. They quickly stopped everything and panicked at the fan being hurt since that’s what you would do if it was shoot. It stopped the brawl as all the attention was on the woman. Young Bucks & Page & Scurll beat Gordon & Scorpio Sky & St. Giovanni & Ali. The storyline here is that Gordon was tired of being picked on by Bullet Club so he put together a team to face them. Cody came out and did the ring introductions for the Bullet Club team and got fans to chant “F*** Roman Reigns.” They worked really hard as this was four plus hours into the show and the opponents weren’t names and the crowd was still going nuts. They did a spot where Gordon would take a bump on his own so Nick kept missing superkicks, and Gordon would bounce back up. The match seemed to be about building Gordon. He and Nick kept countering each others’ moves and landing on their feet. The crazy finish, yet a new innovative spot, saw Page have Sky and Gordon, one behind him in Last Rites position and the other in front for a tombstone. Nick came off the post with a Meltzer driver and Matt with the Indy taker to spike both of them for the finish.

IMPACT: Jeff Jarrett is now officially done with the company, and with it, the decision is now final that the Global Force Wrestling name that Jarrett owns, will no longer be used. Both decisions were expected but hadn’t been announced. Originally it was phrased that Jarrett was being placed on a hiatus. Nobody really expected him back, but when Ed Nordholm did an interview with us he gave the impression that at some point Jarrett would be back

While nothing has been officially said, Karen Jarrett will also not be brought to the next set of tapings, so of the authority team that was there at the last tapings, Jeff & Karen Jarrett and Jim Cornette are now all gone and Bruce Prichard was taken off when Cornette came back for an angle. The idea at the time was for Prichard to return as a heel manager

Jeff Jarrett was in the news over the weekend, but I can also tell you that we first heard Jarrett was gone before this happened. Most felt he wasn’t coming back when they dropped using the GFW name. Jarrett was supposed to work shows in Calgary and Edmonton for Real Canadian Wrestling. Jarrett told people he was held up at customs at the airport for three hours on 10/20 and told that he had to fly back the next morning, which would mean he would be missing Edmonton. When he got to the show the first night, he told the promotion that somebody tipped off customs and they held him. This isn’t that unusual for wrestlers or people affiliated with shows to get held for a while, but usually, it’s about an hour. The first time UFC came to Montreal, Stitch Duran, the famous cut man, and me were both held for about an hour and they went through everything and a ton of people who said they were coming in for UFC was held as there was fear of violence for some reason. But I’m told it is very unusual for someone to be held for three hours. Jarrett showed up in Calgary. The story was that he was drinking Vodka, polishing off a few bottles, and passed out backstage and was in no condition to perform. He woke up and still wrestled on the show. When his music played and he didn’t come out, his opponent actually said Jarrett was upstairs getting drunk. He did the match, which had a ton of stalling, and at one point Jarrett lost his balance on a bodyslam spot. There were some Lance Storm students there so Jarrett got the idea of doing an angle where some heels jumped him and Storm’s students would save him. He cut a promo after about how he and Storm were tight to make sense of it and how he was tight with the Hart family. Storm wasn’t even at the show and the fans didn’t know Storm’s students. Jarrett told the promotion he’d be missing Edmonton and the promotion sent out a release that morning stating it. However, the promotion claims they called customs to discuss what happened and customs told them they had no clue about that story and they claimed Jarrett changed the flights on his own to go home early. The situation was similar to what happened in Mexico City when Jarrett worked TripleMania, which is what essentially got him fired by Anthem. His match was said to be horrible and the promotion believed he went right to the airport after the show. They said his match was so bad that 20 to 30 fans left. Jarrett was working for $2,500 per date. The promoter, Steven Ewaschuk, went on Facebook and said he didn’t know Jarrett was drunk until he came back after his match, but others said that he had to know since Jarrett passed out in the back at one point. The promoter also claimed that Impact offered them Abyss as a make-good for later shows. That would make sense if Impact booked Jarrett, which is possible since this booking was made prior to TripleMania and Jarrett being out, but my impression was Impact had cut all ties with Jarrett a long time back. One close friend of his said that Jarrett was in denial and claimed he was doing fine. Later he came to grips that he had a problem and checked into rehab on 10/25 after Karen Jarrett had worked with WWE officials in setting it up

After the announcement, he was gone and they weren’t using the GFW initials, Jarrett claimed Anthem was out of money. Anthem claimed that wasn’t the case since they are doing the PPV and subsequent tapings. Anthem is trying to heavily cut back on expenses but the promotion is losing a ton of money and that makes it precarious long-term

Taryn Terrell, 31, who had just returned and was scheduled to be in the Knockouts title match at the 11/5 Bound for Glory show, has parted ways with the company. The cover reason is there was a TV angle that aired where Gail Kim slapped her and they said she wasn’t medically cleared. Impact then sent out a tweet saying they are parting ways as she wishes to pursue other options. It’s all a cover reason because she was unable to get into Canada and with the company doing all their tapings for now in Canada, as well as Bound for Glory, it made it impossible to use her going forward, similar to the situation with Jim Cornette. Everything was said to be amicable on both sides.

. The Knockouts title will be a three-way with Sienna defending against Gail Kim and Allie

Apparently the reason the tapings are being done in Ottawa is because the building gave the company a tremendous deal. It’s going to be exceedingly difficult to draw for six straight nights, particularly since, unlike in Orlando, they are charging for tickets and aren’t in a theme park where tourists can be recruited to come in and watch. Right now for the tapings from 11/6 to 11/10 they are offering 50 percent off tickets

They taped a One Night Only show for January, on 10/20 in Shawnee, KS with a two-camera shoot at a show for the local IWR promotion. This would seem to mean that the annual January live PPV is out. I believe there will be one more GFW show from years ago in Las Vegas where they push it around guys like Bobby Roode, Eric Young and Chael Sonnen like it’s new stuff left to air. I can’t imagine at this stage of the game that anybody is buying them, but they are produced to fill contractual commitments to Sony Six in India, which is the company’s biggest revenue stream. The show, which only drew 160 fans, opened with Malice of the local promotion winning a four-way over Trevor Lee, DJZ and Diego del Sol. This may not have been taped for the PPV since it was after this match when Jeremy Borash came out for the introductions. LAX of Ortiz & Santana beat Cody Dixon & Chandler Hopkins. Gail Kim beat former TNA wrestler Rebel. Ross & Marshall Von Erich beat Ky-ote & Kid Kash to win the local promotion’s tag team title. Eli Drake retained the GFW title pinning local wrestler Montego Seeka. In what was likely the main event for the PPV, Alberto Del Rio returned and pinned Bobby Lashley. Alberto gave a speech after the show thanking the fans for supporting real wrestling and that Lashley is a real wrestler. Jake Hager, the former Jack Swagger, was supposed to wrestle EC 3, but no EC 3. Hager then beat Ky-ote in 90 seconds with the ankle lock. It’s doubtful this match or the last match would be on the PPV. Swagger has no deal with Impact and the main event saw MVP beat Damon Windsor to win the local IWR title and to set up MVP vs. Hager on a future show

Ring announcer Dave Penzer is also apparently finished. He said that he wouldn’t be at the next set of tapings and with cost cutting going on, they are likely going to use a Canadian based ring announcer. But it is kind of scary when the cost cutting gets that deep

Abyss was out of action this past weekend due to an injury but he’s expected to be fine for Bound for Glory, where he faces Grado in a Monster’s Ball match.

UFC: Early word on TV negotiations is that FOX’s first offer to UFC was a significant increase over the current numbers, but a number way below WME IMG was expecting. The UFC negotiations are said to be key because the sports landscape is changing rapidly with declining sports viewers and cable losing homes, and streaming numbers being minuscule as far as making up the difference. NBC Universal has had interest in the product as well, with the idea of shows on NBC in prime time, shows on NBC Sports Network as well as exclusive shows that would be streamed on the NBC Sports app as a way to drive attention to it. Ultimately the number of suitors is the key to getting the roughly $140 million annual number up to $250 million, which in the end was what WME IMG was expecting when they purchased it, or $400 million, which was what they were publicly telling people they’d be able to get on the new deal. The situation with WWE, which has the same people (Ari Emanuel and WME IMG) handling its TV product is a little different, but most feel UFC’s plight will tell the story of what will happen to WWE, and other sports as they come due. The question for WWE is if anyone but USA wants them at their current price. WWE delivers ratings, but the ratings don’t translate to big revenue, plus you’re looking at giving up five hours a week of prime time, that limits what you can program but also guarantees you a much higher station average. WWE’s number will be largely dependent on if anyone else wants them and is willing to drive up the price. Essentially, with UFC, it’s the same thing but the feeling is all sports networks that are open to landing something new would be interested in UFC, while it appears sports networks in the U.S. thus far have no interest in WWE. With WWE, 2016 would have been a terrible year too negotiate since the ratings were free falling, but now they have steadied the last few months. But we don’t know if 2018 will be more like 2017 or 2016, and 2018 will be the numbers WWE will be judged on

Last year, UFC and Bellator were doing some of their best ratings, with UFC having a huge year and Bellator having its best year ever, while WWE ratings had never been lower. This year, WWE, after being low early in the year, is holding steady and some weeks even above last year, while UFC and Bellator are down. UFC on FS 1 is down 14 percent on prime time shows from a 1,051,000 average to 904,000. Bellator is down over the same period from an average of 726,000 to 660,000, a nine percent drop but they’ve signed more high-priced talent this year, which has not led to increases in viewership. The 660,000 average is about what they had been doing until setting records in 2016. But the recent shows have dropped under 500,000 which are much lower than usual marks

The UFC 216 show on 10/7 headlined by Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee and Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg, actually did far better than early indications and is estimated to have easily topped 200,000 buys, or about double what the previous show headlined by Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko (what Johnson vs. Borg was originally on) did. That does indicate there was clear business moving of Ferguson vs. Lee, the idea that an action fight as the main event meant something or perhaps that Johnson’s quest for the record and all the Johnson pub of late has made people more interested in him to a degree. The live gate doesn’t correlate that level of interest because the show did the worst Las Vegas PPV numbers since UFC got on television, but that may be because a lot of regular fans bought Mayweather-McGregor tickets and wouldn’t be so apt buying high price tickets so quickly. The real paid number for the T Mobile Arena was 4,918 tickets sold and the comps were 4,690, meaning 9,608 for a gate of $677,999.50. The company announced 10,638 but had the exact gate to the penny after the show. The difference in the numbers is likely comps out and total in building in the sense that they had enough comp tickets out for 10,638, but 1,030 of them didn’t come to the show

Dana White claimed in the Wall Street Journal that Mayweather vs. McGregor did 6.7 million worldwide buys and broke the all-time record in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Spain. That figure sounds high. Showtime had reported 4.5 million for the U.S. and the U.K. number was just over 1 million, and it’s hard to believe that you could get another 1.2 million buys worldwide even with streaming PPV

Closed-circuit numbers in Las Vegas for Mayweather vs. McGregor on 8/26 were 20,999 tickets sold for $3,106,410. That number would be way under expectations of 46,000 and $7 million going in

Jim Lampley, the famed boxing announcer who is also a major MMA detractor, got pub this past week saying that he thought Mayweather threw the first three rounds against McGregor and allowed the fight to go ten rounds so there would be interest in an easy money rematch for him where he could make another $150 million with no risk of losing. Actually, the fight strategy made sense and worked, which was to get McGregor tired and cause him to wilt, at which point taking him out would be easier

In White’s interview with the Wall Street Journal he said there was a possibility that the UFC could start promoting boxing matches. He was also on The Unnamed Podvideocast saying that he could see bringing boxing under their umbrella. An interesting thing he said was that if he wasn’t working in UFC, and made it clear he has no intention of leaving, he wouldn’t run for politics (thank God for that), but he would like to work on bolstering the educational system in Las Vegas

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira tested positive for the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide in an out of competition test on 9/27. Because of the positive test, Nogueira has been pulled off the 12/16 show in Winnipeg, where he was to face Jared Cannonier. He’s furious, claiming he’s never used a diuretic. At 41, if he can’t explain how it got in his system, he’ll be likely suspended for two years and at this stage of the game, that could be the end of his career, and more than likely would be the end of him as a serious competitor even if he does come back. Nogueira said he was going to hire a lawyer and figure out how to fight it

Antonio Georgakopolous, 19, filed suit against Michael Bisping, claiming Bisping choked him out after an argument when both were working out at a 24 Hour Fitness Gym in Anaheim on 7/31. According to the suit, Bisping started yelling at Georgakopolous for taking his weights without asking while both were working out. Georgakopolous claimed that Bisping started calling him names like “little punk” and “idiot” and said, “You don’t know who I am.” He said after that, Bisping grabbed him in a choke hold and was choking him out when another person at the gym got Bisping to let go. Bisping then told the larger man to take it outside. A crowd gathered and the staff at the gym broke it up. Georgakopolous claimed the Anaheim police were called and Bisping was arrested for assault and battery. Anaheim police said that Bisping wasn’t arrested, but that there was a case submitted to the District Attorney, who decided there wasn’t enough evidence to file charges. Georgakopolous is suing for medical costs because he had to see doctors due to the attack, as well as emotional distress, claiming he suffers from nightmares and anxiety as a result of the attack

Lyman Good filed two lawsuits, one against Gaspari Nutrition and another against Millennium Sports Technologies, claiming supplements he took contained androsteindione, a banned substance, which caused him to test positive and that the labels indicated no banned substances. He claimed that Anavite, from Gaspari Nutrition and High Tech Pharmaceuticals (who purchased Gaspari Nutrition) contained the banned substance. Another product he took, Cordygen-VO2 ULTRA, from Millennium Sports Technologies that he tested, also contained androsteindione. Good was suspended for six months, a lower period than usual, because he had listed both supplements on his forms and both supplements contained the substance he tested positive for

Conor McGregor is always in this news. This week it was for actions backstage at the show in Gdansk, Poland. McGregor was there to corner teammate Artem Lobov, who was facing Andre Fili of Team Alpha Male. Fili won by unanimous decision. After the fight, when they were walking backstage, McGregor said to Lobov, “I thought you were going to sleep him. All I’m saying, he’s a (gay slur). I never knew he was a (gay slur).” Apparently this footage got out mistakenly and thus far McGregor hasn’t apologized for it. It should be noted that a few years ago, McGregor campaigned strongly in favor of same-sex marriage in Ireland when it was a controversial issue

This week’s show is 10/28 from Sao Paulo, Brazil, which is on three different platforms. It opens at 7 p.m. Eastern with Fight Pass fights with Christian Colombo (8-2-1) vs. Marcelo Golm (4-0) and Deiveson Figueiredo (12-0) vs. Jarred Brooks (13-0). Next will be FS 2 prelims at 8 p.m. with Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (17-5) vs. Max Griffin (13-3), Hacran Dias (23-5-1) vs. Jarred Gordon (13-1), Antonio Carlos Jr. (8-2) vs. Jack Marshman (22-6) and Vicente Luque (11-6-1) vs. Niko Price (11-0). The main card moves to FS 1 at 10 p.m. with John Lineker (29-8) vs. Marlon Vera (10-3-1), Thiago Santos (15-5) vs. Jack Hermansson (15-3), Jim Miller (28-10) vs. Francisco Trinaldo (21-5), Rob Font (14-2) vs. Pedro Munhoz (14-2), Colby Covington (12-1) vs. Demian Maia (25-7) and Lyoto Machida (22-7) vs. Derek Brunson (17-5). Covington has been part of the Impact vs. American Top team angle on Impact at the last tapings in Orlando. This is a huge match for his career because he’s looked good of late and Maia, even though older, is still the No. 3 contender at welterweight. Covington is No. 8 but with a win would probably be up near the top and in consideration for a title shot, especially if the win is impressive. He’s not likely to get the next one, but he could be one win away from one

A Boston Salmon vs. Raoni Barcelos fight scheduled for Sao Paulo was pulled due to a left knee injury to Salmon, which may require surgery

The first three PPV dates of 2018 will be 1/20, 2/10 and 3/3

These are all quick turnarounds as from 12/30 to 3/3 there will be PPV shows every three weeks

Julianna Pena, who is out action because she’s pregnant, said that she was considering naming her new daughter Valentina. Valentina Shevchenko is the only woman to beat Pena in the UFC and she said she loved the name. She said that she decided if Shevchenko beat Amanda Nunes, she’d name her daughter Valentina, but since she lost that fight, she said it’ll be a different name

Carlos Felipe, who had been scheduled to fight on the 10/28 show in Sao Paulo, which would have been his debut with UFC, was suspended for two years after a positive test for the steroid Stanazolol in an out of competition test on 7/29. He won’t be able to return until September 19, 2019, two years from the day his suspension began. Felipe, 22, was 8-0 with six knockouts before being signed

Jesse Taylor was on Ariel Helwani’s show and said that he tested positive for Clomiphene which he claimed was based on a supplement he took. He said he didn’t challenge because he didn’t want to spent the money to have the supplement tested, claiming it would cost $20,000 to $40,000 (the actual costs of testing supplements are more like $2,000 to $3,000). He claimed he was pretty sure he tested positive due to a supplement he took from a holistic doctor to increase his sex drive. Okay, you’re a drug tested athlete and you’re taking a supplement that claims it will increase your sex drive? Please. USADA responded to this saying they were surprised he said what he said, because in all their talks with him, he never once claimed a contaminated supplement or even brought it up as a possibility and that if he had, they could test the supplements

With Patrick Cummins out of the 11/4 show in Madison Square Garden with a staph infection, Corey Anderson will now face Ovince Saint Preux, taking the fight on a couple of weeks notice

Livia Renata Souza, the former Invicta strawweight champion, has signed here. Souza is 11-1, with her only loss coming to Angela Hill, who is now in UFC and had beaten her via split decision to win the title

Kamaru Usman vs. Emil Meek and Marc Diakiese vs. Dan Hooker have been added to the 12/30 show in Las Vegas. Usman had been demanding a top ranked opponent after his win over Sergio Moraes on 9/16, his tenth in a row

Bethe Correia suffered an eye injury in training that required emergency surgery. She had agreed to face Irene Aldana in January but won’t be ready by that time

Two fights that had been scheduled previously have been added to the 11/19 (11/18 U.S.) show in Sydney, Australia. Will Brooks vs. Nik Lentz, scheduled for UFC 216, but Lentz pulled out due to health issues related to weight cutting, has been added, as has Anthony Hamilton vs. Adam Wieczorek, which was scheduled for this past weekend and pulled due to security issues.

BELLATOR: Between a number of fights dropping out, and some surprise results on the show, the 10/20 show at the Mohegan Sun Casino was noteworthy but hardly went like the promotion probably would have liked. Gegard Mousasi (43-6-2) made his debut and got a unanimous decision win over Alexander Shlemenko (56-10, 1 no contest) on 29-28 scores in the main event. People seemed split down the middle over who really won, as Mousasi took more of a beating in the fight including suffering a broken right orbital bone about 2:00 into the fight. The crowd heavily booed the decision, and media scores were 64 percent in favor of Shlemenko, but it was a close fight. Mousasi, after he recovers, could and probably will fight the winner of the 12/9 fight in Florence, Italy between middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho and challenger Alessio Sakara, for the title early next year. And Mousasi would be heavily favored in that one, and he noted that if he wins his next fight, everyone will forget about this one. Still, Mousasi was the latest of Bellator’s high-priced signings from UFC who haven’t exactly blown the roof off the place in the ring. Aside from Ryan Bader, who is the light heavyweight champion, and Phil Davis, who held the title until Bader beat him, as well as Rory MacDonald, who won his first fight, most, even the ones who have been winning, haven’t been dominating and also haven’t been drawing big numbers. Neiman Gracie (7-0) beat Zak Bucia (18-9) with a neck crank submission at 2:27 of the second round. Heather Hardy(1-1), the boxer who had gotten a huge push leading into this show, and they had even shot an angle at weigh-ins for Hardy’s next fight, ended up getting beaten up and the doctor stopping the match for blood at 2:00 of the second round against Kristina Williams (1-0), in the latter’s pro debut. The other highly touted boxer debuting in Bellator, Ana Julaton (2-3) lost via split decision to Lisa Blaine (2-0)

The gate number we got first for the 9/23 show in San Jose was not correct as the actual number was 5,897 paid for $452,920

Michael “Venom” Page, at 30, made his pro boxing debut on 10/20 in Greenwich, England, winning via third round TKO over Jonathan Castano. The difference between boxing and MMA is that Page’s debut came against a fighter who had a 2-10-1 record.

WWE: PW Insider wrote a story regarding the proposed U.K. television show and the basic gist behind the delays is as we had noted, they are looking to get a paid deal on TV in the U.K. for the show rather than have it be a WWE Network exclusive. The costs of the pilot shows where they did the U.K. tournament were very high and that’s why, after announcing they would be starting a weekly series, nothing has happened. It is still in the planning stages but it takes time to make TV deals. The PW Insider story said the working title for the show would be WWE King of the Ring. They noted the show was being pitched to ITV, which is the same thing we’ve heard, basically it’s being pitched everywhere. ITV would be the killer deal because of the reach of the station and because ITV itself was planning on doing its own weekly Saturday afternoon wrestling show. A key point is that ITV earlier in the year was looking at doing a ten week run and then evaluating it from there. That was one of the reasons the deal with Impact fell through, although there were others regarding who would pay what costs. ITV has not dropped the idea of the show and was still looking at trying out wrestling at some point in 2018, so on the surface, WWE producing such a series makes sense for both sides. ITV gets a solid promotion which has top guys under contract and if they are on ITV, pretty much would be able to sign any U.K. talent except the guys with the New Japan or ROH deals. But one would think WWE would want more than a ten-week commitment

The word going around is that the Horsewoman vs. Horsewoman match is still set, but for WrestleMania. One reason is the Survivor Series is a Raw vs. Smackdown theme and the other is the feeling is that the extra time will help get Ronda Rousey, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir all ready. Rousey has been at the Performance Center this past week

WWE is looking to shop around several new reality show ideas for television. One would be a show built around Miz and Maryse, living in Hollywood as a Hollywood star couple, with their celebrity friends, like Ryan Cabrera and Avril Lavigne. According to PW Insider, the working title for the show would be “The It Couple.” It would be another spinoff from Total Divas since Maryse has been on the cast meaning Miz has appeared with her. Another idea is for a 2018 version of the Diva Search, since that idea did bring in a ton of talent who had strong runs with the company, including the Bellas (who never actually made the cut but were first spotted in tryouts), Maryse, Michelle McCool, Layla, Rosa Mendes, Candice Michelle, Christy Hemme, Maria Kanellis, Ashley Massaro, Krstal Marshall, Eve Torres, Taryn Terrell and others who had shorter stints with the company

Miz & Maryse revealed this past week that their baby would be a girl

WWE has signed a multi-year deal with SPORT TV in Portugal for weekly Portuguese language WWE programming. Starting on 10/31, they will air Raw every Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Smackdown every Wednesday at 7 p.m., as well as air one hour edited versions of Raw every Thursday at 6 p.m. and a one hour edited version of Smackdown every Saturday at 11 a.m.

The WWE vs. ROH thing escalated this week as WWE will be pushing an 11/17 NXT house show in San Antonio as a big deal, putting its biggest match, Drew McIntyre vs. Adam Cole on the show with Shawn Michaels as referee since ROH had booked a house show in San Antonio that night. ROH is pushing Young Bucks & Cody in San Antonio harder than their other house shows. The Bullet Club, led by Cody, cut a promo on this and playing it up big, noting that they had the date first (true) and invited any member of the McMahon family to attend their show. The skit then saw Scurll and the Bucks not like the idea because they don’t need to paper the house and that free tickets will hurt their percentages of the gate so they said that any member of the McMahon family, if they bring proper identification, can get in for a ten percent discount

Michaels has also challenged Johnny Gargano to an ab posing contest on the next night in Houston. Doubt this will be televised. Given that Michaels is now 52 and Gargano is 30 and pretty much ripped to shreds on any given day more than Michaels was ever in his prime, if Gargano sets his mind to peaking for this one, it’s hard to see him losing. That said, it’s cool that it probably gives Michaels a goal to peak for

Jimmy Jacobs did an interview with Live Audio Wrestling saying about shooting the photo with the Young Bucks that “No mistake was made. I am okay with the way everything went down.” When they asked if the photo was why he was fired, he said, “It was given to me as the reason.” When asked if there were other reasons and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, he said, “If it was, I’m not aware of any of that. It’s certainly possible, but who knows.” Jacobs said that in the summer of 2014 he had a spiritual experience and he believed creative was where he wanted to end up. He was ready to move on from wrestling, but said when he was there and he’d write promos and have them read, he’d get frustrated thinking he could do the promos better and feeling he should be the one cutting those promos. He said he had a great time there but he’s fine with it being over. He said he has no sense his firing was coming, but he was ready to leave. He said if they hadn’t fired him for that incident, he gave the impression he was ready to find a way out. I remember seeing him putting the photo up with the hashtag and knowing it was a really bad idea for his WWE career, even before realizing how the company would react to the skit The Bullet Club did.

The company sent out details of WrestleMania travel packages. The most expensive, called the “Once-In-A-Lifetime package, which goes for $9,175 per person or $8,525 per person for a group of two or more, guarantees you seating in the first five rows for the shows, the chair from Mania, a private charter flight on a private jet from New York to New Orleans and New Orleans back to New York, a behind-the-scenes experience with WWE stars before the NXT show, a reception with WWE stars before WrestleMania and a hotel. There is also the Mardi Gras package for $8,250 for a person down to $6,600 per person for four or more, which includes a five-star hotel ($7,625 per person down to $6,325 per person for a four-star hotel) with first five rows for all the shows and the chair, Axxess, the reception and a Mardi Gras tour with wrestlers. The least expensive package, at $2,125 per person down to $1,150 per person for a group of four, is for seating at the 100 level for all the shows, Axxess tickets, and three nights of hotels

Matt Riviera did an interview with Dr. Thomas O’Connor, who is a major authority on steroids, heart health and usage of TRT. When Dave Palumbo (who works with both Paul Levesque and Stephanie McMahon on their nutrition and also has an affiliation with Austin) was on his show in the controversial interview covered last week, Palumbo said that data regarding steroid use leading to heart attacks was inconclusive. O’Connor said he respects Palumbo, knows he was in medical school, noted he never graduated and said he was a bright man and hard worker, but not a physician, but praised what he’s built from a media and business standpoint. He noted that there are studies, the most recent in “Circulation”, a peer reviewed journal covering heart issues that noted a recent study showing anabolic steroids leads to left ventricle hypertrophy and enlarged hearts that increase the risk of heart failure and said there is a lot of data supporting it. He didn’t break down the percentages, although left ventricle damage and enlarged hearts were extremely common in the wrestlers deaths from heart attacks that were such a problem for decades before thankfully it seemingly no longer being that kind of a problem in the last seven years or so. I’d been told years ago, actually through the late Scott Williams who did a lot of investigative work as a reporter with a noted East German doctor who was part of their systematic doping of Olympic athletes who told him about left ventricle damaged and enlarged hearts from steroids

The situation with Jax is simply that she got a few weeks off because she wasn’t figured into a main program. She’ll be back for the European tour, but stories that she walked off, was mad about money or anything like that are inaccurate. While you could use the term leave of absence, she didn’t like that term since it’s just a few weeks off. Bliss, who is her good friend in real life, said that they talked about it a lot and that the schedule is very demanding and sometimes you get run down, and she said that everyone needs a reset

Speaking of Bliss, the standard thing you say about most successful wrestling characters are they are the true person, just turned up to an 11. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Bliss was asked by NBC Sports about that statement and if her role is herself turned up to an 11 and how much of her character comes from herself and she said, “Oh God, none of it.” She said that it’s all acting and it’s fun becoming a completely different person

Bruno Sammartino, who just turned 82 a couple of weeks ago, sent word out through rep Sal Corrente that he is really retired from autograph signings or attending any events outside of Pittsburgh. He said for people not to call him at home with offers for bookings and doesn’t understand why after he’s announced he’s retired from autograph signings that people still contact him about them. He said they will accept offers for signings in Pittsburgh. He said at his age he no longer wants to travel and wants to spend as much time with his family

Daniel Bryan commented on Twitter saying “There was a time when WWE wouldn’t let Kurt Angle compete. Tonight he won a PPV main event.” Bryan apparently saw them letting Angle wrestle as perhaps meaning he has a chance to be cleared by writing, “So you’re saying there’s a chance.

Regal will be at the 12/9 Evolve show in Queens, NY. Evolve has positioned it that there are rumors this has to do with Evolve bringing in new talent. Regal will also be part of a seminar and Evolve tryout on 12/8 in Long Island

There is apparently a Total Divas storyline where Nikki tries to get the job of Smackdown GM on the new season. 

. Kevin Eck, a former WWE writer who has often written about his time in WWE, was on Wade Keller’s podcast talking about the Cena heel turn that never happened. Several years ago, and I’m surprised how far it got because of the merchandise sales, but it looked like everyone was down with a Cena heel turn. Cena actually got a new ring outfit to work in as a heel and that’s when you knew it was serious. Eck said that this came right about the time the mentality was that Sheamus was going to be the next big thing and for WWE to turn Cena heel, they’d need the replacement top babyface. Eck said in the writers room they were talking about who Cena would work with if he turned, and several writers suggested Punk as a babyface but McMahon decided on Sheamus. He said Cena agreed to it but clearly had reservations. But then it was brought up to McMahon that the company had a deal with K-Mart at the time for a Cena clothing line. McMahon then put two and two together and said that they can’t turn him heel if he’s got a clothing line at K-Mart. He said the discussion ended later when Vince, at another meeting, came in with a big smile on his face and told everyone that he knows everyone wants to turn Cena heel, but we just can’t do that and it was never discussed again..

Cloud9, an eSports group, has closed $25 million in new funding, with the WWE being a key investor. WWE and Hunter Pence of the San Francisco Giants, another investor, will have positions on the board. Cloud9 manages a number of eSports titles, one of which, Rocket League heavily advertises with WWE, including on the WWE Network

The Philadelphia Flyers have purchased a Ric Flair replica robe that the MVP of each game gets to wear after the game

After two years with no wrestling at all on French language television in Quebec, now there are two local shows. WWE Raw debuted on 10/18 on TVA Sports with a one hour version of Raw every Wednesday night with comedian Kevin Raphael and wrestling author/historian Patric Laprade as the announcers. It’s the first time WWE has had French language television in the province in 20 years. On 10/22, RDS 2 debuted a new show, a French mixture of ROH matches and IWS (the Montreal local promotion that Owens and Zayn got their first breaks in). The show will air monthly with radio personality Ben Cossette and RDS broadcaster Stephane Morneau as the announcers. The last time a local promotion had French TV in Quebec was 2013. TNA was on RDS from 2004 to 2015 before being canceled

The Toys R Us Christmas catalog lists an Ambrose Asylum cage and a gimmick that looks very close to the TNA Ultimate X match

Regarding the note last week about Mike Mendoza, who was one of the guys who got a tryout at the last camp, and noted him as a surprise. According to AB Morales of Impactoestlar.com that Mendoza is one of the island’s most popular and talented wrestlers and behind only Mr. 450/Mecha Wolf (Jon Yurnet)

While Colin Cowherd for years insulted wrestling and wrestling fans, when he had Jim Ross as a guest last week, he talked about watching pro wrestling in the Northwest and seeing Jimmy Snuka,, Andre the Giant, the Savage guy (Dutch Savage). This was the interview where Cowherd said how UFC doesn’t pay as good as wrestling and said he didn’t know if Conor McGregor would fight in UFC again after getting all that money for the Mayweather fight. Ross said he believed at some point McGregor would get a check from Vince McMahon. I think it’s a logical bet that WWE could want him for a WrestleMania, although this coming year doesn’t seem like the right fit with Rousey scheduled. Ross did tell a funny story about a wrestler sho complained to Ross about marital issues stemming from the fact his wife got mad that he got is girlfriend a boob job, and found out because he paid for it with the family credit card so his wife saw the bill. He was looking to Ross for a sympathetic over his marital woes and Ross said he told the wrestler he should fire him for being stupid

Nikki Bella was still hanging in strong after the fifth week of Dancing With The Stars. She’s not shown like she’s a threat to win, but was in a two-way tie for fourth place of the ten teams left in the competition, scoring straight 9's for 27 points

Eric Bugenhagen, a name I’ve been hearing a decent amount about in recent weeks, made his debut on the 10/19 show in Daytona Beach. He’s a super strong guy, known for YouTube videos of him lifting really heavy weights and is one of those guys who came across as charismatic in the strength world. He has a good physique and wrestled at the University of Wisconsin and was ranked nationally on the Olympic ladder at one point as a heavyweight, and was later a strength coach at Wisconsin. In his debut, he showed good personality. There was no way to tell how far long his wrestling was since he just got squashed by Lars Sullivan. But WWE likes guys who were good at sports and have personality, and as a super strong guy who also wrestled at a high level. But there’s still the matter of learning to work and cut WWE style promos

For the week of 10/9 to 10/15, on Sky in the U.K. Raw did 26,000 viewers live, while Smackdown did 18,000 viewers live. WWE Experience on Wednesday did 12,000, while replays of Smackdown did 13,000 on Thursday at 11 p.m. and 16,000 on Saturday at 7:30 p.m

WWE stock closed at press time at $22.06 per share giving the company a market value of $1.701 billion. The financial numbers will be released on 10/26. My feeling is a network number of 1.52 million to 1.59 million paid would be considered okay, anything above that would be good and anything below that would be bad. That number would constitute staying even with three months ago or a slight decline, which is usually the case this time of the year. Still, I wouldn’t want to see much of a decline given the Raw PPVs had very strong main events this year and really the number should be up

The most watched shows of the week on the WWE Network were: 1. TLC PPV; 2. Raw Talk after TLC; 3. Ride Along with The Shield, Bayley and Banks; 4. TLC pre-game show; 5. NXT from 10/18; 6. 205 Live from 10/17 (based on usual standards that is a great showing for this show); 7. Hell in a Cell 2017; 8. Story Time episode 5; 9. Ride Along with Sheamus, Cesaro, Angle and Show; 10. This Week in WWE

Notes from the 10/23 Raw. Good show overall, which is why the ratings pattern was such a surprise. The main angle took place after a solid percentage of viewers had turned the show off. The show ended with the big angle being Raw vs. Smackdown with much of the Smackdown crew attacking the Raw crew in layers. The notable people on Raw they protected from being attacked were Asuka, Bliss, Kane and of course Lesnar. Shane brought the Smackdown crew out for the final angle which were Styles, Corbin, The New Day, Ziggler, Rusev, Carmella, Gable, Lynch, Natalya, Roode, Rawley, Nakamura, Tamina, Dillinger and Ryder. Among those who weren’t brought in were Orton, Mahal, Benjamin, English, Usos, Breezango, Zayn, Lana, Naomi, The Ascension, Sin Cara, Harper, Rowan, Colons and Charlotte. Not sure how those decisions were made since many of them were in Chile the night before that were on the show and many who were in Chile weren’t brought to Raw. The show drew 4,900, the smallest Raw crowd in recent memory. Because the Resch Center only holds 7,000 for a Raw set-up, the belief going into the week is that this would be the first Raw sellout in a long time and instead they tarped off much of the side of the building facing the hard camera. The show opened with Main Event as Anderson & Gallows beat Crews & O’Neil with the Magic Killer. Matt Hardy pinned Hawkins with the Twist of Fate. Raw opened with Angle out. He wasn’t limping or selling anything from the night before. He brought up that he debuted in the 1999 Survivor Series and said the show would have a Raw vs. Smackdown themes with our champions against their champions. He announced the card, including Lesnar vs. Mahal. Originally the show was built around whether Lesnar would accept the challenge in his interview, but they gave that answer away in the first segment rather than waited for the Lesnar segment. He announced the two matches and the two elimination matches, a men’s match and a womens’ match with Raw vs. Smackdown. Miz came out with Sheamus & Cesaro & Axel. Miz complained about Angle getting in the match the night before and how with Reigns out it should have been a two vs five match. Miz told Angle he should resign his post immediately. They all surrounded Angle when Ambrose &Rollins came out as The Shield. Angle said he was scheduling a match and noted that he got Styles to stay an extra night. Styles & Ambrose & Rollins beat Miz & Sheamus & Cesaro in 19:45. Really good television match. Crowd was hot for it. The face team opened doing a triple pescado spot. They did the spot where everyone hit their big moves. Styles made a hot tag . Ambrose & Rollins did a double tope and Sheamus & Miz, while in the ring, Styles pinned Cesaro with the phenomenal forearm. After the match, Kane came out. So Kane was out there one vs. three, on three headliners. He stood up to them, threw them all around and then Cesaro & Sheamus & Axel jumped in and helped beat them down. Kane choke slammed Rollins and fans chanted “We Want Strowman.” Kane did a promo saying how Strowman had walked away from a crash, broke Reigns over and over, threw Show threw the cage door and that everyone called Strowman the “monster among men.” Kane said that he had to see about this for himself. What about all those years when they were together on the same roster and the times they wrestled each other? I said he saw that Strowman was just a piece of trash, 385 pounds of nasty, stinking human refuse. He said he put the trash in the back of a garbage truck and they churned him up with one mechanical gulp. Yet, later they said that Strowman would be ack in a few weeks. He said he saw fear in Strowman’s eyes. Kane said that he was Raw’s only monster. He said that with Strowman gone, he wanted some competition or else. Balor then came out. In one of the most short-sighted and ridiculous match stories ever, Kane destroyed Balor in 7:05 of a one-sided match after three choke slams. They have dozens of people to choose from, and the guy who was scheduled to face Lesnar at Rumble is instead sacrificed here and made to look like he’s not even competition for a big guy. They could have done this with Matt Hardy, Jason Jordan, even Rollins but instead, they buried a guy who has been talking about wanting a match with Lesnar for months, and made it so nobody could possibly buy him against Lesnar. Backstage, Angle was on the phone when Shane McMahon showed up. They acted like they were old friends. Angle put over his match at Hell in a Cell and Shane said he was still sore. Angle thanked him for letting him use Styles the last two nights and asked if he could have Styles permanently. Shane said no, and Angle said that he could understand that because without Styles, Smackdown wouldn’t have a chance in the elimination match. Shane said that Angle was out of line and Smackdown would annihilate Raw. He still acted like they were half-joking and were two good friends having fun. Angle said how Raw had far more talent. Shane brought up that Smackdown won the elimination match last year, but Angle noted that he wasn’t General Manager last year. They shook hands and left. Asuka beat Emma in 5:12. Asuka came across like just another woman on the roster here. She did some nice stuff but the crowd, which was into Asuka’s ring entrance, wasn’t in for her selling so much. You’d have thought from NXT when they’d do matches where Asuka sold a lot that didn’t get over and matches where he was pushed as a supreme fighter and got over big that way, that they’d learn. It’s an amazing business. Emma went for a rolling reverse cradle but Asuka got her in the Asuka lock for the submission. Bliss came out and said how she put James where she belongs, in the past. She said that there may be two women’s champions in WWE, but there’s only one Goddess. She said she had the performance of her career at TLC but nobody gave her credit. She said the fans were chanting “This is awesome” at Styles and Balor before their match started. She said that they hand out those chants like it’s Halloween candy but they don’t chant for her. She asked if it’s because she’s not old and doesn’t have a son like Mickie James. She demanded the fans chant “You deserve it” at her. This was pretty funny. The fans didn’t chant it. She said she was going to chant and that the fans would chant back like the sheep they are. They didn’t chant again. James came out. I don’t know what the deal was, as if she didn’t know she was going to do something physical that day and brought nothing else to wear and wrestling boots look stupid with dress clothes. But she had these giant heels and when she got in the ring could barely keep her balance on them, and then had to do something physical. Luckily it was minimal but I have no idea why she’d be wearing heels like that for a physical skit. James just kicked Bliss and laid her out with a DDT. Presumably, that’s to build up a TV rematch. The problem here is if they were building another match, they should have worked the PPV match with a finish that would set up another match. Instead, the face got beat clean, and in a manner that should end the program since there was no reason for a rematch. Then the face gets the better of things the day after, when it should have been before. It’s like they did the blow-off match, and now they’re restarting the same program the next day. And then they wonder why there is no heat in so many of their matches, because they’ve conditioned the fans that the matches, and the winning and losing, in most cases, means nothing. Nobody except the top few go over in winning, and a win is just to set up for tomorrow’s loss and nothing changes. James was unsteady trying to get up after the move and walk but she handled it well. Banks & Bayley were with Angle. Angle wanted to pick who would be the Raw women’s team captain. Then Fox showed up and freaked out. She claimed she’s been in the promotion longer than both of them and she’s the smartest of the three. Angle noted how they settle things on Raw, which Bayley and Banks figured was in the ring, but Fox thought it was rock, paper, scissors, which came across funny. Angle set up the three-way for later in the show. Elias came out to sing. He got a strong negative response. They really booed him when he said that anything is strong net to Aaron Rogers’ collarbone. Rogers is the Green Bay Packers quarterback and Green Bay is known for football. Fans were chanting all night for the Packers. They started up loudly here. Elias tried to sing but the audio kept cutting out. Finally he got mad and said he was going backstage to punch out the audio guy. He went back and Jordan came out. This led to a match. Jordan beat Elias via DQ in 3:19. Jordan kept driving Elias into the barricade back first. They were still outside the ring when Elias nailed Jordan in the left shoulder with a guitar shot. It was a hard shot since Jordan’s arm was bruised up immediately. They brought out the medical team. Darin Corbin, a Midwest indie guy, played doctor here. Lesnar & Heyman came out for an interview. Lesnar didn’t say a word. Heyman said that Mahal barely survived challenges from Orton and Nakamura and he’s trying to figure out how to survive the challenge from Styles. He said on Raw, Lesnar has eaten through the most stacked heavyweight division in the history of WWE. He said they live in the age of trash talk, everyone wants to trash talk, and he said that the undisputed king of trash talk is the advocate with the microphone right now. And despite all that, and all the clamor for trash talk, he doesn’t trash talk Lesnar’s opponents. He said that anyone who steps into the ring to fight lesnar is a real man. He didn’t trash talk Goldberg, he praised him, and rightfully so. He didn’t trash talk Samoa Joe, he praised him, and rightfully so. Same with Strowman. But he said Mahal is just a make believe maharajah who has the Singh brothers doing his shtick of introducing him. He said Mahal isn’t Lesnar’s equal, his contemporary or his counterpart. He said Mahal isn’t even a worthy pretender to the throne of WWE champions like Bruno, Hogan, Savage, Flair, HHH, Michaels, Cena or Lesnar. He said Mahal is a consolation prize champion who is there because Shane and Bryan got the shaft in the last superstar shakeup. He said Lesnar isn’t about brand supremacy . He said the last time Lesnar wrestled somebody from Smackdown, there was an uproar, even in the Raw locker room as Lesnar violated every rule, regulation, moral and ethical parameter of the PG era. He was talking about the finish to the Orton match. Heyman then said Lesnar accepted the challenge. Kalisto was with Charly Caruso. He said it would be one thing to lose the title to somebody he respected, but he didn’t. He said he wanted his rematch tomorrow night on 205 Live. He started chanting “Lucha, Lucha” and Caruso started doing the Lucha dance. Fox beat Bayley and Banks in a three-way to become team captain. It should be noted that Fox winning and being made team captain was a last minute decision. I’m not sure what the original story was, but Fox was not scheduled for the match as of the late afternoon and it was to be Bayley vs. Banks in a singles match. The crowd was dead for this until they did a tower of doom spot which woke them up. The match felt long. Fox started screaming “I don’t want to play this game” and went nutty, grabbing the ring bell and ringing it like somehow that means the match was over. Bayley had Fox pinned with the Bayley-to-belly but Banks saved. Banks had Fox beaten with the bank statement but Bayley saved. That ended up being funny because as Fox was in the bank statement, Cole explained that a three-way has no DQ and therefore, rope breaks don’t save you from a submission. He’s saying this while Fox is struggling to get to the ropes and while Booker who clearly paid no attention to what he said, then said how Fox needs to get to the ropes. Bayley saved Fox. Fox then threw Banks into Bayley, who was on the apron. Somehow in throwing Banks into Bayley on the apron, Bayley flew in the opposite direction into the ring and Fox pinned her at 11:16. The main event was announced as the Zo Train (heels) vs. Team Lucha (faces) with the 205 Live roster. Gulak was in the ring and cut a promo, because Enzo’s voice was gone. He said that Enzo has been held down by the man due to a vocal cord injury. He said he had a prepared statement and read out an Enzo interview, but did so where he spoke in clear English, changing lines like “You can not teach that” and “How are you doing?” Enzo got mad while dancing around as Gulak messed up his lines. Kalisto & Alexander & Swann & Metalik & Ali beat Enzo & Gulak & Nese & Daivari & Dar in 9:03. The original plan was to build Survivor Series by making this an elimination match. It was changed at the last minute because doing eight or nine falls in nine minutes totally sucks. They did a regular match. The match was good action and the crowd was so-so into it. Enzo never tagged in and that became the story. But Enzo was tagged in against his wishes with Kalisto, and he begged off. Enzo did deliver the off the top rope DDT, which looked great, but Ali and Alexander saved. Ali and Alexander did a double flip dive, and then Swann and Metalik each did a moonsault off the top rope to the floor on all the heels except Enzo. Inside the ring, Kalisto pinned Enzo with the Salida del Sol. The match was exactly what it should have been. The show ended with Angle out saying he was going to announce Team Raw for the men’s Survivor Seris mach. Shane came out with about half the Smackdown roster. He grabbed the mic, said “Under siege,” and then took all the talent backstage. They did a series of layered beatdowns, starting with O’Neil and Crews. Corbin threw a backstage employee into a wall. They tipped over a Raw monitor backstage. A bunch of women backstage ran away. They beat up Goldust & Hawkins & Axel. Jordan was backstage and Gable beat him up. Hardy and Balor were around and they got beaten down. Amazing how Balor was positioned in this like an undercard guy, especially given what happened with Kane. If you’re going to do that, why would you have him beat Styles. They beat down Gallows & Anderson. Then the Smackdown women which were Lynch, Natalya, Tamina and Carmella squared off with Bayley, Banks, Fox and James. The Smackdown women thrashed them like jobbers in like ten seconds. They didn’t even have a numbers edge thing going. Ambrose & Rollins jumped onto the Smackdown team but the numbers game was too much and they were beaten down. Then Corbin and Rusev kidnapped Angle and brought him to the ring. Shane said that at SummerSlam they were going to finish what they started and said, “It’s true. It’s damn true.

Notes from the 10/24 Smackdown tapings in Milwaukee. This was a good show. The show itself was built around the idea that Raw would retaliate, but it never happened. Bryan was worried all night and didn’t think Shane made the right move. At the end of the show, when Shane noted Raw never came, Bryan pointed out that it was inevitable that they would. They also built up two matches for Halloween night in Norfolk, Nakamura vs. Owens and Ziggler vs. Roode 2/3 falls, with both winners joining Orton on the Smackdown team at Survivor Series. The show drew 6,000 fans. Rawley & Ryder & Dillinger beat The Colons & Kanellis in the first dark match. Smackdown opened with Shane out. He said that in a fight, it’s always better to strike first. Shane was trying to come off as the face, and to this crowd, he was, saying that Angle had insulted him first. Of course the idea that everyone was already there before Angle insulted him was a storyline gaffe. He got the fans to chant “Under siege,” which is the new catch phrase for the next month. Zayn then came out. Shane refused to shake hands with him. Zayn tried to be nice and say no hard feelings, but Shane said there were plenty of hard feelings, how Zayn said he pulled Owens away to protect him from injury, but didn’t think about Shane being injured. Zayn said that if Shane was not commissioner Shane McMahon, but competitor Shane McMahon, he’d take him out in one second and leave him hurt worse than he was hurt at Hell in a Cell. But he said that Shane needs he and Owens to represent them at Survivor Series. Shane said he didn’t want Zayn to represent Smackdown and doesn’t need him, but if he wants to be on the team, he’ll put him in a match where the winner is on the team, against Orton. Gable & Benjamin beat Kingston & Woods in 7:51. At one point Kingston was on the floor selling and E was pouring cereal down his throat and all over him. I thought this would be the Popeye spinach spot, but in fact, Kingston just kept selling and the Booty-O’s gave him now comeback powers. The finish saw Benjamin give Woods a jumping knee to the back of the head and Gable pinned him. All the Smackdown women were backstage with Bryan. Ellsworth was missing. Carmella was concerned. She had his leash but the comedy is that Ellsworth was the dog on a leash who escaped from his collar and had run off. Out were Charlotte, Lynch, Carmella, Tamina, Lana and Naomi. Bryan said all of them were on the team. It was noted it was a five-person team and there were six of them. Bryan then said Lana wasn’t on the team. This whole Lana thing where she sucks as a wrestler, but nobody gives her respect, and she always gets insulted and sad is the weirdest portrayal of a woman that they previously tried to market as the super hot girl. As much as long Rusev has hurt Rusev, it’s actually killed her dead doing a 90% watered down version of the same act with Tamina. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face because the office is mad they ruined a storyline a few years ago by publicly announcing their engagement. It’s really time to let that one go. Anyway, Bryan said there would be a five-way for the team captain spot later in the show. They did another Fashion Files segment. The Ascension are now friends with Breeze & Fandango. They had kidnapped Ellsworth. Konnor had a can of gasoline and they teased pouring it on Ellsworth and setting him on fire if he didn’t talk, but instead Konnor drank it. Carmella showed up to get Ellsworth back. They had opened up her briefcase and found shit-stained underwear. This is the writing team writing for the audience of one, because Vince gets off on fecal humor. They all acted grossed out by it. The Ascension told them that the clue weeks back of 2B would be for the Bludgeon Brothers. Breeze said there was no B in brothers. The idea was to be funny. Later Breeze said that he never figured that out because the B in brothers is silent. Anyway, they promised another segment next week. Bryan was backstage with Shane. The key here was establishing that Bryan didn’t know about Shane invading Raw, but he felt he should have been consulted on that decision. Bryan needs to make some friends in the locker room so he can get that kind of info. He also said he didn’t agree with the decision. Shane said that sometimes he has to make calls on his own. Bryan walked off. Sin Cara beat Corbin via DQ in 2:32 in a non-title match which at one point was talked about to be a title match. This was coming off Sin Cara’s count out win last week. Sin Cara hit two tope’s and a missile dropkick for a near fall. Corbin got Sin Cara down, started pounding him on the ground, wouldn’t stop and was DQ’d. Corbin threw Sin Cara out of the ring and gave him the End of Days on the floor. Fans were so behind Sin Cara here that after he did the move, they chanted “One more time.” The Singhs came out and made fun and mocked the way Heyman introduces Lesnar. Mahal said that Heyman was a liar and that he started at the bottom and now he’s the most powerful man in WWE. I guess that makes Vince No. 2 and HHH No. 3. He said that he outwrestled Orton and Nakamura. Styles then came out to end that interview. Styles beat Sumil Singh in :32 with the calf crusher. The ref kicked Mahal out at the start of the match. Owens & Zayn were backstage. Owens talked bout his match with Nakamura next week. Mahal and the Singh Brothers were backstage with Bryan. Mahal said that next week he wants Samir Singh to face Styles. Lynch won the five-way over Charlotte, Tamina, Naomi and Carmella in 7:12 to become Smackdown team captain. Lynch made Carmella tap out to the disarmer. Naomi did a plancha on Lynch. Lana at one point attacked Charlotte who no sold it, but that allowed Tamina to superkick Charlotte and take her out by throwing her into the seats. Carmella then threw Naomi into the post to take her out. There was another Bludgeon Brothers promo in the woods. Renee Young was interviewing Ziggler. Ziggler said that he beat Roode last week. Roode showed up. This led to them challenging each other in the 2/3 fall match. Ziggler said that Roode would be embarrassed twice I one night. Orton pinned Zayn in 13:11. This was a great TV match. Orton is such a great wrestler, but often times doesn’t show it. But this was one of the matches where you could really see it. Just every little thing he did was great. The finish played off the previous week, but it was way, way, way too early to cut off Zayn’s heat by beating him. This should have been two months or more down the line rather than a week later. But that’s 50/50 weekly booking and why so often those wins that seem important when they happen end up meaning little a week later. Zayn did a moonsault off the barricade. Orton did a back suplex on the announcers table. Orton did a top rope superplex. Zayn did his running dive from the floor in and out of the ring into a DDT on the floor. Owens ran in to distract Orton and Zayn got a near fall. With the ref distracted by Owens, Orton used a low blow and hit the RKO for the pin. If Orton was going to win, this was the way to do it and the match was great, but this was the wrong week to do it. The show ended with Bryan and Shane backstage. Bryan told Shane that they are coming and he’d better prepare for the consequences because that’s in his job description. 205 Live opened with Alexander & Swann beating Dar & Nese in 8:59. This match was well wrestled. It’s funny watching the small guys do all the mat wrestling than the big guys never do. Nese and Dar had an argument regarding Dar doing the ab workout kicks wrong. Gallagher & Kendrick came out. Nigel McGuinness is so awesome doing color. His wit is so quick and dry that if you don’t pay close attention you’re probably missing a ton of subtle stuff. Dar used a front facelock which McGuinness called the grovit, which is a British term for front facelock that I haven’t heard in decades. Swann used a Phoenix splash body block on Nese to the floor while Alexander pinned Dar with the lumbar check. Kendrick & Gallagher started clapping. They did a promo basically saying they’ve seen Alexander and he’s a great wrestler, but they didn’t think he had enough cruelty in him to be a top guy. But after the last few weeks, they saw that he did and wanted him to join them. They said he had a world of potential but he’ll never reach his potential as long as he’s carrying the dead weight of Swann. Gallagher said he was in a similar position, but that he learned that the people don’t’ matter and Swann doesn’t matter, and that once you have cruelty, it’ll take you farther than you ever expected. They said that next week they were coming to take out Swann, and told Alexander to think this over for the week and make the right decision, because if you don’t come to a decision, we’ll make one for you. Gulak came out to complain about “the man” cutting his Power Point presentation from the PPV. He said that he crushed Tozawa’s vocal cords because he was violating the policy of no chanting. He said he was staging a sit-in where there would be no more matches on the show, including no title match until he’s done with all 277 slides. He only got through No. 1 when Metalik came out. Gulak beat Metalik in 6:53 with a dragon sleeper. There isn’t a more talented and less utilized talent in the entire business than Metalik. He did some incredible things, and they didn’t matter because it’s 205 Live and nothing matters, especially when it’s a guy not pushed. Metalik did a rope walk top rope Asai moonsault. He did a rope walk splash off the top rope. Metalik was on point with everything he did and nobody cared. Metalik took most of the match, but lost when Gulak reversed out of the Metalik driver into a dragon sleeper. Gulak then put Metalik’s leg over the ropes and was going to destroy his knee for violating the rule of no top rope moves, but before he could, Tozawa ran in and made he save. Kalisto did an interview with Dasha Fuentes. He said that he beat Enzo once and knows he can beat him again. He said it’s a nightmare that Enzo beat him for the title and he was going to end that nightmare. Kalisto’s scripts are pretty bad and his delivery needs a lot of work. I mean, this was just bad stuff. Enzo, who still has throat problems and needed to rest his voice, had Daivari do his promo for him. Daivari was great running down the people. Yet, at the end Daivari did the SAWFT stuff and the entire crowd chanted it with him. Kalisto beat Enzo via DQ so Enzo retained the title in 6:13. There was the weirdest announcing thing by Vic Joseph here. Enzo backdropped Kalisto over the top rope and he was on the floor selling his knee. Joseph then said how Kalisto, who was on the floor and being counted out, can’t win the title via count out. I mean, if it was Enzo on the floor, that line would have made sense,. Enzo and Kalisto were brawling on the floor and the ref was counting super slow so both got in at nine. The crowd wasn’t into this match. Kalisto was on the top rope when Enzo kicked the ref who went into the ropes and Kalisto lost his balance and was crotched. The ref then DQ’d Enzo for kicking him, so it was the title change via DQ. It was a shitty finish because the key to a title change via DQ is that the challenger, especially a challenger babyface, should be on the road to winning the title, not selling hard, when the DQ is called for. Instead of Enzo saving the title, it was like the ref DQ’d Enzo to prevent him from capitalizing on an opponent who was in trouble. Kalisto attacked Enzo after the match. The dark match main event saw Nakamura & Roode beat Mahal & Ziggler when Nakamura pinned Ziggler with the Kinshasa

The NXT out of Florida crew opened on 10/19 in Macon, GA, before 940 fans. No Way Jose beat Fabian Aichner with a pop up punch. Sarah Logan & Lacey Evans beat Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose when Evans pinned Rose. These two matches weren’t very good and the crowd didn’t know who the women were. Johnny Gargano pinned Dan Matha with three superkicks. Gargano carried it to one of the best matches on the show. Zelida Vega came out and said that Drew McIntyre would be defending his title against Adam Cole in San Antonio, but that Andrade Cien Almas won’t wait in line and wants a title shot tonight. Roderick Strong pinned Hideo Itami clean. They had a 7:00 match and the crowd was mostly quiet as they wanted to cheer Itami, but he was playing heel. Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish beat Eric Young & Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe. This crowd didn’t react much to the Undisputed trio even though the match was pretty good. Fish pinned Wolfe using the tights. The crowd ended up loving the match once it got going. Velveteen Dream pinned Kassius Ohno with a flying elbow in a good match. Nikki Cross beat Sage Beckett with the fisherman Neckbreaker. The crowd didn’t cheer for Cross even though she worked as the face here. Drew McIntyre beat Almas with the Claymore kick to retain the NXT title. Cole came out before the match started and said the result of this match doesn’t matter because he was going to win the title in San Antonio. After the match, Cole came back out and cut a promo on McIntyre about their match in San Antonio. McIntyre then said that even though he can barely stand up after a war with Almas, he’ll give Cole a title shot right now. Cole came to the ring and the match started, and six seconds later, Fish & O’Reilly came down and beat down McIntyre. This was all being taped so they are apparently going to push McIntyre vs. Cole in San Antonio as a major match. Why Cole’s partners would cost him the match here makes no sense. Jose ran in and got beaten down. Gargano ran in and got beaten down. Sanity ran in and ran off Fish & O’Reilly. Then all the faces hit their finishers on Cole

10/20 in North Charleston, SC, drew 2,000 fans, which was the star NXT show of the week. Jose pinned Matha with the wind up punch. Evans & Logan beat Zeda & Sage Beckett when Lacey made Beckett submit to the armbar. Dream pinned Gargano with the Purple Rainmaker, which is the elbow drop off the top rope. The crowd loved the match and gave Gargano a standing ovation after it was over. The Undisputed Ear beat Sanity when Fish rolled-up Wolfe. Ohno pinned Aichner with the rolling elbow. Cross pinned Deville with the spinning neckbreaker. Main event saw McIntyre & Strong beat Itami & Almas when McIntyre pinned Itami after the Claymore kick

10/21 in Aiken, SC, drew 200 fans, which may be the smallest out-of-Florida NXT crowd in the history of the brand. That said, those who were there were going nuts the entire show. Jose pinned Aichner. Gargano pinned Matha. Matha cut a good promo before the match about how now man can match up to him. Evans beat Logan. Evans’ daughter was at ringside and Logan kept trash talking to her. Strong pinned Itami. The Undisputed Era beat Sanity in the six-man tag. Cole came off like the biggest star in the match. Velveteen Dream pinned Ohno. Lots of talking back and forth with Dream making fun of Ohno’s weight and Ohno making fun of Dream and how he came across on Tough Enough. Cross beat Deville. McIntyre beat Almas to retain the title in the main event. Cole came out to confront McIntyre and they again built up the 11/17 match in San Antonio. It’s really notable how they are promoting that San Antonio house show match that isn’t on the network at the house shows. The plan originally was for Cole to wrestle McIntyre at Takeover before they came up with the idea for War Games. If, and I don’t know this, the plan was for the title to change on that show, that would make sense to call attention to it ahead of time and put Michaels as referee. And NXT is more apt than the main brand to do a house show title change

10/22 in Johnson City, TN, they did a rare NXT show head-to-head with a PPV. We didn’t get an attendance figure for the show. Jose pinned Matha. Evans beat Beckett via submission. Velveteen Dream pinned Gargano. Undisputed beat Sanity once again. Ohno pinned Aichner. Cross pinned Deville. The main event was McIntyre & Strong beating Almas & Itami

The in-Florida tour opened on 10/19 in Daytona Beach before 150 fans. Lio Rush pinned Chad Lail with a quick pin in a match Lail dominated with the big size difference. Marcel Barthel beat Donovan Dijak with a bridging back suplex. It’s not unusual for them to beat new guys like that before they put them on TV so don’t ready anything major into this. Lars Sullivan pinned Eric Bugenhagen in Bugenhangen’s pro wrestling debut. Bugenhagen did mic work and said that he is now on the same level as The Rock and Steve Austin. Sullivan destroyed him and for the win. Buddy Murphy pinned Jason with a running suplex. Kairi Sane & Ember Moon & Ruby Riot beat Shayna Baszler & Peyton Royce & Rhea Ripley. The focus was Sane vs. Baszler and they looked great together. Moon pinned Ripley with a kick. Danny Burch beat Sawyer Fulton with a crossface. Fulton was in Sanity, got hurt and look at where they are and where he is. Liv Morgan pinned Vanessa Borne with a jumping codebreaker. Heavy Machinery won the main event over Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler

10/20 in Venice, FL, drew 250 fans and they put the women on top in a trios match. Rush pinned Fulton with a roll-up. Sullivan pinned Burch with the muso. The crowd chanted “one more time” so Sullivan delivered the move one more time. Liv Morgan pinned Vanessa Borne with a jumping codebreaker. Dijak pinned Boa from China with a boot to the face. Heavy Machinery beat Cutler & Blake with the double-team world’s strongest slam finish. Angelo Dawkins pinned Tino Sabbatelli with a spinebuster. Babitunde Ayegbusi pinned Jeet Rama with a back suplex. Main event saw Sane & Moon & Riot beat Baszler & Royce & Ripley when Moon pinned Ripley after a superkick

10/21 in Citrus Springs, FL, drew 200 fans. Dawkins pinned Ming, another of the recruits from China, who made his debut in this match. Ming had Kona Reeves in his corner, perhaps to help guide him through. Riot pinned Ripley. Sullivan pinned Bugenhagen. Tian Bing, the Chinese recruit with the most fanfare since he worked for several years for Antonio Inoki’s promotion in Japan and has good size, pinned Fulton. Rush pinned Sabbatelli with a frog splash. Reports are that they tore it up. If they let Rush go, he’ll be a star for them as on TV, he got over in an instant. Heavy Machinery beat Brennan Williams & Jason. Dijak pinned Boa. On this show they just called him Dijak, and not Donovan Dijak. Sane & Moon beat Baszler & Abbey Laith in the main event when Sane pinned Laith after the elbow off the top rope

The Raw crew had house shows on 10/20 in St. Louis before 4,500 fans and 10/21 in Mankato, MN before 3,100 fans. The Raw tour was supposed to be headlined by Reigns vs. Strowman in street fights, but with them out, it was switched to Rollins & Ambrose vs. Sheamus & Cesaro in a street fight and Strowman faced Balor, since Balor lost his scheduled opponent in Wyatt

The Smackdown crew went to South America and had four sold out shows. These were the first WWE shows ever in Argentina and the second tour of Chile, with the first being last year. They did Buenos Aires, Argentina on 10/19 and 10/20 and drew 7,200 fans to sell out Luna Park twice. Luna Park, in its old configuration decades ago held more than 15,000 for boxing and wrestling in the heyday of Los Titanes en el Ring which was a major show on prime time television in the 60s, 70s and into the early 80s and held major pro wrestling events from the early part of the 20th century. The 10/21 and 10/22 shows in Santiago, Chile both sold out with 11,000 fans

St. Louis opened with Bayley & Banks beating Emma & Fox when Bayley pinned Fox with the Bayley-to-belly. Brooke was the referee. Matt Hardy pinned Wilder with the twist of fate. Elias came out with Darren Young and Hawkins, to establish Young as a heel. Elias started singing and Goldust & O’Neil came out, so Goldust was back as a face. The faces won. Strowman pinned Balor in an okay match. Bliss pinned Banks with the DDT. The crowd was into it and they had a good match. Kalisto retained the cruiserweight title over Enzo. Enzo was the master of the mic and ripped on fans for having cheered Mark McGwire, called the fans losers and said how he sent Neville packing. Kalisto won with the Salida del Sol. There were “You can’t wrestle” chants at Enzo. The show ended with Rollins & Ambrose over Sheamus & Cesaro in a street fight. They did all the usual WWE street fight weapons, kendo stick, table spots and chairs.

Mankato, MN was the same basic show. Strowman and a fan in the stands nearly got into it during his match with Balor. Good loud crowd. Rollins cut a promo after the main event telling fans the should drive to Minneapolis (about 80 miles away) for the PPV the next day

The first Buenos Aries show opened with Usos beating Big E & Kofi Kingston to keep the tag titles. The crowd went nuts as this was the first WWE match ever in the country. Usos won with a roll-up. Roode pinned English with the Glorious DDT.

English looked good here. Zayn pinned Sin Cara with the Helluva kick. Orton pinned Rusev with the RKO. Lynch & Naomi & Charlotte beat Tamina & Carmella & Natalya. Corbin retained the U.S. title in a three-way over Owens and Dillinger. Said to be the best match on the show, with all three looking good. Owens would mock Shane McMahon every chance he got. Corbin pinned Dillinger to win with the End of Days. Mahal pinned Nakamura in the main event due to interference from the Singhs to keep the WWE title. Mahal put over his match with Lesnar in the pre-match interview. It’s an interesting strategy WWE is using on live shows by doing interviews or angles building the PPV with the idea that this audience is the most likely audience to get the network so use the live event to promote the biggest network events. But the match was real bad, described as the worst on the show. The Singh Brothers distracted and Mahal won with the Khallas. Styles was on the tour but didn’t work either Argentina .show as he was ill. No announcement was made and fans thought that there would be one more match on the show with Styles when the show ended

The second night opened with Lynch & Naomi over Carmella & Tamina. Dillinger pinned English with the tye-breaker. Natalya beat Charlotte to keep the title. Roode pinned Zayn with the Glorious DDT. This result is because they are very strong on faces going over unless it’s something like Zayn vs. Sin Cara or a title match on an overseas show. Corbin pinned Nakamura to keep the U.S. title. Main event saw Mahal beat Orton to keep the WWE title with the interference from the Singhs once again

The first show in Santiago, Chile, with a super hot crowd, one of the louder WWE crowds in recent memory according to some. It opened with Woods & Big E & Styles beating Usos & Rusev in a short match ending when Styles pinned Rusev after the Phenomenal forearm. Styles was put in this match and on first so he could be on the show and fly to Minneapolis for TLC. The crowd chanted for Lana when Rusev was in. Dillinger pinned English with a superkick. Crowd booed the hell out of English’s singing. Lots of NXT chants. After the match, English complained about losing and challenged anyone in the back. Sin Cara came out and pinned him in five seconds. Lynch & Naomi beat Tamina & Carmella . Some fans were asking about Ellsworth, who wasn’t on the tour. Lynch made Carmella tap out to the disarmer. Roode pinned Zayn with the Glorious DDT. The crowd sang Roode’s them song loud, and kept singing even after the match started. They also sang Zayn’s song. Said to be really good, better than anything Roode has done on the main roster on television and best thing on the show. Natalya beat Charlotte to keep the women’s title. Natalya was booed heavily. Lynch was cheered more than Charlotte but Charlotte was the second most popular woman on the show. It looked like the finish was supposed to be Natalya getting the pin with her feet on the ropes, but they were too far from the ropes so Natalya couldn’t get her feet onto the ropes and the ref counted three anyway. Corbin beat Nakamura to keep the U.S. title. Fans all sang Nakamura’s song as well. Nakamura wasn’t as over as other faces and this match was similar to their recent TV match. It wasn’t much of a match. Corbin won with a roll-up holding the tights. Mahal beat Orton in a last man standing match to keep the title. Orton got the loudest pop. Mahal got some cheers but mostly boos. Since it was last man standing, they did the WWE weapons in the match. Better than their PPV matches because it was more a weapons match. Orton put Mahal through a table but one of the Singh Brothers hit Orton with a low blow behind the refs back. The other Singh Brother popped Mahal up in the corner so he eat the count and Orton couldn’t beat the count. After the match, Orton gave both Singh Brothers and Mahal RKO’s

The final night of the tour in Chile opened with Kingston & Big E & Orton beating Usos & Zayn. Zayn came off the top rope into an RKO by Orton for the pin. The place went crazy for this match. After, the New Day made Orton dance. Sin Cara pinned English with a frog slash off the top rope. Natalya retained the women’s title over Naomi with a sharpshooter. HHH pinned Rusev with a Pedigree. The place went crazy for HHH. Rusev got most of the offense. HHH responded when fans chanted NXT during this match. New Day came out after the match and made HHH dance with them as well. HHH then laid out Kingston with a pedigree. Charlotte & Lynch beat Carmella & Tamina when Charlotte used the figure eight on Carmella. Corbin retained the U.S. title in a three-way over Roode and Dillinger. Lots of chants of NXT, 10 and Glorious. Roode hit the DDT on Dillinger and then Corbin snuck up from behind Roode and cradled him for the win. Mahal beat Nakamura to keep the WWE title on top. Better than their last PPV match but that was also because it kept getting heat with all the interference from the Singh Brothers. Mahal’s shoulder is still all taped up when he’s at house shows. For whatever reason, they don’t have him tape it up for television. The Singh Brothers’ interference led to Mahal winning with the Khallas.