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  1. Wrestling Observer Newsletter
  2.  
  3. PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN10839593 April 22, 2019
  4.  
  5.  
  6.  
  7. UFC 236 PPV POLL RESULTS
  8.  
  9. Thumbs up 134 (100.0%)
  10.  
  11. Thumbs down 0 (00.0%)
  12.  
  13. In the middle 0 (00.0%)
  14.  
  15.  
  16.  
  17. BEST MATCH POLL
  18.  
  19. Israel Adesanya vs. Kelvin Gastelum 87
  20.  
  21. Dustin Poirier vs. Max Holloway 46
  22.  
  23.  
  24.  
  25. WORST MATCH POLL
  26.  
  27. Dwight Grant vs. Alan Jouban 94
  28.  
  29. Based on e-mails and phone calls to the Observer as of Tuesday, 4/16.
  30.  
  31.  
  32.  
  33. The WWE Superstar Shakeup came across flat this year, likely because much of the
  34. roster is considered by fans as interchangeable midcarders.
  35.  
  36. There was some major movement, the biggest being Roman Reigns being moved to
  37. Smackdown and A.J. Styles to Raw. There was also a switch of secondary titles
  38. with Finn Balor and the IC title going to Smackdown and Samoa Joe and the U.S.
  39. title going to Raw, for a planned feud with Braun Strowman to get Strowman back
  40. up and running.
  41.  
  42. The latter hasn’t been announced yet. It was scheduled for Raw, but Joe was in
  43. Montreal for Raw and got so sick that he was taken off the show and the
  44. announcement of his moving brands was delayed for a week.
  45.  
  46. Right now, the idea is that the women’s champions, double champion Becky Lynch
  47. and tag team champions Billie Kay & Peyton Royce will be working both brands and
  48. have different challengers on each brand. It was indicated Kay & Royce would
  49. also defend their titles on NXT.
  50.  
  51. They made clear that the Raw and Smackdown titles are different and Raw brand
  52. wrestlers like Natalya and Lacey Evans made it clear they were after the Raw
  53. belt. It appears that when Lynch loses one of those titles, she’ll be exclusive
  54. to the other brand.
  55.  
  56. With people leaving, wanting to leave, coming up and changing brands, most of
  57. the new programs will start becoming evident next week.
  58.  
  59. The next PPV is Money in the Bank from 5/19 in Hartford, CT. The key will be two
  60. Money in the Bank matches, one men, one women, with wrestlers from both brands
  61. involved. The only programs really pushed were to be Joe vs. Strowman and Lynch
  62. vs,. Evans for the Raw title. Seth Rollins, a Universal champion, looks to be
  63. facing Drew McIntyre off McIntyre beating him on television.
  64.  
  65. This weekend will be the last for The Shield together, as Dean Ambrose finishes
  66. up at the house shows, and Reigns moves to Smackdown. So after all the work and
  67. teases of putting The Shield back together, it never came together.
  68.  
  69. Ambrose’s future is in question. Obviously AEW would like him, but we’ve heard
  70. nothing in that direction.
  71.  
  72. Only a few wrestlers were brought up. The two top stars of the last year on 205
  73. Live, Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander, were moved off the brand, with Murphy
  74. going to Smackdown and Alexander to Raw. While it’s long been established that
  75. 205 Live is somewhere between developmental and purgatory, this establishes that
  76. the original goal of it being the home for the best under-205 pound guys in the
  77. company is over and it’s just an hour of filling time and waiting for the top
  78. guys to make it to the main roster. Even though Murphy was cruiserweight
  79. champion and on many PPV shows (granted, often on the pre-show), when he arrived
  80. on Smackdown he did an introduction interview with the premise most people
  81. didn’t know him and would be hearing about him for the first time.
  82.  
  83. From NXT, the only newcomers were the former War Raiders, now called the Viking
  84. Experience, as a tag team on Raw, and Kairi Sane, who will be paired with Asuka,
  85. as a tag team on Smackdown.
  86.  
  87. All the newcomers are quality wrestler but with so many quality wrestlers going
  88. on the treadmill to nowhere on the main roster, it makes it difficult to get
  89. excited about anyone at this point.
  90.  
  91. The War Raiders is notable because they are still NXT tag team champions. One
  92. would think that if it was decided they were coming up, they would have dropped
  93. the titles at the last tapings. Now it’s more awkward, as if they do a title
  94. match in a few weeks, everyone will expect the outcome. I suppose they could
  95. swerve the outcome once, but they may as well get it done. Sane was clearly
  96. known about since they did the match where she couldn’t challenge for the NXT
  97. women’s title ever again. We had bene told about Sane coming up months back.
  98.  
  99. There was lots of talk about the name change, with the idea WWE had already
  100. changed their names from War Machine to War Raiders, so they had a WWE name.
  101. This was a Vince McMahon call. It was literally a last day thing, where at one
  102. point they were to be called The Berzerkers, but McMahon didn’t like that, and
  103. Viking Experience is the name he went with. Todd Smith (Hanson) is now called
  104. Ivar and Ray Rowe is now called Erik. In many ways that was apropos, because so
  105. much of the changes made were not to benefit anyone, but simply change for the
  106. sake of change.
  107.  
  108. Names not brought up were Shayna Baszler, Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate. Baszler has
  109. already been two-time NXT women’s champion, and her character work is some of
  110. the best in the company. She’s also 38, so she’s got a limited window . Baszler
  111. doesn’t have the type of look normally associated with a WWE woman wrestler, but
  112. the fact is, her look is actually perfect for her gimmick, and her gimmick is
  113. more realistic then almost anyone. Even with her doing so well in NXT, picking
  114. it up so quick, there was always the question, with her age and look, if she’d
  115. ever get the shot to really make money at this.
  116.  
  117. Dunne and Bate are much younger, and are two of the best in the ring in the
  118. company. It appears with them not coming up that the decision is that they are
  119. more valuable in establishing the U.K. brand. Plus, with their size and promo
  120. ability, as good as they are, they aren’t the type of guys that Vince would
  121. traditionally push.
  122.  
  123. The additions to Smackdown were Heavy Machinery, Mickie James, Apollo Crews,
  124. Chad Gable, Liv Morgan, Lars Sullivan, Bayley, Finn Balor, Ember Moon, ane,
  125. Murphy, Reigns and Elias.
  126.  
  127. The additions to Raw were Styles, The Miz, The Viking Experience, Andrade,
  128. Zelina Vega, Alexander, Rey Mysterio, The Usos, Naomi, Eric Young and Lacey
  129. Evans.
  130.  
  131. On television Michael Cole got all excited about Ricochet & Aleister Black
  132. joining Raw, although they had been on Raw regularly for some time.
  133.  
  134. Virtually all the company’s known couples were put together or kept together
  135. with one exception, Andrade moving over to Raw while Charlotte Flair stayed on
  136. Smackdown. Keeping the Andrade & Zelina Vega act together, which had not been
  137. used well on Smackdown, gives them another shot at getting it right. Vega is
  138. married to Black so they remain together on the same brand as do Rusev & Lana,
  139. Erik and Sarah Logan and Jimmy Uso & Naomi. The splitting of a couple by the
  140. office is usually the sign of wanting to break them up, but in the Andrade/Flair
  141. situation, it does put Vega and Black together on the same brand. I have no idea
  142. what the status of Buddy Murphy and Alexa Bliss is right now, although they were
  143. a couple in the past.
  144.  
  145. The Mysterio move is interesting because FOX has been airing previews for
  146. Smackdown on baseball and the shots were of John Cena, Reigns, Mysterio and
  147. Flair as the four stars focused on the brand.
  148.  
  149. Right now the plan for house show main events once these changes go into effect
  150. and Reigns vs. Elias on Smackdown and Rollins & Strowman & Styles vs. Bobby
  151. Lashley & McIntyre & Baron Corbin.’
  152.  
  153. The key aspect of the shakeup should have been to fortify Smackdown, because
  154. unlike Raw, which can drop viewership and remain a cable powerhouse for some
  155. time, Smackdown’s numbers now on Tuesday would be weak by FOX and network
  156. standards, let alone with the loss of a high percentage of Tuesday regular
  157. viewers with the move to Friday.
  158.  
  159. They did get Reigns, who the company pushes as its biggest full-time star. But
  160. he was the only main eventer and difference-maker added.
  161.  
  162. Also notable is they broke up the Bobby Roode & Gable tag team. They had spent
  163. months teasing Roode turning heel on Gable, and instead ended the team with them
  164. going nowhere. Bayley & Sasha Banks were also broken up, as were The Riott
  165. Squad, with Morgan to Smackdown, and Sanity.
  166.  
  167. Regarding Sanity, Eric Young will be on Raw. Nobody knows what’s going on with
  168. Killian Dain, or his wife, Nikki Cross. Alexander Wolfe wrote a farewell message
  169. on social media to WWE, but those in WWE have told us that Wolfe isn’t leaving
  170. the company. There is talk he may go back to NXT as a single, or he could be
  171. used as a flagship guy on the European brand.
  172.  
  173. The draft shows did disappointing ratings. The shows are traditionally among the
  174. highest rated of the year, but Raw was down 26 percent in viewers from last year
  175. and Smackdown was down 21 percent. The nature of how the switches were made,
  176. which was simply music playing and guys coming out with no storylines as far as
  177. drafts, trades or anything, made it feel unimportant. The other aspect, which is
  178. probably why it didn’t help ratings like in the past, is just how
  179. interchangeable they’ve made the talent. Even Reigns and Styles moving over
  180. didn’t feel like a big thing.
  181.  
  182. A look at the current depth chart:
  183.  
  184. RAW
  185.  
  186. Top faces: A.J. Styles, Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins
  187.  
  188. Top heels: Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, Brock Lesnar, Drew McIntyre, Samoa Joe
  189.  
  190. Mid level faces: The Miz, Rey Mysterio
  191.  
  192. Mid level heels: Andrade, Sami Zayn
  193.  
  194. Face tag teams: Ricochet & Aleister Black, Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel, Curt Hawkins
  195. & Zack Ryder, Lucha House Party, Usos
  196.  
  197. Heel tag teams: AOP, The Revival, Viking Experience, The Ascension
  198.  
  199. Women’s singles faces: Becky Lynch, Dana Brooke, Naomi, Natalya, Sasha Banks
  200.  
  201. Women’s face tag teams:
  202.  
  203. Women’s single heels: Alexa Bliss, Alicia Fox, Lacey Evans, Nia Jax, Tamina,
  204. Zelina Vega
  205.  
  206. Women’s heel tag teams: Billie Kay & Peyton Royce, Ruby Riott & Sarah Logan
  207.  
  208. Prelim faces: Bobby Roode, Cedric Alexander, Rhyno, Heath Slater, No Way Jose,
  209. Titus O’Neil
  210.  
  211. Prelim heels: EC 3, Eric Young, Jinder Mahal, Mojo Rawley, Tyler Breeze
  212.  
  213. The first thing you note here is the lack of women’s face tag teams, which makes
  214. the Bayley & Banks split-up lack logic.
  215.  
  216.  
  217.  
  218. SMACKDOWN
  219.  
  220. Top faces: Kofi Kingston, Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns
  221.  
  222. Top heels: Daniel Bryan, Rowan, Elias, Lars Sullivan, Randy Orton
  223.  
  224. Mid level faces: Ali, Finn Balor
  225.  
  226. Mid level heels:
  227.  
  228. Face tag teams: New Day, Matt & Jeff Hardy, Heavy Machinery
  229.  
  230. Heel tag teams: Sheamus & Cesaro, Colons, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Rusev &
  231. Shinsuke Nakamura
  232.  
  233. Women’s single faces: Becky Lynch, Bayley, Carmella, Ember Moon
  234.  
  235. Women’s single heels: Charlotte Flair, Lana, Liv Morgan, Mickie James
  236.  
  237. Women’s face tag teams: Asuka & Kairi Sane
  238.  
  239. Women’s heel tag teams: Billie Kay & Peyton Royce, Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville
  240.  
  241. Prelim faces: Apollo Crews, Chad Gable, R-Truth, Sin Cara
  242.  
  243. Prelim heels: Buddy Murphy, Shelton Benjamin
  244.  
  245. Unknown: Bray Wyatt, Killian Dain, Nikki Cross, Fandango, Goldust (expected to
  246. leave)
  247.  
  248.  
  249. UFC 236 report
  250.  
  251. By Ryan Frederick
  252.  
  253. Notes by Dave Meltzer
  254.  
  255.  
  256.  
  257. Saturday night’s UFC 236 card was, on paper, a two-fight card with just fights
  258. filling in an undercard. However, those two fights delivered in a huge way,
  259. leaving the company with arguably the best co-main and main event fight
  260. combination in UFC history.
  261.  
  262. Dustin Poirier defeated Max Holloway for the Interim UFC Lightweight
  263. Championship in the main event, while Israel Adesanya defeated Kelvin Gastelum
  264. for the Interim UFC Middleweight Championship at the State Farm Arena in
  265. Atlanta, GA.
  266.  
  267. Adesanya and Gastelum had one of the best fights in UFC history. It almost
  268. assuredly will win 2019's Fight Of The Year, filled with lots of action and very
  269. dramatic.
  270.  
  271. Gastelum won the first round. Adesanya seemed to have him figured out about
  272. seven minutes into the fight, as from midway thru the second round until a good
  273. portion of the fourth round, Adesanya was beating him everywhere. However, the
  274. momentum swung Gastelum’s way after a hard left hand rocked Adesanya and had him
  275. in trouble like he hasn’t seen before.
  276.  
  277. With Adesanya on the ropes and seemingly just a few more punches away from
  278. potentially being finished, Gastelum did what many fighters do sometimes- he
  279. went for an ill-fated takedown. Not only did he not complete it, the round ended
  280. and it gave Adesanya time to recover while Gastelum looked exhausted after the
  281. fourth round ended.
  282.  
  283. Tied up at 38-38 on the scorecards, the fifth round would decide the winner.
  284. Adesanya took over in the fifth, rocking Gastelum early and dropping him three
  285. times during the round. He almost finished him several times, and many referees
  286. should have and would have stopped the fight, but it went until the end. It was
  287. a clear 10-8 round for Adesanya, and it gave him the fight 48-46 on all three
  288. scorecards.
  289.  
  290. I was at the show in Atlanta and the fight, especially once it concluded, had
  291. one of the biggest reactions I can remember, at least in recent times. The crowd
  292. treated Adesanya like a complete superstar, and this is a fight that could shoot
  293. him into that territory.
  294.  
  295. After that instant classic, up next came Poirier and Holloway. On any other
  296. night, they would have easily had the best fight and one that would be talked
  297. about following the show.
  298.  
  299. Poirier won the fight 49-46 on all three scorecards. The fight was closer than
  300. it appears by reading those scores, but it was clear that Poirier won at least
  301. three rounds. The third round was the only Holloway round. All media members
  302. except for one scored the fight for Poirier. While Holloway did outstrike
  303. Poirier 181-178 over the entire fight, Poirier had much more power in his shots
  304. and was hurting Holloway a bunch, even getting close to being able to find a
  305. stoppage. Holloway never had Poirier in significant trouble at any point.
  306.  
  307. It was Holloway’s first time fighting at 155 pounds. He has talked about moving
  308. up full time, but he gave up a lot of size to Poirier, who looked at least 175
  309. pounds inside the cage. Holloway’s game is perfect for 145 pounds. He isn’t a
  310. one-punch finisher. He strings together punches that finish opponents. But that
  311. doesn’t have the same effect on larger opponents. For him to make the full move
  312. up a weight class, he will have to gain some size. In addition, Poirier’s
  313. punches hurt Holloway considerably more than featherweight punches had.
  314.  
  315. Poirier’s win ended Holloway’s 13 fight winning streak, which was tied with
  316. Demetrious Johnson and Georges St-Pierre for third place of all-time in UFC,
  317. behind Anderson Silva at 16 and Jon Jones at 15 (still in tact).
  318.  
  319. It was a long-awaited breakthrough for Poirier in his first title fight. He has
  320. been one of the most exciting fighters for the company for quite some time, but
  321. always seemed to come up short right when he was going to break into the title
  322. picture. After a no contest with Eddie Alvarez in May 2017, he flipped a switch,
  323. finishing Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje and over Alvarez in a rematch, all in
  324. main events.
  325.  
  326. He was scheduled to fight Nate Diaz in November, but pulled out due to injury.
  327. He was frustrated that he was going to get passed over for this shot in favor of
  328. both Holloway and Tony Ferguson, but when Ferguson didn’t take this fight due to
  329. personal issues, the company made the right call in giving Poirier the fight,
  330. his 22nd UFC fight.
  331.  
  332. Adesanya and Poirier are now set for unification bouts in their next fights.
  333.  
  334. Adesanya will be taking on middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. There is no
  335. set date for the fight yet, as Whittaker is still recovering from emergency
  336. hernia surgery in February, and Adesanya wants some time off after his 6th fight
  337. in 14 months. A potential August or September date was thrown out there. Dana
  338. White said the fight will be held in a stadium in Australia, which is absolutely
  339. the way to go, as it has a real good shot of selling at least 50,000 tickets.
  340.  
  341. Adesanya's biggest potential fight, and one that has been talked about on social
  342. media as of late, is with Jon Jones. Adesanya had some words for Jones prior to
  343. Saturday's fight, and Jones didn't take them lightly. Adesanya was asked about
  344. Jones during his post-fight press conference, and refused to talk about him. He
  345. did talk about him during media appearances on Monday, and they have been
  346. tweeting back-and-forth at each other. If it were to happen, and we are at least
  347. a year away as is, and Adesanya and Jones come through their next fights without
  348. losing, it has potential to be a big money fight.
  349.  
  350. Poirier will get lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, barring a situation
  351. where they give Conor McGregor an undeserving rematch with Khabib. A September
  352. date was brought up by White post-fight, and there has been talks of an event in
  353. Abu Dhabi in September and that they want Nurmagomedov’s next fight there.
  354. Another potential date could be in November at Madison Square Garden.
  355.  
  356. As was evident to most watching, Holloway, at least as things stand, even though
  357. it’s a far more unhealthy weight cut, will have his best success as
  358. featherweight. Dana White talked about him moving back down and defending the
  359. title. There is no top contender who stands out, but if Alexander Volkanovsky
  360. beats Jose Aldo on 5/11 in Rio de Janeiro, he’d be the frontrunner. If Aldo
  361. wins, then Zabit Magomedsharipov would be the likely contender, or Frankie
  362. Edgar, depending on the time from of healing from his torn biceps suffered late
  363. last year.
  364.  
  365. UFC 236 was the first pay-per-view event to be held under the new pay-per-view
  366. distribution deal with ESPN, airing on ESPN+ with a purchase. There were a lot
  367. of issues when it came to this, but that was to be expected.
  368.  
  369. First of all, to order the event, you had to go to a website that ESPN had set
  370. up. Ordering for the event began on Monday and ran up all the way to after the
  371. show began. Where many had issues was they were wanting to purchase the event
  372. through whatever device they were streaming the event through, and were unable
  373. to do so. It was said the potential reason for this was to avoid ESPN having to
  374. pay a percentage of sales to outside companies, while going through the website
  375. they set up gives them all of the sales. It's an issue for purchasers, though,
  376. as previously a click of a button ordered the event for you, while this was
  377. another step to go through in ordering the event, and could be a turn-off for
  378. some.
  379.  
  380. Many pay-per-view purchasers tend to wait until the last minute, whether by
  381. habit, and there tends to be many last minute impulse buys. There was an influx
  382. of people wanting to purchase the event on Saturday night before it started, but
  383. with being unable to do so through their devices, and having to go to the
  384. special website, the website ended up crashing. It took many a long time to get
  385. through to ordering, and many missed the first fight or two before getting
  386. access. Many kept getting logged out of their ESPN+ accounts and having to log
  387. back in, and even having to do so several times while watching the event.
  388.  
  389. While I was at the event, I did order it for family back at home that like to
  390. watch the fights and were interested in this one. I ordered in on Thursday, and
  391. those back at home had no issues with viewing the event, being logged out at any
  392. time or any buffering issues. From talking to others I know, those who ordered
  393. it during the week and up through Saturday afternoon had no issues, while others
  394. who waited until the last hour up until the start of the show had issues.
  395.  
  396. White did claim that ESPN would be changing the ordering process for the next
  397. event and future events to where potential buyers could buy through their
  398. devices. While I'm sure ESPN would rather not pay Apple or whomever up to their
  399. typical 30% cut, that could easily be made up by not turning off potential
  400. buyers and opening it up to maximize their potential viewership. They need to
  401. make it easier for fans and viewers to be able to buy their events.
  402.  
  403. A positive for those who did buy the show was they get unlimited access to the
  404. event. If you ordered but were unable to watch it live for any reason, you'd
  405. still be able to view the show whenever you'd like. From what I was told,
  406. purchasers have unlimited replay viewing, and after 15 days, any other ESPN+
  407. subscriber who didn't purchase the event would then be able to watch replays of
  408. the show, and that after 22 days, the event is then put onto UFC Fight Pass for
  409. those subscribers who don't have ESPN+.
  410.  
  411. Outside of the main two fights, there wasn't much else of note. Khalil Rountree
  412. turned in a career best performance in a decision win over Eryk Anders on the
  413. main show. Rountree was chopping away at the legs of Anders early, softening him
  414. up, and dropped Anders four times in the second round. He never finished Anders,
  415. but there were many times where the fight probably should have been stopped,
  416. especially after the third and fourth time he was dropped. Anders' corner should
  417. have stopped the fight after the second round as he didn't need to take any more
  418. damage in the third. They didn't because in this sport there's always that
  419. chance of the right punch or kick landing, but they did more way more harm than
  420. good by sending him back out there.
  421.  
  422. The event at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, the fourth UFC event held there,
  423. drew 14,297 fans with a gate of $1,908,721. Both of those were well up of the
  424. UFC's last visit to the city in July 2016, but down from the first two shows.
  425.  
  426. There are no PPV estimates at the present time. The show did 1 million Google
  427. searches, which is a solid number. But a lot of that may have been people
  428. looking up how to order because of the changes, and perhaps looking for results
  429. and reaction because they were curious but either couldn’t or didn’t take the
  430. steps to watch.
  431.  
  432. The prelims airing on ESPN from 8 to 10 eastern time did 893,000 viewers. It
  433. went head-to-head with the Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers NBA
  434. playoff game on ABC, which did 4,826,000 viewers, the Toronto Maple Leafs vs.
  435. Boston Bruins NHL playoff game on NBC that did 1,706,000 viewers and a NASCAR
  436. race on FOX which did 2,787,000 viewers. It is virtually identical to last
  437. April's UFC 223 prelims, which did 892,000 viewers on FS1.
  438.  
  439. The number was down from the 1,480,000 for the prelims for UFC 234 (Adesanya vs.
  440. Anderson Silva) and the 1,339,000 for the prelims before UFC 235 (Jon Jones vs.
  441. Anthony Smith). The drop to FS 1 levels is notable because ESPN numbers had been
  442. so much higher. UFC didn’t have a direct major sports lead-in, but had a strong
  443. rated SportsCenter lead-in that followed NBA playoffs. UFC did win its time slot
  444. in cable in 18-49 and all key male demos and placed second in its time slot on
  445. cable to a Hallmark movie.
  446.  
  447. The show did well in major markets like Houston, Atlanta, Dallas and San
  448. Francisco, the latter a surprise since it aired out of prime time (5-7 p.m.),
  449. and against a Warriors playoff game, beating an 0.9 rating in those markets. But
  450. it was hurt by doing an 0.4 in Los Angeles in the bad time slot and against the
  451. Clippers, and 0.5 ratings in both New York and Chicago.
  452.  
  453. They awarded two $50,000 Fight Of The Night bonuses, with them going to
  454. Adesanya, Gastelum, Poirier and Holloway. That was definitely the right call as
  455. they all deserved big bonuses for those fights.
  456.  
  457. 1. Brandon Davis (10-6) beat Randy Costa (4-1) in 1:12 in the second round in a
  458. bantamweight fight. Davis was making the move down from 145 pounds and looked in
  459. great shape here. Costa was making his UFC debut in just his fifth career fight,
  460. and hadn't gone past the 71-second mark in any fight, until this one. They had a
  461. fun first round which went back-and-forth with a lot of punches being traded.
  462. Davis got rocked real early but was firing back. Costa won the first round.
  463. Davis got rocked again to start the second round but then hurt Costa with a
  464. knee. Costa went for a takedown but Davis got his back and sunk in a rear-naked
  465. choke and got Costa to tap. Davis noted he was drinking a six-pack of beer every
  466. night after training and only running ten miles a week, but cut out the beer and
  467. started running 20 miles a day to get down to bantamweight, and that he walked
  468. into the cage at 160 pounds, and was certain he would get cut if he lost here.
  469. Davis got $36,000 for the win and Costa got $12,000 for the loss.
  470.  
  471. 2. Poliana Botelho (8-2) beat Lauren Mueller (5-2) via unanimous decision on
  472. scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28 in a women's flyweight fight. Botelho was
  473. moving up to 125 pounds after losing to Cynthia Calvillo in her last fight, and
  474. looked much bigger at this weight. This wasn't the most exciting fight, but not
  475. the worst on the show either. Botelho was throwing all sorts of spin kicks in
  476. the first and outlanded Mueller, and got a takedown and the mount. Second round
  477. was a little closer but Botelho again outlanded her more and got a takedown. She
  478. was up two rounds and Mueller had to go for broke in the third. Mueller took
  479. over in the third and was landing more and tripped Botelho up with a leg kick.
  480. Instead of looking for the finish she needed she just went into the guard and
  481. rode it out on the ground. I had it 29-28 for Botelho as did every other media
  482. member. Botelho got $50,000 for the win and Mueller got $12,000 for the loss.
  483.  
  484. 3. Montel Jackson (8-1) beat Andre Soukhamthath (13-7) via unanimous decision on
  485. scores of 30-26, 30-27 and 29-27 in a bantamweight fight. The first round was
  486. the closest of the fight as they were pretty even in the striking but Jackson
  487. did get two takedowns but didn't do much with them. One judge gave that round to
  488. Soukhamthath. Jackson did better in the second round as he started landing big
  489. punches, and Soukhamthath has one good chin on him. Jackson got a takedown late
  490. to seal the round for sure. Third round was all Jackson has he had complete
  491. control outlanding Soukhamthath 78-8 overall in the third (20-2 in significant
  492. strikes), getting full mount and landing big punches and elbows. Overall,
  493. Jackson outstruck him 160-41, and 64-30 in significant strikes. All media
  494. members had all three rounds for Jackson, and I had it 30-27 for him. Jackson
  495. got $24,000 for the win and Soukhamthath got $22,000 for the loss.
  496.  
  497. 4. Belal Muhammad (15-3) beat Curtis Millender (17-5) via unanimous decision on
  498. scores of 29-27, 29-27 and 30-26 in a welterweight fight. Millender was back in
  499. action just five weeks after a submission loss to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. He
  500. looked good in the first as he was landing better on Muhammad and cut him open
  501. with the jab, and rocked Muhammad late in the round. Muhammad came on in the
  502. second round as he started to land more and took Millender down, and Millender
  503. was unable to get up as he ate strikes on the bottom from Muhammad. It was 1-1
  504. heading into the third. Millender looked tired in the third and slowed down big
  505. time and Muhammad got a takedown and was landing more big punches. It was a
  506. dominant round for Muhammad but he didn't get close to finishing Millender. I
  507. had it 29-28 for Muhammad though every judge gave Muhammad a 10-8 third. Every
  508. media member had it for Muhammad. Muhammad got $70,000 for the win and Millender
  509. got $31,000 for the loss.
  510.  
  511. 5. Khalid Taha (13-2) beat Boston Salmon (6-2) in :25 in a bantamweight fight.
  512. Salmon has the most unique name in the UFC. He was making his long-awaited UFC
  513. debut after being one of the signees from the very first episode of Dana White's
  514. Contender Series in July 2017. Taha landed a right hand followed by a left hand
  515. that put Salmon on the mat and he finished it off with a few more punches in
  516. just 25 seconds. Salmon was upset at the stoppage, thinking it was early, but
  517. then was stumbling around as he was getting to his feet, so he was very much
  518. done. Taha got $20,000 for the win and Salmon got $10,000 for the loss.
  519.  
  520. 6. Max Griffin (15-6) beat Zelim Imadaev (8-1) via majority decision on scores
  521. of 29-27, 29-27 and 28-28 in a welterweight fight. Imadaev was making his UFC
  522. debut, and he has garnered a bad reputation in Las Vegas, having been kicked out
  523. of gyms for purposely hurting training partners. Griffin and Imadaev were
  524. actually training in the same gym when this fight was booked. Griffin got a
  525. takedown in the first. Imadaev grabbed the fence multiple times, even grabbing
  526. it to help get up. The referee docked a point for the repeated fence grabs, but
  527. then didn't restart them on the mat. Griffin took him down again, but Imadaev
  528. kept grabbing the fence again. I would have disqualified him. Griffin got the
  529. first round 10-8. Imadaev started to comeback in the second round as Griffin was
  530. getting tired. Griffin did take him down but Imadaev was controlling the
  531. striking. Round two belonged to Imadaev. Imadaev continued to land more in the
  532. third, but Griffin did land a couple of big punches and got another takedown. It
  533. was close enough to go either way. I had it a 28-28 draw. Media scores were 19%
  534. for Griffin and 81% for a draw. Griffin got $40,000 for the win and Imadaev got
  535. $10,000 for the loss.
  536.  
  537. 7. Alexandre Pantoja (21-3) beat Wilson Reis (23-10) in 2:58 in a flyweight
  538. fight. Reis got a brief takedown early on but they got back up. Pantoja then
  539. dropped Reis with a big right hand and then started pouncing on with more
  540. punches until the referee stopped the fight. Another case that the division
  541. should continue and a big win for Pantoja over a former title challenger.
  542. Pantoja got $36,000 for the win and Reis got $34,000 for the loss.
  543.  
  544. 8. Matt Frevola (7-1-1) beat Jalin Turner (8-5) via unanimous decision on scores
  545. of 30-27, 30-27 and 30-27 in a lightweight fight. Turner is very tall and lanky
  546. for 155 pounds. Frevola got an early takedown and had back control. Turner
  547. cracked him with a right hand. Both went for chokes but Turner had dominant
  548. position towards the end of the first. It was close but I gave the first to
  549. Turner. Second round had Frevola going back for more takedowns and he got one
  550. and spent most of the round on top and had a tight guillotine in but Turner
  551. escaped. Frevola got the second. Third round started out with Turner landing a
  552. couple of big punches but Frevola got a takedown and had dominant position.
  553. Turner was able to scramble up and they traded at the end. Frevola got the third
  554. but fight was a lot closer than the scores showed. I had it 29-28 for Frevola.
  555. Media scores had it 88% for Frevola and 12% for Turner. Frevola got $20,000 for
  556. the win and Turner got $12,000 for the loss.
  557.  
  558. 9. Nikita Krylov (25-6) beat Ovince Saint Preux (23-13) in 2:30 in the second
  559. round in a light heavyweight fight. This was a rematch from a March 2015 fight
  560. won by Saint Preux. Krylov outlanded Saint Preux 33-6 in the first round but
  561. none of it was connecting hard. Saint Preux got three takedowns and had control
  562. though he didn't come close to finishing Krylov. Boring opening round but I had
  563. it for OSP. Krylov was hurting OSP early in the second and got a takedown and
  564. was working for a choke on the back. He landed punches to help find an opening,
  565. got a rear-naked choke locked in deep and OSP tapped. So we are now 1-1 in this
  566. series, so there has to be a third fight down the line. Maybe. This wasn't one
  567. that would have people clamoring to complete the trilogy. Krylov got $160,000
  568. for the win and Saint Preux got $86,000 for the loss.
  569.  
  570. 10. Dwight Grant (10-2) beat Alan Jouban (16-7) via split decision on scores of
  571. 29-28, 27-30 and 29-28 in a welterweight fight. This was the worst fight on the
  572. show. First round saw a lot of Grant landing more but there wasn't much action
  573. going from either man. Grant's round just on sheer volume landed. Second round
  574. was worse than the first with not a lot of action and the crowd booing. Grant
  575. had more action going but was backpedaling most of the round. It could have gone
  576. either way but I had the second for Grant. Third round was more of Grant landing
  577. more but backpedaling and Jouban advancing forward and got a takedown and the
  578. back as the fight ended. I had it 29-28 for Grant. Jouban was really upset at
  579. the decision even staying inside the Octagon several minutes after the fight
  580. ended. I could see his frustration as Grant didn't engage much and was
  581. backpedaling most of the fight and Jouban was the one coming forward, but he
  582. also didn't exactly put a stamp on anything to solidly win any rounds. They all
  583. could have gone either way though. Media scores were an even 50/50. Grant got
  584. $24,000 for the win and Jouban got $43,000 for the loss.
  585.  
  586. 11. Khalil Rountree (8-3 1 NC) beat Eryk Anders (11-4) via unanimous decision on
  587. scores of 30-26, 30-26 and 30-26 in a light heavyweight fight. Rountree has
  588. moved from Las Vegas to Thailand and his muay Thai was way improved. Rountree
  589. was chopping away at the legs of Anders from the onset. Anders' lead leg was
  590. beaten up pretty good early on. Rountree was in complete control from the first
  591. round. The second round was one of the biggest beatdowns in recent memory.
  592. Rountree dropped Anders four times in the round, all with punches. He would land
  593. a couple on the ground then let Anders up. It should have been stopped probably
  594. after the third knockdown, but definitely after the fourth, but Anders was too
  595. tough for his own good. Myself and almost everyone had that as a 10-7 round.
  596. Anders' corner should have stopped it after the second but sent him back out for
  597. the third. He looked better in the third than he did in the first two but was
  598. still getting tagged by Rountree, though he never got dropped. Complete
  599. domination by Rountree in this fight, and his most complete performance in the
  600. UFC. Rountree got $70,000 for the win and Anders got $50,000 for the loss.
  601.  
  602. 12. Israel Adesanya (17-0) beat Kelvin Gastelum (15-4 1 NC) via unanimous
  603. decision on scores of 48-46, 48-46 and 48-46 to win the interim UFC middleweight
  604. title. As noted above, an absolute instant classic fight. The first round was
  605. both men trying to figure each other out, especially Adesanya. Gastelum landed
  606. slightly more, but he did land hard left hands. I had the first for Gastelum.
  607. Adesanya had Gastelum figured out in the second. He was landing kicks and
  608. punches and dropped Gastelum for the first time with a hard right hand. Second
  609. round for Adesanya. Third round was more Adesanya landing his strikes. Gastelum
  610. did get a takedown but Adesanya got right back up. Much closer but still the
  611. third for Adesanya. Fourth round started off with Adesanya landing but then
  612. Gastelum started landing hard left hands and then a head kick wobbled Adesanya.
  613. It was the most trouble Adesanya had been in during his UFC career. Gastelum had
  614. Adesanya on the ropes but decided to go for a takedown against the fence, which
  615. Adesanya defended and the round ended. It was 2-2 after four. Adesanya recovered
  616. between rounds and was landing at the start of the fifth. He got a standing
  617. guillotine and they went to the mat and Adesanya was looking for a triangle but
  618. Gastelum was able to scramble to his feet. That seemed to drain Gastelum of all
  619. his energy as Adesanya took complete control from there. Adesanya dropped him
  620. with a big combo ending with a right hand. Gastelum got up and went for a
  621. takedown but ate hard elbows and then got dropped again. They were on the mat
  622. but got up and Adesanya dropped him a third time in the round and finished the
  623. fight on the mat. A clear 10-8 round for Adesanya with the three knockdowns. An
  624. insane fight. With their best fight bonuses, Adesanya got $400,000 for the win
  625. and Gastelum got $200,000 for the loss.
  626.  
  627. 13. Dustin Poirier (25-5 1 NC) beat Max Holloway (20-4) via unanimous decision
  628. on scores of 49-46, 49-46 and 49-46 to win the interim UFC lightweight title.
  629. Poirier looked huge standing next to Holloway during the staredown. This was
  630. very intense. Poirier had a huge power edge but Holloway was eating those
  631. punches well. Poirier took the first round outlanding Holloway throughout and
  632. scoring with some big punches. Second round was closer but it was really telling
  633. to how the rest of the fight would go. Holloway landed with more volume, but
  634. Poirier was hurting him with harder punches. Poirier rocking Holloway at the
  635. right moments was enough to get him the second round. Third round was
  636. Holloway's. He outlanded Poirier 61-33 overall in the third and had Poirier in
  637. some trouble, not serious, up against the fence. It was starting to look the
  638. same in the fourth with Holloway having the striking edge 55-36 and Poirier
  639. looked like he was starting to fade, but a huge knee that cut Holloway open
  640. shifted the momentum. After four, I had it 2-2 but the judges did have it 3-1
  641. Poirier. Fifth round seemed close but Holloway's cut seemed to play a factor
  642. that he was hurt more than he really was. Poirier won the fifth on sheer will
  643. and back to landing harder shots. A really fantastic fight. With also getting
  644. best fight bonuses, Poirier got $300,000 for the win and Holloway got $400,000
  645. for the loss.
  646.  
  647.  
  648. The Viceland documentary on the Montreal screw job aired on 4/17, with the big
  649. thing promoted as the promise of revealing who was the architect of the most
  650. talked about ending of a pro wrestling match in history.
  651.  
  652. The situation has been discussed to death over 21 plus years. In 1996, Bret Hart
  653. had lost the WWF championship to Shawn Michaels in an Iron Man match at
  654. WrestleMania in what is now the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.
  655.  
  656. The match, where they went one hour without a fall, seemingly ended with Hart
  657. holding the sharpshooter on Michaels, only for the time to run out, to
  658. apparently retain the title with a draw. But he was ordered to return to the
  659. ring, and Michaels hit a superkick for the pin and won the title. The idea was
  660. to build for a rematch the next year at WrestleMania.
  661.  
  662. Hart was taking time off after WrestleMania. He was looking to break into acting
  663. and had a recurring role in the television show “Lonesome Dove.” His WWF
  664. contract expired while he was gone. This was during the middle of a suddenly
  665. heated wrestling war, as WCW overtook WWF in the Monday Night ratings with the
  666. expanding of the show from one hour to two hours live. The gap grew with the
  667. creation of the NWO, a heel group that featured Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin
  668. Nash, the latter two of whom had left WWF earlier in the year for both
  669. significantly more money and less dates.
  670.  
  671. With Hart a free agent, Eric Bischoff put on a full court press to add him to
  672. the WCW roster. Many considered Hart as WWF’s biggest star and with the
  673. momentum, the thought was his leaving would be a crippling blow.
  674.  
  675. Bischoff offered Hart a three-year contract at $2.8 million per year, of which
  676. $2 million would be on the books to Turner Home Entertainment and not the
  677. wrestling company, as a way to make the WCW balance sheets look better, and
  678. $800,000 would be his annual wrestling salary. The way the contract was written,
  679. Hart would do two movies per year for Turner at $1 million per year, although in
  680. reality there would probably be no movies and the money would be paid for
  681. wrestling.
  682.  
  683. McMahon came to Hart and offered him $1.5 million per year, the most money he
  684. had ever guaranteed anyone but Hulk Hogan, and Ultimate Warrior (which he agreed
  685. to in 1991 when Warrior demanded equal money to Hogan, only to fire Warrior
  686. after making the agreement, because he had advertised Warrior for that year’s
  687. SummerSlam and fired him the moment the match ended). While the figure was
  688. barely half of that of WCW, McMahon offered Hart an unprecedented 20-year deal,
  689. although the $1.5 million was only for the first three years. The next 17 years
  690. would be a lesser amount for a non-wrestling role in the office.
  691.  
  692. Out of loyalty to WWF, Hart took the offer. WWF was losing money at the time and
  693. McMahon had to take out loans to keep things afloat. In trying to work with the
  694. people he was borrowing from, McMahon tried to cut costs everywhere. He asked
  695. Hart, his highest paid wrestler, if he would take a lower guarantee now, and
  696. McMahon promised to make it up to him later. Hart refused.
  697.  
  698. McMahon then suggested to Hart that he couldn’t afford the deal, and if Hart
  699. could get the same offer from Bischoff, he should take it, and gave him
  700. permission to negotiate with the rival company.
  701.  
  702. Bischoff offered $2.5 million over three years, with a two-year option. Before
  703. signing the deal, McMahon upped the price of his PPV shows. To his surprise, the
  704. theory about ticket prices espoused by Zane Bresloff from his days in the
  705. concert business held true. Within reason, the higher you charge for tickets,
  706. the more people want them. PPV number increased with the price raise and WWF was
  707. back profitable. McMahon could afford Hart’s salary, but by this time his
  708. telling him to leave and a slew of creative differences had taken place. As late
  709. as the end of October, Hart talked with McMahon, more about creative than money,
  710. and McMahon made it clear he was going with Steve Austin as his top star. Hart
  711. signed with WCW.
  712.  
  713. The only problem was, Hart was WWF champion. McMahon’s idea was for Hart to lose
  714. the title to Michaels at the 1997 Survivor Series, and Michaels would then lose
  715. to Austin at WrestleMania.
  716.  
  717. The second problem was that Hart’s contract signed in 1996 gave him reasonable
  718. creative control over the last 60 days of his tenure if he was to leave.
  719.  
  720. Neither would have been a problem except for Michaels. When Hart was told by
  721. McMahon he wanted him losing to Michaels, Hart went to Michaels and told him
  722. he’d be happy to lose the title to him. Michaels responded that was nice,
  723. because he was never going to put Hart over. Keep in mind this discussion took
  724. place several weeks before Hart had agreed to terms with Bischoff.
  725.  
  726. At this point, Hart decided that he wouldn’t put Michaels over, and would be
  727. fine losing the title to anyone but him.
  728.  
  729. A number of reporters who saw the piece hated it, largely feeling there were too
  730. many con men involved and key elements of the story weren’t presented, plus
  731. Scott Hall added nothing and his idea that it was all a work that everyone
  732. including Hart were in on is preposterous based on depositions taken later.
  733.  
  734. Really, it wasn’t that bad to me. Then again, maybe if I hadn’t been told what
  735. wasn’t in it, I’d have a different view.
  736.  
  737. The key was that it was presented as if Montreal was Hart’s last match with the
  738. company, that he was champion, and that he refused to do the job and drop the
  739. championship in the ring.
  740.  
  741. And in the end, while that is what happened, and “Wrestling with Shadows” was
  742. based on that, a number of key parts of the story were left out.
  743.  
  744. It’s funny because probably the second person in WWF management who called me
  745. after the show was Bruce Prichard, who just said that Bret had refused to do
  746. business, the situation sucked, but Vince had no other choice.
  747.  
  748. Quite frankly, given how the business was in 1997, which is very different
  749. today, and the value of the championship to fans, and talent for that matter,
  750. plus the wrestling war, if it was that simple, I would have sided with Vince
  751. McMahon.
  752.  
  753. But Hart never refused to drop the belt in the ring. And Montreal was not
  754. scheduled to be Hart’s last match with the company. He had three weeks left on
  755. his contract, and Bischoff had actually given his approval for Hart to stay in
  756. WWF an extra week and drop the title on the next PPV show in Springfield, MA.
  757.  
  758. I had seen the letters from Hart’s attorney to McMahon, specifying what he would
  759. and wouldn’t do. It was not only clear Hart was willing to drop the title, but
  760. he went so far as to specify he’d love it in Madison Square Garden a week later,
  761. or anywhere else, just not in Canada. He suggested losing to Austin. A scenario
  762. was set up for a four-way elimination match in Springfield involving Hart,
  763. Michaels, Ken Shamrock and Undertaker. In that scenario, Hart would be
  764. eliminated by either Undertaker or Shamrock, and in the end Michaels would win
  765. the match, get the title and then lose it to Austin.
  766.  
  767. The other key point is that the story of McMahon coming up with idea after idea
  768. to get Hart to lose to Michaels and he wouldn’t agree on anything was not
  769. exactly true.
  770.  
  771. Hart did turn down several scenarios regarding Michaels and losing the title in
  772. Canada. Keep in mind that WWF was well behind in the U.S. at the time, but was
  773. doing far better in Canada, partially if not largely due to Hart, who was
  774. something of a Canadian sports hero at the time.
  775.  
  776. I can tell you from conversations I had with people in WWF at the time, that
  777. with Hart leaving, they wanted Owen Hart to be that Canadian sports hero. Doing
  778. so meant they had to take that mantle from Bret Hart. One can only speculate why
  779. McMahon felt it imperative that this happened before or in Montreal. Nobody has
  780. ever suggested to me they needed Bret to no longer be that Canadian hero. While
  781. this all sounds silly with modern standards, the idea that losing a fake
  782. wrestling match would make a difference or take the edge off a star, in those
  783. days wins and losses at key times meant a lot more.
  784.  
  785. More likely it was simply the stress of the wrestling war and McMahon feeling
  786. the need to get the belt off Hart as soon as possible, in any way possible.
  787.  
  788. Still, McMahon had the scenario to make it work. He suggested to Hart that he
  789. win the match in Montreal, and then lose the title to Michaels in a rematch.
  790. There was bitterness since Hart was supposed to beat Michaels at the 1997
  791. WrestleMania, but Michaels claimed a career ending knee injury and missed the
  792. show. Ironically, the replacement match, Hart vs. Steve Austin, was, with
  793. hindsight, one of the best and most important matches in company history.
  794.  
  795. Michaels and HHH were approached by McMahon. HHH told Michaels that Hart was
  796. leaving the company, and under no circumstances should he lose to a guy leaving
  797. the company. McMahon had to go back to Hart and tell him Michaels once again
  798. refused to lose to him. At that point, it would have been almost impossible for
  799. Hart, who had creative control, something Michaels didn’t have, to agree to lose
  800. to him.
  801.  
  802. Those were the key elements left out. I personally don’t believe for a second
  803. that under those circumstances that Lou Thesz, Bruno Sammartino, Harley Race,
  804. Hulk Hogan or most of the champions of that era would have ever agreed to put
  805. someone over for the title.
  806.  
  807. When they came to the standoff, neither Hart nor Michaels would put the other
  808. over, the reality is, Hart was leaving and Michaels was staying. McMahon did
  809. have to get the title off Hart.
  810.  
  811. A key is when Prichard talked about how they all thought that on the day of the
  812. show, McMahon would be able to talk Hart into losing, the reality is that he
  813. never asked. McMahon always told people he asked and Hart wouldn’t do business.
  814. And if Hart wasn’t wired, which McMahon never knew about until later, it would
  815. be one person’s word against another. Having heard the unedited conversation
  816. (December 21, 1998 Observer has the transcription), McMahon never once asked
  817. Hart to lose. And McMahon had already set his plan in place days earlier. Hart
  818. did suggest, noting that everyone knew he was leaving, that he would come to TV
  819. the next night and vacate the title. Given the circumstances of that era,
  820. McMahon should have never agreed to that. But he did. McMahon agreed to that,
  821. probably because he was agreeing to everything Hart suggested, simply because he
  822. wanted to make sure Hart got in the ring that night.
  823.  
  824. The keys really to the documentary to me was Earl Hebner talking about how he
  825. just didn’t know what to do. Hart was on the same flight to Montreal a Hebner,
  826. and upgraded him to first class to sit with him. Hebner swore to God he’d never
  827. screw him, not thinking for a second such a thing would happen. Then, as he was
  828. going to the ring, Gerald Brisco told Hebner to call for the bell in the spot
  829. where Michaels had the sharpshooter on, and told him that if he didn’t, he
  830. wouldn’t have a job. Hart was furious at Hebner, but years later, the two made
  831. up.
  832.  
  833. The key part of the story was who came up with the finish. And when watching,
  834. you don’t know. Both Jim Cornette and Vince Russo both claimed they came up with
  835. the idea of the double-cross off the sharpshoter. They were the only two people
  836. at Vince McMahon’s house that night when the exasperated Vince said, after
  837. telling Hart that Michaels wouldn’t lose to him first, told both of them that
  838. Hart wouldn’t lose to Michaels. Michaels has also claimed in the past that he
  839. was the onie wh came up with the finish.
  840.  
  841. The way the story was told to me shortly after it happened, was McMahon
  842. suggested the Moolah-Richter finish. On November 25, 1985, when women’s champion
  843. Wendi Richter wouldn’t sign a new contract, she was double-crossed on the
  844. finish. The Fabulous Moolah, under a mask and all covered up, wrestling as
  845. Spider Lady, got Richter in a small package. The ref fast counted and Richter
  846. kicked out but the ref counted anyway. Richter had no idea what happened, and
  847. never wrestled another match for the company.
  848.  
  849. The problem with that finish was that Hart would immediately know Michaels was
  850. in on it.
  851.  
  852. Cornette brought that up. Hart and Michaels had gotten into a legitimate fight
  853. in the dressing room in Hartford months earlier, which didn’t go well for
  854. Michaels. Cornette noted that the absolute worst thing possible was for Hart to
  855. get screwed, and have him think Michaels was involved and attack him for real,
  856. and beat him up, and then go to WCW. It would kill the title and hurt Michaels
  857. as a headliner, and make Hart the hottest wrestler in the country and be viewed
  858. as the real WWF champion while in WCW. In 1991, when Ric Flair never lost the
  859. WCW title and went to WWF, WCW business plummeted with the idea WWF had the real
  860. champion.
  861.  
  862. So a scenario had to be done where it would give Michaels an out to convince
  863. Hart that he wasn’t in on it. Cornette claimed that was when McMahon challenged
  864. him to come up with a better finish than the Moolah-Richter finish, and that’s
  865. what he came up with. Russo claimed he did it.
  866.  
  867. Cornette actually suggested to just put Shamrock in with Hart and have Shamrock
  868. win the title. The idea may have been that Shamrock could take it whenever he
  869. wanted. But that wasn’t Vince’s idea. Shamrock and Hart were friends. Hart is
  870. actually the person who got Shamrock into the WWF and helped train him. I recall
  871. being at a house show in Stockton in early 1997, and seeing Ken and Bob Shamrock
  872. (who adopted Ken) and they told me they were there to see Bret Hart. The idea
  873. was that Bret was going to win the WWF title, and Bret wanted to work a program
  874. with Shamrock feeling WWF champion vs. former UFC champion would give the title
  875. more credibility and increase interest. At the same time, if Vince would have
  876. asked Hart to lose the title to Shamrock, he’d have almost surely done it with
  877. no qualms. Hart suggested losing to Austin, and actually agreed to even lose it
  878. to the Brooklyn Brawler if asked.
  879.  
  880. Then the documentary turned into the Russo vs. Cornette feud.
  881.  
  882. Neither Cornette nor Russo had any idea McMahon was actually going to do it.
  883. Everyone believed that the Hart-Michaels match would end in a DQ win for Hart,
  884. including Hart, Cornette, Russo, and everyone at the production meeting, and
  885. that Hart would drop the title later.
  886.  
  887. The number of people who did know were small. Gerald Brisco was in Shawn
  888. Michaels’ hotel room the night before trying to give him a crash course in self
  889. defense with the fear of Bret beating Michaels up in the ring after losing. Sgt.
  890. Slaughter came out to ringside with McMahon during the finish of the match. It’s
  891. not clear if and what Slaughter knew, but Slaughter was a big, tough guy with a
  892. reputation who was clearly there to jump in if there was a problem.
  893.  
  894. Both Hebner brothers knew, but not until the last possible second, so that
  895. neither would have time to warn Bret, since Bret and Earl were friends. Perhaps
  896. Earl could have warned Bret in the ring, but it would have been obvious and he
  897. would have been fired.
  898.  
  899.  
  900. The UFC announced Rich Franklin as this year’s member of the Pioneer Class for
  901. the UFC Hall of Fame.
  902.  
  903. Franklin, 44, a former middleweight champion, was among the key faces of the
  904. company in 2005, when it debuted on Spike TV, which changed the sport forever.
  905.  
  906. Franklin joins the previously announced Michael Bisping on the dias for the
  907. ceremony that takes place on 7/5 at the Pearl at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas as
  908. part of International Fight Week.
  909.  
  910. There will be three or four more names announced between now and fight time, two
  911. of which will be from a noteworthy fight.
  912.  
  913. Nicknamed “Ace” because he looked like Jim Carrey, Franklin was a math teacher
  914. at Oak Hills High School in Cincinnati while moonlighting as a fighter. His math
  915. teacher job was the subject of a national television ad where he played himself
  916. as a math teacher during the period UFC first garnered mainstream popularity.
  917.  
  918. During the period when Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta were trying to make UFC
  919. into a significant sports franchise, the impression people had were that the
  920. fighters were thuggish barbarians, which made Franklin, a clean-cut school
  921. teacher with a Master’s Degree someone promoted hard.
  922.  
  923. On UFC’s first live television show on Spike on April 9, 2005, Franklin was put
  924. in the main event against Ken Shamrock. While most remember that show for the
  925. Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar fight, which can be argued was the most
  926. important UFC fight in history, Franklin won the main event with punches on the
  927. ground in 2:42.
  928.  
  929. The booking was far from happenstance. It was known that Shamrock, who was 41 at
  930. the time, was past his prime, but he still had a big name from the early days of
  931. UFC as well as WWF. Still, Sports Illustrated, having no idea at the time, made
  932. fun of the match-up saying UFC was booking “The World’s Most Dangerous Man”
  933. against a math teacher.
  934.  
  935. After the win, Franklin got a shot at middleweight champion Evan Tanner on June
  936. 4, 2005, in Atlantic City, stopping him at 3:25 of the fifth round. Franklin had
  937. previously beat Tanner in the first round two years earlier before Tanner was
  938. champion.
  939.  
  940. Franklin was then made coach of the second season of The Ultimate Fighter in
  941. 2005, along with Matt Hughes, the season that launched the careers of Rashad
  942. Evans, Joe Stevenson, Keith Jardine and Melvin Guillard. He was also a key in
  943. getting Matt Hamill, a college wrestler who has his training partner in learning
  944. wrestling at one point, into MMA.
  945.  
  946. He also had a television special produced built around his ridiculous cardio and
  947. training routine during his heyday of non-stop hell going from machine to
  948. machine for 40 minutes or more without a rest.
  949.  
  950. Franklin had successful title defenses against Nate Quarry and David Loiseau
  951. before losing the title to Anderson Silva on October 14, 2006, in Las Vegas. He
  952. lost a rematch to Silva in 2007. He continued fighting, usually as a main
  953. eventer and against top names, until a loss to Cung Le in 2012. After his second
  954. loss to Silva, he never got another title shot.
  955.  
  956. He was considered by many second best in the middleweight division for a few
  957. years, but Silva beat him decisively both times.
  958.  
  959. He continued to fight, usually in main events, and almost always against name
  960. opponents. He had wins over the likes of Hamill, Wanderlei Silva and Chuck
  961. Liddell, and losses to Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort and Forrest Griffin. He
  962. ended his career with a 29-7 record with one no contest.
  963.  
  964. He was 22-1 going into the title loss to Silva, with his only defeat coming at
  965. the December 31, 2003, Inoki Bom Ba Ye show in Kobe, Japan to Lyoto Machida. The
  966. fight was at 214 pounds, nearly 30 pounds over Franklin’s usual 185 pound
  967. division.
  968.  
  969. There were teases of a retirement fight, but after three years in late 2015, he
  970. said that he recognized his body had slowed down and after talking things over
  971. with his mother, aid he would retire.
  972.  
  973. For the last four years Franklin has been working as a Vice President for the
  974. ONE organization out of Singapore.
  975.  
  976.  
  977. WWE last week also announced Legacy Hall of Fame inductees. This is the category
  978. they use to honor people who, for whatever reason, they don’t feel are
  979. marketable names to the modern audience to put in their actual Hall of Fame.
  980.  
  981. It’s basically the answer of how can you have a Hall of Fame without Lou Thesz
  982. and Strangler Lewis, with the answer that they are quietly in it, just not
  983. listed in the main Hall of Fame. It’s basically a situation based on two
  984. factors, the nature of the WWE Hall of Fame being what it is, which as those in
  985. the company have always stressed, is nothing more than a marketing idea and not
  986. meant to be taken seriously, and an industry that has reshaped its history to
  987. where much of it is ignored and the modern fan knows little of it.
  988.  
  989. The usual rules apply, one woman, one African-American, which can be tricky
  990. since that isn’t the easiest. They used Luna Vachon as the woman, which is fine
  991. since there are no real standards for a WWE Hall of Fame, past the point that
  992. Vachon shouldn’t even be in the legacy category since she was part of the
  993. company’s modern era. The African-American was S.D. Jones, the perennial prelim
  994. wrestler, joining Johnny Rodz as guys who were essentially television jobbers
  995. being in the Hall of Fame.
  996.  
  997. They also named Bruiser Brody, an interesting character and this also means that
  998. they never have to put him in the real Hall of Fame. This got so little
  999. attention that nobody that I know who was close to Brody has commented on it
  1000. that I can find.
  1001.  
  1002. Brody was actually given his name by Vince McMahon Sr. He started wrestling,
  1003. after being a college football player at the University of Iowa and West Texas
  1004. State, and a taxi squad member of the Washington Redskins under Vince Lombardi.
  1005. He did well due to his size and athletic ability, and while working in Florida
  1006. as Frank “The Hammer” Goodish, got high recommendations from Killer Kowalski,
  1007. and was brought in for a run with Bruno Sammartino. McMahon Sr. gave him the
  1008. name Bruiser Frank Brody. He was the first contender after the landmark Stan
  1009. Hansen program.
  1010.  
  1011. He was very controversial, a guy who looked out for himself first, second and
  1012. third and a true independent contractor. It would have been very difficult for a
  1013. guy with his mentality today, although he was also smart enough that he’d have
  1014. adapted. And he probably would have been a major Japan and independent star
  1015. either way. Brody was murdered in 1988 in the dressing room at Juan Loubriel
  1016. Stadium in Bayamon, PR, after being stabbed by Jose Gonzalez, better known as
  1017. Invader I.
  1018.  
  1019. Brody was one of the biggest stars in the world during the 80s, particularly in
  1020. Japan. In 1986, he signed his second deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling for
  1021. $17,000 per week, which was the highest guaranteed contract in pro wrestling
  1022. history for a regular performer up to that point in time. Brody was more
  1023. synonymous with All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he, Stan Hansen and The Funk
  1024. Brothers were the big foreign stars in the early 80s. He had two contracts with
  1025. New Japan, both of which fell apart quickly. He had a rough period where he was
  1026. out of Japan before world champion Ric Flair canceled an All Japan tour in 1987
  1027. at the last minute and Brody, who was scheduled for an Israel tour, was
  1028. contacted by All Japan and brought back. At the time of his death in 1988, he
  1029. had actually surpassed Hansen in the popularity polls as far as being Japan’s
  1030. most popular foreign star.
  1031.  
  1032. Also listed was another modern wrestler, Buddy Rose, who was a hell of a worker
  1033. in his day and carried pro wrestling in Oregon during one of the biggest periods
  1034. in its history in the late 70s until the early-80s. Rose also had WWF runs, the
  1035. first being used on top as a challenger for Bob Backlund as WWF champion and
  1036. Pedro Morales as IC champion, and the second, after his weight became an issue,
  1037. was a job guy who could be counted on because he was a great worker.
  1038.  
  1039. Neither Brody nor Rose’s wife were aware of the legacy Hall of Fame inductions
  1040. until the news broke.
  1041.  
  1042. Wahoo McDaniel, a former NFL star with the New York Jets and one of the first
  1043. name players on the Miami Dolphins, was a major star everywhere he went and one
  1044. of the highest paid wrestlers for much of his career. Even though his biggest
  1045. sports fame came in New York, when, in one game he got so many tackles that the
  1046. p.a. announcer said, “Tackle by who,” and the crowd would chant, “Wahoo, Wahoo,”
  1047. his wrestling fame came outside WWF.
  1048.  
  1049. He had an issue with a payoff with Phil Zacko, the Philadelphia promoter and was
  1050. gone. During McDaniel’s career, the WWF used Chief Jay Strongbow as their native
  1051. American star and thus there was no spot for McDaniel. But he thrived everywhere
  1052. else, and would be viewed as a legend in particular in South Texas and the
  1053. Carolinas. He may have been the biggest draw in South Texas during the 70s, and
  1054. he not only recommended Ric Flair, who was an AWA prelim guy, to Crockett
  1055. Promotions but his feud with Flair is what put Flair on the map as a main
  1056. eventer and a big draw. McDaniel also had a legendary run with Johnny Valentine
  1057. which many consider the key in not only changing Crockett Promotions from a tag
  1058. team territory to a major singles territory, but also from being viewed as just
  1059. another of many regional companies to a real powerhouse that ended up having the
  1060. best talent of any company in North America.
  1061.  
  1062. Brody and McDaniel in particular would have been far bigger stars than most of
  1063. the regular inductees in the modern version of the WWE Hall of Fame, but neither
  1064. appeared in the post-1984 WWE world.
  1065.  
  1066. Professor Toru Tanaka, a thick Hawaiian born Charlie Kalani, was one of the
  1067. WWWF’s go-to heels of the 60s and 70s. Tanaka was serving in the Army in
  1068. California when Roy Shire broke him into pro wrestling. He was a major late 60s
  1069. opponent for Bruno Sammartino because he looked like such a powerhouse, which
  1070. were the type of guys Sammartino was booked with. In the 70s, he became a tag
  1071. team guy, as his team with Mr. Fuji held the WWWF tag team titles three times in
  1072. their different tenures with the company. He was a star everywhere he went until
  1073. injuries slowed him down.
  1074.  
  1075. Jim Barnett was a controversial but landmark promoter. While he would claim he
  1076. was from a wealthy family and worth millions, for years he conned almost
  1077. everyone in the business. He had a friend from college, Jim Oates, who was
  1078. wealthy and became his financial backer. Barnett started as a publicist for
  1079. Chicago promoter Fred Kohler in 1949, and was in charge of “Wrestling As You
  1080. Like It,” a major newsstand magazine that Kohler also ran. He ended up being No.
  1081. 2 in the promotion, and then broke from Kohler and started running on his own.
  1082. With the television connections he made with Kohler, and being one of the first
  1083. (often credited as the first) promoter to do local studio wrestling television
  1084. shows and pay stations to get on the air, he was able to put together a strong
  1085. territory that included Detroit, Indianapolis, Lexington, Denver and cities in
  1086. between during the late 50s and early 60s. His television connections helped get
  1087. Roy Shire started in San Francisco in 1961.
  1088.  
  1089. His major claim to fame was his 1964-73 run with World Championship Wrestling
  1090. out of Australia. WCW was the highest paying and most first-class organization
  1091. in the world at the time, with the stars being legitimate celebrities, being put
  1092. up at the nicest hotels, and flying every night around the country to weekly
  1093. shows in the big markets.
  1094.  
  1095. Changes in tax laws as well as seeing the handwriting on the wall, as profits
  1096. were falling, led him to sell Australia, which never came close to its level of
  1097. success again, and he landed in Georgia.
  1098.  
  1099. He came to Georgia Championship Wrestling during the heated wrestling war with
  1100. Ann Gunkel. His side won the war and he ran GCW through 1982. Georgia
  1101. Championship Wrestling became a powerhouse under Barnett, with his big show at
  1102. the Omni in Atlanta bringing in top stars from around the world and being the
  1103. deepest talent shows in the country. All was good for years as Georgia was doing
  1104. 800,000 to 1 million paying customers per year just in one state. But economics
  1105. changed and profits declined.
  1106.  
  1107. When Sam Muchnick stepped down as NWA President after what he felt was a
  1108. professional insult at the Alliance meetings in 1975, Barnett took over as the
  1109. booker of the world champion. Some would say that Barnett was the most powerful
  1110. promoter because of this, but he was certainly by this point a key power broker.
  1111.  
  1112. Another key aspect is that Barnett was gay, which carried a stigma. At first,
  1113. the NWA would not allow him into their group due to his sexual orientation. His
  1114. U.S. shows were billed under the name the American Wrestling Alliance (not to be
  1115. confused with Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association). World Championship
  1116. Wrestling was not an NWA member until 1971. Muchnick was able to finally get the
  1117. alliance to accept Barnett after pushing to do so for years.
  1118.  
  1119. Within a few years, he had replaced Muchnick in booking the champion, meaning
  1120. all the promoters had to be nice to him to get the best dates. It was also a
  1121. major change for the championship.
  1122.  
  1123. The two issues with Muchnick is that he would personally get three percent of
  1124. the gates that the champion worked on, and the champion would get ten percent.
  1125. While promoters certainly found their way around those exact percentages, that
  1126. was considered a heavy price to pay. Still, it must have worked. Many promoters
  1127. would charge $1 more for tickets to make up for that cost. But it must have
  1128. worked, because the demand for world title matches for most of the NWA’s tenure
  1129. as the lead group from 1949 to 1983 was far greater than the number of days in
  1130. the year.
  1131.  
  1132. Muchnick, as champion booker and with a sports background, had rules regarding
  1133. the booking of the champion. Promoters had to get their bookings approved by
  1134. Muchnick, who would permit some screw jobs and non-title losses, and DQ and 60
  1135. minute matches as well. But ultimately, the champion had to get decisive wins
  1136. and be protected.
  1137.  
  1138. When Barnett took over as booker, he let the promoters do what they wanted. The
  1139. champion’s role was less about keeping the championship strong and more about
  1140. putting over the local stars who challenged. Screw-job finishes became more
  1141. plentiful and the champion having to win blow-off matches in the programs was no
  1142. longer being pushed. But the real reason for the change is that Barnett offered
  1143. to book the champion without asking for the three percent booking fee. The idea
  1144. was Barnett was so rich, the role he played, and thus as booking the champion,
  1145. it gave him power and knowledge of the business like few others.
  1146.  
  1147. When things changed in Georgia, expenses got higher, and the closing of the
  1148. Atlanta City Auditorium meaning all shows had to be at the more expensive Omni,
  1149. the business started losing money. Ole Anderson, who Barnett hired as booker,
  1150. investigated and saw Barnett’s lavish lifestyle was being funded by the company,
  1151. as he had huge phone bills, a personal driver, a personal chef and lived
  1152. extravagantly. Nobody cared or looked when the shareholders were making good
  1153. profits, but when the company was losing money, it became a different story.
  1154. Anderson threatened to turn Barnett it for embezzlement unless he resigned from
  1155. the company. Barnett tried to negotiate a face-saving deal where he’s retain at
  1156. least a figurehead title in the company, but Anderson wouldn’t make that deal.
  1157. Barnett was gone and Anderson was in control.
  1158.  
  1159. Barnett went to work for Vince McMahon as his Director of Operations during the
  1160. expansion years of the company. While Barnett was not party to this, McMahon
  1161. bought Georgia Championship Wrestling from under Anderson, getting the rights to
  1162. put wrestling on TBS in 1984. But Ted Turner wanted McMahon off the station
  1163. because ratings dropped under McMahon and he wasn’t taping in Atlanta, but
  1164. sending in arena tapes. Barnett was a key player in negotiating McMahon’s
  1165. selling his rights to the Georgia wrestling contract in 1985 to Jim Crockett
  1166. Jr., for $1 million.
  1167.  
  1168. McMahon fired Barnett in 1987 for reasons that have never been made clear.
  1169. Barnett attempted suicide right after. Some say he was pretending the suicide
  1170. for sympathy or attention, noting he made sure he was found. Crockett hired him,
  1171. and Barnett worked for Crockett, and WCW, until its demise in 2001. McMahon
  1172. hired him back in 2002, and he remained with the company until his death.
  1173. Perhaps his most notable act in that later period, which few know, but had a lot
  1174. to do with our friendship at the time, was his constant pushing of the idea that
  1175. John Cena would be the company’s next trademark star. I’d told him about Cena’s
  1176. talking ability and live event charisma, and Barnett loved his look. Paul
  1177. Heyman, when he booked Smackdown, brought Cena up with his match with Kurt Angle
  1178. and early push.
  1179.  
  1180. Perhaps Cena was brought up too early, but for whatever reason, after a good
  1181. start, he was languishing so badly that they were planning on cutting him.
  1182. Barnett kept pushing the idea he could be the trademark star. Cena was never
  1183. cut, and one day, when Stephanie McMahon heard him rap, she wanted him to do
  1184. that as his gimmick, which is where the Doctor of Thuganomics thing came from,
  1185. and started his rise to the top star in the company.
  1186.  
  1187. Primo Carnera wasn’t much of a wrestler. He wasn’t much of a boxer either. But
  1188. he was a 6-foot-6, 275 pound Italian who had a great physique in the pre-steroid
  1189. world, and Italian boxing fans loved. Carnera was in reality not a skilled boxer
  1190. but his size and physique made the public think he was a living Hercules. Most
  1191. heavyweights in that era were less than six feet tall and around 190 pounds. In
  1192. one of his title defenses, with Tommy Loughran, he had an 86 pound weight
  1193. advantage.
  1194.  
  1195. It was generally believed, through fight fixing, that 26-year-old Carnera became
  1196. world champion, knocking out Jack Sharkey on June 29, 1933, in Madison Square
  1197. Garden. A year later, when the powers that be felt Max Baer (whose son became a
  1198. TV star as Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies in the 60s, one of the most popular
  1199. shows in television history), was the next great star in the sport, they had a
  1200. very real championship fight that exposed Carnera, who was knocked down either
  1201. 11 or 12 times before the fight was stopped.
  1202.  
  1203. The idea Carnera’s boxing fights weren’t all real came as early as the October
  1204. 5, 1931 cover story in Time Magazine, even before he won the championship.
  1205.  
  1206. The story noted Carnera’s shady backers, noting early opponents Big Boy
  1207. Peterson, Elzear Rioux and Cowboy Owens were all known to be incompetent boxers
  1208. but said that in those fights they looked so badly that it appeared they had
  1209. been bribed to lose. It’s telling because in those days, it would take a
  1210. mountain of evidence for a magazine of the caliber to make statements that
  1211. strong. Another boxer who lost to Carnera, Bombo Chevalier, was quoted as saying
  1212. that one of his cornermen told him he would kill him if he didn’t lose the
  1213. fight.
  1214.  
  1215. Carnera remained a boxing attraction because he had a big name and in those
  1216. days, when titles mattered, just holding the world heavyweight title meant you
  1217. were a huge star as long as you could lace up gloves, particularly with his
  1218. size. Carnera suffered from diabetes and had his kidney removed in 1938.
  1219.  
  1220. He still boxed on occasion through 1945, when he turned to pro wrestling. From
  1221. all accounts, he was a terrible wrestler, but his name was such from boxing that
  1222. he became one of the biggest drawing cards in the business.
  1223.  
  1224. He started pro wrestling three days before his 40th birthday. While in the
  1225. sports world, he was considered a joke, with the idea he had been a manipulated
  1226. world champion, he was still a giant Italian with a huge name and the public
  1227. flocked to see him as a wrestler. He got the Goldberg push, going undefeated in
  1228. his first 120 matches before losing in Montreal to local legend Yvon Robert.
  1229.  
  1230. Carnera worked as a touring attraction, a guy you’d bring in once because he was
  1231. Primo Carnera, and he was getting regular work throughout North America through
  1232. 1956. With his drawing power waning, he did little wrestling for several years.
  1233. After a generation of fans hadn’t seen him, he came back for a nostalgia run of
  1234. sorts in 1961 and 1962 with the big thing being he was a former world
  1235. heavyweight boxing champion and had the big name from real sports. He held the
  1236. International TV tag titles in Los Angeles with Bobo Brazil as his partner
  1237. briefly in 1956 and the West Coast version of the NWA world tag tiles with
  1238. Sandor Szabo briefly in 1951.
  1239.  
  1240. The movie “Requiem for a Heavyweight” in 1956 was thought to be largely based on
  1241. his career, with the idea that a washed up boxer with nowhere else to turn
  1242. became a pro wrestler. The movie “The Harder They Fall,” which starred Humphrey
  1243. Bogart, about a giant boxer whose fights were all fixed until he fought Max Baer
  1244. (who played himself in the movie), who destroyed the giant in his first real
  1245. fight, was also generally considered based on Carnera.
  1246.  
  1247. Hisashi Shinma, the one-time New Japan booker who was the figurehead president
  1248. of the WWF from 1978 to 1984, was also named.
  1249.  
  1250. What’s notable about this is, unlike the others, Shinma, 83, is still alive and
  1251. the legacy inductees have usually passed away.
  1252.  
  1253. Shinma was the business manager for Antonio Inoki and booker for New Japan. He
  1254. also ran the business side of the company during the 70s and early 80s.
  1255.  
  1256. After the death of Willie Gilzenberg, Shinma was the figurehead president of the
  1257. WWWF/WWF. His name was almost never mentioned except in programs. Gilzenberg’s
  1258. name was mentioned a lot, and Shinma’s replacement, Jack Tunney, became a
  1259. regular television character on-screen making rulings.
  1260.  
  1261. In that era, there was an alliance with WWF, New Japan and the UWA in Mexico, to
  1262. a degree similar to the New Japan/CMLL/ROH alliance now.
  1263.  
  1264. In New Japan, Shinma’s booking led to tremendous television ratings and great
  1265. live arena business in the early 80s. At its peak, New Japan sold out 70 percent
  1266. of its live events and averaged 20 ratings in prime time. Shinma’s major roles
  1267. were the creation of Inoki as a larger-than-life figure though fighting
  1268. outsiders, the non-pro wrestlers who came from boxing (including Muhammad Ali
  1269. and Chuck Wepner), karate, judo, kickboxing and other disciplines; the bringing
  1270. in of stars from other promotions to create famous dream matches (which in many
  1271. ways created a fan appetite in Japan for the later UWF-style promotions and
  1272. MMA); focusing on Japanese vs. Japanese main event feuds like Tatsumi Fujinami
  1273. vs. Riki Choshu and Inoki vs. Rusher Kimura, and the creation and push of a
  1274. unique high-flying junior heavyweight division. The latter gave Fujinami his
  1275. first stardom and got even bigger with Satoru Sayama as Tiger Mask and his bouts
  1276. with Dynamite Kid, Black Tiger (Rollerball Rocco) and even a young Bret Hart.
  1277.  
  1278. There was an embezzlement scandal in New Japan in 1983 which led to Shinma being
  1279. ousted from the company. Shinma formed the original UWF at that time, and Inoki
  1280. was going to leave New Japan to join him. But Inoki stayed with New Japan.
  1281. Shinma went with Akira Maeda as his top star, He was still the figurehead WWF
  1282. President even after leaving New Japan, even though WWF had its business
  1283. dealings with New Japan. They just didn’t bother to change the name. Shinma also
  1284. got Maeda booked on an ill-fated WWF tour as International champion.
  1285.  
  1286. But the UWF wrestlers wanted to change from a New Japan style to a new Karl
  1287. Gotch-inspired style based kicks, suplexes and submissions, trying to
  1288. essentially say that their pro wrestling was real while the other companies
  1289. weren’t. Shinma was against it, and after a showdown when Satoru Sayama, the
  1290. first Tiger Mask, agreed to return to pro wrestling with UWF only if Shinma was
  1291. ousted, Sayama’s popularity was such and UWF was struggling (the first version
  1292. went out of business a year or so later) that Shinma was out of the company he
  1293. formed.
  1294.  
  1295. He’s been around wrestling little since then, although his son created the
  1296. Universal Pro Wrestling group in 1990, which was Japan’s first Lucha oriented
  1297. promotion and made stars out of Yoshihiro Asai (Ultimo Dragon) and helped start
  1298. the careers of Great Sasuke, Gedo, Jado and others.
  1299.  
  1300. The final name was Joseph Cohen, who is also still alive. Cohen was one of the
  1301. key people who started the USA Network.
  1302.  
  1303. Cohen was Vice President of MSG Cable and Vice President of Development for
  1304. Madison Square Garden in 1975, when the first deal with WWWF was made.
  1305.  
  1306. At a time when television wrestling was mostly squash matches that were done to
  1307. build stars for arena shows, Cohen’s negotiated the deal where MSG cable paid
  1308. WWF a significant monthly fee to air its Madison Square Garden shows live.
  1309.  
  1310. The deal started during the Bruno Sammartino run in the mid-70s and continued
  1311. into the early 90s. The USA Network was actually spawned from MSG cable, and
  1312. that’s where the WWF’s original connection with USA came from.
  1313.  
  1314. At the time it was considered a risk, as the idea you could watch the show live
  1315. on television was thought to be something that would kill the box office in a
  1316. business that was all about live ticket sales. But WWF was paid enough each
  1317. month to take the risk, and the reality was, they were selling out regularly
  1318. with Sammartino and later Bob Backlund as champion, even with the bouts airing.
  1319. The success of WWF on MSG led to Prism in Philadelphia to do a similar deal for
  1320. Spectrum shows, NESN in Boston for the Boston Garden shows and for a short
  1321. period of time, the Z channel in Los Angeles broadcasted the shows from the
  1322. Sports Arena. As part of the deal, WWE had rights to the footage after it aired,
  1323. so they would air many of the matches from all these locations on Prime Time
  1324. Wrestling on USA Network, the Monday night predecessor to Raw, with Gorilla
  1325. Monsoon and Bobby Heenan doing wrap-arounds.
  1326.  
  1327. Cohen later became President of the MSG Network, while, along with Bob
  1328. Rosencrans, founded the spinoff USA Network, which was at the time of its
  1329. inception owned 50 percent by Madison Square Garden. The WWF’s MSG shows would
  1330. air live on MSG cable and air on a day or two delay for the rest of the country
  1331. on USA. He left both networks in 1985 to help purchase and run Hughes Television
  1332. Network. He left there in 1987 and helped purchase the Z Channel, and made a
  1333. deal with WWF for its Los Angeles shows.
  1334.  
  1335. He later was part-owner of the Los Angeles Kings NHL team from 1993-95, and then
  1336. returned in 1995 as Executive Vice President of MSG, running MSG Network and MSG
  1337. Radio. The station won multiple Emmys for pioneering HDTV for sports. He later
  1338. built and ran Sports Time Ohio and has remained a major player in sports ever
  1339. since.
  1340.  
  1341.  
  1342. Smackdown on 4/16 did a 1.62 rating and 2,219,000 viewers (1.54 viewers per
  1343. home) for the draft show. The number was very slightly up for the Smackdown
  1344. after WrestleMania that did a 1.60 rating and 2,199,000 viewers (also 1.54
  1345. viewers per home).
  1346.  
  1347. It was up 1.3 percent in ratings from the post-Mania show and 0.9 percent in
  1348. viewers.
  1349.  
  1350. Last year’s Smackdown draft show did a 1.82 rating and 2,796,000 viewers, so
  1351. it’s a 11 percent ratings drop (which is at least a lot better than Raw) and
  1352. 20.6 percent drop in total viewers. The reason for the big difference is because
  1353. last year had more viewers per home, and the rating is based on the number of
  1354. homes that get USA Network (thus if you look at ratings, it factors out cord
  1355. cutting), and that number dropped in the last year.
  1356.  
  1357. Smackdown was in ninth place on cable, trailing Curse of Oak Island on The
  1358. History Channel, NBA games on TNT (the game against Smackdown did 2,239,000
  1359. viewers so they were very close; a 10:38 p.m. late night game did 2,594,000
  1360. viewers) and news shows.
  1361.  
  1362. The show did a 0.47 in 12-17 (up 2.2 percent from last week, down 30.9 percent
  1363. from the Superstar shakeup show last year), 0.53 in 18-34 (down 11.7 percent
  1364. from last week and down 28.4 percent from last year), 0.95 in 35-49 (down 1.0
  1365. percent from last week; down 22.1 percent from last year) and 0.90 in 50+ (up
  1366. 2.3 percent from last week, down 11.8 percent from last year).
  1367.  
  1368. The audience was 63.8 percent male in 18-49 and 55.0 percent male in 12-17.
  1369.  
  1370. Miz & Mrs. on 4/16, even against the NBA playoffs was up 10.5 percent from last
  1371. week to 1,102,000 viewers. It was the best of this season, but third worst since
  1372. the show’s inception. As far as retention from Smackdown, it kept 70.4 percent
  1373. of women 18-49, 46.3 percent of men 18-49, 50.6 percent of girls 12-17, 40.3
  1374. percent of boys 12-17 and 43.3 percent of those over 50.
  1375.  
  1376. Miz & Mrs. was fourth in its time slot on cable, losing to the NBA and two other
  1377. shows.
  1378.  
  1379. Raw on 4/15 did another disappointing number for the draft show, with a 1.88
  1380. rating and 2,665,000 viewers (1.59 viewers per home).
  1381.  
  1382. The numbers are down from a 2.47 rating and 3,616,000 viewers, 24 and 26 percent
  1383. respectively, for the first night of the Superstar Shakeup last year.
  1384.  
  1385. It was down 8.9 percent from the Raw after WrestleMania, which is an expected
  1386. level drop. Similar to last year’s draft show, the good news is the audience
  1387. that was there stayed with the show for all three hours.
  1388.  
  1389. Raw was seventh for the night on cable. NBA playoffs did 2,846,000 viewers
  1390. head-to-head with most of Raw and 2,771,000 viewers for the game that started at
  1391. 10:43 p.m. NHL playoffs on NBC Sports network did 629,000 viewers for the Boston
  1392. vs. Toronto series and 521,000 viewers for Nashville vs. Dallas.
  1393.  
  1394. The huge drop from last year isn’t good because usually it is after the draft
  1395. show and through the end of the NBA playoffs that Raw does its worst ratings of
  1396. the year until football season. If these 25 percent year-to-year drops continue,
  1397. the numbers are going to look really bad in a month.
  1398.  
  1399. It should also be noted that as long as cable television is scrambling and still
  1400. has money, and unless streaming services start going out of business, which
  1401. isn’t likely soon, that WWE, even with its lower numbers, is still in good shape
  1402. in five years because it’s still a guaranteed audience even if dwindling on a
  1403. weekly basis.
  1404.  
  1405. When it comes to first vs. third hours, not only did women stay as a higher
  1406. level than men, but teenage girls, usually the quickest to tune out, stayed at a
  1407. higher level than anyone. When it comes to hour one drop to hour three, it was a
  1408. 1.5 percent drop in women 18-49, a 9.2 percent drop in men 18-49, a 9.7 percent
  1409. gain in teenage girls and a 9.2 percent gain in teenage boys, while over 50 was
  1410. an 8.3 percent drop.
  1411.  
  1412. You can attribute that to which demos were most interested in staying for the
  1413. roster changes, or for the main event with Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins and
  1414. finding out the mystery partner. or for Becky Lynch, who also wrestled in hour
  1415. three which was promoted throughout the show.
  1416.  
  1417. The first hour did 2,760,000 viewers. The second hour did 2,690,000 viewers. The
  1418. third hour did 2,546,000 viewers.
  1419.  
  1420. The show did a 0.62 in 12-17 (down 13.9 percent from the Raw after Mania, down
  1421. 29.5 percent from last year’s draft show), 0.70 in 18-34 (down 23.1 percent from
  1422. last week, down 37.5 percent from last year’s draft show),. 1.12 in 35-49 (down
  1423. 10.4 percent from last week, down 27.3 percent from last year) and 1.04 in 50+
  1424. (down 5.5 percent from last week, down 19.4 percent from last year).
  1425.  
  1426. The audience was 64.1 percent male in 18-49 and 59.5 percent male in 12-17.
  1427.  
  1428. The Viceland documentary on Randy Savage & Elizabeth on 4/10 did 154,000
  1429. viewers. We’re told that they were very pleased with the numbers.
  1430.  
  1431.  
  1432. This is the second issue of the current set. If you’ve got a (1) on your address
  1433. label, with last week being a double issue, it means your subscription expires
  1434. with this issue.
  1435.  
  1436. Renewal rates for the printed Observer in the United States are $13.50 for four
  1437. issues (which includes $4 for postage and handling), $25 for eight, $35.50 for
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  1439. $184 for 64 issues.
  1440.  
  1441. For Canada and Mexico, the rates are $15 for four issues (which includes $6 for
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  1445. For the rest of the world, the rates are $17 for four issues (which includes $9
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  1448.  
  1449. You can also get the Observer on the web at www.wrestlingobserver.com for $10.99
  1450. per month for a premium membership that includes daily audio updates, Figure
  1451. Four Weekly, special articles and a message board. If you are a premium member
  1452. and still want hard copies of the Observer, you can get them for $8 per set in
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  1454.  
  1455. All subscription renewals should be sent to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter,
  1456. P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228. You can also renew via Visa or
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  1465.  
  1466. All letters to the editor, reports from live shows and any other correspondence
  1467. pertaining to this publication should also be sent to the above address.
  1468.  
  1469. This publication is copyright material and no portion of the Observer may be
  1470. reprinted without the expressed consent of publisher/writer Dave Meltzer. The
  1471. Observer is also produced by Derek Sabato.
  1472.  
  1473. Fax messages can be sent to the Observer 24 hours a day at (408) 244-3402. Phone
  1474. messages can be left 24 hours a day at (408) 244-2455. E-mails can be sent to
  1475. Dave@wrestlingobserver.com
  1476.  
  1477.  
  1478. CMLL: The 4/12 show at Arena Mexico drew 7,000 fans for the first week of the
  1479. Parejas Increibles tournament, which was a tag team tournament of partners who
  1480. usually feud with each other. Cavernario & Titan were the stars and winners of
  1481. the A block. They dressed similar and first beat Blue Panther & Mascara Ano
  1482. 2000, who has been around for so long that when he got the name Mask from the
  1483. Year 2000, it was meant as a futuristic gimmick. They next beat Sanson &
  1484. Soberano Jr., featuring cool stuff with Soberano. The finals were a very good
  1485. match with Caristico & Mephisto, ending when Cavernario made Caristico submit to
  1486. his own La Mistica. The highlight was Cavernario and Titan both doing splashes
  1487. off the top rope simultaneously. Caristico & Mephisto reached the finals beating
  1488. Flyer & Forastero in the first round and Guerrero Maya Jr. & Euforia in the
  1489. semis. The main event on the show had Volador Jr. vs. Gilbert el Boricua. This
  1490. was surprisingly good as Volador has his working shoes on. Gilbert is really
  1491. jacked up but he’s been around for so long that he at least is in the right spot
  1492. at all times and Volador took care of the movement needed
  1493.  
  1494. Dragon Lee’s 4/12 match in Arena Mexico was his last match at CMLL’s home arena
  1495. for a few months. He’s going full-time to New Japan through the Dominion show in
  1496. early June as the IWGP jr. champion.
  1497.  
  1498. The 4/19 show is the B block of the tournament with teams of Mistico & Cuatrero,
  1499. Volador Jr. & Ultimo Guerrero, Vangellys & Rush, Niebla Roja & El Terrible,
  1500. Atlantis & Negro Casas, Valiente & Gran Guerrero and Stuka Jr. & Hechicero.
  1501. Whatever team that wins this faces Cavernario & Titan on 4/26 in what is likely
  1502. to be a great match. Volador & Guerrero have to be favored to win this. The
  1503. other top matches are Caristico & Angel de Oro & Atlantis Jr. facing Sanson &
  1504. Forastero & El Hijo de Villano III and a Kawato San vs. Rey Cometa singles match
  1505.  
  1506. Diamante Azul will be out for an indefinite period due to an injury
  1507.  
  1508. Mistico just returned from a two week vacation. Misterioso returned after taking
  1509. three weeks off due to the death of his daughter, who died giving birth
  1510.  
  1511. Sofia Alonso, the daughter of Paco Alonso, who is very much the Stephanie
  1512. McMahon of Mexico to the point of being pushed ahead of her father as the new
  1513. public face of the company, is a couple with Cuatrero of the New Dinamitas.
  1514. Forastero, another member of the team, married the daughter of Ultimo Guerrero,
  1515. so that team is very well connected politically to be a headline trio for
  1516. decades. The joke is that it’s really good that they are already a really good
  1517. trio and given their level of experience, will probably improve greatly to being
  1518. a trio that legitimately should be on top, because even if they weren’t good,
  1519. they’d probably end up on top
  1520.  
  1521. El Terrible beat Valiente to retain the Mexican national heavyweight title on
  1522. 4/14 at Arena Mexico. , , Shocker has said that he needs surgery on his jaw. He
  1523. has opened up a food truck business called Taco Shock. He’ll park his food truck
  1524. in front of Arena Mexico every Friday, Sunday and Tuesday night. He started this
  1525. past weekend.
  1526.  
  1527. AAA: For the TV ratings this past week, the AAA show on 4/5 did a 2.1 rating and
  1528. 9.0 share, with 4.4 million viewers. CMLL on 4/6 did a 1.2 rating and 2.6 share,
  1529. for 1.3 million viewers
  1530.  
  1531. TV Azteca announced a series of tournaments for a weekly Saturday night show
  1532. that starts on 5/4. It will be a ten-week series, with two one hour shows taped
  1533. every other Thursday in Mexico City at either the Pepsi Center or the Jai Alai
  1534. Fronton (where Impact taped). There will be tournaments in a number of weight
  1535. divisions as well as tag teams. The number of people in the tournament varies by
  1536. division. We don’t have names yet but they announced there would be competitors
  1537. from Elite (the Mexican promotion, not AEW), Arolucha in the U.S., Impact, MLW
  1538. and AAA in all divisions. The idea is that the winner of each weight class will
  1539. be recognized as champion in all five promotions and defend the title in all of
  1540. them. It will be a new weekly TV show short-term on TV Azteca for the summer.
  1541. The name of the show looks to be “Gladiatores: Liga de Campeone de Lucha Libre,”
  1542. or Champions League of Wrestling
  1543.  
  1544. The next tapings will be 4/26 in Mexicali and 4/28 in Nogales. Mexicali has
  1545. Pagano & La Parka & Puma King vs,. Rey Escorpion & El Texano Jr. & Chessman,
  1546. Brian Cage & Laredo Kid vs. Daga & Taurus and Mocho Cota Jr. & Carta Brava Jr. &
  1547. Tito Santana vs. Australian Suicide & Jack Evans & Sammy Guevara
  1548.  
  1549. Konnan, on his podcast, said that he would be interested in working with
  1550. Tirantes. Tirantes, who started as a heel ref for AAA in 1992, had been of late
  1551. working as a heel ref, although not as overt a heel ref, for CMLL until saying
  1552. that he had left the company a few weeks ago. The son of Tirantes, El Hijo de
  1553. Tirantes has been AAA’s heel ref
  1554.  
  1555. The original Psicosis (as Nicho), Douglas James (who Crash has been using) and
  1556. Willie Mack are all working for EMW, the AAA affiliate in Tijuana starting on
  1557. 5/31, which takes them out of Crash, where all had been regulars. LAX, Taya,
  1558. Mack, Blanchard and Daga along with Nicho are all on that show.
  1559.  
  1560. THE CRASH: The Crash ran on 4/13 in Tijuana before 2,700 fans, which is well
  1561. down from their usual 3,800 to 4,500. They brought in fewer outside stars and it
  1562. was a less appealing show as far as big names went. The show was only three big
  1563. matches deep. It also featured the debut of El Hijo del Fantasma, who used that
  1564. name after leaving AAA. Many expected Fantasma to surface in CMLL but that
  1565. hasn’t happened and there are still some grudges against him there from the
  1566. past. WWE had a lot of interest in him from Lucha Underground a few years ago
  1567. but he couldn’t go then because of his contract. Fantasma teamed with Bestia 666
  1568. & Mecha Wolf 450 to win the main event over CMLL’s Mexican national trios
  1569. champions, Cuatrero & Forastero & Sanson. In theory, national titles which date
  1570. back to the old days of wrestling being treated as a sport and titles being
  1571. everything, are not owned by any promotion and can be defended anywhere. But
  1572. this was a non-title match. Fantasma was announced as the newest member of
  1573. Rebelion Amarilla, the lead CMLL heel group. After winning, they challenged to a
  1574. rematch at Arena Mexico. There was also a tease of Rey Horus joining Rebelion
  1575. Amarilla. Horus won a five-way over Titan, Adam Brooks, Flamita and Black
  1576. Danger, which sounds fun. Horus then issued a challenge to Crash champion Austin
  1577. Theory. Carlito of the Colon family teamed with Mesias (Gilbert el Boricua in
  1578. CMLL) to win a three-way over Los Traumas, the sons of Negro Navarro, and CMLL’s
  1579. Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja when Carlito pinned Trauma I. Post-match challenges
  1580. were for Traumas vs. Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja. The next show was announced for
  1581. 5/4 with Ultimo Guerrero, Gran Guerrero, Flamita, Bandido, Rey Fenix and Penta
  1582. 0M. That means AAA hasn’t signed Penta & Fenix up exclusively in Mexico yet,
  1583. which they want to do. But there has been talk this may be their last match in
  1584. Crash. They’ve already lost Daga, Tessa Blanchard, Taya, Johnny Mundo and Jack
  1585. Evans who are back affiliated with AAA with Konnan booking, and much of the
  1586. great underneath Tijuana flyers which could be stars of the future are expected
  1587. to be headed to AAA and starting as regulars over the summer.
  1588.  
  1589. ALL JAPAN: To a big extent this tournament has flown under the radar since it
  1590. started during Mania week where everything was focused on that. There are people
  1591. who felt that the 4/4 opening night show of the tournament was the second or
  1592. third best show of the week and comparable to one of the stronger nights of G-1
  1593.  
  1594. The standings as of 4/18 (all wrestlers will end up with eight matches) were: A
  1595. block–1. Zeus 4-2; 2. Yuji Okabayashi 2-1; 3. Kento Miyahara and Dylan James
  1596. 3-2; 5. Shuji Ishikawa 3-2-1; 6. Ryoji Sai 2-2-1;7. Atsushi Aoki 2-2; 8. Yuma
  1597. Aoyagi and Gianni Valletta 2-5
  1598.  
  1599. B block has: 1. Naoya Nomura 4-2; 2. Suwama 3-2 and Jake Lee 3-2, 4. Joel
  1600. Redman, Yoshitatsu and Daichi Hashimoto 2-2; 7. Takashi Yoshida 3-4; 8. Sam
  1601. Adonis and Joe Doering 2-3
  1602.  
  1603. In this week’s matches, 4/11 in Fukuoka before 452 fans, A block matches saw
  1604. Aoyagi beat Valletta in 11:28 and Miyahara beat James in 20:39 with a shutdown
  1605. German suplex. The B block saw Lee beat Yoshitatsu in 13:04 with a back suplex
  1606. and Adonis beat Suwama in 12:20 with a Northern Lights bomb
  1607.  
  1608. 4/13 in Osaka drew 516 fans. A block bouts saw Ishikawa over Aoyagi in 13:38
  1609. with the Bad Luck fall; Sai beat Valletta in 11:46 with a bridge and Zeus pinned
  1610. James in 16:56 with a jackhammer slam. The B Block bouts saw Redman over Nomura
  1611. in 10:18 with a Fujiwara armbar and Suwama pinned Yoshida in 15:14 after a back
  1612. suplex
  1613.  
  1614. 4/14 in Osaka before a sellout 614 fans included Triple Crown champion Miyahara
  1615. losing his second time in the tournament, to Ishikawa in 19:16 with a giant slam
  1616. in an A block match. The other A block match saw Sai over Zeus in 22:30. The B
  1617. block bouts saw Adonis upset Doering in 4:41 and Yoshida over Redman with the
  1618. Cyber bomb in 8:36
  1619.  
  1620. 4/15 in Kanazawa drew 330 fans. The A block bouts were James over Aoyagi 4:58
  1621. with a choke slam and Zeus pinned Aoki in 10:46 with a jackhammer slam. The B
  1622. block bouts saw Yoshida over Adonis in 9:23 with the pineapple bomber and Nomura
  1623. scored a big win over Yoshitatsu in 19:46
  1624.  
  1625. 4/16 drew 402 in Hamamatsu. In A block bouts, Valletta scored a big win over
  1626. Okabayashi in 9:04 and Aoki beat Aoyagi in 10:00 with a Samoan clutch. The B
  1627. block saw Doering pin Yoshida in 9:20 with a flying crossbody off the top and
  1628. Suwama pinned Hashimoto in 22:01 with a Greco-Roman back suplex
  1629.  
  1630. 4/17 in Tokyo at Shin-kiba before a sellout 302 fans saw A block bouts with Aoki
  1631. over Sai in 8:33 with a Samoan clutch, Valletta getting another big win over
  1632. Ishikawa in 6:07 and Miyahara over Aoyagi in 17:56 with the shutdown German
  1633. suplex. The B block result was Lee over Yoshida in 14:06 with the Perfect
  1634. Stretch.
  1635.  
  1636. PRO WRESTLING NOAH: Global tournament standings as of 4/18: 1. Maybach Taniguchi
  1637. & Yuji Hino 2-0; 2. Takashi Sugiura & Kazma Sakamoto 3-1; 3. Katsuhiko Nakajima
  1638. & Go Shiozaki and Kaito Kiyomiya & Kenou 2-1-1; 5. Atsushi Kotoge & Mitsuya
  1639. Nagai, Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue and Masa Kitamiya & Yoshiki Inamura 1-2; 8.
  1640. Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm 1-3. Storm was injured on 4/13 when the team was
  1641. 1-1, and their next two bouts were forfeit losses. So it’s likely the tournament
  1642. is having to be rebooked due to Yone & Storm having to be credited with losses
  1643. as long as Storm isn’t wrestling
  1644.  
  1645. Tournament results for the week started on 4/13 in Sapporo before 349 fans saw
  1646. Sugiura & Sakamoto over Kitamiya & Inamura in 16:30 with Sugiura pinning Inamura
  1647. with an Olympic slam and Kiyomiya & Kenou over Yone & Storm in 14:42 when
  1648. Kiyomiya pinned Storm with a Tiger suplex
  1649.  
  1650. 4/14 in Sapporo before a sellout 431 fans saw Kitamiya & Inamura get two points
  1651. with a forfeit win over Yone & Storm. Sugiura & Sakamoto beat Kotoge & Nagai in
  1652. 13:22 with Sakamoto pinning Nagai. Nakajima & Shiozaki went to a 30:00 draw with
  1653. Kiyomiya & Kenou. In addition on that show, Minoru Tanaka retained his GHC jr.
  1654. title over Kotaro Suzuki in 12:29 with the Minoru special
  1655.  
  1656. 4/17 at Korakuen Hall before 819 fans saw Taniguchi & Hino win via forfeit over
  1657. Yone & Storm. Saito & Inoue scored the biggest upset of the year in NOAH beating
  1658. Nakajima & Shiozaki in 19:54 when Inoue pinned Nakajima with a schoolboy. This
  1659. would be like Curt Hawkins pinning A.J. Styles. Sugiura & Sakamoto upset
  1660. Kiyomiya & Kenou in 26:27 when Sugiura used a guillotine on GHC champion
  1661. Kiyomiya, so that could set up a future title match.
  1662.  
  1663. NEW JAPAN: They officially announced a 6/29 show in Melbourne at Festival Hall,
  1664. the home of pro wrestling in the city during the Jim Barnett era. It will be a
  1665. two-show tour with a date in Sydney as well. Melbourne will be the major show
  1666. and will air live on New Japan World. Sydney will be promoted as a house show.
  1667. If the shows do well, that will make a difference in New Japan’s plans for the
  1668. Australian market for 2020
  1669.  
  1670. This really doesn’t mean much but they announced Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito,
  1671. Jay White and Kota Ibushi for the G-1 Climax tournament. It’s a given they would
  1672. all be there. I guess it was a way to try and kick-start ticket sales in Dallas.
  1673. They discounted tickets last week which ended up being a hell of a lesson. The
  1674. lesson is the people who want to see New Japan for the most part will pay the
  1675. ticket price, but right now there is a number that, in this incarnation, without
  1676. the former American top draws, they simply can’t run an NBA arena. As of several
  1677. days after the tickets were discounted only 62 more tickets were sold. That led
  1678. to the announcing of the names. Originally the way New Japan works is that they
  1679. don’t announce who is in G-1 until after Dominion in June, but because they felt
  1680. they needed something for Dallas, they announced the top four guys this week.
  1681. Dallas also had no local advertising. When they did Long Beach and to a degree
  1682. San Francisco, just the idea that New Japan is coming and Twitter/Internet was
  1683. enough that the first shows sold out instantly. The latter two shows, while not
  1684. selling out and the last Long Beach was a disappointment (in both cases because
  1685. no card was released until the end and they did do well at the end once bouts
  1686. were announced), they were at least okay. But without the key American stars,
  1687. that wasn’t enough for Dallas. New Japan has never done any significant local
  1688. market advertising, relying all on Twitter marketing and Internet. That wasn’t
  1689. enough for Dallas. The problem is, and this isn’t known, is will local market
  1690. advertising sell tickets to a niche product like New Japan. But I think next
  1691. time they try and run a major building, if they do, they will test out local
  1692. market advertising
  1693.  
  1694. London is expected to sellout
  1695.  
  1696. The next major show, called Sengoku Lord, takes place on 4/20 from the Aiichi
  1697. Gym in Nagoya at 5 a.m. Eastern with Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Yota Tsuji &
  1698. Yuya Uemura, Yuji Nagata & Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare & Jushin
  1699. Liger vs. Minoru Suzuki & Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Desperado & Taka
  1700. Michinoku, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano & Dragon Lee vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa &
  1701. Taiji Ishimori, Mikey Nicholls vs. Chase Owens, Hirooki Goto & Ryusuke Taguchi
  1702. vs. Jay White & Hikuleo, Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi & Sho &
  1703. Yoh vs. Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Sanada & Bushi & Shingo Takagi, Juice Robinson
  1704. vs. Bad Luck Fale for the U.S. title and Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. for the
  1705. IC title
  1706.  
  1707. The new tour opened on 4/13 in Tsukuba which drew a sellout of 2,020 with a
  1708. basic show with LIJ of Naito & Sanada & Evil & Bushi & Takagi over Okada & Ishii
  1709. & Sho & Yoh & Rocky Romero when Naito pinned Romero after a destino. Every show
  1710. this week had the same main event. A match ending with Evil using the scorpion
  1711. deathlock on Sho in 16:21 headlined the 4/14 show in Takasaki, which sold out
  1712. with 1,684 fans. The match ending with Takagi pinning Romero, headlined 4/15 in
  1713. Kofu before a sellout of 1,516 fans. 4/17 in Fukui was the only non-sellout of
  1714. the week, with 952 fans. That ending was Naito over Romero with destino in 15:18
  1715.  
  1716. They are trying to push Uemura vs. Tsuji as an opening match rivalry. Both are
  1717. very good. The two had 24 straight ten minute draws and the idea is they are not
  1718. graduating to longer time limits and trading wins.
  1719.  
  1720. OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Command Bolshoi, the small (4-foot-10, 100 pounds) masked
  1721. woman wrestler who has been around for 27 ½ years, has her retirement match on
  1722. 4/21 at Korakuen Hall. She will do two matches on the show, one with Kaori
  1723. Yoneyama and the other with Mayumi Ozaki. She’s retiring due to problems with
  1724. her spine. She spent most of her career with the JWP promotion until moving to
  1725. Pure J in 2017. She also competed in some bodybuilding and figures contests in
  1726. 2015, winning and finishing third in the other, which is impressive since four
  1727. years ago she was in her early 40s. Bolshoi looks to retire as the junior
  1728. heavyweight champion of the Sendai Girls promotion, as on their 4/17 show, she
  1729. beat Millie McKenzie with a triangle choke to win the title
  1730.  
  1731. One of Big Japan’s biggest shows of the year will be 5/5 in Yokohama at Bunka
  1732. Gym with the Death match title at stake with Masaya Takahashi defending against
  1733. Kodaka and Daisuke Sekimoto defending the Strong World title against Yuji
  1734. Okabayashi. Tajiri is coming in to challenge Kazuki Hashimoto for the jr. title.
  1735. All Japan’s All Asia tag title is also at stake with Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto of
  1736. All Japan defending against Big Japan’s Ryuichi Kawakami & Kazumi Kikuta.
  1737. Okabayashi got the title shot with a win over Daichi Hashimoto on 4/14 in
  1738. Sapporo
  1739.  
  1740. Stardom had its draft show on 4/14 at Shinkiba before an overflow crowd of 401
  1741. fans. This was done like WWE where nobody except the captains were told anything
  1742. since they had to pick. Some office staff knew but wrestlers were to find out
  1743. when they were drafted. Mayu Iwatani, the captain of Stars, picked Starlight
  1744. Kid, Arisa Hoshiki, Tam Nakano, Saki Kashima, Hunan, Xia Brookside and Saya
  1745. Iida. Queen’s Quest, with Momo Watanabe as captain, picked AZM, Utami
  1746. Hayashishita, Bea Priestley, Viper, Chardonnay, Leo Onozaki and Hina. Oedo Tai
  1747. headed by Kagetsu, picked Hazuki, Andras Miyagi, Natsuko Tora, Jamie Hayter,
  1748. Session Moth Martina and Sumire Natsu. And Multinational Force, headed by Hana
  1749. Kimura, picked Jungle Kyona, Konami, Mari Apache, Natsumi, Rebel Kel, Bobbi
  1750. Tyler, Ruaka and Rina
  1751.  
  1752. Mayu Iwatani will continue to work through the 4/19 show but then she will be
  1753. taking time off due to knee issues. Iwatani came back really fast from her knee
  1754. injury late last year. In her case it’s the mentality regarding being the top
  1755. star and after Stardom had lost its two biggest stars, Kairi Hojo (Sane) and Io
  1756. Shirai, and Iwatani likely put pressure on herself to come back early, which
  1757. backfired
  1758.  
  1759. They also did a match on 4/13 in Yokohama with Queen’s Quest (Watanabe & Konami
  1760. & AZM) vs. Oedo Tai (Kagetsu & Hazuki & Sumire), a 2 of 3 fall match where if
  1761. Queen’s Quest lost they could no longer wear their masks going to the ring. If
  1762. Oedo Tai lost, they could no longer do their dance routine at the start of their
  1763. matches. Watanabe used a crossface submission on Kagetsu to win the third fall.
  1764. The actual reason is that Kagetsu wants to reinvent Oedo Tai and one of the
  1765. changes behind the scenes she asked for was to no longer do the dance routine,
  1766. so they ditched it by turning it into a stip for a match
  1767.  
  1768. Sendai Girls drew 998 fans to Korakuen Hall on 4/16. Kenta Kobashi was at the
  1769. show and announced that Meiko Satomura would face Nanae Takahashi on Kobashi’s
  1770. 6/10 show at Korakuen Hall. The main event of the 4/16 show saw champion Chihiro
  1771. Hashimoto retain over Jordynne Grace
  1772.  
  1773. Tatsumi Fujinami’s Dradition group announced a 4/21 show at Korakuen Hall where
  1774. the main event is an interview segment with Fujinami and his original mentor
  1775. Antonio Inoki. Inoki is so rarely at pro wrestling shows and Korakuen Hall that
  1776. he should be a big draw. The actual main event is Fujinami & Shiro Koshinaka &
  1777. Jushin Liger vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Hiro Saito & Black Tiger. Not sure who is
  1778. this Black Tiger, but aside from who it ends up being, Liger will be the second
  1779. youngest guy in the match. Also Mitsuya Nagai & Masato Tanaka & Kazma Sakamoto
  1780. vs. Kenso & Daisuke Sekimoto & Yamato (from Dragon Gate)
  1781.  
  1782. He’s also running 4/26 in Osaka with Fujinami& Hiro Saito & Sekimoto vs. Riki
  1783. Choshu & Koshinaka & Yukio Sakaguchi of DDT, Nagai & Tanaka vs. Jinsei Shinzaki
  1784. (Hakushi) & Super Tiger, Koji Kanemoto & Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa
  1785. & Takaku Fuke and Super Delfin & Shisa vs. K-Ness of Dragon Gate & Billy Ken Kid
  1786. of Osaka Pro
  1787.  
  1788. There will be another Yoshihiro Takayama benefit show on 8/26 at Korakuen Hall
  1789.  
  1790. Oz Academy had a big show on 4/14 at Korakuen Hall before 883 fans. Mayumi Ozaki
  1791. kept her title in the main event over Hikaru Shida, who is leaving Japan to be
  1792. part of AEW.
  1793.  
  1794. HERE AND THERE: Dave Bautista will be starring in a movie called “Killer’s Game”
  1795. for STXfilms. The movie is based on the book “the Killer’s Game” by Jay
  1796. Bonansinga. The book is about a hitman who gets told by his doctor that he’s
  1797. only got a few months left to live. So he puts out a contract his own live. Then
  1798. he finds out that the lab made a mistake and he’s in perfect health. So he ends
  1799. up having to fend off people attempting to kill him
  1800.  
  1801. Rey Fenix has a visa issue which caused him to miss his 4/12 AAW date in
  1802. Chicago. The only thing we’ve been told is that the issue is expected to be
  1803. taken care of shortly
  1804.  
  1805. wXw will return to North America with a show on 8/9 in Toronto, which is the
  1806. week of SummerSlam
  1807.  
  1808. Logan Steiber, one of the best American wrestlers of this generation, announced
  1809. his retirement this past week at the age of 28. Steiber is one of only four
  1810. wrestlers in history to win four NCAA Division I championships and one of only
  1811. two to have won both the Junior Hodge trophy for best high school wrestler and
  1812. the Hodge trophy for best college wrestler. Steiber went 184-1 in high school.
  1813. His only loss was as a freshman, to David Taylor. He won the Junior Hodge trophy
  1814. in 2010. He went 119-3 at Ohio State with four NCAA titles, winning the Hodge
  1815. trophy in 2015. What is notable is that when he was in the off-season while
  1816. being a multi-time NCAA champion, Bellator’s Aaron Pico, who was only 17, beat
  1817. him. He also won the 2016 world championship at 134 pounds
  1818.  
  1819. ECW Press will be releasing an autobiography of Rocky Johnson, the father of
  1820. Dwayne Johnson, who was a major star in pro wrestling. The book: “Soulman: The
  1821. Rocky Johnson story,” is being co-authored by Scott Teal, which to me guarantees
  1822. historical accuracy as far as the career goes because there are few people in
  1823. the world more knowledgeable about pro wrestling during Johnson’s era than Teal,
  1824. who was co-written tons of books and done newsletters dating back to the 70s.
  1825. Johnson, born Wayde Bowles in Nova Scotia in 1944. A descendant of slaves, Rocky
  1826. Johnson wrestled full-time from 1965 to 1988, and was the first man of color to
  1827. win the Southern title, the Georgia title and the Florida title. He was also
  1828. part of the first WWF tag team where both members were African-American, with
  1829. Tony Atlas, in 1984. While working in San Francisco in the 70s, Rocky Johnson
  1830. married Ata Maivia, Peter’s daughter, and Dwayne was their only son, born in
  1831. 1972. Dwayne wrote the foreword. Rocky Johnson is in the WWE Hall of Fame, which
  1832. does have to do with Dwayne inducting his father and grandfather, but he is
  1833. absolutely not undeserving and has been on our Hall of Fame ballot and is a
  1834. genuine Hall of Fame candidate. He held championships consistently from 1967 to
  1835. 1987 in almost every territory. He was one of the most dynamic in-ring
  1836. performers of his era and was one of the best athletes in the business. He was
  1837. an agile and muscular 255-pounder who threw the best series of dropkicks I’ve
  1838. ever seen to this day. It wasn’t a one shot high dropkick like a Doug Furnas or
  1839. Kazuchika Okada or Bob Holly or Brian Pillman or Jack Brisco or Jim Brunzell or
  1840. any of your classic dropkick specialists. Johnson would do a series of three in
  1841. a row as high as anyone’s first one during the 70s. His background also included
  1842. boxing, where he was a sparring partner for both Muhammad Ali and George
  1843. Foreman. He was also involved in one of the most memorable angles in Memphis
  1844. wrestling history in 1976, in a feud with Jerry Lawler, and from that angle was
  1845. always a headliner in that territory when he’d come back. The angle was built
  1846. around the Ali vs. Antonio Inoki feud. It’s an angle that you could have never
  1847. done today. With all the Ali vs. Inoki hype going on, Jarrett came up with the
  1848. idea of having Lawler, then a heel and his top star, facing a pro boxer. So
  1849. Johnson was brought into Memphis and the claim was that he was a pro boxer, who
  1850. had never wrestled, a knockout artist ranked top ten in the world. I’ve seen the
  1851. clips of the local sports shows putting over the angle and claiming Lawler was
  1852. facing a top ten heavyweight, which is amazing. By 1976, Johnson was a huge star
  1853. in pro wrestling, and this also goes to show how little the magazines meant in a
  1854. place like Memphis since they pushed Johnson wasn’t a pro wrestler, but he’d
  1855. been all over the magazines since the late 60s, and in particular on January 16,
  1856. 1970, when he, on the same night, both won the annual Los Angeles Battle Royal,
  1857. which was the biggest Battle Royal in the world and got tons of coverage, and
  1858. also won the Americas’ title from Great Kojika (the same Kojika who still
  1859. wrestles in Japan) on the same night. By this point Johnson had been a major
  1860. star all over the world in some of the biggest territories, held the U.S. title
  1861. in San Francisco, the world tag team title on the West Coast five times, as well
  1862. as been a top singles champion in Florida, Georgia and Texas. He is generally
  1863. considered one of the biggest stars in the history of Roy Shire’s promotion. But
  1864. the angle drew sellouts early and they later evolved the storyline into them
  1865. training Johnson to be a wrestler and he was champion there. But it tells you
  1866. about communications when they were able to get both local media and an angle
  1867. over as if Johnson wasn’t a wrestler but a ranked heavyweight boxer. His boxing
  1868. hand speed and Ali shuffle was part of his pro wrestling gimmick, and made it
  1869. work at the level of drawing sellouts. The reality is that Lawler vs. Johnson in
  1870. Memphis was bigger locally than Ali vs. Inoki really was in most U.S. markets.
  1871. There is also talk of the book being made into a movie
  1872.  
  1873. Mike Johnson reported that one of the counts in the Scott Colton (Colt Cabana)
  1874. lawsuit against Phil Brooks (C.M. Punk), was thrown out but another remains.
  1875. Judge Daniel J. Kubasiak ruled that a text sent by Brooks to Colton that he
  1876. would be 100 percent covered when it comes to legal expenses in the suit brought
  1877. by WWE’s Dr. Christopher Amann against both of them was not definitive or
  1878. certain enough to constitute an offer that would be considered an enforceable
  1879. contract. However, Kubasiak ruled an e-mail from Brooks’ attorney to Colton
  1880. offering to continue representing him is strong enough to legally be considered
  1881. an agreement. One of Brooks’ lawyers wrote to Colton, “Despite your
  1882. unwillingness to contribute to your legal fees, I am still prepared to represent
  1883. you, and Phil is prepared to have me represent you and cover your legal fees
  1884. going forward, as long as there is no conflict between you and Phil that
  1885. prevents me from fairly and ethically representing you. At this time, I don’t
  1886. believe any such conflict exists.” The judge ruled the case will continue based
  1887. on that e-mail. On 4/8, Brooks’ attorney filed a response to the lawsuit where
  1888. he claims that Colton claimed he asked Colton to do his podcast while Brooks
  1889. would only admit he was interviewed by Colton, and aid it was Colton who had
  1890. wanted to interview him and had repeatedly asked to do so as it would benefit
  1891. Colton to promote and benefit from the show while Brooks was never compensated
  1892. for doing the show. Brooks’ lawyer also wrote publicly which he’d been saying
  1893. from the start, that he believed Amann’s letter demanding the podcast be taken
  1894. down was a retaliatory measure by WWE. Brooks also denied Colton’s charge that
  1895. the letter by Amann’s lawyer would likely lead to WWE litigation against Brooks.
  1896. Brooks denied any offer was made to cover all of Colton’s legal costs in the
  1897. suit, but did say that he had spent enormous sums of his own money to defend
  1898. Colton as an act of friendship and generosity only to have Colton sue him in an
  1899. attempt to get even more money. Brooks denied he ever agreed to fully indemnify
  1900. Colton in the lawsuit. Brooks claimed that the hundreds of thousands he spent to
  1901. cover Colton’s legal expenses was out of friendship that Brooks later learned
  1902. was entirely misguided
  1903.  
  1904. Punk, using his real name, quietly competed in a novice BJJ tournament recently
  1905. and placed third in a 199.9 weight class division that had three competitors
  1906.  
  1907. The Micro Wrestling Federation had three of its wrestlers arrested on drug
  1908. possession charges. The crew was working at the Boot Hill Legendary Night Club &
  1909. Sports Bar in Gillette, WY, on 4/11. Police were tipped off and searched their
  1910. hotel room and found both anabolic steroids and marijuana. The Gillette Police
  1911. Department K-9 unit brought dogs in to sniff at the Days Inn, where the troupe
  1912. was staying. They dogs went to two rooms that were registered to three of the
  1913. performers and got a search warrant and found 343.9 grams of the steroid
  1914. Stanazolol and 1.5 grams of marijuana. Police went to the club where they were
  1915. performing, allowed them to finish the show, and then arrested the three men
  1916. that the rooms were registered to. They did not release the names, only listing
  1917. them as a 50-year-old, a 32-year-old and a 22-year old. The 50-year old said
  1918. that the Stanazolol belonged to him. The 32-year-old said the marijuana belonged
  1919. to him and the 22-year-old admitted that he had been using marijuana. The
  1920. 32-year-old and 22-year old were charged with misdemeanor possession of
  1921. marijuana while the 50-year-old was charged with felony possession of a
  1922. controlled substance in liquid form
  1923.  
  1924. AAW ran 4/12 in Merrionette Park, IL before 605 fans. Adam Brooks made his
  1925. debut, losing to David Starr. Starr is calling his finishing move, a power bomb
  1926. dropped on the knees, the Kaepernick. Kris Statlander and Shazza McKenzie also
  1927. debuted. Dezmond Xavier formed a tag team with Matt Cross, and kept calling him
  1928. “Zach” after usual partner Zachary Wentz. Mance Warner clocked Jackson with a
  1929. chair shot and then called out Jimmy Jacobs. Warner and Jacobs beat on each
  1930. other with kendo sticks. Jacobs did a dive off the bar and they ended up in the
  1931. balcony where a bachelorette party was being held. Jacobs fell off the balcony.
  1932. LAX retained their tag titles beating Penta 0M & Gringo Loco. Loco, a
  1933. Chicago-area Lucha Libre style wrestler, replaced Fenix. Jacob Fatu, managed by
  1934. Armando Estrada, beat Larry D after a moonsault. Darby Allin pinned Sammy
  1935. Guevara. After the match, Fatu attacked and laid out Allin with a Samoan drop
  1936. and springboard moonsault. MJF beat DJZ to win the Heritage title since DJZ
  1937. starts with WWE soon. MJF won with a piledriver. DJZ then gave a farewell speech
  1938. thanking AAW for helping make him the wrestler he is today, thanking the fans
  1939. for pushing him to work his hardest and noted that he’s now got the biggest
  1940. opportunity of his career. He said that five years ago he made the impulsive
  1941. decision to move to Chicago and that while he’s not originally from Chicago,
  1942. Chicago is the city that made him. He said he would be moving to Orlando in
  1943. three weeks, which is probably more than you’re supposed to say, and starting
  1944. his next journey, but said when he gets there, they will be announcing him as
  1945. from Chicago. The main event was billed as a Bourbon Street fight with Davey
  1946. Vega & Mat Fitchett & Jessicka Havok over Eddie Kingston & Curt Stallion & Jake
  1947. Something when Vega pinned Stallion after a brainbuster on a chair. Something
  1948. pressed and threw Fitchett off the balcony and Havok speared Kingston through
  1949. table. The next show is 5/11 in Chicago at Logan Square Auditorium with TJP and
  1950. Team Tremendous as well as the usual regulars
  1951.  
  1952. Miranda Gordy, the daughter of Terry Gordy, worked as a manager over a weekend
  1953. show in Springfield, MO for Mid States Wrestling.
  1954.  
  1955. EUROPE: wXw on 6/1 has a show called Superstars of Wrestling with Bobby Gunns
  1956. defending their world title against Joey Janela, plus Ken Shamrock, Brian Cage
  1957. and Walter appear
  1958.  
  1959. The world premiere of the documentary “You May Be Pretty, But I am Beautiful:
  1960. The Adrian Street Story,” will be on 5/16 at the Market Hall Cinemas in
  1961. Brynmawr, Wales. Street, 78, was among the most famous pro wrestlers ever to
  1962. come from Wales. He played an effeminate character, very much where the Goldust
  1963. character evolved from. He started as Kid Tarzan Jonathan because he idolized
  1964. Don Leo Jonathan, and later as The Nature Boy, copying Buddy Rogers, but hit it
  1965. big as Exotic Adrian Street, a character that evolved by accident. He was a
  1966. major 60s and 70s star in the U.K., with that character before coming to
  1967. Stampede Wrestling in 1981. He didn’t come to the U.S. until 1982 in Los Angeles
  1968. at 41 years old but was a star in a number of territories through 1987 when the
  1969. territories died. He settled in Gulf Breeze, FL, on the Gulf Coast, and lived
  1970. there until 2018 when he returned to Wales with wife Linda, who was part of his
  1971. act.
  1972.  
  1973. MLW: They are pushing the 5/4 television show as being produced by Salina de la
  1974. Renta, who they are heavily pushing as one of the faces of the company. They are
  1975. billing it as the first time a latina will be the executive producer of a
  1976. national pro wrestling television show
  1977.  
  1978. They are teasing an MLW title program with Tom Lawlor vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.
  1979. Lawlor is currently in Europe on a family vacation
  1980.  
  1981. Matt Farmer, a former wrestler who helps run Defy out of Seattle, and is one of
  1982. pro wrestling’s leading historians, has been added to the MLW staff as a Senior
  1983. Coordinator.
  1984.  
  1985. ROH: Fightful reported this week of a power switch of sorts to where Bully Ray
  1986. and Joey Mercury have gained in power and Hunter Johnston (Delirious), who is
  1987. still head booker, has less control. The MSG show was the first where the signs
  1988. of that were evident. As noted, there were decisions made with the idea of
  1989. needing to reach a wider fan base and doing the supposed shoot thing with Enzo &
  1990. Cass for attention that was divisive within the company. We haven’t heard any
  1991. negativity from the New Japan side over the MSG show, but the fact four of their
  1992. wrestlers were in the match and that angle was kept from them is notable
  1993.  
  1994. The next PPV show will be the Best in the World show on 6/28 in Baltimore. They
  1995. will also be taping TV in Philadelphia at the 2300 Arena the next day
  1996.  
  1997. Some announcements were made for the War of the Worlds tour which will be 5/8 in
  1998. Buffalo, 5/9 in Toronto, 5/11 in Grand Rapids and 5/12 in Villa Park, IL (just
  1999. outside Chicago). The belief is that some of the talent will work Toronto, fly
  2000. to Los Angeles for PWG on 5/10 (it’s mystery Vortekz so no lineup, nor list of
  2001. wrestlers appearing will be advertised), and then fly back for the Grand Rapids
  2002. show. The only New Japan wrestlers announced thus far for the tour are Satoshi
  2003. Kojima, Yuji Nagata, Evil, Sanada, Hirooki Goto,. Hikuleo and ROH/IWGP tag
  2004. champions Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa. On social media, Tonga & Loa and the Briscoes
  2005. have gone at it. I think it started with Tonga legit mad about the Enzo & Cass
  2006. angle given they were in the match and not told about it. Speaking of that, Enzo
  2007. & Cass were not at either ROH show this weekend, nor are they booked on anything
  2008. announced going forward. They have been given no future dates and right now are
  2009. not factored into anything. There were key people very upset with that segment
  2010. internally and as noted before, internal divisiveness whether to do it. The idea
  2011. of why was explained last week, but not everyone bought that. The original idea
  2012. was to do a very quick bit that would take place in the corner by the guard
  2013. rails. Enzo was to grab Mark Briscoe and Mark was to shove Enzo and that would
  2014. be it. It would be so quick so as not to sound the alarms. People on TV may or
  2015. may not see it, but people would hear about it. I guess the idea, since Enzo did
  2016. interrupt a WWE show legit, was to play off that. Security was to then take Enzo
  2017. away to make it look real. The idea is that if there was a buzz, maybe they’d
  2018. follow up, but if nobody cared, it was so short that people would just assume it
  2019. was real. It got out of control and right now there are no plans to bring them
  2020. back, but there are also different people with different viewpoints involved
  2021. with creative and it’s not clear how the wind will blow
  2022.  
  2023. Tonga & Loa made fun of the Briscoes having regular jobs at their chicken farm,
  2024. cleaning up after the chickens. But that’s probably being saved for the next
  2025. PPV. ROH announced Matt Taven defending the ROH title against PCO on 5/9 in
  2026. Toronto stemming from PCO pinning Taven to win a six-man tag on 4/14 in
  2027. Columbus, OH. Tonga & Loa defend the ROH tag titles but not the IWGP belts
  2028. against Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham in Buffalo, which stems from Lethal &
  2029. Gresham winning a 30:00 Iron man match for that title shot over Mark Haskins &
  2030. Tracy Williams on 4/14
  2031.  
  2032. ROH announced a deal with Figures Toy Company for action figures for almost
  2033. everyone on the current roster. The figures will have the likeness of the
  2034. performer, t-shirts or entrance gear, and trademark weapons associated with the
  2035. character
  2036.  
  2037. The company announced a recruitment combine on 5/4 and 5/5 at their dojo in
  2038. Baltimore. They have opened up 20 spots in particular for women. The coaches
  2039. will be Delirious, Will Ferrara, Joey Mercury, Jonathan Gresham, Kelly Klein,
  2040. Ian Riccaboni and referee Todd Sinclair
  2041.  
  2042. They ran two weekend shows, which were a TV taping on 4/13 in Pittsburgh and a
  2043. house show on 4/14 in Columbus, OH. Both shows drew about 500 fans, which is
  2044. well down from usual in those markets. For the TV tapings, they opened with
  2045. Jenny Rose over Lady Frost. Gresham beat Silas Young via DQ. P.J. Black beat Eli
  2046. Isom. Kelly Klein retained her WOH title over Rae Lyn. The Allure, of Mandy
  2047. Leon, Velvet Sky and Angelina Love all beat down Klein after the match. Dalton
  2048. Castle continued his heel turn getting rid of The Boys. He told them that he
  2049. never needed them, beat them up, took off their masks and left them laying.
  2050. Haskins & Williams of Lifeblood beat Vinny Marseglia & T.K. O’Ryan. Bandido
  2051. pinned Shane Taylor. After the match, the Sons of Savagery, Bishop Khan &
  2052. Malcolm Moses, attacked Bandido. They are being renamed the Soldiers of
  2053. Savagery. Haskins and Williams made the save. I believe Sons of Savagery are
  2054. graduates from the ROH school getting their first real exposure. They’ve done
  2055. some dark matches. Marty Scurll came out for an interview. He wanted an NWA
  2056. title match with Nick Aldis now, before their 4/27 date in Concord, NC, which is
  2057. a joint ROH/NWA show. Aldis came out and refused the match. Scurll ended up
  2058. doing the finger breaking spot. Two wrestlers who were unknowns, Eric Martin and
  2059. Manny Soriano, came into the ring and started a brief match. The Briscoes came
  2060. out and destroyed them. The Bouncers, Beer City Bruiser & Brawler Milonas, won a
  2061. three-way over Cheeseburger & Ryan Nova and Coast 2 Coast. Josh Woods beat Flex
  2062. Simmons. The advertised main event saw Marty Scurll & PCO & Brody King retain
  2063. the trios titles over Lethal & Jeff Cobb & Rush. After the match, Kenny King
  2064. attacked Lethal to build up a future Lethal vs. King ROH title match stemming
  2065. from King winning the Honor Rumble at Madison Square Garden. Mark & Jay Briscoe
  2066. beat Caristico & Soberano Jr. The other main event saw Taven retain the ROH
  2067. title over Flip Gordon
  2068.  
  2069. The 4/14 show in Columbus, OH, called Masters of the Craft, opened with Cobb
  2070. over Rhett Titus in a non-title match with the tour of the islands. Jenny Rose
  2071. beat Holidead with a uranage. During the match, Leon, Love and Sky came out and
  2072. distracted Rose with selfie sticks and sat at ringside. Shane Taylor & Silas
  2073. Young & Briscoes beat Coast 2 Coast & Bruiser & Milonas. Taylor pinned LSG with
  2074. Greetings from 216, which is a thunder driver type move. Match was said to be
  2075. good. Aldis and Cabana were doing commentary and exchanging words. Aldis kept
  2076. goading Cabana with the idea that he beat him in a match in China (which did
  2077. happen, unlike pro wrestling historical fiction where you hear that and think
  2078. it’s BS). Cabana at this point in the show challenged Aldis to a title match.
  2079. Aldis accepted and said he’s stretch him, and then went to the back. Rush beat
  2080. Soberano Jr. with the low dropkick into the corner in a short and somewhat
  2081. one-sided match. Ian Riccaboni in commentary mentioned Soberano being the son of
  2082. Euforia, which is true, and not a secret, but usually nothing pushed. Bandido
  2083. won a four-way over Black, Caristico and Gordon. There were some botches but
  2084. overall people were raving about this match, and in the spot that seemed to be
  2085. the most talked about of the weekend, Gordon did a springboard flip dive over
  2086. the barrier into the crowd. Bandido used his unique slingshot German suplex on
  2087. Black and Gordon and pinned Gordon. The crowd loved this. Gresham & Lethal
  2088. earned the tag title shot beating Haskins & Williams 2-1 in a 30:00 Iron Man
  2089. match. Haskins won the first fall in about 20:00 with a sharpshooter. Gresham
  2090. pinned Williams to even it up with a few minutes left. Gresham rolled up Haskins
  2091. when he attempted the sharpshooter in the third fall. Haskins kept going for
  2092. submissions on Gresham in the closing minutes. Said to be very good and it was
  2093. paced well and kept interesting and the 30:00 flew by. Cabana beat Aldis via DQ
  2094. in the NWA title match. Cabana was doing well when Scurll came out and stole the
  2095. NWA belt. Kamille, the tall fitness woman who accompanies Aldis, got in Scurll’s
  2096. face and Aldis blindsided him. Cabana dropkicked Aldis into Scurll. Scurll and
  2097. Cabana started arguing and then went at it. As Scurll attacked Cabana, the ref
  2098. called for the DQ on Aldis for outside interference. Scurll then hit Aldis with
  2099. a belt shot. Castle came out and fans cheered him even though he did a heel turn
  2100. at the PPV. He walked around, teased like he was going to cut a promo, but
  2101. refused to talk, smirked and went to the back. This was supposed to get the fans
  2102. to turn on him but fans actually were chanting his name. Main event saw Scurll &
  2103. Brody King & PCO beat Taven & Marseglia & O’Ryan to retain the six-man titles.
  2104. Scurll asked for it to be changed to a street fight match. King & PCO then
  2105. opened the match doing running flip dives. Taven went to hit Scurll with a belt
  2106. shot when PCO, who had been given a low blow, popped up and got the belt and hit
  2107. Taven with it. PCO then pinned Taven with a moonsault t retain. They pushed the
  2108. finish big doing the basic announcing of all but telling you PCO was getting a
  2109. title match for pinning the champion
  2110.  
  2111. Klein got to throw out the first pitch at the 4/11 Cincinnati Reds vs. Miami
  2112. Marlins baseball game at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium. Klein is from the area
  2113. and a baseball fan, who has attended games in the stadium in the past, so it was
  2114. a big deal to her.
  2115.  
  2116. IMPACT: Impact has shown interest in Flamita after he and Rich Swann had a great
  2117. match over Mania week. It is kind of surprising in this rush to sign talent that
  2118. Flamita still doesn’t have a contract with any organization
  2119.  
  2120. They are taping 5/3 and 5/4 in Philadelphia at the 2300 Arena which will include
  2121. Rob Van Dam’s return to the building. Van Dam got a great reaction on the recent
  2122. Mania week show where he and Sabu faced Pentagon & Fenix
  2123.  
  2124. Amanpreeet Singh Randhawa, 28, formerly known and probably to be known again as
  2125. Mahabali Shera has signed to return after being cut by WWE. He was in and out
  2126. here from 2011 to 2017, and then went to WWE. All I can say is this. If you’ve
  2127. got a good physique and size, and you’re from India, and WWE cuts you, there’s
  2128. either something that went really bad or they must think you’re hopeless. He got
  2129. pushed in TNA largely because it kept their Indian television partners happy,
  2130. because he’s been around for years and never improved past a certain level. The
  2131. only explanation for bringing him back is the same thing, to keep their Indian
  2132. television partners happy
  2133.  
  2134. In an interesting political move, Impact Wrestling is partnering with Reality of
  2135. Wrestling for a Twitch show on 7/6 at the Booker T World Gym Arena. The idea is
  2136. Impact is running a joint show with Booker T, who works for WWE. That could have
  2137. never happened a few years ago and it kind of shows that WWE no longer viewers
  2138. Impact as a significant force. The show, called Deep Impact, will be based
  2139. around Impact stars facing ROW wrestlers. The card will be announced in May
  2140.  
  2141. Gursinder Singh posted that he’s asked for his release.
  2142.  
  2143. AEW: Cima was announced as the newest member of the roster and they announced
  2144. he’s signed a full-time contract. For a number of reasons, expect Cima to get a
  2145. significant push, and in fact, he’s main eventing the 7/13 Jacksonville show
  2146. against Kenny Omega. Besides the idea he’s got a good mind for wrestling, he
  2147. opens the door for AEW to get the top Chinese wrestlers he trains and relations
  2148. with OWE open up China with a local promotional partner, which WWE doesn’t have
  2149.  
  2150. The Young Bucks noted that Cima gave them their first break after meeting them
  2151. at the 2007 Battle of Los Angeles tournament and then booking them to Dragon
  2152. Gate, where they learned a ton, and also mentioned they worked with Cima at a
  2153. show in Philadelphia which really helped them in the U.S. indie scene. Cima
  2154. signed a full-time AEW contract but he will still remain based in China for now
  2155. teaching the wrestlers in China. At some point, probably when the schedule gets
  2156. more regular, he’s expected to move to the U.S., at which point he probably
  2157. won’t be in China as much
  2158.  
  2159. Three of the OWE wrestlers, Cima being one, are booked against SCU on the 5/25
  2160. show in Las Vegas
  2161.  
  2162. Regarding television, there is nothing new to report this week other than it
  2163. seemed a lock a few weeks ago what day the show would air, and now the day of
  2164. the week is no longer a lock. But the two hours live weekly in prime time looks
  2165. likely
  2166.  
  2167. The 7/13 Jacksonville show will be a significant event since Chris Jericho is
  2168. not going to be on every show, but he will be on this one. The show will be at
  2169. Daily’s Place Amphitheater, which is next to TIAA Bank Field, where the
  2170. Jacksonville Jaguars play and they are looking at Jacksonville as something of
  2171. their home market. The Khan family has a hand in running that arena, which holds
  2172. 5,500 but with stage and all, would probably be set up for closer to 4,000. This
  2173. comes two weeks after Daytona Beach and the two markets are about 90 miles
  2174. apart. The show is a benefit show for the Jacksonville Victims Assistance
  2175. Advisory Council. The gruop coordinates social, criminal justice, mental health
  2176. and other services to crime victims and families of crime victims, such as those
  2177. impacted in the five mass shootings over the last year plus in that city. Brandi
  2178. Rhodes, who won’t be wrestling at Double or Nothing, will face Allie on this
  2179. show. The storyline is Brandi is acting like she’s good friends and they are
  2180. just going to have a friendly match, but she’s contacted a secret person to show
  2181. up and have her back and double-cross Allie. They have a 4/18 pre-sale and 4/19
  2182. tickets go on sale to the public. Because Jacksonville isn’t a tourist place
  2183. like Las Vegas and they still don’t have television, this will be a real test
  2184. for the company as it’s not the novelty of a first show or a show that is likely
  2185. to be a big traveling show, and Jacksonville isn’t a major wrestling market
  2186.  
  2187. Cody vs. Darby Allin was added to the 6/29 show in Daytona Beach. Allin is the
  2188. latest signee
  2189.  
  2190. For Double or Nothing, they announced Glacier (Ray Lloyd) for the Battle Royal.
  2191. Lloyd, 54, is a good friend of Cody’s and was in his entourage for the All In
  2192. match with Nick Aldis. Glacier was a WCW gimmick that was pushed like crazy
  2193. forever and then became the punch line of a joke because they pushed him hard
  2194. forever and then didn’t do much with the gimmick once he started. It’s just a
  2195. spot in the Battle Royal. They also teased Brian Pillman Jr. for the Battle
  2196. Royal. Pillman Jr. and Ace Romero, both of who are under contract to MLW, are in
  2197. the Battle Royal as a deal with MLW. Also added to the Battle Royal this week is
  2198. MJF, which puts him out of contention for the bout with Cody, plus Dylan
  2199. Frymyer, who works as Sonny Daze on Georgia indies. It’s another Cody
  2200. connection. Framer is a guy who has known DDP since the age of 15 and was a huge
  2201. fan who trained t be a wrestler and has been doing area indies for 11 years.
  2202. He’s battled depression and was suicidal at one point
  2203.  
  2204. On this week’s BTE, there was a skit where they made fun of themselves. The
  2205. portrayal is that Cody is the worst businessman as he offered a guy who he
  2206. picked as the Librarian first a $1 million contract, and then when a few people,
  2207. including Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian told them it was outrageous and made
  2208. fun of his business sense, he upped it to $1.5 million and then $2 million.
  2209. Kazarian said about the $2 million per year deal, “that’s Christopher Daniels
  2210. money.” Kazarian also noted Cody shouldn’t be making those offers without going
  2211. through the other 11 Executive Vice Presidents and named Cody, Matt, Nick,
  2212. Kenny, Marsha, Jan, Bobby and the rest of the kids from the 70s Brady Bunch TV
  2213. show. The new skits seem to be that everyone has changed since coming to AEW and
  2214. they are pretending to be what the people knocking them on Twitter claim they
  2215. are, from being greedy, forgetting about their fans, being in way over their
  2216. heads and all that. SCU was shown being total dicks to fans at the merch table
  2217. and talking about inflated prices for autographs to pay for more cars and all
  2218. kinds of expenses (which is kind of a spoof on the really big name who do charge
  2219. such high prices for autograph sessions). Then they showed Joey Ryan at the
  2220. merch table at a show and one person after another goes to him, “Whatever
  2221. happened to that blond girl?” This included cameos of D-Lo Brown, Tenille
  2222. Dashwood and Mick Foley, all asking that question, while Ryan is all sad looking
  2223. at a Candice LeRae action figure. Ryan is featured way too heavily for him not
  2224. to be involved with AEW in some form. I think it’s been made very clear in a few
  2225. places that AEW would love to have LeRae, but she’d under contract with WWE
  2226. obviously. It’s good for her, because there are a ton of women competing for
  2227. less than a ton of main roster spots, but she’s got one edge which is that they
  2228. know she can walk into a good main roster spot where she’d probably make a lot
  2229. more than in WWE, unless she was brought to the main roster and given a push, so
  2230. they know she can easily leave. Even though you can point to the positive of her
  2231. husband being in WWE as well (and quite frankly, when his contract comes due,
  2232. he’ll have more leverage than most as well), the AEW schedule isn’t going to be
  2233. that insane like if WWE had husband and wife on different brands and they’d have
  2234. limited time together. MJF was being obnoxious to a referee and to Sammy
  2235. Guevara, claiming he was Cody’s best friend which makes him a Junior Assistant
  2236. Executive Vice President. MJF put a “kick” me thing on Guevara’s back and then
  2237. you heard him scream like somebody kicked him. MJF then hugged Darby Allin to do
  2238. the same thing but he was too smart for it, pulled the paper off and started
  2239. chewing it and spitting it in his face. It came off like MJF vs. Allin is a
  2240. direction. Then Matt Jackson was talking to Daniels about Kenny has blown the
  2241. budget already on the Daytona Beach show. He also said all the Librarian videos
  2242. suck and it’s a terrible idea. They started arguing about watching the videos as
  2243. Matt said Daniels headed talent relations and ordered Daniels to head up The
  2244. Librarian project and Daniels said Matt was in creative and his job was
  2245. contracts and visas. They were yelling at each other when Peter Avalon, a
  2246. Southern California indie guy ran in and told them to be quiet and then both
  2247. Daniels and Matt had this look like they’ve found the guy to be The Librarian.
  2248. The show ended with Matt & Nick looking for tag teams and on their phone Nick
  2249. found a team and Matt said they were one of their greatest rivals but they keep
  2250. hiring great teams like it’s going to hurt them. Nick just said that if you
  2251. think we’re still the best tag team in the world we’ll hire them. There are
  2252. people saying this may end up as the Super Smash Brothers, who the Young Bucks
  2253. last year tried to get a deal with for ROH
  2254.  
  2255. Pac had an injury scare on 4/13 at a WrestleZone show in Aberdeen, Scotland.
  2256. There was a botched huracanrana spot where his opponent, Zack Dynamite, failed
  2257. to be there for him. He landed on his head. They finished the match but Pac was
  2258. concerned after the match. The word we were given was that he was okay
  2259.  
  2260. Cody was shown training in the ring with Anthony Ogogo, a boxer who won a bronze
  2261. medal at the 2012 Olympics in the middleweight division. Ogogo, 30, is looking
  2262. to get into pro wrestling and the fact they featured him shows there is
  2263. interest. He’s been trained by Ricky Knight and done one match for his group.
  2264. After winning the bronze medal, Ogogo turned pro and went 11-1 in a career from
  2265. 2013 to 2016. He suffered a broken orbital bone in his last fight and the injury
  2266. was bad enough that eye specialists told him to retire. He’s had surgeries on
  2267. the eye, which has improved and he’s talked about boxing again.
  2268.  
  2269. UFC : UFC held a press conference on 4/12 in Atlanta. The biggest news was Dana
  2270. White claiming there was no Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Cormier fight in the works,
  2271. and saying he hasn’t even talked to Lesnar. The issue here is when it comes to
  2272. these type of things, including Lesnar on multiple occasions, what White says
  2273. and what happens are the opposite far too often to even put any credence in what
  2274. he says. That’s not to say it is or isn’t happening, but if Ariel Helwani
  2275. reports something at that magnitude and Dana White denies it, and you believe
  2276. White, you’re going to be wrong 95 times out of 100. White said that they were
  2277. looking at Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic, and that when Lesnar wants to fight, he can
  2278. call him. He also said there is no date for Cormier because he went to the gym
  2279. for the first time about two weeks ago (he’s been bothered by back problems) and
  2280. he was still hurting. Ben Askren stole the press conference with his quick wit.
  2281. Jon Jones was in Atlanta, and didn’t come, which Holly Holm (his teammate)
  2282. claimed was food poisoning. White actually said that he figured nobody would
  2283. believe Jones and he wouldn’t either, but said that Holm wouldn’t lie. Anthony
  2284. Smith cut a very serious promo on wanting to face Luke Rockhold, to the point
  2285. you’d want t make that fight no matter what the result is of Rockhold vs. Jan
  2286. Blachowicz or Smith vs. Alexander Gustafsson, which is each man’s next fight
  2287.  
  2288. With the new ESPN deal which guarantees the PPV money according to a financial
  2289. report regarding the company’s bonds, they have gone from 40 percent of revenue
  2290. guaranteed to 70 percent. The higher figure is key given the reports of Endeavor
  2291. wanting to go public
  2292.  
  2293. B.J. Penn’s team released a statement regarding his ex-girlfriend, Shelean
  2294. Uaiwa, and mother of his children, having filed a restraining order against him.
  2295. In the restraining order, Uaiwa claimed Penn had verbally, physically and
  2296. sexually abused her for years. The statement was: “B.J. is in a highly-contested
  2297. child custody case involving his two young daughters. The order of protection
  2298. has made serious allegations against B.J. The allegations are so misleading,
  2299. hurtful and false that any further comment by B.J. or about B.J. would cause
  2300. more damage to the well-being of his children and potentially further inflame
  2301. the pending custody proceedings. B.J. and his family ask that you respect their
  2302. privacy at this very difficult time.” Uaiwa currently has full custody of both
  2303. daughters and Penn is only allowed to see them under supervised visits. Uaiwa
  2304. accused Penn of striking her on several occasions, threatening her mother and
  2305. threatening to kill her brother and her entire family
  2306.  
  2307. Those close to Conor McGregor are really wanting him to fight now. Some figured
  2308. he has so much money, why bother, but now the feeling is if he signs to fight,
  2309. he’ll go into camp, concentrate on it and stay out of trouble and without that
  2310. priority he’s going to continue to get into trouble
  2311.  
  2312. Henry Cejudo has said he will never give T.J. Dillashaw a rematch or fight him
  2313. again since Dillashaw was suspended for usage of EPO. EPO is very difficult to
  2314. catch because it is something I can recall openly talking to UFC fighters about
  2315. in the past with the idea use was significant, yet only three fighters I’m aware
  2316. of, Dillashaw, Chael Sonnen and Ali Bagautinov, have ever tested positive for
  2317. it. There may be others but those are the only ones I can recall and the only
  2318. names I’ve seen brought up since Dillashaw tested positive
  2319.  
  2320. This week’s show is a Saturday morning/afternoon show n 4/20 from St.
  2321. Petersburg, Russia. The show will air from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the
  2322. entire show on ESPN+. The card has Magomed Mustafaev (13-2) vs. Rafael Fiziev
  2323. (6-0), Michal Oleksiejczuk (13-2) vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov (2-5), Marcin Tybura
  2324. (17-4) vs. Shamil Abdurakhmov (19-4), Alexander Yakovlev (23-8-1) vs. Teemu
  2325. Packalen (8-2), Keita Nakamura (34-9-2) vs. Sultan Aliev (14-3), Muin Gafurov
  2326. (18-2) vs. Movar Evloev (10-0), Krzysztof Jotko (19-4) vs. Alen Amedovski (8-0),
  2327. Antonina Shevchenko (7-0) vs. Roxanne Modaferri (22-15), Ivan Shtyrkov (15-0-1)
  2328. vs. Devin Clark (9-3), Sergei Pavlovich (12-1) vs. Marcelo Golm (6-2), Arman
  2329. Tsarukyan (13-1) vs. Islam Makhachev (16-1) and headlined by Aleksei Oleinik
  2330. (57-11-1) vs. Alistair Overeem (44-17)
  2331.  
  2332. 4/27 will be a head-to-head UFC vs. Bellator battle. Originally the UFC show was
  2333. to be on ESPN, while Bellator is on DAZN exclusively. But things have changed
  2334. and the UFC show will air at 5-7 p.m. Eastern on ESPN 2, 7-9 p.m. on ESPN and
  2335. the main card, originally for ESPN, is now listed for ESPN+. However, at press
  2336. time, both the UFC and ESPN web site list the main card still on ESPN. On this
  2337. past weekend’s show, the main card was listed for ESPN+ and we’ve been told that
  2338. is accurate. The main card’s top bouts are Ronaldo Jacare Souza vs. Jack
  2339. Hermansson, Greg Hardy (second UFC fight, again put in the semi-main event as
  2340. apparently they believe he’s a big draw as an ex-NFL star) vs. Dmitrii Smoliakov
  2341. as well as Alex Oliveira vs. Mike Perry and Glover Teixeira vs. Ion Cutelaba.
  2342. Bellator on DAZN is headlined by Rory MacDonald vs. Jon Fitch for the
  2343. welterweight title and a welterweight tournament first round fight, Ilima-lei
  2344. Macfarlane defends her women’s flyweight title against Veta Arteaga, Phil Davis
  2345. vs. Liam McGeary and Benson Henderson vs. Adam Piccolotti
  2346.  
  2347. Mairbek Taisumov was suspended for six months by USADA for failing a test on
  2348. 9/15 for the steroid Stanazolol at the time of a fight in Moscow, Russia, with
  2349. Desmond Green. The reason the suspension was for only six months is because a
  2350. dietary supplement he declared and was using shows traces of the drug. Since the
  2351. six months is now over, he is eligible to fight again. Taisumov defeated Green.
  2352. There is no word on whether that result will be overturned but because he had
  2353. the drug in his system at the time of the fight, it’s pretty hard to justify not
  2354. overturning it.
  2355.  
  2356. OTHER MMA: Angela Magana, 35, a former UFC fighter who was part of the original
  2357. strawweight tournament, who is now fighting for Combate Americas, was in a coma
  2358. at press time at University Hospital in San Juan, where she lives. She had
  2359. emergency surgery on 4/16 and she did not wake up from the anesthesia. At last
  2360. word she was listed in intensive care but the reports are that they do expect
  2361. her to wake up. Magana was experiencing back pain when training for a fight
  2362. after her back went out on 4/7 when she was taken down. An MRI revealed a
  2363. herniated disc in her lower back. Magana tried to train through it and not
  2364. cancel her scheduled 4/26 fight in Los Angeles with Kyra Batara. She had a nerve
  2365. block done on 4/15 and ended up in worse shape. She was diagnosed with cauda
  2366. equina syndrome. Cauda Equina Syndrome is when the bundle of nerves below the
  2367. end of he spinal cord are damaged. It causes low back pain that radiates down
  2368. the legs, numbness around the butt and loss of bowel or bladder control She
  2369. needed emergency surgery the next day. The surgery itself went fine but she
  2370. never woke up from it. Magana had claimed that an aunt had died from anesthesia
  2371. and was very concerned about it going into surgery
  2372.  
  2373. Dulce “Sexy” Garcia, the wrestler Sexy Star, made her MMA debut on 4/12 in her
  2374. home city of Monterrey on a show that aired live in both the U.S. and Mexico for
  2375. Combate Americas, airing on Univision and DAZN in the U.S. Her fight got more
  2376. MMA media attention and sports attention in Mexico than anything else on the
  2377. show. Garcia, 36. won a decision via straight 30-27 scores over Mariana Ruiz,
  2378. who was also making her debut. Garcia was 5-0 as a boxer and is married to a
  2379. famous Mexican boxer, Jhonny Gonzalez. She was in control most of the way, often
  2380. landing on top as Ruiz would attempt takedowns. She did some showboating late as
  2381. she cruised to the decision win, but didn’t look that great in doing so, but it
  2382. was her first MMA rules fight, and on the C.M. Punk scale she did great. She
  2383. then made all kinds of friends when she claimed that her winning the Lucha
  2384. Underground championship is what started the WWE women’s revolution
  2385.  
  2386. Alberto Rodriguez, better known as Alberto Del Rio/El Patron, has said he’s
  2387. training for his comeback fight with Combate Americas. Alberto, who turns 42
  2388. next month, hasn’t fought since early 2010 and had a 9-5 record when he signed
  2389. with WWE and stopped fighting. He’s now targeting late October or early November
  2390. for his return
  2391.  
  2392. Lodune Sincaid, who was a cast member of the first season of The Ultimate
  2393. Fighter in 2005, passed away on 4/7 at the age of 45. There are no details
  2394. regarding his death. Sincaid fought from 2001 to 2010, compiling a 15-9 record,
  2395. and briefly held the WEC middleweight championship before that promotion was on
  2396. national television. Sincaid was picked as a cast member in the first season,
  2397. which started the careers of people like Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Kenny
  2398. Florian, Diego Sanchez, Mike Swick, Nate Quarry, Josh Koscheck and Chris Leben
  2399. among others. He lost in the tournament to Bobby Southworth and only fought once
  2400. in UFC, in a prelim fight on the April 9, 2005, show that featured the famous
  2401. Griffin vs. Bonnar fight. Sincaid lost to Quarry via first round knockout.
  2402.  
  2403. WWE: The situation with Undertaker and the Between the Ropes shows got strange
  2404. this past week. Undertaker was to do talk shows and do a meet and greet at the
  2405. end of the month in Manchester, London and Glasgow. Tickets were very high
  2406. because Undertaker is such a unique star and he’d never done anything like that
  2407. in Europe. So this is now what is official. The Manchester date was moved from
  2408. 5/2 to 4/29. This was done some time ago because after agreeing to the tour,
  2409. Undertaker agreed to do the 5/3 show in Saudi Arabia. Of course that’s a moot
  2410. point now since the show is scheduled for 6/7, although it’s still not announced
  2411. and as best we know, the California main roster house show that weekend haven’t
  2412. been canceled. Then this past week it was announced that Undertaker would still
  2413. be coming, but he would not be doing the talk show, and Mick Foley will be
  2414. replacing him. They had booked some bigger buildings for the shows including
  2415. York Hall in London. While Foley no doubt would do a more entertaining show,
  2416. Foley has been doing this for a long time and there is more interest in the
  2417. uniqueness of Undertaker than the more polished and likely better performance of
  2418. Foley. The story behind this isn’t clear but likely can be traced back to
  2419. Starrcast. Undertaker had started booking dates for autograph sessions and this
  2420. and was able to get $20,000 to $25,000 per hour for these events in the U.S. I
  2421. can imagine the price for several days in the U.K. and adding talk shows, which
  2422. is why the prices were so high (for an autograph, a photo and the show combined
  2423. ticket would be $393 U.S.). When Undertaker was announced for Starrcast, things
  2424. changed greatly. Whatever deal he had that allowed that, WWE brought him back,
  2425. whether it’s a new contract to wrestle or what it is isn’t clear, but WWE didn’t
  2426. want him doing any of these things. Because he had contracts, even though those
  2427. in WWE at first were saying there’s no way he’s doing Starrcast, he is and
  2428. probably had to. For the U.K. appearances, what we know is Undertaker pushed
  2429. hard to be able to do it, and I guess the compromise was he could come, but they
  2430. didn’t want him doing the show. But it was actually Undertaker pushing to make
  2431. sure he still came for at least the signings. The basic gist is something
  2432. approximating this. Undertaker thought his career was over after the match in
  2433. Australia and started lining up outside paydays. After the Starrcast thing went
  2434. public, Vince got mad and when things calmed down between the two, WWE made him
  2435. an offer he couldn’t refuse financially and part of the contract was an
  2436. agreement he could no longer do those type of dates. Of course, he still would
  2437. have to do the ones he had contractually agreed to. For Conrad Thompson,
  2438. evidently the deal was strong enough that there was no legal way to get him out
  2439. of it. For Inside the Ropes in the U.K., they didn’t have the kind of legal
  2440. resources to fight WWE on it so the deal was that if didn’t come, they’d have to
  2441. refund everything and it could destroy them as far as attempting to do anything
  2442. going forward. Undertaker didn’t want to do that, so proposed the compromise
  2443. that he’d do the meet and greet, and Inside the Ropes got Foley to come in and
  2444. do shows every night where he’d talk about Undertaker and his experiences
  2445. working with him. The feeling is that WWE thought Undertaker would never do
  2446. dates with people they didn’t want him doing dates with, and WWE didn’t realize
  2447. the amount of money some promoters would offer Undertaker to do these events.
  2448. One person involved in that business said that the $150 per person price to get
  2449. photos and autographs with Undertaker was actually charging too little, noting
  2450. when Steve Austin signed with Wrestlecon last year in New Orleans, they charged
  2451. $316 for the VIP package and got so many requests at that price that they were
  2452. overwhelmed and had to cut them off and the feeling is Undertaker could have had
  2453. similar demand this year at WrestleMania. Undertaker was approached by people,
  2454. including WrestleCon, but by that point had an agreement to do Raw and decided
  2455. against it
  2456.  
  2457. Rousey had surgery on her right little finger on 4/14. Rousey has also said that
  2458. she is on an “inpregnation vacation” to explain her time away. As noted before,
  2459. while she has two years left on her contract, there is no timetable for her to
  2460. return and no guarantee she will. The writing team was told going into Mania
  2461. (even though most of the Rousey stuff was Vince McMahon, Rousey and Paul Heyman)
  2462. to treat this like WrestleMania is Rousey’s last match. The expectation is she
  2463. will return, probably for a Cena or Lesnar like schedule at some point, and the
  2464. idea right now is to do a singles match with Lynch, but if and when can’t
  2465. possibly be planned for right now given all the different factors that are
  2466. unpredictable, at play. If she does get pregnant this year, given the timetable,
  2467. and having to work back into shape, next year’s Mania would be far from a given
  2468.  
  2469. Regarding Banks, it should be noted that the decision to put the women’s tag
  2470. titles on The Iiconics was not a last minute decision and many people knew about
  2471. it in the company. However, Banks & Bayley weren’t told until the day of the
  2472. show. They were also told at the time that the company was going to drop them as
  2473. a tag team. I don’t know if they were told about being put on different brands,
  2474. because WWE keeps that stuff secret from the talent (there may be exceptions for
  2475. bigger names, but for the most part nobody knows) but they were aware they
  2476. weren’t going to team up any longer. So it was the combination of not getting
  2477. the title run they expected to establish the belts as meaningful and not joke
  2478. belts, and splitting up their team so quickly that got both of them upset.
  2479. Bayley was upset but didn’t quit or anything. Banks was given a few weeks off
  2480. when she tried to quit with the idea of them sorting things out and time off
  2481. would lead her to wanting to come back. Despite rumors to the contrary, she was
  2482. never booked for television this week, at least since WrestleMania. They are
  2483. hopeful she’ll be back over the next few weeks and she is tentatively booked for
  2484. the 5/19 Money in the Bank show in Hartford, but nothing is concrete as far as
  2485. her status. If she returns, she’s scheduled for Raw, because the reason for the
  2486. split-up is that Bayley was always scheduled to move to Smackdown, a decision
  2487. that has been the plan for some time even though kept secret until probably
  2488. whenever they told Bayley she had to stay the extra day in Montreal this week
  2489.  
  2490. Harper (Jonathan Huber, 39), asked for his release on 4/16. He wrote, “As of
  2491. this evening, I have requested a release from WWE. The past six years have been
  2492. a simply amazing journey around the world and back with lifelong friends and
  2493. family. I am proud of it all and proud to say I shared the ring with my
  2494. co-workers. This decision, as difficult as it was, feels right for myself and
  2495. WWE. My goal in the future is to continue to grow as a performer and person and
  2496. continue to make my family proud. Thank you. From the top to the bottom of WWE.
  2497. Thank you to the fans for your undying support. Thank you everyone.” Harper, who
  2498. started wrestling in 2003, joined WWE with NXT in 2012. He and Rowan held the
  2499. NXT and the Smackdown tag title, the latter as the Bludgeon Brothers, a run that
  2500. started out strong, but fizzled when Rowan suffered a torn biceps in August
  2501. shortly after they had begun their tag title run. Harper decided to get surgery
  2502. on his wrist since it was clear they had no plans for him as a single. It took
  2503. longer than expected for him to be cleared. He started back on 3/9 and had
  2504. worked seven matches. His contract expires toward the end of the year, I believe
  2505. around November. He was one of the guys, really similar to The Revival, where
  2506. they really want to go out and make names for themselves by having good matches
  2507. and being the best they can be rather than just having a well paying job and
  2508. taking the money. You can argue both sides, but the reality is that there are
  2509. options to make money elsewhere and he’s got the talent and name to where he can
  2510. probably to go AEW, New Japan or ROH as soon as he’s contractually able to and
  2511. would have more of an opportunity certainly in AEW or ROH to be featured, and
  2512. probably in New Japan at least as far as having the kind of matches he would
  2513. want to have. At this point, Huber has asked for his release. It had not been
  2514. granted as of press time. He took the strategy of Tye Dillinger and Jack
  2515. Swagger, who both publicly asked for their release. Dillinger’s was granted
  2516. although given a non-compete period. Swagger was held up and also given a
  2517. non-compete period. On the flip side, those who asked privately, like Mike
  2518. Kanellis, The Revival and Banks were not given releases. Gallows & Anderson
  2519. haven’t said a word but wouldn’t sign and are being buried. Kanellis and The
  2520. Revival were given minor pushes to try and keep them happy. The Usos were given
  2521. the tag belts when they made noise about not signing. If Harper’s release
  2522. request was granted, it would send a message to talent that wants to leave, to
  2523. go public with it, and that’s the last thing WWE wants. But it does put pressure
  2524. on them, because if they don’t, unless he is convinced to post that he didn’t
  2525. mean it or was working the Internet, or that he was wrong or something, it comes
  2526. across as them holding him against his will, which is also a perception WWE
  2527. doesn’t want, particularly because of classifying wrestlers as independent
  2528. contractors
  2529.  
  2530. Toni Storm is being allowed to work Stardom from 5/3 to 5/16. She was pushed as
  2531. the top foreign star with the promotion prior to signing with WWE. Stardom has
  2532. been told they can use anyone on the NXT U.K. roster, which is why Xia Brookside
  2533. was part of their draft. WWE allowing her to go there signifies some of a
  2534. relationship with Stardom
  2535.  
  2536. Kingston told TMZ that the New Day would never break up
  2537.  
  2538. Styles’ hip injury was a sprained SI joint. That led to pinched nerve endings
  2539. and a lot of pain. Styles said the injury was nothing too severe and he just has
  2540. to have his muscles ease up and then treat a sprain like a sprain, and hopefully
  2541. it won’t take too long to heal. Right now he doesn’t know the degree of the
  2542. sprain. He was back wrestling eight nights later on Raw. They didn’t have him in
  2543. the ring a lot during the six-man tag, and you could see if you looked closely
  2544. the way he moved that he wasn’t 100 percent, but he did his trademark spots and
  2545. what he did looked good
  2546.  
  2547. Jax (Savelina Fanene, 34), had delayed her surgery with two torn ACL’s until
  2548. after WrestleMania. So she’ll be out for a while with surgery on both of her
  2549. knees
  2550.  
  2551. Sheamus and Bryan are also out of action. Sheamus suffered a concussion,
  2552. believed to be on the 4/9 Smackdown show in the New Day vs. Sheamus & Cesaro &
  2553. McIntyre. That was his last match, so if it took place during that match, it
  2554. would mean he and Big E were injured in the same match as E’s knee buckled,
  2555. requiring surgery
  2556.  
  2557. The Lacey Evans character looks to have been inspired by Liberty Belle from GLOW
  2558. on Netflix
  2559.  
  2560. Kevin Gilbride, 68, who was an assistant coach with the New York Giants from
  2561. 2004 to 2013, was named head coach and General Manager of the XFL’s New York
  2562. team that will be playing at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, this
  2563. coming season. Gilbride was offensive coordinator on two teams that went to the
  2564. Super Bowl. His only NFL head coaching experience was in 1997 and 1998 with the
  2565. San Diego Chargers. He has not worked in football since 2013 with the Giants.
  2566. After that season ended, Gilbride announced his retirement. The XFL has been
  2567. spending big money on coaches. This is a far more expensive undertaking than the
  2568. first rendition of the league with the more expensive coaches and quarterbacks.
  2569. Sports Business Journal reported this week that before their first and only
  2570. season started, that Charlie Ebersol had approached Vince McMahon to look for a
  2571. merger and McMahon turned him down. The big story of the AAF is that they simply
  2572. didn’t have the money to do the league, unlike McMahon who has invested several
  2573. hundred million dollars. They made the decision to rush into the league
  2574. immediately because they wanted to beat McMahon to the punch when they realized
  2575. Vince was going to run against them after he decided to do the league after
  2576. turning down a $50 million offer from them for the rights to the XFL name. How
  2577. they expected to pay $50 million to use a failed name when they had no money to
  2578. start the league is beyond me. According to the story, the AAF was already out
  2579. of money by mid-December, while having plans to start the league in February. At
  2580. that point, Reggie Fowler invested $28 million, which was enough to start the
  2581. season, but when they started, they only had enough money for one week of the
  2582. season. According to Alex Fairly, who they contracted about insurance, he got
  2583. the exact amount of capital they had at the start of the season and said it
  2584. wasn’t even five percent of what they needed to do a season. Tom Dundon then
  2585. bought the league after the first week since they were out of money, and, with
  2586. losses of about $10 million per week, after he’d lost $70 million, shut the
  2587. league down. With them generating very little revenue, Dundon didn’t see
  2588. anything changing,. Fairly, who now works for the XFL, noted that the XFL has
  2589. liability insurance and workmen’s compensation, which the AAF didn’t have the
  2590. money to afford. Fairly said AAF rushed into the league without having the money
  2591. because of the feeling they had to beat McMahon to the punch. The AAF averaged
  2592. 556,000 viewers per game, although that number skews high because of the strong
  2593. first week. It’s logical to assume the XFL will have a big first week and then
  2594. its numbers depend on what stations it’s on, but getting television itself
  2595. doesn’t appear to be that difficult since the AAF got CBS, TNT and the NFL
  2596. Network, the latter of which the XFL almost surely won’t get
  2597.  
  2598. The AAF officially filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, listing $11.3 million in
  2599. assets and owing $48.3 million, to Tom Dundon shut it down while leaving $48.3
  2600. million in outstanding debt. We were told the players were paid until the last
  2601. week, but a lot of the vendors hadn’t been paid. The league’s account had
  2602. $536,160.88 in it when the league was shut down. Those who started the league
  2603. were against closing it down, but they had lot control to Dundon, who had
  2604. pledged a $250 million investment to gain control, but obviously gave it up long
  2605. before losing that kind of money, feeling it was a money pit and there was no
  2606. turnaround looming
  2607.  
  2608. NXT U.K. will be doing tapes on 4/19 and 4/20 at the Intu Braehead in Glasgow,
  2609. Scotland this weekend. It wasn’t announced which night, but they did announce a
  2610. Walter vs. Pete Dunne U.K. title rematch will be taped
  2611.  
  2612. Variety reported Cena being up for a role in the sequel to the movie “Suicide
  2613. Squad” that Warner Brothers is behind and James Gunn is directing. Gunn, who is
  2614. tight with Dave Bautista from them working together on “Guardians of the
  2615. Galaxy,” had Bautista in mind for a super hero role and Bautista reportedty
  2616. pulled out which led to Cena being considered
  2617.  
  2618. Time magazine named Dwayne Johnson one of the 100 most influential people in he
  2619. world in this week’s issue
  2620.  
  2621. A lot of talent went on vacation because they had the weekend off. Bayley ended
  2622. up in New Zealand during the week where her fiancé is wrestling out of the Bad
  2623. Luck Fale dojo
  2624.  
  2625. For an update on FOX and Friday night, the 4/12 night averaged 2,274,000 viewers
  2626. for FOX, but the key was that both of the popular shows, Last Man Standing and
  2627. Cool Kids, aired rerun episodes. The shows do skew older than Smackdown, which
  2628. is a benefit. The shows did 56 percent women in 18-49s the prior two weeks was
  2629. 64.7 percent and 63.8 percent male. A regular TV show is going to get far better
  2630. ad rates than wrestling. If we figure that Smackdown is at 2.1 million most
  2631. weeks and falling, let’s be nice and say it won’t drop much more before October
  2632. and it’s at 2 million viewers in September. Historically, when Smackdown moved
  2633. from Thursday to Friday, it dropped 20 percent, so now we’re at 1.6 million,
  2634. which sounds terrible. However, FOX is in around 115 million homes and USA is in
  2635. 89 million, so that should be a 29 percent jump to 2.06 million. That’s
  2636. theoretical because as homes drop on cable, wrestling’s viewers per home
  2637. increase, which is because families that watch wrestling are keeping cable at a
  2638. far higher rate than the population at large. Basically, if you are a WWE fan,
  2639. you are much more likely to be in the 89 million who get USA than the 26 million
  2640. who get FOX but not USA. But let’s go with 2.06 million. The key unknown factor
  2641. is this. How much does improving to a stronger station help ratings? What we’ve
  2642. seen with UFC moving from FS 1 to ESPN, which is a much bigger jump as far as
  2643. station popularity from USA to FOX, is that the benefit is a strong lead-in and
  2644. all the promotion. It’s made a difference, although the ratings of the last two
  2645. UFC television events are actually about the same as they were doing last year
  2646. on FS 1. FOX will also be promoting Smackdown hard during its live sports,
  2647. particularly during football season. Plus WWE will load up early, and no doubt
  2648. try and put PPV quality matches on the first few weeks and bring back guys from
  2649. the past, no doubt the attempt will be made t get Dwayne Johnson. I expect very
  2650. good early numbers and then it’ll settle down. If predictions were 3.3 million
  2651. viewers at the time of the deal, the settling in number looks now to maybe be at
  2652. 2.5 million, which is barely more than the station is now getting with reruns,
  2653. let alone first run. Nobody from FOX has said anything, nor will they, but one
  2654. has to be concerned about putting a Tuesday night show on Friday that is already
  2655. dropping double digits since the signing of the deal. Then again, you can say
  2656. all those things about UFC and ESPN, and that’s been considered a huge success,
  2657. although more because of UFC’s part in establishing ESPN+, a dynamic that the
  2658. FOX/WWE deal doesn’t have
  2659.  
  2660. A lot of people have commented that the costs listed for expenses on the road
  2661. for WWE talent were listed very high. While the estimates for rental cars was
  2662. actually low, as noted, very often people share cars. Couples on the road also
  2663. share rooms so total room costs would be a little bit lower. Plus, if WWE was
  2664. handling it themselves, they would be able to get discounts. One person who is
  2665. an accountant for a company that handles a lot of travel noted that WWE could
  2666. open an account with Hilton as their official hotel and probably get costs down
  2667. very low with deals that include parking, breakfast and gym access. In addition
  2668. it was noted that a lot of wrestlers have gym memberships to chains, so that in
  2669. most cities they can find a gym of that chain and it’s just part of their annual
  2670. dues. That isn’t always the case. IRS guidelines are $71 per day per diems for
  2671. workers on the road in most cities and $104 in major expensive cities like a New
  2672. York or a San Francisco, although you can get that figure down if you have a
  2673. hotel deal that provides for free breakfasts. The point being that one
  2674. accountant who deals with this said even a $20 million estimate on costs to WWE
  2675. for making talent employees would be insanely high
  2676.  
  2677. The agents for the Takeover matches were: War Raiders vs. Ricochet & Black was
  2678. Terry Taylor. Velveteen Dream vs. Matt Riddle was Matt Bloom. Pete Dunne vs.
  2679. Walter was Johnny Moss. The women’s match was Sara Amato. The Johnny Gargano vs.
  2680. Adam Cole main event was Michael Hayes
  2681.  
  2682. Kingston noted that his uncle who lives in the small village of Techiman in
  2683. Ghana, which is where his family came from, had a big gathering at his house to
  2684. watch WrestleMania. Kingston hasn’t been back there in 25 years but said he
  2685. would like to return
  2686.  
  2687. As noted a few weeks back that a settlement was imminent, the Riki Johnson
  2688. lawsuit against Ashley (Charlotte) & Richard (Ric Flair) Fliehr, as well as
  2689. author Brian Shields and WWE, has been officially settled out of court. The
  2690. settlement was official on 4/4. Johnson, the first husband of Ashley dating back
  2691. to when they were in college, had claimed that there was libelous information on
  2692. him in the book “Second Nature” which Shields, Ashley and Ric were listed as
  2693. authors of, regarding drug use causing him to lose jobs and that he was sterile
  2694. (which he denied after noting he had children after the two broke up)
  2695.  
  2696. Ricochet (Trevor Mann) has started a Go Fund Me for his mother, whose home
  2697. burned to the ground on 4/15. Nobody was hurt but the house he grew up in was
  2698. destroyed along with all of the families memories. He found out before Monday
  2699. night’s show that he performed on. Donations as of Wednesday night were at
  2700. $6,803 with Ricochet donating $2,000. Most donations listed were anonymous but
  2701. Natalya, Trevor Lee and Jessamyn Duke donated
  2702.  
  2703. Johnny Loquasto, a standup comedian who has appeared on AXS TV’s standup comedy
  2704. show AXS Live, has been signed by WWE, presumably as an announcer. This actually
  2705. took place a few weeks ago. He of late had been announcing with David Marquez’s
  2706. Championship Wrestling from Hollywood promotion. He also worked for Maria
  2707. Menounos’ Afterbuzz network and the joke is that if you want to work for WWE, go
  2708. to work for Afterbuzz. Besides Loquasto, also coming from that network is Cathy
  2709. Kelly, Ryan Katz (a producer for NXT), Sonya Deville and there’s one other
  2710. person
  2711.  
  2712. The WWE Network is going to air a one-match special from the 4/21 house show in
  2713. Moline, IL, which would be The Shield’s final match (it is right now scheduled
  2714. as Ambrose’s last match with the company) which presumably is against McIntyre &
  2715. Corbin & Lashley, although that can change
  2716.  
  2717. Dakota Kai ran this past week for the first time since her knee surgery
  2718.  
  2719. The company unveiled a Roddy Piper statue at Fan Axxess that is now housed at
  2720. the company’s Stamford headquarters
  2721.  
  2722. O’Neil, real name Thaddeus Bullard, has his autobiography released on 8/6. The
  2723. book is called, “There’s No Such Thing As A Bad Kid: How I Went From Stereotype
  2724. to Prototype.” The story is that he grew up with people constantly saying he was
  2725. a bad kid, only to be told by an adult that there’s no such thing as a bad kid.
  2726. He then turned his life around to become a high school All-American football
  2727. player, student body Vice President at Florida and was the first person in his
  2728. family to graduate college
  2729.  
  2730. There was a listing sent to Sports Business Journal, which did a story on the
  2731. Performance Center, where Luis Martinez, better known as Punishment Martinez,
  2732. was shown with the name Damian Priest, so that would be his new name. It looks
  2733. like they are back on the kick of giving people new names after the run with
  2734. Matt Riddle, Ricochet, Adam Cole, EC 3, Kyle O’Reilly, etc. where guys came in
  2735. using their names they had used in other companies. ACH and Jonah Rock were
  2736. given new names and while Trevor Lee wasn’t, he hasn’t been brought to TV yet
  2737. and that’s often when they do the name change
  2738.  
  2739. An untalked about casualty of the draft is Woods’ popular Up Up Down Down video
  2740. game streaming show. Among his closest friends who were in the show weekly were
  2741. Vega, Miz, Styles and the Usos. He posted a video on his thoughts and while he
  2742. was doing it jokingly with the idea he’s just doing comedy, there was evidently
  2743. some seriousness do that
  2744.  
  2745. Humberto Garza III, better known as Garza Jr., is now in Orlando. Garza was at
  2746. one point scheduled to be a surprise wrestler on the 3/16 AAA Rey de Reyes show
  2747. but WWE wanted him to start and didn’t want him doing that date
  2748.  
  2749. “Fighting With My Family” will be released on 4/30 on digital and 5/14 on
  2750. Blu-ray, DVD and on Demand
  2751.  
  2752. Kassius Ohno and Adam Cole are scheduled for the Evolve shows on 5/10 in
  2753. Livonia, MI and 5/11 in Indianapolis
  2754.  
  2755. DJZ is doing farewell matches across the indies before his imminent start here
  2756.  
  2757. The stock closed the week at press time on 4/17 at $96.11 per share giving the
  2758. company a market value of $7.501 billion. To me, everything looks strong until
  2759. October and the FOX rating. My feeling is as long as the ratings are good enough
  2760. to stay on the main network the stock is in good shape. If, for some reasons,
  2761. the ratings dictate a change, it’s possible the price will fall. A lot of the
  2762. value is based not just on the money from FOX, which is guaranteed through late
  2763. 2024, but the mentality that being on the network will lead to an increase in
  2764. popularity that will help all aspects of the company by making the product hot
  2765. again. There’s also no way to know what the rating threshold is, in the sense
  2766. how low can it go before FOX deems it as not network caliber. Keep in mind some
  2767. of the Saturday night boxing numbers have been much lower than wrestling is
  2768. doing, granted at not nearly the cost, but there is no movement to stop airing
  2769. boxing. The standards of ratings for how low live sports go, because of the
  2770. feeling live sports is a big part of the future of FOX, is that they’ll accept
  2771. number far lower than the level that would get scripted programming canceled
  2772.  
  2773. For some of the Raw people who were moved to Smackdown and introduced on the
  2774. show, as a way to keep them from knowing for sure, they were actually told to
  2775. say in town as they were needed for promotional work, and then on Tuesday were
  2776. told they were switching brands.
  2777.  
  2778. The ten most watched shows for the past week on WWE Network were: 1.
  2779. WrestleMania; 2. WWE Chronicles: Roman Reigns Part two; 3. World’s Collide NXT
  2780. vs. NXT alumni from 4/14; 4. NXT from 4/10; 5. WWE Hall of Fame; 6. NXT Takeover
  2781. New York; 7. 205 Live from 4/9; 8. Table for 3 with Gargano, Adam Cole and
  2782. Ricochet; 9. WWE U.K. from 4/10; 10. WrestleMania kickoff show
  2783.  
  2784. Notes from the 4/15 Raw show in Montreal. This was the Superstar Shakeup show
  2785. for Raw. The show drew 10,500 fans. Main Event opened with Dana Brooke pinning
  2786. Tamina. The crowd was hot for this match. Then Heavy Machinery beat Bo Dallas &
  2787. Curtis Axel. Raw opened with Stephanie out. She then gave Shane a big
  2788. introduction. So they are friends this week. There was no draft. No
  2789. explanations. No HHH. Not Vince. Just a guy would show up and the announcers
  2790. would get all excited that he was on Raw. She called Shane the best in the
  2791. world. Shane didn’t sell his injuries from Mania like last week, and was back to
  2792. dancing around like usual. Fans booed Shane loudly. Shane played it up and asked
  2793. ring announcer Mike Rome to give him a big intro. Fans were chanting “C.M. Punk”
  2794. at him because I guess they still think C.M. Punk is the best in the world,
  2795. although I have no idea at what. Then Miz’s music played. Miz attacked Shane
  2796. from behind. So even though he has every reason to do so, and guys from other
  2797. brands were on the show last week, this attack constituted that Miz is now on
  2798. Raw. I have no idea what it means since Miz and Shane are feuding and Shane has
  2799. more been on Smackdown. It’s notable that Miz on Raw means he can’t plug Miz &
  2800. Mrs., which directly follows Smackdown, on the same day. Not that those plugs
  2801. make that much of a difference in the ratings. Maybe they’ll even argue Miz
  2802. talking about the show before the larger Monday audience is more beneficial.
  2803. They brawled until Miz chased Shane away with two chair shots. But not until
  2804. Miz’s face was all bloody due to Shane potatoing him with his punches. Ricochet
  2805. came out and Michael Cole did his fake sounding excitement about how Ricochet
  2806. must be on Raw. The guy has been on Raw for weeks already. Then Black’s music
  2807. played and Cole did the same thing. Then, later in the match, Cole had to
  2808. correct himself and say that it wasn’t a sure thing. Then the War Raiders came
  2809. out, now called The Viking Experience, Ivar (Hanson) & Eric (Rowe). They were
  2810. acknowledged as NXT tag team champions but they didn’t bring the belts out. The
  2811. Viking Experience & The Revival beat Ricochet & Black & Hawkins & Ryder in
  2812. 13:14. Good match. There was an NXT chant. The finish saw Eric hit a knee on
  2813. Ryder and then Experience did the fallout on Ryder for the pin. So they debuted
  2814. the Experience and put them over the tag champs, so that should lead to a title
  2815. match. This seems like a late call since the War Raiders didn’t drop the NXT tag
  2816. titles at the last tapings. They announced Cedric Alexander to Raw. Andrade &
  2817. Vega debuted, with Andrade beating Balor in a non-title match in 10:29. Vega
  2818. came out and said Andrade is a multi-linguist. That means he speaks many
  2819. languages even if the way she said made it sound like he performs multiple sex
  2820. acts. She said Andrade would talk in French. He said a few words in French, then
  2821. switched to Spanish. Then he got the “what” treatment. I think with the benefit
  2822. of hindsight that “what” stuff was one of the dumbest ideas in history. It’s 20
  2823. years of crowds trying to ruin live interviews. There must have been blood in
  2824. this match since the ref put on gloves. This was a good match. Balor was selling
  2825. his knee so he couldn’t climb to the top fast enough for the coup de gras and
  2826. once he finally made it to the top, Andrade swept his legs. Vega distracted
  2827. Balor. Balor then did a flip dive over Vega and hit Andrade. Vega gave Balor a
  2828. huracanrana on the floor and then Andrade pinned Balor after a hammerlock DDT.
  2829. It looked like a new IC title program but Balor switched brands. They showed
  2830. footage of Cena and Elias from WrestleMania. They continue to push Cena as the
  2831. greatest of all-time and the Babe Ruth of wrestling. It’s so forced. It’s
  2832. wrestling and it’s entertainment but you can’t make a case for Cena as the best
  2833. of anything except the biggest star of the last 15 years, but he can’t rank
  2834. above tons of people as the greatest let alone as the Babe Ruth. They also
  2835. teased Undertaker vs. Elias coming off last week’s angle. Elias came out and
  2836. said that his music was so powerful that it had Cena interrupting him at Mania
  2837. for the second straight year. He said his music also brought Undertaker back
  2838. from the dead. I thought that was Starrcast. Fans chanted for Undertaker. Elias
  2839. then made fun of the Montreal Canadiens not making the playoffs. He got booed
  2840. like crazy. Mysterio came out. They are now calling Mysterio the greatest masked
  2841. wrestler of all-time. The world didn’t start until in 1992. Mysterio slipped on
  2842. the ropes and they botched a spot bad but he’s Mysterio and he recovered and
  2843. took out Elias. Out came Lars Sullivan. Sullivan chased Mysterio around and
  2844. Mysterio took out his knees and was evading him until Sullivan finally caught
  2845. him and hit the freak accident. Sullivan then power bombed him. We’ll see, but
  2846. perhaps that power bomb is a replacement for the diving head-butt spot. It’s not
  2847. that he shouldn’t do the move at all, but at his size, he needs to save it for
  2848. special occasions rather than every night, because he’ll wear out his neck
  2849. otherwise. Usos showed up and beat Roode & Gable in 5:21 with a double splash on
  2850. Gable. Another good match while it lasted. Bliss came out and brought out Zayn.
  2851. Zayn was great here. He was so clearly being a heel doing an exaggerated version
  2852. of his dance over and over until he was blown up and the place was going crazy
  2853. for him. He was clearly making fun of the crowd but they were still going crazy
  2854. for him. He started plugging places all over Montreal and said “I love this
  2855. city.” They cheered him even more even though it was an obvious set up. And then
  2856. he hit the big line, “This city is great but the people I can’t stand.” Then
  2857. they turned on him, like they couldn’t see this coming. He said the low point of
  2858. his week would be right now. I think a lot of people say that during the third
  2859. hour of Raw. He said it was like being in a room with all these people. The fans
  2860. started chanting for Owens. Zayn said that the fans project their unaddressed
  2861. issues on him. Then he noted that he doesn’t even live here anymore. He said he
  2862. lives in Orlando, and chose to leave Montreal. Then he said, “See you in hell,”
  2863. and left. They showed a video of Kay & Royce making fun of Bayley for Banks not
  2864. being there. Bayley said she’d find herself a new partner. Bayley & Naomi beat
  2865. Royce & Kay in a non-title match in 1:56. If you’re counting, that’s three
  2866. champions losing on one TV show. And people wonder why only a small percentage
  2867. of the audience cares about titles. Naomi pinned Kay after a moonsault. So the
  2868. champs lose a non-title match to a team that isn’t even being kept together. EC
  2869. 3 was to face Strowman next. Strowman destroyed him. The match didn’t even
  2870. start. Strowman threw him into the LED boards and choke slammed him off the
  2871. stage onto a crash pad. They showed a graphic of people who have come to Raw.
  2872. The Viking Experience wasn’t in the graphic, but Eric Young was, so I guess he’s
  2873. out of Sanity. Lynch beat Riott in a non-title mach in 4:26. At least there’s a
  2874. champion who wins. Logan and Morgan were interfering so Lynch took them out with
  2875. a crossbody off the apron and went back in the ring and put her submission move
  2876. on Riott. Charly Caruso was backstage with Lashley, McIntyre, Corbin and Lio
  2877. Rush. She must be tiny since Rush is like 5-foot-2 and he was several inches
  2878. taller than she was, unless they gimmicked it. Corbin and McIntyre looked like
  2879. NBA centers next to her. Lynch was still in the ring when Natalya came out.
  2880. Natalya said that she dreamed her whole life about main eventing WrestleMania.
  2881. She said she’s proud of Lynch, Flair and Rousey for doing so, and proud of Lynch
  2882. being the first person to pin Rousey and the first woman to win both belts. She
  2883. then said she’s the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever
  2884. will be. Did Horace Hogan ever do promos talking about 24 inch pythons? Natalya
  2885. said that she wanted a Raw title shot, establishing that the belts are separate.
  2886. Lynch said that for a long time she was overlooked and underappreciated just
  2887. like Natalya, and she knew once she won the titles and the overlooked women
  2888. would hunt her down just like she hunted down that weirdo Ronnie and Flair. She
  2889. said how they both traveled the world as teenagers just to get our foot in the
  2890. door in WWE “and look at us now.” Evans came out and called Natalya a classless
  2891. has-been. Later, when Cole said Evans called Natalya a classless has-been, Renee
  2892. Young came back and said, “She’s not classless.” Great comeback. Evans said that
  2893. she’s now on Raw. Fans booed. She wanted a shot at the Raw women’s title. She
  2894. also said that she knows how to get favors from men and she’s facing Natalya
  2895. right now with the winner getting a shot at Lynch. Evans beat Natalya for the
  2896. title shot in 8:31. Natalya got the sharpshooter on in the middle, but Evans
  2897. struggled to the ropes. Evans won with the women’s right and then did a
  2898. moonsault, where she landed her knees into Natalya’s gut. That wasn’t how it was
  2899. supposed to go. Caruso was with Reigns and Rollins. They said she had to wait
  2900. like everyone else to see their surprise partner. There was a vignette for
  2901. Wyatt’s return. There was a toy house, stuffed animals, a rocking horse a
  2902. rocking chair with a woman (Sister Abigail?). Reigns & Rollins & Styles beat
  2903. Corbin & McIntyre & Lashley in 12:41. There wasn’t much reaction to Reigns. He
  2904. wasn’t booed at all, but they didn’t cheer him much either. McIntyre laid out
  2905. Styles with the Claymore kick. Rollins hit McIntyre with a superkick. Reigns hit
  2906. a Superman punch on McIntyre and a drive by on Corbin. Lashley gave Styles a
  2907. turnover slam but Rollins hit Lashley with a curb stomp, Reigns speared him and
  2908. Styles pinned Lashley with the phenomenal forearm. Ambrose was brought out again
  2909. after Raw went off the air. He talked about how great it is to come to Canada
  2910. and it’s because of the great fans that they come so often. He mentioned he came
  2911. out with the idea he wasn’t supposed to, even though obviously he was, and that
  2912. he married a Canadian. The term used for his leaving was retirement for whatever
  2913. that is worth. Rollins & Reigns came out and they ended the show
  2914.  
  2915. Notes from the second night of the draft on 4/16 in Montreal. The second night
  2916. of tapings drew 6,750 fans. That is with a big walk-up because the day of the
  2917. show they pushed hard locally that Owens would be on the show. That’s why they
  2918. knew Owens would get the huge reaction and had the show scripted for that
  2919. because he was pushed hard. Another key is that Raw is on television locally in
  2920. French, the main language, and Smackdown isn’t. In particular, there were way
  2921. more kids and teenagers at Raw. The show opened with Heavy Machinery over
  2922. Gallows & Anderson in a dark match. Machinery won with the compactor. Smackdown
  2923. opened with Owens out,. He got a gigantic reaction, the likes of which you
  2924. almost never see. That’s the one thing about Montreal for wrestling or MMA is
  2925. that they have some of the loudest crowds, even when the crowd isn’t that large
  2926. in a big building. Owens spoke in French. He said in French that it’s good to be
  2927. home, talked about his family being in the front row, and said that this was his
  2928. WrestleMania (since he was one of the few guys not on Mania). He said that
  2929. later, Vince would reveal the biggest acquisition in the history of Smackdown.
  2930. This was promoted all day and throughout the show as a way to build the rating.
  2931. Owens then said the biggest star on Smackdown is me. He then called out
  2932. Kingston. Kingston & Woods came out. Kingston was throwing pancakes into the
  2933. crowd. To say it seemed weird that the world champion was doing that would be an
  2934. understatement. He got a good reaction, but with him throwing the pancakes he
  2935. came across like a mid-card comedy guy. Owens put Kingston over and got the
  2936. crowd to give Kingston a standing ovation. They brought up Big E being injured.
  2937. Woods then complained, which was a half-shoot, about how all of the guys on his
  2938. UpUp DownDown show were moved to Raw. He pushed that he was hopeful he could at
  2939. least get Breeze onto Smackdown. He couldn’t even get that. Owens said that with
  2940. E out, he wanted to join the New Day. They said he has to be able to do video
  2941. games, throw pancakes and swivel his hips. So he did the swivel hips stuff. They
  2942. put the headband with the unicorn deal on him and then gave him a T-shirt that
  2943. was about three sizes too small that he could barely get on. I think it was
  2944. T-shirt in Kingston-size. They called him an honorary member of the New Day,
  2945. calling him Big O. Backstage, Nakamura & Rusev were there and talked about
  2946. having a match with New Day. Cesaro showed up and noted that there are now three
  2947. members of New Day and said they need a third member and he’s there. They agreed
  2948. to it. Balor beat Ali in 10:14 in a non-title match. The action was good. Ali
  2949. did a Frankensteiner off the top but missed a 450. Balor used the Woo dropkick
  2950. and got the pin with the coup de gras. Backstage, there was this giant plate
  2951. with pancakes upon pancakes. The idea was that Owens had to eat all the pancakes
  2952. in less than 5:37, which was Big E’s record. Owens said he never had eaten a
  2953. pancake and started eating. R-Truth and Carmella came out. There was another
  2954. Wyatt vignette. Backstage, Owens supposedly ate all the pancakes in 5:20 which
  2955. makes him an official member of the New Day. The idea right now is to market
  2956. Owens like he’s your fat friend who is a good guy, and somehow give him Austin’s
  2957. stunner finisher. Owens teased like he was going to throw up because he’d eaten
  2958. the pancakes so fast, but then he didn’t and showed that he was really fine.
  2959. Flair beat Carmella in 7:26 with the figure eight. Flair made sure she was the
  2960. heel right away by saying that she hated Canada. Carmella did a crossbody off
  2961. the barricade. After the match, Sullivan came out. After being announced the
  2962. night before for Raw, now he’s on Smackdown. R-Truth tried to save Carmella and
  2963. attacked Sullivan. Sullivan sold nothing and laughed at him. Sullivan laid out
  2964. R-Truth with the freak accident. He then started stalking Carmella. So the idea
  2965. is he’s got the hots for her but she’s scared to death of him, kind of a
  2966. Kane/Lita remake. She was able to get out of the ring and run to the back while
  2967. he laughed. He then gave R-Truth a running power bomb, so it’s pretty clear the
  2968. diving head-butt has been dropped. Lynch came out for a promo. Moon came out and
  2969. it was noted she’s on Smackdown. She was called the War Goddess and the Shenom.
  2970. Both names come across forced and awkward. She challenged Lynch for the title.
  2971. Next out was Bayley. The crowd, which cheered her the night before, booed her
  2972. loudly here. Nobody expected that. She clearly didn’t. I was told it wasn’t so
  2973. much that they didn’t like Bayley but that they were expecting Lynch vs. Moon
  2974. and Bayley coming out got in the way of that. But Bayley was booed later during
  2975. her mach whenever she tagged in. Bayley said she was here as a singles
  2976. competitor. Then, of course, she was put in an eight-person match. The Iiconics
  2977. came out. They talked about how they had two belts, just like Lynch. Paige then
  2978. came out to announce her new tag team. Rose & Deville came out. They talked
  2979. about it being the reunion of Absolution to no reaction. Paige said that wasn’t
  2980. in and introduced Asuka & Sane as her team. Asuka is probably the second most
  2981. popular woman wrestler in the company and has the submission win over Lynch, and
  2982. thus should be a natural challenger. Instead she’s being put in a team. The one
  2983. good thing is that the crowd reacted big to Sane. In most cities the crowds
  2984. don’t react big for the debuts on NXT talent. Then everyone started fighting.
  2985. But nobody attacked Lynch. They were all fighting without touching Lynch and
  2986. Lynch left the ring. This turned into a match with Moon & Bayley & Sane & Asuka
  2987. beating Kay & Royce & Rose & Deville in 8:13. Sane got a good reaction every
  2988. time she got in. Moon did a crossbody off the top to the floor on everyone. Sane
  2989. pinned Royce with the insane elbow. So the tag champs lost two straight nights
  2990. on television to different teams. I’m guessing with Sane up and Bayley being on
  2991. her brand that Bayley may not be doing the Savage elbow. The funny part of that
  2992. story is that when Sane was signed and they found out the elbow off the top was
  2993. her finisher, she was told to get a new finisher because that was Bayley’s move.
  2994. Then they changed their minds and let Sane keep it. The Hardys did a promo about
  2995. being the greatest tag team in space and time. I think they want to use the word
  2996. Ghost regarding them with the G for greatest and s and t for space and time.
  2997. Owens, as Big O, did the Big E New Day intro. Buddy Murphy noted he was coming
  2998. to Smackdown. Kingston & Woods & Owens beat Nakamura & Rusev & Cesaro in 12:17.
  2999. Owens got a good reaction. The crowd picked up big in the last few minutes with
  3000. Cesaro doing a ten rep giant
  3001.  
  3002. swing but the fans booed him when he put on the sharpshooter. Everyone was doing
  3003. their finishing moves. Kingston did a dive over the top onto everyone. Kingston
  3004. hit Rusev with the Trouble in Paradise and then Owens hit the stunner on Rusev
  3005. for the pin. The final segment saw Vince’s announcement regarding the biggest
  3006. acquisition in Smackdown history. Fans booed Vince a lot. He said that the guy
  3007. is the future of WWE, the greatest acquisition in Smackdown history, tough,
  3008. talented, and exudes charisma. Everyone was pretty much expecting Reigns and
  3009. probably would have booed him. This was a good job of manipulating the audience.
  3010. It was Elias who came out. Vince is now like the guys in AEW, playing the role
  3011. on television of being incompetent because that’s what people say about him on
  3012. social media. Elias noted Vince said he was the greatest acquisition in
  3013. Smackdown history and this shows Vince has his finger on the pulse of the
  3014. public. Then he insulted Montreal and insulted the fans for speaking French. So
  3015. the crowd was waiting for someone to shut him up, and then Reigns came out.
  3016. Reigns hit a Superman punch on Elias. Then he hit one on Vince, who did take a
  3017. bump and sold it. That was an easy pop and it at least got Reigns a big reaction
  3018. first night in. Reigns then speared Elias to end the show. After Smackdown
  3019. ended, Orton came out and said he would face Reigns. They did this to keep the
  3020. crowd from leaving. The estimate was that about 3,300 to 4,000 people stayed for
  3021. 205 Live and for the promised Reigns vs. Orton match. 205 Live opened with Nese
  3022. saying he’s a fighting champion. They announced it would be Alexander’s last
  3023. match on the show, facing Lorcan. Drake Maverick thanked Alexander for
  3024. everything he’s done on 205 Live. The Lucha House Party came out for a match
  3025. where Gran Metalik, Ariya Daivari, Mike Kanellis and Akira Tozawa wrestled for a
  3026. title shot at Nese. Kanellis hit crossroads on Tozawa. Metalik did the ropewalk
  3027. elbow on Tozawa. Kanellis threw Metalik out of the ring to steal the pin, but
  3028. this time it was Daivari who threw Kanellis out of the ring and double stole the
  3029. pin on Tozawa. Lorcan pinned Alexander with a lariat and a half nelson German
  3030. suplex in. The show ended with the fans cheering for Alexander in his farewell
  3031. to the show. After 205 Live ended, Reigns came out for the main event. Orton
  3032. attacked him before the bell and beat on him for a few minutes. The bell never
  3033. rang. Orton went for the RKO, Reigns escaped, hit two Superman punches and a
  3034. spear and then Orton ran to the back to end the show. So no actual match
  3035. happened
  3036.  
  3037. The first WWE show since Mania week was 4/12 in Largo, FL, the NXT brand, doing
  3038. 350 fans. Nick Comoroto pinned Sam Shaw, the former Impact wrestler who is just
  3039. starting out here. Comoroto calls himself “Freakbeast” and does a Mojo Rawley
  3040. gimmick that got over good with the live crowd. Vanessa Borne & Aliyah beat
  3041. Lacey Lane & Kacy Catanzaro. Fans loved the faces. Danny Burch beat Brendan Vink
  3042. via submission with a crossface. Vink was very green. They did a British style
  3043. match but Vink was out of position a lot. Jermaine Haley, the former Jonah Rock,
  3044. got his first win with Court Moore (Stokely Hathaway) as manager beating Eric
  3045. Bugenhagen with a splash off the top rope in 30 seconds. Babatunde Aiyegbusi &
  3046. Jeff Parker & Matt Lee beat Mansoor Al-Shehail & Rinku Singh & Saurav Gurjar.
  3047. Aiyegbusi was the star of the match and he won with the spinning Bossman slam.
  3048. He’s improving greatly. Albert Hardie Jr., the former ACH, got a first win over
  3049. Kona Reeves with a roll-up. Even though he’s announced as Albert Hardie, every
  3050. night fans chant ACH at him. Reeves snap mared Hardie into the ropes and he fell
  3051. awkwardly. The match stopped as he was being checked on. He sold a leg injury
  3052. for a long time and ended up winning with a small package. Marcel Barthel &
  3053. Fabian Aichner beat Raul Mendoza & Humberto Carrillo. Real good match. The face
  3054. team did cool high flying moves and the heel team worked well as heels. Reina
  3055. Gonzalez pinned Rachael Evers after a lariat. Evers got over good with the
  3056. crowd. Main event saw Velveteen Dream retain the North American title in a
  3057. three-way over Adam Cole and Matt Riddle. Riddle had Cole pinned but Dream threw
  3058. Riddle out of the ring and stole the win with a Death Valley bomb on Cole. I
  3059. think this and the guy who hides out and shows up for the finish in a Battle
  3060. Royal are two tropes they probably should slow down on in 2019. Said to be one
  3061. of the better NXT matches in Florida that you’ll ever see. Riddle and Cole
  3062. exchanged ridiculously hard chops
  3063.  
  3064. The 4/13 show in Sanford, FL, had a big surprise main event with Matt Riddle &
  3065. Kushida vs. Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly. The show drew 350 fans. Brennan Williams
  3066. pinned Jeet Rama in the opener. Reina Gonzalez pinned Kavita Davi. Riddick Moss
  3067. & Luke Menzies & Sam Shaw, managed by Robert Strauss, beat Jeff Parker & Matt
  3068. Lee & Albert Hardie Jr. Punishment Martinez pinned Trevor Lee. Shayna Baszler &
  3069. Jessamyn Duke beat Candice LeRae & M.J. Jenkins. Velveteen Dream retained the
  3070. North American title over Dan Matha. Riddle & Kushida beat Cole & O’Reilly.
  3071. Kushida had his New Japan gimmick and worked the same type of style, with the
  3072. arm working and hoverboard lock teases.
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