The Pro-Wres Digest for April 16th – 29th.
* Editor’s note: Due to the world famous CCN tech issues of doom, we were unable to publish the Digest last week, so we have a double edition for you lucky people this week! Unfortunately we will probably not have an edition for you next week, although this has nothing to do with tech issues and has everything to do with cats. Yes, CATS! If we have the time we will hopefully bring you a review of WWE Payback and possibly a Mid-South review too, however this all depends on if my new feline overlords will allow it. ^._.^
Matt Anoa’i (Rosey), the son of Sika and brother of Roman Reigns, sadly passed away on 17/4 at the age of just 47. He was hospitalised in 2014 due to congestive heart failure and his ex-wife noted on Facebook that his health had been fragile recently. The Anoa’i family issued a statement to WWE.com on 18/4. Anoa’i got his start in Puerto Rico for Carlos Colon in 1995 and had a run in ECW with his cousin Samu as the Samoan Gangster Party in 1996. He went to FMW in 1999 with his cousin Eddie (Umaga) as the tag team Armageddon and continued to work indie promotions in the US until being brought into the WWE with Eddie in 2002 as Eric Bischoff’s hired assassins, Three Minute Warning. Rosey was repackaged as the comedy sidekick to the Hurricane in 2003 and remained with the WWE until being released in 2005. He had a relatively strong run in All Japan during the dark days of the company in 2006/7 and even challenged Minoru Suzuki for the Triple Crown Championship on 29/10/06. RO’Z (as he was known in Japan) also went to the final of the 2006 Real World Tag League with his partner, Suwama, but lost to Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima. He was part of the 2007 Champion Carnival and losing to Minoru Suzuki, TAJIRI & Satoshi Kojima, with his only victory in the tournament being over Toshiaki Kawada. Anoa’i continued to work on the indies sporadically up until last year. Our sincere condolences go out to the Anoa’i family for their loss.
In last week’s Observer, Dave Meltzer told the story of Masakazu Fukuda, who tragically died after being cleared to wrestle six months after suffering a similay injury to Katsuyori Shibata. Fukuda, who was brought into New Japan in 1998 as a top young shooter prospect, faced Shinya (Togi) Makabe on October 17th 1999 in Kobe and sustained a subdural hemorrhage during the match. He underwent surgery and after extensive testing, returned to the ring in February 2000. Fukuda wrestled Shibata on April 14th 2000 in Kesenuma during the Young Lions Cup in a match he was scheduled to win. About six minutes in, Shibata delivered a standard elbow drop and Fukuda lost consciousness. He was rushed to hospital for emergency brain surgery, but ended up passing away five days later at the age of just 27.
The Fukuda story has even more relevancy given the current situation with Shibata, who in a cruel twist of fate suffered a similar injury during his match with Kazuchika Okada on 9/4. Shibata gave an update this week on his REAL TALK blog on PKDX (which is behind a pay-wall) and noted that he was still experiencing some paralysis on the right side of his body and said he needs another surgery on his skull in May. It is believed that the next surgery will be to replace the pieces of skull that were removed to treat the original subdural haematoma.
Akebono was admitted to hospital on 12/4 after working two shows the previous day. He worked an afternoon charity show in Mashiki for earthquake victims and traveled to Fukuoka for a DDT show in the evening. F4Wonline reported on 16/4 that he was put in a medically induced coma and was expected to be hospitalised for at least ten days. Tokyo Sports reported on 19/4 that the issues steamed from the infectious disease, cryptococcus (cellulitis), in his right leg and also noted that Akebono & Shogun Okamoto were forced to relinquish the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team titles as a result. The Oudou promotion released a statement on 17/4 noting that some reports were misleading, however they did confirm that Akebono was hospitalised with an infection in his right leg and would be pulling out of all his upcoming dates. There’s not much else known about the situation, however the Observer noted on 19/4 that Akebono’s family was rushed to the hospital and stayed there until 17/4. Whether this means his condition improved enough for his wife and children to be comfortable with leaving the hospital is unclear, but we obviously wish him all the best.
Tokyo Sports had an update and interview with Tomoaki Honma, who is still in hospital after being temporarily paralysed during a match back on March 3rd. Honma noted he had lost 11 kilograms while in the hospital and said he aims to return “around autumn” or at least for the Global Tag League in December.
Ric Flair Tweeted on 25/4 that his fiance, Wendy Barlow, was involved in a “serious car wreck” and was taken to hospital. Flair gave an update on 26/4 and thanked everybody for their messages, noting that Wendy was going to be okay. Barlow had a brief run on TV for WCW in the early ’90s under the gimmick “FiFi the Maid” during the A Flair for the Gold talk-show segments.
On 25/4, Mitsuo Momota & Chikara, presented the WWE Hall of Fame Legacy trophy at the grave of Rikidozan during a special ceremony. 2017 marks the 54th anniversary of their father and grandfather’s passing; Momota said his father would have been pleased to receive the honour.
The final night of All Japan’s Champion Carnival is on 30/4 at Hataka StarLanes in Fukuoka. The final match will be Joe Doering vs. Shuji Ishikawa to determine the 2017 tournament winner. Here are the final standings from the tournament:
Joe Doering (4-2 = 8 points)
Kento Miyahara (3-2-1 = 7 points)
Daisuke Sekimoto (3-2-1 = 7 points)
Ryoji Sai (3-3 = 6 points)
KAI (3-3 = 6 points)
Zeus (3-3 = 6 points)
Jake Lee (1-5 = 2 points)
Shuji Ishikawa (4-1-1 = 9 points)
Suwama (4-2 = 8 points)
Kengo Mashimo (3-2-1 = 8 points)
The Bodyguard (3-3 = 6 points)
Daichi Hashimoto (2-4 = 4 points)
Naoya Nomura (2-4 = 4 points)
Takao Omori (1-4-1 = 3 points)
Dradition kicked off the Tatsumi Fujinami 45th Anniversary tour on 20/4 in front of a reportedly overcrowded, sold-out, 2,473 fans at Korakuen Hall. The show was slightly overshadowed by reports of Vader collapsing after the main event, which saw Tatsumi Fujinami, Riki Choshu & Shiro Koshinaka beat Keiji Mutoh, AKIRA & Vader. PuroresuSpirit noted that Vader passed out for a moment and was helped at ringside by AKIRA and others while he regained consciousness. Vader walked to the back of his own accord, so hopefully it was nothing too serious. There were two more dates of the tour, 22/4 at Hakata StarLanes in Fukuoka and 23/4 at the EDION 2nd Arena in Osaka. Vader worked both nights and seemingly had no other issues. He teamed with Yoshiaki Fujwara & Takuma Sano in a losing effort to Fujinami, Koshinaka & Koji Kanemoto on 22/4 and on 23/4, Vader teamed with Fujinami & Choshu to beat Fujiwara, Koshinaka & Sano. On Twitter, he noted that he was “dropped on his head” during the opening spot and said it had nothing to do with his heart condition.
On the 20/4 Korakuen show, main event saw (5) Tatsumi Fujinami, Riki Chosu & Shiro Koshinaka defeat Keiji Mutoh, AKIRA & Vader in 13:09 when Fujinami put the Dragon Sleeper on AKIRA. Also on the show, (4) Mitsuya Nagai & KENSO beat Yoshihiro Takayama & Takumi Sano in 13:36 when Nagai hit Sano with a Hyper Knee Kuuga. (3) Shinjiro Otani & The Great Kabuki beat Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Tatsuhito Takaiwa in 11:14 when Otani hit Takaiwa with the Kasegiri Chop. (2) LEONA downed Kenichiro Arai in 10:25 with a Backslide. (1) Super Tiger & Ryuta Hasumi beat Tsubakichi Sanshu & Nobuyuki Kurashima in 11:39.
FMW & All Japan have been running a wacky angle in recent weeks. Atsushi Onita had been trying to get Suwama to come over and compete in his form of death matches, however Suwama, who rarely competes outside of All Japan, declined all of Onita’s advances. This led to FMW announcing that “Chicken Suwama” would be competing on the 27/4 show. All Japan responded with a “protest” from Jun Akiyama, who noted that FMW had no right to use Suwama’s name to promote their show. A masked wrestler named “Chicken” Suwama did in fact appear on the show and came out carrying a rubber chicking, however it was not the real Suwama.
The main event of the 27/4 show at Shinkiba 1stRing in Tokyo was an Anywhere Bunkhouse Onibo Denryu Bakuha 6 Man Tag Death Match, with Atsushi Onita, Ichiro Yaguchi & Hideki Hosaka over Masao Inoue, Chicken Suwama & MUTEKI (NOSAWA Rongai) in 14:34 when Onita pinned MUTEKI with the Thunder Fire Powerbomb. Afterwards, MUTEKI & Kendo Kashin formally announced an alliance to take on Onita. Onita said he will be competing in the first ever Electric Current Blast Match in the US on August 8th (against Matt Tremont for CZW). He also demanded that Suwama come to the FMW show at Shinjuku FACE on June 8th. Jado & Suwama have been announced for the June 8th show, so it looks like this could be the blow off to the amazing “Chicken” Suwama storyline.
Kaientai Dojo’s 15th anniversary show took place on 23/4 at Korakuen Hall and drew a respectable 1,096 fans. The main attraction on the card was Kota Ibushi vs. TAKA Michinoku, which Ibushi won in 16:19 with the Phoenix Splash. TAKA announced afterwards that his 25th anniversary show will be on September 4th at Korakuen Hall. Main event of the 15th Anniversary show saw Kengo Mashimo retain the Strongest K Championship over Ayato Yoshida with a Brainbuster at 19:54. Isami Kodaka stepped up as Mashimo’s next challenger. Semi-main had Taishi Takizawa & Kaji Tomato over Tank Nagai & Yuki Sato for the Strongest K Tag Team titles in 15:00.
Kendo Kashin replaced Akebono on the Real Japan 27/4 show at Korakuen Hall. Kashin teamed with Yuki Ishikawa against Masakatsu Funaki & Daisuke Sekimoto in the semi-main event. Funaki hit the Hybrid Blaster on Ishikawa to get the win at 13:52. The main event of the show saw Shinjiro Otani defend the Legends Championship over Super Tiger in 13:50 after a Kesagiri Chop. The show did an impressive 1,564 fans and Satoru Sayama announced that he intends to create a new Tiger Mask character.
Shingo Takagi worked the Big Japan show on 21/4 in Osaka and teamed with Yuji Okabayashi in the main event to beat Daichi Hashimoto & Hideoyoshi Kamitani in 16:44.
Hayato “Jr” Fujita missed the Zero1 Tenkaichi Junior League finals on 26/4 at Korakuen Hall due to a partial tear of his MCL and he has also been pulled from all other dates.
Two championships changed hands at New Japan’s Road to Wrestling Dontaku show in Hiroshima on 27/4. Roppongi Vice beat Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru to win the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag belts in 16:54 after hitting the Strong Zero on Kanemaru. Main event saw Minoru Suzuki capture the NEVER Openweight title from Hirooki Goto in 24:19 with the Gotch Piledriver.
Here’s the card for New Japan’s Wrestling Dontaku show next week:
NJPW – Wrestling Dontaku, 3/5/2017, Fukuoka International Centre.
* Yoshitatsu & Hirai Kawato vs. Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura.
* YOSHI-HASHI & Will Ospreay vs. Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens.
* Tiger Mask W, Tiger Mask IV & Togi Makabe vs. Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi & Jushin Thunder Liger.
* Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, Jado, Rocky Romero & Beretta vs. Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi & El Desperado.
* David Finlay vs. Cody.
* Juice Robinson & KUSHIDA vs. Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi.
* NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet (C) vs. SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI.
* IWGP Tag Team Championship: War Machine (C) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs. Guerillas of Destiny.
* Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kenny Omega.
* IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (C) vs. Bad Luck Fale.
Impact Wrestling’s Bram was suspended from the ongoing NOAH Global Tag League tour after posting an image on Instagram that caused the company much embarrassment. Bram was pictured lying on his back inside a freezer in a local convenience store and the image reportedly got some attention in the mainstream media. NOAH President Masayuki Uchida held a press conference on 27/4 where he and Bram both apologised for the image. Uchida also noted that international talent may need to attend a seminar on what is acceptable behaviour in Japanese culture in future. Bram’s tag team partner, Robbie E, will remain on the tour, however their team has been disqualified from the tournament and KAZMA SAKAMOTO will replace Bram for the remaining dates of the tour.
Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks worked a four-day tour of the UK and Ireland two weeks ago. The Elite started off in Edinburgh, Scotland, for Discovery Wrestling on 12/4 and beat Joe Coffey, BT Gunn & Lewis Girvan in the main event. After a 403 mile trip to Bethnal Green in London they beat Lio Rush, Ryan Smile & Shane Strickland on 13/4 in the main event of Rev Pro’s Epic Encounter at York Hall. 14/4 saw Omega & The Bucks beat the British Strong Style trio of Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate in the dark main event for Fight Club Pro in Wolverhampton. The final date required a short trip across the Irish Sea for the OTT ScrapperMania III show on 15/4 in Dublin and The Elite beat Lio Rush, Ryan Smile & Will Ospreay in a super entertaining main event. The tour was a huge success, as all of the shows were sold out and presumably truck loads of merchandise was sold too.
The first UK lucha promotion, Lucha Forever, ran their first show on 17/4, entitled “The Dawning of Forever.” The show took place from Birmingham, England – the antithesis of the usual lucha show setting – and was streamed live on FloSlam. There were exactly zero legitimate luchadors on the card; UK workhorse, El Ligero, Jigsaw & Shane Strickland (Killshot in Lucha Underground) were probably the closest thing. Pentagon Jr and Fenix were in the UK over the weekend, so why they were not booked is anybody’s guess. Will Ospreay worked Sami Callihan (who is also on Lucha Underground, so I guess he counts too) in a comedy match where the referee came out the victor. Nixon Newell worked her final UK indie match before going to WWE and put over Alex Windsor. Main event saw Travis Banks defeat Shane Strickland to become the first Lucha Forever Champion.
For some reason, Ken Anderson will be making his ROH debut on 28/4 in Hopkins, MN; even more inexplicable is the fact he will be wrestling Marty Scurll for the World TV title on the show.
The ITV World of Sport tapings have been delayed. PWInsider first reported the news, however no explanation was give for the postponement. Dave Meltzer noted on 28/4 that there has been talk of delaying the tapings until the fall so ITV could use football as a lead-in like they did in the 70s and 80s – the only problem with this theory is that ITV has not had the rights to broadcast the Saturday football results for well over a decade.
AAA and Impact held a join press conference in Mexico on 18/4 and outlined details about the working relationship between the two companies. There will be a talent exchange, with AAA wrestlers being brought in for the Slammiversary show on July 2nd, while Impact talent will be going the other way for TripleMania XXV on August 26th. One of the Impact championships will also be defended at TripleMania, while Bobby Lashley, Eddie Edwards, Davey Richards & Moose were announced as the Impact names for the show. Jeff Jarrett & Ed Nordholm spoke about cross branded events, details of which were given in a press release. Cubsfan noted there was some confusion in the Mexican press about whether these shows would be held in Mexico or the US. One thing that was not explained is the working relationship Impact have with The Crash, who are obviously not on good terms with AAA.
Meido Tiempo had an interview with Dorian Roldan on 19/4 and he said that there was a possibility of Lucha Underground wrestlers working for Impact in the future. This is obviously a change in thinking, since the Hernandez mess in 2015 and the Marty Elias digitised referee debacle last year made it very clear that Lucha Underground were not open to having their contracted talent on any other TV shows.
Maximo Sexy retained the CMLL Heavyweight title over Terrible on 18/4 at Arena Mexico; Maximo made the 10th successful defence of his title by taking the first and third falls.
Atlantis beat Rush via DQ in the main event of the 17/4 CMLL show at Arena Puebla. Atlantis took the second and third falls, the latter coming when La Mascara ran in and beat him down for the DQ. CMLL have been running this match a lot in recent months, so maybe the idea is to have Atlantis vs. Rush in a mask vs. hair match at the Anniversary show later this year. Of course this is Mexico, so nothing is guaranteed when it comes to building up big matches.
Dragon Lee retained the CMLL Super Lightweight title over Barbaro Cavernario on 16/4 in the semi-main event at Arena Mexico in a reportedly very good match. Dragon Lee took the first and third falls.
Okumura underwent a 7 hour neck operation on 19/4 in Mexico. The CMLL Facebook page noted he would begin his rehabilitation the following day.
Ultimo Guerrero will defend the NWA World Middleweight title against Caristico in the main event at Arena Puebla on May 1st.
Dr Wagner Jr & El Hilo de Dr Wagner will be working the Stardom show on May 3rd at Shinkiba 1stRing in honour of Rossy Ogawa’s (Stardom president) 60th birthday. The Wangers team with Io Shirai against Black Tiger (probably NOSAWA Rongai), Mayu Iwatani and a mystery partner.
MDA Lucha Memes have a stacked show on 7/5 at Arena Coliseo in Monterrey, which unfortunately looks like it will not be available anywhere to stream/watch on demand. Here’s the card:
* Mini Hator vs. Mini Difunto.
* Hijo de LA Park vs, Galactar.
* Ángel de Oro vs. Rey Horuz.
* Caifan vs. Rey Escorpión.
* Octagón vs. Fuerza Guerrera.
* Xtreme Tiger vs. Dragón Lee.
* XWW Universal Championship: LA Park (C) vs. Último Guerrero.
* Cage Match: Masada vs Rush.
Sexy Star made a successful boxing debut under her real name of Dulce Garcia on 22/4 in Metepec, State of Mexico. She defeated Yanley Hernandez, who had a terrible record of 6-16-0 going into the fight, via a four-round unanimous decision. You can see the fight here.
Brazo de Oro (Jesus Alvarado Nieves) sadly passed away on 28/4 from a heart attack at the age of 66. He was a member of one of the most famous trios of all time, Los Brazos, with his brothers Brazo de Plata (Super Porky) and El Brazo. The son of Shadito Cruz, Brazo de Oro was one of at least 17 major pro wrestlers from the Alvarado family, including, Brazo Cibernetico, Brazo de Plantino, Super Brazo, La Mascara, Maximo Sexy, Psycho Clown, Goya Kong and Muneca de Plata. Alfredo Esparza has a fantastic bio of Brazo de Oro on LuchaWorld.com. Our condolences go out to the Alvarado family.
TriStar Pictures are reportedly working on a biopic of the life and times of Vince McMahon, called “Pandemonium.” The Hollywood Reporter noted that the idea of the movie dates back to last year when a script by Craig A. Williams was doing the studio rounds, however WWE and McMahon were not on board at that stage so none of the studios wanted to touch the film. Andrew Lazar, who produced “American Sniper,” managed to negotiate a deal with McMahon for the rights to his life-story and of course, WWE studios jumped on board to help with production.
Tajiri will not be returning to WWE after suffering a knee injury. Chris Charlton translated a series of tweets and noted that Tajiri said he was cleared to return after the injury, however he never returned to TV, with his age being a big factor. He said he would be retuning to Japan and had no regrets about his latest WWE run.
WWE have a PPV this Sunday. The RAW exclusive show, Payback, takes place from the SAP Centre in San Jose, CA. Here’s the card:
* Pre-Show: Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson.
* WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (C) vs. Austin Aries.
* WWE RAW Women’s Championship: Bayley (C) vs. Alexa Bliss.
* WWE RAW Tag Team Championship: The Hardy Boyz vs. Cesaro & Sheamus.
* Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe.
* House of Horrors Match (Non-Title): Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton (WWE Champion).
* Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman.
* WWE US Championship: Kevin Owens (C) vs. Chris Jericho.
WWE’s Raw exclusive PPV on July 9th will be called, “Great Balls of Fire,” because why not? Brock Lesnar is scheduled to make the first defence of the WWE Universal title on the show.
RAW on 24/4 did a 2.03 rating wth 3,003,000 viewers, down slightly from the 3,333,000 last week. 8 pm did 2,999,000. 9pm did 3,141,000 and 10pm did 2,881,000.
SmackDown on 25/4 did a 1.71 rating with 2,493,000 viewers, way down from the 2,544,000 last week.
Impact on 27/4 did 255,000 viewers, down 70k from 320,000 last week.
Total Divas on 26/4 did 566,000 viewers, down from 589,000 last week.
Thanks for reading, everyone! We’ll be back soon.