The Pro-Wres Digest for November 28th – December 3rd
There was a story in the Observer this week about a potential wrestling war simmering in the UK. Dave Meltzer reported that the people at ITV – who will be airing the “one-off” World of Sport special on New Year’s Eve – are strongly considering picking up the show as a series and plan to hold a mass-taping in a few months if the first season is given the go-ahead. ITV is the second largest television station in the UK behind the BBC. The difference being that the BBC is a publicly funded corporation and cannot legally show any form of advertisement on its stations, whereas ITV – the biggest commercial TV platform in the UK – is privately owned and is not restricted in the same manner. As we have noted many times ITV had a long history of presenting pro wrestling, with the 20-year run of the World of Sport variety show which aired wrestling as one of the major features. One of the biggest factors in World of Sport being canceled in 1985 was due to ITV changing their approach to covering sport. The wrestling show was kept around for a few more years until 1988, however it lost the majorly important 4pm Saturday time-slot and was shown at 12:30pm on Saturdays instead. During the dying days of British television wrestling, long-term rivals Joint Promotions and All-Star Wrestling (who battled over the rights to ITV coverage for years) joined together in an effort to keep the American WWF at bay. A deal was in place for one WWF show per-month to air on ITV, with All-Star & Joint Promotions sharing the other three weeks of TV during that time. The long-standing UK companies obviously didn’t appreciate the Yanks muscling in on their territory and they did everything they could to prevent ITV from airing the much slicker and all-round better WWF product. Over the course of the two year WWF/ITV deal, the WWF show only aired six times as opposed to the twenty-four TV slots the deal originally promised. Clearly, Big Daddy & Brian Dixon managed to influence ITV and held back the Titan Sports tide on a short-term basis. After wrestling disappeared from ITV in December 1988 fans didn’t have to wait too long for it to re-appear. With the launch of Rupert Murdoch’s satilliete platform, Sky Televsion PLC, in February 1989 came the WWF and the rest, as they say, is history. ITV even occasionally aired WCW Worldwide in certain regions from 1992-1995 in the old 4pm Saturday time-slot, but the show didn’t gain any kind of momentum at all.
Amazingly, in 2017 it looks like the old WWF/ITV rivalry will be reborn for a new generation of fans, wrestlers and TV executives to enjoy. Dave Meltzer reported that ITV have already sent out amendments to their contracted talent which prevent them from appearing on any other wrestling show for a major station. Like the TNA deals, talent can still work indie dates and appear on iPPVs although ITV has priority when it comes to the talent and if they are needed for World of Sport they would have to cancel all other bookings. Additionally, WWE has been offering UK talent some very bizarre deals. They are not traditional developmental offers, as the talent would stay in the UK and continue to work indies, only they would receive a small “cushion” from the WWE. This would obviously prevent talent from working the ITV shows, however promotions like WCPW, RevPro, ICW, Progress and PCW would all be effected due to these outlandish WWE deals preventing talent from appearing for any promotion with a streaming platform, which is basically all of them. There’s no specific names on who WWE have offered deals to, however Meltzer noted some of them names are well known in the UK scene while others have no name value at all. Some of the UK talent referred to the WWE deals as “competition killers” and “mark deals,” as they believe that the WWE only wants to sign UK workers so nobody else can have them.
Apparently there is also talk of a WWE TV show for the UK market featuring all the British talent, however nothing has been finalised as of yet. The Observer added that there is interest from the WWE and FloSlam in adding the major UK promotions (Rev Pro, Progress, ICW) as part of their streaming services. The big UK companies mentioned already have their own relatively well-established streaming platforms, so there would be a lot of hurdles to overcome regarding the acquisition of their live and archived content. The latest is that neither WWE or FloSlam have been able to reach a deal with any of the big UK companies, however the situation is ongoing.
President-elect Donald J. Trump had four meetings on Wednesday at Trump Towers in New York as he looks to assemble his cabinet. Trump met a US Senator, the former Governor of Georgia, a retired Marine general, and Linda McMahon. Reports of McMahon being a part of Trump’s administration emerged last month when she was believed to be in the running for the role of Secretary of Commerce, however she ultimately lost out to billionaire investor Wilbur Ross. “The meeting went great.” McMahon told the Hartford Courant. “Anytime the president-elect of the United States asks you to come in for a conversation, you’re happy to do that. We talked about business and entrepreneurs and creating jobs…we had a really good conversation.” McMahon also gave the typically carny answer when asked if Trump had offered her a position in his cabinet, “stay tuned.” The Courant story noted that the “Greenwich Republican and wrestling magnate” was the Republican nominee for the US Senate in 2010 and 2012 but lost each time. They also noted that the McMahons have donated millions to Trump’s charitable foundation over the years and brought up the $5 million they paid Trump in 2007 when he was a semi-regular character on TV.
The legal battle between Billy Corgan and Anthem Sports/TNA is officially over…for now. A settlement was signed by both sides on 28/11 the exact details of which were sealed, but Corgan received at least the $1.8 million he put into the company. One of the major points of the settlement is that Corgan signed an agreement to wave any future right to sue Anthem or TNA, however he retained the option of pursuing legal action against certain individuals within TNA whom he believes misled him. Obviously that would included Dixie Carter. Corgan appeared on Wrestling Observer Radio on 30/11 and talked about the whole situation in detail. He noted that Dixie had misled him from day one regarding the true nature of the company’s financial woes and she constantly undermined any of his ideas and decisions after he had invested the $1.8 million. During the interview, Corgan came across as fairly well-informed when it comes to the wrestling business, so how he managed to allow himself to be worked out of $1.8 million by a bunch of carnies in Nashville is quite perplexing. Anthem Sports Executive Vice President Ed Nordholm, who has been running TNA since the takeover, made a statement on the settlement and said they could now “close the chapter” and “look forward to making Impact Wrestling a leader in the professional wrestling world.”
With the Corgan case settled, TNA can turn their attention to defending themselves in some of the other lawsuits the company is facing. SE Scoops reported last week that American Express, whom TNA owe $269,049.50 in unpaid bills, moved for a default judgment in their case due to TNA completely ignoring all litigation and allowing the deadline to pass with zero response. SE Scoops had an update on 1/12 and noted that a hearing was scheduled for 30/11, however American Express requested the matter be delayed until 21/12. TNA have still yet to file anything in the lawsuit and appear to be acting like the whole thing doesn’t exist. Of course, it is possible that Anthem Sports are working on some sort of settlement in an attempt to make this go away quietly.
Haruka Eigen sadly passed away on 28/11 at the age of 70 in his home in Japan from a heart attack. The Great Kojika amongst others, including Pro Wrestling NOAH, reported the news. The new president of NOAH Masayuki Uchida held a press conference on 29/11 in Tokyo and gave a few details on the situation. Uchida noted he had only been the president of NOAH for a month and he already had to report on the passing of the senior manager. He added that Eigen collapsed while he was in the sauna at his home and was taken to hospital, however he could not be resuscitated. Uchida stated that there would be a special remembrance ceremony at the NOAH show at Korakuen Hall on 2/12 with a ten-bell salute and on 3/12 at Differ Ariake in Tokyo there will be a flower arrangement platform.
Eigen was born in Ishikawa Prefecture in 1946 and competed as a Sumo until 1965 when he began training for pro wrestling. He debuted for Tokyo Pro Wrestling in 1966 then ended up in the JWA after Tokyo Pro folded in 1967. A brief stint in the US saw him work as part of a heel tag team under the name The Great Togo with Tokyo Joe (Mr Hito) in 1973, the same year that the JWA went out of business. When he returned home, Eigen signed with New Japan as he knew Inoki from their time in Tokyo Pro together. After nearly 11 years in New Japan, he made the jump to All Japan in 1984 and remained a mid-carder in the company until the Misawa spit 16 years later. He appeared on the very first NOAH show in August 2000 and teamed with Jun Izumida & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi to beat Takeshi Rikio, and his old pals Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura. Eigen retired in 2006 and became an executive director for NOAH, a role he was still active in up until the time of his death. Eigen’s signature spot was to take a big chop which he would sell by spitting either into the crowd or his opponents face, something that gave him great longevity over his 40-year career.
NOAH ran “One Night Cruise” at Korakuen Hall on 2/12 in front of 1,110 fans and the main event saw (7) Katsuhiko Nakajima retain the GHC Heavyweight title over Minoru Suzuki in 37:01 with the Vertical Spike. Per the stipulations, Suzuki-Gun must leave NOAH for good. Takashi Sugiura turned on Suzuki and gave him an Olympic Slam to once again become a defender of Pro Wrestling NOAH. Suzuki promised prior to the match that an “explosion” was coming, so perhaps they have something else planned but it would not be the smartest idea to go back on a stipulation as big as this. (6) Semi-main event was Naomichi Marufuji & Masa Kitamiya over Takashi Sugiura & Takashi Iizuka in 11:24 when Marufuji pinned Iizuka with the Shiranui. (5) Atsushi Kotoge retained the GHC Junior title over Taichi in 15:42 with the Killswitch. (4) Go Shiozaki & Maybach Taniguchi downed the Killer Elite Squad in a non-title match at 10:54 when Taniguchi pinned Smith with a Small Package. (3) Maybach Taniguchi over Davey Boy Smith Jr via DQ in 4:01 when Lance Archer interfered; this led to the tag match. (2) Taiji Ishimori, Daisuke Harada & Yoshinari Ogawa beat Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado & Taka Michinoku in 5:30 when Harada pinned Taka with a German Suplex. (1) Opener was Muhammad Yone, Quiet Storm, Hitoshi Kumano & Kaito Kiyomiya over Akitoshi Saito, Alejandro Saez, Kenoh & Hajime Ohara. The show began with a tribute to Haruka Eigen with all the wrestlers in the ring.
The following night on 3/12 in Differ Ariake in Tokyo, (7) Takashi Sugiura beat Minoru Suzuki in the main event with the Olympic Slam in 33:30 to officially send SZKG packing. Naomichi Marufuji came out to shake Sugiura’s hand, but he refused and declared himself a lone-wolf. (6) Semi-main saw Go Shiozaki & Maybach Taniguchi beat the Killer Elite Squad for the GHC Tag Team titles in 21:11 when Shiozaki pinned Archer with the Go-Arm Lariat. The 50 Funky Powers of Muhammad Yone & Quiet Storm challenged the new champs afterwards. (5) Katsuhiko Nakajima & Hitoshi Kumano beat Naomichi Marufuji & Kaito Kiyomiya in 14:32 when Nakajima hit the Vertical Spike on Kiyomiya. Post-match, Masa Kitamiya challenged Nakajima for the GHC Heavyweight title. (4) Masa Kitamiya downed Takashi Iizuka in 10:40 with the Saito Suplex. (3) Atsuhsi Kotoge & Daisuke Harada over Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru in 9:38 when Harada pinned Kanemaru with a German. (2) Kenoh & Hajime Ohara beat El Desperado & Taka Michinoku in 9:51 with the Kibo on Desperado. (1) Opener had Muhammad Yone, Quiet Storm & Taiji Ishimori over Akitoshi Saito, Alejandro Saez & Yoshinari Ogawa in 8:19 after Yone hit Saez with the Funky Buster Bomb.
All Japan’s New Explosion show at Sumo Hall on 27/11 could be considered a big success. They drew 6,522, which is just over half capacity but is a great number for current AJPW standards, the entire show was enjoyable despite its epic five and a half hour length, and it produced the biggest amount of buzz for an All Japan show in a long time. (11) Main event saw Kento Miyahara retain the Triple Crown title over Suwama in 26:21 with his Shutdown German Suplex. The story was that Suwama was the old “ace” of the company and Miyahara took his place as the new “ace” with the victory. Match was good, and the final few minutes were great, however the bulk of the action was very slow with little heat during Suwama’s offense, (****). Dory Funk Jr & Kenta Kobashi presented Miyahara with the Triple Crown title afterwards. (10) Semi-main saw Zeus & The Bodyguard beat Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi for the Word Tag Team titles at 20:40 of an excellent match. Sekimoto gave Zeus a crazy Kobashi/Akiyama Suplex off the apron. Finish saw Zeus pin Sekimoto with the Jackhammer. Best match on the show, (**** ¼).
(9) Atsushi Onita & Masanobu Fuchi won the Asia Tag Team belts from Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato in 14:17 when Onita hit the mist on Hikaru and Fuchi gave him a bunch of Backdrops, (** ¾). (8) Keisuke Ishii beat Soma Takao for the World Junior Heavyweight title in 14:29 with a Shooting Star Press, (***¼). (7) Jiro “Ikemen” Kuroshio downed Yohei Nakajima for the Gaora TV title in 9:44 with the Ikemen Clutch, (** ¾). (6) Jun Akiyama & Kendo Kashin beat Takao Omori & Manabu Soya in 8:40 when Akiyama pinned Omori with the Wrist Clutch Exploder, (***). (5) Ryoji Sai, Kengo Mashimo & Konosuke Takeshita beat Jake Lee, Yuma Aoyagi & Koji Iwamoto in 11:05 when Sai pinned Lee with the Nachi Waterfall Double Stomp, (***½). (4) In an EPIC encounter, Dory Funk Jr, Chavo Guerrero Sr, Ultimo Dragon & Tajiri beat The Great Kabuki, Osamu Nishimura, Yutaka Yoshie & Isami Kodaka in 12:09 when Nishimura went for the Funk Spinning Toe Hold and Dory reversed into a Small Package, (***). (3) Super Tiger, Ryuji Hijikata, Rey Paloma & Diablo beat Mistuya Nagai, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Takeshi Minamino & Balack Tiger VII in 9:50 when Super Tiger pinned Minamino with the Tiger Suplex, (***). (2) Kaji Tomato, Kazuhiro Tamura & Naoshi Sano over Sushi, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Masao Inoue in 7:39 when Tamura submitted Sushi with the Minoru Special, (**¾). (1) Opener was a battle of AJPW/BJW young lions and Takuya Nomura (BJW) beat Naoya Nomura (AJPW) in 8:01 with a Small Package, (***¼). Also on the show, Joe Doering appeared and announced he had beaten cancer and would be returning to All Japan and said he would be back for the August 2017 Sumo Hall show.
Tokyo Gurentai ran their annual big Tokyo Dream year-end show at Korakuen Hall on 28/11 and it sounds like the geriatric antics will once again produce a really fun show. (7) Main event saw the 74 year-old Mil Mascaras retain the IWA World title over Nosawa Rongai in 8:20 with a Diving Body Attack off the top rope. (6) Semi-main saw Dory Funk Jr (75), Masakatsu Funaki (47) & The Great Kabuki (68) beat Osamu Nishimura (45), Yoshiaki Fujiwara (67) & Chavo Guerrero Sr (67) in 13:09 when Funk submitted Nishimura with the Spinning Toe Hold. The combined age of this match was 369 years. (5) The traditional Tokyo Dream Six-Man saw Cima, Masato Tanaka & Akito beat Tokyo Gurentai (Mazada, Fujita & Kikuzawa) in 14:28 when Cima pinned Kikuzawa with the Meteora. (4) Masaaki Mochizuki retained the Tokyo World Heavyweight title over Kotaro Suzuki in 13:48 after a roll-up. Rocky Kawamura appeared to challenge Mochizuki afterwards. (3) Dick Togo & Shiryu beat Hikaru Sato & Rocky Kawamura for the Tokyo World Tag Team titles in 15:49 when Togo pinned Kawamura after a Senton. (2) Black Tiger & Buffalo over Takuya Kai & Tomohiko Hashimoto in 10:43 when Buffalo pinned Takuya with a Lariat. (1) Opener was Mitsuo Momota & Chikara over Kikutao & Kuishinbo Kamen in 9:21 when Chikara pinned Kikutaro with a Backdrop.
Basara have announced the full card for their Christmas Day show at Korakuen Hall. Here’s the line up:
* Union MAX Championship Decision Match: Isami Kodaka vs. Trans★Arm Hiroshi
* Sagat vs. Jun Akiyama.
* Yokohama Shopping Street 6 Tag Championship Match: Abdullah Kobayashi, Takayuki Ueki & Masaya Takahashi (C) vs. Koji Kanemoto, Ryuichi Sekine & Kotaro Nasu
* What is METAL? ~ What is a Real Metal Wrestler? ~ : Fuma, Madoka & Yusuke Kubo vs. Jun Kasai, Mikami & Tanomusaku Toba
* Takumi Tsukamoto vs. Trans★Arm Ryuichi (BJW)
* Daigyuakuten Pro-Wrestling Trial: Goma Ryu vs. Atsushi Maruyama vs. Tatsuhiko.
*Yoshino vs. (to be announced).
* Tsutomu Oosugi & Hercules Senga vs. Daichi Kazato & Koji Iwamoto.
DNA, which started out as a developmental territory for DDT, will be taken over by SP Advertising Co., Ltd and starting in February 2017 production of DNA events will be handled by a division of SP Advertising, SPE Entertainment. The group helped produce the AAA Star Battle show at Korakuen Hall last month and Director Atsushi Sasaki has been appointed as the new producer of DNA. Sasaki previously worked in television for UFC and K-1 in Japan. President of DDT Sanshiro Takagi noted that as long as DNA was labelled a “developmental brand” it would always be viewed as secondary compared to the bigger DDT events and in order for DNA to grow it needed to be taken over by somebody not associated with DDT. The new branding slogan for DNA will be “Fighting Gig,” with the idea that the live experience at the shows is similar to that of a concert. Takagi also noted that DNA wrestlers would continue to appear on DDT and Basara shows.
Here are the standings for the New Japan World Tag League after Day 12; Day 13 is on 4/12 in Kobe.
Tenzan & Kojima (4-0 = 8 points)
Guerrillas of Destiny (4-0 = 8 points)
War Machine (3-1 = 6 points)
Rush & Naito (3-1 = 6 points)
Page & Yujiro (2-2 = 4 points)
Breaker & Race (2-2 = 4 points)
Tanahashi & Juice (2-2 = 4 points)
Nakanishi & Henare (0-4 = 0 points)
Goto & Ishii (4-1 = 8 points)
Okada & Yoshi-Hashi (3-2 = 6 points)
Evil & Sanada (3-2 = 6 points)
Shibata & Nagata (3-2 = 6 points)
Makabe & Honma (3-2 = 6 points)
Yoshitatsu & Billy Gunn (2-3 = 4 points)
Omega & Owens (2-3 = 4 points)
Bad Luck Fale & Bone Soldier (0-5 = 0 points)
ROH ran Final Battle at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on 2/12 and it turned out to be a very good show. The first half of the show was solid, but the final four matches were all either very good or excellent. (8) Main event saw Kyle O’Reilly defeat Adam Cole in a No DQ match to capture the ROH World title in 19:10. The match was worked like a blow-off to their multi-year feud, with double juice and all kinds of weapon spots. Adding the No DQ stip was a wise decision, as they would have struggled to follow the two previous matches without the use of all the gimmicks, (*** ¾). (7) Semi-main had The Young Bucks retaining the ROH Tag belts over the Briscoes in 15:30. Typical Young Bucks match with billions of moves. It seemed like nothing would be able to top the Three-way for the TV title, but this is the Young Bucks we’re talking about so of course they managed to pull it off. Broken Matt Hardy appeared on the screen afterwards and said he and Brother Nero were coming to the Honourable Ring to make the rednecks and spot monkeys obsolete! (**** ¼). (6) Match of the night was easily Marty Scurll retaining the ROH TV title over Will Ospreay & Dragon Lee in 11:05 when he submitted Lee with the Chicken Wing. Bobby Fish was supposed to be in the match but he missed the show due to a death in the family. Match was excellent; Scurll & Ospreay were super over and Lee is so good that he fit smoothly in the mix. Go watch this match, (**** ½). (5) The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) became the first ROH Trios champions when they beat Lio Rush, Jay White & Kushida in the tournament finals with a Triple Powerbomb at 16:50, (*** ¾). (4) Cody Rhodes w/Brandi downed Jay Lethal in 14:00 after turning heel and hitting a low-blow before winning with Cross Rhodes. Cody went nuts post-match and ended up shoving Steve Corino, which was a nice little touch, (*** ¼). (3) Dalton Castle pinned Colt Cabana in 9:50 with the Bangerang; match was fine, (** ½). (2) Silas Young beat Jushin “Thunder” Liger in 11:15 after the Beer City Bruiser caused a distraction and Young got the win with his TKO, (** ¾). (1) Opener saw The Rebellion (Caprice Coleman, Keny King & Rhett Titus) over Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin & Donavan Dijak in 12:20 when Titus pinned Sabin with the Big Dog Splash, (***).
ROH will be taping TV at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, PA on 4/12 and the show is based around an eight-man tournament called the “Decade of Excellence.” The gimmick is that all the entrants in the tourney debuted with ROH for over ten years. The finals will take place on 14/1 at Center Stage in Atlanta of all places, where WCW taped Saturday Night for all those years. Winner of the tournament will receive an ROH World title shot at the 15th Anniversary show on 10/3 in Las Vegas. The first round matches booked for the Philly TV taping are:
* Christopher Daniels vs. Mark Briscoe.
* Alex Shelley vs. Colt Cabana.
* Jushin Liger vs. Jay Lethal.
* Jay Briscoe vs. B.J. Whitmer.
Cody Rhodes & Dragon Lee are also booked for the Philadelphia TV taping, plus Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay vs. Kushida in a three-way for the ROH TV title.
Shinsuke Nakamura regained the NXT Championship that he lost to Samoa Joe two weeks ago at TakeOver: Toronto when he beat Joe in the main event of the NXT show at the Edion Arena in Osaka, Japan on 3/12. Semi-main event sounds like it should be really fun too, as DIY retained the NXT Tag Team titles over Akira Tozawa & Tajiri. Asuka also retained the NXT Women’s title over Nia Jax. Hideo Itami came out with William Regal during intermission to speak to the fans. Elsewhere on the show: Tye Dillinger over Elias Sampson. The Revival over Riddick Moss & Tino Sabatelli. Billie Kay & Peyton Royce over Liv Morgan & Aliyah. Oney Lorcan over Andrade “Cien” Almas. Almas came out in his La Sombra mask. Footage was taped for the WWE Network, so the important stuff will show up on NXT very soon.
After getting busted for possession of liquid cannabis while entering Japan in September, Matt Sydal is expected to be released from Japanese prison on 6/12, according to the Observer.
Pro Wrestling Sheet reported on 30/11 that ROH offered the Young Bucks a new multi-year deal to stay with the company. The Bucks’ current contract expires on 31/12.
FloSlam announced IPW:UK as their first international partner this week.
WWE TLC is this Sunday from the American Airlines Centre in Dallas, TX; here’s the card:
* TLC Match for the WWE Championship: AJ Styles (C) vs. Dean Ambrose.
* Tables Match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (C) vs. Alexa Bliss.
* Ladder Match for the WWE IC Championship: Miz (C) w/Maryse vs. Dolph Ziggler.
* No DQ Match: Nikki Bella vs. Carmella.
* Chairs Match: Kalisto vs. Baron Corbin.
* WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship: Heath Slater & Rhyno (C) vs. Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton.
RAW on 28/11 did 3,107,000, up from the 2,985,000 the day after Survivor Series with Goldberg. 8 pm did 3,163,000, 9pm did 3,130,00 and 10pm (with the Sasha/Charlotte main event) held steady at 3,039,000.
SmackDown on 29/11 did 2,576,000, up slightly from last week’s 2,505,000.
Total Divas on 30/11 did 505,000 viewers. Last week’s ratings were late due to Thanksgiving and the 23/11 show did a terrible 461,000 – the lowest audience in the history of the show.
TNA iMPACT on 1/12 did 338,000 viewers. Last week’s show on Thanksgiving night did a brutal 165,000.
Lucha Underground numbers have bee hard to come by this season, mainly due to the show drawing in around 80,000 for their first run episodes and not breaking into the top 50 rated shows of the night, which makes finding the actual number quite difficult. Last weeks show on 23/11 with Sexy Star vs. Johnny Mundo for the LU title did 125,000 first-run viewers and a further 70,000 for the replay at 9pm. Both numbers are well above average for this season.