The Pro-Wres Digest for December 4th – 11th
After meeting Donald Trump last week, Linda McMahon was appointed to the President-elect’s cabinet on 7/12 as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration. – Can you actually believe the world we all live in? As usual the mainstream media, including CNN, have their facts completely wrong and the narrative being pushed is that Linda was in fact the co-founder of the WWE. This is simply not the case at all. The company Vince and Linda founded in 1979 was the infamous Titan Sports and when Vince used $1million of the WWF’s money to buy out his father and his partners in 1982, Titan Sports essentially became the new parent company of the WWF. The North East territory Titan Sports purchased from Vince Sr dated back to the 1950s and the Capital Wrestling Corporation out of Washington DC. Even earlier than that, Vince Sr’s father, Jess McMahon, was a boxing and wrestling promoter in the area during the 1920s. Linda was made the President of Titan Sports in 1993 during the period of the federal steroid investigation with the idea that she would run the business side of the company if Vince actually went to prison. She was made CEO in 1997 and retained the role until 2009 when stepped-down to follow her political aspirations.
The McMahons spent $94 million on two failed Senate campaigns in 2010 and 2012 where Linda ran as the Rebublican nominee. Despite going 0-2, Linda made many contacts in the political world and when Donald Trump emerged as the Republican presidential candidate she and Vince must have been giddy with excitement. During Trump’s controversial campaign trail Linda spoke out about the Donald’s outrageous comments about women. She told Katie Couric of Yahoo News in March 2016 that she was offended by Trump’s remarks and called them “deplorable.”
“He’s not helping, certainly, to put women in the best light,” Linda said. “Maybe he regrets them, maybe he doesn’t. I realise he punches hard when he punches back, but that’s just over the top.”
Linda quickly changed her tune after the primaries and told the AP that even though Trump wasn’t her first choice for the nomination, she became a strong supporter of her old pal. “Once you’re his friend, he is loyal to the end,” she said. He’s an incredibly loyal, loyal friend.” McMahon also stated she had no regrets about donating $5million to the Trump foundation in 2007, however she hilariously noted she did “not remember how it came about.” Perhaps Linda forgot that Trump appeared on WWE TV multiple times while they were setting up the Bobby Lashley/Umaga match for Vince and Donald’s hair, which set the PPV record at WrestleMania 23.
Interestingly, the last person to go from pro wrestling into a national government role was also at one time a higher-up at Titan Sports. In 1980, while he was still promoting Georgia, Jim Barnett was appointed to the National Council for the Arts by President Jimmy Carter. Dave Meltzer noted in the Observer that when Barnett was nominated for the role, Vince McMahon Sr called him “an outstanding promoter, probably the best in the country.” Barnett was forced out of Georgia by Ole Anderson in 1982 when Ole threatened to expose that he was embezzling money from the company. He was hired by the McMahons and in 1983 Barnett, Vince Jr and Vince Sr all withdrew from the NWA. When Titan Sports went national in 1984 Barnett was the Director of Operations for the company and handled business aspects such as acquiring TV deals as the WWF grew.
AJ Styles suffered a minor injury to his right ankle during the TLC match with Dean Ambrose last week. Styles was pulled from the SmackDown house show on Monday in Tyler, TX and he also was unable to wrestle James Ellsworth on the SmackDown show the following night in Houston. The latest as of 9/10 is that he is not expected to be on the weekend house shows but will be on SmackDown this Tuesday, although it is still unclear if he will be ready to wrestle by then.
Last week, Kenny Omega teased a new member of the Bullet Club would be revealed on 10/12 and at the World Tag League Finals show in Miyagi, Cody Rhodes became the newest member of the turgid heel faction. All of the Bullet Club were out for the announcement and Omega introduced a video package of “the American Nightmare,” Cody smoking a cigar in a candle-lit room. Back in May of this year, after Rhodes left WWE, one of the big names on his wrestling wish-list was Katsuyori Shibata. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Cody could end up challenging Shibata for the Never title on January 4th at the Tokyo Dome, however the direction at the moment appears to be another Shibata/Goto program. The full results of the final nigh of the Tag League are below in the Japanese section of the Digest.
For the second year in a row, GBH (Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe) won the New Japan World Tag League on 10/12 when they defeated the Guerillas of Destiny in the main event of the final day of action in Miyagi. (9) Makabe pinned Tanga Loa with the King Kong Knee Drop in 26:39. They will now challenge Tonga & Loa for the IWGP Tag Team titles on January 4th at the Dome. (8) Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii beat Kenny Omega & Hangman Page in 12:16 in the semi-main when Okada downed Page with the Rainmaker; Omega attacked Okada & Gedo afterwards and left them both for dead. (7) Third from the top was Tetsuya Naito & Rush over Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kushida in 12:52 when Rush hit the Rush Driver on Kushida. Hiromu Takahashi came out to distract Kushida and Naito offered him an LIJ cap after the match. Takahashi put the cap on to a big reaction and seemingly became the newest member of LIJ. (6) Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi beat Katsuyori Shibata & Juice Robinson in 13:21 when Goto pinned Shibata with the GTR; one would assume this would lead to a Never title match on 4/1. (5) LIJ (Evil, Sanada & Bushi) over Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata in 9:11 after Evil hit his Evil STO on Kojima. (4) War Machine downed Brian Breaker & Leland Race in 9:43 with the Fallout on Race. (3) Yoshitatsu & Billy Gunn over Chase Owens & Bone Soldier in 5:17 after the Fameasser on the Soldier. (2) Back Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi beat Manabu Nakanishi & Henare in 4:11 when Yujiro hit Henare with the Pimp Juice. (1) Opener was Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay over Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tiger Mask when Finlay pinned Tiger with a cradle in 6:40.
Dave Meltzer had some notes in the Observer this week on the situation with New Japan and NOAH. Big Dave reported that the New Japan brass were not happy with the way the NOAH sale went down and were also unimpressed with Masayuki Uchida being appointed as president. Apparently, Uchida is friends with NJPW chairman Naoki Sugabayashi, however he is not very well liked by most other people in New Japan. Felling double-crossed with the NOAH being sold behind their back, New Japan told NOAH they had until the end of their previous tour to wrap things up with their talent. This led to Katsuhiko Nakajima defeating Minoru Suzuki in the loser leaves town match on 2/12 at Korakuen Hall.
NOAH held a press conference on 5/12 at their office in Tokyo and announced the first post-SZKG tour, which will be the final run of shows this year. The Winter Navigation tour will build to a show at Korakuen Hall on December 24th where Masa Kitamiya will challenge Katsuhiko Nakajima for the GHC Heavyweight title in the main event. Chairman Masayuki Uchida said he hoped NOAH will see strong improvement under a new age of the company. To fill the holes left by the departing SZKG members, NOAH are bringing in talent from K-Dojo and Dove to work the smaller shows. Here’s the line up for the Christmas Eve show at Korakuen Hall:
* GHC Heavyweight Championship: Katsuhiko Nakajima (C) vs. Masa Kitamiya.
* Naomichi Marufuji vs. Takashi Sugiura.
* GHC Tag Team Championship: Go Shiozaki & Maybach Taniguchi (C) vs. Muhammad Yone & Quiet Storm.
* GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Jado & Gedo (C) vs. Atsushi Kotoge & Daisuke Harada.
* Kaito Kiyomiya vs. Alejandro Saez.
* Akitoshi Saito, Kenoh & Hajime Ohara vs. Taiji Ishimori, Yoshinari Ogawa & Hitoshi Kumano.
Satoru Sayama’s Real Japan Pro Wrestling ran the “Golden Age of the Tiger” show on 7/12 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the original Tiger Mask. Sayama worked his first official match in over a year on the show, which drew 1,522 fans to Korakuen Hall (he had an “exhibition” against Minowman in June this year). (6) Main event saw Shinjiro Otani retain the Legend Championship over Taka Kunoh in 11:02 with a Release Dragon Suplex. (5) Semi-main was Masakatsu Funaki, Super Tiger & Tiger Mask V over Yuki Ishikawa, Great Tiger & Black Tiger V in 16:14 when Super Tiger pinned Black Tiger with a Tiger Suplex. (4) Ultimo Dragon & YamamotoSan beat The Great Sasuke & Kotaro Nasu in 10:17 when Dragon pinned Nasu with La Magistral. (3) First Tiger Mask (Sayama), Super Rider & Masao Orihara over Raijin Yaguchi, Alexander Otsuka & Minoru Tanaka when Sayama pinned Tanaka with a High Kick at 14:45. (2) Hideki Suzuki beat Hayato Mashita with a Kimura in 3:46. (1) Opener saw Masato Shibata down Nobuyuki Kurashima with a Body Press at 8:19.
We noted last week that ROH had offered the Young Bucks a new deal to stay with the company and it was confirmed by Dave Meltzer on 3/12 that the ROH Tag Team champions had signed a new two-year deal with the company. The Bucks’ new deal is a similar gimmick to their old one, as it is in theory an ROH “exclusive” contract however they will obviously still working New Japan and PWG. They can also take any international bookings that don’t coincide with ROH or NJPW dates. Meltzer added that despite rumours to the contrary, the Bucks will not be appearing on the TNA TV shows from the Hardy Compound this month. TNA agreed to allow the Matt Hardy video appear on Final Battle at the “11th hour” and the same goes for Brandi Rhodes introducing Cody, so it would seem that some sort of relationship with TNA has begun to burgeon. The big Young Bucks vs. Hardys match in ROH will take place on April 1st in Lakeland, FL the night before WrestleMania. ROH don’t usually run live PPVs during WrestleMania weekend and end up recording a VOD, plus a months worth of TV. TNA most likely wouldn’t allow the Hardys to wrestle on a live PPV anyway, but appearing on a taped VOD show seems to be okay for whatever reason.
Rev Pro announced that Undisputed British Heavyweight champion Katsuyori Shibata would defend the title against Matt Riddle on January 21st at the first York Hall show of 2017, High Stakes. Also on the show is Marty Scurll vs. Zack Sabre Jr which they set up last month when Scurll turned on his long-time friend. I’m so sad I’m not going to this show!
Evolve 74 & 75 will be streamed live on FloSlam this weekend. Evolve 74 is from La Boom in Queens, NY; The Dick Togo vs. Chris Hero match has to be one of the “must watch” events of the year. The show also has Matt Riddle vs. Jeff Cobb, which sounds amazing. Evolve 75 is from Melrose Memorial Hall in Melrose, MA and has two strong main events, however the Dick Togo vs. Ethan Page match is quiet the baffling addition to the card.
Evolve 74, 10/12:
* Evolve Tag Team Championship: Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi vs. Ricochet & Peter Kaasa.
* Cody Rhodes vs. Ethan Page w/The Gatekeepers.
* Chris Hero vs. Dick Togo.
* Matt Riddle vs. Jeff Cobb.
* Drew Gulak vs. Jaka.
* Darby Allin vs. Brain Cage.
* Dustin vs. Chris Dickenson.
Evolve 75, 11/12:
* Catch Point Explodes! Tracy Williams vs. Drew Gulak.
* Ricochet vs. Matt Riddle.
* Chris Hero vs. Dustin.
* Dick Togo vs. Ethan Page.
* Fred Yehi vs. Jeff Cobb.
* Darby Allin & Peter Kaasa vs. Chris Dickenson & Jaka.
The What Culture money marks are throwing around the cheddar again and the ersatz promotion have booked Kurt Angle vs. Alberto El Patron as the main event for their February 12th show in Milton Keynes, England.
Colby Corino was arrested on 3/12 in Tennessee for possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. Pro Wrestling Sheet reported that Colby was found unconscious by police after they were called in regard to an unresponsive male. The person who made the call told the police they had taken opiates and Colby admitted the same when he came around. Corino was taken to a local hospital while remaining in police custody.
From Pro Wrestling Sheet: – “Cops searched his residence and found a grinder, a bag of marijuana, hypodermic needles, baggies, suspected mushrooms, multiple purple pill capsules of an unknown substance, a rock like substance suspected of heroin, multiple glass vials of an unknown substance suspected to be steroids and white residue with a cut drinking straw alongside Colby’s driver’s license.”
Corino and the other person in the house are also facing charges dealing due to the amount of drugs found in the property. Bond was set at $40,000 and Corino is scheduled to appear in court this week. Colby announced last month that he would be begin training at the NJPW dojo in January, however I suspect that could be off the table now.
WWE confirmed to F4Wonline this week that Jerry Lawler & Lita have been removed from their regular roles on the pre-show panels. Lawler & Lita appeared on the RAW, SmackDown and PPV pre-shows and both were not particularly very good in their roles. Lawler, as he has done for over a decade, completely phoned in his performances, while Lita frequently stumbled over her lines and was very awkward in the role. Radio host, Pete Rosenberg appeared on the TLC pre-show on 4/12.
Tajiri said on Twitter he would be returning to the WWE in the spring next year. He worked the 3/12 NXT show in Osaka, teaming with Akira Tozawa against DIY.
There was a note in the Observer this week about form IWGP Heavyweight Champion Scott “Flash” Norton possibly being a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble.
RAW on 5/12 did a 2.07 rating with 2,965,000 viewers, down from the 3,107,000 last week. 8 pm did 3,153,000, 9pm did 2,981,000 and 10pm did 2,796,000.
SmackDown on 6/12 did 2,479,000 viewers, down slightly from last week’s 2,576,000.
Total Divas on 7/10 did 563,000 viewers, down from 595,000 last week.
TNA Impact on 8/10 did 303,000, down a little from 338,000 last week.
Last week’s Lucha Underground on 30/11 did a dismal 74,000 viewers for the 8pm first run and another 27,000 for the 9pm replay; a total of 101,000 viewers. The show was built around Pentagon vs. Kairi Hojo, Mayu Iwatani & Io Shirai, three women who are not regular characters on the show. Despite the terrible number, the show was actually won of the best episodes of the entire third season and deserved to be seen by a lot more people. Two weeks ago, the show headlined by Sexy Star vs. Johnny Mundo for the LU title set the record for the season with 195,000 total viewers.