The Pro-Wres Digest for June 12th – June 18th
In a last ditch move to prevent the company from defaulting on its debts and finally going away for good, Billy Corgan purchased a minority ownership of TNA this week. Dixie Carter has been searching for months, and probably even years, to find an investor to inject some cash into the withering company, however the conditions of any sale were that Carter had to keep a majority stake and remain as a featured performer on television. Unsurprisingly there wasn’t a long list of takers and earlier this year it appeared like the media company Aroluxe, which former wrestlers Ron & Don Harris are involved with, were all but set to take over TNA. Aroluxe covered costs like production expenses for iMPACT tapings and also made sure TNA had enough money to actually pay all the talent and production staff. There were even reports of Aroluxe being the new minority owners of TNA earlier this week before the Corgan news broke. One would assume that Corgan’s investment was not only to keep TNA afloat for the short-term, but also to pay off any debts owed to Aroluxe or anyone else TNA has scammed money out of.
Dean Broadhead, the Head of Business and Chief Strategy Officer for TNA, gave an insight into the chaos going on in Nashville with a post on Facebook that revealed he had a 12 hour time-frame to secure “interim financing” so that the production trucks could be secured.
“On Thursday and Friday, I logged over 80 business calls on my cell. Attorneys, accountants, vendors, bankers and employees. Maybe time to retire. But maybe not until everything is in its right place. To answer your why question, I had (a) 12 hour time frame to secure interim financing so that production trucks could roll. Lawyers, bankers, accounts and owners. Some of them were out of the country, some of the West and East coast, so that is the reason for all the calls.”
Aroluxe were in control of the production trucks and equipment, so essentially Corgan coughed up the money TNA owed them to ensure that the Slammiversary PPV and TV tapings this week could go ahead. If TNA were unable to fulfill PPV and television commitments that would have surely been the final nail in the coffin, but thanks to Corgan they (barely) lived to see another day. It seems that even the Universe has it in for TNA, as even after securing the money to run the TV tapings on 14/6 the “live” Impact show on PopTV had all kinds of technical difficulties. The few remaining viewers were treated to an endless loop of PopTV commercials as the Impact show was knocked off the air due to a problem with the PopTV master controller in Atlanta, GA. Ever the professional business partner, Dixie Carter was quick to point out on Twitter that the issue was on PopTV’s end and was for once not her fault.
Jerry Lawler was suspended from the WWE on 17/6 after news of the arrest of Lawler and his fiance Lauryn McBride broke earlier in the day. Lawler, 66, and McBride, 27, were placed under arrest in the early hours of Friday morning in Memphis, TN on domestic violence charges. According to WREG the incident took place at Lawler’s home on St. Nick Drive in East Memphis and the two were booked into the Shelby County Jail at around 1am on Friday morning. Here’s more from the affidavit as reported by WREG.
McBride claimed Lawler struck her in the head and pushed her against a stove while Lawler claimsed McBride scratched him in the face, threw a candle at him and kicked him in the groin. McBride also alleged that Lawler got an unloaded pistol, put it on the kitchen counter and told her to kill herself. Lawler said McBride was intoxicated and claimed McBride was the one who brought the pistol into the kitchen.
Lawler somehow managed to do an interview from the jailhouse with WMC News and said that the incident occurred because McBride had too much to drink. He also denied any physicality and stated that he did not tell McBride to “kill herself.” Lawler & McBride spent a night in the jail before being released on 17/6. WWE wasted no time in issuing a statement on the suspension of Lawler and noted, “WWE has zero tolerance for matters involving domestic violence, and per our policy, Jerry Lawler has been suspended indefinitely following his arrest.”
WWE leaked news of a deal with Chinese streaming service PPTV to the Hollywood Reporter on 16/6. Until recently only a one hour version of RAW was available in China (those lucky people), however the new deal will see RAW, SmackDown and PPVs air through the PPTV streaming service a few hours after they air in the US. They held a press conference in Shanghai on 16/6 with Michelle Wilson, John Cena, Triple H, Jay Li (Vice President & GM of WWE’s Shanghai office) and some other suits from PPTV. Renaissance man John Cena spoke in Mandarin and they announced the signing of their first Chinese talent, Bin Wang, plus the first live show in the country for three years on September 10th. Wang had worked on the undercard of some of Inoki’s IGF shows, most recently this year on May 29th when he teamed with Alexander Otskua to beat Masakatsu Funaki & Takaku Fuke.
The legendary Gilberto “Gypsy Joe” Melendez passed away on 15/6 at the age of 82. Melendez began his career at the age of 18 in his native Puerto Rico in 1951 and became one of the few people to have wrestled in seven different decades. He worked almost everywhere imaginable, from the NWA Mid-America territory for Nick Gulas and the WWWF in the 60’s, to Calgary for Stu Hart and Memphis for Jerry Jarrett in the 70’s. He became a mid-card regular for All Japan in the early 80’s and worked numerous big tours up until 1985. Joe hung around with the USWA at the start of the 90’s before heading back over to Japan, where he became a fixture of the wild W*ING promotion. He made appearances for CZW and ROH in the 2000’s and continued to work independent shows up until 2009 when his health started to deteriorate. Joe’s last match was on December 11th 2010, at the age of 76, against Tajiri at Shinjuku Face in Tokyo for Tajiri’s Smash promotion. In 2013 Melendez had his right foot amputated due to complications caused by gout. We would like to send our condolences to his family and friends. Here’s a cool tribute video dedicated to Gypsy Joe.
Prowrestling.net received a report from one of their readers about an interaction with Jerry Lawler at the 38th Annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois. Jeff Wyatt met Lawler at his signing booth and noted that Lawler told his best friend that WWE would be running two brand exclusive PPVs every month. According to Wyatt, Lawler also noted that “big four” events (Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam & Survivor Series) would remain unaffected, in that they would be the only PPV during that particular month. It is worth noting that Lawler told Wyatt about SmackDown moving to Tuesdays and going live at last year’s convention before an official announcement was made. So not only does it look like we are getting two World Champions when the brand split kicks in, but there will apparently now be 20 PPVs a year. Has everybody in the company forgot that the last time they did this it was a complete failure?
The full list of the 32 competitors for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic was announced on 13/6. The tapings for the tournament will begin on June 23rd at Full Sail University and they will tape the subsequent rounds on July 14th, August 26th, with the finals being taped on September 14th.
Kota Ibushi and Tajiri were announced for the tourney on 12/6 and are two of the biggest names involved in the Crusierweight Classic. An interesting addition is Mascara Dorada, who will be working under the name “Gran Metalik,” which would seem to indicate that CMLL are not completely on board with him being a part of the tournament. Here’s the full list of names:
Kota Ibushi, Tajiri, Gran Metalik, Zack Sabre Jr, Noam Dar, Da Mack, Zumbi, Clement Petiot, Harv Sihra, Gurv Sihra, Fabian Aichner, Brian Kendrick, Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, Akira Tozawa, Jack Gallagher, Tony Nese, Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Ho Ho Lun, TJ Perkins, Drew Gulak, Anthony Bennett, Tyson Dux, Lince Dorado, Sean Malura, Raul Mendoza, Kenneth Johnson, Alejandro Saez, Damien Slater, Ariya Daivari & Jason Lee.
New Japan’s big Dominion show is on 19/6 from Osaka-Jo Hall and in theory the card should prove to be one of the more noteworthy of the year. Jay White will be competing in his final match for the company as a Young Lion in a special trios match. White is already booked for the ROH TV tapings the night after Best in the World on 25/6 against Kamaitachi. Hirooki Goto & Evil should be a fine undercard match if they bring the same intensity they showed during at Dontaku. Even though the format has been done to death, the Jr Tag Title four-way will no doubt still be a fun spectacle due to the talent of all eight guys. If given more time than their Dontaku effort, Yuji Nagata vs. Katsuyori Shibata could be the match of the night and it will be interesting to see how they position Shibata heading into the G1. There is also the question regarding whether Nagata’s NEVER title win was just a feel-good moment during the Shibata vs. Third Generation guys story or if they are going to give Nagata a long title reign. Then there is the first ever Ladder Match in New Japan with Kenny Omega against Michael Elgin for the IC title, which will likely be a full-on American stunt-show with all kinds of interference, weapons and contrived spots. Osaka is usually a hot city, so it will be interesting to see how receptive they are to the Ladder Match. On their worst day Tetsuya Naito & Kazuchika Okada would still have a very good match, so if both men are on top form we should be in for one hell of a main event. Here’s the full card:
* Jay White Send-Off Match: Jay White, Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi.
* Togi Makabe, Yoshitatsu & Captain New Japan vs. Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & “Hangman” Adam Page.
* Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Sanada & Bushi.
* Hirooki Goto vs. Evil,
* IWGP Jr Tag Team Championship Four-way: Ricochet & Matt Sydal (C) vs. The Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice vs. reDRagon.
* IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship: Kushida (C) vs. Will Ospreay.
* IWGP Tag Team Championship: Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa (C) vs. Mark & Jay Briscoe.
* NEVER Openweight Championship: Yuji Nagata (C) vs. Katsuyori Shibata.
* IWGP IC Championship Ladder Match: Kenny Omega (C) vs. Michael Elgin.
* IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tetsuya Naito (C) vs. Kazuchika Okada.
Kenta Kobashi’s Fortune Dream ran its third show, and first in 18 months, on 14/6 at Korakuen Hall. Opener saw Jun Akiyama beat Leona in 10:25 with an Exploder. Kairi Hojo & Hiroyo Matsumoto did a 15 minute broadway. Ultimo Dragon, Minoru Tanaka & Shinjiro Otani beat Isami Kodaka, Shiori Asahi & Fujita “Jr” Hayato in 17:14 when Otani pinned Asahi with the Spiral Bomb. Kenta Kobashi & Kensuke Sasaki had a thirty minute Talk Battle. They talked about their famous “chop” match from NOAH eleven years ago and Sasaki mentioned that his wife Akira Hokuto was recovering well from breast cancer, but noted they were struggling financially due to the medical costs. Shuji Ishikawa & Katsuhiko Nakajima beat Kohei Sato & Maybach Taniguchi in 13:51 when Nakajima pinned Tanichugi. Main event was a Fortune Dream Tag, which saw Go Shiozaki & Yuji Okabayashi vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Hino go to a thirty minute draw. Kobashi thanked all the wrestlers for competing and the fans for coming and ended the show by paying respect to Mitsuharu Misawa. Misawa’a famous “Spartan X” theme played to close the show.
NOAH held a press conference on 13/6 in Tokyo to officially announce that GHC Heavyweight Champion Go Shiozaki was once again a fully-fledged member of the NOAH roster (Shiozaki was working as a “free agent” until he beat Takashi Suguira for the GHC title on May 28th). Shiozaki talked about the battle he had when he left All Japan to try and make the NOAH fans respect him again. President, Naomichi Marufuji congratulated Shiozaki on signing his new contract and called him the, “protector of NOAH.” Shiozaki successfully defended the GHC title over Shelton Benjamin on 12/6 at Korakuen Hall and it was announced that his next defence would be against the man he beat for the title, Takashi Suguira.
AAA’s big TripleMania show is currently only scheduled for iPPV. According to Dave Meltzer in the Observer the original plan was to run the show at the Forum in Los Angeles and for it to be available on regular PPV in the US. The deal for PPV fell through when the relationship between AAA and Court Bauer fell apart and there was also a reliant on AAA getting a TV deal in the US, which obviously did not happen. Cubs Fan noted that Lucha Underground has market exclusivity in the US, which is a strange deal considering AAA is the parent company of LU.
Rush did an interview with Mas LuchaTV this week and he claimed that WWE wanted Dragon Lee for the Cruiserweight Classic, however Lee turned them down because he would be “too busy.” In reality, Lee is injured and could not work the CWC even if he wanted to. Rush also talked about seeing La Sombra in WWE as Andrade “Cien” Almas and said some Mexican fans were too hard on Sombra for not having perfect English. Rush noted that he did not want to go to WWE because he didn’t want to change like Sombra and said that CMLL was the best promotion.
NXT ran three different shows during the Download festival at the famous Donnington Park in Derbyshire, England last weekend. The big news was the in-ring debut of Bobby Roode, who beat Angelo Dawkins on 11/6. Shinsuke Nakamura & Andrade “Cien” Almas beat Samoa Joe & Baron Corbin in the main event of the final show. HHH was, of course, on the tour and he was presented with the first ever Metal Hammer, Golden Gods Spirit of Lemmy Award on the main stage by Megadeth front-man Dave Mustaine.
Adam Cole missed the ROH weekend shows in Hopkins, MN and Milwaukee, WI due to being hospitalised with pneumonia. Cole was scheduled to wrestle Chris Sabin in Hopkins and Colt Cabana in Milwaukee; Will Ferrara replaced him in the match with Sabin and the main event in Milwaukee was changed to The Briscoes vs. Jay Lethal & Colt Cabana.
Rev Pro sold out the York Hall in Bethnal Green, London on 12/6 for a first time ever meeting between Kurt Angle and Zack Sabre Jr. Angle won with the Ankle Lock in about 10 minutes and the match was said to be very good. Will Ospreay beat “Speedball” Mike Bailey and by all accounts they stole the show. Announcements were made for the big Summer Sizzle show next month, which I will be attending, with young UK worker Josh Bodom vs. Tomohiro Ishii and Zack Sabre Jr vs. Katsuyori Shibata.
Rickey Shane Page won CZW’s 15th annual Tournament of Death on 11/6 in Townsend, DE. RSP beat Tim Donst in the first round in a Fans Bring the Weapons Match then in the semi-final he beat Conor Claxton in a Barefoot, Bed of Nails, Broken Light Tubes & Burning Hot Coals Match. Final saw RSP beat Matt Tremont in a Barbed Wire, Light Tubes, Fire Board Death Match. They also shot a completely insane angle that saw John Zandig and BLK Out return on a digger to take back control of the company. They beat the hell out of DJ Hyde and said they were going to kill him unless he handed over the company back to Zandig. Hyde refused, so Zandig & BLK Out tried to bury him alive in his own parent’s backyard and dug a grave with the digger. Hyde was placed in the grave and had dirt thrown on top of him until he finally agreed that Zandig was once again the boss. JEEEZZUUSSS!
In some sad news, Chris Warren passed away on June 12th at the age of just 49. Warren famously was the lead singer of the “DX Band” during the Attitude Era and performed live at several WWF events, including WresteMania 14 and SummerSlam 1998. Warren’s obituary noted that he “passed away suddenly.”
Here’s the card for WWE Money in the Bank on 19/6 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV:
* WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Roman Reigns (C) vs. Seth Rollins.
* John Cena vs. AJ Styles.
* Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. * Chris Jericho vs. Alberto Del Rio.
* WWE Tag Team Championship: New Day (C) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillains vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows.
* WWE US Championship: Rusev (C) vs. Titus O’Neil.
* Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Becky Lynch & Natalya.
* Apollo Crews vs. Sheamus.
* Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin.
* Pre-show: Tyler Breeze & Fandango vs. Goldust & R-Truth.
* Pre-show: Lucha Dragons vs. The Dudley Boyz.
RAW on 13/6 did a record low of a 2.03 rating with 2,962,000 viewers and was the second lowest non-holiday, non-football season rated show since March 1997; the 23/11/2015 show did 2,950,000 viewers, however got a 2.15 rating. 8pm did 3,043,000. 9pm did 3,109,000 and 10pm did a disastrous 2,712,000.
TNA managed to do 210,000 viewers for the 10:50pm airing of the iMPACT show on 14/6 that was knocked off the air earlier, that’s way down from the 326,000 the week before. The replay on 15/6 did 117,000 viewers, which in fact ended up giving them an increase of 1,000 viewers.
Lucha Underground on 15/6 did a combined number of 128,000. The first-run airing did 89,000, up slightly from the 85,00 last week, and the replay did 39,000, down from 61,000 last week.
SmackDown on 16/6 did an 0.6 rating with 2,073,000 viewers, up from the record low 1,996,000 last week.