The Pro-Wres Digest for June 18th – 24th
Mr Pogo (Tetsuo Sekigawa), one of the most recognisable death match wrestlers of the 90s, unfortunately passed away on 23/6 at the age of 66. Tokyo Sports reported that he suffered a cerebral infarction while undergoing back surgery in his hometown of Gunma; it was actually the second attempt at surgery, as the previous procedure had to be stopped due to complications. Sekigawa was a standout heavyweight wrestler at Chuo College and was at the school during the same time that Jumbo Tsuruta was playing basketball at the varsity level. Tsuruta wanted to go to the Olympics, however he realised that Japan would never make it in basketball so he took up wrestling instead and within months was beating Sekigawa in practise. Tsuruta made it to the 1972 Olympics as a wrestler, while Sekigawa debuted in pro-wrestling before the summer games for New Japan on March 30th 1972, losing to Tatsumi Fujinami.
Sekigawa began an excursion of North America in 1973 and worked as Judo Joe in places like Calgary and Georgia, before a year-long run in Vancouver under his real name. He went by the name of Mr Seki for in California, St. Louis and the Central States territory, although he made stops in many other promotions across the US, including Memphis and Amarillo – the latter being the place he first used the Mr Pogo name. He went back to Calgary in 1979 as Mr Sekigawa and capture the International Tag Team titles with a young Dynamite Kid, then came a run as the Stampede North American Heavyweight Champion in early 1980. Under the Mr Pogo name, he became a regular in Florida and had several Texas Death Matches with Jack Brisco in 1981, before finishing out the year in Mid-Atlantic as The Ninja. After stints under the Ninja gimmick in Toronto and South-West in 1982, the Mr Pogo name returned in 1984, as Sekigawa went back to the Central States & St. Louis territories.
He didn’t return to Japan until November 1985, when he formed the Ninja Express tag team with Kendo Nagasaki in New Japan and would remain with the company until 1988. Sekigawa’s most famous period came when he joined FMW in 1990 and began his never-ending feud with Atsushi Onita. He spent a couple of years working for W*ING but went back to FMW in 1993 and resumed his wars with Onita, with whom he traded the FMW Brass Knuckles Heavyweight and Tag Team titles on numerous occasions over the next few years. On August 1st 1996, Mr Pogo faced Terry Funk in an Exploding Barbed Wire Glass Crush Spider Net Death Match and he broke his neck after taking a bump into the exploding barbedwire contraption outside the ring. He continued to wrestle for the next few months, but was extremely limited and he eventually had to retire in December of the same year. The retirement didn’t last long, as Pogo was back working for Big Japan within 7 months and became the inaugural BJW Deathmatch Heavyweight Champion in 1998. From 1999, Pogo worked semi-regularly as a freelancer and would do a handful of matches every year, which he eventually had to give-up in 2012. He also ran for a Senate seat in his hometown of Gunma in 2003, but was defeated in the polls. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.
Pacific Northwest veteran Buddy Wayne (Steve Finley) sadly passed away on 16/6 at the age of just 50 after suffering a heart attack. He started his career in 1985 for All-Star Wrestling in Vancouver and became one of the top wrestlers in the territory over the next couple of years; in 1988 he held the promotion’s Tag Team and World Heavyweight titles. Wayne was considered a highly proficient old-school worker, however due to his size (5’7” & 200lbs) he never was given the chance to become a star on the big stage. From 1991-2003, he was sporadically brought in to WWF and WCW for enhancement matches against the likes of the Warlord, Bam Bam Bigelow, Scott Hall, Harlem Heat, DDP, Hakushi, Edge, Tajiri & Harry Smith. There was also a brief run in OVW under his real name of Steve Finley in 1998. Wayne continued to work around the Pacific Northwest indies into the 21st century and even stepped back in the ring many times after undergoing open heart surgery in 2009, with his last couple of matches taking place in April 2017. He also opened the Buddy Wayne Wrestling Academy in Everett, WA in the late 90s and would face one of his students Bryan “Chico” Alvarez on many occasions. When Alvarez started the Figure Four Online website in 2005, Wayne was one of the first regular guests on the Figure Four Daily shows and remained a recurring voice with the F4W/WO empire until his health issues caused him to appear less and less. We offer our sincere condolences to his friends and family.
Chandler Biggins (Chris Bryan), who was the co-owner of AIW out of Cleveland, OH, tragically passed away on 19/6. He had been hospitalised since March after undergoing emergency surgery due to what was originally believed to be the flu, but it turned out to be a severe bacterial infection. Bryan underwent several surgeries during his health battle and was even in a medically induced coma at once stage, however he had recently begun rehab and there was a lot of hope that he would pull through. There was an outpouring of sadness from the wrestling community after news of his passing spread, with everyone from independent workers to WWE stars sending their thoughts and best wishes to Bryan’s family; Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins & Kasisius Ohno were just a few of the names to offer their condolences. We would also like to send our thoughts and deepest condolences to the entire Bryan family.
HHH was in the UK this week doing some publicity, however he also took the time to go meet an off-duty policeman who was seriously injured during the London Bridge terror attacks. The 25 year-old Charlie Guenigault suffered stab wounds to his head, leg, back and stomach when he ran towards the attackers while trying to protect others during the horrific incident two weeks ago. As noted, Guenigault, who is a big WWE fan, was off-duty at the time and was wearing a Sami Zayn t-shirt. He was secretly transported to a London hotel in a limo on 20/6 for a surprise meeting with HHH, who presented him with an honorary WWE Championship belt. Trips wrote a personal message on the belt, which read, “To Charlie. Thank you to a true hero!” Guenigault also received a video message from Sami Zayn, who said that the fact Charlie was wearing his t-shirt at the time really put it into perspective for him. Charlie noted that when HHH first walked into the room his comments were, “probably not suitable for a PG audience!”
Mauro Ranallo will surprisingly be staying with the WWE as a play-by-play announcer for NXT. Ranallo was taken off the SmackDown commentary team back in March due to personal health issues, which reportedly stemmed from accounts of bullying from John Layfield. Ranallo never made any public comments about the bullying rumours and in fact denied that Layfield had anything to do with his absence. It was a relatively big story at the time with a few mainstream outlets running with the bullying narrative, however it never became a big enough story for WWE to take any real action against Layfield. If you watched SmackDown in the weeks following Ranallo’s departure, JBL was uncharacteristically reserved and even friendly to his fellow broadcasters; it didn’t last long though, as he was back to burying Tom Phillips & Byron Saxton within a month. Ranallo has been doing work outside the WWE for the past few months, calling some boxing for ShowTime and doing the play-by-play along side Frank Shamrock at the Yokohama Arena for RIZIN on April 16th. F4Wonline reported on 22/6 that the deal for Ranallo’s return had been agreed upon in principal for several weeks and that WWE wanted him back as early as late April. Ranallo was only just announced as the new play-by-play announcer for Bellator last week and is signed on to do commentary for the Mayweather/McGregor fight on August 26th. He was at Full Sail University on 23/6 for the NXT tapings and was introduced by good ol’ Uncle Paul for a ubiquitous photo op.
Pro Wrestling Sheet reported on 19/6 that Shelton Benjamin is in talks with WWE about a return to the company. Benjamin was all set to make his return on SmackDown last year, however WWE’s medical team discovered a serious shoulder injury that required surgery and the deal fell through as a result. The new deal with Benjamin is said not to be finalised yet, but things are reportedly “going in the right direction.”
New Japan drew a decent 1,258 fans to Korakuen Hall on 20/6 for their first big Kizuna Road show. Main event saw SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI retain the NEVER Trios titles over Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson & KUSHIDA in 15:46 when SANADA submitted Juice with the Skull End. Rest of the card was the usual secondary multi-man tags, however the big news from the show was the announcement of the competitors for this year’s G1 Climax. The 2017 G1 will feature:
(*) Hiroshi Tanahashi (2007 & 2015 Winner).
(*) Togi Makabe (2009 Winner).
(*) Michael Elgin.
(*) Kazuchika Okada (2012 & 2014 Winner).
(*) Hirooki Goto (2008 Winner).
(*) Tomohiro Ishii.
(*) Toru Yano.
(*) YOSHI – HASHI.
(*) Kenny Omega (2016 Winner).
(*) Bad Luck Fale.
(*) Tama Tonga.
(*) Tetsuya Naito (2013 Winner).
(*) Satoshi Kojima.
(*) Yuji Nagata (Competing in his final G1).
(*) Juice Robinson.
(*) Minoru Suzuki.
(*) Zack Sabre Jr.
(*) Kota Ibushi.
The blocks and matches are due to be unveiled on the next two big Kizuna Road shows on 26/6 & 27/6. The main event on the 26/6 is Minoru Suzuki defending the NEVER Openweight title against YOSHI-HASHI, while 27/6 has KUSHIDA defending the IWGP Jr Heavyweight title against BUSHI.
The card for the next Lion’s Gate show at Shinjuku FACE on 4/7 was announced this week. Dick Togo will be on the card and he will take on young lion Hirai Kawato in his first match in a New Japan ring since 2011. The All Japan contingent on the show will be Koji Iwamoto and he will face YOSHI-HASHI, who beat fellow All Japan youngster Yuma Aoyagi on the last Lion’s Gate event. Here’s the full card:
Lion’s Gate Project 7 – July 4th, Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo:
(*) Ren Narita’s Debut Match: Shota Umino vs. Ren Narita.
(*) Tetsuhiro Yagi vs. TAKA Michinoku (K-DOJO).
(*) Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Dinosaur Takuma (K-DOJO) vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Katsuya Kitamura.
(*) Hirai Kawato vs. Dick Togo (FREE).
(*) Satoshi Kojima vs. Tomoyuki Oka.
(*) YOSHI-HASHI vs. Koji Iwamoto (AJPW).
(*) Yuji Nagata vs. Ayato Yoshida (K-DOJO).
Mayu Iwatani defeated Io Shirai on 21/6 at Korakuen Hall to win the World of Stardom Championship Red Belt with a Dragon Suplex at 27:52. With the victory, Iwatani became the first woman ever to hold both the World of Stardom Championship Red and White Belts. Shirai will be leaving for the WWE soon, so she was bound to drop the title sooner or later. Also on the show, Hana Kimura & Kagetsu beat Hiroyo Matsumoto & Jungle Kyona to win the Goddess of Stardom Tag titles in 16:33 when Kagetsu hit Kyona with a 450 Splash.
There has been some typically Antonio Inoki wackiness recently, as he has been running an angle with Kazunari Murakami, who had been trying to stage a takeover over the IGF and by proxy NEW. Murakami invaded the IGF office back on 15/5 for an “illegal occupation” and formed the group Murakami Kai to challenge Inoki’s NEW wrestlers on their own shows. On 2/6 at Korakuen Hall, Murakami & Kohei Sato beat Shinichi Suzukawa & Keisuke Okuda, however Suzukawa & Okuda restored a little pride for NEW when they beat the Murakami Kai crew of Kohei Sato & Black Tiger V on 8/6. Last week Murakami worked two more NEW shows, but this time he was under a white mask as Shiro Fukumen #1 and teamed with Shiro Fukumen #2 on 17/6 in Osaka to beat Suzukawa & Okuda. The NEW boys got their win back the next night on 18/6 in Hyogo when Okuda submitted Fukumen #3. Murakami had challenged Suzukawa to a singles match during his original invasion of the IGF office, so it is noteworthy that Suzukawa has yet to defeat the “heisei terrorist.”
Things took an unexpected turn on 20/6 when Inoki Tweeted, “Now IGF disappears” and he noted that he was not hiding anything; he also spoke of a “dishonest and malicious” report from a general meeting of the IGF shareholders. Inoki posted an official release from his attorney, which was obvious in Japanese, however Tokyo Sports covered the story and here is what we can gather from that not-so trustworthy tool, Google translate. According to Tokyo Sports, the documents revealed that the meeting was called to “dismiss three IGF directors and appoint Mr Inoki as a director,” however the IGF side refused to recognise the notion for “unreasonable reasons” and “improper proceedings made by illegal acts.” The IGF website released statements on 21/6 & 22/6 which disputed Inoki’s claims and apologised to the fans for the split within the company. Murakami wasted no time in taunting Inoki & the IGF, as on 22/6 he once again showed up at the IGF office and this time put a “proliferation notice” up on the door letting everyone know it was now the “Murakami Association Office.” This all certainly seems very much like part of the wacky angle, however since it is Inoki we can not be 100% sure until more information is revealed.
Inoki will be running a special show on July 24th at Korakuen Hall in honour of the 10th anniversary of Karl Gotch’s passing. The only match announced so far is Scott Norton & Hikaru Sato vs. Hideki Suzuki & Takatoshi Matsumoto. The event will not be held under the IGF banner, nor is it an NEW show, instead it will be the birth of a separate group, discerningly called, “INOKI ISM.”
There’s another big FloSlam weekend coming up.
Beyond Wrestling: Go with the Flow is on 24/6 from Melrose, MA. The show starts at 12pm Eastern, here’s the line-up:
(*) American Destroyers vs. Gentleman’s Club.
(*) Yuta vs. Maxwell Jacob Feinstein.
(*) EYFBO vs. The Carnies.
(*) AR Fox vs. Watts.
(*) Beaver Boys vs. Doom Patrol.
(*) Keith Lee vs. Matt Riddle.
EVOLVE 86 is on 24/6 from Melrose, MA. Start time is 7pm Eastern. Here’s the card:
(*) Timothy Thatcher vs. Austin Theory.
(*) Jason Kincaid vs. Tracy Williams.
(*) Jaka vs. Fred Yehi.
(*) ACH vs. Chris Dickenson.
(*) Keith Lee vs. Ethan Page.
(*) Non-Title Battle of Champions: Zack Sabre Jr (EVOLVE Champion) vs. Matt Riddle (WWN Champion).
EVOLVE 87 is on 25/6 from La Boom in Queens, NY with a 6pm Eastern start time. Card is as follows:
(*) Timothy Thatcher vs. Jason Kincaid.
(*) ACH vs. Tracy Williams.
(*) Trent Baretta vs. Austin Theory.
(*) Chris Dickenson vs. Fred Yehi.
(*) EVOLVE Championship: Zack Sabre Jr (C) vs. Jaka.
(*) WWN Championship: Matt Riddle (C) vs. Keith Lee.
More footage of the Alvarados destroying Ultimo Guerrero’s car surfaced on 18/6. The new video appears to have been filmed by Maximo, who mocks Guerrero while the destruction is occurring. Brazo de Platino also appears to be filming the incident, so there could be more footage of the vandalism floating about. Ultimo Guerrero has said he is in the process of legal action, which makes the emergence of the new video very strange as one would imagine those involved would want to keep any evidence quiet, but instead the video is now in the public domain.
Remember the AAA Mixed Tag Team titles? Well new champions were finally crowned on 19/6 at the AAA TV tapings in Tamaulipas, as Big Mami & Nino Hamburguesa defeated Lady Shani & Venum to win the straps. If you recall, the former champions were Pentagon Jr & Sexy Star but the titles were vacated on February 19th 2016 after Sexy quit the company. She actually announced on February 5th that she was relinquishing the title, however Pentagon successfully defended the belts on his own on 19/2/16 against Daga & Taya, before he too gave up the worthless titles. Pentagon & Sexy held the belts for 778 days and in that time made only a handful of defences, so the value of the championships was at rock-bottom when they was declared vacant.
CMLL had a couple of big matches this week. On 19/6 at Arena Puebla Hechicero retained the NWA World Historic Light Heavyweight title over Atlantis in the main event; match was said to be as good as an Atlantis match outside of the Anniversary show. On 20/6 at Arena Mexico, Volador Jr retained the NWA World Historic Welterweight title over Barbaro Cavernario in a reportedly very good outing.
Another Rush vs. LA Park match is booked as the main event of the Tortas y Cafe Super Astros show on July 29th at Arena Lopez Mateos. It’s the first singles match the two have had since earlier this year on March 11th, however they were on opposite teams in the main event of the MDA show on 18/6, as Caristico & LA Park beat Ultimo Guerrero & Rush.
AAA are reportedly considering moving the date of TripleMania, due to the Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather fight being announced for the same date, August 26th. Dave Meltzer noted in the Observer that “it appears they’ve [AAA] already made the call to move it to August 27th”, however Leo Riano of the Record claimed that AAA are still planning to air at least the Psycho Clown/Dr Wagner Jr main event in Mexico on the 26th. AAA have yet to make any comment on what is happening, so everything is still up in the air at the minute.
Magni Charters painted up a Boeing 737 to resemble the mask of Dr Wagner Jr; it looks pretty cool, although I still would need to be heavily sedated before getting on the thing.
Shane Helms & Al Snow are the latest departures from Impact Wrestling. Helms Tweeted that he had never been an ass-kisser and he was damn sure not going to start with an owl, while Snow was more diplomatic and thanked everyone in the company for his time there. The two worked as agents and become the newest addition to the list of names who have got the hell out of Dodge since Jeff Jarrett return to the company – including The Hardys, Crazzy Steve, Maria Kanellis, Mike Bennett, Jade, Marty Bell & Drew Galloway.
Kairi Hojo was accompanied to the airport by Stardom president Rossy Ogawa on 20/6 as she departed for the US and the WWE. She will probably have already started training at the Performance Centre by the time you are reading this.
WWE uploaded some classic Madison Square Garden shows to the “Old School” section of the Network this week. The shows are (*) WWWF at MSG, August 7th 1976, with the Bruno Sammartino vs. Stan Hansen Cage match. (*) WWWF at MSG, October 25th 1976, with Bruno defending the WWWF title against Nikolai Volkoff. (*) WWWF at MSG, December 19th 1977, with WWWF Champion “Superstar” Billy Graham vs. Mil Mascaras & NWA World Champion Harley Race vs. Rick Martel. (*) WWWF at MSG, December 17th 1979, with NWA World Champion Harley Race vs. Dusty Rhodes & Hulk Hogan’s MSG debut against Ted DiBiase. (*) WWF at MSG, March 17th 1985, with Tito Santana vs. Greg Valentine & a Piper’s Pit with Mr T before WrestleMania 1.
Cody Rhodes beat Christopher Daniles to win the ROH World Championship on 23/6 at the Best in the World PPV in Lowell, MA. I’ve yet to see the show, so I don’t really have anything to add other than there is nobody better to represent the lacklustre ROH product than Mr **½, Cody Rhodes.
Five more names were revealed for the WWE’s Mae Young Classic tournament this week. Tessa Blanchard, Abbey Laith (Kimber Lee), Taynara Conti, Kavita Devi (a student of the Great Khali) & Jazzy “Aplha Female” Garbert join the names announced last week: Toni Storm, Princesa Sugehit, Lacey Evans & Sarah Logan.
Bobby Fish debuted at the NXT Tapings on 23/6 at Full Sail University and lost to Aleister Black.
RAW on 19/6 did a 2.04 rating with 3,095,000 viewers, up considerably from last week’s abysmal 1.75 & 2,072,000. With no major sports competition, the number should in theory stay steady until football season. 8pm did 3,075,000, 9pm did 3,201,000 and 10pm did 3,029,000.
SmackDown on 20/6 did 2,597,000 viewers, a big improvement from last week’s 2,072,000.
Lucha Underground on 21/6 did 111,000 for the first run and 52,000 for the replay for a total 163,000, down from the combined 174,000 last week with 123,000 and 51,000.
Impact on 22/6 did 342,000 viewers, up slightly from last week’s 327,000.
Thanks for reading, everybody! We’ll see you all next week.