The Pro-Wres Digest for March 19th – 25th
WWE are reportedly in talks with ROH about a potential buyout of the company. Pro Wrestling Sheet broke the news on 22/3 and they noted that talks between the two parties have been ongoing since January. The Observer this week confirmed the news and Dave Meltzer noted that talk of WWE and Sinclair negotiations had been going around over the past month, to the point where ROH talent were asking those in the company about the deal. Nobody has said anything publicly yet; Pro Wrestling Sheet said that reps from WWE & ROH had declined to comment and the Observer stated that Joe Koff had remained silent, while others in the company had said they were unaware of any potential sale.
It’s not hard to imagine why WWE would want to buyout ROH. According to the Observer, WWE first contacted ROH about purchasing the tape library back in August 2016 and they reportedly wanted the company for more than just the video library. WWE were interested in purchasing TNA for the library and intellectual property last year before Anthem came into play, with the idea that they would just close the company down once they had acquired the valuable assets. If – and remember there is nothing official on the table just yet – the ROH deal goes through, WWE could very well do the same thing in order to eliminate the almost insignificant element of competition from the Sinclair-owned group. The obvious negative would be the loss of a place for young talent to gain experience and exposure – a place WWE have also used as an unofficial feeder system for years. WWE have made similar advances towards companies in the UK, with the idea that ICW & PROGRESS would provide content for the Network while still running shows in the UK market. Although, WWE have signed some of the key UK talent to deals which keep them from appearing on any show that is streamed live. It is possible that WWE could continue to run ROH as a satellite promotion, at least until all the current contracts expire, and send some of the developmental talent who are not ready for NXT there. The latter option seems unlikely however, as it would appear the WWE’s main goal is to acquire as much video footage as possible and to eliminate even the smallest bit of competition.
Obviously, if the WWE offer Sinclair the right amount of money and there is a sale it will spell the end of the international relationships with New Japan & CMLL. Neither company has commented on the developments yet, but both New Japan & CMLL could be looking for a new American partner in the near future.
Vince McMahon was involved in a car accident on 21/3 near the WWE headquarters in Stamford, CT. TMZ reported the incident occurred “less than a mile” from Titan Towers and Vince’s Bentley was left “banged up” as a result; the other car involved was left in a much worse condition. Law enforcement sources told TMZ that McMahon was driving his black Bentley “when something went wrong,” however Vince was seen walking around after the crash and it was a described as “minor accident and everyone is okay.” TMZ also had a 911 call from an eye-witness who described the incident as a “big accident” and she converses with Vince at the end of the call to confirm he was driving the black Bentley. SmackDown took place on the same night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT, about an hour and forty-five minutes away from Stamford and of course Vince was backstage at the show as usual.
There was another, much more serious, auto accident on 20/3 which tragically resulted in the death of Jan Ross, the wife of Jim Ross. Jim announced the awful news on 22/2, noting a priest had given Jan the last rites and that his “little angle is gone.” Jim Tweeted on 20/3 that his wife was hit while riding her Vesper scooter and suffered multiple skull fractures; he added that she was in surgery and they needed a miracle. The Norman, OK, Police Department told TMZ that Jan was struck by a 2000 Mercury Grand Marquis at 9:33pm and was thrown from her Vespa; she was not wearing a helmet and both the car and scooter caught fire. The driver of the car was a 17 year-old male, who was not injured during the collision. Jan was 55 years-old and had been married to Jim for over 25 years. The two met while Jim was working for WCW; Jan was a flight attendant at the time and she met Jim while he was traveling on a flight with Ric Flair. Jim wrote an emotional “thank you” to everyone for their outpouring of support on 22/2, before Jan succumbed to her injuries, and talked about how she helped him through multiple bouts of depression, Bells palsy attacks and an Ambian dependency. We offer our deepest condolences to Jim and the rest of the Ross family and wish them the best during this heartbreaking ordeal.
Jeff Jarrett & Ed Nordholm appeared on the AAA Rey de Reyes show on 19/3 and announced an Impact Wrestling/AAA partnership. The deal is interesting on a few levels, as only a couple of months ago AAA threatened legal action against TNA regarding Lucha Underground referee Marty Alias appearing on a taped segment for Impact. Jarrett & Nordholm have already buddied up to The Crash promotion and given the acrimonious split between Konnan, plus several other key talent, and AAA, it will be a tough job keeping everybody happy with talent arrangements and such. The Observer noted that Anthem’s goal is to become the main alternative to WWE and their goal is to load up the Fight Network with every major promotion available other than WWE. Steady Eddie Nordholm commented on the partnership: “We are thrilled to forge this alliance with AAA, a company rooted in tradition, as we continue to grow our network of global partners, which also includes Japan’s Pro-Wrestling NOAH.” I guess he forgot to mention his pals over in The Crash.
ITV announced on 23/3 that the World of Sport series is a go and will be taped at Preston Guild Hall on May 25th & 26th; the venue is one of Preston City Wrestling’s home buildings. The series will run for 10 episodes and will manly be funded by Anthem Sports & Entertainment, while Jeff Jarrett is in charge of the actual product. Oh goodie. They will be holding a live launch event in Manchester on 27/3 with appearances from some of the WOS/Impact talent. The World of Sport show is scheduled to air at 5pm on Saturdays starting in July.
Katsuyori Shibata won the 2017 New Japan Cup on 20/3 when he defeated Bad Luck Fale in the final of the tournament in front of 4,074 fans at Aore Nagaoka in Niigata. Shibata downed Fale with the PK at 18:48 of a very good match and worked his ass off to get a good main event performance out of Fale. With the win, Shibata announced he would challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight title on 9/4 at Sakura Genesis. It will be the first meeting between the two since the 2013 G1 Climax match, in which Okada came out with the victory.
New Japan Pro Wrestling – Sakura Genesis, April 9th, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo:
(*) Manabu Nakanishi, Jushin Thunder Liger & David Finlay vs. Hirai Kawato, Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura.
(*) Togi Makabe, Yuji Nagata, Tiger Mask W & Tiger Mask IV vs. Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens.
(*) YOSHI-HASHI, Rocky Romero & Barreta vs. Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku.
(*) IWGP Junior Tag Championship Match: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi (C) vs. Jado & Gedo
(*) Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. Kenny Omega & Bad Luck Fale.
(*) Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet vs. Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI.
(*) IWGP Tag Championship Match: Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (C) vs. Raymond Rowe & Hanson.
(*) NEVER Openweight Championship Match: Hirooki Goto (C) vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
(*) IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: Hiromu Takahashi (C) vs. KUSHIDA.
(*) IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match: Kazuchika Okada (C) vs. Katsuyori Shibata.
DDT drew an impressive 10,702 fans at the Saitama Super Arena on 20/3 to see the company’s 20th anniversary show. Clocking in at just over six and a half hours, the show was an epic celebration of the Dramatic Dream Team philosophy of pro-wrestling and had something for everybody on the 14-match card. Main event saw HARASHIMA defend the KO-D Openweight Championship against Konosuke Takeshita. (10) Takeshita downed HARASHIMA in 31:28 with a Cross-Arm German Suplex to capture the title for the second time. Tetsuya Endo appeared afterwards as the first challenger for the new champ and will get his title shot on 29/4 at Korakuen Hall.
(9) Daisuke Sasaki beat Jun Kasai in the semi-main to win the DDT Extreme Champioship in 19:07 after hitting an Elbow Drop off a ladder. (8) Kota Ibushi, Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto beat Sanshiro Takagi, Keiji Mutoh & Isami Kodaka in 14:57 when Ibushi pinned Takagi with a Phoenix Splash. Takagi teased retiring during the post-match, however they announced a special “Street Wrestling” show at the Tokyo Dome and Takagi withdrew his retirement. (7) Masakatsu Funaki & Yukio Sakaguchi beat Shuji Ishikawa & Tetsuya Endo in 12:16 to retain the KO-D Tag Championship when Sakaguchi downed Ishikawa with a jumping knee strike. Yoshihiro Takayama & Danshoku Dino showed up as the next challengers. (6) Danshoku Dino over Joey Ryan at 12:03 of a “Worldwide Best in the World Dangerous Guy Showdown” following the Danshoku Driver; with the win, Dino also captured the Iron Man Heavy Metal belt. (5) Yoshihiro Takayama & Dick Togo beat KUDO & Shungo Oyama in 13:15 when Takayama pinned Oyama with the Everest German Suplex. (4) Saki Akai, Meiko Satomura & Syoko Nakajima over Aja Kong, Cherry & Miyu Yamashita when Satomura pinned Yamashita with a Death Valley Bomb at 7:56. (3) Shigehiro Irie submitted Mike Bailey with the Tazmission in 8:44. (-) Kotatsu (a table) beat Yoshihiko (a blow-up doll) for the Iron Man Heavy Metal Championship; Joey Ryan showed up afterwards and beat Kotatsu for the belt. (2) Jaguar Yokota, Keisuke Ishii, Masahiro Takanashi & Yuni over Toru Owashi, Kazuki Hirata, Antonio Honda & Lady Beard in 10:09 when Yuni pinned Hirata with an Inverted Hurricanrana. (1) Opener saw Makoto Oishi, Shunma Katsumata & MAO beat Kazusada Higuchi, Kouki Iwasaki & Mizuki Watase and Soma Takao, Akito & Yasu Urano for the KO-D 6-Man Championship when MAO pinned Urano with the Cannonball 450 in 8:11. There were also four “dark” matches on the show: (0-4) Yoshihiko beat Guanchulo for the Iron Man Heavy Metal Championship in 13:43 with a Superfly off the stage. (0-3) Guanchulo won the traditional Dramatic Rumble when he eliminated Ken Oka & Munenori Sawa to become the Iron Man Heavy Metal Champion. (0-2) Yuu, Mil Crown & Maki Ito over Reika Seiki, Rika Tatsumi & Azusa Takaiwa in 10:23. (0-1) Nobuhiro Shimatani, Naomi Yoshimura & Dai Suzuki beat Rekka, Daiki Shimomura & Yuki Ueno in 8:08.
Stardom ran an afternoon show at Korakuen Hall on 20/3 and the main event saw Io Shirai retain the World of Stardom Championship over Kairi Hojo. (6) Shirai hit her Moonsault to get the win at 22:38. Hojo said she wanted to challenge for the title again, but Toni Storm & Mayu Iwatani came out and said they would win the Cinderella Tournament to earn a shot at Shirai’s title. Konami then showed up and challenged Hoo for the Wonder of Stardom belt. (5) Semi-main had Toni Storm retaining the SWA Championship over Jungle Kyona in 14:00 with the Diving Guillotine Drop. (4) Mayu Iwatani downed Hana Kimura in 9:46 with a Dragon Suplex. (3) Kris Wolf retained the High Speed Championship over Hiromi Mimura in 10:27 with a Diving Double Knee Drop. (2) HZK & AZM beat Konami & Zoe Lucas and Christi Jaynes & Deonna Purrazzo when HZK hit the Bombs Away on Jaynes at 8:04. (1) Opener was Kaori Yoneyama & Natsuko Tora over Arisu Nanase & Ruaka in 5:56 when Tora pinned Ruaka.
Wrestle-1 also ran Korakuen on 20/3 and drew 933 fans for the evening show. (7) In the main event, Shotaro Ashino submitted Masayuki Kono in 15:34 with an Ankle Lock to capture the Wrestle-1 Championship. (6) Semi-main saw Keiji Mutoh, Shuji Kondo & Jun Kasai beat Akebono, Manabu Soya & NOSAWA Rongai when Mutoh hit NOSAWA with a Shining Wizard at 5:08. (5) Koji Doi & Kumagoro beat Kaz Hayashi & Kotaro Suzuki in 17:23 for the Wrestle-1 Tag Championship when Doi hit Hayashi with a Brainbuster. (4) Seiki Yoshioka downed MAZADA to win the Wrestle-1 Cruiserweight Championship in 21:50 following the Clock Strikes. (3) Daiki Inaba, Yusuke Kodama & Kohei Fujimura retained the UWA World 6 Man Championship over Seigo Tachibana, Jun Tonsho & Ganseki Tanaka in 14:47 when Fujimura submitted Ganseki with the Camel Clutch. (2) KAI & Hiroki Murase over Kenichiro Arai & Jake Omen in 6:12 after Murase submitted Omen with the Cobra Clucth. (1) Andy Wu & Sho Shindo downed Yuya Susumu & Masayuki Mitomi in 4:25 when Wu hit the Hikou on Mitomi.
CMLL had its Homenaje a Dos Leyendas show on 17/3 at Arena Mexico. (6) Main event saw Diamante Azul defeat and unmask Pierroth in the Mascara contra Mascara match, which turned out to be not as horrible as everyone expected. Rush interfered and Maximo, La Mascara, Terrible & Marco Corleone all ran out and started brawling; everyone was sent to the back and Azul ended up getting the win after all the madness. Pierroth unmasked as 47 year-old, Arturo Munoz, who had been in the business for 26 years; Cubsfan noted that the age is likely a work. Pierroth attacked Diamante Azul afterwards and unmasked him; Azul put Pierroth’s mask on and they continued to brawl in the ring. (5) Mistico, Valiente & Volador Jr retained the CMLL Trios Championship over Hechicero, Luciferno & Mephisto; Hechicero replaced Ephesto, who underwent surgery last week for blood poisoning. (4) Ultimo Guerrero retained the NWA World Middleweight Championship over Matt Taven; the fans threw money into the ring afterwards. (3) Kraneo, La Mascara & Rush over Atlantis, Caristico & Marco Corleone; Rush pinned Marco with help from Mascara. (2) Dragon Lee, Stuka Jr & Titan beat Euforia, Gran Guerrero & Niebla Roja. (1) Amapola, Tiffany & Zeuxis over Estrellita, Marcela & Princesa Sugehit; Estrellita was stretchered out after crashing on a dive. The show is available on YouTube for $3.00.
AAA’s Rey de Reyes took place on 19/3 from Arena Jose Sulaiman in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. (6) Main event was not in fact the finals of the Rey de Reyes tournament, but instead was Aerostar vs. Super Fly in a Mask vs. Hair match. Aerostar got the win after Vampiro restarted the match following Super Fly appearing to win when he used brass knux. Both men bled and Aerostar did his traditional big dive. (5) Argenis became the Rey de Reyes Champion when he beat Averno, Chessman, Bengala, El Elegido, Pimpinela Escarlata, Nino Hamburguesa, Joe Lider & La Parka. Vampiro changed everything up and the scheduled Rey de Reyes match ended up becoming a three-way for all the titles on the under-card. Lucha Libre, everyone! (4) Dr Wagner Jr & Psycho Clown beat Monster Clown & Murder Clown; Soul Rocker, Carta Brava Jr & Mocho Cota Jr hit the ring and beat everybody up afterwards. (3) Johnny Mundo beat Hijo del Fantasma & Texano Jr to retain his AAA Latin American title; Mundo also captured the AAA Cruiserweight title from Fantasma and the AAA Mega Heavyweight title from Texano. (*) Dorian Roldan, Jeff Jarrett & Ed Nordholm came out and announced a partnership between AAA & Impact Wrestling – the fans booed. (2) Ayako Hamada became the Reina de Reinas when she beat Faby Apache, La Hiedra, Lady Shani, Goya Kong & Big Mami. Hamada was a surprise entrant and it was her first AAA TV match since 2008. (1) Dark Cuevo & Dark Scoria beat El Mesias & Pagano to becom the #1 contenders for the AAA Tag titles.
Peter Kaasa announced on 17/3 that he is taking a hiatus from wresting after undergoing medical evaluations. At the Evolve show on 27/1 over Royal Rumble weekend, Kaasa attempted a springboard move during his match with Jaka when the ring broke during and he landed on his head. He stated that he also had a moderately bulging disc in his cervical spine which is causing him a lot of discomfort.
Jushin Liger and YOSHI-HASHI have been pulled from the ROH Supercard of Honor show on 4/1 in Lakeland, FL. ROH claimed there was a delay in getting their US working visas; The Guerillas of Destiny have been announced as replacements.
New Japan announced that tickets for their special G1 preview shows in Long Beach, CA, will go on sale on April 1st at 8am EST. Prices for the 1/7 & 2/7 shows are: $150 front row, $100 rows 2-5, $80 rows 6-9, $60 rows 10-13 and $30 rows 14-17. There is also a meet and greet for an extra $10.
Mauro Ranallo Tweeted that his doctor wants him to stay off social media for a while. He noted that he was deeply touched by all the messages of support he had received after missing two weeks of SmackDown. We wish him all the best and hope he gets back to doing what he loves soon.
RAW on 20/3 did a 2.11 rating with 3,036,000 viewers, down from the 3,230,000 they did last week. 8pm did 3,163,000. 9pm did 3,117,000 and 10pm did 2,866,000.
SmackDown on 21/3 did 2,650,000 viewers, up slightly from the 2,630,000 they did last week.
Impact on 23/3 did 305,000 viewers, down from 344,000 last week.
* I would like to apologise for the somewhat condensed edition of the Digest this week. We unfortunately had a family emergency to deal with, which thankfully turned out to be nothing too serious and everyone is okay.
This will probably be the last Digest for a couple of weeks as we head into WrestleMania weekend. Next week we’ll have a full schedule of events for all the goings on in Orlando and the following week we’ll probably have a bunch of reviews of the best stuff from the biggest week of the year.
Thanks for reading, everyone! We’ll see you over WrestleMania week!