The Pro-Wres Digest for March 5th – 11th
“Outlaw” Ron Bass (Ronald Heard) sadly passed away on 7/3 at the age of 68 after suffering complications from a recent surgery. PWInsider reported that Bass was hospitalised due to a ruptured appendix, however he waited a week to get it checked out and by that point the affects of the bacteria spreading to other parts of his body were irreversible.
He started out his career in the early 70s and was given the “Bass” name by Nick Gulas while teaming with Don Bass in Tennessee in 1973. Later the same year, he went to work for Lee & Bobby Fields, who ran the Alabama-based promotion, and he became a part of the Ma Bass stable, along with Don & Sam Bass. He would go on to work territories all over the US, but his biggest feud was in Florida against Dusty Rhodes & Barry Windham. Bass went back to Florida in late 1982 and was paired up with Windham as a babyface tag team. Bass turned on Windham after Dusty Rhodes, who was Bass’ childhood friend in storyline, gifted Windham with a saddle instead of him. Bass and Windham feuded through 1984 and Bass won a loser leaves town match, however Windham returned under a mask as the “Dirty Yellow Dog,” a gimmick that would be reprised seven years later in 1991 with Brian Pillman in WCW.
Bass went to the WWF in 1987 and was set up for a program with Blackjack Mulligan, however when Mulligan left the company he basically became the a mid-card heel who would job to the rising babyfaces, like the Junkyard Dog & Brutus Beefcake. Perhaps the most famous angle Bass was involved in came prior to the 1988 SummerSlam, when he attacked Brutus during a match and the spurs of his boots ripped Beefcake’s face open. It was far too graphic for the WWF at the time and the segment was censored for US television, however it did make the air uncensored in Canada, which you can see here. Beefcake was booked to face the Honky Tonk Man for the IC title at SummerSlam, but was pulled fro the match and the spot was given to the Ultimate Warrior, who squashed Honky and won the title in 31 seconds. The Beefer got his revenge on the January 7th, 1989 edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event, when he beat Bass in a hair vs. hair match and cut his hair. Bass retired in 1991 and was one of the 60 plaintiffs in the class action concussion lawsuit against the WWE. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.
Nikkan Sports reported on 6/3 that Tomoaki Honma had begun to regain feeling in his limbs after the scary injury he suffered on the 3/3 New Japan show. Honma was rushed to the nearest hospital in Okinawa after being temporarily paralysed following a Hangman DDT from Jado which went awry. Takeshi Misawa, New Japan’s medical trainer, told Nikkan Sports that Honma suffered swelling to the C3 & C4 vertebrae and the nerve was paralysed. Injuries to the C4 can directly impact on the heart and breathing, however Misawa noted that although they were initially worried, Honma was recovering well. Misawa added that Honma was able to grasp objects and move his upper limbs, as well as regaining some movement in his legs. Honma issued an apology to all of his fans then declared that he would definitely get better and return to the ring. Misawa noted that the speed of Honma’s recovery depends on how long it takes the swelling of the cervical spinal cord to go down.
New Japan held a press conference on 7/4 and Misawa more or less reiterated his comments to Nikkan Sports. He explained that Honma was conscious after the incident occurred and tried to speak while he was in the ring, however he wasn’t able to put much strength into it; by the time he got to the hospital he was able to talk normally. Regarding whether Honma will require surgery, Misawa noted he may need surgery down the road like Manabu Nakanishi did, however he added they were not thinking about that right now. “That’s for down the line,” Misawa said. The prognosis is very much a wait and see type scenario at the moment, as Misawa noted: “There are cases where it gets better overnight, and others where the paralysis is permanent to some extent. It’s really just hoping for the best right now.” When asked about Honma being moved to a Tokyo hospital, Misawa explained that any undue movement to the spinal column could make things worse, so Honma will remain in Okinawa until “things settle down.”
In October last year, word got out about WWE being interested in Kairi Hojo & Io Shirai – two of the biggest stars in the Stardom promotion. The story went that Shoichi Funkai contacted Shirai to see if she was interested in coming to WWE, while Hojo attended the NXT show in July and was told by Shinsuke Nakamura & Simon Inoki that she would do really well in WWE. The Wrestling Observer reported at the time that both received offers to start with WWE in 2017, however Stardom were going to try their hardest to keep both women. Well, this week Dave Meltzer reported in the Observer that Hojo had in fact signed a three-year contract with the WWE and wanted to be out of Stardom by April. Naturally, Stardom were unhappy as Hojo told them she was staying and she is currently a double champion for the company. Shirai – the ace of Stardom – also reconsidered her decision to stay in Japan and will be flying to Orlando over WrestleMania weekend to have talks with WWE about her potentially coming in too. If this wasn’t enough of a blow, Stardom’s third biggest star, Mayu Iwatani, told the company she plans to retire at the end of 2017. Iwatani was booked to beat Shirai for the World of Stardom title in December last year, however the finish was changed when she told management about her decision to retire.
After abandoning the Impact Wrestling time machine on its doomed voyage back to 2006, one of the main questions surrounding the Hardy brothers was whether they would retain the rights to their “Broken” gimmicks. That question appeared to be answered on 4/10 when Broken Matt & Brother Nero made a surprise appearance at the Ring of Honor Manhattan Mayhem VI show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The Young Bucks had just retained the ROH Tag Team titles over Jay White & Lio Rush, when the lights went out and the Hardys appeared in the ring to a thunderous reaction. They challenged the Bucks to an ROH Tag title match and the Hardys won the championships after a Twist of Fate and a Swanton Bomb. Matt cut a promo afterwards, saying the greatest team in all of space and time had signed with the “Honorable Ring.” He said when they left that “dreadful TNA” many people speculated they were going to sign with “MeekMahn” but noted they had only just begun in the Honorable Ring then rattled off some upcoming dates they would be on for ROH. All of the dates were before WrestleMania, including the 15th Anniversary show this Friday, the TV tapings on Saturday, and their already announced appearance on the April 1st show in Lakeland, FL. The Hardys were booked to face the Young Bucks on the Lakeland show over WrestleMania weekend and presumably that match is still going to take place, only with the Bucks challenging for the belts instead of defending them.
In addition to the Hardys’ surprise appearance on the show, the unadvertised Bully Ray made a run in after the ROH World title match. Adam Cole retained over Bobby Fish and the Bullet Club showed up to beat down Fish afterwards. Bully Ray ran in to make the save and he put Cole through a table then cut a promo about how he was now with ROH. He said he had a few offers on the table – the crowd chanted “F*ck TNA” – and Bully noted that was why he didn’t take their offer. PWInsider reported that Bully Ray was contacted to come in and face Bobby Lashley at the recent Impact tapings after the first choice, Drew Galloway, left the company. When Bully turned down the offer, TNA went with Alberto El Patron for the spot. Bully ended his promo by calling out Joe Koff (who obviously didn’t show up) and declared that he was with ROH.
Things got a little more complicated for the Hardys and ROH, as TNA decided to be absolute scumbags when they started sending threatening legal letters out to people claiming the Broken Hardys gimmick was their intellectual property. The move was particularly cowardly as TNA sent letters to not only the Hardys and ROH, but also the PPV providers carrying ROH’s 15th Anniversary show and the Dish Network ended up pulling the PPV as a result. Reby Hardy went crazy on Twitter, throwing F-bombs the way of Anthem, Ed Nordholm & Jeff Jarrett; she even declared, “F*ck the Owl.” Matt Hardy filed a trademark for the “Broken” gimmick on March 1st, however since the characters appeared on Impact TV first it seems that TNA actually have a strong case from a legal perspective. Never mind that Matt created all the characters on his own and even hosted a TV taping at his home in North Carolina when TNA couldn’t scrape together any money to run a TV production on their own. The Hardys did appear on the ROH 15th Anniversary PPV, although they dropped the “Broken” names and gimmick pretty much altogether. Presumably, this is a preemptive strike should the Hardys go to WWE, but the funny thing about all of this is that ROH actually airs on the Fight Network in Canada; the very same channel as TNA and owned by their parent company, Anthem Sports & Entertainment.
New Japan’s 45th anniversary shows provided some noteworthy talking points. The 6/3 show drew 3,896 fans to the Ota Ward Gymnasium in Tokyo and the main event saw Kazuchika Okada defeat Tiger Mask W (Kota Ibushi) at 27:03 of an outstanding match with the Rainmaker. There have already been some incredible NJPW main events this year, and to me this was right up there with them. They had the voice-over actors from the Tiger Mask W anime on commentary for the entire show. Taku Yashiro (the voice of Tiger Mask) and Suzuko Mimori (voice of Haruna) appeared to be really invested in the main event, especially Mimori. After the match, Gedo said that not even an anime hero could stop the Rainmaker and Okada said he would like to face Tiger Mask W again. Okada added that he would be still making it rain at the 50th, 55th, 70th, 100th and even the 1000th anniversary. Semi-main of the show saw Hiromu Takahashi retain the IWGP Jr title over Ryusuke Taguchi at 17:42 with the Time Bomb; match was pretty good. KUSHIDA came out afterwards and told Hiromu he wanted his rematch.
The fourth match on the show was the much anticipated Katsuyori Shibata vs. Zack Sabre Jr. for the RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship. The match was pretty much what you would expect from these two and was a really enjoyable affair for the most part. The finish saw Minoru Suzuki come out to distract Shibata, there was a ref bump and Davey Boy Smith Jr. attacked Shibata then Suzuki hit him with the Gotch Piledriver. Sabre hit the PK to win the RPW title and became the newsest member of Suzuki-Gun during the post-match celebrations. While the ref bump/run-in finish is getting a little long in the tooth in New Japan, this at least served a purpose in aligning ZSJ with SZKG. There was a lot of negativity surrounding Sabre joining the heel group, however there are a couple of positives to the decision. Sabre coming in on his own as a babyface junior heavyweight wouldn’t exactly have aroused much interest from the Japanese fans. This way, the people were at least given a reason to care about him one way or another since he is essentially now the number two singles wrestler in SZKG, behind Suzuki himself. Also, it gives SZKG another much needed talented worker other than the man himself and Harry Smith. With the victory Sabre became a triple-champion, holding the PWG, Evolve & Rev Pro championships, earning him the hashtag, #ZackyThreeBelts.
Elsewhere on the show, they set up some stuff for the New Japan Cup. (6) Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI beat Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin, Juice Robinson & KUSHIDA when Naito pinned Juice at 11:44. EVIL stood tall over Tanahashi and signaled he would beat him in the first round of the Cup. (5) Hiroyosh Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima captured the IWGP Tag Team titles from Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii in 12:28 when Kojima pinned Yano with the Strong Arm Lariat. (3) Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru beat Roppongi Vice for the IWGP Jr Tag belts in 12:32 after the High Ball W on Barreta. (2) Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa beat Togi Makabe, Yuji Nagata, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV & David Finlay in 11:16 after Fale pinned Finlay with the Grenade. (1) Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Jado & Gedo over Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr., El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku in 8:47 when YOSHI-HASHI submitted TAKA with the Butterfly Lock. The “dark” match opener saw Manabu Nakanishi beat Tomoyuji Oka with the Argentine Backbreaker at 7:11.
The next night at Korakuen on 7/3 saw build for the upcoming New Japan Cup shows. Main event was Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI over Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI & Rocky Romero in 14:23, when SANADA submitted Romero with the Skull End. Semi-main saw Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA beat EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi in 11:54, when KUSHIDA pinned Takahashi with a Jacknife hold to set up their singles match for the Jr title. Yuji Nagata was announced as Tomoaki Honma’s replacement in the tournament, and Nagata pinned Tanga Loa in a six-man tag to set up their first-round match in the NJC. Minoru Suzuki & Katsuyori Shibata continued to beat the hell out of each other in preperation for their singes match in the first round of the New Japan Cup. Shibata teamed with Togi Makabe & Tiger Mask IV to beat Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr & TAKA Michinoku; Suzuki & Shibata continued to fight after the match. Zack Sabre Jr teamed with his new SZKG buddies, Taichi, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru to beat Hirooki Goto, Jado, Gedo & Barreta, when Sabre pinned Goto with the European Clutch in 9:39.
The New Japan Cup gets underway on 11/3 at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium and the four tournament matches on the show are:
* Yuji Nagata vs. Tanga Loa.
* Toru Yano vs. Tama Tonga.
* Michael Elgin vs. Bad Luck Fale.
* Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. EVIL.
The next nigh on 12/3 is from the Amagasaki City Baycom General Gymnasium in Hyogo and the remaining first-round matches are:
* Juice Robinson vs. Yujiro Takahashi.
* YOSHI-HASHI vs. SANADA.
* Katsuyori Shibata vs. Minoru Suzuki.
* Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kenny Omega.
Big Japan’s Death Match Survivor tournament got underway on 5/3 at Korakuen Hall. The main event of the show saw the BJW World Strong Champion, Daisuke Sekimoto, go to a 30 minute draw with challenger, Hideki Suzuki. Sekimoto was unhappy with the draw and challenged Suzuki to a rematch and they agreed to wrestle for the title again on 30/3 back at Korakuen. The Death Match tourney opened with Isami Kodaka beating Kenji Fukimoto in the A Block and Kankuro Hoshino downing Masashi Takeda in the B Block. The tournament will continue for another 12 nights, with the final taking place on April 8th in Sapporo. The penultimate night is the 30/3 Korakuen show, with the Sekimoto/Suzuki main event, and there are three tournament matches on the card: In the A Block, Isami Kodaka faces Takumi Tsukamoto and Ryuji Ito takes on Kenji Fukimoto, while the B Block offering will be Jaki Numazawa vs. Masashi Takeda.
Big Japan Pro Wrestling – Ikkitosen ~ Death Match Survivor Tournament Blocks:
Dragon Gate ran two consecutive shows for Champion Gate 2017 at the EDION Arena 2nd Stadium in Osaka on 4/3 and 5/3. They did 1,700 fans for the first night and 1,750 for the second. Main event of 4/3 saw Cyber Kong, T-Hawk & Shingo Takagi (VerserK) beat Jimmy Susumu, Jimmy Kanda & Ryo “Jimmy” Saito for the Open the Triangle Gate titles, when T-Hawk hit the Midnight Ride on Saito at 22:15. Semi-final was Eita defending the Open the Brave Gate title against El Lindaman and they went to a No Contest in 15:57 when Punch Tominaga & Mondai Ryu ran in to stop Lindaman losing. Takehiro Yamamura showed up to help Eita then Kzy, Jimmy Kagetora & Yosuke Santa Maria all got involved as well. After a bunch of arguing, referee Takayuki Yagi decided to strip Eita of the Brave Gate belt and decided that the eight protagonists would compete in a tournament for the vacant belt.
The 5/3 show had YAMATO retaining the Open the Dream Gate title over Cyber Kong in 19:28 when he choked Kong out with a Sleeper. During the match, Kong took off his mask and also used Black Mist. YAMATO closed the show and said he would lead Dragon Gate into a golden age. Semi-main was CIMA & Dragon Kida successfully defending the Open the Twin Gate titles over BxB Hulk & Kzy when CIMA pinned Kzy at 22:31 after a Meteora. CIMA put over Kzy for getting better over the last year; Kzy thanked him then said he had been inspired by Akira Tozawa risking everything to achieve his dreams and stated he would go after his with the same resolve.
Stardom held a special show to mark Io Shirai’s 10th anniversary in the business. In what will be one of their last appearances with company, although they will both obviously be dropping their respective titles before they leave, Shirai & Hojo were put over in their respective matches and each got the pinfall for their teams. Main event saw Shirai & Meiko Satomura beat Mayu Iwatani & Chihiro Hashimoto in 19:17, when Io pinned Mayu with a Moonsault. Semi-main was Hojo, Yoko Bito & Konami over Aoi Kizuki, Jungle Kyona & Hiromi Mimura in 15:16, after Hojo pinned Mimura with her Top Rope Elbow Drop. Also on the show, Minoru Suzuki & Midnight Angel beat KAI & Black Midnight Devil in 14:40, when Angel pinned Devil with the Superfly.
NEW (Next Exciting Wrestling), an offshoot of Antonio Inoki’s IGF, have announced some more matches for their debut show at Korakuen on April 4th. A first-time meeting of Minoru Tanaka vs. Minowaman and Masakatsu Funaki vs. Mitsuyoshi Naki (a former MMA fighter) have been added to the card. Previously announced for the show: Josh Barnett vs. Shinichi Suzukawa, and Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Shinya Aoki.
The inaugural Scenic City Rumble took place on 4/3 in Soddy Daisy, GA, and long-time southern indie worker, Tank, won the 30-man over the top rope Rumble. With the win, Tank earned himself a spot in the third annual Scenic City Invitational this August and he selected Matt Riddle as his first round opponent in the tourney. The show drew 527 fans to the Soddy Daisy High School gym and the event raised $4,700 for the school’s athletic department.
Kota Ibushi makes his UK debut this weekend for XWA, the ancestral decedent of the old FWA. 12/3 in Bethnal Green, London, sees Ibushi teaming with Gota Ihashi against XWA Champion Thomas Daniels & Jimmy Havoc. Also on that show, Will Ospreay faces Pentagon Jr. Ibushi & Pengaton will also be on the previous evening’s show on 11/3 in Colchester, Essex. Ibushi Tweeted on 9/3 that he had arrived in the UK, however his luggage did not turn up. Later, XWA & Pro Wrestling Eve promoter, Dan Read, posted an update and noted that Ibushi had been reunited with his lost luggage and everyone was happy.
WXW’s 16 Carat Gold tournament got underway on 10/3 and the three-day even will run until 12/3 in Oberhausen, Germany. We’ll have the winner of Europe’s biggest annual tournament in next week’s Digest, but for now here are some of the key first round match-ups:
WXW – 16 Carat Gold Tournament:
* ACH vs. Mike Bailey.
* Paul London vs. John Klinger.
* Donovan Dijak vs. Matt Riddle.
* David Starr vs. WALTER.
* Cody Rhodes vs. Da Mack.
* Koji Kanemoto vs. Timothy Thatcher.
By the time you are reading this, the ROH 15th Anniversary show will have taken place from Sam’s Town in Las Vegas, NV. Here’s the card, with no spoilers.
* Jay White vs. Kenny King.
* ROH TV #1 Contender Six Man Mayhem: Cheeseburger vs. Chris Sabin vs. Damian Martinez vs. Frankie Kazarian vs. Hangman Page vs. Silas Young.
* Briscoes & Bully Ray vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. & War Machine.
* Jay Lethal vs Bobby Fish.
* ROH World Six-Man Championship: Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan & Vinnie Marseglia (C) vs. Dalton Castle & The Boys.
* ROH World TV Championship: Marty Scurll (C) vs. Lio Rush.
* ROH World Tag Team Championship: Matt & Jeff Hardy (C) vs. Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vince.
* ROH World Championship: Adam Cole (C) vs. Christopher Daniels.
There was some wackiness at the AAA TV tapings on 5/3 in Apizaco, Tlaxcala. Faby Apache defeated Ricky Marvin in a singles match to win the AAA Trios Championship. The match was supposed to be all three Apaches vs. Averno, Chessman & Marvin, however it was announced Mary & El Apache were unable to compete. Cubsfan noted “personal issues” for El Aapache missing the show and he suggested Mary’s absence was down to a car accident. Averno offered Faby a singles match for the Trios belts, but said she had to put her career on the line also. Faby (and by proxy, Mary) are the first women to win the Trios titles, although Cubsfan pointed out that the referee for the match was the heel, Hijo del Tirantes, who had been feuding with Faby for months. Apparently, Titantes was completely neutral and made no attempt to cost the Apache family their careers.
Rush beat Ultimo Guerrero in the main event of CMLL’s show on 6/3 at Arena Puebla. The two have had dozens of matches throughout their careers, however Cubsfan noted this was this first time in four years that Rush beat Guerrero. The finish wasn’t clean, as Rush hit Guerrero with a foul before getting the win.
The main event of CMLL’s 7/3 Arena Mexico show had Barbaro Cavernario, Felino & Negro Casas over Atlantis, Dragon Lee & Rey Cometa. Cavernario got the win in straight falls to set up him challenging Rey Cometa for the World Welterweght title on 14/3 at Arena Mexico. Also on 7/3, CMLL ran a show at Arena Coliseo in Guadalajara and the main event saw Caristico, Mistico & Valiente over Ephesto, Luciferno & Mephisto via DQ. Mephisto unmasked Caristo & Mistico for the DQ, whether this is setting up a mask match down the line is unclear.
MDA Lucha Libre have a show on April 2nd at Arena Coliseo in Monterrey, the main event of which looks like it should be an absolute cluster. It will be a four-way with, LA Park vs. Rush vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Diamante Azul. Semi-main on the show is Ultimo Dragon & Xtreme Tiger vs. Laredo Kid & Rey Horus.
Dave Meltzer reported on 9/3 in the F4W daily update that an announcement regarding a deal between Anthem Sports & Entertainment and ITV is expected shortly. Jeff Jarrett met with representatives from ITV last month after ITV realised that running a World of Sport promotion out of their own pocket was not a viable business move. Last week, it was announced that TNA would be back on TV in the UK, starting on April 21st for the Spike UK channel. This appeared to put any potential deal between TNA and ITV in serious doubt as Spike UK is own by Viacom, a market competitor with ITV. We will have to wait and see what the announcement is, but the deal between Anthem and ITV could be for a completely new UK based promotion, or perhaps Jarrett has finally found a home for his Global Force shows he taped two years ago.
British tabloid, the Daily Mirror, reported on 10/3 that the WWE will be holding a two-day event in May for the UK-based TV show. “United Kingdom Championship Live” (catchy name) will be taped on May 6th -7th at Epic Studios in Norwich, England. The venue is the home of the Knights’ WAW promotion, where they tape for their atrocious weekly show. Appearing on the tapings will be, Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, Pete Dunne, Mark Andrews, Wolfgang, Tyson T-Bone, Sam Gradwell, James Drake, Joseph Conners, Dan Moloney, & Saxon Huxley. The WWE events go head-to-head with an OTT show in Ireland on May 6th and a Rev Pro show in London on May 7th, so you know the deal there.
Finn Balor returned from his shoulder surgery at the 10/3 house show in Buffalo, NY. Balor teamed with Sami Zayn & Chris Jericho and beat Triple H, Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe in the main event.
RAW on 6/3 did a 2.27 rating with 3,201,000 viewers, up considerably from the 2.15 rating & 3,083,000 the show did last week. 8pm did 3,318,000. 9pm did 3,380,000 and 10pm did 2,950,000.
SmackDown on 7/3 did 2,738,000 viewers, up from last week’s 2,566,000.
The new and improved Impact on 9/3 did 292,000 viewers, down slightly from last week’s 293,000. Maybe Eddie Nordholm and his merry band of Owl followers can send some threatening legal letters to people in order to make them watch the shows in future.
Thanks for reading, everyone! We’ll see you all next week.