The Pro-Wres Digest for May 28th – June 3rd
Editor’s note: We’ve got a slightly condensed version of the Digest for you this week, as I have been busy with some stuff that impacted on writing time. The good news is that it was a relatively slow news week anyway, so we’ve still got all the main stories and goings on from around the world of pro-wrestling.
5 Star Wrestling in the UK got themselves some publicity a few weeks ago when they told the most disgusting of tabloid rag sheets, The Sun, about making CM Punk a $1 million offer to appear in their 128-man tournament, which was scheduled to begin on June 10th in Liverpool. Unsurprisingly, Punk gave no response to the obvious publicity stunt and followers of wrestling news around the world learned just how shady 5 Star’s promotional tactics could really be. The Punk story quickly disappeared from the public psyche, as nobody in their right mind believed for a second that he would accept 5 Star’s pretentious offer. We didn’t even bother covering the story at the time, because it wasn’t worth the time nor effort to take the bait and give 5 Star the publicity they were so unashamedly seeking.
It seems all the effort 5 Star went to in floating the ludicrous CM Punk story – further damaging their reputation as an artificial indie in the process – was all for nothing, as they announced this week that the 128-man tournament had been postponed until February 2018. Dave Meltzer noted on 1/6 that the talent were told the rescheduling was due to the terrorist attack in Manchester two weeks ago, which as you can imagine did not go down well with anybody. There’s absolutely no doubt that the terrorist attack had nothing to do with the cancellation, as plenty of concerts and arena shows have continued to run in the UK since abhorrent incident in Manchester. The only cancellations have been a handful of events that were booked for the Manchester Arena, one of which being a WWE NXT show, and it is completely understandable why a moratorium would be placed on a venue after a major tragedy. 5 Star were not scheduled to run the Manchester Arena until September 2nd, which would have been long past the building’s respectful hiatus. Hopefully the real reason for the postponement will come out eventually, perhaps ticket sales were not going well or maybe there were some talent issues (which is highly likely with a 128-man tournament), but at this point it is all just speculation. One thing is certain though, by using a terrorist attack with numerous fatalities as an excuse for delaying their ill-considered tournament, 5 Star Wrestling have overtaken What Culture as the UK’s most scummy and disreputable promotion.
Last week, Ed Nordholm went all Snowden and released portions of emails which pertained to his dealings with Matt Hardy over the Broken Matt & Brother Nero characters. There wasn’t really much useful information in the leaks other than claims that Impact were willing to sell the gimmick back to Matt, however WWE were supposedly not interested in using the characters. Nordholm also released “relevant portions” of Matt’s Impact Wrestling contract, claiming it was no different than every other contracted wrestler’s Impact deal – something which Reby Hardy unsurprisingly disputed on Twitter. Matt played it much cooler than his wife and noted that he didn’t need to “desperately overcompensate” to prove his credibility and said he would share his facts via “the correct venue.”
Matt filed an application for the Broken gimmick back in March and on 26/6 the US Patent and Trademark Office issued him with an initial refusal, meaning he will need to amend his original filing. The refusal was issued because, “[Hardy’s claim] identifies only the name of a particular character/personal name; it does not function as a service mark to identify and distinguish applicant’s services from those of others and to indicate the source of applicant’s services.” Pro Wrestling Sheet noted that Matt had filed without listing the services the gimmick provides, such as merchandise. Hardy has six months to respond to the initial refusal or his application will be voided.
KUSHIDA won the 2017 Best of the Super Juniors tournament on when he defeated last year’s winner, Will Ospreay, in the final in Tokyo on 3/6. The match went 27:59 and was one of the best of the entire tournament; KUSHIDA got the win with the Back to the Future Small Package Driver. With the victory, KUSHIDA will now challenge Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title at the Dominion show on 11/6. This year’s BOSJ was one of the best in years and here is how the blocks ended up looking by the close of the tournament:
Will Ospreay (5-2 = 10 points)
Hiromu Takahashi (4-3 = 8 points)
Marty Scurll (4-3 = 8 points)
Ricochet (4-3 = 8 points)
Dragon Lee (4-3 =8 points)
Taichi (4-3 = 8 points)
TAKA Michinoku (2-5 = 4 points)
Jushin “Thunder” Liger (1-6 = 2 points)
KUSHIDA (4-3 = 8 points)
Ryusuke Taguchi (4-3 = 8 points)
BUSHI (4-3 = 8 points)
Yoshinobu Kanemaru (4-3 = 8 points)
Volador Jr (3-4 = 6 points)
ACH (3-4 = 6 points)
El Desperado (3-4 = 6 points)
Tiger Mask IV (3-4 = 6 points)
New Japan Dominion is from Osaka-Jo Hall on 11/6 and with the addition of the Junior title match there are now four Tokyo Dome rematches set for the show. Here are the big matches announced for what should be one of the best shows of the year:
* Michael Elgin vs. Cody.
* IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship: Roppongi Vice (C) vs. The Young Bucks.
* IWGP Tag Team Championship: War Machine (C) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny.
* IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi (C) vs. KUSHIDA.
* NEVER Openweight Championship, Lumberjack Death Match: Minoru Suzuki (C) vs. Hirooki Goto.
* IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito (C) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi.
* IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (C) vs. Kenny Omega.
DDT ran their Street Wrestling in Tokyo Dome spectacle on 1/6. The show consisted of just one match, in front of a completely empty Tokyo Dome with only reporters and staff being allowed in attendance, as Minoru Suzuki defeated Sanshiro Takagi with the Gotch Piledriver on the home plate at 33:54.
There were all kinds of cameos along the way: Aja Kong sang the Japanese national anthem, Super Sasadango Machine was in the stands and tried to give a PowerPoint presentation, Gota Ihashi was repeatedly kicked down the stairs by Suzuki, Saki Akai was working as a beer girl and kicked Suzuki for not having any money, Lady Beard sang a duet with Takagi, Ken Ohka tried to bribe staff to let him book a Ganbare Wrestling show in the Dome but Suzuki stole his money, Jun Kasai was a janitor and he gave Ohka the Pearl Harbor splash off a ladder through a table, there was a random Muay Thai fighter in a hallway and Takagi tried to get Suzuki to fight him because Suzuki fought Maurice Smith at the Tokyo Dome – instead the kickboxer attacked Takagi and Suzuki ran away, Danshoku Dino and his boys molested Rocky Kawamura, Suzuki & Takagi beat up Hiroshi Tanabota & Chinsuke Nakamura in a hallway, Genichiro Tenryu was coaching Keisuke Ishii & Ryota Nakatsu how to throw pitches, Meiko Satomura pitched balls at Takagi while the DDT roster cheered him on from the bench, Tenryu ordered Suzuki up to the plate to bat but he was so annoyed with Satomura’s terrible pitches a mass brawl on the field while Tenryu yelled at everyone to stop. After the match, Takagi once again teased retirement and Suzuki stood beside him for a ten bell salute. On the 7th bell, Takagi called Suzuki a sucker and gave him the Stunner, before declaring he wasn’t retiring while he had the chance to beat Suzuki. He even challenged Suzuki to a Falls Count Anywhere match on an uninhabited island, which Suzuki accepted! There was another mass brawl on the field to end this wonderful madness.
Kaientai Dojo ran “Tokyo Big Show” on 28/5 at Shinkiba 1stRING in Tokyo, drawing 330 fans, which is virtually a sell-out for the building. (6) Main event saw Isami Kodaka defeat Kengo Mashimo for the Champion of Strongest-K title in 18:25 with the Isami-ashi-zan. TAKA Michinoku appeared and challenged his former student for the title, which Kodaka accepted. (5) Semi-main had TAKA Michinoku over GO Asakawa in 11:57 with the Dick Killer. (4) Tank Nagai downed Yuki Sato in a “Loser Apologises” match in 8:19 with a Spear; Sato apologised afterwards and the two Magatsuki stablemates shook hands. (3) Ayumu Honda & Kunio Toshima beat Daigoro Kashiwa & Ayato Yoshida in 8:30 when Toshima pinned Kashiwa with a School Boy. (2) Kaji Tomato, Shiori Asahi & Yuma beat Taishi Takizawa, Kotaro Yoshino & Yoshihiro Horaguchi in 11:44 when Kaji hit the Speed on Takizawa. (1) Open was Ricky Fuji, ERINA & Yuki Ueno over Kyu Mogami, Bambi & Marines Mask in 11:14 after Fuji gave Marines the 9999.
Zero1 ran the Koga City Gymnasium in Ibaraki on 28/5. Main event saw Atsushi Onita & Shinjiro Otani defeat TARU & Takuya Sugawara in 18:02 when Otani pinned Sugawara with a Kasegiri Chop. Semi-main had Masato Tanaka & James Raideen over Kohei Sato & Tatsuhito Takaiwa in 10:30 when Raideen hit a Chokeslam on Takaiwa.
Travis Banks won the 2017 PROGRESS Super Strong Style 16 tournament last weekend in Camden, Greater London. It was the third annual installment of the Spring Bank Holiday event and for the first time ever the tournament took place over three nights. Banks defeated Tyler Bate in the final on 29/5 and with the win announced that he wanted his PROGRESS Championship match with Pete Dunne at the company’s biggest show ever on September 10th at Alexandra Palace. Banks made it to the final by beating Jimmy Havoc in the First Round, Flamita in the Quarter-Final and Zack Sabre Jr in the Semi-Final. Bate’s road to the final saw him go over “Pastor” William Eaver in Round One, Mark Haskins in the Quarter-Final and Matt Riddle in the Semi-Final.
FloSlam have increased the price of a monthly subscription from $20 to $29.99. PWInsider noted on 29/5 that the change is due to FloSports no longer offering specific subscriptions, meaning all the new subscribers paying $29.99 will be able to access all the FloSports channels (MMA, Grappling, Gymnastics, Softball, Cheerleading [!], etc). Anyone who signed up before the price hike will be grandfathered in at $20 a month, but will not be able to access all the other FloSports content.
With Lucha Underground season three stating up again this week, Cubsfan had a lot of information on the promotion on his site. A lot has happened with AAA since the LU mid-season break started, the most significant (as it pertains to LU) being Pentagon, Fenix & Sexy Star all leaving the company. It is worth noting that AAA and LU are in fact separate companies, so the fact that three of the top LU stars are no longer with AAA shouldn’t necessarily be an issue if they go ahead with a fourth season. AAA does own a percentage of LU (it is unclear how much), while LU have exclusive TV rights in the US to any of the AAA luchadors they bring in. Cubs noted that LU want Pentagon, Fenix & Sexy Star back for season four, however AAA luchadors were reportedly told during season two that quitting AAA would result in them losing their LU gig too. This was the case with Flamita, who appeared very briefly as Nightclaw during season two and never came back after he left AAA. Dorian Roldan, who oversees LU from AAA’s side, has said that everybody is welcome back to LU, so it is unclear at the moment what will happen to the LU talent who have left AAA. It would be a huge blow for LU to lose Pentagon, Fenix, and to a lesser extent, Sexy Star, so I would guess they will come to some sort of agreement if season four gets the green light.
There’s a different story with Ricochet however, as LU wanted him so much they had the option written into his contract that he could leave after three seasons if he desired. Even though filming of season three wrapped up last year, Ricochet has been unable to work for any other promotion with TV in the US. Obviously the deal doesn’t affect New Japan, who are on AXS TV, although Ricochet is not able to appear on the Long Beach shows due to this clause. He will be a free agent once season three finishes airing on the El Rey Network, which appears to be around October time. LU could always offer Ricochet a new deal to stay, but I would be amazed if WWE don’t come in for him once he is on the open market.
On a fourth season: It looks like everyone wants to continue producing new episodes – LU, AAA, El Rey – but nobody has come out and officially said anything about it yet. Cubs explained that AAA & El Rey cannot fund a season four on their own and a good chunk of the money needed would have to come from current/new investors. Not much is known about these mystery LU investors, or who they even are. MGM is one of the owners and might be able to sell the show to international stations, such as Tele5 in Germany, but they are going to need many more providers in different countries to pick up the show if that is the plan.
Apparently, AAA TV will start airing in the UK on June 14th on the free-to-air Front Runner TV channel. I didn’t even know the channel existed, never mind that they would be airing AAA, so that gives you an idea about the kind of awareness the channel has.
In typical dunderhead Impact Wrestling fashion, there was a mix up with the Impact TV shows in the UK and they accidentally aired a re-run of the episode from two weeks ago on 27/5. Spike UK ran the Bellator show from London live on 26/5 in the usual Impact time-slot and the new episode of Impact was supposed to air the following night. Impact acknowledged the mishap on Twitter and said they were trying to find out what happened.
Mexican football star Raul Jimenez, who plays for S.L. Benfica in Portugal, paid tribute to Sin Cara after scoring the opening goal in Benfica’s Portugese Cup final against Vitoria SC on 28/6. The striker pulled out a Sin Cara mask from his shorts and ran over to the fans, where he put the mask on. As the ridiculous football rules dictate Jimenez was issued a yellow card for celebrating in an unsportsmanlike manner, which probably didn’t bother him too much as Benfica went on to win the game 2-1.
WWE Extreme Rules is this Sunday (4/6) from the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, MD. Here’s the card:
* Rich Swann & Sasha Banks vs. Noam Dar & Alicia Fox.
* WWE Cruiserweight Title, Submission Match: Neville (C) vs. Austin Aries.
* WWE RAW Tag Team Title, Steel Cage Match: The Hardy Boyz (C) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro.
* WWE RAW Women’s Title, Kendo Stick on a Pole Match: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Bayley.
* WWE Intercontinental Title, If Dean Ambrose is DQ’d he loses the title: Dean Ambrose (C) vs. The Miz w/Maryse.
* Extreme Rules Fatal Five-Way #1 Contendership for the WWE Universal Title: Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Samoa Joe.
ICYMI: I was on the 1 Guy Talking Podcast last weekend, talking pro-wres, MMA, boxing, heavy metal and a bunch of other stuff. You can listen to the direct mp link here and make sure to check out some of the other shows from the good brother Ethan Sincoff (@1GuyTalkingPodcast) while you’re there.
RAW on 29/6 did a 1.75 rating, with 2,613,000 viewers. 8pm did 2,689,000 viewers, 9pm did 2,681,000 and 10pm did 2,613,000, That’s another atrocious number.
SmackDown on 30/6 did 2,330,000 viewers, up slightly from the 2,328,000 last week.
The return of Lucha Underground on 31/6 did 65,000 viewers for the first run at 8pm and 36,000 for the replay.
Impact on 1/6 did 287,000 viewers, down from 305,000 last week.
Thanks for reading, everybody! We’ll see you all next week.