The Pro-Wres Digest for November 20th – 26th
After smashing Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series, Bill Goldberg announced on RAW that he would be entering the 2017 Royal Rumble. Pro Wrestling Sheet first broke the news a few minutes after Survivor Series went off the air and Dave Meltzer reported on Observer Radio that the plan is for Goldberg to work three more matches. Obviously that includes the Rumble and a WrestleMania match, but we’ll have to wait and see what the third match will be. Goldberg’s deal appears to be that he will work as many times as WWE wants, as long as Vince McMahon meets his money figure.
The Goldberg deal was initially intended to be a one-and-done, presumably with him losing to Lesnar at Survivor Series. However, his first appearance on TV in years helped pick-up the wretched RAW numbers and it became clear Goldberg was a bigger star than virtually everyone else in the company. According to the Observer, Vince McMahon – seeing the immediate difference to business – made the decision that a Goldber/Lesnar match would be the best direction for WrestleMania. Lesnar was penciled in for “bigger plans” at Mania and reportedly some key people in the company were against what happened at Survivor Series, but Vince had made up his mind and he went through with his plan. What maybe the most surprising thing of all about the whole situation is that Lesnar himself was completely on board with the idea. Brock had begun to earn a reputation among certain fans that he didn’t want to “do business,” which was backed up by Dean Ambrose’s claim that Lesnar didn’t want to do anything during their WrestleMania match this year. This time, seeing the bigger picture and realising that losing in such a shocking manner to Goldberg would actually build to a bigger match, as well as keep himself protected, Lesnar was more than willing to do the right thing for business. It currently looks like they will both be in the Royal Rumble, or at least Goldberg will be, and they will presumably shoot an angle to lead towards WrestleMania.
Remember a couple of months ago, prior to his rematch with Nick Diaz at UFC 202, when Conor McGregor worked a bunch of professional wrestlers by saying mean things about the business? Well unsurprisingly, McGregor’s agent Audie Atter appeared on the 5ive Rounds podcast this week and said the McGregor camp would be willing to entertain offers from WWE if the financial terms were satisfactory. Atter said, “If they’re going to come with an offer, we’re willing to entertain it. We’re here. So have their people call his people, which is me, and we can have a conversation.” He added that they have not had any direct conversations with the WWE, but noted they had heard rumours from the media about a potential deal being on the table.
Speculation regarding WWE’s interest in McGregor heightened after his victory over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, as HHH was cageside in Madison Square Garden and he spoke with the UK’s pre-eminent MMA journalist, Gareth A Davies of The Telegraph, about a possible interest in Conor.
“He could come over, he’s got it all, man – he’s got the personality, the skills, the talk. He’s an entertainer for sure. […] What does he walk around at? 180lbs? We have 200lb guys who are stars. You don’t need to be 300lbs anymore.”
HHH also told Davies, “he [Conor] could do just as as Floyd Mayweather when he fought the Big Show. That really worked. Conor could do it for sure.” Atter responded to the question of McGregor getting physical in a match by noting that it would all depend on how big the WWE’s offer would be.
CM Punk was on the MMA Hour this week and told Ariel Helwani that he is confident he will fight in the UFC again. Punk said that he met with Dana White and told him, “I’m fighting again whether it’s for you or somebody else.” He added that Dana, “floated [him] an idea and we’re kind of going back and forth on it right now” then stated, “I’m at the point where I kind of want to get something on paper, so you might hear an announcement in the coming weeks, I really don’t know.” Punk talked about still training with RoufusSport in Milwaukee and being back in the gym the Monday after his loss to Mickey Gall. He also told Helwani that he had not watched the Gall fight back because he was there and he knows what he did wrong.
Rush was revealed to be Tetsuya Naito’s mystery partner during the first night of New Japan’s World Tag League on 18/12 at Korakuen Hall. Naito & Rush downed Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson in the main event of the show when Naito pinned Juice with the Destino at 16:50. Billy Gunn also made his long awaited NJPW debut during an eight-man, as he teamed with Yoshitatsu, Kushida & Ryusuke Taguchi to beat Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Jushin “Thunder” Liger & David Finlay. Gunn pinned Finlay with the Fameasser at 7:19. The finals of the Tag League are on 10/12 from Sekisui Haim Super Arena in Miyagi. Here are the current standings as of 26/11:
Tenzan & Kojima (3-0 = 6 points)
War Machine (3-0 = 6 points)
Guerrillas of Destiny (3-0 = 6 points)
Page & Yujiro (2-1 = 4 points)
Breaker & Race (2-1 = 4 points)
Rush & Naito (2-1 = 4 points)
Tanahashi & Juice (1-2 = 2 points)
Nakanishi & Henare (0-3 = 0 points)
Evil & Sanada (3-0 = 6 points)
Yoshitatsu & Billy Gunn (2-1 = 4 points)
Goto & Ishii (2-1 = 4 points)
Okada & Yoshi-Hashi (2-1 = 4 points)
Makabe & Honma (1-2 = 2 points)
Omega & Owens (1-2 = 2 points)
Shibata & Nagata (1-2 = 2 points)
Bad Luck Fale & Bone Soldier (0-3 = points)
Minoru Suzuki won the 2016 NOAH Global League Tournament in front on 1,313 fans at Korakuen Hall on 23/11 after defeating Masa Kitamiya in the final with the Gotch Piledriver at 35:15. With the victory, Suzuki will receive a GHC Heavyweight title shot against Katsuhiko Nakajima on 2/12 at Korakuen. After the match, Suzuki declared that the final bomb explosion would shatter NOAH for good on 2/12 and Nakajima vowed to finally rid NOAH of the SZKG menace one and for all. This would seem like the perfect blow-off to the nearly two-year SZKG invasion angle and with any luck we might see Suzuki at the Tokyo Dome on 4/1, although that might just be wishful thinking. Also on the Global League Final show, Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr regained the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team titles from Naomichi Marufuji & Toru Yano in 17:30 after the Killer Bomb on Yano. Maybach Taniguchi & Go Shiozaki came out to challenge KES afterwards. Here are the final standings of the 2016 NOAH Global League:
Minoru Suzuki (6-1 = 12 points)
Katsuhiko Nakajima (5-2 = 10 points)
Toru Yano (5-2 = 10 points)
Quier Storm (4-3 = 8 points)
Lance Archer [4-3 = 8 points)
Maybach Taniguchi (2-5 = 4 points)
Hiro Saito (1-6 = 2 points)
Takashi Iizuka (1-6 = 2 points)
Masa Kitamiya (5-2 = 10 points)
Naomichi Marufuji (4-3 = 8 points)
Mohammad Yone (4-3 = 8 points)
Takashi Sugiura (4-3 = 8 points)
Davey Boy Smith Jr (4-3 = 8 points)
Go Shiozaki(4-3 = 8 points)
Alejandro Saez (3-4 = 6 points)
Kaito Kiyomiya (0-7 = 0 points)
All Japan announced this week that Kenta Kobashi will be appearing on the 27/11 AJPW show at Sumo Hall. Kobashi will present the Triple Crown title to the winner of the Kento Miyahara (C) vs. Suwama championship main event. There are 11 matches booked for the show, with wrestlers from a bunch of different independent promotions on the card. To save time, here are a few of the big matches:
* Dory Funk Jr, Chavo Guerrero Sr., Ultimo Dragon & Tajiri vs. The Great Kabuki, Osamu Nishimura, Yutaka Yoshie & Isami Kodaka.
* Jun Akiyama & Kendo Kashin vs. Takao Omori & Manabu Soya.
* World Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: Soma Takao (C) vs. Keisuke Ishii.
* Asia Tag Championship Match: Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato (C) vs. Masanobu Fuchi & Atsushi Onita.
* World Tag Championship Match: Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi (C) vs. Zeus & The Bodyguard.
* Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship Match: Kento Miyahara (C) vs. Suwama.
Jun Akiyama will be working the Christmas Day Basara show at Korakuen Hall against Sagat. Also announced for the show is a Yokohama Shopping Street 6-Man Championship match, with Abdullah Kobayashi, Takayuki Ueki & Masaya Takahashi (C) defending against Koji Kanemoto, Ryuichi Sekine & Kotaro Nasu. Main event is Isami Kodaka vs. Trans Arm Hiroshi for the Union Max Championship.
For the second year in a row, Glasgow based ICW ran the biggest UK wrestling show in a generation. Last year they drew 4,000 people to the SECC Arena, which was the biggest crowd for a British wrestling event since the fabled Big Daddy vs. Giant Haystacks match at Wembley Arena in 1981. This time around, ICW ran the 12,000 seat Hydro Arena in Glasgow and drew an impressive 6,193 paid fans. The top section of the arena was mostly tarped off so the building looked absolutely packed on TV and despite WWE doing 11,000 fans for RAW and 10,800 for SmackDown in the same arena two weeks earlier, ICW still managed to draw a fantastic house. Dave Meltzer noted in the Observer this week that ICW out-drew any TNA event in the UK since 2012, which is impressive considering TNA is on TV every week in the UK and ICW is not.
The build to Fear & Loathing IX basically started during last year’s show when they announced they would be running the Hydro and the same was done this time around, with Fear & Loathing X being booked for the Hydro Arena in 2017. Mick Foley, who has been ICW’s storyline commissioner for over a year, agreed to be on the show prior to going back to WWE, however he had to be in Toronto for the Survivor Series and WWE sent Finn Balor to make a special appearance instead. Balor cut a promo to open the show and said ICW would always be his home. He also stated that he had not flown 7,000 miles to just shake hands and take pictures. Foley ended up appearing “via satellite” (pre-tape) and introduced Balor to the crowd.
The show itself certainly felt like a big-time event, however the actual ICW product left a lot to be desired. When it comes to pure in-ring, ICW cannot touch the other two big UK promotions, Rev Pro & Progress, and the profanity laden promos don’t nearly come off as rebellious in 2016 as they did a generation ago in the 90s when ECW was doing them. On that note, the booking and storylines also came across like relics from a bygone era. An abundance of gimmick matches? Check. Chair-shots to the head? Check. A heel stable group trying to take over the promotion? Check. A battle between 50% owners for total control of the company? Double check. The presentation and format of the show would have seemed painfully familiar if you lived through the original ECW run or the Attitude Era. Not simply because we all experienced it the first time around, but due to the fact that in the nearly twenty years since wrestling promoters have blindly tried to recreate the success of the late 90s by attempting to evoke the spirit of ECW or simply copying angles/gimmicks from the Attitude Era. Luckily ICW’s host of local Scottish talent, which helps draw a rabidly loyal fan base, papers over the cracks and the fact that 6,193 people paid to see a product that is in all honesty not particularly original or that thrilling is something to be admired.
One thing ICW should be praised for is that all the big stars from the US came in and put over the local talent clean. (9) Main event saw Joe Coffey submit Kurt Angle with his Boston Crab in a solid wrestling match. Angle did a promo afterwards and said Coffey was the real deal. (8) Semi-main was the match that drew most of the fans: an eight-man elimination tag for control of the company. Team Dallas (Chris Renfrew, Sha Samuels, DCT & Grado w/Mark Dallas) beat The Black Label (Drew Galloway, Jack Jester, Bram & Kid Fite w/Red Lightening) in a really heated affair. It came down to Renfrew vs. Galloway; Jester ended up turning on Galloway and Finn Balor showed up to help take out Galloway, which allowed Renfrew to win with a Stunner. Afterwards, Mark Dallas fired Red Lightening like he was playing Vince McMahon. (7) Wolfgang retained the ICW World title over Trent Seven in a Cage. Match was weak and hurt by the stupid escape the cage rule. Finish saw Seven use brass knuckles to knock Wolfgang off the cage through two tables on the floor like a complete idiot. (6) Louis Girvan downed Ricochet in the best match of the night. It was the usual Ricochet match, but on this show it was a level above everything else. Grivan won with a Crossface submission after Ricochet missed the 630. (5) Kenny Williams won the Zero-G title in a seven-way Stairway to Heaven match. A bunch of geeks were eliminated (Zack Gibson, Liam Thompson, Iestyn Rees, Andy Wild & Aaron Echo) and it came down to Lionheart vs. Williams. Williams hit an Ace Crusher off the top rope while Lionheart was on the Ladder and he climed up to get the belt. (4) Team 3D put over Polo Promotions (Jackie Polo & Mark Coffey) in a No DQ match; it sucked. Polo pinned D-Von after a Bodyslam on a chair. Davey Blaze & The Wee Man came out and everybody put Blaze through a table. (3) Stevie Boy beat BT Gunn in a Casket Match; they stole spots from the Shawn Michaels/Undertaker Casket Match. You’ll be shocked to learn this was not as good. Kay Lee Ray came out to help her boyfriend Stevie Boy win. (2) Kay Lee Ray won the ICW Women’s title in a three-way over Carmel & Viper. Carmel did a retirement speech afterwards and put over Kay Lee Ray as the best woman in the company. (1) Opener saw Joe Hendry beat Davey Blaze w/The Wee Man. Stipulation was that Hendry would get “Five Minutes” with the Wee Man if he won. Instead, Hendry gave Wee Man one move and that was it.
ROH’s tour of the UK last weekend saw the debut of Marty Scurll & Will Ospreay for the promotion. On 18/11 at the Liverpool Olympia – the same building ROH ran its first UK show in 2006 – Ospreay defeated Bobby Fish for the TV title and Scurll downed Dalton Castle. The next night on 19/11 in Leicester had a must-see main event with The Young Bucks over Scurll & Ospreay in what was reportedly a great match. The final show of the tour was at York Hall on 20/11 and Scurll beat Ospreay for the TV title he won two days earlier. Some notes on the tour from The Observer: The 18/11 show in Liverpool did 700 fans. 19/11 in Leicester did 650 and York Hall on 20/11 was a reported sell-out of 1,100. Kyle O’Reilly had been told not to fly for an “indefinite period of time” due to a “serious health issue,” however he did fly and work the shows. Meltzer noted he was doing better but it is an “ongoing situation.” Bobby Fish was forced to fly home before the final show due to a family health issue. Steve Corino is under contract with ROH until the end of the year and is unable to negotiate with WWE or anybody else. There had been rumours of Corino being offered a trainers role at the Performance Centre. He’ll probably end up in Florida early next year.
Jamie Noble was backstage at the Survivor Series show in Toronto and PWInsider reported that he returned to work at the 14/11 RAW in Buffalo, NY. Noble was attacked and stabbed by three men outside of his West Virginia trailer park home in and was hospitalised after the incident in September.
Some more chancers have jumped on the ongoing class action concussion lawsuit against WWE. The four new plaintiffs are, Sylvano Sousa, who did jobs regularly from 1974-1980, Spirit Squad member Johnny Jeter, Too Cold Scorpio and Chad Dick of the Dick Brothers from OVW in 2004-06.
FloSlam announced on 21/11 that Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore promotion is the latest addition to their live streaming network. The first HOH show on the FloSlam platform will be the 3/12 Blizzard Brawl show in Waukesha, WI. HOH 22 on 16/12 from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, PA will also be streamed live, with Tommy Dreamer vs. Matt Hardy in a Cage Match as the main event. HOH 23 on 17/12 from the MCW Arena in Joppa, MD and will be the third FloSlam exclusive event.
In more FloSlam news, WWNLive will be launching a new promotion starting next year called “Style Battle.” Evolve booker Gabe Sapolsky will be heading the new group and the concept is to produce “almost monthly” tournaments within seasons. There will be 9 shows per season, with the first 8 featuring an 8-man tournament and the final show to crown a champion. The first Style Battle show will be on 7/1 from the Orpheum in Ybor City, FL and will be streamed live on FloSlam.
RAW on 21/11 the day after Survivor Series did a 2.13 rating with 2,985,000 viewers. 8 pm (with Goldberg) did 3,137,000, 9pm did 3,097,000 and 10pm did 2,772,000.
SmackDown on 22/11 did 2,505,000.
The Total Divas and TNA Impact rating appear to be delayed due to Thanksgiving.