The Pro-Wres Digest for October 30th – November 5th
On All Hallows’ Eve 2016 the most terrifying thing imaginable happened for professional wrestling in the United States. Billy Corgan’s Temporary Restraining Order and Denying Temporary Injunction was ruled unenforceable by the Tennessee Chancery Court, meaning Dixie Carter remained as the majority owner of TNA and Impact Ventures LLC. Judge Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled that the agreement signed by Corgan & Carter on August 11th, which would have seen Corgan acquire Carter’s 92.5% of TNA in the “event of default,” was “not implemented in accordance with Tennessee law and [TNA’s] LLC Operating Agreement.” Basically, Corgan needed consent from all the named managers, including the other defendants in the case CFO Dean Broadhead and Dixie’s husband Serg Salinas, for the agreement to be valid. Clearly, Broadhead and Salinas did not consent to Corgan’s attempted take-over.
On the subject of TNA’s obvious insolvency, a major part of Corgan’s case and the reason he believed the company should be turned over to him, Judge Lyle found in favour of TNA on what was essentially a technicality, one that TNA’s attorneys even used as evidence during their defence.
“As identified by Defendant’s argument, inclusion of the word ‘becomes’ in the text must be taken into account. Tennessee contract construction rules require every word to be given effect, and none may be ignored, omitted or read out of the text.”
In essence, Lyle ruled that TNA could not become insolvent because they already were insolvent at the time Corgan and Carter signed the agreement on August 11th. The Judge noted that most of Corgan’s evidence of insolvency were “contracts and events which had their inception before August 11, 2016, which continued to worsen and deteriorate up to the present.” The fact that TNA could not legally be found insolvent because they already were insolvent I find highly amusing.
Cogan was also unable to provide sufficient evidence that TNA, Dixie Carter and Dean Broadhead withheld important business information from him. Judge Lyle noted that Corgan needed to provide a “substantial liklihood of success on the merits at trail that the Defendants breached by withholding information.” Due to the “competing and disputed versions of [the] facts” Lyle didn’t believe Corgan had met the burden of proof required to proceed with his case.
All this meant that TNA and Dixie Carter were free to go about their carny business just like before. They didn’t have to look far to find the money mark that Dixie has been after for years, as on 3/11 Anthem announced they were officially “an equity holder in Impact Ventures” and they also declared a new management hierarchy. Anthem Executive Vice President Ed Nordholm is now in charge of running TNA and is responsible for “all major operating and recruiting decisions, while they claimed Dixie “will continue as Chair of the company.” Anthem also stated that “Billy Corgan is no longer with the company.” Dave Meltzer noted on 3/11 that the talent were informed that Dixie Carter would still be on the board but would no longer be a part of the day-to-day operations. So, after 14 years of blithering incompetence, it is finally official: DIXIE CARTER IS NO LONGER IN CHARGE OF TNA!!!
Interestingly Aroluxe were not mentioned in the press release at all, however SE Scoops managed to obtain a copy of an internal email sent by Dixie Carter to talent where in a little light is shed on the situation. Dixie told employees that Aroluxe are in fact an “equity stakeholder” and would continue to produced TNA shows in 2017; she also noted that Aroluxe, “will become more actively involved in the creative process to ensure that our taping productions are as efficient and cost-effective as possible.” Aroluxe CEO Jason Brown was believed to be the person selected to take over from Dixie Carter as President of TNA after the verdict on 31/10, however he was not mentioned anywhere in Anthem’s statement or Dixie’s emails and just three days later Anthem appointed their own EVP as the new TNA President. David Bixenspan noted on 3/11 that Brown and the Harris twins were removed from the “Team” listing on the Aroluxe website a few weeks ago and now the “Team” listing has been removed altogether.
As for Corgan, he was due to be reimbursed the $2.7 million he foolishly invested in TNA on November 1st. On 3/11 he Tweeted that he had still not been paid back his $2.7 million which he noted TNA “swore in front of a judge” they would pay back. Corgan added that he was exploring further legal remedies, including “new filings with the court and converting 36 percent to equity.” We’ll have to wait and see where the story goes next, however even if Corgan was awarded the 36% of the company he would have very little influence compared to Anthem who own an outright majority in TNA. On 4/11 Corgan Tweeted that he was “formally requesting” repayment of the $1.8 million he invested, which with everything else added comes to $2.7 million. Corgan also noted that he he could still convert his 36% to stock and had the option to sell to the highest bidder. This thing is far from over.
Once again, David Bixenspan of Se Scoops, Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet were all over the story. Dave Meltzer had a full write up of the case in this week’s Observer and Nate Rau of the Tennessean covered the case from inside the courtroom.
There was some bad news for Dixie, TNA, and Anthem this week, as Challenge TV in the UK announced they would not be airing Impact anymore starting in January 2017. TNA responded with a laughable statement claiming that “[in] today’s world, spoiler’s are inevitable” and their goal is to find a channel that would be able to air the show closer to the US Thursday air-date. Neither side acknowledged that the UK Impact ratings have been plummeting over the last couple of years. On top of losing one of their main revenue streams with the UK TV deal, TNA also lost their head of Creative, Dave Lagana this week. Lagana, who had been with the company since 2011, posted a statement on his website and listed all the people he learned from in the wrestling business. Vince, McMahon, Paul Heyman, Dusty Rhodes, Pat Patterson, Gerry Brisco, Shawn Michaels, Vince Russo, Eric Bischoff & Bruce Pritchard were just a few of the names he mentioned. Notably, Dixie Carter & John Gaburick’s names were nowhere to be found. Lagana was friends with Billy Corgan and was expected to have a bigger role in the company if Corgan gained control; obviously that didn’t happen.
In a story that seemingly came out of nowhere, Pro Wrestling NOAH released a Notice of Business Transfer on 1/11 which announced the sale of the company to the Japanese IT group Estbee Co, Ltd. Tokyo Sports broke the news first on 1/11 and it sounds like the deal was finalised on October 31st. Interestingly, Masayuki Uchida, who took over from Keiji Mutoh as All Japan President during that whole saga in 2011, was a central figure in putting the deal together. Uchida was replaced as All Japan President in June 2013 by Nobuo Shiraishi, who in turn would be replaced by Jun Akiyama a year later, and had very little to do with pro wrestling for the next couple of years. Tokyo Sports reported that Estbee sent Uchida to represent them during confidential meetings with NOAH Vice President Naomichi Marufuji in early October. NOAH had previously been looking for potential investors and even went to the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry in a failed bid to drum up support. Tokyo Sports added that the “transfer amount in unknown,” however Estbee have acquired the rights to the Pro Wrestling NOAH name and all of its trademarks. At the opening night of the 2016 Global League on 3/11 at Korakuen Hall, Masayuki Uchida addressed the fans in the ring along with all the competitors in the tournament and said he wanted to make NOAH the top promotion in Japan again.
Estbee’s CEO Yosuke Fuwa appointed Uchida as the new NOAH President, taking over from Akira Taue who was given the position by Mayumi Misawa in 2009 after the death of her husband and Pro Wrestling NOAH founder, Mitsuharu Misawa. Mayumi Misawa is still the majority shareholder in the company, although her involvement – if any – with the Estbee sale in unknown at the current time. Tokyo Sports noted that Estbee’s goal is to use its “brand power” to help NOAH grow as a company by “leaps and bounds” and to “start moving towards the capital increase before the end of the year.” What is worth noting is that nothing has been announced as far as the man who helped put the deal together with Estbee, the Vice President of NOAH Naomichi Marufuji.
Since January 2015 Bushiroad have acted as the parent company for NOAH, but even installing Jado & Gedo as bookers, sending Minoru Suzuki and his crew over, and the occasional talent exchange did little to help save the sinking ark. Bushiroad CEO and New Japan President Takaaki Kidani tweeted on 1/11 that he was “very surprised” at the news of the NOAH takeover and he told Tokyo Sports on 2/11 he had “no comment” at the current time. There are still some loose ends to tie up with the New Japan vs. NOAH story, as Jado & Gedo have the Junior Tag titles, Toru Yano is one half of the Heavyweight Tag champs with Marufuji, plus Katsuyori Shibata just beat Go Shiozaki clean at the Great Voyage in Yokohama which could have conceivably led to a rematch at the Tokyo Dome. Perhaps Estbee and Bushiroad can work something out that allows the inter-promotional story to play out at least until January 4th. If not, the other option would be a compete severing of ties which would almost certainly leave both companies with a huge mess to clean up.
After Vince McMahon successfully managed to destroy all the amazing groundwork laid during the Cruiserweight Classic in just a couple of months, WWE announced that the languishing division would be getting its own one hour show on the Network starting on November 29th at 10pm ET. “205 Live” is the name of the new show that will inconceivably be taped after SmackDown – not before – on Tuesdays, with Maruo Ranallo & Corey Graves doing the commentary. So at least that will be good. Some of the names announced for the show include, Brian Kendrick, TJ Perkins, Cedric Alexander, Rich Swann, Akira Tozawa, Jack Gallagher, Gran Metalik, Noam Dar, Lince Dorado, The Bollywood Boyz & HoHo Lun. Imagine a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa or Biloxi, Mississippi having to watch a match with HoHo Lun or the Bollywood Boyz after sitting through a Main Event taping and two hours of SmackDown. The first 205 Live show on 29/11 will be from Columbia, South Carolina so I wouldn’t imagine the Cruisers are going to be over at all in that town either. With 205 Live airing at 10pm Eastern on the Network, everybody’s favourite show, Talking Smack, has been moved back an hour to 11pm ET. Even with the new show, the Cruiserweights will still be featured on RAW with the idea that they will shoot angles on Monday that will lead to matches on Tuesday.
The Undertaker has been working his annual gimmick of being too old and broken down to work WrestleMania. About three weeks ago, some pictures emerged online of Taker posing with fans while using a crutch. We purposely chose not to report on it at the time, because similar pictures have popped up over the last couple of years and Taker always seemed to magically heal in time for WrestleMania. Dave Meltzer noted in the Observer this week that Undertaker recently underwent hip surgery, however last week Taker appeared in full gimmick, looking as healthy as possible at this stage of his career, for a meeting with LeBron James in the Cleveland Cavaliers locker room. LeBron wore an Undertaker t-shirt during the Cavs championship season and Taker showed up to celebrate their ring ceremony and the start of the new season. On 2/11 the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, PA announced on Facebook that the Undertaker would be returning for the 900th episode of SmackDown on November 15th.
Drew Galloway has been on the shelf since suffering a neck injury in September and this week he announced that he would be out of action longer than anticipated. Galloway was booked to face Tomoaki Honma for Revolution Pro Wrestling next week during the big Global Wars weekend, however he Tweeted on 4/11 that he would have to pull out of the match due to not being 100% ready. Galloway also pulled out of his match with Matt Riddle for Evolve on 12/11, which he noted would take place in the future. WWE took the very extraordinary measure of allowing Tommy End, who started at the Performance Centre last week, to replace Galloway on the Evolve shows and End will face Riddle on 12/11. Galloway was booked in a tag match with Dustin against Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi on 13/11, however it is unknown what the situation is with that match other than Galloway will not be working in it. WWE allowing End to work the Evolve shows is interesting, yet not all that surprising given the working relationship between the two companies. Even though WWE reportedly invested an undisclosed amount of money into FloSports in August this year, the End/Riddle match will not be streamed live on FloSlam and will be for the eyes of the live crowd at Evolve 72 only.
According to the Observer, ACH is gone from ROH. PWInsdier first reported that ACH would be leaving the company after his current contract expired, however Dave Melter noted that both sides came to an agreement to for a mutual release. ACH recently worked an AAW show and cut a promo that people in ROH were not happy with, as he spoke about being in a bad relationship and getting a divorce. He didn’t specifically name ROH, although everybody assumed that was what he was talking about.
The revamped World of Sport pilot taping took place in Salford Quays, England on 1/11 at the Media Centre UK TV studios for ITV Television, the biggest commercial national broadcaster in the UK. Tickets for the event were free and a situation occurred wherein more people applied for tickets than the studio capacity. As a result, many fans were not able to get in and were turned away at the door. One of the unlucky fans who didn’t make it in was DJ Logan Sama, who regularly appears on BBC Radio 1Xtra, and he posted a video on Instagram about his five hour drive to get to the show only to be turned away at the door. About 1,300 free tickets were sent out, however the studio was only set up to hold 350 people. This is a regular practice for TV shows with a studio audience in the UK, however ITV clearly underestimated the commitment of wrestling fans and also failed to recognise that they can be quite the vocal bunch when things don’t go to plan.
The show itself was said to have a large budget and very good production, which is to be expected for a show produced by the second biggest TV institution in the UK. They had a stage hand to tell the fans who to boo and cheer, signs for Big Daddy & Giant Haystacks were handed out along with giant foam fingers and the musical abomination, “Hey Baby” by DJ Otzi was played in between matches to “hype up” the crowd. Fans were also specifically instructed not to do the “One fall!” deal during the ring entrances; the crowd disobeyed the order at first but were chastised again by the fun police and didn’t do it again. In case you couldn’t tell from the above description, the overly campy show was virtually devoid of any authenticity and will in no way reflect the current UK wrestling scene. Reports of the atmosphere ranged from comparisons to a game show studio, to the old hit 90s TV show Gladiators.
Because it is 2016 and people don’t know any other way of producing western professional wrestling, there were a bunch of backstage vignettes and skits, not to mention a heel authority figure, Mr Beesley (played by actor Max Beesley) who had a heel stable of wrestlers. They also had videos highlighting the old British era of wrestling featuring Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Johnny Saint, Mark Rocco & Kendo Nagasaki. The wrestling, as expected, was a far cry from the old World of Sport style and reportedly resembled your average family friendly, holiday camp show. One of the genius ideas of the show was to essentially bestow all the history of the World of Sport era to the new generation of wrestlers. Grado was pushed in the Big Daddy role and the hugely talent Big Damo was cast as the Giant Haystacks to be his major rival. Fans were told that the two-hour show would be airing at 4pm on 31/12; here are the results:
* Dave Mastiff beat Grado to become the first World of Sport Champion. Sha Sammuels & Johnny Moss, who are part of Mr Beesley’s heel group with Mastiff, shoved Grado off the top rope which set up the finish. * Kenny Williams won a Ladder Match to earn a spot in a Battle Royal later on over Sam Bailey, Danny Hope & CJ Banks. * Mark & Joe Coffey over Rampage Brown & Ashton Smith. * Viper beat Alexis Rose. * El Ligero downed Zack Gibson in reportedly the best match of the night. * Grado won a #1 Contenders Battle Royal featuring Samuels, Moss, Ligero, Mark & Joe Coffey, Davey Boy Smith Jr & Kenny Williams. * Main event saw Grado beat Mastiff for the WoS Championship with an RKO in a quick match. Jim Ross and Alex Shane were on commentary.
Akira Tozawa worked his final match for Dragon Gate at the Gate of Destiny show on 3/11. Tozawa teamed with Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi in the main event against Shingo Takagi, Yamato & BxB Hulk and Tozawa ended up taking the fall to the Dream Gate Champion Yamato at 27:49. After the match, Shingo gave Tozawa the Pumping Bomber and the rest of VerserK ran out to put the boots to Tozawa. The entire roster ended up running out to chase VerserK off and Yamato conducted Tozawa’s send-off ceremony. Everybody said a few words. Hulk told Tozawa was the best and that he hated Shingo. Doi said he was jealous of the opportunity Tozawa was getting and told him to drop him a line from time to time. Yoshino talked about becoming friends with Tozawa during their time in Monster Express. Flamita wished him good look in America. Yosuke Santa Maria gave him a goodbye kiss. Mochizuki said Tozawa was leaving a hole that can’t be filled. Cima told a story about him bringing Tozawa to Dragon Gate USA and Tozawa only taking enough clothes for a one week tour; Cima changed Tozawa’s ticket to six-months without telling him. President Okamura said that Dragon Gate will always be his family and told Tozawa to go show American that Dragon Gate has the best style of wrestling. Yamato said that nobody wanted to see him leave, but noted they would meet again someday and when that happens they will laugh, cry and act like idiots again. After everybody said their goodbyes, Tozawa thanked everyone and said he never set a good example for the younger guys so he wasn’t sure what kind of impression he left on them. He also thanked the veterans for putting up with him when he was a punk kid. Tozawa closed by addressing the fans and said he didn’t know what kind of legacy he was leaving behind, however he hoped they would never forget that guy called Akira Tozawa.
The semi-main event of the Gate of Destiny saw Cima & Dragon Kid win the Open the Twin Gate Championships over Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kagetora in 21:36. Also on the card, T-Hawk, Cyber Kong & Brother Yasshi retained the Triangle Gate titles over Genki Horiguchi, Ryo “Jimmy” Saito & Jimmy Kanda and Masaaki Mochizuki, Big R Shimizu & Peter Kaasa in 17:46. Eita retained the Brave Gate strap over Flamita in 14:48. El Lindaman & Mondai Ryu beat Don Fujii & Gamma in 9:59. Kzy & Yosuke Santa Maria over Stalker Ichikawa & Shachihoko Boy in 5:20. Opener saw Futa Nakamura, Hyou Watanabe & Shun Watanabe over Takehiro Yamamura, Kaito Ishida & Punch Tominaga in 6:16.
For the second year in a row, the super strong lads team of Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi won the Big Japan Saikyo Tag League on 31/10 in front of 1,427 fans at Korakuen Hall. Sekimoto & Okabayashi beat the Big Japan Tag Team champions of Kohei Sato & Shuji Ishikawa in the Strong Block final at 13:46. Isami Kodaka & Yuko Miyamoto downed Takayuki Ueki & Masaya Takahsahi in the Deathmatch final in 9:51. The two winning teams then faced off in the main event and Sekimoto pinned Miyamoto at 18:28 with a German Suplex.
New Japan are running an iPPV on November 12th from Auckland, New Zealand of all places, in conjunction with Sakura Events. The main event of the “On the Mat” show sees Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks vs. Kazuchika Okada & Roppongi Vice, which Dave Meltzer noted is “designed to start the hard push” for Okada/Omega at the Dome on January 4th. Other matches of note are, Jay White vs. R.J Brewer, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Dalton Castle, and King Haku, Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa vs. Juice Robinson, Hooligan Marcus Kool & local radio DJ Nasty Nate. The show is available to order here for $18.
The show will have probably taken place by the time you are reading this, but here’s the full card for the New Japan Power Struggle show on 5/11 from the Edion Arena in Osaka:
* IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito (C) vs. Jay Lethal.
* Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Sanada.
* Never Openweight Championship: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Evil.
* Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Will Ospreay & Gedo vs. Kenny Omega, Adam Cole, & The Young Bucks.
* IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Bushi (C) vs. Kushida.
* Super Junior Tag Team Tournament Final: ACH & Taiji Ishimori vs. Roppongi Vice.
* IWGP Tag Team Championship: Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa (C) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi.
* Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Yoshitatsu vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens & Bone Soldier.
* Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask, Ricochet & David Finlay vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Angel de Oro, Titan & Fuego.
* Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi & Teruaki Kanemitsu vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Juice Robinson.
As reported by the New York Times, the Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker sex tape lawsuit was settled on 3/11 for $31 million. In May this year, a Florida jury ordered Gawker to pay Hogan a ludicrous $140 million in damages and founder Nick Denton vowed to fight the verdict with an appeal. Silicon Valley billionaire and long-time enemy of Gawker, Pete Thiel was revealed as the benefactor who was funding Hogan’s lawsuit against the company. Gawker filed for bankruptcy in June and was sold to Univision for $135 million in August. With the sale, Gawker’s website was shut down and Nick Denton ended up leaving the company he co-founded. Denton posted on his own website that a legal fight with Thiel would have been “too expensive” and after four years of litigation, “the sage is over.” Hogan Tweeted on 2/11, “Beautiful day at our beach, brother.”
WWE will be putting on a women’s tournament next year that will follow the same format as the Cruiserweight Classic, with episodes being taped well in advance and a lot of outside talent being brought in. In the Observer this week, Dave Meltzer noted the tourney is scheduled for January through March and that several women have been contacted and told they have spots in the tournament if they want them.
As we covered last week, WWE contacted Io Shirai & Kairi Hojo in attempt to bring both women into the company. The latest from the Observer is that Shirai and Hojo are both virtually guaranteed to be heading to WWE next year, although it is unclear if they will be a part of the women’s tournament. Shirai’s last major date with Stardom will be on March 20th at Korakuen Hall and is also her 10th anniversary show. Hojo will also have a “homecoming” show in April and then is expected to also leave for the US, however Stardom are still trying to convince her to stay. Scheduling permitted, both women could work the WWE tournament before officially signing with the company and would then be free to finish up their obligations with Stardom, similar to Akira Tozawa & Gran Metalik.
Northeast independent promotion Beyond Wrestling and North Carolina-based PWX were announced as the first additions to the FloSlam live streaming service. Beyond tweeted that for now the deal is only for their December 11th show and 90 day rights to the VOD. PWX’s two-night X16 tournament on November 19th-20th will be the company’s debut on the FloSports platform.
Former Werder Bremen and German national goalkeeper, Tim Wiese made his in-ring debt for WWE on 3/11 in Munich, Germany. Wiese teamed with Cesaro & Sheamus in a six-man against The Shining Stars & Bo Dallas.
Austin Aries underwent surgery on 3/11 in Birmingham, AL for his broken left orbital bone. He Tweeted a picture the same day and noted that everything with the surgery went well.
RAW on Halloween did a spooktacular 1.87 rating with 2,591,000 viewers, monstrously down from the 2.00 rating and 2,807,000 last week. 8pm (with Goldberg) did 2,747,000, 9pm did 2,617,000 and 10pm did 2,436,000.
SmackDown on 1/11 did 2,187,000 viewers, which was up slightly from last week’s 2,127,000. What is impressive is that the show was up against game 7 of the World Series, which did 23,396,000 viewers.
Total Bellas on 2/11 did 536,000 viewers, down from the 630,000 last week.
TNA iMPACT on 3/11 did 359,000 viewers, down slightly from 362,000 last week.