The Pro-Wres Digest for July 2nd – 8th
Legendary British wrestler “Cry Baby” Jim Breaks was arrested at his Gran Canaria home on 30/6 and is being investigated for beating his ex-wife to death. During a court hearing on 1/7 Breaks, 80, according to the Daily Mail, admitted to assaulting Donna Cowley, 47, who died in hospital the morning of 30/6 while preparing to undergo X-rays. She was found by Police at an apartment in the Bahia Azul complex in Mogan at 12:45am on 30/6, reportedly sat bleeding in the bath while Breaks was watching TV, and was taken to a health centre in Arguineguin, before being transferred to the University Hospital of Gran Canaria. It is believed Cowley went into cardiac arrest and was unable to be resuscitated by the doctors. In addition to murder, Breaks is being held on suspicion of undermining the authority of the law due to what Guardia Civil officers described as an act of “active resistance” after being taking into custody. He has not been charged with any crime yet, which is common procedure in Spain where charges are laid shortly before trail but Breaks could be facing up to 19 years jail, the maximum sentence for the crimes in Spain. A spokesperson for the Guardia Civil commented, “Up until now, and pending the official result of the autopsy, it has not been possible to determine the exact cause of her death, and whether the death is linked to the possible assault.” On 5/7, Breaks was taken back to the apartment by Spanish officers and the same judge who remanded him in prison on 1/7 as part of the ongoing investigation. According to the Mirror, Breaks “wrestled” with the officers and was uncooperative during the visit. The results of Cowley’s autopsy have not been released, but “well placed sources” have suggested that the judge’s decision to remand Breaks in custody indicates a link between an alleged assault and her death.
If Anthem Sports and Entertainment purchasing TNA back in January and eradicating the rotten initials spelled the death of everybody’s favourite punchline, the final nail in the TNA coffin came last week when Impact Wrestling announced they would be re-branding as Global Force Wrestling. When Impact Wrestling president Ed Nordholm brought back Jeff Jarrett to run the wrestling side of the company, it really was only a matter of time until the GFW re-branding began. Global Force talent were brought in immediately for Impact TV tapings and one of the major storylines has been a feud between Alberto El Patron & Bobby Lashley over the GFW and Impact Wrestling World titles. In fact, Alberto defeated Lashley at the Slammiversary PPV on 2/7 to unify the two championships. The Thursday night show on Pop TV will still be called “Impact” and the company is keeping its Nashville headquarters, however the goal is to erase the bad connotations left over from the old TNA regime. Ed Nordholm told The Tennessean that the “double meaning” of the TNA name was a “turnoff” for some marketing partners and the name was “tainted” due to negative media coverage. Steady Eddie also claimed they are developing a GFW on-demand streaming service which will feature the “3,500-hour” TNA library.
The eldest child of Stu and Helen Hart, Smith Stewart Hart, sadly passed away on 1/7 at the age of just 68 after a short battle with prostate cancer. Smith was on November 28 1948 in Long Island, NY, and was the first of 12 children that Stu & Helen brought into the world. He had a relatively short pro-wrestling career compared to some of his siblings and mainly worked in Stampede, although he went on tours to Europe, Puerto Rico and Japan from 1973-1978. Smith continued to make sporadic appearances in Stampede until Stu Hart sold to Vince McMahon in 1984. He made a few rare appearances on WWF TV over the years. In 1994 he was brought in for the Bret/Owen Cage match at SummerSlam and was one of the family members who tried to climb the cage during the match. In 1999, Smith was planted in the front row of a TV taping with a sign that mocked Bret for believing none of the Hart family should have had anything to do with the WWF after Owen’s death. He was also part of the angle in 2010 when Vince McMahon supposedly paid off all the Hart family members which ultimately turned out to be a swerve during the Bret/Vince WrestleMania 26 match. Smith actually wrestled as late as 2013 for Pure Wrestling Association in Ontario and faced Mad Braddock on a show where his son Mike Hart also wrestled. In 2014, Smith attempted to promote the in-ring debut of David Benoit, the eldest son of Chris Benoit, for the Hart Legacy Wrestling promotion, however the match was canceled when Chris Jericho informed Chavo Guerrero Sr (one of David’s scheduled opponents) that David had not actually received any real pro-wrestling training. In another unfortunate Hart family twist, Smith’s death just happened to fall on his brother Bret’s 60th birthday. Bret was also found to have prostate cancer last year, however it was caught during the early stages and he was able to get rid of the disease with surgery alone and no chemotherapy. Smith’s illness on the other hand was much more aggressive and he was moved into hospice care on May 6th. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the entire Hart family during this time.
In one of the most surprising departures in a while, Austin Aries was released by the WWE on 7/7. The WWE website had the usual “best in all future endeavors” statement and Aries posted on Twitter that it was a “beautiful day.” On the 8/7 Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer reported that Aries was unhappy with his role as part of the Cruiserweight division and 205 Live and asked for his release from the company.
New Japan ran their Long Beach shows this past weekend and as stand alone events both nights were very good, with the second evening of action being slightly better than the first. The big news from the shows was Kenny Omega defeating Tomohiro Ishii in the finals of the IWGP US Championship tournament. The match was easily the best of the weekend and featured one of the best spots of the year, as Ishii blocked a Dragon Suplex off the apron by biting down on the top rope. Omega eventually hit the Dragon Supex through a table and went on to win with the One Winged Angel, (**** ¾). They teased dissension between Cody & Omega when Cody snatched the US title away from Omega, but he ended up putting the belt around Kenny’s waist and the two hugged it out. Omega & Ishii both had two other really good matches on their way to the final. On night one Omega downed Michael Elgin in the quarter final (****½) and earlier on night two he beat Jay Lethal in the semi final, (***¾). Ishii beat Tetsuya Naito on night one (****) then defeated Zack Sabre Jr in the semis on night two (****).
Main event of night one saw Kazuchika Okada retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship over Cody in 27:12 after a Tombstone and a Rainmaker. Match was solid, but nowhere near at the level of Okada’s other matches this year, (***½). Omega showed up afterwards and told Okada the night belonged to him, however they would meet again in the G1. Other highlights from the 1/7 show were War Machine regaining the IWGP Tag Team titles from the Guerillas of Destiny in 11:06 and a really fun match with Zack Sabre Jr beating Juice Robinson in 10:04, (***¾). Elsewhere on the 2/7 show, The Young Bucks retained the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team titles over Roppongi Vice in an excellent match at 22:41. The Bucks hit the “craziest Meltzer Driver ever” in honour of Dave’s father Herbert who sadly passed away last weekend and got the win with double Sharpshooters as a tribute to Smith Hart, (****). Afterwards, Rocky Romero said it was time for Baretta to join the heavyweight division and the two split up as a team. Ricochet also made an appearance and challenged the Bucks to a Jr Tag title match with Taguchi as his partner. Semi-main event of 2/7 had Hiroshi Tanahashi retaining the IWGP Intercontinental title over Billy Gunn in possibly the weakest Tanahashi singles match of all time. Tanahashi won in 14:25 with the HFF, (**).
Last week, Takashi Sugiura spoke with Tokyo Sports about his upcoming heart surgery scheduled for July 14th. He revealed that symptoms of atrial fibrillation began during his GHC Heavyweight title reign and on August 11th 2010 – the day of the signing ceremony for his title defence against Jun Akiyama – he felt sick while training at the dojo and was treated in an ambulance. Tokyo Sports also noted that Sugiura felt “something strange” happen to him on June 3rd 2002 while at a subway station and he called an ambulance. Sugiura said doctors advised him to undergo surgery while he was still young since there were risks of cerebral infarction and myocardial infarction in the future. Over time the medicine he was taking became ineffective and he knew the symptoms were getting worse because he felt sick all the time. Sugiura added that NOAH was going through a “tough time” so he refused to take any time off and continued to wrestle despite his condition. He revealed that NOAH president Masayuki Uchida, who had only been in the role for five months at the time, told him to “take a rest as soon as possible” in November last last year. Sugiura also commented on the nature and mentality of pro-wrestlers in Japan when it comes to taking time off. He said some injuries occur and the injured wrestler won’t even know they are hurt. Interestingly, Sugiura commented that if doctors and trainers don’t tell wrestlers to take some time off to heal then they will continue to compete while hurt. Sugiura hopes to return to the ring in October and said he wants to be back at the top of NOAH when he comes back.
Trans Am*Ryuichi won the BASARA Itadaki League on 5/7 in front of 336 fans at Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo. Ryuchi won the A Block and faced the B Block winner FUMA in the final, which he won in 17:19 with the Perfect 5. The match also doubled as a DDT Union MAX Championship and Ryuichi successfully defended that title in addition to winning the Itadaki League.
Ayato Yoshida of K-DOJO recently suffered a fractured jaw and will be out of action for a few months after he undergoes surgery. Yoshida was scheduled to face Yuji Nagata in the main event of the 4/7 Lion’s Gate show, however he was replaced by fellow K-DOJO prospect GO Asakawa.
We’re still not exactly clear on the situation with Antonio Inoki and the IGF. Back on May 15th, Kazunari Murakami kicked off an angle by invading the Inoki office in Tokyo and he began to put a group together (Murakami Kai) with the goal of taking over the IGF’s offshoot promotion, NEW. After news of Inoki leaving the IGF broke on 20/6, Murakami once again showed up at the Inoki office and stuck a “proliferation notice” up on one of the doors. On 28/6, Murakami held a press conference at the IGF office, which he dubbed the “Murakami Association office,” and hyped the 7/7 NEW show at Korakuen Hall. He also handed out curry buns and cream bread to members of the press who attended. A week later on 5/7 Murakami was back at the office but was in a far less jovial mood, as he talked about Shinichi Suzukawa leaving the IGF/NEW to join up with Inoki. Murakami said he had a message for Suzukawa, whom he initially challenged during the original “illegal occupation” on 15/5, should he appear at Korakuen Hall on 7/7. Suzukawa didn’t appear on 7/7, however Simon Inoki & IGF director Mr Udagawa held a press conference before the Korakuen show. Udagawa said that NEW was basically created for Suzukawa, who was the “ace” of the promotion before he left for ISM, and they will be reviewing the relevancy of the promotion, including its name. It was also revealed at the press conference that Suzukawa was asked to take a urine test at the IGF office on June 28th, however he refused to provide a sample because it was an unannounced test. Suzukawa was dismissed by the Japan Sumo Association in February 2009 after being arrested for possession of cannabis and he had his first match for the IGF in December 2010 when he defeated Mark Coleman. The day after he refused to take the test, on June 29th, Suzukawa announced he was leaving NEW/IGF and joining back up with Inoki and the ISM promotion. The 7/7 show at Korakuen reportedly drew a 1,087 “sell-out,” although that number is almost certainly heavily papered. Murakami teamed with Kohei Sato to defeat the remaining NEW defenders, Keisuke Okuda & Akira Joh, when Murakami hit two STOs on Joh for the TKO at 12:05. Okuda said he would continue to protect NEW, but Murakami stated that he would carry on crushing whatever wall they put in front of him.
The deal with Inoki remains confusing. Everything could be leading to a NEW vs. ISM (Inoki’s new group) feud, as several wrestlers have jumped ship from NEW to ISM, including Shinichi Suzukawa, Hideki Suzuki & Shogun Okamoto. Inoki Tweeted on 20/6, “Now IGF disappears,” which led to the IGF accusing him of “improper proceedings made by illegal acts.” On 27/6 the IGF held a press conference and it was revealed that Inoki had married a woman working for the company whom he demanded be paid 42.5 million yen to cover expenses. The case was reportedly taken to the Tokyo District Court on the same day and the documents submitted by the IGF are said to be “under scrutiny” at this stage. Simon Inoki, an IGF director, was part of the press conference and said, “I do not care what is wrong or right whether it is in the family or not, I want to fight in the right part.” Tokyo Sports had an interview with MMA star and NEW wrestler Shinya Aoki on 5/7, who talked about a possible NEW vs. ISM match but he noted ISM would need more people to jump ship. It certainly seems like an angle, however the only inexplicable aspect of the deal is how a legitimate court case could be used in a pro-wrestling angle.
Rev Pro are running the first ever British J Cup on 8/7 at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall in East London. There are four first round matches in the single-elimination tournament, with all four winners then facing off in an elimination four-way match to crown the inaugural British J Cup champion. Here’s the full card:
* CCK (Chris Brookes & Travis Banks) vs. BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi.
* British J Cup First Round: KUSHIDA vs. Kyle O’Reilly.
* British J Cup First Round: Josh Bodom vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger.
* British J Cup First Round: Marty Scurll vs. Tiger Mask IV.
* British J Cup First Round: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Will Ospreay.
* Tomohiro Ishii vs. Matt Riddle.
* British J Cup Final, 4-Way Elimination Match: ?? vs. ?? vs. ?? vs. ??.
There’s another EVOLVE double-shot this weekend on Floslam. EVOLVE 88 on 8/7 is from Charlotte, NC, and airs 8pm Eastern. Here’s the line-up:
* Jason Kincaid vs. Caleb Konley (Konley’s EVOLVE contract on the line.)
* ACH vs. Austin Theory.
* Trent Baretta vs. Fred Yehi.
* Grudge Match: Darby Allin vs. Tracy Williams.
* Grudge Match: Keith Lee vs. Ethan Page.
* EVOLVE Tag Team Championship: Chris Dickenson & Jaka (C) vs. Anthony Henry & James Drake.
* EVOLVE Championship, No Holds Barred Match: Zack Sabre Jr (C) vs. Timothy Thatcher.
EVOLVE 89 is the next night on 9/7 from Marietta, GA, with an 8pm Eastern start time. Here’s the card:
* Chris Dickenson & Jaka – Open Challenge.
* James Drake vs. Anthony Henry.
* Jon Davis vs. Jason Kincaid.
* ACH vs. Ethan Page.
* Grudge Match: Darby Allin vs. Timothy Thatcher.
* Grudge Match: Keith Lee vs. Tracy Williams.
* Grudge Match: Trent Baretta vs. Austin Theory.
* EVOLVE Championship: Zack Sabre Jr vs. Fred Yehi.
CMLL have been using a fake La Sombra on some of their recent shows. At the 30/6 Arena Mexico show a mystery man came out in Sombra’s old mask and gear during a match involving former Los Ingobernables members Rush & Pierroth; the announcers didn’t refer to him at all and he was sent to the back after getting into a brawl. The same thing happened on the 3/7 Arena Puebla show when Pierroth & Rush teamed with Ultimo Guerrero, although it appeared to be a different guy playing the phony Sombra.
AAA ran a TV taping on 30/6, but the most interesting news came the morning after on 1/7 when they announced the Reina de Reinas Championship, held by Taya, was being declared vacant. No reason was given for Taya being stripped of the title, however Vampiro noted on Facebook that he was enforcing stricter rules for the AAA titles and that they could only change hands via pinfall or submission. Taya beat Ayako Hamada to win the Reina de Reinas title in an amazing Street Fight back in April and won the match when Ayako passed out while in an STF, so Vampiro’s explanation made absolutely no sense. Taya claimed on 1/7 that nobody from AAA talked to her before they stripped her of the title and she teased the idea of leaving the company on Twitter. Vampiro went on Facebook on 2/7 and blamed other people for not calling Taya beforehand and apologised for the mix up, although Taya still continued to post unhappy Tweets that hinted she might not be coming back. Vampiro did note that he would give Taya a rematch if she wanted, which could mean this whole thing is a storyline, or perhaps it was just another illogical attempt to make sense out of AAA’s decision to strip her of the title.
IWRG ran their annual Festival de Mascaras on 2/7 at Arena Naucalpan. Main event saw Villano III Jr, Villano IV & Villano V Jr beat Negro Navarro, Texano Jr & Trauma II via DQ when Texano fouled Villano III Jr. Semi-main had Black Warrior over Caristico after interference from Mascara Ano 2000 Jr and a foul. Cubsfan noted that they could be setting up a hair match, as it is very unusual for Caristico to lose a big singles match for no reason.
Atlantis missed the 7/7 CMLL Universal tournament show at Arena Mexico due to a right knee injury and will be out for a few weeks. The CMLL Facebook page said it was a significant injury from 34 years of wrestling.
We haven’t done this in a long time – and I’m sure it will not become a regular occurrence – but let’s have a look at some of the highlights from the GFW Impact tapings this week: Gail Kim announced she would be retiring at the end of the year. Alberto El Patron became the newest member of LAX when they came out and attacked Bobby Lashley during a GFW title rematch. They also announced the return of the Super X Cup after a 12-year absence. The eight participants are Sammy Guevara (WWN, Texas indies), Drago (AAA/LU), ACH (EVOLVE), Andrew Everett (GFW), Taiji Ishimori (NOAH), Davey Richards (GFW), Dezmond Xavier (GFW) & Idris Abraham (GFW).
WWE’s Great Balls of Fire PPV is on 9/7 from the American Airlines Centre in Dallas, TX. Here’s the line up for the RAW-exclusive show:
* WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (C) vs. Akira Tozawa (Pre-Show).
* Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass.
* WWE RAW Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Sasha Banks.
* WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (C) vs. Dean Ambrose.
* WWE RAW Tag Team Championship – 30 Minute Iron Man Match: Sheamus & Cesaro (C) vs. The Hardy Boyz.
* Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt.
* Ambulance Match: Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman.
* WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Samoa Joe.
At the WWE RAW house show at Madison Square Garden on 7/7, AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens to win the United States championship. Styles won a battle royal on last week’s Smackdown to earn the #1 contendership and was all set to challenge Owens at the upcoming BattleGround PPV. Why they made the decision to do the switch on the MSG show is not yet clear, although it won’t take long for the story to come out.
Chuck Taylor defeated Zack Sabre Jr to win the PWG World title on 7/7.
RAW on 3/7 did 2,836,000 viewers, down from 2,977,000 last week. 8 pm did 2,852,000, 9pm did 2,912,000 and 10pm did 2,78,000.
SmackDown on 4/7 did 2,329,000 viewers, down from 2,600,000 last week, although still a pretty good number for a July 4th show.
Lucha Underground on 5/7 did 132,000 viewers for the 8pm first run and 84,000 for the 9pm replay. That’s a total of 216,000 and the highest collective number of season three. Last week’s show did 112,000 for the first run and 77,000 for the replay.
Impact on 6/7 did 345,000, up from last week’s 268,000.
Thanks for reading, everybody. We’ll see you next week!