The Pro-Wres Digest for July 30th – August 5th
If two weeks ago talk of Brock Lesnar returning to the UFC was nothing more than some insider speculation, on 29/7 at UFC 214 in Anaheim, CA, the rumours manifested into something very real. John Jones had just knocked out Daniel Cormier to retain his Light Heavyweight title that he never lost in the octagon and during the post-fight he openly called out the WWE Universal champion. “Brock Lesnar. If you want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by a guy 40 pounds lighter than you, meet me in the octagon,” Jones declared. The crowd went crazy for Jones’ challenge and in an instant the UFC had for the first time in ages a mega fight that will appeal to a much larger audience than their hardcore fan base. Lesnar responded with an interview with the AP and told Jones, “be careful what you wish form young man.” As we noted two weeks ago, Lesnar would have to serve the remainder of his one-year suspension following his USADA violation surrounding his victory over Mark Hunt at UFC 200. Brock has five months of his suspension remaining, which was frozen when he announced his retirement from MMA in February this year.
Joey Janela had some personal belongings stolen from his bag, including his wallet with $200+, on 28/7 while working a Monster Factory Hybrid Wrestling show in Paulsboro, NJ. Janela Tweeted on 29/7 that his wallet was stolen in a locker room on security tape but didn’t reveal any names right away, although he did note it was someone he had known for 10 years and was one of the saddest things he’d ever seen. On 31/7 Janela outed the thief on Facebook and said he had given the culprit 3 days to come forward and even showed him the video, however the crook continued to deny it despite being caught on tape. Janela said it was a guy, “I’ve shared over 400+ locker rooms with & [a] 15 year veteran was caught red handed taking my wallet & that man known on the independent wrestling circuit as “Devon Moore.” Janela added that he had talked to some of Moore’s best friends about what he should do and said they were devastated when they saw the surveillance video. Janela revealed that, “personal demons or not, Devon Moore is now blackballed from the business.” He went on to say that Moore clearly has “a problem” and wrote that if Moore gets help, stayed sober and admits his wrongdoing he would be the first to congratulate him and welcome him back into the business.
With his highly anticipated match with Atushi Onita on 5/8 for CZW just a few days away, Matt Tremont has spent the better part of the last two weeks in a New Jersey hospital for undisclosed reasons. Tremont wrote a Facebook message on 28/7 and said he began to feel unwell while on the road. He flew home on 23/7 and was emitted to hospital at 9am on that same day. Tremont apologised to the promoters and fans for missing dates and stated his only goal was to get released for the big match with Onita. Tremont’s partner Crissy Curbstomp wrote, “Yes Matt is still in the hospital…We do not know when he will be getting out…I WILL NOT tell you what is exactly wrong with him.” She added it was nobody else business why he was in the hospital and declared that he is not done wrestling. Tremont Tweeted on 30/7 that it looked like he would be released the next day, however a much more disturbing update was given on 1/8 via Instagram. He talked about not being outside for 10 days and how there was “no progression” yesterday (the day he claimed to be getting released). Tremont wrote, “Doctors & Nurses here have been great, cuz earlier last week it was bad which meant death or lose a limb [sic]” and said it would make a good story to tell because there was a good chance he might not have been able to write the message. Tremont released a video on 2/8 and talked about being hospitalised which he used as material for a promo hyping the match with Onita.
Io Shirai will not be heading to WWE as many expected and instead she returned to appear on the 30/7 Stardom show at Shinkiba 1stRING in Tokyo. She stormed the ring after the main event and beat up the Odeo Tai stable then asked Viper to join her Queen’s Quest group, which Viper accepted. Shirai, considered by most to be the best women’s worker in the word, looked to be WWE bound after leaving Stardom after attending the WWE Performance Centre back in March. It was reported at the time that Shirai wasn’t at the PC for a tryout and was visiting the facility to see if she liked what the place had to offer. She left Stardom at the end of May and was almost a lock to join Kairi Hojo in the WWE, however the Observer reported in June that Io had not signed a WWE contract due to a neck inury she suffered while working against Toni Storm in Stardom. In this week’s Observer, Dave Meltzer reported that WWE had stalled on offering her a contract after the injury was discovered while undergoing the standard WWE medical testing and wanted her to take time off to rehab her neck. Shiari did just that and was cleared by doctors to return to the ring, but still the WWE decided against giving her a deal.
Eva Marie will not be returning to the ring anytime soon, as on 4/8 she announced on her Instagram that she and the WWE had agreed to part ways. WWE.com also covered the story and said they had “mutually agreed to contractually part ways as of today, Aug. 4. 2017.” Marie was suspended for a Wellness violation in August 2016 and never returned to WWE TV, although she did appear on the last season of Total Divas. She landed herself a role in a movie with Nicholas Cage last year and has spent most of her time perusing an acting career.
Kazushi Sakuraba & Dan Henderson will finally step into a ring together at the next RIZIN show on October 15th in Fukuoka, Japan. The two MMA legends appeared at the Saitama Super Arena during RIZIN’s Fighting Grand Prix First Round on 30/7 and it was announced they will meet in a grappling rules exhibition. For long-time JMMA and PRIDE fans it is no doubt a dream match-up, as Sakuraba was pretty much past his prime when Henderson was making his runs at the PRIDE Welterweight and Middleweight Grand Prix and the two never faced each other under MMA rules. At 46 and 48 years-old respectively, we should just be grateful that the two are able to compete against each other with minimal risks to their long-term health.
Zero-1’s big annual tournament, the Midsummer Fire Festival, wrapped up on 30/7 at Korakuen Hall. The main event of the show was the tournament final and the Zero-1 World Heavyweight Champion Masato Tanaka downed Yusaku Obata with the Sliding D at 30:10 to win the 2017 Fire Festival. Post-match saw NOAH’s Kenoh emerge to challenge Tanaka for the World title on 31/8.
The son of Tatsumi Fujinami LEONA, who competed in Zero-1’s Fire Festival, will be jumping over to NOAH for the next month or so and will probably end up staying with the promotion for a while after that. LEONA appeared with NOAH president Masayuki Uchida at a press conference on 31/7 and said he wants to further his growth as a competitor. Uchida commented that he is considering LEONA’s request to continue competing for NOAH in the future. His first match on the emerald mat will be at Korakuen Hall on 6/8, teaming with Naomichi Marufuji to take on KAZMA SAKAMOTO & Cody Hall. Main event of the 6/8 show at Korakuen is Taiji Ishimori defending the GHC Jr Heavyweight title against YO-HEY. NOAH’s next big show is on 26/8, also at Korakuen, and the card for the show is below:
NOAH – Summer Navig. 2017 Vol.2, 26/8, Korakuen Hall:
(*) Akitoshi Saito, Yoshinari Ogawa & Seiya Morohashi vs. Hajime Ohara, Hitoshi Kumano & Masao Inoue.
(*) Muhammad Yone & Masa Kitamiya vs. Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke.
(*) Quiet Storm vs. Cody Hall.
(*) Kenoh vs. LEONA.
(*) GHC Junior Tag Championship Match: Taiji Ishimori & Hi69 (C) vs. HAYATA & YO-HEY.
(*) GHC Tag Championships Match: Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi (C) vs. Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Kotoge.
(*) GHC Heavyweight Championship Match: Katsuhiko Nakajima (C) vs. Eddie Edwards.
The full line-up for DDT’s Ryogoku Peter Pan 2017 show at Sumo Hall on 20/8 has been announced. If DDT’s past big shows are anything to go by, we could be looking at a 6-hour run-time for the 12-match card:
DDT – Ryogoku Peter Pan 2017, 20/8, Sumo Hall:
(*) Dark Match: Tomomitsu Matsunaga, Hoshitango, Nobuhiro Shimatani & Masato Kamino vs. Mizuki Watase, Rekka, Diego & Daiki Shimomura.
(*) Dark Match ~ Tokyo Joshi Offer Iron Man Heavy Metal Championship Battle Royal: Cherry (C) vs. Miyu Yamashita, Shoko Nakajima, Yuka Sakazaki, Nonoko,
(*) Dark Match: Gota Ihashi vs. Mad Paulie, Gorgeous Matsuno, Dai Suzuki, X & XX.
(*) Yuki Iino Debut Match: Kouki Iwasaki & Yuki Iino vs. Naomishi Yoshimura & Yuki Ueno.
(*) Ikemen vs Idol: Jiro “Ikemen” Kuroshio vs. Shunma Katsumata.
(*) KO-D 6 Man Tag Championship Match: KUDO, Yukio Sakaguchi & Masahiro Takanashi (C) vs. Dick Togo, Yasu Urano & Antonio Honda.
(*) Special 4-Way Match Match: Kaz Hayashi & Keisuke Ishii vs. Isami Kodaka & Yuko Miyamoto vs. Mike Bailey & MAO vs. Kotaro Suzuki & Soma Takao.
(*) KO-D 10 Person Tag Championship Decision Match: Toru Owashi, Kazuki Hirata, Joey Ryan, Akai Saki & Yoshihiko vs. Makoto Oishi, LiLiCo, Ladybeard, Super Sasadango Machine & Ken Okha
(*) DDT 20th Anniversary Special Single Match: Sanshiro Takagi vs. Danshoku Dieno.
(*) DDT EXTREME Championship ~ Hair vs Hair Match: Daisuke Sasaki (C) vs. Akito.
(*) KO-D Tag Championship Match: Shigehiro Irie & Kazusada Higuchi (C) vs. HARASHIMA & Naomichi Marufuji.
(*) Main Event ~ KO-D Openweight Championship Match: Konosuke Takeshita (C) vs. Tetsuya Endo.
We’re over halfway through what is shaping up to be the greatest G1 Climax in recent memory, so like last week here are the top matches from Day 9 through Day 13:
Ibushi vs. Tanahashi – **** ¾ (1/8, Night Eleven)
Ishii vs. Nagata – **** ½ (1/8, Night Eleven)
Omega vs. Evil – **** ½ (2/8, Night Twelve)
Naito vs. Ishii – **** ¼ (29/7 Night Nine)
Nagata vs. Ibushi – **** ¼ (4/8, Night Thirteen)
ZSJ vs. Naito – **** (4/8, Night Thirteen)
Makabe vs. Nagata – *** ¾ (29/7, Night Nine)
Tanahashi vs. YOSHI-HASHI – *** ¾ (29/7, Night Nine)
Elgin vs. SANADA – *** ¾ (30/7, Night Ten)
Okada vs. Juice – *** ¾ (30/7, Night Ten)
Naito vs. Goto – *** ¾ (1/8, Night Eleven)
Ishii vs. Fale – *** ¾ (4/8, Night Thirteen)
Goto vs. YOSHI-HASHI – *** ¾ (4/8, Night Thirteen)
Ibushi vs. Fale – *** ½ (29/7, Night Nine)
ZSJ vs. Goto – *** ½ (29/7, Night Nine)
Suzuki vs. Tama Tonga – *** ½ (30/7, Night Ten)
Omega vs. Kojima – *** ½ (30/7, Night Ten)
Juice vs. SANADA – *** ½ (2/8, Night Twelve)
Suzuki vs. Kojima – *** ½ (2/8, Night Twelve)
Okada vs. Tama Tonga – *** ½ (2/8, Night Twelve)
Tanahashi vs. Makabe – *** ½ (4/8, Night Thirteen)
ZSJ vs. Makabe – *** ¼ (1/8, Night Eleven)
Here are the standings for the G1 as of Night 13 (August 4th):
Tanahashi (5-2 = 10 points)
Naito (5 -2 = 10 points)
Fale (4-3 = 8 points)
Ibushi (4-3 = 8 points)
Goto (4-3 = 8 points)
Ishii (4-3 = 8 points)
ZSJ (4-3 = 8 points)
Makabe (3-4 = 6 points)
YOSHI-HASHI (2-5 = 2 points)
Nagata (0-7 = 0 points)
Okada (6-0 = 12 points)
Omega (5-1 = 10 points)
EVIL (4-2 = 8 points)
Suzuki (4-2 = 8 points)
SANADA (4-2 = 8 points)
Yano (2-4 = 4 points)
Elgin (2-4 = 4 points)
Tonga (2-4 = 4 points)
Robinson (1-5 = 2 points)
Kojima (0-6 = 0 points)
The next two PROGRESS shows will take place in the US next weekend. On 12/8 the main event at the Elmcor Centre in New York City will be Pete Dunne defending the WWE UK Championship against Monday Night RAW & 205 Live’s Jack Gallagher. It will be the second time the UK title has been defended in PROGRESS, as Tyler Bate retained the strap over Mark Andrews over WrestleMania weekend in Orlando. The next day on 13/8 they are running a special double header with Beyond Wrestling in Somerville, MA, with a Beyond show in the afternoon and PROGRESS running in the evening. The card for the 13/8 show is being kept mysteriously quiet, however here’s the full line up for the NYC show on 12/8:
PROGRESS Wrestling, PROGRESS: New York, August 12th, Elmcor Centre New York City:
(*) Dahlia Black & Dakota Kai vs. Deonna Purrazzo & Jinny.
(*) Mark Andrews vs. Mark Haskins vs. Zack Gibson.
(*) #1 Contenders Match for the Atlas Championship: Donovan Dijak vs. Timothy Thatcher.
(*) No DQ: Jimmy Havoc vs. Joey Janela.
(*) PROGRESS Atlas Championship: WALTER (C) vs. Matt Riddle.
(*) PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: British Strong Style (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) (C) vs. The South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper & Travis Banks w/ Dahlia Black.)
(*) WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne (C) vs. Jack Gallagher.
There was a note in the Observer this week regarding ITV’s position on producing a weekly pro-wrestling show. Despite the World of Sport project seemingly being dead, sources claim ITV are still talking about starting a weekly wrestling show “at the end of the year.”
ICW’s annual biggest show of the year, Fear & Loathing, at the SSE Hydro on 19/11 will feature Rey Mysterio as the major attraction, plus Rob Van Dam vs. Lionheart was also announced for the show. For the past two years, Fear & Loathing had been the biggest drawing domestic wrestling event in the UK, with the 2015 edition doing 4,000 people and last year’s show bringing in 6193 fans. ICW also had a big weekend last week, with WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne retaining the title over BT Gunn, Trent Seven & Wolfgang on 29/7 on the Shug’s House Party iPPV. The show drew a 1,200 sell-out at the O2 ABC in Glasgow; main event featured WWE contracted talent Noam Dar, teaming with Sha Samuels to beat Bram & Joe Coffey.
WXW have booked a TWO HOUR Iron Man match for their 5/10 show in Essen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. David Starr will defend the Shotgun Championship against Dave Crist in a match billed as the longest singles match in the last 30 years.
The founder of Garage Pro Wrestling (now Grand Pro Wrestling) Lee “The Middleman” Butler sadly passed away this week. Butler founded GPW in July 2003, running shows in Wigan and other towns in the Greater Manchester area of the UK. He handed over the promotion to some of his senior trainees in August 2004 and had not been involved in wrestling since that time 13 years ago. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.
The Chief Creative Officer for El Rey, Skip Chaisson, spoke with IGN at the Television Critics Association conference and commented that things “look good” for season four of Lucha Underground. There wasn’t really much more information given, other than they were having discussions about where to place LU on the schedule going forward. Chaisson also noted that he and Robert Rodriguez love the show and can’t wait to make more.
John Cena losing clean to Shinsuke Nakamura on SmackDown this week made a lot of sense, since he will be taking time off to star in the Bumblebee movie. The Hollywood Reporter noted the movie has already begun production and is scheduled to be released on December 21st 2018. Cena is currently advertised for the 24/9 RAW PPV, No Mercy, at the Staples Centre in LA, so presumably he will be on TV at least a couple of times to build up that show.
Bayley suffered a shoulder injury on RAW this week during a match with Nia Jax. WWE.com posted a vague article on the situation and claimed the diagnosis was inconclusive due to the amount of swelling. Dr. Chris Amann said Bayley would need to undergo more diagnostic testing later in the week to determine the extent of the injury. The spot where the injury occurred seemed to be when Jax carelessly tossed Bayley out of the ring, which was almost certainly made worse after Jax recklessly dumped her to the mat with a double Chicken Wing Slam.
RAW on 31/7 did 3,156,000 viewers, up from 3,062,000 last week. 8 pm did 3,194,000 viewers, 9pm did 3,275,000 and 10pm did 3,021,000.
SmackDown on 1/8, with John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, did 2,569,000 viewers, up slightly from 2,535,000 last week.
Lucha Underground on 2/8 did 104,000 for the 8pm first run and 58,000 for the 9pm replay for a combined 162,000. That’s much better than the 111,000 total (80,000 & 31,000) last week.
Impact on 3/8 did 276,000, down a little from 286,000 last week.
Thanks for reading, everybody! We’ll see you all next week.