The Pro-Wres Digest for May 29th – June 4th
With the NXT TakeOver event on 8/6 being entitled “The End,” some crazy nut-jobs managed to work themselves into a shoot by taking the name literally and somehow the insane idea that the entire NXT brand was coming to an end became a legitimate concern. These tinfoil hatters were sent further into meltdown when the TakeOver: Brooklyn show was removed from the Ticketmaster website on Monday and the event also mysteriously vanished from the WWE.com listings as well. Dave Meltzer of F4Wonline noted on 31/5 that WWE informed them Ticketmaster were updating the page with new information and logos and that the show is definitely still on. Meltzer also reported that there were even performers in NXT who were concerned about the brand potentially being shutdown because they hadn’t been told anything. What a bunch of suckers. It should be noted that the TakeOver: Brooklyn show has been listed on the Barclay’s Centre website the entire time during this debacle. TakeOver: Brooklyn is (still) set to kick-off three straight nights at the Barclay’s Centre on 20/8, with SummerSlam the following night and RAW on 22/8. TakeOver: The End is next week on 8/6 from Full Sail and, as if this even needs explaining, “the End” is a reference to the blow-off cage match between Samoa Joe & Finn Balor. Here’s the card:
* NXT Championship, Steel Cage Match: Samoa Joe (C) vs. Finn Balor.
* NXT Women’s Championship: Asuka (C) vs. Nia Jax.
* NXT Tag Team Championship: American Alpha (C) vs. The Revival.
* Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Austin Aries.
* Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Tye Dillinger.
As it stands, Jimmy Snuka will not stand trail for the 1983 murder of Nancy Argentino. Judge Kelly Banach ruled on 1/6, after listening to four days of testimony, that the 73 year-old Snuka was not mentally competent and unable to properly defend himself of the charges. Banach said she found Snuka “vacant” and “leadable,” and noted that an attorney who would let Snuka take the stand could be accused of being ineffective council. The prosecution argued Snuka was faking his dementia, but Banach disagreed and stated, “I don’t believe he’s faking it. I don’t think he’s smart enough to fake it.” After her ruling, Banach also denied a motion by the Chief Deputy District Attorney Charles Gallagher for Snuka to be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for 60 days. Gallagher’s entire case was built around the assertion that Snuka’s dementia was being greatly exaggerated and he even brought in a forensic psychiatrist, Dr John O’Brien, as an “expert” witness who actually stated in a courtroom in 2016 that Snuka never sustained a single concussion during 40 years as a professional wrestler. Snuka’s defense attorney, Robert Kirwan, held up Snuka’s autobiography – also being used as a prosecution exhibit – and showed the Judge Banach the picture on the cover of Snuka performing the Superfly Splash. “You do that over and over again… you’re going to get your bell rung a few times,” Kirwan argued. Judge Banach also granted a request from Kirwan, after he revealed that Snuka and his wife Carole had lost their house due to financial problems, for Snuka to move to Florida and live with his son while on bail. The case will be reviewed in six months time on December 2nd, when Snuka will be back in court for another assessment of his mental state. Obviously Snuka isn’t going to get any better, so the cycle of case reviews could continue every six months until the prosecution either drop the case or Snuka makes a medically impossible recovery. (Quotes taken from Laurie Mason Schroeder and Dale Shoemaker’s story from The Morning Call: Read more at, mcall.com.
In some old man yells at cloud news, Vader didn’t like a gif of the opening acrobatic sequence of the Will Ospreay/Ricochet match from 27/5 at Korakuen Hall. Vader Tweeted, “Blatant acrobatics, no story, is there anything done in this video that relates to winning. You could get two high school gymnasts and put on a show.” Thus began a futile debate that is in fact still going on right now between those who agreed with Vader about those damn kids and their flips, and the others who don’t have one fixed idea of what pro wrestling should be. Ospreay didn’t take too kindly to the criticism and went on a re-Tweeting spree of memes people had made about the situation. Ospreay even went so far as to perform a Vader Bomb during the 29/5 New Japan show, which did nothing to dispel the idea that he was gotten to. The controversy that Vader sparked led to names such as Steve Austin, Jim Ross and Chris Jericho weighing in on the match and they were virtually unanimous in praising the performance both men put on. Jim Cornette predictably buried the match on his MLW podcast this week and did his usual stuck in the 80’s routine about it not looking like a real fight and “exposing the business.” Corny did hold back a little however, as he noted that Ospreay & Ricochet were, “not complete embarrassments like Omega or the d*ck guy.” Since everyone under the sun has had some kind of cool take on the match, I might as well throw my two cents in. It was Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet in a main event at Korakuen Hall during the BOSJ tournament; what the hell were people expecting? Sure they could have sold a little more, but you can say that for virtually any match in 2016. The match was excellent, but I am already sick of hearing everybody overreacting on both sides of the argument.
Cody Rhodes sent out a Tweet on 28/5 teasing his return to the ring with a list of names he would like to wrestle. Adam Cole, Dalton Castle, Kurt Angle, Chris Hero, Mike Bennett, Moose, Pat Buck, Young Bucks, Trevor Lee, Katsuyori Shibata & Roderick Strong were all on the list, so too was, “Personal Ring Announcer,” which is likely a hint that his wife Eden could become a part of his act on the independent scene. Cody’s first match since leaving WWE was announced on 31/5 for Northeast Wrestling on August 25th in Wiappingers Falls, NY, against Kurt Angle.
Since the Goldberg commercial for WWE 2K17 aired on RAW, as you would expect there has been a bunch of speculation online about whether he will end up returning to WWE for a match at some point. In recent years, stars who were not under WWE contract were included in the annual video games (Brock Lesnar, Ultimate Warrior & Sting) and subsequently all ended up getting a WWE deal out of it. Dave Meltzer noted in the Observer that the deal took “several years to pull together, with the hold up on Vince McMahon’s side,” as Goldberg left the company on bad terms in 2004 after the infamous match with Lesnar at WrestleMania XX. Speaking of Lesnar, there was a “Suplex City” sign in the Goldberg commercial, which was no doubt put there to get people talking and it obviously has worked.
Hiroshi Tanahashi is officially off the big Dominion show on 19/6 at Osaka Jo Hall. Tanahashi was schedueled to challenge Kenny Omega for the IWGP IC title in the first ever Ladder Match in New Japan, however his shoulder injury has not healed well enough. Tanahashi came out at the Korakuen Hall show on 3/6 and apologised to the fans for being unable to compete in the Ladder Match. He said that the doctors told him it would be two more months before he was ready, but Tana said he was aiming to be back for the G1. Omega came out which led to the Bullet Club attacking Tanahashi. Michael Elgin, Tanahashi’s semi-regular tag partner, will now face Omega in the Ladder Match at Dominion on 19/6.
The finals of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament are next week on 7/6 in Sendai. Day 12 is on 5/6 in Takasaki and Day 13 is 6/6, also in Sendai. Here are the current standings (as of 4/6).
* Ryusuke Taguchi (4-2 = 8 points)
* Kushida (4-2 = 8 points)
* Matt Sydal (4-2 = 8 points)
* Kyle O’Reilly (4-2 = 8 points)
* Rocky Romero (3-3 = 6 points)
* Bushi (3-3 = 6 points)
* David Finlay (1-5 = 2 points)
* Gedo (1-5 = 2 points)
* Ricochet (4-1 = 8 points)
* Volador Jr (3-2 = 6 points)
* Jushin “Thunder” Liger (3-2 = 6 points)
* Will Ospreay (2-3 = 4 points)
* Bobby Fish (2-3 = 4 points)
* Chase Owens (2-3 = 4 points)
* Barreta (2-3 = 4 points)
* Tiger Mask (2-3 = 4 points)
NOAH ran the Edion Arena in Osaka on 28/5 for the Great Voyage 2016 and only drew 1,923 fans – not a bad number for a NOAH show although at times the 8,000 seat arena sounded completely empty. There were some decent moments on the three hour and fifty minute show, the highlight being Go Shiozaki defeating Takashi Sugiura for the GHC Heavyweight title in 31:24, however, like the NOAH product as a whole the rest of the show struggled to feel even remotely relevant. (8) Shiozaki & Sugiura had an excellent main event and the crowd were up by the end, but in true NOAH style the match went a little too long and would have been helped with at least five minutes being shaved off. Shiozaki busted open Sugiura’s chest very early on with some brutal chops. Sugiura hit a Hangman Neckbreaker on the floor to start the heat and he beat up Shiozaki for a good ten minutes. Shiozaki came back briefly but Sugiura cut him off and worked over the back. Shiozaki eventually hit an insane Plancha over the top; Sugiura failed to catch him, causing Go to smash his head into the barricade and crash hard on the floor. Shiozaki no-sold nearly dying and they did some heated fighting spirit exchanges. Sugiura kicked out of the Go Flasher, the Limit Break and multiple Go-Arm Lariats. Shiozaki hit one big final Lariat and got the pin at 31:24 (****). Shelton Benjamin came out afterwards and stepped up as Shiozaki’s first challenger. Somehow I don’t think that is going to help bring the houses up. (7) Semi-final saw Naomichi Marufuji & Toru Yano beat Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr for the GHC Tag Team titles in a solid 17:53 match. Marufuji pinned Archer with his Ko-Oh Knee (*** ½). (6) Yoshinobu Kanemaru retained the GHC Jr Heavyweight title over Hitoshi Kumano in 14:49 with the Touch-Out DDT; match was fine, crowd weren’t really into Kumano (***). (5) Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge retained the GHC Jr Tag titles over Kenoh & Hajime Ohara in 19:47. As usual, these two teams had a very good match, however I never need to see it again. Jado & Gedo showed up post-match, as did Taka & Taichi and they all agreed to a three-way for the Jr Tag titles. (*** ¾). (4) Shelton X Benjamin beat Maybach Taniguchi via Count-Out in 21:53; match actually was pretty good until the finish. Shelton hit a huge dive off the post into the crowd then Powerbombed Taniguchi over the top rope through a table for the Count-Out. Why Shelton couldn’t pin Taniguchi when they were setting him up for Shiozaki is beyond me (*** ¼). (3) Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka beat Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya in 11:01 when Suzuki pinned Kitamiya with the Gotch Piledriver (** ¼). (2) Taichi, El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku over Taiji Ishimori, Genba Hirayanagi & Captain NOAH when Taichi pinned Genba with the Last Ride (**). (1) Muhammed Yone, Quiet Storm & Akitoshi Saito beat Yoshinari Ogawa, Shiro Tomoyose & Kaito Kiyomiya in 6:38 when Storm pinned Tomoyose with the 50cm Arm Lariat (**).
In more NOAH news, they announced the card for their Emerald Spirits show at Korakuen Hall on 12/6. Top three matches are:
* GHC Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Three-way: Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge (C) vs. Gedo & Jado vs. Taichi & TAKA Michinoku.
* GHC Tag Team Championship: Naomichi Marufuji & Toru Yano (C) vs. Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.
* GHC Heavyweight Championship: Go Shiozaki (C) vs. Shelton X Benjamin.
NOAH will also be holding a qualifying tournament for the Super J-Cup, which begins on 20/7. The tourney will feature 12 participants in three separate blocks under single elimination rules and will produce three winning competitors who will advance to the Super J-Cup. The qualifying tournament begins at Shinjuku Face on 16/6 and the entrants are: Taiji Ishimori, Kaito Kiyomiya, Yoshinari Ogawa, Hitoshi Kumano, Daisuke Harada, Shiro Tomoyose, Hajime Ohara, Andy Dalton, Genba Hirayanagi, Captain NOAH, Kenoh & Atsushi Kotoge.
At the DDT show on 29/5 at Korakuen Hall in front of 1,633 fans, Konosuke Takeshita became the youngest KO-D Openweight Champion when he beat Daisuke Sasaki on his 21st birthday in 24:42 with the Corss Arm German Suplex. Also on the show, Team Dream Futures (Keisuke Ishii, Shigehiro Irie & Soma Takao) wrestled their 100th, and final, match as a team and retained the KO-D 6 Man titles over Harashima, Akito & Yasu Urano. After the match they relinquished the belts and thanked the fans for supporting them through all 100 matches. LiLiCo upset Super Sasadango Machine to win the DDT Extreme Championship in 7:05. Before the match, LiLiCo hijacked Sasadango’s PowerPoint presentation and said she needed to hit him hard enough to make him sink just like the Titanic after hitting the iceberg. She added that she wanted to turn the match into the movie Titanic. Sasadango had Makoto Oishi in his corner to stop Mizuki Watase interfering on LiLiCo’s behalf and Oishi taped Watase to the ring post. “My Heart Will Go On” played during the match, causing LiLiCo & Watase to do the Titanic pose together in the corner. Finish saw her counter Sasadango’s Lehmann Shock with a Titanic Yoshi Tonic to get the pin. Terry Funk and Nosawa Rongai were announced to compete at the big Peter Pan 2016 show at Sumo Hall on August 28th.
Terry Funk vs. Nosawa has also been booked for the Tokyo Gurentai show at Shinjuku Face on 25/8, three days before the two will appear on DDT’s Peter Pan show.
The follow-up to the break up Los Ingobernables saw Pierroth challenge La Mascara to a mask vs mask match prior to the main event of the CMLL Arena Mexico show on 27/5. La Mascara, Shocker & Terrible beat Maximo Sexy, Mistico & Stuka Jr (who replaced the injured Dragon Lee), but before the match Dragon Lee came out and apologised for not wrestling. La Mascara showed up and kicked Lee in his bad knee and Pierroth made the save. Pierroth declared he was still a rudo, but noted he was the father of Dragon Lee, Rush & Mistico and challenged La Mascara to put his mask on the line. Mascara appeared to agree to the match, however nothing was made official, and he also unmasked Mistico after the rudos were victories in the main event. Cubs Fan noted that the plan appears to be for Mascara to go through Pierroth before getting to a big program with Rush. Cubs also speculated that this could be the end of Pierroth if they actually go with the mask match.
Toryumon Mexico ran Arena Mexico on 28/5 for DragonMania XI. Main event saw Caristico, Marco Corleone, Octagon & Ultimo Dragon beat Fuerza Guerrera, Mephisto, Rey Bucanero & Tiger Ali. The only other real noteworthy thing on the show was Jun Akiyama over Yohei Nakajima in the semi-main event.
The Lucha World Cup iPPV site went up this week and both shows (3/6 & 5/6) will be available for $19.
RAW on 30/5 with the return of John Cena did a 2.19 rating with 3,222,000 viewers. It tied the lowest all-time seasonal low rating record, but due to an above average viewers per home the total audience number saved them from total embarrassment. 8 pm did 3,280,000. 9 pm did 3,320,000 and 10pm did 3,008,000.
TNA iMPACT on 31/5 did 346,000 viewers, down slightly from 359,000 last week.
Lucha Underground on 1/6 did 151,000 viewers, with 111,000 for the first airing and 40,000 for the replay. That’s down 17% from last week’s 182,000 combined viewers.
SmackDown on 2/6 did a 1.59 rating with 2,169,000 viewers, up from the 1.57 and 2,112,000 last week.