The Pro-Wres Digest for September 18th – 23rd
The greatest manager in the long history of professional wrestling, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, sadly passed away on 17/9 at the age of 72 due to organ failure after a long sixteen-year battle with throat cancer. When someone the magnitude of Heenan passes away, we like to leave the historical biographies to other places like the Wrestling Observer or Slam Wrestling, and simply talk about how they career impacted on my own personal wrestling fandom.
I have gone on record a couple of times and noted that the first PPV I ever saw was Survivor Series 1993, which is not exactly remembered as a historically great show, however it was in fact Bobby Heenan’s final appearance on a WWF PPV until WrestleMania 17, eight years later. As a seven year-old, I vividly recall Heenan absolutely burying Stu and the rest of the Hart family during the Harts vs. Shawn Michaels & his Knights match and at the time I remember wondering why he was being so mean to them. It certainly made me want to see the Harts win the match, just so this loud-mouth on commentary would finally stop making fun of them. I didn’t know it at the time, but it is clear looking back that Bobby Heenan exposed me to the concept of a heel commentator and did a perfect job of making me want to see the babyfaces come out on top. The next time I came across Heenan would have been three years later when I started watching Nitro, however in the meantime I had seen a copies of old WrestleManias (namely III, V & VII) on VHS and, of course, The Brain was all over these shows. Despite being a slimy, cowardly heel, and often spouting nonsense on commentary, when it came time for Heenan to cut a serious promo and to put over one of his Family stable members I believed every single word he said because his delivery was so sincere.
Heenan himself admitted that he did not produce his best work during the Nitro years, however he could still turn on his rapier sharp wit and enthusiasm for the product when WCW actually did something right. Nobody was a bigger cheerleader for Goldberg during his white hot run in 97/98 than Heenan and when his old WWF nemesis Hulk Hogan turned heel, Heenan ingeniously did not change his feelings towards the Hulkster one bit. Instead, Heenan tooted his own horn and played up the idea that he had been right about Hogan being a scumbag all along. One of my all-time favourite Bobby Heenan moments was him openly and unashamedly burying the WCW cologne at Halloween Havoc 1999 when Madusa came out and sprayed him with the presumably cheaply made fragrance. Here was a product that WCW actually went to the trouble of licensing, making and promoting – after all, wrestling fans are notorious for not bathing or showering so the Turner brass could have had a hot product on their hands – but Heenan had different ideas. To this day, I crack up hearing him complain about the awful stench of the cologne; even just thinking about it brings a smile to my face.
Pretty much all the other legendary Bobby Heenan moments I experienced retrospectively. His time managing Nick Bockwinkle in the AWA, the weasel suit matches against Greg Gagne, showing up in the WWF and managing pretty much every top heel in the company, hosting Prime Time Wrestling with his on-screen soulmate Gorilla Monsoon and the magic they would produce together. Many younger fans may only go back and watch Heenan’s managerial work, but if you have never taken the time to watch Heenan & Monsoon play off each other with their natural chemistry and banter as the hosts of Prime Time, you are seriously missing out on some golden pro-wrestling history. There will never be another Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and we as fans were lucky to have such a gifted performer working for over 35 years in the business that we all love so much. Thank you for everything, Bobby.
Rey Celestial (Oscar Leonardo Torres Parra) tragically died after being hit by a car on 16/9 at the age of just 22. The incident occurred in Puebla, a few minutes before the GGG/Canelo fight began, and he was struck by the vehicle as he attempted to cross the 14th Avenue Oriente. The driver fled the scene and the only information the police have is the rear-view mirror that was left behind and reports of the car being white. Celestial began training with life-long friend Venum (not to be confused with Venum Black/Jullian Carrillo) at the age of 8 and made their debuts 4 years later around the local circuit in Puebla. He broke in to AAA in 2012 and won the trios version of the Quién pinta para la Corona, however he didn’t stick around for too long and had been working for different independent promotions since 2013. His last match was for The Crash on 13/9 in San Luis Potsi. The funeral was held on 18/9 in his home town of Puebla. Oscar Leonardo leaves behind his wife – also a wrestler (La Magnifica) – and a young daughter. Our sincerest condolences go out to his friends and family.
Jim Cornette is done working for Anthem Sports and Entertainment and will not be returning to his role as the on-screen authority figure for Impact Wrestling. Surprisingly, Cornette didn’t leave amidst a blaze of heat like the last time he left TNA a decade ago or his departure from ROH in 2012. Impact will be holding their Bound for Glory PPV and subsequent TV tapings in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, from November 5th-10th and Cornette would not be able to enter the country due to previous convictions. Dave Meltzer reported on 18/9 that Cornette was refused entry to Canada while working for ROH in 2010 when border security ran his record and found a bunch of old assault charges, many of which came from fighting with fans who attacked him during his managerial days in the 80s. Cornette had been to Canada numerous times while working for the WWF in the 90s, however he never attended any of the ROH shows in Toronto during his time with the company. Meltzer also noted that GFW officials claimed Cornette was only brought in for a short-term run in order to facilitate storylines such as Alberto El Patron being stripped of the World title, Bruce Pritchard being fired on-screen so he could return as a manager, and – most hilarious of all – trying to make Anthem babyfaces to the wrestling fans.
PWTorch reported on 21/9 that FloSports have filed a $1million lawsuit against WWN – the parent company of EVOLVE, FIP, Style Battle, SHINE, and ACW. The filing was made on 15/9 in Travis Country, Texas, and alleges that WWN misrepresented financial data from their events in terms of iPPV and VOD buys, which caused FloSports to pay WWN hundreds of thousands of dollars for the right to host their events. FloSports claim in the suit that when they asked for spreadsheets to back up the numbers WWN told them the data had been lost. WWN did eventually provide the data requested, however some subscribers were listed twice and DVD purchases were also included, which should not have been the case for iPPV and VOD numbers. FloSports SVP and General Counsel Paul Hurdlow told The Torch that they hope lawyers from both sides can continue to work together to reach an out of court agreement. Conversely, sources from WWN informed The Torch that the lawsuit is a “scare tactic” by FloSports in order to get out of the contract early and WWN are planning on counter suing on multiple counts. EVOLVE’s next two shows were set to air this weekend on FloSlam, however the streaming service made the decision to pull all future WWN events from their schedule going forwards.
WhatCulture announced on 19/9 the departure of several key figures from their WCPW division. Adam Blampied, Adam Pecitti, Ross Tweddell, Sam Driver & Jack King will all be leaving the company in order to “pursue other projects.” The five had different roles in WCPW ranging from on air talent to helping promote and run the actual shows. Pro Wrestling Sheet reported on 20/9 that the group had filed documents to form a new company called “Cultaholics”, which they claim in the fillings will be a video production and news agency service. Blampied Tweeted out their new logo on 20/9 as a tease; no word yet on when the new project will launch.
Davey Richards announced on 17/9 that he is canceling his remaining bookings for 2017 and will be undergoing surgery on his right knee. He apologised to everyone, noting his knee issues dated back to 2006, and listed all the treatments he had undergone in the past, including: Cortisone shots, anti inflammatory drugs, stem cell therapy, and hyperbaric chambers. Richards, who has a history of no-showing events, missed the 2017 Ted Petty Invitational on 14/9 and word soon began to spread that Davey had bailed on another booking. He was scheduled to wrestle on the EVOLVE shows this weekend, but Gabe Sapolsky Tweeted on 17/9 that Richards would be off the shows and stated that he was seeing a doctor on Wednesday (21/9). This led to some confusion as the stories didn’t seem to match up, however Richards soon noted he was seeing a doctor on 21/9 to schedule surgery.
WWE announced on 18/9 that they would be reviving the old Starrcade name for a one-off house show at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina on November 25th – two days after Thanksgiving. The show will feature two Cage matches, with Jinder Mahal defending the WWE title against Shinsuke Nakamura, and Charlotte challenging Natalya for the SmackDown Women’s belt. What caused WWE to finally bring back the Starrcade name after all these years? Well, WrestleCade have been running the weekend after Thanksgiving since 2012 in nearby Winston-Salem, NC, and this year’s event is set to be the biggest yet with some big names announced for the legends convention. Some of the names set to appear this year are, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, JJ Dillion, Nikita Koloff, Lex Luger, Mil Mascaras, Dean Malenko, Rocky Johnson, Jake Roberts, One Man Gang, Jimmy Hart, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Jimmy Valiant, and many more. The fact that WWE are running in direct competition with the WrestleCade event when there are several WWE contracted names appearing might seems slightly counterproductive, however at least Vince will get to cash in on the nostalgia feel of the weekend and stick it to those pesky old-timers, many of whom sacrificed their bodies working in WWF/E rings.
After Jinder Mahal’s awful and heavily racial promo on Shinsuke Nakamura this week received a lot of backlash, including mainstream outlets like the Washington Post picking up the story, WWE issued a pathetic statement about the segment:
“Just like many other TV shows or movies, WWE creates programming with fictional personalities that incorporates real world issues and sensitive subjects,” the company said. “As a producer of such TV shows, WWE Corporate is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide.”
That’s all they had to say about the segment which caused outrage online and caused fans in the building to chant, “that’s too far”. Laughable.
Masaaki Mochizuki won the Open the Dream Gate title for the third time on 18/9 when he defeated YAMATO at Dragon Gate’s Dangerous Gate show in Tokyo. (7) 4000 fans packed the Ota Ward Gymnasium to see Mochizuki down YAMATO in the main event with his Triangular Kick in 24:20. CIMA came out to celebrate with Mochi and suggested the idea of Don Fuji & Mochizuki teaming up with him in October at Korakuen Hall to commemorate his and Fuji’s 20th anniversary. (6) Semi-main was a 10 Man Unit Survival Elimination No DQ Match, with the losing stable having to disband. VerserK (Shingo Takagi, Takashi Yoshida, El Lindaman, Punch Tominaga & T-Hawk) beat Jimmyz (Jimmy Susumu, Jimmy Kness, Jimmy Kandam, Ryo “Jimmy” Saito & Genki Horiguchi) in 34:11: Kness eliminated Punch in 11:06 with the Hikari No Wa. Lindaman eliminated Kness in 14:27 after pinning him on a barbed wire board. Shingo eliminated Kanda with a Piledriver on a barbed wire board at 16:36. Horiguchi pinned Yoshida in 18:20 with the Backslide from Heaven. Saito eliminated Lindaman with the SaiRyo Rocket on a bardedwire board at 20:05. T-Hawk pinned Horiguchi with the BT Bomb in 21:53. T-Hawk eliminated Saito with the Night Ride at 25:57. Susumu eliminated Shingo with the Jumbo No Kachi at 31:03. T-Hawk won the match for his team with the Cerberus on Susumu at 34:11. (5) CIMA & Dragon Kid retained the Open the Twin Gate titles over Big R Shimizu & Kotoka in 22:32 when CIMA hit the Meteora on Kotoka. (4) Ben-K, Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi beat Kaito Ishida, Takehiro Yamamura & Eita in 13:16 when Ben-K hit the Ben-K Bomb on Ishida. (3) Jimmy Kagetora retained the Open the Brave Gate title over Yosuke Santa Maria in 12:49 with the Gurumakakari. (2) BxB Hulk & Kzy beat Jason Lee & Don Fuji in 10:09 when Kzy hit Kzy Time on Lee. (1) Shun Skywalker & Hyou Watanabe over Gamma & Schachihoko BOY in 8:00 after Skywalker pinned BOY with a Monnsault.
Toni Storm won the Stardom 5Star Gran Prix on 18/9 at Korakuen Hall when she defeated Yoko Bito in the final of the tournament in 8:17 with 3 Strong Zero Piledrivers. Earlier on the show, Storm downed Kay Lee Ray in 8:21 to win the Blue Stars Block with 11 points. Bito went over Viper in 6:56 with the B Driver and took the Red Stars Block with 10 points. Storm challenged Mayu Iwatani for the World of Stardom title after her victory, however Bito also issued a challenge to Mayu. Jungle Kyona came out and promised to beat Mayu for the title next weekend in honour of her late grandfather.
New Japan have their third Destruction show in Kobe on 24/9. Here’s the card:
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Destruction in Kobe”, September 24th – Kobe World Hall, Kobe, Hyogo:
(*) Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hirai Kawato vs. Katsuya Kitamiya & Tomoyuki Oka.
(*) Jushin Liger, Richochet, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask & Togi Makabe vs. Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku, Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru).
(*) Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI.
(*) Beretta vs. Yujiro Takahashi.
(*) IWGP Tag Team Championship: War Machine (C) vs. Killer Elite Squad vs. Guerrillas of Destiny.
(*) Kota Ibushi & David Finlay vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin.
(*) Rocky Romero, Tomohiro Ishii & Tory Yano vs. Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & SANADA.
(*) Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay vs. EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi.
(*) IWGP US Championship: Kenny Omega (C) vs. Juice Robinson.
The IWA-MS Heavyweight Champion Aaron Williams won the 2017 Ted Petty Invitational on 15/9 by defeating Johnathon Gresham & Jake Crist in the three-way final. Shane Mercer attacked Williams afterwards and Devon Moore, who replaced Davey Richards, cashed in his title shot on Williams but it didn’t work and Williams beat Moore pretty quickly. Williams made it to the final by beating Eddie Kingston in the Semi-final, David Starr in the Quarters, and Arik Cannon in the First Round. Gresham’s road to the final saw him down Larry D in the Semis, Devon Moore in the Quarters, and Anthony Henry in the First Round. Crist beat Su Young in the Semis, Shane Strickland in the Quarters, and his brother Dave Crist in the First Round.
Fight Club: PRO have a big weekend in Wolverhampton, England on 22/9 and 23/9. CIMA, Masaaki Mochiuki & Eita from Dragon Gate will be on the shows, as too will be OI4K and Scarley & Graves from CZW. Here are the line-ups for both nights:
Fight Club:PRO “Project Mayhem VI: The Dragon House”, September 22nd – Starworks Warehouse, Wolverhampton, England:
(*) Dan Moloney vs. Shay Purser.
(*) Jordan Devlin vs. Travis Banks.
(*) Four Corner Tag Match: Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. Black Coffey (Joe Coffey & Omari) vs. OI4K (Dave & Jake Crist) vs. Scarlet & Graves (Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz).
(*) Jessicka Havok vs. Millie McKenzie.
(*) British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs. CIMA, Masaaki Mochiuki & Eita.
(*) Hardcore Match: Callous Hearts (Clint Margera & Jimmy Havoc) vs. Drew Parker & Rickey Shane Page.
Fight Club:PRO “Project Mayhem VI: The Fighting Revolver”, September 23rd – Starworks Warehouse, Wolverhampton, England:
(*) David Starr vs. Jordan Devlin vs. Mark Davis vs. Millie McKenzie.
(*) Callous Hearts (Clint Margera & Jimmy Havoc) vs. Scarley & Graves (Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz).
(*) Kyle Fletcher vs. Mark Haskins vs. Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Travis Banks.
(*) #CCK (Chris Brookes Kid Lykods) vs. CIMA & Eita. (Kid Lykos is unable to appear due to injury, no word on a replacement yet).
(*) Shane Strickland vs. Omari.
(*) British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs. OI4K (Dave Crist, Jake Crist & Sami Callihan).
EVOLVE are heading to the mid-west for their latest double-shot this weekend. Davey Richards was set to challenge Zack Sabre Jr for the EVOLVE title in the main event in Livonia, MI, on 22/9, however he is off the shows due to his knee injury. Richards was also booked against Keith Lee in the semi-main on 23/9. No replacement has been announced at press time, because independent wrestling!
EVOLVE 92, September 22nd – Monaghan Knights of Columbus Hall, Livonia, MI:
(*) Fred Yehi vs. DJZ.
(*) Matt Riddle & Keith Lee vs. Chris Dickinson & Jaka.
(*) EVOLVE Tag Team Championship: James Drake & Anthony Henry (C) vs. Ethan Page & ACH.
(*) EVOLVE Championship: Zack Sabre Jr (C) vs. ???
EVOLVE 93, September 23rd – 5700 S.Archer Road, Summit, IL:
(*) Anthony Henry vs. Jason Kincaid.
(*) James Drake vs. Austin Theory.
(*) Darby Allin vs. DJZ.
(*) Non-Title: Zack Sabre Jr vs. Fred Yehi.
(*) Keith Lee vs. ???
(*) WWN Championship – Anything Goes: Matt Riddle (C) vs. Tracy Williams w/Stokley Hathaway.
By the time you are reading this, ROH will have run Death Before Dishonor XV from Sam’s Town in Las Vegas, NV, on 22/9. Here’s the card for the show:
ROH Death Before Dishonor XV, September 22nd – Sam’s Town, Las Vegas, NV:
(*) Chuck Taylor vs. Marty Scurll.
(*) Las Vegas Street Fight: Jay White vs. Punishment Martinez.
(*) Last Man Standing: Jay Lethal vs. Silas Young.
(*) #1 Contenders Match for the ROH Six-Man Championship: The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) vs. The Briscoes & Bully Ray.
(*) ROH World Six-Man Championship: The Hung Bucks (C) (Young Bucks & Adam Page) vs. Winner of Briscoes & Bully/Kingdom.
(*) ROH World TV Championship: KUSHIDA (C) vs. Kenny King.
(*) ROH World Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks (C) vs. The Motor City Machine Guns.
(*) ROH World Championship: CODY (C) vs. Minoru Suzuki.
I got a chance to see the PROGRESS Chapter 55: Chase the Sun show from Alexandra Palace that took place on 10/9. It was the promotion’s biggest show to date and, from top to bottom, arguably one of the best shows in the 5-year history of the company. (7) 2000 fans inside Ally Pally saw Travis Banks capture the PROGRESS World title from Pete Dunne in the main event that was full of WWF Attitude Era tropes, however it fit the BSS/CCK story they have been telling for months and the heat was nuclear by the end. After all the run-ins, ref bumps, WrestleMania kick-outs, and sledgehammer shots, Banks submitted Dunne with the Lion’s Clutch at 24:07. It was a little over-booked, but it was a great payoff to the BSS/CCK story, (****). (6) Semi-main was a fun Eight Way Scramble with Mark Andrews earning a shot at the PROGRESS title by beating Chief Deputy Dunne, Eddie Dennis, Jack Sexsmith, James Drake, Flash Morgan Webster, Strangler Davis & Zack Gibson in 13:13. Dennis turned on Andrews afterwards, (***¼). (5) WALTER regained the Atlas Championship by defeating Matt Riddle & Timothy Thatcher in a super fun three-way. It wasn’t at the same level as the Riddle/WALTER singles matches, but was still very good. WALTER won with the Fire Thunder Driver at 12:49, (***½). (4) Jimmy Havoc beat Mark Haskins in a wild Death Match, featuring an axe, table spots, thumbtacks, barbed wire boards and baseball bats. Haskins‘ wife, Vicky, got involved as she had been part of the build, however Havoc got the win with 3 Death Valley Drivers, an Acid Rainmaker and a barbed wire bat shot at 23:08, (****). (3) Zack Sabre Jr pinned Marty Scurll with the European Clutch 14:32. These two always have great matches together and this was no different. Scurll cut a farewell promo afterwards and said he would not be back in PROGRESS for a long time, (***¾). (2) Toni Storm retained the PROGRESS Women’s title over Dahlia Black in 7:31 after two Strong Zero Piledrivers, (***). (1) Opener was #CCK (Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos) capturing the Tag Team titles from British Strong Style (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) in an amazing Ladder Match at 17:27. There were so many great spots, you might as well go check it out for yourself, (****¼). Also on the show, they announced a show at the 12,500 seat Wembley Arena for September 30th 2018.
The big news from the CMLL Anniversary show last weekend was the unmasking of both Princesa Sugehit & Niebla Roja after they lost their respective apuestas matches. Zeuxis beat Sugehit in 20:49 after taking the second and third falls, while Gran Guerrero defeated Niebla in falls two and three in 18:23. Princesa Sugehit unmasked as Ernestina Sugehit Salazar Martinez, 37, 21 years experiences. Niebla Roja was revealed to be Sergio Raymundo Chavez, 31, 11 years experience. Neibla Roja and Gran Guerrero met again on 18/9 in the main event at Arena Puebla, with Guerrero again going over after getting the submission. This sets up a Light Heavyweight title match between the two on 25/9 back at Arena Puebla. Cubsfan noted that Niebla could be leaving CMLL soon and this could be a way to get the title off him before he’s out the door.
Rey Mysterio Jr & El Hijo Del Santo teamed up for the first time in 16 years on 17/9 at the Lucha Libre Total indie show at Cicero Stadium. The two legends teamed with Discovery to beat the team of Dr Cerebro, Super Crazy & Yakuza. Rey & Hilo Del Santo worked pretty hard considering it wasn’t a big show and they both were treated like huge stars, although Rey got the bigger reaction of the two. The full match is available to watch here.
The earthquake in Mexico City on 19/9 caused CMLL to cancel their shows at Arena Mexico on 19/9, 22/9, 24/9, and the 23/9 show at Arena Coliseo.
Sexy Starr has been pulled from the AAA October shows in Japan, so she could be done with the company.
WWE have the RAW exclusive PPV No Mercy on 24/9 at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, CA. The two main events could legitimately have been saved for WrestleMania 34, however in his infinite wisdom Vince Jr has something even bigger for next year’s Mania.
WWE “No Mercy” – September 24th, Staples Centre, Los Angeles, CA:
(*) WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (C) vs. Enzo Amore.
(*) WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (C) vs. Jason Jordan.
(*) WWE RAW Women’s Championship, Fatal Five-Way: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax vs. Emma vs. Bayley.
(*) WWE RAW Tag Team Championship: Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins (C) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro.
(*) Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt.
(*) John Cena vs. Roman Reigns.
(*) WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Braun Strowman.
RAW on 18/9 did 2,816,000 viewers, down slightly from 2,903,000 last week. 8pm did 3,123,000, 9pm did 2,844,000 and 10pm did 2,532,000.
SmackDown on 19/9 did 2,510,000, down from 2,750,000 last week.
Lucha Underground on 20/9 did 79,000 for the 8pm first-run and 28,000 for the 9pm replay, for a total of 107,000, down from the 158,000 (128,000 & 46,000).
Total Bellas on 20/9 did 575,000, up slightly from 558,000 last week.
Impact on 21/9 did 277,000 viewers, up from 239,000 last week.
Thanks for reading, everybody. We’ll see you next week!