Cubed Circle Newsletter Issue 208 – PRIDE, Everyone, PRIDE
In this week’s edition of the newsletter we (Ben Carass) take a look at all of the happenings in the world of wrestling for this week, including Del Rio’s jump back to the WWE, Hell in a Cell with double juice in the main event, one of the better RAWs of the year, the return of PRIDE and which female wrestling star will be involved, Mid-South from 1982, and more!
– Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor
The Pro-Wres Digest for October 25th – October 31st 2015.
Alberto Rodriguez (El Patron/Del Rio) returned to the WWE on 26/10 at the Hell in a Cell PPV as John Cena’s mystery opponent in the US title open challenge and won the title clean from Cena in just over 7 minutes. Rodriguez left WWE in 2013 after an incident in catering when a foolish employee made a racist joke about him clearing up the dirty dishes and Alberto slapped the taste out of the guy’s mouth. Since then, Alberto had been working for AAA in Mexico pretty much full-time, however he also made appearances for ROH and Lucha Underground on their TV shows. He was one of the bigger stars Lucha Underground had but as we reported a couple of weeks ago Alberto believed he wasn’t being used the way he would have liked and there was also a dispute over his pay. El Patron had been featured as one of the main eventers in AAA and won the Mega Heavyweight title from Texano Jr back in December 2014; a title he still currently holds. AAA has had a tough year with the death of Perro Aguayo Jr, Myzteziz jumping ship back to CMLL, the disastrous TripleMania PPV, and now their champion resigned without dropping the title. Alberto did have the courtesy to inform AAA he would be appearing on the Hell in a Cell show in the form of a phone call a couple of hours before the show went live. Konnan was backstage at RAW in San Diego on Monday, maybe to iron out the details of Alberto going back to Mexico to drop the title. It is hard to believe that Vince McMahon would allow one of his top stars and now US champion to appear on another company’s show and lose. El Patron was advertised on several AAA shows in November: 2/11, 7/11, 15/11, 20/11, 21/11 & 22/11, however he will not be able to make any of those dates due to RAW and SmackDown commitments, plus the European tour which runs from 4/11-14/11, and Survivor Series is on 22/11. According to Dave Meltzer in the Observer, the deal with WWE was put together five weeks ago in mid-September, so why AAA didn’t take the title off him before he debuted is anybody’s guess. AAA will be lucky if Del Rio shows up at all to drop the title; they may just have to vacate the thing, which would not look good for the company at all.
Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker pretty much went into business for themselves during their main event match at the WWE Hell in a Cell PPV on 26/10. Both men gigged and were bleeding all over the place; the word backstage was that Vince McMahon was freaking out and Kevin Dunn wanted all the replays to be shown in black and white. Vince was yelling at the referee and doctor through their earpieces and the match was halted a couple of times while the poor doctor tried to patch up Lesnar and Taker. Finally, Lesnar threw the doctor down and that was the last we saw of the doc; can you blame him? The last time an unauthorised blade job occurred, in a Batista/Chris Jericho match, both men, and the referee, were fined $100,000 for the incident and were chewed out in Vince’s office. Apparently Vince didn’t say a word to Lesnar or Taker, so it looks like both men have escaped any punishment for now at least. Lesnar needed nine staples to close the gash on his head afterwards and neither he nor Undertaker appeared on RAW as they both flew home after the PPV.
Global Force Wrestling crowed a bunch of champions on their latest set of television tapings despite still not yet having a TV deal. Get a load of these names; it’s a veritable murderer’s row I tell ya. PJ Black won the NEX*GEN title, which is basically the equivalent of the X-Division title, in a four-way over Virgil Flynn, Jigsaw & TJ Perkins. Christina Von Eerie beat Amber Gallows for the Women’s title. The Bollywood Boyz downed Reno Scum for the Tag belts. Nick Aldis (f.k.a: Magnus) downed Bobby Roode to become the GFW Global champion. What a gaggle of geeks that is.
With John Cena out until December at the latest, Randy Orton side-lined with another shoulder injury and off the European tour, plus Brock Lesnar being off until mid-December, WWE had no choice but to elevate Roman Reigns into the #1 babyface spot on RAW this week. Despite missing Cena, Orton, Lesnar & Undertaker, WWE put on one of the best episodes of RAW of the entire year and featured a one night tournament to crown a #1 contender, which ended up being Roman Reigns. Who would have thought that a wrestling-heavy TV show with a purpose and men fighting for something important would turn out to be so good? Reigns received one of the best receptions from the San Diego crowd since he became a singles guy and WWE for once did a great job of booking him like a strong, top star, however they didn’t really have another option. I doubt WWE will be able to keep the quality of RAW the same as it was on Monday going forward, nor do I expect Reigns to get the kind of reaction he got in San Diego to carry over to the east coast crowds, but that is the challenge facing WWE at the minute. If Reigns doesn’t beat Seth Rollins for the WWE title at Survivor Series then that would be yet another failure for a man who has already failed multiple times in big matches this year and nothing cuts the legs out from a hot babyface faster than losing one too many times. WWE could have Dean Ambrose turn on Reigns and screw him out of the title and go a different direction with that, which seems the most likely at this moment, or they could have Reigns beat Rollins clean and hold the title until WrestleMania where he would face the winner of the Royal Rumble, Brock Lesnar. Putting on one of the best TV shows of the year didn’t help the ratings too much though, as the show did a 2.45 with 3.34 million viewers. The only positive is that the third hour didn’t fall off a cliff like usual and they kept a steady number throughout hours two and three. First hour did 3.64 million viewers while hours two and three did 3.21.
On Wednesday, Ring of Honor announced that the Young Bucks have signed an “exclusive” deal with the company. Despite using the word “exclusive”, the Bucks will still be able to do all their New Japan dates and the Bucks revealed on Twitter that they will still be allowed to work for PWG as well. Basically, the deal rules out any chance of the Bucks going to NXT, which has been talked about ever since Matt & Nick decided to not sign with WWE last year, and also kills any speculation of the Bucks signing with Lucha Underground. The Young Bucks were notorious for working any and all independent shows in North America and pretty much had steady work all year round. With the ROH deal they are no longer permitted to work anywhere in North America besides PWG, although they get to keep their t-shirt business alive, which almost certainly would have be squashed if the signed with WWE.
With Nobuyuki Sakakibara attempting to resurrect Pride FC in the form of the Rizin Fighting Federation, the freak show fights are already starting to be rumoured for their big New Year’s Eve shows. There is still no opponent announced for Fedor on 31/12 and Kazushi Sakuraba will be fighting Shinya Aoki on 29/12. Aoki, at 5’11 and 155lbs, will also be fighting two days later on the 31/12 show against Montanha Silva who is 6’10 and 315bs. This is just insane. If Fedor and Sakuraba fighting in 2015 wasn’t enough of a sideshow, the latest circus act to be added to the carnival, according to Ariel Helwani of mmafighting.com, is inhuman mutant freak and multiple time BJJ world champion, Gabi Garcia. What has this got to do with pro wrestling you might be asking yourself, well in true Pride fashion, Garcia’s opponent is rumoured to be Lei’D Tapa of TNA & Global Force “fame.” Tapa, the daughter of the Barbarian has apparently been training at the ATT gym in Coconut Creek, FL and could potentially make her MMA debut against Garcia on either the 29/12 or the 31/12 shows at Saitama Super Arena. Garcia would also be making her MMA debut, however it would hardly be a fair fight as Garcia is clearly out of Tapa’s league when it comes to shoot grappling and submissions. If the fight actually takes place, my guess is that it goes about 20 seconds and ends with Garcia taking Tapa down and tapping her with any one of a hundred submissions. Antonio Inoki will also be running his annual IGF Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye New Year’s Eve show at Sumo Hall so there will be a head-to-head battle of the freak-show promotions on December 31st. I dread to think what Inoki will book to go against the Rizin show.
Perhaps even more frightening than the potential Garcia/Tapa fight is the news that Bellator have signed Kurt Angle to some sort of contract. Don’t panic though, as a press release sent out on Wednesday makes it clear that Angle will not be fighting and will be making an appearance at the Fan Fest prior to Bellator 145 next week. The release states, “Bellator officials announced today that TNA superstar, former WWE superstar and Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle will join the epic line up, which is already packed with star power the likes of Kimbo Slice, Liam McGeary, Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz.” Before the announcement, both Angle and Ken Shamrock were teasing on Twitter that they both had big announcements when it came to Bellator 145, which naturally led to ludicrous speculation of the two fighting each other at some point in the future. Angle, 46, has flirted with the idea of doing MMA since he left WWE in 2006 but thankfully he has never gone through with the idea. Even if Angle did want to fight, there is no way he would pass any legitimate athletic commissions tests, so unless Bellator run a show in Japan I think it is safe to assume that Angle will not be stepping into the cage anytime soon.
In typical head in the sand fashion, WWE finance executive George Barrios claimed during Vince McMahon’s quality conference call that they are not too concerned about the ratings decline and that the product is in fact not utterly atrocious. Barrios noted that “the content is great and fans are enjoying it” – (HA!) and even though they are aware of ratings being down, their approach is to look at all related metrics, such as social media engagement, YouTube views, and Network subs. Internally, TV ratings are lumped together with the other metrics to evaluate the audience’s total engagement. The Network subscriber number went up to 1,233,000 paid subs; last quarter the number was 1,156,100.
Rusev reportedly suffered an injury during the Main Event TV taping in Phoenix, AZ on 27/10. PWInsider reported that the belief is that Rusev suffered a torn bicep although WWE have yet to confirm anything as of press time.
AJ Styles was at the ROH TV tapings last weekend but didn’t wrestle due to a sciatic nerve problems with his back. Styles is scheduled to work New Japan’s Power Struggle on 7/11 and is currently resting his back before heading over to Japan.
Tetsuya Naito made an unadvertised appearance on CMLL’s Arena Mexico show on 23/10. Naito helped his Los Ingobernables buddies, Rush, La Sombre & La Mascara beat Volador Jr, Valiente & Atlantis when he gave Volador a low blow and Sombre pinned him.
Similarly, at the CMLL show at Arena Mexico on 28/10, newly crowned Formula 1 world champion, Lewis Hamilton, got involved in a match between Mistico and Mephisto. Hamilton did a few spots for the cameras and even took down Mistico with a crossbody. The story was all over the UK press on Thursday, even getting major play on TV/radio and on all the big news sites.
Brock Lesnar’s next WWE date is 19/12 for a big house show at the Forum in Los Angeles, CA. John Cena is also advertised for the show, which means Cena will be returning early from him sabbatical as he was originally advertised back on 26/12 at Madison Square Garden. TLC is in Boston, MA on 13/12, so it is not beyond the realm of possibility that WWE brings Cena back even earlier to work that show in what is basically his hometown.
On a sad note, Doris Adkisson, the matriarch of the Von Erich family, passed away on 24/10, at the age of 82 after a long battle with emphysema.
William Regal underwent a second operation on his neck on Wednesday after the results of CT scan. In a WWE.cm interview, Regal said he was lucky to have discovered further damage to his neck because he had felt better than he had in years and was considering getting back in the ring with the guys training at the Performance Centre. F4Wonline reported that unlike Regal’s fusion surgery last year, which was on the front part of his neck, Dr Joseph Maroon performed the procedure on four different vertebrae, C-3, C-4, C-5 and C-6, to clean out calcium deposits. Regal noted that he would be healed in time for the NXT tour of the UK in December.
Biff Busick, Rich Swann and Bandido Jr were officially announced as part of the newest class of recruits at the WWE Performance Centre on WWE.com this week. I would expect Busick to make it on to NXT TV before Swann & Bandido due to him being much bigger and a better all-rounder of the three.
The Jerry Lawler/Terry Funk match in Jackson, TN on 24/10 ended in a DQ win for Lawler in about 10 minutes when Funk attacked referee, Jerry Calhoun. After the match, Lawler threw a FIREBALL(!) at Funk, which hit Funk right in the face and no-doubt caused some superficial burns to the crazy 71 year-old. Footage of the fire throwing spot is easy to find online and it is certainly a hell of a sight to see. The match was reportedly not pretty, as you would expect, however the live crowd of about 1,000-1,500 ate up the action. They used a bunch of weapons including soda cans and broomsticks; Funk gigged when Lawler hit him with a soda can because he is Terry Funk. It should be noted that after Funk took the fireball, he started selling his eye.