Cubed Circle Newsletter 209 – Everyone’s on Hiatus!
In this week’s edition of the newsletter Ben Carass returns to take a look at the Seth Rollins injury, the Observer Hall of Fame class of 2015 in brief, Kota Ibushi news, Mid-South from ’82 featuring some of the final build to the DiBiase heel turn, and RAW from Monday! Whilst we are unable to offer full Hall of Fame coverage this week due to time constraints, and exam-related delays, it is hoped that we will be able to look at this year’s class and developing voting trends towards the later end of November.
– Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor
The Pro-Wres Digest for November 1st – November 7th 2015.
Another WWE main eventer went down this week, as World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins was injured during a match with Kane on the 4/11 show in Dublin, Ireland. Rollins went for a sunset flip powerbomb out of the corner and his knee gave out; he did finish the match, including redoing the spot, but he needed to be carried from the ring afterwards. It wasn’t known at the time how serious the injury was however after an MRI WWE announced on 5/11 that Rollins had torn his right ACL, MCL and medial meniscus and will be out for 6-9 months. Obviously the WWE World title was declared vacant and there will now be a tournament held at Survivor Series to crown a new champion. It’s a Deadly Game 2.0! This could not have happened at a worse time for WWE, who are currently without John Cena, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar and now, Rollins. The lack of main eventers and star power isn’t going to help the dreadful RAW ratings, which this week hit an 18 year low with 3.24 million viewers, plus the split house show crew looks like a complete waste of money without any of those guys on either tour. Word is that all the plans for TV over the next few months, including the Royal Rumble and heading into WrestleMania, are being rewritten; clearly Rollins will not be ready for a match with HHH at the Rumble or Mania which was rumoured to be the plan. Funnily enough, without Cena, Orton or Lesnar as crutches, RAW has been a much better show over the last two weeks since WWE had no choice but to elevate Roman Reigns into the top babyface role and the shows have been much more focused because of it. With Rollins out of the picture, the main event heel side is almost non-existent. With all the money they are paying Alberto Del Rio, you would think they will scrap his planned feud with Jack Swagger and make him the top heel. He’s already got the US title and if booked correctly Del Rio could become a monster heel double champion. Sadly since his return, we have seen that WWE is simply incapable of booking a top Latino star regardless of whether they are a heel or face, so I doubt Del Rio will be put in that spot. There is always Kevin Owens, who already has the talking ability to be the #1 heel, and, again, you could make him a really strong double champion for Reigns to chase. Other than that, with Rusev injured too, I guess there is Big Show, but nobody on earth wants to see that. Undoubtedly, John Cena and Brock Lesnar’s phones were blowing up with calls from a desperate WWE this weekend. Cena is apparently filming some reality TV show and according to the Observer, Lesnar is on an annual hunting trip in Alaska, so both of them would seem to be out of the picture, at least for the short-term. Bray Wyatt is another option, however we won’t know if they have scrapped the Team Wyatt vs. Team Undertaker Survivor Series match until Monday’s RAW. I suppose they could just take their losses on the chin and have Sheamus cash in the Money in the Bank, but I wouldn’t want to take that risk during football season and with the ratings sinking like a stone every week.
The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame issue was published on 4/11 and as usual the results have caused a lot of debate. This year’s class saw seven new inductees: Brock Lesnar: 76%, Shinsuke Nakamura: 73% , Perro Aguayo Jr: 72% , The Assassins: 65%, Ivan Koloff: 61%, Carlos Colon: 60%, and former Montreal promoter, Eddie Quinn. Other guys that came close to reaching the 60% included: Gene Okerlund (58%), Jim Crockett Sr. (57%), Los Misioneros de la Muerte (56%), Villano III (56%), Mike & Ben Sharpe (54%), Cien Caras (54%) and Volk Han (52%). It’s a pretty strong class and personally I have no major issues with any of the inductees, however the fact that Bryan Danielson (54%) didn’t make it in is a little surprising although I expect him to make it in next year. In my eyes, Lesnar is a slam dunk, no brainer. I am well aware that many people don’t share this view, including our very own editor, Ryan, and maybe one day we can have a debate about the subject: wouldn’t that be fun?! To me Lesnar is a once in a generation special attraction, unlike anyone else in the entire business and I presume his run over the last year put him over the top in the voters’ minds this time around. Nakamura is an interesting case, as he was the Wrestler of the Year in 2014 and over the last 3-4 years has transformed himself into one of the biggest, most charismatic stars on the planet, while at the same time putting on unbelievable blow away performances; I’ve got him at three five-star matches in 2015 alone. Nakamura became only the third guy in the last decade to join the first ballot hall of famers club, along with the Rock in 2007 and John Cena in 2012. Due to this year’s ballot being so strong Nakamura probably would not have got my vote, however with a couple more years at the same level he would have undoubtedly become a no-brainer so it is hard to begrudge him making it in this year. The only thing I will say is that guys like Yuji Nagata, Akira Taue, and Jun Akiyama could arguably have as strong a case as Nakamura but for whatever reason remain at sub-40%. The unfortunate passing of Perro Aguayo Jr. earlier this year is almost certainly the main reason he was voted in, however, as Dave Meltzer notes, if you look at his entire career he was “very clearly a Hall of Fame talent and draw.” Aguayo Jr was the top heel in Mexico for over a decade and at the time of his death was experiencing somewhat of a career renaissance as buckets of heat was being poured on him for what would have been huge money programs with Alberto El Patron and Rey Mysterio Jr. Like Nakamura, the only real negative about Aguayo Jr is that candidates like Cien Caras (54%) and Villano III (56%) probably should have gone in before him. Historically speaking, The Assassins and Ivan Koloff are truly worthy inductees. The Assassins (Jody Hamilton & Tom Renesto) were the top money drawing heel team in every territory they worked in and Koloff had a 15 year run as a main event heel after he beat Bruno Sammartino clean for the WWWF title on January 18th, 1971. Carlos Colon’s Hall of Fame credentials are simply that he was the biggest star in the history of Puerto Rico. Unlike Big Daddy (41%), who was the biggest name ever in the history of British wrestling, this was enough for Colon to make it in. Colon main evented with top US stars like Ric Flair, Harley Race, Stand Hansen, Bruiser Brody & Abdullah the Butcher, drew big stadium crowds and worked in six different decades, even returning to the ring in 2012 for a feud involving his son, Carly Colon. – The Big Daddy crusaders cannot even begin to come up with a case as strong as Colon’s. Obviously the Bruiser Brody murder puts a black eye on Colon’s induction and it is understandable that people, especially former wrestlers, would object to his induction. How much Colon knew, or didn’t know, about the murder and what part he may have played in the circus of a trial that followed is purely speculative, however Colon did continue to book Jose Gonzalez on top for years after the stabbing and that alone is enough to put a black eye on his Hall of Fame credentials in many people’s eyes.
Jerry Lawler once again escaped mortal peril on 31/10 when he and his girlfriend, Lauryn Laine McBride, were involved in a head-on collision in Memphis, TN. The accident occurred when another motorist ran a red light and smashed into Lawler’s car. Lawler walked away from the scene virtually unscathed, while McBride suffered minor injuries like facial swelling and a banged up knee. McBride noted on Twitter that Lawler tried to save her from being hit in the face by the airbag before it deployed and called Lawler “Superman” for walking away without a scratch on him. Lawler Tweeted that the two of them were very lucky, but their car was not so lucky and looking at pictures of the scene it certainly looks like the car was totalled and thing could have been much, much worse.
To the surprise of no one, Alberto Del Rio pulled out of one of his many advertised Mexico dates on 1/11. “El Patron” was advertised to appear on a Promociones Kdena show at Arena Jose Suliaman; it was not a AAA show however a lot of AAA talent were on the card. Alberto made it clear that he would not be making the date and the show was eventually cancelled; he didn’t have any conflicts when it came to WWE dates which all but tells you he is not going back to drop the Mega Heavyweight title anytime soon.
Kota Ibushi has been ruled out of action indefinitely with a reported herniated disc in his neck. Ibushi had missed several recent DDT shows, including the 25/10 show where he was scheduled to face KO-D Open Weight Champion Yukio Sakaguchi. On 1/11 DDT President, Sanshiro Takagi, and managing director of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Naoki Sugabayashi, held a press conference and Takagi announced that Ibushi had complained of a high fever at midnight on 24/10 and he had no choice to but cancel his match with Sakaguchi. Ibushi had also complained of numbness on the left side of his body and was later diagnosed with a cervical herniated disc. Ibushi had to vacate the KO-D Tag Team title he held with Daisuke Sasaki and will also obviously miss New Japan’s Power Struggle show on 7/11 where he was booked to team with Hiroshi Tanahashi to face Kazuchika Okada & Kazushi Sakuraba. Sugabayashi stated that New Japan would be renewing Ibushi’s contract (his current deal expires in January) even though he will not be wrestling anytime soon. It seems like Ibushi will be off the Tokyo Dome show on 4/1 which is a real shame because he was involved in one of the greatest matches of all time at this year’s Wrestle Kingdom against Shinsuke Nakamura.
On 2/11 the presiding judge of the Jimmy Snuka murder case, Kelly Banach, issued a gag order at the request of the prosecution. The hearings will still be open to the public, however the prosecution, defence, Snuka and his family, plus the Argentino family are all prohibited from speaking to the press. Snuka’s arraignment was also on 2/11 and he pleaded not guilty. Additionally, he claimed he had no idea what city he was in, what day it was and that he could not read or write English. What a worker.
Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com reported on 4/11 that former WWWF Champion, “Superstar” Billy Graham has been signed to a WWE Legends contract. Graham has publicly bashed WWE numerous times over the years, perhaps most notably during the sex scandals during 1992 and Vince McMahon’s Federal indictment in 1993/4. Graham famously accused Pat Patterson of being involved in the molestation of young boys on the Donahue Show, however he later retracted his comments in his autobiography and admitted that everything he said on Donahue was false. Graham and WWE seemed to be back on good terms in 2004 when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and a retrospective DVD of his career was released. Understandably, many people in the company were not happy about it due to Pat Patterson being such a popular figure among people in the company. In 2007, Graham’s WWE consulting contract expired and he again took shots at the promotion in 2013 when Abdullah the Butcher was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Graham publicly spoke out against Abby blading guys he worked with without their consent and he even demanded to be removed from the Hall of Fame if Abdullah was inducted. According to Johnson, Graham reached out to Vince McMahon after the passing of Dusty Rhodes and was looking to take over Dusty’s promo class at the Performance Centre. HHH reportedly put the deal together after speaking to Graham on the phone and he invited Graham to the SmackDown tapings in Phoenix, AZ last week. Graham announced that he would be appearing at WrestleMania Axxess in Dallas and that WWE would be releasing some new merchandise for him in 2016.
In what is most assuredly just a simple coincidence, Nikki Bella is taking a few weeks off to rest some apparent injuries. Nikki is not advertised for Survivor Series and was not on RAW this week at all; apparently she needs to rest nagging injuries in her neck and hip. I’m sure this has nothing to do whatsoever with the fact that her boyfriend, John Cena, is also taking some time off until December.
Jersey All Pro will be holding a tribute show in honour of late promoter Fat Frank Iadevaia on 14/11 with Rey Mysterio Jr vs. Low-Ki headlining. Iadevaia was working on putting the card together at the time of his death and a multitude of names are advertised for the meet-and-greet before the show, including: The Hardys, MVP, Homicide, Hernandez, Shelly Martinez, Joey Ryan, Candice LaRae and Jack Evans are all scheduled for the show and Carlito, Christy Hemme, Brooke, Jazz, April Hunter, Snitsky, Warlord, Barbarian and Kristal Marshall.
WWE revealed on 4/11 that SmackDown will debut on the USA Network on Thursday January 7th 2016. There had been speculation that SmackDown would be going live on Tuesdays, however that now appears to not be the case.
We’ve been covering the Rizin Fighting Federation New Year’s Eve shows over the last few weeks because, like Pride before it, you don’t have to look very hard to find pro wrestling tie-ins with the upstart promotion. When word got out about Fedor Emelianenko potentially fighting 1-0, pro kickboxer, Jaideep Singh, in his return after three years away from the sport, the reaction was far from positive. Well, in true Pride fashion, Singh was axed and 45 year-old retired pro wrestler and Tokyo Dome main eventer, Tsuyoshi Kosaka was officially announced as Fedor’s opponent for 31/12 at Saitama Super Arena. Kosaka, a former judo player and student of Akira Maeda, actually handed Fedor his first ever loss in MMA back on December 22nd, 2000 during the RINGS King of Kings tournament. Kosaka caught Fedor with an illegal elbow 17 seconds in and split him wide open; the doctor stopped the fight and instead of it being ruled a no-contest, Kosaka was declared the winner due to Fedor being unable to continue in the tournament. Fedor got his revenge on April 3rd, 2005 at Pride: Bushido 6 when he pounded Kosaka so badly that the doctor stopped the fight after the first round. Kosaka worked sporadically for New Japan from 2003/05 and challenged Yoshihiro Takayama for the NWF Heavyweight Championship at the Tokyo Dome in the semi-main event on 4/1/03. In 2005, Kosaka had a brief program with Yuji Nagata and beat him via TKO in 4:41 at Sumo Hall on 26/3/05, the same show which saw Satoshi Kojima and Shinsuke Nakamura work a 60 minute broadway for the IWGP Heavyweight title. They came back two months later at the Tokyo Dome on 14/5 and Koaska put Nagata over in 8:35. So far announced for the Rizin shows we’ve got Kazushi Sakuraba, Tsuyoshi Kosaka, and perhaps even Lei’D Tapa versus Gabi Garcia. Who could Sakakibara possibly book next for his carny freak-show? Giant Silva?! I certainly hope not. A quick correction from last week: we noted that Shinya Aoki, who will be fighting Sakuraba on 29/12 for Rizin, would be fighting Montanha Silva two days later on 31/12. It turns out that Aoki will be facing the 6’10, 315 pounder at Antonio Inoki’s IGF Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye New Year’s Eve show at Sumo Hall, so at least it looks like that match will be a work.
Scottish based independent group, Insane Championship Wrestling are set to draw the biggest crowd for a British wrestling event in 33 years for their Fear & Loathing VIII show on 15/11 at the SECC Arena in Glasgow. The previous record was set by Big Daddy vs. Giant Haystacks at Wembley Arena on 18/6/1981, but ICW have sold-out the 12,500 seat arena with Drew Galloway facing Grado for the ICW World Heavyweight title in the main event. Also appearing on the show will be Mick Foley as “commissioner for the night” and Rhyno, who will be facing Joe Coffey.
By the time you are reading this, New Japan will have run their Power Struggle show from Osaka. We hope to bring you coverage next week, however due to time constraints the results may ended up as part of the Digest instead of a traditional full-length report. The card is as follows:
Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi & Mascara Dorada vs. Yohei Komatsu, Sho Tanaka, David Finlay & Jay White
Togi Makabe, Captain New Japan & Juice Robinson vs. Doc Gallows, Tama Tonga & Cody Hall
Hirooki Goto vs. Evil (Takaaki Watanabe)
Alex Shelley, Kushida, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish vs. Young Bucks, Kenny Omega & Chase Owens
Super Junior Tag Team Tournament Final: Matt Sydal & Ricochet vs. Rocky Romero & Trent Baretta
Toru Yano & Yoshi-Hashi vs. A.J. Styles & Bad Luck Fale
NEVER Open-weight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma.
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazuchika Okada & Kazushi Sakuraba.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Karl Anderson.
Genichiro Tenryu will be retiring from professional wrestling on November 15th and his final ever match will take place on 11/11 at Sumo Hall against current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada. The show will feature wrestlers from many different promotions in Japan, including: Suwama (AJPW), Great Kojika (BJW), Yoshinari Ogawa (NOAH), Ricky Fuji (K-DOJO), Sanshiro Takagi (DDT), Kenichiro Arai (Dragon Gate), Takashi Sasaki (FREEDOMS), KAI (W-1), Arashi, Kouki Kitahara, Buki, & Dragon JOKER (Tenryu Project).