Cubed Circle Newsletter 218 – Back in Business!
After the release of the 2015 Cubed Circle Yearbook last week, we return with a more regular edition of the newsletter this week covering the New Japan Tokyo Dome, the departures that followed, the news of the week including NXT signings and injuries, as well as RAW from Monday.
– Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter, Editor
The Pro-Wres Digest for January 11th – January 16th 2016.
On January 12th New Japan officially stripped Shinsuke Nakamura of the IWGP Intercontinental title. Nakamura was scheduled to defend, and presumably lose, the belt to Kenny Omega on 14/2 at the New Beginning in Niigata after the angle on the New Year’s Dash show where Omega pinned Nakamura clean, took
control of the Bullet Club and challenged Nakamura to a championship match. While comparisons will be made to Alberto Del Rio not dropping the AAA Mega Heavyweight title before signing with WWE and subsequently being stripped of that title, the situation with Nakamura and Japan is completely different since, as of yet, Nakamura still has not officially signed with the WWE and, unlike Del Rio, will seemingly be allowed to work the remaining dates he has left for New Japan. There’s the Fantasticamania tour from 17/1 – 24/1 and after that Nakamura’s final dates will be on 29/1 in Tokorozawa, headlined by Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto,Katsuyori Shibata & Ryusuke Taguchi and 30/1 at Korakuen Hall with Nakamura, Okada & Ishii vs. Tanahashi, Goto & Shibata in an all-star main event. If New Japan wanted to, there is really no reason why Nakamura couldn’t have dropped the title on any of these shows. It’s not like with Del Rio, who came back and won the WWE US title while still holding the AAA belt, so there is no real conflict from WWE in having Nakamura lose matches on his way out of New Japan. According to the Observer, the decision not to have Nakamura drop the title to Omega was a New Japan one, which I find hard to understand. Omega is now scheduled to face a mystery opponent on 14/2 in Niigata for the vacant IC title. The obvious choice to face Omega is Tanahashi, however is New Japan willing to have Tanahashi lose two big matches in a row? Omega needs a big win after taking control of the Bullet Club and in my mind Tanahashi is a big enough star to recover from two big loses, so logically you would think Omega is winning the IC title on 14/2. The issue going forwards is that Omega, or anybody else for that matter, will almost certainly be unable bring the same prestige to the IC title as Nakamura, who has become more or less synonymous with that title over the past three years. In theory, Tanahashi could be the exception and would likely carry the IC title to similar heights as Nakamura, however Tanahsahi clearly needs a break from long 20-30 minute main events to rest up his battered body and Kenny Omega losing his first big singles match as a heavyweight would almost certainly kill his new big push dead immediately. Nakamura was interviewed by Tokyo Sports last week and confirmed he was leaving for WWE and said that a match between Omega and himself would be a lame duck because the fans would all know who was going to win. Nakamura is scheduled to hold a press conference on 25/1 to talk about his departure, and according Mike Johnson of PWInsider and Dave Meltzer in the Observer, is expected in Orlando at the Performance Centre in “early” February. Gedo has got some thinking to do over the next couple of weeks.
Rocky Romero and Bad Luck Fale have resigned with New Japan after speculation that there was interest from WWE towards both men. The word was that Romero was being looked at for some kind of trainer/coach role at the Performance Centre, while Fale would have likely ended up on NXT TV with his ex-Bullet Club buddies, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows. Romero inked a two year contract, which is interesting since New Japan usually signs guys to one year deals that come due every January, however after having Nakamura, Styles, Anderson & Gallows poached from under their noses it looks like New Japan are making sure something similar doesn’t happen again. Fale, who lives in New Zealand and would have to relocate to Florida if he went with WWE, wrote on Facebook, “I will stay with NJPW because they believed in me when I was nobody. That means more than anything materialistic.” At press time there is still no word on whether Tama Tonga will resign with New Japan or head to the Performance Centre with his buddies. Tonga lives in Florida, so if he wants more time at home he could very well take a WWE developmental deal, although with the exodus of Bullet Club members he is in line for a semi-big push in New Japan. I’m sure we’ll have an update for you next week.
AJ Styles, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows have been finishing up their indie dates this week. Styles worked on 9/1 in Barnsville, GA for Doc Gallows’ WrestleMerica promotion. The main event was set to be Styles vs. Jimmy Rave but it ended in a DQ after 4 minutes when Sal Rinauro interfered. It turned into Styles & Gallows vs. Rave & Rinauro and Styles & Gallows ended up getting the win when they hit their finishes on Rinauro. AJ worked on 5 Star Wrestling’s ambitious arena tour in the UK this week; most of the feedback from the shows has been very negative. Styles worked Johnny Mundo on 13/1 in Newcastle, Rey Mysterio on 14/1 in Sheffield and Jay Lethal on 15/1 in Liverpool. Styles also will be working RevPro’s first York Hall show of 2016 when he defends his Undisputed British Heavyweight championship against Zack Sabre Jr, in a match he is almost assuredly losing. Anderson & Gallows have some remaining ROH dates to get through before heading to Orlando. On 15/1 in Indianapolis, the Bullet Club (Anderson, Gallows & the Young Bucks) faced Jay Lethal, Roderick Strong & War Machine. 22/1 in North Carolina sees the exact same eight-man as the 15/1 show and on 23/1 in Atlanta, GA, Anderson & Gallows challenge War Machine for the ROH Teg Team titles. There was talk of AJ being a “surprise” in the Royal Rumble, but since the news got out who knows what WWE are going to do. Dave Meltzer reported in the Observer this week that Anderson & Gallows are currently set to debut on NXT TV in early March.
Steve Austin, the highest drawing star in WWE history, was on the 100th episode of the Jim Ross podcast this week and he said he was “99 percent” confirmed for an appearance at WrestleMania 32 in Dallas. Austin noted that he had an “idea” for Creative but even if his idea doesn’t fly he indicated that he would still likely be on the show. Obviously, he will not be wrestling. On a similar note, as reported in the Observer, the Rock is currently not scheduled for a match at WrestleMania. There are some insurance issues regarding the “Baywatch” movie that have been talked about for months when it comes to Johnson working the show. As is usually the case with these things, anything can change and if Rock is given the okay to compete then I’m sure WWE will jump at the chance to book him in a match. Dave Meltzer reported that Roman Reigns vs. HHH is pencilled in for the Mania main event (think about that), so in theory, if he is not wrestling, Rock could be in Reigns’ corner to even the odds against the Authority. There’s still no word on opponents for Brock Lesnar or the Undertaker. John Cena would have been the obvious choice to face Undertaker but that is out the window unless Cena can once again use his not-at-all suspicious freakishly quick healing powers. Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe would be great opponents for either Taker or Brock, but let’s face it, neither are going to happen.
Sting was announced as the first inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2016 on Monday 11/1, a couple of hours before RAW went on the air. It was the usual WWE deal in that they “leaked” the info to certain mainstream news sites and the story was “broken” that way. WWE made their own announcement on RAW and it appears that Sting will be the headliner of this year’s Hall of Fame ceremony at the American Airlines Centre in Dallas, TX the night before WrestleMania 32. Other potential names for this year’s class reported in the Observer include the Freebirds, Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts, which would make all the sense in the world with their connection to the Dallas territory in the early 80s. Jimmy Garvin is also apparently a possibility, as too, unbelievably, is John Layfield.
CM Punk’s MMA debut looks to be getting closer, as Dana White announced on 13/1 during an interview on TSN’s Off the Record that relatively unknown fighter, Mickey Gall, is in line to face Punk. Gall, 23, is 1-0 as a pro and 2-0 as an amateur and was featured in a wacky angle on Dana White’s “Looking for a Fight” YouTube show where he called out CM Punk after his first professional victory. White announced that Gall would be facing UFC debutante, Michael Jackson, (0-0), on the undercard of UFC 196 on 6/2 in Las Vegas and if Gall wins he will be the man to fight CM Punk in his first MMA fight. White later noted on Twitter that Jackson would not be in line to face Punk should he defeat Gall on 6/2. If all goes to plan it looks like Punk will be ready for his debut at UFC 200 on July 9th.
The farce that is the AAA Mega Heavyweight championship, which has been vacant since October last year when Alberto Del Rio jumped back to WWE without dropping the title, will finally be decided on 22/1 at the rescheduled Guerra de Titanes show in Mexico City. Well, sort of. Guerra de Titanes, AAA’s annal big year-end show, was set for December 12th but ended up being cancelled when the Rey Mysterio Jr vs. Johnny Mundo match to crown a new Mega champion was scrapped due to both men being double-booked with Lucha Underground that weekend. Neither Mysterio nor Mundo are booked on the 22/1 show in Mexico City and the main event will be Dr. Wagner Jr & Psycho Clown vs. Mesias & Texano Jr. The winners of that tag team match will then face each other in a singles match at the Rey de Reyes show in March to determine the new AAA Mega Heavyweight champion. – Championships in Mexico, everybody.
Lucha Underground signed a TV deal in Canada with the Telelatino Network (TLN) to air English language episodes of season two at 10pm Eastern on Sunday nights. As of yet there is still no Spanish language platform announced for season two, which could hurt. Their latest tapings were on 9/1 & 10/1 and some new names were brought in for several different roles. Paul London was there as an agent and helped guys lay out matches but didn’t wrestle. Sami Callihan had a try-out three-way match with Flamita, also making his LU debut, & King Cureno. Reports were that Sami had a tough time showing his best stuff as he was not used to working the lucha style. Tessa Blanchard worked a dark match against Ivelisse; by all accounts it was an absolute disaster and Blanchard suffered a serious injury which is said to be either a broken collar bone or a broken arm.
Matt Taven underwent knee surgery on 12/1 after tearing his ACL, his medial meniscus and rupturing his lateral meniscus at ROH’s Final Battle show on 18/12. The operation took four-and-a-half hours to complete and the surgeon, Dr Andreas Gomoil, commented afterwards, “I have never seen a meniscus rupture this bad in my medical career. It’s totally befuddling to me that he was able to continue the match.” According to Gomoil, Taven is looking at nine months to a year of rehabbing before he can get back in the ring.
The WWE injury list just keeps getting longer, as Rusev suffered a minor knee injury while working a house show in Bossier City, LA on 9/1. He missed RAW & SmackDown this week but apparently doesn’t require surgery and should hopefully be back in time for the Royal Rumble next week. Sasha Banks & Paige have also been off TV due to injuries. PWInsider is claiming that Banks has an MCL injury, while the Observer could only confirm it is a “lower body injury.” For whatever reason, WWE are trying to keep all these injuries quiet and Banks herself even went on Twitter and claimed not to be hurt. The word on Paige is that she suffered a concussion at the Allentwon, PA house show on 28/12. John Cena is already rehabbing his shoulder after successful surgery on 7/1. He noted on Twitter, “Day six post operation. Movement is very good but because a giant chunk of cartilage is missing, this one may take a bit.”
La Sombra made his NXT debut at the 8/1 house show in Tampa in front of a sellout crowd of 550 fans. Manny Andrade, which is basically his real name (Manuel Alfonso Andrade Oropeza) beat Riddick Moss with his running double knees in the corner. Apparently the fans chanted, “white pants” at him because most of them had no idea who he was. Also on that show Rich Swann lost to Elias Sampson and the main event saw Finn Balor & Bull Dempsey beat Tye Dillinger & Tino Sabatelli. The 9/1 show in Citrus Springs saw Rich Swann beat Chris Girard (the former Biff Busick) in his debut with a standing 450. Andrade didn’t work the Citrus Springs show for whatever reason and the main event saw Finn Balor, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady beat Tino Sabatelli, Dash & Dawson. Kevin Owens made a surprise appearance on the 14/1 house show in Milwaukee, WI. He came out after Sami Zayn had beaten Tommaso Ciampa and cut a promo about how much he loved working in the Turner Hall building when he was on the indies. He heeled on Zayn and Sami ended up giving Owens a Yakuza kick then told Owens he can have his RAW & SmackDown main events, because NXT belongs to him.
Next Week’s Issue
In next week’s issue we look at the Royal Rumble go-home show, NJPW New Year Dash, New Japan contract updates, the return of RAW ratings, the news, and much more! For further updates visit the new and improved cubedcirclewrestling.com.
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