Cubed Circle Newsletter 227 – We’re Late, Just Like Gawker Media (RIP)
We are back with a very late newsletter this week due almost entirely to lab report related delays. However, there is still a lot to discuss in this week’s issue, including all of the news with Sting’s retirement, upcoming cards, the “conclusion” to the Gawker trial, which is really only the beginning – and much more in the Pro-Wres Digest with Ben Carass. Plus, the Mixed Bag returns with a look at what may very well have been the best match of the year up until this point, discussion of WWE aesthetics, ROH, and must see BASARA. Ben also looks at last week’s edition of RAW, Roadblock, and Mid-South from ’82 with the infamous airing of the first Kamala vignette on Mid-South TV through 2016 eyes!
The Pro-Wres Digest for March 13th – March 19th.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This report was left unedited and was intended to have been posted on March 20th, as such, some of the information may be out of date, and further information may be available for some stories.]
TMZ broke the story on 17/3 that Steve “Sting” Borden’s wrestling career is officially over, with the typically classy headline, “Sting Retiring from Wrestling…Neck’s Too Jacked Up,” – quality journalism. Sting had not wrestled since facing Seth Rollins for the WWE title at Night of Champions on September 20th 2015 in a match where he suffered a neck injury while taking a Powerbomb into the turnbuckle. Borden later revealed that he had cervical spinal stenosis: the same condition that forced Steve Austin and Edge into early retirement. The TMZ story claims that their “sources” told them that Sting was evaluated by “several” doctors, all of whom agreed it is “too risky” for him to get back in the ring again. TMZ’s “sources” also claimed that Sting will make his “official” announcement about his retirement at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony during his induction on 2/4. Sting was on Ric Flair’s podcast in December last year and made the following remarks about his condition:
“Yeah, MRI’s and neurologists have been looking at it; Dr. Maroon out of Pittsburgh, he’s looked at it. He’s telling me that I’ll have to have a surgery. The dust only in the last couple weeks has kind of started to settle a little bit for me, just trying to get so much done in life but now it’s time to go get this thing taken care of. No, I’m hoping (they don’t have to do a fusion surgery). I know that’s one of the techniques that they use and I’m not sure if Dr. Maroon will have to do that or not. I’ve got two spots in my neck that are troublesome. I guess it’s called cervical spinal stenosis. That’s what it is. I have two areas in my neck where the spinal canal, which holds the spinal cord, it’s kind of choked off in two different locations. Lucky that a catastrophe didn’t happen that night, long story short. I’ve got to go get it fixed. I guess John Cena had something very similar; he had his fixed, and Dr. Maroon has done several of the WWE guys up there and all with great success.”
At press-time, Sting nor the WWE have made any kind of statement. Sting is making some appearances for Big Time Wrestling this weekend in Altoona, PA and Danbury, CT, so you would imagine he will be answering questions about his retirement all weekend long.
Charlie Fulton sadly passed away on 12/3 in the Heartland of Marion hospital in Marion, OH, from complications due to to congestive heart failure. He was 67. Fulton’s career lasted from 1968-1992 and he was best know as an enhancement talent for Crockett in the 70’s and into the 80’s then later became a regular job guy for the WWF from 1982-1985. The Marion Star noted that Fulton wrestled against the likes of Ric Flair, Bruno Sammartino, Ricky Steamboat, Antonio Inoki, Tony Atlas, Eddie Gilbert, Rocky Johnson and Ivan Koloff, with his last match being against Koloff for the American States Wrestling Alliance, of which Fulton was part-owner. He was also a part of the Golden Fight Series for New Japan Pro Wrestling in May/June of 1976 – the tour which preceded the Inoki/Ali match on June 26th of that year – and even got a victory over Yoshiaki Fujiwara on Day Two of the Fight Series. After retiring, Fulton opened a wrestling school in his native Marion and trained the likes of Chris Harris and Sean Casey. Our condolences go out to Fulton’s friends and family.
There are currently four matches annouonced for New Japan’s Invasion Attack show from Sumo Hall on 10/4. The main event will see Kazuchika Okada defending the IWGP Heavyweight title against the winner of the 2016 New Japan Cup, Tetsuya Naito. Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe will face the team of Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa (the Guerillas of Destiny). Roa is Tonga’s brother and worked as “Camacho” in the WWE. Will Ospreay’s vs. Kushida for the IWGP Jr Heavyweight title was announced on Day Two of the New Japan Cup and also announced is Roppongi Vice challenging Ricochet & Matt Sydal for the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag titles.
On 14/3, Goofy London Mayor, Boris Johnson, was asked on Twitter about London hosting WrestleMania at Wembley Stadium. Johnson replied that he was “dead keen” to bring the WWE’s biggest show to the UK and noted that his great grandfather was a “fairground wrestler.” Obviously, anybody with half a clue about how these things work can tell you that there is virtually zero chance of the UK ever getting a WrestleMania due to the time zone difference. The UK is five hours ahead of the US east coast and eight hours ahead of the west, so unless WWE feels like running WrestleMania at 1am in London, or having the show start at 3pm EST in the US, it seems logistically impossible to run any PPV in the UK, never mind the biggest show of the year. It should be noted that Johnson is viewed as somewhat of a caricature in the UK and he followed up his statement about bringing WrestleMania to the UK by saying “grass-roots sport benefited 400k since 2008.” Clearly, he has no idea what WrestleMania even is if he thinks professional wrestling is a “grass-roots sport.”
Neville suffered a broken ankle and broken shin bone during his match with Chris Jericho on RAW this past Monday and is out of WrestleMania. The injury occurred when he went for a baseball slide through Jericho’s legs and his foot got stuck in the canvas. Neville tried to work through and finish the match, but when it was clear he couldn’t even stand up Jericho called an audible and rolled him up for the pin. The problem was that the referee, Charles Robinson, held up his count because it wasn’t the planned finish and Jericho became visibly angry then yelled, “He’s hurt” at Robinson. Jericho shoved Robinson, who called for the DQ to end the match, however Jericho and Robinson continued to yell at each other in the ring – it became a very uncomfortable and tense deal. As is usually the case with heated in-ring situations, everybody involved cooled down when they got to the back and apologies were offered on both sides. Neville was checked over by the trainers and doctors afterwards and the word is that he doesn’t need surgery, although his leg will need to be in a cast for an undetermined amount of time so the bones have time to heal.
Bray Wyatt also suffered a back injury some time last week and was unable to work the match with Brock Lesnar at RoadBlock. They did the exact same thing the night before in Montreal on 11/3, when Lesnar faced Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper in a handicap match and Wyatt stood on the floor the entire time while Harper was thrown around by Lesnar. A fun note on the Montreal match was that Paul Heyman introduced Lesnar as hailing from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, which obviously got a big babyface pop. At press time there is no word on how severe Wyatt’s injury is or when it actually occurred. He worked the 7/3 RAW against Dean Ambrose and the 8/3 SmackDown tapings in an eight man tag, however he didn’t appear to get hurt during either match so it could just be a case of a niggling injury finally becoming serious enough to take some time off. Wyatt was, and probably still is, scheduled to be a major part of the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at WrestleMania so it makes sense for him to rest up for a week or so. The main event of the Montreal show on 11/3 saw Kevin Owens retain the IC title over Sami Zayn & Dean Ambrose in a very good three-way. Like the Lesnar vs. Harper match, the three-way can be found online and it is worth tracking down if you haven’t already.
Taka Michinoku & Taichi Ishikari ran a show with their micro-promotion, TAKA & Taichi Produce, on 17/3 at Shinjuku Face in Tokyo. The undercard was mostly K-Dojo vs. NOAH matches, including Yoshinari Ogawa & Koharu Hinata beating Kikutaro & Bambi when Ogawa pinned Kikutaro with a School Boy in 6:49. El Desperado beat Takashi Iizuka via DQ when Iizuka used the Iron Fingers from Hell. The stipulation was that if Desperado lost he would be kicked-out of Suzuki-Gun. Semi-main event saw Minnoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura (GHC Heavyweight Champion) beat Tomoaki Honma, Kengo Mashimo & Hikaru Sato in 14:18 when Sugiura pinned Sato with the Olympic Slam. In the main event, Jado & Gedo beat Taka Michinoku & Taichi and Atsushi Kotoge & Daisuke Harada (GHC Jr Tag Champions) in a non-title match when Gedo pinned Taka with the Gedo Clutch.
Rizin Fighting Federation announced a big fight for their third show in Nagoya on 17/4. Former three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuyuki Fujita (45), will face Jiri Prochazka (23) in a Heavyweight bout. Prochazka lost to King Mo in the finals of the New Year’s Eve Heavyweight Grand Prix finals, while Fujita is looking for his first win since March 5th 2008 when he submitted Peter Graham via North-South choke at a World Victory Road show. In the meantime, Fujita has fought four times since the win over Graham and lost every fight – his last being a unanimous decision loss to Satoshi Ishii on the IGF New Year’s Eve 2013 show. Also, Allan Nascimento and Yuki Motoya will meet in a battle of Flyweight prospects and Hisaki Kato will fight Yuta Watanabe at 180lbs. The main event of the show at the 10,000-seat Nippon Gaishi Hall is Kazushi Sakuraba & Hideo Tokoro vs. Wanderlei Silva and a fighter still to be announced in a tag team grappling match. At least Sakuraba won’t be taking 70 unprotected punches to the head like he did on New Years Eve when he was slaughtered by Shinya Aoki.
For the first time ever, the WrestleMania pre-show will air live on the USA Network at 6pm EST and will feature the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. During the Network era, WWE has traditionally done a two hour pre-show for WresteMania so it is entirely possible that there will be another hour of the kick-off show on the Network starting at 5pm, although that is not official as of yet. USA will be running WWE programming all week leading up to WrestleMania. There’s the go-home RAW from the Barclay’s Centre in Brooklyn on March 28th. Thursday March 31st is SmackDown with the usual live segments from Axxess & Texas Stadium. Leading in and out of the WrestleMania kick-off show on April 3rd, USA will be running a Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson movie marathon. April 4th is RAW with the fall-out and on Thursday April 7th there will be a one hour Hall of Fame special immediately following SmackDown.
New Japan started their Road to Invasion Attack tour on 19/3 in Aichi. In the main event, Katsuyori Shibata retained the NEVER title over Satoshi Kojima in 21:16 with the PK. Curiously, the show didn’t air live on NJPW World and it looks like the same goes for the 20/3 show in Hyogo, which is also strange since there are two title matches on that show. From the 19/3 show in Aichi: (1) Rocky Romero, Barreta & Gedo beat Kushida, Jushin Thunder Liger & David Finlay in 9:17 when Barreta pinned Finaly. (2) Toru Yano, Kazushi Sakuraba & Yoshi-Hashi beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi in 8:41 when Yano pinned Nakanishi. (3) Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, Yujiro Takahashi & Cody Hall over Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Ryusuke Taguchi & Jay White in 10:12; Tonga pinned Jay White with his DDT. (4) Steve Anthony defeated Tiger Mask for the NWA Junior Heavyweight title in 11:30. (5) Kenny Omega over Juice Robinson in 13:26 with a running knee. (6) Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin over the Young Bucks at 11:16 in a match that sounds awesome; Elgin pinned Nick with his Powerbomb. (7) Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii beat Los Ingobernables de Japon in 15:18 when Goto pinned Bushi. Goto was wearing red to mark his offical debut as part of Chaos. (8) Katsuyori Shibata over Satoshi Kojima in 21:16 with the PK. Afterwards, Tenzan challenged Shibata for the title.
The Hyogo card on 20/3 is: (1) Jay White & David Finlay vs. Rocky Romero & Barreta. (2) Kushida vs. Gedo. (3) Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Toru Yano, Kazushi Sakuraba & Yoshi-Hashi. (4) Katsuyori Shibata & Captain New Japan vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima. (5) Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask vs. Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, Yujiro Takahashi & Cody Hall (6) NEVER Openweight 6 Man Tag Championship Match: The Elite (C) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin & Juice Robinson. (7) Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito & Bushi. (8) ROH World TV Championship Match: Tomohiro Ishii (C) vs. EVIL. Although the show is not scheduled to air live on NJPW World, Chris Charlton noted on Twitter that the Hyogo show would be, “up on World sometime Monday.” There was no word on the Aichi show, but I certainly hope they put it up there as Kojima/Shibata was no doubt excellent. The rest of the Road to Invasion Attack tour is mostly the usual tag match heavy shows, however on 27/3 at Korakuen Hall there is a special NJPW vs. Bullet Club show.
The card for 27/3 at Korakuen is: (1) Kushida, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask & David Finlay vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Rocky Romero & Barreta. (2) Katsuyori Shibata, Ryusuke Taguchi, Captain New Japan & Juice Robinson vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi. (3) NJPW vs BULLET CLUB I: Michael Elgin vs. Cody Hall. (4) NJPW vs BULLET CLUB II: Jay White vs. Kenny Omega. (5) NJPW vs BULLET CLUB III: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Yujiro Takahashi. (6) NJPW vs BULLET CLUB IV: Tomoaki Honma vs. Bad Luck Fale. (7) NJPW vs BULLET CLUB V: Togi Makabe vs. Tama Tonga. (8) Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon. They will be back at Korakuen on ¼ for a show that will be free on NJPW World and there is a special NJPW vs. Bullet Club Elimination match and a big Chaos vs. LIJ main event. Card for ¼ at Korakuen Hall: (1) Teruaki Kanemitsu vs. Hirai Kawato. (2) Jay White vs. David Finlay. (3) KUSHIDA, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask vs. Rocky Romero, Barreta & Gedo. (4) Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Toru Yano & Yoshi-Hashi. (5) Katsuyori Shibata & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima. (6) Special Elimination Match: Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin & Juice Robinson vs. Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, Yujiro Takahashi & Cody Hall. (7) Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon.
There are two big Evolve iPPV shows this weekend. On Saturday 20/3, from Queens, NY, Matt Riddle challenges Timothy Thatcher for the Evolve title in the main event. Zack Sabre Jr vs. Johnny Gargano is the semi-final. Also on the card is Chris Hero vs. Tracy Williams, Sami Callihan vs. TJ Perkins, Drew Gulak vs. Fred Yehi, and Ethan Page vs. Mike Bailey. Sunday 21/3 is in Brooklyn and sees Johnny Gargano & Chris Hero defending the Evolve Tag Team titles against Team Tremendous in the main event. Timothy Thatcher vs. Caleb Konley for the Evolve title is the semi-main. Matt Riddle vs. Chris Hero is on the card and should be awesome. Other matches for the 21/3 include: Zack Sabre Jr vs. Drew Gulak, Sami Callihan vs. Tracy Williams, TJ Perkins vs. Mike Bailey, and Ethan Page vs. Fred Yehi.
The crazy UR Show is on Sunday 21/3 and Dan Severn vs. Tank Abbott in an MMA fight has been cancelled due to Abbott failing his physical; what a shocker. Roy Jones Jr vs. Maverick Harvey in a Boxing match, Rey Mysterio Jr vs. Kurt Angle in a Pro Wrestling match, and Chael Sonnon vs. Michael Bisping in a Grappling match, are all still scheduled to take place.
CMLL ran the iPPV, “Homenaje a Dos Leyendas” on 18/3 and the main event saw Volador Jr beat Negro Casas in a Hair vs. Hair match. Casas won the first fall in 31 seconds and Volador took the second at 1:50 and the third at 14:53. I haven’t seen the match yet, but by all accounts it was tremendous. There was a second Hair match on the show, which saw Rush beat Maximo two falls to one: Rush got DQ’d at 57 seconds of the first fall but came back to win the second at 2:14 and the third at 11:49. Also on the show, in a match that sounds like a lot of fun, Dragon Lee, Mascara Dorada, Mistico & Valiente beat Kamaitachi, Okumura, Fujin & Raijin.
The Hulk Hogan/Gawker trail ended much sooner than expected and on 18/3 the jury found in favour of Hogan and ruled that Gawker had to pay him $115 million in damages. The verdict was reached fairly quickly and the jury decided that Hogan would receive $55 million in loss of economic injuries and $60 million in emotional distress. Gawker have already come out and said they will appeal, however it will cost them $50 million just to get this thing in front of an appeals court. They also claimed there is “key evidence” that was omitted from the trail on the ruling of the judge, Pamela Campbell, which Gawker hope to use during the appeal. Bubba the Love Sponge didn’t appear or testify during the trail, which is completely baffling when you think about it since he and his ex-wife, Heather Cole, are pretty much responsible for this whole débâcle in the first place. Gawker believe that Bubba’s testimony and statements would have helped sway things in their favour, but when you had the former editor of the site, AJ Daulerio, making absurd comments about not publishing a sex tape of a child under the age of four, the company was pretty much dead in the water from that point.
Next Week’s Issue
We have been teasing some exciting content for a few weeks now, but I can guarantee some very exciting and thought provoking content in the next few days. This is in addition to all of the news in next week’s issue, RAW from Monday, a review of which is already up on the site, possible Mixed Bag, and much more!