The Pro-Wres Digest for February 12th – 18th
What’s All This About?
The Pro-Wres Digest is a weekly round-up of the biggest and more interesting stories from the global wrestling scene. We aim to bring you all the pertinent information in the most condensed manner as possible, while providing all the relevant first-hand material in order for quick and easy access to the source. In essence, we are basically a “what happened when, who said what, and who reported what,” with a healthy amount of show previews and match results thrown in for good measure. There may also be the occasion hot take or two, but for all our sakes these will mostly kept to a minimum!
When we took our longer than anticipated break for the publication of the CCN Yearbook at the end of 2016, our final lead story before the hiatus was the revelation that Donald J. Trump had selected Linda McMahon to be a part of his Cabinet as the administrator of the Small Business Administration. Fittingly, for our first week back, Mrs McMahon’s position in Trump’s new world order was confirmed on 14/2 when she was formally voted into her role by the Senate. Linda had a much easier time being approved than some of President Trump’s other Cabinet choices and breezed past the Senate’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee with a vote of 18-1. McMahon also got over pretty big in the Senate and blurred party lines to receive an 81-19 vote in favour of her overseeing the SBA. While there was a lot of bipartisan support for Linda, all of the 19 votes cast against her came from the blue side of the chamber. Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was the most high profile of those who opposed McMahon’s selection. Democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire, was quoted by the New York Times and said she had voted against several of Trump’s Cabinet nominees, however she supported Linda due to the assurance that McMahon would keep the SBA a separate agency rather than merge it with the Commerce Department. The thing is, Linda actually supported the SBA and Commerce Department merger during her unsuccessful Senate campaigns in 2010 and 2012.
CBS News reported back in December that the McMahons had donated a total of $7million to a super political action committee that supported Trump in the run up to the presidential election. The then President-elect said of his nominee and good friend, “Linda is going to be a phenomenal leader and champion for small businesses and unleash America’s entrepreneurial spirit all across the country.” The SBA is involved in small business loans and providing disaster aid to companies and entrepreneurs. Additionally, the agency also monitors government officials’ compliance with contract laws. The Small Business Administration budget in generally under $1billion, according to the New York Times.
The entire McMahon family visited the White House on 14/2 to celebrate Linda being sworn in to her new role and they all posed for an instantly historic photo in the Oval Office with President Trump. Dan McQuade of the Philadelphia Magazine pointed out on Twitter than Steve Austin had delivered the Stunner to 46% of the people in the picture, including President Trump.
Brock Lesnar quietly notified the UFC of his retirement from MMA this week. Marc Rainmondi of MMA Fighting noted they had received confirmation from a UFC spokesman regarding Lesnar’s withdrawal from the sport on 14/2. USADA spokesman Ryan Madden also told MMA Fighting that Lesnar had been removed from the USADA anti-doping pool, which effectively ensured he would be removed from the UFC roster.
Lesnar is currently serving an NSAC and USADA one year suspension after testing positive for the banned substance clomiphene. Brock’s first violation was flagged prior to his fight with Mark Hunt at UFC 200 and he was popped for a second time on the night of the fight itself. Lesnar’s three round decision victory over Hunt was overturned to a no-contest and he was also fined $250,000 as a result. Despite being under suspension Lesnar remained part of USADA’s testing pool, although it is unclear whether he was ever tested again after the Hunt fight. Word surely would have leaked if USADA randomly showed up at Brock’s compound in Saskatchewan at 6am, or at a WWE event he was booked on, for another test. Lesnar’s physique has been noticeably different over the last six months or-so, however that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
Lesnar’s suspension was due to be lifted on July 15th, 2017, however due to his sudden retirement the remaining five months of the ban have been frozen. Meaning, Brock would be ineligible to fight for at least five months if he ever wanted to return to MMA.
Back in November last year, former IWGP & WCW heavyweight champion Big Van Vader revealed – in a rather vague Tweet – that he had seen two doctors and was told he had congestive heart failure. Only a week before his announcement, Vader posted some pictures from a car accident he was involved in and noted that he was unconscious for 35 minutes while trapped inside the overturned vehicle. He walked away with only a few cuts and bruises.
A month later in December, Vader posted an update and noted that a fourth doctor had suggested the “doom and gloom” the previous three had diagnosed might not be the case. He did an interview for Hannibal TV in the time between the car accident and the trip to the fourth doctor, where he said the news of having two years to live was broken to him “two, three, or four weeks” prior to the car wreck. Vader also noted in the interview he was continuing to take bookings/appearances despite his problems and said DDP had invited him to Atlanta for a course of Yoga therapy. On 7/1, Vader Tweeted that he had lost 10lbs during his first week of DDP Yoga and that his “diabetes levels” were back to normal. In the meantime Vader posted differing updates on his condition, ranging from positive motivational talk to mentioning his “broken heart” and feeling terrible. He also launched a Pro Wrestling Tees store, where you find T-shirts with the slogans, “Two Years to Live My Ass” and “Vader Just Won’t Die.”
Vader Tweeted a pretty morbid message on 15/2, which he subsequently deleted for whatever reason, and stated: “As I enter my final days, proud of the Father Son Brother Football player Pro Wrestler The Super Heavy Big Man Goat I’m Grateful for the Time.” He was flooded with messages of support from fans and Vader Tweeted on 16/2 that he was going back to DDP Yoga and was not done fighting.
George “the Animal” Steele (Jim Myers) passed away late on 16/2 at the age of 79. Steele had been in poor health for some time and was hospitalised for 105 days last year, during which time several unsuccessful attempts at kidney surgery were made. His daughter wrote via Facebook in May 2016 that one surgical procedure had to be stopped due to concern over Steele’s breathing and he was moved to an ICU unit.
On 16/2, long-time pro-wrestling agent Eric Simms noted on Facebook that Steele’s wife had informed him he was in hospice care and said he spoke with Steele three weeks ago to say his goodbyes. Bob Backlund also commented about calling Steele two days before his passing. He noted that Steele’s wife answered the phone and said George may not be coming home this time. Jim and Pat Myers were married for 60 years and in 1956 graduated together from Madison High School in Michigan. They had three children, Dennis, Randy & Felicia. Jim went on to become a full-time physical education teacher and coached Madison High’s football team for 25 years, while also starting the school’s wrestling program in 1966, which he coached for a further 16 years.
Myers began wrestling as a way to supplement his teaching income and began working for Ed Farhat’s Big Time Wrestling out of Detroit in 1967. In order to protect his identity, Myers worked as the masked “Student” and was managed by Gary Hart. He was quickly brought into New York for a run with WWWF World champion Bruno Sammartino in 1968, however the hood and “The Student” name were gone in favour of a different alias he took from a rival high school wrestling coach: “George Steele.” For the next 13 years, Steele would typically reappear during the summer and winter school breaks. Returning to face the top WWWF babyfaces and receiving main event title matches against Sammartino in 1975, and Bob Backlund in 1978. He retired from teaching in 1982 to concentrate on pro-wrestling full-time and eventually became one of the most recognisable characters of the mid-80’s boom after his infamous babyface turn on the first episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event on NBC in May 1985. Arguably, Steele’s most famous feud came in 1986 with Randy Savage when he developed a storyline crush on Miss Elizabeth. It got over so well that Steele ended up chasing Savage and the WWF Intercontinental title well into 1987. Steele was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1988 and retired from the ring to become a road agent for the WWF, although he was let go in 1990 due to budget cuts. He came out of retirement briefly in the late-90s and ended up a member of the Oddities stable during the Attitude Era. We extend our sincere condolences to his friends and family.
All Japan’s GAORA TV title was officially declared vacant at a press conference on 15/2 after the reigning champion Jiro “Ikemen” Kuroshio suffered an injury to his left knee last month. Kuroshio pulled out of his scheduled title defense on the special WRESTLE-1, Koji Doi & Kumagoro Produce, show at Shinjuku Face against SUSHI on 25/1 and has not competed since 8/1 when he lost to Shotaro Ashino. Kuroshio handed the title belt over to Jun Akiyama and said his injury would keep him out of action for at least four months. He apologised for being unable to defend the title and asked Akiyama for a shot at the belt when he returned. Akiyama told him to work hard and to return healthy. In an attempt to raise the value of the title, Akiyama said he wants to bring a new image to the belt and will take all challengers into consideration for the vacant championship.
All Japan have already started an angle to try and get some interest in the lower-card championship, which involved an anonymous message from a former champion. The translation of the “monologue” contains some classic “Engrish” idioms, including describing the nameless individual as, “A thing called a former GAORA champion. Original monster from the former GAORA champion.” The “monologue” went on to say that the title should be handed over to the unidentified former champion. At the 17/2 Korakuen Hall show, Jun Akiyama, Masao Inoue & Ultimo Dragon beat Takao Omori, Masanobu Fuchi & Osamu Nishimura and afterwards, KENSO appeared to reveal himself as the mystery man who sent the anonymous letter. Akiyama will face KENSO for the vacant GAORA TV title on March 12th
In more AJPW news, the 2017 Champion Carnival blocks have been announced. The eleven-date tour begins at Korakuen Hall on 16/4 and will run until 30/4 with the final night at Hakata StarLanes in Fukuoka. Joe Doering will make his return to the ring after a year’s absence due to a malignant brain tumour and he is in the A Block along with last year’s winner, Daisuke Sekimoto. 2017 marks the 45th anniversary of the company and this year’s tournament has been dubbed the “Commemorative Series.”
・* Kento Miyahara (Triple Crown Champion).
・* Daisuke Sekimoto (BJW World Strong & BJW Tag Champion).
・* Zeus (World Tag Champion).
・* Joe Doering.
・* Jake Lee.
・* Ryoji Sai.
・* Takao Omori.
・* Naoya Nomura.
・* Shuji Ishikawa.
・* Kengo Mashimo.
・* The Bodyguard (World Tag Champion).
・* Daichi Hashimoto.
The cards for the joint ROH/NJPW Honor Rising shows at Korakuen Hall on the 26th & 27th have been announced. Kenny Omega makes his return on the shows and will be in the main event on both nights. There’s nothing particularly special about either line-up and some of the more “interesting” matches really expose the current lack of depth on the ROH roster.
Honor Rising, Night One (26/2, Korakuen Hall):
* Kushida, Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Silas Young, Gedo & Jado.
* NEVER Trios Championship: Sanada, Evil & Bushi (C) vs. Tiger Mask, Jushin Liger & Delirious.
* Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Yoshi-Hashi & Will Ospreay vs. Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa.
* The Young Bucks vs. War Machine.
* Hiroshi Tanahashi, Dalton Castle & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi & Punishment Martinez.
* Katsuyori Shibata & Jay Lethal vs. Cody & Hangman Page.
* The Briscoes vs. Kenny Omega & Adam Cole.
Honor Rising, Night One (27/2, Korakuen Hall):
* Kushida, Finlay & Henare vs. Silas Young, Gedo & Jado.
* Delirious, Dalton Castle, Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Evil, Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi.
* War Machine vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa.
* Jat Lethal, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson vs. Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Hangman Page
* NEVER Openweight Championship: Hirooki Goto (C) vs. Punishment Martinez.
* ROH World Championship: Adam Cole (C) vs Yoshi-Hashi.
* The Briscoes, Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay vs. The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega & Cody.
Game Changer Wrestling, based out of New Jersey, are running a show called “Joey Janela’s Spring Break” over WrestleMania weekend and Janela is already making a strong case to be a named booker of the year with the announcement that Matt Riddle will face former UFC Superfight & NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Dan Severn. Janela also revealed that former WCW “star” Glacier will be wrestling on the show; opponent TBC. Also booked for the show is Eddie Kingston vs. Matt Tremont. The show will be streamed live on FloSlam at Midnight (EST) on Thursday, March 30th and will no doubt be a wild start to the weekend’s festivities.
After all the doomsday theories surrounding El Rey Network potentially canceling the series, Dorian Roldan confirmed on Twitter that Lucha Underground will be available on Netflix in the near future. Very little details about the deal are currently known, however Dorian noted that seasons one and two would be on Netflix stating in the spring.
TNA Impact this week featured highlights of The Hardys vs. Psicosis & Super Crazy from The Crash promotion in Tijuana, taped back in January. The gimmick was the Hardys TELEPORTED to Mexico to challenge for the Crash tag team titles; they won the match and TELEPORTED back out of there with the belts. The most ludicrous thing about the whole deal had nothing to do with teleportation, because in typical boob-headed TNA fashion an oversight was made which resulted in the referee being blurred out like a criminal on an episode of Cops. Marty Elias refereed the match, however he is under contract to Lucha Underground and therefore is not allowed to be on any other wrestling TV show in the US. Lucha Underground sent TNA a legal notice to let them know they could not show Elias on their TV, so instead of just not showing the segment – like with Hernandez in 2015 – the genius idea was made to simply blur out the referee. Konnan explained on his podcast that he told Jeremy Borash which guys were under contract to LU and could not be on-screen, however he simply blanked when it came to the ref.
Cubsfan posted some comments from Penta el Zero M on his site from an interview he did with MedioTiempo; you can read the translated version here. Penta noted that he had tried to tell AAA about his unhappiness, however he felt like nobody in the company would listen to him and he decided there was no point in telling anyone he was leaving. Penta also claimed he didn’t know Daga & Hector Gaza Jr were jumping to The Crash promotion and talked about Zorro giving AAA his notice and the company trying to block him from appearing on any other shows. 0M added that Konnan had nothing to do with him leaving AAA and stated he wanted to be an independent fighter who could wrestle anywhere he wanted.
Former ECW & WWF alumni Nicole Bass sadly passed away on 16/2 at the age of just 52. She was unable to recover from a massive stroke earlier in the week. According to her girlfriend Kristen Marrone, via Bass’s Facebook page, the hospital did everything they could to save Bass, however nothing else could have been done. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.
Rosa Mendes announced her retirement from WWE on 13/2 via instagram. Whoever had NINE YEARS for Rosa in the sweepstakes, congratulations, you win absolutely nothing. The announcement was made on the first birthday of her daughter, Jordan, who was a prenatal character on Total Divas during Rosa’s time on the show. If you go back to some of my earliest writing here at the CCN, circa 2012, you will notice I had a propensity towards putting over Rosa’s “jiggling” as the best part of Primo & Epico’s act during her time as their manager. Well, it’s nearly five years later and I firmly stand by my original assessment. Actually, don’t go back and read my stuff from 2012; it’s complete trash.
Per the Wrestling Observer, Jeff Jarrett and officials from Anthem were in England this week for a meeting with people from ITV on 16/2 regarding the World of Sport TV series. No news has come out as of yet, but given TNA’s working relationship with The Crash in Mexico and the recent announcement of a partnership with NOAH in Japan, it is entirely conceivable the WOS money marks could be talked into getting into bed with Jarrett and the Anthem gang. Of course, there is always the unlikely possibility that Jarrett is working some kind of Machiavellian scheme to establish all of these international partners for when he pulls the trigger on taking all of the top TNA talent to Global Force.
There was a note in the Observer this week regarding Kurt Angle’s status with the WWE. According to Dave Meltzer the plan right now is to have Angle do, “at least some wrestling.” He would have to pass a physical, however that would likely be a non-issue if they have a big enough opponent for Angle.
RAW on 13/2 did a 2.15 rating with 3,073,000 viewers. That’s the lowest number for a show that didn’t have any major sports competition since 1997. 8pm did 3,199,000. 9pm did 3,153,000 and 10pm did 2,909,000.
SmackDown on 14/2 did 2,626,000 viewers, down a mere 1,000 from last week’s 2,627,000.
TNA Impact on 16/2 did an 0.07 rating with 325,000 viewers, up from last week’s 0.05 and 252,000.
Thanks for reading, we’ll see you all next week!