The Pro-Wres Digest for June 11th – 17th
RIZIN FF chairman Nobuyuki Sakakibara told Tokyo Sports on 13/6 that he was issuing an “official offer” for Kota Ibushi to do an MMA fight for the promotion. RIZIN’s next show is on 30/7 at the Saitama Super Arena and will feature a gimmicky fight between Tenshin Nasukawa and Kizaemon Saiga, with the first round being under kickboxing rules and the second round (if required) being traditional MMA rules. If nobody has won the fight after two rounds, it will be ruled a draw for some reason. Nasukawa is a charismatic 18 year-old that the company has been trying to get over since their first event in December 2015, while Saiga is a far less skilled fighter and is best known for his model wife, Yu Abiru, who sits at ringside for his fights. Ibushi has been shown in the crowd at RIZIN events in the past and Tokyo Sports claimed he is friends with both Nasukawa & Kizaemon, both of whom are also apparently big pro-wrestling fans. What this means in relation to Ibushi actually taking a fight with RIZIN isn’t exactly clear, but it is a situation to keep an eye on.
PJ Black was reportedly involved in a base jumping accident last week and suffered some pretty horrific injuries. Dave Meltzer noted in this week’s Observer that Black broke his leg, hand and also lost a finger in the accident. Unsurprisingly he was forced to cancel all of his upcoming indie dates as a result, including the House of Hardcore tour of Australia this weekend. It’s not the first time Black has hurt himself by jumping off high things. Last October, he broke both his ankles while base jumping in South Africa and was out of action until January of this year.
Matt Riddle will face Tomohiro Ishii for Revolution Pro on 8/7 at York Hall. The interesting thing about the match is that Riddle will be missing the EVOLVE double shot on 8/7 & 9/7 in order to work the show in the UK. Riddle is under contract to WWN, however in the Observer Dave Meltzer noted that they didn’t want to block what will be a big career opportunity for him, as key people from New Japan will get to see him work live. Even though WWE declined the option to sign Riddle a couple of years ago, the company surely has been keeping tabs on his progress since one of his trainers was Sean Waltman, who is of course good friends with Triple H. If New Japan like what they see in Riddle – and why wouldn’t they – a situation could arise where WWE make him an offer just to prevent him from going to the second bigger pro-wrestling company in the world.
WWE announced some of the competitors for the Mae Young Classic women’s tournament this week. Stardom’s SWA Champion and the inaugural PROGRESS Women’s Champion Toni Storm is probably the most recognisable name of those announced so far. CMLL’s Princesa Sugehit, who is the current Mexican National Women’s Champion, was also named as a participant. Sugehit is 36 years-old, which makes her inclusion interesting, although she is good friends with Performance Centre trainer Sarah Stock so that would explain her involvement. The other two names announced, Lacey Evans & Sarah Logan, have appeared regularly in NXT as lower card enhancement talent. Logan was the former Crazy Mary Dobson. The 32 women will compete in the single elimination tournament on July 13th & 14th at Full Sail University. Like the Cruiserweight Classic, all the matches will be taped over the two day period and the final will take place on a live Network special later in the year.
New Japan’s Dominion on 11/6 at Osaka-Jo Hall drew the company’s biggest non-Tokyo Dome crowd of the year, 11,756, and was also one of the best shows of the entire year. (9) The main event was a rematch of the most talked about match in eons, as Kazuchika Okada defended the IWGP Heavyweight title against Kenny Omega for the second time. For the first time since March 26th 2005, when Satoshi Kojima defended the IWGP title against Shinsuke Nakamura at Sumo Hall, Okada & Omega went to a 60 minute time limit draw. Whether the two managed to top their Tokyo Dome match from 4/1 is purely a matter of personal preference; you could argue the first match was more spectacular, while the rematch was more epic and dramatic. One thing is certain though, Okada & Omega put on one of the greatest 60 minute matches of all-time – at least the best since Kobashi & Kawada in January 1995. They paced the match brilliantly, as not for one minute did things get boring and they played off spots from their first match masterfully. The following is only a brief summary of the match, as listing all the highlights would take far too long: Omega worked over Okada’s leg for the first ten minutes or-so then Okada made a comeback, after some great sequences Okada hit the Heavy Rain on the apron at 20 minutes but Omega came back with a Super Fisherman Buster, Omega kicked-out of the Rain Maker 30 minutes in so Okada put him through a table on the floor with a big Elbow Drop off the top, Okada hit two more Rainmakers which caused Cody to run out to try and throw in the towel but the rest of the Bullet Club stopped him, Omega fired up and hit a Reverse Rana then finally hit the One Winged Angel around 45 minutes but Okada got his foot on the rope just in time, from the 50 minute mark they both sold like death and traded big power moves but both were too exhausted to capitalise, Omega hit three brutal knee strikes at 55 minutes but Okada countered with the fourth big Dropkick of the match and hit a huge jumping Tombstone, Okada looked for the Rainmaker with two minutes to go but Omega landed a snap Dragon Suplex, once again Okada retaliated with his trademark Dropkick and smashed Omega with the Rainmaker, however with 20 seconds to go Okada was too exhausted to make the cover and the time expired while he was crawling over to Omega. (*****).
(8) Semi-main had Hiroshi Tanahashi, torn biceps and all, over Tetsuya Naito to win the IWGP Intercontinental title in 25:56 with the Texas Cloverleaf. These two didn’t manage to better their Tokyo Dome effort, however the match was still fantastic and the fact that Tanahashi could still work to such a high level with his injury was simply astounding. (****½). (7) Minoru Suzuki retained the NEVER Openweight title over Hirooki Goto in a Lumberjack Death Match in 16:00 after the Gotch Piledriver. It wasn’t the best Suzuki match in the world, but it was fun for what it was. Tons of interference from Chaos & SZKG. They set up YOSHI-HASHI as Suzuki’s next challenger, but more importantly teased a Suzuki/Liger match for down the road. (***½). (6) KUSHIDA got his revenge on Hiromu Takahashi and regained the IWGP Jr Heavyweight title with the Hoverboard Lock at 19:12 in a banger of a match. BUSHI showed up afterwards and sprayed KUSHIDA with mist to set himself up as the next challenger. (****¾). (5) Cody pinned Michael Elgin clean with Cross Rhodes in 11:53 of a decent match; Cody made a run-in during the main event and tried to throw in the towel for Omega, but the Young Bucks stopped him. This will no doubt play into the story when Cody challenges Okada for the IWGP title on the first night of the Long Beach shows. (***¼). (4) The Guerrillas of Destiny beat War Machine for the IWGP Tag Team titles in 10:43 after they hit Guerrilla Warfare on Rowe. Match was a lot of fun, as they packed a ton of content into the little time they had; Hanson looked like a star. (***½). (3) The Young Bucks defeated Roppongi Vice to win the IWGP Jr Tag Team titles in a very good outing. Match was essentially the reverse of their Tokyo Dome match, with Barreta selling forever after Rocky Romero was taken out early. Nick submitted Rocky with the Sharpshooter at 14:14. (***¾). (2) EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA retained the NEVER Openweight Trios titles in a Gauntlet Match: Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI eliminated Yujiro Takahashi, Hangman Page & Bad Luck Fale in 6:01 when Yano pinned Yujiro. Zack Sabre Jr, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi eliminated Ishii, Yano & YOSHI-HASHI in 0:43 when Sabre pinned Yano with the European Clutch. Ryusuke Taguchi, Ricochet & Juice Robinson eliminated ZSJ, Kanemaru & Taichi in 4:53 when Robinson pinned Taichi with Pulp Friction. EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA won the match after beating Taguchi, Ricochet & Juice in 7:02 when BUSHI hit the MX on Taguchi. (**¾). (1) Togi Makabe, Yuji Nagata, Tiger Mask W & Tiger Mask IV beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi & Jushin “Thunder” Liger in 7:01 when Makabe hit Nakanishi with the King Kong Knee Drop. (**¾) (0) Dark Match had David Finlay, Tomoyuki Oka & Shota Umino over Hirai Kawato, Katsuya Kitamura & Tetsuhiro Yagi in 7:37 after Finaly hit the Prima Nocta on Yagi. (**¾).
New Japan also announced that Yuji Nagata will be competing in his final G1 tournament this year.
The lineups for the Long Beach shows were unveiled this week.
(*) Roppongi Vice, Will Ospreay & The Briscoes vs. The Young Bucks, Marty Scurll, Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale.
(*) Titan, Dragon Lee, Volador Jr. & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA.
(*) IWGP US Championship Tournament First Round Match: Jay Lethal vs. Hangman Page.
(*) IWGP US Championship Tournament First Round Match: Juice Robinson vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
(*) David Finlay, Jay White, KUSHIDA & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Sho Tanaka, Yohei Komatsu, Yoshitatsu & Billy Gunn.
(*) IWGP Tag Team Championship: Guerrillas of Destiny (C) vs. War Machine.
(*) IWGP US Championship Tournament First Round Match: Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega.
(*) IWGP US Championship Tournament First Round Match: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tetsuya Naito.
(*) IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (C) vs. Cody.
(*) IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks (C) vs. Roppongi Vice
(*) IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (C) vs. Billy Gunn.
(*) The semifinals & finals of the US title tournament.
Before the Long Beach shows, there will be three Kizuna Road events to get through. June 20th has a NEVER Six-Man tag title match with EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA defending against KUSHIDA, Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi. Davey Boy Smith Jr. will be back to compete in a Suzuki-gun vs. Chaos trios match.
The Minoru Suzuki vs. YOSHI-HASHI NEVER Openweight Championship match is on June 26th.
The final Kizuna Road show on June 27th will have KUSHIDA defending the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title against BUSHI.
Announcements for the G1 (participants, blocks, and matches) will be made across the three shows.
There will be some interesting cross promotion between All Japan & New Japan in the coming months. At the All Japan show at Shinkiba 1stRING on July 5th New Japan Young Lions Tomoyuki Oka & Katsuya Kitamura will face the team of Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori. Then, on the August 27th All Japan Sumo Hall show, Yuma Aoyagi will face Taichi in a rematch of the 2016 Super J-Cup first round. New Japan have used some All Japan talent on their Lions Gate shows before, so it may not be anything to get too excited about just yet. Puroresu Spirit noted that something is rumoured to be in the works to celebrate the 25th anniversaries of Jun Akiyama, Manabu Nakanishi & Takao Omori.
All Japan drew a solid 1,312 fans for their afternoon show at Korakuen Hall on 11/6. Main event had Shuji Ishikawa retaining the Triple Crown Heavyweight title over Jake Lee in 16:53 with the Giant Slam. Suwama appeared afterwards as Ishikawa’s next challenger. (6) Semi-main saw Suwama down Kento Miyahara in 14:45 with a Backdrop Hold; Suwama finally got his win over the former Triple Crown champ. (5) Big Guns (Zeus & The Bodyguard) beat Kengo Mashimo & KAI for the World Tag Team titles in 11:08 when Zeus gave KAI the Jackhammer. (4) TAJIRI returned to Japan and teamed with Yutaka Yoshie & Minoru Tanaka to beat Jun Akiyama, Ultimo Dragon & Atsushi Maruyama in 10:12. TAJIRI pinned Maruyama with a Buzzsaw Kick and said he wanted a shot at Akiyama’s GAORA TV title. (3) Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki beat Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi in 4:38 when Doering hit the Revolution Bomb on Nomura. (2) Osamu Nishimura retained the BANG! TV World Heavyweight title over Rikiya Fudo in 5:40 with a Ground Cobra Twist. (1) Opener saw Takao Omori, Masanobu Fuchi, Ryoji Sai & Ayato Yoshida over Yohei Nakajima, Koji Iwamoto, Keisuke Okada & Fuminori Abe in 6:39 when Fuchi pinned Keisuke with a Small Package.
Kenta Kobashi ran the fourth Fortune Dream show on 14/6 and drew 1,300 fans at Korakuen Hall. (6) Main event was the customary Fortune Dream tag match, with Daisuke Sekimoto & Suwama over Kohei Sato & Shingo Tagaki in 20:42 when Sekimoto pinned Sato with a German Suplex. (5) Semi-main saw Shuji Ishikawa & Hideki Suzuki go to a 30:00 draw with Joe Doering & James Raideen. After the match Ishikawa & Suzuki gave the “No Fear” pose as a tribute to Yoshihiro Takayama, who was originally going to be in the match but had to pull out due to a cervical spinal injury. (4) The traditional Special Talk Battle was between Kenta Kobashi & Manami Toyota. (3) Go Shiozaki & Takuya Nomura beat Yuji Okabayashi & Kaito Kiyomiya in 18:47 when Shiozaki hit the Go Flasher on Kiyomiya. (2) Meiko Satomura & Mika Shirahime downed Hiroyo Matsumoto & Konami in 11:40 after Satomura gave Konami a Death Valley Bomb. (1) Open had Kotaro Suzuki over Kazuhiro Tamura in 7:58 with a Tiger Driver. Kobashi thanked all the wrestlers and the fans after the show and said plans for Fortune Dream 5 is already being planned for next year.
T-Hawk defeated Naruki Doi in the final of Dragon Gate’s King of Gate tournament on 11/6 at Hakata Star Lanes in Fukuoka in front of 1,600 fans. He challenged YAMATO for the Open the Dream Gate title afterwards and YAMATO accepted.
Jimmy Havoc became the first British winner of CZW’s Tournament of Death on 10/6 in DJ Hyde’s parents’ backyard in Townsend, DE. He is also only the third foreigner to win the tournament, as Thumbtack Jack won two editions of TOD in 2009 and Jun Kasai took home the trophy in 2014. In the first round, Havoc defeated John Wayne Murdoch & Rickey Shane Page (last year’s TOD champion) in a three-way Pains of Glass Match. The semi-final saw Havoc defeat Masada in a Lightube Treachery Match and in the final he defeated Conor Claxton in a No Rope, No Canvas, Barbed Wire & Lightubes Match. Jimmy was pretty over when he came out for the first match, however after hours of drinking some of the CZW fans turned on him after he defeated Masada in the semi-final. By the time the final came around the crowd was virtually split down the middle, with half of them cheering for Havoc while the other half booed him and did the oblivious “USA” chant. After the final, RSP came out to hand over the trophy he won last year and put over Jimmy, who said he loved wrestling in the US for the CZW fans, even if half of them were “c*nts.” Conor Claxton attacked Havoc and destroyed the TOD trophy to send the anti-Jimmy members of the crowd home happy.
ROH have their Best in the World PPV next week on 23/6 from Lowell, MA. Here’s the card:
* Losing Team Must Disband: Search & Destroy (Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, Jay White & Jon Gresham) vs. The Rebellion (Caprice Coleman, Kenny King, Rhett Titus & Shane Taylor).
* Jay Lethal vs. Silas Young.
* The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia) vs. Ultimo Guerrero & El Terrible.
* Strap Match: Frankie Kazarian vs. Adam Page.
* ROH World Six-Man Championship: Bully Ray & The Briscoes (C) vs. Dalton Castle & The Boys.
* ROH World TV Championship: KUSHIDA (C) vs. Marty Scurll.
* ROH World Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks (C) vs. War Machine.
* ROH World Championship: Christopher Daniels (C) vs. Cody.
CMLL’s Arena Mexico show on 16/6 featured two very good matches that are worth checking out. Main event was the finals of the Gran Alternativa tournament, which saw Caristico & Soberano Jr beat Sanson & Ultimo Guerrero by taking the second and third falls. Soberano is the son of Euforia, who is Ultimo Guerrero’s regular tag team partner, and he pinned Guerrero with a springboard Moonsault to take the third fall. Also on the show, Dragon Lee beat Barbaro Cavernario in a one-fall Lightening Match at 9:42 with the Tree of Woe Double Foot-Stomp.
Niebla Roja became the new CMLL Light Heavyweight champion on 10/6 at Arena Coliseo when he won a Cibernetico match involving, Caristico, Johnny Idol, Stuka Jr, Misterioso Jr, Barbaro Cavernario, Ripper, Drone, Blue Panther & Polvora. Niebla Roja last pinned Cavernario to win the match and the title. The CMLL Light Heavyweight title was vacated when La Mascara was fired for the Alvarado’s smashing up Ultimo Guerrero’s car.
AAA’s TripleMania will take place on August 26th, which just so happens to be the date for the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor boxing match that was made official this week.
The Crash have entered a working relationship with Seattle-based promotion Defy Wrestling and will be sharing talent with each other going forward.
There was a scary situation involving Mark Andrews during NXT’s three day run at the Download festival at Donington Park in Derbyshire, England last weekend. On the 11/6 Sunday show, Andrews teamed with Roderick Strong, Aleister Black & Drew McIntyre against Bobby Roode, Pete Dunne & The Authors of Pain. During the match, Andrews took a Clothesline from the AOP and instantly rolled to the floor holding his neck. He was treated by EMTs before being put on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital where he underwent a CT scan, according to WWE.com. The scan came back negative, with only some bruising evident; Andrews Tweeted that everything was okay and thanked everybody for their concern. They shot a cool little angle on 10/6 Saturday, as Andrews performed with his band Junior in one of the small tents and Pete Dunne attacked him during the closing moments of the set. Dunne held up the UK Championship on the stage then tried to make his exit, however Andrews did a somersault flip dive of the stage and took him out. Andrews then cut a promo and told everyone to show up to that night’s NXT show to see him challenge Dunne for the UK title, which Dunne ended up winning.
WWE Money in the Bank is this Sunday (18/6) from the Scottrade Centre in St. Louis, MO. Here’s the card:
* WWE SmackDown Women’s Title: Naomi (C) vs. Lana.
* WWE SmackDown Tag Team Titles: The Usos (C) vs. New Day.
* WWE SmackDown Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Natalya vs. Tamina vs. Carmella.
* WWE SmackDown Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggeler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura.
* WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal (C) vs. Randy Orton.
RAW on 12/6 did a 1.74 rating with 2,529,000 viewers, way down from the 2.03 & 2,984,000 last week. The show tied the lowest rating in the history of RAW, 1.74, however they just managed to beat the lowest average audience of 2,464,000 which was set on September 26th, 2016 when they were against the Presidential debate. 8pm did 2,769,000. 9pm did 2,522,000 and 10pm did 2,325,000. They were up against the NBA finals, so in theory things should rebound a little bit next week.
SmackDown on 13/6 did 2,072,000, way down from last week’s 2,349,000, and the second lowest number since moving to Tuesdays. The November 8th, 2016 show was up against the election results and did 1,921,000 viewers. They had no sports competition this week, so there is no easy excuse to pass this number off on.
Lucha Underground on 14/6 did 123,000 viewers for the first run and 51,000 for the replay, up from last week’s 111,000 and 38,000. It was the fifth highest first run number of season three and the seventh highest overall nuber of the season (174,000).
Impact on 15/6 did 327,000, up from 318,000 last week.
Thanks for reading, everybody! We’ll see you all next week.