The Pro-Wres Digest for July 16th – 21st
Rumours of Brock Lesnar re-entering the USADA testing pool starting flying around on 18/7 and talk of him potentially dropping the WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam in order for a return to the UFC by the end of the year spread like wild fire. MMA Junkie had quotes from UFC Vice President Jeff Novitzky on 19/7 which stated there was “zero truth” to those reports, “nor has there been any inquiry on his part” to reenter the testing pool. MMA Fighting also had a comment from Novitzky on 19/7 and he noted, “if he ever re-entered the the program, he’d have to serve [the duration of the suspension] before he’d be able to compete.” Lesnar was given a one-year suspension by both USADA and the Nevada State Athletic Commission after he tested positive for Hydroxy-Clomiphene following his victory over Mark Hunt at UFC 200 last July. The NAC also fined him $250,000 and overturned the victory to a no-contest. Lesnar actually failed two different pre-fight tests, the second being on the night of the fight itself, which caused Mark Hunt to go crazy and sue both the UFC and Lesnar for racketeering and criminal conspiracy, among other wacky claims. If Brock does have intentions of returning to the UFC, he would be required to serve the remaining five months of his suspension which was frozen after Lesnar removed himself from the USADA pool back in February of this year.
Dave Meltzer noted in the Observer this week that due to the poor PPV year they are having UFC would like to book Lesnar in a fight if he is interested. Even if Lesnar had rejoined the USADA pool the 4/11 show at Madison Square Garden would be out of the question due to his existing suspension. The earliest Brock would be eligible to return to the octagon would be December, however the word in the Observer is that he would not looking at fighting until 2018. Lesnar’s WWE contract is due to expire shortly after WrestleMania 34 and the current rumours are very similar to what happened in 2015 when he teased the idea of returning to the UFC, only to sign an improved deal with WWE. Obviously, Brock would need Vince McMahon’s approval to take a UFC fight while he is still under contract to WWE, which he in fact received to take the fight with Hunt. The problem with an early 2018 UFC fight is that Lesnar would be off WWE television during the most important time of the year, while the company is gearing up for WrestleMania.
Shane McMahon was unhurt after being involved in a helicopter crash off the shores of New York’s Gilgo Beach on 19/7. Shane and pilot Mario Regtien were the only two passengers aboard the R-44 helicopter, which made an emergency landing on its pontoon skids half a mile off the coast just before 10:30am. Regtien, who also avoided injury, said, “we heard some noise, and it became very clear to me that I could no longer continue flying the helicopter […] so I decided to do an auto-rotation landing in the water.” The FAA noted that Regtien sent out a mayday call before landing in the water that was picked up by a commercial passenger jet heading into JFK airport and they radioed the FAA about the situation. Shane was traveling from New York City to visit his family in Westhampton and chartered the chopper which took off from the West Side Heliport. ABC7NY reported that they encountered trouble just south of the Republic Airport, while cruising at 1,400 feet. Shane commented that the situation was “very unnerving,” however he said that Regtien remained “super calm,” which made him “super calm” also. McMahon thanked the pilot, emergency services and lifeguards, who were on the scene and also posted a similar sentiment on Twitter, where he also thanked “the man upstairs.”
After the incident at the Orlando International Airport last week, Pro Wrestling Sheet reported on 19/7 that Paige could be facing domestic battery charges. An Orlando PD rep told the Sheet that “detectives have found that probable cause exists to charge Saraya Bevis with Battery. Detectives have sent the information to the State Attorney’s Office for review and the State Attorney’s Office will determine whether to file charges in the case.” As we noted last week, police were investigating Alberto El Patron on domestic violence charges and on 21/7 Pro Wrestling Sheet reported that the investigation into Alberto is now complete and he is no longer considered a suspect. Paige noted on Twitter that she was the one being held on battery charges at the airport and should she be arrested on the charges the terms of her WWE contract state that she would be immediately suspended. If she is convicted, Paige’s contract would be terminated.
New Japan kicked off the 2017 G1 Climax tournament in Sapporo at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Centre on 17/7 and drew a sellout of 6,189 fans. The show was really fun from top to bottom and featured an insanely hot crowd throughout. Opening night saw the A Block take centre stage and the main event saw Tetsuya Naito beat Kota Ibushi in 24:41 with two Destinos after Ibushi kicked out of the first one. (9) Match was everything you would expect from two men who are prone to landing dangerously on their necks and they had some insane spots. Naito worked over Ibushi’s neck and hit a Neckbreaker on the apron about 5 minutes in. Ibushi did his Super German Suplex off the ropes, which was a famous spot from his 2015 Tokyo Dome match with Shinsuke Nakamura. Naito hit a Super Reverse Rana and Ibushi landed a crazy Piledriver off the second rope. While not quite at the level of some of the MOTY New Japan main events this year, Naito & Ibushi delivered a spectacular end to a great night of wrestling and set the tone for the rest of the tournament with an absolutely killer performance. (****¾).
(8) Semi-Main event had Zack Sabre Jr. over Hiroshi Tanahashi in 17:18 with a seated Jim Breaks style Arm-bar. Sabre worked over Tanahashi’s torn biceps the entire match and Tanahashi went after Sabre’s knee, which told a basic but engaging story. Sabre ribbed off the protective covering on the bad arm at the finish and hooked the Arm-bar in deep to get the submission. (***¾). (7) Hirooki Goto downed Tomohiro Ishii with the GTR at 13:43 in an absolute banger of a match. Typical Ishii match, with both guys pounding on each other and hitting big power moves. (****). (6) Bad Luck Fale beat Togi Makabe in a decent outing with the Grenade. (***). (5) YOSHI-HASHI pinned Yuji Nagata in 16:29 after he hit the Karma; match was very good and a great way too kick off the tournament proper. (***¾). The non-tournament matches were also pretty entertaining. (4) Toru Yano & Jado beat Kazuchika Okada & Gedo in 7:49 when Yano rolled up Gedo; this wasn’t great, but it was a fun dynamic having the CHAOS stable-mates working against each other. (**). (3) Even better than the CHAOS battle was the inter-LIJ match with EVIL & SANADA over BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi in 6:52. Finish saw EVIL use his new submission hold, the Banshee Muzzle, on BUSHI to get the win. (***½). (2) Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & El Desperado over Kenny Omega, Tama Tonga & Chase Owens in 7:04 when Suzuki pinned Owens with the Gotch Piledriver. (***). (1) Opener had Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Jushin “Thunder” Liger over Michael Elgin, Juice Robinson & David Finlay in 7:48 after Kojima hit Finlay with his Strong Arm Lariat. (**¾).
First night of the B Block was on 20/7 from Korakuen Hall in front of a reported 1,741 sellout crowd; the show wasn’t quite as good from top to bottom compared to opening night of the A Block, however the top three matches all delivered in their own way. (-) Main event saw Kenny Omega defeat Minoru Suzuki in 21:24 with the One-Winged Angel. Match was layered with multiple narratives: Kenny couldn’t hang with Suzuki in the striking department, however Omega eventually hit the V Trigger Knee and Suzuki finally began to take a step backwards. Suzuki worked over Omega’s knee – a thread that would return during important moments in the match. Since this was a battle of two heel faction leaders, there was of course SZKG & Bullet Club interference. The only other BC members on the show were Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale, but Fale pretty much managed to take out Taka, Taichi & Desperado on his own. All these stories made for a super entertaining main event and should the two ever face off again they have a great platform to build from. (****¼). (-) Semi-Main event had two CHAOS stablemates doing battle, as Kazuchika Okada beat Toru Yano at 10:31 of a very fun, entertaining encounter. Okada went along with all of Yano’s gimmickery and showed he is just as capable of having a great comedy match as he is at delivering blow-away main events. Okada won with the Red Ink, which may be the first time he has ever won a match with that hold. (***½). (-) SANADA downed EVIL in the battle of the ungovernables with a Muta-style Moonsault at 15:46. Both guys worked really hard and put on a super heated match; SANADA was especially over and got a huge pop when he won. Biggest spot of the match saw SANADA hit EVIL with an old-school Ace-Crusher off the post to the floor. (***¾). (-) Tama Tonga pinned Michael Elgin in 13:46 after he countered a Super Falcon Arrow into a Gunstun; finish was great, but the crowd didn’t really get into this all that much. (***¼). (-) Juice Robinson beat Satoshi Kojima in 11:48 with the Pulp Friction in a solid outing. (***½).
All Japan drew an impressive 1,595 sellout at Korakuen Hall for an afternoon show on 17/7. (7) Main event had Shuji Ishikawa retaining the Triple Crown Championship over Suwama in 19:37 with the Giant Slam. Kento Miyahara showed up afterwards and challenged Ishikawa for the Triple Crown at the Sumo Hall show on August 27th. (6) Semi-main saw Kento Miyahara beat Joe Doering in 8:28 with the Shutdown German Suplex. (5) Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura beat Zeus & The Bodyguard to capture the World Tag Team Championship when Nomura pinned the Bodyguard with a Death Valley Bomb at 11:26. (4) Hikaru Sato retained the World Junior Championship over Minoru Tanaka in 13:18 when he submitted Tanaka with an Arm-bar. TAJIRI appeared after the match and sprayed mist in Sato’s face then posed with the Junior title belt. (3) TAJIRI, KAI & Massimo beat Atsuhi Aoki, Osamu Nishimura & Ryoji Sai in 6:41 when TAJIRI pinned Aoki. (2) Takao Omori, Yuko Miyamoto & Kazuhiro Tamura over Jun Akiyama, Isami Kodaka & Atsushi Maruyama in 6:05 when Omori hit the Axe-Bomber on Maruyama. (1) Opener was Koji Iwamoto, Yuma Aoyagi, Daichi Kazato & Fuminori Abe over Masanobu Fuchi, Yohei Nakajima, Kaji Tomato & Yusuke Okada in 6:12 when Aoyagi pinned Fuchi.
All Japan also made a few announcements for some upcoming shows. (*) The main event of Ultimo Dragon’s 30th anniversary Lucha Fiesta show on August 19th will be Ultimo Dragon, Jun Akiyama & Caristico vs. Joe Doering, El Diamante & Sam Adonis. (*) Former Triple Crown Champion, Satoshi Kojima will be on All Japan’s Sumo Hall show on August 27th and will face Suwama in a special singles match. (*) Also on the Sumo Hall show, Masanobu Fuchi & The Great Kabuki face off against Dory Funk Jr & Hiro Saito. (*) Caristico will face El Diamante in a special Lucha Libre attraction match on the show and Juny Akiyama will defend the GAORA TV title against Takao Omori.
Big Japan ran their annual big show at Sumo Hall on 17/7 and drew 3,179 fans, which is right around the same number they did last year (3,293). (10) Main event saw Masaya Takahashi retain the BJW Death Match Heavyweight Championship over Takayuki Ueki in 23:42 after a Jackhammer onto a board of nails. (9) In the semi-main, Abdullah Kobayashi & Ryuji Ito beat Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi to become the new BJW Tag Team Champions when Kobayashi pinned Okabayashi with the Diving Baka Chinga Elbow Drop at 21:09. (8) Third from the top had Hideki Suzuki retaining the BJW World Strong Heavyweight Championship over Ryuichi Kawakami with a Sleeper Hold at 13:55; Daichi Hashimoto emerged as Suzuki’s next challenger. (7) Ryota Hama, Yasufumi Nakanoue & Shogun Okamoto retained the Yokohama Shopping Street 6 Man Tag Team Championship over Kohei Sato, Daichi Hashimoto & Hideoyoshi Kamitani in 16:16 when Hama hit the Makushita Impact on Kamitani. (6) Jaki Numazawa & Masashi Takeda beat Minoru Fujita & Kankuro Hoshino in a Concrete Block Tag Team Deathmatch after Takeda hit Hoshino with a Reverse U-Crash on the concrete blocks at 12:12. (5) Shinobu defeated Kazuki Hashimoto to become the first BJW Junior Heavyweight Champion since 2002 when he hit the SEX Bomber at 13:18; TAJIRI showed up and put the belt around Shinobu’s waist. (4) Yujo Miyamoto & Isami Kodaka over Takumi Tsukamoto & Toshiyuki Sakuda in 14:06 when Miyamoto gave Sakuda a Fire Thunder Driver. (3) Masakatsu Funaki, Kazumi Kikuta beat Yoshihisa Uto & Takuya Nomura in 11:07 after Funaki gave Nomura the Hybrid Blaster. (2) “Green Boy Dandy” Kojika, Tsutomu Oosugi & Hercules Senga downed Kendo Kashin & The Brahman Brothers in 7:55 when Kojika pinned Kai with a Small Package. (1) Opener was Ryuichi Sekine & Tatsuhiko Yoshino over Kota Sekifuda & Yuya Aoki in 7:34 after Yoshino pinned Sekifuda with a German Suplex.
DDT have a big “Road to Ryogoku” show at Korakuen Hall on 23/7 as they head towards the mega Peter Pan 20 Years Old event at Sumo Hall on August 20th. The main event of the Peter Pan show is set to be Konosuke Takeshita defending the KO-D Openweight title against Tetsuya Endo, however he has to get past Keisuke Ishii at Korakuen first. Here are the top matches for the 23/7 show at Korakuen Hall:
(*) DDT EXTREME Championship Ladder Match: Daisuke Sasaki (C) vs. Joey Ryan.
(*) KO-D Tag Tam Championship: Shigehiro Irie & Kazusada Higuchi (C) vs. Shuji Ishikawa & Mad Paulie.
(*) KO-D Openweight Championship: Konosuke Takeshita (C) vs. Keisuke Ishii.
After stripping Taya of the Reina de Reinas title for no reason whatsoever, AAA followed up by bringing back Sexy Star of all people and she became the new champion on 16/7 at the AAA TV tapings in Monterrey. The story of how AAA actually went about getting the belt back from Taya was even worse, as the Observer reported that the company told Johnny Mundo to bring all of the AAA singles titles to the 30/6 TV tapings in Puebla, including Taya’s Reina de Reinas belt. They told Mundo it was for a photo shoot and they also instructed him to leave Taya’s belt as they wanted to take more promotion pictures of the title. The next day, unbeknownst to Mundo or Taya, AAA announced they were stripping Taya of the Reina de Reinas championship. Things began to get publicly heated this week when Mundo responded to a series of Tweets from Vampiro, which were subsequently deleted, where he called the couple “marks” and claimed it was all part of a storyline. Mundo responded by Tweeting that the “locker room thinks you [Vampiro] are a 2 faced lying douche bag who believes his own lies – #OfficeStooge.” Many Lucha Underground contracted wrestlers jumped on the thread with popcorn reaction gifs, including The Mack, Ricochet & Ricky Reyes. It became clear that Mundo isn’t planning on staying with AAA on 19/7, as GFW announced him for their house shows in the New York Tri-state area on August 4th, 5th & 6th.
There was a note in the Observer this week regarding a “power play” from CMLL towards the contacted ROH talent they use. CMLL told ROH that as their partner they should not allow their wrestlers to work for The Crash, which is considered to be a rival promotion. CMLL have only really been using Matt Taven, while The Crash have brought in other ROH contracted talent like The Young Bucks, Marty Scurll & Cody in recent months. Cubsfan commented that CMLL appear to have no plans to use Scurll or the Bucks and the move is purely an attempt to hurt a competitor.
CMLL’s Anniversary show this year will be on September 16th, a Saturday, which is a break from tradition as the Anniversary show has taken place on a Friday for decades.
WWE have the SmackDown exclusive PPV Battleground on 23/7 from the Wells Fargo Centre in Philadelphia, PA. Here’s the card:
(*) Pre-Show: Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English.
(*) Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis w/Maria.
(*) WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (C) vs. New Day.
(*) #1 Contenders Fatal Five-Way Elimination Match: Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Tamina vs. Lana.
(*) Flag Match: John Cena vs. Rusev.
(*) Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin.
(*) WWE United State Championship: AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens.
(*) WWE Championship, Punjabi Prison Match: Jinder Mahal (C) vs. Randy Orton.
RAW on 17/7, with the reveal of Jason Jordan as Kurt Angle’s son, did 3,150,000 viewers, up from 3,074,000 last week and the highest number since the 17/4 Superstar shake up show (3,333,0000). 8pm did 3,140,000, 9pm did 3,237,000 and 10pm did 3,083,000.
SmackDown on 18/7 did 2,626,000 viewers for the Battleground go-home show, up from 2,465,000 last week.
Lucha Underground on 19/7 did 73,000 for the 8pm first-run and 51,000 for the 9pm replay for a total of 124,000 viewers, down slightly from last week’s total of 150,000 (107,000 & 43,000).
Impact on 20/7 did 322,000 viewers, down from last week’s 374,000.
Thanks for reading everybody! We’ll see you all next week.