eEeThe Pro-Wres Digest for July 23rd – 29th
Dave Meltzer broke a story on the 23/7 Observer Radio regarding an attempted stabbing involving two Japanese female wrestlers. Nineteen year-old Tsukushi, who works for the Ice Ribbon promotion, was arrested after allegedly trying to stab twenty-five year-old freelance wrestler Kagestu at a restaurant in Saitama on 22/7. Ice Ribbon president Hajime Sato and director Tsukasa Fujimoto held an emergency press conference on 24/7 and confirmed that an underage Ice Ribbon wrestler was indeed arrested after getting into a fight with a “friend wrestler.” No names were revealed during the press conference, although Sato noted the accused was a minor and would consult with her parents before issuing a response. The name of the victim was apparently withheld by her request. Sato & Fujimoto both apologised for the incident, with Sato noting: “We take it seriously as an organisation and we will guide and manage players so that there will not be anything like this in the future.”
Adrian Street talked about nearly dying from a routine colonoscopy in an interview with Wales Online on 22/7. Street began his career in 1957 in the UK under the name Kid Tarzan Jonathan and stayed with Joint Promotions in the UK until the end of the 1960s. The Welshman worked many North American territories, including Detroit, Calgary, Florida, Memphis & San Antonio during the late 70s/early 80s and also made several trips over to Germany during this time. Street settled in Ron Fuller’s Continental territory in Alabama in 1985 and had a strong two year run, first as a heel and then as an unexpected babyface. His androgynous “Exotic” character was light years ahead of its time and was an instant heat-getter for audiences of the era.
Street said in the interview that he “flatlined for six seconds” and noted that his wife Linda, who was also his long-time valet in pro-wrestling, was in the next room and all she could hear was, “we’re losing him.” The 76 year-old said when he regained consciousness the first thing he remembered was hearing, the words, “stay with us.” The incident occurred at Street’s home in a residential complex in Florida and after he flatlined the doctor called for an ambulance, which Street joked, “cost me $700 for a 200-yard ambulance dash” and “nearly gave me a heart attack.” He described the experience as “horrendous” and said it took “forever” to stabalise his heart rate from zero to 20. Street also talked about being diagnosed with throat cancer 17 years ago, noting that doctors told him, “you have throat cancer, you’re not going to make it out of this.” He defied the odds and made a comeback to the ring in 2005, with his last match taking place in 2010 at the age of 69. Welsh filmmaker Joann Randles is currently making a documentary about Street’s life and commented, “he’s personally had an effect on me to keep pursuing my dreams because his story is so positive.”
WWE had the second quarter earnings report on 27/7 and announced a record revenue of $214.6 million for Q2, which included WrestleMania, and pocketed $5.1 million in profit compared to $199 million in revenue and $800,000 profit for the same quarter in 2016. The conference call as usual was mainly handled by George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, who true to form masterfully evaded questions from investors to put a rosy tint on the report. Vince McMahon, as he is prone to do on these calls, stayed mostly quiet and only chimed in with the occasional platitude about how business was looking good for the future. The Network number for Q2 was recorded on June 30th as 1,568,000 subscribers, up very slightly from 1,511,000 at the same stage last year. The churn was far great this year however, with 598,000 new paying subscribers and 604,000 cancellations – the highest number of cancellations ever. They reported 625,000 new and 471,000 cancellations this time in last year. A key point of the Network was far less spending on original content, which equated to a $1.2 million profit compared to $8.3 million in losses for Q2 of 2016.
A few other notes from the call: When asked about the UK brand Barrios hemmed and hawed about “localisation of content” and said there was a big fan-base in the UK, but he failed to give any timetable for a UK-specific product. The non-WrestleMania North American attendance average was 5,500, up from 5,400, however if you factor in WrestleMania the average declines from 6,600 to 6,400. Overseas average crowds fell from 8,000 to 6,300, although they added a lot more events in new markets this year. They didn’t give any specific details on the TV rights deals which come due in 2019, however Barrios shut down a question about moving RAW and Smackdown to a digital platform like Facebook, noting that someday social media will be the major player in content distribution but that it wouldn’t be any time soon. Paid WrestleMania 33 attendance in Orlando was 64,900 – the announced attendance was 75,245. For more on the WWE financials, check out the awesome Wrestlenomics podcast with Chris Harrington & Brandon Howard.
Ed Nordholm was interviewed by Sports Illustrated on 26/7 and talked about the situation with the Hardys. Unsteady Eddie claimed he had given up on trying to reach a deal over the Broken Universe characters and was not interested in opening new dialogue on the matter. He also doubled-down hard on the assertion that Anthem owns all IP the rights to the Broken characters: “I know I own it. I’ve got a contract that says I own it. I don’t have to go to court to fight for it.” As always, Reby Hardy went nuclear on Twitter and took her weekly shots at Nordholm and Jarrett. “The ONLY thing we’re tired of are the blatant lies & we will NEVER back down. Even tho we’ve ALREADY WON. #NoCredEd #F*ckThatOwl.” One comment from Nordholm in particular riled up Matt Hardy, whom the Anthem Executive Vice President accused of demanding an extra $100,000 four days before a TV taping or he would explore his options elsewhere. Matt responded on Twitter: “@EdNordholm did an interview in which he BLATANTLY LIED to defame me. I have this entire convo recorded for proof. Checking with lawyers.”
Antonio Inoki’s new promotion ISM ran their first show on 24/7 at Korakuen Hall and drew a sell-out of 1,800, which was likely heavily papered. The show was also presented as a special tribute to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Karl Gotch’s death and the first anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s passing. They had a wacky ceremony with Joe Malenko & Osamu Nishimura presenting the remains of Karl Gotch in an urn to the live crowd while a ten-bell salute took place. Also on the show, Inoki held a special demonstration of the famous Gotch Achilles Lock and he applied the hold to five fans who were specially selected via a lottery. (7) Main event of the show was Rocky Kawamura over the giant Montanha Silva in 5:27 with a Balboa Blow. (6) Semi-main was the final of a one-night “MMA Tournament” with Diego Anraku & Shakar Peterson going to a two-round draw; Anraku won in over-time via submission. (5) Taka Kunoh over Yosuke Nishijima in 3:52 with a Cross Knee Bar. (4) Scott Norton & Hikaru Sato beat Hideki Suzuki & Takahisa Matsumoto in 10:08 when Norton Powerbombed Matsumoto. (3) In the “MMA Tournament”, Shakar Peterson beat Masao Ando at 1:55 of the first round via TKO. (2) Diego Anraku over Nobu Hayashi in the “MMA Tournament” at 1:59 of the first round with an Armbar. (1) Opener was Ryuta Hasumibeating Max The Body in 5:42 with a Boston Crab.
Dragon Gate drew 9,800 fans at Kobe World Hall on 23/7 for their Kobe Pro-Wrestling Festival show. (8) Main even had YAMATO over T-Hawk in 29:17 with 3 consecutive Gallerias to retain the Open the Dream Gate title. Shingo came out to challenge YAMATO for the belt afterwards. (7) CIMA & Dragon Kid retained the Open the Twin Gate titles over Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino in 21:38 when Dragon Kid hit the Dragonrana on Doi. (6) Shingo Takagi, El Lindaman & Takashi Yoshida retained the Open the Triangle Gate titles over Genki Horiguchi, Ryo “Jimmy” Sato & Jimmy Susumu when Shingo pinned Susumu with the Last Falconry. (5) Genki Horiguchi, Ryo “Jimmy” Sato & Jimmy Susumu beat Kotoka, Big R Shimizu & Ben-K at 10:48 of a Two Count Rules Match to advance to the Triangle Gate title match. (4) Jimmy Kagetora retained the Open the Brave Gate title over Flamita in 14:32 with the Gurumakakari. (3) Genki Horiguchi, Ryo “Jimmy” Sato & Jimmy Susumu over Kzy, Yosuke Santa Maria & BxB Hulk at 11:33 of another Two Count Rules Match to advance. (2) Kotoka, Big R Shimizu & Ben-K over Gamma, Eita & Takehiro Yamamura at 7:08 of a Two Count Rules Match to advance. (1) Don Fuji, Masaaki Mochizuki, Jimmy Kanda & Jimmy Kness JKS beat Kaito Ishida, Shun Skywalker, Hyou Watanabe & Yuki Yoshioka in 8:21 when Mochizuki pinned Ishida with a High Kick. Afterwards, Stalker Ishikawa came out and demanded he got a match, so Mochizuki accepted and beat him in 3:30. (0) Dark Match had Draztick Boy over Shachihoko BOY in 3:16 with the Mad Splash.
Keiji Mutoh presented the Pro-Wrestling Masters show on 26/7 at Korakuen Hall and drew a near sell-out of 1,626 fans. (5) Main event saw Tatsumi Fujinami, Riki Chosu & Hiroshi Hase defeat The Great Muta, Great Kabuki & TNT (Savio Vega) in 16:41 when Hase pinned TNT with a Northern Lights Suplex. It was Hase’s first match in 11 years, as he is an active member of the Japanese government and the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology. After the match, Hase thanked Fujinami & Choshu for taking part in the match and said he is focused on the battle that takes place on the political field. (4) Semi-main had the old-school Heisei Ishin-Gun stable of Shiro Koshinaka, AKIRA & Akitoshi Sato w/Masashi Aoyagi over the Big Japan team of Great Kojika, Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi in 15:37 when Koshinaka pinned Kojika with a Hip Attack. (3) Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Takuma Sano beat Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Takaku Fuke in 12:03 after Sano hit a Diving Foot Stomp on Fuke. (2) The Great Sasuke, Shiryu & SATO beat NOSAWA Rongai, MAZADA & FUJITA at 17:14 when SATO pinned FUJITA with a Diving Senton. (1) Opener was Ricky Fuji over Hisakatsu Oya in 8:35 with a Backdrop Suplex.
DDT drew a good crowd of 1,253 at Korakuen Hall for a show with three advertised championship matches. (7) Main event had Konosuke Takeshita retaining the KO-D Openweight title over Keisuke Ishii in 17:51 with the Surprise Rose Fisherman’s Buster. Naomi Yoshimura showed up afterwards and cashed in his right to challenge for the KO-D title anytime, anywhere. (-) Takeshita retained the title for a second time on the show when he beat Yoshimura in 11:00 with a Lariat. Takeshita will now move on to defend the title against Tetsuya Endo at Sumo Hall on 20/8. (6) Daisuke Sasaki retained the DDT Extreme title over Joey Ryan in a Ladder Match at 16:08. Post-match, Akito came out and challenged Sasaki for the title at Sumo Hall with a special Hair vs. Hair stipulation added. (5) Shigehiro Irie & Kazusada Higuchi retained the KO-D Tag Team titles over Shuji Ishikawa & Mad Paulie in 11:32 when Higuchi used the Goten on Paulie. HARASHIMA appeared following the match and challenged for the Tag titles at Sumo Hall with his partner Naomichi Marufuji. (4) HARASHIMA & Soma Takao beat KUDO & Yukio Sakaguchi, Akita & Diego, and Mike Bailey & MAO in a Four-way at 7:53. (3) Tetsuya Endo squashed Shunma Katsumatain 2:34 with the Tetsuya in the Sky. (2) Masahiro Takanashi & Saki Akai beat Makoto Oishi & Yoshiko in 6:35 after Takanashi used the Doburoku on Oishi. (1) Danshoku Dino, Antonio Honda & Ken Oka beat Sanshiro Takagi, Toru Owashi & Hirata Collection AT in 4:43 when Dino pinned Hirata with a Small Package. (0) Kouki Iwasaki beat Daiki Shimomura in 4:03 of the dark match with a Brainbuster.
The IGF posted a statement on their official website on 26/7 regarding the closure of their off-shoot promotion New Exciting Wrestling. It appears that NEW were planning on running a show on August 25th and had reached out to Antonio Inoki’s new ISM promotion to try and get Shoichi Suzukawa back to work the show. Suzukawa left NEW last month and jumped ship to ISM and the press release notes that the company heard no response back from ISM by the July 25th deadline and subsequently had to cancel the show. In the statement it was also stated that NEW was created to launch and train Suzukawa and with his departure, “the existence of NEW itself has disappeared.” The IGF added that they would “nurture many new attractive players as possible” and would announce details of their plans after August 20th.
There was a special memorial for Mr Pogo held at Shinkiba 1stRING in Tokyo on 27/7. Atushi Onita and Danger Matsunaga attended the ceremony and paid their respects to their long-time contemporary. Onita also announced that the final appearance of Great Nita will be on 27/8 at a show in the same building.
New Japan’s G1 Climax is in full swing and the general consensus is that the tournament is well on the way to being the best ever. The 2013 and 2014 editions of the G1 are generally considered to be the benchmark, but there is an argument that no tournament in history produced the quality of the first 8 nights of the 2017 G1. We had mini-reviews of the first two nights in last week’s Digest, however since then there have been seven other shows so in order to save time and column space we’ll just provide you with ratings for the top matches and leave it up to you to find them.
Naito vs. Ibushi – **** ¾ (17/7, Night One)
Okada vs. Elgin – **** ¾ (22/7, Night Four)
Tanahashi vs. Nagata – **** ½ (23/7, Night Five)
Ibushi vs. Ishii – **** ½ (23/7, Night Five)
Okada vs. Kojima – **** ½ (27/7, Night Eight)
Elgin vs. Omega – **** ½ (27/7, Night Eight)
ZSJ vs. Ibushi – **** ¼ (21/7, Night Three)
Omega vs. Suzuki – **** ¼ (20/7, Night Two)
Goto vs. Ishii – **** (17/7, Night One)
Ishii vs. Makabe – **** (21/7, Night Three)
Naito vs. YOSHI-HASHI – **** (21/7, Night Three)
Okada vs. SANADA – **** (25/7, Night Six)
Tanahashi vs. Goto – **** (26/7, Night Seven)
ZSJ vs. Tanahashi – *** ¾ (17/7, Night One)
YOSHI-HASHI vs. Nagata – *** ¾ (17/7, Night One)
SANADA vs. EVIL – *** ¾ (20/7, Night Two)
Goto vs. Nagata – *** ¾ (21/7, Night Three)
EVIL vs. Juice – *** ¾ (22/7, Night Four)
Suzuki vs. SANADA – *** ¾ (22/7, Night Four)
Makabe vs. Goto – *** ¾ (23/7, Night Five)
Elgin vs. Kojima – *** ¾ (25/7, Night Six)
Ibushi vs. Makabe – *** ¾ (26/7, Night Seven)
Naito vs. Nagata – *** ¾ (26/7, Night Seven)
Suzuki vs. EVIL – *** ¾ (27/7, Night Eight)
Okada vs. Yano – *** ½ (20/7, Night Two)
Juice vs. Kojima – *** ½ (20/7, Night Two)
Tana vs. Fale – *** ½ (21/7, Night Three)
ZSJ vs. YOSHI-HASHI – *** ½ (23/7, Night Five)
Suzuki vs. Juice – *** ½ (25/7, Night Six)
Omega vs. Yano – *** ½ (25/7, Night Six)
Ishii vs. YOSHI-HASHI – *** ½ (26/7, Night Seven)
Yano vs. Sanada – *** ¼ (27/7, Night Eight)
Here are the G1 block standings as of 27/7 (the results from Night Nine of 29/7 have not been included).
Tetsuya Naito (3-1 = 6 points)
Zack Sabre Jr. (3-1 = 6 points)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-1 = 6 points)
Bad Luck Fale (2-2 = 4 points)
Hirooki Goto (2-2 = 4 points)
Togi Makabe (2-2 = 4 points)
Kota Ibushi (2-2 = 4 points)
Tomohiro Ishii (2-2 = 4 points)
YOSHI-HASHI (1-3 = 2 points)
Yuji Nagata (0-4 = 0 points)
Kazuchika Okada (4-0 = 8 points)
Kenny Omega (3-1 = 6 points)
EVIL (3-1 = 6 points)
Minoru Suzuki (2-2 = 4 points)
SANADA (2-2 = 4 points)
Michael Elgin (2-2 = 4 points)
Tama Tonga (2-2 = 4 points)
Toru Yano (1-3 = 2 points)
Juice Robinson (1-3 = 2 points)
Satoshi Kojima (0-4 = 0 points)
It looks like AAA are turning the whole Vampiro/Johnny Mundo/Taya mess into an angle, as Mundo appeared on the 21/7 AAA show in Tijuana and retained the AAA Mega Heavyweight title over Hijo de Fantasma & Texano Jr in a three-way. Post match saw Mundo throw all three of AAA’s singles titles down at Vampiro’s feet; Vamp praised Mundo & Taya but said Johnny was disrespecting the belts and handed them back to him. Mundo repeated his Twitter comments about Vampiro and tossed the titles down again and said he would come to Aguascalientes for the TV tapings on 27/7 if AAA paid him what he was owed. Vamp picked up the belts and Mundo threw a microphone at him, which resulted in them teasing a fight before Mundo walked away. Mundo was announced for TripleMania XXV on 26/8 and he will defend all three of his Triple Crown (AAA Mega Heavy, Cruiserweight & LA) against Hijo de Fantasma & Texano Jr. Dorian Roldan & Vampiro announced the TripleMania card on Facebook Live and Vamp reiterated that Mundo had not relinquished the titles then blamed the fans for misunderstanding the storyline. From the looks of it, everyone involved appears to have agreed to make the best out of a bad situation. Whether Taya or Mundo knew about Vampiro stripping Taya of the Reina de Reinas title beforehand now almost becomes irrelevant, as the couple will be staying with the company at least for the short-term. Cubsfan speculated that Mundo & Taya’s best revenge would be to make all their remaining AAA dates in order to receive all the money the promotion owes them, while at the same time clowning Vampiro in public since has made it clear they can get away with that. Where this leaves Mundo & Taya with Lucha Underground is still unclear, however the couple were at the San Diego Comic Con last week and spoke with Afterbuzz TV about how excited they were for season four of LU.
AAA’s biggest show of the year, TripleMania XXV, is on 26/8 from Arena Ciudad de Mexico; here’s the card:
(*) Llave a la Gloria Tournament Finals: TBA vs. TBA.
(*) Big Mami, Dinestia, Estrella Divina &Mascara de Bronce vs. Hernandez, La Hiedra, Mamba & Mini Psycho Clown.
(*) Reina de Reinas Championship: Sexy Star (C) vs. TBA.
(*) Dark Cuevo & Dark Scoria vs. Aerostar & Drago vs. Monster Clown & Murder Clown vs. GFW
(*) 30-Man Copa TripleMania, featuring, La Parka, Lashley, Moose, Psicosis II, Intocable, Scorpio Jr, Pimpinela Escarlata & Lanzeloth; rest TBA.
(*) TLC Match for the AAA Mega Heavyweight, Cruiserweight & Latin American Championships: Johnny Mundo (C) vs. Hijo de Fantasma vs. Texano Jr.
(*) Street Fight: El Mesias vs. Pagano.
(*) Mascara Contra Mascara: Pyscho Clown vs. Dr Wagner Jr.
AAA’s TV show, which began airing in the UK on the fringe channel Front Runner TV last month, has already been canceled. The first episode aired on 14/6 and did 14,000 viewers, the highest rating ever for the station, however the viewership continued to decline and by 5/7 they were down to a miserly 1,000 viewers. The shows were months old and the commentary by Dave Bradshaw & Alex Shane was horrendous. One of the biggest errors was airing the show at 7pm, which is not only a bad time as there is a lot of prime-time competition but also there are strict rules of what can be aired before the 9pm watershed. The media regulating body OFCOM received complaints about the content of the shows and coupled with the ratings decline, Front Runner noted on their Facebook page: “Unfortunately we have had to pull all AAA programming from the channel indefinitely–this is out of our hands and we will miss it.”
CMLL’s Arena Puebla show on 31/7 is pretty stacked for the weekly Monday night B town. Main event is Carisitico vs. Rush, with Dragon Lee, Mistico & Stuka Jr vs. Ephesto, Mephisto & Negro Casas in the semi-main. Also on the show, Rey Cometa, Soberano Jr & Stigma face El Malayo, Puma & Tiger, pus Shockercito defends the CMLL Minis Championship against Pierrothito.
MDA Lucha Memes has another LA Park vs. Rush match as the main event of their 6/8 show at Arena Coliseo Guadalajara.
RAW on 24/7 did 3,062,000 viewers, down slightly from the solid 3,150,000 last week. 8pm did 3,156,000, 9pm did 3,129,000 and 10pm did 2,917,000.
SmackDown on 25/7 did 2,535,000 viewers for the post-Battleground show, down infinitesimally from the 2,548,000 last week.
Lucha Underground on 26/7 did 80,000 viewers for the 8pm first-run and 31,000 for the 9pm replay for a total of 111,000, down from the combined 124,000 (73,000 & 51,000) last week.
Impact on 27/7 did 286,000 viewers, down from 322,000 last week.
Thanks for reading, everybody! We’ll see you all next week.