POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: AEW in Queens, NXT viewers, Tanahashi-Uemura

Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: AEW in Queens, NXT viewership

POST IT NOTES

**We have a bonus POST News Update with Wai Ting and I discussing AEW’s plans to run Arthur Ashe Stadium, the NJPW stadium announcements, a review of NXT, an incredible match from Wednesday, and more.

**John Siino has the latest Shot in the Dark going through this week’s AEW Dark episodes, the Kay Lee Ray vs. Meiko Satomura match from NXT UK, a review of this week’s NWA Powerrr, NJPW Strong, 205 Live & Ring of Honor – all in less than 15 minutes.

**The monthly edition of The Wellness Policy will air live on Thursday at a special start time of 1 p.m. ET for all POST Wrestling Café members. The subject of this month’s show is the influence of social media dependency with a discussion about “The Social Dilemma” film.

**We will be live this Friday night at Midnight ET for Rewind-A-DynaDown reviewing both SmackDown and Dynamite and taking your calls. All Café members will have access to the live show and the archived podcast.

WRESTLING NEWS

**AEW revealed the news on Wednesday that they will be running USTA Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York this September. It’s the largest venue the two-year-old promotion has ever run with a listed capacity of nearly 24,000 for tennis, although it’s unknown what this show will be scaled for. As of now, the AEW schedule is listing September 15th for Newark, September 22nd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, and September 29th at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, which are all major venues. The Rochester and Newark dates were scheduled for March 2020 when the pandemic threw those plans out the window. Rochester would have featured Brodie Lee debuting in his hometown along with Matt Hardy’s arrival to the company while Newark was set to feature the first “Blood & Guts” match. AEW is taking an aggressive approach to its introduction to the Northeast with these venues and are clearly confident in their ability to sell tickets in that part of the country.

Tony Khan was featured in a promotional video and noted that the promotion was planning to run Arthur Ashe Stadium prior to the pandemic:

**NJPW has announced three stadium events for the next several months beginning with the re-scheduled date at the Tokyo Dome. The company will run the Tokyo Dome on Sunday, July 25th with the main event between Shingo Takagi and Kota Ibushi for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. The timing is curious as the date is two days after the start of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the whole rationale behind moving the G-1 was to avoid the Olympics. The company is also going to run two nights at the MetLife Dome (the former Seibu Dome that New Japan and PRIDE held events at) on September 4th and 5th as part of its Wrestle Grand Slam series. It would seem the strategy is running big venues to make up for lost revenue throughout 2021 with the stadium shows serving as a precursor for the G-1 Climax this fall.

**PW Torch reports that Tuesday’s episode of NXT averaged 695,000 viewers and 0.19 in the 18-49 demographic, which is almost flat with last week’s figures.

**Tuesday’s episode of NXT averaged 50,000 viewers in Canada on Sportsnet 360, which was an improvement over the past several weeks. The show did not finish among the top ten sports programs, which was dominated by the NHL playoffs, Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees, the Euro Cup, and the NBA playoffs.

**George Carroll has joined NXT as a writer following previous roles with Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and MLW. Carroll was at the tapings on Tuesday night and confirmed that he was now working for NXT. Carroll was the director of U.S. operations for New Japan as they were expanding into the country and helped oversee the initial events the group ran in Long Beach in 2017. He later joined MLW in 2019 as a senior talent coordinator.

**WWE’s chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon-Levesque spoke with Yahoo Finance on the company returning to live events and the state of its core business. The article included the following note that addressed the recent restricting through cuts:

Despite the impact of the pandemic on WWE’s important live events business (it hauled in $144.2 million in sales alone in 2018, according to regulatory filings), the stock has continued to have a bullish bias. Shares of WWE have gained about 33% over the past year, as analysts have praised the company for securing lucrative, long-term media rights deals with Fox and Comcast.

Moreover, the company has recently undertaken a restructuring of key departments and the talent roster which is likely to bolster profits. McMahon said the restructuring reflects WWE’s desire to run a more efficient, better business coming out of the pandemic.

“The live event is where our event really comes to life,” WWE Chief Brand Officer @StephMcMahon says. “When you think about WWE superstars, they are akin to superheroes, except they’re real, genuine, authentic, you can come see them in person.” pic.twitter.com/OwMOKyjzI4

— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) June 16, 2021

**The mid-season finale of Dark Side of the Ring covering Tom “Dynamite Kid” Billington averaged 242,000 viewers and 0.11 in the 18-49 demographic. The show finished 52nd among cable programs on Thursday, according to Spoiler TV. The demo rating would be the best 18-49 number for the first run of any Dark Side episode this season as the Pillman and Grizzly Smith episodes both did 0.09. The remainder of season three will air on VICE TV beginning in September.

**For comparison, Dark Side of Football that aired immediately after the Billington episode last Thursday averaged 118,000 viewers and 0.04 in 18-49.

**WWE has announced a match between Angelo Dawkins and Otis for Friday Night SmackDown on Fox. They are doing an injury angle with Montez Ford where he suffered a rib injury last Friday after the splash by Otis.

**Wednesday’s NJPW Kizuna Road card featured the most high-profile gauntlet “tests” for Yuya Uemura and Yota Tsuji in front of 319 fans at Korakuen Hall.

In the opener, Hiroshi Tanahashi submitted Uemura with the Texas Cloverleaf at 13:17 and was among the best opening matches you’re going to see in 2021. Uemura was so fantastic in the match and was paired with someone that made him shine exceptionally.

Uemura fought for and eventually hit the double underhook suplex and even teased a Dragon Suplex. The peak for Uemura was a brainbuster and Boston Crab application where Tanahashi fought to the rope. Uemura sold his knee throughout the match with Tanahashi using dragon screws and a modified Prison Lock with Uemura constantly fighting to the rope, which he does effectively with the pain he conveys during the struggle. After Tanahashi got out of the Boston Crab, he caught Uemura with a sling blade to set up the cloverleaf. Uemura had this incredible expression when he knew it was over and had to reconcile that the only option was to tap and it was brilliant. This was one of my favorite matches this year.

In the other gauntlet match, Kazuchika Okada defeated Yota Tsuji. It wasn’t at the level of the first match, but they tried to get Tsuji’s strength across by battling the tombstone and not allowing Okada to hit it. Okada adjusted to hit the dropkick and then prepared for the Rainmaker, spun Tsuji but instead, using a rolling leg cradle called the Toque Espaldas for the pin at 8:54.

In the main event, it was a 5-on-5 Elimination Match with The Bullet Club team of EVIL, Yujiro, El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori & Dick Togo defeated Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Roppongi 3K in 31:28 ending when Ishimori pinned SHO with the Bloody Cross.

**The Kizuna Road tour resumes Friday with a show in Shizuoka and Sunday in Ibaraki before returning for two nights at Korakuen Hall next Tuesday and Wednesday.

**Over three straight nights at Korakuen Hall, NJPW drew 347, 247, and 319 respectively for the Kizuna Road cards.

**Kofi Kingston revealed on “The Bump” that he and his wife are expecting their third child.

**ESPN will include “Best WWE Moment” as an award for the annual ESPYs. The final four candidates for the category will be announced on June 25th after the online voting and the winner will be revealed on the July 10th broadcast on ABC. Below are the match-ups that people can select a winner from each category and it moves on to the next round as voting continues:
*Dominik Mysterio makes in-ring debut at SummerSlam OR Roman Reigns at SummerSlam and aligns with Paul Heyman
*Pat McAfee confronts Adam Cole OR Bill Goldberg confronts Drew McIntyre at Legends Night
*Keith Lee ends Adam Cole’s NXT title reign OR Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair headlines WrestleMania
*Edge wins the 2021 Royal Rumble OR Kevin Owens stuns Logan Paul at WrestleMania
*Sasha Banks wins the women’s title at Hell in a Cell OR Randy Orton sets The Fiend on fire at TLC (I hope this makes it to the final list and has to be read by someone on ABC)
*The Undertaker’s final farewell at Survivor Series OR Bobby Lashley wins the WWE Championship
*Bayley turns on Sasha Banks OR Bad Bunny teams with Damian Priest at WrestleMania
*Bianca Belair wins the Royal Rumble OR The Miz cashes in Money in the Bank and wins the title

**The WWE stock dropped over 3 percent on Wednesday closing at $59.73.

**Mike Johnson at PWinsider.com reports that John D’Amico has returned to WWE following last year’s layoffs during the pandemic. The site reports that D’Amico is returning to his previous role as director of production management for live events. D’Amico began his tenure at WWE back in 1989.

**WWE is teaming with Credit One Bank to release a set of credit cards that is being marketed as the WWE Champion Credit Card. Those signing up for the credit card can receive the following perks:

3% cash back rewards on eligible internet, cable, satellite TV, and mobile phone services

2% cash back rewards on eligible dining purchases

1% cash back rewards on all other purchases

WWE merchandise discounts

Up to 10% cash back rewards from participating merchants through the More Rewards Program

**Stardom’s next major show will be its “Yokohoma Dream Cinderella 2021 in Summer” event at Yokohama Budohan on July 4th featuring the following title matches:
*World of Stardom Championship: Utami Hayashishita (champion) vs. Natsuko Tora
*Wonder of Stardom Championship: Tam Nakano (champion) vs. Saya Kamitani (winner of the 2021 Cinderella tournament)
*Future of Stardom Tournament Final: Unagi Sayaka vs. Mina Shirakawa

**Kazuchika Okada’s first reign as IWGP heavyweight champion ended on this date in 2012 losing the belt back to Hiroshi Tanahashi. Okada returned from his excursion earlier in the year and surprisingly, beat Tanahashi for the title in February 2012 after Tanahashi held the belt for over a year. During that first reign, he had a sensational match with Tetsuya Naito and it quickly became clear that Okada was going to be a star. Tanahashi would hold the title for the remainder of 2012 and lose it back to Okada in April 2013.

MMA NEWS

**Georges St-Pierre was the subject of an interesting feature for Wealthsimple Magazine describing his business history with the UFC and citing dollar amounts to several of his fights.

St-Pierre’s argument was that it was the fighter that needed to force the UFC to pay them the amount they are seeking and took St-Pierre from an entry-level deal that began at $3,000 to show and $3,000 to win for his promotional debut against Karo Parisyan in January 2004 up to approximately $10 million for his last fight with Michael Bisping when you included the pay-per-view and sponsorship revenue. St-Pierre stated when he fought Matt Hughes for the first time in October 2004 for the welterweight title that he only made $9,000 and would have doubled that figure if he won. St-Pierre was submitted with one second remaining in the first round but rebounded and became the champion two years later when he beat Hughes at UFC 65.

St-Pierre wrote about his big showdown with the UFC occurring in 2008 when his contract was coming due before his title defense at UFC 87 against Jon Fitch and struck a new deal. He said his disclosed pay was listed at $400,000 but that he actually made millions due to receiving a percentage of the pay-per-view and live gate.

So after I won the championship in 2008, I took a big gamble on myself and told UFC I was not going to re-sign with them. And then, the day before my fight with Jon Fitch, the UFC came back with a big, crazy contract because they didn’t want me to become a free agent. You read I made $400,000 a match? No. I made a lot more than that. A lot more than that. Millions. When I was at the peak of my career, I was making many millions of dollars. Because you not only get the money to show and the money to win, but you also have a percentage of the gate and pay-per-view buys — the gate and the pay-per-views are where the real money is. That’s how fighters make their money. But you need to have the power to negotiate those terms. I was very successful so I could demand that extra money.

After the Fitch fight, St-Pierre had some massive fights on pay-per-view including the rematch with BJ Penn in January 2009, a co-main event slot on the mammoth UFC 100 card that July, and other big fights with Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck, and Jake Shields before his knee problems sidelined him for over a year and returned in late 2012.

**One of the biggest fights in Bellator history is official with the promotion announcing that Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and A.J. McKee will fight on Saturday, July 31st at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The news was first reported by MMA Fighting and officially announced on Wednesday. Freire will be defending the featherweight championship with the fight also worth $1 million as the fight will crown the winner of the World Featherweight Grand Prix. The event will air on Showtime in the U.S. on a special Saturday night as opposed to the regular Friday night for Bellator.

**Spoiler TV has cable ratings from Saturday with the UFC 263 prelims doing 1,087,000 viewers and 0.36 in the 18-49 demographic from 8-10 p.m. ET on Saturday. ESPN also carried the early prelims from 6-8 p.m., which did 752,000 viewers and 0.26 in the main demo. The UFC programs were #2 and #3 for the day among all cable programming behind European Football. ESPN occupied the top seven cable spots on Saturday.

**Despite all the attention for the MMA debut of Claressa Shields last Thursday, the PFL card only averaged 101,000 viewers with a 0.04 in the 18-49 demographic, according to Spoiler TV. The broadcast was delayed by 15 minutes and started at 10:15 p.m. ET on ESPN 2 with Shields’ fight with Brittney Elkin fighting in the main event. Anecdotally, it was the most buzz I had heard coming out of a PFL card.

**The PFL is running its next card on Thursday night with the main card airing on ESPN 2 and the prelims on ESPN+ beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET with the following fights schedule:

MAIN CARD (9 p.m. ET on ESPN 2, TSN 2 in Canada)

*Rory MacDonald vs. Gleison Tibau
*Ray Cooper III vs. Nikolay Aleksakhin – Cooper missed weight for the fight and will be deducted a point of the six potential ones available during the fight
*Emiliano Sordi vs. Dan Spohn
*Chris Camozzi vs. Cezar Ferreira

PRELIMINARY CARD (5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Vinny Magalhaes
*Cory Hendricks vs. Marthin Hamlet
*Jason Ponet vs. Joao Zeferino
*Curtis Millender vs. Magomed Magomedkerimov
*Tom Lawlor vs. Jordan Young
*Sadibou Sy vs. Aleksei Kunchenko

**Combate was the first to report that UFC flyweight Rogerio Bontorin has tested positive for the banned diuretic hydrochlorothiazide stemming from an out-of-competition test administered in early May. Bontorin fought Matt Schnell at UFC 262 on May 15th with Bontorin missing weight for the fight by 1.5 pounds. MMA Fighting is reporting that a source in Bontorin’s camp told the site they are working to prove that the diuretic came from a tainted supplement in hopes of reducing the suspension length to six months.

**The LFA is going to Brazil in July for two events in Rio de Janeiro at the Upper Arena. They will stage LFA 111 on Friday, July 16th followed by LFA 112 on Sunday, July 18th with both airing at 9 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.

**Tuesday was Ariel Helwani’s final day at ESPN with his three-year contract coming to an end. Helwani revealed last week that he would not be returning, although was offered a new contract by the network. Helwani joined ESPN in June 2018 as its lead MMA reporter after working for years at MMA Fighting. The reporter has yet to reveal where he will be working next.

FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Vicente Luque vs. Michael Chiesa at UFC 265 on August 7th (Cageside Press)

Ion Cutelaba vs. Devin Clark at UFC Fight Night on Sept. 18 (MMA DNA)

Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker moved to UFC Fight Night on Oct. 2 (MMA Fighting)

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