POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: AEW wrestlers & staff tested for COVID-19

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/05/06/pollocks-news-update-aew-wrestlers-staff-tested-for-covid-19/


**Phil Chertok and I did a UFC 249 Preview Show today looking ahead to Saturday’s card from Jacksonville, Florida. We discussed the circumstances around UFC running this show, how public sentiment has changed, the viewership expectation for the show, followed by a preview of the card including both title fights. Plus, a discussion on ‘The Last Dance’ and a special live watch along during UFC 249 on the POST Discord channel and a LIVE version of the UFC 249 POST Show.

**Tuesday’s edition of ASK-A-WAI is up for all members of the POST Wrestling Café with over 100 minutes dedicated to your mailbag questions this month. Topics included the long-term effects of the empty arena shows, changes they could make to the empty arena presentation, the future of theatrical releases, WrestleMania at SoFi Stadium next year, Wai’s love of LEGO, the 1993 World Series, and trying to figure out if I interviewed Ricardo Mayorga.

**Wai Ting and I are back with Rewind-A-Dynamite tonight and Braden Herrington & Davie Portman will have a new edition of upNXT with both sides putting on big shows tonight.

**The Café Hangout will be LIVE on Thursday at 3 pm Eastern for all members of the POST Wrestling Café.



Tonight: Rewind-A-Dynamite with John Pollock & Wai Ting
Tonight: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
Thursday: Café Hangout – LIVE at 3 pm Eastern for all Patrons
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John & Wai (Patreon)
Saturday: UFC 249 POST Show with John Pollock & Phil Chertok
Sunday: WWE Money in the Bank POST Show (LIVE for Double Double+ Patrons)
Sunday: Total Recall with Wai Ting & Pauline (Patreon)


**Here are the matches for tonight’s live episode of AEW Dynamite from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida airing at 8 pm Eastern on TNT and TSN1 & TSN2 in Canada:
*Kenny Omega & Matt Hardy vs. Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara in a Street Fight
*Jon Moxley vs. Frankie Kazarian in a non-title match
*Cody vs. Joey Janela
*MJF returns

**Here are the matches for NXT tonight, which is a taped episode from last week at Full Sail University airing at 8 pm Eastern on the USA Network:
*Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream for the NXT title
*Charlotte Flair vs. Io Shirai for the NXT women’s title
*Johnny Gargano vs. Dominik Dijakovic
*Finn Balor’s calls out his attacker

**Ahead of tonight’s episode, AEW president Tony Khan sent out a tweet stating that he, along with all wrestlers and staff connected to the show have tested negative for COVID-19.

**Ariel Helwani of ESPN noted that fighters from the UFC fighters, AEW wrestlers, and personnel from both companies are staying at the same hotel in Jacksonville.

**IATSE 115 in Florida issued a statement regarding workers on-site at Daily’s Place for tonight’s episode of AEW Dynamite and the testing and precautions in place:

We reopened with AEW-All Elite Wrestling SAFELY at Daily’s Place Amphitheatre today. A COVID-19 Rapid Test was given to every stagehand, road crew, venue staff and talent before entering the venue. Portable wash stations, hand sanitizer stations, mandatory masks covering, social distancing (especially at breaks) at all times. We didn’t ask to be the first but we are and we are working to keep it SAFE!

**Tony Khan was on Wednesday’s AEW Unrestricted podcast and discussed the process of running their empty arena shows beginning March 18th, one week after the shutdown period began in the U.S.:
-His favorite empty arena shows have been the first one on March 18th and last week’s episode with the TNT semi-finals
-A friend of is a writer for Jimmy Fallon and saw how they incorporated the writing staff and crew to serve as audience members to react to Fallon and utilized that for the AEW shows with wrestlers in the crowd compared to other wrestling shows that are “cold”
-They had just over ¼ of the roster to tape ahead in Georgia and wanted to tape ahead to be safe
-Khan positioned the TNT Championship as a title on par with the AEW title and was an idea he had and has worked on for a while with Cody for a second title
-The only agents they had were involved in their own matches, so they were limited in that aspect of match layouts
-He noted that Kenny Omega & Michael Nakazawa teaming with the comedic elements would not have been the first thing he would have gone to but they were limited and called their match with the Best Friends “an important match” for them, which aired on April 8th
-An interesting line was Khan stating they have not let anyone go during this time period and “it’s not the right time for re-organizing or re-structuring for us”
-Aubrey Edwards was the referee for 20 matches within a period of 24 hours and spent 19 days in Jacksonville and Georgia at a hotel
-Chris Jericho offered to do commentary the night before after Khan went over all the ideas he had for the episodes, they didn’t have someone in place to do commentary and it was going to be split between Colt Cabana and Shawn Spears, who would also be wrestling matches
-They continued taping matches after the April 1st show ended and the following day, some matches have not seen the light of day
-Kip Sabian vs. Chuck Taylor was initially voiced by Tony Schiavone and Colt Cabana and re-voiced by Schiavone & Chris Jericho for the April 15th airing
-Khan estimated they would drop 10% in viewership with the empty arena shows, he did not want to rely on airing past pay-per-views
-There were no injuries during these tapings other than Britt Baker’s busted nose
-They will have double the roster available for tonight’s show
-Television is their revenue stream right now and had sold 12,000 tickets for the show in Newark at the Prudential Center, they have lost “millions and millions of dollars in live events”
-He said there will come a day when they do have to let people go “but now is not the time” and said in the big picture they are in good shape and characterized themselves as the second healthiest company in the industry
-They are going to keep people isolated and practice social distancing for these upcoming shows, they will be testing people (he didn’t elaborate on the type of testing)

**Brian Hughes, who is the chief administrative officer in the city of Jacksonville was on The Luke Thomas Show on Wednesday. Hughes stated that all events running in the city, including pro wrestling, will need to have testing for COVID-19. Hughes added that the city has a surplus of testing with ample hospital space and resources. This would affect UFC & AEW, which are both testing for COVID-19 but would not extend to WWE, which is not running in Jacksonville.

**Lester Perfors who wrestled as ‘Supreme’ has died at the age of 49. He began his career in July 1995 and was a fixture within Southern California including his largest exposure working for XPW. He was a four-time XPW King of the Death Match champion, winning the title for the first time in November 2000 and was its final champion when the company stopped running shows after March 2003.

In July 2001, he was involved in a frightening incident at an XPW card in Los Angeles where he went face-first through a burning table that had way too much lighter fluid. There was panic that led to Supreme being on fire long enough that he was hospitalized with second-degree burns.

In 2005, he went to Japan to work several shows for Big Japan teaming with the likes of Jun Kasai, Takashi Sasaki, Madman Pondo, and others. Game Changer Wrestling booked him for a match with Matt Tremont in April 2017 in New Jersey in a ‘House of Horrors Death Match’ and didn’t wrestle again until two dates in August 2019 for Crimson Crown Wrestling in South Gate, California.

In 2019, he was inducted into the Southern Californian Death Match Hall of Fame.

Perfors was 49 years old.

**We have a story on the passing of former Ontario independent wrestler Jamie Asher, who wrestled as ‘Sexy Baby’ Jamie Jackson in the mid-to-late ‘90s and into the 2000s. He was a wrestler I became familiar with around 1999 as his faction The Hollywood Hunks were very effective at marketing themselves during that period.

**Andrew Thompson has a recap of The Revolt’s interview on Talk is Jericho discussing their new personas of Dax Howard and Cash Wheeler, their issues with the lack of focus on the WWE’s tag division, the money they walked away from, and hearing from Bret Hart after they were granted their releases.

**AKA head coach Javier Mendez was a guest on The Luke Thomas Show on SiriusXM. When asked about the potential of Cain Velasquez returning to MMA after his WWE release, Mendez stated that wasn’t going to happen and “he’s wrestling”.

**CM Punk is scheduled for next Tuesday’s edition of WWE Backstage on FS1.

**MLW has announced a distribution deal with Fight Globe, who will be dealing with the distribution of MLW’s content in Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Canada, and Mexico.

**All Japan Pro Wrestling held a card on Tuesday in the same empty 2AW warehouse where they ran last week’s card. I saw the top three matches on the show, featuring Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa retaining the All Japan tag titles over Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu. It was a match where the champions took 90% of the match and a dominant defense ending when Suwama pinned Yoshitatu with the bridging back suplex in twenty-seven minutes. Shotaro Ashino teamed with another Wrestle-1 alumni Kuma Arashi against Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto in a solid tag match. Ashino is a big addition to All Japan and has all the poise and skill to become a big player in this company. Ashino had a great closing sequence with Iwamoto ending in the ankle lock and Ashino dropping to the mat while Arashi held Lee on the floor with Iwamoto tapping out. Yusuke Kodama defeated Yusuke Okada in 10:06 with Kodama – and his Eddy Guerrero tights – winning with the frog splash.

**All Japan is coming back with another card on May 16th at the same location with the following lineup:
*Susumu Yokosuka vs. Hikaru Sato for the AJPW junior heavyweight title
*Suwama & Yusuke Okada vs. Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu
*Shotaro Ashino & Yusuke Kodama vs. Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto
*Jun Akiyama & Francesco Akira vs. Zeus & Izanagi
*Yuma Aoyagi & Dan Tamura vs. Shuji Ishikawa & Hokuto Omori (Omori is a solid young talent to keep your eyes on)
*Yoshihiro Tajiri & KAI vs. Takao Omori & Black Menso-re

**Bet Online has released odds for the Money in the Bank show this Sunday. The favorites listed to win the Money in the Bank matches are AJ Styles followed by Aleister Black and Daniel Bryan on the men’s side as Shayna Baszler as the favorite on the women’s side. Drew McIntyre is listed as a minus 600 favorite over Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt are even at -120, Bayley is a -450 favorite against Tamina, and New Day is the favorites to retain the SmackDown tag titles in the fatal four-way match.

**The WWE stock closed at $43.51 on Wednesday.

**Below is the trailer for ‘Undertaker: The Last Ride’ that premieres this Sunday after Money in the Bank:

**Vice TV has released the trailer for next week’s episode of Dark Side of the Ring ‘The Last Ride of the Road Warriors’:


**Tuesday’s episode of Dark Side of the Ring averaged 246,000 viewers and 0.10 in the 18-49 demographic. It would rank third all-time for the series behind the season two premiere on Chris Benoit and last week’s episode on David Schultz.

**The WWE programming block on FS1 saw ‘The Best of WWE: Ric Flair’ special average 157,000 viewers (0.03 in the 18-49 demo) at 7 pm Eastern, ‘Best of WWE: Edge’ at 8 pm did 213,000 (0.05), ‘Best of WWE: Brock Lesnar’ did 255,000 (0.06), and ‘Best of WWE: Roman Reigns’ did 198,000 (0.04). WWE Backstage was not listed among the top 150 cable programs on Tuesday night.


**ESPN+ grew by a sizable margin over the past quarter, which can be attributed to being part of the Disney+ bundle with the latter seeing its service soar throughout the pandemic. In Disney’s quarterly earnings report, ESPN+ was listed at 7.9 million subscribers as of March 28th. Disney+ was at 33.5 million subscribers on March 28th but has since grown 63% to 54.5 million as of May 4th. It places a big test on this Saturday’s UFC 249 card with a larger universe among its U.S. audience to draw from with a major card. There is a different dynamic between watching a free card on television and buying a pay-per-view – and odds are, the number won’t be released by ESPN unless it’s such a massive success they put out a press release as they did after the first card in January 2019.

**Jeff Novitzky of the UFC was asked about how active USADA has been testing UFC fighters and stated that USADA never suspended sample collection during the pandemic. Testing numbers have decreased but there have been “multiple out-of-competition samples collected over the last few days and USADA will have a testing presence at FL events”.

**In an interview with Robbie Fox at Barstool Sports, UFC president is aiming to run their May 23rd card from the Apex in Las Vegas. He said they would aim to do four cards within two weeks including the return of Dana White’s Contender Series. The UFC will be running their cards on May 9th, 13th & 16th at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. He is targeting mid-to-late June for ‘Fight Island’. They had cards scheduled for Brazil, Kazakhstan, and Australia that would all be moved to the island.

**ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reported that former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva underwent a stem cell procedure on his right knee and is expected to recover within two weeks and resume training. At 45 years of age, Helwani noted Silva has two fights on his deal that the fighter intends to honor. Silva fought twice in 2019 with a decision loss to Israel Adesanya in February and a TKO loss to Jared Cannonier in May.

**UFC is doing an Embedded series this week and releases its first episode. The beginning of the video looks at the UFC production staff preparing to transfer equipment and elements in excess of the usual number, including the portable saunas for the fighters. Dana White was asked during an interview clip about opting to go to Florida, he said they had several places to go but Florida “was the most aggressive”. It also profiles Francis Ngannou preparing with a scaled-down team at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas:

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