POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: Becky Lynch speaks on heel return, AEW

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2021/11/17/pollocks-news-update-becky-lynch-speaks-on-heel-return-aew/


**Rewind-A-Dynamite is live tonight at 10:15 p.m. ET with Wai Ting and I reviewing AEW Dynamite from Norfolk, Virginia, and the fallout from Full Gear. The show will be live for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café.

**Rewind-A-Wai #99 is out for all Café members with our review of the UWF Blackjack Brawl from September 1994 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. On this show:
– The history of the UWF and their hiatus between 1991 and 1994
– Headlines from this week in wrestling history
– The perplexing decision to hold this event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas
– Attendance for the show
– Quotes from Howard Brody and Mick Foley’s books on the event
– Taco Grande by Weird Al
– The commentary of Carlo Gianelli and John Tolos
– Herb Abrams and his cowboy boots
– The promise of Blackjack Brawl 2 & 3
– The many championships of the UWF

**Our next Rewind-A-Wai will cover WCW Starrcade 1997 and will be released on Tuesday, November 30th.

**Davie Portman is joined by John Siino for this week’s edition of upNXT covering Tuesday’s episode as the build for War Games begins.


Tonight: Rewind-A-Dynamite (10:15 p.m. ET)
Thursday: The Wellness Policy with Wai Ting & Jordan Goodman with guest Davie Portman (3 p.m. ET for Patrons)
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown (11:15 p.m.)
Sunday: Wrestlenomics Radio
Sunday: Survivor Series POST Show w/ John & Wai (Live for Double Double+ Patrons)


**Here are the matches and segments announced for tonight’s AEW Dynamite from the Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Virginia coming off the Full Gear pay-per-view:
*Hangman Page championship celebration – this is the major segment on the show with Page in his home market
*TNT Championship: Sammy Guevara (champion) vs. Jay Lethal
*Tomohiro Ishii & Orange Cassidy vs. The Butcher & The Blade
*TBS Tournament: Nyla Rose vs. Hikaru Shida
*The Acclaimed vs. Lio Rush & Dante Martin
*Bryan Danielson vs. Evil Uno

AEW Dynamite has seen a decrease in its audience since returning from its two-weeks move to Saturdays because of the NHL playoffs. There is the factor of Dynamite airing live for those in the Pacific and Mountain time zones, which Dave Meltzer of the WON estimates is going to be an approximate difference of 8 percent.

Over the past three weeks, the show has averaged 911,000 viewers and 464,000 in 18-49. If you factor in the time zone change, it works out to 984,000 and 501,000. That compares to the three prior episodes on Wednesday night before the Saturday switch, which averaged 1,159,000 and 565,000 (it should be noted that one of those episodes was the big Arthur Ashe Stadium event, and factoring that out, would be 1,103,000 and 534,000). So, the drop is not dramatic but it is a comedown from the promotion’s peak throughout September when it comes to television viewership, its largest pay-per-view number, and drawing big houses for All Out, the Prudential Center, and Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Coming off Full Gear, there should be a lot of hype and interest given the solid reviews the show received and paying off a long-term chase by Hangman Page and putting him in his hometown immediately after the title win. The Dynamite following All Out was their biggest number of the year but that had the added buzz from the multiple debuts at the pay-per-view and it’s going to be hard to replicate.

In the coming weeks, there is no shortage of significant shows. Dynamite returns to the Chicago market at the Wintrust Arena on the eve of Thanksgiving, they make their Long Island debut at the new UBS Arena in December and have booked the Greensboro Coliseum in December. The big one is January 5th as Dynamite moves to TBS and that card will see the promotion return to the Prudential Center where they sold 11,500 tickets for the show in September (most were purchased before the pandemic when they were to run in March 2020, so it’s not the exact same comparison of returning to a market 3 ½ months later).

Balancing all of these shows along with the ‘Battle of the Belts’ special expected for January 8th will be interesting to see how they juggle all of these events and what matches are placed where. The move to TBS has to be a major show and it sounds tricky coming back with a Rampage on January 7th and a special the following night.

The immediate “big match” is Hangman Page and Bryan Danielson, which could fit onto any of these major television specials. It feels like a long time to wait until January 5th or 8th for that match, but it can be done. Danielson has been wrestling weekly and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have him continue to wrestle week after week when he’s the #1 contender now. They are in good shape with challengers for Page with Danielson, MJF, and an eventual rematch with Omega (and ultimately, reunite the team way down the line), and CM Punk who should be in the mix after his latest win against Eddie Kingston.

The other notable element tonight is the arrival of Tomohiro Ishii as he teams with Orange Cassidy against The Butcher & The Blade. We don’t know long the New Japan contingent is staying in the U.S. but neither Ishii nor Kazuchika Okada is needed until the end of December with the ongoing tour running until December 15th and then four Korakuen Hall dates from December 21-24. Everyone anticipates Okada in some form or fashion and there is no shortage of match ideas that would be received as major by the AEW audience. It does become tricky with Okada challenging for the IWGP World Heavyweight title and laying claim to his version of the belt while Ishii is the NEVER Openweight Champion but that comes to booking and negotiating finishes that make sense for both sides.

**As of Wednesday afternoon, WrestleTix reports just under 5,700 tickets are out for tonight’s AEW show in Norfolk.

**Becky Lynch was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to promote the Survivor Series. Lynch reiterated that she was ready to return at this past year’s WrestleMania and made a pitch:

I was ready to return at WrestleMania really. I was kind of hoping, yeah, WrestleMania is a good time that will be four months, the body will be back and so, I was ready around WrestleMania time but it didn’t work out and I think it worked out for the better.

I had a couple of pitches and I had one pitched to me that would have been an interaction with Bayley, who was, at the time, the all-star of the pandemic era, the ThunderDome era. So, it would have been great to do a little something something with her.

Becky said she was surprised when she was thrown the idea of returning as a heel as she had a lot of ideas for a comeback story, going through trials and tribulations, and didn’t think there was anyway Vince McMahon would want her in a heel role. She did not push back on the idea and wanted to work in this direction.

On the SummerSlam booking, she said the tweak she would have made is not having a rematch with Bianca Belair after winning the title in 26 seconds to create more heat for the character by denying it to Belair and perhaps riding it all the way to WrestleMania. While there was a lot of anger that night over the way the match played out, that was a storyline decision. It was coupled with the fact the company knew in advance that Sasha Banks was not wrestling on the show and rather than shoot an angle on SmackDown or remove her from the match and leave a mystery spot on the card, they promoted the match literally up until Belair was in the ring and it was a featured match on the card.

During the interview, she said she follows everything and watches AEW to keep up with everything. When asked if AEW is competition, she stated “they are an alternative”.

**Chad Henage at Motley Fool has a piece on the outlook of WWE’s business and the competition of AEW. The feature focuses on the many talent cuts throughout 2021 and how the company has had fewer dynamic match pairings as a result of the frequent rematches and concentrating on a chosen few rather than a wide array of talent being showcased on its programs. The piece also assessed WWE’s handling of the pandemic by paying out its dividend to shareholders, including Vince McMahon, while also major cuts and furloughs. WWE was able to make significant savings during the first few months of the pandemic by running its television out of the Performance Center while being paid the same from their media partners. Once numbers began to sag, they had to invest heavily in the ThunderDome concept, which stopped the bleeding but eliminated the mass savings of running in the PC. Henage also stated that hedge funds with WWE shares have decreased from a high of 47 and had dropped to 25 as of the first quarter this year. Motley Fool’s conclusion in its piece was:

AEW isn’t going to sit around and let WWE have all the fun. WWE had a good run over the last five years, but the next few years look challenging at best. WWE investors should consider avoiding the entertainment stock until management can come up with a gameplan for its first serious competition in two decades.

The feature paints a more bleak picture than exists as WWE is going to have a sizable final quarter with the return to Saudi Arabia increasing its guidance and another record year. The September competition between WWE and AEW in the 18-49 demo showed a tight race for several weeks and a head-to-head win for AEW against SmackDown in October. That said, the gap has since widened even with Raw numbers dropping over the past two weeks to 0.40 and 0.42 respectively, so have Dynamite’s with the return to Wednesday nights after a two-week move and being impacted by the West Coast adjustment. From a show quality standpoint, WWE leaves a lot to be desired, and creating new stars has been a challenge for a generation, however, it is not losing the audience in enough numbers that would cause a panic and remains highly competitive on Mondays and often finishes #1 or #2 on Friday nights. If there is a battle being played, it’s a perception one as no doubt AEW is gaining traction as a legitimate player in the space and a real alternative even though financially the promotions are leagues apart.

**With that said, WWE’s stock fell more than 4 percent on Wednesday and closed at $53.88.

**The Stamford Advocate reports that WWE is targeting a late 2022 move employees to its new headquarters at 677 Washington Blvd where the company has leased approximately 415,000 square feet. The initial move-in date was planned for earlier this year, but the pandemic delayed those plans.

**Tonight’s MLW Fusion ALPHA card will feature the War Chamber match from earlier this month at the 2300 Arena with Alex Hammerstone, EJ Nduka, Richard Holliday, Savio Vega & a mystery partner against Jacob Fatu, Mad Krugger, Ikuro Kwon, and the SENTAI Death Squad. The show will stream at 7 p.m. ET on the MLW YouTube channel and we will have a report on the site tonight.

**NJPW’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament continues Thursday in Nagano. The card will be available on VOD through New Japan World with the following line-up:
*El Desperado vs. Master Wato
*Hiromu Takahashi vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
*Robbie Eagles vs. Taiji Ishimori
*SHO vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
*El Phantasmo vs. DOUKI
*Non-tournament: Kosei Fujita vs. Yuto Nakashima

**Chris Jericho detailed the history of the three Rock ‘N’ Rager at Sea cruises as they just wrapped up the third iteration and are planning for a fourth in March 2022. On Wednesday’s Talk is Jericho, he spoke about the first cruise that took place in October 2018 where they partnered with Sixthman as the promoters. Jericho noted that the first cruise that featured live wrestling matches from Ring of Honor (after NXT passed) was a critical success but a financial failure with Jericho citing a personal six-figure loss on the cruise. Jericho booked and paid all the talent on the cruise and changed the parameters for the second cruise in January 2020 and nearly sold it out. For the second one, he said he recouped his loss and made some money on top of it with the second one including AEW talent and a taped edition of Dynamite. The ‘Triple Whammy’ (third cruise) was scheduled for February 2021 and sold out quickly without any major announcements made prior. The cruise had to be delayed due to the pandemic and was moved to this October and had to release all the cabins that had been sold, and they sold out again. Jericho said they are coming back quickly with a March 2022 cruise to get back on an annual spring schedule and won’t be doing another one until 2023.

There were rules implemented where all passengers and guests on the cruise had to be vaccinated and Jericho said they lost 22-23% of the guests over that rule. Because of the vaccination requirement, children also couldn’t attend as they don’t qualify for the vaccine.

**The Staples Center in Los Angeles will be undergoing a name change beginning Christmas Day. Owner AEG has announced that the naming rights for the arena have been acquired by Crypto.com with the arena shifting to the Crypto.com Arena beginning December 25th. The arena is home to the L.A. Lakers and Clippers, the L.A. Kings, and L.A. Sparks. It has been the major venue in the market that WWE has run since the arena opened in October 1999. WWF first ran the building for the November 29, 1999, edition of Raw is War and over the years have staged numerous pay-per-views including WrestleMania 21 in 2005, Survivor Series 2018, the SmackDown debut on Fox in 2019, and was the home of SummerSlam from 2009-2014. While AEG did not disclose the value of the deal, the naming rights are reported to be worth $700 million over the next 20 years.

**A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Chris Dickinson following his hip injury on Saturday at the New Japan show in San Jose. Dickinson dislocated his leg out of the rear of his hip socket and sustained an acetabulum posterior wall fracture that required surgery. Dickinson is hopeful of returning in five to six months.

**Pro Wrestling NOAH has released the excellent match between Katsuhiko Nakajima and Kenoh from the finals of the N-1 Victory tournament featuring English commentary. The two are set for another Double Championship match on November 28th in Yoyogi that will air on Wrestle Universe.

**West Coast Pro has added a match between Alex Hammerstone and Juicy Finau for their card on Friday, December 10th from San Francisco and streaming on IWTV that night at 10 p.m. ET.

**Game Changer Wrestling has added a show in Hoffman Estates, Illinois on Saturday, January 15th at the Grand Sports Arena. The show is one week before their big event at the Hammerstein Ballroom on January 23rd.

**Taya Valkyrie has been announced for Zicky Dice’s ‘Outlandish Paradise’ event on Saturday, January 15th at The Action Building in Canton, Georgia.

**Valkyrie is also set to wrestle Viva Van at Prestige Wrestling’s Rise Above card on February 27th in Pomona, California at The Glasshouse. Prestige has also announced Dalton Castle, Chelsea Green, Alex Shelley, Danhausen, PCO, and Tyler Bateman for that card.

**BetOnline has released its latest odds for the Survivor Series this Sunday with the following lines:
*Roman Reigns (-500) vs. Big E. (+300)
*Becky Lynch (-400) vs. Charlotte Flair (+250)
*Men’s Survivor Series Match: Team SmackDown (-200) vs. Team Raw (+150)
*Women’s Survivor Series Match: Team SmackDown (Even) vs. Team Raw (-140)
*RK-Bro (-250) vs. The Usos (+170)
*Damian Priest (-200) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (+150)


Bret Hart returned to the ring in 1996 at the Survivor Series after his extended break. After WrestleMania 12 in March, Hart worked a tour of Kuwait in May but beyond that, it was a complete pause on his in-ring career. During the time off, he signed the famous 20-year contract that Vince McMahon would ask to get out of the following September. Hart returned at Madison Square Garden for a match with Steve Austin and was the program that launched Austin to the next level peaking with an all-time classic at the following year’s WrestleMania in Illinois.

The 2002 version of the Survivor Series also took place from Madison Square Garden and saw the promotional debut of the Elimination Chamber. In the main event, Shawn Michaels won the World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H in a match that included Rob Van Dam, Kane, Chris Jericho, and Booker T. Michaels held the title for four weeks and was his only world title reign during the comeback period of 2002-10. The pay-per-view saw the company flip all its major titles including Brock Lesnar losing the WWE Championship to Big Show and having Paul Heyman turn on Lesnar to accelerate the babyface turn.

Hulk Hogan’s WWF debut match aired on Championship Wrestling in 1979 where he wrestled Harry Valdez. The match was taped several days prior on November 13th in Allentown, Pennsylvania:

Rick Rude appeared on a taped edition of Raw from Cornwall, Ontario, and a live episode of Monday Nitro in Cincinnati on the same night in 1997:

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John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Full Gear 2021 featuring Kenny Omega vs. “Hangman” Adam Page for the AEW Championship, CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston, and more.

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