POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: Dark Side Collision in Korea review

Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: Dark Side Collision in Korea review

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**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live tonight at 10:15 p.m. ET for all Café members of the POST Wrestling Café tonight. Wai Ting and I will have a review of SmackDown, chat about all the latest news including WWE’s return to live events, and open the phone lines for the remainder of the show. The show will be available live and to download for POST Wrestling Café members.

**Rewind-A-Wai #86 covers TNA Unbreakable 2005 featuring one of the most famous matches in company history with the X Division Championship match involving Christopher Daniels, A.J. Styles, and Samoa Joe. This show serves as a deep look at TNA in 2005, their upcoming launch on Spike TV, the state of the company before getting that television deal, Sean Waltman missing the event, the results of a focus group, WWE vs. UFC, and the Fight Network holding its launch party around this time featuring TNA matches at The Guvernment night club in downtown Toronto. This show is available for all POST Wrestling Café members.

**Eric Marcotte will have coverage of Bellator 259 and the UFC Fight Night: Garbrandt vs. Font cards this weekend on the site.

**Wai Ting and Jordan Goodman hosted the latest edition of The Wellness Policy on Thursday with guest David Speed. Speed was the artist that drew the mural for the late Jon Huber shortly after his passing last December. The subject of this month’s show is creativity and featured an in-depth discussion on Speed’s work.

**Wai Ting’s first appearance on the Kings of Sports podcast from May 2013.

**We are isolating a lot of our news discussion on the POST YouTube channel, so if you want to subscribe you’ll have a chance to see more of our video content as we discuss some of the major news items on a weekly basis.

DARK SIDE OF THE RING – COLLISION IN KOREA

The latest edition of Dark Side of the Ring covered the 1995 ‘Collision in Korea’ events from Pyongyang, North Korea that technically represent the highest-attended pro wrestling shows in history.

If you read SI.com’s oral history piece from 2015 on the shows, it takes many of those stories and brings them to the screen painting a picture of despair for the Americans on the tour with a bleak look at the way of life in North Korea.

The events were staged on April 28 & 29, 1995, and later edited for a pay-per-view special from WCW in August. The attendances have fluctuated but it’s generally believed the estimates were 150,000 for the first night and 190,000 for the second night. The major caveat being that no one bought tickets and attendance was likely mandatory or strongly encouraged of its citizens.

The Dark Side of the Ring piece landed a major interview by getting Antonio Inoki, who rarely does media for this part of the world and has kept a very low profile in light of his illness (when he was utilized for the Jushin Thunder Liger retirement ceremony in January 2020, he sent in a video rather than appear at Ota Ward Gymnasium and people were shocked that NJPW and Inoki coordinated that deal. If Inoki had appeared in the building, the same one where New Japan staged its first show in 1972, it would have been an unreal reaction). In the doc, Inoki did not share too much information but it was intriguing to hear him speak of his mentor, Rikidozan.

In addition to Inoki, the doc featured Eric Bischoff, Scott Norton, Charles Scaggs a.k.a. 2 Cold Scorpio, Sonny Onoo, and former CNN correspondent Mike Chinoy. The only other names that would have been possible to add firsthand accounts would have been The Steiner Brothers and Ric Flair. Flair would have added a lot to the doc and I’m sure they tried because he had some wild stories in the SI.com feature from six years ago including the story of the North Korean government wanting him to read a statement that essentially denounced America.

A large focus was on the fight between Scaggs and Michael Hegstrand a.k.a. Road Warrior Hawk that was described as two incidents by Scaggs. It was prompted after Scaggs made a remark about Flair within earshot of Hegstrand, who saw Flair as a mentor that helped him. Scaggs alleged in the documentary that Hegstrand called him the n-word and they got into a fight on the bus, and later, Hegstrand sucker-punched him. Scaggs stated he hid a pair of chopsticks during one of the meals and began sharpening them in the hotel room telling roommate Chris Benoit he was going to stab Hegstrand. Bischoff claimed no knowledge of this attempt by Scaggs and it seems Benoit would have been the only one to corroborate the story. It never got to that extent with Scaggs stating they buried the hatchet before the end of the trip.

Bischoff mentioned Rikidozan and stating his murder inside of a nightclub in 1963 was due to his Korean heritage, although it’s always been believed the attack was more Yakuza-related with his ethnicity not as well known then. Bischoff came sometimes comes off as too much on some of these specials, but he was entertaining in the episode. It is absolutely mind-blowing the cavalier attitude Bischoff possessed to fly his wrestlers and himself to North Korea with no government authority and the potential for negative fallout. In some ways, you can compare this to the WWE’s decision to go to Saudi Arabia in 2018 right after Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. While WWE did receive a lot of negative publicity for their decision and their stock price was hurt, they went ahead with the event and largely faced no fallout but it wasn’t as if WWE was skirting government authority or risking any penalties by going there.

The most gripping scene was the re-enactment of Scott Norton being detained by North Korean authorities, who had bugged his phone and overheard him insulting the country while speaking to his wife. This only added to the tension that began with the confiscating of the wrestlers’ passports when they arrived in the country. Norton was a great storyteller in the episode and was very captivating.

This episode is not going to generate the discussion of the Brian Pillman or be as compelling as Nick Gage but it’s a very bizarre snapshot at a unique pair of events. If you went in without knowledge of the stories, it reads like complete fiction or tall tales from wrestlers, but it happened.

Next week’s episode is the Ultimate Warrior documentary, which heavily focuses on Warrior’s first wife Shari Tyree.

WRESTLING NEWS

**This past Wednesday’s episode of AEW Dynamite averaged 821,000 viewers and 0.28 in the 18-49 demographic on TNT. The show went against the Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs playoff game and led to AEW’s lowest numbers since running unopposed and dropping from 936,000 and 0.31 the previous week. In Canada, AEW averaged 118,000 viewers on TSN 2, which was more affected by the NHL playoffs with AEW finishing outside the top ten sports broadcasts for the night.

**On the pro wrestling side, it’s a light weekend with the major show taking place from Tokyo with the Hana Kimura Tribute event. The show titled ‘MATANE’ (‘Goodbye’) will be airing at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday night on FITE (Sunday in Japan) with English commentary provided by Ian Riccaboni, Cheeseburger/Famous CB, and Fumi Saito. It occurs one year after Kimura’s tragic passing where she took her life at age 22 after being subjected to online abuse through her portrayal on the reality series ‘Terrace House’. Kimura was among the top stars of Stardom, who had just wrestled at the Tokyo Dome several months earlier in a dark match. Over the past year, her mother Kyoko has led the charge in seeking justice for her daughter and pushing for further education regarding the impact social media can have on people.

**With the news of WWE’s return to live events in July, the company stock increased by over 5 percent and closed at $57.55 on Friday.

**Friday Night SmackDown takes place from the ThunderDome at 8 p.m. ET tonight on FOX. Following WrestleMania Backlash, tonight’s episode is highlighted by a Fatal Four-Way for the Intercontinental Championship. Below are the matches that have been announced:
*Intercontinental Championship: Apollo Crews (champion) vs. Big E. vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn

**Here are the matches scheduled for 205 Live tonight at 10 p.m. ET on Peacock/WWE Network:
*Ikemen Jiro & August Grey vs. The Bollywood Boyz
*Ari Sterling vs. Asher Hale

**The following matches are scheduled for tonight’s edition of NJPW Strong at 10 p.m. ET on New Japan World:
*No Disqualification: Fred Rosser vs. Hikuleo
*Brody King & Karl Fredericks vs. Danny Limelight & JR Kratos
*Bateman vs. Alex Coughlin

**Revolution Pro gave the following answer when asked about Will Ospreay and if the announcement of his neck injury will impact his Rev Pro Championship reign:

Too early to say. Our situation is very different to NJ . No immediate changes need to be made as we hadn’t factored any title defences for first shows back. Time will tell. But we’ve spoken to Will & he will likely address the situation in person at one of our first shows back.

In this week’s edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Ospreay told the publication that he would be fine and just needs time.

**While the NBA playoffs will affect wrestling numbers in the U.S., the NHL playoffs are going to have a larger impact on Canadian numbers. The big series that began on Thursday is the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens that averaged 3,509,000 viewers and 1,403,000 in the 25-54 demo (which is the main demo monitored in the country) and doesn’t include the French-language viewers on TVA Sports. Game 3 is scheduled for Monday and should impact Raw. If the series were to go seven games, the final one would be played on Monday, May 31st.

**Alexander Wolfe spoke to the Sport1 outlet regarding his departure from WWE earlier this week. Wolfe stated that his contract was not being extended and expires on June 15th. The following answer regarding what he was told by the company was transcribed by Jeremy Lambert at Fightful:

The reason I was given was the pandemic time that savings are still necessary due to the global event restrictions. Well, that’s better than no reason at all, but ultimately you know, WWE makes so much money that no firing is really mandatory. But it is what it is. The machine continues to run, the parts are replaced. I see, that’s the business. I can say so much: I am proud of what I have achieved. I know I could have achieved more, but in a league like WWE you don’t have everything in your own hands. You have to control what you can control, I don’t think I can blame myself in that regard.

**AEW has announced the following set of matches for Monday’s edition of AEW Dark: Elevation airing at 7 p.m. ET on YouTube:
*Scorpio Sky vs. Alan “5” Angels
*Rocky Romero vs. JD Drake
*Ren Narita vs. Royce Isaacs
*Thunder Rosa vs. Ashley D’Amboise
*QT Marshall vs. Robo

**IOC official John Coates spoke at a virtual news conference stating the Olympics in Tokyo will move forward regardless of the situation there. Coates outlined the advice they’ve received from the World Health Organization that they can hold a safe and secure Olympics regardless of a state of emergency in the country. This comes with high numbers of the Japanese public against the idea of running the games this summer in a country where the vaccination rate is approximately 2 percent. Richard Pound of the IOC has said that the deadline to decide is still a month away but if the games don’t happen this summer they will be canceled and not postponed in Tokyo.

**Jey Uso (Joshua Fatu) spoke with Yahoo! Sports on the current story he is involved in with his cousin Roman Reigns and the lineage of Samoan wrestlers. Jey spoke about the portrayal of his father as a member of the Headshrinkers in the early ‘90s and becoming Rikishi in 1999:

The cool thing is that my dad was part of those stereotypes when he was with the Headshrinkers. When my dad gets with Too Cool and dyes his hair blonde, now he’s adding layers to his character. Now he starts dancing, now he’s got these hip-hop guys with him. That was a feel good moment. Same thing with The Rock. He was so witty and when he started cutting those promos, the way he talked and looked, you wanted to be around him. These guys gave off great energy and that’s what Samoan people are, period. We’re happy people. We’re very, very family oriented. I think that’s what resonated with people and it started to bleed through the screen, to the point where people started to realize that these were fun, cool dudes.

**Dwayne Johnson has been cast to provide the voice for Krypto the Super Dog in the animated feature ‘DC League of Super-Pets’ that will be produced by Warner Brothers as well as Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions. The film is scheduled for a theatrical release beginning May 20, 2022.

**As part of its Open Draft, MLW revealed that Davey Richards has joined the promotion and will debut at the 2300 Arena on Saturday, July 10th. Richards is a former ROH World Champion and has not wrestled since 2017 and his last national stage was with IMPACT Wrestling. The company also announced that the former Mil Muertes will now go as ‘King Muertes’ as they aren’t looking to court any potential legal issues if they arise regarding ownership of the name.

**There is a five-way match everyone is talking about from AAA’s television involving Latigo, Hijo del Vikingo, Aramis, Villano III, and Abismo Negro Jr.

**This Sunday night, A&E’s Biography covers the Ultimate Warrior with the first of two features on his life and career over the next week. The A&E version will have the participation of both Warrior’s family and WWE while next Thursday’s Dark Side of the Ring episode on the same subject will not. Below are teasers for both episodes:

In a meteoric rise to fame, Jim Hellwig aka The Ultimate Warrior morphed himself from an aspiring chiropractor into one of wrestling’s most iconic and polarizing figures, leaving a complicated legacy in his wake.

“Becoming Warrior” premieres Thurs, 9pm on @vicetv & @CraveCanada. pic.twitter.com/KdntzX8oZy

— Dark Side of the Ring (@DarkSideOfRing) May 21, 2021

MMA NEWS

**Bellator 259 takes place tonight from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut headlined by a rematch from 2016. In the main event, Cris Cyborg defends the women’s featherweight championship against Leslie Smith. They previously fought at UFC 198 in May 2016 at a 140-pound catchweight that ended with Cyborg earning the TKO win in 1:21. Cyborg is an enormous betting favorite with 5 Dimes listing her at -2000 at last check. In the co-feature, Leandro Higo missed weight by 1.5 pounds for his bantamweight fight against Leandro Higo. Below are the main card fights that begin at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime:
*Bellator Featherweight Championship: Cris Cyborg (champion) vs. Leslie Smith
*Catchweight: Darrion Caldwell vs. Leandro Higo (Higo missed weight at 137.5 pounds)
*Middleweight: Austin Vanderford vs. Fabian Edwards
*Welterweight: Jaleel Willis vs. Maycon Mendonca
*Flyweight: Hannah Guy vs. Valerie Loureda

**Invicta FC enters its new era with its first fight since being purchased by Anthem Sports & Entertainment. Tonight’s show airs on AXS TV and Fight Network in Canada with a six-fight card beginning with the prelims on YouTube and Facebook at 7 p.m. ET followed by the main card at 8. The card is headlined by a flyweight fight for the vacant championship along with the Atomweight Championship being defended. Below are the fights for tonight:
*Vacant Flyweight Championship: Karina Rodriguez vs. Daiana Torquato
*Atomweight Championship: Alesha Zappitella (champion) vs. Jessica Delboni
*Flyweight: Juliana Miller vs. Claire Guthrie
*Catchweight: Josee Storts vs. Maria Favela – Storts missed weight at 128.7 pounds
*Strawweight: Ariana Melendez vs. Fatima Kline
*Flyweight: Elise Pone vs. Chrissy Yandolli

**The entire Invicta FC card will also be available on its YouTube channel.

**There are several interesting fights on the UFC Fight Night card this Saturday including the bantamweight main event between Cody Garbrandt (12-3) and Rob Font (18-4). Garbrandt has had a rough year since beating Raphael Assuncao with an impressive knockout last June. Since then, Garbrandt tore his biceps and then had a terrible bout with COVID-19, so there will naturally be questions especially given the five-round format. Font is a dynamic bantamweight that has not been able to build momentum due to a lack of activity. He has won his previous three fights, but those fights go back to December 2018. During that stretch, he had a decision win over Sergio Pettis, which ages very well considering the level Pettis now competing at. In his last fight, Font stopped Marlon Moraes last December and was his most high-profile win, so adding Garbrandt would significantly elevate Font’s stock in the stacked division.

The co-feature is a big strawweight as Yan Xiaonan (13-1, 1 NC) takes on former champion Carla Esparza (17-6). Xiaonan is unbeaten in her last twelve fights and gone 6-0 in the UFC including wins against Angela Hill, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, and Claudia Gadelha. Esparza has put together a four-fight win streak and is coming off split decision wins against Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez. Realistically, the winner of this fight should be in line to fight new champion Rose Namajunas unless the UFC decides to offer Zhang Weili an automatic rematch.

Here is the full card for the UFC Fight Night event on Saturday with results from Friday’s weigh-ins:

MAIN CARD (7 p.m. ET on ESPN+, TSN 2 in Canada)
*Rob Font (136) vs. Cody Garbrandt (135.5)
*Yan Xiaonan (116) vs. Carla Esparza (116)
*Justin Tafa (265.5) vs. Jared Vanderaa (264)
*Felicia Spencer (145) vs. Norma Dumont (146)
*Ricardo Ramos (146) vs. Bill Algeo (145.5)
*Edmen Shahbazyan (185) vs. Jack Hermansson (186)

PRELIMINARY CARD (4 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Ben Rothwell (265.5) vs. Chris Barnett (263)
*Court McGee (170.5) vs. Claudio Silva (169.5)
*Bruno Silva (125.5) vs. Victor Rodriguez (125.5)
*Josh Culibao (146) vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke (146)
*David Dvorak (126) vs. Juancamilo Ronderos (128.5*) – Ronderos missed weight after taking the fight on next to zero notice and was fined 20 percent of his purse
*Yancy Medeiros (155) vs. Damir Hadzovic (156)
*Rafael Alves (154.5) vs. Damir Ismagulov (155.5)

**MMA Fighting was the first to report that Raulian Paiva was pulled from his fight on the UFC Fight Night card on Saturday due to a difficult weight cut. Paiva was taken to the hospital. Paiva was scheduled to fight David Dvorak in a flyweight fight on the main card. Later in the day, MMA Junkie confirmed that Juancamilo Ronderos (4-0) will replace Paiva on one days’ notice and make his UFC debut.

**Through his lawyer Charles Lakins, former UFC fighter Diego Sanchez has announced he has severed ties with Joshua Fabia as his manager and coach. Lakins told MMA Fighting that, “Any power of attorney that Fabia had has been rescinded/terminated”. Fabia has been the source of much controversy through his bizarre training techniques and combative approach to how others have assessed his work with Sanchez. This included taping and releasing a video where Fabia lectured the UFC broadcast team during a fighter meeting and releasing audio of a phone with UFC executive Hunter Campbell as Fabia was seeking all of Sanchez’s medical records going back to his time on Ultimate Fighter. When the UFC became concerned about Sanchez’s health, the fighter was unable to comment on his issues and assure them he was fine, leading to the UFC cutting Sanchez prior to a scheduled fight with Donald Cerrone. Sanchez is expected to make a statement addressing the departure from Fabia next week.

**ONE Championship has postponed its event that was scheduled for Friday, May 28th in Singapore due to the COVID-19 situation. The promotion will be releasing a new date soon.

**Bellator has announced Juliana Velasquez (11-0) will make the first defense of her flyweight championship against Denise Kielholtz (6-2) on Friday, July 16th from the Mohegan Sun Arena on Showtime. Bellator is placing a limited number of tickets on sale for the event beginning Friday, June 4th.

ON THIS DATE

 

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John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite and discuss major news involving the addition of a new AEW Friday show, Dynamite moving to TBS in 2022, and WWE’s latest roster cuts including Drake Wuertz and Alexander Wolfe.
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SHOT IN THE DARK: NXT UK Women’s Gauntlet, Casino Battle Royale Entrants
John Siino reviews this week’s editions of AEW Dark, AEW Dark: Elevation, NXT UK, NWA Powerrr, 205 Live, NJPW Strong, Ring of Honor, and Main Event in under 15 minutes on Shot In The Dark.
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Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the May 18th 2021 episode of WWE NXT featuring Johnny Gargano vs Bronson Reed in a Steel Cage Match for the NXT North American Championship!
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REWIND-A-RAW 5/17/21: Lashley Open Challenge, Shawn Michaels A&E
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE Raw featuring Bobby Lashley’s Open Challenge, A&E’s Biography on Shawn Michaels, and discuss Don Kernodle’s passing.
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WrestleMania Backlash POST Show: Reigns vs. Cesaro, Zombies
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE WrestleMania Backlash featuring Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro for the Universal Championship, a pair of triple threats for WWE & Raw Women’s Championships, and ZOMBIES.
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UFC 262 POST Show: Oliveira vs. Chandler
John Pollock and Phil Chertok are back with the UFC 262 POST Show featuring Charles Oliveira becoming the new UFC lightweight champion.
*****

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