Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: Family of Ethel Johnson sets record straight
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**We are LIVE for the fourth straight night with Rewind-A-Raw at 11:15 pm ET following WWE Raw. Wai Ting and I will review Raw following WrestleMania, chat about Chris Jericho’s appearance on Broken Skull Sessions, all the latest news, and take your feedback. The show is live for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café.
**The WrestleMania 37 Night 2 POST Show is available for everyone to listen and watch. Wai Ting and I spent nearly two hours reviewing the card and taking phone calls including from several that attended the show at Raymond James Stadium and shared their experiences. I want to say thanks to everyone that followed and enjoyed our WrestleMania coverage. There were a lot of people that helped out on the site especially Andrew Thompson, John Siino, Eric Marcotte’s UFC coverage, the work from Braden Herrington & Davie Portman, and Wai Ting.
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**A reminder that upNXT is moving to Tuesday nights this week to coincide with NXT’s new night. The shows will air live at 10:15 pm ET each Tuesday on Twitch.tv/upNXTpodcast and be available later that evening on the upNXT podcast feed.
Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock & Wai Ting (11:15 pm ET for Double Double+ Patrons)
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Saturday: MCU L8R with Wai Ting, WH Park & Nate Milton (Patreon)
**We would like to send our condolences to the family of Matt & Jeff Hardy, who lost their father this past Tuesday at the age of 87. As well, our thoughts go out to Shotzi Blackheart, who lost her stepfather this past Saturday after he had suffered a pair of heart attacks and had been in a coma.
**Traditionally, it’s one of the biggest episodes of the year with WWE Raw following WrestleMania tonight. It will not have the usual energy with the return to the ThunderDome in its new residency at the Yuengling Center. This may be the only chance Raw has of hitting two million viewers anytime soon as it’s a mark they have only hit once this year, which occurred for Legends Night back in January. In theory, the first Raw back in front of a full crowd should be a big episode and the return of crowds will likely provide a bump in its viewership much like the introduction of the ThunderDome provided.
After WrestleMania, it’s a heavy emphasis on heel champions with Bianca Belair being the exception. Both brands are going with strong heel champions and the task will be finding and building credible babyface challengers. On Raw, it’s Drew McIntyre as the only top babyface star. The next level of babyfaces includes Braun Strowman, Riddle, Damian Priest, Keith Lee (once he can return), and whether you consider The Fiend as a babyface but would be the absolute worst program for Bobby Lashley. In the immediate future, I can see Lashley and McIntyre continuing with some sort of payoff like an “I Quit Match” since they made the point that McIntyre never gave up and passed out from the Hurt Lock.
On SmackDown, you have a larger pool to draw from. The ending of the Universal title match didn’t leave the door open to wide for any rematch involving Daniel Bryan or Edge going for the championship and more likely, the two having a singles program. For Reigns, they gave strong wins to Cesaro, Kevin Owens, and the title is off Big E. and people are going to want to see his eventual ascension after this Apollo Crews program ends. Ultimately, the company is built around Reigns as your “Thanos” and positions them for mega matches involving Brock Lesnar and the Holy Grail of a Reigns vs. Dwayne Johnson match if the stars can align for such a match.
It would make sense that Charlotte Flair is back in the mix as she appeared to be a victim of circumstances beyond her control that kept her off the final plans for WrestleMania. I’m also curious if the post-Mania plans include anything for Aleister Black, who was once groomed for a major spot but has been off television for months and has tremendous upside but seems to have been forgotten. Usually, this time means a few NXT call-ups, and anything is possible but you’re also trying to establish NXT on a new night and perhaps keeping that roster strong is a larger priority than plucking people for Raw and SmackDown. Based on the endings at TakeOver, you would look at people like Io Shirai and Finn Balor or even Adam Cole, who has been ready for years but is also a cornerstone of the NXT brand.
**Tonight’s edition of Raw will also feature the debut of new lead announcer Adnan Virk and the new three-man booth of Virk, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton. They have not announced anything regarding the team on SmackDown while adding that Tom Phillips will be the lead voice on 205 Live along with other duties for Peacock and the Performance Center and stated that Samoa Joe is still a part of the talent roster. Joe has been excellent in his role on commentary and did a fantastic job with the sit-down interviews last week for NXT. If he is not returning to the ring, he can be utilized in many roles.
**Filmmaker Chris Bournea conducted an interview with the family members of Ethel Johnson following last week’s legacy induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. The company came under criticism after it was learned that the company used footage of Sandy Parker instead of Johnson during the video. Bournea spoke with Johnson’s daughter Shelly Adams, her niece Kim Goodwin Martin, and granddaughter Michaiah Goodwin.
Adams noted that beyond the footage being of the incorrect wrestler, that they listed Johnson as the first African American female wrestler, which she clarified that Johnson was the first Black female wrestling champion. The distinction of the first Black female wrestler would have been Babs Wingo, who was the sister of Johnson. The family has been in contact with WWE and was told that they will be correcting the video (the voiceover has been updated to list her as the first African American women’s champion). Adams said she would like to see them apologize and acknowledge the true history of Johnson, Wingo, and their sister Marva Scott with regards to their place in history.
The family was also unaware WWE would be inducting Johnson into the Hall of Fame prior to the ceremony airing last Tuesday.
Both Babs Wingo and Marva Scott died in 2003 while Ethel Johnson died in 2018 at 83 with her passing covered by the New York Times. There is also a great piece from 2018 by Corey Erdman documenting the sisters’ careers on VICE.
Bournea is the producer of Lady Wrestler: The Amazing, Untold Story of African-American Women in the Ring.
**The ”WrestleMania SmackDown” themed episode from this past Friday led to the show’s highest viewership since March 5th. The go-home episode featured the Fatal Four-Way for the SmackDown tag titles and the Andre the Giant Battle Royal with 2,250,000 viewers on Fox and a 0.61 in the 18-49 demographic. SmackDown finished second among network programming on Friday behind ABC’s Shark Tank and second in adults 18-34. From last week, the show increased 5.3 percent in viewers and 7 percent in the 18-49 demo.
**In Canada, SmackDown did 185,600 viewers on Sportsnet 360 and 105,900 in the 25-54 demographic.
**Sportico has a story on WrestleMania and its effect on driving subscriber growth for Peacock. In the story, analyst Chris Bevilacqua believes they could add 1 million subscribers to Peacock citing the approximate level of U.S. domestic subscribers that the WWE Network reported in the fourth quarter of 2020 (1,081,000 domestic subscribers). It’s also the continual trend of less transparent data between streaming giants and the public with many numbers closely guarded and limited to what the streamers choose to divulge. One of the strategies that Nick Khan outlined on the Colin Cowherd Podcast last week was choosing this weekend where they weren’t competing against anything major, noting the Masters Golf tournament doesn’t compete with the WWE’s audience. Khan also noted that Fastlane was a very successful event for the company on Peacock, which again isn’t backed up by specific data but taken at face value would suggest a much larger wave for WrestleMania.
**If there was a consistent reaction to WrestleMania, it was the preference of the two-night formula as a live viewing experience. The next two years are being advertised as one-night events with WrestleMania 38 scheduled for April 3, 2022, at AT&T Stadium. Stephanie McMahon-Levesque publicly stated on Bill Simmons’ podcast that she prefers two nights and agreed that the shows had become too long adding that anything can happen. I would imagine that the success of this past weekend on Peacock and the streaming data they research will inform their decision on future events.
The idea of running AT&T Stadium on two consecutive nights seems impossible from a live event perspective but is that the top priority? If two nights of content for Peacock yields a greater return, deeper engagement, and a greater value for the marketing of that weekend then that could take priority over concerns of selling that many tickets over two nights. Or, being creative and running the first night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas and Sunday would be the larger of the two.
From a ticket selling perspective, a lot would depend on your ability to attract international tourists to the event. If someone is planning an entire vacation around WrestleMania, how high of a percentage of fans would simply spend the extra money for the second night of WrestleMania? It isn’t so much a task of finding unique fans for each night but rather a strong enough percentage that will go to both and how many additional tickets would need to be sold on top of that? It would seem unlikely for them to run two nights next year if it only comes down to the viewing experience for the fans but if there is strong evidence from Peacock’s end for two nights, then it becomes a more debatable topic.
**The Miz & Mrs. resumes tonight at 11 pm ET on the USA Network following WWE Raw.
**NXT has announced an appearance by new NXT Women’s Champion Raquel Gonzalez on Tuesday’s episode at 8 pm ET.
**The next WWE pay-per-view is being branded as “WrestleMania Backlash” for Sunday, May 16th, and leaning on the most valuable property they have.
**Detroit historian Mark Bujan has died at the age of 61 with the news coming out over the weekend that he passed late Saturday night. SLAM Wrestling has a story on Bujan’s work as a historian covering the Detroit scene that he grew up watching and attending shows at Cobo Hall and Olympia Stadium. In the SLAM story, it noted that Bujan attended Madison High School where Jim Myers (George “The Animal” Steele) was one of the teachers.
**To coincide with the start of season three of Dark Side of the Ring, the Confidential panel show is moving to Thursday nights this week on VICE TV. This week’s episode will focus on the season two episode covering The Road Warriors airing at 9 pm ET. Season three of Dark Side premieres on Thursday, May 6th with a two-hour episode covering the life of Brian Pillman.
**The Complete List of Jericho book chronicling every match of his 30-year career will be released June 23rd and can be pre-ordered at Jericho30.com. As he noted with Steve Austin, Jericho has kept a list of every match of his career going back to October 1990 and worked with Peter Fornatale and Alex Marvez to compile his records into a book.
**This Thursday’s edition of IMPACT Wrestling will feature a press conference segment involving AEW Champion Kenny Omega and IMPACT Champion Rich Swann to promote their match on Sunday, April 25th at Rebellion.
**AEW has announced that Kris Statlander will return to the ring on this Wednesday’s episode of Dynamite. Statlander had been out of action since last June after tearing her ACL.
**Here are the matches scheduled for tonight’s episode of AEW Dark: Elevation airing at 7 pm ET on the AEW YouTube channel:
*Konosuke Takeshita vs. Danny Limelight
*Best Friends vs. Ryan Nemeth & Cezar Bononi
*Thunder Rosa vs. Diamante
*Penta El Zero Miedo vs. Brandon Cutler
*PAC & Rey Fenix vs. Andre Montoya & Cole Karter
*Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page vs. Sonny Kiss & Joey Janela
*Orange Cassidy vs. John Skyler
*Britt Baker vs. Skye Blue
*Dante Martin vs. Baron Black
*Miro vs. Hayden Backlund
*FTR vs. Midas Black & Jay Lyon
*Angelico & Jack Evans vs. Vary Morales & Andre Montoya
*Rising Star profile on Shawn Dean
**New Japan’s Road to Dontaku card will be streaming for free on Tuesday morning at 5:30 am ET on New Japan World with the following card:
*Will Ospreay, The Great O-Khan, Aaron Henare & Jeff Cobb vs. Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI
*Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toru Yano vs. Dick Togo & Gedo
*EVIL, KENTA, Yujiro & Taiji Ishimori vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Tomoaki Honma
*Guerrillas of Destiny & Jado vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & DOUKI
*Roppongi 3K & Gabriel Kidd vs. El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki
**Between now and next Tuesday, April 20th, New Japan is running Korakuen Hall five times. It is overkill for the Tokyo market as the recent Korakuen Hall shows have been drawing less than 400 people.
**This Wednesday’s episode of MLW Fusion will feature a Caribbean Strap Match between Alex Hammerstone and Mil Muertes for the National Openweight Championship airing at 7 pm ET on Fubo Sports and their YouTube channel.
**The WWE stock closed at $56.80 on Monday.
**According to GRAPPL’s voting, the top six matches of WrestleMania Week were as follows – 1) WALTER vs. Tommaso Ciampa (4.25 out of 5), 2) Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair (4.24), 4) Josh Barnett vs. Jon Moxley (4.23), Roman Reigns vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan (4.16), 5) WALTER vs. Rampage Brown from NXT UK: The Prelude (4.12), and 6) Arez, Gringo Loco & Black Taurus vs. Aramis, Laredo Kid & Dragon Bane from Spring Break (3.96).
**Being the Elite Ep. 251 “There’s Godda Be A Change”.
**Natalya shared the effects of a knee strike from Shayna Baszler during their tag title match on Sunday night:
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) April 12, 2021
ON THIS DATE
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WM WEEK BONUS: TakeOver Night 1, Dark Side Premiere
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POST INTERVIEW: Jon Alba, Reporter at Spectrum Sports 360
John Pollock speaks with reporter Jon Alba of Spectrum Sports 360, who is in Tampa covering WrestleMania Week.
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