POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: Gabe Sapolsky confirms exit from WWN

Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: Gabe Sapolsky confirms exit from WWN


**Wai Ting and I will be back with Rewind-A-Dynamite tonight to chat AEW Dynamite, a preview of the All Out pay-per-view, a discussion on Renee Paquette’s interview on the SI Media Podcast, our analysis of the WWE Raw & NXT ratings, and then we’ll take your feedback and questions at the end of the show.

**Last month, Wai Ting and I launched our latest series of film reviews covering the ROCKY franchise. This will be a monthly series on the POST Wrestling Café and to provide a sample, we have released our ROCKY I review FREE for everyone to listen to. Our ROCKY II review will be coming out next Tuesday, September 8th for Café members.

**Rewind-A-Wai #69 has been released with Wai and I chatting WCW Halloween Havoc 1991. On this show, we discuss the state of the company after Ric Flair had left, the impact of Jim Herd, the controversial angle involving Lex Luger and Ron Simmons in the lead-up to their main event, the Chamber of Horrors debacle, a match between Oz and Bill Kazmaier, and many notes from the news during this period in October 1991. This show was selected by Espresso Executive Producer Justin Killian, who was a great guest reflecting on the night he ordered this pay-per-view with his friends. The show is available to all members of the POST Wrestling Café.

**AEW is holding a media call on Thursday with Tony Khan and we will be on the call have the audio posted later in the afternoon.

**The British Wrestling Experience is back on Thursday with Martin Bushby & Benno chatting with Shane from Wrestle Wipe. The three will review Rev Pro’s Epic Encounters card that ran over SummerSlam weekend, the return of NXT UK later this month, and lots more topics.


Tonight: Rewind-A-Dynamite with John & Wai
Thursday: British Wrestling Experience with Martin Bushby & Benno
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown (LIVE at 10:15 pm ET for all Patrons)
AEW All Out POST Show (LIVE for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso Patrons)
The Long & Winding Royal Road with WH Park & guest JP Houlihan (Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Mitsuharu Misawa, 6/8/1990)


**AEW Dynamite returns to its Wednesday night slot on TNT tonight while Syfy will air a replay of last night’s NXT head-to-head at 8 pm Eastern. It’s the go-home episode for All Out, which is their second pay-per-view during the pandemic and follows a successful Double or Nothing this past May. It’s also the second straight week with a limited number of fans in the building that didn’t present any known problems last week when they opened it up to 10 percent of Daily Place’s capacity. Here are the matches and segments listed for tonight’s live broadcast:
*Jon Moxley vs. “The Lawyer” Mark Sterling
*Chris Jericho vs. Joey Janela
*The Young Bucks, Luchasaurus & Jungle Boy vs. Private Party, Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian – the winning team will face each other at All Out
*Best Friends vs. Santana & Ortiz
*Thunder Rosa in action

**NXT will be airing on Tuesday again next week with the show billed as Super Tuesday 2. Coming off the Ironman Match and the tie between Adam Cole and Finn Balor, those two will face each other for the vacant NXT title. They have also announced a Steel Cage Match between Rhea Ripley and Mercedes Martinez for next week.

**Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports as of now, Excalibur is scheduled to be back on Dynamite tonight and appeared on AEW programming for the first time since July when he called Tuesday’s edition of AEW Dark with Taz. Excalibur was replaced on the July 29th edition of Dynamite, which coincided with a 2006 clip surfacing of a promo in PWG where the announcer used the n-word in a segment involving Human Tornado and Kevin Steen. AEW has not commented on the matter or the status of Excalibur as he didn’t appear on any broadcasts in the month of August. Last week, Jim Ross posted a photo confirming Excalibur was at Daily’s Place, but he only called AEW Dark with Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Chris Jericho calling Dynamite.

**Gabe Sapolsky issued a statement announcing that he considers himself “retired” as an independent wrestling promoter and booker. Sapolsky confirmed that he has left WWN, which announced its forthcoming event on September 26th would be billed as Eddie Kingston’s Grindhouse. Below is the full statement from Sapolsky:

With WWN announcing the new Eddie Kingston Grindhouse show on September 26th, it is the right time for me to clearly state I have parted ways with WWN. This is amicable and mutually decided. I look forward to seeing new minds and ideas come to the forefront on the independent scene. I feel Eddie Kingston is perfect to lead the charge.

I still love working with talent, have a passion for talent development and enjoy the bell-to-bell aspect of putting on shows. However, the down time due to Covid-19 has made me realize how much I do not miss the day-to-day aspects of running an independent promotion. I no longer have the drive to continue the constant grind of running an independent wrestling promotion.

I consider myself retired as an independent wrestling promoter and booker.

I want to give my most heartfelt and sincere “thank you” to everyone who supported any independent promotion I was associated with over the years. I also give my deepest gratitude to everyone who worked with me.

The final stats are:

507 shows from Feb. 23rd, 2002 to March 1st, 2020.

Ring Of Honor – 208
EVOLVE – 146
Full Impact Pro – 81
Dragon Gate USA – 50
Style Battle – 9
WWN Supershow – 5
WWN China – 4
Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup – 2
WWN Recruitment Camp Do Or Die – 2

Thank you for all the good times! I am excited to follow independent wrestling as a fan. I hope I can be a positive influence and help talent. I look forward to seeing most of you again down the road. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Sapolsky has been entrenched in the independent scene for the last generation. As an understudy of Paul Heyman, he earned his education working in ECW before embarking on his own path in February 2002 with the formation of Ring of Honor, being part of the group that launched the company. Sapolsky was credited as the visionary behind ROH’s formative years where the ROH title was established as one of the top titles in the world through the title reign of Samoa Joe and subsequent reigns that put ROH on the map as an influential group that created a generation of stars that would flourish, specifically in WWE.

In 2008, the company made the decision to shift visions and let Sapolsky go with the installation of Adam Pearce as its new booker that ushered in the HDNet era. After not having success with regional television in its early days, ROH was a live event, merchandise, and DVD business. They returned to television on HDNet and didn’t see any significant changes as the company was a money loser. It was Cary Silkin, who came in and saved the company in 2004 after Rob Feinstein left, funding the company throughout those years treating ROH as a hobby while his ticketing business was his money-making venture. Sapolsky resurfaced with Dragon Gate USA as they attempted to migrate its brand into the United States and presented extraordinary shows with some of the best talents in the world but only found a limited audience.

EVOLVE launched in 2010 designed as a company that would feature a heavy work rate and a strong emphasis on wins and losses with the use of records. It was the brainchild of Sapolsky and Bryan Danielson, although the latter signed with WWE and Sapolsky adjusted plans for his premiere star. Alongside business partner Sal Hamaoui, they build the WWN brand that was an umbrella for independent groups with WWN as the hub that housed them as audiences became more accustomed to streaming services.

The company thought they hit the jackpot when Flo Slam, a wrestling-centered service part of the Flo Sports empire, offered them a “too good to be true” offer that turned out to be…too good to be true. As EVOLVE and WWE began working closely together, it opened the door for Sapolsky to enter the company as a creative consultant at NXT and has been there for several years and leaves the independent scene with a full-time position in the industry he has worked in since 1993.

**Brandon Thurston at Wrestlenomics looked at data over the past five years regarding the viewership bump Raw would receive following a pay-per-view. His research shows that over that period it’s the episodes of Raw following WrestleMania (+16 percent), Royal Rumble (+12 percent), Money in the Bank (+10 percent), and SummerSlam (+9 percent) that saw the largest increases from the prior four episodes. In 2020, the overall pay-per-view bump on Raw has been 4 percent but when factoring out the four big shows listed above, it’s only an increase of 0.3 percent.

**Briarcliff Entertainment has acquired the domestic distribution rights to the Bryan Fogel documentary “The Dissident” that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The documentary covers the October 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, which was tied Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Fogel is the director of the highly acclaimed “Icarus” documentary unearthing the Russian doping scandal and is a fantastic film. In the Variety piece announcing the deal, they speculated that larger distributors may have been uneasy due to the reliance on Saudi Arabia. “The Dissident” is expected to be released theatrically and on VOD later this year and they are planning events in conjunction with the two-year anniversary of Khashoggi’s death in October.

**Ring of Honor has announced that they have their own 24/7 channel on STIRR, which is an ad-supported live streaming service created by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. ROH will be featured on STIRR Channel 357 with their content streaming 24/7. ROH is marketing the channel as ROH Best On The Planet and noted in its press release that they are working with Stadium for further distribution of the channel. STIRR launched in January 2019.

**WWE announced on Tuesday that Steve Pamon has been elected to its board of directors. Pamon is the President and Chief Operating Officer at Parkwood Entertainment. Prior to his role at Parkwood Entertainment, he was the head of sports and entertainment marketing at JP Morgan Chase.

**Billie Kay (Jessica McKay) posted the following note after Monday’s episode of Raw and the abrupt breakup of The IIconics:

Last night was one of the most emotional nights of my life.

Realizing that The IIconics are no more was devastating & heartbreaking.
@peytonroycewwe you have been my rock, my strength, my heart & inspired me for the past 5+ years.

Having that being taken away is extremely scary… but that’s life.
We have to evolve, we have to learn, we have to keep going.
I’m so proud of us & excited for what the future holds for us.

Even though you won’t be able to see me, I will always be in your corner cheering you on.

You’ll always be my high school sweetheart, my life partner, my iconic duo, my icon

**Rev Pro has announced that its second Epic Encounters card will stream on Sunday, September 13th on Fite TV. The following matches are listed for the show: Michael Oku vs. RKJ to unify the British Cruiserweight and Speed King titles, Will Ospreay vs. Callum Newman, Joel Redman vs. Dan Moloney, Kenneth Halfpenny vs. Brendan White, and Mark Haskins vs. JJ Gale.

**Next week’s edition of Impact Wrestling will feature the Motor City Machine Guns defending the tag titles against Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz along with Chris Bey vs. TJP. For the second week in a row, Impact will be going head-to-head with NXT on the USA Network.

**During a segment on Tuesday’s episode of Impact, there was an amazing 205 Live callback by Rohit Raju as he addressed TJP.


**The biggest news in MMA this week has been the “what if?” scenario of Brock Lesnar entertaining the notion of fighting again following Mike Johnson’s report that the former UFC heavyweight champion is a free agent. Adding fuel to the speculation are the public comments by Dana White and Bellator president Scott Coker that they would be open to Lesnar fighting for them. From my vantage point, while Lesnar has always been the recipient of great timing to increase his value with multiple bidders, now isn’t that time. For Lesnar to decide on fighting one more time, it would require re-entering the USADA testing pool and presents the same dilemma for UFC as Conor McGregor where having such a big star fight without a live gate lacks the same incentive when they are receiving a guaranteed amount from ESPN+ for each pay-per-view.

Realistically, it would be well into 2021 by the time such a fight could happen and Lesnar would be closer to 44 (which he turns next July). The only fight that would be worth his while is Jon Jones, which is the perfect fight for Jones to make his heavyweight debut at, and regardless of the criticism such a fight would have, it would be a monstrous fight for the UFC and would be among their biggest pay-per-view events ever.

The realistic outcome is WWE and Lesnar sitting down once crowds are slowly returning and they work out a deal. For the 43-year old, WWE is the best place for him from the financial side, the schedule he prefers and is valued as their top attraction. Going to the UFC would most likely be one fight maximum and while the financial incentive is massive, it comes with a whole different lifestyle change when you’re in fight camp as opposed to being in shape for pro wrestling. It’s also a big commitment when you’re a UFC fighter to know that a USADA rep could be knocking on your door at 6 am and there is no doubt, he would be among the most tested fighters given his 2016 drug test failure for the Mark Hunt fight.

**This past Saturday’s UFC prelims on ESPN averaged 564,000 viewers and a 0.19 in the 18-49 demographic, which placed them 14th for the night among cable programs. The prelims were headlined by Impa Kasanganay (who just won a contract on the Contender Series earlier in the month) defeating Maki Pitolo while the main card streamed on ESPN+.

**This weekend’s UFC card is exclusively on ESPN+ with the Fight Night event headlined by heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Augusto Sakai.

**Karim Zidan at Bloody Elbow examines the role Dana White has played publicly aligning himself with President Donald Trump throughout his presidency and speaking at both Republican conventions for Trump in 2016 and last week’s. He extends his analysis to the UFC’s role in the political climate and how they have politicized aspects of their presentation while ignoring other social issues that other sports leagues have confronted this year especially.

**Here are the results from Tuesday’s episode of Dana White’s Contender Series from the UFC APEX:
*Tucker Lutz def. Chase Gibson by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*William Knight def. Cody Brundage by TKO at 2:23 of Round 1
*Ronnie Lawrence def. Jose Johnson by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Jimmy Flick def. Nate Smith by arm-triangle choke at 3:15 of Round 3
*Melsik Baghdasaryan def. Dennis Buzukja by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

The contracts were awarded to Jimmy Flick, Ronnie Lawrence, and William Knight.

**Marc Raimondi at ESPN reports that Bellator has signed Invicta FC flyweight champion Vanessa Porto (22-8). The 36-yeard old won the vacant title in February 2019 defeating Pearl Gonzalez by technical decision with her last fight taking place in November of last year where she defeated Karina Rodriguez by unanimous decision. Porto had been fighting with Invicta FC since July 2012 and fighting professionally since 2005.




REWIND-A-WAI #69: WCW Halloween Havoc 1991
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 featuring a classic Chamber of Horrors match and Ron Simmons challenging Lex Luger for the WCW World Championship.
REWIND-A-RAW 8/31/20: Clash Main Event, IIconics, Brock Lesnar, Mauro Ranallo
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Raw following Payback, a discussion on Brock Lesnar’s status with WWE, Daniel Cormier’s retirement, an update on Rey Mysterio, and Mauro Ranallo leaving WWE.
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE Payback 2020 featuring Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. The Fiend for Universal Championship and Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton.
John Pollock and Wai Ting review NJPW Summer Struggle in Jingu as EVIL defends his IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Title against former stablemate Tetsuya Naito inside the open-air Jingu Stadium.
CRUEL SUMMER #29: Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White (2019) w/ Stephanie Chase
Cruel Summer returns and WH Park is back to talk about the finals of NJPW G1 Climax 29 with UK-based wrestling journalist, Stephanie Chase: Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White from August 12, 2019.
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 8/28/20: Heyman & Zayn Return, WWE Payback Preview
John Pollock and Wai Ting chat Friday Night SmackDown featuring the returns of Paul Heyman and Sami Zayn. Plus, AEW’s ratings from Thursday, AEW selling tickets to more shows, and a preview of WWE Payback.

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