Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: Gable Steveson speaks on future
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John Pollock & Wai Ting chat about the latest New Japan Cup matches and semi-final pairings, Gable Steveson, AEW-DDT, WWE Raw tonight & more.
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**WWE Raw takes place from the Allstate Arena in Chicago tonight for the penultimate edition of the show prior to WrestleMania. The show will feature the return of AJ Styles after the injury angle with Edge three weeks ago along with the following:
*Becky Lynch addresses her attack on Bianca Belair
*RK-Bro vs. Alpha Academy
*Finn Balor vs. Austin Theory
**Gable Steveson retired from amateur wrestling after his second consecutive NCAA championship on Saturday with his next destination being WWE. There will be a lot of spotlight on Steveson and pressure for him to be the face of the company’s Next in Line program. In another era, you would make to hide him from national television until he is ready but that won’t be the case here and they don’t have a system where one can start from the ground up and work in small towns to gain experience with NXT only producing its television product. While limited, WWE still has a house show schedule and he’d be a prime candidate to gain as many reps as possible working on those shows with the likes of Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, etc. and allowing him to make his mistakes there. The new prototype is Bron Breakker, who was a high-level athlete with minimal experience when he came to WWE and was thrown onto NXT 2.0 and has excelled in the situations he has been given while attaching him to veterans like Tommaso Ciampa. The shift from amateur to professional wrestling wouldn’t seem on paper to be significant but Kurt Angle noted how he had to break his amateur habits to truly understand and thrive at professional wrestling. Angle picked things up at an exceptional rate, but he was also a freak of nature and there will be few Kurt Angles in this lifetime.
**Steveson was interviewed by Justin Barrasso at SI.com and stated he would be going to WrestleMania in Texas:
I plan on going to WrestleMania. That’s the first time WWE fans will see me and what I’m about. I’m going to put my heart out there.
**WrestleTix reports that there are over 8,500 tickets out for tonight’s show with the building currently set up for just under 9,000. The outlet notes that the company sold out the arena last August with 12,629 and came back in December with 10,139.
**Kento Miyahara retained the Triple Crown against Shuji Ishikawa earlier today at All Japan’s Champions Night 3 event. The promotion drew 1,319 fans to Ota Ward City Gymnasium with Miyahara winning with the Shutdown German suplex and making the second defense of his current reign. Jake Lee returned after suffering an injury to his orbital bone in December, which led to Lee vacating the Triple Crown. Lee teamed with Tajiri, Koji Doi, Kuma Arashi & Yusuke Kodama and fought to a no-contest with Suwama, Shuji Kondo, KONO, TARU & Toshizu. Hikaru Sato retained the junior heavyweight title against Hokuto Omori, and Shotaro Ashino beat Ryuki Honda in a last man standing, and Tatsumi Fujinami teamed with his Leona & Mitsuya Nagai to defeat Yuma Aoyagi, Atsuki Aoyagi & Rising Hayato when Fujinami submitted Atsuki Aoyahi with the dragon sleeper. (Credit: Purolove.com)
**The Undertaker is on the True Geordie Podcast to promote his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame while also discussing the genesis of his character, his promo style, the American Bad Ass run, and his assessment of the modern era of talent while noting that some of the younger talents don’t have the “grit” of the past era.
**Here is the lineup for AEW Dark: Elevation that streams at 7 p.m. ET tonight on the AEW YouTube channel:
*Ruby Soho & Anna Jay vs. The Bunny & Emi Sakura
*Nyla Rose vs. Robyn Renegade
*Skye Blue vs. Julia Hart
*Top Flight vs. Luther & Serpentico
*Evil Uno, Stu Grayson & John Silver vs. QT Marshall, Aaron Solo & Nick Comoroto
*The Gunn Club vs. Aaron Mercer & Masada
**New Japan is seeing a bump in attendance over the past several days of the New Japan Cup. The promotion drew 1,019 at Korakuen Hall on Friday, 1,707 on Sunday in Nagaoka, and then came back today with 1,450 in the same arena in Nagaoka. There are no shows this week until the semi-finals and finals at Osaka-jo Hall this weekend. After the New Japan Cup, several of the talents will fly to Texas for the Lone Star Shootout card at WrestleCon while the rest of the crew begins the Hyper Battle tour on April 3rd.
**MLW has added a match between Bandido and Flamita for its Azteca Underground card on Friday, April 1st at Gilley’s in Dallas, Texas. The card is being taped for beIN Sports and features Jacob Fatu vs. LA Park in an Azteca Apocalypto match, Octagon Jr. vs. Matt Cross, and Trios match with Aerostar, Microman & El Dragon vs. Arez, Mini Abismo Negro & TBA. Follow all the WrestleMania Week show and match announcements on the site.
**Austin Theory spoke with TV Insider about his match with Pat McAfee at WrestleMania and pressure to deliver:
I think in WWE it’s one of those things where it’s the big leagues. Whether you are prepared or not, it’s going to show. You are swimming with sharks. I think there is no level after WWE. This is it…For me, I don’t’ get too much into my head. I’m pretty confident in what I can do. You can only be the best version of yourself. That’s where I keep my head. Who knows how this finally ends? I’m just excited. I expect the unexpected. I’m coming in with my head up and staying confident.
**Missy Hyatt will be in the corner of Chris Dickinson for his match against Matt Cardona at Joey Janela’s Spring Break – Part 2. Hyatt will be there to counter Chelsea Green, who will be in Cardona’s corner.
**For WWE’s YouTube views, the most-watched video clip last week was the memorial video for Scott Hall at 2.8 million views as of Monday followed by a segment from WrestleMania 30 with Steve Austin, The Rock & Hulk Hogan (2.5 million); Omos vs. Commander Azeez (2.3 million), and Brock Lesnar using the forklift on SmackDown (2.2 million).
**Johnny Gargano will be appearing at WrestleCon to sign autographs during WrestleMania Weekend. Gargano noted that he has never appeared at the convention. The performer has not wrestled since December and left NXT after his contract expired. Gargano and his wife Candice LeRae recently had their first child.
**This Thursday’s edition of NJPW on AXS TV will feature the match between Kazuchika Okada and Tetsuya Naito from Sapporo last month. The following week’s episode on March 31st will feature matches from the 50th-anniversary card earlier this month. The program airs on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. ET right after IMPACT.
**Peacock has added several old Madison Square Garden shows from 1985 to the WWE Network. The streaming service has added shows from January 21 (Andre the Giant vs. Ken Patera), April 22 (Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Matt Borne, British Bulldogs vs. Rene Goulet & Johnny Rodz), May 20 (Hulk Hogan vs. Don Muraco, Bret Hart vs. Rick McGraw), June 21 (Hogan vs. Muraco in a steel cage match), July 13 (Hart Foundation vs. British Bulldogs, Roddy Piper vs. Paul Orndorff), and August 10 (Andre the Giant & Paul Orndorff vs. Roddy Piper & Bob Orton Jr.)
**New Japan STRONG returns to Vermont Hollywood with ‘Mutiny’ on Sunday, April 10th in Los Angeles. Tomohiro Ishii is advertised for the show following the Lone Star Shootout card the weekend prior and the Windy City Riot event the week after.
**RJ City interviews Tony Khan on the second episode of Hey (Ew).
**Matt Hardy is a guest on the USA Today’s Under the Ring podcast with host Phil Strum.
**Being the Elite Ep. 299: “The Break Up?”
**The UFC put on their best card of the year this past Saturday at the O2 Arena. It was their first show in London in three years with the company announcing a live gate of $4.5 million, which is a new record for the arena and for a Fight Night event. The atmosphere was off the charts and enhanced by several of the British stars scoring big wins. In the main event, rising heavyweight star Tom Aspinall stopped Alexander Volkov in the first round with a straight armbar to remain unbeaten in the UFC and will propel himself in the heavyweight ranks after the biggest victory of his career. Arnold Allen, Paddy Pimblet, and Molly McCann were among the major stars on the show with victories. Allen extended his winning streak to eleven (9-0 in the UFC) by stopping Dan Hooker in a tremendous one-round fight that saw the fighters throw caution to the wind. Pimblett has a level of charisma few have and felt like the biggest star on the show. He did eat a hard shot from Kazula Vargas before getting the fight to the ground and submitting him. His post-fight speech was tremendous and he’s going to have a big target on him given the star power while also showing some defensive liabilities in his two UFC fights. McCann registered a Knockout of the Year candidate with a spinning elbow that landed flush and put Luana Carolina to sleep.
Dana White was over the moon with the card with the promotion handing out nine Performance of the Night bonuses to each fighter that scored a finish worth $450,000 in total. White said they are going to move things around to ensure they return to the U.K. this year after Saturday’s card. There were many comparisons of this show to the Fight Night card in July 2014 in Dublin, Ireland featuring the Irish fighters winning the key fights and led by Conor McGregor beating Diego Brandao and was one of the best crowds ever for a UFC event.
**UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou had surgery on his ACL and MCL on Friday and said that it “went well”. He added there was no meniscus damage. Ngannou went into his fight with Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 with the knee injury and forced him to have a wrestling-heavy game plan to secure the decision win. Dana White said last week that it’s possible they could bring back an interim title for the division due to Ngannou’s recovery period. Ngannou’s manager Marquel Martin told MMA Fighting that the champion will likely be out of action for nine to ten months.
Knee surgery went very well today ( ACL reconstruction and MCL repare).
PS: no meniscus damage 🙏🏽
Thank you to Dr Alattrache and staff for taking great care of me.
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) March 19, 2022
**The UFC has another Fight Night card outside of the Apex this weekend as they return to the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. In the main event, Curtis Blaydes (15-3, 1 NC) takes on Chris Daukaus (12-4). Blaydes has won five of his last six and is coming off a decision win against Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The biggest mark against Blaydes is that he has two losses against current champion Francis Ngannou but with Ngannou just having surgery, it’s not a title scenario right now and there could be another interim title introduced. Daukaus had won five in a row until he was knocked out by Derrick Lewis last December. In terms of a fight with implications at the top of the division, the flyweight fight between Askar Askarov (14-0-1) and Kai-Kara France (23-9, 1 NC) is the most important. The winner should be fighting for the championship unless they go with a fourth fight between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno.
**The PFL will start its next season on Wednesday, April 20th with a card from the Esports Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which will air on ESPN. The promotion will hold subsequent shows on Thursday, April 28th, and Friday, May 6th at the same arena in Arlington before moving to Atlanta for shows on June 17th, June 24th, and July 1st. The season-opener will feature fights in the lightweight and light heavyweight divisions.
**The Mac Life interviews Conor McGregor.
ON THIS DATE
Vince McMahon interviews Bret Hart following WrestleMania 10 in 1994:
The final episode of WCW Thunder in 2001:
Terry Funk appears on WWE Raw in 2016 as Dean Ambrose prepares for his match with Brock Lesnar:
The Miz and Maryse spoof Total Bellas prior to WrestleMania 33 in 2017:
POST DAILY NEWS: AEW x DDT, Gable Steveson
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ASK-A-WAI: Ask Us Anything! (March 2022)
John Pollock and Wai Ting answer their patrons’ questions about anything and everything in the March 2022 edition of Ask-A-Wai.
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