Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/06/08/pollocks-news-update-previews-of-njpw-dominion-ufc-238/
Photo courtesy: NJPW
POST IT NOTES
**Wai Ting and I did a two-hour WWE Super Showdown POST Show with a quick review of the show itself and then discussing the larger issues surrounding the show. I encourage you to check out the two interviews on the show. The first was with Will Cooling of PW Torch and Fighting Spirit Magazine and then we had Karim Zidan of Bloody Elbow on to speak about the politics at play, the changing perception of MBS in Saudi Arabia and abroad, the WWE’s role in this deal, how to present these shows, and many other interesting subjects. The show is available in both podcast and video form.
**The third installment of Cruel Summer was released today with host WH Park welcoming Damon MacDonald of the Super J Cast to review the G1 Climax Final between Hiroshi Hase and Tatsumi Fujinami from 1993. The next edition is out Sunday with a review of the 1994 final with guest Mavs Gillis.
**On this month’s edition of ASK-A-WAI, Wai Ting and I spend 1 hour and 46 minutes answering mailbag questions and covering tons of topics. This show is available for members of the POST Wrestling Café.
**Phil Chertok and I will have a UFC 238 POST Show late tonight with a complete rundown of the show from Chicago.
**Sunday night, Wai Ting and I will be doing an NJPW Dominion POST Show for members of the POST Wrestling Café. There are a lot of great additions to the Café this week with the full interviews I conducted for the Owen Hart documentary, including the Treigh Lindstrom interview that goes up Monday, plus Rewind-A-Wai this Friday covering WWE’s Backlash 2004 show from Edmonton.
**Ticket sales for POST Wrestling Live in Toronto have started off very well, so thank you to those that have purchased tickets. We will be doing a live Q&A and meet-and-greet on Sunday, August 11th at the John Candy Box Theatre inside Second City in downtown Toronto. The show begins at 1 pm with a meet-and-greet to follow for everyone. Tickets are available for $25 and there is a $5 discount for members of the Café.
**The Super Showdown event was not a forgettable show, but it was a bad one. The show was marred by numerous factors from an audience that was largely checked out during large portions of the show, a crew that had flown a long distance for this show, blistering heat and a fanbase at home that has largely rejected these shows because of the politics introduced from the onset last year among many factors that have forced fans to question their support of it. Beyond those factors, this was a terribly booked show with baffling creative decisions, booking with another pay-per-view in mind immediately after this show and coming back with rematches, plus the main event that left the show on a depressing tone. In the main event, Bill Goldberg knocked himself out when he attempted a spear into the corner, hit the post and cut his head open. It was accentuated during a tombstone spot, where Goldberg appeared to spike the top of his head onto the mat. From the spot in the post until the finish, the match completely fell apart with moves missed, timing off, stumbles, and a weak finish as The Undertaker won with a chokeslam. It will be interesting if WWE opts to use Goldberg again as he came off well on SmackDown, it’s been over two years since his last run and God knows this company needs a shot of adrenaline going into the summer and a big match involving Goldberg could be it. That said, if they had that mentality then beating him on this show would not have been the play.
**The proposed match between Natalya and Alexa Bliss never took place and the women were not mentioned or shown on the broadcast. Dave Meltzer reported before the show that the Saudi Arabian Government turned down the match after the women had been flown over in the hopes of performing and did do public appearances. It would appear to be a question of when a women’s match occurs and not if it will occur. It’s a PR win for WWE to finally present the match and present themselves as change agents in the region, but it is what it is and the audience that follows understands the game being played.
**Coming out of the show, the top matches for Stomping Grounds on June 23rd include Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler in a steel cage match for the WWE title, Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre, Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss for the SmackDown women’s title and probably a rematch involving Seth Rollins and Baron Corbin for the Universal title after Corbin complained about the referee costing him the match. The card should be laid out this week on television as they only have two weeks of television before the show.
**The crew is flying back to the U.S. for a pair of house shows Sunday night. The Raw crew is in Fresno, California tomorrow night with Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin and Becky Lynch vs. Lacey Evans advertised. The SmackDown crew will be in Stockton with Kofi Kingston vs. Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns vs. Elias listed as the top matches. Monday’s Raw will be in San Jose while SmackDown has a rare Monday night house show scheduled in Reno, Nevada with the television tapings Tuesday in Sacramento.
**Ali announced that all his pay related to Super Showdown would be donated in full to Charity: Water, based out of New York, which is a group that assists in providing clean water to people in need around the world.
**New Japan’s Dominion card takes place early Sunday morning at 3 am Eastern on New Japan World and looks like an excellent card on paper. The full card was released earlier this week:
*Kazuchika Okada vs. Chris Jericho for the IWGP heavyweight title – It would seem like a lock for Okada to retain the title and go into the G1 Climax as champion. I don’t rule out a surprise finish and title switch because I find it tough to imagine Jericho losing clean to Okada when he’s set to headline All Out with Hangman Page to crown their first champion. The idea of Jericho winning the title, the G1 doesn’t feature the champion, and Jericho defends the title once at King of Pro Wrestling and drops it at one of the Tokyo Dome cards is viable, even if it’s unlikely and gets complicated with his AEW commitments and possibly winning their title and holding it past January. I do expect the match to be very good and Okada has been one of the guys Jericho has mentioned wanting to work with.
*Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito for the Intercontinental title – It’s their third match this year and Ibushi is 2-0, although I don’t like the idea of Ibushi losing. Naito does not feel hot going into G1 and maybe that’s an argument for him to win but having the IC title doesn’t put Naito any higher, in my opinion. The match should be dynamite, regardless of how Naito is health-wise because it’s a big show and these two only know one mode with their styles. Ibushi should be one of the finalists at G1 and in Gedo’s style of booking, could mean he loses the title before getting the big G1 run and ultimately beats Naito definitively in a fourth match in the G1 or later this year.
*Dragon Lee vs. Will Ospreay for the IWGP junior heavyweight title – The expectations for a big Will Ospreay match are almost unfair at this juncture. He is coming off one of the best matches of his career and four days later needs to have another with Lee. The bar is really high for Ospreay, but he has been smart is altering his style and has toned down certain risky spots while becoming an even better performer. I like the story of Ospreay navigating both divisions and entering G1 as junior heavyweight champion. The other big question is if Hiromu Takahashi makes an appearance at the end of the match to confront Lee or Ospreay, or both. If he appears, it will be one of the biggest reactions of the year.
*Guerrillas of Destiny vs. EVIL & Sanada for the IWGP tag titles – This feels like the latest in a long line of matches between these two teams and it’s time to move on. On a deep card, this one has its work cut out to stand out. I think there’s a strong possibility EVIL and Sanada win the titles.
*Taichi vs. Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER Openweight title – How great is Ishii? In fairness, when it comes to big matches with super-talented opponents, Taichi tends to rise to the occasion and it’s not a case of just being carried. I think this match will be more than just average and probably ****. It is also early enough in the show and should have the requisite time to be a big match. I do expect Taichi in the G1 and therefore, could see him getting this win for credibility’s sake over New Japan’s ultimate utility man.
*Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Jay White, Chase Owens & Taiji Ishimori – It looks like a New Japan six-man tag where the individuals will pair off and separate. I’d use this match as a rehab for Robinson after the Jon Moxley loss and he pins Owens.
*Jushin Thunder Liger & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr. – It probably won’t have a lot of time but could be a sleeper on the show with the Osaka crowd treating Liger as the outgoing legend going opposite Suzuki to continue their feud. Liger can afford the loss if it’s building to singles matches down the road, which it appears to be.
*Shingo Takagi vs. Satoshi Kojima – I like the construction of this card where the first two matches are singles and mean a lot with some stakes. Takagi has requested a heavyweight and is probably going to beat someone that is established as a legend and because New Japan doesn’t beat their former stars regularly, it means a lot for Takagi to beat Kojima. When you book with that mentality that wins and losses matter, you reap the benefits when you finally pull the trigger to make a guy and Takagi going up to heavyweight and beating a former champion is that example.
*Jon Moxley vs. Shota Umino – I hope this gets 11-12 minutes as it could be a great match. Moxley looked phenomenal on Wednesday and is a new person post-Dean Ambrose. Obviously, Moxley wins, but I expect Umino to display his fire, take Moxley to the limit and then fall at the end. It’s a great match to open the show.
**The Undertaker is scheduled to arrive in Niagara Falls, Ontario for a big appearance at the Niagara Falls Comic Convention this Sunday from Noon-2 pm. The convention will also feature Paul Orndorff, Road Warrior Animal, the Killer Bees, and Sgt. Slaughter appearing Saturday and Sunday.
**The bizarre relationship between Impact Wrestling and Pursuit Channel, which Anthem Sports has an ownership stake in, took another bad turn on Friday night. Those tuning into Pursuit on Friday got to watch a repeat of last week’s episode of Impact Wrestling instead of the new one. The correct episode aired on Twitch, so it didn’t appear to be an issue on Impact’s end. This comes after a recent episode of Impact aired on Pursuit where they went to a commercial break before the main event and never came back with a loop of commercials airing for the rest of the broadcast. Impact needs a better television outlet, and everyone understands that. Beyond the technical problems, no one gets this channel and the buzz for the product is low despite the on-air product being very good. In an era where so much great wrestling is easily accessible with fans who have limited amounts of time, you as the promotion have to make it as easy as possible for fans to consume your product because any hurdles in their way and they are on to sometime else if you’re not priority viewing.
**Below are the matches for tonight’s episode of MLW Fusion at 9 pm Eastern on beIN Sports:
*Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. MJF
*Kotto Brazil vs. Richard Holliday
*Ace Austin vs. Air Wolf
**Impact is holding an event from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia tonight that will stream on the Impact Plus app at 8 pm Eastern with the following card:
*The Great Muta & Tommy Dreamer vs. Michael Elgin & Johnny Impact
*Willie Mack vs. Rich Swann vs. Teddy Hart for the House of Hardcore title
*Taya Valkyrie vs. Jordynne Grace for the Knockout’s title
*Eddie Edwards vs. Sami Callihan in a Philadelphia Street Fight
*Billy Gunn vs. Joey Ryan
*Moose vs. Luchasaurus
*Clayton Gainz vs. Guida Maritato
**Universal has confirmed that John Cena has been cast in ‘Fast & Furious 9’, which is set to beginning filming this month and scheduled for release on May 22, 2020.
**Lost on Friday’s show was the return of Akam, who has been out since January due to a knee injury. He appeared in the battle royal alongside Rezar.
**The WWE stock closed at $73.78 on Friday.
**Howard Finkel turns 69 years old today.
**The UFC 238 pay-per-view takes place tonight from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
In the main event, Henry Cejudo and Marlon Moraes are fighting for the vacant UFC bantamweight title, which was previously held by T.J. Dillashaw until his USADA suspension earlier this year. For Moraes, outside of a split decision loss to Raphael Assuncao, which he avenged in his last outing, he has been unstoppable for more than seven years. Cejudo has matured into a fantastic fighter and it came to a head last August in his rematch with Demetrious Johnson, which was a razor-close decision victory and followed up by stopping Dillashaw in January. There are greater factors at play, as a Cejudo victory would seem to be the death knell for the UFC’s flyweight division unless Cejudo was adamant about defending both titles. Moraes has only gone five rounds twice in his career and the last time was against Josh Hill in February 2015. Moraes has incredible power and I favor him in the fight, but Cejudo’s base of wrestling has been greatly complimented by his striking game over the past three years. I love this matchup on paper.
The big fight most are focused on is the lightweight bout between Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone. Obviously, if Cerrone comes out and looks flat it’s going to be questioned why he returned so quickly after going five rounds with Al Iaquinta on May 4th. Cerrone is a notably slow starter and it’s only a three-round fight. Ferguson became an interim champion in 2017 and was stripped of that accolade because of an injury. His resume is phenomenal and has not lost a fight since a split decision loss to Michael Johnson in May 2012. UFC president Dana White has been non-committal regarding the winner receiving a lightweight title fight and everyone sees that for what it is. If Conor McGregor and the UFC come to terms, McGregor will be the straw that stirs the drink at 155 pounds. Dustin Poirier is the recipient of great timing with no deal in place for McGregor and will get his title fight in September barring injury or something unforeseen. For the winner of this fight, they are greatly at risk of being ‘odd man out’ in a division that is impossible to navigate through wins alone. As a fight, this should be a high-action one and could be incredible given the two involved.
Here is the full card along with results from Friday’s weigh-in:
MAIN CARD (10 pm Eastern on pay-per-view)
*Henry Cejudo (134) vs. Marlon Moraes (134) for the vacant UFC bantamweight title
*Valentina Shevchenko (124) vs. Jessica Eye (125) for the UFC flyweight title
*Donald Cerrone (155.5) vs. Tony Ferguson (155)
*Petr Yan (136) vs. Jimmie Rivera (136) – Yan made his UFC debut on June 23, 2018, and has gone 4-0 since with the chance to win five fights within a 12-month window. There is justifiable hype behind Yan and a win over Rivera with thrust him to the upper end of the division and draw a top-five bantamweight next.
*Blagoy Ivanov (251) vs. Tai Tuivasa (259)
PRELIMINARY CARD (8 pm Eastern on ESPN)
*Nina Ansaroff (115) vs. Tatiana Suarez (114) – This is a big fight for Suarez, who has been anointed the strawweight star of the future. If she beats Ansaroff, she would be my pick to fight Jessica Andrade but it’s a question of whether Michelle Waterson will be next in line. Ansaroff is a tough fight for Suarez, but the latter has been dominant in her UFC run.
*Aljamain Sterling (134) vs. Pedro Munhoz (135.5)
*Alexa Grasso (115) vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (116)
*Ricardo Lamas (145) vs. Calvin Kattar (146)
FIGHT PASS CARD (6:15 pm)
*Angela Hill (116) vs. Yan Xiaonan (116)
*Bevon Lewis (186) vs. Darren Stewart (185.5)
*Eddie Wineland (136) vs. Grigorii Popov (136)
*Joanne Calderwood (125) vs. Katlyn Chookagian (126)
**Invicta FC held a card in Kansas City on Friday night that streamed on Fight Pass with the following results:
*Genia Goodin def. Valerie Wong by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
*Loma Lookboonmee def. Monique Adriane by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Kelly D’Angelo def. Jillian DeCoursey by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Chelsea Chandler def. Brittney Victoria by TKO at 3:58 of Round 2
*Kaitlin Young def. Faith McMah by TKO at 3:52 of Round 3
*Lisa Spangler def. Katharina Lehner by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Kanako Murata def. Liana Pirosin by rear-naked choke at 2:10 of Round 1
*Viviane Pereira def. Alesha Zappitella by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
*Karina Rodriguez def. DeAnna Bennett by unanimous decision (29-28 all) in the finals of Invicta’s flyweight tournament
**In an interview with Brett Okamoto of ESPN, UFC president Dana White briefly addressed where talks fell apart with Brock Lesnar. White stated it didn’t have to do with their move to ESPN+ as the exclusive U.S. distributor of pay-per-views but rather Lesnar received a better deal (with WWE). Dave Meltzer added on Wrestling Observer Radio that Lesnar presented a figure to UFC to do the fight with Daniel Cormier, which Meltzer noted was questionable if it would make sense in the traditional pay-per-view era but did not reveal what the figure was. Whatever the number was, UFC balked at the number and White went on to proclaim that Lesnar was retired, although it’s believed he is still in the USADA testing pool. This opened the door for Stipe Miocic to receive his rematch against Cormier, which will take place August 17th. In the previous pay-per-view landscape, I believe Cormier and Lesnar with a strong promotional push and the added exposure of hyping the fight on ESPN’s platforms would do big. I’d be shy of saying 1 million buys, but I would think 800,000 would my estimate and might be able to greatly outdo that number. ESPN loves Lesnar and would put him on their main shows, Cormier is fantastic at building up fights and UFC fans are hungry for a ‘big fight’, which Lesnar represents even though there would be tons of criticism regarding the fact he’s receiving a title fight.
**Below is the final episode of UFC Embedded going into tonight’s card:
Cruel Summer #3: Hiroshi Hase vs. Tatsumi Fujinami (1993)
WH Park welcomes Damon MacDonald of the Super J-Cast show to discuss the finals of NJPW’s 3rd entry of the G1 Climax tournament: Hiroshi Hase vs. Tatsumi Fujinami from August 7, 1993.
WWE Super Showdown POST Show
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE Super Showdown and welcome guests for a discussion about WWE’s ongoing relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Café Hangout w/ Damian Abraham in-studio
John Pollock & Wai Ting are joined in-studio by Damian Abraham on this week’s Café Hangout discussing rumours of Alexa Bliss & Natalya possibly wrestling in Saudi Arabia on Friday. Plus, The Wrestlers profiles Stardom.
John Pollock and Wai Ting answer their patrons’ questions from the POST Wrestling Forum in the June 2019 edition of Ask-A-Wai.
upNXT 6/6/19: HangOver VI
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman chat all about fallout from NXT TakeOver: XXV, plus Bianca Belair vs. Mia Yim and Keith Lee vs. Kona Reeves.
John Pollock and Wai Ting run down the full NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 26 card featuring Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi and Jon Moxley vs. Juice Robinson. Plus, this week’s offerings from WWE Network and AEW.
RAR 6/3/19: Brock-And-Switch Tactics, Atsushi Aoki Passes Away
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Raw featuring the go-home show to Super ShowDown, we debate the ROH-Bully Ray story, AJPW’s Atsushi Aoki passes away.
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