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**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live at 11 p.m. ET with Wai Ting and Kate from Montreal to review tonight’s episodes of Friday Night SmackDown and AEW Rampage. The two will also look at Saturday’s Crown Jewel, go through all the latest news, and take your calls. All patrons can tune in live on the POST Wrestling Café.
**On Saturday, Kate will be joining me for the Crown Jewel POST Show at 3 p.m. ET as soon as the show wraps up from Saudi Arabia. This show will be streaming free on the POST YouTube channel.
**WH Park will be joined by Tom Lawlor on Saturday for this month’s edition of The Long & Winding Royal Road. The two will be discussing the match between Yoshinari Ogawa and Masahito Kakihara from January 1999.
**Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics joined me on Thursday for our chat about the WWE’s Q3 report and call with analysts. We went over an hour discussing all aspects of the report, WWE’s major business items, the Vince McMahon investigation, the return to Saudi Arabia, streaming options, the latest on the Hulu deal, and lots more. These are always great chats with Brandon, who provides tremendous insight into these areas.
Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with Wai Ting & Kate from Montreal (11 p.m. ET, Patreon)
Saturday: WWE Crown Jewel POST Show with John Pollock & Kate from Montreal (3 p.m. ET)
Saturday: The Long & Winding Royal Road with WH Park & “Filthy” Tom Lawlor (Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Masahito Kakihara)
Sunday: Wrestlenomics Radio with Brandon Thurston, Chris Gullo & Jesse Collings
**With WWE in Saudi Arabia for the Crown Jewel event, tonight’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown was taped one week ago in St. Louis at the Enterprise Center. The show is back on Fox this week and due to the schedule change, there is no World Series game to contend with tonight. I don’t expect any significant impact with the show being taped tonight as opposed to airing live. Below are the matches airing tonight at 8 p.m. ET:
*Intercontinental Championship: Gunther (champion) vs. Rey Mysterio
*5-on-1 Handicap Match: Braun Strowman vs. TBA
*Natalya vs. Shayna Baszler
*Ricochet vs. LA Knight
*No Disqualification Match: Liv Morgan vs. Sonya Deville
*MVP to confront Braun Strowman
**Young Rock returns for its new season tonight and moves to Fridays at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC. It’s a curious decision to program it against Friday Night SmackDown where you would hope to attract a percentage of that audience. The show is certainly moving to a weaker night and the counterprogramming against WWE doesn’t seem to help matters. The last season ended with Dwayne Johnson failing to win the 2032 election and will be reeling from that loss. The first episode will also focus on 1985 and lead up to the first WrestleMania. It was announced earlier this week that Becky Lynch will be playing the part of Cyndi Lauper during that era of the show.
**AEW Rampage is one of the more intriguing episodes in recent memory as it has several bizarre aspects that should drive added curiosity. Out of nowhere, we are getting a Katsuyori Shibata match on two days’ notice, which is the first real match he has been advertised for since his catastrophic injury in 2017. After surviving a subdural hematoma that required emergency surgery after a legendary match against Kazuchika Okada, it was believed Shibata would never wrestle again. Later that year, he appeared at Sumo Hall during the finals of the G1 Climax with his first appearance in front of a crowd since the injury. Two years later, after becoming a New Japan Dojo coach, he shot an angle with KENTA where he launched an attack, but it led nowhere. In October 2021, he had an unannounced exhibition match with Zack Sabre Jr. for five minutes and followed with another exhibition at Wrestle Kingdom this past January in Ren Narita, where it turned into a regular wrestling match and apparently went beyond the parameters that New Japan officials were comfortable with. The match with Orange Cassidy is not being promoted as an exhibition and hopefully, is performed safely and with the proper measures in place where Shibata survived a near-fatal injury and has shown his disregard in the past once the bell rings. It’s unknown how New Japan views his status moving forward and if this match is a success, does it open the door for a full-fledged match in a New Japan ring where it would mean the most?
On top of the novelty of Shibata wrestling is that Mike Tyson will be part of the commentary team for the match. They stated on Dynamite that Tyson will be on commentary for the full show and it feels like AEW is trying to present a Triller-like spectacle of a show that is so unique, it will grab lapsed fans’ attention for one night. Tyson has meant a lot when placed in big situations, most notably his contribution to the WWF turning the corner in 1998 with his involvement at WrestleMania 14. He was a proven draw as recently as two years ago for his legends fight against Roy Jones Jr., which gave oxygen for countless copycat fights trying to live off the success of that novelty and none coming close to what Triller attracted that night. It is a stunt that could be a total disaster but that’s part of the charm they appear to be welcoming with the potential of a train wreck. If this is a success, ratings-wise, you can bet that AEW will experiment with guest commentators again, but few will have the appeal that Tyson generates. There is also the potential to shoot an angle with Tyson, which would have added value and not just serve as a one-off. There were hopes of putting Tyson and Chris Jericho together two years ago, but Tyson’s schedule thwarted those plans. When it comes to celebrity tie-ins with Jericho, they have shot two big angles over the past few years with Tyson and Jorge Masvidal that never materialized into matches.
Overall, this feels like a “must-see” edition of Rampage and it’s a program that desperately needs to have that feeling occasionally, so I must give the promotion a passing grade by that standard.
Below is the lineup for Rampage, airing at 10 p.m. ET on TNT and streaming on TSN Direct in Canada:
*All-Atlantic Championship: Orange Cassidy (champion) vs. Katsuyori Shibata
*Dr. Britt Baker & Jamie Hayter vs. Madison Rayne & Skye Blue
*Ricky Starks to appear
*More names to be announced for the Title Eliminator tournament
*Matches to be announced for Dynamite in Boston next week
**WrestleTix reports that approximately 2,700 tickets have been distributed for tonight’s Rampage at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in New Jersey.
**Matt Hardy has clarified statements made on his podcast, The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy. On this week’s show with co-host Jon Alba, Hardy addressed the situation involving The Elite:
I will say this right here and right now: those guys didn’t do anything wrong in this situation. If anything, they were the victims and I’m telling you that from a first-person perspective. I was there, I witnessed it all.
Hardy has since come out and stated the statement was “misconstrued” and that he was not present for the backstage altercation at All Out:
My comments from this week’s @matthardypod have been misconstrued. I WAS NOT at All Out 2022. I DID NOT say I witnessed the events at All Out. I witnessed the entire process in real time over the months & stand by my comment that the Elite were not in the wrong.
**In the Wrestling Observer Newsletter released on Friday, Dave Meltzer reports that the television buys for the Jake Paul vs. Anderson Silva fight are at approximately 31,000. This does not include digital buys, which would likely be the greater amount but not enough for one to reasonably assume it is anywhere close to the figure Jake Paul cited between 200-300,000 buys total. Paul spoke about the buys while appearing on his brother’s podcast and expected that range of buys when all is tabulated, which he called “upsetting” and listed several factors affecting the business of the fight. Meltzer added that the television buys for Paul vs. Silva would be down 28% from the second fight between Paul and Tyron Woodley from last December. Paul vs. Silva was touted as the second-highest live event for a combat sports event at the Desert Diamond Arena behind UFC 263 from June 2021, but in terms of pay-per-views, there is a big discrepancy between the perception of Jake Paul’s star power and the actual business being generated. I would argue that the fights are not appealing to a mass audience in boxing because they don’t see the fights as compelling and the novelty of an MMA fighter crossing over isn’t enticing enough. For the MMA audience, which is where they are marketing these, it is still a non-UFC pay-per-view and I believe there is a ceiling whereas Jake Paul fighting on a UFC pay-per-view would probably do great business at least for the first fight. While the build-up would be compelling, this should temper lofty expectations of what Jake Paul and Nate Diaz generate even with Diaz being a much bigger star than Paul’s previous opponents.
**STARDOM has announced changes to Saturday’s card for the Goddess of Stardom tournament. Mina Shirakawa is out with an injury to her jaw and an oral cavity injury, as the promotion described it. Shirakawa will be replaced by Waka Tsukiyama, to team with SAKI. Momo Kohgo is off Saturday and Sunday’s cards due to an undisclosed issue. Kohgo is teaming up with Mayu Iwatani in the tournament. The shows take place from the Nara Convention Center on Saturday and Messe Wing Mie on Sunday.
**Greg Oliver at SLAM Wrestling has a story on the passing of “Cowboy” Hank Dalton (Steven McGregor), who died at the age of 41. Dalton was part of the Micro Wrestling Federation and Micro Wrestling All-Stars. The story notes that his career began in June 1997 and began training at the age of 12. His ring name was a nod to Hank Williams Jr. and Dalton from the movie Road House.
**Bayley spoke with the National News about Crown Jewel and returning to Saudi Arabia. Bayley previously wrestled in the country at the Super Showdown event in February 2020 against Naomi. She was asked about her knee injury, which she sustained in July 2021 and required her to miss over a year of action:
It was a very humbling experience because I’ve never had surgery. I’ve never been away from wrestling aside for maybe a couple months for a shoulder injury. But it was super-humbling because my body wasn’t as strong as I thought it would be,” she says. I really did enjoy the time off and because it’s been almost nine or 10 years since I’ve had any time off with this WWE schedule as a performer. So I enjoyed it as much as I could with my family and my friends and just tried to see the plus side of it.
**WWE’s Crown Jewel event streams live at Noon ET on Saturday with the show built around Roman Reigns and Logan Paul for the Undisputed Championship. With Jake Paul accompanying Logan to Saudi Arabia and being in his corner, there is obviously the potential of an angle being shot to pay off down the road. At a minimum, they will hope for some last-minute publicity and whatever the Pauls appearing on this show mean to a larger audience. The shows in Saudi Arabia are always under the cloud of the regime that is paying roughly $50 million per event and is best described as an “inconvenience tax” to overlook human rights violations in the country and platform these shows that are normalized over time, which these have become. WWE is not on an island when it comes to engaging in these business deals and will be scrutinized to a far greater standard this month when the World Cup begins in Qatar. Paul Levesque and Stephanie McMahon are both in Riyadh for the event and were present at today’s press conference, which included chants for “MBS” (Mohammad bin Salman) at the prompting of He Turki Alalshika of the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia, who spoke at the event and was presented with a WWE championship belt by Levesque and McMahon. Omos came onto the stage without MVP, which would suggest he is not in the country and there is a segment on tonight’s SmackDown that makes sense of that situation. Sami Zayn is not there for obvious reasons, and Roman Reigns told the fans they didn’t deserve to see him when a chant began for Zayn.
Here is the lineup for Saturday’s show at Noon ET:
*WWE Undisputed Championship: Roman Reigns (champion) vs. Logan Paul
*Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley
*Steel Cage Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Karrion Kross
*Last Woman Standing for the Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (champion) vs. Bayley
*Women’s Tag Team Championships: Alexa Bliss & Asuka (champions) vs. Dakota Kai & IYO SKY
*Undisputed Tag Team Championships: The Usos (champions) vs. Ridge Holland & Butch
*Omos vs. Braun Strowman
*Finn Balor, Damian Priest & Dominik Mysterio vs. AJ Styles, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
**NJPW presents its Battle Autumn event from Edion Arena in Osaka on Saturday morning at 4 a.m. ET on New Japan World. So much attention has been on the NEVER Openweight title situation and it’s taken away from a card that looks very good on paper. New Japan’s tradition has been to strip a champion of his title if an announced title defense cannot take place, but in this case, Karl Anderson remains champion and Hikuleo will face replacement Yujiro Takahashi, which is a weak replacement. The easiest solution would have been for Anderson to show up as a surprise last week on one of the New York shows and drop the belt so everyone can move on. It’s not as if Anderson and Hikuleo is a match of any significance other than a power play for one side to get its title back without having that talent under any type of deal to enforce him to do so. To wait this out only detracts from the business at hand and puts Hikuleo into a holding pattern while the matter remains unsettled. If there is an honest effort to have Anderson come back and drop the title then he should at least send in a promo to air after Hikuleo’s match on Saturday.
Below is the card:
*IWGP U.S. Championship Match: Will Ospreay (champion) vs. Tetsuya Naito – This is likely going to be the best match of the weekend and could be one of the best of the year, if everything clicks. They had a phenomenal match in the G1 that I thought was every bit as entertaining as Ospreay’s match with Kazuchika Okaka in the final. I have very high expectations for this one.
*IWGP Tag Team Championships: FTR (champions) vs. Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb – Both teams have a big spot on the card to stand out. FTR has had the best year of their careers and this match could be added to the list of big matches on their resume. I expect this to come off very well and possibly sets up something involving FTR for the future.
*Jay White & KENTA vs. Kazuchika Okada & Tama Tonga
*Tag Team Match: Hiromu Takahashi, El Desperado, Master Wato & Taiji Ishimori with the partners to be selected at match time – these four are meeting at Wrestle Kingdom with Ishimori defending the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title.
*NJPW World TV Title – Semi-final: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. EVIL
*NJPW World TV Title – Semi-final: Ren Narita vs. SANADA – I feel very strongly about Narita winning this tournament and the best opponent for Wrestle Kingdom is ZSJ with the two having the link of having the exhibitions with Shibata over the past year. You can tell a story with Narita and EVIL but for the purpose of what this belt signifies and putting Narita in the best position, I much prefer Sabre for the Tokyo Dome.
*Hikuleo vs. Yujiro Takahashi
*Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano, David Finlay & Alex Zayne vs. Aussie Open, Aaron Henare & Gideon Grey
*IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Francesco Akira & TJP vs. Titan & BUSHI
**After Battle Autumn, the next major show is the Historic X-Over event on 11/20 followed by the start of the Super Jr. Tag League and World Tag League that run simultaneously beginning on 11/21.
**Progress Wrestling’s Chapter 145 event will be added to the WWE Network on Saturday featuring Big Damo vs. Luke Jacobs for the Atlas Championship.
**Maryland Championship Wrestling presents “Higher Ground 2022” on Saturday night at the RJ Meyer Arena in Joppa, Maryland. The card includes Action Andretti vs. Speedball Mike Bailey for the MCW heavyweight title, Mandy Leon vs. Zayda Steele for the women’s title, Robert Locke & Eric Martin vs. Black Wall Street for the tag titles, Lio Rush vs. Jordan Oliver, Ace Austin vs. Brian Johnson, a four-corners tag team match, The Rascals vs. Joe & Dante, and Moses vs. Sam Adonis for the MCU Rage TV title.
**There were a bunch of fighters missing weight on Friday for the UFC Fight Night event in Las Vegas tomorrow night. Five fighters initially missed weight with only one of the five being given clearance to continue cutting weight. After missing her first attempt, Shanna Young did make the flyweight limit for her fight but the other four will be fined for missing the mark. It is not a big Fight Night card by any stretch with the card headlined by a strawweight fight between contenders Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos.
Below is the lineup and weigh-in results from today:
MAIN CARD (7 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Marina Rodriguez (115.5) vs. Amanda Lemos (114.5)
*Daniel Rodriguez (170) vs. Neil Magny (170.5)
*Josh Parisian (265.5) vs. Chase Sherman (255.5)
*Nate Maness (125.5) vs. Tagir Ulanbekov (124.5)
*Mark Madsen (155) vs. Grant Dawson (157.5)
PRELIMINARY CARD (4 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Darrick Minner (146) vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke (145.5)
*Shanna Young (126) vs. Miranda Maverick (125.5)
*Mario Bautista (135.5) vs. Benito Lopez (138.5)
*Jinh Yu Frey (115.5) vs. Polyana Viana (115.5)
*Johnny Munoz (135.5) vs. Liudvik Sholinian (135.5)
*Jake Hadley (126) vs. Carlos Candelario (128.5)
*Ramona Pascual (137) vs. Tamires Vidal (134)
Benito Lopez, Carlos Candelario, and Ramona Pascual were all fined 20% of their purse for missing weight. Grant Dawson missed by 1.5 pounds and his fine was not listed by MMA Junkie.
ON THIS DATE
Three years ago, Seth Rollins took on NXT champion Adam Cole on Raw from Long Island, New York:
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