POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: Steroid trial notes, Fight for the Fallen, Pitbull vs. McKee

Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: Steroid trial, Fight for the Fallen preview

POST IT NOTES

**We will be live tonight with Rewind-A-Dynamite at 10:15 p.m. ET for a big review of AEW’s Fight for the Fallen. We will be live for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café, and then, the show will be available wherever you listen to your podcasts by subscribing to POST Wrestling.

**Thursday is a packed day with the following shows coming out:
*The Wellness Policy with Wai Ting and Jordan Goodman will stream live at 1 p.m. ET for POST Wrestling Café members
*The Bellator 263 Preview Show with Phil Chertok, Eric Marcotte and I looking at Saturday’s show. We will be streaming this live at 1 p.m. ET on the POST YouTube channel. We didn’t plan to stream at the same time as The Wellness Policy but due to scheduling, we had to choose that time.
*Bushby & Thompson’s Wrestling Adventure will be out Thursday afternoon with Martin & Andrew chatting about the CM Punk “Best in the World” documentary the WWE released in 2012 and discussing the Money in the Bank match with John Cena in July 2011.

**Rewind-A-Wai #91 features a 2.5-hour chat about WrestleMania 28 from April 2012 with The Rock vs. John Cena. In addition to a review of the entire show, we speak about our live coverage in Miami that week, who we interviewed, a lot of news items from that week including the status of the WWE Network two years before it launched, ROH’s iPPV woes, Randy Orton cast and uncast for “The Marine”, the Hall of Fame ceremony with Edge & The Four Horsemen, and lots more. This show was selected by Espresso Executive Producer Tyler Crane, who attended this WrestleMania and shared his memories of going to Miami. This show is available for all POST Wrestling Café members.

**Andrew Thompson has an in-person interview he conducted with Mr. Hughes discussing his WWF and WCW runs and his work as a trainer.

**Braden Herrington and Davie Portman have a review of Tuesday’s edition of NXT on upNXT along with notes from Braden’s birthday weekend.

**On Friday, we will be joined by Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics for a big chat about the WWE’s Q2 report and call with analysts.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-Dynamite (10:15 p.m. ET)
Thursday: The Wellness Policy with Wai Ting & Jordan Goodman (Live at 1 p.m. ET for Patrons)
Thursday: Bellator 263 Preview Show (Live at 1 p.m. on POST YouTube)
Friday: Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics chats WWE Q2 Report
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown (10:15 p.m. ET for all Patrons)
Saturday: Bellator 263 POST Show with John Pollock, Phil Chertok & Eric Marcotte
Sunday: The Long & Winding Royal Road with WH Park & guest JP Houlihan (Misawa vs. Taue, April 1995)

WRESTLING NEWS

**AEW presents its Fight for the Fallen event tonight at the Bojangles’ Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. WrestleTix reports that over 6,600 tickets are out with the arena configured to hold over 7,200. Below is the full card:
*Elimination Match: Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs. Hangman Page, Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, Alex Reynolds & John Silver (his first match back from injury)
*No Disqualification: Chris Jericho vs. Nick Gage
*IWGP U.S. Championship: Lance Archer (champion) vs. Hikuleo
*FTR vs. Santana & Ortiz
*Christian Cage, Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus vs. Private Party & Angelico
*Thunder Rosa vs. Julia Hart
*Special live event announcement by Tony Khan

**A note for Canadian viewers is that Dynamite airs on TSN 5 tonight, instead of TSN 2.

On paper, it’s an incredibly strong line-up including the Elimination Match between The Elite and Hangman Page & Dark Order. In theory, this one should be a long match but it’s a packed card, so it will be interesting to see how they pace it. The formula of so many Survivor Series matches is to have quick eliminations that mean nothing, and I hope that isn’t the case. Obviously, the dynamic between Omega and Page is the biggest, and coming up with an ending that satisfies the audience and builds to the title match. If Omega is eliminated, you can do the usual heel trait of Omega walking out on Page and getting counted out. Personally, I think you could come up with several ideas including Page hitting the Buckshot Lariat for the giant pop and Omega lands on the floor. Thus, he is knocked out from the move and gets counted out that way. It sells the move as devastating and gives a “win” for Page without the visual of Omega being pinned yet. To have Omega retreat and have Brandon Cutler substitute for him seems unlike the usual practices of AEW where they advertise a match/performer and deliver it.

The most intriguing individual on the show is Nick Gage with his first nationally televised match. If the Olympics don’t pose a major hindrance, it’s very likely Gage’s match will average more than one million viewers as he wrestles one of the top stars of the company. I have no doubt the reception will be huge for Gage and the next question is whether it’s a one-shot deal with AEW or he becomes an enduring figure out of this appearance and is brought back. It’s a great commercial for Game Changer Wrestling, which is coming off a huge weekend in its history and Gage is their frontman. The match could also test the limits of how far AEW is going to go with violence. If you’re promising a Nick Gage match, it comes with a certain expectation from the pizza cutter spots, glass tubes, blood, and elements that must set it apart from so many other violent matches AEW has hosted this year.

**Reporter David Bixenspan fact-checked the WWE and Blumhouse press release (always a great start for a historical retrospective series) for The United States of America vs. Vince McMahon series that was announced on Monday. Based on the series, the 1994 steroid trial is going to get a lot more attention than it has had in a long time coupled with the upcoming Dark Side of the Ring episode covering the trial. Of note from Bixenspan’s research:
*That Rupert Murdoch had not purchased the New York Post when Phil Mushnick began writing critical articles on the WWF.
*Bixenspan noted that federal investigator Anthony Valenti (who worked with lead prosecutor Sean O’Shea on the case) first reached out to Mushnick in March 1992 one day after Mushnick wrote about a call he had with Vince McMahon regarding why McMahon let Mel Phillips go four years prior and why he brought Phillips back – the WWF received its first grand jury subpoena two weeks later. Somehow, I doubt the ring boy scandal will be explored in this WWE co-produced series.
*The original press release listed the Southern District office of New York pursuing the WWF but have since corrected the release to reflect it was the Eastern District (that matters a lot as the jurisdiction was a key component of the trial)
*That McMahon was technically indicted in November 1993, not in 1994 (as Bixenspan states, a likely honest error based on ’94 being the year of the trial and synonymous with the story – however, you open the door to greater scrutiny when little mistakes creep through and you’re pitching a project consisting of immense detail and minutiae)
*His final point was the sympathetic labeling of McMahon having “two school-aged children at home” while this case wore on. It is what it is, Shane McMahon was born in 1970 and Stephanie in 1976, so they weren’t infants but it’s fair to say Stephanie was still school-aged (she graduated college in 1998). It’s obviously a line to paint McMahon as a victim and a martyr fighting the big, bad government that serves to inform viewers of exactly what this series will be. You’d be foolish to go into the series (provided it finds a home) with any attempt at a balanced look when it’s the defense holding an executive producer credit. That’s the attitude those that have followed the story will have but don’t underestimate that if this series makes it to air, plenty will take it as the record of note on the trial.

I’ll add that after going down a rabbit hole the past few days regarding the trial and all the characters involved, there is no shortage of compelling and interesting stories/figures for a feature-length film or documentary series (you could easily get a season of episodes from this story). While Dark Side is limited to fitting in another complex story to the time parameters of an hour of television with commercials, they have been very effective at navigating complicated stories and relaying that information for the viewer.

Here’s a news clip from the day Hulk Hogan took to the witness stand at Vince McMahon’s trial in 1994 pic.twitter.com/ePsO0bM3Qo

— Richard Land (@maskedwrestlers) July 5, 2019

Most of the people are still alive but the question is who is willing to speak? Doing a project on the trial without WWE takes away Vince McMahon and any promotional assistance, but that would be a willing trade-off if others were willing to speak and relying on the available court transcripts for the side of the defense. It was a big “get” for Dark Side to get Jerry McDevitt as a representative for the defense with McDevitt and Laura Brevetti representing McMahon. Emily Fineberg would be a great interview subject. She was McMahon’s secretary and privy to the handling of extremely sensitive information and the witness the prosecution was relying heavily upon.

**Nevada is issuing a mask mandate in 12 of its 17 counties including Cook County where Allegiant Stadium is located. The order goes into effect on Friday and applies to everyone regardless of vaccination status. The state has been hit hard from the Delta variant with the state recording 1,124 new cases on Tuesday and a 7-day average of 914.

**WWE is hosting an invite-only SummerSlam After Party in Las Vegas after the event at Allegiant Stadium. On Wednesday, they announced that Tiffany Haddish will host the after-party that will include WWE talent, celebrity guests, and influential business partners. WWE will also be making a donation to Haddish’s She Ready Foundation that started in 2019 as a non-profit to assist foster children with resources.

**The Hillsborough County School Board has voted to add Titus O’Neil’s Thaddeus M. Bullard Academy to Sligh Middle Magnet School. From the release:

It all began in 2016 when Bullard dropped by Sligh Middle Magnet School and asked if he could throw a birthday party for the students who were celebrating the milestone in that month. He had never had a birthday party growing up and he knew there were other kids in similar situations. Bullard bought a cake, the kids gathered in the gym, and he sang happy birthday to them. They played basketball and celebrated. In August of 2018, with the creation of the Bullard Family Foundation, Bullard saw an opportunity to blaze a trail at Sligh, which sits within a zip code that records the sixth highest percentage of children living in poverty in the state of Florida. Sligh would become the model example for the world of what transformational impact looks like at the intersection of corporate and community giving.

**Natalya put out a statement thanking those that reached out to her after Monday’s injury. She included a photo where her ankle twisted at a bad angle during a sequence with Doudrop.

Thank you to everyone for the kind words about what happened on #WWERaw. There are the beatings you can plan for, and the ones you can’t. That’s the job. But I’m willing to give whatever bones, muscles and tendons I have to continue doing what I love. Good thing I’m UNBREAKABLE.

**Bianca Belair spoke with Complex about the return of fans to the shows, her match with Sasha Banks at WrestleMania, the recent series of matches with Carmella, and performing at the Rolling Loud Festival last Friday in Miami:

I was just excited about stepping into another atmosphere. It was really cool when I looked out in the audience. I could see some wrestling fans, but also just being able to perform in front of more non-traditional wrestling fans, just even trying to get more eyes on the product and more exposure. Stepping into an environment that I felt so comfortable in, because that’s like home to me. Just trying to integrate those two worlds, because music has just been such a huge part of WWE, from our entrance music, pay-per-views theme songs, and even Bad Bunny coming over and being a part of WrestleMania and working. Snoop Dogg has come over and worked. So, it’s always been a huge part of WWE and what we do. It was amazing to be the person in that position to be able to go out there and showcase what WWE is, what we’re about, and show them that WWE is inclusive. It’s for everyone. That’s what’s amazing about WWE. It just transcends across all different religions, races, gender. It doesn’t matter. Anybody could look at the WWE and see someone that looks like them. There’s so much representation there.

**The BBC looks at the rise of Dwayne Johnson, Dave Bautista, and John Cena as box office attractions and eliminating the negative stigma that professional wrestlers once held.

**AJPW has announced that Shuji Ishikawa and Black Menso-re can return after producing negative antigen tests. The two had been pulled from cards after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.

**NJPW has three straight nights at Korakuen Hall beginning on Friday with a show headlined by an Elimination match with Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI taking on EVIL, El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro. All three nights will stream live on New Japan World with Japanese commentary.

**ROH has added a match between EC3 and Brian Johnson to the first night of Glory by Honor on Friday, August 20th in Philadelphia. The first night is headlined by Bandido defending the ROH Championship against Flip Gordon and Jonathan Gresham vs. Rhett Titus for the Pure Championship. The event will stream on Honor Club at 7 p.m. ET.

**New Wave Pro Wrestling has a show this Saturday at the National Guard Armory in Terre Haute, Indiana featuring JTG vs. Eric Dillinger and Crossroads Champion Don’t Die Miles facing Gary Jay in a Last Man Standing Match. Tickets and information are available on their site.

**Disney has launched a new ad with Dave Bautista promoting the streaming bundle package consisting of Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+.

Just a man, his stream, and his snacks. #DisneyBundle pic.twitter.com/Tb0SF1YMbM

— Poor Kid Who Chased His Dreams. (@DaveBautista) July 28, 2021

MMA NEWS

**The big event this weekend is not the UFC Fight Night but instead, Bellator 263 from The Forum in Inglewood, California. It’s among the biggest fights in the promotion’s history, although will not come close to the viewership figures of the big fights involving Kimbo Slice when he fought Ken Shamrock and Dada 5000. However, in terms of two fighters that have grown in the Bellator system, this is as good as it gets. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire is the current lightweight and featherweight champion and will defend the 145-pound title against undefeated A.J. McKee. It is also the finals of the Featherweight World Grand Prix, which began with sixteen fighters and this was the big fight everyone wanted, which is a rarity for MMA tournaments to produce the desired fight without pairing them in the first round.

Bellator has the advantage of going against a minor UFC Fight Night where the main event is Uriah Hall fighting Sean Strickland and not a major fight like T.J. Dillashaw vs. Cory Sandhagen or Miesha Tate’s return, which happened over the past two weeks.

It’s a different setting on Showtime where their business is centered around subscribers to the network rather than solely based on viewership of an individual card, but the hope is this fight brings a lot of MMA fans to Showtime. In Canada, Bellator is without a television deal and has been airing their cards free on YouTube since the Showtime era began.

Freire is not discussed enough among the top fighters in the world and has run the gauntlet of elite fighters in Bellator including stopping Michael Chandler to win the lightweight title in 2019. He has defended the featherweight title in each Grand Prix fight with three defenses against Juan Archuleta, Pedro Carvalho, and Emmanuel Sanchez.

On the other end is 26-year old McKee, who made his pro debut in Bellator in 2015 and is 17-0. His path to the finals saw him defeat Georgi Karakhanyan, Derek Campos, and Darrion Caldwell, which is an impressive road to navigate.

**Bellator is holding a press conference on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET with Scott Coker, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, A.J. McKee, Mads Burnell, and Emmanuel Sanchez.

**The UFC 266 card in September has lost an intriguing fight as Tatiana Suarez has been forced to withdraw due to a knee injury that will require surgery. Suarez had not fought since July 2019 and was preparing to return against Roxanne Modafferi next month and move up to flyweight. For years, she has been heralded as a potential future champion after winning the Ultimate Fighter and going 4-0 in the flyweight division after winning the series. She wrote:

Life really hits us hard sometimes. I’d lie and say I have it together but I don’t. It’s been tough to say the least. I was really excited to fight again and I felt so ready and up for the task. I still can’t believe this is my reality. It’s heartbreaking to say the least. I was in this same position a little over two years ago. I had to suck it up and focus on getting healthy. I did just that and here I am in the very same spot. This has to be one of the most challenging times of my life. But, as all of you know my journey has been filled with challenges. Injuries, Cancer more injuries. But, my journey has also been filled with many victories. I’m going to focus on those victories to carry me on. I have an amazing support system. My life is filled with people who love me and believe in me and that is priceless. Thank you all for your love and support. When I come back it will be better than every sports comeback story out there. I truly believe that. I believe I’m the best in the world. There is not a single doubt in my mind. Only up from here.

**Invicta FC is returning to pay-per-view on August 27th with its next card from Memorial Hall in Kansas City. The company launched in 2012 and ran its cards on pay-per-view prior to its deal to stream the events on Fight Pass. After leaving Fight Pass, the company was purchased by Anthem Sports & Entertainment (the owners of IMPACT Wrestling and AXS TV). Invicta FC 44: A New Era will be available for $19.99 on FITE TV with the prelims airing on AXS TV and YouTube. The card includes Emily Ducote fighting Danielle Taylor for the vacant 115-pound title and Lisa Verzosa taking on Taneisha Tennant for the vacant 135-pound title. It will be interesting to see the promotional tools that Anthem attaches to this show especially on IMPACT programming to create synergy between the two.

**ESPN is reporting that a heavyweight fight between Shamil Abdurakhimov and Chris Daukaus is off this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card due to COVID-19 protocols concerning Abdurakhimov’s camp. The promotion has re-booked the fight for the UFC 266 card on September 25th. The outlet adds that Jared Gooden is replacing Mounir Lazzez to fight Niklas Stolze this Saturday after Lazzez had to withdraw due to visa issues. The card has thirteen fights listed and headlined by a middleweight fight between Uriah Hall and Sean Strickland.

**Bellator will leave the U.S. for its Bellator 267 card on Friday, October 1st. The promotion will be staging an event from The SSE Arena at Wembley in London, England on that date featuring a rematch between Douglas Lima and Michael “Venom” Page. Due to the time zone, the card will air live on Showtime at 4 p.m. ET, which sounds like a terrible idea. GLORY Kickboxing once aired a card in the afternoon on a weekday and it bombed with U.S. viewership. There are always arguments from fans when live MMA cards air on tape delay but there is no question more people would watch this on tape delay than live at 4 p.m. ET, which means 1 p.m. on the West Coast.

**MMA Junkie reports that a heavyweight fight between Walt Harris and Tai Tuivasa is set for October 30th in Abu Dhabi for the UFC 267 event. The most interesting aspect of this card is that Ariel Helwani is reporting that the numbered event will not air as a pay-per-view but on ESPN+. It will be the first numbered event since 2008 that won’t be on pay-per-view.

ON THIS DATE

Dr. Death Steve Williams won the Triple Crown on this date in 1994 defeating Mitsuharu Misawa at Budokan Hall. Misawa had been on his first reign as champion and held the title for almost two years. Williams only held the title for three months until losing to Toshiaki Kawada but was established among the top foreigners and was always loyal to AJPW including when the NOAH departures went down in 2000. This was the only time Williams held the Triple Crown.

The first singles match Chris Jericho between Seth Rollins was on this date in 2014. They would work many more times in 2016 on live events.

Karl Gotch (Charles Istaz) died on this date in 2007 at the age of 82. He is among the most influential figures crossing several generations.

*****
upNXT 7/27/21: “As Long As I Have Your Back”
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the July 27th, 2021 episode of WWE NXT featuring Adam Cole vs Bronson Reed and a huge angle between Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez!
*****
REWIND-A-WAI #91: WWF WrestleMania 28
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE WrestleMania XXVIII as John Cena faces off against The Rock in a “Once in a Lifetime” dream match.
*****
REWIND-A-RAW: Ashes to A.S.H., United States vs. Vince McMahon
John Pollock & Wai Ting chat about WWE Raw featuring Nikki A.S.H. vs. Charlotte Flair, The United States of America vs. Vince McMahon, Brazo de Plata’s passing and more.
*****
NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam POST Show / GCW: Nick Gage vs. Matt Cardona
John Pollock & Wai Ting review NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome as Shingo Takagi defends against late-replacement, Hiroshi Tanahashi. They also discuss Nick Gage vs. Matt Cardona from GCW: Homecoming Night 1.
******
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 7/23/21: Cena’s Challenge, Rolling Loud
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE SmackDown from two locations at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland with John Cena and the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami with Bianca Belair vs. Carmella.
*****
POST PURORESU: NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam, Stardom 5Star Grand Prix
WH Park is joined by Wai Ting (filling in for John Pollock) as they discuss the latest with NJPW ahead of Sunday’s Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome. Plus, WH gives an in-depth preview of Stardom’s 5Star Grand Prix.
*****

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