POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: The Bray Wyatt effect, WWE labor issues, AEW in Toronto figures

Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: The Bray Wyatt effect, WWE labor issues, AEW in Toronto figures

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-SmackDown will be live at 11 p.m. ET tonight for POST Wrestling Café members with Wai and I chatting Friday Night SmackDown, AEW Rampage, live notes from the tapings in Toronto, Bray Wyatt’s return, the passing of Katsuya Kitamura, Dynamite ratings, and lots more on the show.

**A reminder that tickets are on sale at postwrestling.com/live for our 5-Year Anniversary Show on Saturday, November at QXT’s Nightclub in Newark, New Jersey. General admission gives you access to the Q&A show with Wai Ting and I, as well as the pre-show with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman. We are putting a limited number of VIP tickets on sale, which include an event t-shirt and a meet-and-greet with the POST team after the show. The venue is minutes away from the Prudential Center where AEW’s Full Gear takes place that night.

**I wanted to thank all the listeners that we saw over the past few nights at the AEW events in Toronto especially those that attended our meet-up prior to Dynamite. A lot of the POST Wrestling crew was in attendance for the shows and some traveled up here for the shows, so it was great to see so many people.

**This week’s MCU L8R features the roundtable of Rich Fann, WH Park, Wai Ting, and Nate Milton breaking down the season-finale of She-Hulk with a packed show for POST Wrestling Café members. The video version is available for YouTube members.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John Pollock & Wai Ting (Live at 11 p.m. ET)
Sunday: Wrestlenomics Radio
Monday: Rewind-A-Raw (11 p.m.)

WRESTLING NEWS

**Friday Night SmackDown takes place from the Smoothie King Center tonight in New Orleans, Louisiana featuring Bray Wyatt’s first appearance since returning at Extreme Rules. As of Thursday, there were approximately 6,000 tickets out (per WrestleTix) for the show, so there was some movement during the week but nowhere near the level that we saw for Raw at the Barclays Center over the final days. WWE is specifically marketing tonight’s show as “Bray Wyatt Appears” as the indicator of what they view as the biggest draw on the show.

The re-introduction of Bray Wyatt has been tremendous and led to actual signs of drawing from tickets sold and television numbers affected. The return on Saturday couldn’t have gone better and generated plenty of buzz. Now, the hard part begins with integrating this character into programs. The Fiend was both celebrated for his uniqueness and different presentation and despised because of the supernatural element, lack of great matches, and harming several babyfaces with Seth Rollins being the most significant. This version of Wyatt will be the most discussed, analyzed, and debated and likely generate many overreactions both positively and negatively. It will be hard to maintain this level of interest where the character is actually moving numbers with so much interest in the teases that the execution can’t withstand over the long haul. It’s also clear based on the reactions that he will be treated like a babyface by the audience that is happy to see him back and how they maneuver that when he’s more suited for a heel role in the long-term but can ride out this wave for its duration.

For tonight’s show, they have announced the following at 8 p.m. ET on Fox:
*Ricochet vs. Sheamus vs. Karrion Kross vs. Solo Sikoa – winner receives an Intercontinental title shot
*Sami Zayn vs. Kofi Kingston
*LA Knight vs. Mansoor
*Bray Wyatt appears

**AEW Rampage is the taped show from Toronto held at the Coca-Cola Coliseum on Thursday night. Below are the matches that will air on the show at 10 p.m. ET on TNT. The show will air at 10 p.m. ET on TSN 2:
*FTR & Shawn Spears vs. Brian Cage & The Gates of Agony
*Ethan Page vs. Isiah Kassidy
*Anna Jay vs. Nyla Rose
*Jon Moxley & Claudio Castagnoli vs. The Butcher & The Blade
*Jericho Appreciation Society segment

**Dave Meltzer reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Dynamite drew over 7,500 and 7,100 paid on Wednesday night at the Coca-Cola Coliseum with a live gate of $825,000 CDN. The second night for Rampage drew approximately 5,500 paid and a gate of $600,000. The combined gate figures would convert to approximately $1,021,000 USD. There was significantly more demand for the first night as StubHub’s cheapest tickets to get into the building was listed at $91 CDN while Rampage tickets had fallen to $9. The atmosphere was superior for Dynamite but still very lively for the three hours of matches on Thursday, which included two hours of matches taped for AEW Dark followed by an hour of Rampage. If there was a complaint for the second night, it was the lack of a big marquee match as the Rampage lineup felt underwhelming to have its own night to itself and fans buying tickets without knowing what they would get. Rampage is also much tougher to follow in Canada as the show doesn’t air on television (although it is airing tonight’s show) and is only available by streaming it through TSN Direct while Dynamite airs weekly on TSN 2.

**WWE will be running the Coca-Cola Coliseum on 12/30 for a house show as part of their post-Christmas tour, which falls on a Friday night.

**Tim Gill, who is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Tennessee has written a piece on WWE’s labor practices and the issues among talent throughout the years. The piece focuses on attempts by politician Andrew Yang and labor lawyer Lucas Middlebrook (who has been involved in similar attempts in MMA for years) to try and push for more rights for the talent, which has always been a tricky issue in the industry and talent fearful of losing their standing by rocking the boat. Jim Brunzell spoke with Gill and stated that he worked with Jesse Ventura to try and start a union in the ‘80s, which was famously stopped by Hulk Hogan, who alerted Vince McMahon of the attempt. Brunzell noted that he contacted Gene Upshaw, who was head of the NFLPA, and his advice was that they needed Hogan on board, or it wouldn’t work and Brunzell said he approached Hogan. Several former WWE wrestlers spoke anonymously but one who didn’t was Levi Cooper, who wrestled as Tucker and was released in 2020. He stated that during the early portion of the pandemic “there was no real testing protocols, or anything put in place until there was a big outbreak.” Cooper said he wrote a lengthy email regarding his concern over the lack of COVID protocols and noted that he did see some changes but was released later that year and was told it was due to budget cuts. Cooper added that he was making $250,000 per year on his WWE deal but spending around $70,000 per year on hotels, rental cars, food, gear, boots, suits, and stuff for TV.

It would be a lengthy process for WWE talent to organize and go through the process of being re-classified as employees (if they qualify and there are several qualifications) and actually form a union or association. Between pro wrestling and MMA, there is always a fear of jeopardizing your standing. Many will privately speak of the benefits of a union or being cut out of television contracts but it’s another subject entirely for talents to publicly attach themselves to such a movement. Look no further than this article where several talents spoke of their concerns under the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals down the road and likely not wanting to burn a bridge. With so much television rights revenue, I am sure decades down the road plenty of modern-day WWE talents will look back and be irritated that they were not cut into any percentage of those deals like other pro sports leagues with union representation to negotiate on their behalf. There is great money to be made for WWE performers but given the comparison in other sports, they are underpaid and could certainly benefit from proper representation but I am extremely skeptical of it happening.

**The major card of the weekend is AAA’s third and final TripleMania of 2022 to celebrate its 30th anniversary. The card from Mexico City will air Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET and is available for $22.99 USD on FITE TV. The big attraction is the finals of the Ruleta de la Muerte tournament where Blue Demon Jr. and Pentagon Jr. will put their masks on the line and should be incredibly heated. Below is the full lineup:
*Mask vs. Mask: Pentagon Jr. vs. Villano IV
*Hair vs. Hair: Pagano vs. Cibernetico
*AAA Mega Championship: Hijo del Vikingo (champion) vs. Rey Fenix
*AAA Reina de Reinas Championship: Taya Valkyrie (champion) vs. Kamille
*AAA World Trios Championship: Cuatrero, Sanson & Forastero (champions) vs. Psycho Clown, Laredo Kid & Bandido vs. Johnny Caballero, Sam Adonis & Brian Cage
*Dragon Lee & Dralistico vs. Arez & Willie Mack vs. Komander & Myzteziz vs. Latigo & Toxin – winners will get a future tag title shot against FTR
*Copa Bardahl TripleMania (pre-show)
*Marvel Lucha Libre Exhibition match (pre-show)

**NJPW continues its Battle Autumn tour on Saturday with another card at Korakuen Hall. The card will feature first-round matches between Jeff Cobb and YOSHI-HASHI and EVIL against Aaron Henare in the World TV Title tournament. The card will include Shingo Takagi & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo, Tetsuya Naito & SANADA & BUSHI & Titan against Great O-Khan & TJP & Francesco Akira & Gideon Grey, SHO & Yujiro vs. Hikuleo & Jado, Zack Sabre Jr. & El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI vs. David Finlay & Alex Zayne & Master Wato & Tiger Mask, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma & Ren Narita, and KENTA & Gedo vs. Taichi & Taka Michinoku.

**Sunday’s NJPW event in Niigata will allow fans to cheer in the arena. That card will feature SANADA vs. Taichi and KENTA vs. Hirooki Goto in the first round of the World TV title tournament.

**thecubsfan has a preview of TripleMania on the Voices of Wrestling site and will be providing a show report here on POST Wrestling late Saturday night.

**Kofi Kingston has launched a project called The CLICK for Quality Education Foundation along with his mother. The foundation will help provide computer labs and library media centers for junior high school students in Ghana with a focus on underprivileged areas of the country. From the release:

CLICK for Quality Education Foundation centers will offer training in computer literacy, media and information literacy (MIL), critical thinking, and creative problem-solving skills, while instilling a love of reading and research in students.

The first CLICK Center is presently being built at the Atwima Takyiman Presbyterian Junior High School in the Kwadaso Municipality in the Ashanti Region.

**Demand Lucha has a show in Toronto next Thursday called “Boom Shaka Lucha” with some great talent booked for the show. In the main event, it’s Komander (a terrific flyer and a name people are paying attention to) vs. ASF vs. Arez vs. Gringo Loco, Lince Dorado vs. Seraphis, Carter Mason’s Open Challenge, Los Medicos vs. Level X, Space Monkey vs. Zakk Patterson, FTM vs. Freddie Mercurio, and Jody Threat vs. Jackson Stone. The show takes place the Parkdale Hall at 1605 Queen Street West at 8 p.m. local time.

**MLW has announced that Matt Striker will be in the booth for Fightland on 10/30 at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. The last time Striker was part of MLW’s commentary team was three years ago and also wrestled for the group during its first incarnation in 2003.

**Smash Wrestling has canceled its Slamoween event for 10/27 at Fanshawe College. The promotion stated it is working on a future date at the college and are offering refunds to those that purchased tickets.

**The UFC lost the most intriguing fight for Saturday’s Fight Night event as the flyweight bout between Askar Askarov and Brandon Royval is off. Due to weight-cutting issues for Askarov, the fight is off. Royval tweeted and said that he offered to fight Askarov at a catchweight but claimed that the fighter’s side declined the offer, so the fight won’t take place.

**Below is the updated card for Saturday’s show from the UFC Apex with the card streaming on ESPN+ beginning at 4 p.m. ET:

MAIN CARD (7 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Alexa Grasso vs. Viviane Araujo
*Cub Swanson vs. Jonathan Martinez
*Raphael Assuncao vs. Victor Henry
*Jordan Wright vs. Dusko Todorovic
*Misha Cirkunov vs. Alonzo Menifield

PRELIMINARY CARD (4 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Mana Martinez vs. Brandon Davis
*Jacob Malkoun vs. Nick Maximov
*Joanderson Brito vs. Lucas Alexander
*Sam Hughes vs. Piera Rodriguez
*CJ Vergara vs. Tatsuro Taira – Vergara missed weight by three points and was fined 30% of her purse, per MMA Junkie
*Mike Jackson (who fought CM Punk in 2018) vs. Pete Rodriguez

ON THIS DATE

A 41-man battle royal on SmackDown in 2011, more notable for the fact that it’s amassed 115 million views on YouTube and made it among the thirty most-viewed WWE videos on YouTube:

TNA presented Bound for Glory in 2012 featuring Jeff Hardy winning the TNA championship from Austin Aries in the main event:

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