- POST IT NOTES
**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live tonight at 10 p.m. ET with Wai Ting and Kate from Montreal to review Friday Night SmackDown from Long Island, and the super-early edition of AEW Rampage. Plus, the two will be taking your calls. This show is live and exclusive for POST Wrestling Café members and will be available to download later tonight.
**Our UFC 274 POST Show will be live immediately after the card on Saturday night. Phil Chertok and I will have a rundown of the show live on the POST YouTube channel.
**Wai Ting and I will be back Sunday night with the WrestleMania Backlash POST Show immediately after the event live on the POST YouTube channel and available to download afterward.
**For the season-finale of Moon Knight, Wai Ting & WH Park were joined by Nate Milton and Rich Fann to discuss the final episode of the season on MCU L8R.
**Eric Marcotte will have coverage of Bellator 280 and PFL tonight on the site and will be covering UFC 274 on Saturday.
POST DAILY NEWS SHOW
**Several thousand tickets were held back by AEW and New Japan Pro Wrestling for today’s public on-sale for The Forbidden Door pay-per-view, all tickets are gone. WrestleTix estimated approximately 11,200 tickets were scooped up during Thursday’s pre-sale and over 3,700 tickets appeared on StubHub to assess the ticket broker demand for the event. The same site pegged the arena configuration at just over 14,000. The AEW Rampage show at the same arena last August for CM Punk’s debut ended up having over 15,000 in the building but that will come down to production kills and what type of set-up they will have at the pay-per-view compared to a television taping. The demand was through the roof for this show and an emphatic endorsement of the concept of promotion versus promotion. The show is part of a massive 32-day period for AEW with Double or Nothing at the T-Mobile Arena on May 29th, Dynamite at The Forum in Inglewood on June 1, Forbidden Door on June 29th, and Dynamite & Rampage at Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit on June 29th.
**WWE released its summer event schedule from June 24th until August 22nd with the locations of WWE Raw, Friday Night SmackDown, and the live events that continue to be branded as ‘Saturday Night’s Main Event’ and ‘Sunday Stunner’.
WWE Raw will take place in Laredo, Texas (June 27), San Diego (July 4, which is always a terrible night for viewership and follows Money in the Bank), San Antonio at the AT&T Center (July 11), Tampa at the Amalie Arena (July 18), Madison Square Garden (July 25 – their first TV taping at the arena since last September), Houston at the Toyota Center (Aug. 1 the night after SummerSlam), and Toronto at Scotiabank Arena (Aug. 22). They did not list locations for Aug. 8 and Aug. 15.
Friday Night SmackDown’s schedule includes Austin, Texas (June 24), Footprint Center in Phoenix (July 1), Dickies Arena in Fort Worth (July 8), Amway Center in Orlando (July 15), TD Garden in Boston (July 22), State Farm Arena in Atlanta (July 29), Bell Centre in Montreal (Aug. 19) with no locations listed for Aug. 5 and Aug. 12.
The Canadian loop in August also includes live events on Saturday, August 20th in Kingston and Ottawa, Ontario & August 21st in London, Ontario, and Quebec City with the split crews.
**Fightful is reporting that Candice LeRae’s WWE contract has expired and the performer is a free agent. LeRae has been off NXT television since going on maternity leave. LeRae and husband Johnny Gargano had their first child this past December with Gargano’s own contract with WWE expiring last December. LeRae was part of the inaugural Mae Young Classic in 2017 with the company announcing her signing in January 2018 and previously held the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships with Indi Hartwell.
**Friday Night SmackDown takes place from the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, New York with WWE and AEW running the same market within several days of each other. It’s the final episode before WrestleMania Backlash this Sunday with the following matches & appearances advertised for tonight’s show at 8 p.m. ET on Fox:
*Tables Match: Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods vs. Sheamus & Ridge Holland
*Sasha Banks vs. Shayna Baszler
*The Bloodline, Drew McIntyre & RK-Bro to appear
**AEW Rampage airs outside its usual time with a 5:30 p.m. ET start on TNT and 2:30 p.m. on the west coast. Despite the terrible time, you can’t say AEW threw in the towel as they were constantly promoting the start time throughout Dynamite and shot several angles for the matches, which were taped in Baltimore. Below is the lineup:
*Jay Lethal vs. Konosuke Takeshita
*Owen Hart Cup Qualifying Match: Riho vs. Yuka Sakazaki
*Hook vs. JD Drake
*Dr. Britt Baker & Jamie Hayter vs. Toni Storm & Ruby Soho
**NXT Level Up at 10 p.m. ET tonight on the WWE Network features Channing Lorenzo & Troy Donovan (Tony D’Angelo’s new group) vs. Dante Chen & Javier Bernel, Sloane Jacobs (part of the Women’s Breakout tournament) vs. Thea Hail, and Ivy Nile & Tatum Paxley vs. Erica Yan & Sarray.
**IMPACT Wrestling presents its ‘Under Siege’ special on Saturday night from Newport, Kentucky and streaming on FITE TV and Impact Plus with the following card:
*IMPACT Championship: Josh Alexander (champion) vs. Tomohiro Ishii – Ishii is building an incredible year for himself at the age of 46 and is coming off a match-of-the-year candidate with Hiroshi Tanahashi. Both had great matches at Rebellion and this one should be excellent.
*IMPACT Tag Team Championships: Violent by Design (champions) vs. The Briscoes
*Knockouts Championship: Tasha Steelz (champion) vs. Havok
*AAA Reina de Reinas Championship: Taya Valkyrie (champion) vs. Deonna Purrazzo
*Jay White, Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Chris Bey & El Phantasmo vs. Eddie Edwards, Matt Taven, Mike Bennett, Vincent & Kenny King
*Speedball Mike Bailey vs. Alex Shelley – A rematch from the Multiverse of Matches card in Texas and received tremendous reviews.
*Pre-show: Madison Rayne vs. Gisele Shaw
**The major takeaway from WWE’s earnings call with analysts on Thursday was Nick Khan’s lay of the land as the company approaches its next round of U.S. media rights negotiations. The rights for Raw and Friday Night SmackDown expire at the end of September 2024 and Khan believes there will be more demand for live event programming than anytime prior. Khan specifically outlined the live event strategies as it relates to Netflix (shifting its philosophies to address its recent problems including the addition of advertising with Khan believing live programming is inevitable for the giant streamer), Amazon Prime (a heavy investment with the Thursday night NFL package and noted the recent deal they signed with ONE Championship that Khan said “we found interesting”), AppleTV+ (Friday night MLB package), Disney+ (a recent live broadcast revealing the Oscar nominations and the transition of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ to streaming later this year), and Hulu. It would appear the growth and expansion of live event programming for these streamers is a huge part of Khan’s strategy to drive WWE’s rights to their maximum value and in theory, would include a major streaming component for Raw and/or SmackDown. As has been cited many times, it’s weighing the value of linear versus streaming. If the trends of escalating fees continue, WWE could be staring at figures they cannot turn down with the prospect of moving one or both shows to exclusively stream. In a perfect world, you would want to strike a balance with a linear presence while also putting exclusive content on that media company’s streaming platform, ie: Disney with ESPN and ESPN+ and you spread episodes between both platforms. It is also important to note how much Raw means to the USA Network as their network average drops dramatically without the program. While people lament the third hour of Raw, even at its lowest it is still roughly double the network average and gives WWE added leverage when negotiating with the incumbent, NBC Universal.
**To emphasize how much WWE’s business has changed and the value of its media rights, WWE made nearly the same amount of net income and revenue ($66 million off revenue of $333.4) as they did for their entire fiscal year in 1999-2000 at the peak of the Steve Austin/Attitude Era. Back then, their fiscal calendar ran from May 1 to April 30 and for that year when business was on fire, they made $373.1 million in revenue and $68.97 million in profit. WWE’s net income this quarter was higher than any full year prior to 2018 except 1999-2000, which was narrowly ahead by $3 million in profit.
**MLW has added Microman vs. Mini Abismo Negro to its ‘Kings of Colosseum’ event next Friday at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. NJPW Strong is running the same building two nights later for its tapings featuring several talents flown over from Japan.
**Game Changer Wrestling has added Matt Cardona vs. Blake Christian to its ‘Downward Spiral’ event on Saturday, May 28th in Las Vegas at the Silver Nugget Casino and streaming on FITE TV.
**On his first attempt, UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira missed weight by ½ pound at 155.5 pounds and was given one hour to make the championship weight. One hour later, he was still 155.5 pounds when he stepped onto the scale and will have to vacate the UFC lightweight championship. The fight is scheduled to go on where Gaethje can still win the title. If Oliveira wins, it will remain vacant.
**Cain Velasquez was scheduled for a bail hearing on Friday but was given a continuance with the hearing moved to Monday, May 16th.
**The big MMA card of the weekend is UFC 274 from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, and will air against the Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol fight that airs on DAZN pay-per-view.
NOTE: This preview was written prior to the news of Charles Oliveira missing weight for the fight with Justin Gaethje.
The UFC card is headlined by one of the best fights of the year with Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje, two of the highest action fighters in the promotion. The average fight time for Gaethje is 10:19 while Oliveira’s is 7:02 and with this one scheduled for five rounds, the probability of it going the distance is slim. Gaethje lands an average of 7.5 significant strikes per minute but also absorbs an average of 7.81 per minute, which are staggering numbers for a fighter. Oliveira lands 3.44 per minute and absorbs 3.13.
In some ways, this fight could be like Oliveira’s fight with Michael Chandler last year where he is taking on a seasoned wrestler who has developed their striking at a high level. Gaethje is a better version of Chandler and proved that in their fight last November. Gaethje has also become a more disciplined fighter and has not compromised any of the action by doing so. He came up short against Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2020 but responded with many people’s pick for ‘Fight of the Year’ when he beat Chandler last November. Oliveira is approaching all-time great status and adding Gaethje’s name to the list of victories would be a major achievement following wins against Chandler and Dustin Poirier. While this lightweight division doesn’t have the level of star of a Conor McGregor, this era of lightweights is going to be remembered for a long time for the incredible quality of fights produced and all the different pairings we have seen among the lightweights listed in the post-Khabib era. After this fight, Islam Makhachev has the strongest case for the next title fight.
It is a major crossroads for several tenured fighters at UFC 274. Perhaps the biggest is Tony Ferguson, whose 12-fight winning streak ended two years and the former interim champion is winless since June 2019. During that stretch, Ferguson was stopped by Justin Gaethje and lost decisions to Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush. While these are top fighters, Ferguson has looked like a lesser version of himself since the loss to Gaethje and he is 38-years old where aging is kryptonite in the weight class. Ferguson has been extremely outspoken this week regarding his treatment by the UFC, not being allowed to box, speaking against the treatment of fighters regarding pay, and advocating for health insurance. I will say this, very few fighters speak about these issues publicly and even fewer would do so at a UFC-sponsored event like media day or a press conference and Ferguson is one of the few.
Rose Namajunas defends her 115-pound women’s championship against the inaugural UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparaza. This is a rematch from December 2014 where Esparaza beat Namajunas in dominant fashion to become the division’s first champion and win that season of TUF. I don’t think you can put too much stock in a fight from 7 ½ years ago where both are different fighters and for Namajunas, the difference between 22-years of age and 29 is going to be dramatic. In re-watching the fight, it was such a strong performance from Esparza using multiple takedowns and was relentless with ground strikes to the point that it felt Namajunas was done before the end of the second round and lost her back early in the third round and was quickly submitted. Esparza fought three months later and lost the title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk while Namajunas has gone 9-2 since that loss and won the championship twice. I expect a much more competitive fight and this one has the potential to go five rounds. Namajunas is a comfortable favorite this time around with DraftKings listing her at -210.
For Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux and Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon, the end of their careers is coming up and only a question of how many fights are left? Shogun has said he wants to fight one more time after this one. Dana White has hinted that the loser of Cerrone and Lauzon could be at the end of their tenure in the company. It is hard to imagine Cerrone walking away regardless of whether he’s fighting in the UFC or not whereas Lauzon sounds completely at peace with his career-ending or continuing and has said he won’t make an emotional decision. Lauzon was on The MMA Hour and noted that he didn’t want to fight throughout the pandemic and originally, this fight was going to be last weekend at the UFC Apex. Cerrone called Lauzon and said they are not fighting at the Apex and need to do it in front of fans, and they got the UFC to move it to this card.
Between Cerrone and Lauzon, they have 33 performance bonuses (it’s even higher if you include Cerrone’s WEC fights) in the UFC among their combined 64 fights with the organization and will go down as two of the most entertaining fighters that have ever competed.
Below is the full card:
MAIN CARD (Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view)
*UFC Lightweight Championship: Charles Oliveira (champion) vs. Justin Gaethje
*UFC Strawweight Championship: Rose Namajunas (champion) vs. Carla Esparza
*Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson
*Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux
*Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon
PRELIMINARY CARD (8 p.m. on ESPN & ESPN+)
*Andre Fialho vs. Cameron VanCamp
*Randy Brown vs. Khaos Williams
*Norma Dumont vs. Macy Chiasson – Dumont missed weight by 0.5 pounds and was fined 30 percent of her purse, according to MMA Junkie
*Brandon Royval vs. Matt Schnell
EARLY PRELIMS (6 p.m. ET on ESPN+ & Fight Pass)
*Blagoy Ivanov vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
*Danny Roberts vs. Francisco Trinaldo
*Tracy Cortez vs. Melissa Gatto
*Kleydson Rodrigues vs. C.J. Vergara
*Ariane Camelossi vs. Lupita Godinez
*Journey Newson vs. Fernie Garcia
**Bellator 280 takes place this afternoon from Paris, France at the AccorHotels Arena, which is where WWE drew almost 12,000 last weekend. The main card will air live on Showtime at 4 p.m. ET featuring the following fights:
*Bellator Heavyweight Championship: Ryan Bader (champion) vs. Cheick Kongo
*Yoel Romero vs. Alex Polizzi – Polizzi is replacing Melvin Manhoef, who suffered a hand injury while dealing with three burglars that attempted to break into his home
*Benjamin Brander vs. Davy Gallon
*Lorenz Larkin vs. Kyle Stewart
*Mike Shipman vs. Gregory Babene
**The PFL returns with its third card of the season and features Kayla Harrison’s first fight this year. Harrison is a massive favorite against 6-2 Marina Mokhnatkina with DraftKings listing Harrison at -3500 while other books have her at -5000. Last season’s welterweight Ray Cooper III missed weight for his fight against Carlos Leal. The defending champion missed weight by 5.4 pounds at 176.4 pounds. While the fight will still take place, Cooper will be deducted one point in the standings and is unable to earn points regardless of the outcome of the fight, which is a severe penalty for PFL’s format and could cost him as much as seven points with the added deduction.
Below is the card for tonight’s show:
MAIN CARD (9 p.m. ET on ESPN 2)
*Women’s Lightweight: Kayla Harrison vs. Marina Mokhnatkina
*Welterweight: Ray Cooper III vs. Carlos Leal
*Lightweight: Anthony Pettis vs. Myles Price
*Welterweight: Rory MacDonald vs. Brett Cooper
PRELIMINARY CARD (6 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Welterweight: Dilano Taylor vs. Joao Zeferino
*Women’s Lightweight: Julia Budd vs. Genah Fabian
*Welterweight: Sadibou Sy vs. Nikolai Aleksakhin
*Women’s Lightweight: Larissa Pacheco vs. Zamzagul Fayzallanova
*Welterweight: Gleison Tibau vs. Jarrah Al Silawi
*Women’s Lightweight: Olena Kolesnyk vs. Abigail Montes
*Women’s Lightweight: Vanessa Melo vs. Martina Jindrova
MCU L8R: Moon Knight Ep. 6 (Finale)
Wai Ting & WH Park are joined by Nate Milton & Rich Fann to discuss the season finale of Moon Knight, Episode 6: “Gods and Monsters”.
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE: Deonna Purrazzo vs. Mercedes Martinez
John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite featuring Deonna Purazzo vs. Mercedes Martinez in an ROH Women’s Championship title unification match.
SHOT IN THE DARK: Yuya Uemura on AEW Dark, Arianna Grace debuts
John Siino reviews this week’s editions of AEW Dark, AEW Dark: Elevation, NXT UK, IMPACT Wrestling, NXT Level Up, NJPW Strong, NWA USA, NWA Powerrr, and Main Event in under 15 minutes on Shot In The Dark.
upNXT 5/3: NXT Spring Breakin’
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review NXT Spring Breakin’ from May 3rd 2022 headlined by Bron Breakker vs Joe Gacy for the NXT Championship.
REWIND-A-WAI #109: NJPW Wrestling World 2003
John Pollock & Wai Ting to review NJPW Wrestling World 2003 headlined by Yuji Nagata vs. Josh Barnett for the IWGP Heavyweight Title from the Tokyo Dome on January 4th.
REWIND-A-RAW: WM Backlash Go-Home Raw
John Pollock & Wai Ting review the final WWE Raw ahead of Sunday’s WrestleMania Backlash PLE.
WRESTLENOMICS: AEW and WWE TV rights value
AEW and WWE are likely nearing negotiation time for their current U.S. live rights agreements. Brandon gives a detailed breakdown of how those rights might be valued.
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