Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: Thoughts on Ric Flair's Last Match
POST IT NOTES
**Rewind-A-Raw is live at 11:05 p.m. ET tonight as Andrew Thompson will be joining me to chat about the fallout from SummerSlam weekend and a big review of tonight’s Raw from Houston. You can stream the show live on the POST Wrestling YouTube channel and subscribe to POST Wrestling on your podcast app for the audio version late tonight.
**The latest G1 Climax show is posted with Karen Peterson sharing her thoughts on Days 8 & 9 from Nagoya with myself. We reviewed all the tournament matches and got Karen’s thoughts as we approach the midway point. The Nagoya cards included the main events between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Zack Sabre Jr. and Tetsuya Naito with EVIL.
**On Tuesday, I’ll have a G1 Climax POST Show with Mike Murray to review Day 10 of the tournament and that will be available for POST Wrestling Café members. We will also have G1 shows coming out Friday and Sunday with Bruce Lord and WH Park joining me this week.
**Phil Chertok and Eric Marcotte have the UFC 277 POST Show available with audio and video versions available. Next month, I’ll be back covering UFC 278 with Phil, which is the Salt Lake City card headlined by Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards for the welterweight championship. It is likely we will be keeping these shows on Sundays.
G1 CLIMAX PODCAST (POST Wrestling Café)
Day 8 & 9 (Tanahashi vs. ZSJ, Naito vs. EVIL)
Day 7 (Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tama Tonga)
Day 6 (David Finlay vs. Juice Robinson)
Day 4 & 5 (White vs. Ishii, Naito vs. Tanahashi)
Day 3 (Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito)
Day 2 (Shingo Takagi vs. Juice Robinson)
Day 1 (Kazuchika Okada vs. Jeff Cobb) – FREE
KURT ANGLE A&E BIOGRAPHY
I watched the first half of the Kurt Angle documentary on A&E on Sunday and it was very good. The first portion of the doc covered his upbringing including the loss of his father while Kurt was sixteen. Later that week, he played the game of his life for his high school football team and was the first instance of Angle putting trauma in the rear-view mirror and performing at an elite level. This would be followed by winning an Olympic gold medal with a broken neck and wrestling an Ironman match with Brock Lesnar the day after his sister died in 2003.
For the amateur wrestling portion, they interviewed legendary wrestler Bruce Baumgartner, Kevin Jackson (an Olympic gold medalist that had a 4-2 record in MMA including a 16-second loss to Frank Shamrock in 1997), and Sylvester Terkay (a rival of Kurt’s in 1992 and later entered professional wrestling and did a Bruiser Brody gimmick and even got onto WWE television during the re-vamped ECW era).
There was a big portion dedicated to David Schultz, Angle’s coach at the Foxcatcher camp, who was killed by John du Pont just months before Angle won the gold medal. Schultz’s widow Nancy was interviewed for the A&E feature and this portion of the doc was fantastic.
With WWE docs, the production is very strong, but you also have instances where you question if the subject is befitting of a two-hour documentary treatment. For Kurt Angle, his life before getting to the WWF was worthy of being told. To his credit, he is very forthcoming about his drug dependency issues that nearly killed him and was a prolonged period of disappointment with all his arrests throughout his TNA run, so it’s a happy ending that he reached a breaking point and curbed those habits.
From a pro wrestling perspective, Angle is in a class alongside Jun Akiyama and Owen Hart from that era of taking to the industry as quickly as anyone. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to the recent doc on Bill Goldberg of two athletes that excelled outside of pro wrestling and entered a new industry that was a political shark tank. Angle wasn’t the most politically savvy and you can argue that his character needed a sharper edge by the end of 2000, but his comedic work was so strong and hard to kick that aspect of it but he still rose to become a top star, although never the flag bearer of the company. From 2001-03, I don’t believe there was a better bell-to-bell performer on a consistent basis than Angle with his competition consisting of Kenta Kobashi and Chris Benoit. His neck issues ravaged him and that spiraled into the pain killer issues. In hindsight, neck fusion was probably the right call in 2003 but it’s no surprise what his mindset was and seeing a shortcut to full recuperation and undergoing the minimally invasive surgery option.
While his TNA run doesn’t receive the spotlight of the preceding WWE period, I cannot imagine Angle surviving the WWE schedule any longer than he did, and it was very scary by the end. His match quality didn’t dip in TNA and he had a phenomenal number of years where he remained among the top performers for years in that company.
The story of Kurt Angle is one of being obsessed with being the best. That sounds like a cliché but when you hear Angle describe his training routine in the lead-up to the Olympics, the limits he pushed his body to, and sadly the toll he pays for those limits being reached – that encapsulated the extent of what “obsessed” entailed. This is someone who two years into his career, was open about the notion he could wind up in a wheelchair one day and that didn’t seem to deter him – it is what separates the very good from the very best but eventually, the cheque comes due for all these athletes that ask extraordinary measures of their body, who can only answer that call so many times.
RIC FLAIR’S LAST MATCH
The match with the most morbid curiosity this weekend was 73-year-old Ric Flair’s, as he teamed with son-in-law Andrade El Idolo against Jeff Jarrett & Jay Lethal at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium.
The match clocked in at over twenty-six minutes and demonstrated an individual trying to turn back the clock while battling resistance from reality. It was a rough performance for Flair, which will be overlooked because the audience was there to celebrate Flair and not critique him against the impossible standards the man has set for himself. If you were concerned for his well-being, it was a tough watch, but he got through it and appeared to be elated with the response from the fans, acknowledgment from his peers, and just being able to perform again. In some ways, it was similar to Bret Hart’s match with Vince McMahon in 2010 where it was the furthest thing from a Bret Hart match in his prime but to him personally, it meant so much given his battle after having a stroke in 2002 and doing the impossible one more time.
Flair did go into the match with plantar fasciitis, which is very debilitating for athletes in their primes including Dominik Cruz who struggled with that injury for a long time. From that standpoint, hopefully, Flair doesn’t feel the desire to have another do-over in several months when this feeling inevitably wears off, as it does for almost all pro wrestlers. They are ingrained with the notion they can dig deep and recapture their youth, take shortcuts because of the nature of the industry, and have no shortage of people encouraging them regardless of how far-fetched an idea it is. Flair has already said he’s had some unreal offers to do more matches but is insistent he won’t do them.
When the match was announced, there was a wide range of reactions from fear over his health, uneasiness about celebrating Flair after the allegations re-surfaced on Dark Side of the Ring last year by Heidi Doyle, and others who overlooked or were not affected by those factors and just wanted to relive their childhood and see Flair attempt another send off.
From a promotional standpoint, Conrad Thompson and his team did a very strong job through the documentary specials, a huge online push, and Thompson doing tons of media over the past week. The attendance they drew was extraordinary considering there was no television vehicle to promote it and the one selling feature was the show’s title – Ric Flair’s Last Match. It is proof positive that promotions can be successful with a limited platform if they have the right star or right story (hopefully, both) that clicks with the public and that, along with piggybacking with its own convention in the SummerSlam host city did work.
Unlike many retirements we take with a grain of salt, this is one where you left the show believing there was no way Flair can do another match. I’m sure this felt like a better send-off than the TNA run given the crowd size and having a whole show built around him, even though Flair was far removed from even the 2009 version of himself, which was leagues ahead of the Flair of 2022 for obvious reasons. There is probably no wrestling retirement that is going to eclipse the one Flair received in 2008 – not just the match but more importantly, the next night on Raw and one of the greatest segments in the history of the show.
It was constantly stated over the past month that Flair was not doing this for the money and is in a much healthier financial state today than in past years. What drew Flair to this match was reliving his glory years and walking under the spotlight one more time. Unfortunately, that “want” never dies for most of these performers, who are fixated on that drug, and no matter how great the “high” is when you touch back on the ground, you look up seeking the next “high” and for Flair, he’ll have to find it elsewhere – a painful lesson for countless wrestlers that have reached the greatest heights of this industry and cannot let go.
**It’s a big edition of WWE Raw from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas tonight. Last week’s show was still largely crafted prior to the creative changes and was a function of taking the established programs and stories and getting them to the finish line at SummerSlam. In theory, it’s a clean slate and the television will better resemble Paul Levesque’s vision than Vince McMahon’s. SummerSlam was a well-received show but hardly a case of tearing off the band-aid and starting fresh. Levesque has to juggle a fanbase craving changes while inheriting the current top show on cable and not turning off any viewers while also making changes that one believes will grow their audience.
The major figure over the next month is Drew McIntyre, who is confirmed as the challenger to Roman Reigns at Clash at the Castle on September 3rd and needs to be the focus of a major promotional build-up. McIntyre ending the 700+ day title run of Reigns in front of 60-70,000 people would be an amazing scene and brings McIntyre full circle from winning the championship in front of no one at WrestleMania 36. McIntyre has been on the back burner for most of 2022 and was being kept busy with repetitive programs involving Happy Corbin, Madcap Moss, and the Brawling Brutes. Now, it’s time to get him up and running and feeling like the top babyface they have and a real threat to Reigns. It’s Levesque’s first main event to promote with full control and there is a lot to work with.
**For the month of July, Raw averaged 1,741,000 viewers and 0.44 in the 18-49 demographic. The July 4th episode drags down the numbers and would be 1,800,000 and 0.47 without the holiday episode included. In July 2021, they averaged 1,705,000 viewers and 0.48 in 18-49, which included two shows at the Thunderdome and the return of live fans for the other two episodes that month (last year Raw aired on July 5th and was also hurt by the holiday). While we don’t have the exact difference, there would be fewer homes with cable compared to a year ago, so it’s now an apples-to-apples comparison – but even factoring that in, they are up in overall viewership this year.
**SLAM Wrestling has a story on the passing of David “Blackjack” Brown, who was seen ringside for years at wrestling events as a photographer and served as a writer and hotline reporter. Many figures within the industry shared tributes for Brown over the weekend, especially among those in the northeast. Brown penned a monthly article for the WWWF programs dubbed “Ringside at the Garden with BlackJack Brown”. Brown worked for years at the Daily News in New York and helped guide a lot of performers through his advice and connections. Among those that shared memories and tributes were Tommy Dreamer, Mike Bucci, Taz, Gabe Sapolsky, Pat Buck, Justin Roberts, and others.
**The four-way match between Rey Fenix, Bandido, Laredo Kid, and Black Taurus from Ric Flair’s Last Match was just incredible. This was the most spectacular match I saw this weekend – ahead of anything at SummerSlam or on the G1 cards (one caveat, I have yet to watch the Stardom shows). The scariest moment occurred when Bandido did a tope con giro and was about to fold his neck on the floor when Black Taurus caught him at the last second and they transitioned with a Code Red which was a phenomenal save.
**The G1 Climax resumes in Shizuoka on Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. ET on New Japan World with the following card:
*D BLOCK: Will Ospreay (2-0) vs. David Finlay (2-1) – This should be incredible as Finlay has really stepped up in matches with Juice Robinson and Shingo Takagi and coming off those signature wins. The story is that Ospreay is the rightful IWGP U.S. champion, but Robinson refused to relinquish the physical belt. Now, Finlay has possession of the title after beating Robinson last week at Korakuen Hall. They are in the main event spot and I expect it to be great.
*C BLOCK: Hirooki Goto (2-0) vs. KENTA (0-2) – I can’t see Goto getting many more points in the tournament and three losses are dangerous territory to be eliminated, so it’s like KENTA picks up his first win
*B BLOCK: SANADA (2-1) vs. Tama Tonga (1-1)
*A BLOCK: Toru Yano (1-2) vs. Tom Lawlor (0-2) – Lawlor said this was his big match of the block even above Kazuchika Okada, which was somewhat tongue in cheek but it’s the style of match that could produce something really interesting given both having significant credentials outside of wrestling with an ability to do comedy effectively, as well
*B BLOCK: Tomohiro Ishii (1-2) vs. Great O-Khan (0-2) – O-Khan is due for a win as three points basically eliminate him given Jay White’s 3-0 start in the block
*Jay White, Juice Robinson & Gedo vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & YOSHI-HASHI
*Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI vs. Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & El Phantasmo
*Lance Archer, Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & Taka Michinoku vs. EVIL, Yujiro, SHO & Dick Togo
*Jeff Cobb & Aaron Henare vs. JONAH & Bad Dude Tito
**Next week’s WWE on A&E block will feature Lex Luger being profiled on Biography followed by a new edition of WWE Rivals covering WWF vs. WCW. The block begins airing at 8 p.m. ET. The August 14th block features DX on Biography and Triple H vs. Mick Foley on WWE Rivals.
**SLAM Wrestling has an obit on former Stampede Wrestling star Gil Hayes.
**The Tennessean has a story on Ric Flair wrestling his final match and his visit with the Tennessee Titans last week.
**ESPN’s Marc Raimondi covered Flair’s last match in Nashville and spoke with Jeff Jarrett after the main event:
If anything goes wrong, it’s on me. It’s on others. I’m so damn happy for Ric, I don’t know what to say. … As a spectator, y’all watched it and went home tonight. When you’re participating, it’s a whole other level of pressure that I’ve never been under.
**Finn Balor was interviewed on The Ringer’s Cheap Heat podcast to promote SummerSlam and spoke about learning of his involvement on the show this past weekend and being hurt by being left off WrestleMania: (Transcribed by Jeremy Lambert at Fightful)
Last year, I wasn’t involved in Mania and I’ll be honest, that deeply hurt. Deeply hurt. The fact that I show up for every TV, every house show, every overseas tour, every media appearance. Then, to be left off two nights of WrestleMania, that hurt. I definitely want to be involved with Clash at the Castle. I only found out about SummerSlam on Monday. There’s no real, ‘Hey, you’re going to be in this match in three months. You’re going to be in this match in six weeks.’ It’s literally, you find out the week before sometimes. Sometimes, you guys find out before I do because you see it on the TV and I’m in the locker room. Absolutely, I want to be involved in whatever way I can. To have a singles match would be incredible. Having spent six years at the start of my career in the United Kingdom, to get to go back and wrestle in a stadium would be incredible.
Between being left off this year’s set of WrestleMania shows and his time back in NXT, Balor has not wrestled at the event since 2019.
**Being the Elite Ep. 317 “Trios”.
WRESTLENOMICS: Triple H takes over WWE creative, Vince McMahon under federal investigation
“Triple H” Paul Levesque is the new head of creative for WWE. Vince McMahon is under investigation, not just by WWE’s Board of Directors, but by the SEC and federal prosecutors.
UFC 277 POST SHOW
Phil Chertok and Eric Marcotte review Saturday’s UFC 277 card featuring the rematch between Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes.
WWE SUMMERSLAM POST SHOW
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE SummerSlam 2022 featuring Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar in a Last Man Standing match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.
John Pollock & Wai Ting review the SummerSlam go-home WWE SmackDown featuring an Irish Donnybrook Match and AEW Rampage: Fight for the Fallen featuring ROH Champion Claudio Castagnoli.
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