Off the top, I would be remiss not to mention the people of Ukraine and what they are going through, which is unimaginable for many of us. This is not a political or ideological discussion, it’s sympathy and remorse for innocent lives that have and will continue to be lost during this invasion by Russia. For many, fleeing the country is either not feasible or it’s too late with mass exits from the country. The reality of going to sleep at night, not knowing if your life and city will be in ruins – literally and figuratively – when you wake up, is a nightmare no one should have to endure and for many, that is their reality with no ending in sight.
People look at sports and entertainment as forms of escapism (and some probably don’t want to read about this here), but the word “escape” can quickly become “ignore” and no one should be ignoring victims that had no say in this matter or control in handling this conflict. Many of us have the luxury of escaping by turning our phones off and avoiding the news if it makes us uncomfortable. For millions in Ukraine, they don’t have that ability to escape and are forced to endure unspeakable actions. They will be the ones left to put the pieces back together and rebuild their lives when forces outside their control decide that enough damage has been done. Reason and thought are not going to end these attacks, and it’s easy to feel powerless as someone from thousands of miles away.
Thoughts, prayers, words, and empathy may not seem like much but it does show you care and you’re thinking about these people, who are clinging to their lives with the fear that no one is thinking about them in these darkest of moments.
Reading and listening recommendations:
-More than 50,000 Ukrainians have fled the country, U.N. official says (Washington Post)
-What does Putin want from Ukraine? Our reporters answer your questions (Washington Post)
-Ukrainians’ Choice: Fight for Flee? (The Daily)
-Freelance journalist Olga Tokariuk reports from an undisclosed location (CBC Front Burner)
-Ukraine readies defenses in Kyiv as Russian forces advance (CBC)
-Six maps explaining the Ukraine-Russia conflict (CNN)
-More than 1,700 people detained in widespread Russian protests against Ukraine invasion (CBC)
POST IT NOTES
**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live at 11:15 p.m. ET tonight. Wai Ting and I will review Friday Night SmackDown and AEW Rampage before opening the phone lines and chatting with you. The show is available live and to download for all POST Wrestling Café members.
**On this month’s edition of Bushby & Thompson’s Wrestling Adventure, Andrew & Martin welcome Eric Marcotte to chat about the 2005 WWE documentary on Bret Hart, which was one of the best DVD releases the company has ever put out. The original idea when Hart wasn’t on board for the project, was to frame it as “Screwed: The Bret Hart Story” and make it a hit piece similar to The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior release (which left very bitter feelings from Warrior). Instead, Bret worked with the company and was able to curate his own matches and be hands-on with the project and it opened the door for his Hall of Fame induction the following April, although Hart would not appear at WrestleMania itself that year in Chicago for the introduction of the inductees to the audience at the Allstate Arena. Of course, Hart would make a full-fledged return with the company in 2010 for the Vince McMahon program that culminated with their match at WrestleMania in Arizona that year.
**Bruce Lord has a feature on the site today, Finding New Strength: The Case for NJPW Strong, discussing the rise of NJPW Strong and why it should be part of everyone’s weekly viewing. He outlines the state of the New Japan product in Japan experiencing a lull while Strong has been able to mix its shows with a variety of talent and create its own identity.
**On Saturday, The N.W.A. Podcast returns to the POST Wrestling network as Nate Milton, Kris Ealy, and Andrew Thompson will discuss all the major news from the past month and they welcome Rich Fann from the PWTorch this month.
**Wrestlenomics Radio is back on Sunday night with hosts Brandon Thurston and Chris Gullo.
**Wai Ting and I will have several announcements next week regarding some format changes for our live shows each week. The two of us will also be doing an installment of TALK this Tuesday for POST Wrestling Café members. The past editions of the shows have been met with positive feedback. The shows don’t focus on wrestling but instead, discuss the state of the site and business and ongoing changes.
POST DAILY NEWS SHOW
Wai Ting is joined by Andrew Thompson to chat about the expiration of Cesaro’s deal with WWE, WrestleMania Night 1 & 2 main events, AEW Dynamite ratings, TERMINUS 2, and previews for SmackDown & Rampage:
**During his weekly appearance on Busted Open Radio, Tony Khan elaborated on the big deal in the works that he first mentioned last week. On Friday’s radio spot, Khan stated it’s not about a specific talent but rather, a move that will impact the industry. Khan said that it could be announced by next Wednesday.
🚨 ICYMI 🚨
"It's not just one particular piece of talent…it's something very special." 👀@TonyKhan during his 'Tony Time' segment this morning w/ @davidlagreca1 & @TheMarkHenry ⬇️⬇️⬇️@AEW #AEW #AEWRampage #AEWDynamite pic.twitter.com/IvMXu1RQDK
— SiriusXM Busted Open (@BustedOpenRadio) February 25, 2022
**Friday Night SmackDown takes place at the GIANT Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania (ironically, it was the city where wrestlers in the ‘80s would obtain the means to become ‘giants’). The show is promoted around Brock Lesnar appearing on the show for a segment with Roman Reigns after the Champion vs. Champion stipulation was made official for WrestleMania in five weeks. The show is nearly sold out with almost 8,500 tickets out, per WrestleTix. The following has been announced for the show:
*Contract signing between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns
*Sami Zayn’s Intercontinental championship celebration
*Drew McIntyre vs. Madcap Moss
**Here are the matches for AEW Rampage tonight at 10 p.m. ET on TNT and taped on Wednesday in Bridgeport, Connecticut:
*TNT Championship: Sammy Guevara (champion) vs. Andrade El Idolo – this will open the broadcast
*Face of the Revolution Qualifying Match: Orange Cassidy vs. Anthony Bowens
*Wardlow vs. Nick Comoroto
*Serena Deeb’s 5-minute Rookie Challenge
*Contract signing between Dr. Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa
**There will be an announcement on Monday’s edition of Being the Elite of a big AEW live event.
**WWE has a pair of live events this weekend with Saturday’s show in Youngstown, Ohio, and Sunday in Rochester, New York. Ronda Rousey is scheduled for both shows and will be the first set of house shows since returning at the Royal Rumble. Both house shows are advertising Roman Reigns & The Usos vs. Drew McIntyre, Kofi Kingston & Big E as well as Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan vs. Bianca Belair vs. Doudrop.
**Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli) is a free agent after it was revealed that his contract with WWE has expired. WWE had made Cesaro an offer, but the sides could not come to an agreement. The performer is 41 years of age and a very popular individual in the WWE locker room that never received a major push and was always at the top of people’s lists for the most underutilized. He has been with the company since 2011 and was brought up to the main roster a decade ago and had his most success as a tag wrestler with Tyson Kidd and Sheamus. It was telling when Vince McMahon was interviewed by Steve Austin in December 2014 and gave his assessment of the performer: (Transcribed by Cageside Seats)
He’s not connecting yet and we hope he will. He doesn’t quite have the charisma. He doesn’t quite have the verbal skills as well, and maybe because he’s Swiss, I don’t know, in terms of the European style. But those are the big things that he’s lacking. The audience needs to care about you. They need to be able to feel your presence. You need to be able to project that. He’s an extraordinary physical talent, extraordinary. But at the moment, and hopefully he’ll get it, he lacks ‘it.’
As a free agent, he is not bound to any no-compete provision and in theory, could appear for any promotion immediately. As always, when there is a new free agent, AEW becomes the first destination people look at. It’s a broken record, but the roster is so packed and you have to wonder if Cesaro’s age becomes a factor and what balance you want to maintain between your core young talent on the rise and established veterans, which AEW has no shortage of. The positives outweigh the negatives in AEW and many see the environment as one with fewer restrictions and a generally happier environment, however, it doesn’t come with a guaranteed spot or a given that television time will be at one’s disposal. Cesaro is just one of many great talents that are out there and comes after the AEW debut of Buddy Matthews this week, the report of Shane Strickland’s signing, Jeff Hardy expected to land in AEW (despite downplaying his own comments), and other talents on the market such as Johnny Gargano, Samoa Joe, etc.
**WWE has posted a roundtable discussion hosted by Byron Saxton with Big E., Bobby Lashley, and Kofi Kingston as the three Black champions of the modern era in the company:
**Sean Waltman will wrestle his first match in nearly three years tonight at the GCW event in Los Angeles. Waltman last wrestled over WrestleMania Weekend in 2019 at WrestleCon’s Mark Hitchcock Memorial Supershow. Waltman will be teaming with Joey Janela against Matt Cardona & Brian Myers, which was set up at The WRLD on GCW pay-per-view last month at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
**JJ Williams tweeted out the details of the AEW Fan Fest next Saturday, which was circulated by the promotion via email on Friday. The Fan Fest takes place next Saturday at the Addition Financial Center in Orlando (the site of the Revolution event the following night) and will include live matches, Q&As, photo-ops, and meet-and-greets. The first meet-and-greet from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 will include Britt Baker, Adam Cole, Eddie Kingston, Ruby Soho, and reDRagon. The second one is at 2:30 p.m. with Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, Danhausen, Anna Jay, Tay Conti, Hangman Page, and the House of Black. There are also promoting a VIP experience with Chris Jericho, a photo-op with Jade Cargill, and AEW World Title photo-op along with the stage shows that include Q&As with Danhausen and House of Black, and reDRagon & Adam Cole.
**Terminus held its second show on Thursday night in Atlanta featuring Jonathan Gresham retaining the original ROH title against Santana (billed as Mike Santana on the broadcast). They were having a nice match and picked up the pace with constant covers and reversals with the idea to catch everyone by surprise with Gresham reversing and cradling Santana. Unfortunately, referee Michael Black executed a bad count where he attempted to make the first count, adjusted his position to continue the count, and threw everyone off and it was described as a two-count by announcer Lenny Leonard. Then to make it worse, they went right to another cover with Gresham using a jackknife cover and Santana kicking out at three, but it was ruled the finish and could not have been a flatter ending to the match. Gresham was critical of the referee in his promo afterward and then engaged in a game of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ with two fans. It was a bad end to the show, and they indicated there would likely be a rematch down the road.
**In an update from earlier this week, Trish Stratus will be hosting two WWE live events in Canada next month. Stratus was announced for the March 26th show in Kitchener, Ontario, and will also appear at the card in Toronto the following day.
**A press conference was held on Friday in Japan with the announcement of a women’s freelance wrestling summit taking place on May 20th at Shinjuku Face. The venture will be identified as ‘NOMADS’ and is being spearheaded by freelancers Natsu Sumire, Yukihi Maya, Rina Yamashita, and Miyuki Takase. Karen Peterson has a report on today’s press conference on her site.
**The second episode of NXT Level Up airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET on the WWE Network with the following matches taped:
*Xyon Quinn vs. James Drake
*Elektra Lopez vs. Sarray
*Harland & Joe Gacy vs. KUSHIDA & Ikemen Jiro
**NJPW Strong on Saturday night will feature Tom Lawlor defending the STRONG Openweight Championship against Taylor Rust, El Phantasmo vs. Matt Rehwoldt, and ETHAN HD vs. Karl Fredericks streaming at 8 p.m. ET on New Japan World.
**Pro Wrestling NOAH will crown new GHC tag team champions on March 13th at Yokohama Budokan. There will be semi-final matches involving Naomichi Marufuji & Masaaki Mochizuki vs., Kaito Kiyomiya & Daiki Inaba, and Kenoh & Masakatsu Funaki vs. Masa Kitamiya & Yoshiki Inamura with the two winners meeting later that night to determine the new champions. The titles were vacated by Keiji Muto & Marufuji earlier this month due to Muto’s hip problems.
**New GHC heavyweight champion Kazuyuki Fujita will make his first title defense on March 21st against Masato Tanaka in Fukuoka. After Fujita defeated Katsuhiko Nakajima this past Wednesday, Tanaka issued the challenge and the match was confirmed. The same show will see Atsushi Kotoge & YO-HEY defend the GHC junior heavyweight tag titles against NOSAWA Rongai & Kotaro Suzuki.
**All Japan’s next major show is Champions Night 3 on Monday, March 21st at Ota Ward General Gymnasium. The main event will see Kento Miyahara defend the Triple Crown against Shuji Ishikawa as well as the return of Jake Lee. The show is also advertising Tatsumi Fujinami for a six-man tag, which will follow his appearance on the New Japan anniversary card next Tuesday where he teams with Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi against Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr. & Yoshiaki Fujiwara.
LINEUPS FOR THIS WEEKEND
GCW Welcome to Heartbreak
Tonight at 11 p.m. ET on FITE TV
*GCW Extreme Championship: AJ Gray (champion) vs. ACH
*Joey Janela & X-Pac vs. Matt Cardona & Brian Myers
*The Briscoes vs. Jacob Fatu & Juicy Finau
*Blake Christian vs. Nick Wayne
*Ninja Mack vs. Speedball Mike Bailey
*Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. Homicide
*Jimmy Lloyd vs. Matthew Justice vs. Gringo Loco vs. Jordan Oliver vs. Jack Cartwheel vs. TBA
*Kevin Blackwood vs. Tony Deppen
Saturday on the GCW YouTube channel
*Peter Avalon vs. Dark Sheik
*Jack Cartwheel vs. Brandon Gatson
*D-Rogue vs. Ju Dizz
*Damian Drake & Matt Vandagriff vs. Lil Chulo & B-Boy
*Kevin Blackwood vs. Jai Vidal
*Allie Katch vs. Sandra Moone
*Tyler Bateman vs. Bad Dude Tito
Saturday night at Washington Hall in Seattle
*Interim DEFY Championship: Christopher Daniels (champion) vs. Clark Connors
*Shane Strickland vs. Nick Wayne
*JONAH vs. Schaff
GCW The Coldest Winter
Saturday at 11 p.m. ET on FITE TV
*Tony Deppen vs. Thunder Rosa
*Ninja Mack vs. Jack Cartwheel
*Jimmy Lloyd vs. Alex Zayne
*Speedball Mike Bailey vs. Blake Christian
*Jordan Oliver vs. Dark Sheik
*Mascara Dorada vs. Gringo Loco
**Bellator 275 is currently taking place from Dublin, Ireland and we will have a report later tonight from Eric Marcotte. In the main event, welterweight champion Gegard Mousasi defending his title against Austin Vanderford. Conor McGregor is in attendance at the show.
**The UFC Fight Night event on Saturday will see Bobby Green return two weeks after his decision win against Nasrat Haqparast as a late replacement to fight Islam Makhachev. Because of the short notice, they will fight at a catchweight of 160 pounds and will be Green’s first main event in the promotion after nine years with the UFC. Makhachev was scheduled to fight Beneil Dariush, who had to withdraw from the fight. The Dagestani fighter is 21-1 and victorious in his last nine fights with everyone assuming he will fight for the lightweight title at some point.
Makhachev is a -900 favorite according to Draft Kings while Green is listed at +600.
The rest of the card is highlighted by emerging prospect Arman Tsurukyan (17-2), who goes after his fifth consecutive win when he fights Joel Alvarez. Misha Cirkunov (15-7) has his second fight at middleweight after losing his debut at the new weight class last October when he lost to Krzystof Jotko by split decision.
Below is the full card for Saturday’s show:
MAIN CARD (7 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Islam Makhachev (21-1) vs. Bobby Green (29-12-1)
*Misha Cirkunov (15-7) vs. Wellington Turman (17-5)
*Ji Yeon Kim (9-4-2) vs. Priscila Cachoeira (10-4)
*Arman Tsurukyan (17-2) vs. Joel Alvarez (19-2)
*Armen Petrosyan (6-1) vs. Gregory Rodrigues (11-3)
PRELIMINARY CARD (4 p.m. on ESPN+)
*Zhu Rong (19-4) vs. Ignacio Bahamondes (12-4)
*Josiane Nunes (8-1) vs. Ramona Pascula (6-2)
*Fares Ziam (12-3) vs. Terrance McKinney (11-3)
*Alejandro Perez (22-8-1) vs. Jonathan Martinez (14-4)
*Micheal Gillmore (6-4) vs. Ramiz Brahimaj (9-4)
*Victor Altamirano (10-1) vs. Carlos Hernandez (7-1)
**UFC bantamweight Zviad Lazishvili has been suspended by USADA for ten months after testing positive for the clomiphene and its metabolites following an in-competition drug test last October. Lazishvili (13-1) was tested on October 23rd when he fought Jonathan Martinez in his UFC debut and lost by unanimous decision. He was tested again out-of-competition on November 5th. From the release:
While Lazishvili provided sufficient evidence that his use of clomiphene occurred prior to entering the program, he did not declare clomiphene on his onboarding declaration form and therefore he faces a violation for the presence of the substance in his samples. Lazishvili received a reduction to the period of ineligibility for his Full and Complete Cooperation.
Lazishvili’s 10-month period of ineligibility began on October 23, 2021, the date his first positive sample was collected. Lazishvili’s positive test also falls under the jurisdiction of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which is resolving the case in accordance with its rules.
Lazishvili will be eligible to return as of August 23, 2022.
**MMA reporters Luke Thomas of CBS Sports/Morning Kombat and John Nash from Bloody Elbow have released a terrific breakdown of UFC fighter pay and getting into a lot of details about how the current deals are structured, the impact of sponsors in the space, the pros and cons to the Muhammad Ali Act as it would apply to MMA, the steps needed to unionize and the limitations that the industry presents for that options, as well as a thorough analysis of the UFC’s finances and percentages allocated to fighters that have come out due to the antitrust suit with court documents. This is a must-watch if this is an area of the industry that you are interested in, or want to learn more about:
**Long-time MMA reporter John Morgan announced this week that he is leaving MMA Junkie after fourteen years. Morgan began with the site in 2007 when it was still known as ‘UFC Junkie’ and was launched by a group that included Dann Stupp with Morgan being their first hiring. There is probably no other MMA reporter that has logged as many miles as Morgan covering the vast majority of UFC events in person over his time with the site. He made the announcement on his Road Show podcast this week and didn’t go into detail but mentioned he and the management had different views on his role. Morgan will be covering Saturday’s UFC Fight Night event in Las Vegas as his final card before leaving and will be joining a new outlet, which he said will be in place for UFC 272 next weekend. In addition to on-site coverage, Morgan has also done a lot of commentary on the regional scene including for CFFC alongside CM Punk. Morgan was named MMA Journalist of the Year in 2009 at the World MMA Awards.
**The PFL Challengers series has its second card tonight at 9 p.m. ET on Fubo Sports. The fights will include Jarrah Al-Silawi (15-3) vs. Michael Lilly (7-6), Dilano Taylor (7-1) vs. Mark Martin (6-1), Socrates Pierre (0-0) vs. Carlos Leal (13-3), and Nathan Pierce (0-0) vs. Chris Mixan (2-1) from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.
**LFA has a live card tonight at 10 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass from Niagara Falls, New York. The card is headlined by Jaqueline Amorim (4-0) vs. Loveth Young (3-1-1) for the vacant 115-pound title. The main card rounds out with Adam Fugitt (4-1) vs. Solomon Renfro (8-2), Hilarie Rose (5-3) vs. Ashley Nichols (3-2), and Teshay Gouthro (3-1) vs. Charalampos Grigoriou (4-3).
Charles Jourdain (12-4-1) vs. Lando Vannata (12-5-2) at UFC Fight Night on April 23 (Cageside Press)
Brandon Royval (13-6) vs. Matt Schnell (15-5) – UFC 274 on May 7 (MMA Junkie)
Nick Maximov (8-0) vs. Andre Petroski (7-1) – UFC Fight Night on May 14
POST DAILY NEWS: Cesaro’s WWE contract expires
Wai Ting & Andrew Thompson discuss Cesaro’s WWE contract expiring, AEW Dynamite’s ratings rebound, TERMINUS 2’s unfortunate main event conclusion and more.
BTWA: Bret Hart WWE Documentary (2005)
Martin Bushby & Andrew Thompson are joined by Eric Marcotte to look back at the WWE documentary, Bret “Hitman” Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be.
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE: MJF, Eddie Kingston & Chris Jericho promos
John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite with incredible talking segments with MJF as well as Chris Jericho and Eddie Kingston.
SHOT IN THE DARK: NXT Level Up premiere, Gisele Shaw debuts on IMPACT
John Siino reviews the debut of NXT Level Up, IMPACT’s No Surrender go-home show, NJPW Strong, AEW Dark, Dark: Elevation and more in under 15 minutes on Shot In The Dark.
upNXT: Skeet Dunne
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review WWE NXT 2.0 headlined by Dolph Ziggler vs Tommaso Ciampa to determine the Number 1 Contender for the NXT Championship.
REWIND-A-WAI #104: WrestleMania 27
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE WrestleMania XXVII hosted by The Rock and headlined by The Miz vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship.
REWIND-A-RAW: Elimination Chamber Fallout
John Pollock & Wai Ting review Episode #1500 of WWE Raw following the Elimination Chamber as the promotion for WrestleMania escalates.
WRESTLENOMICS: Cody Rhodes leaves AEW
Brandon Thurston and Chris Gullo discuss what might have led to Cody Rhodes’ AEW exit and what his future, likely with WWE, may be like.
WWE Elimination Chamber 2022 POST Show
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE Elimination Chamber 2022 and discuss the latest for WrestleMania 38, Kenny Omega’s comments on Cody Rhodes, NJPW and more.
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