POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: WrestleMania Backlash & UFC 274 analysis, Roman Reigns, Tammy Sytch

Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: WrestleMania Backlash & UFC 274 analysis

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-Raw is live at 11 p.m. ET tonight with Wai Ting and I reviewing the fallout from WrestleMania Backlash. The show will be live on the POST YouTube channel and available on your podcast feed early Tuesday morning.

**We have Sunday’s WrestleMania Backlash POST Show available for everyone with Wai and I chatting about the card, a strong wrestling show with several great matches, Rhea Ripley joining Judgment Day, Roman Reigns’ promo from Saturday, and we take your calls and feedback.

**The UFC 274 POST Show is available on all our platforms with Phil Chertok and I reviewing Saturday’s card, Charles Oliveira’s win after missing weight, a terrible fight for the 115-pound title, and one of the best knockouts you are going to see courtesy of Michael Chandler.

**The POST Daily News Show returns on Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock & Wai Ting (11 p.m. ET)
Tuesday: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
Tuesday: Doctor Strange review with Wai Ting & WH Park (Patreon)
Wednesday: Shot in the Dark with John Siino
Wednesday: Rewind-A-Dynamite with John & Wai (10 p.m.)
Thursday: The British Wrestling Experience with Martin Bushby, Benno & Andy Ogden
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John & Wai (10 p.m.)
Saturday: The Long & Winding Royal Road with WH Park & Benno (Stan Hansen vs. Vader, Feb. 1990)
Sunday: Wrestlenomics Radio with Brandon Thurston & Chris Gullo

WRESTLING NEWS

**On Saturday night, Roman Reigns addressed the crowd at the live event in Trenton, New Jersey:

“I’ve been here many times. I’ve been here probably couple of times in the past 10 years. I’m starting to work into a new phase in my career, and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be back here again. If that’s the case, I just want to say thank you for all these years of support.”

It is believed that Reigns is about to enter a new deal with WWE that will come with fewer dates. So far in 2022, Reigns has been very active at house shows despite not wrestling on Raw or SmackDown this year (38 matches with 25 of them at live events and the others in TV dark matches and pay-per-view). Based on the way the six-man tag was booked on Sunday, it didn’t build to an immediate match for Reigns and would make Hell in a Cell seem like a show where Reigns isn’t positioned for anything. There is clearly a direction with Drew McIntyre, but it would seem early to go to that match before the summer when they have three stadium shows booked including Clash at the Castle in Wales.

Reigns posted the following video on Instagram on Monday:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Joe Anoai aka “Roman Reigns” (@romanreigns)

**Charlotte Flair is expected to be taking time off with Sunday’s loss to Ronda Rousey including a storyline injury with a broken radius from the armbar through the chair at the finish. The Wrestling Observer site reported that this time off will coincide with her upcoming wedding to AEW star Andrade El Idolo. Flair mentioned in an interview with Ariel Helwani during WrestleMania Week that she was getting married in the summer. It is unknown how much time she will have off.

**WrestleMania Backlash was a solid wrestling show with three excellent matches including the six-man main event, the I Quit match and the rematch between Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes. Edge and AJ Styles were just below that and the audience wasn’t as receptive to some of the subtleties of the selling by AJ Styles and other aspects that they built the match around. On paper, it looked like a good show from a wrestling perspective, and in that sense, it still over-delivered, especially with Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey, which redeemed their match at WrestleMania that was a letdown for most.

The negative was the build-up for the show was lackluster and it comes down to how you follow the WWE product. If you’re a viewer that mainly follows the monthly pay-per-views, more often than not, you’ll come away satisfied and then you return in four weeks with a new set of matches and it’s been enough time that you’re looking forward to the show of the month. For the next level of fan that is consuming Raw and SmackDown, you’re investing a lot more of your time and therefore, should demand a higher rate of return when it comes to the weekly television and stories being told.

There has never been a larger chasm between the profitability of producing television and viewer satisfaction with the on-screen product. It’s an interesting thought exercise of what is the best way to consume the WWE product? For many, it isn’t as a weekly product but on the other side, there are still plenty that follow show-by-show and it’s the lifeblood of WWE in the era of escalating media rights. The industry has greatly changed for the company over the past ten years where the television built the pay-per-views with the latter serving as your big income and a flop on pay-per-view was going to hurt. Today, the revenue is guaranteed regardless of how Backlash performs and comes when they are on Peacock where it’s likely more people watched this year’s edition of Backlash than any post-WrestleMania pay-per-view in history because of the larger number of homes with access compared to the WWE Network or pay-per-view where a show like this would be $44.95 pre-network.

**In an interesting statistic, for the go-home editions of Raw and SmackDown over the past week, there were 33 people in matches on television and only two (Bobby Lashley and AJ Styles) had matches at Backlash including zero from Friday’s edition of SmackDown.

**WWE Raw takes place from the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut tonight with WrestleTix reporting almost 6,500 tickets are out. As of Monday afternoon, no matches or segments have been announced yet. The next premium live event is Hell in a Cell on Sunday, June 5th from the Allstate Arena in Chicago.

**Sportsnet 360 in Canada is listing WWE Raw on tonight’s schedule at 8 p.m. ET after airing on OLN over the last two weeks.

**Zachary Green (formerly Nash Carter in WWE) has been booked by No Peace Underground for May 21st in Orlando, Florida. This will be Green’s first booking since his release by WWE last month following allegations posted by his wife Kimber Lee (Kimberly Ann Green) and a photo posted of Green shaving his mustache like Adolf Hitler’s. Green has publicly commented on the allegations or his release from WWE. He is being billed for the No Peace Underground show as ‘Zachary Wentz’, which is the name he used prior to joining WWE.

**Tammy Sytch was arrested over the weekend in connection to the traffic incident in March where Sytch allegedly hit a vehicle from behind and led to the death of 75-year-old Julien Lasseter. Her bond was set at $227,000 and she was released after 10 percent of the bond along with court fees were posted, per PWinsider.com. The same site reports that Sytch has an arraignment hearing scheduled for May 31st in Volusia County Court at 2:30 p.m. Sytch is facing one count of DUI causing death, one count of causing death while operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license, four counts of DUI causing injury to a person, and three counts of DUI causing damage to property.

PWinsider noted that she has been instructed not to leave the Florida county, although she is scheduled for a separate hearing on May 26th in New Jersey over an arrest in February on eleven charges, which she has pleaded not guilty to, and also has an ongoing criminal case after a January arrest for allegedly threatening to kill her partner in relation to a domestic dispute.

**The WWE stock fell 5 percent on Monday and closed at $55.51.

**Season three of “Miz & Mrs.” will premiere on Monday, June 6th at 11 p.m. ET following WWE Raw. They will air two episodes back-to-back that night:

**Pro Wrestling NOAH is openly asking for applications from wrestlers that want to compete for the promotion. They are accepting applications through the end of this week. The company has recently brought over several foreigners including Ninja Mack.

**Tony Khan is a guest on the Swerve City Podcast.

**AEW will be launching on TNT in Spain next month with the two Battle of the Belts specials from earlier this year. The first special from this past January will premiere on the network on Friday, June 17th at 10:05 p.m. local time and then, both Battle of the Belts specials will air on Sunday, June 19th beginning at 11:30 a.m. The Spanish language commentary will be handled by Fernando Costilla and Siro Lopez.

**MLW has announced that Lance Anoa’i & Juicy Finau, billed as the new era Samoan Swat Team will face Uno & Cinco from Cesar Duran’s Los Aztecas group. The match will be part of this Friday’s Kings of Colosseum event at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. The show will feature Alex Hammerstone vs. Richard Holliday for the MLW title, Jacob Fatu vs. Mads Krugger in a Weapons of Mass Destruction match, Taya Valkyrie vs. Holidead to crown the first featherweight champion, nZo vs. Lince Dorado, Hustle & Power vs. Marshall & Ross Von Erich vs. 5150 for the tag titles, Alex Kane vs. TBA for the National Openweight title, Matt Cross vs. ACH, Myron Reed vs. Arez vs. KC Navarro for the middleweight title, Microman vs. Mini Abismo Negro, and the return of Los Maximos.

**WWE Network will be releasing a new ‘Table for 3’ this Friday with R-Truth, Dana Brooke, and Carmella.

**Terminus has announced a ‘Modern Age Grappling’ event for Sunday, May 22nd that will stream on FITE TV at 6 p.m. ET from Hampton, Georgia. The poster includes company co-founders Jonathan Gresham & Baron Black as well as Rhett Titus, Will Ferrara, Josh Woods, Invictus Khash, Lenny Leonard & Colt Cabana.

**Syuri’s next defense of the World of Stardom Championship will be against Risa Sera on May 28th at Ota Ward Gymnasium. The same card will include Saya Kamitani defending the Wonder of Stardom title against Cinderella tournament winner MIRAI, an Artist of Stardom title defense by Maika, Himeka & Natsupoi against Starlight Kid, Momo Watanabe & Saki Kashima, and a Future of Stardom title match between Hanan and Ruaka.

**New Japan’s free match this week is from the Best of the Super Juniors tournament with Will Ospreay taking on Ricochet. Six years later and shockingly, the industry survived despite some skeptics when this match occurred.

**Being the Elite Ep. 306: “Read ‘Em & Weep”.

MMA NEWS

**Charles Oliveira had one of the most turbulent two-day periods in recent memory for a fighter. On Friday, Oliveira missed weight at 155.5 pounds and was forced to vacate the lightweight championship at the commencement of Saturday’s fight with Justin Gaethje. There were complaints about the scale being calibrated incorrectly with Oliveira and his team claiming they had made the weight but were 0.5 pounds over during Friday’s early weigh-in. It is worth adding that Oliveira was the last fighter to step onto the scale and was given an additional hour to lose the half pound and couldn’t, meaning he had nothing left to cut. One other fighter, Norma Dumont, missed weight at 146.5 pounds for her featherweight fight against Macy Chiasson but the other fighters all made weight including the other three in championship fights.

The major question was how this would affect Oliveira’s compensation for the fight. By missing weight, he was not eligible for a performance bonus, and given how he won the fight, it’s almost guaranteed he would have received one and therefore, lost at least $50,000. At the post-fight press conference, Dana White stated Oliveira would still receive points on the pay-per-view, which is significant as UFC pay-per-views have been doing exceptionally well and could represent a sizable amount if this show was above a baseline. When asked about the next time Oliveira fights, White didn’t have an answer if he would have points in that scenario and that would be a tough pill to swallow for Oliveira especially if he believes there was an issue with the scale and it will cost him.

With all that said, Oliveira turned in another legacy-building performance and submitted Justin Gaethje after an action-heavy round that lasted 3:22. As usual, Oliveira was hurt but stormed back to get Gaethje to the ground and was leagues ahead with his submission game as he moved to the back and choked Gaethje out, which was a major statement given Gaethje’s comments that Oliveira was a quitter in the past and could break based on past submission losses.

It was Oliveira’s 11th win in a row and has now put together wins against Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier, and Gaethje in a 12-month window, which is unbelievable. This is a group of lightweights that can be mixed and matched and you’re going to get ‘fight of the year’ contenders each time out and yet, Oliveira is the clear king of the group and setting himself up as one of the great lightweights of all-time. Even more impressive, is that he’s crafting a legacy while following the era of Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was never beaten for the title. There will be a fight when Oliveira cannot sustain the damage he takes and that makes for an exciting fighter that breaks so many of the norms we are accustomed to and is beating the very elite in an emphatic fashion.

Oliveira’s next fight will be for the vacant lightweight title, even though everyone acknowledges Oliveira as the champion. The top candidate is Islam Makhachev (22-1), which is the best fight on paper from a competitive standpoint and would be among Oliveira’s toughest opponents to date. Makhachev was scheduled to fight Beneil Dariush earlier this year but it fell apart, so there is nothing standing in the way of this fight. To a lesser extent is a rematch between Oliveira and Michael Chandler with the latter registering one of the greatest knockouts of all time. The only way I can see this happening is if Makhachev is not ready when the UFC wants to hold the fight. In their first fight, Chandler won the first round before he was stopped at the start of the second round. You can’t rule out Conor McGregor but that’s more based on his health and when he’s ready to fight. If McGregor were ready to fight in the fall, it would not shock me if UFC bypassed Makhachev for McGregor for obvious financial reasons, even though McGregor’s record to justify a title fight is ridiculous.

When I posted a poll on Twitter, Makhachev was the overwhelming pick to fight Oliveira with 45.5 percent of the votes followed by McGregor with 29.4 and Chandler with 25.1.

**Carla Esparza became a two-time strawweight champion by beating Rose Namajunas in one of the worst championship fights in promotional history. Over five rounds, Namajunas landed 37 significant strikes with one takedown while Esparza landed 30 with two takedowns. The crowd hated the fight with the broadcast team reflecting the opinion of the audience. It was a frustrating fight to watch as it was anyone’s fight but neither initiated to any great degree, although Esparza pushed more with 11 takedown attempts throughout the five rounds. The cornering for Namajunas was puzzling with a false sense of how the fight was going with Pat Barry acknowledging the boos and stating that’s the reaction she wants. There is always a delicate balance between the relationship a corner has with its fighter and how to get the best performance from them but sometimes it divorces the fighter from what is actually happening. In reality, Namajunas could have been down three rounds going into the championship rounds and would have needed a finish to keep her title. Instead, she showed little urgency until the fifth round, but it was too late. Neither fighter could argue about the decision because they mounted no compelling evidence for a case in favor of their victory. I scored Rounds 2-4 for Esparza and Rounds 1 and 5 for Namajunas.

Judges Eric Colon, Brad Frank, and Rick Winter agreed that Rounds 2 and 4 went to Esparza and Round 5 for Namajunas with disagreement on Rounds 1 and 3. Colon had it 48-47 for Namajunas, Frank had 48-47 for Esparza, and Winter had 49-46 for Esparza and gave her the first four rounds.

The way the judging criteria is outlined virtually eliminates a defense for a 10-10 round even in rounds like the early ones where so little happened. Once a strike is landed, it’s expected that a judge is to perform his duty and adjudicate its effectiveness despite the minimal evidence. If striking and grappling are dead even, you move to aggressiveness, and if all else fails, octagon control. After those four criteria, it’s basically impossible to argue all were equal over the course of five minutes. My gripe is not having enough scoring options where the range of 10-9 is so expansive that the first round of Namajunas-Esparaza and the second round of Francisco Trinaldo vs. Danny Roberts on Saturday are scored the same. But, that’s a different debate for another day. If you are following the criteria, you’re handcuffed to this method that basically requires a winner and loser of each round and no 10-10 rounds.

For the weight class, I cannot fathom a rematch being booked between these two and puts Namajunas in limbo as long as Esparza is champion. Both are two-time champions with Esparza winning the title both times against Namajunas 7 ½ years apart. It was indicated at the post-fight press conference that the winner of next month’s fight between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili would be next.

**Donald Cerrone was forced to withdraw from his UFC 274 fight with Joe Lauzon on the day of the fight. Cerrone came down with food poisoning and it was announced during the prelims that the pay-per-view opener was off. Cerrone posted a message on Instagram and said that he wants to have two more fights and then he’ll be done. He stated that he has had 48 fights under the Zuffa/Endeavor umbrella (this would include his WEC fights) and wants to get to 50 and then he’ll be done. Of those fights, 37 have been with the UFC but he is 0-5 with 1 no-contest since June 2019.

**The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas next Saturday with a light heavyweight main event between former champion Jan Blachowicz (28-9) and Aleksandar Rakic (14-2).

**Invicta FC has a show this Wednesday night from Memorial Hall in Kansas with Emily Ducote (10-6) defending the 115-pound title against Alesha Zappitella (9-3, 1 NC). Zappitella is a former 105-pound champion and lost the title this past January to Jessica Delboni and has moved up in weight. The promotion just marked its tenth anniversary after holding its first event in April 2012.

**Bellator 281 is this Saturday night at the SSE Arena in London, England with Michael “Venom” Page (20-1) fighting Logan Storley (13-1) in the welterweight main event and Lyoto Machida (26-11) takes on Fabian Edwards (9-2). Similar to the card in France this past weekend, it will air live on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET on Showtime.

*****
WRESTLEMANIA BACKLASH POST SHOW
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WrestleMania Backlash 2022 featuring Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey in an “I Quit” match for the SD Women’s Championship and The Bloodline vs. Drew McIntyre & RK-Bro.
****
WRESTLENOMICS: Peacock saves WWE’s popularity
WWE’s Q1 earnings call indicates WrestleMania had its biggest audience this year. Premium live events moving to a higher reach platform, Peacock, are coinciding with some measures of fan interest for WWE stabilizing after multiple years of decline.
*****
UFC 274 POST SHOW
John Pollock and Phil Chertok review Saturday’s UFC 274 card featuring Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje and Carla Esparza wins the title.
*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN
Wai Ting & Kate from MTL review an early AEW Rampage featuring the reveal of the women’s brackets for the Owen Tournament, and the Backlash go-home WWE SmackDown featuring the final chapter of Lacey Evans’ story.
*****
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.
*****

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