Originally published at POLLOCK'S UPDATE: Collision tickets at United Center in Chicago
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**The general public on sale for AEW Collision at the United Center in Chicago began on Friday. After a pre-sale on Thursday, WrestleTix reported on Friday afternoon that approximately 6,200 tickets have been distributed following the announcement this past Wednesday and the implication that CM Punk will be on the show (he has not been announced yet by AEW). The United Center is a huge arena and their last time running in the venue was Forbidden Door last June which had a turnstile count of 16,100 and a $1.1 million gate. It would seem nearly impossible for that figures to be approached for this return regardless of whether AEW announces CM Punk. The next week will be important to see if fans believe Punk is coming back and if that moves tickets in other cities set to host Collision in Toronto, Hamilton, Regina, Calgary, and Newark.
**A rep from TSN responded to us about AEW Collision and stated that there was “No news to share at the moment.” We will provide any updates if we receive them regarding the status of the program in Canada.
**Wednesday’s episode of AEW Dynamite in Canada averaged 75,600 viewers and 54,300 in the 25-54 demographic on TSN 2. The show ranked #9 among sports programs in Canada on Wednesday with the chart led by the Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers with nearly 1.5 million viewers for Game 4 of their series. Dynamite topped last Friday’s episode of SmackDown in the 25-54 demo in Canada.
**Tony Khan spoke with the media on Thursday to promote Double or Nothing and a lot of questions concerned Collision. The major note was regarding the status of WBD’s deal with AEW for the rights to Dynamite & Rampage and whether Collision represents an extension of those programs. Khan indicated it did not and that Collision is being added to the existing deal, although did not disclose a monetary figure regarding what two added hours per week provides for AEW. There is an option year for WBD, which we have not been informed has been exercised yet but would give Dynamite & Rampage another year on the network until late 2024. Khan was asked about its pay-per-view strategy with Collision on Saturday nights and didn’t confirm a permanent move to Sunday night pay-per-views but would seem the logical answer and impacts the Full Gear show. In November, it would mean running against the NFL on a Sunday night, which they have always avoided in the fall. Khan said they are still working on a broadcasting plan for All In and didn’t confirm if All Out would take place the following week (AEW executive Megha Parekh told A2theK Wrestling Show that All Out would be one week after the Wembley Stadium show). He also said the advantage of having Collision on a Saturday night is that it’s the best night of the week for selling tickets, although the show is going to be graded on its television performance more than its live event success and it’s a very tough night.
**On Pollock & Thurston today, we were joined by investigative reporter Karim Zidan to discuss the WWE-Saudi Arabia relationship as they recently passed the five-year mark since announcing a decade-long arrangement. The deal was ratified in 2018 and now calls for two events per year, in the range of $50 million paid to WWE per event. This was an excellent discussion as Zidan is an expert on the geopolitics of the region, what Saudi Arabia is paying for, the value of the deal and why $100 million per year is a drop in the bucket, the potential of the government purchasing WWE earlier this year, and actual changes that have occurred in Saudi Arabia since 2018. It’s a very informative chat and understanding of the relationship from so many angles and would encourage people to listen and read Zidan’s work on his Sports Politika Substack.
**During Friday’s press conference in Jeddah, there was a storyline update on Cody Rhodes with Michael Cole stating his arm was broken. On Raw, Rhodes refused to have the arm checked but with a broken arm angle, it would have to be incorporated into Rhodes’ presentation beyond Saturday’s match with Brock Lesnar.
**Paul Levesque stated that Night of Champions is the “fastest selling” of all their events in Saudi Arabia up until now. No figures were released and typically, they don’t release attendance or gate numbers for the shows in the region.
**After his appearance on AEW Dynamite and subsequent appearance set for Double or Nothing, there was online criticism of Sabu due to past racist and homophobic remarks. Sabu appeared as a surprise during the contract signing between Adam Cole and Chris Jericho in Las Vegas with the former ECW star set to be in Cole’s corner at Double or Nothing. It was quickly brought up how Sabu had tweeted some horrific things in the past including liberal use of the n-word, which he doubled down on its usage when asked by Pro Wrestling Sheet in 2016 stating that he didn’t apologize for using the word. Sabu’s appearance on Dynamite happened to coincide with Hulk Hogan addressing his own racist comments while appearing on The MMA Hour the same day. On the media call on Thursday, Tony Khan stated that Sabu was likely going to be a one-off appearance this Sunday but didn’t dismiss the idea of using him in the future. Added to the story is the fact that some of Sabu’s offensive comments over the past years included ones made about Taz, Renee Paquette, and Jim Ross, who all work for AEW.
**Friday Night SmackDown is a taped show from Columbia, South Carolina as the talent and production crew are in Saudi Arabia for Saturday’s Night of Champions card. It is a rare night without any sports competition from the NBA and NHL with both playoffs having a night off. The following matches and segments are set to air tonight:
*The KO Show with Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa
*United States Championship: Austin Theory © vs. Sheamus
*Raquel Rodriguez & Shotzi vs. Bayley & IYO SKY
*Cameron Grimes vs. Ashante Thee Adonis
*Rick Boogs vs. LA Knight
*AJ Styles vs. Karrion Kross
**There was a point on Friday where the WWE stock dipped below $100 but closed at $100.10 but has undergone a five percent drop over the past month. It declined last week with LightShed Partners reporting on a meeting among investors where there was concern that Fox was not looking to offer an increase for the rights to SmackDown and was the cause of the drop. Earlier this week, Nick Khan confirmed that WWE is outside of the exclusive negotiating window with Fox regarding SmackDown’s rights, which expire at the end of September 2024. Raw is still in an exclusive window with NBC Universal and its rights expire at the same time as SmackDown.
**Here is the lineup for WWE’s Night of Champions card on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on Peacock & WWE Network along with the odds released by BetOnline:
*WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Seth Rollins (-1000) vs. AJ Styles (+500)
*Cody Rhodes (+130) vs. Brock Lesnar (-180)
*Undisputed Tag Team Championships: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (-400) vs. Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa (+250)
*Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (-200) vs. Asuka (+150)
*SmackDown Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (-10000) vs. Natalya (+1000)
*Intercontinental Championship: Gunther (-5000) vs. Mustafa Ali (+1000)
*Trish Stratus (+200) vs. Becky Lynch (-300)
**Due to the Florida Panthers eliminating the Carolina Hurricanes this past Wednesday, there is no NHL game for TNT to air tonight and thus, AEW Rampage will air in its regular slot tonight at 10 p.m. ET followed by the Countdown to Double or Nothing at 11. The taped edition of Rampage from Las Vegas will feature the following matches:
*The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn vs. Rush, Dralistico & Preston Vance
*Ethan Page & The Gunns vs. Braxton, FrescoMatic & Watson
*Dr. Britt Baker & Hikaru Shida vs. Nyla Rose & Marina Shafir
*Best Friends vs. Big Bill & Lee Moriarty
**IMPACT holds its monthly event with Under Siege airing at 8 p.m. ET on FITE, Impact Plus, and Ultimate Insiders on YouTube. IMPACT is running back-to-back nights at the Western Fair District Agriplex in London, Ontario with television tapings on Saturday. It’s a fast turnaround with their Against All Odds special airing in two weeks on 6/9. Below is the card for tonight:
*IMPACT Championship: Steve Maclin © vs. PCO
*Knockouts Championship: Deonna Purrazzo © vs. Jordynne Grace
*X Division Championship: Trey Miguel © vs. Chris Sabin
*Tag Team Championships: Chris Bey & Ace Austin vs. Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster
*#1 Contenders Six-Way Match: Moose vs. Eddie Edwards vs. Jonathan Gresham vs. Frankie Kazarian vs. Alex Shelley vs. Yuya Uemura
*The Design vs. Sami Callihan, Rich Swann & TBA
*Trinity vs. Gisele Shaw
*Kenny King vs. Nick Aldis
*Knockouts Tag Team Championships: The Coven © vs. Jessicka & Courtney Rush (pre-show)
**Game Changer Wrestling presents Lifestyle tonight at the Silver Nugget Casino in Las Vegas and streaming on Fite+ at 11 p.m. ET. Below is the lineup:
*El Hijo del Vikingo vs. Komander vs. Gringo Loco
*GCW Ultraviolent Championship: Rina Yamashita © vs. Cole Radrick
*Matt Cardona & Steph De Lander vs. Joey Janela & Sawyer Wreck
*Sandra Moone vs. Maki Itoh
*Blake Christian vs. Dark Sheik
*Effy, Allie Katch & Mance Warner vs. Los Macizos & John Wayne Murdoch vs. Starboy Charlie, Jack Cartwheel & Titus Alexander
**Stardom presents its Flashing Champions pay-per-view this Saturday from Ota City General High School. The show streams on the Pia site early Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET with the following card:
*World of Stardom & Wonder of Stardom: Tam Nakano vs. Mina Shirakawa
*Artist of Stardom: KAIRI, Natsupoi & Saori Anou © vs. Giulia, Mai Sakurai & Thekla
*Goddesses of Stardom: MIRAI & Ami Sohrei © vs. Natsuko Tora & Momo Watanabe
*High-Speed Championship: AZM © vs. Saki Kashima vs. Fukigen Death
*Nanae Takahashi, Yuna Mizumori & HANAKO vs. Maika, Suzu Suzuki & Mei Seira
*Mayu Iwatani, Hazuki, Koguma & Hanan vs. Mariah May, Xena, Jessie & Waka Tsukiyama
*Utami Hayashishita, Saya Kamitani & Hina vs. Starlight Kid, Ruaka & Rina
*Syuri & Aya Sakura vs. Ram Kaichow & Maika Ozaki
*Saya Iida vs. Lady C vs. Momo Kohgo (pre-show)
**AIW is streaming their Eyes of the Beast show tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET featuring Minoru Suzuki vs. Isaiah Broner, and Matt Cardona defends the AIW Championship against Josh Prohibition in an Intense Rules Match.
**WWE has added four more shows for The Undertaker for his 1 deadMan events in the U.K. WWE has announced shows for July 1 in London, England at Indigo at the O2, July 2 in Wolverhampton at The Civic at the Halls, July 3 in Manchester at Albert Hall, and July 4 in Glasgow, Scotland at the O2 Academy with AEG as the presenting sponsor. The shows will be piggybacking off SmackDown & Money in the Bank, which takes place at the O2 Arena in London on June 30 & July 1.
**The semi-finals of the Best of the Super Juniors went down on Thursday with Master Wato pinning Speedball Mike Bailey and Titan submitting El Desperado. Master Wato had a career match against Bailey with outstanding selling of his arm and absorbing the blistering kicks of Bailey but kept coming back. The big moments included Wato kicking out of Ultima Weapon and firing out of the corner after several big kicks and landing a spinning roundhouse before the High Angle German, which has been how he’s won all his matches in the tournament. Titan pulled off another upset beating Hiromu Takahashi and El Desperado in back-to-back matches to advance to Sunday’s final. Titan has elevated his stock greatly this week and won with Llave Inmortal, which is his version of a Muta Lock. I doubt there was one person that predicted this would be the final of the tournament, but it’s been great in terms of match quality, so many different styles being showcased, and creating title challengers. Hiromu Takahashi sustained losses to Lio Rush, Speedball Mike Bailey, and LIJ teammate Titan, plus you have Sunday’s winner for the title shot. Over the past week, I would highly recommend El Desperado vs. Francesco Akira, Speedball vs. Lio Rush, and Speedball vs. Master Wato.
**The BOSJ card at Yoyogi Gymnasium #2 on Friday drew 1,330 fans. After eleven tournament shows, New Japan averaged 1,105 throughout the tour. Sunday’s final is at Ota Ward City Gymnasium and streams at 5:30 a.m. ET on New Japan World.
**All Japan Pro Wrestling runs an event at Korakuen Hall this Monday with Yuji Nagata defending the Triple Crown against T-Hawk (who is replacing the injured Shotaro Ashino).
POLLOCK & THURSTON: Investigative Reporter Karim Zidan
John Pollock and Brandon Thurston chat with Karim Zidan of Sports Politika on the WWE’s business partnership with the Government of Saudi Arabia.
ASK-A-WAI Mailbag Show
John Pollock and Wai Ting answer their patrons’ questions about anything and everything in an extra-large May 2023 edition of Ask-A-Wai.
John Pollock & Wai Ting review the final AEW Dynamite before Double or Nothing with Tony Khan announcing the location of AEW Collision’s debut.
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review WWE NXT from May 23, 2023, featuring the “Go Home” show for Battleground & the Semi-Finals in the NXT Women’s Championship Tournament.
THE WELLNESS POLICY: Children’s Mental Health
Wai Ting, Jordan Goodman, and Neal Flanagan are joined by Chris Duke, author and mental health advocate, to talk about his work in supporting mental well-being for kids and his journey through struggles such as postpartum depression.
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Raw’s final episode before Night of Champions featuring a big angle involving Cody Rhodes & Brock Lesnar.
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