POLLOCK'S UPDATE: February Television Stats, The Return of Jon Jones

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2023/03/03/pollocks-update-february-television-stats-the-return-of-jon-jones/


**Friday Night SmackDown takes place from the Capital One Center in Washington, D.C. (the site of the first episode of Dynamite in October 2019) and will feature the first interaction between Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes since Rhodes’ return to the company. SmackDown has consistently been the top program on Friday nights and should continue that trend over the next month as WrestleMania heats up. It should be at or near a sell-out based on the configuration by show time with WrestleTix reporting over 12,200 tickets distributed as of today.
Below is the advertised line-up for tonight’s episode at 8 p.m. ET on Fox:
*Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes to appear together
*Sami Zayn vs. Solo Sikoa
*Rhea Ripley vs. Liv Morgan
*Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler vs. Natalya & Tegan Nox

**AEW Rampage is live tonight with their second show of the week from the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California. It is the final episode before Sunday’s pay-per-view. Tony Khan indicated that the pay-per-view card is pretty much set, although tonight’s show would have an impact on Revolution. They also need to release matches for the Zero-Hour pre-show. The following matches have been announced for tonight’s show at 10 p.m. ET on TNT:
*Dustin Rhodes & Keith Lee vs. Mogul Affiliates
*Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta vs. Aussie Open vs. Top Flight vs. Alex Reynolds & John Silver

**While promoting tonight’s episode of Rampage, AEW president Tony Khan stated:

2023 will be the biggest year yet for AEW, I have major announcements coming soon that are important to AEW & our fans!

**The Countdown to AEW Revolution special airs immediately after Rampage on TNT.

**WWE has a full slate of house shows this weekend with crews in Syracuse, New York, and Toronto, Ontario on Saturday night. The Toronto show features Roman Reigns vs. Sami Zayn in a rematch from Elimination Chamber with over 6,100 tickets out for that event and received a bump after the addition of Reigns and the match announcement. The Syracuse card is led by Cody Rhodes taking on Finn Balor and Seth Rollins vs. Austin Theory with over 4,200 tickets out for that show. On Sunday, the crews are in Kitchener, Ontario (although Roman Reigns is only advertised for Toronto) and Trenton, New Jersey. (Data: WrestleTix)

**Brian Solomon, who wrote the excellent biography of Ed “The Sheik” Farhat, has announced his new project. In 2024, he will be releasing a biography on Gorilla Monsoon (Robert Marella), which will be released through ECW Press. The title of the book is “Irresistible Force: The Life & Times of Gorilla Monsoon” and should be a tremendous look into the deep career of Monsoon, who was instrumental behind the scenes of Capitol Sports as one of the minority owners with Vince McMahon Sr. and becoming the voice of the national expansion years. Monsoon’s last appearance on camera occurred at WrestleMania 15 in March 1999 as a judge for the Brawl for All between Butterbean and Bart Gunn and it was evident from his appearance that he was getting very sick. Monsoon died in October of that year at the age of 62.

**GCW has two shows in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Saturday and Sunday that stream on Fite+. Saturday’s card at 8 p.m. ET has El Hijo del Vikingo vs. Alex Zayne, Los Mazisos vs. The Maximos for the GCW tag titles, Rina Yamashita vs. Kasey Kirk for the Ultraviolent title, Drew Parker vs. John Wayne Murdoch, LuFisto vs. Maki Itoh, Blake Christian vs. AKIRA, Joey Janela vs. VENY, Effy vs. Slade, and Jordan Oliver vs. Alex Coughlin for the JCW title. The card on Sunday includes Los Mazisos defending the tag titles (if they are still champions) against the Motor City Machine Guns.

**Smash Wrestling has postponed their 3/25 event in Toronto with the new date set for 4/29. The event will still take place at the Franklin Horner Community Centre (just outside of Toronto in Etobicoke). Promoter Sebastian Dastranj issued a statement and noted:

While my family has exciting news around the corner, some unforeseen concerns leave me in a position where being a good father and husband means I won’t be able to meet the standards that both we and our fans set for a Smash Wrestling show. This has led to the very difficult decision to postpone the March 25 show.

The company will honor all the tickets on the new date or can be provided with a refund and ticket buyers will be contacted immediately, according to the statement.

**British wrestler Sha Samuels shared that he spent the past two weeks as a guest coach at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.

**The WWE stock closed at $83.58 on Friday.

**The Ringer’s Cameron Hawkins has an excellent story on Bryan Danielson going into Revolution. Danielson shared his thoughts on what makes a match worthwhile and advice he has for the younger talent on how to assess their performances:

One of the things that a lot of the younger guys—and it’s very wise of them to do this, but it’s not necessarily my cup of tea after I’ve wrestled them—they say, ‘Do you have any feedback for me?’ And my thing is, ‘Did you have fun? Did you enjoy?’ Because to me, immediately after a match is not a great time. Especially when I’ve wrestled them. … It’s cultivating the idea, the sense that you can go out and really enjoy what we do, as opposed to about whether it’s good or bad. Wrestling is such a subjective thing. I could watch something and not enjoy it at all, and other people could watch it and think it’s the greatest thing ever. … You see all these social media things about, ‘Oh, these guys don’t know what they’re doing.’ And then the people who love the guys that they just talked about, they’re just like, ‘No, the guys that you like don’t know what they’re doing,’ or, ‘They’re boring,’ or, ‘They’re this or they’re that or whatever.’ And the idea is, it’s not like football, where if you give a running back the ball and he gets 5 yards every single carry, he’s a great running back. … Do people enjoy it?

**Wrestle Universe is adding the Keiji Muto Retirement card from Tokyo Dome to the service this Sunday. The card aired as a separate pay-per-view last week and is one of the must-see matches of the year between Muto and Tetsuya Naito. While it isn’t going to be the best technical wrestling match of the year, the emotion and storytelling was at another level and may go down as one of the great retirements in wrestling history, if it sticks.

**Trinity Fatu has been added to the WrestleCon convention over WrestleMania Weekend.

**Tamina spoke with PWmania.com about this Sunday’s A&E block of WWE programming that includes the Biography episode on Joanie Lauer. Tamina spoke about her own experiences of seeing the growth of female performers in WWE:

For me, I came in at a time where it was the divas era. From the beginning, working with all these different girls, I’m grateful. However, I would look around and think that’s not me. These women were model types of women, and I’m Tamina. I’m a tomboy, and I’m a wrestler.

Coming in at a time like this, I had to find my place, and find what fits me during that era. Fast forward to today, I want so much for these girls. I came in at a time with Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Paige, Becky Lynch, and that was just an insane era.

We broke so many barriers. Fast forward to the newer generation, you continuously want an even better change for the women who are coming into this business. With my niece, Ava Raine, now being a part of this company, I want something great for her and all of them.


Numbers for the month of February with comparisons to January in brackets. Data courtesy of Wrestlenomics, Showbuzz Daily, and POST Wrestling.

WWE Raw*

Viewership: 1,863,0000 (1,849,000)
683,000 (694,000)
242,000 (260,000)
441,000 (435,000)
Canada: 302,000 (272,000)

*The January numbers feature the big Raw is XXX special along with three episodes that aired against football including one NFL playoff game.

WWE SmackDown

Viewership: 2,411,000 (2,346,000)
800,000 (752,000)
18-34: 264,000 (260,000)
535,000 (492,000)
239,000 (227,000)


Viewership: 586,500 (629,000)
18-49: 174,000 (186,000)
18-34: 76,500 (59,000)
35-49: 97,000 (127,000)
Canada: 67,500 (64,000)

AEW Dynamite

Viewership: 913,000 (951,000)
398,000 (397,000)
18-34: 165,000 (151,000)
234,000 (246,000)
95,000 (101,500)

AEW Rampage*

397,000 (497,000)
147,000 (181,000)
54,000 (63,000)
93,000 (118,000)

*We did not include the Feb. 17 edition that aired at 7 p.m. ET instead of its normal time

IMPACT Wrestling

Viewership: 89,000 (97,500)
16,500 (19,000)


**Jon Jones, arguably the greatest fighter of all time, is back on Saturday night and making his heavyweight debut with an opportunity to become a two-division champion. Jones will step back into the octagon for the first time since February 2020 when he meets Ciryl Gane. Jones, 35, has been as impressive a fighter inside cage as he has been a tragic one outside of it. Jones’ prime years have been riddled with arrests, drug test failures, a hit-and-run, and a domestic violence case in 2021 (the domestic battery charge was later dropped). This is a fight that is all about the questions of how Jones will look after so much time off, a new weight class, whether his skills have diminished, and how Gane approaches those unknowns. There is probably no fighter in MMA history that has left more money on the table than Jones from major fights and sponsorship opportunities with minimal activity over the past six years. After being stripped of the light heavyweight title in 2015 following the hit-and-run case, Jones didn’t compete until April 2016 when he looked sluggish against Ovince Saint Preux but earned a decision win. Jones planned for an immediate return in July for a highly anticipated rematch against Daniel Cormier. Jones was pulled days before the fight due to a drug test violation and would sit out for the next year. In August 2017, the rematch with Cormier finally happens and Jones looked sensational in the fight, but weeks later, another drug test violation is discovered and the fight is changed to a no-contest on his record with Jones going another sixteen months before his next fight. He returned to beat Alexander Gustafsson in December 2018 in a fight week marred by the introduction of the term “picograms” for fight fans which led to the UFC moving the card from Las Vegas to California to accommodate Jones when a trace amount of Turinabol was found in his system and California was able to grant a license in time, while Nevada could not. His last two fights were narrow decision wins against Thiago Santos in July 2019 and Dominick Reyes in February 2020. Santos was plagued by a left knee that was destroyed and a right knee that had a partial tear and severely limited his offense. Jones won by split decision against Santos, but it was the unanimous decision win against Reyes that was more debated. It was a razor-close fight, and many felt Reyes won the fight (I had it 3-2 for Jones). The fight against Reyes was the most human Jones had appeared and was very beatable that night, which was something we had not seen. Three years later and it’s impossible to guess how the time off and weight gain will impact Jones, how strong his wrestling is, and whether he is still at the cutting edge of the game or several steps behind. There is no more complicated figure than Jones, who has been celebrated and dismissed so many times in his career, someone with naturally given gifts and also, terrible judgment, which have been the balancing act he has tried to maintain as the greatest fighter with the greatest baggage.

**Geoff Neal missed weight by four pounds for his welterweight contest against Shavkat Rakhmonov at UFC 285. The fight will still take place, albeit at a catchweight and Neal forfeiting 30 percent of his purse. The fight is scheduled for the pay-per-view main card on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Bantamweight Leomana Martinez also missed weight at 137 pounds for his fight with Cameron Saaiman on the prelims and will also lose 30 percent of his purse with the fight contested at a catchweight.

**Below is the full card for UFC 285 on Saturday night with the results from the weigh-ins:

MAIN CARD (10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view)
*UFC Heavyweight Championship (vacant): Jon Jones (248) vs. Ciryl Gane (247.5)
*UFC Flyweight Championship: Valentina Shevchenko (124.5) vs. Alexa Grasso (124.5)
*Shavkat Rakhmonov (171) vs. Geoff Neal (175)
*Mateusz Gamrot (156) vs. Jalin Turner (155.5)
*Bo Nickal (185.5) vs. Jamie Pickett (186)

*Cody Garbrandt (136) vs. Trevin Jones (135)
*Dricus Du Plessis (185) vs. Derek Brunson (185.5)
*Viviane Araujo (126) vs. Amanda Ribas (126)
*Julian Marquez (186) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (185)

EARLY PRELIMS (5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+ & UFC Fight Pass)
*Ian Garry (171) vs. Song Kenan (171)
*Cameron Saaiman (135) vs. Leomanna Martinez (137)
*Jessica Penne (116) vs. Tabatha Ricci (115.5)
*Farid Basharat (136) vs. Da’Mon Blackshear (136)
*Esteban Ribovics (156) vs. Loik Radzhabov (155.5)

**Episode 5 of UFC Embedded for UFC 285.


**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live at 11 p.m. ET for POST Wrestling Café members. Wai & I will review Friday Night SmackDown, AEW Rampage, and the debut episode of ROH on Honor Club. Plus, we’ll do a preview of AEW Revolution and open the phone lines.

**We have released our first review of Drive to Survive Season 5. On the first show (which is free), Wai & I are joined by Chris Elliot to discuss the first three episodes of the latest season and tee up this Sunday’s opening race in Bahrain. We will do subsequent reviews of season five each Thursday throughout March for POST Wrestling Café members.

**The UFC 285 POST Show will be live this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET with Eric Marcotte and I discussing Saturday’s card and the return of Jon Jones. The show will stream on the POST YouTube channel.

**Our AEW Revolution POST Show will be live late Sunday night as soon as the pay-per-view ends and also streams on the POST YouTube channel.

**We have a WrestleMania Week Schedule on the site that we will be constantly updating throughout the month with the latest match announcements and shows happening in and around Los Angeles that week.

F1: Drive to Survive Season 5, Episodes 1-3 Review [FREE]
John Pollock & Wai Ting are joined by Chris Elliot to discuss Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 5, Episodes 1-3. A free preview from the POST Wrestling Café.
John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite with the Casino Tag Team Battle Royale and the Face of the Revolution Ladder Match from the Cow Palace in San Francisco.
REWIND-A-WAI #126: WWF UK Rampage ‘92
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWF UK Rampage ‘92 from Sheffield, England; the final stop of a European tour in the immediate aftermath of WrestleMania VIII. Featuring Randy Savage vs. Shawn Michaels in a rarely-seen WWF Championship match.

Davie Portman and John Siino review the February 28th, 2023 edition of  WWE NXT headlined by Carmelo Hayes vs Tyler Bate.
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Raw with Damage CTRL defending the tag titles against Becky Lynch & Lita, plus Brock Lesnar confronts Omos.
Brandon Thurston, Jesse Collings, and Chris Gullo evaluate whether the WWE Performance Center should be considered a success. Plus, a look at WBD’s claims about AEW Dynamite’s viewership.

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