Originally published at POLLOCK'S UPDATE: MITB Preview, Drozdov Family Statement
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**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live at 10 p.m. ET and we will have a review of SmackDown from the O2 Arena in London, the latest news, a preview of Money in the Bank, and your calls/feedback. Join us on the POST Wrestling Café tonight.
**On Saturday, Wai Ting & I will be live immediately after WWE Money in the Bank with a show on the free feed on the POST YouTube channel.
**Next week on Rewind-A-Wai, we are covering ROH Supercard of Honor VII from April 2013 headlined by Kevin Steen vs. Jay Briscoe for the ROH Championship.
**Insider Gaming’s Mike Straw joined Brandon Thurston and I this week to discuss the long road to AEW Fight Forever’s release, the snags along the way, the CM Punk incident last August and changing the game cover, building a new engine, and early reaction to the game. Plus, Brandon and I chat about the Forbidden Door press conference, the reaction to the show, Showbuzz Daily shutting down, and the latest Collision number.
Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John Pollock & Wai Ting (10 p.m. ET on Patreon)
Saturday: WWE Money in the Bank with John & Wai (LIVE immediately after)
Saturday: MCU L8R with WH Park, Rich Fann & JP Houlihan (Patreon)
Sunday: Collision Course with Kate from Montreal & John Siino (Patreon)
**The family of Darren Drozdov released the following statement to announce his passing on Friday due to natural causes:
We are sad to share our beloved Darren passed away this morning of natural causes. There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we are feeling right now.
Darren, affectionately known as “Droz”, was involved in a tragic ring accident while wrestling for the WWE that rendered him a quadriplegic. Nevertheless, Droz maintained a championship mindset and lived every day to the fullest even though he was unable to move from the neck down for the past 24 years. His own words sum up his relentless positivity in the midst of adversity: “There is always another day. Just because I’m paralyzed and stuck in a wheelchair, doesn’t mean my life is over. I’ve learned to live again, and my life is far from over.”
We live this journey with him over the past 24 years. We were always there through the good times and the bad, and provided him with our unconditional love. We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to everyone. All of his fans, teammates, colleagues, and friends for all the love and support he received over the years. You all gave him meaning, purpose and something to live for. He loved each and every one of you and cherished the conversations, notes and letters he received. His faith in humanity never faltered, so know that for all the love you’ve shown him, he loved you back.
We also would like to thank WWE for treating him like family, and for all of their love, support and stepping up to make sure that Darren always had the proper care and treatment needed to live in his condition over the past 24 years.
He was a devoted son, brother, and friend who always put others first, especially his family. He was kind generous and was always there for his people. He was our guiding light who lit up our lives with infinite love and wonder. His smile was healing. His warmth, love, and laughter were infectious. We could always turn to him for wisdom and solace and his absence feels like a giant hole in our family and our hearts. Everyone who knew Darren was a better person because of it. He taught everyone so much about how to look at life: how to put things in perspective, how to overcome adversity, and how to show compassion for others. He would not want anyone to be sad at this moment and would want this to be a celebration of his life, to be remembered for all the great things he accomplished, the fun, the laughter, the great memories he shared with everyone.
**Money in the Bank represents WWE’s largest show in England since the famous SummerSlam event at Wembley Stadium thirty-one years ago. While there was a period of U.K.-only pay-per-views that would be distributed on VHS and DVD in North America, this is the first true pay-per-view/premium live event since 1992 (which aired on a several-day delay on pay-per-view). There is a large demand for tickets in the market with the event sold out and over 17,000 tickets distributed. On paper, it looks like one of the best WWE cards of the year that will be accentuated by the audience. The Bloodline Civil War program is the hottest one in the company and a legitimate ratings mover for the key angles and continuation of the story. There are several ways they can go but ideally, one of The Usos should be set up to challenge Roman Reigns at SummerSlam. Whether that means pinning Roman Reigns or Solo Sikoa depends on the long-term story as they have emphasized Reigns not being pinned or submitted since 2019. The Usos have been tremendous in the lead-up and executing the break-up on television with Jey showing main event level poise in non-physical scenarios working with the members of The Bloodline.
For the Money in the Bank matches, Logan Paul is the betting favorite on the men’s side while IYO SKY is the favorite among the women. I feel LA Knight is going to be one of the most popular stars on the show and the audience will be rabid when he climbs the ladder. Butch could have the home country’s support, although no one expects him to win. That alone could be a victory for Knight to be the fan’s choice but comes up short. Paul is the more viable world title challenger and gives him an overarching story for months while not needing to be present every week. Sky winning the women’s briefcase continues the break-up story with Damage CTRL and gives Bayley a reason to target Sky. Becky Lynch, Trish Stratus, and Zoey Stark have their own program going and the two principals don’t need the briefcase but can’t be thrown out completely. Odds-wise, Zelina Vega is the biggest underdog. Historically, the selection of the winners has bounced around right up until show time, and with Vince McMahon’s increasing influence and last-minute changes, you can’t assume anything is locked in until it’s executed.
**The third episode of Collision on Saturday will be a taped show with the matches taking place on Thursday in Hamilton. While not pushed during Dynamite, CM Punk is on the show and was the key figure in all the advertising. The Collision taping in Hamilton was the softest of all the Canadian dates that hovered around 1,000 tickets out until the launch of the show two weeks ago. By the end, WrestleTix reported just over 3,800 tickets distributed with the Wrestling Observer reporting 3,000 paid. It is not a great number, but it did represent a lot of movement with the combination of CM Punk’s addition and ticket prices being lowered. The third week’s rating will give us a better sign of where Collision is settling at. It was a large drop-off from Week 1 to Week 2, but that is typical whenever after the show opens strong. If they have a similar level of decline this weekend, it would be a concern. On paper, this weekend’s show has the least buzz of the three and it’s a taped show, which may or may not have any effect. More alarming was this week’s Dynamite number which hit its lowest 18-49 audience since June 2020, although still finished third among cable originals and wasn’t a complete disaster. That said, they were coming off a big show on Sunday and had several big matches and stars wrestling including Sting, Chris Jericho, The Young Bucks, and Jon Moxley. One explanation is the NHL Draft, which won the night on cable and did well among males.
There is unquestionably an oversaturation point for viewers and time will tell if AEW is hitting it with five hours of original programming spread out over four nights. You should never overreact to one week’s rating increase or decrease, but rather, focus on trends and patterns over time. It is interesting that Raw had such a massive number on Monday (the largest since April 3) and Dynamite fell to a three-year low in the demo.
**IMPACT Wrestling averaged 149,000 viewers and 0.02 in the 18-49 demographic on Thursday, which was #135 among cable originals. (Showbuzz Daily)
**Bayley spoke with Haus of Wrestling during Friday’s Money in the Bank media day and provided an update on Dakota Kai, who suffered a torn ACL earlier this year:
She’s already off her crutches. She’s already driving. She’s already squatting 315 pounds on a barbell. Do you believe that? She’s a monster. She’s a beast. She’s coming back. Honestly, I don’t really know the timeline, but probably faster than I did.
**WWE holds two major events at the O2 Arena beginning with Friday Night SmackDown, which airs on a five-hour delay on Fox. The following is advertised for tonight’s show:
*Undisputed Tag Team Championships: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn © vs. Pretty Deadly
*WWE Women’s Championship: Asuka © vs. Charlotte Flair
*The Grayson Waller Effect with guest Logan Paul
*Roman Reigns to appear
*Butch vs. Santos Escobar vs. LA Knight
*Bayley vs. Shotzi with Bayley’s MITB spot on the line (the last two were scheduled for last week and changed)
**AEW Rampage airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET on TNT with taped matches from Hamilton and the following listed:
*ROH Championship Match: Claudio Castagnoli © vs. Komander
*Hikaru Shida vs. Taya Valkyrie
*The Blade vs. Shawn Spears
*QT Marshall & Johnny TV vs. Matt Hardy & Brother Zay
**The WWE stock closed at $108.45 on Friday and grew from $101 on Monday morning.
**Ariel Helwani of BT Sport spoke with LA Knight about his first run with WWE in its developmental system in 2013 which ended in his release the following year. The next year, he landed in TNA as Eli Drake and spent four years with the company.
**Friday’s edition of the London Metro newspaper in England featured a large ad for All In with CM Punk, Samoa Joe, FTR, Kris Statlander, and PAC displayed. The tagline was, “Yes, We Really Mean Wembley Stadium.”
**Rocky Romero defends the NWA Historic Welterweight Championship against Volador Jr. tonight at CMLL’s Fantasticamania card at Arena Mexico. It’s a rematch from January where Romero ended Volador’s 4 ½ year title reign going back to August 2018. LIJ’s Tetsuya Naito, Titan & BUSHI are teaming against Atlantis Jr., Mistico & Soberano Jr., El Desperado takes on Mascara Dorado 2.0 (Panterita del Ring Jr.), Tiger Mask faces El Satanico, DOUKI & Okumura against Audaz & Captain Suicida, and Dark Silueta teams with Lluvia & Zeuxis against Stephanie Vaquer, La Jarochita & La Catalina.
**Stardom has another pay-per-view on Sunday with Midsummer Champions 2023 from Yokohama Budokan. The show features Tam Nakano defending the Wonder of Stardom belt against MIRAI, Mina Shirakawa & Mariah May vs. Syuri & Ami Sohrei for the Goddesses of Stardom titles, Saki Kashima vs. Fukigen Death for the High-Speed title, an Indian Strap Match between Natsupoi and Saori Anou, and Nanae Takahashi vs. Starlight Kid in the top matches.
**C*4 Wrestling in Ottawa has a sold-out event at the Preston Event Centre tonight and will stream on IWTV next Tuesday night. The card includes a Steel Cage War Match with TDT, Benjamin Tull & Twiggy vs. Stu Grayson, Junior Benito, Macrae Martin & Shayne Hawke, Kevin Blackwood vs. Brent Banks for the C*4 title, James Stone vs. Joshua Bishop in a steel cage match, Alexia Nicole (featured on Dynamite this week) against Vanessa Kraven for the C*4 Underground title, Dominic Garrini & Kevin Ku vs. Pretty Ricky Wildly & Puf for the C*4 tag titles, Vaughn Vertigo vs. Cecil Nyx, Speedball Mike Bailey & Trent Seven vs. Evil Uno & Myung-Jae Lee, Jody Threat & Kristara vs. Veda Scott & Dream Girl Ellie, and Sheldon Jean vs. Isaiah Broner.
**Warrior Wrestling is airing its ‘Friday Night Lights’ show live on YouTube tonight. The card has KC Navarro defending the Warrior Wrestling title against Matt Cardona, Gringo Loco vs. El Hijo del Vikingo and Gabriel Fuerza for the Warrior Lucha title, Konosuke Takeshita vs. Warhorse, Skye Blue vs. Heather Reckless, Jordan Kross vs. Storm Grayson, Sabin Gauge vs. Cole Radrick, and The Bang Bros. vs. Matt Knicks & Iverson.
**Game Changer Wrestling will hold its annual Homecoming events on August 19 & 20 in Atlantic City at The Showboat, which are two of the promotion’s major shows of the year. They have announced El Hijo del Vikingo, Rina Yamashita, and Takashi Sasaki from FREEDOMS for the events. Both shows will stream on FITE+.
**All the fighters made weight for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, which goes down at the Apex and airs on ESPN & ESPN+ with the following card:
MAIN CARD (7 p.m. ET on ESPN & ESPN+)
*Sean Strickland (26-5) vs. Abud Magomedov (25-4-1)
*Grant Dawson (19-1-1) vs. Damir Ismagulov (24-2)
*Michael Morales (14-0) vs. Max Griffin (19-9)
*Melissa Gatto (8-1-2) vs. Ariane Lipski (15-8)
*Ismael Bonfim (18-3) vs. Benoit Saint-Denis (10-1)
PRELIMINARY CARD (4 p.m. on ESPN & ESPN+)
*Kevin Lee (19-7) vs. Rinat Fakhretdinov (22-2)
*Westin Wilson (7-4) vs. Joanderson Brito (14-3-1)
*Karol Rosa (16-4) vs. Yana Santos (14-7)
*Guram Kutateladze (12-3) vs. Elves Brener (14-3)
*Luana Carolina (8-4) vs. Ivana Petrovic (6-0)
*Alexandr Romanov (16-2) vs. Blagoy Ivanov (19-5)
**PFL chairman Donn Davis spoke with Sports Business Journal about the promotion’s desire for mergers and acquisitions (with most believing they are the frontrunner to take over Bellator) as well as PFL’s next domestic rights deal. The group currently broadcasts on ESPN and ESPN+ in the U.S.
POLLOCK & THURSTON
John Pollock and Brandon Thurston welcome Mike Straw from Insider Gaming to chat about the release of AEW Fight Forever.
DOUBLE SHOT: “The Junkyard Dog”
On this week’s Double Shot, John Pollock and Wai Ting continue their weekly look at Dark Side of the Ring with a review of Season 4 Episode 5, “The Junkyard Dog”.
John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite with Jon Moxley vs. Tomohiro Ishii and a Tornado Tag Match in Hamilton featuring Sting’s dive.
Davie Portman and B Detroit review WWE NXT: Gold Rush from June 27th, 2023 headlined by Carmelo Hayes vs Baron Corbin for the NXT Championship.
ASK-A-WAI LIVE: Forbidden Pour (June 25, 2023)
John Pollock and Wai Ting present a very special, VERY LIVE recording of ASK-A-WAI from POST x Poisonrana’s FORBIDDEN POUR, held right before Forbidden Door in Toronto.
John Pollock and Wai Ting review the go-home WWE Raw before Money in the Bank with Cody Rhodes taking on Damian Priest, the NXT Champion in action, and the Women’s MITB Summit.
AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door Review
John Pollock and Wai Ting review AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2023 in Toronto featuring Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay.
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