Originally published at POLLOCK'S UPDATE: ROH Final Battle Preview
POST IT NOTES
**Friday’s audio news update that I have posted is available today for ALL POST Wrestling Café members.
**This week’s Rewind-A-Wai covers the first season of The Ultimate Fighter from 2005 and is one of our best shows. It is impossible to chronicle the success of the series without invoking the crossover of WWE’s audience on Raw as a lead-in for TUF on Spike TV and growing its fanbase of males 18-34 that the WWE provided the series. Wai and I go through the early reports on the series, initial ideas for the show, what Dana White originally wanted, the expense incurred by the UFC for the series, “The Speech” and how it ties into the current antitrust suit and fighter pay issues, the breakout stars from the season, and the turning point for the UFC.
For this review, we discussed the first three episodes of season one and the finale fight between Forrest Griffin and the late Stephan Bonnar. It includes lots of reporting at the time, how the shows performed on Spike, what audience was tuning in, the reaction from advertisers, how season two was greenlit and occurred during a period when Spike removed itself from its negotiations and allowed WWE to leave Spike and the network putting all its muscle behind UFC. This podcast is essentially, the story of the UFC’s survival and turning point because without this season being a success, there is no telling if the promotion would have survived.
**Rewind-A-SmackDown will be FREE tonight at 10:05 p.m. ET on the POST YouTube channel covering the show from Green Bay. Wai Ting and I will be live with a recap of the show, and our thoughts, and taking your calls (open to all POST Café members). Later tonight, Kate from Montreal & John Siino will have a review of ROH’s Final Battle for Café members.
**This weekend, we will have a new edition of Collision Course on Saturday night with John Siino & Kate. Plus, a UFC 296 review on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET and The N.W.A. Podcast on Sunday at 8 p.m. on the POST YouTube channel.
**You have six days remaining to get your Christmas Jingle submitted for the annual POST Wrestling Christmas Show. The deadline is Thursday, December 21 and all submissions will be played on the show.
Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John & Wai [FREE]
Tonight: ROH Final Battle with John Siino & Kate from MTL [POST Wrestling Café]
Saturday: Collision Course [POST Wrestling Café]
Sunday: UFC 296 Review with John Pollock & Eric Marcotte [11 a.m. ET]
Sunday: The N.W.A. Podcast [8 p.m. ET]
**Ring of Honor attempts the experiment of offering Final Battle as a streaming event for Honor Club subscribers rather than on pay-per-view. With the addition of several AEW pay-per-views, it’s a calculated decision to lessen the cost for its biggest show and while short term it will generate far less revenue, the hope would be for new subscribers sampling Final Battle will hold on to the service. Last March, Tony Khan pegged the number of subscribers at around 15,000 and when I asked him this week, didn’t provide an updated figure. It’s a very small audience that is willing to sign up for a service where the hook is a weekly two-hour wrestling program when there is so much other content every week from AEW alone. Adding the pay-per-views with your subscription is a meaningful add-on but Khan indicated on the media call this week that he wasn’t shutting the door on ROH returning to pay-per-view.
The main event sees Athena defend the ROH Women’s Championship against Billie Starkz – one year after Athena won the title at Final Battle. The show is being promoted around both the women’s title match and the Blackpool Combat Club vs. FTR & Mark Briscoe six-man tag as a tribute to Jay Briscoe, one year after the famous Dog Collar Match between The Briscoes and FTR just weeks before Jay’s tragic death.
AEW/ROH is running the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas on back-to-back nights with Final Battle and Saturday’s Collision show. The latest figure from WrestleTix has Final Battle at just under 2,400 tickets distributed, which is in the same range that last year’s Final Battle drew in Arlington, Texas.
Below is the most recent lineup:
*ROH Women’s Championship: Athena © vs. Billie Starkz
*Jay Briscoe Memorial – Fight Without Honor: Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson & Claudio Castagnoli vs. Mark Briscoe & FTR
*Survival of the Fittest – ROH Television Championship (Vacant): Kyle Fletcher vs. Komander vs. Lee Moriarty vs. Lee Johnson vs. Dalton Castle vs. TBA
*Shane Taylor vs. Keith Lee
*ROH World Six-Man Titles: Brian Cage & Gates of Agony © vs. Shane Haste, Bad Dude Tito & Kosei Fujita
*AAA Mega Championship: El Hijo del Vikingo © vs. Black Taurus
*I Quit Match: Ethan Page vs. Tony Nese
*ROH Pure Championship: Wheeler Yuta © vs. Tom Lawlor
*Zero Hour: Marshall & Ross Von Erich vs. The Outrunners
**Friday Night SmackDown is holding a double taping in Green Bay, Wisconsin at the Resch Center. WrestleTix reports 6,166 tickets distributed as of Friday morning which is up 6% from the last time Raw was in the arena this past January. It is Roman Reigns’ first appearance on the show in two months and should start the tease or outright confirmation of where he is positioned for the Royal Rumble. Tonight, they will be taping next Friday’s episode and December 29 will not be a new show. Below are the announced matches and segments:
*Roman Reigns returns
*Randy Orton vs. Jimmy Uso
*#1 Contenders Tournament: Grayson Waller vs. Carmelo Hayes
*#1 Contenders Tournament: Kevin Owens vs. Austin Theory
**It’s expected that WWE will be promoting its first episodes of the year as big shows with the ‘Day 1’ edition of Raw on January 1 with Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre, NXT’s New Year’s Evil on January 2 with Ilja Dragunov vs. Trick Williams, and Friday Night SmackDown on January 5 from Vancouver, British Columbia.
**CMLL has a big Friday night show at Arena Mexico promoted around Andrade El Idolo’s return for the first time since 2015 before joining WWE. Andrade will be joined by CJ Perry in his corner as he teams with Ángel de Oro & Soberano Jr. against Atlantis Jr., Místico & Star Jr. The only major match on the show sees Rocky Romero defend the NWA World Historic Welterweight Championship against Máscara Dorada with Romero holding the title nearly the entire year since beating Volador Jr. in January.
**AEW Rampage was taped in Arlington, Texas, and will feature The Von Erichs in front of the live audience as opposed to their segment on Dynamite. Everyone is raving about the Trios match from those who attended the show. Below is the lineup for tonight’s episode at 10 p.m. ET on TNT:
*El Hijo del Vikingo, Komander & Penta El Zero vs. Top Flight & Action Andretti
*Anna Jay vs. Red Velvet
*Powerhouse Hobbs & Kyle Fletcher vs. Paul Titan & Hunter Grey
*Orange Cassidy, Marshall & Ross Von Erich w/ Kevin Von Erich vs. Jake Hager, Matt Menard & Angelo Parker
**RevPro has one of its strongest cards to date on Saturday from Crystal Palace and streaming on its RevPro on Demand service. The card features Michael Oku vs. Zack Gibson for the British Heavyweight title, Connor Mills vs Leon Slater for the British Cruiserweight title, Alex Windsor vs. Dani Luna for the British Women’s title, Will Ospreay vs. Gabe Kidd, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Luke Jacobs (a rematch of one of the best match in the U.K. this year and a career-making one for Jacobs), Trent Seven vs. Volador Jr., Greedy Souls vs. Anthony Ogogo & Ricky Knight Jr. in the finals of the British Tag League, Zack Sabre Jr. vs. JJ Gale, and Spike Trivet vs. Robbie X. Seriously, this show looks incredible on paper.
**Cody Rhodes was interviewed with Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg on The Michael Kay show to promote the Madison Square Garden show on December 26. During the interview, he spoke about his friendship with MJF and believes that one day he’ll go to WWE.
**AEW Champion MJF made an unadvertised appearance at Create-A-Pro’s Frostbite 2 event on Thursday night at the Create-A-Pro Academy.
**MLW Women’s Featherweight Champion Janai Kai defends her championship against Hyper Misao of TJPW at Kings of Colosseum on January 6 at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. The card includes Alex Kane vs. Richard Holliday for the MLW World Heavyweight title, and a Love is Blind Match. The show will stream on FITE+.
**Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics breaks down his estimate of AEW’s revenue in 2023 and how the company is situated for next year going into its domestic television rights negotiations.
**While it’s the shtick that has transformed Colby Covington from a bland wrestler into a pay-per-view headliner, his performance at Thursday’s press conference went beyond bad taste when invoking Leon Edwards’ deceased father to promote their fight. After stating that he would take Edwards to “the seventh layer of hell”, he added, “We’ll say ‘what’s up’ to your Dad while we’re there”. Edwards’ father was murdered when Leon was thirteen years old and expectedly, prompted Edwards to lose his composure at the press conference and attempt to charge at Covington and was restrained. There will be those who believe all is fair game in fight promotion, but this was so low class.
**All fighters made weight on Friday for UFC 296 including the four fighters involved in the title fights. Below is the full card:
MAIN CARD (10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view)
*UFC Welterweight Championship: Leon Edwards (21-3, 1 NC) vs. Colby Covington (17-3)
*UFC Flyweight Championship: Alexandre Pantoja (15-6) vs. Brandon Royval (15-6)
*Shavkat Rakhmonov (17-0) vs. Stephen Thompson (17-6-1)
*Josh Emmett (18-4) vs. Bryce Mitchell (16-1)
*Tony Ferguson (25-9) vs. Paddy Pimblett (20-3)
PRELIMINARY CARD (8 p.m. on ESPN 2 & ESPN+, TSN 5 in Canada)
*Alonzo Menifield (14-3-1) vs. Dustin Jacoby (19-7-1)
*Irene Aldana (14-7) vs. Karol Rosa (17-5)
*Cody Garbrandt (13-5) vs. Brian Kelleher (24-14)
*Casey O’Neill (9-1) vs. Ariane Lipski (16-8)
EARLY PRELIMS (6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+ & Fight Pass)
*Tagir Ulanbekov (14-2) vs. Cody Durden (16-4-1)
*Andre Fili (22-10, 1 NC) vs. Lucas Almeida (14-2)
*Martin Buday (13-1) vs. Shamil Gaziev (11-0)
**The UFC 296 card lost another fight over the past day with the welterweight fight between Randy Brown and Muslim Salikhov scrapped. Brown was forced to withdraw from the fight and this is the second fight to fall off this week after Ian Machado Garry was hit with pneumonia and could not fight Vicente Luque. The card currently stands at twelve fights with the featherweight fight between Josh Emmett and Bryce Mitchell being moved up to the pay-per-view slot previously occupied by Garry and Luque.
**Ian Machado Garry called into the UFC 296 weigh-in show on TNT Sports and shared an update on his health after being forced off Saturday’s card.
Ian Machado Garry joins the UFC296 weigh-in show 😱@iangarryMMA on his current health and his withdrawal from his fight with Vicente Luque. #UFC296 | Saturday | TNT Sports Box Office pic.twitter.com/rwJWkGU1vb
— UFC on TNT Sports (@ufcontnt) December 15, 2023
**Jake Paul returns to the ring tonight against journeyman Andre August (10-1-1) in Orlando, Florida, and streaming on DAZN. Paul (7-1) suffered the first loss of his boxing career this past February against Tommy Fury when he dropped a split decision and was the most credentialed boxer Paul had competed against in his career. Paul came back in August to beat Nate Diaz by unanimous decision. DAZN is using the same strategy as ROH where this card is available to all subscribers rather than airing on pay-per-view.
**Long-time UFC ring card girl Brittney Palmer announced at the World MMA Awards that this Saturday’s UFC 296 card will be her final event and is retiring. Palmer was voted the Ring Card Girl of the Year on Thursday night at the award ceremony and announced her retirement on ceremony before symbolically laying down her shorts on the stage. Palmer was originally with the WEC and joined the UFC in 2011 where she has been a staple.
**The TKO stock closed at $75.99 on Friday and saw a near 3% increase over the past five days.
REWIND-A-WAI #145: The Ultimate Fighter – Season 1
John Pollock and Wai Ting look back at The Ultimate Fighter: Season 1, the 2005 SpikeTV reality series that launched the UFC’s rise to mainstream popularity.
John Pollock and Wai Ting review AEW Winter Is Coming featuring Jon Moxley vs. Swerve Strickland and more Continental Classic matches.
POLLOCK & THURSTON
John Pollock and Brandon Thurston are joined by Jason Cruz of MMA Payout to speak about the WWE and MLW settlement, as well as the ongoing UFC antitrust case.
Braden Herrington is joined by Dickie Bird to review WWE NXT from December 12th, 2023 featuring all the fallout from NXT Deadline!
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Raw with CM Punk’s decision and Cody Rhodes vs. Shinsuke Nakamura.
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