Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John Pollock & Wai Ting [POST Wrestling Café]
Saturday: Collision Course with Wai Ting & Kate from Montreal [FREE]
Saturday: IMPACT Bound for Glory review with John Pollock & John Siino [POST Wrestling Café]
Sunday: UFC 294 review with Phil Chertok & Eric Marcotte [FREE]
Sunday: MCU L8R – Loki Season 2 Ep. 3 with WH Park & Neal Flanagan [POST Wrestling Café]
We have one of our most extensive reviews ever on Rewind-A-Wai with a 3+ hour review of WrestleMania X-Seven. Wai Ting and I go through the all-time classic show from April 2001 at the Reliant Astrodome with a rundown of the show and all the implications of this time. We relied on several book excerpts including Steve Austin’s reflection on the heel turn, and The Hardys and Edge discussing the behind-the-scenes debate over TLC II and other notes from the match. Plus, where this WrestleMania ranks among the history of shows by WWE, viable scenarios for Austin after this show, the plight of the Invasion storyline, the handling of WCW, and all the business metrics from the event. This is definitely one to go out of your watch to listen to and is available now for POST Wrestling Café members in both audio & video.
An audio version of today’s news update is available for Double Double & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café
THE STATE OF IMPACT WRESTLING
IMPACT Wrestling holds its 19th edition of Bound for Glory on Saturday from Cicero Stadium just outside of Chicago with a quality lineup including two of the top wrestlers in the world squaring off in a singles match and the story of two champions that never lost their belts attempting to regain them.
The saga of IMPACT is one that could fill several volumes of books going back to June 2002 with near-death experiences, creative overhauls, ownership changes, talent squabbles, television homes, and public perception over the years. In 2023, they stand on firm ownership ground with nothing but commitment being displayed by Anthem Entertainment, which has controlled the wrestling operation for seven years and secured a U.S. television network that puts their worries of losing another television home at ease.
In 2017, public sentiment regarding the company was at an all-time low with a nasty battle that played itself out between Anthem and the Hardys over the rights to the Broken Hardy IP and the company that felt lost in the post-Spike TV era. Jeff Jarrett was removed from power after his well-documented battle with substance abuse and ended up coming out of it on the other side in that battle and resurrected his standing in the business. But, IMPACT shifted its focus and handed the pro wrestling side over to Scott D’Amore and Don Callis (who would eventually leave for AEW) and a rebuilding process began.
Today, the company presents a very good product, its booking is on par with any other era of the company’s history, and has attracted discarded talent from WWE and made reclamation projects out of many. Performers including Deonna Purrazzo, Big Bill, Sami Callihan, Rich Swann, and Mickie James are examples of ones that have seen their stock rise among those that have joined or returned to the company with some moving on.
Their ceiling is very evident in a pro wrestling bubble that produces endless hours of programming from the big two and has made IMPACT Wrestling much tougher to follow on a consistent basis for a large audience. The move to AXS TV was thought to be an upgrade from Destination America, Pop TV, and the Pursuit Network but the numbers have been nothing to write home about. Two years ago, the show was averaging around 101,000 viewers and 37,000 in the 18-49 demo, one year ago it was 114,000 and 25,000 and today it’s 113,000 and 19,000 over the past five weeks leading into the major show on the calendar.
AXS has not been the fuel to lead this company to its next level even at a time when the fan sentiment seems very favorable to the on-screen product. It is not uncommon to hear public comments from those within the company about IMPACT being the “best kept secret” and urging fans to tune in, which conveys an obvious frustration with a sound product that isn’t finding a larger fanbase.
The elephant in every wrestling booking room is AEW. Since 2019, it has taken up many of the available hours of wrestling fans and I believe this has affected IMPACT, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and any other promotions trying to gain a foothold. Coupled with the pandemic, nearly every wrestling company except for Stardom saw a downturn during that period. While AEW’s tickets are colder, their television numbers are not and it’s a captive audience still spending anywhere from two to five hours weekly on the product. WWE is at its hottest point in decades and when WWE is firing on all cylinders it has the opposite effect of a rising tide raising all boats and instead, all boats are compared to the state-of-the-art cruise liner.
Every company has a different definition for success and for IMPACT, it’s not your standard wrestling operation that is analyzed in a vacuum. Anthem has major resources behind it and while IMPACT is a big part of its business, it’s not being graded on a night-to-night basis of tickets sold or pay-per-views being purchased. Anthem has ownership of the content that it can funnel as original programming across its various networks rather than leasing outside programming that expires with the end date on a contract.
Talent is not shy about extolling the virtues of the locker room morale and all indications are that it’s a creatively fulfilling environment even if talent is not deluding themselves into believing it’s the apex of the industry. For someone like Frankie Kazarian, he saw IMPACT as a better choice at this stage of his career rather than riding the bench in AEW and sought out creative fulfillment. Others will see IMPACT as a great place to grow their characters, find the missing elements of their game, and hope for interest once their contract is up and that’s not the worst thing for a company to have a regular churn of talent to allow new faces to replace the old ones. Whether it’s Kazarian or Trinity, those are obvious signs of talent buying into the formula IMPACT is executing.
When it comes to major television rights fees, IMPACT has rarely been in that conversation as it’s a question for Anthem of what value AXS TV would hold if IMPACT were stationed elsewhere for a large amount of money. It’s one that isn’t necessary to answer as it seems that the train has left the station and the days of major rights fees trickling down this far into the wrestling ecosystem are unlikely given where the big dogs are fighting for increases and SmackDown received a less than desired amount. IMPACT would have been a great candidate with the CW Network willing to add non-WWE and non-AEW wrestling programming as it is expected to do with Billy Corgan’s NWA, which has significantly less brand awareness than TNA/IMPACT but it has a celebrity attached to it – the irony, that Corgan was so close to being the one running IMPACT and led to a court battle with Anthem and the NWA being Corgan’s next stop.
It is a far cry from their days on Spike TV when the on-screen product was significantly more maligned than today, but you can’t turn back the clock. IMPACT is a small fish in a large pond that is occupied by one behemoth and another sizable entity and it will be IMPACT’s role to navigate those waters in a nimble fashion knowing it can’t compete with the sharks but can satisfy its area of the waters
The lineup for Bound for Glory:
*IMPACT Championship: Alex Shelley © vs. Josh Alexander
*Knockouts Championship: Trinity © vs. Mickie James
*Will Ospreay vs. Speedball Mike Bailey
*X Division Championship: Chris Sabin © vs. KENTA
*Tag Team Championships: The Rascalz © vs. Chris Bey & Ace Austin
*Monster’s Ball Match: Rhino vs. Steve Maclin vs. Moose vs. PCO
*Knockouts Tag Team Championships: Masha Slamovich & Killer Kelly © vs. Deonna Purrazzo & Tasha Steelz
*Call Your Shot Gauntlet: Jake Something, Billy Ray, Eric Young, Champagne Singh, Jordynne Grace, Brian Myers, Shera, KiLynn King, Eddie Edwards, Gisele Shaw, Kenny King, Frankie Kazarian, Joe Hendry, Jody Threat, and Dirty Dango (there are five open slots)
The pre-show begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will feature the Hall of Fame ceremony with Scott D’Amore inducting Mike Tenay and the late Don West while Gail Kim will be inducting Traci Brooks.
**IMPACT Wrestling is teasing a surprise for Bound for Glory. On Before the Impact, George Iceman said that a fight, hotel, and transportation had been booked for a mystery person to show up at the pay-per-view.
**The go-home episode of IMPACT before the pay-per-view averaged 77,000 viewers and 0.01 in the 18-49 demographic on AXS TV. (Sports TV Ratings)
**Friday Night SmackDown is sold out with WrestleTix reporting 13,695 tickets distributed for tonight’s show at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas which represents a 72% increase in tickets distributed since the last time Raw ran inside the building in July 2022. Roman Reigns is not advertised for tonight, but John Cena and Logan Paul are set to appear. Below are the announced matches and segments:
*Women’s Championship: IYO SKY © vs. Charlotte Flair
*Santos Escobar vs. Montez Ford
*Logan Paul confronts Rey Mysterio
*John Cena to appear
**Here are the matches for tonight’s edition of AEW Rampage, taped in Rosenberg, Texas on Wednesday night:
*Two-of-Three-Falls: Mistico vs. Rocky Romero
*Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta vs. Bryan Keith & Exodus Prime
*Skye Blue vs. Ruby Soho
*#1 Contenders Match: Brother Zay vs. John Silver vs. Kip Sabian (winner challenges Orange Cassidy at Battle of the Belts VIII)
**AEW Collision & Battle of the Belts VIII takes place at the FedEx Forum on Saturday night in Memphis, Tennessee with local institution Dave Brown set to appear on the show for a cameo. Brown was among the famous newscasters serving as a weatherman for decades in the market. He was working for WHBQ Channel 13 when Jerry Jarrett & Nick Gulas were running the territory and airing on Saturdays. When Jarrett broke away from Gulas he was able to secure Jerry Lawler, the ability to run at the Mid-South Coliseum and very importantly, lure Lance Russell and Dave Brown over to WMC Channel 5. Russell & Brown left their positions at WHBQ and shortly after the launch on WMC, they became the duo handling wrestling on Saturday mornings for the new operation run by Jarrett & Lawler. Memphis Wrestling was a phenomenon in that market with the audiences they attracted and sometimes hitting an 18 to 23 rating in the market.
Here are the announced matches for Collision & Battle of the Belts, which as of Thursday night has 2,300 tickets distributed, per WrestleTix:
*AEW Tag Team Championships: Ricky Starks & Big Bill vs. Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta
*Memphis Street Fight: Eddie Kingston vs. Jeff Jarrett
*Miro vs. Action Andretti
*MJF to appear
*Kenny Omega to appear
*AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy © vs. TBA (BOTB)
*TBS Championship: Kris Statlander vs. Willow Nightingale (BOTB)
*AEW Trios Championships: The Acclaimed & Daddy Ass vs. Daniel Garcia, Matt Menard & Angelo Parker (BOTB)
**New Japan’s Super Jr. Tag League tournament begins on Saturday with the new tour beginning in Saitama and streaming at 4 a.m. ET on New Japan World. The round-robin tourney will wrap up at Power Struggle on November 4. Below is the lineup for the show:
*Super Jr. Tag League: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & SHO vs. BUSHI & Titan
*Super Jr. Tag League: Clark Connors & Drilla Moloney vs. YOH & Musashi
*Super Jr. Tag League: El Desperado & Master Wato vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & The DKC
*Super Jr. Tag League: KUSHIDA & Kevin Knight vs. DOUKI & Taka Michinoku
*Super Jr. Tag League: TJP & Francesco Akira vs. Robbie Eagles & Kosei Fujita
*Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori & Gedo
*SANADA & Yuya Uemura vs. Oskar Leube & Boltin Oleg
*Great O-Khan, Henare & Callum Newman vs. Shota Umino, Ren Narita & Yuto Nakashima
**The final matches for Katsuhiko Nakajima in Pro Wrestling NOAH will take place over the next two weekends. On Saturday, Nakajima has his final match at Korakuen Hall for the promotion when he teams with Go Shiozaki and Masa Kitamiya against Masaaki Mochizuki, Daiki Inaba & Manabu Soya. The card also features the return of 49-year-old Kazunari Murakami in a six-man tag in his first match since June 2021.
**AJPW has a Korakuen Hall event on Sunday that will stream on its service and is headlined by Yuma Aoyagi vs. Kento Miyahara for the Triple Crown along with Shinya Aoki vs. Dan Tamura, and Minoru Suzuki teams with Naruki Doi and Hokuto Omori against Hideki Suzuki, Ryo Inoue & Koji Iwamoto in the top matches.
**Adam Copeland was at the Dynamite taping on Wednesday night in Rosenberg, Texas with his sit-down interview segment involving Renee Paquette airing on the show. Between Dynamite and Rampage, Copeland was said to have received the loudest reaction of the night from the feedback we received from a correspondent in the arena. Copeland went over his history in Houston and he listed possible opponents in AEW and gave a shout-out to Sting following his retirement announcement. Copeland also took pictures and signed autographs.
**NJPW1972.com has an interview with Yuya Uemura on his excursion to the U.S. for the past two years and returning to join Just 5 Guys. Uemura based himself in Orlando, Florida and it was through Rocky Romero that he was linked up with IMPACT Wrestling as Uemura wanted to work wherever he could. Uemura’s opinion is that wrestlers in the U.S. have more pronounced characters and everyone feels different.
**UFC 294 takes place from Etihad Arena on Saturday afternoon with a 2 p.m. ET start time for the main card. It is their annual pay-per-view from Abu Dhabi, and the company has announced an extension with the Abu Dhabi government to include additional Fight Night cards in the MENA region in the coming years. The card was salvaged and many thought the new fights were better than the originals after headliners Charles Oliveira and Paulo Costa had to withdraw from their fights. Oliveira suffered a nasty cut above his eye in his final sparring session, so featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski is accepting a rematch with Islam Makhachev on eleven days’ notice. They had a very competitive fight in February where Makhachev won by unanimous decision. Former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman is making his middleweight debut on short notice as he replaces Costa and will fight Khamzat Chimaev who will be the biggest name Chimaev has ever fought. Dana White has stated the winner of Usman vs. Chimaev will be next in line to fight Sean Strickland, for what that is worth. Makhachev and Chimaev are heavy-betting favorites going into the fights.
Below is the full card:
MAIN CARD (2 p.m. ET on pay-per-view)
*UFC Lightweight Championship: Islam Makhachev (24-1) vs. Alexander Volkanovski (26-2)
*Khamzat Chimaev (12-0) vs. Kamaru Usman (20-3)
*Magomed Ankalaev (18-1-1) vs. Johnny Walker (21-7)
*Warlley Alves (14-6) vs. Ikram Aliskerov (14-1)
*Said Nurmagomedov (17-3) vs. Muin Gafurov (18-5)
PRELIMINARY CARD (10 a.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Muhammad Mokaev (10-0, 1 NC) vs. Tim Elliott (19-12-1)
*Mohammad Yahya (12-3) vs. Trevor Peek (8-1)
*Javid Basharat (14-0) vs. Victor Henry (23-6)
*Abu Azaitar (14-3-1) vs. Sedriques Dumas (8-1)
*Anshul Jubli (7-0) vs. Mike Breeden (10-6) – Breeden missed weight by 3.5 pounds
*Nathaniel Wood (20-5) vs. Muhammad Naimov (9-2)
*Jinh Yu Frey (11-9) vs. Victoria Dudakova (7-0) – Dudakova missed weight by 0.6 pounds
*Bruno Silva (23-9) vs. Sharabutdin Magomedov (11-0)
**Mateusz Gamrot is the backup fighter for the main event and weighs in at 155 pounds in case there is any last-minute issue for either Islam Makhachev or Alexander Volkanovski.
**Georges St-Pierre revealed in an interview with TSN that he was scheduled to have a no-gi grappling match next month against Nick Diaz but it’s now off. St-Pierre said that the match is off with both dealing with injuries and the former welterweight champion noting that he might need shoulder surgery. St-Pierre and Diaz headlined UFC 158 in March 2013 with St-Pierre retaining his championship by unanimous decision in a very heated build-up to the fight. St-Pierre retired from MMA in 2019 and is a member of the UFC Hall of Fame as a two-time welterweight champion and winner of the UFC middleweight title in November 2017.
**Bellator has finalized its November 17 card at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, which is their last scheduled event for Showtime. The main card will see Yaroslav Amosov (27-0) defend the welterweight title against Jason Jackson (16-4), a bantamweight title unification fight between Sergio Pettis (23-5) and interim champ Patchy Mix (18-1), Raufeon Stots (19-2) against Danny Sabatello (14-3), a lightweight fight between A.J. McKee (20-1) and Sidney Outlaw (17-5), and a semi-final fight in the Lightweight World Grand Prix between Patricky Pitbull (25-11) and Alexander Shabily (23-3). The Showtime main card airs at 9 p.m. ET that night.
**BKFC president David Feldman revealed on The MMA Hour that the event of their December 2 card in Salt Lake City will see Mike Perry take on former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. The two will compete at 175 pounds and will be Alvarez’s second fight with the promotion after beating Chad Mendes in his BKFC debut. Perry is 3-0 in BKFC and coming off a victory against Luke Rockhold from this past April. The December 2 card will include Ben Rothwell taking on Todd Duffee, Jeremy Stephens vs. Jimmie Rivera, Kai Stewart vs. Howard Davis for the BKFC featherweight title, and Christine Ferea vs. Bec Rawlings for the BKFC flyweight title.
REWIND-A-WAI #141: WWF WrestleMania X-Seven
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWF WrestleMania X-Seven from April 1, 2001, headlined by The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWF Championship.
John Pollock and Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite featuring Sting’s big announcement, Kenny Omega vs. Kyle Fletcher, and the Dynamite Dozen Battle Royale.
POLLOCK & THURSTON
John Pollock and Brandon Thurston chat with attorney Paul Lesko about the details behind the lawsuit involving Panini and WWE.
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review WWE NXT from October 17th, 2023 featuring Dijak vs Baron Corbin vs Carmelo Hayes vs Trick Williams to determine the Number 1 Contender for the NXT Championship.
Wai Ting and Andrew Thompson review WWE Raw’s Season Premiere with Cody Rhodes & Jey Uso vs. Judgment Day for the WWE Tag Titles and Gunther vs. Bronson Reed for the IC Title. Plus, news of the day and your feedback.
THE N.W.A. PODCAST
Nate Milton, Kris Ealy, Andrew Thompson and Ray Williams return to discuss the month’s top stories including AEW & NXT’s Super Tuesday head-to-head battle, Jade Cargill’s WWE debut, and more.
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