Originally published at POLLOCK'S UPDATE: The Future of Combat Sports
Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock & Wai Ting (Live link for 11 p.m. ET)
Wednesday: upNXT – Halloween Havoc (2 p.m.)
Wednesday: Pollock & Thurston with guest Karim Zidan (3 p.m.)
Thursday: Rewind-A-Wai – WCW Thunder April 26, 2000 (POST Wrestling Café)
Friday: POST Puroresu with WH Park & Karen Peterson
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown (POST Wrestling Café)
Saturday: WWE Crown Jewel review
Saturday: NJPW Power Struggle review with Bruce Lord & Karen Peterson (POST Wrestling Café)
Saturday: Collision Course with John Siino & Kate from Montreal (POST Wrestling Café)
Sunday: MCU L8R with WH Park & Rich Fann (POST Wrestling Café)
John Pollock’s audio news updates are available throughout the week for the Double Double & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café including today’s update.
Karen Peterson & Bruce Lord have a free review of the NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed card from Saturday night in Las Vegas including Shingo Takagi winning the NEVER Openweight Championship.
Our feedback thread is posted on the POST Wrestling Forum for this week’s Rewind-A-Wai covering the April 26, 2000, episode of WCW Thunder.
FURY VS NGANNOU & THE FUTURE OF COMBAT SPORTS
The major story of the weekend was Francis Ngannou’s improbable performance against Tyson Fury where the former UFC heavyweight champion not only lasted ten rounds with Fury but managed to knock down the lineal champion. Ngannou went into the fight as a massive underdog that few gave any type of meaningful chance to and came out of it as a made man that should ensure several high-profile boxing fights. Fury did not look his usual self and there will be plenty of discussion over whether he took this fight seriously given he already had a follow-up fight booked for December 23 against Oleksandr Usyk.
There were many close rounds and the split decision win for Fury was hardly the robbery that many have claimed. Ngannou scored the most meaningful strike of the ten-round fight when he dropped Fury briefly in the third round. Those who are lost in the “win” and the “loss” debate are totally missing the point that this moral win by Ngannou was all he needed, and then some. It was a non-title fight and therefore, it’s not like Ngannou was leaving as the heavyweight champion of the world and there is just as much demand for a rematch for the title as there would have been if Ngannou won by split decision. Secondly, he was competitive to the point that he won’t be overlooked against other top heavyweights while he still looks beatable and should open the door for a Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua to see the opportunity for a major payday against Ngannou.
On Saturday night, the sentiment was that the PFL was the big winner as they have Ngannou under a deal, and in theory, he should be fighting for the group in 2024. In reality, it’s a completely different level of money Ngannou can earn by taking any of these big boxing fights than he will be fighting for the PFL next year, which has no track record on pay-per-view nor a quality opponent for Ngannou. If I was Ngannou, the only fight worth my time and effort is Jon Jones and that one seems highly improbable for a multitude of reasons.
There is another major part of this weekend’s events that should not be overlooked. The major power of Saudi Arabia in the combat sports world is no longer a theoretical or a “work in progress”, it has arrived, and Saturday was as much of a “coming out party” as one could showcase. Between an arena erected for the fight, the fly-ins of every name boxer under the sun, celebrities including Eminem & Kanye West, and the amount the headliners earned for the fight – it is possible this was the largest budget for any combat sports event in history. The broadcast contained all the endorsements of the country that have been staples of WWE’s events in the country and promoting Riyadh Season throughout the night and the social posts by so many of the fighters associated with the event. Vince McMahon went so far as to say that it is their “home” and for $100 million per year, it’s easy to see why the WWE wants to embed itself there.
Among those brought to Saudi Arabia for the fight the list included Eminem, Kanye West, Mike Tyson, Cristiano Ronaldo, Manny Pacquiao, Conor McGregor, Lennox Lewis, Sugar Ray Leonard, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Israel Adesanya, Kamaru Usman, Junior dos Santos, Quinton Jackson, Riddick Bowe, Oleksandr Usyk, Oscar de la Hoya, Roy Jones Jr., Evander Holyfield, Roberto Duran, Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton, Frank Bruno, Amir Khan, Miguel Cotto, Dmitry Bivol, Buster Douglas, Antonio Tarver, Larry Holmes, Vince McMahon, The Undertaker and many others.
The reality is that five years removed from the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the world taking a collective pause on its ties to the country, the government of Saudi Arabia has come out the other end through its resources and capital that have placed a distraction on its human rights violations and the murder of Khashoggi. It is no longer taboo for these companies to do business with the government but instead, a buy-in from so many major players has normalized it. There has been an about-face from individuals such as Ari Emanuel, who was one of the few to turn back investment money from the country in 2018 and today, has greatly distanced himself from the stance he once took.
On Saturday, the future of combat sports was on display with the endorsement of so many major athletes, and celebrities and a prominent halo effect from the most important brand in sports broadcasting, ESPN.
In 2023, this has become normal practice and what began as anger slowly turned to whimpers, to silence, and eventually, acceptance that allows fans to ignore the bad and simply digest the good through the drugs of sport and entertainment.
**WWE presents its Halloween-themed edition of Raw from the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina. The show will air against the Las Vegas Raiders vs. Detroit Lions on ABC & ESPN and Game 3 of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks. There are a lot of matches announced for the show with the full list of:
*Non-Title Match: Seth Rollins vs. JD McDonagh
*Dominik Mysterio vs. Ricochet
*Trick or Street Fight: Chelsea Green vs. Natalya
*Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano vs. Giovanni Vinci & Ludwig Kaiser
*Xia Li vs. Candice LeRae
*Alpha Academy’s Open Challenge
**With the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks series tied 1-1, it means Game 5 will take place on Wednesday night and will air against AEW Dynamite. If the series requires a sixth game, it will air on Friday night on Fox and would bump SmackDown again.
**Bryan Danielson is questionable for the remainder of the year and perhaps longer after it was confirmed that he suffered a broken orbital bone in the closing minutes of Dynamite. The way it came off on television felt like a storyline injury given the two finishers delivered back-to-back by Orange Cassidy and Kazuchika Okada and opting to shoot Danielson selling. Instead, Danielson is out with an injury requiring surgery and is the latest in a long list of injuries since entering AEW. Based on the promo from Claudio Castagnoli on Collision, he will be utilized in Danielson’s absence, and seems likely that a match with Okada will occur at some point. A rematch between Danielson and Okada was clearly coming with last week’s tag match being their first meeting since Forbidden Door II.
**Jon Moxley returned to the ring over the weekend with his first set of matches since suffering a concussion last month. Moxley wrestled two matches for OTT against Trent Seven and B. Cool for the promotion’s nine-year anniversary events in Wolverhampton, England on Friday and Dublin, Ireland on Saturday. Moxley had not wrestled since September 20 when he sustained a concussion during a match with Rey Fenix where he called the audible and dropped the AEW International Championship to Fenix after realizing he was compromised during the match.
**Historian Steven Johnson has a great story at SLAM Wrestling on the origins of Fritz Von Erich and the creation of the persona that Jack Adkisson portrayed. Through archived letters and correspondence that Johnson uncovered, he discovered the impact that promoter Tony Santos of New England played when Adkisson was loaned out to Santos by Ed McLemore in Texas as a favor to Jack Pfefer. Adkisson would gain fame under the pseudonym and would drop his real name in late 1954. From there, Adkisson would get involved in ownership of the Rochester, New York territory and later, would partner with McLemore in Texas and eventually took over once McLemore died. There is an interesting note that Adkisson wrote to Santos when he cited how little money he was making and that Adkisson was expecting a second child in February 1954. His first son Jackie was born in September 1952 and Kevin was born in May 1957, so it’s a mystery regarding this child Adkisson referenced in the letter.
**WWE’s European tour wraps up with a show in Nottingham on Monday and finishes in Glasgow, Scotland on Tuesday. The final shows of the tour are SmackDown brand events with LA Knight, Rey Mysterio, Charlotte Flair, and Bobby Lashley as the top talent advertised. For the Raw talent that was on the previous shows over the weekend, it’s an exceptionally long travel week going from the European dates, back to the U.S. for Raw, and then flying to Saudi Arabia for Crown Jewel this week.
**Sunday’s WWE show in London, England at the OVO Arena Wembley was headlined by LA Knight over Solo Sikoa with the rest of the show featuring Bobby Lashley over Grayson Waller, Pretty Deadly over Cruz del Toro & Joaquin Wilde, IYO SKY retained the Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair, Santos Escobar over Karrion Kross, Shotzi over Bayley, and Butch & Ridge Holland over The Street Profits.
**NJPW’s Super Jr. Tag League has shows from Monday through Thursday this week with the finals taking place at Power Struggle on Saturday. Tuesday’s card streams at 5:30 a.m. ET from Toyama with the following lineup:
*Super Jr. Tag League: TJP & Francesco Akira (6) vs. El Desperado & Master Wato (10)
*Super Jr. Tag League: Clark Connors & Drilla Moloney (8) vs. SHO & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (8)
*Super Jr. Tag League: KUSHIDA & Kevin Knight (6) vs. Robbie Eagles & Kosei Fujita (6)
*Super Jr. Tag League: BUSHI & Titan (6) vs. DOUKI & Taka Michinoku (2)
*Super Jr. Tag League: YOH & MUSASHI (4) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & The DKC (4)
*EVIL, Yujiro & Dick Togo vs. Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano
*Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Great O-Khan & Callum Newman
*Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Oleg Boltin, Oskar Leube & Yuto Nakashima
**The second week of Halloween Havoc goes down Tuesday night on the USA Network and besides running a live show on Halloween, the show also airs against Game 4 of the World Series and will be a tough night. It will feature a third match between Ilja Dragunov and Carmelo Hayes for the NXT Championship, The Creeds vs. Humberto Carrillo & Angel Garcia in a Tables, Ladders & Scares Match, Chelsea Green & Piper Niven vs. Jacy Jayne & Thea Hail for the Women’s tag titles, Dominik Mysterio vs. Nathan Frazer for the North American title, Kelani Jordan vs. Lola Vice in the finals of the Women’s Breakout Tournament, Tiffany Stratton vs. Fallon Henley, and Bron Breakker vs. Mr. Stone.
**Francis Ngannou spoke on The MMA Hour on Monday and was happy with the performance on Saturday but lamented the decision believing he won the fight. Ngannou said he did not want the two judges who scored the fight for Tyson Fury to judge his fights in the future. Ngannou said he doesn’t know if his next fight will be boxing or MMA and will review the proposals with his team. Ideally, he said he would like to fight again in February or March.
**ESPN is reporting that UFC middleweight Khamzat Chimaev did not break his hand at UFC 294 but instead, tore a ligament in the hand. Reporter Brett Okamoto reported the updated injury after speaking with Chimaev’s manager, Majdi Shammas. Chimaev earned a majority decision win against late replacement Kamaru Usman at UFC 294 earlier this month with Chimaev believing he suffered the injury in the first round. Dana White had stated that the winner of the fight between Chimaev and Usman would be in line for a title fight against 185-pound champion Sean Strickland.
**After one weekend off, the UFC is back with a Fight Night card this Saturday in São Paulo, Brazil. The main event is a heavyweight fight between Jailton Almeida (19-2) and Derrick Lewis (27-11, 1 NC) with Lewis taking the spot of Curtis Blaydes, who had to withdraw. Almeida has won his last fourteen fights and is 5-0 in the UFC with a submission against Jairzinho Rozenstruik in his last fight. Lewis ended a three-fight losing streak in July at UFC 291 when he stopped Marcos Rogério de Lima by TKO. The entire card will be streaming on ESPN+.
MCU L8R: Loki Season 2 Ep. 4
Rich Fann and WH Park are joined by Sam McCoy to talk about the tumultuous time mishaps that occurred in Loki Season 2 Episode 4, “The Heart of the TVA”.
NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed Review
Bruce Lord and Karen Peterson wrap up October with NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed featuring Tama Tonga defending his NEVER Openweight Championship against Shingo Takagi.
John Siino and Kate From MTL review AEW Collision featuring MJF vs. Kenny Omega for the AEW Championship as MJF attempts to break Omega’s longest-reign record.
LONG & WINDING ROYAL ROAD: The Funks vs. Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy
WH Park and Braden Herrington take a look at the career of the late, great Terry Funk in All Japan Pro Wrestling and discuss his first retirement match and ceremony.
John Pollock and Wai Ting review Friday Night SmackDown with the contract signing between Roman Reigns and LA Knight before Crown Jewel.
ASK-A-WAI: Ask Us Anything! (October 2023)
John Pollock and Wai Ting answer their patrons’ questions about anything and everything in the October 2023 edition of Ask-A-Wai.
John Pollock and Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite with MJF vs. Juice Robinson, Kazuchika Okada’s return to AEW, and Tony Khan’s gift for Sting.
POLLOCK & THURSTON: Hall of Fame Preview
John Pollock and Brandon Thurston preview this year’s ballot for the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame with Alan4L of PW Torch.
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