POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE 1/17 – Braun Strowman Leads Raw to Strong Viewership

Raw saw a big boost in viewership with a lack of football competition and Braun Strowman carrying interest, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn describe dangerous Hell in a Cell finish, Owens discusses headbutt angle with Vince McMahon, latest regarding location for Impact's Redemption event, New Japan announced Osaka card is sold out and lots more news.

POST IT NOTES

**Well, Tuesday night’s episode of SmackDown Live was awful. Wai Ting and I do our best to review this episode on Rewind-A-SmackDown and discuss the premiere edition of the “Mixed Match Challenge” and a condensed version of 205 Live from Laredo, Texas. Let’s just say that if your time is limited, SmackDown is the definition of a “skippable show” this week. You can download Rewind-A-SmackDown at https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/01/17/rewind-a-smackdown-1-16-18-new-us-champion-crowned-mixed-match-challenge-debuts-selfie-promos/.

**The first edition of the British Wrestling Experience with Martin Bushby, Oli Court, and Benno is now available at https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/01/17/bwe-1-18-18-introduction/.

**The second part of my interview on The Ross Report with Jim Ross can be heard at https://www.podcastone.com/episode/Bruce-Prichard-and-PostWrestlingcoms-John-Pollock. On this week’s show, the two of discussed the formation of Alpha Entertainment, Jim’s experiences with the XFL and performing triple duty as the voice of Raw, calling weekly XFL games and serving as Vice-President of Talent Relations in 2001. We also discuss many other topics and is always a fun discussion when I am on his show.

**On Friday, we will have our first roundtable show as Martin Bushby and Brian Mann will join Wai Ting and I myself for a discussion on numerous topics happening throughout the industry. We are going to try and make the roundtable a regular show each month with different guests.

**A reminder that the POST Wrestling “Royal Rumble Pool” is now open at https://www.postwrestling.com.rumble and the deadline to submit your picks is Sunday, January 28th at 3 pm Eastern.

WRESTLING NEWS

**The over-the-top segments involving Braun Strowman were a big success for Raw’s viewership this past Monday night. The three-hour show averaged approximately 3,200,000 viewers and would be their highest average since August 28th last year (which the last Monday before the NFL season began). While the lack of football competition obviously helped the number, the viewership level for the first hour of Raw, was only reached a handful of times in 2017 for major shows (the night after Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, and SummerSlam as well as the first hour of a January 16th, 2017 episode). The first hour did 3,573,000 and only dropped slightly in the second hour to 3,363,000 with both hours focused on numerous segments involving Braun Strowman. The third hour of Raw experienced a drop down to 2,814,000 and had an unusually long overrun of 14 minutes past 11 pm Eastern on the USA Network.

**We reported earlier today that as of Wednesday morning, the Mattamy Athletic Center (the former Maple Leaf Gardens) did not have any professional wrestling show booked for the venue on April 22nd. It was announced during a promo at the recent set of Impact Wrestling tapings that their next pay-per-view entitled “Redemption” would take place from Toronto on the date. This led to speculation that the Mattamy Athletic Centre would be the venue that Impact would run for the pay-per-view. When we inquired about the location of the event, an Impact Wrestling official told us, “No destination for Redemption has been announced.”

**Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were guests on Wednesday’s edition of “Talk is Jericho” with a conversation that was recorded after Christmas a few weeks back. There were several notable issues discussed throughout the conversation:
-The biggest takeaway for me was the level of stress that Zayn underwent the day of the Hell in a Cell show and his role in the finish of the Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens match. Zayn had to appear out of nowhere to rescue Owens from the table at the last second as Shane plunged off the top of the cell and crashed through the announcer’s table. Zayn described how small the margin of error was and that if it was mistimed at all, someone could have been seriously injured. This brought up a larger issue for me and that is the level of stunt work that is being assigned to professional wrestlers and it goes beyond just the WWE. As Zayn explained in the interview, if this were a scene in a movie it would be rehearsed over-and-over, there would be a crash pad and numerous safety measures taken while also using trained stuntmen to perform. In this instance, you left it to the three performers to execute this intricate stunt that could have gone wrong with the slightest hiccup. Owens added that he was also having lower back problems at the time and needed to sit up and get away from the desk to make matters worse.
-Kevin Owens discussed the headbutt onto Vince McMahon from last September and explained that it’s a spot that will probably never be done again. When Owens performed the headbutt, he wasn’t even aware of the injury sustained by Katsuyori Shibata earlier in the year as he doesn’t follow a lot of non-WWE wrestling. He stated that when Vince McMahon put his microphone down before the headbutt, he started cussing at Owens and Owens laid it in on him. People are split on the angle as most can acknowledge it was a very well-done angle and both parties performed their parts perfectly, but I never want to see something like this in a wrestling environment again. If you are a WWE shareholder and are watching the head of this company taking unprotected blows to the head, it’s concerning and the proximity to the Shibata injury only accentuates the need for caution. The WWE has been so conservative when it comes to diagnosing concussions, being careful of when they clear someone to return and taking lots of measures for safety that it’s stunning when you see Owens and McMahon’s angle performed or the finish of the Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton match from SummerSlam in 2016.
-Sami Zayn also discussed his relationship with Vince McMahon and stated he needs to make a better effort to cultivate one with McMahon. After Zayn’s heel turn, McMahon informed him to keep smiling and doing his mannerisms with Zayn later believing that McMahon finds Zayn to be naturally annoying and using that as character traits with his new direction. Zayn is also aware of the balancing act of being the annoying sidekick to Owens but not being too goofy that he’ll be labeled as such and never be in a position for a top spot as a heel within the company.

**Here are the matches that are scheduled for tonight’s episode of NXT from the tapings at Center Stage in Atlanta:
*Heavy Machinery vs. Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss
*Aliyah vs. Lacey Evans
*Roderick Strong vs. Fabian Aichner
*The Authors of Pain vs. The Street Profits in a #1 contender’s match

**There is a new episode of Total Divas tonight at 8 pm Eastern on E!

**The WWE moved up the entire U.S. title tournament and wrapped it up on Tuesday night’s broadcast of SmackDown Live. Following the semi-final matches, it was announced that the finals between Jinder Mahal and Bobby Roode would take place later in the show with Roode winning the match and becoming the new champion. As a result, this removes one match from the Royal Rumble which was to feature the finals of the tournament.

**The WWE’s premiere edition of the “Mixed Match Challenge” aired on Facebook Watch on Tuesday and will replay on the WWE Network this Thursday night at 10 pm Eastern. The live streaming of the show peaked with 135,000 viewers (it is worth noting that Facebook Watch is only available to those with a U.S IP address). There will obviously be much more viewership when you take the cumulative amount over the course of the week but as a live presentation and given the level of promotion, the number wouldn’t be a success and you would assume that the audience is more likely to decline rather than grow from week one. Next week’s match will feature The Miz and Asuka facing Big. E and Carmella.

**Impact Wrestling performer, Sienna was hospitalized during the most set of television tapings in Orlando, Florida. She went to the hospital when she suspected she had either a rib injury or an issue with her lung. Upon examination, they discovered that she had a blood clot in each of her lungs. She added that she will not be wrestling for now, but will still be making appearances until she fully recovers. Sienna missed the tapings on Sunday and Monday.

**Impact Wrestling launched their Twitch channel on Wednesday and are airing archived events from their library. They launched the channel with an airing of the inaugural NWA TNA pay-per-view from June 2002 that featured the crowning of a new NWA champion. There will be a push throughout the day on Thursday to the airing of the “Barbed Wire Massacre” match on Twitch at 10 pm Eastern, immediately following Thursday’s airing of Impact Wrestling on POP TV.

**It was announced during Tuesday’s episode of SmackDown Live that Trish Stratus will be appearing at the Raw 25th Anniversary show next Monday.

**Kenny Omega has been added to the advertising for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s four-show tour in Australia next month. The promotion will be running shows in Adelaide on February 16th, Melbourne on February 17th, Sydney on February 18th and Perth on February 19th.

**A tag match with The Ascension against Rusev and Aiden English was announced for next week’s episode of SmackDown Live in Washington, D.C.

**New Japan Pro Wrestling has announced that they have sold out the Edion Arena for the New Beginning card on February 10th in Osaka, Japan. It’s a very good sign for the momentum for the company coming out of Wrestle Kingdom and the angles shot at New Year’s Dash. The Osaka card will be headlined by Kazuchika Okada defending the IWGP heavyweight title against Sanada and will also feature Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP junior heavyweight title and EVIL vs. Hirooki Goto for the NEVER Openweight title as the top matches. Kevin Kelly and Don Callis will be calling all three of the New Beginning shows, which include the January 27th and 28th shows in Sapporo.

**The WWE stock jumped up Wednesday and closed at $32.82.

MMA NEWS

**Ariel Helwani is reporting at MMA Fighting that Tony Ferguson is expected to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at the UFC 223 pay-per-view on Saturday, April 7th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. UFC president Dana White has also stated publicly on the “Toucher and Rich” radio show that the fight is expected to take place. It is not known yet if this would be for the interim lightweight title or if Conor McGregor would be stripped of the UFC lightweight title, which is what White suggested this past Sunday when interviewed on FS1. Ferguson and Nurmagomedov were scheduled to fight last March at UFC 209, but the fight was scrapped from the card when Nurmagomedov was hospitalized during fight week due to his weight-cut. Since that time, Ferguson became the interim champion defeating Kevin Lee in October while McGregor has yet to defend the official title.

**This past Sunday’s UFC Fight Night event performed very well by Fight Night standards on FS1. The main card averaged 1,285,000 viewers on FS1, with the card headlined by Jeremy Stephens stopping Dooho Choi in the second round of their featherweight bout. The preliminary card also averaged in the seven-figures with 1,079,000 watching the two-hour prelims that featured James Krause fighting Alex White in the featured bout. The UFC and Fox’s experiment of running a UFC card in January on a Sunday night to coincide with the NFL playoffs began in 2015 and has proven successful each year. The high point of the experiment came in 2015, which was the last time Conor McGregor fought on free television and defeated Dennis Siver in Boston. That card averaged 2,751,000 and peaked with over 3.1 million watching McGregor’s fight with Siver.

**The broadcast team for this Saturday’s UFC 220 will consist of Jon Anik, Dominick Cruz, and Joe Rogan calling the fights. The studio show will be anchored as usual by Karyn Bryant and will feature Jimmy Smith’s first UFC assignment since signing with the organization this past week.

**Conversely, the Bellator broadcasting team this Saturday on the Paramount Network will feature Mike Goldberg calling the fight alongside John McCarthy. Bellator has also announced that they have signed Jay Glazer, who will be hosting Bellator’s broadcast desk during Saturday night’s Bellator 192 event.

**James Lynch of Fightful.com was the first to report that UFC strawweight Jamie Moyle suffered an injury and has been removed from this Saturday’s UFC 220 card. Moyle was scheduled to fight Maryna Moroz and the fight has been removed.

**Below are the first two episodes of UFC Embedded prior to this week’s UFC 220 card in Boston:

*****
BRITISH WRESTLING EXPERIENCE 1/17/18: The Introduction with Martin Bushby, Oli Court, and Benno
https://britishwrestlingexperience.podbean.com/mf/download/yqgdv9/180118_BWE.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 1/16/18: New U.S. Champion, Mixed Match Challenge, Selfie Promos
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/etccku/180116_RASD.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-RAW 1/15/18: Braun Strowman Fired? Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins, Paige Appears
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/huy9y4/180115_RAR.mp3
*****
THE 2018 MMA PREDICTION SHOW feat. Ariel Helwani
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/3rk3me/THE-2018-MMA-PREDICTION-SHOW.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-WAI – Night After ‘Mania Raw 2013
(John Pollock and Wai Ting review Raw from the night after WrestleMania 29 featuring Dolph Ziggler’s cash in, birth of “Fandango-ing”, revolt during Orton vs. Sheamus and we welcome Espresso Executive Producer John Taylor at the end of the show)
https://www.patreon.com/posts/rewind-wai-2-raw-16353951
*****

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About John Pollock 1725 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.