**We have a new edition of Rewind-A-Wai up for all members of the POST Wrestling Café with Wai Ting and I spending three-hours discussing WrestleMania X-8 from Toronto in 2002. This is show was chosen by our “Espresso Executive Producer” Ziggy Cao, who joined us to explain why he chose this event and his memories of this show. Wai and I both attended this event and we share our memories of the show live, how it holds up today, tons of discussion on the roster, the N.W.O. coming in, Hulk Hogan’s role on the show, the Chris Jericho vs. Triple H match and we take your feedback. You can sign up now at www.patreon.com/POSTwrestling and all patrons will receive this show and all the Patron shows when they sign up.
**We also have a free show posted with WH Park making his POST Wrestling debut. The two of us chatted about Wrestle Kingdom 12 with WH’s thoughts on the show, the angles shot at New Year’s Dash, a preview of the New Beginning cards this weekend in Sapporo, the rise of All Japan Pro Wrestling, the state of Pro Wrestling NOAH and other Japanese wrestling notes. That show can be downloaded at https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/01/26/new-beginning-preview-with-john-pollock-and-wh-park/.
**I was a guest today with Dave Bastl and Mark Zecchino to chat about the re-launch of the XFL, the issues the league will have to deal with, Vince McMahon’s press conference, and we also discussed this Sunday’s Royal Rumble and the launch of POST Wrestling. I come on around the 16:00 mark:
The weekend POST Wrestling schedule is as follows:
*Saturday – NXT Takeover review with John Pollock, Braden Herrington, and Bartender Dave
*Sunday – WWE Royal Rumble review with John Pollock and Wai Ting
*Monday – Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock and Wai Ting
For Patrons, we will have a review over the next few days covering the New Beginning cards from Sapporo.
**If you are in Toronto, Jason Agnew is hosting “Rumble Strikes” tonight at Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street, West) at 11 pm. The wrestling-themed improv comedy show will feature players that the audience eliminates throughout the night.
**Final note is that the POST Wrestling “Royal Rumble Pool” is free to enter and the deadline to submit your picks is this Sunday at 3 pm Eastern at http://www.POSTwrestling.com/rumble.
**The biggest news today is the reaction to the announcement of the XFL’s return that is earmarked for play in 2020. Given that the Super Bowl that year will air on February 2nd, you can assume that the XFL will be targeting a launch for the following weekend as they did at the conclusion of the NFL’s 2000-01 season. The press conference was scarce on details beyond the league operating with eight teams consisting of 40-man rosters and a ten-game season with playoffs. While it is being presented as the antithesis of the prior incarnation of the league, they are not out to make enemies with the NFL and flaunt the extreme vision that Vince McMahon had for football 18 years ago. The press conference felt hastily put together to make a formal announcement, yet no specifics have been ironed out regarding how they plan to “reimagine football” as was often repeated by McMahon.
McMahon stated they would seek out medical experts to make this a safer version of football, while also speeding up the game and toying with the idea of eliminating halftime to make this viewer friendly. With just under $100 million invested by McMahon, that feels like a low figure to fund the start-up costs and fuel eight teams of 40-man rosters while also promising a higher quality of play than the original XFL, which would mean going after higher priced players that would be swayed from the NFL, CFL or coming out of college.
What received the largest attention was McMahon’s firm stance on the quality of athletes he wants representing the league, stating that if you have a DUI on your record, you will not play in the XFL. He said the league would not be political or deal with any social issues, yet when acknowledging that the national anthem is a “time-honored tradition” that he believes everyone should stand up for, he has already created a political issue within the league if that is mandated to all athletes.
As many have stated, the key will be the distribution for the league with the ultimate play of landing a major television rights deal for the XFL. Television rights fees for live sports are a different animal than when the league first existed, however, it’s hard to envision the XFL landing on a major network especially if they have existing relationships with the NFL. The more realistic option is a rights deal with a cable network and/or a streaming platform that can’t land the rights to a major sports league but can support the XFL, which brings curiosity and brand recognition to provide a spotlight. Whether a cable and/or streaming deal can make the XFL a successful investment is a larger question.
The gamble is a large one by McMahon and there is no evidence yet that the fate of the XFL will be any different in 2020 than it was in 2001 and I feel most will approach this league with extreme skepticism. The line that has been drawn between the XFL and WWE will be interesting to monitor as McMahon insists there will not be any crossover between the two and that McMahon will take a back seat from being the frontman for the league. I find both of those objectives hard to envision as we saw the WWE promote the XFL excessively on their social platforms on Thursday and it’s hard to imagine that the XFL will be a non-entity when it comes to WWE promotion over the course of two-years.
**The WWE’s stock has reacted positively to the XFL announcement and closed at $34.35 on Friday. This is the highest that the WWE stock has ever reached since going public in 1999.
**HBO has released a trailer for the upcoming Andre the Giant documentary with the premiere date scheduled for Tuesday, April 10th at 10 pm. In the trailer, they showed clips of original interviews that HBO conducted with Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Gene Okerlund, Billy Crystal, and Jerry Lawler. The documentary is a co-production between HBO, the WWE and the Bill Simmons Media Group. Montreal wrestling historian Pat Laprade was also hired for the project to serve as a field producer.
**New Japan Pro Wrestling presents the first of three New Beginning cards early Saturday morning at 4 am Eastern and streaming on New Japan World. They are running consecutive nights in Sapporo this weekend and the shows will feature English commentary from Kevin Kelly and Don Callis. Below is a preview of Saturday’s show:
*Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki for the Intercontinental title –This is a fresh match as they have not had a singles match together since King of Pro Wrestling in 2012. Suzuki suffered a major loss at Wrestle Kingdom and it feels like they are heating him back up after a major angle at New Year’s Dash attacking Tanahashi to set this match up. Everyone believes Tanahashi needs a break and a title change would be recommended and present some fresh matches with Suzuki that can headline. Tanahashi could disappear until Dominion and New Japan won’t skip a beat but that’s a broken record. Suzuki is on a hot streak and there are more options with Suzuki winning than Tanahashi.
*Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks vs. Jay White and Roppongi 3K
*Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, and Gedo vs. EVIL, Sanada, and Bushi –Okada and Goto are challenging EVIL and Sanada for the IWGP tag titles at Korakuen Hall on February 6th so this match is focused on building up that tag program. Okada is also defending the title against Sanada a week later in Osaka so expect a lot of interplay between those two as they need to heat up Sanada for such a major title match in a big New Japan market.
*Will Ospreay and Yoshi-Hashi vs. Tetsuya Naito and Hiromu Takahashi –Ospreay vs. Takahashi is scheduled for Osaka and so is Naito vs. Yoshi-Hashi, I expect this tag match to be very good.
*Kota Ibushi, Juice Robinson, and David Finlay vs. Cody, Hangman Page, and Marty Scurll
*Bad Luck Fale and the Guerillas of Destiny vs. Togi Makabe, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Toa Henare for the NEVER six-man tag titles –Imagine if these titles changed hands on this show?
*Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano vs. Yujiro and Chase Owens
*Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jushin Thunder Liger, KUSHIDA, and Tiger Mask vs. Takashi Iizuka, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado, and Taka Michinoku –Satoshi Kojima was originally scheduled for this match so the likely scenario is that they take Taka out of the match and just make it an eight-man tag instead of a ten-man tag
*Michael Elgin vs. Katsuya Kitamura in Kitamura’s trial series
**The second New Beginning card in Sapporo is late Saturday / early Sunday morning at 1 am Eastern and is headlined by Kenny Omega vs. Jay White for the IWGP U.S. title and also features a rematch from Wrestle Kingdom with The Young Bucks vs. Roppongi 3K for the IWGP junior heavyweight tag titles.
**In addition to Stephanie McMahon joining the commentary team for the women’s Royal Rumble, the special ring announcer for the match will be Maria Menounos.
**The WWE has announced three new matches for the Royal Rumble on Sunday that will all be airing on the kickoff special that begins at 5 pm Eastern:
*Bobby Roode’s U.S. title open challenge
*The Revival vs. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
*TJP, Drew Gulak, and Jack Gallagher vs. Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado
They have also announced that the Royal Rumble kickoff show will feature appearances by Alundra Blayze, Ric Flair, Charlotte, and Alexa Bliss.
**Thursday night’s “Genesis” special of Impact Wrestling averaged 310,000 viewers on POP TV. This is just about identical to last week’s number of 309,000.
**The WWE is running regular house shows this weekend even with the Royal Rumble coming up. The Raw crew will be in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania tonight with The Miz vs. Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman vs. Kane advertised. Jason Jordan has been dealing with an injury but is advertised for tonight’s show and we will see if ends up working the show or not. On Saturday night, the Raw crew is in Baltimore with Brock Lesnar vs. Kane on the night before the Rumble.
**The SmackDown crew has a house show Saturday night in Richmond, Virginia with a steel cage match between A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn advertised.
**The first part of the Total Divas season-finale averaged 609,000 viewers this past Wednesday on E!
**A singles match between Velveteen Dream and Kassius Ohno has been added to the NXT Takeover card on Saturday night in Philadelphia. This card looks great on paper and from top-to-bottom looks like it will be the most satisfying show of the weekend from any company.
**NXT will be taping three matches at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia prior to Takeover to air next Wednesday:
*Roderick Strong vs. Tyler Bate in a #1 contender’s match for the WWE U.K. title
*Lacey Evans vs. Nikki Cross
*TM61 vs. TBA
**The WWE has posted a tremendous profile piece on Kassius Ohno going through his 19-year career, his role within NXT since returning to the company a year ago and his reputation as a “wrestling genius”:
**SHINE has a show tonight at 9 pm Eastern that will air on WWNLive.com from The Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida. The show will feature LuFisto defending the SHINE title against Rain and the tag champions Mercedes Martinez and Ivelisse defending against Isla Dawn and Lady Chardonnay Darcy.
**Beginning this Monday, John Cena is advertised for every episode of Raw throughout February and March going into WrestleMania. Brock Lesnar is not advertised for another Raw episode until Monday, February 26th in Anaheim, California.
**Thursday night’s episode of Impact Wrestling was the final episode from last November’s television tapings in Ottawa, Ontario. Next week’s episode kicks off the latest set of tapings from Orlando and unless they go out of order, should feature the return of Austin Aries on next week’s episode.
**Congratulations to Chad Gable (Chas Betts) and his wife, who gave birth to a daughter on Thursday.
**The NWA has released a new video focusing on new champion Nick Aldis, his history and his perception within the industry:
**Bellator 193 takes place tonight from Temecula, California and is airing on The Paramount Network at 9 pm Eastern with the following main card fights:
*Lorenz Larkin vs. Fernando Gonzalez
*Saad Awad vs. J.J. Ambrose
*Kendall Grove vs. AJ Matthews
*Jake Smith vs. Steve Kozola
It’s a minor show from Bellator coming off last weekend’s big show, Larkin is 0-2 since signing with Bellator and will be fighting Gonzalez at a catchweight of 180 pounds. Gonzalez was over the limit by 0.3 pounds and was fined 20% of his purse on Thursday.
**Marc Raimondi has an astonishing story up on MMA Fighting regarding an issue between the UFC and the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission that led to two separate rule sets being utilized last Saturday at UFC 220. On the broadcast, it was repeatedly said that Massachusetts had not adopted the newest set of rules from the Association of Boxing Commissions. This turned out to be incorrect as Massachusetts has been using the new set of rules since January 2017, however, the UFC was not made aware of this. A member of the commission had emailed the UFC’s vice president of regulatory affairs, Marc Ratner, prior to the event stating that the old rules would be in effect and that is why the UFC was under the impression the old rules were in effect. The earlier fights in the evening were being officiated based on the new set of rules because the referees used (Dan Miragliotta, Steve Rita, and Kevin MacDonald) were aware of what rules Massachusetts followed and went by that logic. The decision was made that since the old rules were announced on the broadcast that from the Kyle Bochniak vs. Brandon Davis fight onward, the old rules would be recognized.
**Bellator has announced a light heavyweight fight between former champion Liam McGeary and Vadim Nemkov for February 16th at Bellator 194.
**The UFC returns to FOX on Saturday night for a card in Charlotte, North Carolina. All 24 fighters made weight on Friday morning and below are the scheduled fight and weigh-in results:
MAIN CARD (10 pm Eastern on FOX)
*Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (186) vs. Derek Brunson (185)
*Andre Fili (146) vs. Dennis Bermudez (145)
*Gregor Gillespie (155) vs. Jordan Rinaldi (155)
*Frank Camacho (169) vs. Drew Dober (170)
PRELIMINARY CARD (5 pm Eastern on FS1)
*Bobby Green (156) vs. Erik Koch (155)
*Godofredo Pepey (145) vs. Mirsad Bektic (145)
*Mara Romero Borella (125) vs. Katlyn Chookagian (125)
*Juliana Lima (116) vs. Randa Markos (116)
*Justine Kish (125) vs. Ji Yeon Kim (125)
*Vinc Pichel (156) vs. Joaquim Silva (155)
FIGHT PASS CARD (4 pm Eastern)
*George Sullivan (170) vs. Niko Price (170)
*Austin Arnett (146) vs. Cory Sandhagen (146)
**Newsday reported on Thursday that a lightweight fight between Joe Lauzon and Chris Gruetzemacher has been added to the UFC 223 card on Saturday, April 7th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. This will be the 26th fight of Lauzon’s UFC tenure that dates back to September 2006. Lauzon is coming off a pair of losses to Stevie Ray and Clay Guida. Gruetzemacher is also coming off two losses to Chas Skelly and Davi Ramos in 2017.
**The UFC’s newest member of their broadcast team, Jimmy Smith, will be calling his first UFC event on February 10th with the UFC 221 pay-per-view from Perth, Australia.
NEW BEGINNING PREVIEW WITH JOHN POLLOCK & WH PARK
REWIND-A-WAI #3: WrestleMania X-8 (Patreon show)
BWE 1/24/18: RevPro High Stakes, Progress Chapter 61, BritWres Scandals
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 1/23/18 – Enzo Amore, State of 205 Live, Royal Rumble Preview
REWIND-A-RAW 1/22/18: RAW 25th Anniversary Review
POST MMA: UFC 220 and BELLATOR 192 REVIEW WITH JOHN POLLOCK
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