POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE 2/9 – New Beginning in Osaka Preview

A big preview for the New Beginning Osaka card with Okada defending against Sanada, Impact and SmackDown ratings, reviews of Impact Wrestling and NXT, alleged incident involving Vince McMahon from 2006 resurfaces with new information, the new commentary on Impact, a preview of UFC 221, new main event of UFC 222, and more.

POST IT NOTES

**A new Rewind-A-Wai is available for all members of the POST Wrestling Café. On this week’s show, we are covering last year’s BOLA tournament from Pro Wrestling Guerilla with a review of the final stage of the tournament. This show was chosen by our “Espresso Executive Producer” Tyler Crane, who attended this event live and will join us to share why he chose this show and his live thoughts from the event. Wai and I go through all the remaining tournament matches, the big match between Keith Lee and Donovan Dijak, Ricochet’s win, Team Janela vs. Team Trevor and lots more on this show. If you sign up for the Café today, you will have immediate access to all our shows on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/POSTwrestling.

**On Saturday, we will have two shows coming your way. For our Patreon members, Wai Ting and I will have a special bonus show with a review of the entire New Beginning in Osaka card, which will be posted in the afternoon. Late Saturday night, I will be joined by MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn with a free show reviewing the UFC 221 event immediately after it wraps up.

**Next Friday for our Patreon bonus show, Wai Ting and I will be reviewing some of the recent Coliseum Home Video additions to the WWE Network. We have put up a thread on the POST Wrestling Forum for you to vote on which title(s) we should review.

WRESTLING NEWS

**The big wrestling show of the weekend is New Japan’s New Beginning in Osaka card, which sold out the Edion Arena weeks ago. This is the biggest of the three New Beginning shows and features a CHAOS vs. LIJ theme for the top five matches. The card will be streaming live on New Japan World at 3 am Eastern with Kevin Kelly and Don Callis calling the show and below is a preview:
*Kazuchika Okada vs. Sanada for the IWGP heavyweight title –
The build up for this match has been effective in getting Sanada to a higher level than he was previously. He was very cold when this angle was shot at New Year’s Dash and it’s a very important match for Sanada to deliver in. The big spot of this past week’s tag title match saw Sanada layout Okada with the Rainmaker. They will have the benefit of being in front of a solid crowd in Osaka and I expect this to be great.
*Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL for the NEVER Openweight title –
There are a lot of comparisons between these two who have always been in the bridesmaid role as lacking that intangible to elevate themselves to the top rung of the company. Goto is coming off one of his career-best matches with Minoru Suzuki at Wrestle Kingdom and that would suggest a purpose to holding the title and not carrying it for one month. This may depend on the theme of the show with CHAOS vs. LIJ and how they will split these matches going into the main event.
*Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP junior heavyweight title –
There are enormous expectations for this match and are in a position to not just have the best match on the show but have one of the best matches of 2018. Takahashi is primed for a run with the title and it seems that Ospreay’s character is one of momentary glory with sustained disappointment to follow and could see him losing the title one month after taking it from his rival, Marty Scurll.
*Yoshi-Hashi vs. Tetsuya Naito –
Anything other than a Naito win would be counter-intuitive to the ultimate destination of Naito colliding with Chris Jericho. The best these two can hope for is Yoshi-Hashi’s one time during the year he showcases flashes of excellence and overachieves with a great match before losing.
*Bushi vs. Gedo –
This is such a strange singles match in the middle of a major card. It only seems to be here for a Best-of-five scenario for the theme of the card. Bushi probably wins and maybe some kind of angle is shot with the match as a set up for it.
*Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, and Taka Michinoku vs. Togi Makabe, Michael Elgin, and Ryusuke Taguchi –
The focus is on Suzuki vs. Makabe as the next Intercontinental title program and that could happen at the Anniversary show next month or even Sakura Genesis.
*Jay White, Tomohiro Ishii, and Toru Yano vs. Juice Robinson, Toa Henare, and David Finlay – White’s next title program appears to be with Hangman Page but he could have another title defence coming out of this match with Robinson or even Henare for one of the Australian shows. There is a lot of talent loaded into this six-man tag.
*Roppongi 3K vs. El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru in a non-title match –
I’m not sure why this is non-title other than to have the Suzuki-gun members win and set up a future title match. Desperado and Kanemaru do very little for me as a team, Desperado is more often cold than hot and it’s just a match.
*Yuji Nagata vs. Katsuya Kitamura –
This is a big match for Kitamura and Nagata will give him everything with the spotlight on them to kick off the show. This could be a sleeper on the show, not in terms of stealing the show but way above the level of a traditional opening match on a big show with one of the young lions.

**Ring of Honor is holding a live event from Concord, North Carolina with “Honor Reigns Supreme” at 7 pm Eastern. They will be doing a test tonight by providing a free live stream of the card on ROHwrestling.com, Facebook Live and the FITE TV app. Below is the card for tonight’s show:
*Cody, Marty Scurll and Hangman Page vs. Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia
*Dalton Castle and The Boys vs. Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky
*Jay Lethal vs. Jonathan Gresham
*Chuckie T. and Trent vs. The Young Bucks
*Punishment Martinez vs. Flip Gordon
*Shane Taylor vs. Kenny King

**David Bixenspan at Deadspin has done additional reporting on the 2006 incident involving Vince McMahon at a Florida-based tanning salon, which allegedly involved McMahon groping an employee. The story was reported at the time but was recently covered by The Daily Beast following the XFL press conference and McMahon outlining the hardline stance they will take regarding hiring players with any crimes on their record. The alleged incident occurred at the Tanzabar tanning salon involving McMahon and a 22-year old female employee. In the police report, which came out recently, it stated that McMahon asked the woman to take a picture of himself and she did so, later McMahon began to show her nude and semi-nude photos of himself and woman told McMahon to stop. This led to another interaction where McMahon tried to forcibly kiss her and was pushed away. The female filed the police report the following day with the Boca Raton Police Department. Bixenspan spoke to a witness, William Wells, who worked at the Papa John’s inside the same strip mall as the tanning salon. The woman ran over to his store after the incident with McMahon and was said to be crying. Wells told Deadspin that McMahon sat in his car and stared them down for 45 minutes until just before the police arrived. McMahon was never charged over the incident, although it was listed in the police report that, “There is probable cause to believe that Vincent McMahon did actually and intentionally touch against the will of [redacted], contrary to Florida Statue 784.03(1)”. Later that year, the State Attorney’s Office decided that there was a lack of independent evidence to support the allegations made against McMahon.

**This week’s Impact Wrestling saw a drop down to 294,000 viewers on POP TV. The audience average was down 7.8% from last week’s five-month high of 319,000 viewers.

**This week’s audience for SmackDown Live was almost exact to the week prior with 2,505,000 viewers watching on the USA Network. It was only down 4,000 viewers from the week prior.

**New Japan has announced that they will be opening a dojo in Los Angeles this March. Bushiroad president Takaaki Kidani had announced plans for such a venture last year.

**VIZ Media is republishing an autobiography on Shinsuke Nakamura. The book was published a few years back in Japanese and is being translated into English for the re-release this summer. The book covers his life up until 2015 and won’t cover any of this WWE tenure or his exit from New Japan.

**Next Tuesday’s match between Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin on SmackDown Live will see the winner added to the main event of Fast Lane. It is now set to be a four-way match with A.J. Styles vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn and the winner of Ziggler vs. Corbin. Fast Lane takes place on Sunday, March 11th in Columbus, Ohio.

**The Raw crew is in Canada this weekend with a show in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan tonight that is headlined by Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins for the Raw tag titles (so perhaps an apology to Jason Jordan is in order). On Saturday night, the Raw team is in Calgary and then on Sunday, they are in Fresno for a show featuring John Cena.

**The SmackDown team starts on Saturday night with a show at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento with A.J. Styles vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a handicap match.

**The WWE has announced that they have signed Serena Deeb as a coach at the WWE Performance Center. Deeb spent years in Ohio Valley Wrestling with a developmental deal and was finally signed in 2009 and sent to Florida Championship Wrestling. She was called up in 2010 for a unique and memorable angle as a fan brought into the ring by CM Punk and had her head shaved to show allegiance to the Straight Edge Society. She did not last very long in the role as she was released from her contract in August that year and returned to the independent scene. Deeb had been retired up until a return to the ring at last year’s Mae Young Classic. Deeb is 31-years old and will be working with the female talent at the WWE Performance Center.

**Brock Lesnar is being advertised for a match against The Miz for the WWE’s March 9th live event at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

**New Japan Pro Wrestling has announced that the February 19th event in Perth, Australia will feature EVIL and Sanada vs. Kazuchika Okada and Rocky Romero in a non-title match and an eight-man tag with Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens and Gino Gambino vs. Jonah Rock, Slex, Marcus Pitt and Damian Slater.

**With the imminent launch of the Honor Club streaming service, the promotion is no longer allowing people to sign up for a Ringside membership. For those that signed up for the membership after January 31st, they will be refunded and those that signed up prior have free access to the Honor Club for the remainder of their Ringside subscription.

**MLW will be holding their next card on Thursday, March 8th at the Gilt Nightclub in Orlando and tickets will be on sale this Monday at 10 am Eastern at https://www.mlwtickets.com/.

**The WWE stock closed at $34.84 on Friday.

1-YEAR REWIND
New Japan’s New Beginning in Osaka card
Saturday, February 11th, 2017 at the Edion Arena
*Taka Michinoku over Henare
*Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima over KUSHIDA and Yoshitatsu
*Juice Robinson, Yuji Nagata, Jushin Thunder Liger, and Tiger Mask over Hirooki Goto, Yoshi-Hashi, Gedo, and Jado
*Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Taichi over Kazuchika Okada, Rocky Romero, and Beretta
*EVIL, Sanada, and Bushi over Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Manabu Nakanishi to win the NEVER six-man tag titles
*Katsuyori Shibata over Will Ospreay to retain the British heavyweight title
*Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano over Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma, and Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Takashi Iizuka to retain the IWGP tag titles
*Hiromu Takahashi over Dragon Lee to retain the IWGP junior heavyweight title
*Tetsuya Naito over Michael Elgin to retain the Intercontinental title

TELEVISION REVIEWS

Impact Wrestling (Feb. 8th)
-This was one of the better episodes in a while as it flowed better than in most weeks and featured a pretty good main event four-way match between Johnny Impact, Moose, Alberto El Patron and Ethan Carter III.
-Josh Mathews called the show with Sonjay Dutt, as this was the first episode where they didn’t have Jeremy Borash and I would expect Dutt should stay in the role. Dutt was pretty good for someone I’ve never heard do commentary before and he has the advantage of being the person writing the television and can direct from the commentary position. It will be interesting how they work around the upcoming episodes where Mathews gets involved as a heel manager and whether he remains in the commentary position.
-Ethan Carter III cut a backstage promo and alluded to the fact that his time was coming to an end with the company. It’s a delicate balancing act of writing off characters and getting the most out of them for their final tapings. On the one hand, you want to get the maximum out of them, but I think it’s also a negative to have a handful of performers (EC 3, Laurel Van Ness, Lashley) that most of the audience knows is gone and you’re watching characters week-after-week that feel outdated to the current product and landscape.
-The main event featured Johnny Impact pinning Ethan Carter III to become the #1 contender for the Impact title. This was the match where Moose suffered a legitimate knee injury and gutted his way through the rest of the match and had a hell of a performance given the state of his knee. The injury added to the drama of the match and they had some great brawling sequences. There was a spot where Johnny Impact was folded into a garbage container like he was a contortionist and it was different.
-Matt Sydal and Taiji Ishimori defeated E Hijo del Fantasma and Caleb Konley in the opening tag. Sydal and Ishimori were very good together as a team and the seeds are being planted for Sydal’s eventual heel turn. Next week, it’s Ishimori vs. Fantasma and Sydal said “it could be the greatest X division match of all-time” to keep expectations grounded.
-OVE is feuding with Bobby Lashley and kicked off the angle with a sneak attack on Lashley and throwing him into the trunk of a car, it was done with video footage from OVE’s point-of-view and came off well.
-Trevor Lee and Caleb Konley are the next challengers for Santana and Ortiz and the tag titles. Lee and Konley came out with bandanas and mocked LAX. Konnan cut a quick promo but remains one of the best talkers in the industry. If Konnan had the right guy on WWE television and was doing back-and-forth promos with Paul Heyman to build up a Brock Lesnar match, it would be the hottest program going. That scenario isn’t happening, but I don’t feel Konnan gets enough credit for his promos.
-There was a massive gap in the show where they aired an old match between Austin Aries and Bobby Roode (they run a match every week to promote the Global Wrestling Network) and this was a significantly longer match than usual.
-Next week’s show will feature Austin Aries vs. Eli Drake in a rematch for the Impact title. Aries did a segment speaking to the media and said he isn’t under contract to Impact and is going around the world collecting championships. It was teased that Aries could lose the Impact title to someone outside of the promotion.

NXT (Feb. 7th)
-This was an average edition of the show, featuring a tornado tag main event with Sanity (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dane) defeating Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish. It was a good main event and advances the story further of Sanity chasing for the NXT tag titles.
-Bianca Belair won a quick match over Jessica Hill and continues to stand out. Belair should be in NXT for a long time to learn and improve but stands out more than most and this is a bloated roster where standing out is difficult. She has the character part down and has a lot of confidence with her performances and sometimes that is the bigger hurdle to clear for performers.
-Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss are teasing a breakup and the audience is finally reacting to Sabbatelli with “Tino sucks” chants. The jury is out on Sabbatelli as he has a look and cockiness about him that in another era would be highly sought after but it’s questionable if it will connect and be enough to compensate for his limited talent in the ring. For every Sabbatelli that is getting regular television time, there are a dozen other guys on the sidelines awaiting their chance just to get onto television, such as a Donovan Dijak. This NXT roster is only getting more bloated with all the recent signings and being limited to a one-hour show every week to get so many acts over.

MMA NEWS

**The UFC 221 pay-per-view takes place on Saturday night from the Perth Arena in Australia and has minimal interest with just over 24 hours until the show. This is a true one fight show as the interim middleweight title fight is the only fight you could classify as pay-per-view worthy on top of a Fight Night lineup. Both the UFC 219 and UFC 220 did above what I anticipated but I give that credit to the components of those shows with Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm and Khabib Nurmagomedov on the December show and the interest level of Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou for the UFC 220 event. This card was designed to be a big platform for Robert Whittaker to fight in Australia in a big fight with Rockhold, which was an excellent fight on paper. With Whittaker’s injury, it forced the UFC to scramble and while the main event is a good fight, it’s not a pay-per-view driver. That said, the main card has the potential to deliver some action fights sometimes cards such as these ones deliver in the action department while fail to generate buzz in the lead-up. Below is the full card:

MAIN CARD (10 pm Eastern on pay-per-view)
*Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero for the interim middleweight title –Romero is always dangerous with his striking, but we saw the limitations he has in a five-round fight in the loss to Robert Whittaker. Rockhold may very well be the best middleweight in the world and his career was severely sidetracked with the loss to Michael Bisping. A fight between Rockhold and Whittaker is very intriguing and would be the only fight to make if Rockhold defeats Romero. Romero is almost 41 years old and given the five-round nature of the fight, I favour Rockhold.
*Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes –
This is a big opportunity for Blaydes, who is 3-1 with a no contest in the UFC (he should be 4-1 as his win over Adam Milstead was overturned for marijuana in Texas) and his only loss was his UFC debut to Francis Ngannou. Hunt is a better fighter with the larger power in his hands, but he is almost 44 years old and everyone knows that there is a countdown clock on Hunt’s ability to fight top heavyweights. Blaydes is a big test for Hunt and where he is at this stage of the game.
*Tai Tuivasa vs. Cyril Asker –
Tuivasa is an undefeated heavyweight prospect from Australia and won his UFC debut over Rashad Coulter so this is a big push for Tuivasa in his home country. There is always the natural scepticism of someone with quick finishes and how they will deal in the later rounds of a fight.
*Jake Matthews vs. Li Jingliang –
Matthews fights out of Melbourne and is young enough that there is still a lot of hype surrounding the fighter he will turn into. He ran into two tough losses against Kevin Lee and Andrew Holbrook and is coming off a split win over Bojan Velickovic. Jingliang has quietly won four straight fights heading this one.
*Saparbek Safarov vs. Tyson Pedro –
This could be an entertaining brawl. Pedro was 6-0 with six first-round stoppages until his last fight with a quality fighter in Ilir Latifi and lost by decision. Safarov had a war with Gian Villante in December 2016 and has not fought since that bout.

PRELIMINARY CARD (8 pm Eastern on FS1, TSN2 in Canada)
*Damien Brown vs. Dong Hyun Kim
*Israel Adesanya vs. Rob Wilkinson
*Jeremy Kennedy vs. Alexander Volkanovski
*Jussier Formiga vs. Ben Nguyen

FIGHT PASS CARD (6:30 pm Eastern)
*Ross Pearson vs. Mizuto Hirota
*Teruto Ishihara vs. Jose Alberto Quinonez
*Luke Jumeau vs. Daichi Abe

**Following the injury to Max Holloway and many attempts to salvage the card, the UFC has a title match in place to headline the UFC 222 event on Saturday, March 3rd in Las Vegas. UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino is scheduled to defend her title against Yana Kunitskaya. Justino will serve as a huge favourite going into the fight against the former Invicta FC bantamweight champion, who was already making the move up to featherweight before this fight was presented to her. It is hardly the strongest main event, but it allows the UFC to go ahead with the card as pay-per-view and that’s a win for the company. Frankie Edgar will remain on the card as he is now going to be fighting Brian Ortega in a very important featherweight fight on the main card. The test will be how Cyborg can carry a pay-per-view on her own. The UFC 219 card with Cyborg vs. Holly Holm performed very well by today’s standards. The difference between these two fights is the Holm fight was viewed as Cyborg’s most competitive fight of her career and there is something to be said for Khabib Nurmagomedov’s presence on the card. The 222 business will give a strong sense of what Cyborg means on her own against a relatively unknown challenger.

**Bellator 196 will be taking place on Friday, April 6th at 9 pm Eastern on the Paramount Network with a card from Budapest. The show will be headlined by rising featherweight James Gallagher taking on Adam Borics, who is a 10-0 prospect. The card will also feature female flyweights Denise Kielholtz and Lena Ovchynnikova meeting in the co-main event.

**AZ Central out of Arizona was the first to report a female strawweight fight between Michelle Waterson and Cortney Casey will take place on April 14th at the UFC on FOX card in Glendale, Arizona. Waterson is coming off a pair of losses to Rose Namajunas and Tecia Torres in 2017 and Casey just dropped a split decision to Felice Herrig this past December.

**Newsday reported that bantamweights Aljamain Sterling and Brett Johns will be fighting at the UFC Fight Night card on April 21st at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

**Here are the second and third episodes of this week’s UFC Embedded series going into UFC 221:

*****
REWIND-A-WAI – PWG BOLA ’17 – Final Stage (Patreon bonus show)
https://www.patreon.com/posts/rewind-wai-pwg-16892002
*****
BWE 2/8/18: Progress Chapter 62, FCP/Attack WrestleHouse, 5 Star
https://britishwrestlingexperience.podbean.com/mf/download/8b4p22/180208_BWE.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 2/6/18: Top 10 List, Owens vs. Zayn, 205 Live…Great?
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/rim3z4/160206_RASD.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-RAW 2/5/18: Jordan Screws Up Again, Women’s Chamber Participants Announced
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/67bdxd/180205_RAR.mp3
*****
ASK-A-WAI #1: Ask Us Anything (February 2018) – https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/8cm67s/180204_ASK-A-WAI.mp3
*****
TOTAL DIVAS SEASON 7 FINALE REVIEW WITH JOHN POLLOCK & WAI TING (Patreon bonus show)
https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/02/01/total-divas-season-7-finale/
*****
KEEP IT 2000: Ep. 23 – “The Red Liquid” with Damian Abraham (June 5, 2000)
https://keepit2000.podbean.com/mf/download/kycidg/Keep-It-2000-June-5-2000.mp3
*****

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About John Pollock 393 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.