POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE 3/2 – USADA comments on Brock Lesnar’s suspension

USADA issues a statement to POST Wrestling regarding Brock Lesnar's suspension, a look at the WWE's domestic rights deal and interest from Fox, Manhattan Mayhem preview, UFC 222 weigh-in results, Amazon Prime offering UFC pay-per-views, Rey Mysterio and Matt Riddle miss 5 Star Wrestling show, and more.

POST IT NOTES

**This week’s Patreon bonus podcast is our monthly ASK-A-WAI mailbag show. Wai Ting and I spent almost two hours taking your questions that covered a wide range of topics, including New Japan’s expansion into the U.S., the viability of an all women’s SmackDown, ideal roster switches after WrestleMania, the battle with piracy, the decision to put portions of our content behind a paywall, and many other topics. This was a really enjoyable show and one of my favourite new and recurring podcasts. If you are a Patreon member at the POST Wrestling Café, $6 per month gives you access to the show immediately along with all of our other bonus shows including Rewind-A-Wai.

**For Double Double, Iced Capp, and Espresso members, we also have a video version of Ask-A-Wai available.

**On Saturday night, I’ll be back with a UFC 222 Post Show on the website and that will be free for everyone. I’ll be running through the fights and going through any news and notes coming out of the card.

**We have released a few shows over the past few days, including:
*Keep it 2000 – Brian Mann and Nate Milton chat with former WWE creative member Robert Karpeles (@WWECreative_ish) to tackle an dissect the Russo-less episode of WCW Monday Nitro from June 19th, 2000
*WH Park returns to chat with me about all the latest in Japanese wrestling with the recent Honor Rising shows, the Golden Lovers reunion, New Japan Cup brackets and opening round predictions, Long Beach main event, All Japan’s Champion Carnival lineup and new streaming service, live reports from Stardom and Dragon Gate, and more.

WRESTLING NEWS

**With the news concerning Brock Lesnar and the possibility of a return to the UFC, I reached out to USADA this week to get an official statement regarding his suspension that was issued after his drug test failures in connection with UFC 200 in 2016. Lesnar was suspended for one-year by both the Nevada Athletic Commission and USADA, fined $250,000 by the NAC and had his win over Mark Hunt changed to a no contest.

Lesnar tested positive for clomiphene and hydroxy-clomiphene in a drug sample that was collected on June 28th (the results didn’t come back in time to remove Lesnar from his July 9th bout with Mark Hunt at UFC 200) as well as a positive sample coming back from his post-fight drug test the night of the bout. The suspension was retroactive to July 2016 and his Nevada suspension has since expired, however, when he retired in February 2017 and removed himself from the USADA testing pool, his suspension was frozen. We wanted to receive clarification from USADA regarding the process Lesnar would have to go through if he were to come out of retirement with the suspension yet to expire. This is the statement provided by Brad Horn, the Communications & Media Relations Director at USADA:

Brock Lesnar’s suspension continues. If he were to unretire with UFC, he would have to serve out the greater of the remaining sanction or the six-month period of returning to the pool before returning to competition, as outlined in the UFC anti-doping policy.

In regards to the Louisiana Boxing and Wrestling Commission (which regulates professional wrestling), we asked if they were violating any issues by allowing him to wrestle within a commissioned state while the USADA suspension is frozen and Horn’s statement was:

Not a hard and fast rule, but from our end, no. Commissions are the ultimate authority for who to license. We’re more than happy to share with commissions if they have questions about our suspensions.

When I spoke to Russell Naquin of the Louisiana Boxing and Wrestling Commission, he told me that if Lesnar had been under suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission, it would have been recognized but that they would have attempted to work with the Nevada Athletic Commission to allow Lesnar to wrestle within the state.

**The WWE’s television rights negotiations are going to be the largest wrestling story of 2018 barring something unforeseen. The involvement of Fox as a possible destination for the WWE’s programming took a significant step forward this past week with several Fox executives in attendance at Tuesday’s SmackDown Live taping in Los Angeles, along with Fox on-air personality Colin Cowherd. Fox Sports executive Eric Shanks, producer Jacob Ullman (who has attended many WWE events in the past and has ties with Jim Ross), and Cowherd were seated in the front row. The actions of Cowherd were right out of the Brock Lesnar playbook of negotiation tactics, with Cowherd posting a photo backstage of himself with Charlotte and Natalya and then raving about the experience the following day on his show while subtly teasing the WWE coming to “a network near you”.

The interest by Fox over the WWE rights was reported earlier this year by Dave Meltzer at the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, who cited the possibility of Raw ending up on big Fox on Monday nights with a reduced length of two-hours to accommodate the 10 o’clock news for affiliates. Further reporting from Michael McCarthy at Sporting News indicates that Fox would house SmackDown Live on FS1 and are more willing to throw big money at the WWE instead the UFC, which would be a major shift in the sports landscape because of the perception change over the past year.

There is a major talking point regarding those looking at the UFC product that the major stars have either left or have their statuses up in the air, such as the case with Conor McGregor. It once again provides Brock Lesnar a major bargaining chip because both sides want to be viewed as the hot product with major stars and Lesnar represents that status symbol. The signing of Ronda Rousey will be a historically significant one if the WWE gets a massive rights renewal, and while Rousey isn’t the sole contributor to that perception change, she is an athlete that resonates with television executives and the advertising community that view her as a major influencer.

The WWE’s domestic deal doesn’t expire with NBC Universal until September 30th, 2019, but the company has stated they expect to announce their next deal between May and September of this year. The UFC’s seven-year deal with Fox expires this year. It was previously reported by John Ourand at SportsBusiness Journal that the UFC has spoken with ESPN, Turner Sports, CBS, and NBC.

**The major WWE house show of the weekend is their return to the United Center in Chicago, Illinois featuring Brock Lesnar facing Kane. Coming off of Monday’s television, Paul Heyman sent out a tweet confirming their appearance for Saturday night so as not to dissuade last-minute ticket buyers from coming. Lesnar is also scheduled for next Friday’s live event in Minneapolis against The Miz and the following Raw television taping on March 12th in Detroit, Michigan.

**The Raw crew has a show in Kalamazoo, Michigan tonight and the NXT crew is in Cleveland, Ohio at the Agora Theatre.

**On the Rey Mysterio front, he is scheduled for tonight’s Northeast Wrestling event in Waterbury, Connecticut at the Wilby High School along with Mick Foley, Matt Riddle, Tenille Dashwood, Flip Gordon, and an appearance by The Young Bucks. Mysterio is also scheduled to work for The Crash on Saturday, March 17th in Tijuana; the New Japan “Strong Style Evolved” card on Sunday, March 25th and for 5 Star Wrestling on Thursday, April 5th in Birmingham, England.

**Rey Mysterio was scheduled to wrestle for 5 Star Wrestling on Thursday night in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but the promotion announced he was unable to appear due to a family emergency. Mysterio was replaced on the card by Alberto El Patron. Matt Riddle also couldn’t make it to the Belfast show after arriving in England and being told that his flight into Belfast wasn’t possible due to the massive snowstorm.

**Ring of Honor will be holding their annual “Manhattan Mayhem” card on Saturday night from the Manhattan Center, streaming live on the new Honor Club service. Below is the lineup for Saturday’s show at 7 pm Eastern:
*The Young Bucks, Marty Scurll, and Hangman Page vs. Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Scorpio Sky, and Shane Taylor in an “Ultimate Mayhem Match” (fans vote on the guest commentator: Bully Ray, Cody, Caprice Coleman, BJ Whitmer, Mandy Leon, or The Dawgs)
*Dalton Castle and Volador Jr. vs. Jay Lethal and Ultimo Guerrero
*Punishment Martinez vs. Soberano Jr.
*Cody vs. Flip Gordon (fans choose the stipulation: 2/3 Falls, Lumberjack Match, Gordon is added to “All In” if he wins)
*Tenille Dashwood and Deonna Purrazzo vs. Sumie Sakai and Jenny Rose
*Kenny King and a team voted on by the fans (Motor City Machine Guns, The Briscoe Brothers, The Kingdom, or Coast to Coast) vs. Silas Young, Beer City Bruiser, and Brian Milonas
*Four-way tag match with the remaining four tag teams
*Caprice Coleman’s Pulpit with the fans voting on the guest: Colt Cabana, Cheeseburger, Ultimo Guerrero, Flip Gordon, Delirious, Kelly Klein, or Gary Juster

**Next Friday’s ROH 16th Anniversary pay-per-view in Las Vegas, Nevada will feature Hiromu Takahashi coming over and facing Flip Gordon in a singles match. This follows last weekend’s Honor Rising cards where Gordon pinned Takahashi to win a three-way match that also featured KUSHIDA. ROH has also announced a “Las Vegas Street Fight” for the pay-per-view with The Young Bucks and Hangman Page defending the six-man tag titles against Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, and Scorpio Sky. Sumie Sakai will also take on Hana Kimura on the March 9th card in Las Vegas in the Women of Honor tournament.

**Mahabali Shera made his NXT live event debut on Thursday night in Ocala, Florida. The former Impact Wrestling performer recently reported to the Performance Center and defeated Dan Matha on Thursday’s card.

**Due to a ticketing error where they oversold the American Legion Post, Pro Wrestling Guerilla is doing the unthinkable and running a different venue for their March 23rd card. Tickets for the show went on sale this past Tuesday and were sold out instantly, as I had friends attempting to buy tickets and had no luck. It turns out there was an issue with PayPal where more tickets were sold than the venue can hold. PWG has moved the event to The Globe Theatre rather than refunding people’s money. Aside from a co-promotional show over WrestleMania Weekend in 2014 and the Kurt Russell reunion shows, this would be the first PWG show outside of the American Legion Post since 2008. The card on March 23rd had high demand because there will be a lot of travellers in town that weekend for the New Japan card on Sunday in Long Beach. The PWG show is headlined by Chuck Taylor vs. Keith Lee for the PWG title.

**Ring of Honor will be returning to the U.K. in May for the “Honor United Tour” featuring talent from New Japan Pro Wrestling. The promotion has announced dates on May 24th in Edinburgh, Scotland at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange; May 26th in London, England at the Crystal Palace Sports Centre and May 27th in Doncaster, England at the Doncaster Dome.

MMA NEWS

**On Wednesday, Amazon confirmed SportsBusiness Journal’s initial report that they would be offering UFC pay-per-views for purchase on their Amazon Prime service. The deal goes into effect with Saturday night’s UFC 222 event being offered for $64.99. You do not have to be an Amazon Prime member to order the event. John Ourand at SportsBusiness Journal reported that the deal was negotiated by Amazon’s head of sports Jim DeLorenzo with an executive team from Endeavor (formerly WME-IMG) led by Hillary Mandel and the UFC’s Executive Vice President and CFO, Andrew Schleimer. The timing is notable with the UFC’s domestic rights deal expiring with Fox at the end of 2018 and will fuel speculation that Amazon could be testing the waters to see what the appetite for the UFC product is on their platform. Last year, Amazon inked a deal to stream 10 of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games over the past season and paid $50 million for those games, which were only available to Amazon Prime members.

**The big card of the weekend is the UFC 222 event from the T-Mobile Arena from Las Vegas on Saturday night. The weigh-ins took place on Friday morning and below is the full card with the weigh-in results:

MAIN CARD (10 pm Eastern on pay-per-view)
*Cris “Cyborg” Justino (144.75) vs. Yana Kunitskaya (144) for the UFC featherweight title
*Frankie Edgar (146) vs. Brian Ortega (145.5)
*Sean O’Malley (136) vs. Andre Soukhamthath (135.25)
*Andrei Arlovski (247.5) vs. Stefan Struve (266)
*Cat Zingano (135.5) vs. Ketlen Vieira (136)

PRELIMINARY CARD (8 pm Eastern on FS1, TSN5 in Canada)
*Mackenzie Dern (116) vs. Ashley Yoder (115.5)
*Beneil Dariush (156) vs. Alexander Hernandez (155)
*John Dodson (134.5) vs. Pedro Munhoz (135)
*Hector Lombard (185.5) vs. C.B. Dollaway (185.5)

FIGHT PASS CARD (6:30 pm Eastern)
*Mike Pyle (170) vs. Zak Ottow (171)
*Cody Stamann (135.75) vs. Bryan Caraway (135.5)
*Jordan Johnson (206) vs. Adam Milstead (205)

**Bellator 195 takes place tonight from Thackerville, Oklahoma and is airing at 9 pm Eastern on The Paramount Network with the following main card fights:
*Darrion Caldwell vs. Leandro Higo for the bantamweight title
*Joe Warren vs. Joe Taimanglo
*Kristina Williams vs. Emily Ducote
*Juan Archuleta vs. William Joplin

**MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani reported on Thursday that 40-year old veteran Jon Fitch has signed with Bellator MMA. Fitch has been fighting for World Series of Fighting (which was re-branded to the Professional Fighters’ League in 2017) since being cut by the UFC in 2013. After losing his WSOF debut to Josh Burkman in June 2013, Fitch has gone 6-1 since the loss and won his last four fights, including his most recent over Brian Foster in June 2017. Fitch once challenged Georges St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight title at UFC 87 in August 2008 and dropped a decision to the former champion.

**UFC heavyweight Zu Anyanwu has been handed a one-year suspension by USADA after testing positive for a banned substance from an out-of-competition test that was taken on October 17th, 2017. Anyanwu tested positive for furosemide, which is classified under the categories of diuretics and masking agents. After winning a fight on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender’s Series, Anyanwu made his UFC debut last September as a short-notice replacement and lost a split decision to Justin Ledet.

**Below are the latest episodes of UFC Embedded heading into UFC 222 this Saturday night:

*****
ASK-A-WAI – Ask Us Anything
John Pollock and Wai Ting answer any and all of their patrons’ questions from the members-only section of the POST Wrestling Forum.
https://www.patreon.com/posts/17301615
*****
KEEP IT 2000: Ep. 25 – “Rock ‘n Roll, Make-Up, Fire” with Robert Karpeles (June 19, 2000)
Former WWE creative member and @WWECreative_ish mastermind Robert Karpeles joins Brian Mann and Nate Milton to discuss a surprise Russo-less Nitro.
https://keepit2000.podbean.com/mf/download/zyf49c/Keep-It-2000-June-19-2000.mp3
*****
NJPW 46th Anniversary Show Preview
John Pollock and WH Park chat Honor Rising cards, NJPW’s 46th anniversary card, Long Beach main event, New Japan Cup brackets, All Japan’s streaming service, Champion Carnival, and more.
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/mmffpw/POST-WRESTLING-WH-Park-Feb-2018.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 2/27/18: John Cena vs. AJ Styles, The Usos vs. New Day
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE SmackDown, 205 Live, the Mixed Match Challenge, and recap the Jon Jones hearing in front of the California State Athletic Commission
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/54vicv/180227_RASD.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-RAW 2/26/18: Ronda vs. Stephanie, Reigns Cuts Great Promo, John Cena to SmackDown
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/u4v2wj/180226_RAR.mp3
*****
WWE ELIMINATION CHAMBER POST SHOW WITH JOHN POLLOCK AND WAI TING –https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/wqph58/180226_ELIMINATIONCHAMBER.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-WAI – WCW SUPERBRAWL III (Patreon show)
https://www.patreon.com/posts/rewind-wai-5-wcw-17158582
*****

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About John Pollock 889 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.