POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE 5/1 – Ariya Daivari issues apology for angle in Saudi Arabia

Ariya Daivari issued an apology over Friday's angle following death threats, Sami Zayn addresses his exclusion from Greatest Royal Rumble, new match added to Backlash, tickets on sale for NJPW at Cow Palace, Sunday Night Heat coming to the WWE Network, Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis re-booked, and more.


**We have today’s edition of Rewind-A-Raw posted on the site with Wai Ting and I reviewing Raw from the Montreal, how the WWE handled the fallout of the Greatest Royal Rumble, the incredible audience in Montreal, an outstanding main event, a mini-review of New Japan’s card in Kumamoto on Sunday, and we chat “Avengers: Infinity War” at the end of the show (which will probably be the final time I ever speak about any MCU-related film in public again, so enjoy!). You can download the show at https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/05/01/rewind-a-raw-4-30-18-owens-zayns-homecoming-grr-fallout/ or subscribe to POST Wrestling on iTunes.

**We will be back late tonight with Rewind-A-SmackDown as Wai and I chat SmackDown & 205 Live from the Bell Centre in Montreal. You can leave feedback on the POST Wrestling Forum tonight after the shows.


**For $12+ members of the POST Wrestling Café, we have a new video discussing the month of April for POST Wrestling, our coverage of the Greatest Royal Rumble and feedback received, plans for May and other notes.

**We also have a video version of our spoiler-filled review of “Avengers: Infinity War”.

**Finally, we have the video version of Rewind-A-Raw also available for Double, Double and above members of the POST Wrestling Café.

*Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown
*Wednesday: POST Puroresu with John Pollock & WH Park
*Wednesday: British Wrestling Experience with Martin Bushby, Oli Court, and Benno
*Thursday: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
*Friday: New Japan Dontaku reviews with Pollock & Wai Ting (Patreon)
*Sunday: WWE Backlash Post-Show with Pollock & Wai


**The WWE is back in Montreal for the SmackDown & 205 Live tapings tonight from the Bell Centre. The audience on Monday night was the best television audience of the year and hopefully is a similar level tonight. Here is what has been announced for tonight:
*Carmella & The IIconics vs. Charlotte, Becky Lynch & Asuka
*Jeff Hardy on Miz TV
*Drew Gulak vs. Kalisto on 205 Live

**A listener in Quebec contacted us regarding Sami Zayn and noted that he did do an interview on Monday for 91.9 Sports in Montreal and addressed his exclusion from the Greatest Royal Rumble. The interview was conducted in French and it was relayed to us that Zayn described it as a “complicated situation where he doesn’t have all the details.” He stated it is his goal to represent both Arabs and Quebecers and was not bothered by the political aspect and feels he is a good influence on WWE each week and being himself. He was disappointed he could not represent Arabs and Quebecers in an Arabic region, but it was out of his control.

**Following the angle shot at the Greatest Royal Rumble where Ariya & Shawn Daivari confronted the Saudi Arabian tryout winners, Ariya has issued a statement after receiving death threats and other criticism for the angle. Daivari wrote:

During an appearance this past Friday, I portrayed a fictional character and played the role of the antagonist, no different than what other actors would do in a movie or TV show.

That character does not reflect my personal views and I apologize to anyone that may have been offended by the skit. I have an incredible amount of respect for the great people of Iran and I am very proud of my Iranian heritage.

Thank you.

I cannot remember a WWE show that generated this number of statements and apologies issued after the fact. On the one hand, the WWE has said they are respecting local customs when leaving talent off the show, on the other hand, you are exploiting real-life tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran for heat. I don’t think anyone was stunned that this angle was met with the level of response in that part of the world. I was shocked watching it that they went ahead with such a heavy angle given the political climate between the two countries. Remember, that the same company suspended Chris Jericho in 2012 for stepping on a Brazilian flag during a show in that country, which was also an example of “a fictional character” that was playing the role of the antagonist.

**Tickets for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s card at the Cow Palace in San Francisco went on sale today.

**The WWE Network News site (which is not affiliated with WWE) is reporting that episodes of Sunday Night Heat are coming to the WWE Network. The site reports that episodes will be added to the streaming service beginning Monday, May 7th. Sunday Night Heat launched in August 1998 with Shane McMahon serving as a color commentator at the beginning of its run (he was not good) and Heat instantly became the #2 show for the WWF up until the launch of SmackDown a year later. Heat was doing unbelievable viewership with angles shot for Raw the next night and was a priority program for the company. When SmackDown launched, it replaced Heat as a priority. When the WWF left the USA Network in September 2000, Heat was repackaged for MTV and later moved to TNN before it became a web-only property until the show ended in 2008. In total, the series ran for ten years with 518 episodes shot.

**On Raw, they announced the addition of a tag match to Backlash with Bobby Lashley & Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn. This announcement made the finish of the six-man tag in Montreal more perplexing. Last week, Lashley & Strowman defeated Owens & Zayn clean and the follow up was a clean win by Strowman over Owens with the powerslam in Montreal where Owens and Zayn received two of the biggest reactions this year. Jinder Mahal was also in the match, and not booked at Backlash, so why he didn’t take the fall is a great mystery. There are now seven matches scheduled for Backlash and probably 1-2 more will be added by Sunday.

**Knox County, Tennessee is holding its Republican primary today with Glen Jacobs seeing the nomination to run for Mayor of Knox County in August. Jacobs is running against Brad Anders and Bob Thomas for the Republican nomination. The winner of the Republican nomination is expected to be favored in the general election this summer against whoever is the Democratic nominee.

**John Cena has been cast to play the lead role in “The Janson Directive”, which is a film adaptation of a Robert Ludlum novel. The film is being produced by Universal Pictures and Dwayne Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions with Johnson announcing the casting of Cena on Monday.

**The team of Jean-Paul and Francois from Raw were played by Scott Parker and Shane Matthews, who comprise the team 3.0. They have been a team since 2003 and wrestled for IWS in Montreal, CHIKARA, Ring of Honor and have appeared on NXT in the past.

**Jim Ross was a guest on the Steve Austin podcast on Tuesday and discussed the recent trip to Saudi Arabia. Ross stated he spent 36 hours on a plane altogether and slept for one hour in his hotel room during the trip.

**Here is the promo I mentioned on Rewind-A-Raw from Cody and Brandi Rhodes on this week’s episode of Ring of Honor.

**Smash Wrestling has announced the opening round matches for their Northern Tournament, which will take place on Sunday, June 3rd in Toronto at the Phoenix Concert Theatre. The tournament will take place over two separate shows that day at 3 pm and 7 pm in the venue. Below are the opening round matches:
*Joe Hendry vs. Kevin Bennett
*Tyson Dux vs. Joey Mercury
*Brent Banks vs. John Greed
*Joey Janela vs. Jordynne Grace
*Andrew Everett vs. Kevin Blackwood
*Sebastian Suave vs. Jason Cade
*Wheeler Yuta vs. Kimber Lee
*Matt Riddle vs. Mia Yim

**ECW Press will be releasing an autobiography on Dylan Postl a.k.a. Hornswoggle in the summer of 2019. The book will be titled “Life is Short – And So Am I” detailing his career and time working with the WWE. Postl is working with Ross Owen Williams, who helped co-write Bob Holly and Al Snow’s books.

**The WWE stock closed at $39.77 on Tuesday.


**Saturday night’s Bellator 198 event averaged 581,000 viewers on The Paramount Network and 169,000 viewers on the CMT simulcast. On the surface, you would have expected a much higher level of viewership considering the main event between Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Mir, but the numbers are way above the terrible viewership they had for Bellator 197. The card earlier this month, headlined by Michael Chandler and Brandon Girtz only attracted 242,000 viewers on Paramount and 161,000 viewers on CMT. This past Saturday also had competition from the NBA playoffs with the Milwaukee vs. Boston game doing 4,060,000 viewers followed by Golden State vs. New Orleans topping 4.5 million viewers immediately after.

The next Bellator card is on Saturday, May 12th and will feature Ryan Bader vs. Mohammed “King Mo” Lawal in the Heavyweight Grand Prix. That card will be going head-to-head with UFC 224 on pay-per-view, with Amanda Nunes vs. Raquel Pennington in the main event from Rio de Janeiro.

**MMA Fighting was the first to report that the scrapped lightweight bout between Michael Chiesa and Anthony Pettis has been re-booked. The two are scheduled to fight at UFC 226 on Saturday, July 7th during International Fight Week. The two were scheduled to fight last month in Brooklyn at UFC 223 but Chiesa was forced to withdraw after being a victim of the rampage that was led by Conor McGregor with glass shattering and cutting Chiesa.

**ESPN reported that former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos will return to action on Saturday, July 14th against former WSOF heavyweight champion Blagoy Ivanov. The fight will serve as the main event on the UFC’s Fight Night event that is scheduled for Boise, Idaho. Dos Santos recently had a two-year USADA suspension reduced to six months after it was proven that dos Santos was prescribed a tainted supplement and were among three fighters affected by the same prescriptions being tainted. JDS has not fought since May 2017 when he was stopped by Stipe Miocic in the first round of their heavyweight title fight. Ivanov will be making his promotional debut in this fight.

REWIND-A-RAW 4/30/18: Owens & Zayn’s Homecoming, Greatest Royal Rumble Fallout
REWIND-A-WAI #9: WWF Backlash 2000 (Patreon)
WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Post Show with John Pollock & Wai Ting (Patreon)
upNXT 4/26/18: Black Hearts Never Break with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
KEEP IT 2000: Ep. 29 – “Body Positive Mike Awesome” with Kath Barbadoro (July 18, 2000)

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About John Pollock 4263 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.