POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE 5/6 – WWE Backlash Preview

John Pollock previews tonight's WWE Backlash card from Newark, Neff Maiava passes away at 93, New Japan presents incredible main event between Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi, the main event for Dominion card, review of Impact Wrestling, WWE comments on Hulk Hogan's status, city bidding for WrestleMania & more.

POST IT NOTES

**Wai Ting and I put out two bonus shows this weekend for members of the POST Wrestling Café.

First up, we have a review of the New Japan Dontaku cards with rundowns of the Thursday and Friday shows with match-by-match analysis, reaction to the angle involving Chris Jericho and Tetsuya Naito, the excellent match between Will Ospreay and KUSHIDA, and the big main event with Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi.

The second bonus show is the May Edition of ASK-A-WAI with Wai and I taking mailbag questions for almost 90 minutes and covering tons of topics we usually don’t get to on our regular shows. This show comes out monthly with questions from the POST Wrestling Forum.

**We will be back with a free show tonight reviewing WWE Backlash and taking your feedback & questions.


WRESTLING NEWS

**Tonight, is the WWE’s Backlash event from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey and will be their third major card in less than a month following WrestleMania and the Greatest Royal Rumble. The show looks promising on paper in terms of quality but also feels like the distant #3 show of the past 30 days. The booking decisions on the show will be interesting to see where certain performers are slotted coming out of the show and specifically where Roman Reigns is headed after this blow off match with Samoa Joe. Here is the full preview of the card:
*Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe – With the month-long losing streak by Reigns and emphasis on his “failure”, it would seem the time to win against an opponent that won’t be around on Raw to follow up on anything. Joe has been excellent ever since returning after WrestleMania with the best promos in the company and I hate the idea of his losing this one to risk-taking that edge off. If Reigns is turning, then losing this match will only add to his motivation for a turn and would the best scenario. The finish at the GRR suggests they will do another Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns match, and the only way I can see that being of interest is Reigns as a heel and he finally beats Lesnar. This is an intriguing match as you argue either side going over and it should be a hot match.
*AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE title in a No Disqualification Match – Neither of their matches over the past month have hit that high level of expectation and I would imagine people have lowered their expectation for this one too. It feels right to put the title onto Nakamura even though I prefer Samoa Joe as the top heel on SmackDown with the title. Nakamura has never been this vibrant as a character in the WWE and the heel turn has provided him a new lease in my view. I expect this match to be the best of the three and could be the final match of the night.
*Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass – It’s the most important match of Cass’ career and it’s one of the best opponents you could ask for in that type of situation. Bryan has cooled off a bit since his return and part of that is being slotted with a mid-card feud when most see him as the top babyface in the company. The story is the size discrepancy and it opens the match to so many story possibilities. I think this one will deliver with Bryan will reveling in the challenge. Despite the major push, I can’t see Cass being slotted any higher than the #3 heel on the show behind Nakamura and Joe, they need strong babyfaces and I wouldn’t beat Bryan here.
*Seth Rollins vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental title – This seems like a no-brainer to me with Rollins winning. Rollins feels significant for the first time since he came back from injury and has elevated the Intercontinental title in the brief time he has held it.
*Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton for the United States title – I like that this one wasn’t turned into a multiple person match with Shelton Benjamin and Jinder Mahal added. The two haven’t had a singles match in a long time so it’s fresh and will probably have a very good match together. Hardy retaining the title would seem the likely outcome.
*Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw women’s title – This match probably won’t hit the level of the “Moment of Bliss” segments, but they successfully took a month-long rematch tease and made it interesting through the promos from Bliss. I can’t imagine Jax loses the title so quickly, although the women’s title is going to play second fiddle to Ronda Rousey as long as Rousey isn’t in the title picture. Bliss losing shouldn’t impact her role on the show as she would seem penciled in for a tag program with Mickie James against Rousey and Natalya.
*Carmella vs. Charlotte for the SmackDown women’s title – Carmella has set the bar higher for this match with the promise of surprising people in her first singles match on pay-per-view since December 2016. I’m sure the match is going to be fine but coming off Charlotte vs. Asuka, there is going to be a drop off. The IIconics will probably get involved and this program will continue with Carmella as champion. One month after the fact, you could question ending Asuka’s streak, but it was also done to place Charlotte at a higher level and we’ll see if that ultimately was the right call.
*Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn – I have no idea why this is happening. Strowman & Lashley won clean on Raw two weeks ago and beat them again this past Monday with no post-match angle, no heat, and no reason for a rematch. It is way too early to turn Lashley, and that’s the only way I could see any other outcome from this match. If you’re someone that is arguing why Owens should have taken that fall in Montreal on Monday before this match, then you are guilty of overthinking professional wrestling because that was the layup of all layups.
*Ruby Riott vs. Bayley on the kickoff show – I expect the same story as Monday with Sasha Banks, where no one has Bayley’s back, she is outnumbered and beaten by Riott.

**The major news from Friday’s Dontaku card was the announcement that Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega will headline Dominion on Saturday, June 9th, at Osaka-jo Hall in a 2/3 Falls Match with no time limit for the IWGP heavyweight title. It will be their fourth singles match with the two each holding a win to go along with the 60-minute time limit draw from last year’s Dominion card. There was a big angle shot on Friday with Chris Jericho dressed up as Bushi in the crowd, attacking Tetsuya Naito and leaving him bleeding inside the ring. It has not officially been announced for Dominion, but one would assume that is the card it will take place at, although that match is strong enough for the Cow Palace in July and would accelerate ticket purchases if announced now.

**I highly recommend watching the final two matches from New Japan’s Dontaku card on Friday in Fukuoka. The main event between Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi was phenomenal and would be a shoe-in for match-of-the-year in most years. The match was a lesson in context and presentation where you had a real record that the audience respected and understood and standing in the way of history was a beloved figure in Tanahashi attempting to turn back time for one night and prove he could still be the “Ace” for one more night. One of the elements not explored enough in professional wrestling is “failure” and the weight attached to someone succumbing to the reality of his situation. Often, because pro wrestling is incentivized to tell the best stories, it is often the ones with the happiest endings and the hero prevails against all odds and does the impossible. The contrast is having the conviction to tease the impossible but ultimately coming up short and, in this case, the long-reigning IWGP champion was better than the outgoing “Ace” and it dramatically teased but eventually reality played itself out and the logical outcome occurred with great storytelling and an emotional conclusion to a feud that dates to February 2012.

**Neff Maiava recently passed away with the Star-Advertiser out of Honolulu, Hawaii reporting his passing last month. Maiava was one of the forefathers of Polynesian professional wrestlers. His career began in 1952 and found his most success in Hawaii for 50th State Wrestling, becoming one of the most popular wrestlers ever in Hawaii. Among his trademarks, was having a hard head and using the headbutt, obviously, that is a stereotype that has largely been eliminated from the modern presentation. He would participate in stunts such as walking on beds of nails, received a lot of attention when he wrestled a bear and was known as an eccentric character. The name “Maiava” was misspelt when Pita Fanene Andeson was rechristened “Peter Maivia” to promote his Samoan roots. The two were not blood-related but later became great friends and when Dwayne Johnson debuted in 1996, he was given the Maivia surname to honour his grandfather. The news only came out over the past few days that he died on April 21st at the age of 93.

**TMZ reported this week that Hulk Hogan is close to returning to the WWE. The story mentioned Hogan’s award he received from the Boys & Girls Club and that the company would be paying attention to Hogan’s speech accepting the award and how he was received. The WWE did respond to the outlet and provided the following statement regarding Hogan’s status with the company:

WWE applauds the work Hulk Hogan is doing with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to turn what was a negative into a positive by helping young people learn from his mistake. While he has taken many steps in the right direction since we parted ways, Hogan is not currently under contract to WWE.

**The Young Bucks released the seating chart for the “All In” event from the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates on September 1st. Tickets will start at $28 with ascending price points at $53, $78, $103, $128, and $153. Tickets for the event go on sale Sunday, May 13th at 4 pm Eastern. There will also be a press conference next Sunday with the talent scheduled for the show.

**Taiji Ishimori appeared on Friday’s Dontaku card as the new Bone Solider, unmasking to reveal his identity after attacking Will Ospreay. They positioned Tama Tonga as Ishimori’s mouthpiece, which didn’t work. Ishimori adds a lot to the junior heavyweight division with lots of fresh match ups and an additional spark for the Best of the Super Juniors tournament that kicks off May 18th.


**The city of Tampa, Florida is making a series of bids for big WWE events over the next seven years. Rob Higgins, who is the Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, announced this past Thursday that the city was making a bid to host WrestleMania at Raymond James Stadium in 2023, 2024, or 2025. In addition, the city is also making a pitch to host the Royal Rumble in 2022 or 2023. The stadium is home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and opened in 1998. It has hosted the Super Bowl in 2001 and 2009 and is set to host the Super Bowl in 2021.

**The War of the Worlds tour begins this Wednesday in Lowell, Massachusetts with Dalton Castle vs. Matt Taven for the ROH title.

**The Young Bucks are scheduled to take on the Super Smash Brothers this Friday at Ring of Honor’s War of the Worlds show at the Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto.

**Impact Wrestling was hurt again by the NBA playoffs with Thursday’s episode on POP TV dropping to 299,000 viewers. Impact went against the final 32 minutes of the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors game that did 3,233,000 viewers on ESPN and then went against the 76ers vs. Celtics game that started at 8:40 pm and did 5,088,000 viewers on TNT.

**There will be a screening of Mauro Ranallo’s “Bipolar Rock ‘n Roller” documentary in Toronto on Sunday, May 27th. We will have more details on the screening this week but Ranallo will be in attendance for the screening and will take place two days after it premieres on Showtime in the U.S.

**The WWE Network will have a new episode of “Table for 3” on Monday night following Raw. The guests on the show will be Kurt Angle, Shane McMahon, and AJ Styles.

**New Japan has a Lion’s Project card on Tuesday, May 12th, headlined by Yuji Nagata vs. Ayato Yoshida and will also feature Daisuke Sekimoto taking on Shota Umino.

PAY-PER-VIEW REWIND
WWE Backlash
Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena
*Tye Dillinger over Aiden English
*Shinsuke Nakamura over Dolph Ziggler
*The Usos over Fandango & Tyler Breeze to keep the SD tag titles
*Sami Zayn over Baron Corbin
*Natalya, Tamina & Carmella over Charlotte, Becky Lynch & Naomi
*Kevin Owens over AJ Styles by countout for the U.S. title
*Luke Harper over Erick Rowan
*Jinder Mahal over Randy Orton to win the WWE title


TELEVISION REVIEW

Impact Wrestling (May 3rd)
-I liked the episode a lot, there is a wide range of storylines happening and the show is slowly setting itself apart with some identity.
-Eddie Edwards is performing very well in this angle and the addition of Tommy Dreamer as his father figure has added a lot of depth to the story. Edwards is invested, it is bringing his acting level up and it’s notable how he’s been able to sink his teeth into the story where he is throwing away his close relationships through the hatred for Callihan.
-One big disconnect was the airing of a graphic to promote next week’s four-way match with the winner receiving an X division title match in the future. The problem was that one of the four men is Taiji Ishimori, who challenged for the X division title immediately after this four-way was announced for next week.
-Tessa Blanchard is being positioned as the top female heel and has a very good presence and is a good contrast to the other females on the show.
-The show-closing angle featured Su Yung bringing out the Undead Bridesmaids to attack Rosemary. Allie ran out to help, after promising Rosemary she would not get involved. It led to Allie being forced to watch Rosemary being put into the casket and taken away following a Panic Switch off the ramp and through a table. The idea was Rosemary may be dead. It almost went into the Lucha Underground territory of losing any connection to reality, which is a high-wire act for a pro wrestling show to balance on. To me, it never hit the unbelievable level until death was teased.
-Don Callis is a big addition to the show with Josh Mathews.
-The highlight of the show was a six-man with Dezmond Xavier, Andrew Everett & DJZ defeating Drago, Aerostar & El Hijo del Fantasma. They had over 12 minutes of television time and was a great showcase match that was one of the better Impact matches of late.
-Next week’s show features Pentagon Jr. vs. Eli Drake for the Impact title with Drake cashing in his Feast or Fired briefcase, LAX vs. DJZ & Andrew Everett, and the four-way X Division #1 contender’s match

*****
ASK-A-WAI: Ask Us Anything! (May 2018)
https://www.patreon.com/posts/18612754/
*****
NJPW Dontaku 2018 Reviews
https://www.patreon.com/posts/njpw-dontaku-18608942
*****
upNXT 5/3/18: Infinity Shoe
https://upnxt.podbean.com/mf/download/dntahy/upNXT-May3-2018.mp3
*****
BWE 5/2/18: Defiant No Regrets, wXw True Colours, World of Sports, Super Strong Style 16
https://britishwrestlingexperience.podbean.com/mf/download/9auz2n/180502_BWE.mp3
*****
POST Puroresu (May 2018): Champion Carnival Review, NJPW Dontaku Preview
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/yt7gk5/POST-PURORESU-MAY-2018.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 5/1/18: Backlash Go-Home Show
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/mxivvj/180501_RASD.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-RAW 4/30/18: Owens & Zayn’s Homecoming, Greatest Royal Rumble Fallout
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/yyqaep/180430_RAR.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-WAI #9: WWF Backlash 2000 (Patreon)
https://www.patreon.com/posts/18470460/
*****

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About John Pollock 1836 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling.He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.