**Larry “The Axe” Hennig has passed away at age 82. Hennig, who was the father of the late Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig, and grandfather of WWE performer Curtis Axel (Joe Hennig) was born in Robbinsdale, Minnesota and attended Minnesota State High School. In high school, he wrestled as a heavyweight, becoming a state champion and received a scholarship in wrestling and football at the University of Minnesota. He didn’t finish school, getting married at age 19 and starting a family that forced the athlete to find work and started a realty and auction company.
He got involved with professional through Verne Gagne’s AWA and is the promotion he would most closely associate with throughout his career. Hennig formed a great team with Harley Race after crossing paths working in Texas. They won the AWA tag title for the first time on January 30, 1965, from The Crusher and Dick the Bruiser and would feud for the titles throughout 1965 and 1966 with two additional title reigns together. They won the belts together for the final time on January 6, 1967, from Crusher and Bruiser but Hennig was replaced by Chris Markoff following a devastating knee injury in November 1967.
Hennig and Race were in a match in Winnipeg on November 1, 1967, where Hennig lifted Johnny Powers and had his knee hit and twisted the knee badly. This required surgery after Hennig was driven back home to Minneapolis. Prior to surgery, Verne Gagne came to the hospital and convinced Hennig to drop the tag titles in Chicago on November 10th. Hennig’s version is he agreed to drop the titles before surgery, was taken in a wheelchair and did the match with Race working most of it. It is remarkably like the story of how Tom Billington was flown to Tampa in January 1987 to drop the tag titles with Davey Boy Smith to the Hart Foundation.
Before Hennig retired in 1985, he got to team with Curt when they worked together in the Pacific Northwest, becoming the area’s tag champions in April 1982 when they defeated Rip Oliver and Matt Borne. As you can imagine, he took the loss of his son very hard in February 2003 due to acute cocaine intoxication at age 44.
Hennig was awarded the Iron Mike Mazurki Award at the 2015 Cauliflower Alley Club Reunion and is a member of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame.
**I wanted to thank everyone for the feedback to the story on Tom Billington as it was the probably the most feedback, I’ve received for any bio I’ve written. There are different ways to view his legacy as most will focus on the in-ring style that was revolutionary for its time, the matches with Tiger Mask, George Takano, Tatsumi Fujinami, Bret Hart, and countless others. He was the ultimate cautionary tale for that style and the toll to be paid at the end of the road, which for him was 33 years and unable to continue his career. There is no justification for someone pushing their body to the extreme that confines them to a wheelchair before they are 40. There was no one more heavily influenced by Billington than Chris Benoit and a hero that Benoit’s father would later say was a bad choice of idols. To watch Billington and Benoit was uncanny for the amount that Benoit took from the latter and saw him as the epitome of what a professional wrestler is and a style he wanted to move forward into the next century. Despite both being prodigies of their era, neither will be viewed in glowing terms when assessing their out-of-the-ring actions and what effect the wrestling industry played into their physical and psychological well being. To tell the full story of Tom Billington, equal if not greater weight must be placed on the human being, who was despised by many and for good reason.
**Bronwyne Billington, the oldest daughter of Tom Billington, posted a lengthy statement on Instagram about her father. She noted how her parents broke up when she was 7 years old and it wasn’t until the past decade when she went to England to reconnect with him. She bonded with him in England and they watched a Bad News Allan shoot interview together. She said she never the negative side of her father that others have discussed.
**Bret Hart issued the following statement on the passing of Tom Billington, who Bret wrestled in his second match:
There are people in life that have a ripple effect both professionally and personally. Tom “Dynamite Kid” Billington was one of those people. The second professional wrestling match of my career was against Dynamite. I benefited from his greatness and through our matches in Stampede, WWE, and everywhere in-between, I became a better wrestler because of him. Dynamite truly was the best wrestler ever, pound-for-pound. Tom was family, my brother-in-law, and we were very close. In many ways I felt like one of the few people who truly knew him, both the good and the bad. I saw Tom one final time this past June in England and I can only hope he is finally at peace. My thoughts are with his children Browyne, Marek, and Amaris, and the entire Billington family.
**Konstantine Kyros, the lawyer representing all the wrestlers that were involved in the CTE lawsuit against the WWE, has posted a statement on the passing of Tom Billington. Kyros outlines their discussions with the WWE in 2012 regarding royalties for Billington, the WWE suing Billington to prevent his participation in the suit and includes the affidavit from Billington’s wife Dot that was written last year. In the affidavit, Dot stated that Billington had not been paid royalties in over 15 years and that he had been residing in the dementia war at a care home in Manchester, England.
**The WWE stock had a big day with a 7% rise to $76.57 at closing as the stock continues to rebound after falling under $62 in November.
**The television viewership of Raw and SmackDown was the lowest of 2018 for both shows. Coming off Monday’s low number, SmackDown fell below two million viewers with an average of 1,978,000 watching the show on the USA Network. Since moving to Tuesday nights on USA, SmackDown has only fallen under two million viewers once and that was the night of the U.S. Election in November 2016.
**The angle from Monday’s episode of Raw involving Heath Slater and Rhyno is just that, Rhyno is not retiring or leaving the company as this will play into a story.
**Here are the matches that have been announced for tonight’s episode of Impact Wrestling at 10 pm Eastern on Pop TV and Fight Network in Canada:
*Johnny Impact and Taya vs. Tessa Blanchard and Moose
*Matt Sydal vs. Ethan Page in an Ultimate X Qualifying match
*Willie Mack vs. Jake Crist in an Ultimate X Qualifying match
*Dark Allie debuts
**MLW will be holding a press conference next Thursday to announce the main event of their April 4th card at the Melrose Ballroom during WrestleMania Week.
**Game Changer Wrestling has announced that Zero1 star Shinjiro Otani will be coming to New Jersey for WrestleMania Weekend and appearing on three shows. Otani is listed for events put on by GCW (either Spring Break or Bloodsport), Absolute Intense Wrestling on April 4th at Midnight, and Nova Pro Wrestling on April 6th at Noon. Those three shows are taking place at the White Eagle Hall in Jersey City as part of “The Collective”.
**The WWE has hired Alicia Warrington and she is the newest member of the NXT broadcast team. She will go by Alicia Taylor.
**The WWE has donated $1.2 million to The V Foundation on behalf of Connor’s Cure. A presentation of the cheque was made on Tuesday involving The Bella Twins.
**Below is the card for Friday’s penultimate World Tag League card from New Japan prior to Sunday’s final. The show will be streaming on New Japan World at 5 am Eastern with Kevin Kelly and Excalibur on the English broadcast:
*EVIL and Sanada vs. Killer Elite Squad
*Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi vs. Togi Makabe and Toa Henare
*Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano
*Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, KUSHIDA and Rocky Romero vs. Jay White, Taiji Ishimori, Bad Luck Fale and Gedo
*Michael Elgin and Jeff Cobb vs. Hangman Page and Yujiro
*Best Friends vs. Juice Robinson and David Finlay
*Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi vs. Ayato Yoshida and Shota Umino
*Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka
**MLW has announced that Dezmond Xavier will face Andrew Everett next Thursday on the first of two nights in Miami, Florida. The promotion has also signed Ace Romero to a deal.
**All Japan’s Real-World Tag League continues Saturday with three more shows left in the tournament. Below are the tournament matches for the next show in Osaka:
*Joe Doering and Dylan James vs. Naoya Nomura and Yuma Aoyagi
*Jun Akiyama and Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Suwama and Shuji Ishikawa
*Kento Miyahara and Yoshitatsu vs. Zeus and The Bodyguard
**The biggest story this week is the decision by the UFC to book former NFL player Greg Hardy on the UFC’s debut card on ESPN+ next month in Brooklyn, New York. Brett Okamoto of ESPN spoke with UFC president Dana White, who said the fight was close to being finalized with Hardy being targeted for a fight with Allen Crowder. Hardy has received criticism since being used on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and that would continue whenever he made his UFC debut, but it’s beyond comprehension that they are going to schedule his debut on the same card where Rachael Ostovich is fighting.
Hardy was arrested in 2014 for assault and communicating threats where he was alleged to have assaulted and threatened to kill his former girlfriend. Hardy was found guilty that year but appealed the decision while requesting a jury trial. The woman involved did not appear for the appeal and the charges were dropped and later expunged from his record. He was still playing in the NFL and received a ten-game suspension, which an arbitrator reduced to four games.
Ostovich was initially removed from her fight with Paige VanZant on the Brooklyn card after she was attacked and suffered a broken orbital bone in November, allegedly by her husband and MMA fighter Arnold Berdon. Ostovich received a second opinion and the fight was back on for January 19th. The UFC is treading into a horrendous PR disaster as the two fighters being booked on the same show is going to divert all attention from the card.
**During Wednesday’s UFC 231 press conference in Toronto (which for clarity, I was not in attendance for and didn’t hear what was said by the UFC), media members were informed they were only to ask questions regarding Saturday’s fights. Greg Hardy’s name was not brought up and it led to the MMAJA (the Mixed Martial Arts Journalists Association) contacting the UFC’s PR team for clarification on the intention of the message. The UFC told the association that “their intention was for reporters to focus their questions on Saturday’s card and away from other topics.” They added that “they did not direct the media to avoid specific subjects”, although that appears to be how it was taken by the media in attendance.
**TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter interviewed Dana White and asked him to defend the decision to book Greg Hardy on the same card as Rachael Ostovich. White said he spoke to Ostovich and she believes in second chances and didn’t have a problem fighting on the same card as Hardy.
**Ariel Helwani at ESPN was the first to report that the UFC flyweight title fight between Henry Cejudo and T.J. Dillashaw is being moved up one week to January 19th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The two were scheduled to headline the UFC 233 pay-per-view the following weekend but the promotion needed a main event for Brooklyn once other options fell through for their debut on ESPN+. According to Helwani, the promotion is working on a new title fight for the UFC 233 card in Anaheim, California.
**Jesse Ronson was set to make his return to the UFC this Saturday on the undercard of UFC 231 after accepting a short-notice fight with Diego Ferreira Ronson has been deemed ineligible after he showed up too heavy at the start of fight week to successfully make the 156-pound weight limit. Ronson stated he was 175.2 pounds taking the fight on short notice himself and has lost his UFC deal as well. TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter reported that 12-1 fighter Kyle Nelson is going to take the fight against Ferreira. Nelson fights out of Huntsville, Ontario and has won his last six fights. He just fought on November 19th with a first-round stoppage of Morteza Rezaei.
**Here is the latest episode of UFC Embedded prior to Saturday’s card in Toronto:
upNXT 12/6/18: Master of Puppets
Braden Herrington & Davie Portman chat this week’s episode of WWE NXT featuring a great angle between Ciampa, Black & Gargano; Shayna Baszler vs. Dakota Kai; Matt Riddle vs. Punishment Martinez and more! Plus, this week’s 205 Live.
DOUBLE SHOT 12/5: Total Divas, Edge & Christian Show, ROH TV, Being the Elite
John Pollock and Wai Ting review the season finale of Total Divas, Ring of Honor TV, Being the Elite, and the latest Edge & Christian Show on the WWE Network
RASD 12/4/18: Climate Change Draws Heat, TLC contract signing, MMC
SmackDown took place from Austin, Texas with the “new” Daniel Bryan explaining his disdain for polluters and socially unconscionable fans, the TLC contract signing went down involving Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Asuka. Plus: Samoa Joe rented out a bar, Shane McMahon is taking the Survivor Series loss remarkably well, and AJ Styles took on The Miz in the main event.
RAR 12/3/18: The Bane of Dean’s Existence, TakeOver & HOF switch nights, ROH signings
Monday’s Raw in Houston featured Ronda Rousey teaming with Ember Moon against Nia Jax and Tamina, Dean Ambrose addressed the audience in a gas mask, and it was Drew McIntyre Appreciation Night so that meant yet another character turn. We also discuss recent news with WWE and ROH.
EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion: 2012 w/ Sean Radican
Episode 24 sees Chris Charlton and Sean Radican look at 2012. As NJPW is on the verge of a buyout by Bushiroad, Kazuchika Okada returns full time but doesn’t get the reception he’d like. Meanwhile, Hiroshi Tanahashi breaks an IWGP record.
ASK-A-WAI: Ask Us Anything! (December 2018)
John Pollock and Wai Ting answer their patrons’ questions from the POST Wrestling Forum in the December 2018 edition of Ask-A-Wai.
upNXT 11/29/18: Big Lads Wrestling
Braden Herrington & Davie Portman chat this week’s episode of WWE NXT from San Jose featuring Lars Sullivan vs. Keith Lee, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. The Mighty, a Dijak promo and more!
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