POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: The wrestling world remembers Gene Okerlund

The wrestling world remembers "Mean" Gene Okerlund, the latest details on All Elite Wrestling, Wrestle Kingdom outsells last year's show, most watched TV networks of 2018 and more.

POST IT NOTES

**Wai Ting and I will have a new show up tonight with reviews of Raw and SmackDown from the past two nights, we will also discuss the career of Gene Okerlund, all the details regarding All Elite Wrestling, and one final look at Wrestle Kingdom 13 coming up Friday.

**This month’s POST Puroresu is a special Wrestle Kingdom 13 Primer and Preview Show with WH Park and I joined by Wai Ting to preview all the matches for the Tokyo Dome. We go through all the stories leading into the event, possible scenarios on the show, and catching up on everything head into the show.

**There are two editions of upNXT coming out this week with Braden Herrington and Davie Portman. Later today, they will have a special show looking at the best and worst of NXT from 2018 and then a new show out Thursday reviewing this week’s episode.

**The final edition of the EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion will be released Thursday with Chris Charlton joined by his colleague Kevin Kelly to review Wrestle Kingdom 12 from last year. If you want to catch up on the entire series, dating back to 1989 at the Tokyo Dome, you can listen back in our archive.

**Wai Ting and I will have our Wrestle Kingdom POST Show out Friday for members of the POST Wrestling Café. If you sign up for the Café, you will be getting the Wrestle Kingdom POST Show and a new Rewind-A-Wai this Sunday covering ECW’s Massacre on 34th Street pay-per-view from December 2000 in addition to our archive of bonus shows from the past year.

POST WRESTLING SCHEDULE (Wrestle Kingdom Week)
*Today: Rewind-A-Raw & SD with John Pollock and Wai Ting
*Thursday: upNXT with Braden Herrington and Davie Portman with their Best and Worst of NXT 
*Thursday:
 EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion Finale: Wrestle Kingdom 12 from 2018 with guest Kevin Kelly
*Friday:
 NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 POST Show with John Pollock and Wai Ting (Patreon)
*Saturday:
 NJPW New Year’s Dash POST Show with John Pollock and Wai Ting
*Sunday:
 Rewind-A-Wai #27 on ECW’s Massacre on 34th Street from Dec. 2000 (Patreon)
*Sunday:
 Impact Wrestling’s Homecoming POST Show with John Pollock & Nate Milton

WRESTLING NEWS

**We have a big story on the career of “Mean” Gene Okerlund, who died on Wednesday at the age of 76. Okerlund’s passing has received lots of coverage, as you would expect from the New York Times, ESPN, BBC, CBS Sports, TMZ, and Variety. Below are some comments posted by former colleagues and friends remembering Okerlund:

Ric Flair: One Of My Closest Friends Since 1972 Until This Very Sad Day In 2019. Not Only The Greatest Voice And Personality In The History Of Announcing, But A Man Who Touched Everyone’s Life Who Were Fortunate Enough To Know Him. Rest In Peace Knowing No One Will Ever Replace You. You Will Forever Be MEAN BY GOD GENE!

Paul Levesque: A voice and sound track to an entire era of our industry. He was the star of some of @WWE’s most memorable segments. “Mean Gene” was beloved by all who got to work with him. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

Stephanie McMahon: Gene Okerlund was an incredibly rare talent. He made everything and everyone better. #ThankYouMeanGene for all the incredible memories. Our condolences to his family and loved ones.

Jim Ross: So sad today to hear of the sudden passing of my dear friend @TheGeneOkerlund. I just saw Mean Gene in North Carolina at WrestleCade. It’s so true that our tomorrow’s are never guaranteed. Say hello to Jan, Mean Gene.

Chris Jericho: He was the greatest interviewer in wrestling history. He taught me SO MUCH about how to do a wrestling promo. He was a great guy, with a glint in his eye and a joke in his heart. He was @thegeneokerlund. Thanks for being the best in the world at what you do.

Steve Austin: Just heard Mean Gene Okerlund has passed away. As an interviewer, pitch man, announcer, or host, he was untouchable. Simply the best. Total professional with quick wit, sarcasm, humor, and that golden voice. Condolences to his friends and family.

Shane McMahon: Gene Okerlund was always a consummate pro. His iconic voice, personality, and talent helped so many superstars climb to the top. I am deeply saddened by his passing. RIP Mean Gene.

Jeremy Borash: Growing up in AWA country, I never wanted to be a wrestler. I wanted to be Gene Okerlund. A wonderful friend and mentor for the past 20 years. There will never be another like him. RIP my friend.

Samoa Joe: Of the very few regrets I harbor in my career, one was never getting to scream “Mean Gene” when answering the queries of a man who presence was larger than life and ingrained in the better memories of my childhood.

Tony Schiavone: Devastated to hear the news of my friend Gene Okerlund’s passing. He was, and will always be, pro wrestling greatest stick man.

Brandi Rhodes: My heart hurts to learn of the passing of my friend Gene Okerlund. He was a mentor to me with such a love for this business and the people around it. He will be severely missed by every heart that he touched. We love you Gene.

Jeff Jarrett: The world lost an incredible man today. The very BEST at his role in our industry. On-camera—quick wit, great hype, pro’s pro; off-camera— a gentleman’s gentleman. The phrase of “often imitated, but never duplicated” is very appropriate for my friend. RIP ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund.

Frankie Kazarian: This one stings. RIP “Mean” Gene Okerlund. As a young fan, he was the only backstage interviewer that mattered. He is the man with the golden voice who is SO synonymous with the culture of pro wrestling. I’m fortunate to have met and shared a beverage with him. Godspeed sir.

Christopher Daniels: I’ve seen “the voice of a generation” and “synonymous with pro wrestling” in many accounts regarding the passing of Mean Gene Okerlund. Both absolutely true. Rest In Peace Mean Gene. Sorely missed, and never to be duplicated.

Scott Stanford: This guy is the reason I wanted to be an announcer in ⁦@WWE⁩ / Mean Gene was every bit a part of the show as the superstars were. His interviewing style and interactions were every bit as entertaining as the action itself! Just an all around great guy! RIP Mean Gene.

David Lagana: Wrestling fan or not… you knew Mean Gene Okerlund. His work with talents in their promos is a master class in broadcasting. He was the gold standard of wrestling stick men. Doing a scene with him at Wrestlemania 20 was a career highlight.

Court Bauer: Gene Okerlund’s warm and comforting presence left an indelible mark on me as a child watching WWF on Saturday mornings. He had superb timing, made wrestling classy and fun. He elevated the product – be it the WWF, WCW, AWA bringing a sense of dignity and quality to wrestling.

Ariel Helwani: My personal favorite “Mean Gene” memory: when I was a student at Syracuse University I hosted a Saturday morning combat sports radio show. No one listened. I emailed Okerlund once to ask if he would be a guest. Instead of just writing me back he actually called me to say yes.

Richard Deitsch: Everyone in a wrestling company plays a role in the production but the on-air announcers must put over the talent or the storyline blows up. Watch Gene Okerlund when Hogan turned at Bash at the Beach in 1996. Just a brilliant performer. Sells one of the biggest moments ever.

**The Young Bucks are now officially signed to All Elite Wrestling with Matt adding they were free agents for about 12 hours. The All Elite Wrestling Twitter account posted a photo with Cody, The Young Bucks, Hangman Page, and Brandi Rhodes with contracts. Cody also put out a message that he and the Bucks will serve as Executive Vice Presidents for the group and calling this his “dream job”. Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet first reported the executive roles that Cody and the Young Bucks would hold along with Tony Khan serving as president of All Elite Wrestling.

**It is worth noting that next Tuesday’s All Elite Wrestling rally in Jacksonville, Florida is taking place the same night the WWE is in the city to tape SmackDown that night. The rally will take place outside of TIAA Bank Field at 5 pm with Cody, The Young Bucks, Hangman Page, Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Scorpio Sky, and Brandi scheduled to appear.

**New Japan Pro Wrestling has announced that Friday’s Wrestle Kingdom event at the Tokyo Dome has outsold last year’s show, which drew a paid number of 34,995. In 2017, they drew 26,192 for Wrestle Kingdom 11.

**The Wrestle Kingdom Fan Fest takes place Thursday with live matches at 3 am Eastern late tonight streaming for free on New Japan World with the following matches:
*Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask vs. Yuya Uemura and Ren Narita
*Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi vs. Tomoaki Honma and Toa Henare
*Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Shota Umino and Ayato Yoshida

**Tonight’s episode of NXT is a special two-hour show with the nominees for their Year-End awards being announced. They will also be running a match between Matt Riddle and Kassius Ohno from the last television tapings.

**Next week’s episode of Raw from Orlando will feature appearances by Brock Lesnar and John Cena, the return of Braun Strowman, a new talk show segment hosted by Alexa Bliss with Ronda Rousey on as a guest, and a tag title match with Chad Gable and Bobby Roode vs. The Revival. Next week’s show is the last Monday where they will face football competition as the College Football Championship game between Alabama and Clemson goes head-to-head.

**MLW has announced that they have signed Davey Boy Smith Jr. to a multi-year deal. Smith has been involved with the Hart Foundation faction consisting of Smith, Teddy Hart, and Brian Pillman Jr. on the Fusion program. Smith will continue wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling as part of the Killer Elite Squad team with Lance Archer.

**New Japan World has announced their streaming schedule for January. Following New Year Dash this Saturday, they will be streaming the Fantasticamania cards on January 16th at 5 am Eastern, January 18th at 4:30 am, January 20th at 4:30 am, January 21st at 4:30 am, January 28th at 4:30 am, and January 29th at 4:30 am. The January 20th – 29th cards will be available with both Japanese and English commentary.

**Yahoo has compiled viewership statistics and ranked the most-watched television networks of 2018. Of the networks that carried professional wrestling and MMA over the past year: Fox was ranked #4 with 4,401,000 average viewers, the USA Network was #8 with 1,518,000 (down 9%), FX was #26 with 903,000, Paramount Network was #44 at 567,000 (dropping 11% from the year prior when they were Spike TV), NBC Sports Network was #49 at 430,000 (an increase of 30% from 2017), E! was #52 with 409,000 (down 12%), FS 1 was #55 with 360,000 (a big drop of 20%), Pop TV was #83 with 157,00 (a drop of 10%), the El Rey Network ranked #116 with 49,000 (down 9%), beIN Sports Espanol was #126 with 17,000 (down 30%), and the English beIN Sports was #129 with 7,000 average viewers (compared to 14,000 the year prior).

This outlines the jump SmackDown is making leaving the USA Network where they easily top the network’s average and going to Fox where they are currently below that viewership level of 4.4 million viewers. The Pursuit Channel was monitored by Nielson in 2018 but did not rank on Yahoo’s list, which is where Impact Wrestling is moving on January 11th. NBC was the most-watched network of 2018 with 7,876,000 viewers and unseating CBS for the top spot this year. The top cable networks were Fox News, MSNBC, and ESPN, with USA Network fourth among cable networks.

**On today’s All Japan card at Korakuen Hall, Shuji Ishikawa and Suwama defeated Joe Doering and Dylan James in the main event to retain the tag titles, Koji Iwamoto defeated Yusuke Okada to retain the All Japan junior heavyweight title, and Jake Lee won the Openweight Battle Royal among the highlights on the show.

**The NWA is teaming up with Ring of Honor for the Crockett Cup tournament that will take place Saturday, April 27th in Concord, North Carolina. The NWA announced the return of the tournament at their 70th-anniversary card in October and will be holding a qualifying match at their Pop-Up event this Saturday in Clarksville, Tennessee.

**Here is the updated card for the Royal Rumble on January 27th from Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona:
*Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman for the Universal title
*Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles for the WWE title
*30-man Royal Rumble (Drew McIntyre, R-Truth, New Day)
*30-woman Royal Rumble (Natalya, Sasha Banks, Carmella, Bayley, Ember Moon, The Riott Squad)

**Thursday night’s episode of Impact Wrestling will be the promotion’s final show on Pop TV heading into the Homecoming pay-per-view on Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee. Here are the matches for Thursday’s episode at 10 pm Eastern on Pop and Fight Network in Canada:
*Johnny Impact and Brian Cage vs. Pentagon Jr. and Fenix
*Willie Mack, Rich Swann, Zachary Wentz, Dezmond Xavier and Trey Miguel vs. Sami Callihan, Dave & Jake Crist, Matt Sydal, and Ethan Page
*Kiera Hogan vs. Allie
*Eli Drake’s Homecoming address

**Trevor Lee became a free agent on Tuesday and is no longer with Impact Wrestling.

**WWE co-president George Barrios will be speaking at the Citi’s 2019 Global TMT West Conference in Las Vegas next Tuesday at 2 pm Eastern. There will be a webcast of the speech on the WWE’s corporate site and available for 90 days after the conference.

**Due to a scheduling conflict, Progress Wrestling has moved their Chapter 83 card up one week and will now take place Sunday, January 20th at the Electric Ballroom. There is a new seating configuration at the venue that allows for more front row and golden tickets to be made available. Tickets for this event go on sale Thursday at Noon local time.

**EVOLVE has announced that JD Drake will defend the WWN championship against Eddie Kingston on January 18th in Brooklyn at the EVOLVE 119 card in a No Disqualification match. On the same show, the Street Profits will defend the tag titles against the winners of a Scramble match earlier in the night, and they have announced a singles match with Fabian Aichner taking on Darby Allin. The following night in Queens, New York will feature Montez Ford taking on Eddie Kingston and Angelo Dawkins facing Josh Briggs at EVOLVE 120.

**The next Shine card is scheduled for January 19th in Queens at 3 pm before an EVOLVE show at the same venue. The Shine card will feature Allysin Kay vs. Ivelisse for the Shine championship, a New York City Street Fight between Santana and Priscilla Kelly, Holidead and Thunder Rosa defend the tag titles against Gabby Gilbert and Luscious Latasha, Aja Perera defends the Nova championship against Kiera Hogan, LuFisto takes on Jordynne Grace in a No Holds Barred match, Brandi Lauren vs. Allie Recks, and Dementia D’Rose takes on Riley Shepard.

**DEFY Wrestling is running a show on Saturday, February 9th at the Hawthorne Theatre in Portland, Oregon with Johnny Impact scheduled for the event. Tickets for this show go on sale Friday at www.DefyWrestling.com.

**Ring of Honor is holding an event on Sunday, March 31st in Baltimore at the UMBC Event Center that will be a “Road to G1 Supercard” event. The show will be streaming on Honor Club and takes place one week before the card at Madison Square Garden. Tickets are on sale now for the show in Baltimore.

**The Financial Times reported that an episode of the “Patriot Act” talk show hosted by Hasan Minhaj has been removed by Netflix in Saudi Arabia. The episode is a critical look at the Saudi Arabian government and specifically the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder inside a Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey this past October. Netflix pulled the episode after the country stated it violated a law that bans “production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers.”

Minhaj responded on Tuesday with the following statement after news of the episode’s removal in Saudi Arabia was reported:

Clearly, the best way to stop people from watching something is to ban it, make it trend online, and then leave it up on YouTube.

Let’s not forget that the world’s largest humanitarian crisis is happening in Yemen right now. Please donate: https://help.rescue.org/donate/yemen

The episode is still available online:

MMA NEWS

**Broadcaster Jimmy Smith has announced that the UFC has declined to re-sign him to a new contract after working for the promotion throughout 2018. Smith left his position at Bellator MMA at the end of 2017 and quickly signed with the UFC where he served as an analyst both calling fights and in the studio throughout the year. Personally, I feel Smith is one of the most talented analysts in the game and was a great pickup by the UFC. I would be stunned if he isn’t regularly calling fights in short order for another group.

**The UFC 232 preliminary card performed well Saturday with an average viewership of 1,148,000 viewers on FS 1. It was their second-highest pay-per-view prelim number of 2018 behind UFC 229, which was the undercard of the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor card. Saturday’s prelims were headlined by Walt Harris defeating Andrei Arlovski by unanimous decision for the final UFC broadcast on a Fox property. The UFC 232 post-fight show did 227,000 viewers on FS 1.

**The Sunday Times in the UK was the first to report that the Cage Warriors promotion has signed a new three-year deal with UFC Fight Pass.

*****
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 Primer and Preview

John Pollock, WH Park, and Wai Ting present their Wrestle Kingdom 13 Primer with an in-depth preview of the card at the Tokyo Dome and the stories going into the show.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/01/njpw-wrestle-kingdom-13-primer-and-preview/
*****
EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion: 2017 with Michelle Cain

Episode 29 sees Chris Charlton and Michelle Cain look at 2017. Hiromu Takahashi debuts in the Dome, Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada have a classic, and DDT runs the (empty) Dome for the first time.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/12/31/eggshells-podcast-companion-2017-w-michelle-cain/
*****
REWIND-A-WAI #26: ECW One Night Stand 2005
John Pollock and Wai Ting review ECW One Night Stand, WWE’s one-night-only revival of Extreme Championship Wrestling from the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan, New York. We discuss the stories behind what many consider one of the best PPVs of all time, including its creation, the involvement of the WWE, Eddie Guerrero’s displeasure with his participation, JBL vs. the Blue Meanie and more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/12/30/rewind-a-wai-26-ecw-one-night-stand-2005/
*****
UFC 232 POST Show: Jones vs. Gustafsson, Cyborg vs. Nunes

John Pollock is joined by Phil Chertok and Ziggy Cao to review UFC 232 featuring Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson and Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/12/30/ufc-232-post-show-jones-vs-gustafsson-cyborg-vs-nunes/
*****
EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion: 2016 with Joe Lanza

Episode 28 sees Chris Charlton and Voices of Wrestling’s Joe Lanza look at 2016. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura leave NJPW following their match, leading to a sudden elevation for Kenny Omega, and Kazuchika Okada finally vanquishes Hiroshi Tanahashi.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/12/29/eggshells-podcast-companion-2016-w-joe-lanza/
*****
THE WORST OF 2018 SHOW

It’s POST Wrestling’s Worst of 2018 show as the panel of John Pollock, Wai Ting, Braden Herrington, and Davie Portman go through the worst that 2018 had to offer.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/12/28/the-worst-of-2018-show/
*****
upNXT 12/27/18: Wrestling Day
Braden Herrington & Davie Portman chat this week’s episode of WWE NXT featuring Undisputed Era vs. Heavy Machinery for the NXT Tag titles, a number one contender’s fatal four-way for the NXT Women’s title featuring Bianca Bel-Air vs. Mia Yim vs. Io Shirai vs. Lacey Evans, a great Tommaso Ciampa promo and more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/12/27/upnxt-12-27-18-wrestling-day/
*****

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About John Pollock 900 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.