POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Impact Homecoming Preview, Alexis Smirnoff passes away

A preview of tonight's Impact Wrestling Homecoming pay-per-view, Alexis Smirnoff passes away, the Priscilla Kelly clip, Jon Jones vs. Anthony Smith and Tyron Woodley vs. Kamaru Usman expected & more.

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**Wai Ting and I have released Rewind-A-Wai #27 with a review of ECW’s Massacre on 34th Street pay-per-view from December 2000. This was towards the end of ECW as they were off TNN, they were behind on payments for many performers, and the future was in doubt as they headed into the show at the Hammerstein Ballroom. As they moved ahead, they were focused on creating new stars and that was a theme of the event headlined by a three-way dance with Steve Corino defending the ECW title against Jerry Lynn and Justin Credible. This event was chosen by Espresso Executive Producer Ziggy Cao, who joined us on the show and participated in the December 2000 trivia gauntlet challenge. This show is available for members of the POST Wrestling Café.

**Nate Milton will be joining me tonight for our Homecoming POST Show immediately after the pay-per-view. We will have a full review of the card and Nate will also be making some announcements.

**Wai Ting and I are back with Rewind-A-Raw on Monday and back to our regular schedule of shows following the holidays.

**This week, we will have two big MMA-related shows on the site. Up first, is a 2018 Year in Review panel with Jordan Breen, Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie, and Cody Saftic from The Fight Network joining me as we review the year and make our picks. Later in the week, I will be joined by Ariel Helwani of ESPN for our annual PREDICTION SHOW as we look at Ariel’s predictions made last year and make new ones for 2019.

WRESTLING NEWS

**Tonight, is the Homecoming pay-per-view event from Impact Wrestling from the Nashville Fairgrounds. The promotion launched on June 22nd, 2002 with a live Wednesday night pay-per-view originally from the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama, before moving to the smaller Fairgrounds where they spent the first two years of operations. The promotion is at another crossroads as they embark on their latest U.S. television partner with the launch of Impact on the Pursuit Channel this Friday night at 10 pm Eastern. It is a big loss in viewership off the bat from Pop TV, going from a network available in 67 million home the Pursuit that has about 30 million. On paper, this looks like a strong card tonight with a good roster, the television show is easy to watch, and the creative elements have stabilized greatly over the past year. Their biggest issue is finding a distribution method to reach a larger audience and finding a lucrative television deal in the U.S. In its current form with Pursuit as their U.S. outlet, it doesn’t look like it can sustain if this is it. While having great matches, great angles, strong writing, and compelling television are important, when so few are watching the program it’s hard to stay competitive in an increasingly crowded market. Here is the preview for tonight’s show:

Johnny Impact vs. Brian Cage for the Impact title

Athletically, this should be a great match with two of the best in that department. Throughout the build, Killer Kross has been motivating Johnny Impact and trying to get him to snap and display an edge that will be necessary to defeat Cage. It would be reasonable to expect some sort of involvement from Kross, who the company seems very high on. Cage is an excellent talent and he’s got an opponent that can do everything imaginable to make this an exciting main event. They just put the title on Impact in October, so I’d be a bit surprised if Cage won this one.

Tessa Blanchard vs. Taya Valkyrie with Gail Kim as the special referee for the Knockout’s title

They had a great match at Bound for Glory, the chemistry was evident immediately and I expect another strong outing in this one. Blanchard could be a headline performer for this group and among the most improved in the industry in 2018. She has had the title for a long time and it may be the time to pull the trigger with Valkyrie. There is depth to the women’s roster with Jordynne Grace in the mix, which I could see being the next program for either woman. It will be interesting if they tease anything involving Blanchard and Kim for something down the road.

Santana and Ortiz vs. Pentagon Jr. and Fenix for the Impact tag titles

This looks excellent and is the match most expect to steal the show. This past week’s episode of Impact featured an incredible promo from Santana and Ortiz describing their history together, how each was there to help the other and what this match means to them. It’s been a very good story with Konnan having allegiances to both and stepping away because he didn’t want this match to happen. Pentagon and Fenix are major players in 2019 with lots of demand across the board. I see LAX retaining the titles and this should be a great match.

Ethan Page vs. Trey Miguel vs. Jake Crist vs. Rich Swann in an Ultimate X match for the vacant X title

This could the match to open the show given all the set up required it. There have been some fantastic Ultimate X matches in the past and there is some good talent featured in this match. Four is usually a good number without the match being crowded with bodies. You would expect a big stunt from Crist and a big platform for Miguel and Page to gain attention since entering the company. I see Swann as the likely choice to win the match.

Abyss vs. Eli Drake in a Monster’s Ball match

Eli Drake has been running down hardcore wrestling in the lead up to this match with interactions involving Tommy Dreamer and Raven, who will likely both get involved. Drake is a fantastic talker, as in one of the best in any major company today. I see this match being more for Abyss than Drake as it will be Drake taking some punishing stunt as the legends thwart Drake, who can come out of this with the credibility of going through thumbtacks or whatever is planned.

Moose vs. Eddie Edwards in a Falls Count Anywhere match

I have not enjoyed this feud. Edwards was playing an interesting character last summer, who was obsessed with revenge on Sami Callihan and was driving away the people closest to him. That has morphed into this character that is “wild and wacky” and played for comedy with Alisha Edwards having him committed to a mental hospital, where Raven is introduced, and then Edwards broke free. Moose is great in this heel role as his character work has very good. Edwards probably gets the win and hopefully adapts his character because it’s been lost on me.

Willie Mack vs. Sami Callihan

It isn’t a feature match on the card but no reason to believe this won’t be a solid 10 to 11 minutes. Mack is a great signing by Impact.

Jordynne Grace and Kiera Hogan vs. Allie and Su Yung

I see this being a showcase for Grace to get a strong victory and propel her into the title mix leaving the other three to feud. There is a lot of talent here and most of all, clearly defined characters. Grace is another great signing from Impact, who have been able to sign talent that hasn’t had lots or any national exposure, so fans are seeing them for the first time.

**Michel Lamarche, who wrestled as evil Russian Alexis Smirnoff and as Michel Dubois, has died at the age of 71 due to kidney failure. Pat Laprade reported on Saturday that he had died after being admitted to hospice care recently. Lamarche was trained by area legend Edouard Carpentier and debuted in 1970 wrestling in Quebec during his developing years in the business before traveling to Texas and later to California. It was in 1977 that he adopted the Russian persona of Alexis Smirnoff that eventually led him to Japan where he wrestled for All Japan, New Japan and won IWE’s heavyweight title in 1979 from Rusher Kimura and dropped it back four days later. While working for Georgia Championship Wrestling, he teamed with Ivan Koloff and won their version of the tag titles in December 1979 and again in April 1980. He found success working in San Francisco, where he won their United States title from Pat Patterson in April 1977 and held it for three months before dropping the title to Dean Ho. In the same territory, he teamed with Bob Roop and their version of the tag titles. Smirnoff did work for the World Wrestling Federation as they were expanding nationally, but it was short-lived. His last run was with the AWA before retiring in 1986. After his wrestling days were over, he received several movie roles and came out of retirement for a six-man tag on one of Jacques Rougeau’s cards in August 2000.

**The WWE has announced the following matches for Tuesday’s episode of SmackDown in Jacksonville, Florida:
*Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Carmella with the winner facing Asuka at the Royal Rumble
*Sheamus and Cesaro vs. The Usos for the SmackDown tag titles

**The WWE has announced that Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy, and Finn Balor have been added to the 30-man Royal Rumble match on January 27th in Phoenix, Arizona. Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose have been added the women’s Royal Rumble match.

**An online clip featuring Priscilla Kelly at a December card for Suburban Fight has garnered a lot of discussion over the past day. During the match, which was taking place at a bar, Kelly was wrestling Tuna and reached into her trunks and removed a tampon and then placed it into the mouth of Tuna. The clip began to spread Saturday after several people in the industry commented on it, both pro and negative toward the spot. Kelly has defended the spot and regardless of your opinion, is going to provide her with a lot of attention and likely result in bookings, too. Whether you enjoyed or hated the spot, there is no shortage of stunts done on a routine basis where some work and some fail and the smart workers figure that out with the market deciding. The health of the pro wrestling industry doesn’t rest on one person’s shoulders and Priscilla Kelly doing something that increases business for herself is the goal. Everyone has the right to their opinion and I don’t have an issue with anyone voicing their honest reaction to an angle, a match, or anything that is being disseminated into the public as entertainment and opens itself up to both praise and criticism.

The real lesson from this story is the enormous influence a viral clip can have for a performer and how a clip becomes viral. This clip was posted December 31st, and no one mentioned it until Saturday when several people in the industry, beginning with Gail Kim took notice. Then, it became the talk of the online world and the controversy elevated this clip. I think that’s an underreported phenomenon that many performers have observed and learned from. I don’t care as much about people’s opinion pro or con of the spot as I do the viral nature and what resonates on an emotional level that people respond and share their opinion that leads to the clip growing further in scope.

**The final episode of Impact Wrestling on Pop TV averaged 151,000 viewers on Thursday night with the final episode from the Las Vegas tapings. It was Impact’s highest number since being moved to 10 pm on the network. The company will be taping television in Nashville on Monday and the first episode of Impact airs on the Pursuit Channel on Friday at 10 pm Eastern.

**The WWE Network will be airing a new documentary on Nigel McGuinness next Saturday at 4:30 pm Eastern immediately following the NXT UK TakeOver card.

**Adam Cole is scheduled to wrestle at EVOLVE 121 ON February 15th in Atlanta. The Street Profits will also be on this card as the NXT representatives.

**The February NXT UK television tapings will take place February 22nd and 23rd from the SkyDome Arena in Coventry, England.

**Congratulations to Shadia Bseiso and Nasser Alruwayeh, who announced their engagement and are both at the WWE’s Performance Center.

**Mick Foley returned to the Worcester, Massachusetts to the DCU Arena (formerly the Worcester Centrum) on the anniversary of his first WWF title win in the arena on December 29th, 1998. In the video, Foley recounts the circumstances of learning he was winning the title and keeping it a secret from his family for the next six days because this was still the era when Raw was live bi-weekly and they would tape on alternate Tuesdays for the following week’s show. This episode of Raw aired head-to-head with Monday Nitro on January 4th, 1999, which was the night of the “Finger Poke of Doom” and Tony Schiavone’s infamous comments ruining the outcome of Raw’s main event and taking a shot at Foley. At the time, Foley was very upset over the comments and Schiavone called to apologize him and explained he was given orders by Eric Bischoff and was just doing his job. The move backfired on WCW as hundreds of thousands of viewers switched over to Raw because a title change was a big deal and they wanted to see it. In the history of WCW, that night was a very destructive one and set the table for a tumultuous 1999 and rock bottom in 2000.

MMA NEWS

**The UFC is hopeful that Jon Jones will be able to defend the light heavyweight title against Anthony Smith on March 2nd at UFC 235. UFC president Dana White spoke to TMZ and confirmed to ESPN that was the plan. The only hurdle for Jones is receiving a license to fight in Nevada with a hearing scheduled for January 29th where it is expected the Jones case involving the recent test findings will be addressed. Nevada was unable to license him because of the test findings and required more time and led to the UFC 232 card being moved at the last minute from Las Vegas to Inglewood, California, where Jones was granted approval to fight and defended his title against Alexander Gustafsson last month. Since moving up from middleweight, Smith has been on a tear with three wins in 2018 over Rashad Evans, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and Volkan Oezdemir.

**Ariel Helwani of ESPN reports that a welterweight title fight between Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman is close to becoming finalized for UFC 235 on March 2nd in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena. Helwani reports that both sides have signed their bout agreements and is the second championship fight attached to the UFC 235 card with Jon Jones and Anthony Smith expected to fight on that date, pending Jones’ licensing issue is resolved in Nevada. The odd man out of the welterweight title picture is interim champion Colby Covington, who won the interim version last June against Rafael dos Anjos. Woodley last fought in September where he submitted Darren Till at UFC 228 in Dallas, Texas while Usman has been undefeated since winning Ultimate Fighter in 2015 with a 9-0 record in the UFC. Usman is coming off wins over Emil Meek, Demian Mai, and Rafael dos Anjos in 2018.

**Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum is attempting to be released by the company following a two-year suspension issued by USADA. Werdum failed an out-of-competition drug test in 2018 and won’t be eligible to fight until May 2020 when Werdum is 42 years old. Werdum stated he will not fight in the United States and wants to fight overseas. After fighting for the UFC from 2007-08, Werdum left the company and fought for Strikeforce where he submitted Fedor Emelianenko in June 2010 ending Emelianenko’s unbeaten streak. He returned to the UFC in 2012 and has gone 9-3 in that stretch, including winning the heavyweight title from Cain Velasquez in June 2015 and lost it in his next fight to Stipe Miocic in May 2016. Werdum last fought in March of last year where he was stopped by Alexander Volkov.

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REWIND-A-WAI #27: ECW Massacre on 34th Street

John Pollock and Wai Ting review ECW Massacre on 34th Street, the second-to-last Extreme Championship Wrestling PPV from the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan, New York.
https://www.patreon.com/posts/23774442
*****
NJPW New Year Dash!! 2019 POST Show with John Pollock & Wai Ting

John Pollock & Wai Ting review NJPW’s New Year Dash!! card from Korakuen Hall in Tokyo featuring all the fallout from Wrestle Kingdom 13, new angles for Jay White, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito, a fantastic 6-man tag, and the return of Yoshi-Hashi.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/05/njpw-new-year-dash-2019-post-show-w-john-pollock-wai-ting/
*****
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 POST Show w/ John Pollock & Wai Ting
John Pollock & Wai Ting review the NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 13 card from the Tokyo Dome, headlined by Kenny Omega defending the IWGP heavyweight title against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Plus, Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IC title, Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White, KUSHIDA vs. Taiji Ishimori, Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay and lots more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/04/njpw-wrestle-kingdom-13-post-show-w-john-pollock-wai-ting/

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upNXT 1/3/19: BEST & WORST of 2018
Braden Herrington & Davie Portman review the highs & lows of WWE NXT 2018! They go over their picks for their BEST & WORST OF categories and are joined by friends and listeners of the show who give their choices as well!
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/03/upnxt-1-3-19-best-worst-of-2018/
*****
EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion: 2018 with Kevin Kelly
Episode 30 sees Chris Charlton and Kevin Kelly look at 2018. In this final episode, with the top three matches for Wrestle Kingdom 13 in mind, the two look at the year that was for the six key players of WK12: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kenny Omega, Kazuchika Okada, Jay White, Tetsuya Naito, and Chris Jericho.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/03/eggshells-podcast-companion-2018-w-kevin-kelly/
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RARSD 1/2/19: New Year’s Raw & SD, Gene Okerlund Passes, All Elite Wrestling
John Pollock and Wai Ting return to catch you up on this week’s New Year’s editions of Raw and SmackDown. Plus, they discuss the life and career of the late “Mean” Gene Okerlund and the official announcement of All Elite Wrestling.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/02/rarsd-1-2-19-new-years-raw-sd-gene-okerlund-passes-all-elite-wrestling/
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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/
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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/
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About John Pollock 641 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.