POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Daniel Bryan cleared

Daniel Bryan has been cleared, Lio Rush speaks on the record about issues with WWE, Kurt Angle pulled from WrestleCade, Brock Lesnar's negotiations with UFC & lots more.


**This week’s edition of The Double Shot is available for all members of the POST Wrestling Café. On this week’s show:
-Wai Ting and I review “The Last of the Von Erichs” with a lengthy discussion on WCCW, the tragedies involving the family, Kevin Von Erich’s interview on the special and the popularity they reached at their peak
-A full review of this past weekend’s Crockett Cup event
-This week’s Being the Elite
-News of the Day: WWE returning to Saudi Arabia with Bill Goldberg, Jeff Hardy’s injury, the SmackDown tag titles, the Jon Moxley video, SmackDown does its lowest number since going live & more.

**The latest edition of upNXT is up on the site with Braden Herrington and Davie Portman reviewing KUSHIDA’s debut from Wednesday and his match with Kassius Ohno, and they discuss Avengers: Endgame.

**The Café Hangout will be taking place Friday at 3 pm Eastern with Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members able to watch the show live. We are scheduled to have two guests on the show with Conrad Thompson joining us to discuss the promotion of Starrcast II and his latest podcast with Jim Ross launching this week. Then, we welcome MLW CEO Court Bauer to the program ahead of this week’s special edition of Fusion on beIN Sports. We will also be going over the news and taking your phone calls at the end.

**The latest edition of the British Wrestling Experience is up with Martin Bushby, Benno, and Jamesie review Fight Club Pro’s Dream Tag Invitational, the Riptide Wrestling Rumble, OTT Contenders 14, Benno attends the For the Love of Wrestling convention, and they chat Joel Redman’s run in the Champion Carnival & more.

**Rewind-A-Wai will be out this Sunday with Wai Ting and I reviewing the WWE’s New Year’s Revolution card from January 2006, as chosen by Espresso Executive Producer Roberto Macias. We will dissect this entire time period, what was going on in WWE, the first Money in the Bank cash in, and take your feedback. This show will be out for all members of the POST Wrestling Café.


**Daniel Bryan was at television this week and received his clearance for his return. This was first reported by Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio on Wednesday night and we were able to confirm this at POST Wrestling. Bryan is expected to be at television moving forward and it’s only a question of when they decide to put him back on. Bryan has not appeared since losing the WWE title to Kofi Kingston at WrestleMania last month. This should allow Bryan to participate in the European tour, which begins in two weeks and the more interesting show, is the June 7th date in Saudi Arabia and whether Bryan will be able to forego that event as he did back in November skipping the show in Riyadh.

**Lio Rush did a rare on-the-record interview with a wrestling outlet, speaking to Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp regarding recent stories that the performer had gained a negative reputation over several backstage incidents.

The most notable part in the interview was when Rush noted that he was not being paid for merchandise that featured his catchphrases on them and paying for his car rental and hotel on the road while not making enough money to do so. Rush went on stating that he is “walking around broke in the biggest sports entertainment industry that there is while having two kids and a wife to support.” Since then, Mike Johnson at PWinsider.com has reported that Rush did turn down a deal worth approximately $300,000 per year and reports that Rush wanted double that figure.

Rush addressed a story first reported by PWinsider.com that he did not carry water for the other talent, which is apparently a tradition for these tours with the junior member of the roster. Rush did not contradict the reporting and stated his rationale was that “The look of a black kid carrying waters and bags for other wrestlers is just not a good look, especially when I’m trying to portray myself as a super as well.”

First off, I applaud Rush for going on the record and speaking with Fightful. It is rare to see a WWE performer go on the record with a wrestling news outlet and to provide such transparency to a story, which Rush should be applauded for. You can argue if it was wise or not for Rush to do so, but I will never fault someone for directly speaking to an outlet.

The comments that are certainly going to sting are the ones regarding his pay and insinuating he’s broke while working for the company. Rush doesn’t come off as a performer that is concerned about backlash from WWE and is obviously not happy with his current standing from a financial sense. “Heat” is such a subjective term, because it can be attributed to anything and ultimately, comes down to how one is viewed despite whether they are right or wrong. So often, things remain a certain way because it’s always been done a certain way, such as talent paying for their road expenses and new members of the roster should not question how things are run. With the level the WWE is at, it’s insane that talent is still paying for road expenses and I don’t think Rush’s point should be dismissed, regardless of whether he rubs people the wrong way.

Enzo was similar in outlining archaic traditions of the locker room that he would participate in such as Wrestler’s Court, but he had such a negative reputation that most people dismissed his complaints.

In the current climate, the WWE is not looking at getting rid of talent and Rush may feel confident in going public with his complaints or not care with the idea he can make money outside WWE and things can’t get worse for him by voicing his issues in public rather than private.

The next several months will be interesting to watch from a talent’s perspective in WWE because there appears to be less of a feeling that they are walking on eggshells because they feel they have legitimate options. Talent is more willing to speak up if they are unhappy, ask for releases, and in this case, grant an interview on their own.

**The fourth installment of Viceland’s Dark Side of the Ring series on “The Last of the Von Erichs” produced another season-high with Wednesday’s episode averaging 234,000 viewers. This week’s episode was up 9% from last week’s episode on Bruiser Brody. Next week’s episode covers the 1986 death of Gino Hernandez and includes interviews with his mother and sister. The season finale is in two weeks on the Fabulous Moolah.

**The WWE has pulled Kurt Angle from the WrestleCade convention later this year. The annual convention is scheduled to take place over the weekend of November 29th in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We reached out to WrestleCade owner Tracy Myers, who confirmed to POST Wrestling that the deposit they put down for Angle was immediately returned and WWE did not offer a replacement. Angle recently signed a new five-year deal with WWE and was also pulled from Starrcast II that takes later this month in Las Vegas.

**The next TakeOver special will be on Saturday, June 1st at a location to be announced on Monday. Angles were shot at the television tapings on Wednesday night for the top matches at the show, which will air over the next month. One of the cities rumored is Bridgeport, Connecticut, which I was told is the frontrunner but isn’t official yet. That would mean Money in the Bank and TakeOver would be taking place in the same market two weeks apart with MITB scheduled for Hartford on May 19th, which is less than an hour away from Bridgeport.

**Plans are still up in the air regarding how they will deal with the vacant SmackDown tag titles. There were a few ideas thrown around before settling on the Hardys vacating them. The tag division is very thin on SmackDown with Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev, Heavy Machinery, The B Team, The Colons, and Xavier Woods & Big E. (once Big E. is healthy). The AOP is scheduled to return imminently and is likely to be on SmackDown when they come back.

**Jeff Hardy did an interview on WWE.com after SmackDown, stating he would be having total reconstructive knee surgery. Hardy said he would out of action for 6-9 months and needed a new knee. Hardy will be 42 years old this August.

**The WWE stock had a good day rising over 3.5% and closing at $85.60 on Thursday.

**Mike Johnson at PWinsider.com spoke with Rich Swann and reports that he has signed a new two-year deal with Impact Wrestling. The new contract will keep Swann with Impact Wrestling through May 2021.

**Ring of Honor has announced that Colt Cabana will defend the NWA National title against James Storm on the War of the Worlds card on Sunday, May 12th in Villa Park, Illinois.

**The annual Cauliflower Alley Club banquet took place Wednesday night at the Gold Coast Hotel in Las Vegas. The Iron Mike Mazurki Award was presented to Mark Henry with D-Lo Brown introducing Henry. The other awards included Dory Funk Jr. receiving the Lou Thesz Lifetime Achievement Award, Men’s Wrestling awards for David Shultz, Nick Kozak, and Andrew Anderson, Haku & The Barbarian receiving the Tag Team Award, and Bambi receiving the Women’s Wrestling Award. Jim Ross was the host of the ceremony and noted during the banquet, that he had purchased the rights to “Queen of the Ring” by Jeff Leen on the life of Mildred Burke and is working with a screenwriter on adapting the book.

**Jonathan Good (formerly Dean Ambrose) was seen over the past few days at the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion and was taking photos with fans.

**Dwayne Johnson turns 47 years old today.

**New Japan Pro Wrestling will hold their first of two straight Wrestling Dontaku shows in Fukuoka on Friday morning. The show will stream live at 5 am Eastern on New Japan World with the following card:
*Dragon Lee vs. Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP junior heavyweight title
*Jeff Cobb vs. Taichi for the NEVER Openweight title
*Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii vs. EVIL & Sanada
*Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens vs. Hirooki Goto, Juice Robinson & Mikey Nicholls
*Kota Ibushi & Roppongi 3K vs. Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & Bushi
*Will Ospreay, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano vs. Guerrillas of Destiny & Hikuleo
*Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado & Taka Michinoku vs. Yoshi-Hashi, Ryusuke Taguchi, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask
*Tomoaki Honma, Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Toa Henare, Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura

**The second Wrestling Dontaku card airs at 2 am Eastern late Friday/early Saturday. That show is headlined by Kazuchika Okada defending the IWGP heavyweight title against Sanada and Tomohiro Ishii taking on EVIL. The second show will also feature the debut of “X” teaming with Taiji Ishimori taking Dragon Lee & Will Ospreay with the expectation it will be Canadian wrestler El Phantasmo.


**The story involving Brock Lesnar goes deeper than Lesnar simply retiring, as UFC president Dana White described earlier this week. Dave Meltzer reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Lesnar’s team gave a number to the UFC for Lesnar to fight, which would be a guaranteed purse rather than a percentage of the pay-per-view. This is due to ESPN+ being the exclusive outlet for pay-per-view distribution in the United States and it’s a guarantee that Lesnar would be making less with a cut of the pay-per-view with fewer people buying the shows. Whatever the figure was, the UFC turned it down, according to Meltzer’s report with the company moving forward with the idea of Daniel Cormier fighting Stipe Miocic on August 17th, which both fighters have verbally agreed to.

When the ESPN+ deal was announced for the pay-per-views, it was always going to be the top fighters that would be affected the most. If you’re Brock Lesnar, Conor McGregor, or Jon Jones, it is in their interest to renegotiate and get a guaranteed amount to make up for the inevitable lost revenue while ESPN+ is still growing. The fighters are going from a universe of 100 million homes with pay-per-view capabilities in the U.S to a streaming service with approximately 2 million subscribers.

The intriguing aspect was the role ESPN+ would play in these situations. Obviously, ESPN+ is not spending all this money for no reason, they are hopeful that becoming the exclusive provider for UFC pay-per-views in the U.S. will greatly widen their base of subscribers and it’s in their best interest for the UFC to promote the biggest fights possible to grow that number. For the UFC’s side, the only pressure they would face to acquiesce to the demands of a Brock Lesnar, is if ESPN+ was holding their feet to the fire, and that doesn’t appear to be the case in Round 1 of these standoffs, which should only intensify when Conor McGregor is ready to fight again. The UFC is guaranteed a big fixed amount from ESPN+ annually, regardless of how the individual shows perform and without pressure from ESPN+, there is no incentive for the UFC to break their budget to make sure Lesnar comes back.

**The UFC’s preliminary fights on ESPN last Saturday averaged 720,000 viewers featuring Takashi Sato over Ben Saunders in the featured bout. The first three fights on the card aired on ESPN 2 earlier in the evening and those averaged 288,000 viewers and included Jim Miller’s submission of Jason Gonzalez with Miller’s family in the front row.

**This Saturday night, the UFC returns to Canada with a card at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario headlined by Al Iaquinta and Donald Cerrone. The lightweight main event is a great fight on paper with Cerrone looking great in his last two outings while Iaquinta’s only blemish of late was the last-minute title fight he took against Khabib Nurmagomedov last April and still managed to go the distance with. The lightweight division is all tied up at the top with champion Nurmagomedov expected to fight Dustin Poirier while contenders Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson are not figured into any plans. It leaves the winner of Saturday’s fight without a clear destination and may just keep them at their current spot in the division while a loss derails either one.

The rest of the card is a Fight Night-level of a show with 11 Canadians scheduled to compete. Marc-Andre Barriault is making his UFC debut and comes from the TKO group in Montreal and will be someone to watch. He is not receiving any easy assignment by being paired against TUF winner Andrew Sanchez. The card has multiple TUF winners on it with Elias Theodorou fighting Derek Brunson, which is a big test for Theodorou, who has quietly put together a winning streak at 185 pounds, and Brad Katona is fighting Merab Dvalishvili on the main card.

**Invicta FC is running their first Phoenix Rising Series strawweight tournament on Friday night at 8 pm Eastern on Fight Pass. The eight-woman tournament will take place in one night with a unique set of rules. Due to the commission restrictions, no fight can compete for more than five rounds in one night. That means the quarterfinals and semifinals will be one-round fights and the finals will be a three-round fight.  Below is the tournament pairings with the opening round and reserve fights:
*Kailin Curran vs. Sunna Davidsdottir
*Juliana Lima vs. Danielle Taylor
*Janaisa Morandin vs. Brianna Van Buren
*Mizuki Inoue vs. Sharon Jacobson
*Itzel Esquivel vs. Alyssa Krahn in a reserve fight
*Manjit Kolekar vs. Amber Brown in a reserve fight

**Bellator has released the first part of their countdown special for next weekend’s Bellator 221 show, which is headlined by Michael Chandler defending the lightweight title against Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and will feature the first semi-final fight of the Welterweight Grand Prix between Douglas Lima and Michael “Venom” Page:

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DOUBLE SHOT: The Last of the Von Erichs, Crockett Cup 2019, Being the Elite

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About John Pollock 5574 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.