POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: State of WWE heading into the summer

Stomping Grounds card for Tacoma tonight, a look at the state of WWE heading into the summer, change to WWE's television format, Rafael Lovato Jr. wins Bellator title & more.


**Wai Ting and I will have a LIVE show tonight with our Stomping Grounds POST Show. If you are a Double Double, Iced Capp, or Espresso member of the POST Wrestling Café, we will be starting the show about 15 minutes after the main event ends. We will also be taking your phone & Skype calls after our review, so feel free to call in. The podcast version for everyone will be posted later tonight.

**We have two new editions of Cruel Summer out this weekend. On Saturday’s show, WH Park was joined by Braden Herrington of upNXT to review the Kensuke Sasaki vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan final from the G1 Climax in 1997. Today’s show features WH and Dylan Fox of the Eastern Lariat Podcast reviewing the 1998 final between Shinya Hashimoto and Kazuo Yamazaki. Each weekend, WH has a new episode out covering each year’s final from the G1.

**We will have information on our annual G1 Climax contest later this week on our shows, so stay tuned for that.

**There will be a big edition of the British Wrestling Experience out Wednesday with Martin Bushby, Benno & Jamesie chatting the passing of Adrian ‘Lionheart’ McCallum and the big WWE-BT Sport announcement among the topics. The show comes out every other Wednesday on POST Wrestling and you can subscribe to their feed at this link.


**Tonight, is the WWE Stomping Grounds card from the Tacoma Dome in Washington. The show has very little interest going into the card, regardless of how well the matches perform tonight. There are lots of reasons from coming back so soon after Super Showdown, rematches involving cold programs, various names not part of the show, etc. The fact is, the company feels cold heading into the summer, there are not a lot of dynamic programs and the fanbase is disengaged. It’s not doom-and-gloom because a few programs catching fire can renew interest and the optimism is that someone catches fire, which is a huge ‘if’ considering no one on the roster has that feeling of being ‘must-see’ and can spark momentum that trickles down to lift its popularity.

I do feel tonight’s show lacks depth with many of the best performers not scheduled. Rey Mysterio (injured), Charlotte Flair, Finn Balor, Andrade, Braun Strowman, Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton, Ali, and Aleister Black are some of the names that are not on the show. Not every talent can be booked and with a two-week turnaround, it’s hard to shoot new angles and build them up for a pay-per-view match, so they stayed pat with their programs from the last cycle and extended them. But the result is apathy from the audience when you have a deep core talent base and the audience doesn’t believe most are being used to the fullest. One of the big adjustments is the ability to plug in certain names and enhance their star power with television and not diminish it.

Jon Moxley should be an eye-opener as he would be just another guy if he had stuck around with a good push, would receive adequate television time, but would he be a difference maker? In a different light, a different presentation, and several tweaks he has become one of the hottest commodities in the industry. Yes, there is a grace period of seeing Moxley in a fresh light, but thus far, he is seen at a completely different level than his last three years in WWE.

Within WWE, you must find the formula of enhancing star-power while feeding the beast of countless hours of television, working in a system that does require micromanaging and conversely, the system needs to be addressed and if this system is producing stars? The devil’s advocate would argue that this system has brought the richest television deals in company history and a business strategy that is less reliant on star power than ever. But, the idea it’s one or the other seems misguided. An upswing in popularity will only grow your supporting revenue streams and it’s not like those internally are not acknowledging the struggles with ideas being thrown out left-and-right.

The fall season will bring added attention with the Fox deal going into effect and lots of microscopes placed on their performance Friday nights, coupled with the launch of a true competitor in AEW on TNT. It makes this summer vital for the company to look under the hood and make big changes rather than minor alternations, the introduction of titles, wild card rules, and band-aid solutions for deeper cuts that need addressing.

**Below is the full card for Stomping Grounds, which begins at 6 pm Eastern with the kickoff show and the main card is at 7 pm. No match has been announced for the kickoff yet:
*Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin for the Universal title with a mystery referee
*Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Steel Cage match for the WWE title
*Becky Lynch vs. Lacey Evans for the Raw women’s title
*Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss for the SmackDown women’s title
*Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
*Samoa Joe vs. Ricochet for the United States title
*Daniel Bryan & Rowan vs. Heavy Machinery for the SmackDown tag titles
*Tony Nese vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Drew Gulak for the Cruiserweight title
*Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. Big E. & Xavier Woods

**On Sunday’s edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, Bryan Alvarez reported a recent WWE production meeting where Vince McMahon has instituted a change where there will no more wrestling during the commercial breaks on television. In checking up on this, I confirmed this is true with the edict announced this past Monday during the production meeting. The idea is that legitimate sports don’t play during the break, so they are adjusting their match presentation.

This resulted in several 2-of-3 falls matches and other ideas to pause the match and resume after the commercial. It will be a challenge to come up with organic ideas to break the matchup, especially on Raw where you have many multiple segment matches for the three-hour format. It does hurt the flow of the match when you have a commercial break in the middle and from a match presentation, it hurts on television.

On SmackDown, they still have two matches per show that run during the commercial breaks with the picture-in-picture on the USA Network. To clarify, it is unknown if this will continue on SmackDown or not.

**On Sunday’s Stardom card from Shimane, the team of Saki Kashima, Tam Nakano & Mayu Iwatani won the Artist of Stardom titles from Konami, Jungle Kyona & Hana Kimura. The show was billed as Kashima’s Homecoming with her scheduled for the main event. It is their second reign as champions as they won the titles last September and lost them to Kimura, Kyona & Konami back in May.

**Michael Elgin is scheduled to work for Big Japan on August 24th and 25th in Tokyo and Nagoya. These will be Elgin’s first Japanese dates since leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling earlier this year and joining Impact Wrestling.

**The Raw tapings are Monday night in Everett, Washington and there is no SmackDown house show scheduled. The SmackDown and 205 Live tapings are Tuesday night from the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. The SmackDown crew then flies overseas for a card Thursday in Singapore and then back-to-back nights at Sumo Hall in Tokyo on Friday and Saturday.


**Rafael Lovato Jr. defeated Gegard Mousasi by majority decision on Saturday to become the new Bellator middleweight champion on a card from London, England. In an interesting coincidence, Lovato Jr. won the title on his 36th birthday and it was only his tenth professional fight and a major step-up in competition. Lovato Jr. debuted with Legacy FC in September 2014 with Saturday’s win representing his second fight that went to the judges. He was signed by Bellator and debuted in March 2017 with a 13-second TKO win over Charles Hackmann and won fights over Mike Rhodes, Chris Honeycutt, Gerald Harris, and John Salter to earn the title fight with Mousasi.

The card from the SSE Arena was split into two shows with fans in North America sent to the Bellator app to watch one card and then over to the Paramount Network or DAZN to watch the other show. Below are the results from both halves:
*Charlie Ward def. Justin Moore by TKO at 3:23 of Round 2
*Costello van Steenis def. Mike Shipman by KO at 1:34 of Round 2
*Fabian Edwards def. Jonathan Bosuku by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*James Gallagher def. Jeremiah Labiano by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Paul Daley def. Erick Silva by unanimous decision (29-27 all)
*Aaron Chalmers def. Fred Freeman by triangle choke at 4:05 of Round 2
*Melvin Manhoef def. Kent Kauppinen by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Rafael Lovato Jr. def. Gegard Mousasi by majority decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-47) to win the Bellator middleweight title

**Bellator has two shows scheduled for the summer with their next date coming Friday, July 12th from the world-famous WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. That card is headlined by Julia Budd defending the women’s featherweight title against Olga Rubin. It’s not a deep card at all, but the biggest story on the show is the debut of Leslie Smith with the promotion and she is fighting on the prelims against Sinead Kavanagh. DAZN will air the main card and prelims while the Paramount Network will also air the main card. Their only other date this summer is August 24th in Bridgeport, Connecticut with a rematch between heavyweights Matt Mitrione and Sergei Kharitonov.

**Here are the results from the Bare Knuckle FC 6 card from Saturday night in Tampa, Florida at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall:
*Artem Lobov def. Paulie Malignaggi by unanimous decision (48-47 all)
*Dakota Cochrane def. Chris Leben by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
*Johnny Bedford def. Reggie Barnett Jr. by unanimous decision (47-45, 47-45, 48-44)
*Julian Lane def. Tom Shoaff by unanimous decision (49-45 all)
*Joey Beltran def. Jamie Campbell by KO at 1:50 of Round 2
*Walber Barros and Joe Riggs fought to a unanimous draw (47-47 all)
*Abdiel Velasquez def. Travis Thompson by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 50-45)
*Jim Alers def. Elvin Brito by KO at 0:45 of Round 1
*Chris Boffil def. Jared Hayes by TKO at 1:55 of Round 3
*David Mundell def. Drew Lipton by KO at 1:35 of Round 1

**The group is set to hold their next card on Saturday, August 10th in Biloxi, Mississippi with the main event between former UFC fighters Jason Knight and Leonard Garcia. Garcia hasn’t fought since November 2014 and was one of the great action fighters of his time, but that was a decade ago. Garcia and Chan Sung Jung had an incredible fight on the prelims leading into the WEC’s first pay-per-view card in April 2010 and aired on Spike TV. They were both brought into the UFC and had a rematch in March 2011 where Jung submitted Garcia with a twister. Garcia was a fan-favorite and therefore, was given multiple chances but was finally let go after five consecutive losses at a time that never happened. He fought for Legacy FC where he won his first three fights and then retired after two straight losses to Damon Jackson and Daniel Pineda in 2014.

CRUEL SUMMER #8: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kazuo Yamazaki (1998)
WH Park welcomes one of the co-hosts of the Eastern Lariat podcast, Dylan Fox to discuss the finals of NJPW’s 8th G1 Climax tournament: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kazuo Yamazaki from August 2, 1998.
CRUEL SUMMER #7: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (1997)
WH Park welcomes the co-host of POST Wrestling’s NXT review show, upNXT – Braden Herrington to discuss the finals of NJPW’s 7th G1 Climax tournament: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan from August 3, 1997.
Café Hangout – June 20, 2019
On this week’s Hangout, John Pollock and Wai Ting chat the latest news in pro wrestling and a preview Sunday’s WWE Stomping Grounds. Damian Abraham joins us to discuss a double-header of Viceland’s The Wrestlers.
John Pollock and Wai Ting review the twelfth Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Ant-Man (2015) starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas.
upNXT 6/20/19: “Fish with One Eye”
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman are back with another episode of upNXT! The BDE chat all about the June 20th Edition of WWE NXT.
DOUBLE SHOT: DDT’s Pool Wrestling, Tony Khan w/ Austin, 205 Live
John Pollock & Wai Ting review Steve Austin’s interview with Tony Khan, DDT’s Pool Wrestling special, 205 Live, BTE & Road to Fyter Ep. 3.
RASD 6/18/19: Kofi Kingston Wins 4/6 Falls, New 24/7 Champ
John Pollock and Wai Ting review the final episode of WWE SmackDown leading into Stomping Grounds featuring Seth Rollins & Kofi Kingston teaming against Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn in a 2-of-3 Falls match.
RAR 6/17/19: Baron, Rollins & Chairs, G1 Climax Announcements
John Pollock and Wai Ting review the final WWE Raw leading into Stomping Grounds featuring the main event between Seth Rollins and Daniel Bryan.

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About John Pollock 5060 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.