POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: AEW’s viewership for countdown on TNT

AEW's viewership for countdown special, Bellator signs Cyborg, KENTA's injury at Royal Quest, UFC returns to Abu Dhabi, updates on two ROH contracts, Korakuen Hall cards this week & lots more.

Photo courtesy: TNT

POST IT NOTES

**Monday’s edition of Rewind-A-Raw is up on the site with Wai Ting and I reviewing the show from Baltimore, discussing Bayley’s turn, the King of the Ring Quarterfinals, Baron Corbin’s best performance, their new favorite word, and the set up for Steve Austin’s appearance next week. Plus, we went the weekend’s events, New Japan’s match announcements, Tony Khan’s post-show comments, and the Paul Levesque interview with talkSPORT in the UK.

**Wai Ting and I are back tonight with Rewind-A-SmackDown following the show from Norfolk, Virginia. We will also discuss the news of the day including AEW’s Full Gear information, Raw’s viewership number, KENTA, and lots more. We will also be giving out a POST Wrestling Prize Pack with all members of the POST Wrestling Café eligible in our weekly draw.

**We will also have The Double Shot on Wednesday with reviews of Episodes 5 & 6 of the current season of GLOW, several Starrcast panel reviews including the CM Punk interview, and a discussion on the Adrian Street documentary from the WWE Network this past weekend. This show will be available for members of the POST Wrestling Café.

**I want to wish Davie Portman of upNXT a Happy Birthday.

WRESTLING NEWS

**Due to Labor Day, the Raw number will be delayed this week. On the viewership front, the AEW countdown special from this past Friday night averaged 390,000 viewers on TNT. I would view that very positively as it was a short-notice program and would suggest there is a lot of momentum behind the brand going into their television debut next month. To compare, last year’s “Zero Hour” pre-show going into ALL IN averaged 196,000 viewers on WGN America.

**Tonight’s SmackDown and 205 Live tapings take place from the Norfolk Scope Arena in Virginia with the following matches announced:
*Ali vs. Elias in the King of the Ring Quarterfinals
*Andrade vs. Chad Gable in the King of the Ring Quarterfinals

**New Japan Pro Wrestling has released the lineups for the “Road to Destruction” cards. They start the tour on Wednesday with three straight nights at Korakuen Hall, which will stream on New Japan World. KENTA is not on any of the cards until the Destruction in Beppu card on September 15th. It was clear he had his bell rung in the match with Tomohiro Ishii at Royal Quest after taking a German suplex and unable to go through with several follow up maneuvers. It was a bad scene watching back and he did go to the hospital, although KENTA stated, “I am totally fine”.

With more people having access to the match from Saturday between Tomohiro Ishii and KENTA, a lot of criticism is warranted regarding the poor handling of KENTA’s injury.

Too often, the mentality, especially in big matches, is to gut through issues and get to the finish. In this case, the match went exceedingly long beyond the point of safety a central issue. The fear of upsetting an audience needs to be something promoters and wrestlers need to get over because it will be fleeting. Yes, there will be people upset at a referee waving off a match and those same fans will likely take back their immediate reaction once the circumstances are known.

We had a tragic example earlier this year involving Silver King and a referee that did not seem equipped to handle the severity involved. The power to stop a match cannot be placed in the hands of the performers because they have been brought up in an industry that encourages you to gut through your pain and finish the match or be shamed. That power needs to be in the hands of the referee or promoter to be made instantly once it is clear there is an injured party in the match, such as KENTA on Saturday. Injuries and concussions are going to occur but it is the secondary blows that are even more concerning for someone concussed.

I hope this example is learned from because it is beyond time for a more stringent protocol when it comes to these types of situations and ending a match when necessary. Regarding the skull-on-skull head butts, it’s insane that these are still used and it’s just irresponsible that they haven’t been banned by the company.

**On Raw, it was set up during the Firefly Fun House segment for The Fiend to challenge the winner of Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman for the Universal title at Hell in a Cell next month. The pay-per-view is scheduled for October 6th, so it’s a fast turnaround after Clash of Champions. However, the main focus is going to be the launch on Fox two days earlier and I can see the Hell in a Cell being lost in the shuffle as the new television deals go into effect. It’s early for The Fiend to be in such a prominent match after one match as the new character.

**Two keys performers in Ring of Honor will see their deals come due shortly. Last week, Mike Johnson of PWinsider.com reported that ROH champion Matt Taven’s deal expires this month while SI’s Justin Barrasso reported Tuesday that Marty Scurll’s deal expires in November. Both are top talents with the company and if Taven is not re-signed, they would need to get the title off him on one of the shows this month. Scurll has been an interesting case all year as his deal did not come due last year when Cody, The Young Bucks, and Hangman Page departed. On one side, you could argue that it was inevitable Scurll would leave when his deal was up and the other side would argue that you have him under contract for all these months and you should maximize that value in an effort to keep him. Scurll has been featured consistently with Villain Enterprises but they have not gone all the way with him this year. Taven has held the ROH title since April when he won the ladder match at the G1 Supercard over Jay Lethal and Scurll.

**Matt Taven will be defending the ROH title against Volador Jr. this Saturday in Villa Park, Illinois at Global Wars Espectacular and the winner will defend the title against Rush at Death Before Dishonor Friday, September 27th in Las Vegas.

**Raw went off the air after Bayley aligned with Sasha Banks and attacked Becky Lynch with multiple chair shots, signaling Bayley’s full turn. Because audiences are conditioned to react to big turns, it received a positive response from the crowd and probably helped to go off the air before it was a pronounced scene of Bayley being cheered laying out the top babyface champion.

The timing was curious as it puts a wrench into the ongoing program Bayley has with Charlotte Flair and will require a hell of an explanation tonight to move forward with that one. Overall, it was a change Bayley needed as she had fallen into a smaller role within the division and it’s not like this was the same character of four years ago where the idea of turning her was ludicrous.

**Steve Austin will serve as the moderator for the contract signing between Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman on Raw from Madison Square Garden next week. Austin was the top name advertised for the Raw Reunion in July, which was the most-watched episode of 2019. While you shouldn’t expect that level of an audience, Austin’s appearances haven’t been overdone so he feels special when he’s on the show and it should offset some of the natural declines that come with the return of Monday Night Football, which has a doubleheader next Monday.

**All Elite Wrestling will be putting tickets on sale this Friday for their next pay-per-view. Over the weekend, they announced that “Full Gear” will take place from the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday, November 9th. Prices start at $30 and go up to $300 for ringside seats. This is the same arena that WWE ran last night for Raw with the company returning for another show on December 29th for a house show.

**The first night at Korakuen Hall on Wednesday is headlined by Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto vs. Sanada & Shingo Takagi and kicks off the Young Lion Cup with Shota Umino vs. Clark Connors and Alex Coughlin vs. Yota Tsuji.

Thursday night’s show is headlined by Tetsuya Naito & EVIL vs. Jay White & Bad Luck Fale with Yuya Uemura vs. Michael Richards and Karl Fredericks vs. Ren Narita in the Young Lion Cup matches.

Friday’s show at Korakuen is headlined by Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki along with Clark Connors vs. Karl Fredericks (which should be great) and Alex Coughlin vs. Michael Richards.

**The WWE stock dropped 2.8% on Tuesday and closed at $69.37.

**Impact Wrestling will hold a press conference with Ken Shamrock and Moose at the Las Vegas Fight Shop this Friday at Noon Pacific, which is open to the media. Shamrock is working the Impact tapings this Thursday and Friday at Sam’s Town Live and is working with Moose.

**Low Ki will team with Tom Lawlor and the Von Erichs this Saturday against Contra Unit in the War Chamber match. The television tapings are taking place from the NYTEX Sports Centre in North Richlands Hills, Texas. The War Chamber match is the new name for War Games, which was a trademark they had and made a deal with WWE. Kevin Von Erich will also be in the corner of his sons for the match, which should set up one spot for Kevin, who has proven to stand the test of time in Texas when used over the last few years by WWE and TNA.

**NXT has announced live events for Portland, Oregon on October 17th, Seattle on October 18th, Vancouver on October 19th and Kelowna, British Columbia on October 20th with tickets on sale this Friday for all four.

**WWE put out a video of Shawn Michaels, Jeff Jarrett, and Road Dogg sitting down to watch the Intercontinental title match between Jarrett and Michaels from the second In Your House event in July 1995.

MMA NEWS

**Bellator announced they have signed Cris “Cyborg” Justino to a multi-year contract to join the promotion’s featherweight division. Cyborg’s contract with the UFC ended after her last fight against Felicia Spencer at UFC 240 in July.

UFC president Dana White stated he was waiving the exclusive negotiating period to allow Cyborg to leave the company and taking the UFC out of the running to retain her. There was an incident involving Cyborg’s production team where they falsely subtitled White during an exchange backstage with Cyborg, which the fighter apologized for with the team fabricating what White said.

Bellator is calling this the “largest contract in women’s MMA history” but didn’t go into specifics over terms of the deal. It would seem logical that Cyborg would be matched with featherweight champion Julia Budd sooner rather than later. Cyborg is 34-years old with a record of 21-2 with one no contest. She suffered her first loss in 13 years this past December when she was knocked out by Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 and lost the featherweight title before rebounding with a decision win over Spencer in July.

**This Saturday, UFC 242 takes place from Abu Dhabi on Yas Island. It was reported earlier this year that the promotion signed a five-year deal with the Department of Culture and Tourism for the UFC to bring events to the country. Jeremy Botter has written about the subject of oppression within Abu Dhabi concerning activists, journalists, and making comparisons of the UFC’s deal to WWE’s with the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia.

It’s the first time UFC has returned to Abu Dhabi since 2014 and is the third time they have staged a card in the country. The previous shows came in concert with the Abu Dhabi-based Flash Entertainment purchasing a percentage of the company that remained until the 2016 sale to WME IMG.

It’s notable that Saturday’s card will feature two women’s fights, which will be the female UFC fights to occur in Abu Dhabi. Joanne Calderwood will be fighting Andrea Lee and Sarah Moras is fighting Ljana Jojua on the televised prelims.

The intersection of combat sports and politics is nothing new and WWE’s deal with Saudi Arabia raised lots of concern but it was also seeing the presentation of the Greatest Royal Rumble card in April 2018 that opened a lot of eyes to the nature of the deal and what WWE was promoting beyond a wrestling show. Fast forward to Crown Jewel last November and the company faced immense scrutiny for going forward with the event in Riyadh so shortly after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey. The company presented a show without the political messaging of the first show and continued with that format this past June for the third show of the deal.

This has become a focus within boxing with the rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz set for December 7th in Diriyah and is receiving criticism.

It is a worthy discussion point when looking at these forms of sport and entertainment into countries with oppressive laws and restrictions and what role they are playing. Most will want to divorce themselves from the politics of a region and just enjoy the show, which is fine, but I feel more and more there are people that want to know what they are supporting and drawing their own ethical lines when it comes to their entertainment.

**The card itself is headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier to unify the UFC lightweight championship. Nurmagomedov hasn’t fought since October of last year when he defeated Conor McGregor and was subsequently suspended for his role in the aftermath with the brawl at T-Mobile Arena.

Poirier became interim champion defeating Max Holloway this past April and setting up this weekend’s fight. Nurmagomedov is a big betting favorite and it’s very hard to bet against him at this stage. At 30-years of age, Poirier has become one of the top fighters in the sport and since returning to lightweight in 2015, has been on fire. He has gone 9-1 with one no-contest since returning to the healthier weight is unbeaten in his last six fights since the knockout to Michael Johnson in September 2016. He is one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport but Nurmagomedov is so smothering with his style that it will be evident early if Poirier’s strategy can be successful to offset the nonstop grappling pressure of Nurmagomedov.

Beyond the main event, it’s not a card with a lot of name value attached to it and the pressure to draw is on the top fight. Nurmagomedov is coming off the most successful pay-per-view in MMA history with McGregor and in theory, should benefit from being part of such a massive fight.

**Bellator is running a show at the SAP Center in San Jose, California on Saturday. It is headlined by Ryan Bader defending the heavyweight title against Cheick Kongo and the start of the Featherweight Grand Prix with four opening round fights in the 16-man tournament. Kongo has won his last eight fights and was snubbed from last year’s Heavyweight Grand Prix, so he’s the Minoru Suzuki of the weight division although I don’t know if this fight will approach the level of the Royal Quest main event. The Grand Prix fights will see Sam Sicilia vs. Roberto de Carvalho, Derek Campos vs. Daniel Straus, Pat Curran vs. Adam Borics, and Tywan Claxton vs. Emmanuel Sanchez.

**The other four opening round matches of the Featherweight Grand Prix will take place on September 28th at The Forum in Inglewood, California including Patricio “Pitbull” Freire defending his 145-pound title against Juan Archuleta. The championship will be defended throughout the tournament in the same format as they had for the Welterweight Grand Prix this year.

**Below are the first two episodes of UFC Embedded heading into UFC 242 this weekend:

*****
RAR 9/2/19: Bayley’s Irish Cream
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Raw featuring Bayley’s attack on Becky Lynch. Plus, a discussion on the AEW media scrums, Royal Quest added to New Japan World, and fallout from the weekend.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/09/03/rar-9-2-19-bayleys-irish-cream/
*****
BWE Special: NJPW Royal Quest, NXT UK TakeOver & Summer Sizzler
Martin, Benno & Jamesie are back to review two major shows this weekend: NJPW Royal Quest (Okada vs. Suzuki) and WWE NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff (WALTER vs. Bate). Will Cooling drops in to give a live report from RevPro’s Summer Sizzler and a controversial main event between Will Ospreay and David Starr.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/09/01/bwe-special-njpw-royal-quest-nxt-uk-takeover-cardiff-revpro-summer-sizzler/
*****
Cruel Summer #28: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi (2018)

WH Park reunites with John Pollock on the final episode of Cruel Summer (for now) to discuss the finals of NJPW G1 Climax 28: Kota Ibushi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi from August 12, 2018.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/09/01/cruel-summer-28-hiroshi-tanahashi-vs-kota-ibushi-2018-w-john-pollock/
*****
AEW All Out POST Show

John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW All Out headlined by Chris Jericho vs. Hangman Page to determine the first AEW World Champion, Kenny Omega vs. PAC and The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Brothers in Escalera de la Muerte.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/09/01/aew-all-out-post-show/
*****
upNXT MOVIE REVIEW: Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)

Braden Herrington & Davie Portman are back with another BDE movie review as they continue on their journey to review all the Star Wars movies, and this time it’s Episode II: Attack of the Clones!
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/08/31/upnxt-movie-review-star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002/
*****
Cruel Summer #27: Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito (2017)
WH Park is once again joined by Joel Abraham of the Super J-Cast (which you can find at Voices of Wrestling) to discuss the finals of NJPW G1 Climax 27: Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito from August 13, 2017.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/08/31/cruel-summer-27-kenny-omega-vs-tetsuya-naito-2017-w-joel-abraham/
*****
Cafe Hangout with Jamesie of the BWE
John Pollock and Wai Ting preview a busy weekend with AEW All Out, NJPW Royal Quest, NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff and Starrcast all taking place. British Wrestling Experience’s Jamesie joins us to discuss a weekend of major shows in the UK.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/08/30/aew-all-out-nxt-uk-takeover-njpw-royal-quest-previews-cafe-hangout/
******
REWIND-A-WAI #43: Mark Hitchcock Memorial Supershow 2019
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WrestleCon’s Mark Hitchcock Memorial Supershow 2019 headlined by Will Ospreay vs. Bandido in a heavily-anticipated match during WrestleMania 35 Weekend in New York City.
https://www.patreon.com/posts/29559316
*****

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About John Pollock 4093 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.