POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Independent Wrestling during the pandemic

RAW Season Premiere, indie wrestling during the pandemic, NJPW running two Tokyo Dome cards, SD viewers in Canada, Flair joins agency & more.

Photo courtesy: Warrior Wrestling

POST IT NOTES

**After our latest G1 Climax season, I wanted to thank all those that listened to the shows and joined the POST Wrestling Café over the past month. This is our busiest period of the year and the Café sign-ups help us grow significantly each year allowing us to put more resources into the site and provide additional coverage such as the fantastic work that Mark Buckeldee and Mike Murray provided this year with their write-ups of each show.

**Our final G1 Climax Podcast covering the finals is available to all members of the POST Wrestling Café. On this show, WH Park joined Wai and I with his thoughts on the show and his Top & Bottom 10 matches of the G1. Plus, Chris Engler went through all the results of the POST Wrestling G1 Picks Contest. All 19 of our G1 Climax podcasts can be found in the archives.

**Wai Ting and I are back with Rewind-A-Raw tonight following the season premiere of the show. We will go through all the latest news and take your feedback with a big week coming up.

**The ASK-A-WAI Mailbag Show will be released Tuesday night for members of the POST Wrestling Café. You can still submit questions for this month’s show on the POST Wrestling Forum thread.

**Andrew Thompson will have an interview with Lance Anoa’i on the site Tuesday.

**upNXT has a packed schedule of shows this week including a free movie review out Tuesday on “Batman Returns” from 1992. You can post feedback on the film on the POST Wrestling Forum.

POST SCHEDULE

*Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock & Wai Ting
*Tuesday: ASK-A-WAI Mailbag Show (Patreon)
*Tuesday: Andrew Thompson interviews Lance Anoa’i
*Wednesday: Rewind-A-Dynamite with John & Wai
*Wednesday: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
*Thursday: Bushby & Thompson’s Wrestling Adventure (Slammiversary 2018)
*Friday: UFC 254 Preview Show with John Pollock & Cody Saftic
*Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown (LIVE at 10:15 pm ET for Café members)
*Saturday: UFC 254 POST Show with Pollock & Phil Chertok (LIVE at YouTube.com/POSTwrestling)
*Saturday: Bound for Glory POST Show with Davie Portman & Nate Milton
*Sunday: WWE Hell in a Cell POST Show w/ John & Wai (LIVE for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso Café members)

WRESTLING NEWS

**The season-premiere of RAW takes place tonight from the Amway Center featuring the new roster and several matches being promoted. RAW goes against the NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals but avoided the World Series this year. Below are the matches and segments already announced for the show:
*Asuka vs. Lana for the RAW Women’s Championship
*Keith Lee vs. Braun Strowman
*Bobby Lashley, MVP, Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali, T-Bar, Mace & Slapjack
*AJ Styles vs. Matt Riddle
*Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus
*Elias’ concert
*Firefly Funhouse with Bray Wyatt

**Game 2 and 3 of the World Series this week will have an effect on the pro wrestling programming with games played on Wednesday and Friday. AEW has a much more loaded show than NXT as they will have the opening round matches of the eliminator tournament, plus the four-way tag match meaning you’ll have matches involving Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks this week. NXT has announced Breezango defending the titles against Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish.

On Friday, SmackDown moves to FS1 due to the World Series and it was not successful when it had its switch last year doing 888,000 viewers. I didn’t feel they hammered it hard enough this past Friday regarding the change to FS1 for one week and we’ll see how adaptive the audience is. The show will take a massive hit but over the past few weeks, we did see the AEW and NXT audiences find the shows on different nights of the week with NXT doing significantly better on Tuesday than Wednesday. I would consider running a different night of the week being tougher than switching to cable in the same timeslot. This will be an interesting test to see how AEW competes with SmackDown on cable with both airings against the World Series. For those in Canada, there are no changes this week as SmackDown airs in its usual slot on Sportsnet 360.

**The Mas Lucha outlet reports that the official medical report states that wrestler Principe Aereo (Luis Ángel Salazar) died from a ruptured middle cerebral artery. Salazar was competing on a MexaWrestling show in Mexico City on Saturday when he collapsed, and the match was stopped. Later, he was pronounced dead at the age of 23.

**Showbuzz Daily reports that Friday Night SmackDown finished with 2,124,000 viewers this past Friday on Fox with a 0.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic. The previous week’s episode featuring the WWE Draft did 2,178,000 viewers.

This would tie SmackDown with Shark Tank among all network programs that evening in the main demo, although the night was won by the MLB playoffs on TBS and FS1. The Astros vs. Rays game averaged 3,468,000 from 6 – 9:16 pm Eastern. The Dodgers vs. Braves game was the top program of the evening starting at 9 pm with 3,605,000 viewers and a 1.05 rating in the demo.

**In Canada, Friday Night SmackDown averaged 161,900 viewers on Sportsnet 360 with 82,000 in the 25-54 demographic. They were the third most-watched sports broadcast that night behind the Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays and L.A. Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves games on Sportsnet. WWE Main Event, which aired immediately after SmackDown was #10 with 49,400 viewers and 20,800 in the 25-54 demo.

**Dark Side of the Ring is returning in 2021 with Vice TV ordering an expanded 14-episode season. Reporter David Bixenspan will be working on the series as a researcher in the upcoming season.

**Sean Ross Sapp interviewed Game Changer Wrestling promoter Brett Lauderdale over the weekend regarding the positive COVID-19 tests following The Collective events last weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana. There is a lot of justifiable criticism of the events and protocols (or lack thereof), I will say that Lauderdale agreeing to the interview and admitting where they went wrong shouldn’t go unnoticed as a lot of promoters in that situation would go radio silent. However, a lot of lessons need to be taken from last weekend with an assessment of the independent wrestling shows that continue:
*There is no question that outdoor shows are safer when fans are attending. This is going to continue to be an issue as we get into the colder months of the year and companies face the prospect of shutting down or taking the risk indoors. This is where a lack of oversight impacts fans and the talent involved because running indoors is an economical decision and not a “safety first” one. The Collective shows had limited capacity at the Marion County Fairgrounds, attempted social distancing but failed in other respects with a lack of guardrails, wrestlers going into the crowd, and taking an added risk.
*Wrestlers need to produce a negative test prior to the event. This should be the bare minimum as a negative test taken days prior hardly ensures one is completely virus-free. Another problem is wrestlers coming from out of town where they’d take a test on a Wednesday, then drive across states for the show and be exposed to many people at that time. No one is creating a completely risk-free environment but one clear lesson from The Collective is a need for negative tests to be produced and have documentation if you’re the promoter rather than a verbal confirmation of a negative test.
*Meet-and-greets should clearly be an area where new ideas are emerging rather than the traditional way of doing these. They represent revenue for the promoter and wrestler and for the fan, it’s the experience of meeting that talent. Whether it’s doing these at a distance while wearing masks or getting creative where a t-shirt purchase comes with a two-minute FaceTime conversation, these are all things that need to be thought of because the old way is not coming back anytime soon.
*Shorter shows and reduced talent – This is the New Japan model where they have limited the numbers on shows with a major event like Power Struggle set to feature 12 wrestlers in six singles matches. While the Clusterfuck Battle Royal is a signature of Spring Break, matches like that just seem to be inviting trouble. Promoters are already being hit revenue-wise, so producing a compact show with 6-7 matches and capping match sizes at a tag match will also relieve some of the economic burden as well as the added hassle of securing even more test results for a smaller sized show. This does hurt wrestlers that are willing to work and have lost sizable income this year but with an independent company able to successfully run shows without positive tests coming out of it, will make for a stronger case to slowly re-introduce previous measures at the show.
*For companies that have talent that can still accept independent bookings, they probably need to make a decision on how best to handle those situations. Ring of Honor did not use any performers that were part of The Collective while still paying those performers for the television tapings they were left off from. Impact Wrestling would have been justified in requesting talent not work The Collective given they have their biggest pay-per-view of the year two weeks after, but it gets tricky when a performer has a valid contract that allows them to work those shows, the same goes for AEW who had a big title match involving Jon Moxley days after he participated at Bloodsport. I would be very resistant to talent working some of these independent shows especially ones where fans are traveling from various points and featured cards over several days under one roof. The compromise could be that if a talent is insistent on working an outside show, then they won’t be used for two weeks. Again, it’s a terrible predicament for talent and it comes down to your philosophy of whether extra cautionary measures should be placed ahead of economics and it’s not a simple answer when people have bills to pay.
*One aspect that needs to be applauded is the transparency of those wrestlers that did test positive and sharing their results with those they worked with and were around during the weekend.

**Elias spoke with Justin Barrasso at SI.com and discussed previous WrestleMania plans the company had for the performer. He spoke about the interaction with John Cena and The Undertaker at WrestleMania 34 followed by the segment at WrestleMania 35 where Cena brought back his Doctor of Thuganomics character. That was followed by a segment with The Undertaker the next night on RAW, which Elias said was supposed to lead to the two having a match in Saudi Arabia in June 2019, however, they went with Bill Goldberg instead. Elias added that he was scheduled to face John Cena this past year to complete that story, which was the plan I had heard as well. Those plans changed when they changed course and put the title on Goldberg, who would face Roman Reigns. Instead of Cena facing Elias, he would take on The Fiend Bray Wyatt. Elias is doing media to promote the release of his album Universal Truth, which comes out next Monday.

**The WWE stock had a drop of nearly 3 percent on Monday falling to $38.65 after opening at $40.09.

**Ethan Page and Josh Alexander both announced they have tested negative for COVID-19 after both had been part of The Collective last weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana. The two are set to be part of the four-way tag title match this Saturday at Bound for Glory with the Motor City Machine Guns, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows, and Ace Austin & Madman Fulton.

**While attendance isn’t a metric that I would place any significant weight on for the G1 Climax given the pandemic, the 19 events averaged 1,927. The attendance peaked for the final three nights at Sumo Hall with 2,863 for Friday’s A Block final, 2,917 for Saturday’s B Block final, and 2,928 for Sunday’s final.

**The biggest news coming out of Sunday’s final was the confirmation that New Japan will run back-to-back nights at the Tokyo Dome on January 4 & 5, 2021. No one can be expecting these Dome shows to approximate anywhere near the success of this past year’s shows given so many factors. This past January, they drew a legit sell-out of 40,008 for the first night and 30,063 for night two with the overarching story being the crowning of a Double Champion in Tetsuya Naito.

This year, you have a big match between Naito and Kota Ibushi, who have not had a singles match since Dominion 2019 and represent Ibushi’s redemption after losing to both Kazuchika Okada and Jay White on last year’s Dome shows and vanquishing his opportunity created by winning the 2019 G1. This year, as the first back-to-back winner of the tournament since Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Ibushi is poised for his anointment and win his first IWGP title. That is a compelling story and under regular circumstances, you would assume New Japan could come close, if not completely selling out one night at the Tokyo Dome.

With Ibushi set to face Jay White on November 7th, that would represent Ibushi avenging his losses to White from Wrestle Kingdom last January and this year’s G1. That would open the door for Ibushi to either have another obstacle on January 4th and advance to face Naito on January 5th or defeating Naito the first night and instantly defending the title on January 5th.

If the quarantine period didn’t present such a hurdle, the obvious choice to move heaven and earth for the sake of business would be Kenny Omega. The idea of Ibushi winning the title and being laid out with the One-Winged Angel for an instant title defense the next night, representing Omega’s real “farewell” to the Japanese audience and losing to Ibushi on January 5th with the promise of some reciprocation from New Japan down the road for AEW. It would be a heated match with years of history involving the two taking their feud from Budokan Hall to the Tokyo Dome, and there would be an air of doubt if fans really didn’t know if New Japan and AEW were working together and whether Omega could win the title setting up future cross-promotional options. This was tested last year when Chris Jericho and Hiroshi Tanahashi had their match and with a large segment wanting to see a working relationship, it wouldn’t be a tough sell to convince people Omega could win the title and “leave”.

Omega doesn’t seem realistic today, but anything can change, if New Japan booked both nights they clearly did so with a plan in mind. SANADA has a victory over Naito in the G1 that must pay off somewhere down the road. EVIL has not clicked as a main event heel for me and I don’t see him needing to be part of the picture, although he’s obviously the major project. Jay White has come up short so many times that he is due for something major and ultimately, should win the IWGP title but now doesn’t seem like the time. Plus, there is the emergence of Will Ospreay as a top heel that instantly leapfrogs EVIL in my estimation, and it would seem like Ospreay and Kazuchika Okada would be the match for one of the two Wrestle Kingdom nights.

This year, the major questions include access to foreign talents such as Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley. Both are contractually able to work but if a quarantine process is required, it’s very hard to imagine they could have two weeks off AEW programming, not to mention that quarantine period would mean being away for both Christmas and New Year’s. Secondly, is the hit New Japan will take regarding international fans that have made up a healthy percentage of the attendance since Wrestle Kingdom has been established as a traveling event for fans in North America.

The goalposts are different in 2021 as I’m not expecting the Tokyo Dome to be open at full capacity. If you assume 50 percent capacity, the goal would be selling 40,000 tickets combined instead of each night. As we have seen in the G1, New Japan was conservative with the capacity limit with an obedient crowd understanding the rules and largely refraining from cheers and boos.

**New Japan has released its full card for Power Struggle on November 7th at the Edion Arena in Osaka. The show will only feature six matches with Tetsuya Naito defending the Double Championship against EVIL in the main event. The promotion’s next tour begins Friday with the Road to Power Struggle beginning at Korakuen Hall. They will hold ten events prior to Power Struggle including back-to-back nights at Korakuen Hall on November 1 & 2. After Power Struggle, the combined World Tag League & Best of the Super Juniors tour begins November 15th and runs until December 11th with the finals at Budokan Hall.

**WWE Network continues to add new content to its line-up. On Monday, it was revealed by Lilian Garcia that her “Chasing Glory” podcast series will premiere on the streaming service beginning Monday, October 26th. This comes after news that After the Bell with Corey Graves, a new show produced and hosted by Sam Roberts, and the Swerve City Podcast with Isaiah “Swerve” Scott is coming to the free tier of the WWE Network.

**This Sunday, the WWE Network will air a new edition of WWE Untold focusing on The Undertaker’s feud with Randy Orton from 2005 and kicks off their “30 Days of The Deadman” promotion that will feature several documentary specials. WWE Network will also air a new special on “The Road to KofiMania” with New Day with both programs available on-demand at 10 am Eastern.

**VaynerSports, which is owned by Gary Vaynerchuk and run by co-CEOs AJ Vaynerchuk and Greg Genske, has added its first WWE client to its roster. On Monday, it was announced that Charlotte Flair (Ashley Fliehr) had signed with the agency and joins a slew of MMA fighters, which is a space the agency has aggressively gone after. Over the summer, VaynerSports added a combat and action sports division with numerous MMA fighters coming on board including Stipe Miocic, Chris Weidman, Eddie Alvarez, Curtis Blaydes, Vitor Belfort, Anthony Smith, and Aljamain Sterling.

**The WWE Network has added ten new episodes of WWF Superstars from May 29 – July 31, 1993. This era covers the King of the Ring pay-per-view featuring Yokozuna’s WWF title win against Hulk Hogan and the transformation of Lex Luger into the new All-American babyface with the body slam challenge on the U.S.S. Intrepid and promotional build-up for SummerSlam in August.

**Bob Mould recently spoke with Damian Abraham on the Turned Out a Punk podcast. During the final half-hour of the interview, they dived into Mould’s extensive history with professional wrestling that was fostered through his friendship with the late Jim Melby and grew into a position working for WCW in 1999.

**MLW has announced the signing of Bu Ku Dao and he will be part of the MLW Restart this fall. Producer Alex Greenfield has also returned to MLW and will be working in production for the group. Greenfield had left the company in October 2019 and worked with MLW CEO Court Bauer on numerous projects going back to their time together on the SmackDown creative staff in 2005-06.

**SUWAMA retained the Triple Crown against Champion Carnival winner Zeus this past Saturday at the smaller Edion Arena in Osaka. All Japan’s next major show is this Saturday at Korakuen Hall with three title matches:
*Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa vs. Shotaro Ashino & Kuma Arashi for the AJPW tag titles
*Koji Iwamoto vs. Atuski Aoyagi for the AJPW junior heavyweight title
*Zeus & Izanagi vs. Francesco Akira & Rising Hayato for the All-Asia tag titles

**Pro Wrestling NOAH returns to Korakuen Hall on Wednesday, October 28th for a show headlined by GHC tag champions Takashi Sugiura & Kazushi Sakuraba defending against Masa Kitamiya & Manabu Soya, and Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge defending the GHC junior heavyweight tag titles against Yo-Hey & Seiki Yoshioka.

**There are sixteen matches that have been announced for Tuesday’s episode of AEW Dark at 7 pm Eastern:
*Shawn Spears vs. Christopher Daniels
*Luchasaurus vs. Aaron Solow
*Brandi Rhodes vs. KiLynn King
*Colt Cabana vs. Bshp King
*Matt Sydal vs. Shawn Dean
*Ivelisse & Diamante vs. Kenzie Paige & Skyler Moore
*Jungle Boy vs. KTB
*Frankie Kazarian vs. Jack Evans
*Rey Fenix vs. Sonny Kiss
*Penta El Zero M vs. QT Marshall
*Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison vs. The Butcher & The Blade
*Alan “5” Angels vs. Adam Priest
*Scorpio Sky vs. Fuego del Sol
*Ricky Starks vs. David Ali
*Dark Order’s 3, 4 & 10 vs. Louie Valle, Baron Black & D3
*Wardlow vs. Vinny Pacifico

**Toni Storm turns 25 today. I also want to wish a Happy Birthday to Raj Giri of Wrestling INC.

**An unbelievable video produced by BT Sport for this Saturday’s UFC 254 card where Khabib Nurmagomedov returns for the first time since his father passed away and defends the lightweight title against Justin Gaethje:

ON THIS DATE

 

 

*****
G1 CLIMAX FINAL POST SHOW: Day 19 – Finals
John Pollock and Wai Ting are joined by WH Park to review the NJPW G1 Climax 30 Finals (October 18) headlined by Kota Ibushi vs. SANADA.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/10/18/g1-climax-30-final-post-show-w-wh-park/
*****
G1 CLIMAX POST SHOW: Day 18 – B Block Final
John Pollock and Wai Ting review NJPW G1 Climax 30 Day 18 (October 17) as the B Block winner is crowned.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/10/17/g1-climax-30-post-show-day-18-b-block-final/
*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 10/16/20: Season Premiere, AEW/NXT Ratings, The Collective
John Pollock and Wai Ting chat about the season premiere of Friday Night SmackDown featuring Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman, AEW & NXT ratings, COVID-19 cases coming out of The Collective, today’s G1 results, and more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/10/17/rewind-a-smackdown-10-16-20-season-premiere-aew-nxt-ratings-the-collective/
*****
G1 CLIMAX POST SHOW: Day 17 – A Block Final
John Pollock and Wai Ting review NJPW G1 Climax 30 Day 17 (October 16) as an A Block winner is crowned. They also reveal their picks for the Top 10 Matches of the G1 thus far.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/10/16/g1-climax-30-post-show-day-17-a-block-final/
*****
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE 10/14/02: AEW Anniversary, Draft Ratings, McGregor-Poirier
John Pollock and Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite with its one-year anniversary show featuring Jon Moxley vs. Lance Archer. We discuss WWE Raw’s draft ratings, Ryan Smile passes away, and more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/10/15/rewind-a-dynamite-10-14-20-aew-anniversary-draft-ratings-mcgregor-poirier/
*****
upNXT 10/14/20: “Spin the Wheel, Make A Deal”
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review WWE NXT featuring Damian Priest vs Dexter Lumis for the North American Championship, Shotzi Blackheart vs Candice LeRae and more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/10/15/upnxt-10-14-20-spin-the-wheel-make-a-deal/
*****
REWIND-A-WAI #72: WWE Survivor Series 2002
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Survivor Series 2002 featuring Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho vs. Booker T vs. Rob Van Dam in the debut of the Elimination Chamber.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/10/13/rewind-a-wai-72-wwe-survivor-series-2002/
*****

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About John Pollock 2119 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling.He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.