POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Rhodes grades AEW with an “A” for 2020

Cody Rhodes reflects on 2020 as AEW EVP, UFC fighter faces attempted murder charges, Les Thatcher update & another title fight at UFC 259.


**Rewind-A-SmackDown is LIVE tonight at 10:15 pm ET for all members of the POST Wrestling Café. Wai Ting and I will go through the latest news items and review SmackDown before opening the phone lines. Those who are members of the Café will receive a Zoom link prior to SmackDown to use for the live broadcast.

**The upNXT team of Davie Portman and Braden Herrington have released a free version of Best Match Ever covering the best matches of Brodie Lee’s career. It’s a wide range look at his career going back to matches with Claudio Castagnoli and Shingo Takagi, entering WWE and his run with The Wyatt Family, and up through the Dog Collar Match with Cody Rhodes.

**This Sunday, WH Park welcomes Ed Kody from Pod Van Dam for The Long & Winding Royal Road. This month’s review is the February 2000 match between Mitsuharu Misawa and Jun Akiyama.

**We will also have the newest edition of Total Recall with Wai Ting & Pauline released on Sunday for members of the POST Wrestling Café as they catch-up on Total Bellas.

**I wanted to thank everyone that left feedback for the 2021 MMA Prediction Show as we received a lot of it. The show is always among my favorites to do each year and serves as both a look back and forward in MMA. For those unfamiliar, each year, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani joins us to look back at his predictions from the year prior before a new list is made for the upcoming year.


Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown (LIVE at 10:15 pm ET for Patrons)
Sunday: The Long & Winding Royal Road with WH Park & guest Ed Kody (Misawa vs. Akiyama, Feb. 2000)
Sunday: Total Recall with Wai Ting & Pauline (Patreon)


**I want to send out our best wishes to Les Thatcher, who is dealing with COVID pneumonia, which is how it was described to him. Les began to experience significant fatigue and finally went to be checked out and tested positive for COVID. He was later informed he had COVID pneumonia and is under quarantine until next Thursday. He said on his Wrestling Weekly show with Vic Sosa that he is getting better but has gone through a lot over the past two weeks. Everyone here at POST Wrestling wants to wish Les as speedy a recovery as possible and is in our thoughts.

**Cody Rhodes was the guest on Friday’s edition of Talk is Jericho discussing the passing of Brodie Lee and their series of matches including Lee’s final one in October with the Dog Collar Match. Cody said the August match where he was destroyed for the TNT title was inspired by the famous match where Vader destroyed Antonio Inoki in 1987. It was the debut of the Vader character and they ran Sumo Hall for their final show of the year with Inoki destroyed in three minutes and led to a legitimate riot, which caused New Japan to be banned from the venue. Cody also used the SummerSlam 2014 match between John Cena and Brock Lesnar as a comparison to break from the norm and surprise fans.

When asked about his performance as an EVP over the year, which was AEW’s first full year running television, he responded:

Somebody asked me “grade it” and of course, as part of the company, I’m not going to give it a bad grade but I said, “A” and there’s room for an “A+”. We know where we need to grow. AEW, if this had been its last year, thank gosh it wasn’t, it’s still been the greatest year of my life. I learned a lot of lessons and learned some hard lessons about the burdens of management. If you weren’t popular before, you’re definitely not going to be popular as you enter that space. I still think it’s surreal – the numbers, that’s why I love the data, and you’re great about the data – The Demo God. I love it when (Chris) Harrington shows me this spreadsheet and talks about our international deals, we’re having these calls, I was on the phone with Microsoft the other day, what am I doing? But, I know what I want, I know what we’re talking about, that blows me away, I told Tony (Khan), “do not give me this job unless you really want me to really do the job, which would probably include pissing you off from time to time”, which he’s never been pissed at me, at least his version, maybe he has. That’s been the most exciting thing, the brain trust here amongst the talent, the EVPs, the management, the committee that exists that we don’t talk about, the committee of thought, which is the Bucks and Kenny (Omega), you (Jericho) and Tony is, more than ever has in his mind, how he wants the show to be as he is booking it, laying it out – I love it. I know it sounds like a tumultuous thing, all those names on paper and those people, and Arn (Anderson) – Arn is out there with me by the ring pretty much doing jack shit except holding this play card up but what Arn does back here, my gosh, I literally want to look at him – where have you been?

**Wrestling INC spoke with Candice Michelle regarding her promoted appearance on Legends Night that didn’t materialize with an appearance this past Monday:

I was actually in Orlando, which is ironic, and I was hanging out with Torrie (Wilson). We got to go to Disney World having a magical time, and she told me how she was going to go to RAW. I was like, ‘Oh, what are you gonna do?’ ‘Legends Night,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome,’ and I just didn’t think I was invited. I thought ‘Oh, she’s in the Hall of Fame. They’re inviting Hall of Famers.’ That’s not where I’m at with the company, yet. So, I just thought that was it. And then I happened to look at the announcement and see who’s going to be back. Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, some of the greatest wrestlers that I love, and then I saw my name on a list. And I was like, ‘Wait, I’m on the list, but they didn’t call me.’ It’s just a simple thing. I just didn’t make the cut.

**Here are the matches listed for tonight’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown airing at 8 pm eastern on Fox:
*WWE Intercontinental Championship Match:
Big E. (champion) vs. Apollo Crews
*SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: The Street Profits (champions) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode

**Below is the line-up for tonight’s edition of NJPW Strong airing at 10 pm eastern on NJPW World:
*Brody King, Sterling & Logan Riegel vs. JR Kratos, Danny Limelight & X
*Rocky Romero vs. The DKC
*Clark Connors vs. Kevin Knight

**WWE is advertising a one-hour kickoff show for the Royal Rumble beginning at 6 pm eastern and the main show at 7 on Sunday, January 31st.

**Due to a Montreal Canadiens game airing on TSN2 on January 20th, AEW Dynamite will air on TSN1 and TSN5 in Canada at 8 pm eastern that night. Next Wednesday’s show airs on TSN2 as per usual.

**Pelle Tsichlis, who wrestled as Pelle Primeau, was able to successfully argue that the lawsuit filed by Joseph Meehan was filed in the wrong venue. The U.S. District Court in the Central District of California was dismissed this past Monday and has been transferred to the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which is Tsichlis’ home state. Meehan, who wrestled as Joey Ryan, filed several lawsuits including one against Tsichlis over public comments about Meehan after the Speaking Out allegations were made against Meehan last year. Mike Johnson at PWinsider.com has a thorough rundown of the ruling and it remains to be seen if the case will be taken forward in a different state.

**Texas Monthly has a profile on Mission Pro Wrestling, the group founded by Mel Cervantes a.k.a. “Thunder Rosa”. The piece looks at the reaction Cervantes had after the long list of Speaking Out stories this past summer and wanting to re-position Mission Pro Wrestling as not only an outlet for women’s wrestling but also placing females in the key staffing roles.

**The next Triple Crown defense for All Japan is scheduled for Sunday, January 24th with Suwama defending against Shotaro Ashino at Korakuen Hall. The match was set-up last weekend after Suwama’s defense against Yuma Aoyagi and Ashino entering the ring to issue the challenge. Tokyo is among the prefectures that are under a new state of emergency that includes curfews and reduced capacity measures. Large scale events are capped at 5,000 people or 50 percent capacity, so that won’t be a factor for a Korakuen Hall show. The All Japan show has an early start time of 11:30 am locally, so the show will likely be okay. However, New Japan has a card that night in the same venue at 6:30 pm and it remains to be seen if the 8 pm curfew will affect any pro wrestling events in the areas impacted.

**Tommy Lasorda, one of the most iconic managers in MLB history, died on Thursday night at 93. Lasorda managed the Los Angeles Dodgers for twenty years from 1976-96 and appeared as a celebrity at the second WrestleMania in April 1986. Lasorda served as the ring announcer for the main event of the show in Los Angeles where Hulk Hogan defended the WWF Championship against King Kong Bundy in a Steel Cage Match.

**WWE’s Chief Financial Officer Kristina Salen will be speaking at CES next Tuesday at 2 pm eastern on her career journey. Salen, along with Nick Khan, were two of the major hires last year by the company. Chief Branding Officer Stephanie McMahon-Levesque will also speak at CES and will be part of a panel with Gary Bettman, Cathy Engelbert, and Angela Ruggiero.

**The Giant Baba Memorial card is scheduled for Thursday, February 4th at Korakuen Hall and the following line-up has been released:
*Suwama, Satoshi Kojima & Keiji Muto vs. Kaz Hayashi, Masayuki Kono & X
*Minoru Suzuki & Hikaru Sato vs. Yuji Nagata & Yuma Aoyagi
*BUSHI vs. Atsuki Aoyagi
*Atsushi Onita, Masa Fuchi, Shiro Koshinaka & The Great Kojika vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, Mitsuo Momota, Takao Omori & Masao Inoue
*Jinsei Shinzaki, Tomoaki Honma & Mitsuya Nagai vs. Kotaro Suzuki, Andy Wu & Alejandro

**Brian Johnson is the latest Ring of Honor to re-sign with the company. Johnson began working regularly with ROH in 2019 and lost in the opening round of the Top Prospect Tournament to Austin Gunn. At Final Battle last month, he wrestled Danhausen.

**New Japan Pro Wrestling has announced a new deal with Eurosport and Eurosport HD India to air a 60-minute show Saturdays and Sundays at 6 pm local time. The show will be distributed to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Bhutan as part of the arrangement.

**The WWE stock closed at $48.24 on Friday.

**It was on this date in 1998 that TBS launched WCW Thunder, a new two-hour live program at the height of WCW’s popularity. It coincided with NITRO adding a third hour the same month and a tremendous amount of content they produced weekly between the flagship shows along with WCW Saturday Night and other shoulder programming. It spurred on the war with WWF as they would test out a pilot in April 1999 on UPN and was later added as a weekly program and the launch of SmackDown on Thursday nights head-to-head with Thunder. By late 1999, TBS moved Thunder over to Wednesday nights while cutting NITRO back to two hours in January 2000.


**UFC bantamweight Irwin Rivera is facing two counts of attempted murder after he stabbed his two sisters and fled the scene prior to his arrest on Thursday. Rivera, 31, is currently being held without bail by the Boynton Beach Police Department with ESPN’s Marc Raimondi reporting that one sister is in stable condition while the other is in critical condition. The incident report, obtained by ESPN, states that each victim suffered multiple stab wounds with the older one suffering two collapsed lungs. There are signs of mental health problems with Rivera, who noted in the report that he stabbed his sisters after being told, “by a higher power”.

The UFC issued the following statement to the media:

UFC is aware of the recent incident involving Irwin Rivera and subsequently received information from his management that he has been exhibiting behavior consistent with mental health issues. The allegations are extremely troubling and the organization is currently gathering additional information. The investigation is ongoing and any potential next steps including disciplinary action or medical attention will be determined upon the conclusion. Furthermore, UFC has informed Rivera’s management that he will not be offered a bout at this time.

Rivera appeared in court on Friday and will be held without bond until his next court appearance on February 8th.

A statement was issued by one of Rivera’s sisters, Lezlye, on Facebook stating that the two were “fine” and “well” and included the following message:

This past weekend my brother hasn’t been acting like himself. Not sleeping or talking like himself and completely just losing interest in training, which we all know is what he lives to do. This concerned me and had me jump on the next airplane ASAP n go check on him. Unfortunately, his mental stage was worse than we could of imagined and before we could help him he completely broke. This is not easy for me or my family but I ask to please keep MY BROTHER in your prayers, pray he can stabilize and come back to us bc sometime within the past 24 hours his mentality has been completely corrupted into something unrecognizable. Again we LOVE OUR BROTHER and are 100% here to support him n try n get him this help he so desperately needs.

**For the first time since March, the upcoming UFC events will feature a limited number of spectators. Tickets went on sale with prices ranging from $215- $1,350 U.S. and are currently sold out, according to TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter, who added that the UFC informed him that capacity would be limited to 2,000 people with safety and well-being of guests and staff being the top priority. The shows at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi will include Fight Night cards on January 16th and January 20th leading into the UFC 257 card on January 23rd that is headlined by the lightweight fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.

**MMA Junkie was the first to report that a third championship fight is expected at UFC 259 on Saturday, March 6th. Petr Yan will defend the UFC bantamweight title against Aljamain Sterling in Yan’s first defense since winning the vacant title last July. The two were scheduled to fight last month at UFC 256 was but delayed. The UFC 259 card will also feature Jan Blachowicz defending the light heavyweight title against 185-pound champion Israel Adesanya, and a women’s featherweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Megan Anderson.




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About John Pollock 5646 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.