POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: McGregor vs. Poirier, Drew McIntyre returns

McGregor vs. Poirier, Drew McIntyre returns at taping, Roman Reigns on empty arena shows & UFC releases fighter after breaking protocol.

Photo courtesy: UFC

POST IT NOTES

**Wai Ting and I are back with a live edition of Rewind-A-SmackDown at 10:15 pm ET for all POST Wrestling Café members. We will catch up on the latest news and review Friday Night SmackDown while opening the show up for calls at the end. The show will be available to download late tonight afterward if you are a Café member.

**On Saturday night, immediately following the main event, Phil Chertok and I will have the UFC 257 POST Show at YouTube.com/POSTwrestling. During the card, we will be in the POST Wrestling Discord chat discussing the fights and interacting with everyone.

**On Sunday, two releases are coming on the POST Wrestling Café as we have a new edition of Total Recall with Wai Ting & Pauline and Rewand-A-Vision with Wai & WH Park discussing episode three on Disney+.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown (LIVE at 10:15 pm ET for Café members)
Saturday: The Rocky Maivia Picture Show with Nate Milton & guests Joey Lewandowski and Joe Two (FURIOUS 7)
Saturday: UFC 257 POST Show with John Pollock & Phil Chertok (LIVE at YouTube.com/POSTwrestling)
Sunday: Total Recall with Wai Ting & Pauline (Patreon)
Sunday: Rewand-A-Vision with Wai & WH Park (Patreon)

WRESTLING NEWS

**WWE taped the Superstar Spectacle today at the ThunderDome and will be broadcast Tuesday at 9:30 am ET on the WWE Network as well as live in India on Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 3 & Sony MAX. One of the major news notes from the show is that Drew McIntyre returned and wrestled on the show, as advertised. It was the WWE champion’s first show back since the news of contracting COVID-19 and led to him missing two episodes of RAW. He is also advertised to appear on Monday’s edition of RAW for a segment with Bill Goldberg on the go-home RAW before the Royal Rumble. The following matches were taped for Tuesday’s special, according to ITN WWE:
*Finn Balor vs. Guru Raaj
*Rey Mysterio, Ricochet, Giant Zanjeer & Dilsher Shanky vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro, King Corbin & Dolph Ziggler
*AJ Styles vs. Jeet Rama
*Bayley & Natalya vs. Charlotte Flair & Sareena Sandhu
*Drew McIntyre & Indus Sher vs. Jinder Mahal & The Bollywood Boyz (Mahal’s first match since May 2020)

**On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that NBC Universal will be shutting down the NBCSN sports network at the end of 2021 and moving several sports properties to the USA Network prior to the network being shut down. The key ones are the NHL, NASCAR and Premier League soccer, which the Wall Street Journal reports will begin to transition to the USA Network in 2021.

**Friday Night SmackDown is coming off a good number last week, its best since November excluding Christmas with the NFL lead-in. The following has been announced for tonight’s show at 8 pm on FOX:
*WWE Intercontinental Championship: Big E. (champion) vs. Apollo Crews
*Obstacle Course with Bayley and Bianca Belair

**The following matches will be airing on 205 Live tonight at 10 pm ET as part of the men’s and women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic:
*Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher vs. Tony Nese & Ariya Daivari
*Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs. Gigi Dolin & Cora Jade

**Here are the matches for NJPW Strong streaming at 10 pm ET on New Japan World tonight:
*Bateman vs. Ren Narita
*Brody King vs. JR Kratos
*Logan & Sterling Riegel vs. Jordan Clearwater & Kevin Knight

**NJPW has three consecutive shows beginning Saturday with the Road to New Beginning tour and all three airing on New Japan World. Saturday’s card from Ota Ward Gymnasium streams at 3 am ET with the following:
*IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado (champions) vs. El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori
*Elimination Match: Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, SHO, Tomoaki Honma & Master Wato vs. Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA & BUSHI
*Will Ospreay & The Great O-Khan vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
*Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi vs. EVIL, Yujiro & Dick Togo
*Minoru Suzuki & Douki vs. Gedo & Jado

**Ryan Satin interviewed Roman Reigns for FOX Sports discussing his heel turn, a scenario of facing The Rock in two years at WrestleMania, and discussed his takeaways seeing the empty arena shows while he was at home this past year:

Yeah, I watched a couple of the shows. I did not follow it thoroughly. I tried to use as much of the time to be with my family and just really focus in and be present here at home, but on a few of the shows that I saw, I was just like, “Man, this is trash.” Like, you know what I mean?

And that’s me, from the very top, thinking this because I always want to be way better than everybody else. This is no disrespect to what they were doing. They were busting their ass working really hard.

But, for me, I was like, “Man, I just know when it’s time to pull my trigger, I know exactly what I want to do. I know exactly the kind of stories I want to tell and the different tools I want to utilize in order to connect with our crowd, our audience that’s watching at home.”

But, I knew it was all based off of emotion. I knew I had to be emotionally connected to what I was doing to be able to wear the skin of the character that I’m trying to convey to our audience. So, that was the most important thing is that I could completely focus in and concentrate 100% on what I was trying to do and the emotions that I was trying to convey throughout my narratives.

**Pro Wrestling NOAH has revealed that Hajime Ohara recently tested positive for COVID-19 and will be removed from the card on Saturday in Osaka. In the release, it stated he has yet to show symptoms such a fever or his physical condition being affected.

**The NFL has announced that 22,000 fans will attend the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 7th. The game takes place from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the same venue WWE will run on consecutive nights for WrestleMania in April. The NFL will open the stadium for 14,500 fans along with 7,500 vaccinated health care workers to make up that figure. WWE has been non-committal regarding their capacity for WrestleMania other than stating they plan to have fans attend the two-night event.

**The WWE stock rose by 5.5 percent on Friday closing at $55.52.

**AEW has added a match between Hangman Page and Ryan Nemeth for next week’s edition of Dynamite and a match between Dr. Britt Baker and Shanna. The updated line-up for next week’s show includes The Young Bucks & The Good Brothers vs. Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, John Silver & Alex Reynolds, Lance Archer vs. Eddie Kingston, Chris Jericho & MJF vs. Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison, and Dax Harwood vs. Jungle Boy. The show was taped this week with AEW returning to Daily’s Place on February 3rd for Beach Break.

**Pat Laprade has a review in advance of the WWE Network’s release of its Pat Patterson documentary this Sunday.

**Jimmy Korderas of Aftermath TV spoke with Sunil & Samir Singh to promote the Superstar Spectacle airing next Tuesday, the popularity of wrestling in India, and further expanding into the country. They heaped a lot of praise on Shawn Michaels as a coach assisting in their progress.

**IMPACT has added a non-title match between TJP and Rohit Raju for next Tuesday’s episode on AXS TV.

**WWE’s Tucker (Levi Cooper) spoke with the White Mountain Independent about his time wrestling at Arizona State University and why he chose to continue his path and sign with WWE.

**Pro Wrestling NOAH is running Osaka on Saturday headlined by a six-man tag with Go Shiozaki, Naomichi Marufuji & Takashi Sugiura against Kaito Kiyomiya, Yoshiki Inamura & Kinya Okada, along with GHC National Champion Kenoh defending against Kazunari Murakami. The title match comes after Murakami choked out Kenoh earlier this month during a six-man tag at Korakuen Hall.

**All Japan is running Korakuen Hall this Sunday featuring Suwama’s latest Triple Crown defense that was set-up earlier this month after he defeated Yuma Aoyagi. The card will be available at AJPW.tv and below is the line-up:
*Triple Crown: Suwama (champion) vs. Shotaro Ashino
*AJPW Junior Heavyweight Championship: Koji Iwamoto (champion) vs. Fuminori Abe
*Kento Miyahara, Yuma Aoyagi, Atsuki Aoyagi & Rising Hayato vs. Kuma Arashi, Koji Doi, Yusuke Kodama & Hokuto Omori
*GAORA Television Title: Jun Kasai (champion) vs. Black Menso-re
*Shuji Ishikawa, Kohei Sato & Ryuki Honda vs. Yoshitatsu, Ryoji Sai & Chikara
*Zeus, Izanagi & Utamaro vs. Jake Lee, Tajiri & Francesco Akira
*Takao Omori, Alejandro & Carbell Ito vs. Hikaru Sato, Dan Tamura & Rambo Kawamura

**This weekend’s edition of Ring of Honor will feature the following matches:
*Jonathan Gresham, Jay Lethal & Tracy Williams vs. Shane Taylor & Soldiers of Savagery
*Dalton Castle vs. Josh Woods in a Pure Rules Match

**Next weekend’s episode of ROH will include a Pure Title Match between champion Jonathan Gresham and Dojo student Joe Keys.

MMA NEWS

At worst, Saturday’s fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will be among the most purchased fights of 2021. With the potential for multiple fights from McGregor, there could be much larger ones but that was assumed one year ago when he fought Donald Cerrone. This fight got a great window of promotion through ABC last weekend and comes with several factors that should lead to this show performing very well.

Last year’s fight in January between McGregor and Cerrone did 1.3 million buys and that was before ESPN+ exploded with its subscriber base throughout the pandemic. The company announced 10.3 million subscribers in their Q4 report for 2020 compared with 6.6 in Q1 when McGregor fought. They have also increased the price of a UFC pay-per-view beginning with this card as the new fee of $69.99 per show is introduced along with the $5 monthly subscriber rate. While the price increase could have some effect on lesser shows, I don’t foresee it hindering this one.

As for the fight, it’s more than six years removed from their last one at UFC 178 when they competed at featherweight. It was a one-sided performance by McGregor and a master class in mental warfare in the lead-up resulting in Poirier angry throughout the week and admittedly let the trash talk affect him. The loss probably sped up Poirier’s decision to return to lightweight in his next fight where he has flourished and was insane that either of these men fought at 145 pounds for the length they did.

McGregor’s problems have come from wrestlers, primarily against Khabib Nurmagomedov but also the opening round with Chad Mendes in July 2015. The other factor was his conditioning competing at welterweight against Nate Diaz in March 2016. At lightweight, McGregor has looked his best and gave Nurmagomedov one of the most competitive rounds of his career at UFC 229 in October 2018. If this fight remains on the feet, McGregor’s stock will be high in that opening five minutes and one would be surprised to see any takedown attempts from Poirier, at least early. As a pure striker, this is a big edge for McGregor with precision accuracy but the power that accompanies it makes him so dangerous standing opposite Poirier. Poirier is a much better fighter since the last one, but I envision this fight coming down to striking and favor McGregor.

Beyond Saturday, the lightweight division could be the marquee division of the year. If McGregor wins, it creates lots of scenarios. The idea of McGregor fighting Nurmagomedov seems low today based on Nurmagomedov’s attitude publicly this week and not many people putting substance behind Dana White’s interpretation of their meeting. If the Nurmagomedov fight is off the table, does that incentivize McGregor to seek the largest payday available with Manny Pacquiao, or is he content to go for the lightweight next against Charles Oliveira, or the winner of Dan Hooker vs. Michael Chandler? It depends on McGregor’s mindset as the man stated this week to ESPN, wins and losses do not matter to him and it’s building a legacy and memorable moments. You cannot guarantee anything with McGregor as the goalposts change for every fight regarding the circumstances but he’s saying all the right things this week to lead his fanbase to believe he’ll have a steady stream of fights in the UFC. All that is moot if Poirier wins and drastically changes the outlook of the division.

**One of the craziest stories in recent memory has resulted in the UFC cutting ties with Ottman Azaitar, who was removed from UFC 257 on Friday due to “a recent violation of the health and safety protocols”. UFC president Dana White spoke to the media Friday and confirmed Azaitar’s release after the fighter and his team allegedly cut their wristbands and gave them to those outside of the safe zone in Abu Dhabi, allowing them to get through security. Azaitar had been scheduled to fight on the pay-per-view main card against Matt Frevola, he is undefeated with two wins in the UFC since debuting at UFC 242 in September 2019.

**It was first reported by RT News in Russia that Fedor Emelianenko had been hospitalized after contracting COVID-19. There are few details available, but the fighter issued the following statement after the news was reported:

Thank you to everyone who is truly worried about my health. I have a good feeling right now, I’m getting better. Thankful to doctors and medical staff for caring and hard work.

The 44-year old last fought in December 2019 for Bellator where he defeated Quinton Jackson by TKO in Japan. He has gone 3-2 since joining Bellator in 2017.

**MMA Junkie’s John Morgan asked Conor McGregor about the lawsuit filed against the fighter this week by an unnamed woman in Ireland. McGregor responded with the following answer:

You know, it’s old news. It was investigated thoroughly over the course of two long years and I was cleared of any wrongdoing, and that’s it. I have so much positivity in my life, I’ve got a great challenge ahead of me on Saturday and I’m excited to get it. I put in an immense amount of work to get my frame correct at 155. I want to answer questions here and I hope that Dustin (Poirier) can bring it to me, and we can have a good fight.

**Conor McGregor told Stephen A. Smith that he has four fights remaining on his existing deal with the UFC. He added that his hope is to fight seven times in the next 18 months, which sounds lofty to say the least.

**Nasrat Haqparast is off UFC 257 after withdrawing due to an undisclosed illness. His opponent Arman Tsarukyan missed weight by one pound but will still fight on the card against Matt Frevola, who was left without an opponent due to Ottman Azaitar’s removal. Frevola and Tsarukyan will fight at a catchweight of 157 pounds with the latter fined 20 percent of his purse due to missing weight.

**Below is the updated card for UFC 257 on Saturday night including results from Friday’s weigh-in:

MAIN CARD (10 pm ET on pay-per-view)
*Dustin Poirier (156) vs. Conor McGregor (155)
*Michael Chandler (156) vs. Dan Hooker (156)
*Jessica Eye (126) vs. Joanne Calderwood (126)
*Andrew Sanchez (186) vs. Makhmud Muradov (186)
*Amanda Ribas (116) vs. Marina Rodriguez (116)

PRELIMINARY CARD (8 pm on ESPN, ESPN+, TSN 1 & 5 in Canada)
*Matt Frevola (155.5) vs. Armen Tsarukyan (157*)
*Brad Tavares (185.5) vs. Antonio Carlos Junior (185)
*Sara McMann (135) vs. Julianna Pena (136)
*Khalil Rountree, Jr. (206) vs. Marcin Prachnio (206)

EARLY PRELIMS (7 pm)
*Nik Lentz (150) vs. Movsar Evloev (150)
*Amir Albazi (126) vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov (126)

**Episode 5 of UFC Embedded going into UFC 257 Saturday night.

**TSN 5 will be airing eight hours of UFC programming leading up to the UFC 257 prelims on Saturday at 8 pm ET. Their programming block begins at Noon with the Countdown to UFC 257 followed by the re-airing of classic fights involving Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier from 1 pm to 7.

**Here are the results from Friday’s ONE Championship at Singapore Indoor Stadium:
*Shinya Aoki def. James Nakashima by rear-naked choke at 2:42 of Round 1
*Gadzhimurad Abdulaev def. Zebaztian Kadestam by submission at 2:08 of Round 1
*Meng Bo def. Samara Santos by unanimous decision
*Lito Adiwang def. Namiki Kawahara by KO at 2:02 of Round 2

ON THIS DATE

 

*****
THE WELLNESS POLICY #1: Debut
Join Wai Ting, Jordan Goodman, and members of the POST Wrestling Café for the debut episode of The Wellness Policy, a new monthly community-based podcast discussing topics such as mental wellness, creativity, entrepreneurship and culture.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2021/01/21/the-wellness-policy-1-debut/
*****
upNXT 1/20/21: Fight Pit II
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the January 20th edition of WWE NXT featuring Tommaso Ciampa vs Timothy Thatcher in… The Fight Pit!
https://www.postwrestling.com/2021/01/21/upnxt-1-20-21-fight-pit-ii/
*****
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE 1/20/21: Sammy Hager, -1’s Birthday
John Pollock and Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite featuring an Inner Circle three-way tag, plus all the news from the day including a lawsuit against Conor McGregor and RAW ratings
https://www.postwrestling.com/2021/01/21/rewind-a-dynamite-1-20-21-sammy-hager-1s-birthday/
*****
SHOT IN THE DARK 1/20/21: Dusty Classic, WALTER vs. A-Kid
John Siino reviews this week’s editions of AEW Dark, 205 Live, NXT UK, NJPW Strong, Ring of Honor and Main Event in under 15 minutes on Shot In The Dark.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2021/01/20/shot-in-the-dark-1-20-21-dusty-classic-contd-walter-vs-a-kid/
*****
DEEP IMPACT 1/19/21: TK’s Private Party
Davie Portman is joined by Andrew Thompson to review IMPACT Wrestling from January 19th, 2021 headlined by AEW’s Private Party taking on Chris Sabin & James Storm in a Number 1 Contenders Match for the IMPACT Tag Team Championship.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2021/01/20/deep-impact-1-19-21-tks-private-party/
*****
REWIND-A-WAI #78: Stone Cold Podcast – Vince McMahon
John Pollock and Wai Ting discuss WWE Network’s Stone Cold Podcast interview with Vince McMahon from December 1st, 2014.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2021/01/19/rewind-a-wai-78-stone-cold-podcast-vince-mcmahon/
*****

Browse the POST Wrestling Store
https://store.postwrestling.com

Subscribe to POST Wrestling
https://postwrestling.com/subscribe

POST Wrestling Forum
https://forum.postwrestling.com

Support our Patreon – The POST Wrestling Café
http://www.patreon.com/POSTwrestling

Follow us
Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

About John Pollock 2303 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling.He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.