POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: John Cena comments on marquee stars in WWE

John Cena discusses the state of marquee stars in WWE, a look at the careers of David Von Erich & Curt Hennig, Bellator to Showtime & more.

Photo Courtesy: WWE

POST IT NOTES

**We are going to be LIVE tonight with Rewind-A-Dynamite for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café. The show begins at 10:15 pm ET right after AEW Dynamite with our review of the shows, news & notes, and your feedback.

**You can also catch upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman at 10:15 pm ET on Twitch.tv/upNXTpodcast and that podcast will be available here on the site late tonight.

**The February 2021 edition of the ASK-A-WAI Mailbag Show is available now for all Café members. On this month’s show, we had a lot of great questions with Wai and I spending 90 minutes answering them all. Among the topics:
-AEW x NJPW crossovers we’d like to see
-What if EVIL had joined Suzuki-gun?
-Has NXT failed as a developmental brand?
-How we feel about feedback and critiques of our own content
-Expanding POST to cover more than just wrestling
-Okada’s Money Clip
-John’s reading tips
-WWE Hall of Fame in 2021?
-Future of NWA / Nick Aldis
-Thomas the Tank Engine
-On Cinema at the Cinema

**On Thursday night, Phil Chertok is hosting GAME NIGHT on the POST Wrestling Discord beginning at 7 pm ET. It is free to participate and a chance to hang out and meet other POST listeners.

**Wai and I will have a POST Show coming out Thursday for Café members with our thoughts on the two New Japan shows from Hiroshima. There will also be a new British Wrestling Experience coming out with Martin Bushby & Benno being joined by Will Cooling of the Pro Wrestling Torch.

**Nate Milton will be the co-host on Rewind-A-SmackDown this Friday night at 10:15 pm ET with Wai Ting.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-Dynamite (LIVE at 10:15 pm ET for Double Double+ Patrons)
Tonight: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
Thursday: New Beginning in Hiroshima POST Show with John & Wai (Patreon)
Thursday: The British Wrestling Experience w/ guest Will Cooling
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown with Wai Ting & Nate Milton (LIVE at 10:15 pm ET for all Patrons)
Saturday: POST Puroresu with John Pollock & WH Park
Sunday: Rewand-A-Vision – Ep. 6 with Wai Ting & WH Park (Patreon)
Sunday: NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day POST Show with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman

WRESTLING NEWS

**John Cena spoke with Forbes contributor Alfred Konuwa about the current state of WWE and how his own opinions have changed in the past year:

I think it’s bold, it’s forcing people to take chances. Forbes did an article on me back in 2020 where I had said that I don’t believe that WWE will ever have a marquee star. And here we are, less than a year later, and I can blatantly say I was wrong. You wanna talk about being too close to the product? I was just too close. Having seen it, having lived it myself, I should have just realized that the company is in transition. It takes a long time—I would say it’s three-and-a-half years or more—to build a certain talent because I’ve walked in those shoes.

Now you have Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns, Sasha Banks can be in that conversation, but it’s not what I said it was in 2020. It’s not a scattered fragment of Super Friends. WWE has just refocused, re-shifted and now is consolidating on marquee stars. They have their marquee stars, and going forward they will have their big names. As far as those names being larger than life, the enormity of their impact is up to the individuals themselves.

The gist of Cena’s point would be accurate that Reigns and McIntyre have been established at a level above the pack, and Banks can ascend to that level, but I wouldn’t say she is there yet, though Becky Lynch was. The funny part is that WWE is so tied to its guaranteed revenue from its domestic television deals, and now Peacock, that there has never been less reliance on one or two major stars to lead the company in a business sense.

Without live gates, we don’t have that metric to see if any of these names would make an appreciable difference versus a regular average attendance. Television viewership has been bolstered on SmackDown since the return of Reigns in combination with the ThunderDome being introduced last August. That isn’t to say the company should be discouraged from cultivating that breakthrough star that carries business to another level.

UFC is proof positive of the brand drawing strongly but it’s a different level of popularity and revenue when Conor McGregor fights and transcends the sport. Although WWE is out of the pay-per-view business, a breakout star would be a difference-maker for television ratings, merchandise, and overall ability to expand the audience and hopefully, skew younger with a talent that connects at that level.

**Tuesday’s episode of IMPACT averaged 153,000 viewers and a 0.04 in the 18-49 demographic on AXS TV.

**IMPACT is launching a one-hour pre-show called “Before the Impact” premiering Tuesday, February 16th at 7 pm ET. The show will be hosted by Jon Burton with Gia Miller and Josh Mathews and serve as a lead-in for IMPACT on AXS each week. The series will also feature one exclusive match each week.

**On Monday night in Canada, WWE Raw averaged 228,200 viewers on Sportsnet 360.

**Here is the list of advertised matches and segments for tonight’s edition of AEW Dynamite at 8 pm ET:
*Falls Count Anywhere: Kenny Omega & KENTA vs. Jon Moxley & Lance Archer
*TNT Championship: Darby Allin (champion) vs. Joey Janela
*Women’s Eliminator Tournament: Thunder Rosa vs. Leyla Hirsch
*Chris Jericho & MJF vs. The Acclaimed
*Cody Rhodes & Lee Johnson vs. Peter Avalon & Cezar Bononi
*PAC vs. Ryan Nemeth
*Sting appears

**On NXT, the following matches are advertised for the go-home episode prior to Sunday’s TakeOver event:
*KUSHIDA vs. Austin Theory
*Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Finals: MSK vs. Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza
*Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Finals: Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs. Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart
*Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Finals: The Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher

**On Tuesday, Austin Theory posted a video stating that Johnny Gargano will be unable to face KUSHIDA this Sunday at TakeOver: Vengeance Day. The video led to the announcement that Theory and KUSHIDA will have a match tonight on NXT and will follow-up on the story with Gargano’s status for Sunday.

**Here is the line-up for tonight’s episode of MLW Fusion airing at 7 pm ET on Fubo Sports and the MLW YouTube channel:
*MLW Middleweight vs. AAA Cruiserweight Title: Lio Rush vs. Laredo Kid
*Myron Reed & Jordan Oliver vs. Daivari & Simon Gotch
*Calvin Tankman vs. Zenshi
*Brian Pillman Jr. vs. ACH

**New Japan Pro Wrestling holds its second New Beginning card from Hiroshima late tonight at 1 am ET. The show will stream on New Japan World with the following card:
*Double Championship: Kota Ibushi (champion) vs. SANADA
*NEVER Six-Man Championship: Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi (champions) vs. Jay White & Guerrillas of Destiny
*Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano vs. EVIL & Dick Togo
*Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI vs. SHO, Tomoaki Honma & Master Wato
*Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado vs. Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo & Yujiro
*Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & Douki vs. Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura & Gabriel Kidd

**Danny Limelight has announced that he has COVID-19. We wish him a quick and full recovery.

**NBC Universal is looking to hire a manager to oversee the editorial content for the WWE Network on Peacock. The job includes creating and maintain the WWE homepage on the platform, VOD program scheduling, creation of collections, seeking out curation opportunities, expanding long and short-form programming, analyzing the data, and manage live streams of key events throughout the year. Below is a portion of the description:

NBCUniversal is hiring a Manager of Platform Editorial to join a rock-solid team responsible for publishing live streams, curating collections and playlists and identifying high performance highlights from the WWE’s vast and growing library. We are seeking a cool-headed, detail-obsessed operator who is adept at managing the ebb and flow of a massive schedule and extensive video pipeline. The ideal candidate will have demonstrable experience driving engagement with complex marquee events but must also be able curate and promote the content from historical assets and all brands associated to the WWE. This will involve identifying key metadata that can enhance the user experience, building out a WWE hub within the Peacock platform, staying on top of current storylines, and ensuring that every fanatic can find their favorite superstars with ease.

**Pro Wrestling NOAH holds one of its biggest shows in years this Friday as the company returns to Budokan Hall for a show built around nostalgia. The main story on the show is 58-year old Keiji Muto attempting to become the third wrestler to hold the IWGP heavyweight title, All Japan’s Triple Crown, and the GHC championship by challenging Go Shiozaki. In the lead-up, both have scored falls on the other in tag match scenarios. (CORRECTION NOTE: We had originally written that Muto would be the first to hold all three major championships, we apologize for the error).

While the arena has been used in recent years for the G1 finals and will be occupied by both New Japan and Stardom next month, it is most associated with the glory days of All Japan and later, NOAH during its glory years. It represents the first time NOAH has occupied the venue since the retirement of Kenta Kobashi in May 2013. With crowd size limitations, it isn’t the same high bar required in terms of selling tickets but it’s emblematic of NOAH’s peak period in the mid-2000s when they consistently ran the building and typically reserved for one of Kobashi’s big title defenses.

The show will be streaming worldwide on FITE TV and we will have a full review of the show on Saturday’s edition of POST Puroresu with WH Park. Below is the line-up for Friday’s show that streams at 2:30 am ET:
*GHC Heavyweight Championship: Go Shiozaki (champion) vs. Keiji Muto
*GHC National Championship: Kenoh (champion) vs. Masakatsu Funaki
*Naomichi Marufuji & Jun Akiyama vs. Kaito Kiyomiya & Yoshiki Inamura
*GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: Daisuke Harada (champion) vs. Seiki Yoshioka
*GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Championship: Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA vs. Kotaro Suzuki & Ikuto Hidaka
*Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kazunari Murakami, Kendo Kashin & NOSAWA Rongai vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima, Masa Kitamiya, Manabu Soya, Haoh, Nioh & Tadasuke
*Masaaki Mochizuki & Masato Tanaka vs. Mohammed Yone & Shuhei Taniguchi
*Atsushi Kotoge, Junta Miyawaki & Yasutaka Yano vs. Hajime Ohara, YO-HEY & Kai Fujimura
*Kinya Okada & Daiki Inaba vs. Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue

**WWE president and Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan spoke to Alfred Konuwa about the recent deal with Peacock, the utilization of Bad Bunny, the loss of linear viewership along with digital trends they see, and more.

**The WWE stock closed at $46.68 on Wednesday.

**Carlito will be a guest on WWE’s After the Bell Podcast with Corey Graves and Vic Joseph on Thursday.

** On this date in 1984, David Von Erich passed away at the age of 25 while in Japan for a tour with All Japan. Von Erich was expected to be the biggest star of the sons and seemed poised for a future run as the NWA heavyweight champion. He won the NWA’s Missouri Heavyweight title from Ric Flair the previous September, which was a strong sign he was being groomed for a larger run with the main title. Sadly, David’s death would set off a decade of tragedies for the family with his brothers Mike, Chris, and, Kerry dying over the next nine years. His funeral was attended by an estimated 4-5,000 people of which footage was shown during the Dark Side of the Ring episode covering the family.

The episode of World Class Championship Wrestling that served as a tribute to David aired on March 3, 1984 and did a 12 rating on KTVT Channel 11.

In May that year, the David Von Erich Parade of Champions Memorial event drew 32,123 in attendance at Texas Stadium for Kerry Von Erich’s NWA title win over Ric Flair.

The official cause of death listed on David’s report was acute enteritis, although others have disputed that stating drugs may have been involved. The family has always been adamant about the cause of death not being drug-related.

**It was also on this date in 2003 that Curt Hennig died at the age of 44. Hennig was an incredible performer at his peak prior to the back injury in 1991 that sidelined him. Hennig was a rising star that cut his teeth in Portland, and then received a lot of exposure wrestling for the AWA including a famous match for the era with Nick Bockwinkel. With Bockwinkel as champion, they wrestled to a 60-minute draw and it aired on New Year’s Eve in 1986 that led to a rematch in February. Hennig nearly left for the WWF at that time but with the AWA title put on Hennig, he stayed with the group before finally going to the WWF in 1988.

Hennig worked a big program with Hulk Hogan in early 1990 including a Saturday Night’s Main Event match with Perfect & Lanny Poffo vs. Hogan & Ultimate Warrior that did a strong rating. He is most associated with the Intercontinental title that he first won in April 1990 after Warrior vacated it. He was one of Bret Hart’s all-time favorite opponents and they had a legendary match at SummerSlam 1991 when Hennig’s back was destroyed and gutted his way through the match to put Hart over. He returned in the fall of 1992 when the company was low on babyfaces after the departures of Warrior and Davey Boy Smith.

In 1997, he went to WCW and had an ill-fated run where he was not the same performer from his younger days. They did such a great angle where Arn Anderson stepped aside and gave Hennig “his spot” in the Four Horseman, only for Hennig to turn on them at Fall Brawl and join the New World Order where he became another guy in the group. His last great run was in 1999 as part of the West Texas Rednecks that were designed to be Southern heels and were received as babyfaces with their mock song “Rap is Crap” getting legit radio play in the country.

After Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart attempted to get the XWF off the ground in 2001, Hennig was one of the key people involved in the initial tapings and shockingly, WWE scooped him up and added him into the Royal Rumble in 2002 where he was part of the final four until Triple H won the match. After that, he was phased down the card and only managed to work a match on Sunday Night Heat at that year’s WrestleMania in Toronto. He was released in May after he and Brock Lesnar began to wrestle on an airplane during an international tour.

MMA NEWS

**The major news on Tuesday was Bellator’s announcement they are moving to Showtime in April. For the premium network, it represents their return to MMA programming for the first time since the closure of Strikeforce in 2013. Showtime entered the MMA space in early 2007 as the broadcast partner for Elite XC, who held their first event on this exact date in 2007 featuring Renzo Gracie vs. Frank Shamrock, and the more well-remembered fight between Gina Carano and Julie Kedzie, which was a pivotal fight for women’s MMA.

Bellator’s events will air on Friday nights on Showtime and mark the end to their brief stay on the CBS Sports Network, which served as a bridge between the Paramount Network and Showtime. Ratings data was not available for the CBS Sports Network shows and it felt as though Bellator’s profile had lessened after moving there. The move takes them off Thursday nights, which didn’t seem to be a big hit and keeps them off Saturdays, which would have conflicted when Showtime had boxing commitments, and thus, avoids competition from the UFC.

They will run three straight weeks with cards on April 2nd, April 9th, and April 16th. The first week features Patricio “Pitbull” Freire fighting Emmanuel Sanchez in the semi-finals of the Featherweight Grand Prix with Pitbull defending the 145-pound title throughout the tournament. If Pitbull wins, it sets up a big fight with A.J. McKee in the finals later this year.

Bellator is launching an eight-man Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix with two opening-round fights on April 9th and the other two on April 16th. The first two fights see Ryan Bader (who is their current heavyweight champion) fighting Lyoto Machida and Corey Anderson vs. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov, the latter two features Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov vs. Phil Davis, and Yoel Romero vs. Anthony Johnson. The semi-finals are being targeted for July and the finals in October.

They will also run a card on Friday, May 7th with Bellator bantamweight champion Juan Archuleta defending against Sergio Pettis.

Overall, I thought it was a strong day for Bellator to map out most of its year and join a broadcaster with a rich history in combat sports, obvious synergy with Showtime Championship Boxing, and having some big fights to announce out of the gate.

**MMA Fighting was the first to report that the bantamweight fight between Jimmie Rivera and Pedro Munhoz is off this Saturday’s UFC 258 card. The report states that the fight cancelation came after a positive COVID-19 test, although it is not known with whom. MMA Fighting added that the fight is expected to be re-scheduled for an upcoming card, but no date has been finalized. The fight between Andre Ewell and Chris Gutierrez has been added to the pay-per-view main card.

**During his media availability, Bellator president Scott Coker stated they were in talks regarding a new Canadian broadcast partner. Coker said they hope to have a Canadian deal in place by the April shows on Showtime.

**UFC has released Episode 2 and Episode 3 of UFC Embedded going into UFC 258.

**The PFL has released the rosters for its heavyweight and women’s lightweight divisions for the forthcoming season that begins on April 23rd. Below are the rosters:

Heavyweight: Fabricio Werdum, Justin Willis, Bruno Cappelozza, Ante Delija, Renan Ferreira, Ali Isaev, Hatef Moeil, Brandon Sayles, Denis Goltsov, and Mohammed Usman

Women’s Lightweight: Kayla Harrison, Cindy Dandois, Genah Fabian, Olena Kolesnyk, Julija Pajic, Laura Sanchez, Larissa Pacheco, and Mariana Morais.

**Titan FC has a card this Friday night at 7 pm ET on Fight Pass headlined by Landon Quinones and Nick Novelli for the promotion’s vacant lightweight title. Later that night at 9 pm, Fight Pass will be streaming the LFA card featuring Myron Dennis vs. Fabio Cherant for the vacant LFA light heavyweight title.

**The PFL has named Jon Tuck as its news Chief Revenue Officer to look after global sponsorship, media sales, and licensing. Tuck worked at Sports Illustrated for over four years and became its VP of Sales in 2015, and worked for NASCAR as its Chief Revenue Officer until February of last year.

FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Anthony Smith vs. Jimmy Crute at UFC Fight Night on April 24 (ESPN)

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About John Pollock 5564 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.