POST IT NOTES
**We are live with Rewind-A-SmackDown at 10:15 p.m. ET tonight chatting Friday Night SmackDown from Cleveland and the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami. We will also be taking your calls after a super-busy week. There will be live access for all members of the POST Wrestling Café.
**Wai Ting filled in for me on POST Puroresu with WH Park this week. They have a great show discussing all the New Japan woes, their insane Summer Struggle schedule, G1 Climax dates, and a preview of Wrestle Grand Slam. Plus, a preview of the 5Star Grand Prix that begins next week, the pending retirement of Masato Yoshino, and the latest in All Japan, NOAH, and more.
**John Siino will have coverage of the GCW Homecoming events this weekend for the site.
**On Sunday, Wai & I will have a POST Show covering the NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam card from the Tokyo Dome. This show will be available for all members of the POST Wrestling Café. Mark Buckeldee will also have a report on the site with his review of the event.
CM PUNK AND BRYAN DANIELSON
The major stories of the week concern the futures of CM Punk (Phil Brooks) and Bryan Danielson and the potential of both debuting for AEW.
Sean Ross Sapp at Fightful Select reported that Punk was in talks for an in-ring return with AEW as the leading candidate, although noted there was no confirmation of a signed contract or start date.
Cassidy Haynes at Bodyslam.net reported Wednesday that a source confirmed that Danielson is “locked-in” and has signed with AEW. Haynes further reported that Danielson is expected to debut on September 22nd at Arthur Ashe Stadium with negotiations beginning over the past few weeks. We have not been able to confirm this report but is worth noting that neither story has been denied publicly by AEW or the individuals.
The addition of both would be significant on many levels and arguably be the largest signings in their history even ahead of Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho in terms of worldwide star power.
Punk is 42 years old and 7 ½ years removed from his exit from WWE after the Royal Rumble in 2014. There has been an evolution to Punk’s stance on pro wrestling, at one time his passion seemed extinguished in the years that followed his departure. In July 2019, he spoke with Marc Raimondi of ESPN and indicated that part of his life was done:
I’m not that dude that sat down on a stage in Vegas eight years ago. I’m not the dude that left WWE. I’m not that guy. That was five-years-ago Phil. I’m a different dude now. People still have that connotation, like, “Oh, he hates WWE.” And it’s just like, no, I’ve let all that go, and I’ve let all that go so long ago. But there are people that hold on to that. They still think or want me to be who I was. I’m not who I was yesterday. This is my journey, this is my odyssey.
However, he dipped his toe back when accepting a job with Fox to appear on the WWE Backstage program as a member of the panel. In interviews, it’s appeared the door was not closed, and he would be motivated by a great idea, great opponents, and of course, being financially rewarding.
WWE was always going to be a tough environment to imagine him returning to, given the lawsuit with Dr. Chris Amann and how difficult that would be to reconcile and compartmentalize. That said, almost everyone that has feuded with the company has gone back and there is no such thing as shocking reunions after seeing Bruno Sammartino, Jesse Ventura, and Bret Hart return.
It was pointed out by Benno this week that Punk did a Twitter Q&A in February and was asked about who he would want to work with at AEW and listed Powerhouse Hobbs, Jungle Boy, Ricky Starks, Darby Allin, and Brian Pillman Jr. It was a sign he was following the product given these are performers he never would have been around and it’s not hard to imagine someone of Punk’s history getting back into wrestling through the AEW product.
If Punk signs, there is no shortage of opponents and scenarios for him even on a limited basis as a special attraction. The introduction of Punk would be the greatest test of how AEW values its television commitments and pay-per-view model. There is the argument that you could promote him in advance because yes, the surprise pop would be gigantic but so would the reaction if he walked out in Chicago after being advertised. He could come out at the end of Rampage on September 4th in Chicago and then speak at the pay-per-view the next night, or just be advertised at the pay-per-view. The timing of that week with three shows in Chicago is too perfect and this speculation should motivate people to buy tickets for Dynamite and Rampage, so this news getting out should be of value to AEW versus the paranoia about secrecy that so many companies are inherently built on.
For Danielson, it may come as more surprising than Punk but not stunning either. It is a fascinating case if Danielson is signed and whether he ever goes in-depth on the decision to leave WWE. He is 40 years old and one has to assume that creative fulfillment is a major priority to extend a career that he thought was over in 2016.
Danielson had first-hand knowledge of the grind the creative team goes through at WWE and was also someone that Vince McMahon had great respect for.
In the case of Punk and Danielson, I don’t think finances motivate their decision-making. Don’t get me wrong, it always plays a factor especially for Danielson with a family but these two fueled their careers through a clear passion for the business. That passion brought them up through the independents and where most look at that stage as a means to an end, Punk has called those simpler times the best time of his career, and Danielson was actually excited when he was fired in 2010 to return to the indies and would have been happy doing them forever. That’s a rare breed but it’s changing. Today, there is a generation of talent learning that WWE doesn’t make a career and there is a certain acceptance of their product and what you’re mortgaging to be part of the machine.
Thus, AEW has found a hole in the system they are exploiting not just with fan dissatisfaction of the WWE but also of worker dissatisfaction or finding creative fulfillment is worth more than the largest stage.
Danielson had a great relationship with the company, was a fairly protected star, and had a great position. If Danielson’s decision-making came down to factors such as New Japan and more freedom, that’s an issue WWE cannot compete with under their business strategy of a closed-door policy. There aren’t too many people that would die on that hill but I’m curious if that is changing and more performers taking personal freedom, abilities to monetize Twitch and Cameo, and make a comfortable living without the grind and control exuded by WWE.
Money is always going to be a massive influence on talent and that’s been the advantage WWE has held. However, talent has seen firsthand the negative of all those big contracts that were handed out when AEW was getting ready to start, and having a big price tag comes with a big target when cuts are being made.
It sets the stage for September to be one of, if not the, most important months in AEW’s history. If they secure Danielson and/or Punk and make a major splash in New York from a media and perception standpoint coupled with the momentum Dynamite is running with and the launch of Rampage, there is a major leap to be taken this fall.
**Here are the matches for Friday Night SmackDown tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. There will be matches from the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami as well as in Cleveland, Ohio at the Rocket Mortgage Center:
*SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair (champion) vs. Carmella
*Apollo Crews vs. Big E.
*John Cena appears
*Toni Storm debuts
**The Summer Olympic Games begin today and run through August 8th. It will be evident over the next week what impact the games have on pro wrestling programming. During the last summer games in 2016, coverage of the Olympics did 28.8 and 24.2 million on the two Mondays with Raw averaging 2,906,500 those two weeks and 3,234,000 (11%) the previous four weeks without Olympic competition.
SmackDown averaged 2,463,000 over the two episodes in 2016 against the Rio games. In the four episodes following the games, SmackDown averaged 2,665,000.
That said, the games in 2016 were in Rio de Janeiro and had a more advantageous time zone than Tokyo so it remains to be seen how well the games perform in prime time in the U.S.
**Konnan shared a story on his podcast about asking Tony Khan if he signed Bryan Danielson. Konnan asked Khan because he wants to book Danielson for AAA and Khan responded, “you know I can’t tell you that”. Konnan followed by telling him if Danielson showed up in Chicago “the place would melt” and Khan just smiled but he has no confirmation Danielson has signed with AEW.
**In the AEW Fyter Fest quarter-hours reported by Brandon Thurston, the peak segment for overall viewers was in the first hour. The 8:30 – 8:45 p.m. ET quarter featuring the end of Doc Gallows vs. Frankie Kazarian, Kenny Omega & Hangman Page promo, Brian Cage & Team Taz, and the start of Darby Allin vs. Wheeler Yuta averaged 1,197,000 viewers. In 18-49, the main event between Jon Moxley and Lance Archer was the top quarter with 612,000 viewers in the demo.
For the NXT quarter-hours Thurston posted, the top segment was 9 – 9:15 p.m. ET for the final six minutes of Kyle O’Reilly vs. Austin Theory, Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai’s promo, and Hit Row confronting Legado del Fantasma with 757,000 viewers. In 18-49, the opening quarter was the peak with 297,000 viewers with the recap of Karrion Kross vs. Samoa Joe and KUSHIDA & Bobby Fish vs. Roderick Strong & Tyler Rust.
**Brandon Thurston at Wrestlenomics studied the YouTube views of all non-WWE promotions going back to 2019. For the first six months of 2021, AEW leads with 179.4 million with IMPACT at 146.4, and Beyond Wrestling (who have been at the forefront when it comes to viral wrestling content) at 100 million views. A few observations:
*Several companies grew in views in 2020 even though new content was limited due to the lack of shows. Stardom exploded in 2020 going from 3.4 million views in 2019 to 33.9 in 2020 and are on pace to blow past that number in 2021.
*New Japan, ROH, and IMPACT all had higher numbers in 2020, although IMPACT is way down this year going from 482.7 million in 2020 and are only at 146.4 after six months in 2021 despite the company having more buzz this year with the inclusion of Kenny Omega and a relationship with AEW.
*AEW is on pace to be nearly identical to last year’s figure of 369.9 million views as they stood at 179.4 at the end of June 2021. They do not have the YouTube presence that WWE does, which is a monster in this field. However, with all the potential news and big events, AEW has planned, you could theorize that AEW is going to have a hot second half of 2021 and with the infrastructure that should translate to people seeking clips of the product.
*I’m very impressed with Beyond Wrestling’s performance in 2020 as they had to rely on their library, although in 2021 they are way down. For your interest, Beyond’s most-watched video is a 2013 match between Chris Dickinson and Addy Starr that has 233 million views. In fact, their top 23 videos are intergender matches, so that speaks volumes to the success on YouTube and what audiences find in mass numbers. The highest performing non-intergender match is a match between LuFisto and Jordynne Grace that has 9.2 million views from 2016.
*AEW’s most-viewed performers on YouTube are Orange Cassidy (five of the top nine videos, the top one is a fan dressed as Cassidy wrestling Cody Rhodes that has 34 million views), and Jon Moxley (six of the top twelve videos).
*For Ring of Honor, it’s a similar trend where their top five videos of all-time are Women of Honor matches ranging from 6.2 to 31 million views per video.
*Both New Japan’s Japanese and English channels are down this year and that’s one that I strictly attribute to the popularity decline as they’ve run a full schedule in 2021 but have been greatly hurt momentum-wise by the effects of the pandemic.
*MLW grew from 5.1 to 5.9 million in 2020 and a lot of that was reliance on its old library from the original run of MLW and should have a record year this year as they are listed at 4.6 million as of June.
*The NWA has fallen off for obvious reasons with the switch in Powerrr airing on YouTube to FITE TV. They had 6.9 and 6.6 million views in 2019 and 2020 respectively and are down to 1.2 million after six months in 2021. It’s the trade-off of working with YouTube where it may not be financially viable but it’s the largest forum to gain general interest and buzz whereas FITE TV is a strategy of hoping that the loss in numbers is compensated by the amount willing to spend money to see the show.
*All the non-WWE promotions totaled 1.54 billion views in 2020 compared to WWE with 14.96 billion. For the first six months of 2021, WWE is at 6.95 billion while non-WWE promotions have a combined 550 million, so WWE is on pace to be slightly below its 2020 figures but non-WWE consumption is way down, which is largely due to IMPACT and Beyond’s numbers decreasing significantly.
**Alfred Konuwa spoke with SmackDown Women’s Champion Bianca Belair for Forbes about performing at Rolling Loud tonight:
One of my main goals, even when I first arrived in NXT/WWE, was to bring as many eyes to the product as possible and bring more eyes in the urban market, the hip-hop market. I want to bring more eyes to the product, and that’s what we’re going to get to do at Rolling Loud. I go out there with my baby hairs, and my bamboo earrings, I love to bop around so I hope I’m received well because I’m gonna feel like I’m at home. I hope they receive me like I’m coming to the cookout and they’re giving me the invite to come in.
**On Saturday, WWE will host its first house show since March 7, 2020. The dual-brand “Supershow” takes place from the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with John Cena, Roman Reigns, Bobby Lashley, Bianca Belair, Drew McIntyre, Rey & Dominik Mysterio, and AJ Styles among those advertised. On Sunday, they are running a “Supershow” at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
**Here are the matches for tonight’s edition of NJPW Strong streaming at 10 p.m. ET on New Japan World:
*NJPW Strong Openweight Championship: Tom Lawlor (champion) vs. Satoshi Kojima
*Tag Team Turbulence Semi-Finals: Brody King & Chris Dickinson vs. Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson
*Tag Team Turbulence Semi-Finals: Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Yuji Nagata & Ren Narita
**New Japan’s Summer Struggle tour continues Saturday at the Dolphins Arena in Nagoya, which is a big building. The show will stream on New Japan World at 4 a.m. ET with the following card:
*Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. KENTA – If Kota Ibushi can’t go on Sunday, it would make the most booking sense for Tanahashi to win this match and take the spot against Shingo Takagi following his win this past January for the NEVER Openweight title
*Tomohiro Ishii vs. EVIL
*Shingo Takagi & BUSHI vs. Master Wato & Tomoaki Honma (replacing Ibushi)
*Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano vs. Jeff Cobb & Great O-Khan
*El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori, Yujiro & Jado vs. Hirooki Goto, Ryusuke Taguchi, Rocky Romero & YOSHI-HASHI
*El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI vs. Robbie Eagles, YOH & SHO
**The Wrestle Grand Slam card begins Sunday morning at 3 a.m. ET. The company has not issued an update regarding Kota Ibushi after being removed from the cards in Osaka and Nagoya due to aspiration pneumonia that he’s dealing with.
**MLW will be airing the Battle Riot III match on Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET on beIN Sports and its YouTube channel. The match was taped earlier this month at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia in front of fans.
**GCW has a big weekend with their ‘Homecoming’ shows from Atlantic City, New Jersey featuring the long-awaited Nick Gage vs. Matt Cardona match taking place on Saturday. The shows take place from The Showboat on Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. ET on FITE TV. Below is the line-up for Saturday:
*GCW World Championship: Nick Gage (champion) vs. Matt Cardona
*GCW Ultraviolent Championship: Alex Colon (champion) vs. Drew Parker
*GCW Tag Team Championship: Jimmy Lloyd & G-Raver vs. Mance Warner & Matthew Justice
*2 Cold Scorpio vs. Grim Reefer
*Marko Stunt vs. Starboy Charlie
*Tony Deppen vs. Ninja Mack
*AJ Gray vs. Nolan Edward
*Atticus Cogar vs. Jordan Oliver vs. Shane Mercer vs. Dante Leon vs. Brayden Lee vs. Jack Cartwheel
**CHCH is reporting that Jacob Miranda of Hamilton, Ontario has been arrested and facing two counts of fraud over $5,000 and one count each of fraud under $5,000 and failure to comply with probation. Hamilton is accused of running a pro wrestling memorabilia scam with victims outside of Canada and was arrested this past Monday. He was previously convicted in 2012 on 27 charges of fraud for concert and sporting tickers and served 18 months in jail beginning in 2015 for selling fraudulent concert tickets.
**This will make your day and credit to the caller for stretching this to five minutes.
**On Friday, Tokyo confirmed 1,359 new COVID-19 cases. Over the past week, Tokyo has averaged 1,386 new cases per day.
**WWE has posted a behind-the-scenes video following Finn Balor prior to his appearance on Friday Night SmackDown last week.
**WWE is advertising Bill Goldberg for the August 2nd edition of Raw from the Allstate Arena in Chicago and August 16th from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
**The WWE stock closed at $49.02 on Friday.
**Game Changer Wrestling have added Super Crazy for their shows in Chicago on September 3rd and 4th at the Grand Sports Arena and streaming on FITE TV. They have also announced Alex Shelley for the September 3rd show.
**The major story for the UFC Fight Night card on Saturday is the return of T.J. Dillashaw (16-4) after a two-year sanction issued by USADA and vacated the UFC bantamweight title. He is coming back at the age of 35 with a lot to prove and is getting a top-level opponent in Cory Sandhagen (14-2). The two previously trained together, so there is a history between them. Sandhagen is coming off a strong contender for knockout of the year against Frankie Edgar and the winner of this fight should be in line to fight for the championship, although that is complicated with Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan yet to have a date announced for when they fight to have their rematch, which seems like the obvious rematch to make before anyone jumps past Yan.
It’s a very good Fight Night card airing on ESPN and ESPN+ with the following fights and weigh-in results:
MAIN CARD (7 p.m. ET on ESPN, ESPN+)
*Cory Sandhagen (136) vs. T.J. Dillashaw (136)
*Kyler Phillips (135.5) vs. Raulian Paiva (135.5)
*Darren Elkins (146) vs. Darrick Minner (145.5)
*Maycee Barber (125.5) vs. Miranda Maverick (125.5)
*Adrian Yanez (135.5) vs. Randy Costa (135)
PRELIMINARY CARD (4 p.m. ET on ESPN, ESPN+)
*Brendan Allen (185.5) vs. Punahele Soriano (185.5)
*Nassourdine Imavov (185.5) vs. Ian Heinisch (185.5)
*Mickey Gall (169.5) vs. Jordan Williams (170.5)
*Andre Ewell (135) vs. Julio Arce (135.5)
*Sijara Eubanks (125) vs. Elise Reed (125)
*Hannah Goldy (115.5) vs. Diana Belbita (114.5)
**The UFC card lost an intriguing women’s bantamweight fight between Aspen Ladd (9-1) and Macy Chiasson (7-1). The fight was called off due to an injury with MMA Junkie reporting that Chiasson sustained the injury. Ladd had been in title contention after winning her first three UFC fights before a setback losing to Germaine de Randamie by TKO in 2019 but bounced back in December that year with a win against Yana Kuniskaya. Ladd did not fight in 2020. Chiasson was coming off back-to-back wins against Shanna Young and Marion Reneau.
**BKFC (Bare-Knuckle Fighting Championship) has a card tonight at 8 p.m. ET headlined by its biggest star Paige VanZant taking on Rachael Ostovich. VanZant made her BKFC debut this past February losing to Britain Hart by unanimous decision. VanZant and Ostovich previously fought in January 2019 for the UFC where VanZant won by submission (coincidentally, on the same card where T.J. Dillashaw last fought and returns this weekend).
ON THIS DATE
The WWF and MTV promoted The Brawl to End it All at Madison Square Garden featuring Wendi Richter defeating The Fabulous Moolah to win the Women’s Championship along with Hulk Hogan vs. Greg Valentine and a battle royal won by Antonio Inoki. The show did a 9.0 rating on MTV, which was outstanding. The Garden didn’t sell out with 15,000 as the reported attendance and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter noting it was the WWF’s lowest attendance of the year at the arena. As a live event, The War to Settle the Score the following February with Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper was much stronger and drew a sell-out while the television audience was nearly similar with a 9.1.
Mitsuharu Misawa defends the Triple Crown against Toshiaki Kawada on this date in 1999 at Budokan Hall. This would be their second-to-last singles match in AJPW with one more in May 2000:
Raw officially moved to three hours on this date in 2012 to coincide with the 1,000th episode of the program. They did a tremendous job of promoting this special episode and bringing back tons of stars including The Rock for a show that averaged 6,040,000 viewers over three hours.
POST PURORESU: NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam, Stardom 5Star Grand Prix
WH Park is joined by Wai Ting (filling in for John Pollock) as they discuss the latest with NJPW ahead of Sunday’s Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome. Plus, WH gives an in-depth preview of Stardom’s 5Star Grand Prix.
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE: Moxley vs. Archer, Nick Gage, CM Punk report
John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite’s Fyter Fest Night 2 featuring a Mox vs. Archer Texas Deathmatch and an appearance by Nick Gage. We discuss a report on CM Punk being in talks for an in-ring return.
SHOT IN THE DARK
John Siino reviews this week’s editions of AEW Dark, AEW Dark: Elevation, NXT UK, NWA Powerrr, 205 Live, NJPW Strong, Ring of Honor, and Main Event in under 15 minutes on Shot In The Dark.
MCU L8R: Black Widow (2021)
Wai Ting, WH Park and John Pollock review the 24th Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Black Widow (2021).
upNXT 7/20/21: A Kross the Universe
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the July 20th 2021 episode of WWE NXT featuring Raquel Gonzalez vs Xia Li for the NXT Women’s Championship!
REWIND-A-RAW: Cena, Goldberg, Nikki ASH, Karrion Kross
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE Raw in front of a live crowd in Dallas with appearances by John Cena, Bill Goldberg, Keith Lee, Karrion Kross, and Lilly following Money in the Bank.
WWE MONEY IN THE BANK POST SHOW
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE Money In The Bank 2021 featuring Roman Reigns vs. Edge for the Universal Championship, Men’s & Women’s Money In The Bank ladder matches, and a major return to close the show.
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