POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: WWE and AEW sell out shows in Chicago

WWE sells out Raw and AEW sells out The First Dance in Chicago, report on the status of Adam Cole, NJPW cards, Bellator 263 thoughts & more.

Photo Courtesy: United Center


**We are back tonight at 11:15 p.m. ET for Rewind-A-Raw as Wai Ting and I will chat about a busy couple of days regarding the releases of Bray Wyatt and Ric Flair, the passing of Hideki Hosaka, the success of “The First Dance” and then a big review of WWE Raw from Chicago. Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café can watch Rewind-A-Raw live 15 mins after Raw ends.

**We have our Bellator 263 POST Show from Saturday with Phil Chertok, Eric Marcotte and I reviewing one of their biggest events ever and the crowning of A.J. McKee.

**WH Park is joined by JP Houlihan of the GRAPPL Spotlight Podcast on The Long & Winding Royal Road to review the Champion Carnival from April 1995 between Mitsuharu Misawa and Akira Taue.

**On Tuesday, Andrew Thompson will have an interview he recently conducted with Chris Hero.

**We will be releasing the August edition of the ASK-A-WAI Mailbag Show on Tuesday for members of the POST Wrestling Café. Questions can still be submitted through the POST Wrestling Forum.

**Over the next ten days, the British Wrestling Experience will be releasing the interviews conducted by Martin Bushby and Benno during their 12-hour live stream from last month. Today’s release is a nearly two-hour interview with author and historian John Lister. All the interviews will be released on the free British Wrestling Experience podcast feed.


Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw with John & Wai (Live at 11:15 p.m. ET)
Tues: ASK-A-WAI Mailbag Show (Patreon)
Tues: Andrew Thompson interviews Chris Hero
Tues: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman (Live at 10:15 p.m. ET on Twitch)
Wed: Shot in the Dark with John Siino (upNXT feed)
Wed: Rewind-A-Dynamite (10:15 p.m. ET)
Thurs: UFC 265 Preview Show with John Pollock & Phil Chertok (1 p.m. ET on POST YouTube)
Thurs: The Wellness Policy [Free release]
Fri: Rewind-A-SmackDown with Wai & Kate from Montreal (10:15 p.m. ET for all Patrons)
Sat: UFC 265 POST Show (Live on POST YouTube)
Sun: The NWA Podcast with Nate Milton, Kris Ealy & Andrew Thompson


**To no one’s surprise, the remaining tickets for “The First Dance” at The United Center were scooped up immediately on Monday for the public on-sale. WrestleTix estimated that approximately 1,020 tickets appeared on the Ticketmaster map and were gone in about five minutes. The outlet estimates that 13,654 tickets have been distributed into the market but that’s without including the numbers in the suites at the arena. As of Monday afternoon, there were many tickets available on Ticketmaster that were verified resales with WrestleTix listing the number of resales available at about 3,200 around Noon today.

This is one of the most impressive on-sales for AEW ever and perhaps the most considering the three additional shows in the market already scheduled. It’s a testament to how in tune the audience is with AEW and their belief in the company delivering on its tease of “The Best in the World” for this show. While this era often struggles with the ability to sell meaningful consequences to stipulations, the word of this promotion is enough for this audience to trust and buy tickets to be part of something they see as historic, which the return of CM Punk in Chicago is going to be viewed as.

This is equally impressive with Raw being sold out tonight in Rosemont with 12,000 tickets out and the momentum should help Dynamite on September 1st and Rampage on September 3rd going into All Out weekend in the market.

CM Punk is the latest lesson that when there is an event or an attraction people want, the extenuating factors mean little. Last Wednesday, I would not have predicted this level of demand for “The First Dance” but it didn’t matter. The audience knew the second that Darby Allin promo aired that AEW isn’t playing a game of diversionary tactics and they are delivering Punk in his hometown after all these years and this audience wants to be part of that moment. It’s the same reason I believe that night’s Rampage viewership will be gigantic no matter what is airing that night or it being Friday night instead of Wednesday.

The best advertisement AEW currently presents is its own two-hour program. For the fans, it’s an environment you want to be part of and are willing to buy tickets when it’s in your market because it looks like the place to be. For performers, it’s an enticing place where the workers speak glowingly of the process and is more akin to the style of pro wrestling they fell in love with. This is different than the by-gone eras where a lot of wrestlers fell into the industry because of other avenues closing, being born into a family, or ex-athletes seeing a lucrative pathway. Today’s era is full of grown-up wrestling fans and AEW plays to that in a big way.

In the television rights landscape, we often look at “content production” with the conclusion that many storylines in execution don’t really matter. It’s not the hand-to-mouth process of the territory days of shooting an angle to draw for the big arena show or shooting a big angle on television to draw on pay-per-view. As rights fees have escalated, there has undoubtedly been a drop-off in the WWE creative process and AEW has benefited from being booked by a self-described superfan in Tony Khan that was simulating storylines and his own personal federation since he was a child. It connects Khan with the modern era talent at a far greater level than Vince McMahon can relate to his locker room.

When talent is let go or becomes available, the online speculation and fantasy booking run wild, in part because there is a good chance of a great idea happening. There is so much talent in WWE that is often forgotten about until left their own devices on a pay-per-view to remind you but the largest criticisms appear to be creative handcuffs, frustration with Vince McMahon’s vision and impact on the creative process, and so many hours of programming to fill. The first two are more pressing and if remedied I think would help cure at least a portion of programming critiques.

It’s a major perception battle that will be focused on heavily this fall. AEW has some huge cards to play and WWE needs a big fall season once the novelty of fans returning lessens and John Cena is no longer around. Both companies have done very good business at the live events but the long game in selling tickets will be satisfying your fanbase for your returns to these markets.

When all is said, 2021 will be viewed as a year of immense historical significance for the industry and the repositioning of WWE’s business on many fronts.

**WWE is sold out at the Allstate Arena tonight with Raw in Chicago. It should be a rabid crowd as it’s traditionally a hot market with great crowds. The most telling note will be whether there is a surge in “CM Punk” chants given the buzz surrounding his expected return to professional wrestling this month. The following has been announced for tonight’s episode at 8 p.m. ET on the USA Network:
*Bill Goldberg appears
*Omos vs. Riddle
*No Holds Barred: Nikki A.S.H. vs. Charlotte Flair

**Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics reports that Friday Night SmackDown finished with 2,043,000 viewers for this past Friday’s episode. The show averaged 742,000 viewers in 18-49 (0.57).

**Raj Giri of Wrestling Inc. had a major update on the status of Adam Cole’s contract with WWE. After some were under the impression, he had much more time left on his deal, the site reports that Cole’s contract ended last month with the sides working out an extension that runs through SummerSlam weekend. Cole debuted as a member of the NXT roster in August 2017 and was positioned highly from the beginning as the leader of The Undisputed Era while winning all the major championships in NXT including the NXT Championship from June 2019 to July 2020. Cole has been engaged in a feud with Kyle O’Reilly throughout 2021 with major matches at the NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver event in April and last month’s Great American Bash special.

**NJPW released the line-ups for their next eight Summer Struggle shows from August 7-17. They will be running five dates at Korakuen Hall over the course of ten days with the biggest show taking place August 10 at Yokohama Budokan with a NEVER Openweight Six-Man Championship match featuring Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI defending against Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI. The most noteworthy absence is Kota Ibushi, who is not listed for any of those shows. After August 17th, the Summer Struggle events end with four more shows from August 24-27. The main focus of these upcoming shows will be the Super Junior Tag League that begins on Saturday.

**Mike Johnson at PWinsider.com reported on Monday that Jojo Offerman was quietly released 6-8 months ago and was never acknowledged publicly by WWE or Offerman. She began with the company as a cast member for the inaugural season of Total Divas in the summer of 2013 when she was 19. Later, she settled into a role as an in-ring announcer and had a handful of matches in 2013-14. Offerman and Windham Rotunda a.k.a. Bray Wyatt have two children together.

**There is a great obit on Hideki Hosaka from Bret at the FMWwrestling.us site with a comprehensive breakdown of his career.

**Steven Muehlhausen of DAZN spoke with Rey Mysterio and asked the performer about the news of Jimmy Uso’s recent DUI and the Mysterios dropping the SmackDown tag titles to The Usos after the incident:

We’re not perfect. We sometimes stumble on the same mistake more than twice. The best thing to do is correct that mistake. I think this last one is definitely the one that really made him wake up and say, ‘Okay, I get it now. I messed up.’ But we all deserve a second chance, sometimes a third chance. No harm there. I’m very happy and thankful to pass the titles on to The Usos. Our time will come back around. And when that time comes back around, I’m sure they’re going to feel the same way when it’s time to return titles back to Dominik and myself, and that might be at SummerSlam. It might not. It might be down the road.

But at the end of the day, I’m always prepared to return whatever I want, meaning titles, you know, whether it’s a week, a day after. I became world champion, and I lost the title the same night against John Cena. So there’s no hard feelings whatsoever from my end when I have to turn in the titles.

**Ideanomics, described as a “global company focused on the convergence of financial services and industries experiencing technological disruption”, has named Shane McMahon as its Executive Chairman of the board. McMahon has been affiliated with the company since 2010 and previously held the title of Vice Chairman. McMahon was quoted in the release stating:

We recently launched the transformation of Ideanomics as we vertically enter the exciting EV and hydrogen fuel cell space. We now have a powerful management team in place to ensure Ideanomics’ success. I’m proud of what the new team has achieved in such a short amount of time and more importantly, I am thrilled for what’s yet to quickly come. I look forward to helping the company’s growth, vision, and momentum stay on track as we enter this new phase for Ideanomics.

**Here are the matches scheduled for AEW Dark: Elevation tonight at 7 p.m. ET on their YouTube channel:
*Lee Johnson vs. Marcus Kross
*Darby Allin vs. Bear Bronson
*Nick Comoroto & Aaron Solow vs. Rosario Grillo & Hunter Knott
*Kris Statlander vs. Ashley D’Amboise
*Yuka Sakazaki vs. Dani Jordyn
*Red Velvet vs. Angelica Risk

**Pat Laprade has a great piece on the TVA Sports site looking back at the first WWF event at the Molson Center (now the Bell Center) in Montreal on this date in 1996. The card was headlined by Shawn Michaels and Vader for the WWF Championship but the attraction for the local fanbase was a special boxing match between Owen Hart and Raymond Rougeau. Rougeau had wanted to perform in front of his son Felix and pitched the idea of wrestling Shawn Michaels to Vince McMahon who came back suggesting Hart. For the promotion, Hart enlisted Canadian boxing legend George Chuvalo to be in his corner while Rougeau selected Deano Clavet who was a former boxer that moved into acting as well as his father, Jacques Rougeau Sr. In Laprade’s story, he reported that the show drew 9,128 paid and 10,220 total to the building with a gate of $172,941. The article features comments from both Raymond and Joanne Rougeau, the latter was the local promoter for the WWF in Quebec until July 1999 when the WWF Canadian office took over. From Raymond:

When I retired from wrestling, it was five months before my son Félix was born. And there, my son saw me doing the interviews and he had become a fan of wrestling. He had also watched old movies of me wrestling. Since he was two or three years old, he often asked me if he was going to see me wrestle one day, to see me wrestling in person. I always answered him maybe, never saying no. I told myself it was going to pass. But no, it did not pass! Two, three years later, he still spoke to me about it. I was 42 years old, if I was to play another match, it had been six and a half years since I was in the ring, I would have to think about it seriously.

**Naomichi Marufuji retained the GHC Championship against Kazushi Sakuraba on Sunday’s Pro Wrestling NOAH card in Hiroshima in front of 1,085 fans. It was Marufuji’s second defense of the title with this current reign starting in June when he unseated Keiji Muto. Sunday’s show featured HAYATA retaining the GHC junior heavyweight title against YO-HEY while Seiki Yoshioka & Yuya Susumu won the GHC junior heavyweight tag titles from Daisuke Harada & Hajime Ohara.

**NOAH’s annual N-1 Victory tournament will begin in September. It’s the company’s version of the G-1 with the winner challenging Naomichi Marufuji for the GHC Championship in October.

**The WWE stock closed at $49.15 on Monday.

**Harry Smith turns 36 years old today. Smith recently wrestled on a dark match prior to the July 16th edition of Friday Night SmackDown in Houston, Texas.

**MLW has released a trailer for its upcoming ALPHA mini-series that premieres later this month.

**Being the Elite – Ep. 267 “The Elite Squad”.


**Saturday night was a huge night in the 12-year history of the Bellator organization as the crowning moment for A.J. McKee. While this fight and event were not at the scale of the major fights involving Kimbo Slice or Ken Shamrock, it was a long-term investment in a fighter from the ground floor that could prove to be its biggest star ever. McKee is only 26 years old and has fought every fight of his career inside Bellator. It climaxed with the Featherweight World Grand Prix where McKee went through Georgi Karakhanyan in eight seconds, a knockout win against Pedro Carvalho, one of the best submissions of 2020 against Darrion Caldwell, and then stopping the most dominant fighter in Bellator’s history in less than two minutes while handing Patricio Pitbull Freire the first submission loss of his career.

McKee has breakout potential and it is already being realized. Bellator is not in the league of UFC in terms of exposure but this card had a lot of buzz and benefited from a weak UFC Fight Night. You can’t compare viewership between Showtime (a subscription network) with ESPN but the live gate was encouraging with Bellator announcing 11,282 and $1,642,692 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

McKee’s next fight will be important and there isn’t a giant list of stars at Bellator’s disposal although there is plenty of quality talent. My idea would be McKee moving up to lightweight and fighting older brother Patricky “Pitbull” first. A lot of fans were exposed to Bellator through the McKee vs. Pitbull fight and going against the older brother is a great story and that’s what Bellator needs for McKee rather than fighting the next ranked featherweight. If he beats Patricky, it sets up a massive rematch with Patricio, who is still the Bellator lightweight champion and I have no doubt that rematch would be bigger than the first one.

The remaining options at featherweight would be Mads Burnell, who just beat Emmanuel Sanchez on Saturday (I scored the fight for Sanchez but 29-28 for Burnell was perfectly acceptable). The other featherweight fight coming up pits Adam Borics against Jay Jay Wilson who are fighting on August 20th. While he’s not ready now if he keeps winning, there is a major fight between McKee and Aaron Pico to be made but I would not rush to that fight especially now for Pico after the company threw him into the deep end too quickly.

This was a great night for Bellator and the kind of moment that engages the fanbase with the birth of a new star in front of their eyes with McKee showing a high ceiling that has not been fully realized yet.

**Showtime Extreme is airing a replay of Bellator 263 tonight at 10 p.m. ET. Showtime and Bellator will also be releasing an episode of “All Access: Epilogue” this week on their social channels with the fallout from the main event between Patricio “Pitbull” and A.J. McKee.

**The UFC returns to pay-per-view this Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston with the main event featuring hometown star Derrick Lewis fighting Ciryl Gane for the unnecessary interim heavyweight championship. The promotion wanted Francis Ngannou to fight on this card, but he was not going to be ready in time, so the interim title was created. Originally, they had two title fights, but Amanda Nunes withdrew last week after contracting COVID-19 and her fight with Julianna Pena is expected to be re-booked. This isn’t a big marquee card for pay-per-view, although it has some excellent fights on paper with Jose Aldo vs. Pedro Munhoz and Michael Chiesa vs. Vicente Luque on the main card. On the prelims, Rafael Fiziev is an emerging prospect to watch at lightweight as he’s coming off a knockout against Renato Moicano and will be fighting Bobby Green on Saturday.

**The UFC has first released the first episode of this week’s UFC Embedded series.

**Bellator returns in two weeks with a card on Friday, August 13th at the Mohegan Sun Arena with Gegard Mousasi defending the Bellator Middleweight Championship against John Salter.

**During Friday’s Bellator broadcast, they announced that the two semi-final fights in the Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix will take place on Saturday, October 16th from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Current 205-pound champion Vadim Nemkov will defend the title against Anthony Johnson on one side of the bracket and former champion Ryan Bader takes on Corey Anderson in the other semi-final fight.


Ron Simmons wins the WCW World Heavyweight Championship defeating Big Van Vader in Baltimore, Maryland on this date in 1992. Simmons became the first Black WCW champion and would hold the title until the end of the year where he dropped it back to Vader.

ECW Heat Wave took place on this date in 1998 from the Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio. The show was headlined by a Street Fight with The Dudleys against Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman & Spike Dudley but the match most remember from this card is Sabu & Rob Van Dam teaming against Hayabusa & Jinsei Shinzaki from FMW:

BWE 12 Hour Charity Stream
On July 17th, 2021 Martin Bushby & Benno streamed for 12 hours to raise money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund in the UK (https://www.chsf.org.uk/). They were joined by a number of guests from the world of wrestling and beyond.
THE LONG & WINDING ROYAL ROAD: Misawa vs. Taue (April 15, 1995)
WH Park and JP Houlihan talk about a pivotal match in the careers of both Mitsuharu Misawa and Akira Taue: their Champion Carnival final confrontation from April 15, 1995.
John Pollock is joined by Phil Chertok and Eric Marcotte to review one of the biggest nights in Bellator’s history with the crowning of A.J. McKee as its new featherweight champion.
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 7/30/21: Sasha Banks, Cena signs, AEW First Dance
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE SmackDown from Minneapolis as Sasha Banks returns and Cena signs a contract. We chat AEW The First Dance’s impressive pre-sale and fallout from Gage vs. Jericho.
INTERVIEW: Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics
John Pollock is joined by Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics to discuss WWE’s second-quarter earnings report and call with analysts about their return to live events with fans. Plus: WWE’s return to Saudi Arabia, AEW “The First Dance”, Jericho vs. Gage.
upNXT MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the final installment in the Christopher Nolan Bat-Trilogy: “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012).
BTWA #12: CM Punk – Best in the World (2012)
Martin Bushby & Andrew Thompson are joined by Eric Marcotte to talk about the 2012 documentary, CM Punk: Best in the World.

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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.