POST IT NOTES
**Wai Ting and I will be live tonight at 11:15 p.m. ET for Rewind-A-SmackDown to review both SmackDown & AEW Rampage. We will also go over the SummerSlam and TakeOver cards this weekend and spend a lot of time taking calls with reactions to Rampage and the weekend ahead. This will be available live for all members of the POST Wrestling Café.
**On Saturday night, we will be live with the SummerSlam POST Show for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café. With Wai Ting away, I will be joined by Kate from Montreal and Nate Milton to review SummerSlam and take your calls with reactions to the show. The show will be available for everyone late Saturday night to download or stream the video version.
**Nate Milton joined Wai Ting and WH Park on MCU L8R this week to discuss Ep. 2 of What…If? This week’s episode focuses on T’Challa and featured the voice of the late Chadwick Boseman.
THE RETURN OF CM PUNK
In an industry where popularity booms are centered around moments that hit at the right time, AEW is hopeful that tonight is one of those.
When CM Punk performed his last wrestling match at the Royal Rumble in January of 2014, few thought it would be seven-and-a-half years before he returned to a national wrestling stage.
For better or worse, his name became a rallying cry for a disgruntled audience that would often break out during shows forcing WWE to find ways to shut down and combat the derision. Somewhere along the way, the audience realized in his absence that they chanted for CM Punk the person but connected with the idea he represented.
It’s the fine line wrestling can exploit where it plays upon real ideas, real anger, and real emotion. It’s what cuts through and makes for the most memorable characters, money-drawing programs, and breakthrough moments when the audience can buy what is being sold. It’s a contradiction for some that are in the business of fantasy, exaggeration, and fiction. No company better represents this than WWE as the Walt Disney Company of “professional wrestling” that often struggles to identify itself with that actual term.
So, CM Punk became the line in the sand. Taking a successful moment in 2011 and blowing up his character into the “voice of the voiceless” to play off of real complaints of the company with an audience that co-signed. It was the evolution of the same mindset that worked for Steve Austin going against the machine. When fans heard the “pipebomb promo” in Las Vegas in 2011, it resonated because it was from an authentic voice and using the words that struck a chord.
But the reality is the reality, and the issues Punk used for his character’s gain in 2011 did not disappear over the ensuing years. The breaking point came in January 2014 where he walked out in Cleveland after notifying Vince McMahon and Paul Levesque he was done.
He became the most intriguing figure after walking away from a top-tier position in WWE, driven to headline WrestleMania and realizing he couldn’t get ahead while his body was breaking and his mind was consumed by the business – traits that will both push you to become a top star and will also grind at your ability to stay one.
In 2014, Punk was reclusive with few public appearances outside of regularly attending UFC events. He got married, he was officially fired from WWE on his wedding day, and opted for the most ambitious path imaginable for his next act when he announced in December that he had signed with the UFC.
For a guy that had enough financial security to walk away from WWE, created a name for himself elsewhere, and was a name that crossed over, he had options. So, it was amusing to see the backlash he received for choosing the absolute hardest task of his life by beginning a Mixed Martial Arts career at age 36. He would be placed under a microscope few have ever had in MMA, working through injuries, and was able to fight by September 2016 and was thoroughly beaten by Mickey Gall. Yet, came back and did it again in June 2018 against Mike Jackson in Chicago (which is the only time he’s worked inside the United Center prior).
The lead-up to the Jackson fight was overshadowed by the years-long lawsuit filed by Dr. Chris Amann against Punk and Colt Cabana for a November 2014 edition of the Art of Wrestling podcast. The episode that dropped on Thanksgiving Day that year was a two-hour systematic breakdown of Punk’s tenure in WWE, the many issues that led to his walkout months earlier, and a conclusion that he believed he failed in pro wrestling after never headlining WrestleMania. It was his criticism of the medical care he received in WWE that led to the suit, which both Punk and Cabana won – but in other ways lost, as their friendship soured over the events of the suit.
Over the years, Punk had become a white whale in pro wrestling with the notion of whether he would ever return to an industry he has both loved with a passion and seemed to hate with a passion. It was hard to imagine Punk and WWE ever reconciling except for the fact, just about everyone does. Bruno Sammartino went back, Bret Hart went back, Ultimate Warrior, Jesse Ventura, Rena Mero, and the list goes on. More than anything, there was money to be made, and in nearly every instance that makes it inevitable. Except for CM Punk.
The carrot was dangled for fans as Punk’s stance on pro wrestling changed where it seemed that the right offer and right creative would at least open his ears for a potential return. In the fall of 2019, he joined the WWE Backstage panel show on FS1 where he was not working for WWE but with Fox Sports and was as close to the sun as you could get.
There will be a day that Punk sits down and documents the road to August 20th at The United Center, and it will be a fascinating discussion. Even more interesting will be how we look back on this date and what it will mean 2-3 years from now if anything?
When you boil it down, pro wrestling is about delivering what the audience wants but making them wait for it. In this example, over 14,000 people bought in on the anticipation. Now it’s time for the execution of Tony Khan’s biggest card he’s had to play.
**One of the biggest weekends of the year kicks off with Friday Night SmackDown airing at 8 p.m. ET on Fox tonight for the go-home episode on the eve of SummerSlam. Talent is all over the media promoting the show, which will likely be the largest attendance of the year. WrestleTix reports that over 42,800 tickets are out for the show and strong response for the Saturday night experiment in Las Vegas. It’s going to be a very interesting weekend in the perception game and how much noise AEW makes tonight with the return of CM Punk. It’s the larger focus of the next month as AEW prepares for two major shows in the media-centric Northeast market in Newark and the show at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
WWE has not announced anything yet for Friday Night SmackDown other than Roman Reigns and John Cena are advertised to make their “final statements” before SummerSlam.
**AEW Rampage will be one of the biggest shows in the history of the promotion and will be their most-attended event of all time (which will only last for a month until the Arthur Ashe Stadium event). The major question is what kind of audience they can pull tonight with a heavy reliance on word spreading and AEW leading them in the direction while refusing to outright say the name CM Punk or lead people by the hand. There was no reference to Punk even subtly on Dynamite beyond Kenny Omega’s shirt. The number should be very good tonight but it’s the wave created that could help the ensuing episodes leading into All Out and also selling tickets for the Dynamite and Rampage episodes in Chicago the week of the pay-per-view.
You only get to do CM Punk’s return to pro wrestling once and typically, historical moments and big events are going to grab lapsed fans, who likely are aware of what’s happening tonight. I think everyone is going to compare tonight’s number to Dynamite and it’s a lot tougher of a night to draw. Even if you compare to last week’s debut of 740,000, that’s a really good number compared to the four weeks where Dynamite ran on Fridays against the NBA playoffs and was doing considerably less than that figure.
There is a strong argument to begin the show with Punk when you have the best chance of converting SmackDown viewers to tune over and sample Rampage, who have never tuned in before. I would also imagine AEW will have one of the best crowds in their history tonight and there will be deafening “CM Punk” chants until he arrives.
Punk’s first appearance, his first promo, first physicality, and first match all have a value attached to them and this is going to be the biggest introduction Tony Khan has ever booked that could take AEW to the next level.
As a live event, this was a Grand Slam based on tickets sold without announcing Punk. For television, we’ll see on Monday what the result is. A lot will put stock into Monday’s number and it’s important to gauge whether they should have pushed Punk’s debut harder but the numbers in three months, six months, and nine months are going to tell the story of whether this period lifts their foundation to a higher level.
It was evident from Tony Khan’s interview today on Busted Open Radio that they are playing a long game and see the value of letting the established audience know he’s coming and for those that miss out, the belief that they will not want to miss out the next time and create that ‘cannot-miss’ feeling around its major shows.
Here is the line-up for Rampage airing at 10 p.m. ET on TNT and TSN Direct in Canada (it will air on TSN 2 on a one-hour delay at 11 p.m. ET):
*Jon Moxley vs. Daniel Garcia
*Jade Cargill vs. Kiera Hogan
*Tag Team Eliminator: Private Party vs. Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus
**Here are the matches for tonight’s edition of NJPW Strong tonight at 10 p.m. ET on New Japan World:
*Brody King & Chris Dickinson vs. Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson
*TJP, Clark Connors & Ren Narita vs. Fred Rosser, Fred Yehi & Daniel Garcia (Garcia will be appearing on both NJPW Strong and Rampage during the same hour)
*Alex Coughlin vs. Matt Morris
**Game Changer Wrestling presents ‘Off the Rails’ tonight at 11 p.m. ET on Fite TV from Meet Las Vegas with the following card:
*GCW Championship: Matt Cardona (champion) vs. TBA
*Nick Gage, Mance Warner & Matthew Justice vs. Atticus Cogar, Rickey Shane Page & Eric Ryan
*Ricky Morton vs. Effy
*2 Cold Scorpio vs. Chris Bey
*Six-Man Scramble: Juventud Guerrera vs. Eli Everfly vs. Tre Lamar vs. Matt Vandagriff vs. Lucas Riley vs. Ninja Mack
*Jordan Oliver vs. Starboy Charlie
*AJ Gray vs. Allie Katch
*Dark Sheik vs. Jimmy Lloyd
*Dante Leon vs. Nick Wayne
**The WWE was up $1.26 today and closed at $48.51 by the end of trading. This comes after Nick Khan did an interview with Recode Media that was released Thursday and used the term “open for business” to describe WWE’s approach regarding a theoretical sale:
We’re open for business on anything and everything and even some of the business plans we’ve announced recently I think are different or unique to what the company has traditionally done. So, we’re open for business, if someone calls, we’ll listen but we’re not active, we’re not out in the marketplace trying to change that structure.
**IMPACT Wrestling has its Emergence special streaming at 7 p.m. ET (the show was moved up an hour, so it won’t conflict with AEW Rampage but will be going against SmackDown). The card was taped earlier this week in Nashville at Skyway Studios and is headlined by Christian Cage vs. Brian Myers for the IMPACT Championship in Christian’s first IMPACT match since 2008. The full card is listed on the main page.
**Ring of Honor is running its Glory by Honor events at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia tonight and tomorrow. Tonight’s card will stream live at 7 p.m. ET on Honor Club featuring Bandido defending the ROH Championship against Flip Gordon. After missing the NJPW Resurgence event last weekend, Brody King is back on both nights teaming with Violence Unlimited after dealing with COVID-19. The full line-ups for both nights are posted on the site.
**Will Ospreay will be having his first match since May when he defends the British Heavyweight Championship against Doug Williams on Saturday at Rev Pro’s Ninth Anniversary Show in Manchester at the Victoria Warehouse. The card also features Aussie Open defending the tag titles against The Young Guns, Michael Oku vs. Chris Ridgeway vs. Robbie X for the British Cruiserweight Championship, Gisele Shaw vs. Zoe Lucas for the British Women’s Championship, and Dan Moloney vs. Adam Maxted.
**WWE held tryouts over the past two days in Las Vegas that were overseen by Paul Levesque. He did a Q&A with the media in attendance and stated that there were 38 people that tried out (there was one injury and one dropped out as well) stating that 13-16 people were signed. Among the signings that reporter Denise Salcedo noted was:
*Faith Jefferies who wrestled as Faith the Lioness and is 22 years old
*Isaac Odugbesan, who was born in Nigeria and competed in shot put at the University of Alabama. He is 20 years old
**Mick Foley has written a tribute to his trainer Dominic DeNucci, who died last week at the age of 89.
**Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics breaks down all the ratings from the past week including the premiere of AEW Rampage.
**Denise Salcedo has an interview with Samoa Joe discussing his return against Karrion Kross this Sunday and his role in assisting with the two-day tryouts in Las Vegas this week.
**Here is the card for NXT TakeOver 36 along the odds sent to us from BetOnline:
*Three Stages of Hell: Adam Cole (+180) vs. Kyle O’Reilly (-270)
*NXT Championship: Karrion Kross (+200) vs. Samoa Joe (-300)
*NXT Women’s Championship: Raquel Gonzalez (-250) vs. Dakota Kai (+175)
*NXT UK Championship: WALTER (+125) vs. Ilja Dragunov (-175)
*Cameron Grimes (-200) vs. LA Knight (+150)
**GCW has announced that Jimmy Jacobs will be appearing at their ‘Emo Night’ event at the Melrose Ballroom on Friday, September 23rd.
**DDT will hold its big Peter Pan event early Saturday morning from Fujitsu Stadium in Kawasaki. Mark Buckeldee will have a review of the show on the POST site on Saturday. Below is the card, which streams at 3:30 a.m. ET on Wrestle Universe:
*KO-D Openweight Championship: Jun Akiyama (champion) vs. Konosuke Takeshita
*DDT Universal Championship: Yuki Ueno (champion) vs. Daisuke Sasaki
*KO-D Six-Man Tag Championship: Tetsuya Endo, Soma Takao & Yuji Hino (champions) vs. Kazusada Higuchi, Yukio Sakaguchi & Saki Akai
*Harashima, Naomi Yoshimura, Yusuke Okada, Raimu Imai & El Unicorn vs. Yuji Okabayashi, Mizuki Watase, Yuki Iino, Tamura & Ilusion
*Chris Brookes & Jun Kasai vs. Shunma Katsumata & MAO
*Danshoku Dino vs. Kazuki Hirata
*Antonio Honda vs. Toru Owashi
*Current Blast Death Match: Atsushi Onita, Sanshiro Takagi, Akito & Maki Ito vs. Kuro-chan, Super Sasadango Machine, Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Hikari Noa
*Dark Match: Hideki Okatani & Yuya Koroku vs. Yukio Naya & Keigo Nakamura
**Bellator 265 takes place tonight from Sioux Falls, South Dakota with the main card airing on Showtime. The card lost its most interesting fight as the featherweight bout between Jay Jay Wilson and Adam Borics is off after Wilson missed weight by over four pounds. Below is the full card for tonight’s show:
MAIN CARD (9 p.m. ET on Showtime)
*Sergei Kharitonov vs. Cheick Kongo
*Logan Storley vs. Dante Schiro
*Billy Swanson vs. Marcelo Golm
*Jornel Lugo vs. Keith Lee
PRELIMINARY CARD (6:30 p.m. ET online)
*Taylor Johnson vs. Fabio Aguiar
*Bryce Logan vs. Mike Hamel
*Ben Simons vs. Archie Colgan
*Duane Johnson vs. Deven Fisher
*Bailey Schoenfelder vs. Kory Moegenburg
**Las Vegas is the site of many events this weekend including what may be Manny Pacquiao’s final fight ever when he takes on Yordenis Ugas at the T-Mobile Arena right after SummerSlam. The UFC is running a Fight Night from the UFC Apex, so it’s not about selling tickets but getting eyes on the card through ESPN and ESPN+. The main card airs on both while the prelims will air on ESPN 2 and ESPN+ beginning at 7 p.m. ET. It is not a spectacular card with the main event between middleweight contenders Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum was slightly over the 186 pound limit on his first attempt at Friday’s weigh-ins but made the limit on his second try and the fight is on. Below is the full card and results from the weigh-ins:
MAIN CARD (10 p.m. ET on ESPN, ESPN+)
*Jared Cannonier (185) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (186)
*Clay Guida (155) vs. Mark Madsen (156)
*Chase Sherman (256) vs. Parker Porter (262)
*Trevin Jones (135) vs. Saidyokub Kakhramonov (138.5*) – Kakhramonov was fined 20 percent of his purse, per MMA Junkie
*Vinc Pichel (155.5) vs. Austin Hubbard (156)
*Alexandre Pantoja (126) vs. Brandon Royval (125.5)
PRELIMINARY CARD (7 p.m. ET on ESPN 2 and ESPN+)
*Austin Lingo (145.5) vs. Luis Saldana (146)
*Domingo Pilarte (136) vs. Brian Kelleher (136)
*Bea Malecki (135) vs. Josiane Nunes (136)
*William Knight (206) vs. Fabio Cherant (205)
*Ignacio Bahamondes (154) vs. Roosevelt Roberts (154.5)
*Sasha Palatnikov (170) vs. Ramiz Brahimaj (171)
ON THIS DATE
Hulk Hogan’s last match inside of a WWE ring took place in 2006 at SummerSlam against Randy Orton in Boston:
SummerSlam 2017 from the Barclays Center, headlined by a fatal four-way for the Universal Championship with Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, and Braun Strowman:
MCU L8R: What If…? Ep. 2 “T’Challa as Star-Lord” (w/ Nate Milton)
Wai Ting & WH Park are joined by Nate Milton to talk about Marvel Studios’ What If…? Episode 2: “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?”
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE: Jericho vs. MJF, Sting wrestles
John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite with Chris Jericho vs. MJF, Sting wrestles on TNT, and the hype for The First Dance in Chicago this Friday.
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
upNXT: He Said Yes!
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the August 17th, 2021 edition of WWE NXT featuring the go-home show for TakeOver: 36!
POLLOCK & TING: TALK (Vol. 2)
John Pollock and Wai Ting return for the second installment of Pollock & Ting: TALK. Wai welcomes a special guest to discuss his wedding; John shares details about the making of “POST Profile: Who is Wai Ting?”.
REWIND-A-RAW: SummerSlam Go-Home, AEW Rampage ratings
John Pollock & Wai Ting chat about the SummerSlam go-home WWE Raw featuring Goldberg, AEW Rampage’s debut numbers, WWE house shows absences, COVID issues in Japan, and more.
POST PURORESU: NJPW Resurgence, Masato Yoshino retires
John Pollock & WH Park review NJPW Resurgence, discuss Masato Yoshino’s retirement, Stardom’s 5* GP, the passing of Jahmale Hepburn & more.
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