POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: WWE Day 1 fallout, Wrestle Kingdom 16 Preview, NOAH review

The fallout from WWE Day 1 with Brock Lesnar winning the title, a preview of Wrestle Kingdom 16, AEW Plus update, NOAH review & more.

Photo Courtesy: WWE

POST IT NOTES

**Wai Ting and I are back tonight with Rewind-A-Raw at 11:15 p.m. ET for Double Double+ Patrons for a review of the first WWE Raw of 2022.

**On Tuesday and Wednesday, we will have reviews of both nights of Wrestle Kingdom 16 in place of the usual POST Daily News shows. The Wrestle Kingdom reviews will be available to all members of the POST Wrestling Café.

**Nate Milton joined Wai Ting and I on the first POST Daily News Show of 2022. The three of us discussed the comments by Big Swole on Friday and the reaction from Tony Khan, which has reopened the discussion of diversity within the company as well as Khan’s tweet. I really appreciate Nate coming on to discuss this subject and he’ll be discussing it further with Kris Ealy and Andrew Thompson this Sunday on The N.W.A. Podcast. On today’s show, we also previewed Wrestle Kingdom 16 with a look at the first two nights at the Tokyo Dome.

**The latest edition of Wrestlenomics Radio features an in-depth look at the diversity within WWE and AEW regarding talent that main evented shows, match times, and other interesting data coming off the discussion over the past weekend that stemmed from Big Swole’s comments. They also look at WWE’s live event business including Chris Gullo attending WWE’s recent show in Buffalo.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw [11:15 p.m. ET for Double Double+ Patrons]
Tuesday: Wrestle Kingdom Night 1 POST Show [Patreon]
Tuesday: upNXT – New Year’s Evil review
Wednesday: Wrestle Kingdom Night 2 POST Show [Patreon]
Wednesday: Shot in the Dark with John Siino
Wednesday: Rewind-A-Dynamite [10:15 p.m.]
Thursday: Andrew Thompson interviews Baron Black
Friday: The Best of 2021 Show w/ Pollock, Wai, Braden & Davie
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown [11:15 p.m.]
Saturday: Wrestle Kingdom Night 3 POST Show w/ Pollock, WH Park & Mike Murray [Patreon]
Saturday: AEW Battle of the Belts POST Show w/ Wai & Kate from Montreal
Sunday: IMPACT Hard to Kill POST Show w/ Davie Portman & John Siino
Sunday: The N.W.A. Podcast with Nate Milton, Kris Ealy & Andrew Thompson
Sunday: Wrestlenomics Radio w/ Brandon Thurston & Chris Gullo

WRESTLING NEWS

**Tonight’s edition of WWE Raw takes place from the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina with the first episode of 2022. Thus far, they have not announced anything beyond the fallout from Day 1 with Brock Lesnar winning the WWE Championship as a late addition to the match. There are over 4,600 tickets out for the show and near the capacity they set for the arena.

The injection of Lesnar on the Raw side creates a few intriguing scenarios with the Bobby Lashley match at the forefront, which was heavily focused on during Saturday’s match. I don’t think anyone expects Lesnar to work a match on television, so it’s the Royal Rumble and unannounced card in Saudi Arabia that precedes WrestleMania, both of which you would assume Lesnar is part of.

Big E. was left in a difficult spot as the babyface champion, losing the fall to a bigger babyface in Lesnar. The fact Big E. took the fall doesn’t leave the automatic “out” for Big E. to demand a rematch because the champion wasn’t pinned, and if Lashley is the immediate direction, it leaves Big E. as the odd man out. His run as champion felt unfulfilled, which is unfortunate because he has shown great crossover appeal when appearing at several major boxing events and starting to gain notoriety outside of his own company. He should be a major force in the Rumble this year unless they have separate plans for him and I took the outcome on Saturday as more of a reaction to losing Roman Reigns and shaking things up rather than an indictment of Big E., who needs to stay strong as the company is in dire need of top babyfaces.

The other questions surround WrestleMania and if that remains the destination for Reigns and Lesnar and the chance to have both titles involved. With a Royal Rumble winner thrown into the mix and two nights at AT&T Stadium, there are interesting options. While the automatic reaction to Saturday would be Title vs. Title at WrestleMania, I can’t see this company unifying those titles with Raw and SmackDown staying separate, or you get the lame stripping of one belt after the big match and that’s death for the next guy to hold that belt.

**NJPW kicks off its biggest week of the year with three nights of Wrestle Kingdom 16. The first of two Tokyo Dome events go down late tonight at 2 a.m. ET on New Japan World and FITE TV. Capacity is reduced at the stadium due to the ongoing pandemic and it’s taken a noticeable liveliness out of New Japan’s shows with fans restricted to clapping rather than cheering. It’s been a tough road for New Japan that has been hurt by several factors with the pandemic affecting crowd reactions, foreign talent on shows, new talent coming into the company, and malaise in some of the booking that has often been repetitive and uninspired. On paper, there is some strong wrestling between the first two nights, although the overall sentiment is one night would have been superior to two and although the novelty of NJPW vs. NOAH has worked at selling tickets, the line-up left a lot to be desired. The fact is, with reduced capacity, getting two gates at the Tokyo Dome is the better business move. The hope would be that Japan starts to ease restrictions in the coming months with foreign talent able to enter the country without the hold-ups that are in place. If that could happen, New Japan could easily receive that shot in the arm from all the available talent and working agreement with AEW.

The main event picture focuses on establishing an undisputed IWGP world heavyweight champion as Shingo Takagi and Kazuchika Okada meet on night one, and the winner faces Will Ospreay on Wednesday. Anything less than the highest caliber of matches will be a letdown, which is an awful bar to set but that’s the expectation. Takagi beat Okada last year to take the vacant title and had two incredible matches with Ospreay in the finals of the New Japan Cup and at Dontaku, which was Ospreay’s last match in Japan. Unless Ospreay is staying put in Japan, it would make no sense to put the title on someone that isn’t stationed in Japan permanently. We are not in a period where someone can hop back-and-forth between countries due to the quarantine issues and the added risk.

The other individual attached to the title picture is Kota Ibushi, who is not booked on any of the shows this week and has not competed since the injury he sustained in the finals of the G1 Climax in October. Okada essentially guaranteed he would face Ibushi again after winning the G1 due to a legitimate stoppage and is an easy rematch to revisit if Okada wins the title. This all depends on the timetable for Ibushi to return as his absence was notable when the Wrestle Kingdom cards were released. It was the toughest year of Ibushi’s career combining the injury in October with his bout with aspirational pneumonia over the summer that kept him off the July card at the Tokyo Dome card where he was set to face Takagi.

It is also the return of Katsuyori Shibata with no opponent announced ahead of time. It will be a catch wrestling rules match with strikes prohibited. There is only a small pool of names to draw from. If it was someone major, they should have announced it in advance. WH Park suggested Ren Narita return from his excursion and that’s a solid pick as I expect someone that has a link to Shibata the trainer. From an emotional standpoint, this is a big one on the card but is tempered by the limitations of the crowd to convey that emotion.

Here is the full card that begins streaming at 2 a.m. ET early Tuesday morning:
*New Japan Ranbo – It’s usually a dreadfully long match and the worst on the show. There are always the spots for some legends to return but not much in the way of a match and always goes too long.
*YOH vs. SHO – It’s a huge match for these two and if they have the time, I expect them to stand out in a big way. While the breakup seemed designed for SHO’s ascension, the booking of YOH in the Best of the Super Juniors demonstrated their faith in both former teammates.
*Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero vs. KENTA, Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo
*Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI vs. Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb & Great O-Khan – Both of these six-man tags are precursors to the singles matches the next night with KENTA vs. Tanahashi, and Naito vs. Cobb. Ospreay should get the fall as he’s the most important member of this match and going for the title the next night. SANADA and O-Khan have little buzz for Wednesday’s card but that’s another pairing to watch.
*Catch Wrestling Rules: Katsuyori Shibata vs TBA
*NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii (champion) vs. EVIL – I’d measure your expectations. EVIL is paired with the best guy in terms of having a fantastic match but he’s bringing Dick Togo and that requires all the overdone interference spots with the garret, ref bumps, lights going out, and anything else they can muster to make you scream in frustration.
*IWGP Tag Team Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI – On paper, this looks great and will probably have the time necessary to be a standout. Goto and YOSHI-HASHI had a very good World Tag League tournament.
*IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: El Desperado (champion) vs. Hiromu Takahashi – Their 2020 BOSJ final was one of the best matches of the year and I expect this to be terrific with a major placement on the card.
*IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (champion) vs. Kazuchika Okada

**Regarding this Saturday’s Wrestle Kingdom card at Yokohama Arena, we were told by FITE TV that the streaming service is not carrying that event. The show is airing as a pay-per-view and won’t be available on New Japan World or Wrestle Universe until seven days after the live broadcast. FITE TV is carrying the first two nights of Wrestle Kingdom from the Tokyo Dome. NJPW has put up the information for ordering the show on its site.

**The price for an AEW Plus subscription on FITE TV is increasing to $6.99 per month beginning this Saturday. The $2 increase comes after additional content has been made available on the streaming service over the past year. The subscription allows non-U.S. viewers to watch Dynamite, Rampage, AEW Dark, and AEW Dark: Elevation along with the four quarterly specials airings on TNT each year beginning with Battle of the Belts this weekend. The subscription will include AEW merchandise deals, access to one previous PPV from the prior year along with a $2 credit on FITE for each month you subscribe. There is an offer to sign up for an annual subscription for $69.99 to cover the year with the deal available until the end of January.

**Sasha Banks was helped to the back after her match with Charlotte Flair on Sunday in Fayetteville, North Carolina. There was a video that surfaced of Banks taking a backbreaker and then they went to the finish shortly after before Bank received assistance. On Sunday night, the SmackDown performer tweeted that she was okay, and thanked everyone.

**STARDOM’s Dream Queendom event is now on Stardom World and is one of the best cards of 2021 highlighted by Utami Hayashishita vs. Syuri for the World of Stardom title, Tam Nakano vs. Saya Kamitani for the Wonder of Stardom title, and Giulia vs. Konami.

**Matt Hardy is launching his own podcast Friday as part of the Ad-Free Shows network. The weekly series, “The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy” will be co-hosted by Jon Alba. The first show drops this Friday and will feature Jeff Hardy as a guest as the two brothers will discuss the impactful ladder match they had with Edge & Christian at No Mercy in October 1999 at The Gund Arena in Cleveland.

**Due to the rising COVID concerns in the province of Ontario, C*4 Wrestling out of Ottawa has postponed its ‘Fantastic Voyage’ card that was scheduled for January 21st and is hopeful of running the show in February, but it’s up in the air due to the uncertainty. Originally, they were going to limit capacity to 50 percent with mandatory masking and proof of vaccination at the event. All tickets will be honored when the new date is confirmed.

**Here are the matches airing on AEW Dark: Elevation tonight at 7 p.m. ET on the AEW YouTube channel:
*Scorpio Sky vs. Ray Jaz
*Jake Atlas vs. Serpentico
*Jay Lethal vs. Troy Hollywood
*Riho vs. Valentina Rossi
*Andrade El Idolo vs. JP Harlow
*John Silver & Alex Reynolds vs. Mike Orlando & Shayne Stetson
*Leila Grey vs. Megan Bayne
*Skye Blue vs. Angelina Risk

**AJPW held its “New Year Wars 2022” card on Monday at Korakuen Hall in front of 701 fans. In the main event, Suwama & Shotaro Ashino retained the AJPW tag titles against Kento Miyahara & Yuma Aoyagi in a match that went just over twenty-eight minutes. Here are the results (Courtesy: Purolove.com):
*AJPW World Tag Titles: Suwama & Shotaro Ashino (champions) over Kento Miyahara & Yuma Aoyagi in 28:12
*AJPW Jr. Heavyweight Title: SUGI (champion) over Super Crazy in 7:14
*GAORA TV Championship: Shigehiro Irie (champion) over Koji Doi in 8:34
*Shuji Ishikawa, Takao Omori & Ren Ayabe over Yoshitatsu, Jun Saito & Rei Saito in 8:46
*Hokuto Omori, Ryuki Honda & Yusuke Kodama over Atsuki Aoyagi, Rising HAYATO & Yu Iizuka in 7:10
*Izanagi & Devil Murasaki over Tajiri & Kuma Arashi in 6:28
*Hikaru Sato, Dan Tamura & Ryuji Hijikata over Black Menso-re, Hiroshi Yamato & Andy Wu in 7:26
*Seigo Tachibana over Ryo Inoue in 6:21

**All Japan announced on Sunday’s card that the promotion will return to Budokan Hall on September 18th as part of the promotion’s 50th anniversary this year. It is the venue that is forever linked with the glory days of the promotion that housed countless classics from this company. It is the first time All Japan is running the venue since February 22, 2004, for a card that was headlined by Toshiaki Kawada vs. Shinya Hashimoto.

**STARDOM kicked off 2022 with a card from Belle Salle Shinjuku Grand in conjunction with its 2021 awards being handed out. Below are the results from the free show that is available on YouTube and took place in front of 430 fans (Courtesy: Purolove.com):
*Giulia, Thekla & MIRAI over Tam Nakano, Mai Sakura & Unagi Sayaki in 19:37
*Utami Hayashishita, Saya Kamitani & AZM over Momo Watanabe, Saki Kashima & Fukigen Death in 13:21
*Syuri, Maika, Himeka & Natsupoi over Mayu Iwatani, Hazuki, Koguma & Hanan in 13:35
*Starlight Kid, Rina & Ruaka over Mina Shirakawa, Lady C & Waka Tsukiyama in 10:39

**Being the Elite Ep. 288: Accidental Or On Purpose?

**The WWE stock closed at $49.86 on Monday.

REVIEW

Pro Wrestling NOAH “New Year 2022” at Nippon Budokan

NOAH kicked off its year with a major show at Budokan Hall in front of 3,181 headlined by Katsuhiko Nakajima retaining the GHC heavyweight title against Go Shiozaki. It was Shiozaki’s first singles match since returning from shoulder surgery last month. As expected, it was an intense match typified by the chop and kick exchanges and included a release German suplex sending Nakajima off the ramp and rotating to land on his front on the floor. Nakajima attacked the shoulder and leveled Shiozaki with a head kick where Shiozaki’s selling was outstanding. Nakajima won with the Vertical Spike in 30 minutes and 13 seconds. This didn’t reach the level of Nakajima’s recent match with Kenou but was a very strong main event and just below your top-tier level of main events.

Kenoh retained the GHC National title against Kaito Kiyomiya with a different finish, which worked for me. The intensity and pace were higher than the main event, which is saying something. The ending saw a Tiger Suplex delivered by Kiyomiya, a Snap Dragon from Kenou, then a series of brutal slaps by the champion before a match-ending head kick that led to a rare knockout finish. I love finishes outside of the norm and this was a cool way to end the match for the style that Kenou presents. Kiyomiya has lost a lot of big matches over the past year as the 25-year old feels like he is moving towards a shift in character to graduate to the next level. I think it’s imperative that Kiyomiya beats Keiji Muto this year, but I was saying that throughout 2021 too.

KENTA made his return to NOAH as part of a six-man tag with Takashi Sugiura and Kazushi Sakuraba against Masa Kitamiya, Daiki Inaba & Yoshiki Inamura. This has to be building towards a match between KENTA and Inamura, who were the focus of the entire match and had tremendous chemistry. It was one of KENTA’s best performances in a long time and gelled so well with Inamura. It was the perfect use of KENTA to help one of your regulars and build to something bigger. It ended with KENTA finally hitting the Go to Sleep after nearly twenty-six minutes.

We have a full report and review from Mark Buckeldee on the site from Saturday.

ON THIS DATE

Hulk Hogan appears on Championship Wrestling shortly after returning to the WWF after leaving the AWA, he would win the WWF championship several weeks later as the major figure in the national expansion:

Triple H regains the WWF Championship from the Big Show on the first Raw of 2000:

NXT aired the match between Drew McIntyre and Adam Cole that was taped two months earlier in San Antonio, Texas:

*****
POST Daily News: Big Swole & Tony Khan (w/ Nate Milton)
John Pollock & Wai Ting are back and ready to begin 2022. They are joined by Nate Milton from The N.W.A. Podcast to discuss the story involving Big Swole and Tony Khan from this past weekend.
*****
Wrestlenomics: The diversity of AEW’s roster and audience
Former AEW wrestler Big Swole criticized AEW’s diversity on Friday, leading Tony Khan to defend the company on Twitter. We look at the data on how often wrestlers of color, including Black wrestlers, appear in main events on AEW’s weekly TV programs compared to WWE.
*****
WWE Day 1 2022 POST Show
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Day 1 2022 as Brock Lesnar enters Raw’s WWE Championship match following Roman Reigns’ COVID-related removal from the event.
*****
BWE Special: Progress Wrestling sold
Martin Bushby & Andy Ogden are joined by Will Cooling to give their reactions to the sale of Progress Wrestling.
*****
POST PURORESU: WK 16 Preview, STARDOM, WH’s Year-End Picks
John Pollock is joined by WH Park for the final POST Puroresu of 2021. The two preview all three Wrestle Kingdom 16 cards and review STARDOM’s Dream Queendom.
*****
2021 POST MMAish Awards
Phil Chertok & Eric Marcotte are back to review the year that was in the world of Mixed Martial Arts.
*****
BDElite 12/29: New Year’s Smash
Davie Portman and B Detroit talk all about the December 29th, 2021 edition of AEW Dynamite – “New Year’s Smash” headlined by Best Friends vs Adam Cole, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly!
*****
SHOT IN THE DARK: Final ROH show, Janela-Kiss No DQ
John Siino reviews this week’s editions of AEW Dark, AEW Dark: Elevation, NXT UK, IMPACT Wrestling, 205 Live, NJPW Strong, NWA Powerrr, Ring of Honor, and Main Event in under 15 minutes on Shot In The Dark.
*****
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About John Pollock 3944 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.