POST NEWS UPDATE: Rocky Romero discusses New Japan USA contracts for talents on STRONG

New Japan USA deals, Blake Christian's post-WWE interview, Chris Hero praises TJ Wilson, Lita talks following Rock vs. Hogan, Will Hobbs

Photo Courtesy: New Japan Pro-Wrestling

If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

** On 2/11, Rocky Romero appeared on Wrestling Observer Live. He shared that along with traditional New Japan Pro-Wrestling contracts, New Japan USA contracts were introduced during the pandemic and talents who compete on STRONG and are well received are under those deals.

Yeah, there’s a couple different types of deals now. You know, there’s obviously like the, you know, straight-contracted guys, like contracted with New Japan and then there’s like a new contract that we just kind of introduced during the pandemic where it’s a New Japan STRONG or a New Japan of America contract, yeah, USA contract so yeah, some of the STRONG talent, especially, you know, guys that have been well received and well pushed I guess you could say are guys that are under those deals.

Romero and Trent reunited on AEW Rampage to take on The Young Bucks. The match was supposed to happen weeks ago but Rocky contracted COVID-19. He said his bout with COVID was mild and he’s doing fine now.

COVID, you know, thankfully was really mild for me and you know, I had like a sore throat and runny nose pretty much for like three days and so yeah, that’s about it and then made a great comeback so thankfully, it was really mild, yeah.

NJPW held ‘The New Beginning USA’ taping in Seattle, Washington in January. Rocky expressed his gratitude to Seattle’s DEFY Wrestling promotion for helping with the venue and setup.

I figured — I mean obviously the venue [in Seattle for NJPW STRONG] was great and having DEFY kind of help us, you know, with the venue and setting everything up and they were just awesome so shout out to DEFY.

At the February 17th STRONG taping in Los Angeles, California, Kevin Blackwood is making his New Japan debut. Rocky is excited about Blackwood’s arrival and has high hopes for him. He spoke highly of Kevin’s presentation and in-ring ability.

Yeah, [Kevin] Blackwood is a guy that, you know, has definitely been making waves and PWG, he wrestled Daniel Garcia and people were raving about that match. He’s a Buffalo guy just like Garcia so I think we’re about to see, maybe, you know, a huge platform like obviously PWG, huge platform like New Japan Pro-Wrestling I think is just probably what he needs to kind of really break out even more into the wrestling mainstream so, we’ll see how he does in L.A. but I have high hopes for him and I’m excited to have him. I think he’s a really, really great wrestler and obviously his style, striking, submissions, fits New Japan STRONG perfectly to a tee. So it’s cool to have his kind of, you know, different kind of flavor. I like his look, I like the music that he comes out to. I think he’s a little different and I think he’ll shine.

** The latest guest on the Swerve City Podcast is Blake Christian. While Christian was in WWE, he felt like he was positioned as an underdog and had to structure his matches that way. He felt like he was “kind of locked in a cage” when it came to his wrestling and now that he’s back on the independent scene, he can be the aggressor in matches if it calls for it.

Really depends [Christian said in response to if he has a philosophy about his character or match structure]. I feel like in WWE, I was labeled as an underdog, so I had to portray that in every match that I do but, out here… out on the independents, I’m now seen as like a guy who has more experience so these guys that are new [and] coming up, I’m the one who’s now the aggressor or the leader or whatever; the guy with more experience. So I kind of just base my stuff off of that or you know, what’s gonna be the sickest idea. When I got out of WWE, I wanted to do everything. The first match, wanted to do it all because I felt like I was kind of locked in a cage and not allowed to do that stuff and then when I come out, I wanted to do it all. So I wouldn’t say my first match back was my philosophy on anything because I just did everything, and that’s what I told everyone [I had to get it out of my system]. I was like, ‘I just got to get one out,’ you know? Especially Brett [Lauderdale]. Brett was yelling at me for going over time. I was like, ‘I had to get one.’ Hammerstein was not me [going over my time]. I went short, I went short.

During his time with the NXT brand, Christian often pitched to wrestle Shane ‘Swerve’ Strickland whether it was televised or non-televised.

Definitely would like this one for sure [a match with Shane Strickland]. I pitched for [it] a lot back in WWE, especially when I found out you guys were doing the P.C. lives. I was trying but I always [got] put with rookies to lead ‘em through a match.

After Blake was released from WWE, he contacted GCW promoter Brett Lauderdale and asked him when the Hammerstein Ballroom show was to make sure he would be able to compete on the show. Christian was excited to wrestle Jonathan Gresham, but felt that Lio Rush was the perfect opponent to have that match with at Hammerstein.

Ah man. The first thing, when I got released, I asked Brett [Lauderdale] immediately, I was like, ‘When is Hammerstein?’ You know, I made sure that it was within my dates to be able to do that and thankfully it was. I was supposed to wrestle [Jonathan] Gresham which would’ve been an awesome match but me and Lio [Rush] have had so many matches together, that I felt… even though I wanted that match with Gresham, I felt like it was the perfect one to do in front of all those people, in that arena, to tell the story that we told. Just from our previous matches before, I love Lio Rush and I truly think he’s one of the best in the world and to be able to share that experience with him, it was unreal.

On day two of PWG’s BOLA event[s], Blake was a part of a six-man tag and during the match, he caught Jack Cartwheel in mid-air for a ‘cutter’ and the footage circulated over social media. He detailed how he and Jack put that together:

So it was very last minute [Christian being a part of BOLA 2022]. I got the email Friday. Like, ‘Hey, I want you to come out’ and I was like, ‘Okay, yeah, for sure.’ So, I was very tired but — just a cross country plane ride, time change, all this. But I was very excited too because I wanted to mark BOLA off of my list, to be in BOLA and so, I got to do that but the viral clip [with myself & Jack Cartwheel] came — I knew I was gonna be doing something, sort of the traditional BOLA tag match and I knew Jack was gonna be in it and I knew Jack would be the crazy, young guy who would wanna do it.

I talked to him, I was like, ‘Yo, I wanna do this idea where you jump off the balcony onto everyone below but I’m gonna catch you in the air.’ He’s like, ‘Okay, yeah, for sure.’

Just a group of bodies [beneath us]. I mean it worked out perfectly, you know? Obviously, you can’t practice that, because, you know — you can always do it there.

Further speaking about his time in WWE, Christian admitted that it was intimidating when the newer athletes were coming into the fold of NXT 2.0 because they were going to have characters to work with. He was not worried about Cora Jade because he felt that she has always been good in the ring and good at portraying a character.

I don’t know [if the newer athletes coming into NXT was an intimidation factor]. It was — it kind of was for me, especially when moving into 2.0 because I knew these athletes were gonna have these bomb characters. Like they were gonna be awesome and I knew that I was always going to exceed more in the wrestling factor but she [Cora Jade] has both I feel like. She’s very good at wrestling but she’s also very good at character. Even when she was on the indies as ‘Elayna Black’, she had a great character and I felt like when she transitioned into this, she has that character mindset to where she’s like, ‘Okay, I know how to elevate this. I know how to make these promos better. I know how to make this character exceed in matches’ so, I feel like she’s in the right mindset for it very much.

** In November of 2003, Lita and Lisa Marie Varon (Victoria) competed in a Steel Cage match on Monday Night Raw. It was the first time two women in WWE competed in a Cage match. Lita told WWE Deutschland about the restrictions she and Lisa had to work around. Among the restrictions was not being allowed to climb to the top of the cage.

Yeah, so much like many of the things that my generation did or I was able to do in creating a bridge from what we did back then to where the girls now are like, no limits, at all, was we [Lita & Lisa Marie Varon/Victoria] were given the gift from the office of a Steel Cage match which we were so excited about but they were like, we can’t do anything. You know, you couldn’t climb to the top, you couldn’t do a lot of stuff so it was — it was fun trying to go, ‘Okay, we want to try to deliver,’ but, you know — to make it — the main thing with anytime you’re given those opportunities is you have to come out safe, so then you go, ‘See, we did it. So now other people can do it’ and keep inching our way up to prove that we belong.

After The Rock versus Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan) at WrestleMania 18, Lita, Trish Stratus and Jazz had their WWF Women’s Title match. Lita said it was difficult having to follow Rock versus Bollea and said that Jazz, Trish and herself agreed to remove themselves from Gorilla Position so they could focus on their upcoming match.

Yeah, it was [stressful having to follow The Rock vs. Terry Bollea at WrestleMania 18] because I remember we were close to Gorilla Position, you know, like right before you go out through the curtains and we could just hear every person in the arena giving all of their energy to that match and we moved away from that because we’re like, ‘You know what? We can’t focus on the fact that we know the crowd is gonna be tired after just seeing the two biggest icons this industry has ever seen go at it. We need to separate ourselves from that and then just go out there and do our thing and focus on us’ and so, from a match perspective, I was proud of it, I love working with both those girls, Trish [Stratus] and Jazz specifically. But yeah, you know, we were up against — it was like how do you follow the two biggest icons in the industry? Or it’s like, ‘Well, we’re not gonna worry about following it. We’ll just go out there and have our match.’

Lita and Trish’s main event match on Raw is often discussed. Lita touched on the ‘suicide dive’ she did and the bad landing that came from it. She was not aware of how bad the fall looked, but she knew that it must not have looked good because of the crowd’s reaction.

Yeah, you know, it is funny because the main way that those dives get messed up is if you get your feet caught on the rope. You know, that wasn’t the case and so I remember landing weird and going, ‘What happened?’ I had my eyes on her, my feet didn’t catch the ropes. I don’t know what happened but that didn’t feel right and I for sure heard the crowd gasp. So I didn’t know quite what happened until seeing it back. But, I quickly, just mainly because yes, my adrenaline was going, I felt it but because I heard such a large reaction from the crowd, I was like, ‘I’m gonna go ahead and take all nine-and-a-half wrestling seconds’ which is more like 15 seconds and just take this breather, you know, to stay down and by the time I was like, ‘All right, let’s go,’ you know? And I’m so fortunate. I mean I felt a little stiff the next day but like, I didn’t have to go to the doctor. It was just like, I don’t know. The aliens were looking out for me that day [Lita laughed].

** Highspots Wrestling Network’s ‘Virtual Gimmick Table’ show featured Chris Hero and Rachael Ellering. Hero was asked to list his top three best minds in wrestling history and included T.J. Wilson on the list alongside Paul Boesch and Dory Funk Sr.

[Best] minds in wrestling history? I gotta give a shoutout to Paul Boesch. Paul Boesch, great wrestling promoter. I’m gonna go to Dory Funk Sr., because he influenced the booking of many, many individuals and then gosh, I’m gonna go completely left turn here and I’m gonna go with a modern guy who I think is a great guy for the business and that is T.J. Wilson, otherwise known as Tyson Kidd. Yes, he’s just so brilliant, he’s a good friend of mine, I’m biased of course but he is just awesome. He’s like a new-age version of those classic bookers and people that agent and produce matches. Big fan of his. Great guy.

** Dave LaGreca and Mark Henry welcomed Powerhouse Hobbs onto Busted Open Radio. Hobbs talked about gaining more confidence and improving in the ring. He credited both Taz and Mark Henry for their assistance.

Yeah, I mean it’s definitely getting pointers from Taz and you [Mark Henry] notice every week backstage and I bug you and watching film. It’s just, when I’m out there, I’m in my zone, I’m in my cage. Can’t nobody tell me anything different. You know that feeling when you’re out there and you hit somebody with something and you kind of get that — when your mouth starts salivating like you enjoy it more. So that’s how I’m feeling. I’m having so much fun out there.

** It’s My Wrestling Podcast has an interview with Taylor Rust. Rust was a part of the original Diamond Mine group in NXT. He shared that there were always ideas floated around about how to include Ivy Nile and The Creed Brothers (Julius & Brutus Creed) from the beginning. Rust communicated with The Creeds and Ivy after his departure from WWE and encouraged them to capitalize on their opportunity.

Those guys were already in developmental and there was an idea of actually having them always there before even my release. Little talks about things they can do like expansion, how they could move the group, how they could expand the group. I know they wanted to start it off as being a very strong contender for like a serious wrestler group. But like they needed guys that were looked at as serious wrestlers to make that image and that’s where you had Roderick Strong, myself and Hideki Suzuki. Three guys that are looked at as just technical, hard-hitting wrestlers when they’re in the ring. So we put them together, this is going to give you that image and then that’s going to set that in mind, the right tone going forward, I believe. And it did, you know? The Creed Brothers are absolutely insanely phenomenal athletes. Ivy Nile, she’s an absolutely insanely phenomenal athlete. So they’re doing incredible things, honestly, and I’ve talked with them since and I told them, ‘You guys make stars of yourself. Like go out there and be stars, do everything you can do. You just take this time that they’re giving you and take it to the moon.’ They can do it. They really can. And I think that they have all the talent in the world. Diamond Mine is going in a different direction right now and it’s an incredible one nonetheless.

He said Fit Finlay was very hands-on with Diamond Mine and always provided feedback. Several weeks before Taylor’s release from WWE, Finlay told him that he was doing the best work of his NXT run.

Yeah, I mean, of course it was a big shock [being released from WWE], you know? Everything we’re getting told at that point was nothing but extremely positive, insights from anybody that’s running NXT. It was all very positive feedback from everybody, how much they really enjoyed the work I was doing, how much they enjoyed the work that me and Roddy (Strong) were doing as a team there. Malcolm’s obviously an incredible mouthpiece, Hideki was a force to be reckoned with. It was really a hugely positive thing with all of them. I remember I worked a lot with Fit Finlay at the time and he was always very hands on with Diamond Mine stuff that we were doing to try and give more of that realistic touch because Finlay is incredible. He was always telling me, ‘This is some of the best work I’ve seen you do here.’ I’m like, man, if Fit’s giving me this kind of critiques, this means a lot to me, man. This means I’m doing the right thing, we’re on the right path. And then like, yeah, two weeks later, I get the phone call that I’m released and I’m like, ‘Okay, well, that’s unexpected.’

** Former Ring of Honor talent Slex joined The Wrstling Podcast and shared that he was thinking about traveling to the U.S. for WrestleMania 38 week. Slex resides in Australia and feels that the current U.S. free agent scene is flooded at the moment and thinks he could get lost in the shuffle.

That’s the thing because I was thinking of — I was obviously thinking of traveling to America this year for Mania weekend and trying to sort something out but, I mean I just feel like you’re gonna get lost in the shuffle. There’s so much talent at the moment and there’s only so many jobs and I get getting over there and wanting to be there and stuff like that but I think for me, right now, I’m sort of happy being in Australia, wrestling as much as I can. I’m pretty much wrestling here every weekend around Australia so, I’m still getting the reps in, still improving and still love what I’m doing and yeah, the end goal still is to do this full-time and try and get a contract somewhere. But right now, for me, I feel like I’m better off just waiting a little bit and seeing what happens.

** WrestleZone conducted an interview Ian Riccaboni and he reflected on Ring of Honor’s 2021 Final Battle event. Ian said he received messages from people in WWE, IMPACT Wrestling and AEW who showed their support and wished him and Ring of Honor well going forward.

There are people from other companies, I got texts throughout the night from people in AEW, from IMPACT, from WWE, who said, ‘We’re rooting for you guys. We hope you succeed, we hope this isn’t the last one, but if it is, we’re watching and we love you.’ And so we know that those companies and our friends at the different companies are watching, and were rooting our guys on. So Caprice and I, we did our best to leave everything out on the table to try and make everybody look like a million dollars. Because the reality is, [they] are legitimate free agents as of December 31st, we were trying to shine them up as much as we could and make them look like a million dollars. We’re trying to have fun and make light of the situation.

** The National Wrestling Alliance is scheduled to present the Crockett Cup tournament from March 19th-20th. The organization was profiled by The Tennessean and NWA owner Billy Corgan was interviewed for the piece.

** TV personality LiLiCo is going to have her pro wrestling retirement match at DDT Pro Wrestling’s 25th Anniversary Show on March 20th. She’ll be teaming with Ryohei Odai, who is her husband and an actor. A press conference was held and she explained why she wants Ryohei to team with her.

If I’m going to fight [for the last time], I want my husband Odai, who has been protecting me and supporting me, to be with me. From the day I met him, I felt that he was protecting me. [I] can’t even cut [my] own toenails, so I’m worried about him [she joked]. I thought it would be important to have him by my side, so I asked him to do it.

** PWX Wrestling unveiled the first-round matches for their 2022 X16 tournament which begins on March 26th:

– ACH vs. Drew Adler
– Ethan Case vs. Lince Dorado
– Anthony Henry vs. David Ali
– Chip Day vs. Jordan Oliver
– Lucky Ali vs. Alexander Moss
– J.D. Drake vs. BoJack
– Wheeler YUTA vs. Mason Myles
– Savannah Evans vs. Effy

** AEW President Tony Khan was a guest on Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams and Max Kellerman’s podcast.

** Ahead of Friday Night SmackDown in New Orleans, Louisiana, Kofi Kingston chatted with WGNO. Kingston also appeared on WBRC FOX 6 to promote SmackDown in Alabama on March 11th.

** Ahead of Super Bowl LVI, The Athletic spoke to Seth Rollins about his football fandom and his thoughts about the upcoming game.

** Daily Star chatted with Bianca Belair at a BT Sport event in London, England.

** IndyStar published a story about a local couple choosing to celebrate their Valentine’s Day by attending Monday Night Raw in Indianapolis.

** Ronda Rousey’s latest Facebook gaming stream.

** At MLW SuperFight on 2/26, Puma King is returning to the organization.

** Lance Archer is scheduled for Maryland Championship Wrestling’s ‘Winter Blast’ event on 12/19.

If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

About Andrew Thompson 3890 Articles
A Maryland native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.