POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Tony Khan working on “something pretty big”, WWE returns to Saudi Arabia

Tony Khan speaks on Cody & Brandi Rhodes and a big project, WWE returns to Saudi Arabia, Dynamite quarters, and a massive weekend of shows.

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images/TNT

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live tonight at a special start time of 10:15 p.m. ET due to Rampage airing earlier than usual. Wai Ting will be joined by Kate from Montreal to review AEW Rampage: Slam Dunk and the final SmackDown before Elimination Chamber on Saturday. They will also be taking calls from POST Wrestling Café members, who have live access to the show and can also download it later tonight.

**Wai and I will be back on Saturday night for our Elimination Chamber POST Show at 8 p.m. ET for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café. We will be going through the entire card and taking your calls.

**We had a great panel discussion on Thursday with reporters Brandon Thurston and David Bixenspan discussing the WWE’s deal with the Government of Saudi Arabia, which was announced four years. We discussed the history of the deal, the many controversies that have arisen, and details that have been reported along the way. This was a great show and I’d recommend checking it out for the larger subjects that these shows bring about with the politics involved.

**This month’s edition of The Wellness Policy features Wai Ting and Jordan Goodman chatting with Neal Flanagan about “The Inner Critic”.

**We have a special Q&A with writer and artist Matt Charlton, who has just released the third volume of his J-Crowned series that chronicles the building blocks of the J-Crown involving eight championships from various countries. All three volumes are available on Amazon and you can listen to an interview that WH Park did with Charlton when the second volume was released.

WWE RETURNS TO SAUDI ARABIA FOR ELIMINATION CHAMBER

The major show this weekend is WWE’s Elimination Chamber from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

It’s a loaded show that should set up several directions for WrestleMania, which currently has two advertised matches with Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar and Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey.

The men’s Elimination Chamber comes with the most intrigue as Bobby Lashley defends the WWE Championship against Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, Riddle, and Austin Theory. Beyond the booking, it should be a tremendous high-action match given the level of talent with the added stakes involved. On paper, it would seem puzzling to insert Lesnar in a match to lose one month before ‘Mania and fresh off a rare defeat at the Royal Rumble.

It was teased on television of doing Title vs. Title and the fact it was thrown out there would suggest it’s more likely to happen rather than dangle a larger scenario that they aren’t going to deliver.

Putting the belt on Lesnar would, in theory, leave the Raw side a bit bare leading into ‘Mania without a title picture. However, given the news of Steve Austin’s expected involvement and the arrival of Cody Rhodes, that could swell interest if the two are earmarked on Raw.

Roman Reigns and Bill Goldberg appear to be the final match on Goldberg’s existing deal with the company and the only scenario that makes sense is to have Reigns retain and go to ‘Mania as strong as possible. Having Goldberg appear for two matches per year still has value especially on these cards in Saudi Arabia where the list of past stars continues to shrink. This was the planned match for WrestleMania 36 in 2020 but was changed when Reigns removed himself from the show at the start of the pandemic and Goldberg lost the title to Braun Strowman, instead.

Given Goldberg’s past programs with Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar, that element wasn’t touched on in his promos to give the fan a reasonable doubt that Goldberg could win and face one of his past opponents at ‘Mania to at least present some doubt in the outcome.

Come ‘Mania season, there are typically fewer surprises once the card is mapped out and the logical direction supersedes the element of surprising your audience because something may be predictable. On that note, it would seem like Bianca Belair is the heavy favorite to win the women’s Chamber match that includes Rhea Ripley, Nikki A.S.H., Liv Morgan, Doudrop, and the returning Alexa Bliss.

The other two women’s matches are Becky Lynch defending the Raw women’s championship against Lita and a tag match with Ronda Rousey & Naomi against Charlotte Flair & Sonya Deville. It is by far the most female representation on any of the WWE cards, where women became part of the shows beginning with Renee Paquette on commentary in 2018 and the first women’s match taking place in February 2020.

Up until the last card in October, the shows in Saudi Arabia had been poorly received from a quality standpoint, coupled with the general uneasiness audiences have had with WWE being in business with the Government of Saudi Arabia, to begin with.

Everyone is going to have their own view of these cards and to either understand or choose to ignore the role the company is willing to play for unheard of amounts of money for two events per year. The company received its most criticism for the shows in 2018 given the heavy-handed propaganda messaging on The Greatest Royal Rumble card, and going ahead with their November show that year – one month after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Nothing has been as overt as the messaging on the first show, which was toned down significantly afterward, but it still exists and there is a reason WWE is being paid so handsomely for these events, which makes these cards more financially lucrative than WrestleMania.

Below is the full card for Saturday’s show with the kickoff at 11 a.m. ET and the main show at Noon:
*WWE Championship, Elimination Chamber: Bobby Lashley (champion) vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins vs. Riddle vs. AJ Styles vs. Austin Theory
*WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (champion) vs. Bill Goldberg
*Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (champion) vs. Lita
*Elimination Chamber Match: Bianca Belair vs. Liv Morgan vs. Doudrop vs. Nikki A.S.H. vs. Rhea Ripley vs. Alexa Bliss
*Falls Count Anywhere, Weapons are Legal: Drew McIntyre vs. Madcap Moss
*Charlotte Flair & Sonya Deville vs. Ronda Rousey & Naomi
*SmackDown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (champions) vs. Viking Raiders
*Rey Mysterio vs. The Miz

POST DAILY NEWS SHOW

On Friday, I was joined by Garrett Gonzales of Fight Game Media and the Wrestling Observer site, as well as Karen Peterson to discuss the major news items including The Undertaker entering the WWE Hall of Fame, AEW Dynamite numbers, Elimination Chamber, and KAIRI returning to STARDOM at Sumo Hall next month.

The audio version is available on both the POST Wrestling and POST Wrestling Café feeds today.

WRESTLING NEWS

**Tony Khan appeared on Busted Open Radio on Friday to promote tonight’s episode of Rampage and was asked about the departures of Cody & Brandi Rhodes. Khan said it was “not something any of us wanted to happen” and went on to state that “I believe Cody has something else in the works. I’m not sure about that, but we’ll see.” Beyond that, he didn’t want to comment further on their departures but echoed his statement sent out Tuesday in being complementary to both for their contributions.

At the end of the interview, Khan announced he was “working on something pretty big” that he is hoping to complete in the next week and said “it would be massive” and not something he thinks people would be expecting but “would be a big deal in pro wrestling” and hopes to have an announcement soon.

**It is a rare taped edition of Friday Night SmackDown with the key talent in Jeddah for the Elimination Chamber show. The episode was taped last Friday at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans including the contract signing with Ronda Rousey & Naomi against Charlotte Flair & Sonya Deville for Saturday. There was a physicality spot between Flair and Rousey that made its way online after the taping and it looked terrible, and will no doubt, be cleaned up for tonight’s airing.

Below are the segments and matches that were taped with the show airing at 8 p.m. ET on Fox:
*Face-to-Face between Roman Reigns and Bill Goldberg
*Contract signing for Charlotte Flair & Sonya Deville vs. Ronda Rousey & Naomi
*Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura (champion) vs. Sami Zayn
*Sheamus vs. Ricochet
*Jimmy Uso vs. Ivar

**AEW Rampage airs at the special start time of 7 p.m. ET tonight on TNT and streams on TSN Direct with the taped episode from Nashville. Below are the matches for tonight:
*Adam Cole vs. Preston “10” Vance
*Jay White vs. Trent Beretta
*Face of the Revolution Qualifying Match: Dante Martin vs. Powerhouse Hobbs
*Serena Deeb’s Five-Minute Rookie Challenge

**Brandon Thurston has the quarter-hour breakdown for AEW Dynamite from this past Wednesday. It was the lowest figures for Dynamite since moving to TBS last month:

**The first edition of NXT Level Up premieres at 10 p.m. ET on the WWE Network. The show takes the place of 205 Live, which had long outgrown the concept and had become a show to mainly focus on lower-level NXT talent that is already on television. Former Ring of Honor host and wrestler Quinn McKay was part of the taping on Tuesday under the name ‘Kelly Kincaid’ and was terrific in that role for years on ROH programming. The first show will feature the following:
*Harland vs. Javier Bernal
*Fallon Henley (the bartender on NXT 2.0 this past Wednesday with Jensen & Briggs) & Kayla Inlay vs. Ivy Nile & Tatum Paxley
*Edris Enofe vs. KUSHIDA

**Congratulations to Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae, who announced the birth of their child on Thursday. The baby’s name is Quill after Peter Quill from Guardians of the Galaxy.

**New Japan Pro Wrestling is holding back-to-back shows in Hokkaido this weekend. The first show will stream live on Saturday morning at 3 a.m. ET with the following card:
*IWGP United States Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (champion) vs. SANADA
*IWGP Tag Team Championship: Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (champions) vs. EVIL & Yujiro
*IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Championship: Robbie Eagles & Tiger Mask (champions) vs. El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori vs. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi
*Kazuchika Okada, Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata vs. Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & Hiromi Takahashi
*Great O-Khan vs. Tomoaki Honma
*Tomohiro Ishii & YOH vs. SHO & Dick Togo
*Minoru Suzuki & Taichi vs. Toru Yano vs. Ryohei Oiwa
*Togi Makabe & Kosei Fujita vs. Taka Michinoku & DOUKI

**Sunday’s New Japan card from Hokkaido is headlined by Kazuchika Okada defending the IWGP world heavyweight championship against Tetsuya Naito. It is their first singles match since the second night of Wrestle Kingdom 14 in January 2020 when Naito became double champion. Throughout their entire careers, Naito is 5-3 against Okada. The show will stream Saturday night at Midnight on Eastern on New Japan World.

**WWE is branding two Saturday night house shows in April as ‘Saturday Night’s Main Event’. The name is being used to promote the shows on April 23rd in Montgomery, Alabama, and April 30th in Lakeland, Florida. The concept of Saturday Night’s Main Event began in May 1985 to air in the timeslot of Saturday Night Live on NBC during an off week for the sketch comedy series. The debut event did an 8.8 rating and 26 share and become a regular series on NBC through 1991 and had a brief run on Fox before it was shelved. They revitalized the series in 2006 after moving back to NBC Universal with five editions of the series, which ended with the August 2008 airing.

**Stephanie McMahon-Levesque spoke briefly about the pending Netflix series chronicling Vince McMahon and Ronda Rousey’s recent return at the Royal Rumble and WWE leaning into AR and the Metaverse.

**IMPACT Wrestling is holding its No Surrender special on Saturday from the Alario Center in New Orleans, Louisiana with television tapings on Sunday from the same venue. This is Lance Storm’s first weekend back on the road since leaving WWE during the pandemic and is working for IMPACT as a producer.

No Surrender will air on IMPACT Plus and IMPACT Ultimate Insiders on YouTube beginning at 8 p.m. ET with a free countdown special at 7:30 on YouTube. Below is the card for the show:
*IMPACT Championship: Moose (champion) vs. W. Morrissey
*Knockouts Championship: Mickie James (champion) vs. Tasha Steelz
*Team IMPACT (Eddie Edwards, Rich Swann, Chris Sabin, Rhino & Steve Maclin) vs. Honor No More (Matt Taven, Mike Bennett, Kenny King, PCO & Vincent)
*IMPACT Tag Team Championship: The Good Brothers (champions) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny
*Jay White vs. Eric Young
*Digital Media Championship: Matt Cardona (champion) vs. Jordynne Grace
*JONAH vs. Black Taurus
*Deonna Purrazzo’s Open Challenge
*Chris Bey vs. Ace Austin vs. Speedball Mike Bailey vs. Jake Something
*Countdown Special: John Skyler vs. Trey Miguel
*Countdown Special: Tenille Dashwood vs. Havok

**GCW has back-to-back shows at The Showboat in Atlantic City, New Jersey this weekend. The weekend begins with ‘Believe Me’ on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET with Alex Colon vs. Reed Bentley for the Ultraviolent title, The Briscoes vs. Joel & Jose Maximo, John Wayne Murdoch vs. G-Raver, Atticus Cogar vs. Billie Starkz, Joey Janela vs. Mascara Dorada, Nick Wayne vs. Jordan Oliver, Blake Christian vs. Jimmy Lloyd, Matt Tremont vs. Hoodfoot, and an eight-man tag with Effy, AJ Gray, 1 Called Manders & Matthew Justice vs. ASF, Gringo Loco, Jack Cartwheel & Kamikaze. Sunday’s show will feature Nick Gage & Matt Tremont defending the tag titles for the first time against John Wayne Murdoch & Reed Bentley.

**On Saturday’s GCW card, Nick Gage will speak to the audience and discuss his future inside the ring. After several months off, Gage returned last month at the Hammerstein Ballroom as a surprise to win the GCW tag titles with Matt Tremont from The Briscoes and followed by signing a contract with the promotion, which is the first one issued by GCW.

**If this weekend was not packed already, AAA has Rey de Reyes on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET from Veracruz and streaming on FITE TV for $19.99 (U.S.) with the following:
*AAA Mega Championship: Hijo del Vikingo (champion) vs. John Hennigan
*AAA Tag Team Championship: Pentagon Jr. & Rey Fenix vs. Dragon Lee & Dralistico – Fenix has not wrested since his arm injury on Dynamite on January 5th with the Wrestling Observer reporting he is about a month away from being able to return, so this match will likely change
*Rey de Reyes Match: Laredo Kid vs. Bandido vs. Cibernetico vs. Psycho Clown vs. TBA
*Puma King, Sam Adonis & DMT Azul vs. L.A. Park, El Hijo de L.A. Park & L.A. Park Jr. vs. El Cuatrero, Sanson & Forastero
*Lady Shani vs. Flammer vs. Lady Maravilla vs. TBA
*Abismo Negro Jr., Psicosis & Latigo vs. Willie Mack, Mr. Iguana & Nino Hamburguesa
*Villano III Jr. & La Hiedra vs. Arez & Chik Tormenta vs. Octagon Jr. & Sexy Star

**Jeff Hardy & brother Matt are scheduled for several matches beginning in March once Jeff’s 90-day no-compete clause expires after his release by WWE in December. The following dates have been announced featuring The Hardys teaming together:
*March 12 for Big Time Wrestling against either The Briscoes or The Maximos/SAT in Webster, Massachusetts
*March 13 for Big Time Wrestling against Matt Cardona & Brian Myers in Albany, New York
*March 27 against nZo & Caz XL for Northeast Wrestling at Crosby High School
*May 15 against Matt Taven & Mike Bennet at MCW’s Spring Fever event

**MLW has announced that Gangrel will be wrestling Gnarls Garvin at the Supercard event on February 26th from the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

**The WWE stock closed at $58.55 on Friday.

MMA NEWS

**The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas for a Fight Night card. The event lost its main event between Rafael Fiziev and former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos due to a visa issue for Fiziev. The fight has been moved to UFC 272 on March 5th and leaves this card without much star power. The entire card will stream on ESPN+ on Saturday night:

MAIN CARD (7 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill
*Kyle Daukaus vs. Jamie Pickett
*Alan Baudot vs. Parker Porter
*Nikolas Motta vs. Jim Miller
*Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Joaquin Buckley

PRELIMINARY CARD (4 p.m. on ESPN+)
*Gabriel Benitez vs. David Onama – Benitez missed weight by two pounds
*Jessica Rose-Clark vs. Stephanie Egger
*Chas Skelly vs. Mark Striegl
*Gloria de Paula vs. Diana Belbita
*Chad Anheliger vs. Jesse Strader
*Jonathan Pearce vs. Christian Rodriguez
*Jay Perrin vs. Mario Bautista

**TSN 2 in Canada will be airing the UFC card beginning at 5 p.m. ET.

**The UFC has also lost next weekend’s main event where lightweights Islam Makhachev and Beneil Dariush were set to meet. ESPN reported that Dariush suffered a broken fibula in training and had to withdraw from the fight. Makhachev is going to remain on the card as Bobby Green has agreed to take the fight just days after his three-round fight against Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 271 last Saturday. The new main event will be contested at a catchweight of 160 pounds and is scheduled for five rounds, according to ESPN.

**Bellator also has a card on Saturday with Bellator 274 from Uncasville, Connecticut at Mohegan Sun Arena. The main card airs at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime with the prelims beginning at 6 p.m. on the Showtime Sports YouTube channel:

MAIN CARD (9 p.m. ET on Showtime)
*Neiman Gracie vs. Logan Storley
*Andrey Koreshkov vs. Chance Rencountre
*Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Adam Piccolotti
*Brennan Ward vs. Brandon Bell
*Said Sowma vs. Davion Franklin

PRELIMINARY CARD (6 p.m. on Showtime Sports’ YouTube & Pluto TV)
*Mandel Nallo vs. Nick Browne
*Chris Disonell vs. Jaylon Bates
*Aviv Gozali vs. Bobby King
*Justine Kish vs. DeAnna Bennett
*Jordan Newman vs. Cody Herbert
*Corey Samuels vs. Justin Montalvo
*Isaiah Hokit vs. Theodore Macuka
*Jonathan Di Lorenzo vs. Orlando Mendoza

**Ariel Helwani was joined by UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in-studio on this past Wednesday’s edition of The MMA Hour to discuss his win against Robert Whittaker and lots more.

ON THIS DATE

The WWF and MTV partnered for The War to Settle the Score on this date in 1985 as the precursor to the first WrestleMania. The event sold out both Madison Square Garden and the adjacent Felt Forum featuring Hulk Hogan taking on Roddy Piper for the WWF championship. The MTV special drew a 9.1 rating.

After a phenomenal segment to establish their match at WrestleMania, an angle in the next segments saw Hulk Hogan use a tractor-trailer to crash into an ambulance carrying The Rock. Exactly one month later, they teamed together on Raw.

*****
POST DAILY NEWS: WWE Hall of Fame, AEW ratings, KAIRI
John Pollock is joined by Garrett Gonzales of Fight Game Media and the Wrestling Observer followed by Karen Peterson from the POST Wrestling network.
*****
THE WELLNESS POLICY: The Inner Critic
Wai Ting and Jordan Goodman are joined by “Our Man” Neal Flanagan for this month’s edition of The Wellness Policy! The guys explore the concept and experience of one’s “inner critic”.
*****
MEDIA PANEL: WWE-Saudi Arabia Relationship
John Pollock is joined by reporters Brandon Thurston and David Bixenspan to discuss WWE’s deal with the Government of Saudi Arabia as they return to the country this weekend.
*****
SHOT IN THE DARK: Final Episode of 205 Live, Josh Alexander sent home
John Siino reviews this week’s editions of AEW Dark, AEW Dark: Elevation, NXT UK, IMPACT Wrestling, 205 Live, NJPW Strong, NWA Powerrr, NWA USA, and Main Event in under 15 minutes on Shot In The Dark.
*****
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE: Won’t You Be My Valentine?
John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite featuring CM Punk’s stipulation reveal for his match against MJF, and Sammy Guevara vs. Darby Allin for the TNT Championship.
*****
upNXT: Vengeance Day 2022
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the February 15th, 2022 edition of WWE NXT 2.0 – “Vengeance Day” headlined by Bron Breakker vs Santos Escobar for the NXT Championship!
*****
ASK-A-WAI: Ask Us Anything! (February 2022)
John Pollock and Wai Ting answer their patrons’ questions from the POST Wrestling Forum in the February 2022 edition of Ask-A-Wai.
*****
REWIND-A-RAW: Elimination Chamber Go-Home Show
John Pollock & Wai Ting review the go-home edition of WWE Raw before Elimination Chamber as we find out the final participant in the women’s Elimination Chamber match.
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WRESTLENOMICS: Estimating how much revenue AEW makes
We estimate All Elite Wrestling made about $84 million in revenue in 2021. Brandon Thurston breaks down AEW’s revenue sources and how much he believes the company made in 2021 and 2020.
*****

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About John Pollock 5568 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.