POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: What’s going on with CM Punk and Hangman Page?

John Pollock looks at the CM Punk and Hangman Page story and the details that have emerged and how best to move forward with it.

Photo Courtesy: AEW

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live at 11 p.m. ET tonight with Kate from Montreal joining me to review Friday Night SmackDown and AEW Rampage. The two of us will also discuss the news from the past few days and take your calls and feedback. The show is live and available to download for all POST Wrestling Café members.

**Our G1 Climax coverage wrapped up on Thursday with Bruce Lord and I reviewing the final night of the tournament. The final between Will Ospreay and Kazuchika Okada was incredible and among the best matches of the year and will be a contender alongside their Wrestle Kingdom match in January. This is one of the most incredible weeks of wrestling I have seen from one person in Ospreay given the equally great match with Tetsuya Naito the night before. On the show, Bruce and I also handed out our G1 Awards including best matches, best performer, best event, worst matches, worst performer, and three additions & subtractions for 2023. Plus, Chris Engler revealed the winner of the annual POST G1 Climax Contest. Thanks to everyone that followed our coverage over the past month and the contributors on the sites & shows including Bruce, Karen Peterson, WH Park, Mike Murray, Wai Ting, Chris Engler & Mark Buckeldee.

**Bruce Lord has an excellent breakdown of all 28 performers in the G1 Climax and grading each one’s performance in the tournament with ratings and standout moments.

**On Saturday night, Phil Chertok and I will be live with the UFC 278 POST Show immediately after the main event on the POST YouTube channel.

**Jordan Goodman & Neal Flanagan have released The Wellness Policy for August discussing modern psychotherapy and opening it up to the POST community with feedback during the show.

**This week’s MCU L8R is a special free edition of the show as Rich & Melissa Fann join WH Park to review the premiere of She-Hulk on Disney+ and get WH’s thoughts on the world at large, as usual.

CM PUNK AND HANGMAN PAGE

There was no shortage of news coming out of Wednesday’s Dynamite but the predominant subject days later is CM Punk’s left-field challenge directed at Hangman Page that had no connection to any ongoing story or attachment to the rest of the segment.

Punk, in his first promo since his injury, alerted the audience that he had something to say to “someone that’s from around these parts” and laid down the title offering a challenge to Hangman Page, his opponent at Double or Nothing and the man he won the title from. The challenge to Page was reported by Dave Meltzer to be an unplanned one, catching people off guard and putting Page in the unenviable role of top babyface that doesn’t stand up to a challenge.

In further reporting from Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp and Meltzer, this was believed to be a response from the lead-up to Double or Nothing and material Page used to build the match, which Punk never had a chance to respond to. On the go-home episode before the pay-per-view, Page stated he was defending AEW against Punk stating that a champion is judged by what he does when the camera isn’t on and that Punk spoke about worker’s rights but his actions said the opposite. On the June 8th edition of Dynamite, in Page’s first appearance on the show since losing the belt, he said he had a lot to say about the AEW title but “tonight is not the night” and then joked that he won’t be receiving a title shot any time soon (this was right after Punk announced his injury and Page wasn’t included in the battle royal to determine the spot at Forbidden Door).

In Friday’s edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Meltzer noted that there is a drama among several of the top performers with the catalyst being the handling of Colt Cabana, who was ousted from the Dark Order with no storyline and moved to Ring of Honor with disagreements over Cabana’s treatment and why that happened.

It becomes very tricky and sensitive handling is required of Tony Khan to keep his biggest names happy while also exerting control as the ultimate authority in the company that cannot have his top stars downgrading their peers on live national television with no plan to follow up.

The positive is that Khan is in the business of selling conflict to the public and pairing Punk and Page together in a month or two requires no selling, as the public will buy the animosity as legitimate regardless of how this behind-the-scenes issue is handled. If Khan can be a successful go-between, he can sit both guys down and with cooler heads, explain that both veered outside the other’s confines for promo material, settle the issue, and agree to make money with this conflict for maximum value toward the company.

While the industry is built on selling conflict, it’s also one built on the trust of two individuals working together – taking care of each other both physically, but also working together and not in opposition when building a match. Again, in an unscripted environment, one would imagine that many promos have crossed the line and one can mask the true feelings of an individual under the guise of “working” and it’s the material that resonates most with an audience deeply attached to these personalities and becoming more invested when a nerve is struck during a promo.

If you’re holding each guy to a standard, Punk clearly went out of bounds, if no one knew the challenge was being issued especially Tony Khan and Hangman Page. I view Page’s comments very differently, although they may have cut deep but were done with a business objective in mind, to sell a pay-per-view – and we can’t clamor for unscripted promos and get upset about unscripted lines, which come down to a disagreement in what is fair game. Punk was not building anything with Page this week and embarrassed him on national television, and his argument would likely be that it was a receipt on the same platform he felt embarrassed by several months ago, but it was unprofessional.

That said, Punk is the top star of the company and anyone believing different standards don’t exist is fooling themselves. Punk will have more rope than anyone and puts Khan in a spot where he needs to show the locker room that he has control of it while knowing full well that suspending or taking Punk off television would only harm the company and risk alienating Punk.

If the two have no program coming out of this, it would tell you that one or both doesn’t have trust in the other and won’t work with them. If a program develops, which would be the direction to go, some will assume it was never real, to begin with, but that’s an audience that doesn’t believe anything is real for a fear of being worked.

The more interesting audience to poll would be members of the locker room that are months removed from the MJF promo on television that has created a situation where one is right to question everything – it’s the paranoia that exists within wrestling and is fostered when trying to pull off elaborate angles and keep everyone in the dark. You lose trust and don’t believe anything within your company.

The Punk and Page story may be a blip on the radar several weeks from now, but it has put a spotlight  on an underlying current within the company of competing attitudes and opinions, strife among top talent, and using national television to handle backstage matters. The last part is the troubling one because every company has big personalities and egos colliding for their views and how their characters are handled, but once television becomes that playground it’s a dangerous precedent – especially when the offender, in this case, Punk, doesn’t stand to be reprimanded in any meaningful way – and has excelled in an environment that promotes talent being themselves on television, unscripted and using real emotions to tell personal stories.

Now, they shift to Wednesday’s Dynamite with arguably the biggest match in the show’s history between Punk and Jon Moxley that should feature some angle to confirm the main event of All Out. This comes after two big episodes of the program that didn’t enhance its viewership beyond normal levels and tempers my expectations of what Wednesday’s show does. Regardless, even at the 0.30-0.33 level, they are likely to win the night on cable and it’s more important to have a major momentum-building angle on Wednesday to pay dividends for the pay-per-view – either leading to a direct rematch between Punk and Moxley or the insertion of a new opponent that is bigger than the original plan.

WRESTLING NEWS

**Friday Night SmackDown should have a hot crowd with the return to the Bell Centre in Montreal. Over 9,400 tickets were out according to WrestleTix as of two days ago. It kicks off a Canadian swing with house shows in Quebec and Montreal this weekend and a big episode of Raw in Toronto where 12,600 tickets are out.

Tonight’s episode features a face-to-face between Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre to build up their championship match for Clash at the Castle. The show will also feature the following matches:
*Women’s Tag Title Tournament: Natalya & Sonya Deville vs. Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne (who are replacing Nikkita Lyons & Zoey Stark)

**WWE posted a video announcing the switch in the women’s tag title tournament. Shawn Michaels did a short address stating that Zoey Stark was injured in Tuesday’s match with Mandy Rose and that Nikkita Lyons was “medically unavailable”.

**In local advertising, they had been promoting Kevin Owens vs. Riddle, which would likely be a dark match for Montreal. The positioning of Sami Zayn will be interesting tonight as he’s in a heel role with The Bloodline but has been teasing dissension with The Usos lately. Zayn should be the most popular star on the show tonight.

**With the crew heading to Wales in two weeks, next week’s SmackDown from Detroit will be a double taping at Little Caesar’s Arena. They did the same double taping format this past February when Elimination Chamber took place on a Saturday in Saudi Arabia where the taped episode averaged 2.173 million viewers and 0.54 in 18-49 and the previous week’s live edition did 2.231 and 0.56. The news of the double taping was reported earlier this month by PWinsider.com and several sources confirmed the taping schedule to POST Wrestling.

**Paul Levesque noted that tonight is the 1200th episode of SmackDown when including the pilot episode from April 1999 that begat the official premiere in August that year on UPN. The addition of SmackDown was one of the catalysts that led to the departures of Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara with an additional two hours of original programming to write with Russo stating over the years it came without a raise. It came when the company was riding its popularity wave of the late ‘90s. The show would bounce around networks over the years including the revamped CW Network, MyNetworkTV, Syfy, and USA Network while going from Thursdays to Fridays, and eventually live on Tuesdays on USA until the Fox deal, which secured the company an annual average rights deal of $205 million per year for the two-hour program that took effect in 2019.

**Here are the matches and segments for AEW Rampage tonight at 10 p.m. ET on TNT:
*Trios Tournament: Ari Daivari, Parker Boudreaux & Slim J vs. Trent Beretta, Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy
*AEW Tag Team Championships: Swerve in Our Glory (champions) vs. Private Party
*FTW Title: Hook (champion) vs. Zack Clayton
*Penelope Ford vs. Athena
*Claudio Castagnoli speaks

**Will Ospreay continues one of the most incredible one-week periods in recent memory as he faces Speedball Mike Bailey at Saturday’s RevPro card as part of its tenth anniversary weekend. After three nights at Budokan Hall and two high-end match-of-the-year caliber contenders, Ospreay is scheduled for both RevPro events on Saturday & Sunday at York Hall and then comes to the U.S. for the Trios match on Dynamite next Wednesday in Cleveland.

**New Japan president Takami Ohbari spoke about the G1 Climax following the month-long tour that featured 20 events since July 16th:

We underwent the tour with a goal of bringing 50,000 spectators across our 20 events, and eventually achieved 96% of that goal. Over 48,000 fans attended G1 events this year, a 180% increase over last year’s G1. Thanks to all of you for being a part of G1 Climax 32. I myself met many fans who were coming to venues for the first time in two years or more. Many children were in attendance, and I even saw fans who were able to make the trip to see G1 from overseas. There were new fans, returning fans and international fans all experiencing the energy and power that the G1 creates. We all plan to bring that same energy with us through this 50th Anniversary year, right up until January 4 2023.

Finally, I want to make note of the fact that we were able to complete the tour without any cases of COVID arising. This is in no small part thanks to the efforts of all our great fans who were able to abide by our event protocols throughout the tour, and for that, and all your support, I thank you very much.’

The shows drew 48,138 and works out to 2,407 per night, which is up from the 2021 version that took place in October and had further restrictions but way below the big years that preceded the pandemic. The last paragraph on COVID is not an inconsequential statistic given how many positive tests we hear on a weekly basis (and probably many more we don’t hear about) and in New Japan, they are always transparent on COVID-related issues. Many are frustrated with how slow the return has been in Japan with the continued non-cheering protocols, but it is a notable achievement that no one tested positive.

**Nixon Newell, who wrestled as Tegan Nox in WWE before being released last year, spoke with The Sappenin’ Podcast with Sean Smith and explained her status: (Transcription courtesy Joseph Currier at Wrestling Observer):

I’m in Orlando still. If I leave I can’t come back, so I have to stay here for a while,” Newell said. “I’ve been trying to get my green card for the last eight months. I’m in landlock right now, so if I leave then I can’t come back.

Basically, because I haven’t gotten the visa or green card, I can’t wrestle. I keep getting messages, ‘Have you retired? Have you done this?’ No, I just can’t. Legally, I can’t.

**C*4 Wrestling in Ottawa, Ontario has its annual Fighting Back charity event tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Preston Event Centre at 523 St. Anthony’s Street. They have been holding this event annually since 2011 to raise funds in memory of Phrank Morin and have led to the group raising over $400,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society. Tonight’s show includes Eddie Kingston vs. Stu Grayson, Evil Uno vs. Kevin Ku, Janai Kai vs. LuFisto, TDT & a mystery partner against PUF, Ricky & a mystery partner, and more.

**Pro Wrestling NOAH continues its N-1 Victory tournament on Saturday with a card on Wrestle Universe featuring A Block matches with Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Masato Tanaka, Go Shiozaki vs. Hijo de Dr. Wagner Jr., and Hideki Suzuki vs. Anthony Greene. The three B Block matches are Masakatsu Funaki vs. Satoshi Kojima, Kinya Okada vs. Kaito Kiyomiya, and Takashi Sugiura vs. Jack Morris. The tournament continues next Saturday & Sunday with the finals on September 3rd in Osaka.

**Stardom’s 5-Star Grand Prix continues Saturday in Osaka with Red Stars matches including Syuri vs. Saki Kashima, Momo Kohgo vs. Risa Sera, Koguma vs. Mai Sakurai, and SAKI vs. Maika. The Blue Stars will feature Hazuki vs. Suzu Suzuki, Hanan vs. Starlight Kid, Saya Iida vs. Giulia, and Momo Watanabe vs. Ami Sorei.

**A match between Nick Aldis and Flip Gordon has been added to the second night of the NWA 74 pay-per-view events that take place Sunday, August 28th in St. Louis at the Chase Park Plaza. The NWA had previously announced Aldis would challenge Trevor Murdoch for the NWA title but Billy Corgan announced he had changed the match to Murdoch defending the title against Tyrus.

**Pat Laprade and Kevin Raphael of TVA Sports will be opening the WWE live event at the Videotron Center in Quebec this Sunday night. The two will be there to greet the fans inside the ring before the matches begin. Laprade noted that over 5,000 tickets have been sold for the house show, which will feature Sami Zayn.

**Game Changer Wrestling has a card in Concord, North Carolina tonight streaming at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fite TV. The card features Effy vs. George South, Allie Katch & Dark Sheik vs. Lance Lude & Rob Killjoy, Kevin Blackwood vs. Andrew Everett, Caleb Konley & Zane Riley vs. Matthew Justice & Mance Warner, Ricky & Kerry Morton team with Axton Ray against Chris Hamrick, Jordan Oliver & Billie Starkz, Colby Corino vs. Cole Radrick, Blake Christian vs. Joe Lando, and Ciclope & Miedo Extremo vs. Charli Evans & Everett Connors. Plus, Nick Gage is advertised.

**On Saturday night, GCW is in Atlanta and includes Alex Colon vs. Hunter Freeman for the Ultraviolent title and Cole Radrick vs. Brett Ison for the Extreme title streaming at 8 p.m. ET on Fite.

**NJPW Strong airs Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET on New Japan World and has a great line-up this week. The show will be headlined by El Desperado vs. Hiromu Takahashi vs. Blake Christian and includes Dax Harwood vs. Rocky Romero and JR Kratos vs. Drew Adler.

**NJPW Strong tapes at The Vermont Hollywood in Los Angeles this Sunday night. The card will include Jay White, Juice Robinson, Chase Owens & Hikuleo against KUSHIDA, Rocky Romero, Trent Beretta & Taylor Rust, Robbie Eagles vs. Kevin Blackwood, Mascara Dorada vs. Misterioso, QT Marshall vs. Keita Murray, Alan Angels vs. Taiji Ishimori (very important match for Angels), Peter Avalon vs. Adrian Quest, Che Cabrera vs. Aaron Solo, Aussie Open defending the Strong Openweight tag titles against Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson, Christopher Daniels & Yuya Uemura vs. Shane Haste & Bad Dude Tito, Tom Lawlor & JR Kratos vs. Cody Chhun & Jordan Cruz, and Kevin Knight & The DKC vs. Barrett Brown & BATEMAN.

**DEFY Wrestling will be running the Kliever Armory on Saturday, October 18th in Portland, Oregon. They have announced Christopher Daniels, Swerve Strickland, and Kevin Sullivan for the show.

**Ariel Helwani has an hour-long interview with Billy Corgan on his wrestling fandom, history with ECW, negotiating with Paul Heyman, his love of the WCW product, the NWA, and their two-night pay-per-view next weekend in St. Louis.

MMA NEWS

**Luke Rockhold returns at UFC 278 on Saturday for his first fight in over three years. Rockhold, 37, has been extremely outspoken this week regarding the UFC’s practices, and his issues with the long-term health care of fighters, using the UFC’s media events as a pulpit this week. His media day appearance saw Rockhold blast many aspects of the UFC’s practices including the bonus structure of $50,000 while noting at UFC 129 in 2011 they were handing out $100,000 bonuses, arguing it’s de-escalated despite all the revenue growth. He also called out a reporter from Barstool Sports for presenting a Lucha Libre mask to Marlon Vera this week, stating that he is Ecuadorian and not Mexican and it was not taken the right way while the reporter defended himself stating he never referred to Vera being Mexican. The 25-minute media scrum was not included on the UFC’s YouTube page with the other fighters that took part with their own Q&As.

**Paulo Costa was upset on Friday morning noting that USADA conducted a random drug test on the fighter as he was in the middle of his weight cut. Costa made weight at 185.5 pounds for his fight with Luke Rockhold.

**All fighters made weight prior to UFC 278 on Saturday night, which is headlined by Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards for the welterweight championship. I suspect this is going to be one of the least-purchased UFC cards of the year, although Usman has been involved in high-performing fights with Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington, so any appreciable figure would signal that Usman is being recognized as a larger star rather than just a fantastic fighter. While Rockhold is a former champion, there is very little support for this card from a marquee perspective, although ticket sales are very strong in Salt Lake City, which one would attribute to the UFC brand being hot and going to a market that has only had one Fight Night card in its history and that was six years ago.

Below is the card for Saturday’s show at the Vivent Arena in Utah:

MAIN CARD (10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view)
*UFC Welterweight Championship: Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards – It is hard to take a lot from their first fight in December 2015 given the advances in their careers. Usman’s striking has evolved dramatically and has to be favored. Neither has lost since that last fight and Usman has ascended to become one of the sport’s best. Usman has relentless pressure and can stand with Edwards or wrestle, although Edwards was competitive with takedown defense in that first fight, in which two judges awarded one round to Edwards in.
*Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold – Given their styles, this one seems like a fight that can only end violently with someone getting knocked out. Costa lands plenty but he also absorbs a lot of damage, which makes for an entertaining fight but a bad strategy for someone that is patient. Rockhold has too many questions given the time off, how sharp his submissions remain, and at 37, it’s a major referendum on where he sits.
*Jose Aldo vs. Merab Dvalishvili – Aldo has had a renaissance at bantamweight and a title fight isn’t out of the question if he beats someone of Dvalishvili’s level. Aldo had a high rate of defending takedowns but Dvalishvili averages more than seven takedowns per fifteen minutes, so that’s an interesting game to watch. This is a great fight that will be heavy on strategy.
*Wu Yanan vs. Lucie Pudilova
*Tyson Pedro vs. Harry Hunsucker

PRELIMINARY CARD (8 p.m. ET on ABC, ESPN & ESPN+)
*Alexander Romanov vs. Marcin Tybura – Romanov is 16-0 and it’s his biggest test as a win will raise his stock to the next level in the heavyweight division
*Leonardo Santos vs. Jared Gordon
*Luis Saldana vs. Sean Woodson
*Miranda Maverick vs. Shanna Young

EARLY PRELIMS (6 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and Fight Pass)
*A.J. Fletcher vs. Ange Loosa
*Francisco Figueiredo vs. Amir Albazi
*Aori Qileng vs. Jay Perrin
*Victor Altamirano vs. Daniel Da Silva

**This is the third consecutive pay-per-view where ABC is airing the prelims with the fights simulcast on ESPN and ESPN+.

**The PFL has its last set of semi-final fights for the women’s lightweight and men’s featherweight tournaments on Saturday afternoon. The show takes place in London, England at the Copper Box Arena featuring Kayla Harrison fighting in the city where she won an Olympics gold medal ten years ago. Harrison (14-0) is a -5000 favorite at DraftKings against Martina Jindrova (6-2) with the fight airing on ESPN at 3 p.m. ET. The winner of that fight takes on the winner of Larissa Pacheco (17-4) and Olena Kolesnyk (7-4) on the main card with Harrison already beating Pacheco twice in 2019. The men’s featherweight semi-finals feature Chris Wade (22-7) taking on Brendan Loughnane (23-4) and Ryoji Kudo (11-3-1) fighting Bubba Jenkins (18-5). The finals for all the tournaments take place in November.

**Episode 5 of UFC Embedded for UFC 278.

*****
MCU L8R: She-Hulk Episode 1 Review [FREE]
In this free episode from the POST Café, WH Park & Rich Fann (PW Torch) are joined by Rich’s wife Melissa Fann – an attorney and a patient comic show watcher – to review the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
*****
THE WELLNESS POLICY: Modern Psychotherapy
Jordan Goodman and Neal Flanagan are back with The Wellness Policy to discuss modern psychotherapy: What it is, the various professionals who offer it, and the contemporary types of approaches to its practice.
*****
G1 CLIMAX 32 POST SHOW: Final Night [Patreon]
John Pollock & Bruce Lord review the final night of the NJPW G1 Climax 32 with Kazuchika Okada taking on Will Ospreay to determine the tournament winner.
*****
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE: Kenny Omega Returns
John Pollock is joined by Davie Portman of upNXT to review AEW Dynamite featuring Bryan Danielson vs. Daniel Garcia in a 2/3 falls match.
*****
SHOT IN THE DARK
John Siino reviews this week’s editions of AEW Dark, AEW Dark: Elevation, NXT UK, IMPACT Wrestling, NXT Level Up, NJPW Strong, NWA USA, NWA Powerrr, and WWE Main Event in under 15 minutes on Shot In The Dark.
*****
upNXT: NXT Heatwave
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review NXT Heatwave from August 16th, 2022 featuring Bron Breakker vs JD McDonagh for the NXT Championship.
*****
WWE Q2 Earnings & Q&A with Brandon Thurston
John Pollock is joined by Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics to discuss WWE’s second-quarter earnings report and call with analysts.
*****

Browse the POST Wrestling Store
https://store.postwrestling.com

Subscribe to POST Wrestling
https://postwrestling.com/subscribe

POST Wrestling Forum
https://forum.postwrestling.com

Support our Patreon – The POST Wrestling Café
http://www.patreon.com/POSTwrestling

Follow us
Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

About John Pollock 4085 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.