POST NEWS UPDATE: Giulia discusses desire to help STARDOM grow, doesn’t want promotion to be content with their position

Giulia chats STARDOM, notes from Road Dogg, Sting/Steve Austin/Edge note, Great-O-Khan on how NJPW can improve, Athena/Rick Ross

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.

** In the final portion of Tokyo Sports’ profile of Giulia which was released prior to her World of STARDOM Title win, she spoke about her aspirations to help STARDOM grow. She mentioned that she sees a lot of empty seats in venues although the attendance number might be good. On her end, she believes it is not enough to just perform well in the ring and does not want STARDOM to be content with where they are as a promotion.

STARDOM has a lot of big matches. Watching from the ring, I see a lot of empty seats. In terms of numbers, it might be a good number, like over a thousand people. But I don’t think that level is good enough for a big venue. What do we have to do to achieve that? I think there are many things to think about and to do. I don’t think it is good enough to just work hard and show good performances in my own matches. I would like to speak out to the company as well.

When I won the 5 STAR [Grand Prix], I said, ‘I want to show you guys the best view.’ Because I want a lot of customers to see it. For that reason, I have to say things that are difficult to say. I intend to do that even if the customers don’t see it. If we are content with the environment we have now and continue to eat away at it, I think we will reach our limits in the not-too-distant future. If we really want to move up from here, I think there are things we need to reform.

** On an episode of Brian ‘Road Dogg’ James’ Oh…You Didn’t Know podcast, WWE’s 2017 Clash of Champions pay-per-view was the focus. A conversation was held about the trio formerly known as ‘The Riott Squad’ (Ruby Soho, Liv Morgan & Valhalla/Sarah Logan). James, Senior Vice President of Live Events, discussed how he books Morgan on house shows and positions her as a star, but he always felt Ruby was the standout talent from their trio and still feels that way.

I think she’s [Liv Morgan] improved 100-fold and she’s a legitimate star now and I book her on live events as such, you know what I mean? And put her in positions that position her as such and so that’s a different story for a different show but, for me, it was always Ruby Riott. Ruby Riott was always the one. I still to this day think she’s the one out of those three [from The Riott Squad]. That is just my personal opinion, but I thought she could work, I thought she could cut promos, I thought she was the total package but she didn’t look like Liv, you know what I mean? That’s what I figure was the end-all, be-all but I was a huge fan of Ruby Riott and still to this day a huge fan of her and Liv and Sarah [Logan/Valhalla] too for that matter too. Sarah Logan’s back now and… she’s fun to be around and what a great name… All three of them are delights to work with and great at what they do. So that’s not what I’m getting at here. I’m sure the highlight will be, ‘Road Dogg hates Liv Morgan’ or something. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Love her, love all three of the girls… Just personally, what I saw with my little eye was little, short, scrappy, tattoo girl. She’s the underdog outsider that people can relate to and that’s what I thought and I still feel that way.

Further commenting on Soho, Morgan and Valhalla, Road Dogg, who was SmackDown’s lead writer at the time, stated that when they were brought up to WWE’s main roster, the idea was always to let them develop and then split them up so they could be spread out through the divisions.

I think they [Riott Squad] were great. You’re gonna hear some of my opinions about them here in a minute that might shock some people but, I thought it was great. I thought it was [three] young, beautiful women that all could work and they’re coming into what — Liv [Morgan] was really the greenest at the time but she was in the ring and she was beautiful and she could wrestle… We grade on a curve here because when we say you can go, whether you’re a male or a female, you can go, you know what I mean? And so, she was learning to go at the time. But yeah, they were three beautiful women that were gonna add to any women’s division that we could do. We brought ‘em in three at a time. We were gonna try to eventually break them up and use them. It’s just difficult to put three or four people together because then it’s hard to book and create and write for them individually without the others being involved. How do you get heat on that person when their partner doesn’t come out and save ‘em? It’s not a non-starter. It’s just you gotta go through extra creative hurdles to make stuff like that happen when you put a bunch of people together. We thought we would get ‘em in, get ‘em established and then split them apart and then sprinkle them throughout all the women’s divisions and they would be great additions to it.

He would go to add that he spoke with Valhalla/Sarah Logan about getting more reps in the ring. He thinks of Valhalla as a female version of Bruiser Brody.

I think Sarah Logan needs some reps and me and her talked about that. She’s been off for a while and she had a baby and so she needs to get in the ring a little bit. But her work, she works hard. She works hard and hits hard and I like that about her. She’s like a [Bruiser] Brody, like a woman Brody or something, you know what I mean?

Circling back to the point of booking house shows, James shared that he gave AJ Styles the night off on December 3rd (Rochester, New York) so Styles could attend the SEC Championship game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the L.S.U. Tigers. 

I just had to give him [AJ Styles] the night off [from the December 3rd house show] because he got tickets and he can do an ESPN interview and kind of help promote us too to the SEC Championship game. I thought, dang, I wish I could go to the SEC Championship game.

Coming out of the 2017 WWE Superstar Shake-Up, James felt SmackDown ended up with the weaker roster, but he had great wrestlers and actors to work with.

When we did the Draft and we separated… I thought we had the weaker crew. But I have some great wrestlers and some great actors and that’s what we built on, you know what I mean? And that’s how we survived, that’s how we beat ‘em [Monday Night Raw] one week. It’s incredible acting and people that you are attracted to. I don’t mean that in a weird way… I’m attracted to Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn because they’re good wrestlers and good talkers and funny, you know what I mean? I don’t know, I’m attracted to that kind of person. I wanna be that person’s friend so I wanna watch and see what he does and I had more of them I felt like. But fewer great wrestlers. I had AJ [Styles] and so I knew that. I knew AJ’s the champion, he’s the guy and then you just dress around it with some supporting actors and here you find out, I had AJ and he wasn’t even in the lead role right now [at the time of Clash of Champions 2017]. We’re talking about Bryan [Danielson] and them.

Bryan Danielson was in the General Manager role in 2017 until he was cleared for in-ring competition in 2018. Road Dogg joked about being excited for ‘selfish’ reasons when Bryan was cleared. He said he was looking forward to booking Bryan and apologized for not, above all else, thinking of how Bryan felt to have his in-ring career back.

Until he [Bryan Danielson] got cleared, I didn’t even know he was getting tested and that’s the way I wanted it because it was — for me finding out, it was the same exact feeling when everybody found out. I had that feeling personally for a couple of reasons. Holy crap, a few, Daniel Bryan can wrestle again. That’s awesome for me because I’m the creative guy behind the show he’s on. Selfish. Next thought, oh man, that’s awesome. He’s in a thing with Shane [McMahon], he can do this. Now I’m walking through the creative of how I’m gonna use him [Road Dogg laughed]. Again, selfish and I apologize but now I think, holy crap, Daniel… I call him Daniel. I know his name’s Bryan, I apologize but Daniel’s wanted to wrestle his whole life and he got that taken away from him. Now he’s got it given back to him. How does it have to feel for him? And I’m sorry to have to say that thought wasn’t the first one, you know what I mean? Looking in retrospect but you’re dug in and you’re thinking about the show every week, every day, every hour and I thought of myself first. I apologize.

The Fashion Files that were hosted by Tyler Breeze and Dirty Dango was something Road Dogg enjoyed. He revealed that Steve Guerrieri was the lead writer behind the segments. James stated that once Fashion Files were moved off TV and onto WWE’s digital platforms, everyone, including talent, gave up on it.

I don’t think so [it was time to move on from Fashion Files]. But, it didn’t matter [Road Dogg laughed]. Because guess what? We moved on and it was not an argument or anything. We were happy he [Vince McMahon] was still gonna allow us to do it on a WWE property because we had a great time doing it and sometimes it [led] into stories and sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes it was just for some comic relief, a little let-me-up in a serious wrestling show. So, it might’ve been fizzling out but I thought we were really creative with how we wrote that and by the way, none of that was me. That was my co-writer, Steve Guerrieri, wrote all of the Fashion Files stuff with people, with other people collaborating with him but he was a huge fan of the show Twin Peaks… Huge fan, so he knew all about it so when we started writing that stuff, even E! Entertainment commented on us, on WWE, copying and kept taking the piss out of Twin Peaks and it was getting over with, I guess, smarter people than just wrestling fans and other people were recognizing it from pop culture and so it was kind of cool that we got to do it as long as we did and once it got moved to digital, everybody just kind of lost faith, you know what I mean? And I mean everybody, talent included. It was just kind of like, yeah, whatever.

** There’s a feature on The Ringer website that is centered around Sting. Looking back at his neck injury from 2015, Sting mentioned that it was Stone Cold Steve Austin and Edge who advised him not to undergo surgery for the injury.

They’re [Steve Austin & Edge] saying, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it.’ So I held off from getting it done, and probably four, five, six weeks after it, I had pain in my left trap coming down on the left side in the back there. [I] couldn’t get it comfortable.

** While speaking to the ‘SPICE’ outlet, Great-O-Khan listed off ways that New Japan Pro-Wrestling could improve their on-screen presentation as it relates to entrances. He feels flames and fog being added could help in addition to possibly switching up Young Lion entrances instead of all Young Lions sprinting to the ring. O-Khan stated that improvements as such could bring NJPW to the next level.

I want the matches to be left to us. But other than that, I think New Japan Pro-Wrestling is completely lacking in other areas. They play music for the entrance, there are images around the venue, and if it is a big venue, they can put out flames or fog, but I don’t think they are adapting to the people (athletes) in this way.

The entrance also differs from person to person. On the other hand, there are Young Lions who run, but sometimes the direction doesn’t match at all. So I think we can raise the satisfaction level of the audience just by being aware of this point, but I don’t know if they don’t or can’t do it, but they don’t do it! If they work on that, I feel that New Japan Pro-Wrestling can go to a higher stage again.

As far as his own entrance goes, O-Khan is thinking of getting new theme music and having musician Koji Saito help him with it.

Also, I am now thinking of new entrance music, and I thought it would be interesting to have Koji Saito help me with it.

** KiLynn King guest appeared on the ‘Putting You Over’ podcast and stated that after she opted to take a break from competing for AEW, when she came back to the company over the summer, she was spoken to more professionally. KiLynn elaborated and said she was not treated badly before, but this go-round felt like she was more than just an extra.

I have to say, the way I was talked to and the way I was treated [when I came back to AEW after taking a break from the company] — not that I was talked to any kind of way before but, the professionalism in the way I was talked to was completely different compared — I wasn’t an extra anymore. The way I was spoken to was very, very different. I was spoken to like a bigger name I guess is the way to put it and that feeling, that change was such an amazing payoff. It was like, okay, I made the right decision. It wasn’t easy, but I got some respect for it and people are realizing that, hey, I’m not here to be a jobber. I made a lot of sacrifice because I wanna be a big name and so that’s kind of been the journey this past year and making those decisions to hopefully take my brand and my name to that next level.

** As Athena was being interviewed by The Dallas Morning News, she listed off goals she wants to accomplish in AEW such as having a TLC match and an intergender match.

I wanna do a TLC match in AEW. I just have to get that out of my system. I wanna do it, I wanna do it, I just wanna do it. I wanna wrestle Toni [Storm], I wanna wrestle Jamie Hayter, Britt Baker, Thunder Rosa, there’s so many women, Willow Nightingale, Penelope Ford, Marina Shafir, Nyla Rose. We have a stacked locker room with so many options for dream matches.

I will say this, I’m gonna put it out there, I want to do an intergender match in AEW. I know it’ll probably never happen. I don’t know who it’s gotta be, but man, I really kind of want that to happen. I do.

Elsewhere during the discussion, she talked about getting to meet Rick Ross backstage at Dynamite. When Athena was on the independent scene and worked with Keith Lee and J.D. Griffey, they used Ross’ song Hustlin’ as their theme. Athena recalled Keith jokingly telling her to stop being corny when she started reciting the lyrics backstage.

We actually got to meet Rick Ross backstage [at AEW] a couple of weeks ago and we used to come out to Hustlin’, me and Keith [Lee] and J.D. [Griffey] did… and Keith was like, ‘You were smiling from ear to ear.’ I was like, ‘This is such a full circle moment for me. You don’t understand.’ He’s like, ‘Why?’ And I go, ‘Everyday I’m hustlin, hustlin’ and he just goes, ‘I need you to stop being so corny’ [Athena laughed].

Earlier in the conversation, she was asked for her thoughts about William Regal. Athena worked with him in WWE and AEW. She said Regal can be intimidating. She feels he’s a wealth of knowledge and a one-of-a-kind personality to have anywhere.

So, I’ve actually known [William] Regal since WWE so I feel like my vibe was different with him. He’s so well respected, so just filled with wealth and knowledge. Normally, after I came back from a match, he’d be sitting there just [looking], judgmental [Athena smiled]. Sometimes he can be intimidating because as a performer, sometimes you don’t want to hear the negatives but you have to-to grow and Regal was one of those people, so is Mark Henry, so is [Chris] Jericho that if you want that raw opinion of what you did, you’re gonna get it but William Regal is such a wealth of knowledge and going back to his time on TV, his time in World of Sport, there was just this vicious, raw side that I just absolutely love and that I connected to and so for me personally, William Regal is like the, ‘Did I do good?’ I feel like the kid that’s turned in the test and you’re like, ‘Please, did I pass?’ Every time I would go and talk to him but yeah, he’s like a one-of-a-kind personality to have anywhere for sure.

** The focus of an episode of Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard was WWE Armageddon 2002. Prichard elaborated on an idea he had to send creative writers to developmental.

It was actually my idea [to send writers to developmental] because I looked at developmental as a place where you could develop writers, you could develop your referees, you could develop a new play-by-play guy, a color analyst. Developmental should be developmental for every aspect of our business. So I always wanted to do that. Man, go down there, make mistakes, learn the business and if you do well there then come on up and let’s try this. So yeah, that was something that I’ve advocated from day one.

Speaking about the World Heavyweight Championship at the time, Prichard felt the big gold belt looked out of place on WWE TV. He added that he does like the world title[s] the company currently has.

Yeah, it did [World Heavyweight Title looked out of place on Shawn Michaels]. To me, the big gold belt in WWE in general looked out of place… I liked the Winged Eagle and you know what belts I like. I like the old NWA belt and the Winged Eagle one pretty much. I like the one that they have now as well.

** Joining Brian Hebner for a recording of his Refin’ It Up podcast was Zicky Dice. He is a one-time NWA World Television Champion and described that title win as probably the best match of his career. Zicky shared that there was a point when he considered quitting wrestling if something of substance such as winning the NWA TV Title did not happen.

It’s gotta be one of my all-time favorite matches [winning NWA World Television Title]… Thinking about it now gets me in my feels… There came a point in time if that didn’t happen, I was gonna quit this business because from playing and touring in a band, I played in a band called ‘Heart to Heart’ for a while and then going to the other side of the carnival to this. I couldn’t do it much longer if it wasn’t going to be the real thing and that solidified everything for me and it just kind of proved this is what I’m supposed to do, I’m on the right path and this is what I’m put on this planet to do. So yeah, that’s gotta be up there in the top three. Probably number one.

In 2015, Dice sent his Tough Enough audition video to WWE. He claims there were some in the company pushing for him to be on Tough Enough to the point where he was ready to inform the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy that he would no longer be training there.

That’s such a trip to see [WWE Tough Enough audition video]. That’s insane so, I almost had to leave Black and Brave [Wrestling Academy]. I had seven interviews with WWE and they played that promo on SmackDown actually one night. I was this close and it actually came down to the USA television crew. That’s the reason why I didn’t get picked and WWE, they were pushing for me pretty hard, believe it or not. Fun little fact there.

That was a dude who didn’t know what the f*ck he was doing. He knew he wanted to do this and knew that it was possible but, there was a lot to learn, right?… There was one training I went to, two trainings in California I went to before moving so I might have taken a bump or three, you know, before that. But it’s really cool to see the progress. I don’t even look like that guy anymore. Big ol’ red beard and the long, straight brown hair and fat as sh*t. But it’s cool to see the journey, right? And looking back on that, is it weird to see? Is it embarrassing? No, not at all. That’s a part of the journey and I hope that my story can motivate someone else because if I can do it and get to this point, hell, you can too. So, I don’t know, it’s cool to see and I don’t know. I thought for sure — I had actually let Black and Brave know that I was probably gonna leave. It was almost certain that I was gonna be on Tough Enough…

As Zicky was discussing his early days in wrestling, he recalled one of the Black and Brave trainers, Krotch, telling him that he did not like his name. Dice went on to remind Krotch what his in-ring name was to which he responded, ‘Touché’.

I had the name ‘Zicky Dice’ before going in [to the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy] and they had asked us, one of the trainers, so you got Seth Rollins, you got Marek Brave and then you have Krotch with a ‘K’ and I remember Krotch with a K walking up to me and saying, ‘You have your wrestling name picked out?’ I said, ‘Yes. It’s gonna be Zicky Dice.’ He said, ‘I don’t like it.’ I said, ‘Well, with all due respect, your name is Krotch with a K’ and he looked at me and goes, ‘Touché. You can keep the name’ and walked away. I was gonna keep the name regardless.

** In 2014, Emma was called up to WWE’s main roster following a run in NXT. She eventually was paired with Santino Marella. While on Ryan Satin’s Out of Character podcast, Emma explained that she went back to NXT a year after her call-up because she wanted to refresh her character. She asked Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque could she come back and that return led to the creation of ‘Evil Emma’.

I think it was a combination of I had gone up to the main roster, I was doing stuff with Santino [Marella] at the time which was — I mean, he’s hilarious so I really enjoyed that and then it was just a difficult time where it didn’t necessarily — there was still a bit of a difference between NXT, Raw and SmackDown where the crowds weren’t necessarily watching all of the shows. So, I think when you were on Raw or SmackDown all of a sudden, the crowds need to be reintroduced per se to characters and I don’t know that we were able to do that enough. So I think after a while with Santino or so, needing time off, it just became this point where I didn’t see how I could go much further with what I was doing so that’s when I — I remember speaking with Triple H actually and just saying, ‘I would like to go back to NXT. That’s where we did some of our best stuff and I would like to reinvent’ and that’s when I was able to go back there and I had a storyline with Bayley at that point and that’s where I was named ‘Evil Emma’, the people call me and yeah, we really told a pretty awesome story building that up, and it was kind of like I just switched all of a sudden from the nice, ditzy, oblivious Emma to you’re gonna know who I am and that I’m not a joke anymore. So I think it was a really cool shift in attitude, like an alter ego almost and doing it with Bayley there was a great start to that and then I had some awesome matches with Asuka as well which really established me I think as that ‘Evil Emma’ on TV. So, NXT was great for me to be able to build these amazing characters.

Looking back on that first go-round in NXT, Emma thinks the women’s division did some important things. She stated that supporters often remind her of what she contributed when it comes to the growth of women’s wrestling in WWE.

I definitely think we did some really big, important things back then [early NXT days] and obviously, the women have just kind of continued to build on that and kick down doors so, I think it’s written in some of the history books; the matches we had and how it did start things and then I have some amazing fans that have stuck with me over the years and were always kind of reminding me and saying, ‘We remember’ and, ‘You started this’ and whatever it was so, that makes me feel good about it but, I do think it’s been five years since I was with WWE and I think there’s a lot of catching up to do and a lot more that I need to do to get back in the mix.

** pushed out their chat with IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori. While speaking about the junior heavyweight division, Ishimori expressed that he does not feel he’s carrying the division one bit despite being champion since May.

Not for me to say [if there should be a certain image of the division]. I don’t feel like I’m carrying this division one bit, and don’t think I should. I do what I want, and what happens, happens.

At Wrestle Kingdom 17, Ishimori is scheduled to defend the Junior Heavyweight Title in a four-way. If he is to retain, he’s looking at Lio Rush as a challenger.

There’s incredible talent everywhere you look, so there isn’t much time to take a break. For now, Lio Rush is a guy I lost to when I wrestled him on NJPW STRONG last year. Now he’s been in Japan in Super Junior Tag League. I know who I want to face after I win this four way at the Tokyo Dome.

2023 will be Ishimori’s 21st year in wrestling. Something he thinks would be ‘pretty cool’ to do is to challenge for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.

I had a good 20th anniversary, but I didn’t mark it any special way. It would be pretty cool to stay Junior Champion and challenge the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion…

** At Pro Wrestling NOAH’s ‘The New Year’ show on January 1st, KENTA and Naomichi Marufuji are going to be challenging for the GHC Tag Team Titles. NOAH published the written version of their chat with KENTA ahead of bout. He expressed that he would not be where he is today without Marufuji, adding that he does not have any feelings about him as a human but respects him as an athlete.

If it weren’t for Marufuji, I would certainly not be where I am today. In that sense, I am very grateful to him, and he is a wrestler that I have a strong attachment to. Personally, I don’t have any special feelings for Marufuji. As an individual, I don’t have any feelings for the human Naomichi Marufuji, but as an athlete, I have great feelings for him.

KENTA wrestled at NOAH’s ‘The New Year’ show this past January. He initially thought he was going to ‘take it easy’ come January 1st, 2023 but has since changed his mind and is looking forward to competing.

Basically, I was allowed to participate for NOAH on New Year’s Day 2022. I was thinking that I wanted to take it easy on January 1st next year. But now I’ve changed my mind and I’m really looking forward to it.

** On December 30th, Pro Wrestling NOAH is hosting a press conference and Shinsuke Nakamura will be present to promote his match with Great Muta (Keiji Muto).

** Voting polls are open on the official NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17 website. Up to 12 winners who predict every match correctly will receive a custom Wrestle Kingdom 17 towel.

** On January 13th, IMPACT Wrestling is running their Hard To Kill pay-per-view from Atlanta, Georgia. The company is promoting a live ‘Hard To Kill’ fallout edition of Eric Bischoff and Conrad Thompson’s 83 Weeks podcast.

** Prior to STARDOM Dream Queendom, it was revealed that the promotion has a new tour bus for talents. Present for the unveiling was Mayu Iwatani, Rossy Ogawa and Bushiroad CEO Takaaki Kidani.

** DDT Pro-Wrestling ‘Never Mind’ Results (12/29/22) Tokyo Dome City Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Pre-Show Tag Team Match: Hideki Okatani & Toi Kojima def. Sumi & Yuya Koroku
Pre-Show Six Man Tag Team Match: DAMNATION T.A. (KANON, Minoru Fujita & MJ Paul) def. Antonio Honda, Masahiro Takanashi & Soma Takao
– Sanshiro Takagi def. Takeshi Masada
– HARASHIMA & Yukio Sakaguchi def. Yuji Hino & Yuki Ishida
– Danshoku Dino, Koju Takeda, Yuki Ino & Yumehito Imanari def. Akito, Osamu Nishimura, Shinichiro Kawamatsu & Shunma Katsumata
– Chihiro Hashimoto def. Shinya Aoki
– Saki Akai & Yuki Arai def. Riko Kawahata & Saori Anou
KO-D Six Man Tag Team Championships: Burning (Kotaro Suzuki, Tetsuya Endo & Yusuke Okada) def. Kazuki Hirata, Toru Owashi & Naruki Doi (c)
DDT Extreme Championship: Jun Akiyama (c) def. Super Sasadango Machine
– Konosuke Takeshita & Yukio Naya def. Daisuke Sekimoto & RSP
Four Way: MAO def. Cara Noir and Chris Brookes and Daisuke Sasaki
KO-D Openweight Championship: Kazusada Higuchi (c) def. Yuki Ueno

** New York Post’s chat with Kevin Owens.

** The ‘AMUSE’ YouTube channel spoke to NJPW’s YOH.

** December 29th birthdays: Drew Parker, Gulyás Jr.

** Women’s Wrestling Talk has an interview with Deonna Purrazzo.

** Lio Rush was interviewed by ‘Metro’.

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 5953 Articles
A Maryland native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.