POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Keiji Muto’s emotional farewell

Photo Courtesy: Pro Wrestling NOAH


**Keiji Muto ended his 38-plus-year career on Tuesday with a 29-minute match against Tetsuya Naito followed by an impromptu one with 59-year-old Masahiro Chono. In terms of wrestling retirements, this one could not have gone better considering the state of Muto’s knees and other ailments including his back and recent hamstring injury from the tag match with Sting & Darby Allin last month. The announced attendance was 30,096, which was four thousand more than this year’s Wrestle Kingdom 17 and if that’s the legitimate figure, should be considered a success. Muto held up fine as his instincts and timing of what limited offense he has, are still there and the atmosphere made the match special and never dragged. Perhaps the most memorable was Muto teasing a top rope moonsault on two occasions but backed down on each try, struggling with in-ring mortality and understanding he is no longer capable of such a feat, which was oddly profound and demonstrating a man grappling with age and father time, and cementing the fact that his time is done. After Naito won the match, Muto issued the challenge to Chono at ringside to the shock of everyone in attendance as Chono got up from his seat and used his walking stick to enter the ring. The audience was stunned as the bell ran and the two men locked up and performed a short series of moves including a shining wizard and STF by Chono to win. The two debuted against one another in October 1984 coming out of a New Japan class that included Shinya Hashimoto and Jushin Thunder Liger. It was Chono’s first match since 2014 and assuredly will be his last, too. It ended being a tremendous one-hour farewell to Muto and the viewer was left with the hope that this retirement sticks because it was nearly perfect. Muto took his final bow at the entrance and walked out as images of Muto, Hashimoto, and Mitsuharu Misawa appeared on the screen.

We will have a full review of the card on the POST Wrestling Café.  

**AEW president Tony Khan spoke with the Phoenix New Times prior to tonight’s debut in the city for Dynamite & Rampage/ Khan was vague about his announcement for tonight’s show when asked:

There are a lot of exciting things in the near future for AEW. All I can say is we have an important announcement coming at this show in Phoenix. And it’s an exciting development for the company, and I’m excited to share it with the fans in Phoenix and all over the world.

**WWE 2K23 and Snickers will serve as the presenting sponsors of the two-night WrestleMania 39 events at SoFi Stadium. A press release was issued on Wednesday stating that Mars and Take-Two Interactive are partnering with WWE to hold the title sponsor rights. The two brands will be featured throughout the lead-up to the April 1 & 2 events on WWE programming and will include custom content for WWE’s YouTube channel. Mars has a long-time sponsor of WWE. In 2018, it was Mars that reflected fan reservations regarding that year’s proposed Fabulous Moolah Battle Royal at WrestleMania 34 which led to Moolah’s name being removed from the branding of the match.

**AEW makes its Phoenix debut tonight at the Footprint Center with approximately 7,000 tickets distributed as of Tuesday night, so they should top that number with day-of sales. By Dynamite standards, it was a weaker show last week and the numbers reflected the lineup. Tonight’s show doesn’t have that major marquee match. They are promoting Tony Khan’s announcement and one of his rare appearances on the program. Below is the current lineup for tonight’s show at 8 p.m. ET on TBS and TSN 2 in Canada:
*All-Atlantic Championship: Orange Cassidy © vs. Wheeler Yuta
*Revolution Tag Team Battle Royal: Top Flight, Jeff Jarrett & Jay Lethal, Lucha Brothers, Best Friends, Rush & Preston Vance, Aussie Open, Matt Menard & Angelo Parker, The Butcher & The Blade, John Silver & Alex Reynolds, and Ari Daivari & Tony Nese
*Jon Moxley vs. Evil Uno
*The Acclaimed vs. Lee Moriarty & Big Bill
*Saraya vs. Skye Blue
*Tony Khan’s announcement

**While it clearly comes with an asterisk airing outside its normal time, AEW Rampage did post its lowest numbers of all time on Friday with 287,000 viewers and 0.07 in the demo and outside of the top fifty cable originals that day. Obviously, there will be a bounce back when they return to their slot on Friday but this past week’s number was well below previous episodes that aired outside the normal time and would indicate this wasn’t a priority show despite The Elite wrestling on the show. In 2022, there were six episodes of Rampage that aired in different slots on Friday with the lowest being on May 6th which averaged 292,000 viewers and 0.11 in the demo at 5:30 p.m. ET. Airing at 7 p.m. ET, there were two Rampage shows last year that did 410,000 (0.14 in the demo) and 482,000 (0.22), which are more dramatic declines from this past Friday. Panic over one week is silly but it does emphasize a long-existing trend of Rampage’s decline as a priority with an audience that traditionally followed the programs when they were bounced around the TNT/TBS schedule.

**The third iteration of the XFL launched this past weekend, although it went into the weekend with the least amount of marketing and buzz of the three versions. While three years is a lifetime in television, numbers were down from the 2020 reboot under Vince McMahon and Alpha Entertainment. There were two games this past weekend on ABC that averaged 1.55 million viewers while the ESPN games attracted an average of 835,000 viewers. The Saturday night game on ESPN between Orlando and Houston ranked #8 among cable originals and was simulcast on FX. The Sunday night on ESPN ranked #6 among cable originals behind the NBA All-Star Game coverage and 90 Day Fiance on TLC.

The 2020 version had its opening weekend games on ABC which did 3.34 million, Fox did 3.34 million across two games, and ESPN averaged 2.5 million. Last year’s opening weekend for the Alliance of American Football averaged 3.25 million viewers on CBS. (Data courtesy: Anthony Crupi of Sportico and Showbuzz Daily)

**NJPW kicked off its six-show Fantasticamania tour on Wednesday featuring CMLL talent. The tour continues Thursday in Kyoto and will stream at 3 a.m. ET on New Japan World. The card will include Atlantic Jr. & Templario against Mistico & Volador Jr., Hiroshi Tanahashi teaming with Ultimo Guerrero & El Desperado against Hechicero, SHO & Magia Blanca, and LIJ’s Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, Titan & BUSHI against Soberano Jr., Ryusuke Taguchi, YOH & Kosei Fujita in the top matches. The tour wrap with two cards at Korakuen Hall next week.

**Author and artist Matt Charlton has released his latest book A Companion on a Road Less Travelled. The concept of the book sees five wrestlers document their travels and journeys with diary entries that are aided by the illustrations by Charlton with participation from Tom Lawlor, Bryan Keith, Royce Isaacs, AKARI, and Jetta. It is an independently published book that is available in paperback and on Kindle through Amazon. Below is a brief description:

This book collects the thoughts and diary entries of five professional wrestlers as they prepare for and reflect on significant events in their professional lives, in the process granting us a very private audience with very special people, hopefully bringing home above all things that they are people.

**John Ellul is releasing a biography on the late Keith Franke a.k.a. Adrian Adonis next month through Amazon. Franke was a mainstay in Oregon before venturing into the AWA where he formed a team with Jesse Ventura and made it to the World Wrestling Federation where he competed throughout the ‘80s including his famous match with Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 3. After leaving the company in 1987, he died a year afterward while traveling on the road in Newfoundland. Franke was a passenger when the minivan they were traveling in, swerved to avoid hitting a moose which led to three people, including Franke, dying after the minivan crashed with Franke 34 years old when he died. The following description is listed for the book, which is out on 3/23:

This biography, the first of its kind, takes the reader through Franke’s start in life as an orphan, through to achieving his childhood dream of becoming a pro wrestler. The tale plays out across the colourful background of wrestling’s territories era, where Franke learned his trade the ‘old-fashioned’ way in Vancouver, the Carolinas, California, and Florida.

As his talent developed, so did his persona, and ‘Adrian Adonis’ was born. Through Amarillo, to Portland, and to the AWA, to team with future Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura. Finally, Adonis arrived in the WWF. On wrestling’s premier circuit, Adonis headlined Madison Square Garden and was part of the company’s international expansion. What could go wrong?

**John Arezzi interviewed Kevin Von Erich on the 30th anniversary of the passing of his younger brother, Kerry. In the interview, Kevin stated that as a Christian he does not fear death and therefore, it isn’t difficult for him to speak about Kerry, who took his own life in 1993. Kevin said he has never been happier than he is now and spoke about his grandchildren providing him with that happiness.

**Conrad Thompson has posted a three-hour-plus interview conducted with the late Jerry Jarrett on his life and career.

**Jim Cornette spent ninety minutes discussing the passing of Jerry Jarrett on his podcast.

**The following matches are scheduled for Thursday’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling on the night before its No Surrender event in Las Vegas:
*Monster’s Ball for the X Division Championship: Trey Miguel © vs. Crazzy Steve
*Beat the Clock: Tommy Dreamer vs. Jason Hotch
*Beat the Clock: Bully Ray vs. TBA
*Motor City Machine Guns vs. Jonathan Gresham & Speedball Mike Bailey
*Taya Valkyrie vs. Allysin Kay
*Deaner & Callihan vs. Frankie Kazarian & Yuya Uemura
*Before the Impact: Kevin Knight vs. Jack Price

**After discussing on Rewind-A-Raw, here is the full 24-minute segment from Hot Properties in March 1985 where Hulk Hogan applied a standing guillotine to Richard Belzer and led to a lawsuit being filed by the late Belzer.


**Rewind-A-Dynamite will be live at 10 p.m. ET with Wai Ting & John Pollock tonight. The two will discuss all the news from the past 24 hours and go through Dynamite from Phoenix, Arizona and take your feedback from the POST Wrestling Forum. The best way to follow live is to hit the subscribe button on the POST Wrestling YouTube and turn on notifications to alert you whenever we are live.

**Wai Ting and I have a big review of the Keiji Muto retirement card from Tokyo Dome including our thoughts on the retirement presentation, the impromptu match involving Masahiro Chono, the Okada vs. Kiyomiya booking, and the many promotions represented on the card. This show is available to all Café members.

**On Thursday, Brandon Thurston and I will be releasing an interview with labor attorney Lucas Middlebrook to discuss the state of independent contractors in professional wrestling and the steps that would be necessary to have increased representation and labor rights. This will be released on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET on both the POST Wrestling and Wrestlenomics feeds.

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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.