POLLOCK’S UPDATE: Seth Rollins on past problems with CM Punk, NXT Deadline Preview

Photo Courtesy: WWE

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John Pollock & Neal Flanagan (POST Wrestling Café)
Saturday: NXT Deadline with Davie Portman & Braden Herrington
Sunday: NJPW World Tag League Finals with Karen Peterson & Bruce Lord (POST Wrestling Café)
Sunday: Collision Course with John Siino & Kate from Montreal (POST Wrestling Café)
Monday:
Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock & Wai Ting

POST IT NOTES

**Neal Flanagan will be the guest co-host on tonight’s Rewind-A-SmackDown at 10 p.m. ET on the POST Wrestling Café. Neal and I will discuss all the notable news going on in the industry and review the Tribute to the Troops edition of SmackDown, plus take your calls. A link will be sent to all POST Wrestling Café to watch and listen to the show live tonight.

**Today is the final day to enter our contest for a chance to win tickets to an advance screening of “The Iron Claw” in Toronto at the Scotiabank Theatre. The winners will be announced this Monday on Rewind-A-Raw

**Braden Herrington and Davie Portman will have a live review of NXT Deadline on Saturday night on the POST YouTube channel right after the event.

**We have two shows on the POST Wrestling Café coming out on Sunday with Karen Peterson & Bruce Lord reviewing New Japan’s World Tag League Finals and Collision Course with John Siino and Kate from Montreal. Siino attended MLW’s One Shot on Thursday and Kate attended both nights of AEW at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

**The final POST Puroresu of the year features WH Park & Karen Peterson chatting with Dylan Fox from The Eastern Lariat going through all the highs and lows of 2023. They go month-by-month through all the major events of 2023 and preview Wrestle Kingdom 18.

WRESTLING NEWS

**Seth Rollins appeared on Traina Thoughts with Jimmy Traina of SI and pushed the pending program with CM Punk. Rollins claimed he found out about Punk’s return when his music played, which no one is going to believe (with JD McDonagh stating he heard right before the match). For the audience listening to this, and there will be plenty of wrestling fans, it’s an inconsequential part of the story regarding his knowledge of Punk’s return. If he simply admitted he knew about Punk’s return right before the match, it would let the audience in on a report they’ve already read and believed, and therefore, place Rollins in a position of trust and then can air his grievances with Punk that the audience will perceive with more legitimacy and stakes because of that trust established off the top. It’s a small point but as soon as Rollins said that line you call into question everything he says because we’re making it clear he’s not allowing the audience in.

Regarding Punk, Rollins noted how Punk did help him early in his career and got him to where he wanted to be (without stating it, the idea of The Shield that Punk has taken credit for, although Punk pitched Chris Hero in place of Roman Reigns) but Rollins questioned if that was to Punk’s benefit as well (and having guys to work with). He called Punk “selfish” several times and played the martyr role, saying a lot of bad things about the company and himself including calling Rollins “a bootlicker” but he’s willing to do business and even mend fences. Rollins also mentioned the issues Punk had with Colt Cabana and told people to look up those problems that also irked him as he’s close to Cabana. Rollins all but confirmed the match will be coming up but he doesn’t know when. He added that he didn’t see Punk backstage after Survivor Series and had to be calmed down by his wife Becky Lynch, which again sounded story-based while noting he regrets swearing in the video of his reaction to Punk’s arrival because they have kids watching.

**Bryan Danielson spoke with Alex McCarthy from The Daily Mail and was asked about the absence of Kenny Omega in the Continental Classic:

I don’t know what happened or why he’s not in the tournament. I know it was at least brought up to him and I don’t know if he didn’t want to do it or I know that he and Chris Jericho are the number one contenders for the Tag team championship. So maybe that’s why, you know. And sometimes, you know, with American TV wrestling. You don’t want to confuse stories, and maybe that’s why.

But I love the field that we have, cause we have so many like great hard hitting wrestlers. The matches have been really, really good so far in the Continental classic.

**The Tribute to the Troops edition of Friday Night SmackDown airs on Fox tonight at 8 p.m. ET. It is the 21st edition of the show, which began in 2003 with WWE flying talent to various airport bases including ones in Iraq and Afghanistan before it was turned into a domestic-based show. CM Punk will make his first appearance on SmackDown since returning to the company and presumably, we’ll have a bidding war between Adam Pearce and Nick Aldis that will extend to Raw on Monday. The show takes place from the Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence, Rhode Island with WrestleTix reporting 8,600 tickets out for the show, which is very strong for that market and is up 11% from Raw in March of this year. Below are the announced matches and segments:
*CM Punk to appear
*Cody Rhodes to appear
*Randy Orton & LA Knight vs. Jimmy Uso & Solo Sikoa
*U.S. Title #1 Contenders Tournament: Bobby Lashley vs. Karrion Kross
*U.S. Title #1 Contenders Tournament: Santos Escobar vs. Dragon Lee
*Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka

**AEW Rampage airs at 10 p.m. ET on TNT from the tapings in Montreal with the following matches:
*Blue League: Bryan Danielson vs. Daniel Garcia
*AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy © vs. Angelico
*Trish Adora vs. Abadon
*Konosuke Takeshita & Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Christopher Daniels & Matt Sydal

**AEW Collision is a taped show this week with the show taking place this past Tuesday in Montreal with a strong lineup including matches involving Bryan Danielson and Kenny Omega. The show will air against NXT Deadline and college football including UCLA vs. Boise State and Texas Tech vs. California. Next week, the sports competition will intensify with the NFL running games on Saturday nights. The following matches are set to air:
*Blue League: Bryan Danielson vs. Andrade El Idolo
*Blue League: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Eddie Kingston
*Penta El Zero Miedo & Komander vs. Matt Menard & Angelo Parker
*Willow Nightingale vs. Mercedes Martinez
*Wardlow vs. Willie Mack
*Kenny Omega vs. Ethan Page

**Due to the AEW shows being staged in Canada, both Rampage and Collision will air on TSN 2. There will also be a replay of Rampage on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on TSN 2.

**The final WWE/NXT premium live event on the calendar is Deadline on Saturday from Bridgeport, Connecticut. The brand has undergone significant improvements over the past year especially growing its younger audience by approximately 50% growth in 18-49 and 18-34 from this period in 2022. It has been aided by consistent main roster talent coming down and there has been a softening since Becky Lynch wrapped up at Halloween Havoc. November was still a strong month in those demos without Becky Lynch and the main roster appearances were limited to Alpha Academy and one week with Johnny Gargano, Cameron Grimes, and Bronson Reed. There was a major loss with Wes Lee’s back injury that will require surgery and could be out for a year (it’s hard to predict a timetable before he has the surgery and the extent of the injury is known). It seemed probable he was winning the North American title as the timing was right. Lee made the call to remove himself from the match, which is a breath of fresh air and a sign of attitudes changing when it comes to performers putting their health first. It also was the right call if he was winning the title and knew his back was in bad shape and had been a lingering problem for him.
*NXT Championship: Ilja Dragunov © vs. Baron Corbin – Corbin is doing great work in this run and is better positioned in NXT than I would expect he would be handled on Raw or SmackDown. I wouldn’t advocate for a title change because the balancing act of Corbin is pushing him to a certain level and not going too far where he’s rejected. It’s a test for these two to have an NXT-quality main event, which is a high bar, especially for one involving Dragunov. I’m curious how much time this one gets with six matches on the main card including two 25:00 matches.
*Iron Survivor Challenge: Trick Williams vs. Tyler Bate vs. Bron Breakker vs. Dijak vs. Josh Briggs – Trick Williams is the top babyface in this match and all signs point to Williams and Carmelo Hayes, although that should be held off until Stand & Deliver. One option is Williams winning and getting a rematch against Dragunov with Carmelo Hayes in his corner. That sets up Hayes either turning on Trick or Trick wins and you get the turn after he wins the title to set up Stand & Deliver. The other options feel like television matches unless Breakker gets one more shot at Dragunov before his call to the main roster as Breakker feels like he has done it all in NXT. Bate would produce the best possible match with Dragunov but doesn’t feel big enough for a PLE but is a fantastic television match.
*Iron Survivor Challenge: Tiffany Stratton vs. Blair Davenport vs. Lash Legend vs. Fallon Henley vs. Kelani Jordan – They have teased Fallon Henley with Lyra Valkyria but they could go with any option of the five. Stratton would be the most high-profile for a title match. This is the more ambitious match of the two Iron Survivors with Lash Legend and Kelani Jordan not having a lot of experience. Legend has been in the system for a while but has shown improvements of late. Jordan seems like someone who will make it and has a lot of personality and it’s just getting more reps. Nikkita Lyons getting involved and costing Blair Davenport seems possible as they rushed her return on television this week and would seem like it was done for a reason. After seeing the two matches last year, I’m confident both will be laid out very well but this one seems to have more challenges.
*NXT North American Championship: Dominik Mysterio © vs. Dragon Lee – Either they can use Dragon Lee as a stopgap and continue Dominik’s run or give the satisfying ending with the replacement winning the title as either is doable. Lee is on the brink of a big push as Rey Mysterio’s protégé on SmackDown and he’s 0-2 against Dominik, so the title change might be worth executing. The two have had good matches in the past, plus you have Rey Mysterio which should create a strong atmosphere.
*Steel Cage Match: Roxanne Perez vs. Kiana James – It’s a big opportunity for James to shine in this match even though cage matches can be tough when you’re limited to the confined space and cage matches don’t carry the weight of generations past. It seems like a strong priority to get Perez a stronger edge to her character over the past several months without turning her heel, which would be missing the boat on some of her strongest qualities as a babyface. I don’t know if the cage will hinder the match but there is a storyline reason for it.
*Carmelo Hayes vs. Lexis King – I think it’s a really important match for King, who has not caught fire since entering NXT and this is a big opportunity. His matches have been average and while he’s linked to a big storyline with Hayes and Trick Williams, it hasn’t been smooth. Hayes doesn’t have bad matches on these PLEs, so King has a great dance partner, but the spotlight is on him to deliver. Shawn Michaels said as much on the media call that King is being thrown into the deep end and we’ll see how he responds.
*Axiom vs. Nathan Frazer (Pre-show) – This is a benefit of being on the kickoff show as I feel they’d get shortchanged on the main card for time. There is no reason this shouldn’t be excellent if they have 10-12 minutes and could tear the house down.

**IMPACT Wrestling’s final show under the IMPACT banner goes down on Saturday night from the Don Kolov Arena in Toronto, Ontario. It is their final show of the year before the rebranding goes into effect beginning with Hard to Kill next month. POST Wrestling’s Jack Wannan will be covering the show in person and filing a report on the site. The show will be streaming on FITE TV with the following card:
*Motor City Machine Guns vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Josh Alexander
*IMPACT Tag Team Championship: Chris Bey & Ace Austin © vs. Eddie Edwards & Brian Myers
*IMPACT Digital Media Championship: Tommy Dreamer © vs. Deaner
*Trinity & Jordynne Grace vs. Deonna Purrazzo & Gisele Shaw
*Speedball Mike Bailey vs. Trey Miguel
*Moose vs. Rhino
*Jake Something vs. Jason Hotch

**GCW presents Highest in the Room 2 on FITE+ on Saturday at 11 p.m. ET from Los Angeles. The card will include Blake Christian vs. Starboy Charlie for the GCW title, Nick Gage & Maki Itoh vs. John Hennigan & Taya Valkyrie, Andrade El Idolo vs. Joey Janela, Violence is Forever vs. Masha Slamovich & Rina Yamashita for the GCW tag titles, Effy & Mance Warner vs. Jacob Fatu & Juicy Finau, George South vs. Santana Jackson, and Matt Cardona & Steph De Lander & Jimmy Lloyd vs. Los Macizos & Lil Cholo.

**WWE will hold live events in Utica, New York, and State College, Pennsylvania this weekend. The shows are advertising talent from both brands including Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins, LA Knight, and Charlotte Flair.

MMA NEWS

**The UFC antitrust case continues to offer a window into the business practices exhibited by the UFC and leading the forefront of the reporting is Bloody Elbow’s John Nash and Anton Tabuena. Their latest is parsing through internal emails among UFC executives that have become unsealed in the case and identifying strongarm tactics regarding negotiations with fighters and oppositional promotions. These are all elements that have been spoken of for years but this is concrete evidence with examples of lowballing fighters, former matchmaker Joe Silva matching fighters with tougher opponents based on negotiations, correspondence over UFC’s ability to block Gilbert Melendez from going to Bellator a decade ago, and the practice of offering fights to fighters and extending contracts if they do not take the fight.  

The language doesn’t put UFC in a positive light including this exchange between Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White on the Gilbert Melendez issue from 2014 and their ability to block his move to Bellator.

Dana White: Bro, u know i love u to fukn death as it is but what u pulled off this week with Melendez and “other dude” (Eddie Alvarez) is fukn BAD ASS! Fukn cut throat nasty business like u see in movies!! Good shit homie, CONGRATS

Lorenzo Fertitta: We gotta keep taking these fuckers oxygen till they tap out. We have sacrificed too much to let anyone get traction now.

Dana White: I agree! U r 100% correct and i LOVE IT

**While not MMA-related, it could have ramifications if successful and that’s Amazon Prime Video’s multiyear agreement with Premier Boxing Champions (PBC). Prime Video will become the U.S. distributor of PBC’s pay-per-view cards with the first card expected in March. It will mark Prime Video’s entry into pay-per-view as consumers can buy the cards with or without a Prime membership. PBC was previously with Showtime Sports, which is being shuttered after this month. (Variety)

**The UFC Fight Night card on Saturday takes place at the Apex in Las Vegas after originally being targeted for Shanghai, China but moved several weeks ago. The main event is a bantamweight fight between Song Yadong and Chris Gutiérrez. Yadong has won four of his last five fights with the only blemish during that run coming against Cory Sandhagen last year and Yadong rebounded with a TKO against Ricky Simon in August. Gutiérrez is 8-2-1 since entering the UFC and has won eight of his last ten fights. After knocking out Frankie Edgar last year, Gutiérrez split his fights this year with a decision loss to Pedro Munhoz in April and a decision win against Alateng Heili in October. Anthony Smith is stepping in on two weeks’ notice to fight Khalil Rountree Jr. with Smith coming off a split decision win against Ryan Spann in August. Rountree Jr. has won his last four fights and stopped Chris Daukaus in his last outing in August.

MAIN CARD (10 p.m. ET on ESPN+, TSN 1 & TSN 5 in Canada)
*Song Yadong (20-7-1, 1 NC) vs. Chris Gutiérrez (20-5-2)
*Anthony Smith (37-18) vs. Khalil Rountree Jr. (12-5, 1 NC)
*Tim Elliott (19-13-1) vs. Su Mudaerji (16-5)
*Jamie Mullarkey (17-6) vs. Nasrat Haqparast (15-5)
*Park Jun-yong (17-5) vs. André Muniz (23-6)
*Song Kenan (20-7) vs. Kevin Jousset (9-2)

PRELIMINARY CARD (7 p.m. ET on ESPN+, Fight Pass)
*Park Hyun-sung (8-0) vs. Shannon Ross (13-8)
*Steve Garcia (14-5) vs. Melquizael Costa (20-6)
*Luana Santos (6-1) vs. Stephanie Egger (8-4) – Santos missed the bantamweight limit by three pounds
*Carlos Hernandez (9-2) vs. Tatsuro Taira (14-0)
*Rayanne dos Santos (14-6) vs. Talita Alencar (4-0-1)

**The 32nd domestic season of The Ultimate Fighter will be premiering on ESPN and ESPN+ in June featuring featherweights and middleweights. Casting for the season is underway and they are seeking fighters between the ages of 21 and 34. The fighters that apply must have a winning record and a minimum of three professional fights (women must have two). The casting will be done virtually via Zoom with the fighters selected traveling to Las Vegas from March 4-10. Any disclosure of results or spoilers from the show is met with a $5 million fine.

**MMA Mania was the first to report that Katlyn Chookagian and Maycee Barber are set for a flyweight fight at UFC 299 on March 9. Chhokagian (18-5) had a four-fight winning streak snapped by Manon Fiorot at UFC 280 in October 200 and Chookagian has not fought since that loss. Barber (13-2) lost back-to-back fights to Roxanne Modafferi and Alexa Grasso but has won five fights in a row since those losses. She is coming off a TKO win against Amanda Ribas in March. UFC 299 will be headlined by a Bantamweight Championship fight between Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera.

**The TKO stock closed at $73.77 on Friday.

*****
POST PURORESU: 2023 Year in Review
WH Park & Karen Peterson are joined by Dylan Fox from The Eastern Lariat to reminisce about the highs and lows of the past year.
*****
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE
John Pollock and Andrew Thompson review AEW Dynamite featuring Christian Cage defending the TNT Championship against Adam Copeland.
*****
POLLOCK & THURSTON
John Pollock and Brandon Thurston are joined by Dr. Kris Ealy, plus reaction to TKO president Mark Shapiro’s comments at UBS conference.
*****
upNXT
Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review WWE NXT from December 5th, 2023 featuring Carmelo Hayes vs Eddy Thorpe vs Joe Coffey vs Tyler Bate in a Last Chance Iron Survivor Challenge Qualifying Match.
*****
What Happened to Tammy Sytch?
John Pollock explores the tragic path of Tammy Sytch that resulted in her sentencing last week after the March 2022 death of Julian Lasseter.
*****

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About John Pollock 5422 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.