POLLOCK’S UPDATE: Paul Levesque’s comments at Backlash press conference

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POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-Raw will be live at 11 p.m. ET with John Pollock & Wai Ting following the episode in Hartford. We will go over the news from the weekend, Paul Levesque’s comments at the Backlash press conference, and Jerry Lawler’s status with WWE, and take your feedback.

**This Thursday, Rewind-A-Wai #156 will cover WrestleMania XXX from April 2014 with Daniel Bryan’s championship win and the end of The Undertaker’s streak. This will be an extensive show with a deep look into this era and all the news surrounding this show including the launch of the WWE Network and how CM Punk’s departure affected this show. You can post feedback on the POST Wrestling Forum and the show will be out for POST Café members this week.

**This past weekend, Bruce Lord and Karen Peterson covered both nights of NJPW’s Wrestling Dontaku with Jon Moxley retaining the IWGP World Heavyweight title, David Finlay regaining the IWGP Global Heavyweight title, a fantastic match between Shingo Takagi and Gabe Kidd, and the updated card for Resurgence this weekend in California. The show is available on the POST Café.

**Eric Marcotte and I have a review of UFC 301 from Saturday in Brazil where Alexandre Pantoja retained the UFC Flyweight Championship against Steve Erceg.

**Pollock & Thurston will be live on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET this week as we are going one day later to react to the TKO Q1 earnings report, which comes out Wednesday evening.

AUDIO VERSION OF NEWS UPDATE 



POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock & Wai Ting
Tuesday: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
Wednesday: Rewind-A-Dynamite
Thursday: Pollock & Thurston – TKO Q1 Earnings Analysis
Thursday: Rewind-A-Wai – WrestleMania XXX (POST Wrestling Café)
Friday: MCU L8R – X-Men ’97 with Rich Fann & WH Park (POST Wrestling Café)
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown (POST Wrestling Café)
Saturday: Collision Course with John Siino & Kate from Montreal (POST Wrestling Café)

WRESTLING NEWS

**Paul Levesque’s comments at the Backlash press conference on Saturday regarding the PWinsider and Fightful outlets have received a lot of criticism. Levesque was asked about Drew Gulak’s release by reporter Lucas Charpiot, who cited the outlets on Gulak’s release, and whether the accusation by Ronda Rousey contributed to that decision. Levesque, who seemed flustered by the serious question, stated, “If you’re going to cite news sources, pick good ones, credible really.” Levesque proceeded to explain that Gulak was not released but instead, his contract was not renewed but didn’t address the accusation by Rousey on NewsNation last month where she alleged that Gulak grabbed the drawstring of her pants.

WWE did reach out to both outlets with their explanation of things, which people can take however they choose.

From Mike Johnson:

In reaching out to WWE after the conference, we were told by the company that Levesque’s comments were not meant to be taken as him “knocking either site” but that he was taking issue with the person asking a question based on reports “a talent was released when in fact the talent’s deal was simply expiring.”

We were also told that no offense was “intended.”

Yes, that’s what we were told.

From Sean Ross Sapp:

I’ve been told by WWE PR that Triple H lumping in Fightful was a “mishap.” I don’t think PWInsider should have been trashed either.

Would like that type of thing clarified publicly, as intentionally undermining the work of people who take the steps to verify info is messed up.

On the details of Gulak’s exit, that detail could have been easily clarified on Friday afternoon when the cuts were coming out. Sapp noted that he reached out to WWE four times over the past several weeks regarding Gulak’s status. When I received a list of the names, I had one person at NXT verify them and then I sent them to WWE for confirmation but did not receive a response. It’s not WWE’s responsibility to respond to every inquiry but if they see an incorrect detail when a reporter reaches out for verification, they are choosing to ignore it, yet complain afterward. As Fightful has since reported, Gulak is still technically under contract but will be expiring and is not being renewed.

If Levesque misspoke then he should apologize publicly and not privately. The same would be expected if an outlet made a mistake to own up to said mistake rather than contact the party privately and say they got it wrong. However you want to position Levesque’s wording, the inference was that these two sites are not credible ones and that’s untrue. The track record of accurate reporting by Johnson and Sapp speaks for itself and I know for a fact, that WWE views the two as very credible reporters.

**Long-time journalist Fumi Saito spoke on his podcast with Justin Knipper and addressed the recent claims by Kenny Omega about Saito’s close friend and Marigold promoter, Rossy Ogawa. Saito dismissed the accusations inferred by Omega during a recent Twitch stream where Omega implied Ogawa was inappropriate with underage girls:

We already know he puts underage girls in swimsuit calendars and books. I WISH that is all he did. Let’s put it that way.

Saito stated he’d known Ogawa for forty years and was going to defend his friend. He said the accusations were baseless with no truth whatsoever, explaining that the parents of the female talent viewed Ogawa as a school principal-like figure. Saito added that no one in Japanese media took the accusations seriously from Omega. He also noted that the issues between AEW and Stardom did not directly involve Ogawa as Saito’s explanation was that former Bushiroad Fight President Katsuhiko Harada was seeking a huge booking fee for lending out Stardom talent to AEW and Ogawa had nothing to do with it with Saito believing the characterization of Ogawa was unfair.

During the show, Saito added that he would be providing commentary on the Hana Kimura Tribute on May 23 and that Giulia would be wrestling Veny on the card.

**WWE kicks off its King & Queen of the Ring tournaments tonight at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut following Backlash France. This might be a record for the number of matches announced in advance for an episode of Raw with eight. On paper, there could be some excellent matches tonight including a rematch from Clash at the Castle between Gunther and Sheamus. The finals of each tournament are set for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on May 25 with a three-week build for the next premium live event. Here is the full list of matches for Raw:
*King of the Ring: Gunther vs. Sheamus
*King of the Ring: Ilja Dragunov vs. Ricochet
*King of the Ring: Kofi Kingston vs. Rey Mysterio
*King of the Ring: Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Balor
*Queen of the Ring: Natalya vs. IYO SKY
*Queen of the Ring: Asuka vs. Lyra Valkyria
*Queen of the Ring: Shayna Baszler vs. Zelina Vega
*Queen of the Ring: Ivy Nile vs. Zoey Stark

**Natalya is dedicating tonight’s match to her late uncle Owen Hart on the eve of what would have been Owen’s 59th birthday on Tuesday. Hart was the King of the Ring winner in 1994 when he won the one-night tournament in Baltimore for the second pay-per-view version of the event.

**The Champion Carnival wrapped up its round-round portion on Monday at Korakuen Hall. The A Block was won by Kento Miyahara, who beat Davey Boy Smith Jr. with the Shutdown German Suplex in front of 1,276 fans. Miyahara and Smith Jr. were tied with ten points each going into the final night of the A Block matches and set up Sunday’s final between Miyahara and Jun Saito at Yokohama Buntai. Miyahara has won the Carnival once prior in 2019.

**Vladimir Abouzeide a.k.a. Vladimir the Superfan was presented with the 80s Wrestling Lifetime Achievement Award over the weekend in Morristown, New Jersey. Mike Johnson presented the award to Vladimir and gave a very nice speech. Abouzeide was the subject of a documentary for the WWE Network, which was in the can for years and finally released last year to document his decades of wrestling fandom and being a staple in the audience at wrestling shows across the country.

**On Friday night, SmackDown averaged 197,100 viewers and 76,000 in the 25-54 demographic on Sportsnet 360 in Canada. SmackDown ranked fourth among sports programming on Friday behind two NHL playoff games and the Hockey Central pre-game show.

**The TKO stock closed at $98.51 on Monday.

MMA NEWS

**The latest announcement for the UFC Hall of Fame induction class is Maurício “Shogun” Rua, which was revealed at UFC 301. Rua will join Frankie Edgar, Wanderlei Silva, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and the UFC 117 fight between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen. Rua was associated with the legendary Chute Boxe Academy throughout most of his career while spending the latter portion at Kings MMA. His career began in 2002 and he entered PRIDE one year later, on the smaller Bushido cards. In 2005, he had one of the most incredible years in the sport and won one of the toughest tournaments ever assembled. He won four fights in four months to become the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix winner beating Quinton Jackson and Antônio Rogério Nogueira to advance to the semi-finals where he beat Alistair Overeem and Ricardo Arona on the same night to win the tournament. In his next fight, he moved up to heavyweight and broke his arm in a fight with Mark Coleman and lost in 49 seconds. After Pride went under, he moved to the UFC and was upset by Forrest Griffin at UFC 76 in a memorable fight involving two future champions at light heavyweight. Shogun rebounded by avenging the loss to Coleman and stopping former champion Chuck Liddell. This led to Shogun receiving a title fight against Lyoto Machida at UFC 104 in October 2009 in one of the most contentious decisions of its era. People were aghast when the decision was awarded to Machida, although when you re-watched it with the knowledge of what was awarded, it was not a robbery. It was such a disputed finish that UFC booked the rematch immediately and Shogun beat Machida with a first-round stoppage at UFC 113. His first title defense was against Jon Jones in March 2011 with Jones winning a fight the previous month and being thrown into the title fight as a replacement for the injured Rashad Evans (and leading to an explosive feud between teammates as Evans would leave Jackson-Winkeljohn over Jones taking the title fight). It was a “passing of the guard” as Jones stopped Shogun in the third round and started his run of dominance in the light heavyweight division. Shogun remained an attraction but was not a championship-level fighter by this juncture of his career. In November 2011, Shogun and Dan Henderson had one of the greatest fights in UFC history at UFC 139 with a five-round war that took place on the same night as the first fight between Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler and was considered one of the greatest nights in MMA history between those two fights. Henderson won the fight by unanimous decision and had a rematch in March 2014, which Henderson won by TKO. Between 2015 and 2020, Shogun managed to go 5-1-1 before losing his final three fights and retiring after his January 2023 fight with Ihor Potieria.

**UFC CEO Dana White participated in Tom Brady Roast on Netflix and was joined by Sean O’Malley and Max Holloway. The involvement by White in a Netflix production follows Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos attending UFC 300 last month in Las Vegas. White was one of the roasters and was given one minute while he was on the receiving end of jokes by comedians Jeff Ross and Andrew Schulz.

***
UFC 301 Review
John Pollock and Eric Marcotte review UFC 301 with Alexandre Pantoja defending the UFC Flyweight title against Steve Erceg and Jose Aldo returns.
***
NJPW Wrestling Dontaku Review
Bruce Lord & Karen Peterson review both nights of NJPW’s Wrestling Dontaku event with Nemeth vs. Tanahashi, and Moxley vs. Narita.
***
WWE Backlash France Review
John Pollock and Wai Ting review WWE Backlash 2024 from Lyon, France featuring Cody Rhodes vs. AJ Styles.
***
Rewind-A-SmackDown
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WWE SmackDown from Lyon, France with a final face-to-face between Cody Rhodes and AJ Styles ahead of Backlash.
***

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About John Pollock 5617 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.