NJPW Unifying IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Titles

The IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Titles will be unified and officially recognized as the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. News of the merger was announced at a press conference earlier today when NJPW Chairman Naoki Sugabayashi said New Japan has decided to uphold the request of the champion and unification will bring the linage of both titles forward under a new banner.

Continue reading “NJPW Unifying IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Titles”

Cesaro & Nakamura’s New Role In WWE

According to The Wrestling Observer, WWE told Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro their new roles are now to make new stars. This direction effectively erases any chance of either wrestler finding residency in the main event scene.

Continue reading “Cesaro & Nakamura’s New Role In WWE”

WWE Network Shutting Down and Moving to NBC’s Peacock

WWE’s over the top streaming service in the United States is coming to an end as the WWE Network will migrate to NBC Peacock on March 18. Wall Street Journal reported the deal is valued at 1 billion over five years, equalling 200 million dollars a year.

In a television landscape where sports leagues are looking to sell the rights to their content, WWE sold their entire network. Along with Monday Night Raw airing on NBC owned USA, this move puts WWE firmly in the NBCUniversal portfolio for years to come.

Continue reading “WWE Network Shutting Down and Moving to NBC’s Peacock”

NJPW Returns to MSG in August

New Japan Pro Wrestling is returning to Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday, August 22, for an event called Wrestle Dynasty. New Japan’s official website wrote “stay tuned” for ticket information. Continue reading “NJPW Returns to MSG in August”

‘Transformative Changes’ Coming to the WWE Network

On Thursday’s WWE investors conference call, Vince McMahon revealed the company is in talks with major stream service providers to sell the rights to major events such as WrestleMania. McMahon cited the potential deal as “transformative” as distributing more content to “the majors”  could increase company revenue. It would also cannibalize the WWE Network. Continue reading “‘Transformative Changes’ Coming to the WWE Network”

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14 Cards Revealed

New Japan Pro Wrestling has announced the cards for both nights of Wrestle Kingdom 14 on January 4 and January 5 at the Tokyo Dome. This will be the first time New Japan has held its marque event over two evenings.

The main event matches on night one will see Kazuchika Okada defend the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against 2019 G1 Climax winner Kota Ibushi and Tetsuya Naito challenges Jay White for the IWGP Intercontinental Title. The winners will face each other in a double title match on night two.

Wrestle Kingdom will also host the final two matches of Jushin “Thunder” Liger’s career. On night two, the legendary jr. heavyweight will team with Naoki Sano and square off against Ryu Lee and Hiromu Takahashi in a tag team match. Liger and Sano were past rivals, while Lee and Takahashi are contemporary rivals.

Hiroshi Tanahashi will take on AEW World Championship Chris Jericho on night two; however, there will be no mention of AEW on New Japan’s part. It’s good to see Tanahashi only wrestling once since his body is banged up. Keep him special while he’s still able to work at a high level.

It’s a shame that Tomohiro Ishii doesn’t have a more high-profile match in the Dome. He had a stellar G1 tournament and continues to put on great matches. It will also be interesting to see how Hiromu Takahashi performs in his first match back from a broken neck he suffered sixteen months ago.

Lance Archer defends the IWGP U.S. Title against former champion Jon Moxley in a Texas Death Match. Moxley was stripped of the title on October 14th due to travel issues, and Archer beat Juice Robinson on the same day to capture the vacant championship. Robinson will meet the winner in a title match on night two.

Wrestle Kingdom 14 will air live on New Japan World at 3:00 am est on 1/4/20 and 1:00 am est on 1/5/20.

 

Here are the full cards for night 1 & night 2

January 4:

-Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight title

-Jay White vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental title

-Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Jr. title

-Lance Archer vs. Jon Moxley in a Texas deathmatch for the IWGP United States title

-Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs. David Finlay & Juice Robinson for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team titles

-Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano and YOSHI-HASHI vs. KENTA,, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens

-SANADA, EVIL, Shingo Takagi, and BUSHI vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & El Desperado

-Jushin Thunder Liger, Tatsumi Fujinami, The Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask vs. Naoki Sano, Shinjiro Otani, Tatsuhito Takaiwa and Ryusuke Taguchi

January 5:

-Double title match for IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles

-Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Chris Jericho

-The two non-champions following the Intercontinental and Heavyweight title matches on January 4 will meet in a special singles match

-KENTA vs. Hirooki Goto for the NEVER Openweight title

-Zack Sabre Jr. vs. SANADA for the British Openweight title

-Juice Robinson will face the IWGP United States champion

-Jushin Thunder Liger & Naoki Sano vs. Ryu Lee & Hiromu Takahashi

-El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori vs. SHO & YOH for the IWGP Jr. Tag Team titles

Luke Harper, Sin Cara, and The Ascension Released from WWE

On Sunday, WWE announced the release of The Ascension (Viktor & Konnor), Luke Harper, and Sin Cara from the roster in a move that was somewhat surprising considering the current landscape of the industry. WWE has been scooping up any wrestler with name value, re-signing wrestlers to lucrative five-year extensions, and not granting releases to avoid supplying talent to the competition, All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

So, what changed? Is WWE merely cutting costs, or is there more than meets the eye?

Luke Harper publically asked for his release from WWE in April while Sin Cara expressed his desire to leave a few weeks ago. The Ascension was out of sight, out of mind on television. Unfortunately, they never showed the promise of their NXT run on the main roster due to the way they were booked from the jump.

Sin Cara is a character that never got over whether it was Lucha libre superstar Mistico, who the role was designed for or Jorge Arias, who took over the part when Mistico left the company in 2014. Luke Harper is the big missed opportunity of the four wrestlers that were released. Reportedly, Vince McMahon was never high on him, despite his talent. All four will be looking for work, however, where will they land?

When it comes to The Ascension, the word on the street is that Viktor is a tremendous worker but never got the chance to show it. Konnor is a big guy that is serviceable in the ring. Do they stay together as a team, or do they go their separate ways? While their tag-team act is their most viable commodity, NXT was a long time ago. Perhaps, Viktor decides to bet on himself and work the independent scene to build his name back up.

Jorge Arias will have to reinvent himself fundamentally. He’ll probably find work in Mexico; however, being able to charge a high price for his services in the states will be a challenging venture. Arias never had a viable name beforehand, and WWE owns the Sin Cara character.

Even if Arias comes up with a new gimmick, promoters will feel the need to market him as “formerly Sin Cara.” Honestly, fans might not even care for a wrestler who was so low on the totem pole. If Arias starts churning out five-star classics and becomes the belle of the indy ball, then he won’t need “Former WWE Superstar” etched under his name on an event poster.

Presumably, Luke Harper has the most to gain from his release. The soon to be rechristened Brodie Lee had an excellent reputation for putting on awesome matches before he signed with WWE and continued to do so as a member of the Wyatt Family.

AEW is his most anticipated landing spot because he’s a talented big man, and AEW could use more physical stature on their roster. New Japan Pro Wrestling wouldn’t surprise me either as Harper/Lee has a Bruiser Body look to him that could pay dividends.

The question remains, though, why did WWE cut these wrestlers after having a firm no release policy? This is pure speculation, however, maybe Vince McMahon no longer sees AEW as a threat. Of the ten weeks AEW Dynamite and NXT have gone head to head on Wednesdays, the ratings show AEW won eight of those meetings.

However, NXT won two of the last three weeks with only losing the previous week’s rating by only 1,400 viewers. While specific demographics have recently come into play when comparing ratings, NXT’s hold on people over 50 years old is strong while they are almost neck and neck with the more coveted demos that AEW previously dominated.

It is feasible that Vince McMahon believes he’s either winning the war against AEW, or he’ll win soon enough. If that’s the case, it’s easy to see why WWE has changed its release policy. Several wrestlers are still publically campaigning for their release, and with more cuts rumored to occur, those public requests could be granted.

It stinks getting fired at any time of the year, especially around the holidays. Even though two of the four wanted out, high paying indy gigs are not guaranteed. Besides, those only last so long before the wrestler is no longer a novelty and promoters begin to pay less. Best of luck to the four gentlemen as this new era of wrestling continues to be full of surprises.

Tito Ortiz Topples Alberto El Patron at Combate Americas 51

Combate Americas 51 emanated from the Payne Arena in McAllen, Texas, with an interesting night of fights where MMA and Pro Wrestling collided. Former UFC Champion Tito Ortiz finished former WWE Champion Alberto (Del Rio) El Patron with a rear-naked choke at 3:10 of the 1st round. The bout was contested at a catchweight of 210 lbs.

The pro wrestling flair fired on all cylinders as El Patron came out with host of luchadores, including WWE’s Sin Cara. Ortiz made his way to the cage to the blaring sounds of Rick Derringer’s iconic song Real American while wearing a “Living the Dream” shirt in the font of WWE’s popular 80’s tv special Saturday Night’s Main Event.

Alberto got the first move of the fight with a lateral drop throw but lost position, and Tito gained top control. Tito passed Alberto’s half guard, but Alberto got to his feet. Alberto was already tired as Tito landed a few punches. Tito took him down and worked top position. Tito got Alberto’s back, flattened him out, hooked in a rear-naked choke, and Alberto’s face turned red as he was forced to tap out.

Tito wore a U.S. Border Patrol hat and a Trump 2020 shirt during his post-fight interview. Tito asked for Alberto’s WWE Title (spinner) belt, which Alberto said he would surrender to Tito if he lost. Tito gave the belt to his two sons and said it was his dream to be the WWE Champion as a kid and can share that with his children.

Other action on the evening saw another pro wrestler take to the cage as former Lucha Underground Champion Sexy Starr made quick work of Anali Lopez Hernandez via guillotine choke at 2:47 of round one. Starr’s boxing was too much for the MMA newcomer Hernandez. Starr walked her down at will with strikes until she found the opening for the choke in what was a total mismatch.

Combate Americas crowned their first women’s strawweight champion in the co-main event as Melissa Martinez defeated Desiree Yanez via split decision. Martinez is a homegrown star of Combate Americas and proved her toughness by coming back from adversity as Yanez dominated her in the second round. Martinez has star potential, but Yanez will be back in the hunt.

There was a lot of competition for the Mexican based promotion on Saturday. DAZN aired the boxing heavyweight title rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz while ESPN aired a big UFC heavyweight bout between Alistair Overeem and Jair Rozenstruik. Combate Americas aired on Fite.tv and had an entertaining presentation of fights with a headline-grabbing battle and some good prospects on the undercard.

Alberto El Patron’s record falls to 9-6 while Tito Ortiz improves to 22-12 with four wins in his last five fights.

 

-Quick Event Results

Preliminary Bouts

Jose Flores over Clarence Brown via submission (rear-naked choke) – Rd 1

Victor Martinez stopped Luis Luna via TKO (strikes) – Rd 1

Edmilson Freitas and Raymond Banda was declared a majority draw

Elias Urbina knocked out Mike Tovar via head kick at 3:14 of Rd 1

 

-Main Card PPV

Gaston Reyno defeated Rey Trujillo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). This was fought at a catchweight of 150 lbs.

Dulce Garcia (Lucha Underground’s Sexy Star) defeated

Dani Barez defeated Joao Camilo via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)

Levy Marroquin defeated Enrique Gonzalez via guillotine choke at 4;53 of Rd 1

Melissa Martinez defeated Desiree Yanez via split decision to become the inaugural Combate Americas Women’s Strawweight Championship

Tito Ortiz defeated Albero El Patron via rear-naked choke at 3:10 of the 1st Round

Tito Ortiz vs. Alberto El Patron set for Combate Americas on 12/7

Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz will fight former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Alberto El Patron in an MMA bout on Saturday, December 7.

I’ll be covering the event live at http://www.gerweck.net.

Below is the press release for the big fight.

COMBATE AMERICAS, the world’s premier Hispanic Mixed Martial Arts sports and media franchise and FITE, the global digital platform specializing in premium combat sports, announced today a joint distribution agreement for the Pay Per View event.

Together, they will offer the much-anticipated, ‘Winner Take All’ showdown between two iconic combat sports legends – Tito Ortiz and Alberto “El Patrón” Rodriguez (formerly “Alberto Del Rio” of the WWE) – live from Payne Arena in McAllen, Texas, next to the U.S.-Mexico border, on Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 8pm EST to audiences worldwide with English and Spanish commentary feeds.

The Combate Americas live pay per view television event ‘Tito vs. Alberto – What Side Are You On?‘ pits two iconic superstars from some of the industry’s biggest fight franchises – UFC Hall of Famer and former world light heavyweight champion, Tito Ortiz , who will face multiple-time WWE Heavyweight Champion and former PRIDE and DEEP MMA star Rodriguez of San Antonio, Texas by way of San Luis Potosi, SLP, Mexico.

The content partnership between FITE and COMBATE AMERICAS was a natural fit to deliver a world-class event. FITE CEO Kosta Jordanov said, “we’ve long admired the content that Combate Americas delivers to massive audiences and wanted to be their distribution partner when they announced this stellar attraction.”

Campbell McClaren, CEO of Combate Americas said, “Combate Americas has been consistently delivering millions of global viewers to its live streams with every one of our events, so we immediately thought of FITE when we decided to offer this premium event via global pay per view.”

COMBATE AMERICAS: ‘TITO VS. ALBERTO – WHAT SIDE ARE YOU ON?’
PPV FIGHT CARD – DEC. 7TH – LIVE AT 9PM EST

CATCHWEIGHT (210 LBS.) MAIN EVENT:
Tito Ortiz (20-12-1) vs. Alberto “El Patrón” Rodriguez (9-5)

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STRAWWEIGHT CO-MAIN EVENT:
Melissa “Super Mely” Martinez (6-0) vs. Desiree “Dirty Dez” Yanez (5-1)

FEATURED FLYWEIGHT BOUT:
Dani Barez (11-4) vs. Joby Sanchez (13-5)

FEATURED FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT:
Levy “El Negro” Marroquin (12-3) vs. Enrique “Baby Bull” Gonzalez (8-3)

FEATURED CATCHWEIGHT (150 LBS.) BOUT:
Gaston “Tonga” Reyno (8-2, 2 NC) vs. Angel “Tito” Cruz (6-4)

FEATURED CATCHWEIGHT (118 LBS.) BOUT:
“Sexy” Dulce Garcia (1-0) vs. Marisol Ruelas (1-2)

FREE PRELIM FIGHT CARD
DEC. 7TH – LIVE AT 8PM EST (ADDITIONAL BOUTS TO BE ANNOUNCED)

LIGHTWEIGHT:
Jose “Luke” Flores (8-1) vs. Ismael “Marreta” Bonfim (13-3)

FEATHERWEIGHT:
Ricky “El Gallero” Palacios (11-2) vs. Jose “The Ghost” Ceja (4-5)

The WEIGH-IN for the ‘Tito vs. Alberto’ event will be streamed live on Friday, Dec. 6th AT 8pm EST from the venue via FITE, immediately following the free and global FITE in FOCUS show, starting at 6pm EST with exclusive interviews with the fighters, promoters, and surprise guests.

TitoAlberto

To ORDER the Dec. 7th PPV Event Worldwide via FITE – Click HERE – Also available via cable and satellite PPV. Check your local listings.

About FITE

FITE is the premium digital streaming platform for combat sports featuring over 1,000 premium live events per year. FITE is available globally through its iOS and Android mobile apps, Apple TV, Android TV, ROKU and Amazon Fire TV. In addition, FITE supports Chromecast, PS4, Xbox, and 7,000 models of TV sets, streaming MMA, Pro Wrestling, Boxing, Bare Knuckle and Traditional Martial Arts live events to its 2.2M registered viewers. Available online at www.FITE.tv. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram and on Facebook at https://facebook.com/fitetv.

About Combate Americas

Combate Americas is the premier Hispanic Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) sports franchise, rapidly becoming the number two sport after soccer, for Spanish speaking fans worldwide. The Combate Americas franchise includes live event and original shoulder programming on some of the biggest television, OTT and digital platforms in Spanish and English, including Univision and Univision Deportes Network (UDN), DAZN, ESPN, GOL, Pluto TV and Facebook Watch worldwide. The company also owns and operates a multi-platform media studio, La Jaula Studios. This event is not sponsored or affiliated with WWE or UFC.

Combate Americas CEO Campbell McLaren, also the co-founder/co-creator of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has been described by New York Magazine as “the marketing genius behind the UFC,” while Yahoo Sports has said he “knows more about the sport than just about anyone in it today.” With an unprecedented and cutting-edge product and a blue-chip ownership and management team, Combate Americas is poised to break new ground and bring about a new era in world championship level MMA competition.

New Japan Pro Wrestling of America Announced

PRO

New Japan Pro Wrestling announced yesterday a new U.S. based subsidiary called  New Japan Pro Wrestling of America. The company will be based in California and begin operations in November. CEO Takami Ohbari presented the three phases of their expansion plan.

-Phase One: Discovering new wrestlers in markets outside Japan and developing talent through the LA Dojo.

-Phase Two: Run events in the US, including at Madison Square Garden and Dallas this year, both independently and with the assistance of other promotions.

-Phase Three: Establish a company within the US, and be ingrained in the everyday fabric when it comes to fans’ wrestling consciousness.

Phases one and two are already completed, and phase three is set as NJPW of America will be putting on twenty-seven live events across eighteen states in 2020. Arenas with twenty-five hundred seat capacity will be the targeted cites for the shows.

This is interesting considering WWE recently tried to purchase two wrestling promotions in Japan to create NXT Japan. Pro Wrestling NOAH and women’s promotion Stardom ultimately turned down their respective offers.

New Japan has made some promotional errors in the U.S., which can be chalked up to a difference in business culture. The opening night of the G1 Climax in Dallas only drew five thousand people. It should have drawn more; however, New Japan promoted the show like they usually do in Japan when they announced the card a few days before the show.

That kind of promotion won’t work with a U.S audience because we’re used to getting the lineup at least a month before the event. People need time to decide if they want to spend their money on event tickets, travel plans, and hotel accommodations.

New Japan also announced they’re staying on AXS TV for the foreseeable future. However, AXS is now owned by Anthem, the parent company of Impact Wrestling (Formerly TNA). Impact’s weekly television show debuts on AXS this evening. Odd are Impact will be the station’s priority, not New Japan.

While some feel New Japan is starting off its American expansion too slow, I think it’s just right. Slow and steady wins the race. NJPW of America needs time to adjust to the American way of promotion and marketing.

WWE is the industry leader. Their lackluster storytelling, however, has led to decreasing ratings, which has ultimately led to the emergence of All Elite Wrestling. Wrestling fans want quality matches and storytelling, and other companies are moving in to fill the void.

Arguably, New Japan has the best in-ring product in the game today. It will take more than suitable matches to get over in the U.S. on a mainstream level. I think New Japan realizes this and doesn’t mind moving slowly with its expansion while ensuring the product doesn’t take a single dip in the quality.