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Rumor Roundup: WWE in Saudi Arabia, NJPW unhappiness, SmackDown 1000 plans, more! 

Speculating on the rumors surrounding pro wrestling is a favored pastime of many fans, perhaps second only to actually watching the matches. In this daily column, we take a look at the latest rumors being churned out by the pro wrestling rumor mill.

Important reminder: Rumors are just that -- rumors. None of this has been confirmed as legitimate news or fact, it’s just circulating around the pro wrestling rumor mill. We track rumor accuracy in a weekly feature called Rumor Look Back you can find here. Remember, take it all with a grain of salt.

Rumors for the Day:

  • Many have noticed that WWE has seemingly removed references to Saudi Arabia on its Crown Jewel page. There’s speculation this could mean the event is going forward but changing countries. PW Insider says as of right now no decision has been made on pulling the event from Saudi Arabia.
  • On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer mentioned hearing that many are unhappy in New Japan and that’s across the board. He also said The Elite didn’t want to leave but it’s up in the air now what they do.
  • That said, Tama Tonga has been on Twitter saying Meltzer has been getting played.
  • Per PW Insider, Edge is still scheduled to be at SmackDown 1000 despite WWE no longer advertising the “Cutting Edge” segment.
  • They also say Booker T and Big Show have been booked for the event, and if The Rock appears it will likely be via video.

If you have heard of any interesting rumors that you’d like to add, feel free to post them in the comments section below. Just remember they are rumors and not confirmed as fact, so please take them as such. Have fun with it. And check our weekly Rumor Look Back here to keep track of how often rumors turn out to be correct!

Raw results, live blog: Break it down 

WWE Monday Night Raw comes waltzing back into our lives tonight (Oct. 15, 2018) from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, featuring all the latest build to the upcoming Evolution and Crown Jewel events later this month and early next month.

Advertised for tonight: Ronda Rousey responded to The Bella Twins turning on her, WWE World Cup qualifying matches, and more!

Come right back here at 8 p.m. ET when the Raw live blog kicks off once the show starts on USA. It will be below this line here. (REMINDER: NO GIFS OR PICS ARE ALLOWED IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. OFFENDERS WILL BE BANNED.)


Bound for Glory recap & reactions: Leave your soul behind 

Impact returned last night (Oct. 14) with their Bound for Glory pay-per-view (PPV) which emanated from the Melrose Ballroom in New York, New York. You can find the results at the live thread here.

Overall Thoughts:

I used to start these recaps talking about how their PPVs fit into the overall image of the company. And for the longest time, that was important because Impact had a terrible image for years.

I don’t feel I need to do that any more.

The promotion feels like it’s on better footing this year than it has in a long time. Don Callis and Scott D’Amore have brought a stability that was lacking for years. So I don’t need to sit here and talk about how this fits in with Impact’s bad image or what this means for a company on the brink. I can just talk about the PPV.

Their last PPV, Slammiversary, was a rousing success. A start to finish good show that gave fans a new image of the promotion. While this PPV was OK, it wasn’t a complete home run like their last one.

The biggest thing working against this show was the number of tag matches. On paper it’s four tag matches to three singles matches (though one of those singles matches was an Ellsworth pseudo squash so really only two singles matches). In general, one on one matches feel bigger whereas a card full of tag matches doesn’t feel as important. They turned the Eddie Edwards/Moose one on one bout into a tag match involving Killer Kross and Tommy Dreamer, taking a personal feud and making it an impromptu tag.

Three of the tags were bunched in the middle of the show, making one long hour of tag matches. They did their best to make them look different, but the fact is, they were all no-rules tag bouts and it started to blend together. The show lost its momentum in the sea of tag matches.

Those were followed with a pre-taped video of Allie traveling into an Undead Realm which also doesn’t really fit on a PPV (which I’ll talk more about this in a bit).

The two legit one on one matches were great. The Knockouts title match was excellent (the best on the card). The main event world title delivered. But while none of the tag matches were bad, they needed to do more to make the matches on the PPV feel special.

Outside of that handicapping the show, it was an enjoyable wrestling show. It needed a better flow and more matches that had meaning, which goes back to the fact that the build to this PPV was rather underwhelming.

Let’s look at the matches:

Johnny Impact def. Austin Aries to win the world title

The promotion did a very good job making this feel personal given the lack of layers on television. Aries and Johnny spent the last week or so jawing online (with some personal tweets getting deleted), Johnny and his wife Taya Valkyrie, the subject those tweets, were on TMZ talking about how he went too far. They had a brawl at Abyss’ hall of fame ceremony Saturday night.

That allowed this match to have a personal aspect to it that it didn’t have just a week or so ago. Title matches need to feel big and they worked hard to get to the point it felt that way.

The match was good and that extra layer helped with it. Taya was at ringside and Aries would stare at her to the point it felt uncomfortable. When he purposely hit her with a suicide dive, it was a big heat moment. It also helped Johnny’s win feel special.

Now, let’s talk about that weird post match moment.

Aries got up soon after taking the pin, barely selling the finish, pointed at Don Callis, and immediately left, flipping off the crowd. Is it a work to get people talking? Was he legit angry about something and being a baby? Honestly, who knows?

It didn’t take away from the match or make Johnny’s win feel less special. But any time you have the loser not selling the finish takes away that suspension of disbelief we need to enjoy wrestling. Johnny won with a move that is good enough to put the champion away. That champion should be selling it. That’s why if it is a work (which is my guess still), it could end up being detrimental. But we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.

Tessa Blanchard def. Taya Valkyrie to retain the Knockouts championship

Hot damn that was awesome.

Despite Taya Valkyrie not being on Impact for the build to this match, it still felt like a big fight. Tessa Blanchard has been presented as a star in the company. (That’s not too hard given she has that natural charisma and talent that screams superstar.) Taya’s reputation outside Impact helped make her feel like a legit challenger.

Then they went to work, and it was incredible. Tessa Blanchard’s size/strength advantage was not much over Taya. It gave the bout a hard hitting feel. At the same time, Taya utilized a variety of submissions to try to overcome Tessa’s power advantage, even if it wasn’t a large advantage.

The match went to that extra gear that made it special. If it ended five minutes earlier, it would still have been very good. But they got to the point where the fans know they’re watching a war between two top talents. They each kicked out of the other’s finishers but the match was at a point where that didn’t feel wasted. It felt like an important enough match to do that.

In the end, a spectacular top rope Code Breaker from 2/3 the way across the ring was delivered for the win.

Just a fantastic match all around.

Sami Callihan & oVe def. The Lucha Bros and Brian Cage

The oVe rules match between oVe and the Lucha Bros and Brian Cage was styled as a Texas Tornado trios match. No tags. Just action.

Clearly, they made it work, though I think this match was put slightly behind the 8-ball being put on right after the tag match between Moose/Killer Kross & Dreamer/Eddie Edwards. They were pretty similar in style so this didn’t feel as unique as it could have if a different bout preceded it.

The main purpose of this was to build up Cage even more... before beating him.

Sami and the Crist brothers neutralized both Lucha Bros towards the end, and it was 3 on 1 from there. oVe vs. Cage. Then the X Division champion took a beating. They delivered the All Seeing Eye. He kicked out of that at one. Then kicks to the face, which he kept bouncing back from.

But in the end, he’s a man and not a machine. A piledriver from Callihan led to the pin, the first pin Cage has taken in the promotion.

The finish means we’ll probably see Callihan and Cage fight for the X Division title and the Lucha Brothers can move on to other ventures. A feud with LAX would be nice.

LAX def. the OGz in a Concrete Jungle Death Match

As much as I was done with the LAX/OGz feud long before this match, I appreciate they made the “Concrete Jungle Death Match” stipulation at least look different than all the other crazy no-DQ matches they had.

In this gimmick match, the ring had no apron to cover the wooden boards. There was no padding to cover the turnbuckles. It was barebones and looked dangerous. (The way those boards kept shifting, it probably was.)

They wrote Konnan out prior to the match, blaming a King attack backstage. But watching Konnan wrestle was never a selling point to this match. He came out at the end of the match so Homicide and Hernandez had to sell his flapjack shots before his boys hit the Street Sweeper on King.

Hopefully, this finally put this feud to rest. (Please?)

Eddie Edwards & Tommy Dreamer def. Moose & Killer Kross

The Eddie Edwards vs. Moose match turned into a tag match pretty quickly. Moose’s buddy Killer Kross attacked Eddie from the crowd, and it ended in a DQ within minutes. However, Eddie’s former rival Tommy Dreamer ran out to make the save, turning this into a tag match.

This was a risky move. The one on one match is always going to feel more important than an impromptu tag match, especially given this was built as a personal rivalry. That being said, this didn’t bother me too much because I was never too into this feud in the first place. Eddie’s relationship with Tommy Dreamer months ago was more interesting than his issues with Moose now.

Turning into a tag team hardcore match extends the feud between Eddie and Moose, and they can continue to work towards the point where this feel special.

Moose took the pin from Eddie, which is something he seems to do often. (That dude needs a win.) After the match, Kross and Moose beat the hell out of Edwards, which will be where this picks up next week.

In a vacuum, this was enjoyable. But it added another tag match to a card full of them.

Undead Realm

The whole bit with Allie going into the Undead Realm was a pretape video, where she traveled into this other dimension to retrieve Kiera Hogan. She hatcheted bridesmaids.. She hatcheted Su Yung. She saw her soul (but couldn’t take it back). Rosemary returned (!!) to help her and Kiera escape (but she stayed behind). Rosemary and Su had some battle with cheap CGI coming out of their hands.

I’ve talked about how I overall enjoy the mystic in my graps, but this was too much for me. Some of the over the top stuff, I enjoyed, such as Allie hatcheting peeps with as the blood flew. And of course I loved seeing Rosemary. But by the time they had the cheesy CGI battle between Rosemary and Su, I was like, “This is too much for me.”

How do they go about grounding this to the actual world of wrestling? The best of these stories in wrestling mix the fact these are people who wrestle with the fantastical stories they tell. Su Yung and Rosemary need to have these type of videos because it fits their characters, but they also need to remember that they’ll need to wrestle in a ring at some point. If they go too far with these types of videos, the matches won’t fit in.

Then there’s the fact they put this on a pay-per-view. They used it to cover time as they put the ring back together after the Concrete Jungle Death Match. But it never did anything in front of the crowd, connecting the video with the PPV fans at home and the crowd are watching. Without that fans in the crowd are watching something on a screen and the video feels too separate from the rest of the show.

Eli Drake def. James Ellsworth, gets beaten up by Abyss

Eli Drake’s open challenge followed the opening match. While the crowd wanted Chris Jericho, they got James Ellsworth instead. (They booed him pretty mercilessly for it the entire time - that and for the fact he’s a douche.)

It was a funny segment, especially Ellsworth claiming he could respond to an open challenge meant for New Yorkers because he dated a girl from Staten Island. I’ll buy it, James.

He soon lost a match to Eli Drake, which is what he’s meant for. Drake demanded more of a challenge. In fact, he wanted hall of fame caliber talent. He got Abyss, who was just inducted into the Impact Hall of Fame.

It wasn’t an official match but a fight, which ended with Drake taking a chokeslam through a table, protecting him from taking a loss but giving Abyss a moment in front of the crowd.

Willie Mack & Rich Swann def. Matt Sydal & Ethan Page

The opening match featured two new talents for the promotion in Willie Mack and Ethan Page. Their respective partners, Rich Swann and Matt Sydal, are very talented. It was a great pick for the opening match. Four exciting talents putting on a very enjoyable tag match.

In the end, when it comes to a PPV you have to ask, “Was this worth the price you paid?” And that was $40-$50. Nowadays, that’s a lot to ask of wrestling fans in general with the PPV model phasing out. You can watch most wrestling via a streaming service for cheaper. So to ask fans to pay that much, you really need to deliver.

This was an above average show. Probably a B-. A B- is good, but is it $40 good? Probably not.

Grade: B-

Sound off below.

Work or shoot, Austin Aries’ antics after losing the title have people talking 

While the ending of the Bound for Glory pay-per-view (PPV) was Johnny Impact winning the world title from Austin Aries, the chatter is all about Austin Aries’ antics right after.

Johnny Impact won with the Starship Pain finisher. However, Austin Aries didn’t sell it for long. Seconds later he was up jawing at Don Callis, who is the announcer but also the Executive Vice President of the company. He then flipped off the crowd and immediately left.

That has fans playing our favorite game “Work or shoot?” Was Aries legit angry about something or is this part of a story?

If I were to venture a guess, I’d say it’s a work. Austin Aries cut a promo in the middle of the night, playing on the personal issues between him and Johnny Impact. In that promo, he said “I don’t trust management around here.” (It’s just before the 2 minute mark.)

That line alone has me feeling that this is all a work to get people to talk more about the finish. (And we are!) The entire build to this match was mainly a blurred work/shoot. Austin Aries sent out offensive tweets insulting Johnny’s wife Taya Valkyrie and then deleted them. Johnny and Taya went on TMZ to trash Aries. This moment would fit into all of it as well as play into the image fans have of Aries (which is based in some realty) that Aries is difficult to work with.

Could it be a shoot? Of course. We don’t know.

It’s always possible that Aries didn’t like the planned finished and had something to say about it. (This wasn’t a screw job as Aries took the pin 1-2-3 clean.) Maybe the promotion felt his tweets were too far and this is punishment. Maybe he’s not happy with some overall direction.

Or maybe these are questions they want us to ask after the show to keep Impact on our lips for a little bit.

What do you say, folks? Work or shoot?

You can find all the results from Bound for Glory here.

Johnny Impact wins the Impact world title 

The main event for tonight’s Bound for Glory pay-per-view (PPV), which emanated from the Melrose Ballroom in New York, New York, was Austin Aries defending his world title against Johnny Impact.

They did all they could to make this feud personal in the last week, most of that outside of Impact television. Aries tweeted some personal insults about Johnny and his wife Taya Valkyrie, which he ended up deleting, possibly as part of the story, possibly because they went too far in a couple of ways. Johnny did an interview with TMZ where he and Taya spoke about how Aries had gone too far. They brawled at the hall of fame ceremony for Abyss last night.

That animosity found its way into the main event, but that didn’t mean we didn’t get the flash we’re used to from Johnny Impact.

I mean c’mon!

As the match wore on, and as Aries couldn’t put Johnny away, he started getting frustrated. He stared down Taya, who was in Johnny’s corner, a couple times. Then towards the end of the match, he purposely nailed her with a suicide dive.

Johnny has seen his wife deal with worse in Lucha Underground so he focused on the match instead, soon hitting a brainbuster and Starship Pain for the win.

After taking the pin, Aries immediately got up, flipped off Don Callis, and walked out. That has many wondering if there was some legit anger from Aries about the finish, though I’d guess it’s going to be part of a story going forward.

We’re now in the era of Johnny Impact, who is on the current season of Survivor, so the promotion can talk about how their champion is on a popular realty show as well.

You can find all the results from Bound for Glory at the live thread here.

This is kind of disgusting 

Impact’s Bound for Glory has had its share of moments so far, such as James Ellsworth answering an open challenge.

But a moment from a tag match between Tommy Dreamer & Eddie Edwards against Moose and Killer Kross had a moment that was kind of disgusting so I felt the need to share it with you all. Germophobes be weary.

Just a man spitting into another man’s mouth so the second man could spit it in someone else’s face.

I mean.. teamwork I guess?

Find all the results from Bound for Glory here.

James Ellsworth debuts at Bound for Glory, quickly loses 

At Impact Wrestling’s Bound for Glory pay-per-view (PPV) tonight (Oct. 14), former Impact champion Eli Drake held an open challenge.

While fans were chanting for Chris Jericho, they got James Ellsworth instead.

The rules of the open challenge set by Drake included that the person had to be from New York, which Ellsworth is not. The Chinless Wonder is from Baltimore. But Ellsworth used the clever excuse that he used to date a girl from Staten Island and lived in her basement for a bit.

James would coldcock Drake, getting the match started.

While Ellsworth held his own for a short while, his attempt at a Styles Clash would soon be reversed into Drake’s finisher the Gravy Train.

Thanks for coming, Ellsworth!

You can find all of the results from Bound for Glory here.

World Cup qualifying matches set for Raw 

The Raw side still has two spots to fill for the WWE World Cup tournament, and with that in mind two matches have been booked for this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw in Philadelphia.

Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins will take on Tag Team Champion Drew McIntyre while Dean Ambrose will take on the other Tag Team Champion Dolph Ziggler.

John Cena and Kurt Angle are being counted against the Raw side, and they’ve already qualified/been announced for the tournament, which is set to take place at the Crown Jewel event on Nov. 2 in Saudi Arabia.

Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy are the SmackDown stars who have qualified.

This week’s episode of Raw is also scheduled to feature Ronda Rousey responding to the Bella Twins turning on her, as well as a possible Brothers of Destruction appearance.

Everything about Shawn Michaels’ return feels wrong 

I’ve been waiting nearly a decade for Shawn Michaels to come out of retirement and wrestle again in WWE. Now that it’s finally happening, I can’t help but feel disappointed by all the circumstances leading up to it.

HBK is generally recognized as one of the greatest performers in WWE history. He earned the moniker “Mr. WrestleMania” for consistently stealing the show on the grandest stage of them all.

While Yokozuna was heavily featured at WrestleMania 10 in two separate underwhelming WWF Championship matches, HBK was on the undercard captivating the world by jumping off a ladder and splashing Razor Ramon. When Batista and John Cena were each getting crowned as the new faces of WWE in mediocre championship matches at WrestleMania 21, Shawn Michaels was on the undercard tapping out to Kurt Angle in a match that showcased what elite level talent truly looks like. While Triple H and Randy Orton were trying to cure the world of insomnia in the main event of WrestleMania 25, HBK was there on the undercard having one of the greatest matches ever with Undertaker.

Of course there is a lot more to HBK’s legacy than his incredible performances at WrestleMania. However during his second run in WWE, the main reason he appealed to me was because he could still put on incredibly breathtaking matches. HBK didn’t just try to hang on the same level in the ring with younger stars like Shelton Benjamin, John Cena, Chris Jericho, Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton, and Edge; it was clear that HBK was still better than all of them.

During the last eight years that HBK has been retired, I have seen plenty of really talented wrestlers reach the upper card and main event levels in WWE. And inevitably the following thought would cross my mind: how amazing would a 20-minute main event match be pitting Shawn Michaels against Daniel Bryan? AJ Styles? CM Punk? Seth Rollins? Ryback? Roman Reigns? Kevin Owens? Brock Lesnar?

With each passing year, the likelihood of any such dream match taking place decreased. HBK wasn’t getting any younger, and there didn’t seem to be any reason to expect he would wrestle again in WWE. Yet here we are now, less than a month away from HBK’s return to the ring on Nov 2., and he’s a tag team match with Triple H against Kane and Undertaker? In a propaganda show in Saudi Arabia?

Everything about this feels wrong.

First, Crown Jewel is a problematic event, to say the least. I don’t need HBK’s return to take place at WrestleMania. I don’t even need it to take place on a Big 4 pay-per-view. But the idea that HBK’s return is happening at Crown Jewel is gross and puts a huge damper on his first match in over eight years.

Second, I don’t care about seeing HBK in tag team matches that don’t involve Marty Jannetty. My fondest memories of DX all lie with the first half of HBK’s career in WWE, when he was full of attitude and the WWF Champion in 1997. The version of DX he brought back with Triple H a couple times during the second half of HBK’s career was always kinda lame in comparison, and that’s the one I associate more with tag team wrestler HBK. That’s very likely the version of DX we are getting at Crown Jewel. That doesn’t do much at all for me; my interest in HBK is all about great singles matches, not tag team matches with Triple H. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Triple H is once again inserting himself into something potentially cool and bringing it down a few notches.

Third, it’s hard for me to walk away from Super Show-Down and feel optimistic about what Triple H, Undertaker, and Kane can do in the ring anymore. Undertaker was a shell of himself in his match against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33, and the match with Triple H at Super Show-Down was a harsh 27 minute reminder of that reality. Kane’s matches with Braun Strowman last December and January were so bad that it’s one of the few times where Braun actually looked like a better worker than his opponent. Triple H has more left in the tank than Kane or Undertaker, but he’s also much slower than he used to be and the idea of watching him wrestle just isn’t particularly exciting.

Fourth, HBK is bald and his hat has an uncanny ability to stick to his head. I don’t know what’s going on there, and I’m having a hard time processing all of that.

I don’t know if HBK still has it in him to be The Showstopper, and the rational part of me understands he is over 50 years old and I need to temper my expectations. But regardless of what HBK is capable of right now, it’s going to be really hard to steal the show when he is sharing the ring with at least two guys who are broken down and don’t have it anymore. Maybe HBK is also physically at the point where he would only be able to put on a decent match with even a top elite star like AJ Styles. I at least want to find out what he can do in that setting against one of the very best singles stars in WWE.

The DX vs. Brothers of Destruction tag team match at Crown Jewel is pretty much the opposite of what I want to see in a return to in-ring competition for Shawn Michaels. It’s nothing like the scenarios that played out in my mind over the last eight years. At this point I’m hoping for a big swerve on Raw where HBK’s hat is filled with New Day’s pancakes unbeknownst to him, and that leads to a triple threat tag match at Crown Jewel. I just need some fresh faces in there for HBK to battle with besides Undertaker, Kane, and Triple H.

How do you feel about HBK’s comeback match at Crown Jewel, Cagesiders?

Crown Jewel match card & rumors 

WWE appears to be moving forward with its plan to hold the Crown Jewel event on Fri., Nov. 2, 2018, at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, despite calls for the company to reconsider. The event will feature only the men’s side of the roster, because women aren’t allowed to perform.

The show is just under three weeks away, assuming it goes forward as planned, and looks like this right now:

  • Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman (Universal championship)

Lesnar returned to WWE to interfere in a Reigns vs. Strowman title match at Hell in a Cell, so they’re having a triple threat here.

  • AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE championship)

Bryan beat The Miz in two minutes at Super Show-Down to earn this match.

  • D-Generation X vs. Brothers of Destruction

Triple H beat Undertaker in a singles match at Super Show-Down, with Shawn Michaels and Kane in each guy’s corner, and after, while doing a curtain call, the Brothers of Destruction attacked DX. That set up this match.

  • World Cup Tournament

Announced participants as of now: John Cena, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton. Three of those guys had to win a match to gain entry and the other guy is John Cena.

The rumor is there won’t be as many wrestlers making the trip this time around, as there isn’t a 50-man Royal Rumble to find bodies for. It’s also unclear how much time the tournament will take up, and what that will look like once the event happens.