White Rabbit merch, State of AEW Rampage


Photo Courtesy: WWE

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-SmackDown will have a special start time of Midnight ET tonight due to Rampage going two hours. Wai Ting and I will have full reviews of Friday Night Slam & AEW Rampage Grand Slam from Arthur Ashe Stadium, plus the latest news from the day and your phone calls, super chats & feedback. This show is exclusive to all POST Wrestling Café members.

**Karen Peterson was a guest on this week’s edition of MCU L8R to review episode six of She-Hulk with Rich Fann & WH Park for POSR Wrestling Café members.

**On Saturday, the N.W.A. Podcast returns with Nate Milton, Kris Ealy, and Andrew Thompson to discuss all the major news from the past several weeks.

**Wrestlenomics Radio returns on Sunday with Brandon Thurston, Chris Gullo, and Jesse Collings.

**On Sunday night, WH Park will join me for POST Puroresu to discuss the latest in New Japan, All Japan’s return to Budokan Hall, the 5-Star Grand Prix, and lots more.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown (Special start time at Midnight ET)
Saturday: The N.W.A. Podcast with Nate Milton, Kris Ealy & Andrew Thompson
Sunday: Wrestlenomics Radio
Sunday: POST Puroresu with John Pollock & WH Park

WRESTLING NEWS

**Friday Night SmackDown airs from the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah tonight featuring Roman Reigns appearing on the show. They have announced the following matches for tonight’s show:
*WWE Unified Tag Team Championships: The Usos (champions) vs. Butch & Ridge Holland
*Braun Strowman vs. Otis

The strongest promotion for tonight’s show centers around the reveal of the “White Rabbit” teases over the past week. After playing the Jefferson Airplane song during a commercial break in the Honda Center last Friday and again during a live event over the weekend, they followed with a unique idea of putting a QR code on Raw for being to search out a video. It contained a white rabbit playing “Hangman” and flashing 9:23 at the end which is both today’s date and the likely time of the reveal on the show. WWE Shop has begun selling merchandise tied to the white rabbit imagery.

WrestleTix reports over 6,500 tickets have been distributed for tonight’s show in Salt Lake City.

**AEW Rampage is the special Grand Slam edition taped at Arthur Ashe Stadium. This will be an interesting test to see if a loaded lineup on Friday night can attract a sizably larger audience after Rampage has struggled since the playoffs this past season when they were moved around. Last year’s Grand Slam edition of Rampage averaged 640,000 viewers and 0.29 in 18-49 but there was a sizable drop after the first hour from 727,000 viewers to 552,000 and the 18-49 audience dropped 23% in the second hour. Expectations should be measured as no one expects them to replicate last year’s number and Rampage’s four-week average is 454,000 viewers and 0.14 in 18-49, so those are the numbers that would be hopeful of eclipsing by a decent margin.

Below is the lineup for Rampage airing from 10 p.m. until Midnight ET on TNT:
*Lights Out Match: Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Ricky Starks
*Golden Ticket Battle Royale (the winner challenges Jon Moxley on October 18th in Cincinnati)
*Eddie Kingston vs. Sammy Guevara
*Jungle Boy vs. Rey Fenix
*Wardlow & Samoa Joe vs. Tony Nese & Josh Woods
*TBS Championship: Jade Cargill (champion) vs. Diamante
*Hook & Action Bronson vs. Matt Menard & Angelo Parker
*No Disqualification: Sting & Darby Allin vs. Brody King & Buddy Matthews

**While AEW’s second annual Grand Slam was a commercial success given its fourth $1 million gate this year despite fewer tickets sold, there were plenty of complaints from those attending the show given how late it ended. Prior to Dynamite, two matches were taped for Dark Elevation, and following Dynamite, the Rampage taping lasted until approximately 12:35 a.m. ET, which on a weeknight is a tough ask of your audience and sitting through nearly five hours of wrestling. As long as AEW is committed to doing a super-sized edition of Rampage on an annual basis, there isn’t an easy fix. While one option is taping a portion of Rampage prior to Dynamite, you do risk fans not arriving in time and then missing something major. For this week, it would have meant Sting, who I wouldn’t want to waste in the first match of the entire taping, although they could tape things out of order and tape some of the smaller matches from 7-8 p.m. before going live with Dynamite.

Even with the transition from Dynamite to Rampage (and when I attended in Buffalo a few weeks ago, it was about fifteen minutes in between), there is no reason that a two-hour program needs to run until 12:35 a.m. ET unless every single commercial break is picture-in-picture.

With AEW’s next round of U.S. television negotiations coming up, one of the many questions will be where Rampage lands and whether the idea of expanding it to two hours becomes a viable option. If Rampage were to expand, it would necessitate a second night of taping because I can’t imagine doing this marathon taping schedule every week in a different market. It is added production costs and buildings to book but that comes down to what a broadcaster or streamer would be willing to pay AEW for more content to justify the added expenses. The next two months are an interesting test to see how Rampage performs on its own for several episodes where it’s being taped on its own night with several live episodes scheduled in October and November.

The other balancing act is how much you beef up Rampage over the next several months and does it dilute Dynamite? There is a clear delineation between a match that can headline Dynamite and a match that headlines Rampage. With the loss of several key performers, it’s still a very deep roster but skill level and star power don’t always go hand in hand and you only have so many stars to spread around. You could understand the philosophy of fortifying your top program in Dynamite to create the largest audience possible each week and maintain a top spot on cable in preparation for their negotiations with the belief putting top programs and stars on Rampage is a waste as there is a ceiling on Friday nights and those stars and programs are more valuable on Wednesday. We know that Rampage can have a higher ceiling because it’s down from where it performed six months ago but it is a tougher night to appeal to fans and those watching on DVR are less valuable than live. There is a middle ground and I’d want to find a mix where Rampage is not simply sixty minutes of very good to great wrestling but a mixture of promo segments for talent that gets less screen time, storyline advancement, match announcements (which frequently occur), and creating some level of buzz. Some of this can be applied to Battle of the Belts, which has its next special in two weeks and suffers from the same lack of importance after three specials that again, had great wrestling but that isn’t going to be enough for fans to cram in another hour of wrestling on a bloated schedule in the industry and on an unfamiliar night.

This is the reality of the television rights era where content is king and wrestling content has never been as valued as it is today. The trade-off to producing more and more content is the inevitable compromise in maintaining the same level of quality for the consumer as the hours expand. No one will argue Raw is a superior show at three hours as opposed to two, but the value it brings the company for that third hour was a willing trade-off they made and it’s been ten years of the show in this format. AEW is wise to be developing as much as it can be given the market conditions regardless of whether properties like Ring of Honor can find a home because wrestling has unique attributes compared to live sports with no off-season, its affordability compared to major league sports, and scripted programming, there is no union to risk a talent strike and loss of programming, and it runs year-round with a loyal audience that has propelled WWE and AEW to be among the top cable performers on a weekly basis.

**Wrestlenomics posted the quarter-hour performances for Dynamite with the show never falling below one million viewers for any quarter. The peak viewership was the first quarter at 1,081,000 viewers for Claudio Castagnoli vs. Chris Jericho and the high point for 18-49 was the third quarter at 485,000 for Swerve in Our Glory against The Acclaimed. The lows were quarter two for viewership at 1,009,000 (the ending of the ROH title match, video package for the main event, an ad break, and beginning of tag title match) and the lowest quarter in 18-49 was 431,000 during the match between PAC and Orange Cassidy.

**IMPACT Wrestling holds its Victory Road event tonight in Nashville, Tennessee two weeks out from Bound for Glory. This show has taken more of the focus on the recent episodes of Impact, especially for the Barbed-Wire Massacre match that has been promoted as a significant match that should be very violent. The show will be streaming on Impact Plus and Fite TV (we will have a report on the site from John Siino). The countdown airs at 7:30 p.m. ET and the main show airs at 8 p.m. with the following card:
*Barbed-Wire Massacre: Sami Callihan vs. Moose vs. Steve Maclin
*Josh Alexander, Rich Swann & Heath vs. Eddie Edwards, Matt Taven & Mike Bennett
*Mickie James vs. Gisele Shaw (James has to retire the next time she loses)
*Triple Threat Revolver: Kenny King, Laredo Kid, Alex Zayne, Trey Miguel, Black Taurus, Yuya Uemura, Mia Yim, and Frankie Kazarian (winner receives an X Division title shot at Bound for Glory)
*Jordynne Grace vs. Max the Impaler
*X Division Championship: Speedball Mike Bailey (champion) vs. Delirious
*Motor City Machine Guns vs. Vincent & PCO
*Countdown: Tasha Steelz vs. Killer Kelly
*Countdown: Juice Robinson, Chris Bey & Ace Austin vs. Jason Hotch, Shogun & Jack Price

**IMPACT will run Skyway Studios in Nashville again on Saturday to tape the remaining episodes leading into Bound for Glory on October 7th.

**WWE content is being removed from Hulu on Saturday, which was first reported by PWinsider.com earlier this week. The full list of programs to be removed is WWE Raw, NXT, Miz & Mrs., Total Divas, NXT Level Up, Main Event, Superstars, 205 Live, and WWE En Espanol. Brandon Thurston reported that Fox has a separate deal with Hulu that should allow Friday Night SmackDown to remain on the streaming service.

**Friday’s New Japan card from Takamatsu drew 915 fans and saw House of Torture’s EVIL, SHO & Yujiro win the NEVER Openweight Six-Man tag titles from Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & YOH.

**Chris Jericho spoke with GQ about his transformation over the past nine months since learning of a pulmonary embolism late last year while on tour with Fozzy. Jericho got on a new diet that consists of small snacks and meals throughout the day and then one big meal at the end (he was very negative towards intermittent fasting, which he had tried in the past) along with at least 100 ounces of water per day that led to him losing 31 pounds in eight weeks. Jericho said he now fluctuates between 205-215 pounds and will adjust his diet accordingly depending on which end of that range his body weighs.

He also spoke about his training regimen and mainly focusing on kickboxing workouts and getting away from weightlifting:

My weightlifting is pretty much non-existent these days. Even before the embolism, I’ve been kickboxing, and I really enjoy it. When I was in my twenties, it was all about the power aspect of things: How much can you bench? How big can you get? Then, when your body gets older, you hear about guys tearing tendons and ligaments and pecs and all that sort of stuff. I always loved weightlifting, but what I really loved about training was that feeling of having a great workout. That morphed into yoga—I was a big yoga proponent for about 10 years. And then I was really into bike riding. But kickboxing is my main outlet now.

When you’re kickboxing, man, I think my arms and shoulders are more defined now than they’ve ever been. My legs as well. When I’m home, I’ll do at least three kickboxing sessions a week. I’ve got a great trainer who comes to my house. Right before the pandemic, I converted my garage into a gym. All the machines are set in a circle. Right in the middle is where I kickbox, and if I want to work out, I can do that too. It really transformed my physical training.

**New Japan Pro Wrestling holds its biggest show since the G1 Climax with the Burning Spirit tour ending in Kobe at Kobe World Hall on Sunday. The show will be streaming live at 3 a.m. ET on New Japan World and we will have a recap of the show Sunday night on POST Puroresu. The main event features a rematch of the excellent G1 match between Will Ospreay and David Finlay where Finlay pulled off the upset in the tournament and now goes for the IWGP U.S. title that Ospreay holds. It’s a major spot for Finlay, who was booked very strong in the G1 with wins against Ospreay, Juice Robinson, and Shingo Takagi in the D Block that was ultimately won by Ospreay. Below is the full card:
*IWGP U.S. Championship: Will Ospreay (champion) vs. David Finlay
*NEVER Openweight Championship: Karl Anderson (champion) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
*IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Championships: TJP & Francesco Akira (champions) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato
*Jay White & Taiji Ishimori vs. Tama Tonga & TBA
*Kazuchika Okada, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs, JONAH, Shane Haste & Bad Dude Tito
*Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi vs. Tetsuya Naito & SANADA
*Jeff Cobb & Great O-Khan vs. Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens
*Doc Gallows vs. Toru Yano
*Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI vs. El Phantasmo, KENTA & Hikuleo

**Pro Wrestling NOAH runs Dolphins Arena in Nagoya this Sunday for “Grand Ship 2022 in Nagoya” with Kenoh vs. Kaito Kiyomiya for the GHC heavyweight title, Keiji Muto & Kazuyuji Fujita vs. Masakatsu Funaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima, HAYATA defends the Jr. Heavyweight title against YO-HEY, Hideki Suzuki & Timothy Thatcher defend the GHC tag titles against Satoshi Kojima & Takashi Sugiura, Yoshinari Ogawa & Chris Ridgeway vs. Atsushi Kotoge & Seiki Yoshioka for the Jr. Heavyweight tag titles, Naomichi Marufuji & Jack Morris & Hijo de Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. Masato Tanaka, Masaaki Mochizuki & Daiki Inaba, Tadasuke & Hajime Ohara & Hi69 vs. Ninja Mack, Alejandro & Xtreme Tiger, Mohammed Yone & Akitoshi Saito vs. Masa Kitaiya & Yoshiki Inamura, and Manabu Soya vs. Daiji Ozawa. The card streams on Wrestle Universe early Sunday morning.

MMA NEWS

**Two misdemeanor charges against former fighter Chael Sonnen have been dropped by a judge in Las Vegas, according to The Las Vegas Review-Journal. Sonnen was accused of attacking several people at a hotel in Las Vegas last December including a couple that claimed Sonnen attacked them unprovoked and launched a lawsuit against Sonnen earlier this year. Initially, Sonnen’s charges included a felony battery charge but that was dropped this past March and saw his misdemeanor battery counts reduced to six, now down to four with the latest ruling this week. The defense for Sonnen is requesting all charges be dropped after they could not secure the comments made by the plaintiffs, Christopher and Julie Stellpflug, to a local television station in California regarding Sonnen’s state when the alleged attacks occurred and the defense believes those comments by the two could be exculpatory evidence. Sonnen was not arrested that night when he was accused of attacking several people which led to the Metropolitan Police Department issuing five misdemeanor battery citations to Sonnen in January. Sonnen has not publicly commented on the case including declining comment when asked on the Morning Kombat show last week by hosts Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell. Sonnen recently hosted the press conference for Jake Paul and Anderson Silva to promote their October 29th boxing fight. The Stellepflugs told the Review-Journal they were “disgusted” over the two charges being dropped and are seeking justice while adding that their account of what happened that night has not changed.

ON THIS DATE

WWF introduces the fake versions of Diesel and Razor Ramon in 1996, which was as terrible as it sounds:

Kurt Angle wins the WWF championship in his hometown of Pittsburgh at the Unforgiven event in 2001. The match with Steve Austin took place just weeks after 9/11 and saw Angle as the American hero winning the title and celebrating with his family to end the show. It was only a detour for Austin, who regained the title two weeks later. Amazingly, after being portrayed in this light, Angle was a heel within two months.

Randy Orton appears on Raw for the first time in 2002 several months after his call-up from OVW to SmackDown:

*****
MCU L8R: She-Hulk Episode 6 w/ Karen Peterson
This week, Karen Peterson joins Rich Fann & WH Park to talk about Jen’s journey into bridesmaid chaos in She-Hulk Episode 6.
*****
THE WELLNESS POLICY: Designing Your Career
Jordan Goodman and Neal Flanagan (with a special run-in from first-time caller Wai Ting) are back with The Wellness Policy to talk about designing your career in 2022 and beyond.
*****
REWIND-A-DYNAMITE: Saraya debuts, AEW champion crowned
John Pollock & Wai Ting are back to review AEW Dynamite – Grand Slam from Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens featuring Bryan Danielson vs. Jon Moxley for the vacant AEW Championship.
*****
SHOT IN THE DARK
John Siino reviews this week’s editions of AEW Dark, AEW Dark: Elevation, IMPACT Wrestling, Women of Wrestling, NXT Level Up, NJPW Strong, NWA USA, NWA Powerrr, and WWE Main Event in under 15 minutes on Shot In The Dark.
*****
upNXT: House of Dragunov
Braden Herrington is joined by Chris Walder to chat about WWE NXT from September 20th, 2022 headlined by Tyler Bate vs JD McDonagh.
*****
REWIND-A-WAI #116: WCW Starrcade 1995 – WCW vs. NJPW
Seven of WCW’s best are chosen to defend America from the threat of Sonny Onoo and his evil contingent of Japanese wrestlers. Diplomats Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes guide us on commentary – what could go wrong?
*****
REWIND-A-RAW
John Pollock and Wai Ting chat WWE Raw from San Jose with Bobby Lashley vs. Seth Rollins for the U.S. title, WarGames at Survivor Series & MJF speaks.
*****

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