Jan. 6 News Update: Kenny Omega Taking Time Off from Japan



**A new edition of Japanese Audio Wrestling is up on the site with Chris Charlton and WH Park joined by Jojo Remy to review both the Wrestle Kingdom 11 event (which Chris and Jojo attended live) and the New Year Dash card from Korakuen Hall on Thursday. It’s a mammoth edition of the show and they go through the big Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega match and all the angles shot the following day at New Year Dash. This is also WH’s farewell show and you can listen at http://fightnetwork.com/law/japanese-audio-wrestling-wrestle-kingdom-11-review/ and on iTunes by subscribing to Live Audio Wrestling.

**Episode 2 of Keep it 2000 is also out with Brian Mann and Nate Milton reviewing the January 10th 2000 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, which was the final Nitro for Vince Russo’s first tenure as head writer going into the Souled Out pay-per-view that weekend. The show is up at http://fightnetwork.com/law/keep-it-2000-ep-2-what-a-funk-wants-january-10-2000/ and also on iTunes.

**On Sunday night, The LAW returns at 11pm Eastern for our “Worst of 2016” show as Jason Agnew, Dan Lovranski, Braden Herrington and I will go through every category and make our selections for the very worst that 2016 brought us. We will also be joined by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and play Title Bout Trivia for your chance to win a t-shirt from Pro Wrestling Tees.

**If you missed them, we have posted the complete list of The LAW’s “Best of 2016” with the picks from Jason Agnew, Dan Lovranski, Braden Herrington and I.


**Chris Hero made his return at the NXT television tapings on Thursday night at Full Sail University. His return came at the end of the tapings while Shinsuke Nakamura was in the ring and his music played with Hero returning under his former moniker of Kassius Ohno. It was reported last month by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Hero was in the process of finalizing a return but that he had to go through all of the medicals and it was not finalized. Hero was with the company from 2012 until the end of 2013 when he was released. Hero is one of the most versatile performers outside of the company in that he can work any style at a high level and could also fill the role as a great color commentator if they eventually move Corey Graves off of the NXT broadcast because of his main roster work. Hero is scheduled for two EVOLVE dates over Royal Rumble weekend in San Antonio and those will likely be his final outside dates before restarting with the WWE.

**TNA returned with a new episode on Thursday night and averaged 290,000 viewers on POP TV. It was the first new episode of Impact since the Total Nonstop Deletion episode last month. If you throw out the last two-weeks of “Best of” shows and the Thanksgiving night show, it would be the lowest Impact number since October 13th.

**Earlier this week, Judge Kelly Banach dismissed the homicide charges against Jimmy Snuka over the 1983 death of Nancy Argentino. The cold case involving Argentino was reopened after an investigative piece by The Allentown Morning Call newspaper back in 2013, which marked 30 years since her mysterious death. Last year, Judge Banach ruled that Snuka was not medically fit to stand trial and would reassess his status in December. It is unknown if the prosecution will appeal the Judge’s decision. All parties had been placed under a gag order to speak to the media but are now free to speak.

**TNA has a live “One Night Only” pay-per-view from Orlando with a few angles shot on Thursday night’s episode of Impact to promote this show on a days’ notice. The following matches have been announced:
*Eddie Edwards vs. Ethan Carter III for the TNA title
*The Hardys vs. Eli Drake & TBA for the TNA tag titles
*Lashley vs. Davey Richards
*DJZ vs. TBA for the X Division title
*Rosemary vs. Sienna for the Knockout’s title
*Moose vs. Mike Bennett in a No Holds Barred Match

**The WWE’s Raw crew is in Columbus, Georgia tonight for a house show and Montgomery, Alabama on Saturday with Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins vs. Rusev listed. The Smackdown crew starts on Saturday night in Bossier City, Louisiana with A.J. Styles vs. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler in the main event for the WWE title.

**The WWE has announced that Roman Reigns will defend the U.S. title on Raw this Monday in a handicap match against Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho.

**The move in timeslot has led to a big increase in viewership for Total Divas. After having last week off, the show returned this week and did a season-high 734,000 viewers on Wednesday night on E! This number topped the season premiere on November 16th by 10,000 viewers.

**Kenny Omega posted that he is taking some time off from Japan so it’s unclear of how long he may be out of action. There was no angle for Omega that was shot on the New Year Dash card so it’s possible he won’t be around for the two New Beginning shows as all the top guys have programs in motion.

**The WWE has announced all sixteen participants in the upcoming U.K. tournament for January 14th and 15th in Blackpool, England and will air live on the WWE Network. The following will be part of the tournament: Mark Andrews, Danny Burch, Trent Seven, H.C. Dyer, Pete Dunne, Wolfgang, Sam Gradwell, Jordan Devlin, James Drake, Tyler Bate, Tyson T-Bone, Tucker, Joseph Connors, Roy Johnson and Dan Moloney.

**It was noted on the New Year Dash broadcast on Thursday that New Japan World added 10,000 subscribers to the streaming service over the past 24 hours due to Wrestle Kingdom 11. 5,500 of those subscribers were from the United States.

**New Japan also put a statement following Wrestle Kingdom and announced the attendance at 26,192 and also aired on TV Asahi with a 2.5 hour edited version of the show. They have also announced a departure from their tradition of year-to-year deals and will now be signing talent to multi-year agreements, which will help prevent a situation each year where they leave themselves open for talent to leave all at once.

**New Japan Pro Wrestling will be running their annual Fantasticamania cards later this month with talent coming over from CMLL. There will be four shows in total beginning with a card in Osaka on Friday January 13th and then three remaining shows will all be streaming on New Japan World with the following:
*January 20th at Korakuen Hall: Dragon Lee vs. Cavernario for the CMLL lightweight title, Hiromu Takahashi vs. Titan, Kazuchika Okada & Ultimo Guerrero & Ephesto vs. Mistico & Volador Jr. & Juice Robinson, Tetsuya Naito & Sanada & Bushi & Evil & Rush vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay & Atlantis, Okumura & Hechicero vs. Maximo & Stuka Jr., Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask & Soberano Jr. vs. Gedo & Jado & Raziel, Will Ospreay & Ephesto vs. Panther Jr. & Henare
*January 21st at Korakuen Hall: Maximo vs. Hechicero for the CMLL heavyweight title, Rush vs. Atlantis, Ultimo Guerrero & Euphoria vs. Mistico & Volador Jr., Tetsuya Naito & Rush & Sanada & Bushi & Evil vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Dragon Lee & Titan & David Finlay & Juice Robinson, Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay & Cavernario vs. Kushida & Ryusuke Taguchi & Soberano Jr., Okumura vs. Stuka Jr., Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask & Henare & Panther Jr. vs. Gedo & Jado & Raziel & Ephesto
*January 22nd at Korakuen Hall: Volador Jr. vs. Ultimo Guerrero, Mistico vs. Euforia, Tetsuya Naito & Sanada & Evil & Rush vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kushida & Atlantis & David Finlay, Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay & Ephesto vs. Maximo & Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi, Hiromi Takahashi & Bushi vs. Dragon Lee & Titan, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask & Stuka Jr. vs. Raziel & Okumura & Hechicero, Cavernario & Gedo & Jado vs. Panther Jr. & Soberano Jr. & Henare

**FloSlam will be streaming the first-ever “Style Battle” card on Saturday night at 6pm Eastern from Tampa, Florida. The concept is that it will be a one-night tournament involving Darby Allin, Dave Crist, Sammy Guevara, Dezmond Xavier, Anthony Henry, Fred Yehi, Austin Theory and AR Fox. They have also announced the addition of a “Fray Match” with a Royal Rumble style of two men starting and new entrants every minute and you can only be eliminated by pinfall, submission or being knocked out.

**The WWE stock closed at $18.46 on Friday.


**Dave Meltzer reported in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the early estimate for UFC 207 is 1,100,000 pay-per-view buys, which is a tremendous number given the show was on a Friday night and Ronda Rousey didn’t do any promotion for the card. The best comparison would be the UFC 141 number from December 2011, which was the last pay-per-view they ran on a Friday night with Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem and that card did 535,000 buys, which was way below Lesnar standards. It’s hard to estimate what this show would have done if it was on a Saturday and if Rousey promoted the card but I don’t feel the coverage was drastically affected because Rousey was still the focus of so much of the media and her decision not to do media was a big story. The bigger question is whether Amanda Nunes will receive a similar increase in popularity as Holly Holm did when she defeated Ronda Rousey in November 2015.

**A heavyweight fight between Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt is now official for UFC 209 on March 4th in Las Vegas. Hunt ultimately dropped his demand of having a clause in the contract where his opponent would forfeit their purse to Hunt if they failed a drug test. Hunt spoke to “Stuff” out of New Zealand and said that in the end he was locked into a contract and needs to fight to feed his family. Hunt is also 42 years of age and his window is closing so holding out wasn’t going to be on his side. It is Hunt’s first fight since the loss to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, which was changed to a no contest after Lesnar failed his drug test for clomiphene and has been suspended for one-year by both the NAC and USADA. Overeem last fought at UFC 203, where he was stopped by heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic in opening round of their championship bout.

**Ariel Helwani at MMA Fighting has reported that light heavyweights Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Gian Villante will meet at the UFC Fight Night card in Fortaleza, Brazil on Saturday March 11th. The card is headlined by Vitor Belfort and Kelvin Gastelum in a middleweight fight.

**Newsday reports that a middleweight fight between Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Tim Boestch is set for UFC 208 on February 11th in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Center.

(Chris Charlton & WH Park are joined by Jojo Remy to review Wrestle Kingdom 11 and the incredible main event, New Year Dash, all the big angles shots, the return of Suzuki-gun and so much more on this mammoth edition of the show)
KEEP IT 2000 – Episode 2: What a Funk Wants
(Brian Mann & Nate Milton review the January 10th 2000 episode of WCW Monday Nitro, which was Vince Russo’s final Nitro during his first tenure with WCW as head writer)
THE MMA REPORT – The 2017 Prediction Show
(John Pollock welcomes Ariel Helwani from MMA Fighting to play “Likely / Unlikely” as we look back at 2016 predictions and make new ones for 2017 and a new game as well!)
(In their first show, Martin Bushby and Oli Court provide an overview of the U.K. wrestling scene, the key promotions, a look at the WWE’s U.K. tournament, the recent ITV World of Sport pilot and more)
REVIEW-A-SMACKDOWN – Jan. 4th 2017
(John Pollock & Wai Ting review the first episode of 2017, a great contract signing segment, Dean Ambrose wins the Intercontinental title, reviews of 205 Live and Talking Smack)
REVIEW-A-RAW: “Happy New Spear”
(John Pollock & Wai Ting review the first Raw of 2017, Bill Goldberg returns, more names for the Rumble, “Bring it to the Table” thoughts, UFC 207, your feedback and more)
(Jason Agnew, Dan Lovranski, John Pollock and Braden Herrington make their picks for the best of the year in 21 categories, plus Dave Meltzer joins us from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter to reflect on 2016)

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