Week in Wrestling #44
Wrestling News From the week of
June 18th - June 24th, 2016
Roman Reigns Failed Drug Test
A wellness policy violation by Roman Reigns (31-year-old Joe Anoa’i), who WWE has been pushing for years as the heir apparent to John Cena’s role as top star, has changed short-term plans for the company.
WWE has not officially released any information save that there was a violation, the first for Anoa’i, and that he is suspended for a 30 day period from 6/21 to 7/20. The WWE policy is that all violations are made public, but that the substance involved or nature of the violation is kept confidential.
We have no information regarding what the violation was, past the point that Anoa’i, writing as Reigns, said on Twitter, “I apologize to my family, friends and fans for my mistake in violating WWE’s wellness policy. No excuses. I own it.”
Sources with knowledge of the situation noted to us that this was a recent violation. WWE has at times gotten positive test results and waited months to announce and suspend the particulars. Sometimes it has to do with investigating and allowing the talent the chance to explain their actions. Sometimes it has to do with certain timing issues. It is not against company policy, and has been done regularly when key talent violates the policy, to tie up storylines before announcing and starting suspensions.
While few knew, we know of people who knew by late last week of the failure and that, unless they were to violate policy and ignore the result because of the star power of Reigns, he would be suspended shortly. One could argue this as a validation of the policy because with the exception of Cena, if anyone was going to be protected, Reigns would be that person.
What this means for the WWE title
The call made by Vince McMahon for Seth Rollins to cleanly pin Roman Reigns and win the title, and the title then going to Dean Ambrose, for the 6/18 Money in the Bank show was a late change. There may only be two people who know conclusively whether that late change was made either because of the failed test or it was just a coincidence. Additionally, when exactly would Seth Rollins beat Roman Reigns that clean, in that manner, otherwise?
The timing of announcing the failure on 6/21 and starting the clock on that date meant Reigns wouldn’t miss a PPV show, although he will be off every television show that remains in building the 7/24 Battleground show in Washington, DC, which has Ambrose defending in a three-way against Reigns and Rollins, stemming from the angle that closed the 6/20 Raw show.
However, Reigns will be off the entire build-up period, as well as the 7/19 draft show, where he and Cena were to be the two marquee picks.
The question now becomes, what does this all mean? WWE has de-pushed people in the past based on failed drug tests, but when it comes to top talent, with people like Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy coming to mind, if they perceive somebody as main event level or over at main event level, they aren’t going to hold them back. However, neither Orton nor Hardy was ever the face of the company, even if Hardy was the company’s most popular performer at one point.
Still, it would be hard to believe that Reigns would come right off a suspension and regain the title. There are also likely to be two titles in play by that time. One idea that was to do a finish where Reigns and Rollins both beat Ambrose simultaneously and end up on different brands, giving legitimacy to the two championships. In the original plans, Reigns and Rollins were to be the two top stars on the Raw brand, although all of that can change at a moment’s notice.
Plus, the push of Reigns at that level has been a failure. The fans have rejected him at a level that Cena never faced. While Cena got heavy boos on television and PPVs in certain markets, he was almost always universally cheered at house shows, and his shows, with higher ticket prices, drew larger crowds in comparison with the shows he wasn’t on, whether he was champion or not. Reigns is now getting booed at house shows, vehemently booed on television, and his arena shows, as champion, are not drawing well.
Another aspect is just how well received Ambrose was as champion, compared to Reigns, by the live crowd. Fans aren’t going to turn on Ambrose as a face champion. Cena’s live gates and merch numbers have taught management that worrying about cheers and boos for your most pushed guy, at least with Cena, didn’t matter, which led to them ignoring the Reigns reaction. It’s unlikely Ambrose on top will make a difference at the arenas. There’s also a question of how quickly they’ll go back on top for Reigns. The situation with Ambrose as champion both allows Rollins to get it without beating Reigns and Reigns can chase, with the idea that he never beat Rollins to win it in the first place. Or it can get the title back on Reigns without beating Rollins.
How fans will react to Reigns upon his return is also a question. They’ve also had Reigns stop ignoring the boos and negative chants and being aggressive in heckling back at his detractors, with the idea of turning the fans who boo Reigns into the heels to the rest of the crowd. It’s a strategy which almost never works.
2016 Money in the Bank PPV Review
The 2016 Money in the Bank PPV on 6/19 was built around three strong matches, which all delivered in their own way, and an undercard with far too much filler, leading to a show that ran four hours and 20 minutes.
The big story, and really the only major story, is that Dean Ambrose won the Money in the Bank match, and then, after Seth Rollins had cleanly pinned Roman Reigns with a pedigree to win the WWE title, Ambrose cashed in the briefcase and pinned Rollins in eight seconds with Dirty Deeds to end the night as champion. It was pushed that in one night, all three members of The Shield held the title.
WWE also pushed that Rollins had the shortest title reign in history. Technically that’s not true, as from the pinfall on Reigns to the pinfall on Ambrose took 1:59. On February 5, 1988, from the time Andre the Giant pinned Hulk to his abdicating the tag team title (well, that’s what he said on live TV) to Ted DiBiase, it was 1:46, although WWE claimed on its web site to list Rollins as the record that the Andre title reign was 59 minutes long.
We have our full review here.
WWE also announced that the draft show will be on the first live Smackdown on 7/19 from Worcester, MA. The draft show will be one of the biggest TV shows of the year, so they are giving up what would almost surely be one of the highest rated Raw shows of the year, in order to establish the Tuesday time slot for Smackdown. It’s the right call, because everything that is happening is about building up Smackdown numbers, as the show has not done nearly as well as hoped for by USA. The only answers to improving the numbers were it moving live, and having it be the exclusive home of half the roster, and doing the brand split.
With the brand split, and needing to add a substantial number of people to the main roster because of the exclusive nature of Raw and Smackdown going forward, the company has been very aggressive when it comes to trying to bring in talent.
They have been calling anyone they can think of who was a former star and can still go. For most of those people, the expectation is they would be used similar to the Dudleys, as recognizable names to put on television and on live shows, but whose roles would be to put over the NXT guys coming up. They also need to replenish the NXT roster with top tier workers, because NXT’s success has been built around having great matches and some of the best workers. Every key component of that on the roster right now, Shinsuke Nakamura, Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Bayley, Asuka and of late, Bobby Roode, Jason Jordan, Chad Gable, The Revival, are all more than ready for the main roster (as are others but they aren’t focal points of the NXT brand). In some cases, it’s ridiculous they aren’t there. And many of those names will be on the main roster shortly. A key is what I call the Aries and A.J. Styles effect.
Aries has been a great wrestler for more than a decade, and someone WWE never had any interest in, based on size and look. Aside from the great work, he carries himself like a star exuding great confidence on promos. That’s the missing point by those in charge, that it’s not the look but the way you carry yourself that’s the key in the business, and the ability to connect. Good looking, tall, muscular and bland, is still bland. Aries was actually cut from the Steve Austin season of Tough Enough, and when you look at who made the cut, it’s comedic in hindsight. That blow nearly made him retire, but TNA brought him back and he ended up doing well there. The success Aries had on the NXT roster has opened the idea that others, who are great wrestlers but who the company, in the past, had no interest in because they looked like normal guys, can be valuable, even more so now with NXT needing great wrestlers.
Styles is the other example. Two years ago, when TNA wanted to cut his salary significantly and he was looking to get out, WWE made him a joke of an offer and he ended up going to New Japan, which really made his career. He got enough buzz that WWE was willing to bring him back, and let him use his name, in January. He was not planned whatsoever to be a main eventer. He was booked to be low on cards and perhaps work to middle. However the reaction at the Royal Rumble, and even more so at the house shows where he was getting either the first or second best reaction even with almost no WWE television, changed the perception of him and now he’s considered one of the company’s five top regular stars.
WWE has been in contact with a lot of names in recent weeks, whether for Raw, Smackdown or NXT. It’s very clear they want more people with established names for undercards and top fill time and put people over on television.
Many names both directly and indirectly have contacted us and others about it but don’t want their names out. The basic reaction is that the WWE money offers aren’t great, and one person noted they’re making considerably more not only than the WWE offer on the outside, but more than they made their last few years of working a full-time schedule in WWE, and are working far less dates to make that money. Some are saying they aren’t going, others are saying they won’t unless the offers are higher. Some are offered full-time deals and others deals where they can still work indies that don’t have television, similar to the Tommaso Ciampa deal. One person was asked to debut at TV this week, and obviously wasn’t there.
MVP, Carlito and Stevie Richards are the only names we can confirm who have been approached. Lots of other names have been reported elsewhere.
Names like the Hardys and Rey Mysterio are under contract elsewhere. The Hardys have not been called, although Jeff has publicly talked of being interested in returning at some point. A lot of ROH talent is going to be contacted when their contracts are up and at least one, if not more with significant time left, was already contacted. Bill Goldberg makes sense as far as doing a match at WrestleMania, or a Lesnar-schedule, but I can’t see him working a full-time schedule unless he’s got a financial issue. There are also issues of needing headliners for future Hall of Fame classes, and Angle and Goldberg (even though in the past Levesque specifically stated Goldberg didn’t belong, today I’m sure they feel differently) along with Daniel Bryan and Undertaker seem like the only potential main eventers. Additionally, there is a limit of how many Lesnar schedules you would want.
Kurt Angle not Coming
WWE officials confirmed Thursday that Angle is not returning to the company.
The story started when Angle was on Mark Madden's Pittsburgh radio show on Monday and said that Paul Levesque had called him, but that no deal was in place. Although nobody officially said it, the story grew to a point where people said that a deal was done with a start date even listed.
The 47-year-old wrestler had his final TNA TV match in March, and has been working select indy dates with recent matches against the likes of Rey Mysterio Jr. and Zack Sabre Jr.
Angle's WWE contract ended in August 2006.
On the 6/20 Raw show from Phoenix, Rollins and Reigns went to a double count out in a match to determine who would face Ambrose for the title at the 7/24 Battleground show. That resulted in it being a three-way match.
As far as teases for what is next for Battleground, John Cena vs. A.J Styles is clearly continuing, Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn seem to be building some type of gimmick match, The New Day’s tag title program will be with the Wyatt Family, Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks & Paige has started (to build for a Charlotte vs. Banks singles match, likely for SummerSlam in Brooklyn), Natalya vs. Becky Lynch, Sheamus vs. Apollo Crews, and Usos vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson looks to be brought back.
There was a schedule floating around the Internet that listed dates for the rest of the year. What we do know is that every date and place listed on that schedule is accurate and confirmed, aside from three shows. Those shows make sense given the statement Jerry Lawler made about brand exclusive PPV shows except four times a year.
Based on the schedule, they are considering Survivor Series as one of the big four, even though it hasn’t been in at least a decade. It was already known that January (Rumble), March/April (Mania), and August (SummerSlam) would be joint shows, but the schedule out lists Survivor Series as well.
For the rest of the year, the schedule lists SummerSlam on 8/21 at the Barclays Center; a Smackdown exclusive Network special called Backlash on 9/11 from Richmond, VA which will not air on any regular PPV carriers; a 9/25 Raw PPV called Clash of the Champions in Indianapolis; a 10/9 Smackdown PPV called No Mercy from Sacramento; a 10/30 Raw PPV called Hell in a Cell from Boston; a joint-brand Survivor Series on 11/20 from Toronto; a 12/4 Smackdown TLC PPV from Dallas and a 12/18 Raw PPV called Roadblock from Pittsburgh.
What gives credence to this list is WWE just took out a trademark for Clash of the Champions, the 9/11 date being network exclusive means they couldn’t lock in the date due to timing with U.S. providers because of the late change (PPV providers want all materials to them at least 90 days before the show); plus the dates and sites for 8/21, 9/25, 10/30, 11/20 and 12/18 are all accurate.
When asked about the other dates, WWE did not deny or confirm the dates, just stating, “We will soon announce show information for dates added to the calendar” and stating they haven’t announced a number of the dates listed on that schedule.
Jerry Lawler Suspended
WWE also has another of its biggest names on the shelf with Smackdown announcer Jerry Lawler being suspended, after both he and his fiancé, Lauryn McBride, were arrested on a domestic violence charge at Lawler’s East Memphis home.
As is company policy when it comes to domestic violence charges, Lawler was immediately suspended upon informing the company of what happened. Company policy is that if the charges are dropped or he is cleared, the suspension will be lifted.
At the 6/21 Smackdown tapings in Tucson, Lawler was not replaced and Mauro Ranallo announced the show with Byron Saxton.
Police reports of the incident center around Lawler arriving home after doing a local wrestling show on 6/16 in Memphis called “Night in the Slammer,” of all things, an all cage match show headlined by Lawler & Bill Dundee vs. Tommy Rich & Doug Gilbert.
Lawler claimed that McBride had lied to him about her whereabouts, and had been drinking while watching the sixth game of the NBA playoffs at a party with friends. The argument heated up and McBride attempted to call 911. She apparently hung up before getting an operator, but police traced the call and came to the home.
When police arrived, McBride, 27, who has lived with Lawler for five years, told police that Lawler held her against the kitchen counter and hit her on the left side of the head, and then pushed her against the stove. She also claimed Lawler then went upstairs and grabbed an unloaded pistol, put it on the kitchen counter and told her to “go ahead and kill yourself.”
Lawler, 66, then told police that an argument started because she had lied to him about where she had been. He told officers that McBride, who he said was intoxicated, scratched him in the face, threw a candle at him and kicked him in the groin. He said she was the one who brought the pistol into the kitchen after getting it from the garage. He said that she was trying to leave the argument and drive away, but because she was intoxicated, he was stopping her from driving.
Police were unable to determine who the primary aggressor was so both were taken to the Regional Medical Center for treatment, and then taken to jail and booked. Both were released at about 11:30 a.m. the next morning.
WWE released a statement immediately saying, “WWE has zero tolerance for matters involving domestic violence, and per our policy, Jerry Lawler has been suspended indefinitely following the arrest.”
WWE to China
WWE on 6/15 made three announcements in an attempt to open up the market. The first was a multi-year deal where Raw and Smackdown will air in China on a streaming platform through PPTV. They also announced a live show on 9/10 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai with Expo Group as the local promoters, and announced the signing of the first WWE performer in history of Chinese ancestry, 22-year-old Bin Wang of Anhul, China, a 6-foot-3, 220 pounder who has been wrestling for two-and-a-half years as Wang Bin with the Inoki Genome Federation in Japan.
The IGF congratulated Wang for being signed to a developmental deal. He started in Orlando on 6/19. The WWE aired a video package on Raw about the China deal and pushed Wang’s signing. The great advantage WWE has over real sports is they would have the ability to make a Chinese superstar, at least to a degree, whether he can play the game or not. But it’s not a sure thing, as Mahabali Shera, signed for the same purpose, hasn’t made TNA rich in India, and in another generation, WWE signed Tiger Jeet Singh Jr. as Tiger Ali Singh for the same reason, but it got no traction.
WWE will start on PPTV and PPTV Sports, Mandarin language streaming services on 6/28, airing Raw, Smackdown and PPV events on a few hour tape delay. They will also air other WWE programming. Eventually they hope to have the WWE Network available in the country.
Previously, WWE had been on regular television but with only one hour per week, edited from Raw, which aired on a three-week delay.
With a population of 1,357,000,000 people, just because of the enormous population, American companies have tried to make inroads but most have been unable to do so.
Michelle Wilson, Paul Levesque and John Cena headed a WWE contingent in Shanghai for the announcement. Levesque had been there for several days trying to scout talent. The one sports franchise from outside China that has had success in the market is the NBA, largely due to Yao Ming, and the key to a breakthrough is a local babyface who can headline.
Cena, who has studied Mandarin for years, spoke in the local language at the press conference.
The WWE announced more details regarding the Cruiserweight Classic, which had the first round shooting on 6/14. As noted before, it will be a weekly one hour show, airing at 9 p.m. on Wednesday nights starting 7/13 on the WWE Network, right after NXT. There will be a one hour preview show where the brackets will be announced and the competitors will be introduced that airs on 7/6. The championship will be decided on the final show, on 9/14, which will be a live two hour special. Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan will be announcing, which will be Bryan’s first work with the company since his retirement.
The 205 pounds thing for the cruiserweight classic is a shoot. Cedric Alexander said he was between 225 and 230 when he did his tryout with WWE, and they told him they were interested in him for the tournament, but he had to get to 205, so he dropped 22 pounds. They did actual weigh-ins on 6/21. Most of the guys were well under 205 so it wasn’t an issue, with a lot of guys in the 150s legit, which is kind of amazing in WWE on how standards have changed. Alejandro Saez from Chile may have had to cut weight as he came in at 205 on the nose and when he weighed in, a bunch of people cheered. The tournament is supposed to be presented in a sports form as opposed to an entertainment form.
An interesting note is that the shoot weight of Kota Ibushi was 189 pounds, as was Tajiri.
All of the 32 members of the cruiserweight classic arrived on 6/20 in Orlando for interviews, photo shoots and other material to get things ready for the 6/23 taping of the first round of the tournament. There are also a few alternates, Florida locals, in if some of those involved don’t pass medicals or can’t make weight.
NXT Brooklyn build
There will also be an NXT taping on 6/24 where the Nakamura vs. Balor, Dash & Dawson vs. Jordan & Gable 2/3 fall match and Austin Aries vs. No Way Jose matches built up at the last taping will be taped. So, WWE production had shows on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week. The results from here will set the stage for Brooklyn, where the expected main event is Samoa Joe vs. Nakamura.
Paige and Del Rio Incident
There was a strange story regarding Paige after the PPV on 6/19 in Las Vegas. Officers outside Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas were alerted by people of a woman, running in the streets into traffic. They caught up with her and detained her, and ordered her to be taken to the hospital. Photos taken by people watching were of Paige, being detained, which ended up all over the Internet very quickly. This was considered a medical situation and not a legal situation. The police department would not release the name or the nature of why she was hospitalized because it was not listed as a legal situation, stating HIPPA law considerations.
Alberto Del Rio told a different story. His version, as said to Court Bauer, is that they were out on a date after the PPV and went to a show, Absinthe, at Caesar’s Palace. At the show, there was a drunk couple who started heckling them about being wrestlers, calling them fake wrestlers. Del Rio said that he asked security to remove them, and security did. Then, when the show was over and they were leaving, the heckling couple was there waiting for them and mad that he got them kicked out of the show. Words were exchanged and the woman attacked Paige. The police came and handcuffed both women and questioned them. He said Paige was then let go and then they went to Phoenix. That’s why Del Rio was in one of the photos which circulated. Although it wasn’t evident on TV, apparently there was a mark from the scuffle and that’s the story he said on why she was hospitalized.
They immediately alerted WWE. Everything was fine the next day. According to the WWE the next day, “No charges were filed against Paige; she is not in the hospital; WWE is still investigating the matter.” She worked Raw against Charlotte in a title match and was booked to set up a tag match with Sasha Banks against Charlotte & Dana Brooke, so it was not booked as if she was going to be taking any time off.
Del Rio wasn’t on Raw but he was there. He suffered what was believed to have been a bone bruise near his knee in his final bump in the ladder match the day before. He was getting precautionary X-rays to see if there was a fracture that day and was held off the show, but the injury wasn’t so bad, as even though he was shaken up, he went out that night and didn’t get it checked until he was at TV. He did work the next night for Smackdown.
John Cena: Superstar
Cena will co-host the Teen Choice Awards that will air on 7/31 from 8-10 p.m. on FOX, the same station “American Grit” aired on. Cena and recording artist Victoria Justice will host. Cena is also nominated for the favorite Male Athlete of the Year award. His girlfriend’s show, Total Divas, is nominated for Favorite Reality show. That’s Cena’s second major hosting job as he’s hosting the ESPYs on 7/13 in Los Angeles. Deals like this, and his new multi-million dollar commercial endorsement deal for Hefty Trash Bags show that he’s going to be getting tons of outside gigs going forward.
The Cena shirt with the design taken from Pabst Blue Ribbon which was pulled a few weeks ago is now back on the market. Cena posed wearing the shirt saying “You can’t c (ease and desist) me.” Pabst had sent a cease and desist letter about the shirt and WWE pulled it but WWE legal gave the company clearance to sell the shirts.
NJPW Dominion show
The 6/18 Dominion show drew 9,925 fans at Osaka Jo Hall. Given this day and age, that number isn’t bad. It wasn’t sold out and was down more than 1,200 fans from last year’s sold out show. G-1 advances are weak except for the final night. The regular house show business is down, particularly not selling out some recent Korakuen Hall shows.
New Japan changed five championships on its third biggest show of the year, most notably ending Tetsuya Naito’s first IWGP reign after just 70 days. From a timing standpoint, it felt way too early to change it back. Now there can be an argument that if Naito wins the G-1 Climax tournament, and it leads to Naito challenging and beating Okada at the Tokyo Dome in January, that it’ll all work out and Japan is known for slower booking elevation than the U.S. But that just underscores the lack of depth the company has at the top right now.
Naito was selling merchandise but his title reign wasn’t drawing; that’s not really his fault when they’ve lost so much key talent. In the case here, we were told they were selling at a sellout pace, but the announcement of Tanahashi being off the show is when sales slowed. That puts enormous pressure on Tanahashi with G-1 coming, which is physically grueling when you are healthy, let alone someone with the injuries he’s had and the expectations on him to deliver several classic matches during that tournament.
The other title changes saw Michael Elgin beat Omega for the IC title in New Japan’s first-ever ladder match, which was an incredible spectacle; Shibata regained the Never Open weight title from Yuji Nagata; Mark & Jay Briscoe won the IWGP tag team titles from Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa; and The Young Bucks won a four-way for the IWGP jr. tag titles, taking the belts in the end from Ricochet & Matt Sydal.
If anything, the fact five belts changed hands on one night tells you almost inherently they have too many belts and they are changing them too often, thus lessening the value of championships.
TNA TV Tapings
Talent has been told of another set of tapings in Orlando from 8/11 to 8/14. Those dates have not been released officially. However, TNA did announce 7/12 to 7/14, so they will be taping probably five Impacts and maybe some other stuff. The 8/11 date is a Friday, as opposed to a Tuesday. Remember that Tuesday becomes a big problem for TNA on 7/19. If the first day of the August taping was a Tuesday that would indicate they are staying on the date. The fact it isn’t, is not an indication they aren’t, but the move of dates is a very logical possibility.
Abyss, Rosemary, DJZ, Rockstar Spud, Trevor Lee and Al Snow all signed new exclusive contracts. Not exclusive that they only work for TNA, but that TNA controls all of their bookings and will be booking them out to other companies. Also signing a deal was Chelsea Smith, a trainee of Lance Storm, who had a tryout last week and was on the most recent season of WWE Tough Enough.
The tapings ended and Matt & Jeff Hardy, Drew Galloway and Ethan Carter III all hadn’t signed the new deals. All are under contract so that’s not an issue, but they have the old contracts where TNA gets first dibs on dates, but they can book themselves anywhere they want as long as it’s not for a rival company with U.S. broadcast or cable television. The attempt was to get them all signed at the tapings.
Ricochet/Prince Puma Update
Ricochet still hasn’t signed the new multi-year deal offered by Lucha Underground. I guess he pretty much has a deadline this weekend to make a decision since Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma is the title match at Ultimate Lucha Tres which will be taped on 6/26, with the stips that Puma has to retire if he doesn’t win the title. So they’ve booked themselves into a corner in the sense either Puma wins while not under contract for next season, which makes no sense, or he loses. And while they can certainly violate the stip since guys here come back from the dead, given what they are offering him, it’s probably not a match that it would make sense for him to lose.
He’s got a significant money offer, believed to be for another four or five seasons, which would still allow him to work New Japan and indies. According to those close to the situation, with the guaranteed money here and what he could make with New Japan and indies, he’d be one of the highest paid non-WWE talents in the business, behind only people like Mysterio, the Hardys and Tanahashi. WWE is said to want him bad, although those close to the situation believe they wouldn’t guarantee him anywhere close to what it’s a lock he’d be making on this deal, and he can work limited dates on his own schedule as opposed to full-time.
Technically based on the contract, the current deal would allow him to go to WWE six months after the conclusion of season three airs on television, or toward the end of 2017. There is a question of whether it would hold up for so long if he wasn’t being paid by Lucha Underground that entire time.
Roderick Strong done with ROH
Ring of Honor announced Wednesday that "Mr. ROH" Roderick Strong would be leaving the promotion following Saturday's TV tapings.
Strong has been a part of ROH off and on since 2003, and has been one of their longest-tenured performers outside of a brief TNA run. He and Austin Aries held the ROH Tag Team Titles, and he won both the TV and World titles in the company as well. In the ROH announcement, he didn't list any reasons for leaving the promotion.
Over the past few years, he has had some outstanding matches with New Japan stars including classics with Okada, Nakamura, and Tanahashi. With WWE hiring like crazy for the roster split, one has to wonder if WWE is in his future or if he will return to TNA, where his ROH Generation Next team briefly reformed. New Japan would also be a fantastic match for his style, although one would think that if that was his goal, he would just continue with ROH.
With Moose's contract expiring, ROH is going with the idea that he's leaving. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots regarding Moose, whose contract expired on 6/19 and is expected to work through around the end of July here. He is expected to undergo medicals and if he passes, then be offered a WWE contract and debut as part of what WWE is looking for as a major September newcomer class.
Best in the World
The Best in the World PPV will be on 6/24 from Concord, NC, Friday night at 9 p.m. The match order is Kamaitachi vs. Kyle O’Reilly (which should get the show started with a hell of a match), Silas Young vs. ACH, Strong vs. Mark Briscoe, Moose & Ray Rowe & Hanson vs. Adam Cole & Young Bucks in a tornado match, Steve Corino vs. B.J. Whitmer in a street fight, Bobby Fish vs. Dalton Castle for the TV title and Jay Lethal vs. Jay Briscoe for the ROH title.
One of the drawbacks of so much focus on the New Japan talent is that of late, the shows without that talent don’t have the same level of interest. The PPV isn’t sold out, after a string of major shows selling out in advance. It seems they’ve been doing this more and more, and it isn’t always possible because of the New Japan schedule, but it’s as though, instead of the PPVs with New Japan talent once a year being special, it’s more the shows without New Japan talent feel “un-special.” I expect a lot of new stuff this weekend between this show and the TV tapings the next day.