Oli Davis rounds up the biggest professional wrestling news in his daily WrestleTalk column…
After Raw broke records this week, setting its lowest non-holiday, non-football season viewership number for 20 years, it was up to Smackdown to get a record of its own. Hopefully the good kind.
Thankfully, the blue brand was up from last week’s lowest rating of 2017 so far, pulling in an extra 50,000 viewers to make it 2.35 million.
Far more important, of course, are your ratings. 62% of you thought it was Smack Bang in the Middle, while 23% thought it slightly better at SmackTastic.
In a rather obvious announcement, given the four weeks of Dolph Ziggler and Shinsuke Nakamura’s awkward in-ring segments, a match between the two has been confirmed for next Sunday’s Backlash pay-per-view. Ziggler talked about the match to Generic WWE Interviewer No. 3 in a video posted to the company’s YouTube channel. But Nakamura isn’t the only Japanese wrestler in WWE getting a big match confirmed.
On last night’s episode of NXT, Hideo Itami defeated Roderick Strong to become the No. 1 contender for the NXT Championship, meaning he’ll face the Glorious Bobby Roode at NXT TakeOver: Chicago next Saturday, 20th May.
Itami celebrated the news tweeting:
Chicago is the perfect city to hit "MY"
Go 2 Sleep.#NXTTakeOverChicago
— Hideo Itami / 伊丹英雄 (@HideoItami) May 11, 2017
The Go 2 Sleep – or G.T.S. – is most associated with CM Punk, who used the move as his finisher in WWE. But it was actually created by Itami when he wrestled as KENTA in Japan. As was Daniel Bryan’s Shining Wizard – a move the Smackdown GM actually credits to Itami. Chicago, where next weekend’s NXT TakeOver is taking place, is, of course, CM Punk’s beloved hometown.
This isn’t the first time Itami has called Punk out over this. Back in 2015, Punk replied to a Young Bucks tweet about breaking rules in wrestling:
@MattJackson13 that was my formula. Sans the kicks. I'd never steal someone's finish.
— Coach (@CMPunk) April 22, 2015
Despite coming across as a tongue-in-cheek joke, that didn’t stop Itami reminding everyone:
— Hideo Itami / 伊丹英雄 (@HideoItami) April 22, 2015
After seemingly being dropped in January because of WWE fast-tracking their UK Championship tournament, the company are now pressing ahead with a Women’s tournament similar to the Cruiserweight Classic format.
PWInsider are reporting the tournament’s first taping dates are scheduled for Thursday 13th and Friday 14th July at Full Sail University, where NXT is filmed. The plan is to release sets of episodes on the Network at one time, rather than uploading an episode a week. The finals will be broadcast as a live Network special on Tuesday 29th August.
The site also reports that the tournament will be “a 32 competitor event” and that “a number of talents are already undergoing background checks.” But who are these mystery women?
PWInsider is also reporting that WWE have shown interest in former TNA wrestlers Jade and Marti Belle. Former Knockouts Champion Jade’s last match on Impact Wrestling was in early March, after which she failed to resign with the company along with the mass exodus of talent including Drew Galloway, Matt & Jeff Hardy and Mike Bennett and Maria Kannellis. Belle had been wrestling for TNA since 2014, but left when her contract expired in January.
Check back on Flickering Myth every day for round-ups of the biggest professional wrestling news…