Thursday 1/28 Torch Today – Poll Results, Styles’s SD debut, how to meet Reigns tonight, Lawler talks old vs. new school, Owens & Titus interviews, Bayley on challenge of WWE call-up, New Japan’s huge upcoming events including ROH shows, ROH’s parent company buys TV channel, Wale back in WWE fold, Rock visits everyone, Video – Joe in “WWE 2K16”

By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

The Rock (artist Travis Beaven © PWTorch)


TORCH TODAY – Thursday, January 28, 2016

– We have some interesting poll results from our last two questions. We asked what you thought about The Rock’s 26-minute promo segment on Raw. A majority (65 percent) loved or liked it, 14 percent were neutral, and 21 percent did not like or hated it.

We also asked which injured star WWE most needs back in time for WrestleMania. Daniel Bryan has the near majority of votes at 48 percent, followed by Seth Rollins with 26 percent and John Cena with 18 percent.

A.J. Styles makes his Smackdown in-ring debut tonight on USA Network. Mauro Ranallo will go from calling Styles’s New Japan matches on AXS TV to WWE matches on USA. What an interesting start to 2016. (Full Smackdown SPOILERS) (Non-Spoiler Line-up)

Jerry Lawler, who will also be on the Smackdown call tonight, talked to the Memphis Commercial Appeal about being in an odd position of preferring the old way of wrestling, but also feeling responsible for ushering in a new era of wrestling with Andy Kaufman in the ’80s.

“The thing with Andy Kaufman and I was the first time that wrestling did a cross over into the entertainment world,” Lawler told reporter Chris Herrington. “Sometimes I look back and say, I may not like all of this ‘sports entertainment,’ but I may be partly responsible for it.”

– Prior to the Smackdown TV taping Tuesday night in Tampa, Kevin Owens appeared on Bay 9 News to talk about playing a heel and his World Title aspirations. … Also, Titus O’Neil gave out about 200 tickets to the Smackdown taping to local kids who cannot afford to attend a WWE show. “I asked how many of them have ever been to a WWE show and at least 90 percent of them have not,” O’Neil told the Tampa Tribune. “So I told them, ‘Well, tonight you will be my guest.’ Their reaction was priceless. They were overcome with joy.”

– Want to meet Roman Reigns tonight? Reigns is scheduled to appear at the Washington Auto Show from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. EST at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. (Appearance Details)

– NXT Women’s champion Bayley talked more about the challenge of being called up to the main roster, especially after a successful run on NXT. “It’s very hard to go from NXT to the main roster because obviously not everybody watches NXT,” Bayley told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “You have to work your way back up again. I’m going to be optimistic.”

New Japan has five huge shows coming up that will be available for live viewing through their New Japan World pay service. Shinsuke Nakamura’s send-off is Saturday (Jan. 30), then NJPW has the “New Beginning” shows in Osaka and Niigata on February 11 and 14 before NJPW presents Ring of Honor’s “Honor Rising” shows on Feb. 19 and 20.

– There was some interesting news from ROH’s parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting. On Wednesday afternoon, Deadline reported that Sinclair has agreed to a $350 million deal to acquire the Tennis Channel, an over-the-top subscription TV channel. Sinclair has big plans for the channel, which makes you wonder if ROH TV will wind up back on cable TV through this channel down the road.

“It was the only independently owned major sports network left, and we knew we could unlock value through a tuck-in acquisition,” said Sinclair CEO David Smith in a follow-up press release. Sinclair is planning a conference call on Thursday morning to discuss the purchase.

– Rapper Wale was backstage at Raw after reaching a truce with WWE officials, reports TMZ. Wale posed with Triple H in a published photo and reportedly hung out with Hunter, The Rock, and Vince McMahon. Wale had a two-year falling-out with WWE before getting back in the fold. Now, he says “I actually want to work there.”

– The day after appearing on Raw, “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson was back on the set of “Ballers,” where legendary college basketball announcer Dick Vitale stopped by on Tuesday afternoon. Vitale was in Miami on Monday calling the Duke-Miami game on ESPN. … Also, Chicago Cubs star Anthony Rizzo was in the crowd and behind-the-scenes with The Rock at Raw on Monday. Rizzo is originally from Florida.

– One of The Rock’s next big movie projects, “Fast & Furious 8,” has filming locations lined up, including Iceland. Other locations are New York City and Atlanta. The goal for Iceland is film “one of the biggest explosions ever seen” in the country. (Report at

– Ahead of Thursday’s GOP presidential debate, Kurt Angle threw his support behind Republican candidate Marco Rubio. Angle tweeted that he is on Rubio’s campaign team. This was picked up by mainstream political news outlet

– 2K Sports released this week the “Future Stars Pack” for the “WWE 2K16” video game. Included in the DLC pack ($7.99) are Samoa Joe, Blake & Murphy, and Los Matadores. The DLC is also available through the Season Pass ($24.99).

Joe is obviously the top star being marketed for the DLC offering. As a result, 2K sports released video of main roster star King Barrett calling out Joe (second video below) in a big of a surreal promo.

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