Afternoon Update: Hogan wants to go to Saudi Arabia, The Rock doesn’t reply to inquiries of his stance on Crown Prince now, AP covers Evolution taking a hit, Douglas on Reigns, Dark Journey on Slater, AAW, MLW

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


Hulk Hogan (artist Travis Beaven © PWTorch)

Please send news tips and live event results to pwtorch@pwtorch.com. Thanks!


-WWE continues to be called out by media entities that don’t often cover pro wrestling controversies because of its association with Saudi Arabia. The latest is the Associated Press with this headline: “WWE women’s movement takes hit with Saudi Arabia involvement.” Excerpt:

“It’s not just a women’s evolution in WWE,” Bliss said. “It’s an evolution all over the world.”

Don’t ring the bell for the win just yet.

WWE set aside its women’s movement in favor of a more lucrative statement in Saudi Arabia, an event next month titled Crown Jewel with female wrestlers banned from competition. The deal has prompted a public smackdown from fans , bipartisan criticism from politicians and lampooning from late-night hosts, backlash that took a turn and grew louder after writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul .

The financials are murky but WWE was expected to make between $20 million and $40 million from the two Saudi Arabian shows this year, as part of a 10-year deal.

The story notes that the mention of Crown Jewel by Undertaker was booed and the words “Saudi Arabia” hasn’t been mentioned in two weeks on WWE TV nor does it show up on WWE.com. FULL STORY

-WWE has updated the Crown Jewel match listing to exclude Roman Reigns from the Universal Title match, It does feature A.J. Styles vs. Daniel Bryan is a clear secondary place on the page, clearly sending the message to fans that the WWE Title match is less of an attraction than the match for the vacant Universal Title. John Cena is also featured front and center. There have been reports that John Cena has told WWE he won’t go to Saudi Arabia, and that WWE Creative were told to prepare to write him out of the World Cup tournament.

-Did WWE call short on the hype for Evolution? A lot of fans are asking that question. On the Hulu version of Raw which is edited down to 90 minutes, the Riott Squad content was edited.


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“Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson got into a bit of a spat with a CNN reporter, Oliver Darcy on Instagram when he accused the reporter or engaged in “click bait” by bringing up his prior praise for the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Darcy said his praise for MBS “did not age well.” The news here isn’t that Rock accused her of “click bait,” but rather than he reached out to his team to see if his stance on MBS had changed and his team did not reply. That indicates he isn’t stepping up to distance himself from the Saudi leader who is believed to have ordered and orchestrated the murder off a Washington Post columnist and Saudi Arabia regime critic and advocate for more press freedom in Saudi Arabia in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. “Such a silly, clickbait post, Oliver,” Johnson tweeted. “Im surprised you’d post this. Go back and really read my words. I listened and learned then. As I listen and learn now. C’mon man.” The reporter replied: “You had dinner with a brutal authoritarian, playing a role in his PR campaign to convince the West that he was, as you’d say, someone with ‘modern views,’ Then you gushed about it on social media. Ppl look up to you. Do you regret giving him a platform? Has your opinion changed?” The Rock ended engagement with the reporter at that point.

-Hulk Hogan says he’s eager to go Saudi Arabia for WWE, if it works out. “There are a lot of plans in the works,” Hogan told the Orlando Sentinel this week. “I’m looking forward to going to Saudi Arabia with the WWE, looking forward to WrestleMania — but yeah, we’re moving forward at a rapid pace. It’s exciting to have this opportunity again after all these years where I was there and gone.” He also “praised” Drew McIntyre by saying “He could be the next Ultimate Warrior, a good-looking WWE superstar that carries the belt for ten years.” Hogan also made his case for why he played locker room politics so fiercely, something he has been criticized for over the years because it often was perceived as sabotaging other wrestlers for his gain at the expense of what was best for the promotion.

Once I got in the [top] spot, to keep the spot, that’s where the politics come in. Everybody goes, ‘Well, Hulk Hogan was a politician.’ Well, thank God I was! That’s why I made more money than anybody, that’s why I kept the belt longer, that’s why instead of a five- or six- or 10-year run like the Rock or Stone Cold or different wrestlers, I had a 35-year run on top.

-WWE sent out an email for the January 7 Monday Night Raw in Orlando, Fla. at Amway Center after Raw this week featuring Roman Reigns in a graphic along with Braun Strowman and Ronda Rousey. It lists Reigns vs. “Constable” Baron Corbin as the main event plus Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre for the Raw Tag Team Titles. That will all obviously change. Tickets go on sale Friday at 9 a.m. with the passsword “SQUASH.” Yes, “SQUASH.” Was that a prediction of what Reigns would do to Corbin? [Thanks to PWTorch reader Patrick Ward for the news tip]

-AAW is running a live event this Friday in Merrionette Park, Ill. (115 Bourbon Street) featuring David Star & Eddie Kingston vs. Firefox (A.R. Fox & Myron Reed), Rey Fenix vs. Sammy Guevara, LA Park vs. MJF, plus Jimmy Jacobs, PACO, Curt Stallion, and Josh Briggs. If you attend, please send results to pwtorch@pwtorch.com.

-MLW has announced Brian Pillman Jr. vs. Tommy Dreamer for the MLW Fightland event in Chicago, Ill. at Cicero Stadium on N0v. 8. The press release states: “Following a violent attack on Kevin Sullivan, the Hart Foundation’s Brian Pillman Jr. wants to add the head of another legend to his mantle: the “Innovator of Violence” Tommy Dreamer… and Dreamer has accepted the challenge.” Also on the show, Low Ki defending his MLW Title against Shane “Swerve” Strickland, Rush vs. Sammy Guevara, PCO vs. Brody King, Joey Ryan & Swoggle vs. The Dirty Blondes, and Ace Romero vs. Marko Stunt. If you attend, please send results to pwtorch@pwtorch.com. Also, check out our weekly coverage of the MLW Fusion TV show HERE.

-Former WWE and WCW wrestlers and former ECW World Champion and centerpiece headline act Shane Douglas commented on Roman Reigns’s announcement on Monday. “(A)lthough I’ve never gotten to know Roman Reigns because he’s obviously a bit younger than me, I do know the Samoan family very well,” he said on his Triple Threat podcast. “I wouldn’t wish something like this on my worst enemy but to see him handling this with such grace I think is really cool and the fact that he wanted to go public with it to sort of advocate for it I think is really cool. With the HIPAA laws we are all so traverse with keeping our health private and keeping that to ourselves but being in a public situation like Roman is there are people out there and probably young kids especially that look up to him that are in the same situation and that can garner strength from that.” LISTEN TO SHOW

-Dark Journey spoke about the late Dick Slater in a Facebook post.

I do want to thank Dick for being a part of my life. As always we can’t see our evolving and life’s lessons as we receive them, only the discomfort of transitioning through them. Working with Dick in the business was diffidently an eye opener. Dick and wrestling was what my life called for me to learn about how the world worked on a daily basis, gimmicks and all (boy was I naive). Dick took me under his wings and protected me. He did not know the best way to show it at that time or even say it. You can’t do this and you can’t do that and some of the reasons were down right racist. …

I can look back and see how protective Dick was of me. Not that he had the best way of sharing or communicating that, that was what he was doing I see it clearly. Dick was a big teddy bear, Mr. Unpredictable, Mr. Electricity! But a big giant Teddy Bear! He was fun, he was sweet, he was kind he was caring, sharp dresser, and a protector. Thank you Dick for time served in my life you were meant to be there. And because of you showing me the way, in my life you have done a good job!

-Listen to our latest WWE Smackdown podcast, THE WADE KELLER PRO WRESTLING POST-SHOW that I hosted with guest cohost Mike McMahon from the “PWTorch Livecast Impact Post-Show.”

-Listen on Stitcher: HERE
-Listen on Apple Podcasts: HERE
-Or search “Wade Keller” on your podcast app of choice


Please send news tips and live event results to pwtorch@pwtorch.com. Thanks!


NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: Afternoon Update: Smackdown locker room reaction to Reigns announcement, Cena not going to Saudi Arabia if Crown Jewel is there, Saudi media coverage, Marko Stunt, Size Matters match, Cody’s future

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