SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE BACKLASH REPORT
MAY 6, 2023
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
AIRED LIVE ON PEACOCK
English Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
Spanish Commentators: Marcelo Rodriguez, Jerry Soto
-A video package featuring Bad Bunny opened the show. Then a drone shot showed the exterior of the arena and then flew into the arena, just as with Smackdown the night before. Cole touted a late-arriving sellout crowd and said it’s the first PLE in Puerto Rico in over 18 years. Cole introduced the Spanish announce team
(1) BIANCA BELAIR vs. IYO SKY – Raw Women’s Title match
Belair made her entrance first. Graves said the place is nuclear. “What an atmosphere,” he said. Sky came out next. Cole said there was a lot of chatter on social media contending Sky is being held back by Bayley. A loud “Iyo! Iyo!” chant broke out during ring entrances Belair was cheered and booed during ring introductions. The crowd was very loud. The “Iyo!” chant picked up again after the ring introductions. The bell rang 8 minutes into the first hour.
Cole touted the title histories of both wrestlers. Graves said Belair doesn’t have to change anything about her approach to win. The crowd popped huge for Sky’s offense early and loudly booed any counters for Belair. Graves said this is an unusual situation for Belair and it might throw her off. The crowd just got more and more vocally supportive of Iyo as the match progressed including a very loud “Iyo” chant at 5:00. Iyo’s offense was flashy and smooth. The crowd exploded after a double-stomp by Iyo.
The crowd booed when Belair landed a neckbreaker. Belair sold an arm injury after the landing. The crowd chanted “Let’s go, Iyo!” Belair rallied and kipped up. The crowd counted along in Spanish was Belair punched away at Sky in the corner. Belair pressed Sky in the air with one arm, but when she dropped her, Sky landed on her face. That looked painful. Sky grabbed at her face. Belair landed a handspring elbow and scored a near fall. When she charged in the corner, Sky moved and Belair went shoulder-first into the turnbuckle. Sky then held onto Belair’s arm and leaped over the top rope and yanked it over the top rope. Sky followed with a springboard dropkick. Belair bumped to the floor. Cole said that might be the best thing that happened for the champion.
Belair shoved Sky off the top rope. Belair then went for a 450 splash as fans booed. Sky lifted her knees. Siy applied a crossface on Belair. Belair stood and lifted Sky, but Sky faceplainted Belair for a near fall. Belair and Sky countered each other several times. belair caught Sky in position for a K.O.D., but Sky escaped and threw Belair through the ropes to the floor. Sky landed a moonsault onto Belair at ringside. She threw Belair back into the ring and scored a near fall at 14:00. Cole said this is the biggest battle Belair has had in her entire title reign.
Sky went for a top rope head scissors, but Belair held on. Sky hung upside down. Belair lifted her and delivered a top rope powerbomb for a near fall. The crowd exploded with cheers for the kickout. Graves gasped, “My god! This building is legitimately rumbling right now.” Cole said this is the Iyo Sky the WWE Universe has been waiting for. Bayley and Dakota Kai came out and distracted Belair. Belair lifted Sky on her shoulders and knocked Kai offthe ring apron. Sky then countered the K.O.D. again with a roll-up for a believable near fall that popped the crowd. Bayley gave Sky a pep talk. Belair dragged Bayley into the ring and beat her up briefly. Fans booed. Kai roundkicked Belair from ringside. Sky stepped on Belair’s chest and climbed to the top rope. Bayley held Belair’s braid. The ref caught her. When Sky went for the moonsault, Belair moved and then hit the K.O.D. for the win.
Cole said that the Sky the WWE Universe was waiting for. He said Belair is now the longest reigning women’s champion of the modern era in WWE. He said Sky might’ve gotten the job done if it wasn’t for Bayley.
WINNER: Belair in 17:00 to retain the Raw Women’s Title. (****)
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s a match that was very good anyway, but elevated by the crowd response. Although there were a few glitches in execution, overall it was one of the hotter openers to a WWE event you’ll see. Belair wasn’t booed out of the building or anything, but Sky had an ovation that was off the charts. If there was any doubt, Sky is a great fit to be presented as a babyface. The seed was planted for Sky to break away since Bayley and Kai attempting to help backfired.)
-They showed Bad Bunny backstage putting o his shoes. Rey Mysterio knocked and then entered. They had a conversation in Spanish. Savio Vega walked in and the crowd roared with cheers. He gave Bad Bunny a kendo stick and some instructions of what to do with it.
-They showed the coast line of San Juan. Graves said he was jealous Cole got to spend two nights there.
-They went to Cole and Graves at ringside. They discussed the shifts in key talent in the WWE Draft. Graves said Monday night is going to be a lot of fun. Cole noted that Brock Lesnar is a free agent. Cole touted the additions to the Smackdown roster. Then they plugged the tournament for the new World Hvt. Title starting Monday on Raw.
-Cole threw to a commercial break. Premium Plus subscribers saw a video package previewing the next match.
(2) SETH ROLLINS vs. OMOS (w/MVP)
As Omos made his entrance, Cole noted he’s a free agent who can appear on either show. The crowd sang Seth’s song loudly. Omos kicked Seth while Seth was soaking up the crowd’s singing. The ref scolded Omos as Seth recovered in the corner. Seth stood and the ref called for the bell 37 minutes into the hour.
Seth charged at Omos, but Omos knocked Seth out of mid-air. Cole said tomorrow morning WWE will announce the participants in the World Hvt. Title tournament. He said Seth hopes to be in it if he survives this match against Omos. Omos stood on Seth’s chest and then whipped him hard into the corner turnbuckle. Fans continued to sing Seth’s song as Omos celebrated his early offense. Omos shoved Seth over the top rope, then dropped to teh floor and lifted Seth. Seth flailed and slipped free and then shoved Omos into the ringpost. Seth landed a dive through the ropes. He went for a second dive, but Omos caught him and slammed him on the ring apron. Fans were still super into everything and cascaded Omos with boos and jeers.
Omos pressed Seth above his head and threw him into the ring. Fans chanted, “Let’s Go Rollins!” Back in the ring, Omos gave Seth a big boot to send him hard to the mat. Graves said Seth’s offense is just bouncing off of Omos. Omos appeared to fling ear wax toward the fans a few times to taunt them. Seth leaped onto Omos’s back with a sleeper, but Omos tossed him off of him quickly. Seth hit a flying knee to the side of Omos’s face. Seth landed a running low dropkick to counter Omos, then connected with a superkick. Omos was on his knees. Seth set up a Pedigree. Omos backdropped out of it from his knees. Graves said, “That is absurd in and of itself.”
Seth landed a top rope frog splash. Omos kicked out at one. Cole said Seth couldn’t believe it. Seth stood and looked at his fist. He punched him in the head a few times. Omos grabbed Seth’s throat. Seth broke free and hit a flying punch to the back of Omos’s head. Seth then went for a Stomp, but Omos blocked it. He then stood and chokeslammed Seth for a near fall. Fans loudly chanted “Let’s Go Rollins!” Seth leaped onto Omos’s shoulders with a sleeper. Omos dropped to one knee. Omos landed a side slam to break the hold. Cole asked Graves what Seth has to do. Graves said he doesn’t have an answer.
MVP distracted the ref on the ring apron. Seth landed a Stomp. Seth superkicked MVP off the ring apron. Seth delivered a second Stomp for a two count at 9:00. Seth backed away, eyed bugged out at Omos’s ability to kick out. Seth leaped off the top rope and landed a Stomp for a three count.
WINNER: Rollins in 10:00. (**1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: That was easily the best match of Omos’s career. It was different than the style a lot of fans like, but there’s a part of the fanbase that is into this style of a match with a babyface fighting from underneath against a bigger nasty opponent. Omos is clearly getting better, but Seth is someone who can make it seem like someone is getting better than they actually are too. Still, Omos’s comfort level with his timing, body language, and facial expressions along with just being in the right place at the right time is world’s better than a year or so ago where he was just clearly in over his head and very green. Seth vowed he’d produce a memorable good match with Omos that would generate buzz and I can’t imagine him doing much more than this to live up to that.)
(3) AUSTIN THEORY vs. BOBBY LASHLEY vs. BRONSON REED – U.S. Title match
Lashley came out first followed by Reigns and Theory. The announcers noted that Theory doesn’t have a champion’s advantage in this match. Cole noted Theory beat John Cena. Graves said that should have silenced all doubters. (Cole didn’t push back at all that Theory used a low-blow and didn’t prove anything, but WWE wants to frame Theory’s tainted win as some sort of statement for him. I suppose that’s wise, but disingenuous.) Graves said Theory is the future of WWE. They showed a cool overview of the arena bowl from the last row. The bell rang 57 minutes into the hour.
Lashley beat up Reed in the corner. Theory tossed him to the floor. Theory then turned to Lashley. Cole said he asked Lashely earlier about what being on Smackdown means to him. “He looked me in the eye and you know what he said? Roman Reigns,” Cole said. Graves said he’s not surprised. Lashley delay-drop suplexed Theory. Reed rolled back into the ring and splashed Lashley after Theory tripped him. Reed and Theory had a brief talk, then turned and beat up Lashley in the corner together. A “Bobby!” chant broke out briefly. Cole acknowledged it.
Reed knocked Theory down with a standing bodyblock. Lashley then one-arm slammed Theory. Lashley delivered a spear. Reed yanked Lashley off of Theory when he went for a cover. Reed kicked Lashley at ringside. Reed swung off the top rope and landed on Lashley’s right shoulder. Cole said it was like being hit by a boulder in an avalanche. Reed threw Lashley into the ring and then climbed to the rope. Theory knocked Reed off balance and then went for an A-Town Down. Lashley escaped and applied a Hurt Lock center-ring. Theory faded, but then powered out by kicking off the middle rope. He bridged Lashley’s shoulders down for a two count. Reed then leaped off the top rope with a splash on Lashley. Theory broke up the cover.
Theory rallied and gloated. He lifted Reed onto his shoulders for a second, but Reed slipped free and powerslammed Theory. Reed followed up with a top rope moonsault, but Theory rolled out of the way. When Reed stood, Lashley speared him. Theory then threw Lashley out of the ring and “stole” the cover for the win.
WINNER: Theory in 7:00 to retain the U.S. Title. (**3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: They packed a lot of action and twists and turns into that seven minute match. Everyone had big moments to shine either with big moves, big kickouts, or gloating. No surprise Theory retained and that it was Reed who took the pin as Reed moves to Raw while Theory and Lashley move to Smackdown.) [c]
-A video package previewed the next match.
(4) RHEA RIPLEY vs. ZELINA VEGA – Smackdown Women’s Title match
Vega came out to the LWO theme and wore a Puerto Rican flag cape that extended out from her arms. Vega hugged and kissed her mom, step-dad, brother, and uncle. Cole noted that her uncle wrestled Bruno Sammartino in his career. Cole said Zelina called this moment in her career surreal and nerve-wracking, but a dream come true. Zelina was clearly emotional during introductions. Ripley was booed when she was introduced. Cole said Zelina was dedicating the match to her father, who died in the 9/11 attacks in New York City. Graves said Ripley is ice-cold emotionally to start. The bell rang 15 minutes into the second hour.
Ripley took control early and played to the crowd. Zelina avoided a charging Ripley at 4:00. Both were down and slow to get up. Zelina tried to take Ripley off her feet with several forearms and clotheslines. Ripley headbutted Zelina to stop the rally. Zelina countered Ripley with a DDT. Zelina fired up the crowd and then hit a 619. She then did an Eddie Guerrero shake and leaped off the top rope with a meteora for a near fall at 6:00. Zelina was emotional as she stood. Ripley kicked Zelina and then landed her Rip Tide for a sudden win.
Ripley mocked the saddness of the fans as she returned to the back. When Zelina stood in the ring after Ripley’s music faded, fans gave her a standing ovation. She cried. Fans chanted something. (PWTorch contributor Javier Machado tells me they were chanting “Yo soy Boricua, pa’ que tu lo sepas. I am Puerto Rican, so that you know.” He said it’s something chanted at events and protests by Puerto Ricans.)
WINNER: Ripley in 7:00 to retain the Smackdown Title. (**1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: Good and basic quick match that told a story in a compact amount of time. The crowd was behind Zelina all the way, but seemed something short of crushed when she lost since they probably expected it given how much of an underdog she was portrayed as.)
-A lengthy video package previewed the next match.
(5) DAMIAN PRIEST vs. BAD BUNNY – Puerto Rican Street Fight
Graves said Priest was on his podcast and he said that he doesn’t go on stage and interrupted or try to do what Bad Bunny does, so what makes him think he should be wrestling in his ring. Bunny got the huge pop you’d expect when he came out, kendo stick in hand. Fans sang along to his song. He paused half way to the ring and then walked back to reveal a shopping cart full of trash cans, chairs, kendo sticks, and other apparatus. The bell rang 38 minutes into the hour.
Priest walked out to the center of the ring first. Bad Bunny met him. Priest shoved him down. Cole said they both grew up in the same small town. Cole said this night is special because he was raised there and Bad Bunny said “We are superheroes here.” Bad Bunny got up and had some words for Priest. Priest shoved Bad Bunny; Bad Bunny slapped him and then landed a Michinoku Driver for a near fall. “Are you kidding me?” asked Cole. Bad Bunny grabbed a kendo stick and danced in the ring as Priest bailed out to the floor. Priest picked up Bad Bunny and threw him into the corner. Priest broke the kendo stick over his knee. Fans booed.
Priest twisted Bad Bunny’s arm. Bad Bunny punched Priest, but Priest held on and twisted harder. Graves said Priest is savoring this given all the eyes on this match. Bad Bunny thumbed Priest in the eyes. He mounted Priest in the corner, but Priest powered out. Bunny leveraged Priest’s shoulders down for a two count. Priest punched Bad Bunny, who fell into the corner. Priest gave Bad Bunny a South of Heaven, but then lifted his shoulders before the three count. Graves said Priest is going to “savor the suffering”of Bad Bunny.
When Priest dove at Bad Bunny, Bad Bunny threw a chair at his face. Bad Bunny then pulled a kendo stick out from under the ring and bashed Priest with it several times. Bad Bunny leaped with a crossbody onto Priest at ringside. He bashed his head with two trash can lids. Back in the ring at 8:00 Priest took over briefly until Bad Bunny surprised him with a flying elbow in the corner. Bad Bunny gave Priest a Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Priest decided to walk toward the back. Bad Bunny went after Priest with a trash can, but Priest kicked it into his face. Priest bashed Bad Bunny with the trash can. Bad Bunny sold it at ringside. Priest twirled the kendo stick and then bashed Bad Bunny with it. Bad Bunny sold it great.
Priest threw Bad Bunny into the time keeper’s area. He played to the crowd. Bad Bunny fought back and they brawled into the crowd. Priest put Bad Bunny on a stack of travel crates and then yanked off his own shirt. He stood over Bad Bunny. Bad Bunny stood and fought back. Priest delivered a leaping Michinoku Driver off the crates through tables below. Both were slow to get up. Adam Pearce and other officials ran out and tried to talk Priest out of continuing his attack. Priest picked up Bad Bunny and carried him back to ringside at 14:00. Graves said this could be the last time Bad Bunny will be seen in public.
Bad Bunny ducked a Priest roundkick toward the ringpost. Priest sold a leg injury. Bad Bunny bashed Priest with a kendo stick. Bad Bunny then hyper-extended Priest’s knee. Priest went down and told the ref in a panic his leg isn’t okay. Bad Bunny swung his leg into the ringpost several times. Bad Bunny pulled a chain out of the shopping card. He wrapped Priest’s ankle with it as Priest pleaded with him to let up on the attack. Bad Bunny went through with yanking his leg around the ringpost. Bad Bunny bashed Priest’s leg with a chair.
Back in the ring, Priest held onto his leg. Bad Bunny held up a chair, but Priest begged off. Bad Bunny paused. Priest apologized to him. Priest then up-kicked Bad Bunny. Priest hopped on one leg over to the chair and swung at Bad Bunny. Bad Bunny gave Priest a low-blow. Cole said, “Legal!” Bad Bunny then picked up a chair. Dominik Mysterio and Finn Balor charged out aned stomped away at Bad Bunny. (Also legal!) Rey mysterio ran out to help. He went right after Dominik. Balor and Dominik double-teamed Rey. Carlito then charged out for the save. The crowd absolutely exploded as he cleared the ring of The Judgment Day.
Cool yanked off his shirt and bit into an apple. Dominik attacked him from behind. Carlito set up Dominik for a 619. Rey hit it. Carlito sprayed apple bits at Dominik’s face. Balor and Dominik retreated from Rey and Carlito. Savio Vega then came out from the entry and cornered Balor and Dominik. Balor laughed at Savio, perhaps nervously. Savio then called for the LWO to come out, and the Legado del Fantasma trio came out. They stomped away at Dominik. Balor thought he was about to escape when Savio caught him with a chop to the head. He punched him in the throat and then landed a spinning hook kick. Savio delivered some strikes to Dominik and then the heels fled.
Back in the ring, Bad Bunny cheered on the happenings. Priest went for a tornado kick, but his bad leg gave out. Bad Bunny then applied a figure-four leglock mid-ring. Priest cried out in pain. Priest’s shoulders were down for the count of two. Priest reached for Bad Bunny’s throat and be grabbed it. He went for a chokeslam, but Bad Bunny rolled through for a leveraged near fall at 24:00. Bad Bunny sent a charging Priest face-first into a chair edged in the corner. He then scored a near fall after Sliced Bread #2. Bad Bunny grabbed a chair and bashed Priest across his back with it several times as the crowd roared approval. Bad Bunny played to the crowd and landed a Canadian Destroyer for the three count.
Bad Bunny celebrated with all of his friends after the match. Bad Bunny slapped hands with fans afterward.
WINNER: Bad Bunny in 25:00. (****)
(Keller’s Analysis: That was awesome. That’s a match I wish I was in the arena for. That brought me back to being a kid watching the AWA when crowds believed or were at least given such an immersive presentation that they bought at least for the night. That was just a blast. Bad Bunny is among the best celebrities to ever dip their toe in the ring. Big props to Priest for what he gave to Bunny in that match, although it’s no surprise given their home town connection and how big of a star Bad Bunny is. As much as Priest made Bunny look great in the ring, Bad Bunny gave Priest’s career a big rub. The cameos were so fun. They had a full-fledged match even before The Judgement Day interfered and then it got wild in a whole new way after that. Just satisfying and masterfully booked and executed.)
-A video package set up the next match.
(6) SAMI ZAYN & KEVIN OWENS & MATT RIDDLE vs. THE USOS & SOLO SIKOA
The crowd loved singing Sami’s song. The bell rang 17 minutes into the hour. Cole and Graves talked about the friendship between Solo and Reigns. Then they shifted to how Sami Zayn seems preoccupied with trying to get Jey to second guess his decision to betray him and stick with family. Sami took an extended beating for several minutes before eventually hot-tagging in Riddle at 10:00. This was paced to give the fans an emotional breather after the prior two matches.
Riddle landed a rip cord knee on Jey. He beat up Jimmy, too, with a flurry of offense. He played to the crowd briefly and then kicked Solo at ringside. Then he landed a springboard twisting dive onto Solo and the Usos. Back in the ring, Jimmy surprised a flying Riddle with a superkick for a near fall. Owens recovered from being slammed onto the ringside steps earlier. he landed a top rope swanton on Jimmy for a near fall.
Jimmy mistakenly superkicked Jey. Owens cleared the ring and then landed a Pop Up Powerbomb on Jimmy for a near fall at 13:00. Graves called it “an ultra-rare miscommunication between the Usos.” Cole said they’ve been out of sync this month. Owens went for a flip senton, but Jimmy raised his knees. Owens and Jimmy exchanged strikes, including headbutts. Jimmy blocked a stunner and landed a superkick. Owens fired back with a lariat off the ropes. Both were down and slow to get up. Fans applauded.
A few minutes later Sami leaped off the top rope, but the Usos landed stereo superkicks for a near fall. Jey yelled at Sami that discord in his family is his fault. He slapped him and yelled over and over, “It’s your fault!” Jey let out a yell in his corner. Solo tagged himself in and shot Jey a stern look. Cole said Solo was done with the games. Jey tagged himself back in immediately. Solo stared him down intensely. Jey said he’s got it. Sami charged at Jey with a Helluva Kick, but Jey moved and the boot hit Solo. Sami then overhead suplexed Jey in the corner and landed a Helluva kick. Solo made the save by interrupting the count. Cole said the issues with the brothers almost cost the family.
Solo gave Owens a Samoan Spike. He turned and nearly gave a Spike to Jey when Jey surprised him from behind. Jey took issue with how long Solo took to decide not to hit him. Sami hit Solo from behind. Jey rolled up Sami immediately for a near fall. He landed a superkick next and then climbed to the top rope. He went for a top rope splash, but Sami raised his knees and then small packaged Jey for a near fall. Sami tagged Riddle in.
Riddle went after Jey with rapid-fire offense. Jey fired back with a superkick. Riddle landed a high knee. Solo blind tagged in. riddle gave Jey a Bro Derek. Solo entered and gave Riddle a Samoan Spike for the three count. Cole asked whether the cracks in The Bloodline became major rifts during this match. Graves said even he has doubts right now. (The ref relayed a message to Jimmy from ringside.) Jimmy stood between Solo and Jey and was all smiles, trying to focus everyone on their victory.
WINNERS: Solo & The Usos in 21:00. (***1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action with further development of the discord within The Bloodline.)
-A video package previewed the main event.
(7) CODY RHODES vs. BROCK LESNAR
Cody made his entrance first. The fans were into his theme song. They found one guy in the crowd who was super into singing the lyrics. Some pyro blasted from the lighting grid when Cody arrived in the ring. When Lesnar came out, Cole said Lesnar has never explained why he attacked Cody. He said Cody believes it’s because he replaced Lesnar as “the man” around there. Cole added that they may never know. Cody dove through the ropes onto Brock at ringside. He attacked him with an announce desk lid. Cole said the match isn’t even under way officially. Cody aggressively attacked Lesnar, ramming him three times in the head with the top of the ringside steps. Cody bashed Lesnar with a chair next.
When Cody entered the ring with a chair, the ref took the chair and called for the bell. The bell rang 53 minutes into the third hour. Lesnar fought back, but Cody landed two Disaster Kicks. Lesnar caught Cody mid-air and landed a back suplex. Cody yanked Lesnar’s neck over the top rope and threw some uppercuts. Cody leaped off the top rope, but Lesnar caught him and gave him a fallaway slam. Cole said Lesnar is still in the fight despite everything Cody did. Fans chanted “Suplex City!” Lesnar back suplexed Cody again, then smiled. He suplexed Cody a third time. Cole called it “a hat trick of suplexes.”
Lesnar stomped on Cody as fans chanted “Suplex City!” again. Cody held onto a turnbuckle pad. When Lesnar threw him, the pad came off. Lesnar stood over Cody and smiled. Two minutes later, Cody ducked a charging Lesnar whow ent face-first into the turnbuckle. Lesnar bled hard-way and was gushing blood. Cody landed a Cody Cutter. (There was no time for Lesnar to blade himself there.) Cody landed a Disaster Kick. Graves said Lesnar’s face was a crimson mess. Cody wiped some of Lesnar’s blood on his chest and then hit a Cody Cutter. “Brock’s in trouble,” said Cole. Graves said he couldn’t believe what they were saying. Cody hit a Crossroads, but hedl on and delivered a second Crossroads for a near fall.
Cody set up a third Crossroads, but Brock countered with an F5 for a believable near fall at 9:00. Graves wondered if that was Cody’s last gasp. The fans were standing. The announcers were standing. Brock surprised Cody with a kimura lock attempt. Cody resisted, but Lesnar locked it on. Graves said Lesnar will break his arm if he doesn’t give up. Cody leveraged Lesnar’s shoulders down and got a three count.
Cole said Cody has clamed the kingdom. Lesnar was given a towel and he wiped the blood off his face, but he did continue bleeding. They zoomed in on his face as the show ended.
WINNER: Cody in 10:00. (***1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: That didn’t need to be another minute longer. Really strong storytelling start to finish. The presumed unplanned blood found a perfect setting given Puerto Rico’s hardcore pro wrestling history in general and the scarred foreheads of Carlos Colon and Abdullah the Butcher specifically.)
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling since 1987. He has been a guest on the Steve Austin Show as an analyst of current events and pro wrestling history 40 times, making more appearances than any other guest. He currently hosts the “Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast” and “Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post-show” along with several PWTorch VIP-exclusive podcasts every week. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for “Excellence in Writing on Professional Wrestling” in 2015. He hosted “The Ultimate Insiders” DVD series in the 2000s including long-from studio interviews in Los Angeles, Calif. with Matt & Jeff Hardy and Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara. He has interviewed more big name wrestlers and promoters in long-form insider interviews over the last 35 years for the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter, usually in the “Torch Talk” transcribed Q&A format, than any pro wrestling reporter. The list of those he has interviewed include Steve Austin, The Rock, Vince McMahon, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Hulk Hogan, Goldberg, Eric Bischoff, Verne Gagne, Lou Thesz, Jesse Ventura, Drew McIntyre, Brian Gewirtz, Paul Heyman, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Jon Moxley, and dozens of other top stars and influential promoters and bookers/creative team members.