Columnist Rob Pasbani recaps the biggest moments from Smackdown, plus the big week ahead for AEW.
It’s been a month since news surfaced of the new primetime AEW show rumored for Saturday nights from 8 – 10pm on TNT, expected to be called AEW Collision. The first show would take place on June 21 in Chicago, at the United Center. CM Punk is expected to return on the premiere episode, as are some other big names that haven’t been seen on TV lately like Miro, Paul Wight and possibly Andrade. AEW has been mum on the rumors, saying they wouldn’t be allowed to comment until everything is officially announced.
The official announcement is expected this Wednesday, May 17th, at the Warner Bros. Discovery upfronts presentation for advertisers, an annual event where the networks try to sell big advertising packages to fund the next year of programming. It’s a big upfront for WBD because they will also be relaunching HBO Max as “Max,” which will merge the service with Discovery+.
In addition to the new show, the formal announcement of an overall new deal between AEW and WBD is rumored to be announced next Wednesday. AEW recently both of their Youtube series, Dark and Elevation, with the expectation that WBD has exclusive rights to any AEW wrestling.
Obviously, there are a ton of questions to be answered with this new deal. Would AEW finally be coming to Warner’s streaming service? There is currently no easy way to stream old archives of AEW episodes, and it seems like a perfect fit for the new service. What about AEW PPVs? Will they stream on Max or continue on the traditional PPV model? How much money is AEW making on this new deal? Will it be large enough for them to compete with WWE and go after big contracts to get a larger market share? Hopefully, there will be clarity to some of these questions during the upfronts on Wednesday.
On Dynamite this week, Tony Khan teased that the announcement was coming and hinted it would be on TNT and not the current home of Dynamite, TBS.
The same weekend as AEW’s next big event, Double or Nothing, WWE will presenting their big “premium live event,” Night of Champions. The show will see the crowning of the first World Heavyweight Champion of the modern era, a new title belt that was announced to be exclusively on Raw.
After the Smackdown side of the tournament went down last night, AJ Styles advanced (as I predicted) and will go on to face Seth Rollins in the finals to determine the first champion. Seth Rollins makes sense as the first champion. As I mentioned on the recent Squared Circle Pit, he has a credible claim to be the bigger champion since Roman Reigns never had beat Rollins, creating a great dynamic.
Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes has also been confirmed for the event. I could see a street fight stipulation being added.
Roman Reigns is advancing the Bloodline storyline by teaming up with Solo Sikoa and challenging Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens for the tag titles, as a way to put down the Usos for not being able to get the job done. The promo to set everything up last night on Smackdown was pretty great:
This will be the first time Sami Zayn performed in Saudi Arabia. There were political issues with Sami being of Syrian decent, a country that Saudi Arabia was in conflict with. Recently, tensions have eased, but it should be interesting to see the reaction Sami and Kevin get.
Could Roman get two more title belts to add to his collection? It is certainly an interesting development.
Bianca Belair vs. Asuka is also expected for the event. On Raw this Monday, there will be a battle royal to determine the number one contender for the Intercontinental title, which I could see happening at this event. Expect Austin Theory to be defending his US title as well.
AEW Rampage is on tonight at 10pm on TNT
WWE RAW on Monday at 8pm on USA Network has a big show:
WWE NXT on Tuesday at 8pm is advertising:
AEW Dynamite on Wednesday at 8pm announced so far:
Cattle Decapitation bassist Olivier Pinard joins host Rob Pasbani for this edition of Squared Circle Pit. The entire WWE Backlash is recapped including Bad Bunny’s incredible performance and the hot Puerto Rico crowd. Olivier also discusses how he discovered wrestling, his favorites growing up, the rest of his band’s opinion on wrestling and how he keeps up on the road. A really fun conversation!
Listen to this episode here.
There are more matches announced for Night of Champions than AEW Double or Nothing at this moment and that event is the same weekend. So far confirmed for the event is the world title match with MJF defending against Darby Allin, Jungle Boy, and Sammy Guevarra and FTR defending the tag titles against Jarrett and Lethal with Mark Briscoe. Adam Cole vs. Chris Jericho is also expected but not officially announced. Hopefully, Rampage and Dynamite this week will have more matches announced.
After running in during Logan Paul’s last match, Youtuber KSI was asked in an interview with JOE if he’ll ever join WWE and responded “Probably not. I don’t mind like appearing here and there, but I won’t be joining WWE man. Big up all the wrestlers at WWE, but that sh*t is way too much for me. I can’t take that many bumps. [laughs] I’d much rather just watch it.”
Young Rock was not on the fall schedule for NBC, but has not been officially canceled. It may be picked up as a mid-season replacement.
New Japan star Will Ospreay is on the booking schedule for AEW All In in London, according to Dave Meltzer.
The big angle on Dynamite this week was Don Callis turning on Kenny Omega at the end of a brutal cage match with Jon Moxley. Omega said this after:
WWE released a cool mini-doc on The Judgment Day’s week in Puerto Rico:
Seth Rollins starred in the Chicago Bears’ release of their NFL schedule this week:
CM Punk and AJ Mendez are both set to be in season two of the Starz show HEELS. The new season debuts Friday, July 28.