Weekend Roundup: Toni Storm, RAW Ratings Update, WWE COVID Testing Update, Tony Khan, Owen Hart Cup, NJPW, Indies


  • As noted before, WWE announced that Roman Reigns recently tested positive for COVID-19 and pulled him from Saturday’s Day 1 event in Atlanta, Georgia as a result. PWInsider’s Mike Johnson reported that his sources stated that Reigns was not in Atlanta last night nor was it believed that he traveled into the city prior to WWE’s announcement.
  • Fightful Select reported that Shawn Daivari was the backstage producer for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match at Saturday’s Day 1 event. Chris Park reportedly was the producer of the Drew McIntyre vs. Madcap Moss match. Kenn Doane and Shane Helms reportedly were the producers of the RAW Tag Team Championship match. Adam Pearce and Michael “PS” Hayes reportedly were the producers of the Edge vs. The Miz match. Tyson Kidd and Molly Holly were the producers of the RAW Women’s Championship match. Jamie Noble reportedly was the producer of the WWE Championship Fatal 5-Way match.
  • During this past Friday’s “Best of 2021” themed show of SmackDown, WWE revealed their Top 10 Moments of 2021. Brock Lesnar’s return at SummerSlam 2021 this past August was revealed to be their top moment of the year.
  • As noted before, WWE pulled several talent from this past week’s house show events and Monday’s episode of RAW due to the company recently suffering a COVID-19 outbreak. Fighful Select reported that their sources within WWE stated that Big E, Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair, Omos, Bobby Roode, Rhea Ripley, Queen Zelina, Finn Balor, and Austin Theory had all been pulled from this past Monday’s RAW show due to COVID protocols. It was reported that the crew who ran the show was stated to be the most “skeleton of crews” WWE has ever had and even less than during their pandemic era shows at the Performance Center.
  • Dave Meltzer reported in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter that a minor incident took place during this past Monday’s episode of RAW. Meltzer reported that while Vince McMahon was not present backstage due to COVID precautionary reasons, he had a live production truck video feed of the show. These same sources stated that McMahon had quite the reaction when he noticed a sign in the crowd that stated “Nick=Con Tony=Khan” and ordered it to be immediately removed, which WWE staff did as quickly as possible.
  • WWE reportedly generated an attendance of 6,828 (5,300 paid) for their December 26th house show event at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY, 5,245 for their December 26th house show event in Tampa, FL, 9,000 (7,700 paid) for their December 27th RAW show in Detroit, MI, 5,727 for their December 27th house show event in Orlando, FL, 6,113 for their December 28th house show event in Pittsburgh, PA, 4,730 for their December 28th house show event in Washington, DC, and 5,042 for their December 29th house show event in Baltimore, MD, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. In regards to WWE’s house show event at MSG, Meltzer reported that it generated the third lowest paid attendance for a wrestling show at the venue since 1937.
  • WWE reportedly has sold around 3,990 tickets for their January 2nd house show event in Fayetteville, NC, around 4,339 tickets for their January 3rd RAW show in Greenville, SC, around 4,786 tickets for their January 7th SmackDown show in Uncasville, CT, around 3,783 tickets for their January 8th house show event in Glen Falls, NY, around 4,973 tickets for their January 9th house show event in Boston, MA, around 7,445 tickets for their January 10th RAW show in Philadelphia, PA, around 5,137 tickets for their January 14th SmackDown show in Omaha, NE, around 3,802 tickets for their January 15th house show event in Fargo, ND, around 2,151 tickets for their January 16th house show event in Sioux Falls, SD, around 2,829 tickets for their January 17th RAW show in Tulsa, OK, around3,614 tickets for their January 21st SmackDown show in Nashville, TN, around 2,082 tickets for their January 22nd house show event in Corbin, KY, around 1,699 tickets for their January 23rd house show in Huntington, WV, around 3,472 tickets for their January 24th RAW show in Toledo, OH, around 2,721 tickets for their January 28th SmackDown show in Kansas City, and 26,778 tickets for their Royal Rumble 2022 event in St. Louis, MO as of this past Thursday, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
  • As noted before, Toni Storm was released by WWE this past Wednesday. Dave Meltzer reported in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the general feeling within WWE’s locker room was that Storm’s decision to leave the company was due to professional burnout. One source spoken to stated that WWE’s booking of her feud against Charlotte Flair did Storm no favors and it was all about Flair. Meltzer reported that one story going around backstage was that Storm was never originally booked to work at the December 28th house show event in Washington, DC and her involvement at the show was a late minute decision by WWE officials. Meltzer reported that it is currently not known if Storm was given a 90-days non-compete clause as part of the terms of her release but it is currently assumed to be the case.
  • As noted before, this past Monday’s RAW gained a small increase in overall viewership and key demographic ratings. Dave Meltzer reported in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter that this past Monday’s RAW episode generated the third lowest ever viewership for the first hour and tied for the lowest ever key demographic rating for the first hour in RAW history. Meltzer reported that RAW’s overall viewership was the ninth lowest and their key demographic viewership was the seventh lowest ever in RAW history. Meltzer reported that RAW was saved from hitting lower all-time viewership records due to their larger than usual Females viewership for that week’s show.
  • As noted before, WWE will no longer be conducting required weekly testing of their talent for COVID-19 going forward. Dave Meltzer reported in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter that WWE’s testing policy going forward is based on a modified testing policy currently in effect in the NFL. While the company will no longer be holding required testing for all their talent, they still are asking for talent who feel sick or show potential symptoms to take Antigen tests. Those who test positive but are vaccinated reportedly will be out for at least five days while those who are not vaccinated will be out for at least ten days. Meltzer reported that prior to the changes, WWE had been testing all of their talent while now they will only be testing talent designated for COVID-19 tests. Meltzer also reported that the company had quietly stopped performing required testing for their staff who toured with talent some time ago.
  • PWInsider’s Mike Johnson reported that Jimmy Yang departed from the company earlier this week following the conclusion of his producer tryouts. Johnson’s original report stated that Yang had decided to quit the company but Yang contacted him stating that was not the case and instead it was WWE who made the decision to not hire him in a full-time producer role and his departure was a mutual decision between both sides made in early December.
  • The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer reported in Sunday’s Daily Update that WWE’s Day 1 event on Saturday generated around 500,000 searches on Google for that day.


  • AEW CEO Tony Khan was involved in a controversial online incident following statements made by former AEW talent Big Swole during a recent Swole World Callin podcast show. Khan made disparaging remarks to Swole on Twitter after Swole publicly criticized AEW for their “lack of diversity” issues. One of those who was upset at Khan’s remarks was Lio Rush who demanded an apology from Khan over the incident. Rush recently stated on Twitter that he had a talk with Khan and was pleased over the response given and AEW’s plans to resolve the issues brought up by Swole. Rush stated “I want this to be clear.. I do not consider this to be a diversity issue, and I at no point have thought or said that AEW or Tony is racist. We can all clearly see that wrestling as a whole and the AEW roster is perpetually diverse. The issue at hand was a racial insensitivity issue. Having spoken to Tony and Megah, we have discussed the endeavors to further understand the struggles of the black community. I am grateful to be able to understand more about Tony and Megah’s own ethnic backgrounds and glad that they are actively seeking input from an African American perspective. I am proud to work for a boss and company that try to make these strides in social equality. I look forward to working with Tony to keep making steps towards positive change. I pray that 2022 is a year of positive change in all aspects. Happy New Year and GOD BLESS. #BeTheChange”
  • ITV recently released their updated broadcasting schedule for the network revealing that AEW’s Rampage series will now be airing weekly on Tuesdays starting at 11:05 PM on ITV4 and replays to air starting at 11:40 PM on Thursdays on ITV going forward. In terms of nationwide reach and potential ratings benefits, the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer reported that ITV’s main channel is currently the second most watched television channel in the United Kingdom, only behind BBC 1.
  • During a recent episode of the FITE in Focus show, Cody Rhodes gave his thoughts about AEW’s upcoming Battle of the Belts special and why AEW needs to strive to constantly deliver A+ quality shows. Rhodes stated “I’m really excited that Tony named it Battle of the Belts because it’s right there in the name. I’ve really disliked — in wrestling, in the past, and this is across the board not speaking anybody specifically. I’ve disliked in wrestling when a belt has been tarnished or they’ve lost their value to a wrestler.Don’t be fooled. You talk to a lot of wrestlers, we love our belts, we really do. Most wrestlers who are worth their salt have their own display of all the belts they’ve ever won. It’s a significant thing. It’s, you know, no different than in Hollywood winning the Academy Award. It’s unique in that sense, and to name it Battle of the Belts and put the emphasis on titles, and I’m not sure if all titles will be defended in this very first TNT special, but I do know just with that in mind, it being the very first special that we’re doing as part of the new contract, you know, myself and The Bucks and Kenny, and Tony, that’s not one that we can leave — we are not capable, we are not able, at this point, to have a B+ show, everything has to be A+. That is something I’m really looking forward to. We can still make these new memories, and we’re going to continue to make them. Battle of the Belts will be, I’m sure, a big emphasis on the actual titles themselves, which then lean into an emphasis for the most part other than the TNT Title, lean into an emphasis on the rankings. These were all things that we, as the brand, introduced, and it’s not always easy right out of the gate to say, ‘Hey, that wrestling that you’ve been used to for 20 years, we’re changing it all up.’ You might have been conditioned to this is how things go, and this is how things go, and you might even be frustrated when you guess that we’re gonna go through this door, but we go through a different one that’s just because our brand does not share their identity or a different identity. It’s very much AEW. That’s the vaguest thing I’ve ever said. I’m gonna be straight with you. I’m excited about Battle of the Belts because it reminds me of Clash of the Champions. It’s a special, and big things happen on nights like that. I said we were not capable of never having a big night but we are capable of making our nights bigger. If that makes any sense and I’m very much looking forward to it.” (Transcript h/t: Fightful.com)
  • AEW reportedly generated an attendance of 3,542 for their December 29th Dynamite show in Jacksonville, FL, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
  • AEW reportedly has sold around 7,773 tickets for their January 5th Dynamite show in Newark, NJ, around 5,007 tickets for their January 8th Battle of the Belts event in Charlotte, NC, around 4,037 tickets for their January 12th Dynamite show in Raleigh, NC, around 3,891 tickets for their January 19th Dynamite show in Washington, DC, around 3,891 tickets for their Rampage show in Washington, DC, around 4,773 tickets for their December 26rh Dynamite show in Cleveland, OH, around 4,183 tickets for their February 2nd Dynamite show in Chicago, IL, around 2,138 tickets for their March 1st Rampage show in Orlando, and around 6,874 tickets for their Revolution 2022 event in Orlando, FL as of this past Thursday, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
  • As noted before, WWE will no longer be conducting required weekly testing of their talent for COVID-19 going forward. For some comparisons, Dave Meltzer reported in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter that AEW’s current policy is still to publicly announce talent who tested positive if it affects the card of a show while backstage they still regularly test those who are not fully vaccinated weekly. Meltzer reported that for those who are vaccinated, AEW still performs testing on them but not as regularly. Meltzer also reported that sources spoken to within the company stated that there is also “more to the policy than that without going into specifics.” In regards to comparisons with other companies, Meltzer reported that UFC publicly announces those who tested positive as soon as possible for their card changing announcements while Japanese wrestling companies will make public announcements as soon as they are made aware of those who tested positive.
  • As noted before, Jim Ross was absent from his commentary duties for almost all of this past December due to skin cancer radiation treatments. Ross made his return to AEW’s commentary booth during this past Wednesday’s episode of AEW Dynamite in Jacksonville, Florida. Ross recently issued a statement on Twitter thanking everyone who supported him during his recent bout with cancer. Ross stated “My sincere thanks to everyone who has supports @AEW and my return from my skin cancer ordeal. Pro wrestling fans are the best!
  • During a recent interview with PWInsider, AEW CEO Tony Khan revealed the significance of AEW’s upcoming Owen Hart Cup tournaments ending at their Double or Nothing 2021 event this May. Khan stated “Talking to her about how the legacy of Owen would be treated, I told her we would make it a top priority to make sure we would do something that would have great impact on the fans, but also where she could participate. She’s a teacher in Canada and with her teaching schedule, we looked at AEW events. Double or Nothing is one of the most important shows we have, it’s where the company began, and it’s very fitting that on the three-year anniversary of our first AEW show, we will crown Owen Hart (Cup) winners. I discussed it with Martha and I thought it would be cool to treat the Owen like other prestigious cups in sports. For example, Wimbledon, there is a men’s and women’s winner. Martha thought this was excellent and was in favor of it. The Owen will crown a men’s and women’s tournament winner and there is no better place than Double or Nothing. I had considered Revolution, it’s also a huge event, but Orlando is not as close to where Martha live as Las Vegas. Also, March is not as conducive to her personal calendar with her teaching schedule as May.” (Transcript h/t: Fightful.com)

Indies & Other Wrestling

  • Terminus announced on Twitter that their upcoming debut event on January 16th in Atlanta, Georgia will be airing live on FITE TV and Lenny Leonard and Dave Prazak will be the official commentary team for the event.
  • This past Saturday’s Die 4 This event for Game Changer Wrestling featured the surprise appearance of Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett, under a mysterious masked identity, interrupted Effy’s “State of EFFY address” promo segment and attacked Effy with a guitar shot. Following the attack, Jarrett revealed himself to be the mysterious individual.
  • IndependentWrestling.tv recently announced on Twitter that Daniel Garcia won the award for their Wrestler of the Year for 2021.
  • As noted before, Ring of Honor is currently on a hiatus as part of the company’s plans to make major changes to their business operations for their future. PWInsider’s Mike Johnson reported that his sources stated that ROH is currently targeting a return date of April 1st, which is the currently planned date for their Supercard of Honor 2022 event in Dallas, Texas. Johnson reported that the exact venue for this planned event currently is not known but talent had been told before the hiatus announcement that this unknown venue had been paid for and secured for this event.
  • Danhausen recently confirmed on Twitter that he is currently a free agent following the expiration of his contract with Ring of Honor.
  • Impact Wrestling recently announced that ticket sales for their upcoming Hard to Kill 2022 on January 8th in Dallas, Texas reached sold out status.
  • During a recent episode of the Generation of Wrestling podcast, Chris Sabin gave his thoughts about his upcoming match against Jonathan Gresham for the ROH World Championship at Impact Wrestling’s Hard to Kill 2021 event this weekend. Sabin stated “It’s extremely cool and a huge opportunity. The list of people who have held the IMPACT World Champion and Ring of Honor World Championship is very small, I think it’s three or four guys. It would be quite a notch in my belt for my career and a history making moment. It’s a really big deal.” (Transcript h/t: Fightful.com)
  • Dave Meltzer reported in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter that New Japan Pro Wrestling posted their lowest ever total attendance for a year for 2021. Meltzer reported that based on recent financial reports, NJPW generated a total of 183,541 spectators for 157 shows held in 2021, which averages to around 1,161 per show. Meltzer reported that the main reason for the all-time low total attendance was due to coronavirus-pandemic related issues in Japan. Despite these issues, NJPW reportedly managed to generate around $60,000 for total profits for the fiscal year due to merchandise sales and cost cutting measures done to their office staff. Meltzer also reported that a key reason for NJPW’s ability to post an overall profit was due to the $1 million salary for former NJPW President Harold Meij that the company was able to take off of their books.
  • During a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, NJPW talent Katsuyori Shibata gave his thoughts about his time away from wrestling due to a serious head injury and being put in charge of NJPW’s L.A. Dojo. Shibata stated “If I had not been injured, the L.A. Dojo would not have come about. I was not able to have a match, but I was wrestling in spirit with all the L.A. Dojo boys. That kept me strong, and it will bring new opportunities for so many who love New Japan Pro-Wrestling. So a lot of good has come from this.”
  • Dragon Gate reportedly generated a paid attendance of 2,012 for their The Final Gate 2021 event on December 26th in Fukuoka, Japan, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
  • Stardom reportedly generated a paid attendance of 3,039 for their Dream Queendom event on December 29th in Tokyo, Japan, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.