Deontay Wilder claims Tyson Fury wanted to step aside in February so he could fight the winner of Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr.
Of course, Fury is said to have done this in order to face the winner of that fight in a unification bout.
Fury has denied he would ever step aside, but WBC champion Wilder spoke to Tha Boxing recently and insisted he did.
“I’m a warrior, bro. I’m a king, and my mentality is savage. If so be it,” Wilder started.
“If the man wants to get his ass whooped in the ring, then so be it. I tried to give him another road. And I tried to give him what he talked about the first time when he said, ‘Why don’t you and Joshua fight, and I can come back’.
“I’m only giving him what he asked for. Most of these guys get what they ask for.”
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Fury and Wilder look set to have the sequel to their draw on February 22 while Joshua and Ruiz will contest the other heavyweight belts in Saudi Arabia on December 7.
If Wilder’s suggestion is accurate – which Fury claims it is not – but if it was, Fury would walk into an undisputed title shot instead of having to battle Wilder for the WBC belt to gain entry to that fight.
It’s not the silliest plan when you think about it!
Many reporters and fans have speculated that Vince McMahon will have to get involved with NXT if ratings fail to hit satisfactory numbers, especially with All Elite Wrestling debuting in the same time slot in around 10 days time.
But, all things considered, NXT made a solid start on Wednesday with 1.179 million viewers and Vince McMahon was said to be delighted, too.
NXT on USA drew 1.179 million.
RAW’s all-time low last December was 2.285 million.
The season five premiere of Total Divas did 1.12 million (2016), for context.
That’s a good start by all accounts. After a great show, you have to think it’ll do stronger next week.
Triple H revealed after the show what the Chairman texted him.
“I received a bunch of texts from him throughout the day. You know, excited, and excited to see it, and wishing us luck especially as it got close. You know, he was sending me little texts counting me down, ‘20 minutes!’ Which I thought was great. It was just fun.
“Then he sent me a few texts after the show. He watched the entire thing. I’m sure he was at the office, probably in a meeting while he was doing it. But he enjoyed it, he loved it.
“He thought the talent did a hell of a job, and thought they knocked it out of the park. You know, he was excited. He sent me a massive congratulations after it was over, and was thrilled with the product.”
Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns seemed to be on a collision course not too long ago, but now, plans have seemingly changed.
According to Dave Meltzer, WWE’s new plan is to have Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns team together against the force of Rowan – Reigns’s mystery attacker – and the recently returned Luke Harper.
Before SummerSlam, the plan was to have Daniel Bryan be revealed as the mastermind behind the attacks and for Reigns to team up with Samoa Joe against Bryan and Rowan.
Despite his elite level heel work for the past year or so, Bryan looks to be heading back to the good side if Meltzer’s report is to be believed.
Rowan had a decent outing against Reigns at Clash of Champions where Harper would make his return and that story has certainly been left open.
Bryan has remained adamant all along that he was not involved in the attacks on Reigns. One would think that means we’re in for some kind of tag team match at Hell in a Cell.
Creative have chopped and changed their mind frequently throughout this story and, unfortunately, they have taken an angle that was getting red-hot leading into SummerSlam and now it’s limping towards its conclusion in the eyes of many.
This past weekend saw London’s biggest wrestling promotion Progress hold its biggest show of the year at London’s Alexandra Palace, where over 2000 fans gathered to see no fewer than four new champions crowned.
Every new champion will proud of their title, but none more so than Paul Robinson, who spends our two conversations over recent days either grinning at, or polishing, his beautiful new strap.
A Progress lifer, Robinson had to retire from the active duty with the company at one point for medical reasons and has seemingly seen it all in his time working with the Camden based promotion. Yet, when he became the inaugural Proteus Champion last Sunday, it was his first singles title with Progress.
‘Robbo’ won the title by “pulling a Rey Mysterio” – entering their 30-person Proteus Rumble (Royal Rumble over the top rope rules) at #1 overall, but, despite standing at just 5-foot3 – he stayed the full hour-long match to come out on top… and there’s a twist.
The Proteus Championship, named after the Greek god of ‘elusive sea change’ is arguably one of the most unique in wrestling, as the titleholder will be able to set the stipulation that their championship matches will have from then on. As company founder, Jim Smallman explained in the announcement video that it could turn into “a hardcore title, a hybrid rules title or even a dance-off title”
So what has Robinson, a man known for his hard-hitting style, chosen as his stipulation?
The core of Robinson’s stipulation is simple, but before we get to that, there is an addendum it’s worth addressing first.
“There’s only one way you can be disqualified – if you decide to use the beautiful Proteus championship as a weapon. I’m not bringing it out there to be used as a weapon, it is something to be respected and it WILL be respected. It won’t be thrown around or trodden on”
So otherwise, it’s a no DQ match. No surprise for those who know Robinson. So how do you win?
“Good luck to anyone who intends to take this off me – because you’ll either have to knock me out or tap me out. Good luck trying to knock me out – Noam Dar (WWE superstar) once nearly took my nose off in a match it was so badly broken, and I kept ongoing. I got knocked out and concussed but still won the tag titles with Will Ospreay. And if you think you’re tapping me out – I will fight for my life to keep this title, it means the world to me, you’d have to break my arm before I tap”
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So no pinfalls, we ask? “I’m not being funny, but everyone else in wrestling is bigger than me, that’s the only disadvantage I’ve got, but I can say quite confidently that no one’s as tough as me”
The stipulation now lasts until someone does manage to pry the Proteus Title from Paul Robinson, but he certainly doesn’t expect that to be any time soon, and I for one am not going to argue with him…
Robbo has tended towards more villainous roles in his time in Progress, doing anything he has to do to win, and giving the crowd as good as he gets when they don’t react well to it – showing plenty of willing to get in the face of those in the front row and have a full-on row with them.
Yet it feels like something has changed recently, when Robinson fought NXT UK champion Walter for Progress’ top title in Toronto the crowd was absolutely on his side. The crowd appreciates the amount of blood, sweat, and tears he’s poured into his craft over the years, all whilst keeping down a full-time job as a gas engineer, and that working-class mentality seems to have won the crowd over.
“It’s like the opposite of that famous line (from Batman) – It seems it was either die the villain or live long enough to become the hero. I’ve been with Progress since Chapter 3 and this is all I’ve wanted. It feels like a payoff for hard work and sacrifice, getting to take it home and show the kids, made it all feel worth it.
“But I don’t let that stuff get to me, sometimes I’m sure I should put myself on a pedestal, but I don’t see myself as any different to the people sat in the front row, if I let things get to my head it would soon show in work or real life. But I appreciate everything, I just enjoy it and make the most of it.”
Robinson lives with his wife and two kids, and the morning after winning staying the distance for a full hour and claiming the championship, Robinson was back in work!
“I was in the depot at 6.45 AM,” Robinson started. “Yeah, I didn’t feel great that morning – you could call it a carb day, I ate so much. But I was too busy dealing with someone calling in sick at 6.30 so I couldn’t worry too much about it, just got on with it. I took it in on Tuesday though, a few of the lads had seen stuff on social media so some of my colleagues got a little look.”
I suspect it’s those years of grinding in both a full-time job and working as many wrestling bookings as he can handle, which has given him the additional appreciation for reaching a new milestone in his career.
“I will bring a towel with me everywhere I go with this belt,” Robinson says whilst staring, genuinely lovingly, at his newly won title. “I hate when guys disrespect these, leave their titles just lying around a locker room, face down, don’t realise that they are something to be cherished. I’ll let people touch it and hold it, but I’ll be cleaning it down afterward every time.
Importantly, has he let the kids touch it? “Oh yeah they’ve been allowed, but they asked to take it to show and tell. That was a no.”
British wrestling has been in a boom in recent years, with an increasing number of wrestlers being able to go full-time in the business without the fall back of a contract with a major company – being independent contractors – but that’s a long way from where Robbo started.
“I was a young teenager wrestling with my mates, then one of the lads found Dropkick Wrestling Academy online, I made my debut on an academy show in 2003 and from there it grew.
I spent my holidays during years 10 and 11 wrestling on holiday camps, I came back with much cooler stories than that lads who spent their summers around their nans.
I was learning about life doing weeks on Pontings with grown men. It wasn’t until 2005 in the early days of IPW I didn’t start to see there was a scene beyond that.”
How’s it been seeing the difference now, where independent shows can regularly draw hundreds, evens thousands of fans – and wrestlers can afford to be full-time?
“It makes me so happy to see. I won’t lie, sometimes you can be a bit bitter, looking at the younger generation and thinking – you should have seen what it was like when I was younger. Naturally, as humans we fall into that – but I LOVE seeing it flourish.
“The standard of wrestling is amazing, so I enjoy being around it, I’m grateful for still being able to do it.”
Robinson is referring to his stint away from Progress, when taking medication designed to prevent blood clots meant he couldn’t work his preferred style of physical wrestling and thought he never would be able to again.
New @ThisIs_Progress Proteus Champion @PR_WRESTLING tells us about THAT Swayze moment, and whether he considered recreating it in the Rumble last Sunday.
“The retirement from Progress was genuine. I had just started this medication, which my dad had been on since his late 20s and is still on to this day. I was grateful to Progress because they kept me around working backstage, where I learned a lot and discovered a greater appreciation for the business as a whole.
“So when I was told I could go again, I didn’t believe it. My doctors know about my wrestling and they wouldn’t have cleared me if they weren’t 100% sure – but I still couldn’t take it lightly. And then Progress approached me about being in a storyline around their biggest ever show at Wembley to which I said – funnily enough, I can actually wrestle again!”
This led to Robbo featuring in one of the biggest matches at Progress’ biggest show at Wembley arena – a hardcore match with British indie legend, and long term friend of Paul’s – Jimmy Havoc.
“You never know I might have been in the same dressing room as the spice girls! But to be given that opportunity, that spot, you know when I’m just a 5-foot-3 angry man from Essex. It was just incredible”
There’s a much longer, more involved story around that saga, but you’ll have to listen to the full interview for that.
In the meantime, what’s next for Robinson – he’ll defend this title in Progress – seemingly with his life considering how enamoured he is with it – but would he ever consider leaving the gas works behind and going full-time?
“I won’t say openly exactly what my goals are, that’s how rumours start if I mention one companies name but not another, more questions get asked. But I’ve got goals, and I intend to achieve them, but I take everything as it comes and I genuinely appreciate everything that’s come my way already.
And if a contract came across his desk with a company, be it AEW, WWE, ROH or whoever, that allowed him to go full-time but still afford the mortgage and the family?
“I’d sign it yesterday.” Hear the full interview on the Pro Wrestling Show HERE
You can see Progress’ huge show from Alexandra Palace on demand this weekend HERE
Kenny Omega says NXT wrestlers would be the dark match to his main event
Yep, Kenny Omega has got a dose of the Seth Rollins about him today and he found himself in a combative mood.
When commenting on the ‘war’ with WWE to Sportskeeda, Omega went so far as to say NXT wrestlers would only ever open for him.
Kenny Omega: “Let's pretend there were no promotions. Let's just pretend there's just one big promotion. If these guys were in the same show as me, they'd be in the dark match. They'd be in the opening match of my main event match.”
Ben Askren isn’t always flavour of the month with MMA fans, but the former Bellator and ONE welterweight champion has said what we’re all thinking with Conor McGregor right now.
Appearing on Ariel Helwani’s show, the accomplished wrestler suggested McGregor is in no position to act like he’s too good to fight anybody or talk a big game – he just needs to be fighting.
“Conor, shut up and stop trying to act too good for it. Take the damn fight. Take a fight, take any fight, we don’t care,” Askren said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.
“We just wanna hear you shut up on social media and actually take a fight. Give me a damn break. It’s been a year, and before that another year.
“Just shut up. No more tweets, let’s fight already. Conor can tweet, he just can’t tweet about fighting everyone without hopping in there.”
Askren is recovering from the fastest knockout in UFC history at the hands of Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239, but he has a chance to get back into welterweight contention when he takes on fellow grappler Damien Maia on October 26.
McGregor seems on course to face Dustin Poirier again and Askren believes if he’s smart, he’ll do that and avoid the surging Justin Gathje.
“The Dustin fight, that’s probably a great fight for him,” Askren said. “Dustin’s got a lot of hype, he just came off a world title shot. If there’s a fight that’s gonna get Conor back in it, boom, that’s it.
“I don’t think they’re gonna make Khabib-Conor, it’s just not gonna happen. Nate Diaz is tied up. Who are Conor’s other options? Justin Gaethje is, but if you’re Conor, I’d rather fight Dustin Poirier before I fight Justin Gaethje.”
Diamond is coming off a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, but, before that, he had run through a slew of top lightweight contenders.
McGregor knocked Poirier out in the first round when the two men last met in 2014, but things have really changed since then.
Five years is a long time in the fight game and while McGregor has been to the summit of the division, since his loss to Khabib last November he’s been out of the UFC loop.
Poirier is the total opposite and now seems the perfect time for both men to do battle. Poirier wants it, but Justin Gaethje is coming off a very impressive win over Donald Cerrone that could put him in that spot, too.
He was meant to get that fight earlier this year, but McGregor’s injury put the brakes on it. Now, according to Ariel Helwani, the UFC are looking to make the fight with Poirier and make it in December and McGregor is not making a comeback to boxing.
No truth to reports that Conor McGregor is in talks to fight Luke Keeler in a boxing match on Dec. 14, I’m told.
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