Courtesy of Ring of Honor

Doctors told Flip Gordon he could be back healthy by April. “Perfect!” Gordon said. “That’s the time to beat.”

By Justin Barrasso
March 20, 2019’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

Flip Gordon Medically Cleared to Return

Get ready to welcome back Flip Gordon to the world of pro wrestling.

The Ring of Honor star was cleared Tuesday by his medical team, receiving the green light to return to the ring.

“The injury ended up being a blessing in disguise,” said Gordon. “I’m now more addicted to wrestling than I ever was before, I have a whole new goal set, and I’ve never been more motivated.”

The 27-year-old emerging talent experienced a setback this past January when he suffered a full MCL tear in his right knee during a match against Tracy Williams.

“When it first happened, I immediately thought, ‘How soon can I come back?’” said Gordon. “My doctor told me I could return in mid-April, and I said, ‘Perfect! That’s the time to beat.’

“I was doing physical therapy twice a day, I was in the gym lifting every single day, and by listening and working my ass off, I beat that time and now I’m cleared to return to the ring.”

The aerial artist unleashed a violent side at ROH’s Final Battle pay per view in December, defeating Bully Ray in a wildly entertaining “I Quit” match, and he returns, with further ambitions of evolving in the ring, this Sunday in Northern Ireland for Over The Top Wrestling’s show against David Starr.

“My goal is to show that I can adapt and evolve,” said Gordon. “This knee injury is going to limit my flips initially, but I’m going to work around that to win the audience over. I already have the flying and the flipping, and I’m looking forward to adding something new to my repertoire.”

Gordon contains an insatiable drive to succeed in wrestling, which was again on display as he has returned from the injured list in time to return for the upcoming April 6 show at the famed Madison Square Garden.

“I would love nothing more than to perform at Madison Square Garden,” said Gordon. “I requested to be back on the road with ROH immediately, and I won the Sea of Honor Tournament during Chris Jericho’s cruise, so I still have an opportunity at the ROH world heavyweight championship.”

Signed through mid-2020, Gordon promises to ignite the “Flip Era” in Ring of Honor—and says he’ll do so with some gold around his waist.

“At the top of my company, you have to be the Ring of Honor world champion,” said Gordon. “That’s my main focus for 2019.”

Ronda Rousey’s Post-WrestleMania Status Unclear

Sources close to WWE have confirmed to Sports Illustrated that Ronda Rousey’s post-WrestleMania dates with the company are still undecided.

All of the reports that the 32-year-old Rousey wants to leave WWE and start a family with husband Travis Browne—who made his Raw debut this past Monday—are accurate, but the question still up in the air is how long Rousey will stay with the company.

WWE and Rousey remain on positive terms, and the potential always remains for her to return and finally set up a program between the dueling Four Horsewomen groups—one which features Rousey, Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir and the other with Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, and Bayley.

Rousey made headlines on social media last week with a seemingly unscripted promo in her “Ronda on the Road” series, saying she “beat the f---” out of Becky Lynch and calling pro wrestling “scripted.”

The goal for both WWE and Rousey is to sell WrestleMania 35 to as large an audience as possible, especially to the more casual fans who do not watch every week. That video, which included Rousey’s threats of legitimately hurting Lynch, is helping to accomplish that goal.

Rousey is a mainstream star and a genuine asset to WWE, so it would benefit the company to scale down some of her appearances in an effort to entice her to stay through SummerSlam.

The absolute best case for WWE is to include Rousey on the SmackDown Live debut on Fox in October.

Zack Ryder Opens Up About WrestleMania 32

The most memorable moment of Zack Ryder’s WWE career occurred at WrestleMania 32, when he captured the Intercontinental title in a seven-man ladder match.

The match was especially meaningful to Ryder, who attended WrestleMania X at Madison Square Garden in 1994 with his father, watching with awe as Razor Ramon battled Shawn Michaels for the IC belt in a ladder match.

“That’s a match that has stuck with me forever,” said Ryder. “At the time, Razor Ramon was my favorite, and to see him win the Intercontinental title, and that moment when he climbs back up the ladder and holds both IC titles up, that’s a moment I’ll never forget.”

Ryder is featured as this week’s guest on The WrestleMania Series podcast, which is a five-part podcast series examining five moments that helped shape WrestleMania.

“A few weeks before [WrestleMania 32], Neville broke his leg on Monday Night Raw,” said Ryder. “So I went up to Road Dogg, who is a part of the creative team, and I just pleaded my case. I don’t know exactly what I said to him, but… I think I told him my whole life story. One thing I did say was, ‘I’ve never heard my music play at WrestleMania.’ That’s not something I planned on saying to him, it just came out. Later on in the day, he pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, you’re in the match—and what you said about never hearing your music play, that got to me.’

“Once it was announced and once that graphic showed up on the screen on Monday Night Raw, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to have a WrestleMania match.’”

Ryder’s interview, hosted by yours truly, is now available for download.

The Undertaker’s role at WrestleMania 35

WrestleMania isn’t WrestleMania without The Undertaker.

Sports Illustrated has confirmed that Taker is still under a WWE contract, so a WrestleMania appearance is highly likely.

But at his age (54 this Sunday) and following years of injuries, surgeries, and the powerful effect of Father Time, the likelihood is also high that The Undertaker will be exposed in any match exceeding five minutes. His WrestleMania 34 match last April against John Cena went considerably shorter, clocking in at under three minutes.

The Undertaker remains a spectacle, a part of WWE past and present, and he needs a role at WrestleMania. So why not have The Undertaker cost Brock Lesnar his Universal championship, giving Seth Rollins a much-needed (storyline) edge?

This would take place five years after Lesnar ended “The Streak” at WrestleMania 30, and add some synergy between Rollins, ’Taker and Lesnar—who all combined to close out the Battleground pay per view in July of 2015.

There is also the potential for a pay-off between Lesnar and ‘Taker, as WWE is scheduled to return for another big show in Saudi Arabia on May 3.

WrestleMania 35 Card Continues to Come Together

Although the vast majority of wrestling fans on social media appear disappointed that Kurt Angle will be wrestling his farewell match against Baron Corbin at WrestleMania 35, there is a lot of appeal in the Rey Mysterio-Samoa Joe match for the United States championship.

Kofi Kingston also wrestled in a 52-minute gauntlet match on SmackDown Live, defeating five others—including Randy Orton last, which was particularly meaningful given their feud a decade ago—to secure a WWE title match against reigning champion Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania.

Naturally, Vince McMahon appeared immediately after Kingston pinned Orton, laying down one further challenge: a match against Bryan right then and there for the right to fight for the title at WrestleMania.

Kingston’s opportunity did not last long, as Bryan finished off the match before the end of the hour.

Each segment of the gauntlet match featured an amazing amount of drama, as did the surprise main event between Kingston and Bryan.

The next step in the story is certainly worth watching, and WWE is doing a phenomenal job building towards Kingston’s seemingly inevitable victory at WrestleMania 35, chasing down his childhood dream and making history in the process.

ROH and NJPW Build Toward MSG Show

Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling will combine to take over Madison Square Garden for their “G1 Supercard” show on Saturday, April 6, and the card is beginning to emerge.

IWGP heavyweight champion “Switchblade” Jay White will defend his prestigious title on American soil against the winner of the ongoing New Japan Cup tournament. The 32-man tourney is down to its elite eight, and the most likely result is Kazuchika Okada winning and challenging White at MSG.

Newly-crowned ROH tag team champions PCO and Brody King will battle Bullet Club’s Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa in a match where the winners will claim both the ROH tag belts and the IWGP tag titles, which will provide PCO a chance to mesmerize the Garden crowd an astounding 25 years after he wrestled in the WrestleMania X tag title match at the very same venue. In another title-vs.-title match, ROH Television title holder Jeff Cobb will wrestle an elite talent in Will Ospreay, who is New Japan’s NEVER Openweight champion.

Although the lineup for WrestleMania is incredibly loaded, the ROH/NJPW show at the Garden holds a distinct advantage in its pursuit of “best show of WrestleMania weekend” because it will have fewer matches, than what’s shaping up to be a bloated WrestleMania 35, potentially up to six fewer matches.

A Day in the World of Raj Giri’s Wrestling Inc.

Finding the right website for your wrestling news is a critical part of the every day pursuit of knowledge for wrestling fans. And there are few more trusted than Raj Giri’s Wrestling Inc.

Founded in 1997, Wrestling Inc. has established itself as one of the premiere news sites covering the business of professional wrestling.

“I was in college for engineering school, I didn’t like what I was doing, and the internet was just starting to become something,” said Giri. “I’d been a big pro wrestling fan since I was a little kid, so I decided to make a wrestling web page.”

Thus, the pro wrestling website was born.

“I remember when I first got 100 page views in a day in ’97, and I was just blown away,” said Giri, who said his site now sees 25 million page views in an average month. “It was never meant to be a business. But the site gets a lot of traffic, and we have a very loyal following. We’re grateful for all the people who visit.”

An interesting aspect of the site is that it is completely programmed by the 43-year-old Giri. Any time there are changes on the site, he is the one responsible.

“Not only do we do news and interviews, but all of the code is in-house,” said Giri. “I love doing that.”

Pro wrestling news coverage is a fascinating business. The wrestling world is often filled with people seeking to promote their own story, even at someone else’s expense.

Giri’s day begins at 4 a.m. MT from his home in Colorado. The married father of two then watches—and even takes part in—the nonstop news cycle of the business of pro wrestling, starting his day by checking his email and then overseeing a staff of 20 people.

“Mondays and Tuesdays are especially crazy,” said Giri. “My wife and kids know that I won’t see them much during those nights, so we always do a dinner on Wednesday or Thursday.”

Running Wrestling Inc. is a full-time position, and Giri credited managing editor Nick Hausman as an integral part of the site’s success.

“Pro wrestling is supposed to be fun, so we’re not the New York Times, but there is a ton of B.S. out there and we take a lot of pride in deciphering between what is and what is not news,” said Giri. “A lot of the news we get is off-the-record, and if it’s something we can publish, it has to have at least two sources in order for us to run it as an exclusive. [The Wrestling Observer’s] Dave Meltzer is the godfather of this space, and he is someone we trust. So if news is being used for a reliable source, we make sure they’re properly credited, linked, and staying away from the B.S.”

Consistency is a key in the coverage of pro wrestling, and few sites have the track record of Wrestling Inc.

“Wrestling is entertainment, and the stuff we do is entertaining,” said Giri. “We have fun keeping the wrestling fans engaged. I couldn’t ask for a better job.”

Conrad Thompson on This Week’s “Something to Wrestle” With WWE Executive Bruce Prichard

Conrad Thompson returns this Friday to “Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard” to dissect every angle of WrestleMania X.

Thompson and Prichard will celebrate the 25-year anniversary of WrestleMania X, which took place in New York at Madison Square Garden on March 20, 1994 and will forever be known as the first WrestleMania without an appearance from Hulk Hogan.

“Hulk Hogan had been synonymous with the entire WrestleMania run, and this was the first time he wasn’t on the show,” said Thompson. “We’ll discuss whether he was considered for the card, whether perhaps Hogan was only talking to WCW months before WrestleMania X in the hope Vince would call, and if the call ever came.”

Thompson is particularly interested in learning what was going on in Vince McMahon’s life in the build to WrestleMania X.

“He’s gearing up for a trial, business is down, but he’s seemed to stop some of the losses,” said Thompson. “This show sold out before a single match was announced, making WrestleMania’s brand an entity in-and-of itself. So we’re going to step into the mind of Vince.”

WrestleMania X was built around “The Hitman” Bret Hart, who, at 36, was finally made the face of the franchise.

“This night is all about Bret,” said Thompson. “This was also the best opening match in the history of WrestleMania with Bret vs. Owen Hart, and the other bookend of the Bret story, becoming victorious and winning the world title from Yokozuna at the end of the night. And there was Owen looking on, realizing he beat his brother, making him the better wrestler, but his brother had stolen the spotlight.”

The night also included a Bill Clinton impersonator, a Burt Reynolds story from Prichard, a mixed tag between Doink and Dink against Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon, Randy Savage’s final WrestleMania match against Crush, and, of course, the famed Shawn Michaels-Razor Ramon ladder match.

“A big part of this show will be learning more about the influential ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon,” said Thompson. “What would have happened had the ladder broke? For years, there has been speculation that WWE didn’t even think that far ahead and only had one ladder that night.”

In addition to Friday’s podcast, Thompson and Eric Bischoff will be in Chicago this Friday for a live show, as well as three more shows during WrestleMania weekend in New York.

“Most of those shows are happening just steps from the Barclays Center, with one the day before WrestleMania, and two on Monday,” said Thompson. “My Monday matinee will be with Eric Bischoff and Tony Schiavone, and I’ll have another after Raw with Jim Ross and Bruce Prichard. Then, I’m done until Starrcast in May, which is getting bigger by the day.”

Tweet of the Week

Becky Lynch continues to use social media to her advantage.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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