Good morning grapple fans, and welcome to a new semi-regular professional wrestling column from The Sportsman. Semi-regular in frequency and, because the world of wrestling tends to get a little weird, semi-regular in content too. Consider this your one-stop shop to hear the biggest tales from around wrestling. Like Brutus Beefcake’s Barbershop, but without Shawn Michaels throwing Marty Jannetty through a window.
Fiending For A Comeback
‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt has been dropping hints on Twitter that he is set to return. The three-time world champion was released by WWE in July 2021 but despite being one of the biggest names in the industry, has not made any appearances in wrestling since.
‘Fiend’ has begun hinting at a return on his Twitter, with numerous clues appearing in recent days. Upon his release, Wyatt’s social media was changed to his real name, Windham Rotunda. But fans have noticed he has reverted to using the Wyatt name, which is a WWE trademark. A picture of the Fiend mask he wore in WWE has been subtly added as part of his profile picture, accompanied by a series of cryptic tweets promising “It’s almost time”.
While nothing is concrete, and this might just be Wyatt playing the long game for an eventual ring return, it is worth nothing WWE present their Hell in a Cell event this Sunday. The occult-influenced ‘Fiend’ character returning at an event that evokes the world of the damned would be as appropriate a stage as any for his comeback.
MJF Shows Up… Eventually
In the most gripping aerial drama since Snakes On A Plane, Maxwell Jacob Friedman finally arrived to lose to Wardlow at AEW Double or Nothing last Sunday night. MJF no-showed the meet and greet event staged the day before amid rampant speculation that he was leaving the company.
It has been widely reported in recent weeks that Friedman is seeking improved contract terms, while not wanting to extend his deal beyond the 18-months it has left to run. No-showing his highly-anticipated match with former protege Wardlow was seen in some quarters as the nuclear option to end his involvement with the company. But MJF turned up and lost the match as scheduled in the opening bout of an entertaining pay-per-view.
In the main event, CM Punk beat ‘Hangman’ Adam Page to capture the AEW Championship. The title is Punk’s first since his return to wrestling after seven years away last year.
One More Sell-Out For Naitch
Despite concerns for Ric Flair’s health, the 73-year-old icon has sold out Nashville Fairgrounds for the final wrestling match of his storied career. The Sportsman brought you breaking news of Flair’s return, and now it’s been confirmed the ‘Nature Boy’ will walk that aisle to a packed house.
Flair is scheduled to team with AEW tag team FTR (Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood) against veteran tag team The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) and a mystery partner. Old rival Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat has ruled himself out of contention for the slot, though he was approached. Ex-Killer Bee B. Brian Blair appeared to let slip that Hulk Hogan, out of the ring for a decade, would fill the mystery opponent berth. Flair himself has said while Hogan is invited, he is not going to be in the ring.
Whoever is opposite ‘Naitch’ on the night, his last time in a wrestling ring is likely to be special.
Saying Goodbye To Tarzan Goto
Deathmatch legend Seiji Goto, better known as Tarzan Goto, has passed away from liver cancer at the age of 58. A staple of Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling (FMW) during the Japanese promotion’s mid-90s peak, Goto contested blood-and-guts classics with Atushi Onita and teamed with Mr Pogo.
Goto also spent time in influential American promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), and faced off with WWE legend Cactus Jack for the IWA Heavyweight Championship.