Afternoon Update: Mounting criticism and media attention on WWE-Saudi Arabia partnership, Aries not at Impact tapings after lashing out at Bound For Glory, Rey Mysterio’s return


PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.

(Search “wade keller” to subscribe in podcast app or CLICK HERE to subscribe in Apple Podcasts.)

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-Smackdown 1000 tonight is expected to be filled with special appearances, with a return of Rey Mysterio against Shinsuke Nakamura in a World Cup Qualifier “dream match” being perhaps the biggest story, with an appearance by the Evolution faction (Triple H, Batista, Ric Flair, Randy Orton) being the other top headline. Also, The Miz faces Rusev in another World Cup Qualifier. There are also going to be former G.M.s and a variety of wrestlers identified with the brand making special appearances. Check out our full preview article here: WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER 10/16: 1000th Episode, Returns of Evolution & Undertaker and others, World Cup qualifying matches.

-On tonight’s Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post-show, I’ll be joined by’s Smackdown TV reporter Jake Barnett for a live call-in show. Stream us live about five minutes after Smackdown ends tonight at Subscribe in Apple Podcasts HERE or search “Wade Keller” in your podcast app of choice.

-Impact Wrestling’s Bound for Glory on Sunday ended with controversy on Sunday night when Johnny Impact (a/k/a John Morrison, real name John Hennigan) captured the Impact Wrestling World Title from Austin Aries. As soon as the match ended, Aries got up and no-sold the Starship Pain finisher that just caused him to be pinned. He signaled to the announce booth where Don Callis was sitting and gave him a middle finger, then left. Sources say Aries was backstage after the show for a while and didn’t immediately leave the building, but our sources say his actions were not part of a “worked shoot” angle. He also was not at last night’s Impact TV tapings in New York City, N.Y. at the Melrose Ballroom. At last night’s tapings, Johnny Impact said in a promo that he’ll be a champion everyone can be proud of, and he took shots at Aries for his Twitter comments, in particular about his wife. Aries was not at the tapings. Check out a full detailed report on the Impact Tapings at HERE.

-Austin Aries spoke about his Twitter exchanges with Johnny Impact on my podcast last Friday. If you missed it, check out my hour-long interview including Aries’ admitting he didn’t plan to talk with Johnny until Sunday’s PPV: CLICK HERE.

-Mixed Match Challenge airs tonight after Smackdown on Facebook Watch. The two scheduled matches are: Natalya & Bobby Roode vs. Mickie James & Bobby Lashley and Lana & Rusev vs. Asuka & Miz.

-WWE did not hold a roster-wide meeting with wrestlers last night to address the touchy situation regarding Crown Jewel. WWE did not mention once on air that it was in Saudi Arabia, but it was made clear through scripting and implication that no one was to say the location of the event. Not only have both Democratic Connecticut-based governors (home state of WWE’s headquarters) spoken words of caution regarding WWE’s continued partnership with Saudi Arabia, but Republican Senator Lindsay Graham was among influential senators with strong words about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the disappearance, widely believed to be murder, of a top critic of Saudi Arabia, who was a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist. “We deal with bad people all the time, but this was in our face,” Graham said. “I feel personally offended.”

-On MSNBC this afternoon on “Deadline: White House,” former CIA director John Brennan told predicted to Nicole Wallace, former White House Communications Director under President George W. Bush, that this incident will be the end of the current regime’s leadership.

I think this is basically the downfall of Mohammad Bin Salman. He should have realized this was a major, major action. I don’t believe any of the heads of security services or intelligence services would have done this without the explicit direction and authorization from Mohammad Bin Salman. I think he has felt emboldened over the past several years because he has been so successful in consolidating power, getting accolades whenever he goes around, whether it be in Europe or the United States  and everyone caters to him. I think that inflated his sense of power and felt as thought he could do these things, and also a very close relationship he has developed with Donald Trump and Jared Kuchner. I think he felt that U.S.-Saudi relationship could handle any type of little speed bump this might cause and I think he badly miscommunicated. I have great confidence in my former colleagues at the CIA and the rest of the intelligent community to uncover what happened here.

–ESPN published a story this afternoon on the WWE-Saudi Arabia situation, it’s first since this story broke. Excerpt:

On Monday night’s broadcast of WWE’s flagship show, Monday Night Raw, promotion for Crown Jewel and its Nov. 2 broadcast on the WWE Network continued, but no mention was made of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh or King Saud University Stadium.

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–Yahoo Finance published a story yesterday recapping the heat WWE is taking for its continued affiliation with Saudi Arabia amidst this controversy. Exceprt:

WWE is a publicly traded company that has to answer to its shareholders and canceling an event the size and scope of “Crown Jewel” could cost the company millions. So it might not be that easy for WWE to just pull out of the event.

WWE has been willing to set aside some of its principles in the name of business before. The last time WWE was in Saudi Arabia, the wrestling company bent to Saudi Arabian law by agreeing to leave its female wrestlers off of the show.

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NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS TORCH TODAY UPDATE: 10/15 Afternoon Update: Latest on WWE-Saudi Arabia “Crown Jewel” situaton, Cody/Bucks tease WWE, Rapper Open Eagle Mike wins title and celebrates with Foley and Mr. Anderson, plus Cobb, Strickland, Bandido

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