I am bringing back yet another old column that I haven’t put together in some time. Welcome back to The Crossover.
Now why is it called that? Well, Fight Game Media has historically covered pro wrestling, MMA, and boxing. But, the bones to what is now Fight Game Media came from an idea to do a MMA website. We soon learned that we wanted to write about wrestling and boxing too, so we added all three sports together and called it Fight Game.
We’re crossing over into all three sports in this column. First up is the sad news that Showtime Boxing is no longer.
RIP Showtime Boxing
Not only is Showtime Boxing no longer, but the entire sports department is gone as well. If you’ve watched Paramount closely, this is probably not all that surprising. Not that long ago, Showtime’s streaming app was shut down and became an add-on service to Paramount Plus. It does make you wonder about the longevity of the Showtime brand which is historic when it comes to premium cable television, but also a sign of where things are going.
The very first fight on Showtime was Marvin Hagler vs. John “The Beast” Mugabi in March 1986. Hagler was at the very top of his game, but The Beast gave him a ton. It was that very fight that Sugar Ray Leonard saw a chink in Hagler’s armor and it was then that he knew he could beat Hagler. Hagler got hit more than he should’ve and Leonard saw him slowing down.
It was on that same show that Thomas Hearns beat James Schuler. Schuler died in a motorcycle accident only a week later.
Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield also had big time fights on Showtime Boxing and eventually, so did Floyd Mayweather. While Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao, the biggest money fight of all-time, was a collaboration with HBO Boxing, Mayweather and Conor McGregor was solely on the network.
As of now, we have Top Rank on ESPN and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom on DAZN. Premier Boxing Champions looks to be in the market for a new deal and there’s speculation that they could also sign with DAZN, but there are other streaming deals that could work too, such as Amazon Prime.
When HBO exited the boxing game, it was a big hit. This is a smaller hit, but still significant. The less players there are, the worst it is for the sport.
UFC 294 Preview
This week’s UFC 294 PPV event is from Abu Dhabi, which means it’s a really early start for the show. Paul Fontaine and I will be back after the show is over with our recap live on YouTube.
Paul and Ryan Frederick previewed the show on In The Clinch, their weekly MMA podcast on the Patreon. We clipped the UFC 294 preview for YouTube, so you can check it out.
If you want a couple predictions, Ryan predicted that Ikram Aliskerov would knock out Warlley Alves and Paul said that Khamzat Chimaev would also knock out Kamaru Usman.
Nick Wayne as a pro wrestling prospect
I want to preface this by saying I have the utmost hope that Nick Wayne becomes successful in wrestling. I used to listen to his dad Buddy Wayne on Figure Four Daily with Bryan Alvarez all the time and he’s my favorite guest in the history of that show.
And maybe that’s why I feel a little overprotective of Wayne, even though I’ve never met him. It’s very similar to how I felt about Jungleboy Jake Perry right when AEW started. Obviously, as the son of the late, great Luke Perry, I root for him harder than I root for most. Both young men, Perry now a little more grown with full on scruff, had to grow up in front of AEW fans’ eyes. On one hand, watching them grow up through wrestling television is very cool as you see them improve. On the other hand, in the words of Beyonce, you get to see their flaws and all.
Even though Perry’s father was an actor, Perry isn’t a natural on the microphone. And that was part of the reason behind the original Jungleboy character; it allowed him to not have to talk much while improving inside the ring. With Wayne, he seems even less comfortable in front of the mic and yet, he’s been thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool when it comes to the character work. Originally, he was the young babyface protege of Darby Allin. And in a very short amount of time, he’s had to do a 180 and is now a future opponent for Allin as a full-fledged bad guy. Yet, he’s not a bad guy for any real reason other than that he was manipulated by Christian Cage’s character, who now calls himself Nick’s father. His dad was a pro wrestler and in his first year under a signed deal, he’s with someone who makes fun of his dead father.
Nick’s mom Shayna has been shown ringside often since he debuted. Just this week on AEW Dynamite, she was in a sit down conversation with Nick and Jim Ross. While she did a pretty good job of expressing her concerned mom emotion in a pro wrestling storyline, poor Nick looked like a kid in a high school short film intended for YouTube eyes only. The term deer in headlights is often overused, but I think it’s appropriate here. He’s not ready for these moments.
As a young babyface, he wasn’t able to express the proper emotion of the underdog who continually gets beat up to put heat on the bad guys. His facials needed work and often, his face just read confusion. But I don’t blame him as the story was confusing for viewers too. Why was he put in a situation where he had to express an emotion he was clearly uncomfortable with so early in his career? Why did he do so many promos that made television that looked like they needed about seven or eight more takes. And after he turned heel, why was he given so much mic time to show his new one-note expression of frowney face with his new deep voice?
I really wish they would pull Nick off television and do a reset of his career. Put him with a babyface group where someone can do most of the talking for him. He should be wrestling every other week, pulling off wins as an underdog babyface against veteran, but not star level, competition. Nick’s growth as a wrestler should feel natural, like a young baseball prospect. Only unicorns like Ken Griffey Jr. are able to pretty much go from high school to the pros and make it look easy. Most other great prospects grow through the ranks and are brought up only when ready. For Nick, my worry is that he’s been given too much responsibility too soon and the fans will give up on him as he struggles so early in his career.
I do think that he’ll come out of it in at least decent shape. Pro wrestling is in his blood. But there might also be moments like with Jack Perry where the kid in the grown man’s business gets outfoxed.