WED. UPDATE: ALBANO DEATH; MATCH OF YEAR; RATINGS; WWE CURIOUS ABOUT PPV BUSINESS
Ultimate Fighter airs tonight on Spike at 10 p.m. Eastern and repeated at 11 p.m. The preview is "Zak Jensen faces mockery at the house and problems in training. Matt Mitrione tests Rashad's patience with an on-again/off-again shoulder issue. Rampage looks to break his losing streak in the fifth preliminary fight."
Unleashed airs at 9 p.m. with Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Hughes and Chuck Liddell vs. Renato Sobral.
A look at who are the biggest and most popular names in wrestling, MMA and boxing in 2009, as well as a comparison to 2008 leads off Monday's issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The list is derived from web activity based on the major names, and is interesting to note in the sense everyone has a list of where they think people rate, including promotions.
The issue is available right now to premium members of the web site. You can also get the Observer delivered to your door by mail with details below.
We look at the surprises, as well as what this tells us in advance about what in some ways when it comes to long-term is the most important show remaining in 2009, which is the Strikeforce debut on CBS on 11/7 and where Fedor does or doesn't stand.
We also have a look at how the last few weeks if you attended the two major shows, it would appear Japanese pro wrestling has made a comeback. We look at why that probably isn't the case, as well as look at notes on the 25th anniversary of the pro debut of Masahiro Chono. We look at Chono's career highlights, as well as look at New Japan's next major events, and what major Japanese celebrity was part of the show including what WWF champion was created based on this celebrity.
We've got an update on the Bragging Rights PPV and the Bound for Glory PPV with new matches, new stips and how WWE changed from the original direction. We look at the promotion of the Raw vs. Smackdown match and Cena vs. Orton match.
We also have thoughts on the divas shuffling of the deck, and why this should lead to several turns in upcoming weeks. We have notes on a future guest host, Maria Menounos talking about her appearance on Raw, a lot of thoughts on the AP story including comments that have had a lot of people laughing at Vince McMahon, McMahon acknowledging the emergence of UFC is affecting the product, as well as more in detail on the most interesting part of the WWE new direction story that is being missed.
We've got notes on the upcoming Smackdown tour of Mexico, changes in PPV names, possibility of WWE doing War Games, who is behind the push of Drew McIntyre and why. We also look at the plight of Jack Swagger, MVP and The Miz on Raw.
We've got a lot more on the first salvo of criticism by Republican party leaders to Linda McMahon, as well as what her opponents in the senate race are saying. We also look at some of the early television commercials Linda McMahon has done.
We've got a long series of stories regarding Booker T and his future, including the different thoughts addressed within WWE regarding him coming in as well as what seems to have led to the end of his tenure in TNA. We look at the differences in expectations in WWE and TNA, the potential of Sharmell and plenty of other issues regarding Booker including issues rarely talked about from his last WWE run.
We have more notes on Big Show's new movie.
We also look at ethnic audience differences when it comes to interest in WWE and UFC PPV events. We look at WWE combating TNA and the Hogan tour in Australia, as well as a part-time WWE wrestler talks about wanting one last match with his most famous rival.
We also have a look at Steve Austin, talking about his WWE career, his favorite wrestler of all-time, his favorite match he was ever in, and his thoughts on his acting career, Vince Russo, Ed Ferrara and even ROH.
We also look at the WWE media situation in the U.K. and how a petty squabble has changed things as well as looking at that squabble.
We look at several new people signed of late by WWE, noting the new trend of what they are looking for. Dolph Ziggler talks about his drug suspension as well as his days as an amateur wrestler, some funny commentary looking back from more than a decade ago, Ted DiBiase responds to criticism of his working in WWE after all the things he had said in the past, as well as a look at the weekend WWE arena events.
We have more on the near death experience in recent days of a popular former WWE woman star, the death of Harley Race's wife, B.J. Race, and the son of a Hall of Famer who at one time was one of the most heavily recruited high school football players in the country who is about to debut as a pro wrestler.
We also look back in history about a former pro wrestler who is little remembered in football but actually was one of two people who broke the color barrier in the NFL and was talked about in this week's Sports Illustrated.
We have a ton of behind-the-scenes notes from TNA regarding not only Booker T, but the future of several of the older wrestlers. We also look at TNA and the price of its PPVs, we've got an update on Kurt Angle's legal situation, an update on the creative team, an update on Bobby Lashley in MMA and plenty of stories regarding Lacey Von Erich.
We also have a look at the WEC show from the weekend, including TV audience, and questions about judging coming out of the Donald Cerrone vs. Ben Henderson main event.
We also have a look at the ratings for all the major pro wrestling and MMA shows on television over the past week.
In this case, we also have details on what segments hit and missed on TNA, as well as how a TNA vs. WWE head-to-head battle did, and interesting notes on where WWE, TNA and UFC's audiences over the past week changed very notably from the prior week.
We also have our usual weekly features such as the results of the
biggest matches of the week and rundown of the major television shows.
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Also in this week's issue:
--Former WWE star being talked about as returning to Mexico
--How CMLL business has been doing and the latest lesson of the long-term of price discounting
--Big stipulation matches being teased
--Charly Manson talks about leaving AAA
--AAA fires a former major draw
--A new promotion gets major national television and is trying to raid other promotions for talent
--A look at the first TV taping from that group including the big angle shot
--Former TNA star wins overseas top title
--Update on the next Dragon Gate USA show
--Hustle brings in new celebrity star, how the big show does with him
--A return of the oldest annual tradition in pro wrestling that dates back to 1977
--Return of Naomichi Marufuji
--A look at the NOAH jr. heavyweight tournament and the G-1 Climax tag team tournament
--Dream match signed for later this month
--Update on Bobby Heenan
--Update on bidding for Ric Flair's old world title belt
--One of biggest U.S. stars of 80s writing an autobiography
--Hulk Hogan update
--Son of 80s star now a college football starting quarterback
--Sad story of a murder of an independent pro wrestler
--Update on Eddie Edwards and ROH tag team titles
--What ROH did at weekend shows that I've never heard of from a TV promotion
--Former ECW star coming to RH TV
--Wrestling personality gets engaged
--Mick Foley talks politics, Linda McMahon, health care and gives details on his next pro wrestling book
--Jeff Jarrett/Kurt Angle update
--Jim Cornette talks TNA and ROH
--TNA Global Impact notes
--What team has really held more world tag team titles than any team in history
--TNA house show news
--A look at upcoming UFC PPV events
--Junie Browning attempts to kill himself, and UFC signs new fighter shortly after he also attempted suicide
--Mirko Cro Cop talks suicidal thoughts after his last match
--UFC conducting seminars with all fighters under contract and why
--Notes on Ultimate Fighter
--Notes on ticket sales for upcoming UFC events
--Notes on UFC running in new markets and getting legalized and regulated
--Lorenzo Fertitta talks about which fighter he thinks can be the mainstream star to really push the company up next year
--What NBA team paid significant money to get UFC into its arena
--UFC goals for next year
--UFC magazine's first issue sales vs. WWE magazine sales of late
--Rashad Evans talks next fight
--Brock Lesnar builds up Shane Carwin fight
--The nephew of what former pro wrestling superstar is Lesnar's main coach
--MMA awards notes
--CBS promotional plans for Fedor and the next show
--The complete CBS lineup and thoughts on its marketability, as well as how live tickets are doing
--Strikeforce signs a former wrestling champion
--Notes on the Dream ratings in Japan and the boxing lead-in
--Celebrity scheduled to debut in a month fighting MMA
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--Lou Albano, who passed away at the age of 76 earlier today, was one of the major figures in the popularity of the WWWF from 1971-83. People may remember him from the Cyndi Lauper videos and Super Mario television show, but he was the key manager in the promotion and was very often as important as anyone in some of the big crowds the company drew.
During the period after Bruno Sammartino stopped being a regular, there are people within the organization who felt the heat Albano brought as manger of the top heels was the biggest factor in drawing crowds during the Bob Backlund run. Albano generally was put with the nutty types of contenders, and almost always with the tag team champions.
He would dress like his proteges to a degree, and eventually became known for the rubber bands all over his face. He was a major part of the wheel of success for Vince McMahon Sr., far more important than anyone who didn't closely follow the promotion would be able to understand. Albano was the key component in making Jimmy Snuka into the hottest wrestler in that part of the country when the two split up and Snuka went babyface.
He and Roddy Piper were also the keys in the Wendi Richter/Cyndi Lauper/Fabulous Moolah angle in 1984 that garnered WWWF more mainstream publicity on a national basis than wrestling had gotten since its days on network television, building to the original WrestleMania. When Albano turned babyface, including a run managing the British Bulldogs, he was in a role that had little legs, and there was internal bitterness as he left the company and concentrated on acting. Later, he was often embarrassing playing the role of the crazy, stereotypical representative of wrestling in news piece on the sport. He was not the first person to use the phrase, often imitated, never duplicated, in wrestling, but in the Northeast, he will long be remembered for it.
--Lou Albano was the No. 2 searched for topic today on Google (behind Rachel Glandorf, the girlfriend of Colt McCoy who is a TV reporter for Ch. 42 in Austin, TX)
--Chuck Liddell got the boot last night from "Dancing with the Stars" after finishing in 11th place in the balloting.
--WEC announced that both WEC.tv and UFC.com will air today the Donald Cerrone vs. Ben Henderson match on the respective sites, apparently wanting to make sure enough people see it and it is being talked about as a match of the year, plus there is the controversy over who deserved to win the match. Versus will also be airing the show at 8 p.m. tomorrow night and again at 11 p.m..
--In Males 18-34, the first four episodes of Ultimate Fighter (skewed by one and three) are averaging just under triple (1.5 million to 642,000) the amount of viewers as the Major League playoff games so far on TBS.
--In cable ratings for last week, TBS with baseball averaged a 4.0 rating which is the highest average of any network in prime time I can recall this year. ESPN was second at 3.0 due to football and USA was at 2.2. Syfy was No. 7 at 1.1 and Spike was No. 20 at 0.7. The two hours of Raw last week were No. 14 and No. 15, with nine of the top spots occupied by baseball playoff games. In `18-34, Ultimate Fighter was No. 5 behind the Monday Night Football game with Favre vs. The Packers, the Sportscenter after the game, The Hills and Real World/Road Rules. In 18-49, nine of the top ten spots were sports and neither UFC nor WWE had any shows in it.
--While this has been reported for weeks, UFC officially announced Jon Jones vs. Matt Hamill and Frankie Edgar vs. Kurt Pellegrino as the top two matches for a 12/5 show on Spike from the Palms in Las Vegas.
--The WWE web site is doing a lengthy survey regarding whether people bought Hell in a Cell or not. It asked detailed questions as to what you thought of the show, if there is too much free TV so you don't buy PPVs, as well as if competition from TNA, UFC or boxing affected the decision making.
--Jim Ross wrote today that he expects to sign a multi year contract with WWE when his deal expires in December but that no deal has been hammered out. He said that if a deal isn't made, he has no problems taking the holidays off for football and family and then looking at other career moves at the start of next year. As noted last night, Ross missing last night's show was not a sign in either direction regarding whether he was staying or leaving, but simply the company gave him the night off after he asked for it due to his anniversary.
--Notes from the funeral of B.J. Race, the wife of Harley. There was a packed house including area wrestling stars Bob Geigel, Tom Andrews, Roger Kirby, announcer Bill Kersten as well as WLW stars Trevor Murdoch and Matt Murphy as pall bears. Flowers were sent by the McMahon family, Ric Flair and Leon White's family.
--The actual losses of homes for Versus Network in recent months was not nearly as significant as noted in the next issue of the Observer when talking about WEC ratings. The actual loss of home was about 7%, because after losing DirecTV in September, they picked up Dish Network, which made up for most of the losses. Versus is currently in about 70 million of the 99.5 million cable households.
--Countdown to Machida vs. Shogun will be airing Monday night after Raw at 11 p.m. (the time slot it seems to do its best), as well as Wednesday night after Ultimate Fighter next week (which should do even better). I'm told the show is very good.
--Stan Hansen turned 60 and Stacy Keibler turned 30 in recent days. John Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood, turned 99 today.
--Poll on Raw
Still bad numbers overall. 22.6% of those responding didn't see the show.
--Does the popularity of UFC make it impossible to promote pro wrestling like in the past?
Yes, the only avenue left for wrestling is aiming for younger viewers, adults will no longer spend money on it 6.1%
The popularity of each may have some effect on the other but largely wrestling and MMA will succeed and fail on their own merits 56.9%
Why should the popularity of UFC have any effect on wrestling when wrestling has gone against boxing and done well for 100 years 26.2%
Society has changed as shown by international pro wrestling being in bad shape 10.8%
--Who is the best of these Hall of Famers?
Mitsuharu Misawa 81.5%
Kazushi Sakuraba 8.8%
Atsushi Onita 4.5%
Nobuhiko Takada 2.8%
Akira Maeda 2.3%
Too bad people never saw Takada in the early 90s
--Poll on the ROH TV show
74.9% of those responding didn't see the show
--VH-1 Classics "That Metal Show" on Saturday night will feature Chris Jericho. It will be repeating regularly over the following week. (thanks to Jeff Gagliardo)
--Joe Simpson, the Atlanta Braves broadcaster, regularly references Ric Flair in regard to the item yesterday. He would say "Wooo" at times and would use the term "a looping flair" for a blooper. He was doing the Rockies vs. Philles game on Monday and called a hit "a Ric Flair to the left." (thanks to Michael Langan)
--Presale code for the first WWE show ever at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY on 12/30 is CARRIER. The presale is ongoing today.
--Richard Belzer was on Howard Stern yesterday. Every time he's on the show, Stern always asks him for his comedy routine on when Hulk Hogan choked him out with a guillotine in 1985 and the subsequent lawsuit (which enabled Belzer to buy a house). (thanks to Jeff Cohen)
--CZW Tournament of Death Rewind on 10/24 at 2 p.m. in Townsend, DE and 179 Ebenezer Church Road with Nick Gage vs. Zandig, Danny Havoc vs. Sami Callihan, Thumbtack Jack vs. Jon Moxley and Masada vs. Brain Damage.
--AAW on Saturday night in Berwyn, IL at the Eagles Club with Silas Young, Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black and a tag title match with Faith in Nothing vs. House of Truth. They also run on 10/24 headlined by Black vs. Davey Richards
--Insanity Pro Wrestling on 11/7 in Indianapolis at the Fountain Square Salvation Army Corps has a Super Junior tournament with 12 men. Announced so far are Chuck Taylor, Billy Roc, B-Boy, Chrisjen Hayme, Tim Donst, Dustin Rayz, Ricochet, Louis Lyndon, Flip Kendrick and Marion Fontaine plus a 10-man elimination match featuring Team Irish Airborne vs. Team Faith in Nothing.
--Pro Wrestling Phoenix on Saturday night in Council Bluffs, IA at the National Guard Armory
--3X Wrestling on Friday night in Des Monies at the Social Club
--In yesterday's update at one point there were results of a Mid Continent Wrestling show in Kansas that were completely bogus.
--Shingo Takagi & YAMATO defend the Open the Twin Gate tag titles against Kennichiro Arai & Yasushi Kanda on Monday night in Nagoya
--New Japan opens its G-1 Climax tag team tournament tour on Satudry night in Saitama with top matches of Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka, plus tournament bouts with Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada vs. Masato Tanaka & Tomohiro Ishii, Prince Devitt & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Gedo & Jado and Masahiro Chono & AKIRA vs. Karl Anderson & Giant Bernard.
--BANG on Friday night in Ocala at the Funking Conservatory has a women's Battle Royal
--Tri State Wrestling Alliance for its 10/24 reunion show in Voorhees, NJ at Flyers Skate Zone announced they will be donating some of the monies to the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a charity working on curing childhood cancer. For a story about the charity you can go to http://www.alexslemonade.org/about/meet/alex
--The Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup on 11/20 and 11/21 in Brooksville, FL and Crystal River, FL has announced Davey Richards, Brad Attitude, Chris Jones, T.J. Perkins, Drake Younger, Jon Moxley, Scotty Vortekz and Egotistico Fantastico in the tournament so far.
--Pro Wrestling World 1 on 11/22 in Neptune, NJ at the Fire House at 2 p.m. with Steve Corino vs. Ace Darling, and at 5 p.m. with Corino vs. Ricky Reyes
--CHIKARA on Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia has the sixth annual Torneo Cibernetico match with Fire Ant & Jigsaw & Player Dos & Cloudy & Green Ant & Helios & Frightmare & Nick Jackson vs. Soldier Ant & Mike Quackenbush & Player Uno & Cheech & Carpenter Ant & Lince Dorado & Hallowicked & Matt Jackson, plus Ryuichi Kawakami vs. Eddie Kingston, women, Claudio Castagnoli and more
--AAA has a TV taping on Saturday night in Cuernavaca with Dr. Wagner Jr. & Silver King & Electroshock vs. The undefeated Clowns in the main event.