FRI. UPDATE: More on Umaga; One of year's biggest weekends; Lesnar; White rips Maz; Diaz; WWE comic

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        A ton going on over the next few days.
        We're looking for reports tonight on the WWE house show in Texarkana, AR (HHH vs. Randy Orton) and the TNA house show in Portland, ME (Styles vs. Daniels, Angle vs. Wolfe) at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
        HDNet will be carrying the Maximum Fighting Championships tonight at 10 p.m.  One of the biggest events of the year, the 17th annual K-1 World Grand Prix, takes place tomorrow at the Yokohama Arena.  It airs at 3 a.m. tonight Eastern on HD-Net or midnight Pacific time.  CMLL has Sin Salida, one of the biggest shows of the year, tonight at Arena Mexico with El Terrible & El Texano Jr. vs. Yujiro & Tetsuya Naito in a double hair vs. hair match and La Sombra & Volador Jr. vs. Mephisto & Ephesto for the CMLL tag titles.  Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Yuji Nagata for the IWGP title and Tajiri vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi headline New Japan's latest big arena event of the year in Nagoya tomorrow.  
Smackdown tonight:
R-Truth vs. C.M. Punk
Kane vs. Mike Knox
Mickie James vs. Beth Phoenix vs. Natalya for the No. 1 contender for the women's title
Eric Escobar vs. Hart Dynasty in handicap match
John Morrison vs. Drew McIntyre in a non-title match
Chris Jericho & Big Show vs. Cryme Tyme in a non-title match
Show builds to an Undertaker/Batista confrontation at the end
Maximum Fighting Championships at 10 p.m. on HDNet from Edmonton:
Joe Christopher (9-2) vs. Jesse Juarez (11-5)
Dwayne Lewis (9-4) vs. Marvin Eastman (16-11)
Ryan Jimmo (11-1) vs. Emmanuel Newton (12-5-1)
Art Santore (18-6) vs. Bryan Baker (10-1)
Jason MacDonald (21-13) vs. Solomon Hutcherson (11-5)
Dean Lister (11-6) vs. Thales Leitis (14-3)

K-1 World Grand Prix at 3 a.m. on HDNet and replayed Saturday night:
Peter Aerts vs. Gokhan Saki in a reserve fight
Ruslan Karaev vs. Badr Hari in a first round fight
Alistair Overeem vs. Ewerton Teixeira in a first round fight
Semmy Schilt vs. Jerome LeBanner in a first round fight
Errol Zimmerman vs. Remy Bonjasky in a first round fight
Daniel Ghita vs. Sergey Kharitonov in a reserve fight
Semifinals with first round winners
Kyotaro vs. Tyrone Spong
Finals with semifinal winners

        UFC's Ultimate Fighter finals featuring Kimbo Slice vs. Houston Alexander, Matt Hamill vs. Jon Jones, the championship match with Roy Nelson vs. Brendan Schaub, Matt Mitrione vs. Marcus Jones and Frankie Edgar vs. Matt Veach takes place tomorrow night on Spike at 9 p.m. Eastern.  Veach  and Matt Mitrione.  The finals of the All Japan Real World Tag League tournament will be Sunday in Gifu.  Also on Sunday is Pro Wrestling NOAH's final major show of the year at Budokan Hall headlined by Go Shiozaki vs. Takashi Sugiura for the GHC title and Takeshi Morishima & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone for the GHC tag team titles and Atsushi Aoki vs. Naomichi Marufuji (return after knee surgery).
        Saturday night also includes a WWE house show in Bossier City, LA, a TNA house show in Amherst, MA (Styles vs. Daniels; Angle vs. Wolfe) and ROH in Chicago Ridge, IL (Austin Aries vs. Colt Cabana in a cage match for the ROH title and if Cabana loses, he can never get another title shot in Chicago, Roderick Strong vs. Kenny Omega, Briscoes vs. Dark City Fight Club, Tyler Black vs. Kenny King and Kevin Steen vs. Claudio Castagnoli).
        Sunday has a WWE house show in Monroe, LA and a TNA house show in Glens Falls, NY with Styles & Angle vs. Daniels & Wolfe, plus Amazing Red vs. Homicide for the X division title.
        Monday is the live Raw in Dallas with Mark Cuban as guest host, and a main event of DX vs. Chris Jericho in a handicap match.  At this moment, the Little People's Court segment is scheduled to be filmed Monday as well.  There is also a Smackdown brand house show in Beaumont, TX on Monday night with a Battle Royal and the winner facing Undertaker for the title in the main event.
        Tuesday is Smackdown & ECW tapings in Houston.
        UFC has Unleashed from 7 p.m. to midnight and then a tape of the June 20, 2009, Las Vegas show headlined by Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida in a match of the year contender starting at midnight.
        UFC also has the entire season of The Ultimate Fighter starting at 9 p.m. tomorrow, leading into the live finale from Las Vegas.

        With a ton of news this week, as well as our Hall of Fame bio of Masa Saito, we've got two issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter coming out next week.  Among our lead stories is a look at the highest rated matches in history, including what and why drew a record setting boxing audience in Japan through use of pro wrestling marketing concepts.  We also look at the most-watched pro wrestling, MMA, boxing and kickboxing matches in the history of Japan.
        We also have the ballot for the 2009 Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards along with the top three finishers in every category in the 2008 awards.
        We also have more on the New Year's Eve show, as well as some surprises about WrestleMania, as well as business numbers of WWE major live shows of 2009, including real numbers vs. announced numbers, one of which is an interesting surprise.   
        We also have updates on UFC PPV numbers as well as early returns on Survivor Series.  The numbers on UFC 106 and Survivor Series on the same weekend tell a story.  We also look at why the UFC 106 number is more important and significant than other shows that have done similar numbers.  
        We've also got an update on Dragon Gate USA after three shows, where it stands from a business standpoint and its future.
        Both issues are now available to premium subscribers on the web site.  You can also get the Observer mailed to your home with details below.
        We also have more details on War Machine's brawl at the porn birthday party in Las Vegas, with several live reports.
        We also have more on ECW on Syfy and why there is a movement to change, WWE signing a new television deal, updates on the knee injuries of Big Show and Rey Mysterio, and the dangerous situation facing Mysterio.  Mysterio also talks about his feelings about training younger wrestlers, an update on plans for the TLC PPV, Jesse Ventura speaks out on WWE just days after doing Raw and the story behind his dealings in the past with Vince McMahon.
        We also look at the most popular television shows for teenagers and where WWE, TNA and UFC fits in.  We also look at a lot of WWE misleading statements regarding who is watching their shows and the WWE public story on why PPV numbers are down, and why WWE has not embraced Twitter.
        We also have an update on Dwayne Johnson and his WWE return, and when it most likely won't be based on his thoughts and his schedule.
        We also have notes on what happened to Little People's Court in WWE, an independent woman star who got a recent tryout, a segment on WWE television edited off in the U.K., the latest WWE bikini model signing, as well as notes on all the weekend WWE house shows.
        Our biggest story is the bio of Saito, a 2009 Hall of Fame entrant.  We follow Saito's career path, including a look at the legitimate Japanese wrestlers who became big stars in the U.S. over the past 40 years, the biggest runs of Saito's career, how he got into the Hall of Fame, the brawl in Waukesha, WI, with the police, the exaggerations of his Olympic success, the so-called Golden Trio of the JWA and the politics of Japanese pro wrestling when his career started.
        We look at who was running Japanese wrestling, why the biggest star of the time got kicked out and how it affected Saito's career.  We look at why Saito wrestled most of his career in the United States instead of Japan, how he was one of the youngest company presidents at the age of 23, his favorite wrestlers growing up and his arrival in the U.S.
        We look at his first major career break and how the role he played limited his wrestling.  We look at the heyday of the tag team of Kinji Shibuya & Mr. Saito in California, as well as what pro wrestling legend was boosted into being the top contender for the NWA title with a program with Saito and why.
        We look at Saito's role in the Golden Age of Los Angeles wrestling, the political upheavals in Japan and why it took Saito so long to start with New Japan.  We look at Saito's role in the career of Riki Choshu, the Saito challenge on Georgia Championship Wrestling and the run of Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito as WWF tag team champions with Lou Albano.
        We look at how the success of a protege vaulted Saito to main event status in Japan, as well as his big money drawing feuds with Hulk Hogan and Antonio Inoki, including one of the most famous matches in Japanese history that didn't draw a dime.
        We look at Saito being in another of the most famous wrestling matches of all-time, his run as AWA champion, his role in the 1990s New Japan dynasty, his last major match at the Tokyo Dome, his retirement ceremony, and what Saito is doing today.
       We also have a look at the ratings for all the major pro
wrestling and MMA shows on television over the past 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 issues:
--A look at the big year-end shows for AAA, CMLL and K-1
--Details of the last two shows of the Hulkamania tour
--More on the death of Mike LeBelle
--Notes on ROH's latest business experiment
--Hulk and Linda back at it in court papers
--Kurt Angle's reaction to Desmond Wolfe
--Notes on a surprise drug test
--Who TNA agents are high on and not
--Kurt Angle explains steroid use in wrestling
--Trenesha Biggers continues to blast Angle
--Notes on Bobby Lashley direction
--Actual numbers of TNA's last international tour
--Eric Bischoff's latest project
--Update on Sid Vicious and TNA
--UFC coming to Boston update, as well as updates on the states UFC still won't hold events in
--UFC 106 strongest markets
--Update on all upcoming UFC shows
--Latest on when Anderson Silva is expected to fight, and an update on Brock Lesnar
--Stories behind several new UFC matches
--Ticket sales for upcoming UFC events
--What major UFC star has talked about not fighting for a while and wanting a sabbatical
--What UFC legend has agreed to return next year
--A marketing study on UFC fans and how it bodes for the perception of its audience
--One of UFC's best credentialed wrestlers cut
--More on Fedor vs. Lesnar
--A greater look at the judging of the most recent UFC main events
--Wrestling company holds bodybuilding contest and TNA star comes out winner
--Legal battle between promotions looks like it will cause wrestlers to have to change their name
--Dragon Gate's last big show of 2009
--U.S. indie belt to be defended in Dragon Gate
--Rundown of the All Japan tag team tournament and what problems have played havoc with the booking
--Updates on Jun Akiyama and KENTA
--Who is booking the major Japanese offices
--Pro wrestling Hall of Famer getting major publicity running for Governor
--Update on Sandy Scott
--The demolition of an arena that featured some of the biggest wrestling moments of the 80s
--Possible final appearance of a wrestler who became a household name in a country he was only planning on visiting for a few weeks and became one of its biggest stars ever
--Update on the health of Steve Williams
--Former WWE wrestler announces retirement
--Japanese stars wrestling in Los Angeles for PWG and ROH
--Notes on Ultimate Fighter last shows and complete Saturday night show
--Reality of the claims by M-1 on Fedor vs. Brett Rogers
--California makes ruling on usage of marijuana in fights
--Son of pro wrestling legend has another MMA match
--Notes on several WWE developmental talents

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--Sorry for the lateness of the update but it has been a harrowing day due to the death of Eddie "Umaga" Fatu.  Fatu died a few hours ago in a Houston hospital after suffering two heart attacks, the first last night and the second during the afternoon, at the age of 36.  He was probably the most talented worker inside the ring of a legendary family that had probably a dozen wrestlers including Afa, Sika, Samu, Rosey, Manu, Black Pearl, L.A. Smooth and brothers Solofa (Rikishi) and Sam (Tonga Kid) as well as a number of football players in the family as well.  WWE is working with his family and there may be a service Tuesday or Wednesday since a lot of the crew would be able to attend since Smackdown is being taped in Houston.  Fatu was living in Spring, TX, a Houston suburb, and lived near Shelton Benjamin, Shad Gaspard, MVP and Great Khali, and was business partners with Charlie Haas.


--Dana White posted last night on Twitter that Brock Lesnar was very sick and that they don't know if he'll fight again.  My impression is he's not necessary that sick at the moment, but he's not out of the water regarding his intestinal issues and there is once again uncertainty as far as when or if he'll fight again.

--White today wrote regarding Steve Mazzagatti, "I actually called him the worst ref in the history of the world!!  Not just MMA! v There has NEVER been a worst ref in fighting history."   


--Get a look at the WWE comic book characters at uHkh5mohK Matt Hardy is drawn to look like Batista.  Actually everyone but the women are drawn to look like Batista.  (thanks to Paul Kacprzak)
--Complete lineup announced by UFC for 107 in Memphis on 12/12
T.J. Grant vs. Kevin Burns
Edgar Garcia vs. Damarques Johnson
Lucio Linhares vs. Rousimar Palhares
Ricardo Funch vs. Johny Hendricks
Shane Nelson vs. Matt Wiman
Alan Belcher vs. Wilson Gouveia
TV matches
Stefan Struve vs. Paul Buentello
Clay Guida vs. Kenny Florian
Mike Pierce vs. Jon Fitch
Cheick Kongo vs. Frank Mir
B.J. Penn vs. Diego Sanchez for lightweight title
--Strikeforce announced Nick Diaz as fighting on the 1/30 show Sunrise, FL.  They are keeping him away from fighting in California it seems.
--Poll on the Ultimate Fighter final two episodes
Excellent 29.5%
Good 46.9%
Average 11.8%
Fair 4.1%
Poor 7.7%
        24.5% of those responding didn't see the show
--Who do you expect to win between Roy Nelson and Brendan Schaub?
Roy Nelson 82.1%
Brendan Schaub 17.9%
--Who do you consider the biggest wrestling star in Madison Square Garden history?
Bruno Sammartino 62.8%
Hulk Hogan 19.8%
The Rock 4.5%
Steve Austin 4.2%
Shawn Michaels 2.1%
Bob Backlund 1.6%
Argentina Rocca 1.4%
John Cena 0.9%
Superstar Billy Graham 0.9%
HHH 0.8%
Jim Londos 0.5%
Pedro Morales 0.4%
--For guys on message boards who want to argue about MMA vs. boxing and which one is dying tomorrow, given the last UFC PPV numbers, well, with Bernard Hopkins AND Roy Jones Jr., two of the biggest names in boxing both on television Wednesday night going head-to-head with Ultimate Fighter, the results were a 1.9 rating for Ultimate Fighter and 0.5 for boxing.  In fact, the boxing did less than any WEC event, even those headlined by Ben Henderson, in history.  
--UFC opened the doors to its first gym in Concord, CA recently and are planning on opening gyms in Hawaii and Montreal with the B.J. Penn and Georges St. Pierre names attached to them.
--Steve Mazzagatti, Ben Henderson and Efrain Escudero are guests tonight in Inside MMA on HDNet at 9 p.m.  Marc Ratner is also interviewed on tonight's show. has a slide show on wrestler deaths at ast-tragic-ends-benoit-albano?test=faces
--Combat Zone Wrestling Santa Claus spectacular on 12/20 at 3 p.m. at the Arena.  Maven Bentley will donate $5 to the Save our Streets Philly charity for every person who brings a new unwrapped toy.
--Results from the M-1 show last night in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Russia Legion 5, Team USA East 0
155 - Yuri Ivlev b Ivan Jorge 4:11 2nd round ref stop
170 - Magomed Shikshabekov b Dos Santos triangle choke 2:06
185 - Ansar Chalangov b Danilo Pereira heel hook 4:17
205 - Besiki Gerenava b Chuck Grigsby split decision
HWT - Gadsimurad Omarov b Lloyd Marshanks corner stop 4:07 third round
--Dawn Marie, Daizee Haze and Melissa Coates appear at the Holiday Inn from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in New York City
--Bill Behrens was announced today by NWA Main Event promoter Mike Porter as the new Executive Producer of the company's television show.  Behrens, who has been in the wrestling business as a promoter and producer for many years, will start at the job in January.  The group tapes most Thursdays at 413 Veritas St. in Nashville.
--The A&E Steven Seagal Lawman TV show debuted last night doing 3.5 million viewers so it was considered a success.  
--Filsinger Games will be releasing a Limited Edition Legends of Wrestling Andre the Giant playing card
--Pure Wrestling Fury on 12/19 in Fort Pierce, FL at the PAL Center
--CZW on 12/12 has the Cage of Death show with the Cage of Death match with Danny Havoc vs. Sami Callihan, Drake Younger vs. Devon Moore for CZW title, Thumbtack Jack vs. Nick Gage for Ultraviolent Underground title, Drew Blood vs. Greg Excellent for CZW jr. title.
--Ring of Fire is doing an Internet PPV tonight at starting at 6:30 p.m. Mountain time from the University of Denver's Magness Arena with seven former UFC fighters on the show.  Top matches are Mike Nickels (204.5) vs. Vinny Magalhaes (204.5), Duane Ludwig (155.8) vs. Ryan Roberts (155.8), Alvin Robinson (145.0) vs. Anthony Morrison (146.5) and Cameron Dollar (153.0) vs. Kit Cope (155.0)
--TWA from 12/5 in Williamstown, NJ at the Saint Matthew's Baptist Church with Blue Meanie, Steve Corino, Larry Winters and Tony Stetson as the headliners, including a Battle Royal with the winner facing TWA champ Glen Osbourne in the main event.  They are also collecting unwrapped toys for the Toys for Tots program.
--LWO on Saturday night in Lodi, NJ at the Boys and Girls Club of Lodi with a ladder match main event.
--RWC Fabulous Ladies of Wrestling on 2/6 in Raeford, NC at West Hoke Middle School  

Who is the strongest of these Hall of Fame candidates?


What do you believe is the second most popular promotion right now in the U.S?