SUN UPDATE: Tonight's previews; Lashley; WWE writers on Observer radio; Bruno awarded; ROH TV deal
We're looking for your thoughts on tonight's UFC show on Versus as well as tonight's TNA Destination X PPV, so you can leave a thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs in the middle along with a best and worst match to
We'll have live coverage of both shows on the site. The Versus TV show starts at 9 p.m. Eastern but we'll start covering the prelims before that.
*Jason Brilz (205) vs. Eric Schafer (205)
*Julio Paulino (170) vs. Mike Pierce (170)
*Chase Gormley (265) vs. Brendan Schaub (245)
*John Howard (170) vs. Daniel Roberts (169)
*Darren Elkins (155) vs. Duane Ludwig (155)
*Eliot Marshall (204) vs. Vladimir Matyushenko (205)
*Shannon Gugerty (155) vs. Clay Guida (155) - Guida was by far the most popular fighter at the weigh-ins
Live matches on Versus
*James Irvin (185) vs. Alessio Sakara (185) - Irvin used to have trouble making 205, and missed weight once in San Jose as a light heavy. He looked scary skinny at 185)
*Paul Buentello (246) vs. Cheick Kongo (237) - Big heavyweights slugging it out. Probably entertaining. Kongo favored
*Junior Dos Santos (238) vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (255) - Dos Santos on a roll with wins over Mirko Cro Cop, Fabricio Werdum, Stefan Struve and Gilbert Yvel, all using punches. Gonzaga will try and get it to the ground to nullify the boxing. This is a major test for Dos Santos, who becomes a top title contender with a win here. Dos Santos is untested on the ground and Gonzaga will try and get it there.
*Jon Jones (206) vs. Brandon Vera (204) - Very interesting match-up. If they just stand, Vera may have the edge. Jones outwrestled Matt Hamill and threw him around, and he's a stronger wrestler than Vera. But Vera had enough wrestling ability to keep Randy Couture from throwing him around in his last fight. A win by Jones establishes him as a top prospect.
*Kazarian vs. Daniels vs. Amazing Red vs. Brian Kendrick in a ladder match. On paper this looks like a wild match as Kazarian, Red and Daniels are all innovative and this match calls for that style.
*Kevin Nash & Eric Young vs. Scott Hall & Sean Waltman. After seeing Nash vs. Hall on television, who would ever want to see it again. I expect this to be relatively short, and given the stips that if Hall & Waltman win they get a contract, that Hall & Waltman will win
*Tara vs. Daffney for the Knockouts title. They had a wilder than usual angle for women to set it up and will probably do more of a brawl match here
*Kurt Angle vs. Mr. Anderson. We've seen the beginning and end of this angle, and then a restart the next week. So I'm not sure what stage we are in. Given Anderson won the last PPV match, Angle will probably take this one. It's Kurt Angle and it's PPV, so more than likely this is going to be a very good match.
*Matt Morgan & Hernandez vs. Beer Money for the tag titles. Beer Money and Morgan are all heels these days. Beer Money should get the titles, which doesn't mean they will. Should be a good match.
*Doug Williams vs. Shannon Moore for the X division title. The work will be good in the match but I wonder how much people will care. They did one quick TV angle that was never followed up on, and it looks bad when a WWE guy who got no push there nor was really over walks in and gets a title shot
*Rob Terry vs. Brutus Magnus for the Global title. All their house shows matches have been 30 seconds and there's no reason for this to go any longer. Terry is their guy, so he's going to be protected, win or lose.
*Generation Me vs. Motor City Machine Guns in an Ultimate X match, winners become top contenders for the tag titles. Probably a wild match. Generation Me has never done this style, but they are risk takers. The Machine Guns have plenty of experience here. Generation Me won the first meeting, which makes the Machine Guns the favorites in the rematch
*A.J. Styles vs. Abyss for the TNA title. These two usually have good matches.
When you look at the show on paper, it looks promising in-ring. Rob Terry and Nash's match will probably be bad, but likely kept short, and nothing else stands out like a sore thumb. The ladder match, Ultimate X match, main event and Kurt Angle matches will all probably be strong. Of course it's TNA and who knows what backstage and storyline stuff they'll do and whether that'll add or detract from the presentation.
Dream tonight at 3 a.m. Eastern and Midnight Pacific from the Yokohama Arena:
Jimmy Ambriz (275.6) vs. Minowa-man (196.2)
Ryo Chonan (167.1) vs. Andrews Nakahara (166.2)
Andre Dida (157.6) vs. K.J. Noons (158.3)
Kuniyoshi Hironaka (154.3) vs. Katsunori Kikuno (154.3)
Bibiano Fernandes (138.7) vs. Joachim Hansen (138.9) for the featherweight title
Josh Barnett (253.5) vs. Mighty Mo (330.5)
Cole Escovedo (138.4) vs. Yoshiro Maeda (137.7)
This is the weakest Dream show in its history from a marquee standpoint. Will be interesting to see how Hansen reacts from cutting from usually being around 152 to 139, as that's a big cut for someone of that size.
We're also looking for reports on today's Raw house show in Reno and Smackdown house show in Sacramento, as well as last night's Raw house show in Tucson, Friday night's Raw house who in El Paso and Friday's TNA house show in Pensacola and ROH show in Dearborn, MI.
Tomorrow night has both Raw and Impact going live. Raw will be from San Jose and Impact from Orlando. San Jose has Raw, Smackdown, Superstars and NXT all being taped, with HHH & Randy Orton vs. Sheamus & Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase, Beth Phoenix vs. Vickie Guerrero and a 4 on 5 match with the participants in Money in the Bank. Pete Rose is the guest host.
Dragon Gate also has its biggest show of the year from Tokyo Sumo Hall on Monday night with Naruki Doi vs. Yamato with the Open the Dream Gate title at stake, plus the triangle gate title has Akebono & Don Fujii & Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Abdullah the Butcher & Mazada & Nosawa, plus BxB Hulk & Masato Yoshino vs. Juventud Guerrera & Dragon Kid.
New Japan Cup finals are also on Monday in Amagasaki.
Tuesday has Impact tapings for the 3/29 show.
We have the most complete Monday rundown, including how every segment on both shows gained the lost viewers, and many questions asked as TNA's gets beaten by almost three full ratings points the second week one in tomorrow's issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. We look at live vs. tape, as well as the future of this battle.
The issue is available on the web site today. For those wanting the print edition, there are details here on how to get it delivered to your door each week.
We also have a profile on Gorgeous George and his role in wrestling and life. We look at why he's being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, including a change in philosophy of WWE films, the famous movie that was supposed to be done on his life in the past and what happened, as well as a second movie that at one time was going to be done and fell through. We look at George's heyday and how big wrestling was on television, George's only appearance in Madison Square Garden and how it hardly went as expected, where George stood as far as the most known and highest paid athletes, his role, as well as some of his most famous angles. We also look at the story that George inspired the interviews of Muhammad Ali.
We also have an update on Jim Ross and WWE as well as an interview where he talked about wanting to broadcast MMA as well as his thoughts on mistakes in MMA television broadcasts.
We also look at several Bret Hart interviews from Canada this past week, talking bout why he returned, how wrestling has changed, his relationship with Shawn Michaels and more.
We also look at a WWE Hall of Fame snafu, an update on Dwayne Johnson and Raw, Vince McMahon causes Linda McMahon's campaign some embarrassment, filings that show what the McMahons are worth, as well as WWE responds to media criticism from the McMahon campaign.
We also look at changes made in WWE rules for talent, as well as lots of items regarding WrestleMania plans. We also have an updated look at how many people watch Raw live vs. on tape, a lot of notes on WWE developmental including newcomers, a new stable, lots of second generation wrestlers and a former college football player and a former Gladiator both starting out, as well as a main eventer in a territorial system and first cousin of two current WWE wrestlers who was just signed.
We also look at Tommy Dreamer talking about why he left WWE, as well as WWE signing Gladiator and notes from all the weekend WWE house shows.
We also have a ton of history this week, including a trip back to the 1940s looking at Henry Wittenberg, who passed away this past week, the man George Hackenschmidt called the greatest wrestler who ever lived. We look at someone who was America's best wrestler of the era, and one of the greatest ever, and why he was the most unlikely wrestling legend this country ever produced given his background. We look at his gold medal win, his pro offers, and why promoters thought he could have been one of the biggest stars ever.
We also look at the life and wrestling career of Sandy Scott, including a look at the Flying Scott Brothers and their headline feuds in the 50s and 60s all over the world, but in particular being the top babyface attractions in Western Canada and the Carolinas. We follow their career path, including their breakup in real life, Sandy Scott's role in the heyday of Jim Crockett Promotions, the different tag teams they faced all over the world, the glory era of Stampede Wrestling and more.
We also look at the man of a million names, John Hill, including the many territories he was top heel, his two world title reigns in the biggest promotion in the world at the time and his feud with Bruno Sammartino, how he got his different names including The Destroyer, Guy Mitchell and Jerry Valiant. It's a look back at several territories including the glory days of Australian wrestling, British Columbia, Detroit, Toronto and Indianapolis with the stars and programs such as the heyday of The Sheik, The Bruiser, the beginning of the career of Bobby Heenan and more.
We've also got coverage of AAA's first major show of the year, the Rey de Reyes show, which featured the beginning of the L.A. Park vs. La Parka feud, as well as Mr. Anderson and Hernandez from TNA appearing.
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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--As of this morning, still no opponent has been presented to Bobby Lashley or his management for the 4/17 Strikeforce show on CBS.
--On the site this coming week will be a series with former WWE writers Andrew Goldstein on Monday and David Lagana on Wednesday (who is a current writer for ROH). Also scheduled for shows this week are Lance Storm and the former Armando Estrada.
--A story on Bruno Sammartino receiving the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement award this coming Thursday night is in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette is at http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10080/1044485-139.stm?cmpid=MOSTEMAILEDBOX
They talk to Sammartino and former wrestling announcer Bill Cardille. Some of the stuff was silly like saying he was blacklisted for refusing to take dives. He was blacklisted, though.
--Eric Bischoff, when asked about the declining TNA ratings on facebook wrote, "Will address this in a blog soon. Stay tuned." Be ready to hear the part about adding the Monday and Thursday numbers together and TNA actually reaches more viewers than ever before.
--At the show last night, ROH announced a TV deal with The Fight Network in Canada for a Best of ROH show, so this will be different from their HDNet show.
--The Arizona Republic has a story on Ted DiBiase going into the Hall of Fame at http://www.azcentral.com/thingstodo/events/articles/2010/03/21/
He talks about his father dying in the ring and playing high school football in Phoenix, and turning down a scholarship at Arizona (he did that so he could go to West Texas State, and learn pro wrestling from The Funks).
--The semifinals and finals of the New Japan Cup are tomorrow in Amagasaki, winner gets a title shot on 4/4 against Shinsuke Nakamura. Final four are Togi Makabe vs. Tetsuya Naito and Masato Tanaka vs. Hirooki Goto.
--Ryota Hama became an unlikely Triple Crown champion, beating Satoshi Kojima earlier today at Sumo Hall in Tokyo.
--The April issue of WWE Magazine will have 26 different covers. The subscribers will get a Shawn Michaels cover, but other covers distributed as newsstands will include Cena, HHH, Mysterio, Undertaker, Batista, Orton, Edge, Jericho, Show, Punk, Sheamus, Miz, Kingston, Rhodes, DiBiase, McIntyre, Morrison, Christian, Bret Hart, Bourne, Kane, Swagger, MVP, R-Truth and Marella.
--Jeff Hardy tweeted after hearing this, "Matt Hardy not on one of the WWE Wrestlemania magazine covers. That is some bullshit to me. Think about it WWE fans, is that right or wrong?" Okay, that isn't bad at all sticking up for your brother. But....
--Matt then tweeted, "I wanna thank everybody for fightin 4 me, means the world to me guys. Make your voices be heard to the Powers that be. Thx 4 everything." Well, at least we know he's determined to make sure not to get a push no matter how over he is.
--Let's Get It on MMA on 4/23 at the River Cree Casino in Edmonton and 5/21 in Ottawa at Casino Lac-Leamy will start nine month long tournaments to crown Canadian lightweight and welterweight champions. Elaine McCarthy, the wife of John, is the promoter of record. Jason MacDonald vs. Matt Horwich headlines the first show. They will have monthly two hour TV specials in Canada on CHCH, CJNT and CHEK.
--The A&E Bob Saget special will be based on eight wrestlers who are trying to get into the big-time in wrestling. They taped last night in Oceanside and will tape again on Friday night in Phoenix at the Dragon Gate USA show. The eight are Johnny Yuma, Jason Watts, Jason Redondo, David Flex, Luke Hawx, Brad Badd, Christina Von Eerie (who works for AAA in Mexico and Xtreme Loco. Kevin Kleinrock, who produces the Bischoff-Hervery midget wrestling show, is a consultant on this project.
--Dwayne Johnson talks about his transition from kids star to action star in the movie "Faster," at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/herocomplex/2010/03/dwayne-johnson-.html
The story compares with him Schwarzenegger. On Tooth Fairy, it said it "tanked with critics and moviegoers." Actually, almost everyone was amazed at how well "Tooth Fairy" did, given it's expected to wind up at about $110 million worldwide.The story talks about his father, grandfather and his wrestling career.
--For what it's worth, and these change weekly, John Cena vs. HHH and Randy Orton vs. Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes are the advertised top matches for 4/9 in Glasgow, Scotland and 4/10 in Liverpool, England.
--Poll on Smackdown
29.5% of those responding didn't see the show
--What will do the most North American buys of these three events?
UFC 111 20.3%
--What will be the biggest PPV show of the next few months?
Brock Lesnar's return in July 39.8%
--Jersey All Pro Wrestling from last night in Rahway, NJ: Garden State Golds b Switchblade Conspiracy, Bandido Jr. over Rich Swann, Neeno Capone, Sabian and Egotistico Fantastico, Charlie Haas b Devon Moore in 15 seconds to win New Jersey state title, Nick Gage b Drake Younger, Necro Butcher b Chris Dickinson, Da Heavy Hitters b Eddie Kingston & B-Boy, Sara Del Rey b Hailey Hatred in a street fight in what was apparently a great match, South Side Playaz Club b Osirian Portal & Annie Social, Samoa Joe b Kazuchika Okada (Joe got an amazing reaction), Generation Me b Teddy Hart & Jack Evans, Dan Maff b Brodie Lee. Jushin Liger vs. Teddy Hart will headline the company's 5/22 show. Japanese woman wrestlers Ayumi Kurihara, Hiroyo Matsumoto, Misaki Ohata and Tomoka Nakagawa will appear on a 4/17 show in Jersey City at the Golden Door Charter School
--Michelle "Karate Hottie" Waterson moves from MMA to boxing on Friday night in Albuquerque at the Isleta Casino & Resort as a flyweight (thanks to Anthony Sullivan)
--Mecca Pro Wrestling on 5/29 at Murphy's Inn in Cornwall, ONT featuring a wrestler called Frank "the Natural" Couture, who is the second Canadian pro wrestler to take the Couture name.
--River City Wrestling on 4/3 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in San Antonio featuring Hernandez as the headliner along with Alissa Flash. Tammy Sytch appears for the promotion on 5/1.
--Mexico big shows today. Arena Coliseo has Blue Panther & Hector Garza & Mistico (as a face) vs. Taichi & Negro Casas & Mr. Niebla. Guadalajara has Mascara Dorada & Shocker & Volador Jr. vs. Atlantis & Rey Bucanero & Ultimo Guerrero. Puebla tomorrow as Mistico vs. Volador Jr. in a single so they may get their second straight weekly sellout. Naucalpan has the IWRG lightweight title vs. WWA welterweight title with Dr. Cerebro vs. El Hijo del Diablo. Gimnasio Nuevo Leon in Monterrey has Konnan Big vs. Perro Aguayo Jr. Arena Coliseo in Monterrey for AAA has Cibernetico & The Clowns vs. Konnan & Alex Koslov & Dark Ozz & Zorro. Arizpe has Dr. Wagner III & El Hijo del Santo & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. vs. Blue Demon Jr. & L.A. Park & El Hijo del L.A. Park. (thanks to Kris Zellner)
--Victory Crown Championship Wrestling from Friday night in Fort Worth: Jessica James & Rockstar Robbie b Brent Masters & Athena, Bull b Prince Al-Farat, Spoiler 2000 b ACH, Eddie Craven b G.Q. Gallo, Darin Childs & Rachel Summerlyn b Robert Evans, Matthew Palmer b Seth Shai, Franco D'Angelo b Danny Saint, Andy Dalton & Mitch Carter b James Johnson & J.T. LaMotta. Next show if 4/24 at the Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth.
--Dan Walsh, who ha appeared on MTV Road Rules and The Island, wrestled for Lethal Wrestling Alliance last night in O'Fallon, MO. Claudio Castagnoli headlines a 5/15 show at the Knights of Columbus Hall in the same city. (thanks to Patrick Brandmeyer)
--IHWE from last night in Fort Worth: Khris Wolfe b Darin Childs, Bobby Lambert b Thomas Baker, Chris Richter over Brent Masters, Donovan Steele, ACH, Balls Ryder and Logan, Genesis b Smurf Nation, Rachel Summerlyn b Lillie Mae, Chico Torres & Golden Chicano NC Gringo Loco & El Grande, Mike Foxx b Franco D'Angelo. Next show is 4/17 as the company's 12th anniversary show where they will honor Johnny Valentine (thanks to David Farmer and Rob Moore)
--New Generation Wrestling from last night in Hull, UK: Sam Bailey b Dara Diablo, Jack Gallagher b Scott Adams, Dave Rayne & James Tyler b Bam Bam Barton & SC Supreme, Kennedy won three-way over Dave Andrews and Nate Colt, Alex Shane & Matt Meyers b Nathan Cruz & Dave Breaks, Alex Cyanide b El Ligero to keep NGW title (thanks to Michael Fitzgerald)
--Firestorm Pro Wrestling from Friday night in Cleveland including the King of Cleveland tournament: Rufio Rapier b Broza, Lou Marconi b Shiima Xion, C.J. & Justin b Aftermath, Patrick Hayes b Logan Shulo, Sassy Stephanie b Angel Dust, J-Rocc won 30 man Rumble to be the King of Cleveland, John McChesney b Ray Rowe in a loser leaves town match (thanks to Jeff Gorman)
--Maximum Pro from Thursday night in Niagara Falls, ONT: Brad Martin b Jake O'Reilly, Bolen b Nick Civkers, Xtremo over Phil Atlas, Tornado and Crazzy Steve, J.T. Playa b Andrew Davis, Brian Youngblood b Brent B, Primo Scordino & Tony Carbonie b Boris Brezhnev & Sebastian Suave, Tyson Dux b Derek Wylde to become Max Pro champion, Rhino b Manabu Soya
--Maximum Pro from Friday night in Chatham, ONT: Crazzy Steve b Jake O'Reilly, Brian Youngblood b Bang Bang Pete & Buck Gunderson, Anthony Fiasco b Boris Brezhnev, Brent B over Anthony Marquez, Tornado and Scotty Cameron, Kip Copeland b J.T. Playa, Xtremo b James Champagne, Manabu Soya & Sebastian Suave b Phil Atlas & Brad Martin
--Maximum Pro from last night in Norval, ONT: Bang Bang Pete & Buck Gunderson b Ali Atish & Kaspian Dolce, Anthony Fiasco b Jake O'Reilly, Brian Youngblood b Tornado, Brent B & Phil Atlas & Brad Martin b Sebastian Suave & Marcus Marquez & Decimus, Tyson Dix b Xtremo, Turkan Celik b J.T. Playa, Boris Brezhnev b Crazzy Steve, Manabu Soya & Bolen b Ashley Sixx & Michael Elgin, Rhino b James Champagne
--Greg Valentine will be doing an autograph session on 3/27 from 6-11 p.m. at the Westland Flea Market in Columbus, OH