FRIDAY UPDATE: MORE ON WWE VS. NBA INCLUDING INTERLEAGUE MATCH, TNA GETS INVOLVED, UFC SCOOPS, MORE



By Bryan Alvarez

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Weekend schedule has Raw tonight in Boise, ID and TNA in Amarillo, TX. Will Terry Funk show up?

Saturday is UFC 98 in Las Vegas, Raw in Salt Lake City and Smackdown in Rio Rancho, NM.

Sunday is TNA Sacrifice from Orlando, no Raw show since, well, that is beyond explanation, and Smackdown is in Las Cruces, NM.

Monday is the live Raw from the Staples Center featuring Randy Orton & Big Show & Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes & The Miz all wearing Denver Nuggets jerseys against Batista & John Cena & MVP & Jerry Lawler and a mystery partner who will all wear Los Angeles Lakers jerseys. We also have Impact tapings from Orlando. What are the odds that they do a spoof on Vince McMahon Monday night?

Tuesday has the Dream featherweight tournament quarterfinals featuring the return of Kid Yamamoto, plus round one of the Super Hulk tournament, as well as Smackdown & ECW tapings from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and Impact tapings from Orlando.

They are also taping Impact on Wednesday, as they are doing all of the tapings for Slammivesary this week.

Smackdown tonight has:
* Edge vs. Jeff Hardy non-title with the winner picking the stips for their Extreme Rules match
* CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
* Michelle McCool vs. Gail in a number-one contender's match
* Morrison & Cryme Tyme vs. Shelton & Charlie Haas & RICKY ORTIZ
* Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth

A look at Ric Flair wrestling again at the age of 60, the Denver debacle, the UFC's own problems with an upcoming show, and some good news and bad news coming out of Judgment Day are among the lead stories in this coming Monday's issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

The issue is available right now to premium web site members, and you can get the Observer delivered by mail with details below.

The lead story covers different negotiations Flair has had regarding wrestling again, and a frank discussion of the pitfalls of doing so that people aren't talking about. We look back at the retirement at Wrestlemania, thoughts regarding this year's Wrestlemania. We also look at his latest return to WWE television and why it happened, when it was first discussed and finalized.

We also update the Reid Flair situation, as well as what Flair has talked about regarding a lengthy tour and how WWE fits into all this.

We also update the returns and when they are scheduled involving HHH and Shawn Michaels, and more details on the Smackdown event that was rewritten on the fly as well as WWE's talks regarding probably the most valuable wrestling videotape collection they don't own, as well as tons of comments from Randy Orton regarding his match with HHH at Wrestlemania, why Manu didn't make it, and the schedule.

We also cover the double-booking incident in Denver, all the publicity that has come out of it, Vince McMahon's appearance with Jonathan Coachman, ironies about scheduling conflicts and other similar situations. We also look at experiences that happened on two occasions with PPV events that had to be moved, one about a week before the event and another literally the day before the event.

We've got full coverage of both the good and bad news coming out of Judgment Day. We've got early business notes, poll results, match-by-match coverage with star ratings and more.

We also have our updated business charts for WWE & TNA covering a two month period, looking at attendance, PPV and ratings to see what is up and what is down, including what TV show has taken the biggest hit, how has the WWE's lowering of ticket prices helped or hurt the gates, and whether TNA's ratings increases have led to increases in PPV or live attendance. We also look at the total viewing audience for all of the major shows, and what is a good sign for TNA with a WWE comparison.

We've also got an update on UFC's problems with its June PPV show in Germany, including the bad local publicity leading to the show, Dana White's comments on it, company goals, changes in the card, the return of Mirko Cro Cop to UFC and more.

We also have a feature on one of the biggest stars of the last 30 years and his return to television on a major show in a few weeks, at Triplemania. We've also got at least preliminary notes on the TripleMania card.

We also have more on a former WWF wrestler charged with plotting to kill as well as his wrestling and crime background.

We also have our usual weekly features including the most detailed look at the TV ratings of the national shows, major TV show reviews and results from the major league arena events held over the past week.

We also have more on Bobby Lashley's last fight and TNA's PPV show.

The Wrestling Observer ranges from 25,000 to 40,000 words covering pro wrestling and MMA all over the world.

Each issue has coverage and analysis of all the major news, plus every issue breaks major news stories before the Internet sites and has the most complete look at the business as a whole anywhere. The Observer is now in its 27th year of being the leading insider pro wrestling publication in the world. The biggest and most influential names in the pro wrestling industry as well as the MMA industry, from bookers, to promoters to Hall of Fame wrestlers and fighters to the biggest current names, both on camera, and behind the scenes, along with thousands of readers in all 50 states and 30 countries subscribe. Many have subscribed as long as 20 years or more straight. They get the most detailed and inside coverage of what is going on all over the world and an accuracy from having the most inside sources that can't be found on the web. Everyone from Wall Street to the major offices to the TV networks in U.S. and Japan turn to the Observer for what is going on in the business. If you are a new subscriber ordering 24 or more issues, you can get one free classic issue of your choice sent to you today. With a 40 issue subscription, you can get two free classic issues sent to you today. Just send your Visa or Master Card order with your name, address, phone number, Visa or Master Card number and an expiration date to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you can order by faxing that information to 408-244-3402. You can also subscribe via paypal at www.paypal.com and using the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it address or subscribe via check, cash or money order, as well as credit card, by mail, by sending to Wrestling Observer Newsletter, P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228.

Also in this week's issue:

--What freak show segment was a big ratings gainer this past week

--What comedy segment was a ratings killer this past week

--What hasn't come out about the Smackdown ratings for the improving shows

--Several new second generation wrestlers about to get in the spotlight

--Big controversy over name ownership of one of the most famous monikers in the world

--More on the Dr. Wagner Jr. contact situation

--Hart Foundation split up

--Update on pro wrestling in Puerto Rico and what Americans are working there now including a number of former ECW champions

--New Dragon Gate title matches

--New pro wrestling storyline where a world champion is teaming with two MMA champions for his next title defense

--Former MMA fighter debuts in main event and beats top star first match in

--Return from knee surgery of one of the best wrestlers in the world

--Notes on KENTA's first produced show featuring heavyweight champ vs. jr. champ in a singles match

--Upcoming junior heavyweight tag team tournament

--Early 80s Hall of Fame dream trios team debuts

--What was once one of the world's most famous wrestling arenas is once again being talked about for destruction

--Notes from the Amsterdam Hall of Fame

--More on the conviction of Dr. Phil Astin

--Wife charged in the murder of her husband, a former pro wrestler and early fighter

--Junior Hodge trophy winner from a famous wrestling family

--Jesse Ventura talks Hogan

--Hulk Hogan's latest story regarding this past Wrestlemania

--Former wrestling promoter and referee running for public office

--Another funny Billy Robinson update

--RVD talks about his time in WWE and the starting of the ECW brand

--Update on HDNet and Time Warner situation

--Full details on TNA PPV

--More on Kurt Angle doing a movie

--TNA Epics TV show

--Talks of TNA increasing house shows

--Notes on ticket sales to Faber vs. Brown

--Dana White on Tom Atencio challenging him to a fight

--White on the ESPN piece

--Fighter says he will refuse to fight in Nevada

--New fights and changed fights

--Japanese fighting star complains about his company using Canseco

--Behind the Arlovski signing by Strikeforce

--Where Gina Carano and Stacy Keibler finished in Maxim's hottest women on the planet

--The future of Kimbo Slice as he appears to get back in bed with his former promoter

--Notes on this past week's Strikeforce show

--Hatton vs. Pacquiao buys

--More thoughts on UFC scoring

--Celebrity father wants to start MMA promotion

--Former WWE wrestler goes to 7-0 in MMA

--Update on former WCW promoter in MMA

--Best U.S. college heavyweight in history fights this past week

--Former announcer nominated for major Hall of Fame

--Former Olympians doing a tag team in a shoot match

--Son of 70s and 80s pro wrestling star and former amateur great doing MMA

--Best selling pro wrestling and MMA DVDs

--More on WWE advertising house shows

--More on current model/actress training for WWE

--More on WWE overseas

--More on WWE PPV name change

--WWE house show report

New subscribers ordering 24 or 40 issues have to let us know what major story (ies) of the past 11 years you are most interested in and we'll send the issue with the best coverage of that story. We've got coverage of every major PPV event and world wide spectacular, every major star switching promotions, histories of companies like FMW, Rings and New Japan, retirement and obit issues of every major star who fits into those descriptions over the past 11 years, as well as our biggest issue every year, the annual awards issue, and our most controversial issue of every year, the Hall of Fame issue. Our most requested issues in our history are:

*November 17, 1997 (full details of everything leading to the most famous wrestling match finish of modern times at the Survivor Series plus a history of in-ring double-crosses)

*December 21, 1998 (the complete Vince McMahon-Bret Hart conversation right before the Survivor Series match so you'll know exactly what was said

--the conversation played in edited form both on the inaugural broadcast of Confidential as well as in Wrestling with Shadows, but everything that was said between the two about the match that was going to take place that same night)

*August 1, 1994 (the most detailed coverage anywhere of the Vince McMahon steroid trial, an issue praised in numerous newspaper article and Sex, Lies and Headlocks)

*March 26, 2001 (death of WCW and history of pro wrestling on the Turner networks)

*October 22, 2001 (why the adult audience has left pro wrestling in such great numbers and what needed to have been done to save them)

*July 8, 1991 (Ric Flair leaves WCW as world champion/Zahorian steroid trial)

*February 8, 1993 (the life and times of Andre the Giant)

*May 13, 2002 (the life story of the most incredible pro wrestling career ever, a look at Lou Thesz, in one of the largest issues of our history)

*January 27, 2003 (part one of the two-part series covering the career and life of The Sheik)

*February 3, 2003 (Part two on The Sheik including thoughts from people who worked with him and where he stands historically)

*March 24, 2003 (history of the WWWF title, inside behind the Sammartino, Backlund and Backlund era)

*April 21, 2003 (history of WWF continues with the expansion nationally, the death of the regional territories and the rise of Hulk Hogan)

*May 12, 2003 (The life and death of Elizabeth, and the rise of fall of Lex Luger)

*June 9, 2003 (Part 1 of history of WWF vs. WCW wars and what many say was the greatest year in U.S. wrestling; plus a look at Fred Blassie)

*June 16, 2003 (Freddie Blassie through the eyes of his biggest rivals and friends)

*July 28, 2003 (Part 2 of the history of the WWF vs. WCW war and the plans to make new superstars in the early 90s, what happened, and the night where the three biggest wrestling companies in the world combined for a joint show and what happened)

*August 25, 2003 (2003 Hall of Fame issue with huge profiles on the controversial career of Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit as well as historical features on Earl Caddock and Francisco Flores)

*September 22, 2003 (Part 3 of the history of the WWF vs WCW war with the seeds that caused the collapse of the industry in the 90s, Zahorian trial, Gulf War controversy, Flair leaves WCW while holding world title and much more)

*October 27, 2003 (The fascinating life of Stu Hart plus the story of Road Warrior Hawk)

*January 19, 2004 (2003 Awards issue)

*February 2, 2004 (History of Toronto wrestling, Jack Tunney life story, Royal Rumble and Battle Royal history)

*February 23, 2004 (History of Guerrero family with Eddy's win over Brock Lesnar)

*March 1, 2004 (History of WWF continues with the period that brought the company down in early 1992, the mistakes, the real stories and how the business changed)

*March 8, 2004 (History of Wrestlemania, its greatest matches and best and worst shows as voted both by wrestlers and non-wrestlers and Wrestlemania history books)

*July 5, 2004 (A look behind the scenes and Ric Flair's book and his background with Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan)

*July 12, 2004 (A look at more on Ric Flair's book and his comments on Bruno Sammartino, Bret Hart and Mick Foley)

*August 16, 2004 (History of the Olympians in pro wrestling)

*August 23, 2004 (2004 Hall of Fame issue and biggest issue of the year with huge profiles on Kazushi Sakuraba, Undertaker, Bob Backlund, Masahiro Chono, Ultimo Dragon, Kurt Angle and Tarzan Lopez

--this counts as one issue if you are asking for a free issue, but ordered separately, due to size, is $6 in North America and $7 overseas)

*October 4, 2004 (the life and times of Big Bossman; as well as details of the life and times of one of the most influential men world wide in pro wrestling history, Jim Barnett)

*November 15, 2004 (the full story of what happened between Kurt Angle and Daniel Puder, plus coverage of the most important week in the history of TNA)

*January 24, 2005 (2004 Awards issue, Rock and WWE part company)

*March 14, 2005 (the 50 biggest money players in the history of WWF and a look at their Hall of Fame)

*May 9, 2005 (the life and times of Chris Candido)

*June 20, 2005 (The full story behind Paul Heyman and the death of ECW, as well as coverage of One Night Stand, Hardcore Homecoming and behind the scenes of both shows)

*July 18, 2005 (death of Shinya Hashimoto and his records with a look at the fall of New Japan, the Matt Hardy angle, tons of WWE firings, Cornette firing in detail as well as problems of a WWE developmental territory in our biggest news issue of the year which is a double-sized issue and would be $6 on its own and $7 overseas)

*August 24, 2005 (2005 Hall of Fame issue with career profiles of Paul Heyman, HHH and Freebirds plus debut of MMA Hall of Fame)

*September 12, 2005 (History of Mid South Wrestling)

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*November 21, 2005 (Life and Times of Eddy Guerrero and Crusher, double issue $6 on its own and $7 overseas)

*December 5, 2005 (The Eddy Guerrero special issue, double issue $6 on its own, $7 overseas)

*January 9, 2006 (The life and times of Superstar Billy Graham, plus New Year's Eve 2005 coverage)

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*April 3, 2006 (Story of Ann Calvello and the history of Roller Derby

--many called this the best issue of the Observer ever)

*April 10, 2006 (Behind the scenes at the 2006 Wrestlemania/Hall of Fame week)

*July 24, 2006 (The History of the Von Erichs and World Class Championship Wrestling

--the most unreal story ever in wrestling)

*September 4, 2006 (The Rise and Fall of Kurt Angle; 2006 Hall of Fame inductions of Eddie Guerrero, Paul Bowser, Masakatsu Funaki, Aja Kong and Hiroshi Hase including tons of wrestling history around the world from the 20s through the 60s, the evolution of working to not working in Japan, and a look at Guerrero in hindsight, double issue $6 or $7 overseas)

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*November 15, 2006 (History of WCW part one, Eric Bischoff's book and how the industry was changed forever)

*November 20, 2006 (History of WCW part two, Why Jim Ross left WCW, How Bischoff changed the company, signing of Hulk Hogan, Beginning of Nitro, Jesse Ventura, Brian Pillman, Chris Jericho and signing Wrestlemania planned celebrity away)

*November 27, 2006 (History of WCW part three, When Bischoff challenged McMahon to fight; Truth and fiction around Bret Hart signing with WCW and why it didn't click)

*December 6, 2006 (details behind Pride's offers to sell promotion and Part four of History of WCW part four, Hogan-Goldberg match and why there was no rematch, WCW loses NBC network deal in 1999 and the real reasons the company fell apart)

*January 22, 2007 (2006 Awards issue, double issue $7 on its own, $8 overseas)

*February 14, 2007 (Life and Times of Bam Bam Bigelow)

*March 5, 2007 (WWE begins plans that will change the business)

*March 12, 2007 (Life and Times of Mike Awesome)

*March 19, 2007 (Life and Times of Ernie Ladd)

*April 4, 2007 (Life and Times of Badnews Allen Coage

--which many are calling one of the best issues in history)

*July 2, 2007 (Part one of the Benoit double murder-suicide)

*July 5, 2007 (Part two of the Benoit double murder-suicide)

*July 10, 2007 (Part three of the Benoit double murder-suicide)

*July 19, 2007 (Part four of the Benoit double murder-suicide)

*July 23, 2007 (Part five of Benoit double murder-suicide)

*July 25, 2007 (Part six of Benoit double murder-suicide)

*August 15, 2007 (The legend of the God of Japanese wrestling and his influence on MMA, Karl Gotch)

*October 15 (2007 Hall of Fame double issue, $7 on its own, $8 overseas including inductions of The Rock, Tom Packs and the original Strangler Lewis)

*November 12, 2007 (Life and times of Fabulous Moolah and history of U.S. women's wrestling) .

*December 31, 2007 (History of Ric Flair and the heyday of wrestling at the Greensboro Coliseum)

*January 21, 2008 (2007 Awards issue, double issue $7 on its own, $8 overseas)

*March 17, 2008 (Life and times of Johnny Weaver)

*March 24, 2008 (Life and times of Gary Hart)

*April 10, 2008 (Farewell to Ric Flair; My thoughts, Shawn Michaels talks of Flair's meaning to him; Hall of Fame; Wrestlemania double issue, $7 on its own, $8 overseas)

*August 11, 2008 (Ric Flair leaves WWE; Updated history of pro wrestlers and MMA fighters who went to the Olympics)

*September 8, 2008 (2008 Hall of Fame double issue, $7 on its own, $8 overseas; part one of Killer Kowalski bio)

*September 15, 2008 (Life and Times of Evan Tanner)

*September 22, 2008 (The amazing career of Killer Kowalski, one of our most in-depth bios)

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-- Mr. McMahon vs. Stan Kroenke has been added to Raw.

-- A fascinating article in the New York Post here about how Raw is "sticking it to the Nugs". Ok.

-- By the way, after all of this publicity all week, tickets aren't selling well for the Staples Center shows on Monday and Tuesday.

-- And speaking of comedy, to set this all straight, Vince McMahon has been crying for five days now that Raw got bumped for an NBA game. Now whether his gripe is legitimate or not, the fact is that at last count WWE has now cancelled FIVE EVENTS as a result: Loveland, CO, Colorado Springs, plus August 8 in Saskatoon, August 8 in Kamloops, BC, and August 9th in Kelowna, the last three due to rescheduling the Colorado shows.

-- And if all of this isn't wacky enough, TNA is now jumping on the bandwagon. They announced that for the house shows on May 29th in Pueblo, CO and May 30th in Cheyenne, Wyoming, if you bring your unused WWE ticket from a canceled Colorado house show to the box office they'll give you $10 off your admission. “Some of the biggest pro wrestling fans in the nation are in Colorado,” said Dixie Carter. “It was sad to see the WWE pull out of all their scheduled shows in Colorado recently because of the scheduling conflict with the NBA playoffs. I want everyone in Colorado to know that TNA Wrestling is coming and we hope to see you at our first shows ever in your state. For WWE fans that paid for any of these cancelled events, we are offering you $10 off the purchase of tickets to come see us and enjoy the best fan experience in pro wrestling.” She also said they were “formally inviting” all Nugget players, coaches, broadcasters and front-office staff to the Pueblo show.

-- Jim Ross has thoughts on the situation and more up here

-- Jeremy Borash on his Twitter said Shane Sewell has been released.

-- Contracted purses for tomorrow's UFC not counting any bonuses: Rashad Evans $200,000 to show/$175,000 to win, Lyoto Machida $70/$70, Matt Hughes $100/$100, Matt Serra $75/$75.

-- All the cheap tickets ($50, $100 and $200) for the 8/8 UFC at the Wachovia Center for UFC 101 sold out in the fight club presale yesterday. Lots of expensive seats left at $600, some at $300 and $400.

-- TUF did a 1.0 this week and 1.3 million viewers.

-- Alex Marvez has a story on Christopher Daniels up here

-- ECW had 24:37 of wrestling in their one hour this week as compared to 17:49 in TWO HOURS of TNA. So ECW beat them by 6:48, which is pretty scary. In TNA's defense, the Finlay vs. Harry Smith match seemed to go 6 hours and 48 minutes so it’s not quite as impressive as it sounds.

-- CMLL announced today the creation of the CMLL Universal Championship, which will be awarded to the winner of a tournament which finishes up on June 19th featuring all the current title holders. Block A starts June 5th and Block B starts June 12th. Participants include:
Ultimo Guerrero = CMLL Heavyweight Champion
Rey Bucanero = CMLL Lt. Heavyweight Champion
Hijo del Texano = NWA Lt. Heavyweight Champion
Averno = CMLL & NWA Middleweight Champion
La Sombra = NWA Welterweight Title, CMLL Tag Champion
Negro Casas = CMLL Welterweight Champion
Sangre Azteca = Mexican National Welterweight Champion, Mexican National Trios Champion
Mascara Dorada = CMLL Super Lightweight Champion
Volador Jr. = CMLL Tag Champion
Hector Garza = CMLL Trios Champion
Hijo del Fantasma = CMLL Trios Champion
La Mascara = CMLL Trios Champion
Black Warrior = Mexican National Trios Champion
Dragon Rojo = Mexican National Trios Champion

Thanks to Kris Zellner.

-- Steve Khan writes: Gina Carano was on the FAN590 in Toronto today. Nothing you haven't heard before, except one thing. Co-host Jack Armstrong asked her about doing American Gladiators with Hulk Hogan and Jack asked her about him. She said Hulk is amazing but there's a sadness there with Hulk and everything he's gone through and thinks he should have people around him who care. The funny part was the other co-host Doug MacLean saying that Hogan must be like 65 years old now. Carano figured that's probably right.

-- Tickets for Raw at the Von Braun Center Arena on October 16th go on sale Saturday at 10 AM.

-- Phil S. in Boca Raton writes: Last Saturday night, they did a poll on the NASCAR chat on Yahoo about who was a better wrestler. Being NASCAR is a has its roots mostly in southern locales, I was surprised the the final poll, with Hogan beating Flair head to head 60% to 40%. Lastly, was watching the Pit vs Car hockey game and Tyler Kennedy scored the final goal of the game. When announcing the goal scorer, they announced it same as Mr. Kennedy in WWE.

-- From their fantastic press release: The International Wrestling Syndicate celebrates its Tenth Anniversary on May 30th at the Medley with the biggest grudge match to hit Quebec since the Rougeaus fought the Garvins in the old Montreal Forum: Kevin Nash vs. Pierre-Carl Ouellet. The History: In September 1995, PCO (as Jean-Pierre Lafitte) was scheduled to face Kevin Nash (as WWF Champion Diesel) in Montreal. PCO refused to job in his home-town. Kevin Nash was a monumental ass-hole about it. PCO lost his push and eventually his position in the WWF. What You Need To Know: For the first time in 14 years, PCO will be in the same ring as Kevin Nash, the man who cost him his dream job and literally millions of dollars in lost revenue. PCO will be able to punch Kevin Nash in the face as hard as he wants and not go to jail for it.

-- UFC Gym coming to Dublin, CA

-- What did you think of the Ultimate Fighter Show?
Excellent 8.9%
Good 43.0%
Average 20.3%
Fair 8.9%
Poor 19.0%
55.4% of those responding didn't see the show

Should Ric Flair wrestle again?
Yes, anywhere he wants 23.0%
Yes, but only outside North America 5.6%
No 71.4%

Which show over the next week are you most interested in?
UFC 98 42.4%
Raw on Monday 28.9%
Dream on Tuesday 15.9%
TNA Sacrifice 12.8%

-- Chikara's Equinox suffered an ankle injury in training and is off Saturday's event at The Chrin Community Center of Palmer in Easton, PA, and Sunday's show at the ECW Arena. Chikara also announced that Gran Akuma is the third entrant into the Showcase match on the first Dragon Gate show in Philly on July 31st, joining Fire Ant and Soldier Ant.

-- 5/30 - Sin City Fight Club at the Center Stage in Atlanta. Scheduled to appear are Dymond Jones from BET's Iron Ring, Clint Hester, and Chike Lindsay. 12 fights scheduled.

-- 6/6 - Wild Bill's in Gwinnett, GA. Frank Millsap (6 - 3) vs. Ran Weathers (11 - 3), Lissa Braverman vs. Jan Finney. Also, Dustin Chovanic, Mike Alvarado, Sonny South, Justin Sims, and Jon Queiroz. Thanks to Scott Decker.

-- Antonio "the Promise" Thomas will be on the Wrestling Mouthpiece, this Saturday, May 23 on SportsRadio 1510 AM The Zone in Boston, Ma.

-- June 27, 2009, CPW/SNW Wrestling returns to The Ice Box, 3 W. Olive Street, Scranton, PA with Honky Tonk Man headlining in a hair vs. hair match. I'd say that's somewhat akin to Santo putting up his mask.

-- And you thought we were done with WWE vs. NBA for this update?

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