SAT. UPDATE: Late UFC Japan notes, Brock & Cena together, Jericho promo, Iron Shiek note
Saturday, 25 February 2012 15:45
By Dave Meltzer |
The Lead: UFC Returns To Japan Tonight
We're looking for your thoughts on tonight's UFC 144 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 be back tonight with Wrestling Observer radio covering the show, as well as the latest pro wrestling news and taking e-mail questions to
We're looking for reports on tonight's Raw house show in Ontario, CA, Smackdown in Guatemala City and TNA in Hagerstown, MD.
We're also looking for reports on the Smackdown house shows from Thursday night in Honduras, Friday night in Panama City, tonight in Guatemala City and last night's TNA show in Upper Marlboro, MD.
UFC 144 is tonight from the Saitama Super Arena for the UFC's first show in Japan since 2000. We'll have live coverage on the site starting at 7:30 p.m. Facebook fight at 7:30 p.m.
Issei Tamura (145) vs. Tiequan Zhang (146) FX at 8 p.m.
Chris Cariaso (136) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (135)
Steve Cantwell (185) vs. Riki Fukuda (185)
Vaughan Lee (135) vs. Kid Yamamoto (136)
Eiji Matsuoka (154) vs. Takanori Gomi (155) PPV at 10 p.m.
Joe Lauzon (156) vs. Anthony Pettis (155)
Bart Palaszewski (146) vs. Hatsu Hioki (145)
Tim Boetsch (186) vs. Yushin Okami (185)
Jake Shields (170) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (169)
Cheick Kongo (229) vs. Mark Hunt (264)
Ryan Bader (205) vs. Rampage Jackson (211)
Frankie Edgar (154) vs. Benson Henderson (154) for UFC lightweight title
Sunday has Raw from Eugene, OR and TNA in Charlottesville, VA. Monday has the live Raw from Portland, OR, featuring The Rock, Undertaker and HHH all appearing. TNA Impact also tapes Monday in Orlando with A.J. Styles in singles matches against both Christopher Daniels and Kazarian.
Tuesday has Smackdown and NXT being taped in Seattle with the supposed final NXT episode of the season, plus another Impact taping.
There will also be an Impact taping on Wednesday in Orlando for the "go-home" show for Victory Road.
This Week's Observer: Road To Wrestlemania, Next Year's Event, Chamber Happenings
An update on WrestleMania, coverage of the latest twists and turns in the WWE storyline, coverage of the Elimination Chamber show and a look at the biggest drawing cards in wrestling history including top ten by decades and year-by-year dating back more than 100 years are among the lead stories in the new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
We also talk about WrestleMania 29 coming to New Jersey, UFC's first show on Fuel, the second All Together Now show, more notes on the last New Japan PPV show, an update on the Brodus Clay situation, WWE awards, post WrestleMania and more.
The new issue is up on the web site right now, as is a back issue from 1994.
We look at the Mania card so far, as well as updates on where the show is going from here, how the idea of this year's Mania has changed and why, more on Shaquille O'Neal, Rock vs. Cena build, booking of Cena, the injury fallout of the Raw Battle Royal, why there was a Battle Royal, as well as complete coverage of the Chamber show. We've got match-by-match coverage with star ratings as well as poll results from the show.
We also look at WrestleMania coming to New Jersey next year, the possibility of WrestleMania 30 in Madison Square Garden, how the concept of WrestleMania has changed in recent years, a look at why this is the riskiest Mania show ever, as well as a look at the history of major outdoor shows in the New York market, dating back to Roosevelt Stadium and Shea Stadium events of the 60s and 70s.
We also look at UFC's first major full card on Fuel. We look at the Jake Ellenberger vs. Diego Sanchez main event and how that impacts the lightweight division, three rounds vs. five rounds, the first Ellenberger vs. Carlos Condit fight, what the ratings meant, how Spike's counter programming did and match-by-match coverage.
We also have more on Dwayne Johnson's upcoming projects, updates on Journey 2 at the box office, C.M. Punk vs. Chris Brown, new WWE movies, injury updates, WWE draft, another WWE arrest, perceptions about a guy not working a full schedule due to frequent injuries and comparing how full his schedule really has been compared to sacred cows who get no flack, return of Wrestlefest, lots of WWE awards, Batista talks more about returning, why Kharma hasn't been on television, post-Mania shows, Trish Stratus talks Mania, lots of new signees, pop culture quiz with WWE stars and WWE wrestler wins national championship in another sport.
We also have a look at the biggest drawing cards in the history of pro wrestling. First, we look at who the biggest consistent over the course of the decade drawing cards were for pro wrestling for every decade of its major existence. Who is the only man in history who was the biggest drawing card in pro wrestling over two straight decades. Who was the only person to be the most consistent draw of their decade for the course of the decade who mostly wrestled outside the U.S? Who are the biggest drawing cards in history who are not in the Hall of Fame?
We also look back at forgotten historical names and where they stand, as well as a look at how the top draws of some periods are all in the Hall of Fame, yet the modern wrestlers are having a tougher time getting in, as well as why.
We look at what wrestlers broke all-time records for big show drawing over the course of the year, dating back to the original records of Jim Londos. We look at how Rock and Steve Austin completely differ from the legendary draws like Londos, Bill Longson, Bruno Sammartino, Rocca and others. We look at what wrestler was the biggest draw of his time period without ever winning the world heavyweight title.
We look at what wrestlers had the longest tenure of being major draws. We look at who actually had the biggest drawing year in history, as well as the top draw each year dating back 100 years. We also look at what wrestler was the biggest draw in the world for the most years, and the answer isn't Bruno Sammartino or Hulk Hogan. We also look at what four active wrestlers have had multiple years of being the biggest drawing card in the business, as well as what modern wrestlers seemingly have already cracked Hall of Fame threshold numbers. About The Observer
The Wrestling Observer ranges weekly from 35,000 to 50,000 words covering pro wrestling and MMA internationally. Each issue has coverage and analysis of all the major news, plus every issue breaks major news stories before the Internet sties and has the most complete look at the pro wrestling and MMA business anywhere, plus history pieces available nowhere else.
The Observer is now in its 29th year of being the leading insider pro wrestling publication in the world. The biggest and most influential names in the pro wrestling and MMA industry, from bookers to promoters to Hall of Fame wrestlers and fighters to the biggest names on camera and behind the scenes, along with thousands of readers in all 50 states and more than 30 countries subscribe. Many have subscribed for 20 years or longer consecutively. They get the most detailed and inside coverage of what is going on all over the world. Everywhere from Wall Street to the major offices to television networks in the U.S. and Japan turn to the Observer for what is going on in the business.
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We also have ratings for all the national shows for the past week. We also have how every segment on Impact did as far as gaining and losing viewers, as well as who did what in the key segments and who appeals to what. We also have our regular weekly features with results of all the major arena events around the world, as well as all the major TV show reviews.
We also hit on the following:
--CMLL builds its first major match of the year
--Two title changes in CMLL
--First week of latest Arena Mexico championship tournament
--CMLL competing with AAA's next major show
--Top wrestling star sentenced to 15 years in jail and why
--Raven and Tommy Dreamer in an ECW vs. Mexico main event
--Update on Dragon Gate WrestleMania shows
--A show worth going out of your way to see
--Upcoming All Japan major matches including a match of two legends for the first time highlights the early part of the year
--More changes being talked about in New Japan including a big one
--G-1 Climax tournament plans and how that relates to WWE's Japan plans
--Late 90s legends from another sport square off for pro wrestling world title
--Latest star from another sport being given a big push in his pro wrestling debut
--Another famous MMA star goes into pro wrestling
--The end of the SMASH promotion featuring two former WWE stars going at it in the main event
--Rex King is still alive and details of his career and what happened
--Stars from Mexico and former WWE stars converge for some major arena house shows in the U.S. next month
--A 25-year-vet announces immediate retirement, canceling all future bookings
--What ever happened to the original network representative character
--WrestleReunion on WrestleMania weekend
--Retired 63-year-old legend coming back for one last match
--Former WWE television announcer gets suspended from his new job
--Sinclair Broadcasting plans and how this relates to ROH television coverage
--More ROH upcoming iPPV bouts as well as coverage of its most recent show
--Update on Jesse Sorensen
--PPV numbers updated
--Changes in TNA with Vince Russo gone and what the atmosphere is like
--Kurt Angle with more realistic approach to trying out for the Olympics
--Why nobody is taking Angle seriously, including those closest to him
--Update on Ring Ka King, latest numbers and notes on the weekend shows
--Upcoming movies with TNA wrestlers
--Former TNA wrestler gets married
--TNA star does angle on the road with star of the WCW glory years
--A look at the TNA weekend house shows
--Notes on UFC 144
--Advance ticket sales to all the major upcoming UFC shows
--Update on Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen and why it may not be held at a stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil after all
--More on the return to Zuffa of Nate Marquardt
--UFC looking at heavily promoting Tate vs. Rousey
--Lorenzo Fertitta bids $1.1 million for sports collectible
--Update on the health of King Mo
--How UFC's audience average on Versus compared with car racing and the NHL
--Lots of new UFC fights announced
--Lots of former UFC names on indie scene including a rematch of a UFC championship
--Former champion pro wrestler at 45 does MMA fight against the daughter of a famous celebrity
--50-year old former UFC heavyweight champion coming out of retirement
--All women's promotion announces its debutThe Most Popular Observers Ever
New subscribers ordering 24 or 40 issues have to let us know what major stories 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
*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)
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*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)
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*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)
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*January 24, 2005 (2004 Awards issue, Rock and WWE part company)
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*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)
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*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 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)
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*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) .
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*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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We now have available personally autographed copies of Tributes II, our latest book, as well as a DVD that comes with it talking more about the subjects in the book. The book covers the life stories of Lou Thesz, Wahoo McDaniel, Elizabeth, Fred Blassie, Road Warrior Hawk, Andre the Giant, Curt Hennig, Johnny Valentine, Davey Boy Smith, Terry Gordy, Owen Hart, Stu Hart, Gorilla Monsoon, The Sheik and Tim Woods.
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Saturday News & Links
--Some UFC 144 notes for tonight: The weigh-ins were cause for concern in two fights. Obviously, Quinton Jackson coming in six pounds heavy and soft and admitting an injury (although not saying what it was) may be cause for concern if the fight with Ryan Bader gets into the second round. Bader himself sometimes fades and this to me was Jackson's fight to lose as his stand-up is much better. But if you don't have conditioning, you'd better get it done.
Jake Shields looked terribly skinny, like he did against Martin Kampmann (a fight he won but didn't look good in doing so). Yoshihiro Akiyama is a question mark at 170 pounds, having fought at 185-193 his entire career, but he didn't look drawn making weight. Keep in mind there is less time for rehydration because there is six to seven hours less time between weigh-ins and fight time than usual because the show is starting at 8:30 a.m. Japanese time.
Akiyama and Yamamoto should be the two biggest stars to the live crowd and both may need a win to stay in UFC. Jackson and Hunt also have followings from Pride and K-1 and Gomi was a native star. Fukuda was a pro wrestler who started in Riki Choshu's old promotion (hence the "Riki" ring name). Okami's nickname "Thunder" is from Jushin Liger but it was Joe Silva, a big Jushin Liger fan, who came up with it. Akiyama was hated when he left Japan for being a notorious cheater, but it's been a lot of years and people may have forgotten it. I've heard two schools of thought on how he will be received, both the returning star, or as the hated guy. I'm betting returning star.
--Ric Flair turns 63 today.
--John Cena worked last night in Los Angeles on the Raw show but isn't working the shows in Ontario, CA, tonight or Salem, OR, tomorrow because he's the guest starter at the Daytona 500 race. Cena, Jon Jones and Brock Lesnar are all guest celebrities at the race.
--People were raving about Chris Jericho's promo at the Los Angeles show last night where he spoke in Spanish to what was a heavily Hispanic audience. Jericho lived several years in Mexico. A fan threw toilet paper at him and he worked the toilet paper into the promo. Eve Torres also did a promo. The description to me was that she had a lot of heat, but not as much as they expected and a lot of the fans didn't know she was a heel until they played the video to the live crowd from Raw. She's had a presence living in Los Angeles for years, going to college there and dancing for the Clippers.
--Justin Tuck of the New York Giants called Frankie Edgar to wish him good luck in tonight's UFC title fight. Edgar noted that Tuck told him the entire Giants team was rooting for him.
--The Biography Channel did a piece on Helio Gracie that has English subtitles
(it was originally a Brazilian piece).
--Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is predicted to be No. 3 for the weekend in its third week out, grossing $12.5 million.
--Mick Foley is in the U.K. doing a series of comedy dates and did this interview for Sky News Radio
--Regarding the Forbes Magazine note on the Iron Sheik's Twitter account, it should be noted that the account is a fake. Sheik does not have a Twitter account and in fact, can't read or write English and here is a recent video
of him saying he doesn't have a Facebook or Twitter. --Who do you expect to take this fight
Cheick Kongo 75.3%
Mark Hunt 24.7% --And this one?
Anthony Pettis 62.0%
Joe Lauzon 38.0% --Poll on MMA Uncensored's debut episode
65.9% of those responding didn't see the show. --Poll on Impact
50.5% of those responding didn't see the show
--Rey Mysterio is in Detroit this weekend at Autorama inside the Cobo Center. He also did this interview
--Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto have a press conference on Thursday to announce their fight at the Canelo Alvarez vs. Shane Mosley fight (who will also be there) on Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. It is open to the public. The two bouts take place on 5/5, the same night as the next UFC event on FOX.
--Rampage Jackson cuts a promo on Rich Franklin
for knocking him for missing weight. Ariel Helwani also talks to Ryan Bader
about the subject.
--Somebody should hire Jerry Millen as a comedy character in wrestling where he would straight face deny the obvious. He could go out there with his frosted hair and leather pants and be the greatest dweeb in history getting all kinds of natural heat. He could be an all-time great heel manager.
--Reader Joel Kolsrud gave some pro wrestling background to Boston Celtics announcer Sean Grande. Grande was on the staff of the Wrestling Forum newsletter in the 80s that was put out by Jon Gallagher.
--The Score Fighting Championships added three matches to a 3/16 show in Hamilton, ONT at the Hamilton Place Theater with featherweights Will Romero of Brampton against Jeff Harrison of Ottawa; lightweights Alex Ricci of Woodbridge against Iraj Hadin of London, and Adam Assenza of Burlington against John Roche of Toronto. The show is headlined by John Alessio against Ryan Healy.
--A clarification regarding something that was written here a few days ago. There is an In Your Face Wrestling show on 5/18 in Amsterdam, NY at America's Best Value Inn, the same hotel banquet room that the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame is using the next night for their 2012 induction ceremonies, the two events are not associated other than that coincidence and that the promotion booked the room because people will be in town. The Hall of Fame has nothing to do with the show.
--Fit Finlay will be appearing tomorrow in Sittingbourne, England for IPW U.K. for their No Escape 2012 show. (thanks to Anthony Sullivan)
--Headlocked writer/creator Mike Kingston appears today and tomorrow at the Image Comic Expo at the Oakland Convention Center in Booth 54.
--Former pro boxer Randy Neumann was on Neil Cavuto's FNN show Friday trying to explain why boxing has lost so much popularity: "This is America. We're the entitlement generation. Guys don't want to fight anymore. The MMA is a lot easier because they only fight five rounds and they get over very quickly so you don't really have to condition yourself. And they've taken a lot of the action." Okay. (thanks to Jeff Gagliardo)
--SMASHLAHOMA Pro Wrestling tonight in Miami, OK at the Miami Civic Center Gym features former Mid South Wrestling headliners Hacksaw Butch Reed and Bobby Eaton. There is a story on Reed
, who played Junior College football in Miami, OK at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
--Empire Pro Wrestling from Thursday night in Atlanta before 175 fans: Hayden Young & Chip Day b De La Vega & Vandal, Jay Fury DCOR Iceberg, Brian Blaze & Geter b Dany Only & Phantom, Fred Hehi d Corey Hollis, Jagged Edge b Tommy Daniels, Mason b Aesha, Vordell Walker & Kyle Matthews b Jon & Trey Williams, Shane Marx b Pandora. Davey Richards appears on the 3/23 show in Avondale Estates. (thanks to Larry Goodman)
--USWO from last night in Nashville before 91 fans: Bully Douglas b Nick Iggy, L.T. Falk b Josh Crow, Mike Revick & Josh Prada b Saint & Shawn Hoodrich, Hot Rod Biggs b Jason Xavier, Chrisjen Hayme b Shane Smalls, Damien Payne b Mike Jablonski, Jocephus b Drew Haskins (thanks to Jimmie Daniel)
--WSU has its 5th anniversary show on 3/3 in Deer Park, NY at the Sportatorium as an iPPV with a Hall of Fame ceremony plus Mercedes Martinez vs. Jessicka Hovok as the main event. Scheduled to be inducted into their women's wrestling Hall of Fame are Cindy Rogers, Jana, Dixie Carter and Georgiann Makropolous. Makropolous was a fan, newsletter writer, fan club president and really a good friend to almost everyone in wrestling from the 60s until her death.
--Premier Championship Wrestling from Thursday night in Winnipeg: Adam Knight b Prince Fuego and Marty Labossier in a gauntlet match, Billy Blaze b Trent Nash, Chris Marxwell b Jay Walker, Mike Hammer b Chris Marxwell, Scott Justice b Jackie Lee, Leo London & James Beaver & Adam Knight b Kenny Omega & Chris Stevens & Antonio Scorpio Jr. Next show is the 10th anniversary show on 3/15 at the Marquee Lounge in Winnipeg with Honky Tonk Man and Kenny Omega. Honky Tonk Man headlined the promotion's first ever show on March 3, 2002 in Winnipeg. (thanks to Andrew Shallcross)
--The top five knockouts of 2011
in the Score Fighting Series.