By Dave Meltzer |
Monday is WWE's final show before WrestleMania, in Atlanta. They will be taping Smackdown matches before the live Raw. Raw will include all the names that will be at Mania including Rock, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and HHH. In addition, USA Network will be debuting the Rock vs. Cena countdown show at 8 p.m. before Raw.
On Fuel tonight is a replay of last week's Ultimate Fighter at 9 p.m. and Friday's show is replayed at 10 p.m., while they have an Ultimate Knockouts special tonight at 11 p.m.
New Observer Alert: Wrestlemania looms, Developmental issues, sad Friday Night Wars
Between coverage of the build to WrestleMania, WWE developmental, the sad results of week two of the Friday night wars, and coverage of Victory Road, All Japan at Sumo Hall, Rey de Reyes as well as part two on the life of Doug Furnas, we've got a double issue of the Observer out this week.
The issue is up on the site today along with a back issue from early 1995 also up on the site this week.
Our lead story runs down the lineup and the promotion of The Rock vs. John Cena match and WrestleMania 28, including notes on the special as well as updates on the show.
We also look at the whole WWE developmental story, how it went down, blow by blow, a look at the FCW history as well as a look back at WWE pulling out of other territories and long-term goals of developmental. We look at the decision that have been made and experimental tapings that have been done, as well as changes in the current TV structure.
In our feature on Friday night wars part two, looking at Smackdown, Ultimate Fighter, Best of Ultimate Fighter and Bellator, we look at competition, the drop in each show from week one, which show is it worse for and more.
We've also got a look at the Victory Road PPV, looking at what made the show good, what made the show annoying, the Bobby Roode show-ending angle, a look at Lockdown and match-by-match coverage with both star ratings and poll results on the show.
We look at All Japan's biggest event so far in 2012, with the Sumo Hall show headlined by Jun Akiyama vs. Keiji Muto for the Triple Crown, as well as a look at the next Triple Crown match, and notes on the upcoming Champion Carnival tournament.
We also look at next year's WrestleMania, CFO George Barrios talking about company future plans in the TV and movie business as well as talks UFC. We look at the new WWE movie business strategy, John Cena's car accident, the debut of Lord Tensai and his background and Japanese tenure, a second WWE wrestler says he has gone vegan but won't say it on TV and an update on Ric Flair and the WWE Hall of Fame.
We also look at a new themed PPV, a show that is going to be on a UFC weekend and may suffer for it, Rock's training to get back in wrestling shape, Rock's movie gross, entertainment plans for Mania, Edge talking Hall of Fame and what he had envisioned when he would retire and who he would have been working with this year. We look at an example of why Undertaker is so respected, as well as Daniel Bryan's road to the world title starting in high school wrestling in his backyard, WWE stock, WWE gets commended by legislature, DVR watching on Raw and does Rock have an effect and more on introducing new characters. We also look at a WWE star appearing in a foreign movie, notes on more developmental talent and who William Regal says is the best pro wrestler he has ever seen, and it's a name that almost nobody in North America would have ever heard of. Plus we have notes on all the WWE weekend house shows and business notes.
We also have part two in our look at the life and career of Doug Furnas, talking to his wife, his brother, legendary powerlifter Ed Coan as well as some anecdotes of my own interaction with Furnas during the height of his career in the 90s. We look at him growing up, college football, powerlifting, WCW, WWF and especially All Japan Pro Wrestling with milestones achieved, why he never headlined Budokan Hall, what he was known for in Japan and the All Japan boom.
We look at the tragedies of that All Japan period, Furnas' life before and after wrestling. We look at his auto accident that doctors said would end his sports career, and his coming back. We look at the various choices he made about sports careers and life, whether it be bull riding, football, powerlifting and wrestling. We look at his training methods to become one of the strongest men in the world, how that hampered his attempts to play in the NFL and what he learned from that and changed to become a pro wrestler. We look at his foray into the World's Strongest man competition, and where he could have gone in powerlifting if he hadn't retired from the sport at the age of 27.
We look at a unique allergy that actually hurt him as a powerlifter, and why his philosophy on pro wrestling was so different from what pro wrestling was in the American market. We look at Jim Herd's idea for him, as well as the famous Furnas story from the 1994 Champion Carnival tournament. We have his career title history, why he left All Japan, what happened in WWE and his unique reaction to what happened at the 1997 Survivor Series.
We've also got a 2011 rundown of every wrestler who wrestled in WWE for the year, even if it was only one match, with win/loss records, who was the busiest, how many matches did everyone have, who was booked to win and lose the most and what two wrestlers worked the most with each other during the year.
We also look at what will be one of WWE's biggest house shows of 2012, the Madison Square Garden show from Sunday.
We've also got a look at the event that is likely to draw the second biggest wrestling crowd of the year in the United States, the NCAA tournament finals and why the names Kyle Dake and David Taylor both have a chance to go down in history as two of the best collegiate wrestlers of all-time.
We've also got coverage of the AAA Rey de Reyes match, featuring Jeff Jarrett, The Rey de Reyes tournament and the road to babyface of L.A. Park.
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.
You can also 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.
We also have our in-depth look at the ratings of the national shows, including how every segment of Raw and Impact did, what gained in audience, and what lost in audience.
We also have our weekly features with the results from the major events held around the world over the past week, as well as reviews of the major television shows.
This Week's Issue: Lawsuits, retirements, Vader returns
--One of the world's best wrestlers starts up in Mexico
--Funny winner of the new blood tournament
--More wrestlers moving promotions
--Something unheard of in response to a lawsuit with a legendary wrestler
--Yet another legendary star does a retirement stipulation
--More on independent shows over WrestleMania weekend
--NOAH's big show of the tour
--A look at the upcoming NOAH tag team tournament
--Big Van Vader returns to Japan
--Two Hall of Famers wrestle each other for the first time
--Tatsumi Fujinami's 40th anniversary as a pro wrestler
--The end of a promotion as it officially folds over the weekend
--K-1 legend and MMA star headline a major pro wrestling show
--Former opponents in a publicized MMA fight become a pro wrestling tag team
--Ultimo Dragon's 25th anniversary as a pro wrestler match
--Former WWE performer in negotiations to host a major network TV show
--Nigel McGuinness talks about his career, his documentary, his dreams, his frustrations and his successes
--Update on Oklahoma and its banning pro wrestling and what pro wrestling event is happening
--What's the real story behind the problems
--NWA promoters in court
--NFL star on one of the league's most legendary teams, who was also a pro wrestler, passes away
--Update on Jim Neidhart's legal troubles
--Lucha Libre USA running several major arenas and why this feels like a disaster happening
--Pro wrestler is hero as a knife wielding crazy man was attacking people
--Mike Tyson and Superstar Billy Graham
--Former WWF television announcer sues claiming he was bilked out of life savings by former NFL star
--Perhaps pro wrestling's most famous family feud has two members form tag team
--Bruno Sammartino to make a few appearances at pro wrestling events
--Former ECW star working on a children's book
--First-ever match between two different sets of WWF tag team champions from the first expansion era
--Son of a former champion set to debut in a few weeks
--More legal action involving Hulk Hogan
--Kevin Nash talks about where he'd like to be
--Ring Ka King notes for this week
--Tons of new UFC fights and thoughts on them
--UFC up for one national sports award
--Yet more on Nick Diaz's case with more details of the results of his drug test
--Lorenzo Fertitta talks UFC in Madison Square Garden
--More on UFC threatening to file suit against people who stream their shows
--Major health scare for Zuffa star worsens
--Statistical note on Jones vs. Evans
--Note on weight cutting and how it has changed in wrestling and the rules in place
--Dan Henderson talks his next fight
--Notes on the Ultimate Fighter TV show
--Bellator rundown and what is coming up
--Details on the debut of Super Fight League in India with Bob Sapp as well as plans for the next show
--What 80s WWF name is now the training partner of one of the most famous MMA fighters in the world
Sunday's News, Notes & Links
--Arn Anderson talks his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, what he misses about wrestling and Ole Anderson in a column today by Mike Mooneyham.
--Dwayne Johnson promotes WrestleMania and talks about the possibility of a match with Brock Lesnar.
--An interesting story back in the late 70s when Vince McMahon owned a minor league hockey team (it didn't last a full season).
--The Miz guaranteed a statement will be made tomorrow night on Raw. The final members of Team Teddy and Team Johnny will be announced on tomorrow's show.
--Sheamus was busted open from a belt shot by Daniel Bryan at last night's Smackdown house show in Bowling Green, KY. There was blood all over the mat for the rest of the show.
--There is an interview with Mick Foley talking WrestleMania for the Miami Herald.
--Kimbo Slice beat Brian Green in a boxing match last night. Let's just say there is plenty of skepticism of it, although usually in a worked fight you don't go four rounds. Green was winning when Slice knocked him out as time was running out. Green is actually a middleweight MMA fighter known for his ground work. Slice is no boxer.
--On Friday night, Bruce Springsteen was playing Tampa and on stage he said, "It's great to be in Tampa, the city where I met Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage."
--TNA from last night in Indiana, PA: Mr. Anderson b Robbie E, Garett Bischoff b Gunner, Gail Kim b Mickie James to keep the Knockouts title, RVD b Magnus, Austin Aries b Zema Ion, James Storm won a three-way over Bully Ray and Kurt Angle. Bischoff was advertised in the main event but moved to a prelim.
Did you like Bellator Friday?
74.6% of those responding didn't see the show. Too bad for them. You really should check out the Lloyd Woodard vs. Patricky Pitbull Freire main event because it's a match of the year candidate. These are also some of the best marks a TV show has gotten in a while.
What company will draw the second biggest live wrestling crowd in the U.S. of 2012?
5% is the trolling figure. 10.1% is the most likely answer. UFC & WWE because of how they set up their arena shows it is very unlikely that with the exception of Mania they will beat last week's NCAA tournament finals. Certainly nobody is doing more than 100,000 in attendance in the same week in the same arena.
What did you think of TUF Friday?
47.1% of those responding didn't see the show.
What did you think of Smackdown?
37.4% of those responding didn't see the show.
--Florida independent wrestler Sam Shaw wrote on his Facebook page that he'll be in Atlanta for Raw as well as in Miami next Monday for Raw and in Orlando on Tuesday for Smackdown.
--Northeast Championship Wrestling from last night in Waterbury, CT before 1,100 fans: Cedric Alexander b Caleb Konley, Max Bauer b Brian Logan, Adam Page & Lukas Sharp b Jake Manning & Bull Dredd, Velvet Sky b Melina, Brian Anthony b Matt Taven in a TLC match, Tommy Dreamer b Jerry Lawler, John Morrison b Luke Robinson
--Strikeforce tickets for the 5/19 show in San Jose at the HP Pavilion headlined by Daniel Cormier vs. Josh Barnett will go on sale on 4/6 at 10 p.m. UFC Fight Club fans can get tickets starting on Thursday at 10 a.m. and UFC and Strikeforce newsletter subscribers can get tickets on 4/5 starting at Noon. Ticket prices have not been released.
--If you haven't seen UFC TV of late, here is the Rashad Evans promo that has been used of late to promote the Jon Jones fight. Evans to me is probably the most underrated talker in the business in the sense nobody ever thinks of him as a promo guy, yet his promos end up being more effective than all but maybe five guys in total when it comes to drawing money.
--Florida Underground Wrestling's Big Ass Bash will be Tuesday night at Gasoline Alley in Largo, FL at 8:30 p.m. Fidel Sierra & Biff Slater & Kevin Sullivan vs. New Jack & Sideshow & Kahagas headlines, plus Bruce Santee vs. Wes Briscoe and Michael Tarver. Tickets are available at Crazy Dave's Sports Bar in Largo, which is owned by Fidel Sierra, whose birth name is actually Dave.
--Honky Tonk Man and Lanny Poffo interview here.
--Empire Wrestling on Friday night in Avondale Estates, GA before less than 50 fans: Dany Only b Zach Daniels, Jagged Edge b Hayden Young, Tommy Daniels b Mr. Eric, Davey Richards b Zach Daniels and Hayden Young in an elimination match, Jagged Edge b Tommy Daniels, Dany Only b Davey Richards, Najasism won four-way over Fred Yehi, Kyle O'Reilly and Tony Kozina, Jagged Edge b Dany Only. Richards said it was his pleasure to drive 10 hours to wrestle Only. (thanks to Larry Goodman)
--In the current issue of Sports Illustrated with Albert Pujols on the cover, they have a photo gallery of people wearing face masks while competing. One of the photos shown was of Mick Foley as Mankind (thanks to Robert Miqueli)
--"Haywire" starring Gina Carano opened this weekend in Australia out of the top ten (thanks to James Stanios)
--USWO from Friday night in Nashville: Josh Crow b Lighting Bolt Kid, Big Time Sexy b Cody Green, Steven Green b Convict, Josh Crow b Shabba Shabbazz, Gary Valiant & LT. Falk b Tim Renesto & Saint, Wolfie D b Damien Payne (thanks to Jimmie Daniel)
--NAWA from last night in Gunter, TX: Doberman b Lil Fang, Chris Cross b Barrett Brown, Mad Dog b Cowboy Adam, Chris Cross & Tim Storm b Barrett Brown & Bullman Downs (thanks to Rob Moore)
--IHV from last night in Red Bud, IL: Mephisto b Chase King, Brandon Aarons b Eric Allen, Ace Hawkins b Dave Osborne, Jordan McEntyre b Johnny Zulu, Brandon Espinosa b Aiden Young, Brandon Aarons won four-way over Ace Hawkins, Brandon Espinosa and Jordan McEntyre, Billy McNeil b Cameron Cage in a chain match (thanks to Patrick Brandmeyer)
--Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling from last night in East Carondelet, IL before 225 fans: Alexander Rudolph b Bobby D, Chris Hargas b Max Archer, Chris Hargas b Tony Raze, Sean Vincent b Chris Hargas, Dave Vaughn & LMX b Kevin X, Gary Jackson & Chaz Wesson b Waco & Big Texan-DQ, Ron Powers b Ricky Cruz-COR (thanks to Larry Matysik)
--United States Wrestling Alliance from last night in Jacksonville, FL: Mikey b Ian Shire, Johnny Armani b Jason Hexx, Santana Garrett b Samantha Steele to win women's title, Dark City Fight Club b Los Ben Dejos to keep NWA tag titles, Mike Cruz b Chasyn Rance, Jesse Neal & Sam Shaw & Super Grover & Rocky Santiago b Royal Empire (thanks to Al Haft)
--A video interview with Lanny Poffo here.
--Dave Musgrave talks WrestleMania weekend shows and CHIKARA from last night.
--Progress Wrestling from last night in North London, England before 250 fans: El Ligero b Noam Dar, Nathan Cruz b Colossus Kennedy, Mike Mason b Colt Cabana, Marty Scurll b Zack Sabre Jr. (said to be one of the best matches in England in some time), Xander Cooper won over Zack Gibson and Darrell Allen, Nathan Cruz over El Ligero, Mike Mason and Marty Scurll (thanks to Martin Bentley)