MON UPDATE: Del Rio off No Way Out, UFC on FX ratings, Vader sighting, TNA thrilled, Jericho dates



By Dave Meltzer | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

THE LEAD: Vince McMahon returns on three-hour RAW

Bryan and I will be back tonight covering Raw on Wrestling Observer radio.  Any questions for tonight's show can be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

We're looking for your thoughts on last night's TNA Slammiversary show as well as Friday night's UFC show on FX, so you can leave a thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs in the middle along with a best and worst match to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

We're also looking for live reports from Hartford tonight from Raw, with dark matches, Superstars matches and anything else that wouldn't be evident from watching the TV show.  Remember, the show is a three hour special starting at 8 p.m. Eastern and they are opening the show with Vince McMahon giving John Laurinaitis his job evaluation. They are advertising John Cena vs. Big Show & Laurinaitis and C.M. Punk vs. Daniel Bryan for the title locally.  One or both of these are likely to be dark matches.

Smackdown and NXT will be taped on Tuesday in Manchester, NH.  The major stars being advertised locally are John Cena vs. Show and Laurinaitis (likely a dark match) and HHH (likely a non-televised cameo appearance).

LATEST OBSERVER: Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar situations examined

The most detailed look at the Randy Orton situation, as well as an update on Brock Lesnar when it comes to WWE, are among the major stories in the new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.  We look at every report and every aspect of the Orton suspension.  We also look at the Frank Mir exemption for testosterone, the state of testosterone exemptions in MMA right now and some very strange goings on in that direction.

We also have a ton of news regarding plans being made for the 1,000th episode of Raw, the folding of yet another major MMA company and sale of the oldest continually running MMA promotion in history.

We also look at the PPV industry in 2012, including UFC, boxing and WWE and what kind of years it not appears all three are going to have.  We look at who looks to be up, who looks to be down, how the UFC's recent all-heavyweight show looks to have done and whether or not such a show will be done again next year.

We also look at the behind-the-scenes of the DQ license for UFC moving to EA.

We also have more on the WWE's legal issues with reporter Chris Powell, how the story has grown, the effect it has had on the Linda McMahon campaign, what it means in the big picture and how it is being covered.

Plus, we look at the end of season 15 of the Ultimate Fighter, and how things have changed with the show, its popularity, and star making capability.

The issue is already on the site today if you are a web site member.  We also have a new back issue on the site from 1995 which covers the two biggest shows of that year, WrestleMania as well as probably the show with the single greatest collection of talent in one night of any pro wrestling show in history, held the same day as WrestleMania at the Tokyo Dome.  There were 14 different Hall of Famers wrestling on the show, and two others part of the presentation and I would doubt there is a show in history that could boast a number that large.

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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Our lead story covers Randy Orton.  We look at the various news reports and try and make sense over what seems plausible and what doesn't.  We look at WWE's reaction in the past to marijuana positives, how this suspension differs from some of the more recent ones like Rey Mysterio, Evan Bourne and R-Truth, and looking at various different reports on WWE's reaction and Orton's future with the company.

We also look at WWE's star power going forward and where Orton would fit in, a look at the Smackdown main level stars, moves that have been made to bolster Smackdown attendance, what the writing team knew about Orton and why the booking for Orton on the way out made no sense. We look at how Orton is viewed in general by the wrestlers.

Plus, we look back, in detail, at all of Orton's major issues and suspensions in the past, and what does and doesn't add up about them.  We look at all the active talent on the roster with two strikes already, about how much money it is expected Orton figures to lose based on this suspension, and how this version of drug testing came to being and what incident was the black eye to the policy.
We also look at Frank Mir's situation, when it got started and why it is so perplexing.

We look at plans for Raw No. 1,000 on 7/23 in St. Louis, and different ideas batted around, and what is already being advertised and planned.  We also look at what the writing team is under pressure to come up with this summer and how difficult that will be.

We also have an update as to what is happening regarding Lesnar and WWE, why certain things have and haven't happened on television of late.

We also look at a story regarding the television industry, sports and bidding that will greatly affect UFC and possibly WWE when current contracts run out.

We've got more on the next WWE video game, more on exactly what went down with Chris Jericho in Brazil, and the release of Tom Prichard.  We look at a notable Prichard story.

We also have notes on Raw on Tivo.  We also look at Steve Austin's new TV show, run-throughs for the next PPV, Ted DiBiase talks about his future, the Million Dollar Man gimmick and why it didn't work for him like it did for his father.  We've also got all the WWE business notes from the past week as well as details from all the weekend house shows.

We look at the rise and fall of Japanese MMA, including how it first got started from pro wrestling, the rise of Mirko Cro Cop, the celebrity fighters, and why it went down, as well as the folding of one promotion and sale of another longtime MMA group to a pro wrestling promoter.

We've also got complete coverage of the Ultimate Fighter finals, with the business notes on the show, poll results and match-by-match coverage as well as earnings on the show.  We look at the great Michael Chiesa story and whether or not it will make him a big star, as well as what the future holds for the show.  We also look at the future of many of the fighters on the cast of the just completed season.

We also have a look at the ratings of all the major shows and complete details on the last two weeks of Raw with segment-by-segment numbers where you can see how each segment did, as well as what audience John Cena moved the most and least.

We also have results from all the major arena events around the world over the past week, as well as reviews of all the major television shows.

Also in this week's issue:

--CMLL's biggest stip match in a long time
--New Japan star challenges for CMLL title
--Official TripleMania announcement of date and place
--Probable TripleMania main event
--Who was on the semifinal of the first ever AAA show 20 years ago and was in the main event in the return to that arena in Veracruz over the weekend
--Major international star shows up as a surprise for AAA
--Three former WWE stars headline in Mexico
--Major injury screws up major plans for Pro Wrestling NOAH
--NOAH holds matches against both All Japan and New Japan
--Longtime New Japan star talks about an injury and potential return
--Standings of the Best of the Super Junior tournament and all of the matches over the past week
--Former WWE star challenges for IGF title against former K-1 star
--Update on Genichiro Tenryu
--Return of the famous Great Kabuki
--The grandson of arguably the most influential wrestler of the 20th century talking about getting into pro wrestling
--One of wrestling's all-time greatest winning records hurt with loss this past week
--Update on Shane Douglas' Extreme Reunion group with a new name and new focus
--Major indie show headlined by WWE star against Luke Robinson
--Updated news on TNA's lawsuit against WWE, what the suit it about
--Lots of notes regarding TNA's live TV shoot and why everyone was so happy it went smoothly
--Plans going forward for live TNA shoots
--Dixie Carter talks about the optimum number of PPV shows per year
--Talk about the TNA Hall of Fame
--Update on Chris Sabin in TNA
--What TNA badly needs that has snuck up on them
--Who is behind TNA's recent successful angles
--Updates on Slammiversary
--Notes on the TNA big surprise
--Behind the Gut check segments and what is and isn't real about them
--Notes on the Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva fight
--Tons of new UFC fights announced and changed
--Notes on the next UFC Countdown show
--A look at the career of Kenny Florian
--Surprise of B.J. Penn returning
--More on the Jon Jones situation
--Behind all the talks when Thiago Silva got hurt over who to face Shogun next
--Two MMA documentaries just released covering major UFC stars
--A look at where Cyborg vs. Rousey stands
--Rousey's next title defense
--Lots of UFC cuts

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 BACK ISSUES EVER

*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)

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*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)

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*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)

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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)

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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)

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

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*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)

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MONDAY NEWS, NOTES AND LINKS
 
--Alberto Del Rio is now off No Way Out as has been expected all week.  Something will happen on the show tonight to lead to a new top contender for Sheamus and the world title.  Dolph Ziggler, who won our poll on the subject, was the name talked about most prominently as getting the spot a few days ago.

--The UFC on FX on Friday did 1.1 million viewers, slightly up from the prior week.

--For what it's worth, Leon White (Vader) was spotted in Connecticut today. He may be there on business since his son is part of the FCW tag team champions as Jake Carter, or could be on Raw.
 
--The Raw crew had a delay in returning from Barcelona to the states yesterday.  In addition, several got to the states and were told that due to all the injuries and suspensions, they had to work Smackdown on Tuesday.  
 
--As noted yesterday on the radio show, there were two different scripts written for tonight's show, one with a much heavier dose of Vince McMahon than the other.  Can you imagine? It's hard enough doing two straight two hour shows. But due to two different three hour shows followed by a two hour show the same week and having Smackdown to a degree depending on what you do on Raw, well, the writers are earning their money this week...although people may not say that tomorrow if it's a bad show.
 
--Those at TNA Sunday were thrilled about the show. We got a lot more response than usual and  had a lot more on it in our most recent show.
 
--Regarding Chris Jericho, the Rockstar Uproar tour with Fozzy (Jericho's band) was announced today. Here are his dates:

8/17 in Kansas City
8/18 in Little Rock
8/21 in Grand Rapids
8/22 in Chicago
8/24 in Holmdel, NJ
8/25 in Syracuse
8/26 in Mansfield, MA
8/28 in Scranton
8/31 in Pittsburgh
9/1 in Saratoga, NY
9/2 is Bristow, VA
9/5 in Simpsonville, SC
9/7 in Detroit
9/8 in Noblesville, IN
9/9 in Cleveland
9/11 in Raleigh
9/12 in Atlanta
9/23 in Tampa
9/15 in Houston
9/16 in Dallas
9/18 in Denver
9/19 in Salt Lake City
9/21 in Spokane
9/22 in Auburn, WA
9/23 in Portland, OR
9/25 in Boise
9/29 in Phoenix
9/30 in Albuquerque

What's notable about the schedule is there are no Monday dates booked, but there are a lot of Tuesdays.  This is a tough schedule. The only date of the tour that Jericho and his band aren't booked on is 8/19 in St. Louis, which happens to be the same day as SummerSlam.  (thanks to Robert Pasbani)
 
--C.M. Punk will be a guest on The Bower Show today (airs 3-7 p.m.) on 97.9 FM and 1300 AM ESPN radio in Hartford promoting tonight's show. Punk was on the Fox affiliate television this morning to promote Raw. Among the highlights were asking what C.M. stood for. He said it could be various things including Chicago Made and Championship Material. When they asked about his straight edge lifestyle, he said that if he reaches just one person by talking about it, then it would be a success.  Odds are that it's a success then. He said he had no personal animosity toward Daniel Bryan, but called him a roadblock that he needed to remove.

The show did have a problem because they asked him when the show started and he didn't know.  When it was brought up by one the hosts it was an hour early, Punk had no idea and had to be corrected.  Boy, we say it's bad that the fans don't catch on after all the promotion. For what it's worth, on the show, they listed Alberto Del Rio as appearing.  They noted tickets were priced from $15 to $95 and Punk said he thought those were fair prices considering he was going to set himself on fire and then wrestle a bear, and said it was a great thing to take your grandma to.

They brought up the Chris Brown feud on Twitter and Punk said he wished they could have done a charity match with the money all going to a woman's shelter.  One of the hosts actually believed that was what he was going to do tonight.  He came off as likeable on TV and did a good job promoting things other than not knowing it was a three hour show.  There was no mention made of Linda McMahon.   (thanks to Steve Finn and Kevin Lagasse)
 
--Evolve announced that the 6/28 show from Ybor City, FL and 6/29 in St. Petersburg will be iPPV shows.  The 6/30 show in Jacksonville is up in the air whether it'll be an iPPV.  They are doing this pricing schedule:  $9.99 for one live show, $14.99 for a live show and unlimited replays and $24.99 for the live show, unlimited replays and the DVD.  Ybor City has Chuck Taylor vs Colt Cabana, El Generico vs. Samuray del Sol and Sara Del Rey vs. Santana Garrett.  6/29 has Johnny Gargano vs. Chuck Taylor for the Open the Freedom Gate title and Generico vs. Silas Young.  Jacksonville has Del Sol vs. Taylor.
 
--Tickets for UFC 150 in Denver at the Pepsi Center headlined by Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar for the lightweight title on 8/11 will go on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m. Mountain time to Fight Club members priced at $300, $225, $150, $125, $90, $75 and $45.  Newsletter readers presale is Thursday at 10 a.m. and public sale is Friday at 10 a.m.
 
--John Layfield said that WWE would be publicizing his attempt to climb seven different mountains around the world including Mount Everest between now and 2014.  Layfield has no experience mountain climbing.  He said that WWE, which is sponsoring his undertaking, will put him on TV soon to advertise it and help in the fundraising efforts. He's not coming back as a character and doesn't know what show he'll be on or when, only that they've agreed he would be on TV.
 
--Names from WWE being advertised for Thursday's tapings at Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL, are Sheamus, Sin Cara, Hunico and Camacho.  Jim Ross will be announcing the shows. The tapings are free but at this point only open to students at the school and their families.  I'd guess if you go by, you could get in because the last taping after an hour or two, there were only about 250 people left watching and they need spectators.
 
--ROH announced an 8/11 show in Providence at the Rhode Island Convention Center.  Tickets go on sale on 6/20 at the ROH web site. They also announced for the 6/24 iPPV show from New York's Hammerstein Ballroom that the Briscoes would face The Guardians of Truth, which is a mystery team brought in by Truth Martini.
 
--Chael Sonnen was on Jim Rome's show today talking about the Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley decision.  I was told it wasn't one of his better appearances because he admitted right off that he hadn't seen the show.

Dana White, who did watch the fight, wrote on Twitter, "Nevada state athletic commission at its finest!!!  You've (got) to be fucking kidding me!!  that is disgusting Nevada state athletic commission!!"  "Worst athletic commission in the country!!!" 
 
--On WWE's corporate web site, Paul Levesque (HHH) is now listed as Executive Vice President of Talent Relations instead of John Laurinaitis.  Laurinaitis had been reporting to Levesque for some time now, so I don't know that this is indicative of anything.
 
--For Impact on Thursday, the pattern was as expected. The first hour did a 0.88 and the second hour did a 1.08.
 
If Alberto Del Rio can't go on Sunday, who should replace him against Sheamus?
Dolph Ziggler 46.1%
Kane 12.9%
Antonio Cesaro 10.5%
Brock Lesnar 9.4%
Cody Rhodes 7.3%
Kevin Nash 6.6%
Damien Sandow 3.4%
Jack Swagger 2.0%
Great Khali 1.8%
 
Who won this fight?
Manny Pacquiao 89.2%
Timothy Bradley 8.2%
A draw 2.6%
 
Best TV show of the past week?
Impact 44.9%
UFC on FX 19.9%
Smackdown 12.7%
ROH 10.6%
Raw 8.9%
Inside MMA 0.7%
UFC Tonight 0.7%
UFC prelims on Fuel 0.7%
MMA Uncensored 0.7%
UFC Insiders 0.3% 
 
--The Extreme Rising promotion sent out a release today regarding rumors involving Raven and Sabu. They said Raven will not be appearing at either of the next shows on 6/29 in Corona, NY and 6/30 in Philadelphia. They said Sabu has been in contact with both Shane Douglas and Cody Michaels regularly after being rushed to the hospital and being unable to perform at the first show.  He has asked for forgiveness and would like another chance.

They said that he checked himself into rehab in May and after he completes his program and with approval of his doctor, they would consider using him again. He is not booked right now for the two shows but it is not impossible he could be booked, and as soon as the decision is made, it would be announced.

If you are in Philadelphia, the group noted they have taken out a commercial for the Philadelphia show that will air on Raw tonight.  They also announced if you purchase a ticket by 6/16, you can get VIP entry into the building or either show and get a Q&A session with Shane Douglas.
 
--WSU has an iPPV on Saturday night at 7 p.m. Eastern on Go Fight Live with a casket match between Jessica Havok vs. Mercedes Martinez.

--There is an auction going on this week for an autographed acoustic guitar donated by Jeff Jarrett to raise money to help raising money for Kamala's large medical bills. The auction ends at 8 p.m. on Friday. Kamala also sells merchandise like a CD of him singing.
 
--Lance Storm has a question and answer on a number of different subjects.
 
--Silvervision in the U.K. is back selling WWE DVDs online. (thanks to Robert Holzhammer)
 
- Here's a story on Rich Franklin.
 
--Reader Joe Puccio noted going to Showcase Pro Wrestling on Saturday night in Middle Village, NY with the top matches of Perry Saturn vs. Danny Doring and Marty Jannetty vs. Stevie Richards.  He said Saturn did some weird stuff, but after Jannetty lost to Richards, he hit himself on the head with two chairs.  He stayed in the ring for ten minutes doing the old Ric Flair routine of doing moves on a belt in the ring like dropping elbows. Nobody understood what he was doing and the staff were looking very nervous. To the fans, it appeared he was breaking down.
 
--Vendetta Pro Wrestling on 6/23 in Atascadero, CA at the Colony Park Community Center with Raven as the headliner.
 
--NWA Anarchy from Saturday night in Cornelia, GA before 135 fans:  Brandon Parker b Dustin Knight, Bobby Moore & Tommy Daniels & C.B. Gibson b Billy Buck & Skirra Corvus & Jacob Ashworth, Kyle Matthews b Corey Hollis, Seven & Jacoby Boykins b Dany Only & Stryknyn, Andrew Pendleton III b Zach Daniels, Adrian Hawkins b Joey Rhymer, Seth Delay b John Skyler, Azrael & Slim J & Nemesis b Shaun Tempers & Bo Newsome & Jacoby Boykins.  Mikal Judas (Murphy of Gunner & Murphy fame) returned at the end of the show.  They have a big show on 6/30.  Anarchy wrestler Steven Walters is doing a three-month wrestling tour of England (thanks to Larry Goodman)
 
--Dave Musgrave and Kris Zellner discuss the AWA.
 
--CWE runs 7/12 in Morris, Manitoba at the South Manitoba Convention Centre, 7/13 in Winnipeg at the Polish Fraternal Hall, 7/14 in Souris at the Souris Community Hall and 7/15 in Virden at the Royal Canadian Legion. Tito Santana is the headliner.
 
--Southern States Wrestling's 19th annual Summer Bash on 6/16 in Mount Carmel, TN, at the Armed Forces Center headlined by Frank Parker vs. Demolition Ax in Bill Eadie's first match in the area in more than 15 years. 
 
--All Pro Wrestling TV is up featuring the first round of the Young Lions Cup tournament.
 
--WAR on 6/30 in Lima, OH at Westgate Lanes
 
--Knokxperience on 6/16 at The Domain in Sun Valley, CA for a show with $5 tickets headlined by Rikishi.  There is also a post show party at Bob's Big Boy in Sun Valley on 8274 Sunland Blvd.          
 
--Union of Independent Professional Wrestling on 7/7 in Toronto at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall with Josh Alexander vs. John McChesney and Michael Elgin vs. Sebastian Suave.
 
--Shoichi Funaki has opened a wrestling school in San Antonio, TX.