Letters on Ryback; Blatnick; Mike Graham

Hi Dave,
Do you think it's possible they might take the belt off Punk as punishment for striking the fan in the stands? I say it's a long shot but they could as a way of sending a message to the locker room. That  was a big No No. I think the most likely is Ryback will lose. How is anyone's guess.
Matt Obbema

DM:  If they take the title from him, that won't have anything to do wiht it.

Just a quick note. 

My feeling is that the best finish for the Punk-Ryback HIAC match Sunday is the old Verne Gagne finish.  Have Ryback “win”, and end the show with him with the title, and then on Raw have Vickie Guerrero, on some technicality, reverse the decision and award the title back to Punk.  As long as they don’t do this finish again for at least 10 years, it could allow them to have Ryback avoid a loss, but keep the title on Punk.  Not ideal, and such a screw job finish also carries risks, but this may be the rare case it should be used. 

Also wanted to mention that this week I stopped watching Smackdown!, removing it from my DVR series recordings.  This is actually somewhat “profound” in that since the mid-1970s I have watched all of the main weekly wrestling shows of promotions I support.  This has included every episode of Raw and Smackdown!, all episodes of WCW Nitro (and before that the Saturday night TBS and main syndicated WCW shows), all World Class shows in syndication, all episodes of AWA wrestling on ESPN and the syndicated AWA All Star Wrestling shows (I live in Chicago), all weekly episodes of the WWA (Dick the Bruiser promotion) syndicated show that aired in Chicago in the 1970s and 80s, and all episodes of Bob Luce Wrestling (the local AWA/WWA promoter).  What this says is with the expansion of Raw to three hours, and placement of all Smackdown! wrestlers and angles on Raw, Smackdown! is now clearly unnecessary and redundant viewing in my eyes. 

Keith Buckley

Here's my two cents, and a very logical finish...
Double Pin. Title stays on Punk, Ryback still protected. Leads to a three way with Cena at the next event which is...Survivor Series.  Punk has deck stacked against him where perhaps even Rock is involved.
All the best gentlemen.

Darren Metselaar

DM:  They just did that finish last month.


Listened to today's Observer Radio and had a question about the talk of how bad a Brock/Ryback match would be - do you personally think a Brock/Ryback match could work if they worked it like the wrestling version of Brock/Carwin with Brock as Carwin and Ryback as Brock? Brock rushes him at the bell, clobbers him, almost destroys him...but then gasses out, allowing Ryback to come back from the dead and either hit his move or even go to the arm triangle as an ode to the match it'd be inspired by? Keeps it short and sweet, the realism would be high since it's based off of a real-life monster vs monster fight, and Brock would hopefully know how to work it since he lived it.

 I know Paul Heyman isn't someone that has a voice that's listened to by those who make decisions in WWE, but I'd hope someone who has a voice within WWE has the sense to keep this short and is maybe an MMA fan, and could word it to Vince in a way that doesn't sound like it's an MMA idea.
Thomas Green

DM:  All depends on the execution.  Could work.

Hi Dave.

Hi Dave,
Not sure how feasible this is but could a way out of the finish be the following: 
Ryback has Punk beaten, bloodied etc.. at some point Heyman during the match we see the sneaky Heyman snuck the key to the lock on the cage door from the outside ref who was distracted or "accidentally" bumped into by "a fan/heyman plant" who tried to jump the guard rail. As punks about to lose the match heyman starts opening the chain. The lights go out and we hear a huge crack of a chair shot. Lights come on and Brock is standing over Ryback. He proceeds to give Ryback several F5's and chair shots. He then holds the chair near Rybacks head as Punk kicks Rybacks head into the Chair and covers him for the win. Brock then breaks Rybacks arm with the Kimura. This keeps the belt on Punk, protects Ryback in that he was assaulted and screwed. Now they play up Rybacks injured and can't compete for a few weeks. Over that time they air vignettes of Ryback training, doctors saying he shouldnt be able to train and can't do what he's doing but he keeps doing things to shock them as if he's unphased by the injury. Just show him training like an animal and all he keeps saying is FEED ME BROCK as he trains. Etc.. etc... and build to Brock vs Ryback at Survivor Series where Brock puts him over. I know that may hurt Brock going into Mania but it may pay off bigger slightly humanizing Ryback with his first threat only for him to come out stronger and better than before so the loss to Punk is quickly forgotten and seen more as an attack by Brock. I'm sure it can be done better than I described but I think its a decent blueprint. Thanks for your time.
To add to my idea of Brock costing ryback the match, the fan plant could be Seth Rollins or Ono and be added to the Heyman stable as kind of punks protégés who punk can treat like shit leading to a face turn down the line for the guy. Also they should hold off a Brock vs ryback match til rumble. Then if Brock loses he snaps and leads to his challenge of taker at mania since he'd be extra crazed after losing to ryback. Or he takes taker out teasing he's not even going to be able to defend his streak at mania til taker returns on a raw challenging Brock or something.
Chris Najdek

Bryan & Dave,

I'd like to share the finish to Hell and the Cell that I came up with after watching Raw this evening. Obviously, Rock vs Punk is the logical main event for the Royal Rumble, and Punk should have his "days as world champion" streak intact leading into that event. At the same time, it would be insane to defeat Ryback at the Hell in the Cell PPV since he has the potential to be a big star, yet there must be a pinfall or submission finish in the Hell in a Cell main event match. So, here's the finish -- Ryback spears Punk through the Cell, knocking both men out. At that moment, Dolph Ziggler's music starts, and he runs down, yelling to the ref that he's cashing in his money in the bank, making this a triple threat match (they can have Vickie run down with him since she's now in charge of Raw, and she can force the ref to allow Ziggler into the match). Before Ziggler can pin a lifeless Punk, Cena runs down, hits Ziggler with the AA, and puts Punk on top for the win, costing Vickie and Dolph their title victory in retaliation for Vickie's participation in the removal of AJ as Raw GM.

This allows Punk to retain, Ryback to remain strong and undefeated, while having a pinfall win in the Hell in the Cell main event match. Of course, some realize that Ziggler's briefcase was technically only for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship on Smackdown and not the WWE title, but they can either explain this by saying that the actual wording of the contract allows Ziggler to challenge any champion he chooses at any time, or they can claim that Vickie as the authority figure on Raw had the power to allow Ziggler to cash in the briefcase for the WWE title (which can be labeled an abuse of power by the board of directors). This then can lead to the board removing Vickie as authority figure since she had a conflict of interest, and who knows, maybe appoint Ric Flair the new GM in Charlotte on Raw next week?

I also expect Ziggler will run down at the end of Big Show vs Sheamus and attempt to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase, but run off before doing so when he is thwarted in his efforts, as a way to avoid telegraphing that he will be back later in the show.

This abrupt storyline seems to be their way of keeping the title on Punk without Ryback doing a job.

Keep up the great work!
Francesco Castano


Hi Dave,

Sorry it was so much less than an ideal birthday. I hate it that you lost a friend. That said, your audio update was very good, especially considering the circumstances. I looked up to Jeff. My mother was battling cancer the same time he was, and, as a kid, I found strength in the features done on him during the 1984 Olympics. He was easy to root for. I followed everything he did after that.
Anyway, I am sorry for your loss.
Take care,
John Patton

I once interviewed Jeff Blatnick for a story on Kurt Angle trying to make the Olympic team in 2004. It ran as a special article 'by Jeff Blatnick as told to Dan Murphy.' I was extremely impressed with his knowledge of the pro game and his obvious passion for wrestling. I was also able to work with him to promote the Special Olympics New York Summer Games in 2002 and 2003 in Buffalo. I'm sorry to hear of his passing. He was a class act.

- Dan Murphy

My deepest sympathies over the loss of your good friend.  It was Blatnick's remarkable run in the 1984 Olympics that turned me on to amateur wrestling as much as it was Stan Hansen who turned me on to pro.
May he rest in peace.
Calixto Gonzales

WWE 13

Now that WWE 13 is out online and falling into the hands of various people both legally and illegally, an interesting thing from the game has come to light.  In the game's Attitude Era story mode, some of the wrestlers entrance music changes to reflect accuracy in the match that is being emulated.  One such theme is Mankind's, and instead of using one of his real themes for a portion of the game, THQ instead used a remake that a guy who remakes unreleased WWE themes as a hobby who goes by IBUKUmAsTa created and not the actual song used by Foley(though his remake is INCREDIBLY similar to what was really used they are clearly different when listening to old foley entrances using it).  When comparing a rip of the song from the game and a download of his remake from his official website it's clear they are IDENTICAL and not the real song Foley used.  IBUKI confirmed this and also confirmed that they didn't seek his permission.  I know that in most cases THQ receives themes directly from WWE, but someone in either WWE or THQ made a mistake on this one, and a mistake that is completely dumbfounding to me.
I thought this was a story that might interest you.  If so, I can provide you with a comparison file and a video of it being used in the game, as well as his official website.  If not I apologize for wasting your time.
Have a great day and thanks for the tremendous value you provide for my money
Josh Murphy


I really appreciate the plug --
training for the marathon has been an incredible experience made all
the more satisfying by being able to do it in support of such a great
cause.  Not bad for a kid who cheated when we had to run one mile in
middle school.
Crazy to think I've been subscribing to the WON for over 15 years now
-- from high school through college and law school, getting married,
its always been a weekly highlight.  The wife is now well versed on
how to organize back issues!  Its never really been my thing to send
in letters or regularly correspond, but your work has not only led me
to seek out and appreciate wrestling from Japan and Mexico that I'd
have otherwise likely never have explored, but sustained my interest
in everything wrestling when the product wasn't doing so on its own
and introduce me to MMA (though the overexposure of UFC these days is
doing its best to push me out, but that's another story).
The historical pieces -- promotions, territories, HOF bios, titles and
obituaries -- are obviously the highlights every year, and
unfortunately I'll be looking forward to reading your tribute & bio to
Jeff Blatnick and his influence.  I never knew how close you were but
can't imagine losing a friend at such a young age.  I'm sure this'll
be one of the more difficult issues you've had to write but it'll be
well appreciated.
Thanks again for the plug as well as for everything the Observer has
meant for me over the years -- when none of your friends are wrestling
fans its great to look forward to a couple hours a week where one of
your interests is really engaged.
Jon Strauss

Dear Dave,

I really appreciate your work and insight into the whacky worlds of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts more than I can ever put into words. The website, radio shows and newsletters really have become an integral part of my daily/weekly routines and the work you and Bryan put in on a daily basis inspired me to venture a bit into using my own knowledge/talents in marketing, PR, writing and hustling to slowly establish a small business to help out small promotions and indy workers in these matters (mainly working with wXw of Germany at the moment).

Again, enjoy yourself and the time with your loved ones and have a great time celebrating getting one year wiser. :-)

All the best,
Markus Gronemann
Vienna, Austria
Dark Mat EU

What a fantastic piece of journalism.  One of your best.   I learned a ton about the Florida territory. I can't believe Mike was only Fl heavyweight champion one time.
Heartbreaking, as well.
Thank you Dave.

David Kaplan

Who is the strongest of these Hall of Fame candidates?


What do you believe is the second most popular promotion right now in the U.S?