We're looking for reports from these shows at
We're also looking for reports on the rest of the tour over the next two weeks.
After today, Raw moves to Newcastle, England on Friday and Manchester, England on Saturday.
Smackdown runs Friday in Hamburg, Germany and a Saturday show in Leipzig, Germany.
We look at the current WWE situation, including Hell in a Cell and the build for Survivor Series and Royal Rumble as the lead story in the new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that will be up on the site today. We also have a new back issue from 1995, talking about the build to the first Nitro and the building of what at the time was the biggest money live pro wrestling event in history in Japan.
Also, everyone who subscribes this month for either the print or web site version of the newsletter will get our most talked about issue, the Hall of Fame issue that comes out in less than two weeks. There will be six new entrants into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, voted on by those in the business, as well as reporters and historians in our annual balloting.
Our lead story looks at every aspect of the Ryback situation, the decision on who won, how the actual finish came to be, as well as looking back at the early career of a number of major names in wrestling including how Lou Thesz won his first world title, why Brock Lesnar wasn't involved in the finish at Hell in a Cell, why the traditional Survivor Series main event hasn't been done in nearly two decades, as well as full coverage of the PPV with poll results and star ratings for every match.
We also have a look at the life, wrestling career, announcing career and the influence of Jeff Blatnick on the sport of MMA. We look at the origination of the term Mixed Martial Arts, how it got popularized in pro wrestling before UFC, how Blatnick named the sport and when it happened.
We also look at the fight UFC had for survival in the late 90s and some amazing ironies about that period. We look at why Jeff Blatnick was used by UFC as its point man, including discussions Blatnick had with the most powerful people in the cable industry at the time. We look at why Blatnick was no longer associated with UFC and how he resurfaced as a key figure in MMA in the Northeast.
We look at how Blatnick first became involved in UFC, as well as his amazing career as a wrestler, from his beginnings not liking wrestling, to his college career including a match with Steve Williams that may have cost him an NCAA title. We look at his Olympic days, from the 1980 boycott year to his 1984 gold medal win, and his battles with cancer.
We look at his move into announcing, his offers from pro wrestling including one that few know about that would have involved him being in a major executive position with the No. 2 wrestling company in the world at one point.
We also have details and backgrounds on a lot of new talent that WWE has recruited and just signed, where they came from, ring names, who they were and more including the type of people WWE is now recruiting and why.
Also in this week's issue:
--Title change at Arena Mexico
--Update on Hector Garza
--Next AAA tapings
--Lineups for Dragon Gate USA shows this weekend on iPPV
--Major Dragon Gate angles for Japan
--Notes on the build for the annual Real World Tag League event in Japan
--Bracketing and key matches in the tournament
--Combined All Japan and New Japan shows in Taiwan
--Battle of tag champs in a singles match
--GHC tag title change and where that belt is going
--Notes on final major NOAH show of the year
--Update on Tajiri's promotion in Japan using several top Americans
--A promotion lets the fans make the card
--Notes on tha attempted comeback of Jake Roberts
--How Mike Graham's pro wrestling career got started and his first major TV angle
--The angle that got Mike Graham out of Eddie's shadow and let to Dusty Rhodes being the biggest star in Florida wresting history
--Who booked the angle
--NWA title vacated and match to decide the new champion
--Extreme Rising runs in the Pittsburgh area and plans for WrestleMania weekend
--The History Channel doing a feature on an 80s wrestler
--Notes on this weekend's ROH TV tapings
--Notes on Hulk Hogan's quick settlement with Bubba the Love Sponge
--Bound for Glory PPV notes
--TNA star doing outside media work
--TNA wrestler hospitalized with kidney issues but already back
--The strange TNA announcing dynamic
--Lineup for Turning Point thus far and new matches likely added
--Notes on the weekend TNA house shows
--Notes on the ungodly hour the next UFC show will be airing at
--New UFC television specials over the next two weeks
--Story on UFC no longer running at The Palms in Las Vegas
--Lots of new UFC matches announced
--Plans for UFC light heavyweight division and how they changed
--Notes on the next season of TUF Brazil including a June main event
--UFC fighter nearly loses home in Hurricane
--Stephan Bonnar retires
--UFC PPV estimates
--Chad Mendes legal issues and sentencing
--A few UFC cuts
--The Eddie Alvarez contract situation
--Controversial officiating on Bellator show
--Lots of shows this coming weekend on TV
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)
*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)
*October 10, 2005 (Life and Times of the Ultimate Warrior)
*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)
*January 16, 2006 (2005 Awards double issue, $6 or $7 overseas)
*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)
*October 9, 2006 (A look back nine years later at the life and legacy of Brian Pillman with tons of inside information about what made him tick as his real objectives)
*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 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)
You can also order any of these issues on their own for $4 in North America or $5 overseas.
For the United States, it is $12 for 4 issues, $29 for 12, $55 for 24, $91 for 40 and $118 for 52. In Canada and Mexico, rates are $13.50 for 4, $33 for 12, $61 for 24, $101 for 40 and $131 or 52. In Europe, you can get the fastest delivery and best rates by sending to
For the rest of the world, rates are $15.50 for 4, $41 for 12, $78 for 24, $126 for 40 issues and $163 for 52 .
If you order by mail with a check, cash or money order (P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228), you can get $1 off in every price range.
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.
To get all of those biographies as back issues of the Observer would be a $60 value today. This is a collection of some of the best Observer articles of the past several years in a hardcover, full-color format that is 239 pages. There is also a foreword by Bret Hart. The book price is $12.95 plus $3.50 for shipping costs in the U.S., $10 for shipping costs to Canada and $12 for shipping costs outside North America. You can order the book the same way you order the newsletter.
Thursday's news update
--Sorry for this being late. My house had to be rewired for Internet, phones, pretty much everything which kept me out of commission all day.
--Very sad news regarding Brad Armstrong to say the least. Brad was one of those guys where every wrestler will tell you that he was a great worker and had a very pleasant personality, really funny. I can recall how Ric Flair loved to work with him because he was that Barry Windham/Ricky Morton/Ricky Steamboat style of babyface who could sell, comeback, do anything and almost never miss. There was a saying in WCW during the 90s that whenever a new guy faced Brad, you could tell right away if they had potential in the ring because Brad was the guy who was always in the right spot to make anyone look good. He was very high on the list of the most underrated in-ring performers of the last 40 years. All of us here want to express our sympathies to the entire family. I had heard from someone who saw him not that long ago that he was healthy looking, great shape for his age, said he was still training and he was still doing indie shows on occasion. Too many shocks, and not good ones, in the last several weeks.
--We'll have a complete rundown of the WWE earnings call in next week's Observer. Revenues were $104.2 million and profits were $5.0 million for the quarter, so profits were less than dividend payouts again. Not unexpected, and they actually did better than they suggested three months ago. The big news regarding the Network was really quite sketchy, just saying that it'll be a pay model and then talking about a firm that told them they had more than 100 million fans in the U.S. alone. I need to hire that firm to see if they can inflate my annual income as much as that figure. Video sales and video games were down. House shows were even, and PPV was actually only up slightly as far as revenue because there were less late buys recorded for Mania as compared to last year. Actual PPV sales were up 13%, with the increase mostly SummerSlam. Less money losses from the movie division. They talked about ratings being good even though three of the four lowest rated Raws since 1997 have been in recent weeks.
--Jim Ross on Brad Armstrong at www.jrsbarbq.com
Saw that the Armstrong family read it and asked if they could have it read at Brad's funeral.
--Big question everyone asking is on Monday and Tuesday are Vince & Stephanie in Connecticut to be with Linda on the countdown and election day or do they go to Europe?
--TNA announced Samoa Joe vs. Magnus no DQ for Turning Point PPV on 10/11.
--Regarding rumors to the contrary, Smackdown will air at its regular time tomorrow night. There is a concert with Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Bon Jovi to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy that airs on Syfy, but it is airing at 11 p.m., after Smackdown and Haven.
--At the Raw show today in Nantes, France, they had C.M. Punk getting DQ'd for a chair shot on Ryback in the main event. John Cena had a strong match with Dolph Ziggler.
--Ricardo Rodriguez worked today under a mask as El Local against Sin Cara in a singles match in Lyon, France. In a surprise they put Johnny Curtis over Ted DiBiase.
--Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner has been added to the TUF finals on 12/15 in Las Vegas, airing on FX.
--Bellator weigh-ins for tomorrow's TV show
Kyle Baker (170.8) vs. Ryan Ford (169.8)
Douglas Lima (179.4) vs. Jacob Ortiz (179.8) - 180 pound catch weight bout
Mike Richman (145.2) vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev (145.6) in the featherweight tourney semifinal
Richard Hale (238.4) vs. Thiago Santos (265) in the heavyweight tournament semifinal
--Bellator's 11/30 TV show comes from Mt. Pleasant, MI as the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort.
--ROH will be introducing its new television authority figure to replace Jim Cornette at Saturday's TV taping in Belle Vernon, PA at the Rostraver Ice Arena. Trivia note, the last time I saw Bruno Sammartino, which was more than a decade ago, it was in that building at a benefit show for the late Brian Hildebrand, who was also one of the most respected people in the industry of that time.
--ROH announced shows on 1/18 in Dearborn, MI, 1/19 in Milwaukee and 2/16 in Cincinnati.
--Davey Richards vs. Jay Lethal from Glory by Honor, an absolutely fantastic match, will be replayed on the ROH TV show that airs on Saturday night.
--Dragon Gate USA iPPV at 8 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night from Everett, MA with AR Fox vs. Ricochet, Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito vs. Super Smash Brothers with the winners getting a tag title shot the next night in Voorhees, NJ; Rich Swann & Cima & ACH vs. Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy & Drew Gulak, Akira Tozawa vs. Jon Davis, Sami Callihan vs. Samuray del Sol, Johnny Gargano vs. EITA, Scott Reed & Caleb Konley with Larry Dallas and Trina Michaels vs. Arik Cannon & Pinkie Sanchez as the card on www.WWNLive.com
Also run at 8 p.m. on Saturday and a Deer Park, NY show at 8 p.m. on Sunday, which is the usual Sunday PPV time. We'll have more on all this tomorrow.
--Chris Jericho appears on VH-1's America Hard 100 at 9 p.m. tomorrow night.
--Trish Stratus is releasing a limited edition autographed DVD of Stratusphere Yoga for Men, which she worked with Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays on. Some proceedds will go to Movember Canada. Stratus has designed programs for members of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and this is a workout for athletes. For more info go to www.trishstratus.com
--NWA Coastal on 11/17 in Bayville, NJ at the Elks Lodge featuring an NWA women's title defense by Kacee Carlisle against Rosa Negra.
--I Believe in Wrestling tomorrow night at the Team Vision Dojo in Orlando with Cody Hall, Tim Zbyszko, Chasyn Rance, Santana Garrett, Lince Dorado and others.
--Both Cody Hall and Tim Zbyszko are trying to work more independent dates and promoters can reach them at
--Albert Kraus is out of Saturday's Glory 3 Final 8 show due to a bad case of the flu. Yoshihiro Sato will replace him in the one-night eight-man tournament for $300,000. The show takes place in Rome, Italy and airs at GloryWorldSeries.com at 3:30 p.m. Saturday Eastern time.
--River City Wrestling on 11/10 at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in San Antonio with Hernandez and D-Lo Brown.
--Chael Sonnen on TSN's Off the Record today said that Dan Henderson would be one of the guest coaches for his team on the currently filming season of Ultimate Fighter. "Henderson and I are obviously up to something. We're in cahoots. Henderson will be one of the coaches on this show with me and he will be cornering me on April 27th when I take what is rightfully mine, which is the light heavyweight championship." Interview is at http://watch.tsn.ca/clip797440#clip797440
Notable because just yesterday Henderson said that Sonnen getting a title shot was bad for the sport. The "we're in cahoots" line was a spoof on Greg Jackson and Jon Jones acting like Henderson and Sonnen were in cahoots to steal the title from an unaware Jones until they pulled out of that show on 9/1.
WHO IS THE BEST OF THESE HALL OF FAME CANDIDATES?
John Cena 28.4%
Curt Hennig 22.5%
Owen Hart 9.0%
Ivan Koloff 8.1%
Fabulous Moolah 8.1%
Brock Lesnar 7.4%
Tim Woods 2.0%
Von Brauners 1.7%
Jeff Hardy 0.9%
WHO IS THE BEST OF THESE HALL OF FAME CANDIDATES?
Rock & Roll Express 16.7%
Pedro Morales 7.6%
Dick Murdoch 7.2%
Lou Albano 6.1%
Jimmy Snuka 5.5%
Bill Apter 4.7%
Sgt. Slaughter 4.5%
Gary Hart 3.6%
Jim Crockett Jr. 2.3%
Buddy Rose 2.1%
Mr. Wrestling II 1.7%
WHO SHOULD DANA WHITE HAVE CHOSEN TO COACH AGAINST JON JONES?
Chael Sonnen 65.3%
Dan Henderson 28.4%
Lyoto Machida 4.0%
Shogun Rua 2.3%
WHO IS THE SECOND MOST FAMOUS U.S. OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST (FIRST IS KURT ANGLE)?
Rulon Gardner 45.7%
Dan Gable 28.2%
Cael Sanderson 10.3%
David Schultz 7.2%
Jeff Blatnick 5.7%
Mark Schultz 2.9%
WHO WAS THE BEST MMA HEAVYWEIGHT OF ALL-TIME?
Fedor Emelianenko 50.7%
Randy Couture 17.8%
Brock Lesnar 11.2%
Dan Severn 5.4%
Ken Shamrock 4.3%
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira 3.9%
Junior Dos Santos 3.0%
Alistair Overeem 1.1%
Frank Mir 0.7%
Mark Coleman 0.6%
Josh Barnett 0.6%
Fabricio Werdum 0.6%
--The Fight Network in Canada is going to be available in the U.S. for the first time on a subscription basis at stream.fightnetwork.com If one orders a one year subscription, they will get two months added free.