*TNA last night in Laredo, TX (Jeff Hardy vs. Austin Aries)
Besides Raw in Nottingham, there is also a Smackdown brand house show today in London at Wembley Arena. We'll also be looking for Raw reports from Birmingham, England, tomorrow before the show airs.
- Cima vs. Sami Callihan
- Jigsaw & Fire Ant vs. Super Smash Brothers
- Arik Cannon vs. ACH
- Tony Nese & Papadon vs. Scott Reed & Caleb Konley
- Jon Davis vs. EITA
Fuel has last week's Ultimate Fighter at 9 p.m. and this week's (worth seeing) at 10 p.m., followed by the Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida special at 11 p.m.
Monday is Raw from Birmingham, England which will be airing on a few hour tape delay. The only thing announced is Vickie Guerrero is going to show a clip of Dixie Carter and A.J. Styles going into a hotel room, okay, John Cena and the other A.J. to prove he didn't say goodnight at the door, and Brad Maddox is going to do an interview. Cena and A.J. were only helping a crack addict who is going to make up that Cena slept with her and her a child with her, then quit the promotion because the storyline is so stupid.
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.
SUNDAY NEWS, NOTES AND LINKS
--Steve Corino on Twitter regarding his injury from last night at the ROH tapings in Belle Vernon, MD, wrote, "Thank you to everyone that texted and tweeted. I'm okay. Sore, but won't miss any time."
--The State Election Enforcement Commission issued a warning to Linda McMahon and her campaign about deceitful tactics regarding absentee ballot applications
. The commission wrote in a letter to the campaign that it had received dozens of complaints from members of both the public and town clerk's offices, saying a mailing McMahon sent out may have confused voters, particularly the elderly. The mailer was disguised as an official government communications. The SEEC has not taken action on the complaint thus far, but told McMahon's campaign they view it as a "grave concern." The McMahon campaign claimed it was a plot by Democratic clerks.
--Tampa Bay News 9 had a story on the funeral of Mike Graham on Friday. His widow, Diane, spoke for the first time since his death on Thursday, saying there was no warning, but that Mike believed for the last two years that since his son committed suicide, he must have been a bad father. She noted he was wearing his son Steve's boots when it happened. She said Mike also thought that he must have been a bad son for his dad to do what he did. That's a really sad deal. From all accounts, Eddie Graham was in trouble when he committed suicide and Mike had nothing to do with it.
--The Mirror in the U.K. listed Dwayne Johnson as an unconfirmed possibility to be a cast member for the reality show "I'm a Celeb" in the U.K. Boxer David Haye and Ashley Roberts of the Pussycat Dolls are confirmed for the show on ITV.
--The UFC sent out a release regarding Stephan Bonnar (steroids) and Dave Herman (marijuana) and their drug test failures from the 10/13 show in Rio de Janeiro:
"The UFC has a strict, consistent policy against the use of any illegal and/or performance enhancing drugs, stimulants or masking agents. Both fighters have admitted taking the banned substances and have orally agreed to suspensions. Once the suspensions have been reduced to written agreements, the results of their tests and the agreed-upon suspensions will be sent to the Association of Boxing Commissions official records so other jurisdictions will be on notice."
--"The Man With the Iron Fists" which features Cung Le and Dave Bautista, is estimated to open at $8.22 million or No. 4 for the weekend. "Here Comes the Boom", where Bas Rutten and Joe Rogan have significant roles, was No. 9 for the weekend at $3.6 million, a strong showing for four weeks in.
--Not announced on the broadcast for some unknown reason, but last night after the show, Ray Sefo announced the second World Series of Fighting show would be on 1/26 in Las Vegas, but he didn't give a location.
WHO DO YOU EXPECT TO WIN THIS FIGHT?
Michael Bisping 72.4%
Vitor Belfort 27.6%
YOUR THOUGHTS ON UFC PRIMETIME GSP VS. CONDIT:
71.3% of those responding didn't see the show
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER:
62.9% of those responding didn't see the show
YOUR THOUGHTS ON BELLATOR:
77.5% of those responding didn't see the show
YOUR THOUGHTS ON SMACKDOWN:
45.5% of those responding didn't see the show
--An important person in Louisville wrestling history, Elmer Jasper, passed away Thursday at the age of 91. He was the founder and president of WDRB Ch. 41 in Louisville, the city's first independent station in 1971. Jasper made the call to broadcast wrestling on the station after every other station in the market had turned it down, starting a long run of Tuesday night house shows promoted and/or booked by Jerry Jarrett at the Louisville Gardens. His grandson, Trent Richards, noted that his grandfather never told him any stories about wrestling or working with Jarrett, and Jasper was not a wrestling fan, nor brought it up to his grandson, who was a wrestling fan.
--TNA's Taryn Terrell appeared unadvertised last night at the OVW show in Louisville as the referee for a three-way women's match with Heidi Lovelace keeping her title in a three-way over Josette Bynum and Taeler Hendrix. Terrell and Hendrix (who won a Gut Check contract but was never seen again) went at it before the finish. Hendrix is a heel in OVW.
The main event of last night's show at the Davis Arena saw Crimson get DQ'd intentionally to keep his OVW title in a match with Rob Terry. Doug Williams wasn't there for a match with Johnny Spade that was advertised. Jessie Godderz (Tara's boyfriend in TNA) & Rudy Switchblade retained their tag team titles. (thanks to Trent Vandrisse)
--On Monday, Fuel has the live workout from the Tristar Gym with GSP and Rory MacDonald at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon Eastern time.
--On Monday night in Canada, Ultimate Fighter on Rogers SportsNet had 22,000 viewers, while UFC Central, the Canadian news show, had 25,000 viewers.
--CZW will present a tribute event for Brain Damage, who died from suicide on 10/18. The event will be on 11/10 at 4 p.m., just before The Night of Infamy show, at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ. All proceeds will go to the family and Danny Havoc, Matt Tremont, Joker, Toby Klein, Sami Callihan, D.J. Hyde, Masada, Lucky 13, Greg Excellent and Rich Swann have agreed to appear on the show.
--CZW's regular show later that night in the same building as Azrieal & Bandido Jr. vs. Nation of Intoxication in a tag title match, Masada defending the CZW tile, Briscoes vs. Jake & Dave Crist, Alex Colon vs. Danny Havoc ultraviolent rules, Greg Excellent vs. Kimber Lee and more.
--CZW and wXw joint show from yesterday in Oberhausen, Germany: Alex Colon won four-way over Emil Sitoci, 2Face and Jimmy Havoc, Absolute Andy b Greg Excellent, Big van Walter & Robert Dreissker b Schild Brothers, Jay Skillet & Jonathan Gresham b Karsten Beck & Paul Tracy to keep wXw tag titles, Matt Tremont b Drake Younger, Ares b Michael Isotov, Tommy End & Michael Dante b Dave & Jake Crist, Masada b Bad Bones to keep CZW title, Axel Tischer b D.J. Hyde to keep wXw title. Masada was announced as returning for the 16 Carat Gold tournament. They have a tournament of death show today at an undisclosed location. That will help a lot when it comes to selling tickets. (thanks to Timo Knopf)
--Real Championship Wrestling from last night at the Du Burns Arena in Baltimore: Josh Alexander b Kindred, Runaways b Ruckus & Robbie Mireno, Ophidian b Ethan Page, Hellcats b Alex Payne & Niles Young, Devon Moore b Blk Jeez, Jazz b Kimber Lee, Azrieal b Derek Frazier (thanks to Joe Burrows)
--Yesterday, during an Australian Rules Football game in London, England, in the final quarter, a fat drunk man in his 50s ran into the field with no shirt and wearing a Japanese Tiger Mask. He tried to square off against the stewards as they went after him in a comedy pose. They unmasked him and took him away. No, it wasn't Satoru Sayama. (thanks to Dean Ayass)
--NWA Texoma from Friday night in Sherman, TX: Dane Griffin & Armani b Michael Faith & Regrub, Tim Storm b Ricky Starks, Andy Dalton b Barbi Hayden-DQ, Seth Shai b Mike Foxx, Raven NC Carson, Raven & Carson b Dane Griffin & Armani
--NAWA from last night in Waxahachie, TX: Joe Angelo Garcia b Corey Saturn, Casey Cain b Justin Pain, Doberman & Big John Famous b Billy Club & Barrett Brown, Cowboy Adam b Nobe Bryant to win Texas title. (thanks to Rob Moore)
--USWO from Friday night in Nashville before 67 fans: Mike Cobbs b Chris Norte, Michael Steele b TNT Mottley, Kaden Sade b Josh Crow-DQ, Big Time Sexy b Convict, Nick Iggy b Kerry Awful, Ricky Morton b Justin Grandberry, Psycho Medic b Damien Payne (USWO champion) in a non-title match. (thanks to Jimmie Daniel)
--ICW on 11/10 in Valleyfield, Quebec with an MWF vs. ICW show, and 11/17 in Montreal
--Hoosier Pro Wrestling's 14th anniversary show last night in Columbus, IN before 425 fans. They also raised $1,750 in cash and toys for the Columbus Fireman's Cheer Fund for kids in need at Christmas. T.J. Kemp & T.J. Kemp Jr. b JKO & JKO Jr., J.D. Marioni & Niki b Damien Cole & Camron Star, Matt Boyce b Troy Van Zant, Donny Idol b Bobby Black Stompin Steve b Darth Karta, Ricky b Tom Van Zant, Cooter & Fireman Mike Wilson & Bryan Bailey b Sabotage Styles & Aaron Anarchy & Sign Guy, Tommy Rich & Doug Gilbert & Officer Greg Burns b High Rollers & Sign Guy, Flash Flanagan & Doink the Clown b Sexy Shawn Cook & Zombie Rob Ramer. Next show is 12/1. (thanks to Jerry Wilson)