John Cena vs. Damien Sandow
Antonio Cesaro vs. Zack Ryder
Tonight on Fuel has Rashad Evans looking back at his biggest fights at 7 p.m. Ultimate Insiders at 7:30 p.m., UFC 92 at 8 p.m. and Inside the Blackzillians training camp at 11 p.m.
We have what is essentially a second Hall of Fame double issue of the Observer out today and already up on the web site. The issue features among other things, our Hall of Fame biographies on Lou Albano and Hans Schmidt, as well as a list of everyone in the Observer Hall of Fame. We also have the 2012 Wrestling Observer awards ballot.
We also update Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva, as well as the middleweight and welterweight division in UFC regarding what happens if that fight does take place. We look at St-Pierre's most recent comments on the fight, what he says about the size difference and how realistic it is, and why the weight of the fight is important.
We look at other alternates for both fighters and the risk of both doing and not doing the fight.
We also look at the Hell in a Cell buy rate, and what lessons it shows, whether it's about Ryback, getting a challenger ready, John Cena, and time between shows. We also look at the profitability comparison between one strong show and two weak shows, and why the most accurate read on what the number meant won't come for a few more weeks.
We've got the 2012 awards ballot along with the top place-winners in every category from last year.
We also have updates on The Rock returning to WWE and when, what he's doing, C.M. Punk's likely role at Mania, update on the WWE Network, Update on the TLC show, how atmosphere is different at Raw when Vince isn't there, lots of business notes in different categories and how they compare to a year ago, plus injury updates, a DVD update, Cena booking and merchandising and more and lots more from WWE.
We've got updates on three different pro wrestling tournaments that are going on in Japan right now with New Japan, Pro Wrestling NOAH and All Japan. We look at what the plans are for the winners of the Global League and the next two GHC title matches.
We've got our Hall of Fame bio on Lou Albano. We talk about his early life, the sports he played before pro wrestling and what sport he tried to go pro in first. We look at his early career as a wrestler, the hot period he was tag team champion during and why it abruptly ended. We look at the real story behind Albano's run as half of the WWWF United States tag team champions.
We look at how he switched over to being a manager and his first protege and how that set the standard for WWWF business for the next 15 years. We look at his most famous matches in the ring, the Jimmy Snuka turn and match, the Ivan Koloff vs. Bruno Sammartino program and story behind the 1971 title change.
We look at the Triumvirate of Terror and how the WWWF operated during the 70s, stories of Albano getting fired and rehired by Vince McMahon Sr., his tag team champions, and his original connection with Cyndi Lauper and how that changed pro wrestling.
We look at the first WWF shows on MTV and why they didn't continue. We look at Albano after WWF as an actor and media personality.
We also look at the first post-World War II German superstar in U.S. wrestling, Hans Schmidt. We look at the creation of Schmidt, why he became the star he did, the story behind his program with Verne Gagne, his glory years, his other big rivals, and his world title shots. We look at his run as U.S. champion, the period in the U.S. when pro wrestling had the most mainstream popularity (and it wasn't the 80s or the 90s), his main events in places like Madison Square Garden and Montreal, and the stars he influenced fro the next generation.
We also look at his retirement and life after retirement.
We also have an updated listing of the 25 biggest gates in pro wrestling and MMA of all-time, updated with the early figures from next year's WrestleMania.
Also in this week's issue:
--Mexican national women's title change
--New program for CMLL heavyweight title
--Latest tournament coming to Arena Mexico
--Lineup for AAA's final big show of the year, Guerra de Titanes
--Look at the major stipulation match on top
--Lots of U.S. wrestlers headed to Mexico for show next week
--Dragon Gate title changes hands twice i a week
--Veteran star returns after one year off due to neck problems
--Next NOAH big show
--Notes on New Japan's next iPPV show
--Notes on every match in the New Japan tag team tournament
--More on Antonio Inoki's New Year's Eve show including what star is coming out of retirement for the event
--BBC doing a show on pro wrestling
--Thanksgiving wrestling tradition in the Greensboro area
--More on the Robot Combat League and Chris Jericho
--Return of 80s promotion early next year and who is involved
--Jury awards family of 60s star nearly $1.8 million over circumstances leading to his death
--Bob Evans marathon week
--Where are they nows
--TNA Turning Point estimates
--Who is Spike working on doing a TV special on?
--More on Aces and 8s
--UFC 154 numbers and what they mean
--FOX's big idea for a blow-out UFC show in early 2014
--Update on the final Strikeforce show
--Feud between two Strikeforce stars
--More on Strikeforce people headed to UFC
--Tons of new UFC matches, injuries and retirements
--Business pub talks Sonnen vs. Jones
--Fighter makes claim about steroid use in UFC
--More on Bellator changes
--Bellator star retires
--Notes on the rest of this season in Bellator
--Fund raisers planned for former UFC star who lost his home in a fire
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.
Wednesday's news update
--Bryan and I will be back tonight with Wrestling Observer radio. We'll talk Smackdown, Jim Cornette, Raw ratings, GSP as well as take your questions that you can send to
--Last night at the Smackdown tapings, somehow, the fire alarm went off and the sprinklers came on. Dave Kapoor (Ranjin Singh) was putting together a backstage vignette when a light blew out and the sprinklers automatically went off in the dressing room, drenching a lot of the guys. JBL was coming backstage to change clothes between Main Event and the start of Smackdown. HHH told everyone to get towels to soak up the floor to cut down on water. JBL writes on it at http://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Layfield/194176253533?ref=hl
--One Fighting Championships and Glory Sports, which is promoting the New Year's Eve show at the Saitama Super Arena under the Dream name, announced a business partnership so fighters under contract to One FC, like Shinya Aoki, may appear on the show.
--Gail Kim vs. Mickie James added to Impact tomorrow night, which is a live show.
--MMA Uncensored returns tomorrow night on Spike with Michael Bisping as guest.
--New Japan's tag team tournament had these matches today in Ibaragi:
Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii (3-2) b Hiroshi Tanahashi & Captain New Japan (0-6)
Hirooki Goto & Karl Anderson (3-2) b Yuji Nagata & Masaaki Mochizuki (3-2)
Shelton Benjamin & MVP (3-2) b Rush & Diamante Azul (2-4)
Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. (3-2) b Takashi Iizuka & Toru Yano (2-3)
We'll keep the results updated leading to the iPPV which takes place late Saturday night U.S. time.
--ESPN was No. 1 in cable prime time ratings last week at 3.09 million viewers to 2.54 million for USA. FX was No. 10 at 1.46 million. Syfy was No. 18 at 1.03 million. Spike was No. 21 at 953,000. The three hours of Raw last week were No. 7, No. 8 and No. 11.
WHO DO YOU EXPECT TO WIN THIS FIGHT?
Rory MacDonald 60.9%
B.J. Penn 39.1%
WHO WAS THE BEST OF THESE HALL OF FAMERS?
Ricky Steamboat 40.6%
Ray Stevens 17.4%
Mad Dog Vachon 2.5%
Joe Stecher 2.0%
Ray Steele 0.7%
Frank Sexton 0.2%
Sandor Szabo 0.2%
WHO WAS THE STAR OF RAW ON MONDAY?
Dean Ambrose 42.0%
C.M. Punk 15.5%
Dolph Ziggler 9.8%
Daniel Bryan 9.6%
A.J. Lee 3.9%
Paul Heyman 3.1%
John Cena 3.1%
Vickie Guerrero 1.6%
Rey Mysterio 0.8%
POLL ON RAW
21.0% of those responding didn't see the show
--Glory Promotions is running a Road to Glory USA series next year which six different U.S. shows, all featuring one-night tournaments to create stars in six different weight classes. The winners of each tournament will get $20,000 and a one-year contract. They are looking for fighters between the ages of 19 and 28. All prospective fighters must e-mail bios, with height, fighting weight, date of birth, home town, gym affiliation, fighting record and a video file containing fight footage to Glory executive DCOR Hemmers at
They are looking for fighters to compete at 143, 154, 170, 187, 209 and heavyweight.
--Collector's Realm and Northeast Wrestling have Shawn Michaels and Barbie Blank (Kelly Kelly) doing an autograph session on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hudson Valley Marketplace in Poughkeepsie.
--Masked Republic is offering internship opportunities in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and other cities for 2013. Resumes can be sent between now and 12/21 for areas that include TV production, post-production, PR and marketing to http://maskedrepublic.com/jobs.html
--Crossfire Wrestling on 1/5 in Nashville at the Fairgrounds Arena features Roddy Piper. For every ticket sold, the promotion will donate $2 for Make-a-Wish Middle Tennessee. Also appearing are Dutch Mantell and Tony Falk. The main event has Shane Williams defending the Crossfire title against Carlito Colon, Matt Hardy vs. Colt Cabana, Cheerleader Melissa vs. Mia Yim, Kevin Sullivan vs. Hammerjack, Samuray del Sol vs. Matt Cross and Jerry Lynn & Ricky Morton vs. Kid Kash & Josh Shockman.
--Former WWE wrestler Rob Conway turned 40 today. Another former WWE wrestler, Brent Albright, turned 34 today. Mitsuya Maeda, a pro wrestling star in the early century who taught Jiu Jitsu to the Gracies, was 63 when he passed away 71 years ago today. Kazuhiro Sonoda, also known as The Magic Dragon, passed away in a plane crash 25 years ago today. Jack Laskin was 81 when he passed away two years ago today. (thanks to Georgia Wrestling History)
--Today in wrestling history
49 years ago today - The Crusher beat Verne Gagne in St. Paul to win the AWA world heavyweight title
35 years ago today: Jimmy Valiant beat Jerry Lawler to win the Southern title and Dennis Condrey & Phil Hickerson beat The Samoans to win the Southern tag team titles in Memphis
27 years ago today: Buck Zumhofe beat Steve Regal (not William Regal) to win the AWA world light heavyweight title in St. Paul
27 years ago today: Thanksgiving Star Wars at Reunion Arena in Dallas saw Gino Hernandez & Chris Adams beat Kevin & Kerry Von Erich in a cage match to win the vacant American tag team championships
27 years ago today was Starrcade 85 The Gathering in Greensboro and Atlanta
Khrusher Khruschchev (Barry Darsow) beat Sam Houston to win the Mid Atlantic heavyweight title
Buddy Landel beat Terry Taylor to win the NWA national title
Magnum T.A. beat Tully Blanchard in a cage match to win the U.S. title in an I Quit match
Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson beat Ivan & Nikita Koloff to win the NWA world tag team titles
(thanks to Brian Hoops)
--Tickets for the WWF tour of Australia from 7/26 to 7/30 with shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth go on sale with a presale on Monday at 2 p.m. and to the public on Wednesday at 9 a.m. (thanks to James Stanios)
--ECWA Toys for Tots benefit show take place on Saturday in Newark, DE at the Greater Newark Boys and Girls Club. Chris Wylde vs. Josh Daniels is the main event.
--There is a promotion called Cage Contenders that is doing a one-night battle for 10,000 pounds on Saturday night at the Olympia in Liverpool, England. Andre Winner, the former UFC fighter and tournament favorite has pulled out due to a rib injury. The first and second round fights will be two rounds and the final is three rounds. Opening round has Martin Stapleton (9-1) vs. Jaimie Rogers (6-4), Arnold Quero (6-1) vs. Mihail Kazaku (5-2), Chris Stringer (11-9-1) vs. Tommy Maguire (11-6) and Uche Ihiekwe (5-2) vs. Phil Flynn (7-7). The show will air on Premier Sports 428 in the U.K. on 12/6 and 12/7 from 10-11 p.m.
--C4 Wrestling from Saturday night in Ottawa before a full house of 340 fans: Leon Saver b John Greed, Scotty O'Shea won six-way over Mike Bailey, Shayne Hawke, Buxx Belmar, Alex Vega and Sebastian Suave, Jae Rukin & Brent Banks b Deeno & Cheeky, Tyson Dux b Jagger Miles, Checkmate & Christopher Bishop & Lionel Knight b Player Uno & Kevin Steen, Michael Von Payton b Cheech Hernandez, Mathieu St. Jacques & Thomas Dubois b Cecil Nyx & Chaz Lovely, Twiggy b Angie Skye, Josh Alexander b Stu Grayson
--Sami Callihan is doing a live interactive interview tonight at 8 p.m. at www.HybridENT.TV
You can send questions to #CZWReflections
--On Today's "At the Movies" in Australia, the country's leading film critic, David Stratton, gave "The Man with the Iron Fists," which features Dave Bautista and Cung Le, **1/2 while co-host Margaret Pomeranz gave it ***1/2 (thanks to James Stanios)
--Bruiser Wrestling on 3/2 in Lima, OH
--Al Snow will be doing a seminar on 1/5 for Ring Wars Carolinas for male & female wrestlers, managers, valets, refs and promoters at Gold's Gym in Hope Mill, NC. Cost is $50 and more info is at
--Mick Foley appears on Saturday at Santa's Village in Jefferson, NH for a signing of his new Christmas book.
--NWA Anarchy from Saturday night in Cornelia, GA before 70 fans: Shadow Jackson & Nemesis & Geter b Najassism & Vandal & J.C. Walker, Todd Sexton b Adrian Hawkins, Stryknyn NC Anthony Henry, Andrew Pendleton III b Joey Rhymer, Jon & Trey Williams b Tommy Panerelli & C.B. Suavae, Bo Newsome b Billy Buck-COR, Geter b Brodie Chase-DQ (thanks to Larry Goodman)