THURS. UPDATE: Punk update, Another WWE injury, More on Rousey vs. Cyborg, New Year's Eve matches, All-time great celebrates 78th today, Why do you think Raw ratings have declined, Indie documentary

By Dave Meltzer
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        Tonight is both the go-home show for Impact as well as the last live Impact of the year (the rest of the year is being taped after Final Resolution on Monday and Tuesday).
*Jeff Hardy & A.J. Styles & James Storm vs. Bobby Roode & Christopher Daniels & Kazarian
*Samoa Joe vs. Devon for the TV title
*Kurt Angle vs. Doc
        Plus no doubt the show will be built around the Hulk Hogan, Brooke Hogan and Bully Ray storyline.
        Tonight on Fuel has UFC Tonight at 8 p.m., Ultimate Insider at 8:30 p.m., Best of Pride at 9 p.m., the Road to the Octagon special (very good, particularly B.J. Penn) at 10 p.m., Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson at 11 p.m. and the most recent episode of Ultimate Fighter at midnight.  
        A note regarding Christmas season specials.  We've got specials both on the web site and for the print Observer.  If you order a gift subscription to someone new of four months for the web site or 16 issues for the Observer, you will get either one month free on the web site or four issues free of the Observer.  There is no limit to the number of gift subscriptions you can order.
        If you order 32 issues or more and you are not a current subscriber, you can get until Christmas a free copy of Tributes II.  If you order a 32 issue gift subscription, you can also get a free copy of the book for yourself or the person you are ordering the subscription for.
        A look at the C.M. Punk injury and the card changes for TLC is our headline story in a news-heavy week of the Observer.  We update on the knee injury, the nature of the injury, the latest on recuperation time, and look at the original TLC card and all the different reasons it's changed including updating status on several wrestlers no longer on the show.
        We also look at the John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler booking and the match.
        We also update the situation with Pro Wrestling NOAH, the once powerhouse promotion that looks to be falling apart.  We look at the reasons the promotion has gone down, what moves are being made and the status going forward of many of its biggest names.  We also look at a record set by Kenta Kobashi that may never be equaled.
        We've also got a story on three of the biggest names in history, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and Terry Funk, and in-ring wrestling.  We look at Flair's comments about not wrestling again, what happened when Hulk Hogan was given a huge money offer for one last match, as well as what looks to be each man's last match.  We look at changes in WWE, the chances right now of Flair going to WWE, The offers Flair recently turned down for a major match and the TMZ report on Flair and his impending divorce.
        We also have a look at the plans for January with UFC and Bellator both getting new TV time slots.  We look at why both spots are potentially strong, as well as when both are scheduled to debut.
        We also have a long biography on the death of Buddy Roberts of the Fabulous Freebirds and Hollywood Blonds tag teams.  We look back to one of the biggest wrestling angles of all-time and how Buddy Roberts fit in, we look at the heyday of Freebirds vs Von Erichs, we've got how the feud kicked off, how The Freebirds ended up in Texas, what Texas wrestling was like when they got there and the famous Christmas 1982 cage match with Ric Flair and Kerry Von Erich.
        We look at how Buddy Roberts got started in wrestling, who was his first mentor, his career before the Hollywood Blonds, how the Hollywood Blonds came to be and the wrestling war in Montreal.  We've got comments from a number of people who interacted with Roberts during his career.  We look at his run with Johnny Valentine, we look at how The Freebird trio came to be.  We look at The Freebirds days in Atlanta during the heyday of the Georgia Championship Wrestling TV show. 
        We also look at his feud with King Parsons, their run in WWF and why it was so brief, why his career ended and life after wrestling.
        We also look more at a flood in a dressing room at a WWE event, an update on Martha Hart's lawsuit against WWE, Dolph Ziggler, a WWE release for legal reasons, a WWE employee who as recently as this summer was competing at a high level in a real sport, two new wrestlers WWE has its eye on and is scouting, Shawn Michaels talks the end of his career, and a former WWE performer rips on John Cena.
        We also look at the fate of a WWE performer, DVR viewership of Raw, plus business notes from the past week and details from all the weekend house shows.
        We also have a story on the injury to UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and look at how this impacts the division, with the various big fights coming up.
        We've got a look at the last New Japan PPV show with the tag team tournament finals, plus preview the Tokyo Dome show.  We look at the standings of the tournament, as well as match-by-match coverage with star ratings and poll results.
        We also look at the prospects of AAA expanding into the U.S., as well as look at its last big show of the year, Guerra de Titanes over the weekend including what legend got his head shaved and how it all went down.
        We also have coverage of the finals of the 2012 Real World Tag League tournament.
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         We also have a look at the ratings of all the major shows and complete details on how every segment of Raw and Impact this past week did.  We look at what segments gained and lost viewers
        We also have results from all the major league arena events over the past week as well as a look at all the major television shows.
Also in this week's issue:
--TNA star wins wrestling bodybuilding contest
--A look at the Co pa Juniors tournament in Mexico
--Japanese promotion TV show now available weekly in the U.S.
--Longtime pro wrestling star leaving business to go to college
--A look at Pro Wrestling NOAH's next and possibly last big show
--A look at the last New Japan show of the year
--Biggest pro wrestling crowd of the week, you'll never guess the company or where it took place
--Notes on the "Last of McGuinness" DVD
--National Pro Wrestling Day
--Story on retirement of Tony Mamaluke
--Update on Tammy Sytch
--A piece of wrestling history is declared a local landmark
--Notes on a major indie show
--Former WWE star in a hair match this week
--Update on Jake Roberts
--Jim Cornette's current situation and future in ROH
--Notes on the 2013 TNA Lockdown show
--Update on Jeff Hardy
--Update on TNA/Scott Steiner legal problems
--TNA star about to graduate college
--A look at Wes Brisco on Gut Check
--Notes on TNA Impact tapings for the rest of the year
--Update on the Final Resolution show
--A look at all the TNA weekend shows
--Changes in UFC on FOX
--Johny Hendricks/Nick Diaz arguments regarding fighting St-Pierre
--Lots of new UFC fights signed
--Upcoming Bellator stuff
--How Bellator got started
--Record boxing numbers
        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)
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*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)
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*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)
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        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
--C.M. Punk is scheduled for Raw on Monday, and for each week going forward, although he won't be wrestling for a few weeks.
--As noted on the show last night, Cris Cyborg said she was negotiating for a fight with Ronda Rousey but it would take time because she has to be able to cut her natural body weight down to where she can make 135.  There were rumors of the fight being 2/23 in Anaheim because the UFC Brazil site actually listed it.  Cyborg said she would not be able to make it by that date.
--Eve Torres didn't wrestle on TV this week and was protected on the weekend house shows due to an arm injury.
--Bibiano Fernandes vs. Yoshiro Maeda and Denis Kang vs. Melvin Manhoef have been announced for the Dream New Year's Eve show at the Saitama Super Arena.  This is not really the Dream promotion but Glory, which has purchased the rights to the name and is doing a combined MMA and kickboxing tournament, like combining the New Year's Eve tradition with the old K-1 Grand Prix tradition all on the same night, but it has no TV in Japan.  Fernandes is the Dream bantamweight champion and Maeda is the Deep champion, but neither title is at stake.
--Added to the 2/2 UFC show in Las Vegas is Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall and Even Dunham vs. Gleison Tibau.  This is the PPV that has Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar, Alistair Overeem vs. Bigfoot Silva, Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia as the top fights.
--There is talk that if Nate Diaz wins the lightweight title on Saturday, that teammate Gilbert Melendez will cut to featherweight.  That won't be easy.  I talked to Melendez about six weeks ago on that subject and he said it at the time he couldn't make featherweight.  
Buying before, still buying 12.5%
Not buying before, still not buying 60.7%
Not buying before, now buying 16.7%
Buying before, now not buying 10.1%
El Santo 62.9%
El Hijo del Santo 26.7%
El Satanico 2.9%
Lizmark 2.1%
Ray Mendoza 2.1%
Black Shadow 1.3%
El Solitario 1.3%
Tarzan Lopez 0.8%
Show is three hours 49.5%
Bad product 18.3%
Bad personalities as top guys 9.4%
Wrestling itself is overexposed 8.5%
NFL is stronger than ever 6.1%
Too much WWE TV per week 5.4%
Competition from new forms of media 2.9%
Yes, and should keep it for a while 33.2%
Should have won it, but it's getting close to time to lose it 17.6%
No, shouldn't be champion 49.2%
--Would like to mention that Nick Bockwinkel turns 78 today.  Bockwinkel was an all-time great both in the ring and on promos and you can argue that the combo of Bockwinkel & Bobby Heenan as AWA world singles and tag team (with Ray Stevens) championship package was the greatest wrestler(s)/manager combination of all-time.   
--A guy who really doesn't get the pub that he should, at least mainstream, Nick Newell, faces Eric Reynolds for the XFC lightweight title tomorrow night in Nashville in the main event on AXS TV.  Newell is 8-0, even competing with the handicap of only having one arm.  He's been featured heavily on AXS for the past several months.  
--Turner Classic Movies will be airing two pro wrestling movies, "Below the Belt," with Regina Baff and Mildred Burke and "All the Marbles" with Peter Falk starting at 2 a.m. late Friday night/early Saturday night.  It should be noted TCM tends to change movies without any notice, but this is what is listed right now on all the cable guides.  I never saw "Below the Belt," but "All the Marbles" was kind of a cheesy movie but the wrestling action sequences (with the Jumping Bomb Angels I believe involved in a lot of them) were at least great by 1981 wrestling standards. (thanks to Jake Koch)
--The Newark Star Ledger did a 25 minute documentary on the plight of independent wrestlers focusing on guys like Marty Jannetty, Danny Inferno, Crowbar as well as young guys on the way up at
--Ben Askren will be the guest on MMA Uncensored tonight on Spike.
--Jimmy Snuka is doing a book signing of his autobiography on 12/8 in Ridgewood, NJ at Bookends.
--CWE on 1/18 in Winnipeg at Southeast Collegiate headlined by Scott Steiner.
--The Super Fight League's year-end show will be 12/14 airing live at at 10:30 a.m. Eastern and 7:30 a.m. Pacific time from Mumbai, India, called Night of Champions.  These are the title fights
Bhabjaect Chowdhury vs. Shyam Prasad (welterweight)
Sanja Sucevic vs. Colleen Schneider (women's featherweight)
Manoj Chuhan vs. Anup Kumar (bantamweight)
Bharat Kandare vs. Narender Grewal (featherweight)
Rajinder Singh Meena vs. Sandeep Yadav (lightweight)
--Prime Wrestling TV taping on 12/7 in Cleveland at Our Lady of Mount Carmel with Johnny Gargano vs. Gory, Zach Gowen & Gregory Iron vs. N8 Mattson & Benjamin Boone, Krimson vs. Bobby Beverly, Bobby Shields vs. Matt Mason, Matt Cross vs. Kirst and more.
--A show called Banned in the USA on 3/2 in London, ONT which is an ECW Reunion type show has added Kevin Sullivan in a Texas death match to the card.  Maches announced are first round matches in a championship tournament with Stevie Richards vs. Vito Lograsso, Axl Rotten vs. Angel of Da Baldies, C.W. Anderson vs. Blue Meanis and Pitbull Gary Wolf vs. Jason Knight.  2 Cold Scorpio vs. Sabu and Christian York vs. Petey Williams are also announced plus Raven, Sandman, Tod Gordon, Missy Hyatt and Joel Gertner.
--Booker T's promotion Reality of Wrestling has an iPPV on Saturday featuring MVP plus, as noted on the front page, Booker T, MVP and Devon are doing a clinic on 12/7.  The show will be at the Clear Lake Sports and Rec Complex in Houston and the clinic will be at Booker's XWF Wrestling School also in Houston.   For more info go to (thanks to Scott Zenzen)
--OTTR radio talk about Buddy Roberts of The Freebirds and will do a running play-by-play of one of Roberts' most famous singles matches of his Texas run, a hair vs. hair match against King Parsons, and then talk Freebirds vs. Von Erichs at
--A story on University School in Broward County, Florida going for the high school state championship in Orlando and bringing two replica  WWE title belts that they present each week to the best players in the game is at   
--ECWA on 1/5 in Newark, DE at the Greater Newark Boys & Girls Club for New Year's Resolutions II with Chris Wylde vs. Josh Daniels in a submission only match plus Papadon vs. AHTU
--Chavo Guerrero Sr., or Chavo Classic, has been added to Saturday's River City Wrestling show in San Antonio at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.  Chavo was a headliner in San Antonio in the 70s and 80s, including teaming with Mil Mascaras vs. Black Gordman & Goliath on big shows in the city.  The show is headlined by Chavo Guerrero Jr. & Hernandez & Homicide vs. Michael Faith & Joey Sector & Coach Michael Patrick. plus El Sicodelico Jr. vs. Skayde.
--52 years ago today, Gene Kiniski beat Wilbur Snyder in Minneapolis to win the AWA United States title
--44 years ago today, Doug "The Professional" Gilbert beat Johnny Valentine to win the Georgia heavyweight title in Atlanta (thanks to Brian Hoops)   
--For older AWA fans, George "Scrap Iron" Gadaski, a prelim favorite who drove the ring truck, passed away on this date in 1982 at the age of 52.  For a trivia note, Ric Flair's first pro wrestling match, in 1972, was a draw against Gadaski.  Jerry "The Wall" Tuite was 36 when he died nine years ago today. 

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?