A look at the lessons learned and full coverage of the UFC on FOX show, as well as notes of Dwayne Johnson's schedule both within WWE and elsewhere are among the items covered in the new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that will be on the site today. It is one of two new issues today, with the other being a back issue from 1995 with coverage of what was, at the time, the biggest money pro wrestling live event in history, the Keiji Muto vs. Nobuhiko Takada match at the Tokyo Dome.
We look at the significance of the rating and positives of the show. We've got a list of the 15 most watched MMA television matches in U.S. history. We look at how every match on the FOX special did in the ratings, match-by-match growth, the future of the lightweight champion Benson Henderson, ratings from Saturday and how they compare to what FOX usually does, the next FOX show, how the prelims did, the main event heat, the future of B.J. Penn, plus match-by-match coverage with poll results on the show.
We also look at the retirement of Kenta Kobashi and Pro Wrestling NOAH's last big show of the year. We give the background as to why Kobashi announced his retirement, his status in Japanese wrestling, what his career is a case study of, a look back at the formation of Pro Wrestling NOAH, some talk of Kobashi's last match and who they are looking to have involved, plus a rundown of Sunday's show at Sumo Hall in Tokyo and interesting notes regarding many of the losers on that show.
We also look at Dwayne Johnson's first quarter schedule including a number of Raw dates, notes on the C.M. Punk vs. Ryback television match they talked about as upcoming, Randy Orton's injury, a major heel being talked about for a face turn and why, Slammy Awards notes as well as notes on all of next week's WWE programming, WWE video game sales, two WWE stars who recently have gotten engaged, notes on WWE talent development as well as an update on the best prospects including the first of the big football players to make NXT, Mark Henry update, notes on people leaving, and house show notes.
We also look at the UFC's announcements regarding GSP vs. Nick Diaz, Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche and Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald and what they all mean. We look at how the Rousey vs. Carmouche fight transpired and risks involved with the promotion of it. We look at the decision-making leading to GSP vs. Diaz and Dana White's explanation. We also look at the reaction of Johny Hendricks, notes on Rousey vs. Cyborg and how close that may be, comments from Rousey, Miesha Tate, White, Monte Cox and others on the first women's main event. We also look at who will be in charge of the women's division, UFC's ticket selling in Anaheim, undercard and more.
We've also got notes on the 2012 Tokyo Sports pro wrestling awards, plus a background on them and a list of every MVP dating back to 1974.
We've also got coverage of TNA's Final Resolution PPV, including match-by-match coverage with star ratings and poll results on the show. We look at the main event stories, injuries leading up to the show, and how the storylines did or didn't resonate with the live audience.
We also have a story on the Spike TV and Bellator relationship, the debut of Bellator after Impact on Thursday, the first fights on the debut show as well as notes on week two, and other Bellator programming on Spike.
Also in this week's issue:
--CMLL's year end spectacular lineup
--Major benefit show in Mexico ends up with a strange result
--CMLL false advertising talent
--Arena Mexico title match this past week held up and why
--Former WWE star debuts with Dragon Gate in U.S. next month
--Former TNA wrestlers also becoming regulars on Dragon Gate USA shows
--Yuji Nagata worked as a guest in a Dragon Gate match
--Rundown of All Japan's last big show of the year, featuring Masakatsu Funaki putting the Triple Crown up against Manabu Soya putting up the future of his world tag team title duo
--Notes on the major matches in January in All Japan
--Vader returns to All Japan and teams with Keiji Muto
--Pro wrestling show this past week draws 25,000 fans to a stadium
--All Japan world tag champs defend in rival promotion
--Notes on the IGF New Year's Eve television deal and it's not nearly what it's cracked up to be
--Mirko Cro Cop appears on pro wrestling show doing shoot match against a pro wrestling star
--El Generico headlines major Japanese show against Kenny Omega
--Continuation of the feud between 80s junior heavyweight stars
--Notes on the life and career of Hippie Mike Boyette
--What part of the country was he best known in
--More on Ric Flair
--Supreme Court ends a case involving the family of a well known wrestling star
--More on the retirement of Jerry Lynn
--Legends of Stampede Wrestling return for a big show at the Pavilion in Calgary along with a number of major modern names
--A look at Puerto Rico's biggest rivalry of the past decade, Carlito vs. Ray Gonzalez, this time in a hair vs. hair match
--What other Americans are now working in Puerto Rico
--Notes on the 2013 class of the Amsterdam based Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame
--Notes on the CZW Cage of Death show
--Former WWF star writing autobiography
--Legendary talk show hosts talks about his favorite wrestlers, his 50 year association with the product and gives a sobering note about the current product
--WWE star from years back comes out of retirement after seven years away
--Notes on CHIKARA iPPV
--Dan Severn talks about his association with pro wrestling
--Notes on the ROH Final Battle
--Update on Jim Cornette
--Spike President Kevin Kay predicts big things for TNA in January
--Notes on the return of Sting, Velvet Sky and Eric Young to TNA
--Mickie James talks her surgery
--Bully Ray talks the elimination of two PPV shows
--Notes on major items at TNA television the next few weeks
--Notes on this week's UFC events
--Notes on the retirement of Mark Hominick and why
--Notes on who is and isn't being brought in from Strikeforce
--Who Anderson Silva says he is willing to defend his title against, but who he thinks will never get a title shot
--Strikeforce personality into a major sports Hall of Fame
--Ronda Rousey honored by men
--Update on Diego Sanchez
--Lots of new UFC matches made this week
--Anderson Silva contract talks
--What will be a very telling note regarding two money and talent decisions Bellator will have to make
--Notes on last week's Bellator show as well as the upcoming one
--Gate for Pacquiao vs. Marquez
--One-armed fighter captures championship
--Update on Gina Carano
--Lineup for the Dream New Year's Eve show at the Saitama Super Arena including one surprise name announced
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.
SATURDAY NEWS, NOTES AND LINKS
--It goes without saying how horrible the tragedy yesterday in Newtown, CT, was. Our deepest sympathies to the families involved, and don't forget to send a prayer about the rest of the kids, and teachers, at the school on that day because that's a traumatic experience at a young age that will never go away.
--Today is the 49th anniversary of the death of Rikidozan, who was among the five most influential pro wrestlers who ever lived. Rikidozan was the father and first great star of Japanese pro wrestling, who died at the age of 38 after being stabbed by a thug after a bar fight a week earlier in 1963. Rikidozan was a Japanese cultural hero the likes of which only one wrestler in history, El Santo in Mexico, could even approach. Even the biggest American stars like Jim Londos, Frank Gotch, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, whoever, as far as cultural impact and national heroes are so far out of Rikidozan's league it would be almost impossible for an American to understand. Rikidozan would be closer to Abraham Lincoln than to Steve Austin.
--Last night's Marcin Held vs. Dave Jansen Bellator lightweight tournament final didn't take place. It was really weird watching the TV because it was never mentioned at all, after being plugged the week before. The two men even weighed in on Thursday. On Friday, Bellator officials were told that since Held was under 21 (he's 20), he would not be allowed inside the casino. The Indiana commission, which doesn't allow anyone under 18 to fight professionally, had approved it and everyone didn't know there was even an issue until a gaming commission authority found out and held them to the letter of the law. No date was announced for the match, but it would be on Spike early next year.
--I figure a lot of people skipped last night's UFC show, but it was one of those sleeper shows. Not much in the way of big names, but one great fight after another. Great crowd as well, particularly for the last two fights. Tonight will have a hard time topping it.
--After the fight, since the season is over and the nondisclosure terms are no longer in effect, Ross Pearson said the reason he didn't like George Sotiropolous was because Sotiropolous got into an argument with Erin Beach, who was the boxing coach Pearson brought for his team. Pearson said Sotiropolous punched Beach and Beach came back and knocked out Sotiropolous. "That's why I said I lost all respect for him, and that's why I didn't shake his hands afterwards," Pearson said. "That's why I'm not his friend now. Because he acted unprofessional."
--Randy Orton's actual injury was a separated shoulder although it didn't take place, obviously, in the angle that aired on Smackdown last night. The injury is not that serious and he's expected back in about two weeks. He did not suffer a concussion although his television character did. The injury took place last Sunday and then on Tuesday night they shot the angle for Smackdown as a cover reason.
--Rey Mysterio returns tonight in Wilkes-Barre.
--Kendall Windham turned 46 today, Elix Skipper turned 45 and Eric Young turned 33.
--Brady Boone was 40 when he passed away in an auto accident 14 years ago. Russ Haas, Charlie's brother, was 27 when he passed away 11 years ago from a heart attack. Hans Mortier (Jacob Grobbe), a major star in the 60s and big rival of Bruno Sammartino, was 86 when he passed away two years ago today. (thanks to Georgia Wrestling History)
--5 Dimes has these odds for TLC
The Shield -320
Team Hell No & Ryback +280
Dolph Ziggler -400
John Cena +280
Big Show -270
Wade Barrett -460
Kofi Kingston +320
Antonio Cesaro -750
Like I said before, I just can't see five heel wins in the five big matches, so individually you would think heels over every time, but I just get the feeling one or two of these "upsets" will happen.
--The WWE is promoting tonight's Rolling Stones PPV from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. It's $39.99 standard and $49.99 HD. I have no clue how it will do. Concerts historically have always flopped on PPV, which is why big concerts haven't been on PPV in close to 20 years. If there could be an exception, this would be it. E! is doing a pre-game show at 8 p.m.. I've seen the Stones many times in concert so figure I'd be a target buyer. Because of UFC, it really wasn't an option to consider, but even without UFC, I don't know that I'd have chosen it over taking my kids to a movie or watching boxing. But again, that's not a prediction. I hope it does well.
--One of the most famous matches in Japanese history took place 35 years ago today, the finals of the first-ever Real World Tag League between The Funk Brothers vs. The Sheik & Abdullah the Butcher. This is the match that really made Terry Funk into a super babyface in Japan, a position he held for the next seven years and had residual effect to this day. The storyline was he got his arm stabbed over and over, and was destroyed and taken out, then made a comeback minutes later after Dory fought both guys together. They used offshoots of that storyline in a few of the tag tourney finals years later. The Funks won via DQ back in the day when the top guys in Japan almost never lost.
--Ten years ago today, WWE did its Armageddon show with HHH beating Shawn Michaels in 2/3 falls, a street fight, a cage match and finally a ladder match all in the same night.
--K-1 is looking for fighters to compete in six U.S. events over the first five months of the year, many of which will air on Spike TV. There will be one-night tournaments in various weight classes to establish stars at http://www.gloryworldseries.com/en/apply
--Today is also a big day in boxing as CBS will air Leo Santa Cruz (22-0-1) vs. Alberto Guevara (15-0) for the IBF bantamweight title at 4:30 p.m., the first time boxing has been on that network since 1997. This will lead to a Showtime main event with Amir Khan vs. Carlos Molina. HBO airs Nonito Donaire vs. Jorge Arce and will replay the Pacquiao-Marquez fight tonight in what will be Larry Merchant's last show doing color. He will stay on the broadcasts in some form.
--The Washington Post on Thursday ran a story about Antonio Inoki running IGF shows in Pakistan.
--The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of the Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup take place at The Orpheum in Ybor City, FL and General Admission tonight is free, although they are asking for donations for Nathan Dodd's battle with cancer. It can be seen on iPPV at www.WWNLive.com
with Samuray del Sol vs. Jonathan Gresham, Shane Strickland vs. AR Fox, Mike Cruz vs. Jon Davis and Lince Dorado vs. Papadon. There will be a nine-man match with all the guys eliminated from the tournament last night.
--Des Delgadillo, who did the ROH preview for our site this week, has a video on him doing pro wrestling journalism while being blind at http://vimeo.com/43945500
WHICH OF THESE MEN IS A STRONGER HALL OF FAMER?
Jumbo Tsuruta 58.8%
El Santo 41.2%
WHO WINS THIS FIGHT?
Roy Nelson 83.2%
Matt Mitrione 16.8%
HOW MANY NORTH AMERICAN BUYS DOES TLC DO?
Less than 80,000 15.7%
More than 181,000 1.6%
WHICH SHOW DOES MORE BUYS OUT OF JAPAN?
New Japan Tokyo Dome 55.1%
Final Battle 44.9%
POLL ON IMPACT
33.6% of those responding didn't see the show
--Dory Funk's BANG on New Year's Eve in Ocala, FL at the BANG Sound Stage has Cory Weston vs. Brian Davis and Hollywood Heather & Wes Brisco vs. Chanel & Ron Rymer in mixed tag match.
--CZW on 1/12 in Voorhees, NJ at Flyers Skate Zone with Masada vs. Joe Gacy for the CZW title.
--Here Comes the Boom opened at No. 4 in Australia this weekend doing $489,946 (thanks to James Stanios)
--Portland Wrestling will be taped today in Beaverton, OR at the FOX 12 studios. Roddy Piper is the big star there.
--USWO from last night in Nashville before 81 fans: Josh Crow b Michael Steele, Psycho Medic b TNT Mottley, Big Time Sexy b Chris Norte, White Tiger & L.T. Falk b Chris Norte & Shaun Fatal, Chase Stevens b Justin Grandberry, Mike Jablonski b Damien Payne to win the USWO title. This was the company's last show at its regular Friday night venue, the Stadium Inn. Tony Falk was told by the hotel owners that they no longer would allow wrestling there after running every Friday dating back to 2005. Falk is looking for a new location for his shows. (thanks to Jimmie Daniel)
--Not wrestling related but a sign of the times when it comes to changes in power in U.S. television. This was the 18-49 ratings for the most watched stations on Thursday night
NFL Network 1.9 (keep in mind with its limited reach, it would actually be a close 2nd when it comes to ratings among those who actually got the channel)