MON. UPDATE: Raw tonight, wrestlers bid farewell to NOAH, Leben talks his issues

By Dave Meltzer
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        Raw is taped tonight from Pittsburgh:
*Kane vs. Cody Rhodes
*Sheamus vs. Big Show in a lumberjack match with all the lumberjacks wearing Santa hats
*Kaitlyn & Natalya & Layla & Alicia Fox vs. Eve Torres & Tamina Snuka & Aksana & Rosa Mendes
*Zack Ryder vs. David Otunga
*Kofi Kingston & The Miz vs. Wade Barrett & Antonio Cesaro
*Great Khali vs. Brad Maddox
*Daniel Bryan vs. Damien Sandow
*Usos & Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd & Brodus Clay vs. Titus O'Neil & Darren Young & Heath Slater & Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal & Tensai
*John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio in a Miracle on 34th street fight where there were weapons in Christmas present boxes
        Even though there is no NFL game tonight, and not that anyone cares about a Christmas Eve rating because they mean nothing, but nobody would be surprised if it was the lowest Raw rating in more than a decade.  
        UFC on Fuel tonight has the shows headlined by Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller at 7 p.m., Korean Zombie vs. Dustin Poirier at 9 p.m. and Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall at midnight. And if you're having trouble sleeping, they have the Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida match at 2 a.m.  Actually it probably won't air until closer to 3:30 a.m. Fuel has  a UFC marathon going pretty much all day today and tomorrow, with one show after another.  The big ones tomorrow are the last FOX show from Seattle at 6 p.m., the Australia show from last week at 8 p.m., Top 50 moments part two of 2012 at 10 p.m., and the debut of Countdown to UFC 155 airs at 11 p.m. tomorrow.
        With so much news coming out of WWE this past week, as well as major shows from UFC and ROH, we've got two issues of the Observer coming out this week on the web site along with the weekly back issue from 1995.  The back issue and the first issue are already up and the second issue is also up today.  For mail subscribers, they are combined into one double issue.
        Our lead story talks about the return of Ric Flair to WWE, with lots of exclusive details on the deal.  We look at the ratings for his segment, ratings overall, why not advertising Flair ahead of time was done even though it probably hurt the potential rating of the show.  We also look at what age group was the strongest to see Flair, an answer that will surprise people.  We also look at Flair's status with WWE, what angle is talked about, and what he will or won't be allowed to do as of today, but how the original ideas were already changed.
        We look at the biggest issue regarding him being signed, and a second potential issue.  We look at what Flair was ordered to do in Philadelphia when he got there, who knew and why, as well as a look at the segment.
        We also look at the situation with Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara and why the angles were shot.  We also look at the return of Tommy Dreamer, how the ratings fell for his return, and what his situation is with the company.
        We also look at the debut of Big E Langston, give background on him, and note how recently the plans were made to bring him in with this role.  We also look at the talent most likely to follow him in from NXT.  We look at his background and why Langston fit into so many things different people in the company like from talent.
        We also have a look at the Raw Slammy Awards show, with a complete rundown of every segment on the show, stories behind them and how the audience came and went during each segment.
        We've also got a complete rundown of the TLC PPV, with notes on the show, the business of the show, the finishes, match-by-match coverage with star ratings and poll results on the show.
        We also have the same coverage for both UFC shows over the weekend.
        We've got more on the implosion of the Pro Wrestling NOAH organization with the official word of five more major stars leaving the group.  We look at their final matches, who they are, and what is next.
        We also have an update on how Ring of Honor looks going into 2013.  We look at the inherent problems with the group, attempts that have been made to expand the audience, the competition for Final Battle, the business for Final Battle, the farewell to Jerry Lynn, the Steen vs. Generico ladder match, the roles of Matt Hardy, Nigel McGuinness and what ROH star gave notice before the show started.
        We also have match-by-match coverage with star ratings as well as poll results on the show.
        We also have an update on Randy Orton, WrestleMania 2013, Punk vs. Ryback and why 1/7 is going to be a very tough night for WWE.  We also look at a Hall of Fame wrestler who was in talks about returning to WWE for Mania and where it stands.
        We also go into detail about the WWE's affiliation with Hire Heroes USA, a group run by UFC star Brian Stann.  We look at how this happened, why it happened and what to expect from it.
        We look at ideas that have at least for this week  been dropped.  We have surprising notes on the network, Punk's return, Big Show talks tag team philosophy, what you'll probably never see him do again, who he thinks are future stars and someone in developmental he's high on.  Ryback talks getting to No. 1.  Why JBL is getting hate reaction from a group of sports fans.  We look at Mike Tyson talking WWE booking, DVR usage during Raw, new WWE signings and house show notes.
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        We also look at Twitter and Neilsen ratings with some interesting data about this week and thoughts of what can and can't be learned in theory, and why WWE and UFC already have the metrics in place as to what is and isn't working.
        We also look at the career of Volk Han, who had his retirement match over the weekend.
         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 issues:
--More on how to view the New Japan Tokyo Dome show outside of Japan
--What New Japan star was Hiroshi Tanahashi concerned about leaving
--A new angle the company is starting from a major mainstream magazine
--What TNA star is rumored to be headed to New Japan
--New Japan star wins in legitimate sports competition
--More on Final Resolution and what it says about Jeff Hardy
--Kurt Angle talks injury situation
--What happened with TNA in Germany and the lay of the land there
--Update on Scott Steiner vs. TNA legal actions
--Eric Bischoff gets into a new business
--Former WCW star talks going to TNA
--Notes on El Hijo del Sting
--Why Magnus had the injury angle done
--Update on TNA injuries
--Update on UFC 158
--Lessons learned from UFC on FOX
--More on the matchmaking of UFC 158
--A look at UFC's return to Japan
--Why the former mainstream stars in Japan in UFC aren't on the show
--A look at what Kid Yamamoto wants to do next
--Business changes within FOX Sports and how UFC may be affected
--Updates on ticket sales to upcoming UFC shows and what they say
--Update on the next UFC show on FOX
--What fighter blew his chance to be on network TV and how
--What the rating of the next UFC on FOX show will tell us
--Update on Nick Diaz vs. Nevada State Athletic Commission in court
--Middleweight title picture
--Bantamweight title picture
--Pay for the fighters at the last few shows
--What next for fighters of the last season of Ultimate Fighter
--Lots of new UFC fights
--Three UFC fighters in an upcoming movie
--Funny poll from 1996 and what it says
--A look at CMLL's year-end show
--The death of Faisan and a look back at a historical match from 30 years ago
--All Japan early year lineups and first major show
--All Japan regular about to lave for unique reason
--All Japan Fan Appreciation show notes
--Notes on Kenta Kobashi training for his last match
--How two New Japan Hall of Famers were covered in major U.S. newspapers this past week and why
--Former pro wrestler wins by landslide in Japanese senate race
--Japan's biggest woman's wrestling star of the past year announces retirement
--Notes on the debut of the grandson of Japan's biggest star ever
--Two first time ever matches over WrestleMania weekend
--Pro wrestler on cast of Bravo reality show
--Another pro wrestling star going into stand-up comedy
--A new book out on the history of Hawaiian wrestling
--King Mo's Bellator debut
--Last Bellator show on MTV 2
--PPV numbers for Pacquiao-Marquez
--More on Japan's New Year's Eve show
--What former pro wrestler was the high school football coach of a Heisman Trophy winner
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*August 11, 2008 (Ric Flair leaves WWE; Updated history of pro wrestlers and MMA fighters who went to the Olympics)
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Monday's news update
--Want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  Going to be fun here, my daughter is three and this is the first year she's really figured out the Christmas thing.   
--Bryan and I will be back tonight, on Christmas Eve, talking about Raw and the latest news.  We'll also catch up on e-mail questions from the weekend, and you can send questions for tonight's show to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
--Jun Akiyama, Atsushi Aoki, Go Shiozaki, Kotaro Suzuki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru all had their final matches in Pro Wrestling NOAH today.  They all acknowledged that publicly with mic time after their bouts at Differ Ariake in Tokyo.  All said they would continue to wrestle. 
--In the dream match in Japan on Christmas eve, well, not so good.  Vale Tudo Japan's main event with 1990s lightweight superstar Rumina Sato returning against Hideo Tokoro ended in only 39 seconds, with  Tokoro landing a right and some elbows an it was over.  Megumi Fujii won her fight over Mei Yamaguchi and then announced her retirement with a 26-2 record.  Fujii, 38, didn't even start in the sport until she was 30, and never lost in Japan.  She said the same thing after her last fight.  And the fight before that.  Maybe she grew up watching Terry Funk.
--I think the Tokyo Dome match on 1/4 with Bob Sapp is going to be Sapp & Toru Yano vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Akebono.  Either that or Yano and Akebono in the corners.
--30 years ago tomorrow is the Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich cage match from Reunion Arena anniversary.  With the benefit of hindsight, that was one of the biggest wrestling matches ever, because of the finish with Terry Gordy slamming the cage door on Von Erich's head.
--From David Bixenspan:  Some Fox Sports affiliates are carrying Fuel programming on delay.  UFC Ultimate Inside airs on MSG+ on a one week delay, and they also air UFC Unleashed, Best of Pride, showed the UFC 144 prelims and have been showing the Benson Henderson documentary.  It's worth checking out if you don't have Fuel, or even if you do, since it's in HD and Fuel isn't available everywhere on HD.
--I talk with Chris Leben about his battles with painkillers, alcohol and recreational drugs and why he's not coming into Las Vegas until Wednesday for his fight with Derek Brunson at 
--Lance Storm talks taking his daughter on the road with him for his recent tour at
--Inside MMA tonight has the annual Bazzie Awards show.  Bas Rutten gives his personal awards for everything from the past year.
Excellent 33.3%
Good 33.3%
Average 8.3%
Fair 0.0%
Poor 25.0%
        72.7% of those responding didn't see the show
1.8 or less 16.0%
1.9 6.4%
2.0 11.7%
2.1 8.0%
2.2 17.0%
2.3 12.2%
2.4 10.1%
2.5 9.0%
2.6 3.7%
2.7 1.6%
2.8 0.0%
2.9 or more 4.3%
Raw 56.5%
Impact 18.3%
CMLL 7.6%
ROH 6.9%
UFC Countdown to the best Moments of the Year 6.9%
Smackdown 3.8%
--On NFL AM they were showing some clips of the 49ers-Seahawks game.  There was a tackle that looked like a back suplex and the announcers referenced Bruno Sammartino and Gorilla Monsoon.  I wonder if 48 years from now when the same thing happens they'll reference John Cena and C.M. Punk?  I mean, it is possible.  ESPN has also been making tons of references to Ric Flair lately. (thanks to Andy MacConney) 
--Kassius Ohno (Chris Hero) turns 33 today.  27 years ago today, a car carrying Tarzan Tyler and Pierre LeFefebrve were driving and hit a toe truck on an icy road after a show in Quebec.  Tyler was 58 and LeFefebrve was 30.  Tyler & Luke Graham were the first WWWF world tag team champions in 1971.
--This day in wrestling history thanks to Brian Hoops
54 years ago:  Lee Fields beat Billy Wicks in Mobile to win the Gulf Coast heavyweight title
26 years ago:  Perro Aguayo Sr. bet Fishman to win the WWF light heavyweight title in Mexico City
18 years ago:  The Rock & Roll Express beat The Gangstas to win the Smoky Mountain tag team titles in Knoxville. 
--ROH is sending a Mark & Jay Briscoe vs. Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs match to National Pro Wrestling Day on 2/2 in Philadelphia, which is an iPPV show that will showcase tons of different promotions.
--Everyone from the 12/15 Las Vegas UFC passed all their drug tests.  I was kind of worried about Roy Nelson there until today.
--Colt Cabana vs. Adam Pearce DVD trailer is at  
--TCW Tribulation weekend is featuring lunch with the stars on 1/5 at Maid-Rite Restaurant in Fort Smith, AR from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m..  Tribulation is the two day taping on 1/4 and 1/5 in Fort Smith.  They are taping seven different one hour television shows with Tommy Dreamer, DDP, Wolfie D, Bobby Eaton and former heavyweight boxer Bobby Crabtree, who once fought George Foreman.
--The Sydney Morning Herald film critic Sandra Hall listed Journey 2:  The Mysterious Island as one of the five worst movies of 2012.  Really?   (thanks to James Stanios)
--Dolph Ziggler interview at
--Kahagus vs. Bruce Santee in an NWA title match as they try and work a shoot finish at or something.
--Last night's CMLL results from Guadalajara:  Acertijo & Demonio Rojo b Brillante Jr. & Tapatio, Idolo & Sky Kid b Ebola & Sadico, In Memoriam & Espectrum & Malefico b Leon Blanco & Leo & Gallo, Titan & Mascara Dorada b Polvora & Felino (Dorada then challenged Polvora for a shot at the CMLL welterweight title), Mr. Niebla b Shocker in less than 10:00 of a three fall main event. (thanks to Steve "Dr. Lucha" Sims)
--Southern States Wrestling Christmas Star Wars takes place 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night in Mt. Carmel, TN at the Armed Forces Center Armory with Erick Darkstorm vs. Kyle Matthews with TomPrichared as referee.  Plus, Ricky Morton and Jimmy Valiant are wrestling.  They are also asking for donations and to bring a can of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank.
--Bruiser Wrestling has an iPPV Best of 2012 for free tonight at 6:05 p.m. Eastern time (what is this, a Saturday in the 80s?) at

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?