We're also looking for reports from today's Raw TV tapings in Washington, DC at the Verizon Center, as well as from the Extreme Rising show in Philadelphia and TNA's house show in Poughkeepsie. We're also looking for reports on the Smackdown shows on Thursday night in Green Bay and Friday night in Minneapolis.
UFC weigh-ins for tonight's show
Facebook fights at 6:30 p.m.
Chris Cariaso (14-3, 125) vs. John Moraga (11-1, 126)
Leonard Garcia (19-9-1, 146) vs. Max Holloway (6-2, 145)
Phil De Friese (9-1, 1 no contest) vs. Todd Duffee (7-2, 249)
FX at 8 p.m.
Michael Johnson (13-6, 154) vs. Myles Jury (10-0, 155)
Melvin Guillard (47-12-3, 1 no contest, 155) vs. Jamie Varner (20-7-1, 2 no contests, 155)
Erik Perez (12-4, 136) vs. Byron Bloodworth (6-2, 136)
Brad Pickett (23-6, 136) vs. Eddie Wineland (19-8-1, 135)
PPV at 10 p.m.
Chris Leben (22-8, 185) vs. Derek Brunson (9-2, 185)
Yushin Okami (26-7, 184) vs. Alan Belcher (17-5, 186)
Tim Boetsch (16-4, 186) vs. Costa Philippou (11-2, 1 contest, 186)
Jim Miller (21-4, 156) vs. Joe Lauzon (22-7, 156)
Junior Dos Santos (15-1, 239) vs. Cain Velasquez (10-1, 240) for the UFC heavyweight title
The tour for WWE tomorrow night in Richmond, VA. TNA ends its tour tomorrow night in Albany, NY.
We have the first part of our annual Business Year in Review Observer, running down the biggest and most successful events of the year, with the biggest crowds, biggest arena headliners of the year, as well as a rundown of all the PPV numbers for 2012, the largest gates of the year and looking at the leading companies, a comparison to how many successful major events each one did as compared to every year dating back to 2008 so you can see where each company has gained and lost in popularity. We also have 2012 charts for UFC and WWE when it comes to the PPV business and big show business dating back too 2007. We also look at UFC and Strikeforce ratings for 2012.
Our other lead story is, taking the 2012 results into effect, the updated list of the 100 biggest drawing cards in pro wrestling history based on longevity at the top. We look at what milestone John Cena reached in 2012. We also have a note on everyone ranked No. 76 or higher who is not in the Hall of Fame right now, with background on all of them and whether they belong.
The issue is on the web site today, as is a back issue from 1995 which covers Shawn Michaels being beaten up in Syracuse as well as the preview of the first ever Ultimate Ultimate tournament.
With the Strikeforce promotion running its last show on 1/12, we've got a history of the promotion piece. We look at what killed the promotion, twice, the contract and what is said, and why it led to the death of the brand. We look at the rise of Ronda Rousey, the beginnings of Strikeforce dating back to 1992, Cung Le, the first Strikeforce MMA show, Frank Shamrock, Gina Carano, the biggest fights, signing of stars like Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson, and a look at the final show.
We also have more on Randy Orton's shoulder problems, the WWE issues with THQ and what it all means, a look at WWE's monthly business for November, with a look at house shows, ratings web hits and merchandise numbers. We also have an update on Sin Cara, notes on Tribute to the Troops, a story you wouldn't expect to find where it was about Sin Cara, more on Big E Langston's background, Tommy
Dreamer talks his appearance on Raw, a former WWE star talks about possibly returning and more on Slammy voting and what it says.
We also have a look at the largest fan awards poll, the annual Nikkan Sports pro wrestling awards for 2012, including a look at who was the star in the balloting.
We have a major feature on the life and career of Rip Hawk, whose 33 year career saw it be around for the final days of Londos, Lewis and Pesek, as well as span the early career of Ric Flair and Ted DiBiase. We look at the never-ending Weaver & Beaver vs. Hawk & Hanson feud, Battles of the Bullies, who was Swede Hanson, how his tag team with Ric Flair started, how he claims Ric Flair saved his life, life after wrestling, what match convinced him he could make it in wrestling, his first championships, the first episode ever of Wrestling at the Chase and how that differed from every pro wrestling television show, before or after. We look at his interplay with Joe Garagiola which got him national pub, his St. Louis main events with the biggest names of the era, and his arrival in Mid Atlantic. We look at his run in Mid Atlantic as well as the end of his career.
We also have the ballot for the 2012 Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards.
We also have a look at Survivor Series numbers and the business of the show dating back the last few years.
The Wrestling Observer ranges weekly from 35,000 to 50,000 words covering pro wrestling and MMA internationally. Each issue has coverage and analysis of all the major news, plus every issue breaks major news stories before the Internet sties and has the most complete look at the pro wrestling and MMA business anywhere, plus history pieces available nowhere else.
The Observer is now in its 29th year of being the leading insider pro wrestling publication in the world. The biggest and most influential names in the pro wrestling and MMA industry, from bookers to promoters to Hall of Fame wrestlers and fighters to the biggest names on camera and behind the scenes, along with thousands of readers in all 50 states and more than 30 countries subscribe. Many have subscribed for 20 years or longer consecutively. They get the most detailed and inside coverage of what is going on all over the world. Everywhere from Wall Street to the major offices to television networks in the U.S. and Japan turn to the Observer for what is going on in the business.
You can also subscribe via check, cash or money order, as well as credit card by mail, by sending to Wrestling Observer Newsletter, P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228.
We also have a look at the ratings of all the major shows.
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:
--Final AAA taping of the year sets up new direction for 2012 and even teases TripleMania main event
--Final Dragon Gate major show, Final Gate coverage
--The final shows of Jun Akiyama and company in Pro Wrestling NOAH
--What the plans are for the wrestlers leaving and what incident in U.S. wrestling history is this being compared to
--Notes on the first big show of the year for NOAH
--Update on the New Japan Tokyo Dome show and what legendary program is being teased from nearly a decade ago
--New Japan's last big show of the year with the heavyweight vs. junior heavyweight theme
--More on Davey Boy Smith Jr. competing in grappling
--Update on Dynamite Kid
--An Olympic hopeful being trained by a pro wrestling superstar for 2016
--Akebono vs. Onita feud update
--80s legends vs. 90s legends match
--More on Inoki's New Year's Eve show
--John Morrison starting new business
--Business notes from ROH regarding Final Battle
--TNA special taping
--TNA monthly business comparisons to see how November stacked up with last November
--Lots of Hogan news including a new business venture
--This week's UFC show
--Lots of new UFC matches
--UFC official gets named to boxing Hall of Fame
--Former Ultimate Fighter winner asks for a leave of absence
--New Bellator matches for the run on Spike
--Highlights from Vale Tudo Japan
--Former 90s pro wrestling star has 50th MMA fight (although some of those fights listed are likely really pro wrestling matches)
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.
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.
--Mike Goldberg won't be calling the show tonight. Jon Anik will take his place. He's expected back.
--Ted DiBiase suffered an injury on Thursday night in Chicago. He suffered a finger injury on his left hand but we don't have any further details on exactly what the injury was. He missed the house shows the last two nights and isn't expected at TV. Jamie Noble came out of retirement to take his place, putting over Fandango on the Smackdown house shows.
--With the exception of that change, the house shows have been largely the same every night. The MSG show was different with Paul Heyman working against Ryback. Michael McGillicutty, who has been losing every night to Alex Riley and playing heel, got to play face last night since they were in Minneapolis, and he was put over in a short match. McGillicutty grew up in the area as the son of Curt Hennig and grandson of Larry Hennig.
--Tonight's Raw taping is supposed to be more serious than the Christmas Eve show, but not quite at the usual type of show. The focus on tonight is to build the rating for the 1/7 show with Rock returning and C.M. Punk vs. Ryback in a TLC match for the WWE title from Tampa. If they even do a 3 for that they should be happy going against the Notre Dame vs. Alabama game.
--We've got more on the Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos fight in the story up on the front page on the weigh-ins. Tonight's show has a lot of even fights that are hard to call, and on paper should be a good action show. It's not deep when it comes to major stars. At the weigh-ins, other than the main eventers, the biggest reactions were for Chris Leben, Melvin Guillard and Leonard Garcia, who have all struggled of late, with Garcia having a losing streak and Guillard some recent losses. Leben has been battling issues with alcohol and pain killer addictions but he did physically look in better shape. He claims to be both clean and eating better than ever.
--Tomorrow night are the annual New Year Eve's shows in Japan (actually early Monday morning given the time difference). The Inoki show will air on television in Japan, but not in the U.S. The Glory show airs Monday and Tuesday night at 10 p.m. on CBS Sports Net.
--A match with Jushin Liger vs. John Morrison, the first time ever, is scheduled for 4/5 in Metuchen, NJ for Pro Wrestling Syndicate, which is part of the WrestleMania weekend activities. Liger is scheduled to work a few shows that week in the New York/New Jersey area.
--Jesse Finney, an MMA fighter who appeared on one or two Strikeforce shows in St. Louis where they used him as a local star, since he's pretty well known and owns his own gym, got national publicity (featured heavily on CNN) on Friday morning becauase last weekend he went to a grocery store and a guy went to streak some Vodka and was getting into it with a woman who worked at the store. Finney had words with the guy, who wasn't friendly and Finney took him down, told the guy he wasn't going to hurt him, and held him down until police arrived. Finney's wife wasn't happy about this, noting that the guy could have had a gun. Many years ago, Alex "B-52" Gong, who was an awesome kickboxer, was chasing down a guy, I forgot the reason, in San Francisco, and the guy shot him dead.
--Fuel has the usual post-show coverage scheduled for 1 a.m. tonight. In a twist, Daniel Cormier will go from being in Velasquez's corner to analyzing the fight probably about 30 minutes later.
--Today's Atlanta Journal Constitution has an article on Jake Roberts trying to turn his life around with help from DDP.
--Jim Ross talks the Cotton Bowl, best wrestler of all-time, best tag team he ever saw and best manager ever at http://www.jrsbarbq.com
--Want to make mention of the death of Emilio Charles Jr. The guy in the late 80s and early 90s was one of the top tier heel workers in the business. If I was to compare his character and level as a performer with an American, it would be 1986 Tully Blanchard. He was a small headliner who had a unique look with his crazy hair and facials, knew how to get heat but made his opponents shine with the best of them. And when it came down to doing a long 2/3 fall technical championship match, he could pull that off, which is why he held both the NWA and CMLL world middleweight titles. It's not shocking that any wrestler from that era passes away young, as Charles was only 56. Hopefully this generation can learn from the excesses of the previous one, as the work hard and play even harder mentality works well for some people, but also leaves a lot of people discarded in its wake.