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.
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.
MONDAY'S NEWS, NOTES AND LINKS
--Randy Orton will be working all house shows going forward. Sin Cara is also back as his knee surgery was minor, but it was also on the 18th so he made it back fast. At this point, Orton & Sin Cara are scheduled against Primo & Epico this weekend. That is higher profile than it sounds because the Smackdown shows are in Puerto Rico, where Primo was a major star for years.
--A correction from yesterday: Robert Griffin III (aka RGIII) was not at the Raw taping in Washington, DC. The fans were just chanting his name all night because he's that over. (thanks to Chris Hirsch)
--On Antonio Inoki's New Year's Eve show earlier today (both pro wrestling and MMA), Mirko Cro Cop armbarred pro wrestler Shinichi Suzukawa in less than two minutes after knocking him down. The fight was really a joke since Suzukawa has never done MMA. Satoshi Ishii won a decision over Tim Sylvia, the former UFC heavyweight champion, who came in at 311 pounds.
--John Morrison vs. Akira Tozawa will headline the 1/25 Dragon Gate USA show in Santa Maria, CA. Tozawa faces Sami Callihan at the show the next night in Huntington Park, CA.
--Bellator sent out a bracket for its light heavyweight tournament:
- Seth Petruzelli vs. Jacob Noe (1/17)
- Renato Babalu Sobral vs. Mikhail Zayats (1/17)
- King Mo Lawal vs. Przemyslaw Mysiala (1/24)
- Emanuel Newton vs. Atanas Djamboaov (1/17)
Who knows whether it goes like this, but it seems clear it's set up for a Mo vs. Sobral final.
--Here's funeral information for Big Bill Dromo, a Georgia star of the 60s and 70s. There will be a reception on Wednesday from 4-8 p.m. at the West Cobb Funeral Home and Crematory and Thursday from 4-8 p.m. at the same location. The funeral will be on 1/4 at 2 p.m. at the Chapel of West Cobb Funeral Home.
--It was 13 years ago when Sam Muchnick passed away at the age of 93. While the most important promotional figure in history without a doubt has to be Vincent Kennedy McMahon, Muchnick would have to be in every discussion in the battle for No. 2 of the last 75 years.
--For those in the U.K., British Boot Camp, a reality show about four wrestlers looking to make it on the TNA roster, debuts on Challenge TV tonight. We're looking for reports on that show.
--The AP sent out a list of major sports deaths in 2012. The only pro wrestler on the list was Chief Jay Strongbow. The only other name listed under wrestling was Jeff Blatnick.
--Paul Lazenby wrote in on the mention in Saturday's update of the death of Alex Gong, who was an awesome kickboxer. He was training in San Francisco when somebody told him that a car had sideswiped his parked car and drove away. Gong ran outside wearing his Thai shorts, saw the car and chased it down. The driver shot Gong and took off.
The police believe they found the killer, who then committed suicide after being cornered by the police. Lazenby noted that he met Gong when Gong cornered Aaron Weiss, who he fought in a kickboxing match. He said both guys were humble, gracious and sportsmanlike.
--In yesterday's update where I talked about Josh Shockman, the former UFC fighter who is wrestling on the 1/5 Crossfire show in Nashville, I speculated it might be former UFC (well, TUF fighter) Josh Rafferty who has been doing indie pro wrestling for years. Actually, Shockman is the name of a guy who had one UFC fight years ago and is now wrestling. (thanks to Dusty Adams)
--Steeltown Pro Wrestling on 1/11 in Selkiek, Manitoba at the Memorial Hall and 1/12 in Winnipeg at the Caso do Minho Portuguese Center headlined by Robbie McAllister.
--Great Canadian Wrestling from last night: Cecil Nyx b Diego Sanchez (obviously not the fighter), Rhys Greenaway b JK-47, Tyler Tirva b Rip Impact, Jimmy King b Tomer Shelton, Black Gunderson b Jesse Amato and Warhed, Thrillbillies b Derek Platinum & Rob Rage, Shawn Spears & Jewels Malone (woman) b Steve Brown & Tyler Tirva, Robbie McAllister b Mr. Atlantis (thanks to Steven Ashe)
--At the World Junior Hockey championship game between Canada and Russia, when the name of Andrei Makarov was mentioned, TSN on the story on the game on the screen wrote "Andrei The Giant: Makarov stands tall." (thanks to Pat Laprade)
--New Years Eve was not a big wrestling day historically, but some notes thanks to Brian Hoops:
- 53 years ago: Ilio DiPaolo & Whipper Billy Watson beat Don Leo Jonathan & Gene Kiniski to win the Canadian Open tag team tiles in Toronto
- 37 years ago: Frank Goodish, who later became Bruiser Brody, beat Rocky Johnson, father of The Rock, to win the Florida heavyweight title i Tampa
- 34 years ago: Roddy Piper & Killer Tim Brooks beat Jonathan Boyd & Dutch Savage to win the Pacific Northwest tag team titles
- 28 years ago: Kevin & Kerry & Mike Von Erich beat Chris Adams & Gino Hernandez & Jake Roberts to win the World Six man tag team titles in Fort Worth. On that day, would you have picked that only two of those guys would be alive today, and one of them would be Jake?
- 18 years ago: Brian Christopher beat Tommy Rich to win the USWA title in Memphis
--Ed Gantner was 31 when he passed away 22 years ago from a suicide. He had both kidneys fail beforehand which his mother attributed to his heavy steroid use. I remember her testifying one year in front of the Florida State Senate saying she heard someone on the radio talk about steroids saying, "If they're so bad, where are the bodies?" She got mad and said, "I just buried one of them."
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IMPACT?
***35.1% of those responding didn't see the show
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF SMACKDOWN?
***41.8% of those responding didn't see the show
WHAT DID THINK OF ROH TV?
***62.4% of those responding didn't see the show
WHAT WAS THE BEST TV SHOW OF THE WEEK?
UFC prelims on FX 18.9%
Main Event 9.8%
Saturday Morning Slam 2.3%
Inside MMA 1.5%
UFC Tonight 0.8%
--UFC is doing a UFC 100 greatest knockouts in history PPV show tonight for $20, including knockouts from all the libraries they own including WEC, Affliction, Pride, Strikeforce and UFC.
--Price of Glory Wrestling on 1/15 in Coldwater, MI at the Eby Klein Center.
--Mark Madden and Maria Kanellis got into it somewhat. It started with Madden talking about an email he got from Kanellis which said Mike Bennett is the savior of pro wrestling. Madden posted the email and wrote, "When somebody endorses the person they're ****ing as the `savior of wrestling,' how can you not find that hysterical? There is no one less qualified than Maria to give an objective opinion on Mike Bennett. Of course you think he's great. You're ****ing him. What else would think, or say?" Then he joked about how Maria used to be with C.M. Punk and he may actually be the savior of wrestling.
--Mascarita Dorada headlines a 1/6 in El Paso so they are using minis in the main event, which is unusual for Lucha Libre.
--CMLL last night in Guadalajara: Azteca de Oro & Hippie b Indigo & Tapatio, El Hijo del Javier Cruz & Idolo b Demonio Maya & Infierno, Sky Kid b In Memoriam, Espectrum & Malefico & Rafaga b Gallo & Leon Blanco & Sagrado, La Mascara & Mascara Dorada & Valiente b Mr. Aguila & Felino & Polvora
--There is a show on Sunday in Tijuana at the Auditorio by Promociones Felix with Mascara Sagrada & Super Muneco & Supremo vs. Damian 666 & Fugitivo de Texas & Leatherface, plus Extreme Tiger vs. El Hijo del Rey Misterio II vs. Bestia 666 three-way.
--Maximum Fighting Championships on 2/15 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton with Kurt Southern vs. Dave Castillo just announced.
--Top Rope Promotions on 1/5 in Lexington, VA at the Anderson Coliseum has a show with Jim Duggan, Chris Masters, Goldust and Angelina Love, Daivari and Katarina Waters (Winter) .