Also in this week's issue:
--CMLL setting up battle of its trios champions
--A look at matches on Dragon Gate shows in the U.S. in a few weeks including John Morrison's debut in the promotion
--More on why Ric Flair is getting back into the ring for another match just before his 64th birthday, when and why
--A look at All Japan's traditional opening the year show with two major title matches and the Battle Royal
--Changes in NOAH with several stars leaving and who they are bringing to the promotion in January
--A disastrous New Year's Eve show with both pro wrestling and MMA
--What MMA star is looking at competing in the 2016 Olympics and why they could be in the medal picture
--Mirko Cro Cop faces another pro wrestler
--Genichiro Tenryu back in the ring with several of Japan's biggest stars
--Unique Onita/Akebono angle
--Coverage of the Extreme Rising show from Philadelphia
--Company plans going forward
--Why New Jack was there after the promotion said he wouldn't be
--Ideas for TV
--Jerry Lynn and his imminent retirement
--Former WCW star running for mayor
--Former WWF star now marketing tea
--A look at two new books coming out in the spring catalogue, bios of two former WWF names
--Former WWE wrestler to debut in MMA in March
--Former UFC fighter appears this week at a TV taping
--Hart Legacy Wrestling notes
--Jim Cornette breaks silence, talks about why he's away from ROH, his future and taking stock of his life
--Indie star set to debut in ROH
--Notes on upcoming ROH shows
--The opening of Hogan's Beach on New Year's Eve
--Media coverage of the event
--Plans for the bar/restaurant
--Hogan gets dubious award
--Names hinting they are coming to TNA
--Velvet Sky talks missing the Poughkeepsie house show due to accident
--A look back at one of the best angles of its era and how TNA can copy it
--A look at the weekend TNA house shows
--More on UFC advances
--Thoughts on Rousey vs Carmouche
--Numbers for the 12/15 UFC show in Las Vegas
--Plans for the women's division going forward
--Tito Ortiz and Dana White butting heads again
--More UFC international plans
--More on Alistair Overeem getting licensed to fight Bigfoot Silva and what he looks like these days
--Notes on the new season of Ultimate Fighter
--The idea this year's show has a star
--Hector Lombard talks his fight with Rousimar Palhares
--Strikeforce fighter and his battle with insurance for his injuries
--More new fights
--Debut of Bellator on Spike notes before the first live show
--Former Strikeforce fighter gets national attention for stopping a robbery of the grocery store
--Dan Severn announces his retirement
--Another major fighter seems to have second thoughts after announcing retirement for the third time
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
--New Japan Chairman Takaaki Kidani resigned after the Tokyo Dome show. His public statement is that the company has turned the corner and he's passing the torch to the New Japan executives. I don't think this is a work, but am still waiting for more from Japan. There were things that happened behind the scenes where this is believable (as noted in this week's Observer) and the finishes of the Sakuraba and Shibata match seem to confirm the direction change. Kidani's Bushiroad is still the owners of the promotion, but he will not be directly involved in the booking direction.
--Thanks to Dwayne Johnson's lines in promos last year, John Cena will be on the cover of 4 million boxes of both Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles cereals. Cena will be replacing cover mainstay Fred Flintstone, particially because Post has talked to kids who have said Fred isn't the coolest or most relevant guy for the audience they are trying to reach. Cena's likeness was on the top of the box last year after Johnson's interviews about Fruity Pebbles, but not he will be the main character in the front and center, something in the past reserved for characters off the Flintstones cartoons.
--Superstar Billy Graham was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix after two days of extensive testing, which also included finding a nodule on his lung. He had been undergoing tests for three days after a health scare Wednedsay night due to accelerated heartbeat and breathing issues. The good news is his donor live is doing remarkably well. He will be seeing a heart specialist on Monday to undergo more testing.
--There is a lot of stuff going on in the THQ bankruptcy, which significantly affects WWE since if you remove video game money, WWE profits will be way down. THQ owes WWE significant money, as in the seven figures (the $45 million figure is to claim all money that would be owed through 2018). There are allegations that THQ and Clearlake Capital Group were trying to get a deal that would go through immediately. That would give Clearlake Capital the ownership of THQ and get THQ back in business immediately. But the belief is the creditors would be screwed because Clearlake Capital wouldn't pay much of the company debt and the feeling is the company should go up to the highest bidder, not the fastest. This will be a story to watch as things are likely to be breaking quickly.
--Dave Bautista is up for a role as Drax The Destroyer in the movie "Guardians of the Galaxy," a major Marvel Comics movie coming out next summer. (thanks to John LaRocca and Michael O'Brien)
--Leo Kruger from South Africa is on the road with the Raw brand this weekend. Last night in Pensacola, Kruger & Jack Swagger lost the opener to Brodus Clay & Zack Ryder. The show was largely the same as the stuff last week, other than they didn't have Tensai have to sing "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" after he lost to Santino Marella.
--The next New Japan iPPV will be on 2/10 from Hiroshima, headlined by Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Karl Anderson for the IWGP heavyweight title.
--There will be a three-week UFC PrimeTime program building the Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche fight, but the time slot won't be the best. The show will be airing on Friday nights at midnight Eastern at 9 p.m. Pacific on Fuel, not on FX, with shows on 2/8, 2/15 and 2/22. The show will air on FX at 11 a.m. Saturday mornings on 2/9, 2/16, 2/23.
--Pat Healy vs. Kurt Holobaugh has been added to the 1/12 Strikeforce show in Oklahoma City. The fight will air on the Showtime Extreme portion of the card.
--Darion Cruickshank, who nearly stole the show in Seattle on 12/8, returns to face local fighter John Makdessi on the 3/16 show in Montreal. Jordan Mein also makes his UFC debut on the card facing Dan Miller.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE FIRST EPISODE OF BELLATOR 360?
74.7% of those responding didn't see the show
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IMPACT?
32.3% of those responding didn't see the show
DID YOU WATCH THE TOKYO DOME NJPW SHOW?
No, but am planning to watch the replay 15.8%
Won't buy an iPPV of any kind 14.1%
Didn't buy due to language barrier 11.3%
Wasn't planning on getting it, but now am planning to watch replay 8.2%
Bad time slot, won't watch it if it's not live 6.8%
Have no interest in wrestling that's not on my TV 6.1%
Not a fan of New Japan Pro Wrestling 6.1%
No interest in wrestling that isn't WWE 4.2%
No interest in pro wrestling 1.2%
--For last week, ESPN won the weekly cable ratings averaging 3.37 million viewers in prime time to 2.90 million for USA. FX was No. 13 at 1.25 million. Syfy was No. 23 at 901,000. Spike didn't crack the top 20. Last week was one of the first times in the last 20 years that no pro wrestling show cracked the top 25, In fact, three different episodes of NCIS reruns on USA beat Raw last week. Much of it was Raw being on Christmas Eve.
--There is a note from the Philadelphia City Paper regarding Joanna Pang, the owner of the Asylum Arena, apparently being open to having boxing and wrestling back in the building
. The Asylum Arena was more famous in the 90s as the ECW Arena.
--A 2/2 NXT house show in Fort Lauderdale was canceled.
--Highspots.com will be having the premiere of their documentary on the life of the Dynamite Kid on 2/24 in Manchester, England at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate. Kid will be appearing at the event.
--Today in wrestling history
65 years ago: Orville Brown beat Sonny Myers in Des Moines to win the NWA world heavyweight title. This is when the NWA was an Iowa/Kansas belt and before it became a national title.
62 years ago: Danny Savich beat Danny McShain to win the Texas heavyweight title in Houston
55 years ago: Yvon Robert & Billy Wicks beat The Fabulous Fargo Brothers in Mobile to win a version of the NWA world tag team titles
48 years ago: Fritz Von Erich pinned Pepper Gomez to win the Texas heavyweight title
47 years ago: Nick Kozak beat Killer Kowalski in Honolulu to win a version of the U.S. title and Ron Reed (later to become Buddy Colt) beat Luther Lindsay to win the Hawaiian heavyweight title
46 years ago: Tough Tony Borne beat Paul Jones to win the Pacific Northwest heavyweight title
45 years ago: Stan Stasiak beat Lonnie Mayne to win the Pacific Northwest title
45 years ago: Alberto & Enrique Torres beat Butcher & Stan Vachon to win the Southern tag team titles in Atlanta
39 years ago: The Valiant Brothers, Jimmy & Johnny, beat Bruno Sammartino & Dick the Bruiser in Indianapolis to win the WWA tag team titles
33 years ago: Steve Travis beat Austin Idol to win the Georgia TV title
30 years ago: Johnny Heffernan & Don Kent beat Ron Bass & Barry Windham to win the Global tag team titles in Miami
23 years ago: Kerry Von Erich beat Jerry Lawler to win the Texas title in Dallas
(thanks to Brian Hoops)
--The revival of OMEGA wrestling is on 1/15 in Durham, NC at the Northern Durham High School on a show called "Chinlock for Chuck," to raise money for former OMEGA wrestler Chuck Coates, who is battling Hodgkin's lymphoma. Appearing on the show are former OMEGA stars the Hardys, Christian York, Shane Helms, C.W. Anderson, Lodi and Gunner.
--So Cal Pro Wrestling on 1/12 in Oceanside, CA at the Boys & Girls Club.
--Neo Wrestling Federation on 1/26 in Niagara Falls, ONT at the Fight Club Canada with Cody Deaner vs. Rhino, Crazy Steve vs. Notorious TID in a strap match and Tyson Dux vs. Tiberious King in a 2/3 fall match.
--River City Wrestling tonight in San Antonio at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church headlined with a cage match with Michael Faith vs El Sicodelico Jr. vs.. Steve McEnroe vs. Big Dogg vs. Muerte vs. ?
--Pro Wrestling tonight in Lexington, VA at the Anderson Coliseum with Goldust, Chris Masters, Jim Duggan, Shawn Daivari and Angelina Love.
--Richard Bastuba, 41, who fought in MMA in the Detroit area on a show at The Palace in Auburn Hills, pleased no contest to conspiracy to commit second-degree home invasion and receiving and concealing stolen property worth between $1,000 and $20,000 in a charge from an incident in September 2011. A long investigation led to the arrest of Bastuba and two juveniles when he was in Ann Arbor attempting to sell comic books that were allegedly stolen from the home to undercover deputies. Bastuba had some local fame, because in 2009, there was a fight at a Detroit Lions game, a man started pulling the hair of a friend of Bastuba's and he choked him out. Local radio station WRIF played him up like a local hero.
--Maryland Wrestling Federation from last night in Glen Burnie, MD: Matt Reynolds b Blue Basher, Christian York b Chad Bowman, Jimmy Aldean b Rayburn, Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards b Kyle O'Reilly & Ryan McBride, Skull b Shaun Cannon, Brian Hardy b Mike Hite to win the MWF title. Next show is 3/1 with Brian Hardy vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. (thanks to Joe Burrows)
--Full Impact Pro on 2/1 in Ybor City, FL at The Orpheum