FRIDAY UPDATE: Look at the weekend schedule, Billy Graham hospitalized, anniversary of most famous match of an era, Bisping buries Belfort, tons more

By Bryan Alvarez

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We're looking for reports on these shows tonight:

*TNA Impact TV tapings in Orlando for the show that airs this coming Thursday. Jeff Hardy vs. Christopher Daniels for the TNA title is the main event, plus there is the fallout of last night's wedding angle.

*WWE Raw runs one of its major arenas, with a house show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. A correction from yesterday's update, Dolph Ziggler will be working the show. Ziggler isn't leaving for Australia and a promotional tour until after TV this week. Rey Mysterio also returns tonight and should be at events at least over the next two weeks, as he's scheduled for the Royal Rumble.

*WWE Smackdown has a rare Friday night house show in Fairbanks, Alaska tonight.

*ROH runs in Dearborn, MI at the Ford Community Center with Mark & Jay Briscoe vs. Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards for the tag team titles in what will be the first of what is likely to be wrestling's hottest tag team program of the year. Also Adam Cole vs. Jimmy Jacobs in a non-title match, Kevin Steen defends the ROH title against Dearborn's Tadarius Thomas, Jay Lethal vs. Steve Corino, Michael Elgin vs. Rhino, B.J. Whitmer & Rhett Titus vs. Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly, plus Charlie Haas and Roderick Strong are on the card.

UFC runs on combined Fuel and FX show on Saturday from Sao Paulo, Brazil with this lineup:

Facebook fights at 5:30 p.m.

C.J. Keith vs. Francisco Trinaldo

Fuel at 6 p.m.

Ildemar Alcantara vs. Wagner Prado

Yuri Alcantara vs. Pedro Nobre

Edson Barboza vs. Lucas Martins

Nik Lentz vs. Diego Nunes

Andrew Craig vs. Ronny Markes

Godofredo Castro vs. Milton Vieira

FX at 9 p.m.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Thiago Tavares

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Ben Rothwell

C.B. Dollaway vs. Daniel Sarafian

Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping

Saturday night as WWE Raw in Ontario, CA and Smackdown in Stockton, CA. ROH runs in Milwaukee at Turner Hall with Kevin Steen vs. Eddie Edwards vs. Roderick Strong vs. Michael Elgin on top, Davey Richards vs. Kyle O'Reilly, Matt Hardy vs. B.J. Whitmer, Briscoes & Jay Lethal vs. Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs & Rhino, Adam Cole vs. Silas Young, Bobby Fish vs. Tadarius Thomas and Charlie Haas vs. Rhett Titus.

Sunday has a combined Raw and Smackdown super show in Fresno.

Monday is Raw in San Jose, CA, with both The Rock and Ric Flair booked.

TNA opens its annual European tour on Monday with a show in Dublin. Announced as appearing with no matches listed are Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Bobby Roode, James Storm, A.J. Styles, Ken Anderson, Rob Van Dam, Velvet Sky and Gail Kim.

Tuesday is Smackdown, Main Event and Saturday Morning Slam tapings in Sacramento with both The Rock and Ric Flair booked.

A quick note is that if everything goes as planned, the biggest issue of the year, the 2012 Awards issue, will be up on the site this coming week. Anyone who subscribes today to either a print version of the Observer or the web site will get the issue as part of their subscription. It's possible the issue will be in three weeks depending on the volume of news of the week, but given a Jan. 30 released issue would cover both Royal Rumble and UFC on FOX, having that be the awards issue is something that I'd like to avoid. Balloting for the awards ends tomorrow night at midnight Pacific time. The categories are covered in the Dec. 3 issue which is up in the Observer archives section.

With the wrestling season heating up, we've got a ton of news in the new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that will be on the site today. In addition, there is a new back issue up on the site from 1985.

In a huge WWE news section, we look at an update on Brock Lesnar in WWE, his contract situation, will he be around after WrestleMania, what should be done at Mania, why the most valuable match he could do with the company isn't a slam dunk, thoughts on the HHH program and more.

We also look at the departure of Eve Torres, her background and why she left.

We've got more on the WWE Hall of Fame for 2013 and a very interesting psychological situation regarding the Hall of Fame and people who have not been on Vince McMahon's good side at times, as well as talk about updates on the names that aren't in that have been most talked about.

We've got notes on someone who is back having influence on the television product, as well as an employee behind the scenes who just left the company. We've got notes on El Generico in WWE and his prospects, as well as an update on what is planned for the Royal Rumble including matches not announced, and how significant each match will be, as well as what has not been decided yet.

We've got notes on Ric Flair going forward in WWE, the reason he was on Raw this past week, and if this is or isn't a good thing for The Miz.

We also look at a number of names on WWE radar who are big names on the independent scene who will be looked at in a few weeks, as well as notes on wrestlers the company has just let go.

We look at the 2013 WWE & TNA PPV schedules and have notes on changes and why for both companies, including the change of a traditional date and the reason it makes sense.

We also note the single most successful segment on Raw in 2012, injury updates, Rock appearances, the Main Event TV show, a talked about Mania match that is no longer expected, lots of news on the weird video game front, update on Rey Mysterio, future of Dolph Ziggler, tons of news on developmental including what wrestles shined in recent appearances including a popular international star.

We also have all the weekend WWE business notes and a rundown of highlights from all the company's arena events.

We also have a look at how TNA is approaching the PPV business in 2013, why the changes are being made, the economics of everything, plans for the rest of this year, how this affects television, full rundowns of the first two taped PPV shows, as well as a look at TNA Genesis.

We also rundown the final Strikeforce show, with a look back at some of the highlights, the biggest shows, the worst shows, a list of Strikeforce fighters going into UFC, some early matches including a show on FOX featuring a number of Strikeforce fighters in featured roles. We look at the all-time title history in the promotion, the future of Josh Barnett, Daniel Cormier, MMA on Showtime and Scott Coker. We also have rundowns of all the matches with how much everyone got paid,which in and of itself will tell you about why the promotion had the history in the end that it had.

We also have all the details of the Eddie Alvarez lawsuits with Bellator, his exact contract offer from UFC, his contract offer from Bellator, whether it's really a match, as well as additional money offers he received. We look at the entire story step-by-step as well as the possibilities of Bellator going to PPV.

We also look at annual ratings for every WWE property, recent changes to how many people get the various cable shows.

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.

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We also have a look at the ratings of all the major shows as well as details of how every segment on Raw and Impact did and what 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.

Today's News, Notes and Links

-- Best wishes to Superstar Billy Graham, who is hospitalized at the moment with flu and double pneumonia.

-- Apologize for the lack of 10-Minute Afternoon Update audios last few days, should be back in action next week.

-- Today is the 42nd anniversary of Sammartino losing to Koloff in MSG which was probably the most famous match of that era, with the crowd going silent at the finish and the women crying. It was so surreal that, at first, Sammartino thought he'd lost his hearing on the finish.

-- We've got the Bully Ray/Brooke Hogan wedding angle up on the front page right now. I actually thought they did a hell of a job building up to the spot of Hogan coming out to walk her down the aisle. I'm still not a huge fan at all of the Aces and Eights angle, and I'm completely baffled as to why Tazz, a retired announcer, was put in the group (God forbid we get an NWO announcer angle in 2013), but there has been some really good stuff in TNA lately, including the Daniels and Kazarian tandem, Aries and Roode, even Hulk Hogan's role in this angle, since it's something he can relate to and really sink his teeth into.

-- UFC weigh-in report on the front page. Best Dave Meltzer line in awhile: "Belfort's skin looks old."

-- Although they went to a split decision last night in the first-ever live Bellator fight on Spike TV, Bjorn Rebney said there won't be a Pat Curran vs. Pitbull Freire rematch because the division is too stacked. They've made a change with this season, largely due to guys like Eddie Alvarez and Hector Lombard wanting out, to not force a guy to fight his way through a tournament again if it makes sense to just give him a championship rematch. It's not a hard and fast rule, though, and they'll determine whether to give an immediate rematch on a case-by-case basis. Daniel Straus, the season six winner, will be getting the next title shot.

-- Michael Bisping talks his fight with Vitor Belfort this weekend, saying he's going in to win every minute of every round.

-- Following their intense staredown yesterday (see front page for the video), Bisping had this to say about Vitor at a press conference: "Do I need to bring my mouth piece? Can he control himself? Is roid rage going to kick in? Will TRT be an issue? Are his levels elevated? Have his testicles shrunk? Does he have a penis? He is a penis. Just because he is a penis, does that mean he has a penis?"

-- Seth Petruzelli said he injured his MCL and PCL a week ago but refused to pull out of last night's Bellator fight.

-- Great Mick Foley Hall of Fame video here.

-- Ken Hesser (kennyh75) is selling his WM ticket in the block for face value if anyone wants it ($180) but needs to know asap as he also has it listed on Stubhub for $300, which is under market value currently. Email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

-- Rey Mysterio expected back on the road this week. He and Sin Cara are also both expected to be in the Royal Rumble. May only be next two weeks though as the tour is close to home, where he's dealing with a family issue, and they really wanted him to work.

-- Tyson Kidd underwent surgery for his knee injury this week. He's dieting like crazy and dropped twenty pounds with the theory being that carrying less weight will help him recover from the surgery faster.

-- Ronda Rousey's mom watched Bellator last night and was stunned at the lack of missed armbar opportunities by fighters.

-- Interestingly, Josh Barnett has been added to He claims he's a free agent and hasn't signed, and I know a lot of people in UFC are expecting he won't be signed.

-- Some awesome answers here to the question of what you would be if you weren't a UFC fighter.

-- You gotta see this picture of Tito Ortiz from

-- Dear God: Zack Ryder 'Hoeski' music video.

-- The confirmed number for the first episode of British Boot Camp on Challenge was 113,000 viewers. The preview week's Impact, for a comparison, drew 228,000.

-- AXS TV will kick off its 2013 LIVE mixed martial arts coverage at 10pm ET this Friday night with “AXS TV Fights: Resurrection Fighting Alliance 6” from the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri. The event is the first of more than 35 AXS TV Fights LIVE broadcasts scheduled for 2013.

-- From Shane Helms: The return of OMEGA Pro Wrestling was a resounding success as the ChinlockForChuck event drew almost 1,000 fans and raised nearly $15,000 for Chuck's medical bills. This show, promoted by Shane Helms and Mike Maverick along with David Coates (Chuck's brother, also a former indy star) marked the return of The Hardy Boyz as Matt and Jeff teamed together for the first time in nearly five years, to team with Hurricane Helms and James Storm to take on Steve Corino, CW Anderson, Lodi and TNA's Gunner! OMEGA would like to thank the CWF, Carolina Wrestling Federation ( and also TNA Impact Wrestling for their involvement and support in this event! It was a great event and a very emotional night as Chuck Coates is a beloved performer and friend to many who wrestled that night. A ton of other indy stars actually bought tickets and sat in the crowd to show support and love to this event.

-- Paul writes: Discovery has a TV show called "Graveyard Carz" about a shop that restores pretty worn out Chrysler muscle cars. This week's episode has the the owner Mark Worman telling his son in law Josh after he shaves that he looks like Dutch Savage from 1970s Portland Wrestling. They even put up a b/w photo of him to compare to Josh and did some wrestling talk as fans.

-- From the promoter: Gary Shaw Productions, in association with Grange Old School Boxing and Black Venom Promotions, are pleased to announce a heavyweight showdown on the undercard to the Mundine vs. Geale world title fight at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, on Wednesday, January 30. Cult sensation Kimbo Slice, will put his devastating punching power to the ultimate test when he squares off with QLD Heavyweight champion Shane Tilyard. Kimbo Slice is no stranger to knocking people out. He's known around the world for his brute strength and granite chin as well as his amazing punching power. One thing you can count on, Kimbo Slice is coming to fight!

-- Today in history with Brian Hoops:

1957 - Kurt Von Poppenheim defeated Red Bastien to win the Pacific Coast Junior Heavyweight Title

1961 - Dick Hutton defeated Al Lolotai for the NWA Hawaii Heavyweight Title in Honolulu, Hawaii

1962 - Bill Soloweyko and Whipper Billy Watson defeated Chris and John Tolos to win the Toronto NWA International Tag Team Title in Toronto, Ontario

1967 - Billy Robinson defeated Billy Joyce to win the British Heavyweight Title in Manchester, England

1969 - Ben Justice and Rocky Johnson defeated The Hell's Angels (Paul and Ron Dupree) to win the Detroit NWA World Tag Team Title in Detroit, Michigan.

1969 - Dennis Hall and Ken Lucas won the Mid-America NWA Southern Tag Team Title by defeating The Mighty Yankees in Chattanooga, Tennessee

1974 - Ron and Terry Garvin defeated Bob Armstrong and Robert Fuller to win the vacant NWA Georgia Tag Team Title in Atlanta, Georgia.

1980 - Superstar Billy Graham won the NWA Texas Brass Knuckles Title from Mark Lewin in Houston, Texas.

1980 - Ernie Ladd defeated Mike Sharpe for the Mid-South Louisiana Heavyweight Title in Shreveport, Louisiana.

1982 - Jerry Lawler won the AWA Southern Heavyweight Title by defeating Dutch Mantel in Memphis, Tennessee.

1983 - Terry Allen and Scott McGhee defeated The Fabulous Kangaroos (Johnny Heffernan and Don Kent) to win the NWA Florida Global Tag Team Title in Tampa, Florida.

1986 - Scott Hall and Curt Hennig defeated Jimmy Garvin and Steve Regal for the AWA World Tag Team Title in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

-- "Big Daddy Cool" Kevin Nash has been signed to headline the Night of the Legends II: Unfinished Business wrestling show scheduled for April 13 at Waynesboro High School.

-- Latest JR blog up here.

-- Over the Top Radio tonight talks wrestler run-ins with law enforcement here. Gonna need more than two hours.

-- Tom Prichard talks Dean Ambrose here.

-- Latest DGUSA newsletter is up here. They've got a big west coast swing coming up next weekend and all the details are inside, and we're trying to hook up a guest from the promotion for next week's Figure Four Daily.

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?