Also in this week's issue:
--Latest from Arena Mexico
--First AAA major show of the year
--Notes on Dragon Gate USA's next U.S. shows and former WWE stars involved
--Upcoming Dragon Gate major matches in Japan
--Update on All Japan's first big show of the year featuring Ric Flair and the major league pro wrestling debut of Reid Flair
--Some newcomers to NOAH
--Grandsons of one of pro wrestling's biggest stars get first big win in Japan
--Major contract signing by New Japan
--Notes on the New Japan PPV schedule for this coming year
--Changes in Fantasticmania shows with CMLL and New Japan combined
--A legends show sells out Tokyo with an 80s vs. 90s theme
--An actual challenge a year ahead for the Tokyo Dome
--Two rivals from 30 years ago form tag team
--Sabu returns to Japan
--The end of a major era in pro wrestling with a 45 year institution of the business taking another step down
--Promotion which talked big plans seemingly in financial trouble with bouncing checks
--El Generico's farewell to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla at the DDT4 tag team tournament
--Return of the OMEGA promotion
--Unique lineups for WrestleMania week indie events
--What wrestlers had, as voted by Observer readers, the most consistent great matches of the last four-and-a-half year and who was No. 1
--What tag team is now changing their gimmick to pattern themselves after a fighter who had super heat
--Upcoming ROH shows
--More on the latest Hulk Hogan lawsuits
--Looking into Hogan's claim of losing $50 million
--Future of Hogan wrestling
--Dixie Carter's cryptic comments about more changes coming this year
--Looking at the big picture of where TNA fits in for Spike TV and why it's safe
--Another TNA wrestler let go
--Noes on British Boot Camp
--Background of Zema Ion and a funny college story
--Two UFC fighters fail steroid tests and are suspended
--Business notes from UFC 155
--Details of Dana White's surgery
--A look at upcoming UFC cards
--Longtime UFC headliner says he's leaving no matter what after his next fight and where he's going
--Chael Sonnen news
--A UFC hotbed market essentially passes a law that will keep UFC from debuting
--New UFC fights announced
--Bellator's debut looked at
--MMA TV show quietly disappeared
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 Update
--A note that our biggest issue of the year, the 33rd annual awards issue comes out on the web site on Wednesday.
--Today's Sports Business Journal has a story that confirms rumors going around last week that FX is going to break up into two stations. In actuality, what is happening is FX is going to eliminate all sports programming. The Speed Channel will be renamed Fox Sports 1 and Fuel will be renamed Fox Sports 2. This is supposed to take place in August. In a sense it's a major step down at first for UFC because that would seem to mean the live shows like the one on Saturday would move to a lower rated all-sports station. The good news is that they will try and push Fuel, with its new name, to be in more homes. Whether Fox Sports 2 would continue to be essentially the UFC channel is another question. And does this mean Ultimate Fighter moves off FX after this season to Fox Sports 1?
--The new season of Ultimate Fighter debuts on FX tomorrow night at 8 p.m. with a two hour episode of fights to get into the house.
--The one hour final episode of TNA British Boot Camp (a show that has gotten rave reviews) airs tomorrow at 10 p.m. on Challenge TV in the U.K. They will be airing the fifth and sixth episode back-to-back.
--We're looking for people who can cover either WWE Superstars or CMLL each week for the web site.
--A trivia note is that in the early 1980s, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh was the college roommate of Brian Pillman at Miami of Ohio. I remember Pillman telling me about being roommates with Jim Harbaugh's brother when Jim played for the Chicago Bears.
--The scheduled Josh Janousek vs. Michael Kuiper fight on Saturday's UFC show in Chicago was canceled due to an injury to Janousek. With it being five days from fight time, they have decided to cancel the fight completely and have Kuiper on standby in case there is another late injury in his weight class. Janousek was the fourth different opponent earmarked with Kuiper who ended up being injured.
-Here's the story of pro wrestling in a few simple sentences from a Jerry Lynn quote to Johnny Gargano: "Your career is like a jar of marbles and every bump you take leads to one of those marbles coming out of the jar. You have to be picky about what you do in the ring." Gargano admitted that was great advice that he hasn't followed and now wishes he had.
Sean Waltman (who started with Lynn) once told me something similar about how he was at an indie show telling guys to do less and protect their bodies more. He noted that when he was a kid, all the veterans told him that and he didn't listen. He said he now tells that to people and none of them listen, joking about how it's the circle of life in pro wrestling.
--WWE is releasing a new Bret Hart DVD called "The Dungeon Collection" which includes a 1979 match from Stampede Wrestling against Dynamite Kid, a 1983 match from Stampede Wrestling against Leo Burke, and a rare find: a 1979 match from Georgia Championship Wrestling against a 20-year-old Buzz Sawyer.
From there, it'll be a collection of WWE matches including a singles match with Dynamite Kid, his match from Italy against Andre the Giant, his match from the Tokyo Dome against Mitsuharu Misawa as Tiger Mask (when they were both in prelims on a major card....a few years later they would be two of the biggest stars in the business), a house show match against Ric Flair when Bret defended the IC title in New Haven, a Madison Square Garden match with Undertaker, plus WCW matches against Sting and Booker T. If it's the Booker T match I'm thinking of (and I'm almost sure it is), that match was really good.
--JBL issued an apology to the Dudleys as when talking on Smackdown, he talked about famous tag teams that weren't as successful when they became singles wrestlers. He said he was thinking about when he was in WWE. "Bubba and Devon have been good friends for a long time and I have the utmost respect and love for them. If i had made the mistake on someone else, I would just chalk it up to live TV and not worry about it. But, those guys are good friends and with the Twitter police loving to correct me, I thought I would just make it public and explain how it happened." Bully Ray said that he didn't have to apologize and he has nothing but respect for JBL.
--There was a really weird story at the Vintage Wrestling show on Saturday night in Sanford, FL. There was a match with a wrestler named Steelhorse Vachon against Tommy Taylor (a former WWE developmental wrestler). During the match, it was stiff in spots and Vachon knocked the wind out of him and Taylor dropped him with a punch as a receipt.
After Taylor left the building to go home, Vachon came back with the police, claiming he was assaulted by Taylor who went off script in the match. There have been incidents where police have been called over a wrestler claiming the other assaulted him going off script, but every case I've heard of, it ends up going nowhere because there's always too much ambiguity.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE UFC ON FX SHOW?
32.2% of those responding didn't see the show
WHAT WAS THE BEST TV SHOW OF THE PAST WEEK?
UFC main card on FX 18.8%
Main Event 5.0%
--Former Shimmer champion Madison Eagles (Alex Ford) returned to the ring on Saturday night after both an injury and delivering her third child on a show in Casula, Australia. Results: Robbie Eagles b Kingi, Madison Eagles & Shazza McKenzie b Evie & Jessie McKay, Matt Bailey b Kai Roxas, Robbie Eagles b Tama Williams, Rainbro & Samoan Warrior & Justin Greye b Bishop Summers & Brian Seeker & Sean Kustom, Mick Moretti b Mikey Broderick (thanks to Dan Lennard and Steve Ogilvie)
--The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday in the weekend magazine ran an article on Madison Eagles noting that her father, Doug, is the President of Surf life Saving Australia (thanks to Greame Cameron)
--In Your Face Wrestling from Saturday night in Ballston Spa, NY: Chip Stetson & Viper the Ninja Warrior b Good Lord Willing & Etanna, Liam McFerran b Ricky Williams, Roman Dominguez b Northern Studd, Bobby Ocean b Michael Monroe, C.J. Scott & Damon Ravage DDQ Sgt. Fury & Vigo, J.P. Black b Drake Evans, Ian Daniels & Rickety Rocket b Chuck Deep & Brad Welsey, Franz Roddy b Pierre Vachon. They announced their wrestling convention on 3/16 will feature Boogeyman (who will wrestle on the show), Tommy Dreamer, Al Snow, Tammy Sytch, Damien Darling and more.
--AAW returns to Berwyn, IL on Friday night at the Eagles Club with Irish Airborne vs. Davey Richards & a mystery partner, plus the first round matches in the AAW Heritage title tournament with Vic Capri vs. Davey Vega, Kyle O'Reilly vs. Tadarius Thomas, Mat Fitchett vs. Christian Able and Prince Ali vs. ACH, plus also appearing are Shane Hollister, Jimmy Jacobs, Michael Elgin, Keith Walker, Louis Lyndon and others.
--FWF Wrestling on 2/15 in Union, NJ at the Knights of Columbus featuring Hurricane Helms.
--Supreme Pro Wrestling from yesterday in Sacramento: Mike Hayashi b Joe DeSoul, Drake Frost b Mustafa Saed (Gangstas), Drake Younger b Jeff Cobb (a former Olympic wrestler from Guam), Big Ugly J.D. Bishop b Rik Luxury, Joe DeSoul b Cjay Kurz, Levi Shapiro & Brttany Wonder b D-Torch & Savannah Riley, Riv b Dexter St. Jock, Virgil Flynn & Mike Hayashi b Corvus & Omega, Bobby Hart b Sir Samurai in a bare foot thumbtacks match. Next show is 2/17 in Sacramento.
--Missy Hyatt pulled out of appearing for the Hardcore Roadtrip promotion on 3/2 in London, ONT, due to family obligations. The promotion is running an ECW revival show and booked a match with Al Snow vs. Joey Ryan.
This day in pro wrestling history with Brian Hoops:
- 55 years ago: Johnny Valentine beat Bill Melby in Dallas to win the Texas heavyweight title
- 46 years ago: Bruiser & Crusher beat The Devil's Duo, Angelo Poffo & Chris Markoff to win the WWA tag team titles, Ray Stevens & Pat Patterson beat Cyclone Negro & The Mongolian Stomper at the Cow Palace in San Francisco to win the World tag team titles
- 42 years ago: Dick Murdoch & Dusty Rhodes beat Mark Lewin & Mario Milano in Sydney, Australia to win the IWA world tag team titles
- 34 years ago: Ron Fuller & Prof. Toru Tanaka beat Dennis Condrey & Don Fargo to win the Southern tag team titles in Memphis
- 30 years ago: Terry Gordy beat Kevin Von Erich at the Sportatorium in Dallas to win the American heavyweight title
- 28 years ago: Dick Murdoch & Adrian Adonis beat lost the WWF tag team titles to Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo in Hartford, CT
- 27 years ago: Tom Zenk beat Bobby Jaggers in Portland to win the Pacific Northwest heavyweight title, Buddy Landell beat Koko Ware in Louisville to win the Mid American heavyweight title
- 23 years ago: Hulk Hogan won the Royal Rumble in Orlando. I was at that show.
- 17 years ago: Shawn Michaels won the Royal Rumble in Fresno with the first dangling foot finish in the Rumble
--Miesha Tate has signed with First Round Management and agent Malki Kawa, which reps a ton of major UFC names including Jon Jones.
--There will be an NXT house show on Friday night in Winter Haven, FL. Speaking of, they are playing the old Nexus theme before New York Islanders home games this season. Hockey is back. (Thanks to Denis Gorman)