FRI UPDATE: Big weekend schedule and lineups: Flair in Japan, UFC on Fox, Rumble, DGUSA, John Morrison, Punk, Rock, NOAH



Last Update: 1/25 @ 6:30 PM EST

By Bryan Alvarez | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | @bryanalvarez

We have two major events this weekend with the UFC on FOX on Saturday and the Royal Rumble on Sunday.

We're looking for reports on tonight's TNA Impact tapings in Manchester, England and tonight's Dragon Gate USA show with John Morrison vs. Akira Tozawa from Santa Maria, CA at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

THE WEEKEND LINEUP

Saturday's UFC on FOX from the United Center in Chicago:

Facebook at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time

  • David Mitchell vs. Simeon Thoresen

FX at 5 p.m.

  • Rafael Natal vs. Sean Spencer
  • Shawn Jordan vs. Mike Russow
  • Ryan Bader vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
  • Mike Stumpf vs. Pascal Krauss
  • Clay Guida vs. Hatsu Hioki
  • Matt Wiman vs. T.J. Grant

FOX at 8 p.m.

  • Erik Koch vs. Ricardo Lamas
  • Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis
  • Quinton Jackson vs. Glover Teixeira
  • Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson for the flyweight title

Saturday also has TNA taping the 2/14 and 2/21 episodes of Impact at Wembley Arena in London. Also on Saturday, Dragon Gate USA will have an iPPV at 11 p.m. Eastern time from Huntington Park, CA:

  • Johnny Gargano vs. Jon Davis for the Open the Freedom Gate title in a no rope match
  • Young Bucks vs. Jimmy Susumu & Ryo Saito
  • Akira Tozawa vs. Sami Callihan
  • AR Fox vs. Samuray del Sol
  • Rich Swann vs. Dragon Gate wrestler
  • Chuck Taylor vs. Arik Cannon
  • California Fray with B-Boy, Brian Cage, Drake Younger, Johnny Yuma, Johnny Goodtime, Famous B and Ray Rosas.

Saturday is also the return to the ring of Ric Flair, who headlines an already sold out show from Tokyo's Ota Ward Gym for All Japan Pro Wrestling that has Ric Flair & Keiji Muto vs. Seiya Sanada & Tatsumi Fujinami and Masakatsu Funaki vs. Akebono for the Triple Crown.

Sunday is the Royal Rumble before a sold out America West Arena in Phoenix

  • C.M. Punk vs. The Rock for the WWE title
  • Royal Rumble
  • Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show last man standing for the world title
  • Kane & Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow for tag title
  • Antonio Cesaro vs. The Miz for U.S. title during the pre-game show
  • It's expected a Divas title match with Kaitlyn vs. Tamina Snuka will be added to the main card.

Sunday is also Pro Wrestling NOAH's first big show of the year at the Bodymaker Colosseum in Osaka

  • Genba Hirayanagi & Maybach Taniguchi Jr. vs. Hayato Nanjo & Takaku Fuke
  • Ross & Marshall Von Erich vs. Lance & Harlem Bravado
  • Yoshinari Ogawa & Atsushi Kotoge vs. Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask
  • Mohammed Yone & Ryuji Hijikata vs. Yuji Nagata & Takaaki Watanabe
  • Shuji Kondo vs. Taiji Ishimori for the GHC jr. title
  • Naomichi Marufuji & Takashi Sugiura vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Maybach Taniguchi for GHC tag titles
  • Takeshi Morishima vs. KENTA for GHC heavyweight title

Monday is Raw Roulette from Las Vegas. Smackdown, Main Event (a tournament for the IC title starts) & Saturday Morning Slam will be taped on Tuesday in San Diego.

THE LATEST OBSERVER: OBSERVER AWARDS ISSUE 2012

The biggest issue of the year, the issue covering the 33rd annual Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards as voted by readers is out on the web site today. There will also be a back issue from November 1995 on the site today. The issue features the winners in a variety of different categories, how many votes they got, the top finishes in each category, my comments on the placings as well as a complete history of the winner of every award dating back to our first awards in 1980.

We also have notes on the major weekend shows.

We also talk about the conclusion of the TNA lawsuit against WWE and what was accomplished, an update on Ric Flair in WWE and why he wasn't on TV this week, Rumble notes and business thoughts, former star being talked about as returning, Bob Backlund in the Hall of Fame and career notes, what wrestlers have closed the show the most often in WWE history, irony of a cause WWE is getting behind, new Dwayne Johnson movie, new Mania match being talked about, update on Rey Mysterio and Steve Austin, why Flair was linked with Miz and not the original idea, Stephanie McMahon talks why she's no longer on TV, notes on a new WWE signing and his ties to one of the biggest stars in UFC, UFC gets rid of former All-American football player, WWE market research and ideas for new TV shows more on WrestleMania weekend, updates on injured WWE stars, next European tour and business notes from last week along with highlights of all the weekend house shows.

We've also got a story on Count Billy Varga, a major California wrestling star who dated back to the beginnings of wrestling on television. Varga, a perennial champion, is looked at including what major star in the 70s emulated him and became one of the biggest stars of all-time, a look at the American heavyweight title, his television and movie work, how he got started, his days as a world champion and how he was booked.

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.

If you are a new subscriber ordering 24 or more issues, you can get one free classic issue of your choice sent to you today. With a 40 issue subscription, you can get two free classic issues sent to you today. Just sent your Visa or Master Card order with your name, address, phone number, card number and expiration date to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

You can also order by paypal by sending to www.paypal.com and directing the funds to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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 as well as details of how every segment on 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

-- WWE announced an NXT tournament for Saturday featuring Corey Graves, Oliver Grey, Luke Harper, Xavier Woods, Conor O'Brian, Adrian Neville, Bo Dallas and Leo Kruger where the winner gets a spot in the Royal Rumble this year. Interesting that there's no Kassius Ohno in the running.

-- Christian writes: I’m in Buffalo, NY and I couldn’t tell you the last time WWE advertised a PPV on the radio, but they have been pushing RR very big on the sports talk radio station. Also, nothing major, but in the ads they refer to CM Punk as the “Second City Saint, CM Punk”, which I haven’t heard in quite a while. The ad pushes really heavy that Punk is the longest reigning champ in a quarter century.

-- Dana White suggested Luke Rockhold's first UFC fight may be against Vitor Belfort and said if Belfort can beat him and string up a few more wins, it would be hard to not give him another title shot. That shot would be presumably at 185 pounds although apparently Vitor is confused, having challenged Jon Jones last week. It should be noted that Anderson Silva apparently wants Rockhold in a champion vs. champion match. Dana also noted that Quinton Jackson had made over $15 million during his UFC career but was acting like an idiot and shot himself in the foot with his behavior over the past week. Jackson is insisting he's done with UFC and spent the recent pre-event presser playing video games and barely mumbling answers to the press.

-- Rock's GI Joe film will be getting an IMAX release starting March 28th internationally and March 29th in the US.

-- Conor Huen won't be heading to UFC as he's retired from MMA.

-- Jerry Lawler has an interview with the New York Post where he notes that Rikishi was scheduled to be a surprise Royal Rumble entrant, but that fell through.

-- JR has a new blog up here.

-- John Morrison wrestles Akira Tozawa for Dragon Gate USA tonight. They're running the next three days, and Saturday and Sunday will be available on iPPV at WWNLive.com. We've got a fun interview with Brian Kendrick up on the front page right now in the audio section talking the shows this weekend and everything else. He'll be there. The latest DGUSA news release with tons of info on this weekend and everything else under the sun (which is, apparently, cold) is up here.

-- Ed and Co. including Mike Sempervive talk 80s Crockett wrestling tonight here.

-- Jeff Bradley writes: I am looking to downsize my collections and have a number of wrestling DVD masters to sell. I have put to photo albums on my Facebook account containing pictures of close to 450 masters spanning a number of feds. The prices are very reasonable by vary by DVD. For the most part, 90% of them are in the $8-$10 range. If anyone is interested, please check them out. They are in two folders (linked below). One is DVDs I am selling and the other is my favorites, which I will sell but will be a little more expensive as they are some of my favorites. Please message me on Facebook if interested in any. Here are the links: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.565556770138585.139658.100000528020252&type=3&l=90098a9fce and http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.566116153415980.139726.100000528020252&type=3&l=bdb8b8cd66

-- Michael writes: Commercials for the Halle Berry/David Otunga film have been airing. One showing was during Fox's heavily hyped new show "The Following". It remains surreal to see the WWE logo on something like this and Dead Man Down, where they are both solid looking ventures. Seems to really solidify that this was the right change in direction for their film prospects.

-- New Michelle McCool video interview here. She's a new mom and now a brunette.

-- Article here asking if WWE stock is down for the count.

Who should have won the Thesz/Flair award for 2012?
C.M. Punk 49.1%
Hiroshi Tanahashi 29.2%
Daniel Bryan 6.4%
Kazuchika Okada 3.7%
Austin Aries 3.4%
John Cena 2.4%
The Rock 2.4%
Bobby Roode 2.1%
Sheamus 1.1%
Cima 0.3%

If Nick Diaz is nice to GSP in the buildup to their fight, what are your feelings?
Am buying either way 48.1%
May make a difference, not sure yet 15.7%
Would have bought, now won't 4.9%
Not buying either way 31.4%

What did you think of Main Event?
Excellent 24.5%
Good 39.6%
Average 17.0%
Fair 9.4%
Poor 9.4%
60.2% of those responding didn't see the show

-- MMA fighter's wife allegedly involved in prostitution ring scandal here

-- Story here about the Pontiac SilverDome, site of WrestleMania III, being damaged by heavy winds.

-- CM Punk talks to Ariel Helwani about the Royal Rumble, MMA and more here

-- Magnificent Championship Wrestling “EGO BOOST” January 27th, 2013 Royal Canadian Legion 21 Oak Street Brantford, Ontario

-- The International Wrestling Cartel presents PAYBACK Saturday January 26th, 2013 Court Time Sports Center 95 Enterprise St. Suite 100 - Elizabeth, PA Belltime: 7:30 PM

-- Matthew writes: Just a note that BAMMA have confirmed March 13th as the date for their next event, BAMMA 12, at the Metro-Radio Arena (which is where B.J Penn beat Joe Stevenson) in Newcastle. The show will be a two-hour live broadcast over here in the UK, so I assume it'll be aired on The Fight Network as well in North American. No fights have been announced thus far.

-- Mike Dolce speaks positively of TRT here.

-- Friday February 15th- Winnipeg, MB Location: Polish Fraternal Hall (770 Mountain Ave.) Time: Doors Open 6:30pm, Bell time 7:00pm. Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 at the door Advance Tickets Available at: Rudy's Video (668 Sheppard St.), Blade Hair Design (3-1341 Henderson Hwy), Purchase tickets online at diyobo.com

-- Today in history with Brian Hoops:

1950 - Yvon Robert defeated Whipper Billy Watson to win the Toronto NWA British Empire Heavyweight Title in Montreal, Quebec.

1951 - Tarzan Kowalski defeated Bill Longson in Kansas City, Kansas for the NWA Heart of America (later known as Central States) Heavyweight Title.

1954 - Wilbur Snyder and Sandor Szabo defeated Lord James Blears and John Tolos to become the first NWA International Television Tag Team Champions in Hollywood, California.

1961 - Sam Steamboat defeated Dick Hutton for the NWA Hawaii Heavyweight Title in Honolulu, Hawaii.

1963 - Buddy Rogers makes his first defense of the WWWF World Heavyweight Title, defeating Bobo Brazil in New Haven, Connecticut.

1964 - Dominic DeNucci defeated Ray Stevens for the San Francisco NWA United States Heavyweight Title in San Francisco, California

1969 - Stan Pulaski and Chris Tolos defeated Butcher and Mad Dog Vachon in Omaha, Nebraska for the AWA Midwest Tag Team Title.

1969 - Assassin #2 (Tom Renesto) and The Professional (Doug Gilbert) defeated Alberto and Ramon Torres to win the NWA Georgia Tag Team Title

1972 - Dean Ho and Fritz Von Erich defeated Thunderbolt Patterson and Johnny Valentine for the NWA American Tag Team Title in Dallas, Texas.

1972 - El Mongol defeated Buddy Colt in Macon, Georgia to win the NWA Georgia Heavyweight Title and Flash and Rocket Monroe defeated Bob Armstrong and Bill Dromo for the NWA Macon Tag Team Title.

1975- Bobo Brazil defeated The Sheik for the Detroit NWA United States Heavyweight Title in Detroit, Michigan.

1978 - Jack and Jerry Brisco defeated Ivan Koloff and Mr. Saito to win the NWA Florida Tag Team Titles at the Superbowl of Wrestling in Miami, Florida. Also, Mike Graham and Steve Keirn defeated Jimmy and Johnny Valiant to win the NWA Florida US Tag Team Title. WWWF World Champion, Superstar Billy Graham and NWA World Champion, Harley Race wrestled to a 60 minute time limit draw.

1982 - Roger Kirby and Jerry Valiant (Guy Mitchell) defeated Eddie Gilbert and Ricky Romero for the NWA Central States Tag Team Title in Wichita, Kansas.

1983 - The Fabulous Kangaroos (Johnny Heffernan and Don Kent) defeated Ron Bass and Barry Windham to win the NWA Florida Global Tag Team Title in Miami, Florida.

1984 - Angelo Mosca, Jr. defeated Iwan Koloff to win the NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title in Shelby, North Carolina.

1991 - Bill Dundee defeated Gary Young to win the vacant USWA Texas Title in a tournament final in Dallas, Texas at the Sportatorium.

1992 - Brad Rhenigans and Baron Von Raschke defeated The Punishers to win the PWA Tag Team Title in Annadale, Minnesota.

1993 - Ron and Don Harris defeated Jerry Lawler and Jeff Jarrett to win the USWA Tag Team Title in memphis, Tennessee

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