Also in this week's issue:
--Light heavyweight champion vacates title to go after heavyweight title
--Tournament to fill the light heavyweight title
--A look at AAA's first TV taping of the year
--Notes on Dragon Gate USA iPPV shows this weekend
--Major changes in All Japan Pro Wrestling signing a number of new stars
--Notes on Kenta Kobashi's retirement match including when and where
--Lineup for NOAH's big show this week featuring a lot of New Japan stars
--New contracts signed by New Japan wrestlers
--More on contract signed by Kazuchika Okada
--New Japan owner talks plans for starting several different promotions, how he wants to emulate WWE and what is and isn't viable
--Other New Japan changes talked about for this year
--Announcement of the next Tokyo Dome show
--A look at New Japan's Fantasticmania shows including a world light heavyweight title change
--Potential Hall of Famer returns after neck surgery in a few weeks, first match back announced
--Wrestler out of action for 19 months due to vicious assault is about to return
--Return of the Voodoo Murderers heel group
--Grandson of one of Japan's most famous athletes of the last 60 years is looking to get into pro wrestling
--Notes on the Hart Legacy Wrestling show in Calgary featuring stars from the 80s to the top indie guys around today
--Super Bowl coach John Harbaugh talks Brian Pillman
--Another attempt to revive one of the regional promotions of the past starts this summer and top name coming in
--Stan Musial pro wrestling anecdote
--Extreme Rising tries to take next step with TV
--National Pro Wrestling Day update
--Houston tape collection
--Update on Superstar Billy Graham
--Waterloo Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame 2013 induction notes including Ric Flair and Edge
--Yet another WrestleMania weekend show added
--A look at ROH's weekend house shows
--Interesting notes on TNA going forward
--TNA false advertising of Jeff Hardy looked at
--TNA Genesis notes
--Brooke Hogan channels Hulk Hogan
--Lots of indie names in TNA's Gut Check challenge
--Notes on TNA British Boot camp TV show and Spud winning
--Early notes on Lockdown
--TNA angle shot on King Mo TV special
--Daniel Cormier and pro wrestling
--Notes on TNA's first date in Europe
--Update on the Eddie Alvarez case
--Notes on how FX and the FOX networks are changing with the creation of Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, and how that affects UFC
--The pluses and minuses of the shift short-term and long
--Notes on this week's UFC show
--Ultimate Fighter on FOX
--First notes on the return of UFC to Stockholm and main event
--UFC 155 on PPV update
--HBO doing a feature on a UFC star
--Rashad Evans talks move to middleweight
--What UFC fighters most consistently have the most exciting fights
--UFC cuts several fighters
--Lots of new UFC 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.
Saturday's News Update
--I did a show this morning with Mike Sempervive covering the Ric Flair situation, the Eddie Alvarez case, the booking of tonight's show, TNA tapings, Royal Rumble and Bellator ratings. Bryan and I will be back tonight covering the FOX show and today's TNA tapings in London as well as taking questions that you can send to
--There will be a post-game show on Fuel after the FOX show ends tonight. Remember we are taking polls tonight. For UFC, we are only going to do the regular polls Observer polls going forward for the PPV and FOX shows.
--5 Dimes is taking bets on the Rumble with these odds
C.M. Punk +400
The Rock -600
Alberto Del Rio -1850
Big Show +900
Team Rhodes Scholars -1200
Team Hell No +600
John Cena wins Rumble -175
Anyone but John Cena wins Rumble +140
--Carlito and Shelton Benjamin have both been in Phoenix for what it's worth.
--WWE had a ticketing issue today regarding WrestleMania Axxess. They were to go on sale to the public, but Ticketmaster was asking for a password. But no passwords used in the past would work. Several hours later the problem was cleared up.
--We'll have more in this week's Observer, but last weekend's Hart Legacy Wrestling promotion has not paid a lot of the employees and many of the wrestlers. After the show on 1/18, promoter John Oniston held a meeting and said guys would be paid on 1/22 when the money from the box office was released, and that guys would get $100 extra above what they had been promised. Well, that date has come and gone. The promotion booked a show that even if they had sold out (and they came close), they'd still be losing a ton of money. There is still the claim from the promotion that wrestlers will be paid and the February shows will take place. CEO Stacy Angel was mad at Vance Nevada (who worked on the show backstage), writing on her Facebook page, "If you could afford $30,000 for talent, then I am happy for you. We had our budget at just over half that. Say what you want about us, Vance, we are still continuing our shows. Once the last of our talent is paid out, everything will be back to normal. It's too bad you went public." I hope they realize that when it comes to U.S. name wrestlers, they are going to have to pay guarantees out in advance if they expect them to come.
--Jon Jones at the UFC Q&A before weigh-ins joked about needing to "cut more WWF style promos" and joked that Chael Sonnen needs TRT for his sex life. Jones either watched or attended a WWE show recently because he's done a bunch of interviews talking about seeing The Rock and not having watched wrestling in a long time. I know that his agent was at the Smackdown in Miami a couple of weeks back.
--The biggest reactions at weigh-ins for Rampage Jackson, Clay Guida and Mike Russow (a Chicago police officer who they try to always book when they are in Chicago).
--As noted a few times before in the Observer, tickets for tonight's show went surprisingly well considering what the main event was. The building will be either full or very close to it.
PREDICTIONS ON TONIGHT'S RATING
Less than 1.4 32.1%
2.4 or more 7.1%
HOW MANY NORTH AMERICAN BUYS DOES ROYAL RUMBLE DO?
Under 250,000 9.2%
More than 501,000 6.8%
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THURSDAY'S BELLATOR TV SHOW?
46.3% of those responding didn't see the show
POLL ON IMPACT
24.7% of those responding didn't see the show
--Jake Roberts did a Indiegogo.com fund raiser so he could get shoulder surgery. It raised $12,733 almost immediately and he only needed $9,200 so he reached his goal..
--ROH TV tonight has Adam Cole vs. B.J. Whitmer in a TV title match plus Matt Hardy vs. Rhett Titus.
--WBC (boxing) women' champion Holly Holm, whose title defense against Cecilia Braekhus was canceled when Breakhus, after agreeing to the fight, took an offer to fight Mia St. John (yes, she's still boxing at 45 years old, not sure if she's still posing at that age); is now booked on Bellator's 2/28 show in Rio Rancho, NM at the Santa Ana Star Center.
--Big Time Wrestling from last night in Newark, CA: L'Emperor b Peter Avalon, Joshua Dunbar b Andy Brown, Jason Styles & Victor Sterling (who got a WWE tryout recently with Arn Anderson) b Tony Varagas & Synn, Kimo b Ryan Taylor (Taylor is good), La Parkita b Mini Halloween (they stole the show) Shane Kody b Ryan Von Kool in a falls count anywhere match to win the BTW title. Next show is 3/22. They also announced WrestleFest in May at Newark Memorial High School. Promoter Kirk White on the mic said he wants to book Hulk Hogan but Hogan is asking $30,000 for the appearance and if Hogan is there he would have to raise prices. (thanks to Derek Sousa)
--AIWF on 2/2 in Mt. Airy, NC at the National Guard Armory has Gunner vs. Dick Foley as the main event.
--FIP returns on 2/1 in Ybor City, FL at The Orpheum with Caleb Konley & Scott Reed vs. Dark City Fight Club for the FIP tag titles and Uhaa Nation vs. Chasyn Rance, plus AR Fox, Tommy Taylor and more.
--Great Champions Wrestling on 2/2 at 4 p.m. in Oshawa, ONT at Harmony Hall.
--Jose Manuel Guillen on TVC Deportes (Mexico's ESPN) gets honored for placing in the Observer awards for best announcer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1PwG515-RA
The funny part is they made such a big deal about it and he really should have finished higher if anything. They talk about losing to Jim Ross, Nigel McGuinness, William Regal and Joe Rogan. I've heard more from wrestlers about the awards this year than any year in the past.
--The episode of HBO's Real Sports with Ronda Rousey will debut on 2/19, four days before her match with Liz Carmouche.
--This day in wrestling history from Brian Hoops and Graeme Cameron
39 years ago - Larry O'Dea & Ron Miller beat Hiro & Hito Tojo (who later became Great Kabuki & Samson Kutsuwada) in Melbourne to win the Austra-Asian tag team tiles on what is National Day in Australia.
26 years ago - Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart won the WWF tag titles in Tampa against a crippled Dynamite Kid (who was badly injured a month earlier, had to be carried to the ring to hold onto the ropes in the corner so they could do the title change and boy was Kid furious about having done this) & Davey Boy Smith
14 years ago - Mankind beat The Rock in Tucson to win the WWF title
--ECWA on 3/2 in Newark, DE at the Boys and Girls Club. They also run 3/16 in Carney's Point, NJ at the YMCA of Salem County with Tina San Antonio.
--Pro Wrestling Battle Arts on 2/22 in Oshawa, ONT at the Octaviens Hall with Ethan Page vs. Michael Elgin vs. Christopher Bishop vs. Josh Alexander to crown their first open weight champion.
--Global Proving Ground is doing a casting call on 1/27 at Shaddock MMA in Sykesville, MD from 2-5 p.m. and KDojo MMA (which is not run by Taka Michinoku) in Fairfield, NJ from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, and Fusboxe MMA in Westminster, CO on 1/29 from 6-9 p.m. This is for a reality MMA show that is being put together that will involve UFC pioneers Dan Severn, Ron Van Clief, Don Wilson plus Renzo Gracie. 16 fighters and 4 alternates will be sent to "Warrior Island" for a tournament and fans will vote for the 16 who get to be featured.
--BAMMA announced its next show on 3/9 in Newcastle, UK at the Metro Radio Arena which will air live on 5* in the U.K. as well as AXS in the U.S. and Fight Network in Canada.
--CZW on 2/9 at Flyer's Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ with Masada vs. Christina Von Eerie for the CZW title in an Ultraviolent match, AR Fox vs. Rich Swann for the TV title, Lufisto & Sami Callihan vs. Adam Cole & Jessicka Havoc and more.