TUES UPDATE: Notes from Raw, big star backstage and not used, Randy Couture to Spike, post-Raw notes, upcoming house show line-ups, tons more



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

We're looking for your thoughts on Sunday night's Royal Rumble as well as Saturday night's UFC show on FOX, so you can leave a thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs in the middle along with a best and worst match to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Smackdown, Main Event (a tournament for an IC title shot starts) & Saturday Morning Slam will be taped on Tuesday in San Diego.

We're also looking for reports on all the Friday night Dragon Gate USA show in Santa Maria, CA.

        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.
 
        The awards are:
 
LOU THESZ/RIC FLAIR AWARD FOR WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
MMA MOST VALUABLE
MOST OUTSTANDING WRESTLER
MOST OUTSTANDING FIGHTER
BEST BOX OFFICE DRAW
FEUD OF THE YEA
TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR
MOST IMPROVED
BEST ON INTERVIEWS
MOST CHARISMATIC
BEST TECHNICAL WRESTLER
BRUISER BRODY MEMORIAL AWARD (BEST BRAWLER)
BEST FLYING WRESTLER
MOST OVERRATED
MOST UNDERRATED
PROMOTION OF THE YEAR
BEST WEEKLY TV SHOW
PRO WRESTLING MATCH OF THE YEAR
MMA MATCH OF THE YEAR
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
BEST NON-WRESTLER
BEST TELEVISION ANNOUNCER
WORST TELEVISION ANNOUNCER
BEST MAJOR SHOW
WORST MAJOR SHOW
BEST WRESTLING MANEUVER
MOST DISGUSTING PROMOTIONAL TACTIC
WORST TELEVISION SHOW
WORST MATCH OF THE YEAR
WORST FEUD OF THE YEAR
WORST PROMOTION OF THE YEAR
BEST BOOKER
PROMOTER OF THE YEAR
BEST GIMMICK
WORST GIMMICK
BEST BOOK
BEST DVD
 
        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.
 
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
 

 
Rates are:
 
        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 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   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.
 

Today's News, Notes and Links

-- Randy Couture has signed a deal with Spike TV. He'll serve as a coach on Bellator's first-ever reality show series. Dave's story on Couture is up here and here is Josh Nason's update.

-- Rey Mysterio was backstage at Raw Monday night but not used.

-- For those who didn't see it, here's the awesome Paul Heyman/Vince McMahon segment from Raw. Vince McMahon did not, in fact, break his pelvis, although that's the storyline explanation for him being gone and HHH returning to seek revenge. Despite the worked diagnosis, Vince didn't get stretchered out, walking out on his own power after the show was over.

-- Also, post Raw, they did a birthday celebration angle with Sheamus that ended with Dolph Ziggler getting beaten up by him and Cena.

-- WWE is doing a new deal where every now and then they "accidentally" spoil what's about to come next on Twitter or Facebook or via "technical screw-up" on Raw (such as when they played Flair's music right before the commercial break that ran before his "surprise" appearance). They are hoping this will cause people to, I don't know, tweet their friends and tell them to tune in for the surprise. Personally, if I wanted people to tweet their friends to tune in, I would say on national television, "COMING UP AFTER THE BREAK, THE RETURN OF RIC FLAIR!" I suppose you couldn't do that for Brock's return, but I'm not exactly sure how effective this strategy is. Not that it's a big deal or will ruin enjoyment or anything. Just that, in some cases, alerting the world on TV would be more effective than secret hints directed at a tiny portion of your audience.

-- My brief appearance on ABC Nightline in a piece on LLUSA and RJ Brewer is up here. This was taped months ago but bumped repeatedly.

-- Upcoming WWE house shows feature John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E. Langston handicap matches, and Team Hell No vs. The Sheild for the titles.

-- Hulk Hogan's explanation for tweeting a photo of Brooke's legs that got him all sorts of flack everywhere from Twitter to TMZ.com: "Brooke works out for 2hrs a day,a fan takes a picture,Brooke love it,tweets back thank u,proud dad tweets it,creeps and perverts everywhere. Need a break from all the haters got more good positive stuff to do,bye see u much later. HH"

-- Brooke has comments here.

-- Sad update on the Tammy Sytch story here.

-- Latest JR BBQ blog is here.

-- Today in history with Brian Hoops:

1981 - Junkyard Dog & Killer Karl Kox defeated Ernie Ladd & Leroy Brown in Biloxi, Mississippi to win the Mid-South Wrestling Tag Team Title.

1993 - The Bad Breed (Axl & Ian Rotten) defeated John Hawk (JBL) & Bobby Duncum Jr. in Dallas, Texas to win the Global Wrestling Tag Team Title.

1996 - Konnan defeated the One Man Gang for the WCW U.S. Heavyweight title.

1999 - Baldo (Albert/A-Train/Matt Bloom) defeated Jerry Lawler in a tournament final in Memphis, Tennessee to become the first Memphis Power Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Champion.

-- New England Fights! (NEF) is pleased to announce the weigh-ins for its Fight Night VI event. Fight Night VI, a mixed-martial arts ("MMA") event, is scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 2 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Doors will open to the public at 5:00 pm, and the first fight is set to begin at 6:00 pm. Weigh-ins for the event will take place the previous day, Friday, February 1, in the Fusion Lounge at the Ramada Inn and Conference Center. The Ramada is located at 490 Pleasant St. in Lewiston. Weigh-ins will begin at 3:00 pm. They are open to the public and free to attend. Members of the press and public are encouraged to join NEF at the Ramada on Friday afternoon. Fighters and promotion executives will be available for interviews, statements, photographs, and videos at the request of press. Press can contact the promotion's director of media operations Pete Czymbor with any specific questions or requests at 508-728-5125.

-- Canadian Wrestling's Elite is proud to announce a partnership with "The Franchise" Shane Douglas and his upstart Extreme Rising promotion based out of the Northeastern, United States that will offer a unique opportunity for an undiscovered independent talent to potentially get a match and future opportunity with Extreme Rising. A seminar and tryout takes place over two days with the first portion taking place on Thursday, March 14th. After the end of the first day Shane Douglas will personally select those who he feels stood out and have potential to return the following day on Friday, March 15th with a more competitive environment in play where ultimately one will be potentially selected for future opportunity with Extreme Rising. The selected participant will then enter talks with Shane Douglas and his Extreme Rising partners about performing on a future Extreme Rising event. Cost to participate in the seminar and tryout is only $50 if paid by March 1st. Any applicants paying after the deadline will be charged $75. To reserve your spot in the Extreme Rising tryout and seminar e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

-- On this week’s UFC TONIGHT, Chael Sonnen, UFC light heavyweight number-one contender and current coach on THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER, makes his official debut on the show, breaking down all the stories of the week and analyzing upcoming fights alongside Kenny Florian. Plus, UFC President Dana White welcomes Chael to the show on his first day, and sits down with us for an exclusive interview talking about various topics including some names coming and going from the UFC. Our analysts will break down all the story lines heading into this weekend’s massive UFC 156: ALDO VS. EDGAR card, featuring the World Featherweight Championship between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar. Chris Weidman has a message for Anderson Silva, plus Light Heavyweight Champ Jon Jones has a welcome message for our newest UFC TONIGHT personality.

This week on UFC ULTIMATE INSIDER, Michael McDonald celebrates his 22nd birthday. But unlike most his age, McDonald has the opportunity to become the youngest UFC champion ever. Sacramento is home to a brotherhood of fighters who call themselves Team Alpha Male. The bond between these fighters is unmistakable and their success lies in their dogged approach to training and recruiting sparring partners who are fully committed to Mixed Martial Arts. Dan Henderson’s career achievements put him in a stratosphere all his own. As he makes yet another run at a championship, Hendo illuminates his action packed memories. Finally, when a fighter lands a knockout punch there is nothing in life that comes close to it. In the fighter's own words, hear about the unique feeling of a knockout.

-- WHAT SHOULD BE THE MAIN EVENT AT WRESTLEMANIA THIS YEAR?
The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar 29.4%
Rock vs. John Cena vs. C.M. Punk 26.9%
Rock vs. John Cena 20.5%
Rock vs. C.M. Punk 11.0%
C.M. Punk vs. Brock Lesnar 5.5%
John Cena vs. C.M. Punk 2.1%
HHH vs. Rock 2.1%
Rock vs. Ryback 1.9%
Punk vs. Ryback 0.5%

WHO WAS THE STAR OF THE ROYAL RUMBLE?
Chris Jericho 62.4%
Dolph Ziggler 23.4%
John Cena 3.8%
Cody Rhodes 3.1%
Daniel Bryan 2.9%
Ryback 1.6%
Kofi Kingston 1.4%
Kane 0.9%
Randy Orton 0.4%
Sheamus 0.2%

WHO CAME OUT OF UFC ON FOX AS THE BIGGEST STAR?
Anthony Pettis 74.9%
Demetrious Johnson 9.2%
Glover Teixeira 7.8%
Rampage Jackson 6.8%
Ricardo Lamas 1.4%

WHO SHOULD GET THE WINNER OF ALDO VS. EDGAR?
The Korean Zombie 59.9%
Ricardo Lamas 21.4%
Clay Guida 9.9%
Dennis Siver 5.9%
Chad Mendes 1.6%
Nik Lentz 1.3%

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS REGARDING WHO WON THE TWO BIG MATCHES AT RUMBLE?
Made sense both won given Mania direction 55.1%
Neither should have won 21.2%
Rock should have won, not Cena 19.4%
Cena should have won, not Rock 4.2%

-- On Friday, April 26 at the legendary Kingsport Civic Auditorium "The American Wolf" Davey Richards will challenge Chase Owens for the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title.

-- From the promoter: Do you dream of becoming a professional wrestler? Do you want the opportunity to perform in front of live crowds? Do you desire to get in the best shape of your life? Now you can turn those dreams into a reality at Ringsport Pro Wrestling and Performance Gym. At Ringsport, students receive hands on training in all aspects of the sports entertainment industry. Classes are fast-paced and challenging, designed for both beginners and experienced wrestlers of every level. Located in Palmer, MA, Ringsport is under the supervision of head trainer and former WWE and international Superstar, “The Promise” Antonio Thomas. Antonio’s business partner is the promoter and booker of the Eastern Wrestling Alliance, one of the longest running and most successful independent promotions in the Northeast. With more than 25 years of combined wrestling, promoting, and sports entertainment experience, you will learn from the best and most experienced staff in New England to help you achieve all of your professional wrestling dreams. At Ringsport, you will have the opportunity to train with the only New England-based wrestler who has performed on worldwide pay-per view and television for the WWE, TNA and internationally. At Ringsport, you will have the opportunity to learn from the regions’ only booker and promoter who has worked with every New England-based talent to make it to the next level in wrestling within the last 10 years. At Ringsport, you will have the opportunity to make the most out of yourself in the sports entertainment industry and beyond. If you want to turn your goals as a professional wrestler into a reality, Ringsport Pro Wrestling and Performance Gym is the place to go! Take the first step by contacting us here at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

-- Over the Top Radio with Mike Sempervive talking 80s Crockett here.

-- Magnus talks British Wrestling here.

Send us a news tip: newstips@wrestlingobserver.com

Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news from this site or from our newsletters, please include a link to www.wrestlingobserver.com

For the most in-depth and detailed news and analysis on pro-wrestling and MMA, always turn to Wrestlingobserver.com/Figure Four Weekly Online, the #1 website of its kind on the Internet. Members receive online access to both the Wrestling Observer and Figure Four Weekly newsletters and growing archives, Wrestling Observer Radio with Bryan Alvarez and Dave Meltzer three times per week, the popular Bryan and Vinny Show three times per week, additional radio shows including Figure Four Daily with Alvarez, Mike Coughlin's Five Star Radio, the Dr. Keith Lipinski Show, The Adam and Mike Big Audio Nightmare, Tough Talk and the Karl Stern Wrestling History Show, the infamous BOARD, and more! Members also have full access to the thousands of hours of audio in our radio show archives which date back to 2005. For your convenience, we offer secure online payments using your VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Discover card or PayPal account. Don't miss out on the fun, sign up now! Don't miss out on the fun, sign up now!

Want full access? QUICK AND EASY SIGN-UP, AS LOW AS $9.99 PER MONTH!