WED. UPDATE: Josh Barnett update, ratings notes, unlucky Bisping, Sting injury David Von Erich's last match in today in history

By Dave Meltzer
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        Main Event tonight on Ion:
Sheamus vs. Cody Rhodes
Daniel Bryan vs. Damien Sandow
Naomi & Cameron vs. Tamina Snuka & Aksana
        Tonight on Fuel has UFC Tonight at 7 p.m., Ultimate Insider at 7:30 p.m., UFC Best of 2012 at 8 p.m. and the Michael Bisping vs. Vitor Belfort fight at 1 a.m.
        Bruno Sammartino and the WWE Hall of Fame, a look at the deal and how it went down is the lead story of the new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that will be up on the site today.  We look at how HHH put the deal together, the background of issues between Sammartino and the McMahon family going back more than 50 years.
        We look at the issues that were being worked on, the drug testing issue, what the deal includes, as well as Sammartino's role in company history, and two other honors that were bestowed upon him of late, one of which is significantly bigger long-term than the WWE Hall of Fame.
        We also look at how the results at UFC 156 changed the direction of UFC's main events.  We look at how the different divisions changed, the heavyweight division, the Pettis vs. Aldo fight, the flyweight division, as well as the business notes on the show.
        We also look at all the close decisions and have reaction to them, as well a match-by-match coverage and the listed payoffs for everyone on the show.
        We've also got a look at TNA's departure from the Impact Zone in Orlando.  We look at the plans for television going forward, the plans for taped PPV shows going forward, will the Impact Zone be used and for how long, what happened the last time they tried to do television outside Orlando and more on the plight of the company.
        We also look at New Japan's "The New Beginning" PPV and the story behind all of the matches.
        We've also got a look at the NBC Sports deal with the World Series of Fighting, the next show and when it airs with the main matches, and why it's going to be a difficult venture.
        We also have more on Vince McMahon's surgery, C.M. Punk at Mania, Elimination Chamber card, the story behind the change in Raw on Monday after the sow had already started, why Rock was a big TV winner this past week, more on TNA lawsuit against WWE ending and how it delayed a recent signing by seven months.  We look at El Generico in WWE, more business notes and lowest PPV numbers of the past 15 years, Bret Hart talks HHH, Chris Jericho talks HHH and my thoughts on HHH as a performer.  We look at a booking idea dropped,. an executive leaving, thoughts on breakup of Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow, WWE example of why UFC hasn't run in a market it could do well in, how people view Raw on DVR's, and wrestlers who have main evented the most shows, by year, ikn the modern history of WWE.
             We also look at WWE house show news, the return of a former TV announcer and his role, WWE injury updates and who should be coming up in the next few weeks.  We also look at WWE DVD releases, all the developmental news, notes on the recent tryouts, advertising changes in house shows, plus all the major business notes from the past week and highlights from all the WWE 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.
        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.
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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.
Also in this week's issue:
--Notes on crowning the new CMLL light heavyweight champion
--Serious injury from a botched move
--King of Flyers three-week tournament in Mexico
--International group making plans for U.S. expansion
--A look at the weekend AAA TV tapings
--Gape Sapolsky talks working with John Morrison
--A look at the last Dragon Gate USA weekend
--Notes on Reed Flair in Japan
--All Japan rookies
--NOAH newcomers
--New Japan attempts international expansion and details
--A look at New Japan's biggest show of the year
--New title contender created and probable New Japan anniversary show main event
--Upcoming iPPV notes
--90s star retirement show attracts 90s shooters
--A look at the next strange Inoki Genome Federation lineup
--Legends gathering at Japanese show
--Grandson of Rikidozan training for pro wrestling
--Notes of the debacle that was the Hart Legacy promotion show
--Notes on people who hadn't been paid
--Who in the Hart family was involved and who stayed clear of it
--What international group was hoping to work with them to bring back the old days
--Pro wrestling legend just inducted into Sports Hall of Fame
--Notes on National Pro Wrestling Day
--Who were the standout performers
--Strange backstage goings on
--A look at the life of Tito Montez
--New promotion starting next month using old WWE and TNA stars
--Notes on Crossfire Wrestling and legal isssues with promoter
--Possible biggest indie show of 2013 and politics behindthe show
--A territory's all-time wrestling legend who retired years ago, now making a comeback
--Former pro wrestler and two twin sons of a former pro wrestler working together to market Vodka
--Notes on the next ROH iPPV show
--A look at the ROH TV tapings and angles shot
--Who wasn't at the tapings and why
--Build for the next iPPV show
--Jeff Hardy talks TNA vs. WWE
--TNA release
--Notes on weekend TNA show
--Update on Dana White post surgery
--Thoughts on UFC rankings and the first official list
--Why they are being done and why it makes no sense to do them
--Advances for all the upcoming UFC shows
--Future of fighters on this season's Ultimate Fighter
--Issues of current UFC booking
--What happened with Dana White and Randy Couture and how Ryan Couture fits in
--New UFC matches
--More on the Bellator reality show
--Talk about format and coaches and what the winner gets
--Unique method of booking fights for the season
--Notes on Couture deal
--Bellator champion signs with different promotion
--Business notes on the first Bellator show on  Spike
--Return of Kig Mo
--Women's boxing champ signs with Bellator
--Former WWE top level exec becomes CEO of new promotion
--Olympic gold medalist set to debut in MMA in a few weeks
--Another promotion folds
        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)
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*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)
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*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)
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*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)
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*March 12, 2007 (Life and Times of Mike Awesome)
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*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)
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*March 17, 2008 (Life and times of Johnny Weaver)
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*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)
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Wednesday's News Update
--Bryan and I will be back tonight with Wrestling Observer radio.  Bruno Sammartino is scheduled as the guest on tonight's show.
--Ariel Helwani on how UFC's negotiations with Josh Barnett have stalled
--A couple of updates on Monday's Raw rating.  When we first had the rating last night we listed a 3.6, but the actual rating was a 3.5.  The difference is that Neilsen has updated the number of homes that get cable and it rose in the last month by about 100,000, which was the difference between a 3.6 and 3.5 rating.  It's still an excellent number for a three hour show.  Also, it was not the most watched cable show of the night.  More detailed note show that Pawn Stars on The History Channel was No. 1 for Monday and Raw was No. 2.   
--Must be something to be Michael Bisping. Bisping is one of the more outspoken critics of steroids in MMA, and he's now lost three times to fighters who came into the fight with an exemption based on using testosterone replacement therapy. 
--USA won the prime time ratings race going away this past week, averaging 2.77 million viewers to 2.18 million for Disney.  FX was No. 8 with 1.49 million.  Syfy was No. 14 with 1.09 million.  Spike was No. 22 with 764,000.  The three hours of Raw last week rated No. 1, No. 4 and No. 5.  No. 2 and No. 3 were episodes of Pawn Stars on The History Channel.  In 18-34, two of the hours were No. 4 and No. 5.  In 18-49, the three hours were No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4.
--Today's Daily Telegraph has an article on Dixie Carter in the Women's section of the paper.  It talks about how she got into wrestling. (thanks to James Watkins)
TODAY IN WRESTLING HISTORY (thanks to Brian Hoops, add John Dananay)
137 years ago:  William Muldoon, the first U.S. wrestling star, won the American collar and elbow championship from James Owens in Boston
55 years ago:  Lee Fields & Lester Welch beat Corsica Joe & Corsica Jean to win the Gulas version of the world tag team titles in Hattiesburg, MS
49 years ago:  Hard Boiled Haggerty beat Neff Maiava in Honolulu to win the Hawaiian heavyweight title.  Neff Maiava, the first Samoan pro wrestling star, is who Peter Maivia got his ring name from.
48 years ago:  The Sheik beat Johnny Valentine to win the U.S. title in Detroit
46 years ago:  Dutch Savage & Don Jardine (later the Spoiler) beat The Golden Greeks, John & Chris Tolos to win the NWA world tag team titles in Vancouver
43 years ago:  Abdullah the Butcher beat Billy Robinson to win the North American title in Calgary
42 years ago:  Cowboy Frankie Laine beat Ripper Collins to win the Hawaiian heavyweight title in Honolulu
40 years ago:  Buddy Colt beat Mark Lewin to win the Southern title in Tampa
36 years ago:  Bobo Brazil beat The Sheik in Toronto to win that city's version of the U.S. title.  Yes, the main title at that time in Toronto was the U.S. title. Go figure.
30 years ago:  Stan Lane & Steve Keirn become Southern tag team champions when the belts were stripped from The Sheepherders
29 years ago:  David Von Erich, substituting for Kevin, wrestled the last match of his career, beating the Missing Link  via DQ in Fort Worth.  Von Erich died four days later in Japan.
29 years ago:  King Parsons beat Super Destroyer #1 (Scott Irwin) to win the Texas TV title in Fort Worth
29 years ago:  Ron Bass & Black Bart beat Mike David & Mike Rotundo to win the U.S. tag team titles in Fort Worth
23 years ago:  The Clash of  Champions took place where the Four Horsemen kicked Sting out f the group and Sting later tore up the patella tendon in his knee, putting him out of action for five months
23 years ago:   Rick & Scott Steiner won a titles vs. masks match over Doom, in Corpus Christi, winning the NWA tag titles and Doom unmasked as Butch Reed & Ron Simmons
23 years ago:  Robert Fuller & Brian Lee won the USWA tag titles over Steve Doll & Rex King in Louisville
18 years ago:  Jerry Lawler beat Sid Vicious to win the USWA title in Memphis
Best title match possible 50.7%
Not the best title match, but a good match 21.7%
Don't like it because Pettis hasn't fought in the division and doesn't deserve a shot 27.5%
Am fine with whatever decision Sammartino made 66.3%
Played the game smartly in hindsight 21.6%
Should have gone in years ago when first asked 7.0%
Don't like the decision, he had his reasons for not going in and things haven't changed enough 5.1%
Brock Lesnar 37.3%
C.M. Punk 27.3%
Mark Henry 12.1%
Paul Heyman 9.1%
Chris Jericho 6.3%
Brad Maddox 5.6%
Alberto Del Rio 1.2%
The Miz 0.7%
Big Show 0.5%
Excellent 11.2%
Good 47.6%
Average 24.3%
Fair 7.5%
Poor 9.4%
        12.2% of those not responding didn't see the show
--Tickets are on sale at Ticketmaster for the 3/14 Impact tapings in Hoffman Estates, IL by using the password cod TARA
--Lorenzo Fertitta Jr., the son of the UFC owner, signed a letter of intent today to play football at Villanova. 

--Sunday CMLL results from Guadalajara:  Brllante & Azteca de Oro b Demonio Rojo & Thunder Boy, Mr. Trueno & Rey Trueno b Idolo & Alteno, In Memoriam & Malefico & Exterminador b Sky Kid & Black Metal & Gallo, Leo b Sadico, Atlantis & Titan & La Sombra b Averno & Mephisto & Volador Jr.  Mephisto pinned Sombra clean and challenged him to a match for the NWA world middleweight title which will take place this coming Sunday in the same arena.
--CMLL from last night in Guadalajara:  Rafaga & Infierno b Metatron & Halcon de Plata, Escandalo & Arkangel de la Muerte & Hooigan b Magnus & Super Camaleon & Bengala, Sangre Azteca & Vangelis & Black Warrior b Stuka Jr. & Diamante & Sagrado, Dragon Rojo Jr. b Titan to keep the CMLL middleweight title, Thunder & Atlantis & Rush b Psicosis & Olimpico & Kraneo.
--On Monday night in Puebla, Negro Casas retained the NWA welterweight title beating Valiente in 2/3 falls. (thanks to Steve "Dr. Lucha" Sims)
--There will be a Shine iPPV on 2/22 at 9 p.m. from the Orpheum in Ybor City,FL headlined by Amazing Kong vs. Rain and Leva Bates vs. Kimberly in a last woman standing match, and Nikki Roxx vs. Mercedes Martinez.  Daffney will be the hostess.
--Glory Sports Road to Glory middleweight tournament takes place on Saturday night in Inglewood, CA at the Hollywood Park Casino.
--Canadian Pro Wrestling from Saturday night in Ingersol, ONT:  Supreme Fantastico b Jake O'Reilly, Jeremiah Bradley b Retro Rex Atkins, Cody Deaner b John Greed, Tyler Tirva b Crazzy Steve, Courtney Rush b Leah Von Dutch, Krimson b Highlander Robbie, Tyson Dux won Battle Royal.  Next show is 3/22 in Woodstock, ONT.

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?