SAT UPDATE: More on Paul Bearer heart attack, full AXXESS guest line-up, Bully Ray heel turn explanation vids online, ratings, fighter asks to headline Seattle show, 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 today's New Japan PPV 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

We're also looking for reports on tonight's WWE Raw show in Fairfax, VA, Smackdown in Norfolk< TNA in Roanoke Rapids, NC and PWG in Reseda, CA.

Tonight also has the World Series of Fighting at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time on NBC Sports from Atlantic City:

J.Z. Cavalcante vs. Justin Gaethje

Dave Branch vs. Paulo Filho

Josh Burkman vs. Aaron Simpson

Marlon Moraes vs. Tyson Nam

Andrei Arlovski vs. Anthony Johnson

Sunday has Raw from Salisbury, MD and Smackdown from Baltimore. It makes absolutely no sense to have Smackdown running in the major city big arena and Raw running in the small city small hall.

Monday is Raw from Philadelphia. Two weeks before Mania and the return of The Rock.

Smackdown/Main Event and Saturday Morning Slam will be taped on Tuesday in Hershey, PA.

        We've got a WrestleMania update, full coverage of UFC 158, a look at the life and career of Booker T, as well as coverage of the major international shows all in the new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter on the site today.
        In addition, the new back issue is a major one, as it's the 1995 Awards issue, covering the best and worst in pro wrestling from the yea where U.S. interest bottomed out right before the start of a resurgence.  It's the biggest issue of the year, covering the year in review and how things were at the time.
        Our new issue has a feature on WrestleMania, including the change in price, the reason for the price change, how much extra WWE figures to make if the price change doesn't hurt buys.  We also look at how important WrestleMania revenue is to the company's year and long-term goals for the show.
        We also have a list of the current lineup, as well as a number of matches on the books to be added for the complete event.
        We also have a look at Nick Diaz, and how he moved business numbers.  We look at his hotel confrontation with GSP, his match with GSP, reaction to GSP, records he's set, criticism of him, and where the welterweight division goes from here.  We also have all the business notes on the show, from TV numbers to early buy rate figures, reaction to judging and match-by-match coverage with star ratings.
        We also have a look at plans for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter with Ronda Rousey as coach.  We look at the different new dynamics for the show, as well as who exactly is Cat Zingano, who may end up being one of the coaches.  We also look at how readers of this web site have reacted to plans for the show.
        We also have a look back at the details behind negotiations for a Vince McMahon vs. Dana White match at WrestleMania.  We look at how the talks started, if they were ever serious, when they took place and what happened when they took place.
        We also have a feature on Booker T, running through his life and pro wrestling career upon the announcement of him going into the WWE Hall of Fame.
        We look at how he got started in pro wrestling, and life before wrestling.  He look at his arrest for armed robbery, his early years in wrestling and what people helped get him from wrestling school to stardom in WCW.  We look at the era of Harlem Heat as WCW tag team champions and their various storylines.
        We also look at why Booker T ended up as a singles star, and what program put him over the top as far as being respected as a top level wrestler.  We look at some of the bad angles in WCW, his rise to world champion, why his pay was so high, as well as the death of WCW.
        We also look at his early WWE run, his major WWE angles, his rise to the world title, his King Booker days, his leaving for TNA and his return, as well as his trademark spots.
        We also have more on injuries to Rey Mysterio and C.M. Punk, WWE house show business, WWE's Latin and merchandise business, WWE movie business updates, more on Eric Pankowski being let go from the creative team and what it means, new WWE hirings planned, more on women being approached to come to WWE, a WWE injury that hasn't been reported, Sports Illustrated looks at WWE department head as one of the best in the country, more on developmental, why Beth Phoenix left, another turn being contemplated, new wrestlers being recruited including the son of a celebrity in his country, as well as all the house show highlights from the past week.
        We also have full coverage of All Japan's show at Sumo Hall in Tokyo featuring a plethora of 90s stars, including the new figurehead commissioner, business notes on the show, the strange actions behind the scenes of the new owner, and match-by-match coverage of the show.
        We also look at CMLL and AAA's first major shows of the year, as well as the planned TripleMania main event, more on AAA coming to the U.S. and its TV partner, a look back at AAA drawing big in the U.S. and why it'll be difficult to repeat that success.
        We also have match-by-match coverage of both shows
        We also have a feature on the retirement of Villano V, Rey Mendoza Jr.  We look at all the old-timers who worked the show, and career highlights.
         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:
--What may be the biggest match in years in Mexico
--Debut of planned new idol
--American wrestlers coming to major Mexico show
--Notes on the next Dragon Gate iPPV show
--Notes on NOAH's upcoming tag team tournament
--Notes on All Japan's jr. heavyweight tag team tournament
--Update on the New Japan Cup and charting out the rest of the way
--More matches for the next two New Japan PPV shows
--Notes on the death of Don Carson
--Notes on WrestleCon, who is coming and what happened with Ric Flair
--Why the issue wasn't resolved
--Update on Batista
--More on ECW documentary
--What to look for in the upcoming NCAA tournament
--Who look to be the stars of the tournament
--He is looking to make history
--What are the prospective killer matches
--Notes on upcoming major shows in Puerto Rico
--What WWE star is headed to Puerto Rico to work for the local promotion and why
--Lots of TNA stars and major indie stars to a rival group in Puerto Rico
--Japanese wrestling legend headed in for Mania weekend
--Promotion touring a number of major U.S. markets
--Notes on Karl Anderson coming to ROH
--When he was there before
--Notes from ROH TV
--A look at upcoming ROH matches
--Notes on booking of Hogan
--Hogan's latest revised version of history
--The controversy surrounding Bully Ray
--Thoughts on current TNA booking
--Notes from the Chicago TV tapings
--Why a woman star hasn't bee around of late
--A look at all the upcoming PPVs taped this past week by TNA
--A look at TNA's house shows
--More UFC PPV news
--Ronda Rousey talks PEDs
--Why GSP vs. Diaz didn't have even more hype
--Background of making Dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt
--Herschel Walker situation
--Groups protesting against UFC
--Lots of UFC injury updates
--New UFC matchups
--New division directions
--Chael Sonnen promo notes
--Biggest all women's MMA show in history upcoming

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        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

-- TMZ has details on Paul Bearer's heart attack death here. Very sad to read that it's possible it could have been avoided.

-- Just a note that due to popular demand, After Dark Radio is back late Friday nights. If you were a fan of the show please listen to last night's episode to find out how you can participate in future weeks. The show will be build on listener participation, whether that be phone calls, emails to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , suggestions, etc. The more help the listeners provide, the better the show is going to be.

-- Also a note to check out yesterday's show with Rick Bassman. It was excellent, and Rick will be back on the show soon. He could talk for years straight. I believe this was his first-ever show during the time we've done this website, but he did appear on the old Wrestling Observer Live many, many years ago several times.

-- We are PACKED with guests from now until WrestleMania, so be ready for audio.

-- Also want to thank literally about 25-50 people who have sent emails volunteering to help clean up the board a little. I won't be able to get back to everyone, but thanks so much and some of you will be contacted soon.

-- Jerry Lynn's final-ever match takes place tonight on the 25th anniversary of his first-ever match, for the Heavy on Wrestling promotion. He and Horace the Psychopath take on JB Trask and Sean Waltman. There aren't a lot of guys in wrestling nicer than Jerry Lynn, and all the best to him tonight and in the future.

-- Impact did a 1.1 and 1.4 million viewers last week, down a bit.

-- For those that heard us put over the video packages they did explaining Bully Ray's heel turn and the last year of Aces and Eights storylines, TNA has put them all together online here. They really did an excellent job with these.

-- The Call looks to be bringing in another $9 million at the box office this week, so it is now far and away the most successful film WWE has had involvement in to date.

-- Dave with the MMA ratings report here. TUF did the second best numbers of the season for this past week's show.

-- Demetrious Johnson, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, has made it clear he wants to headline UFC on FOX in Seattle this coming July. He's a hometown boy.

-- Ultimo Guerrero unmasked Atlantis for the DQ in the main event of last night's CMLL show at Arena Mexico. They didn't announce a date for their mask match but it's all but guaranteed it'll headline the 80th anniversary show this September.

-- WWE cut referee Jack Doan today, who has been with the company for like 100 years.

Which of these events are you watching
World Series of Fighting 21.1%
New Japan iPPV 19.1%
NCAA wrestling tournament 9.3%
None 61.0%
Poll on Bellator
Excellent 13.9%
Good 52.8%
Average 25.0%
Fair 2.8%
Poor 19.4%
        62.5% of those responding didn't see the show
What do you think of he new X Division rules
Good idea 5.5%
Bad idea 16.1%
Doesn't matter, because they'll forget them pretty quickly 41.9%
Doesn't matter, X Division was killed a long time ago 36.4%
Who is the biggest star in MMA?
GSP 41.0%
Ronda Rousey 38.8%
Anderson Silva 11.0%
Chael Sonnen 5.9%
Jon Jones 1.1%
Alistair Overeem 1.1%
Nick Diaz 1.1%
Poll on Impact
Excellent 22.5%
Good 42.2%
Average 15.7%
Fair 8.8%
Poor 10.8%
        32.0% of those responding didn't see the show

-- Wayne notes: A few days before the Rock was on Leno, there were 2 amatuer wrestlers talking about wrestling being taken out of the Olympics. Leno said it was the goal of every wrestler to get to the Olmpics, and not to what he called 'goofball style wrestling".

-- Kaitlyn loves her job. Unlike tons of other divas over the past two years.

-- Brandon Baxter interviews Tara here.

-- Famous former bodybuilder dies of kidney failure

-- Regarding the item in yesterday's news update, the Sting signing is actually in New Jersey, not in Long Island, NY.

-- One of our long-time readers Daniel had open heart surgery earlier this year and is currently living on a fixed income and is trying to raise money to help with bills. His page is hereif anyone has a few dollars to help out.

-- Slow day in history according to Brian Hoops:

1984 - Ric Flair defeated Harley Race to win the NWA World title in New Zealand, one of a pair of "forgotten" title changes.

1986 - AWA World Champion Stan Hansen defeated Rick Martel by COR in Chicago, Illinois.

1992 - Brian Christopher defeated Jimmy Valiant for the USWA Southern Heavyweight Title in Memphis, Tennessee

1997 - At Wrestlemania XIII held in Chicago, Illinois; Bret Hart defeated Steve Austin in a No Holds Barred I Quit match with Ken Shamrock as the special referee and The Undertaker pinned Sid to win the WWF World Title.

-- Chris Master on Good Morning America here. Masters really should get a WWE call after this one, he was tremendously underutilized during his last run there.

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?