THURS. UPDATE: Undefeated and unwanted, Mania seating, Lawler on Kaufman's death, Sonnen on WWE offers, First UFC Vegas 2014 main event off, WWE European schedule, UFC buys for Saturday
By Dave Meltzer |
We're looking for reports on today's WWE shows in Leeds, England and Rousen, France, yesterday's show in Zurich, Switzerland, as well as tomorrow's shows in London, England and Marseilles, France at
Impact tonight at 9 p.m.
Ken Anderson vs. Knux
Ethan Carter III vs. Dewey Barnes & Norv Ferman in a handicap match
Joseph Park vs. Christopher Daniels
Gail Kim vs. ?
Kurt Angle vs. Austin Aries in a submission match in the TNA title tournament
Coverage of UFC's decline in audience heading into its biggest shows in year is the lead story in this week's issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. We've also got a new back issue from 1996 up which talks about a WWE jump to WCW more than one year before it happened and how close it came to happening at the time for an NWO surprise member. We also look at negotiations for what would have been some of the biggest matches in Japan that also never happened and how close they came.
This week's issues looks at the challenges MMA faces and its historical weaknesses in maintaining popularity. We look at the reason nobody's talking about for UFC's PPV increases this year, and the questions it faces with a declining television audience. We look at just how much of the audience has dropped and the reasons as to why. We also look at how pro wrestling differs from other sports when it comes to audience loyalty. We look back at the history of Vale Tudo in Brazil, the dark ages of UFC in the U.S., and look at the 20th anniversary show as well as the two shows last week.
We also look at where Hulk Hogan sits and thoughts on what his role would be in 2014 as well as optimum use for him if he can still go on the ring, more on John Cena and Big Show, Survivor Series updates, and a lot on the internal shakeups in WWE as well as how talent is paid. We look at the release of Kassius Ohno, why advertised matches haven't been taking place, what on paper looks to be great timing for WWE, and something surprising that has been talked about and whether it makes sense financially.
We also look at Miz's turn, who is being focused on in WWE advertising, coverage from developmental including hot prospects and injuries, notes on the upcoming season of Total Divas, a new WWE signing, and tons of news from the WWE European tour.
We also look at New Japan's Road to the Tokyo Dome with the first five matches announced, what they mean, background of the matches, what the expected rest of the show is, and coverage of the two big shows this past week.
We also have a look at the possible end of All Pro Wrestling with the death of Roland Alexander, a look back at his life, the controversies surrounding it, the attempts to make the promotion grow, Beyond the Mat, and thoughts on him, as well as a look back at the 2001 King of Indies and how it led to the formation of Ring of Honor.
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.
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We also have a look at the ratings of all the major shows and how every segment on Raw and Impact did as far as gaining or losing 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:
--Why two rival promotions are working together on a show this next week
--Why another promotion is having business issues
--A.J. Styles in Mexico
--A look at Masato Yoshino's second Open the Dream Gate title defense
--A look at Dragon Gate's upcoming U.S. shows
--All Japan adding a title
--NOAH planning its last big show of the year for Akira Taue's retirement
--A look at the top scheduled matches on the show
--Final standings and a look at the Global League singles tournament
--Details on this year's New Japan tag team tournament
--Who are in what blocks and what are the key lineups
--Lineup for New Japan's next iPPV on 11/23
--A look at the CMLL/New Japan FantasticMania lineups for January
--Why Fedor Emelianenko is attending a big pro wrestling show next month
--The return of a character from the 80s
--Former WWE star puts up his hair on major international show this week
--Lots of TNA PPV news
--A look at some upcoming PPV matches
--A look at Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore show
--A look at TNA tapings
--What wrestlers have been contacted by TNA
--A look at recent TNA house shows
--A look at next week's Impact
--UFC injuries and card changes
--Advance for the last major UFC event of the year
--Update on the TUF finales
--Notes on international dates
--Notes on UFC in Brazil
--More on Rousey vs. Tate and a last minute win by Tate
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)
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*October 10, 2005 (Life and Times of the Ultimate Warrior)
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*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)
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*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) .
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*March 17, 2008 (Life and times of Johnny Weaver)
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*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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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.
THURSDAY'S NEWS UPDATE
--Dana White at a press conference earlier today said that he's got no interest in signing Ben Askren, the Bellator welterweight champion, who was released by Bellator since he made it clear he didn't want to stay with the promotion. White said that Askren barely beat Jay Hieron, who couldn't hang in UFC, which is true, but that was also several fights ago, and Askren is 12-0. This is the first time you can outright say UFC isn't signing someone based only on having a boring style. They fired Jon Fitch and Yushin Okami, but both were coming off losses and were no longer in title contention in their divisions. Antonio McKee never beat anyone of note and was already old, more boring than Askren, and still eventually had a shot in UFC. Askren isn't boring to people who are into wrestling, but that's not the majority of the public. However, he does have a strong personality, more than 95% of the UFC roster, and could be the best wrestler in the entire company. When you're arguing if UFC is primarily sport or entertainment, and the answer is both, this sways things in the direction strongly of entertainment. That's not a dirty word, either, although some may feel it is. The reality is most of its fans watch it for entertainment and don't obsess over the sports aspect, but it does want to portray itself as sport. I'm not sure what sport doesn't hire a winning player with a big rep in the sport because they are considered boring in style by those who don't really care about wins and losses.
--Although the released seating chart that was out last week says differently, there will be a stage and lots of seats blocked off at WrestleMania. There is a presale going on right now for the show.
--Jerry Lawler said, in response to the story where Andy Kaufman's daughter thinks he's still alive, that if he is, he'd like to wrestle him at WrestleMania. Actually, the daughter was a hoax. Kaufman's brother introduced a woman as Kaufman's daughter, born in 1989, a few years after his believed death, who claimed he was still alive and just wanted a secret life. But the woman was found to be an actress.
--Chael Sonnen did an interview today saying he had received offers from pro wrestling but he made a decision a long time ago to be loyal to Dana White.
--After it being announced last night that Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira would headline the UFC show on 2/22 in Las Vegas, Dana White at the press conference today said that it wasn't happening. The fight would still happen, but it wouldn't be on that date.
--Lorenzo Fertitta has a story at http://sports.yahoo.com
in the MMA section on what it means for UFC to be turning 20.
ON THIS DAY IN PRO WRESTLING HISTORY (thanks to Graeme Cameron and Brian Hoops)
1963 - Killer Kowalski & Gorilla Monsoon beat Skull Murphy & Brute Bernard to win the U.S. tag team titles (which later became the WWWF tag titles sort of)
1973 - Tony Garea & Dean Ho beat Toru Tanaka & Mr. Fuji to win the WWWF tag team titles in Hamburg, PA
1990 - Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda beat Mike Takahashi & Kaoru Maeda to win the Japanese women's tag team titles in Yokohama.
1999 - Big Show, who subbed for an injured Steve Austin, beat HHH and The Rock in a three-way main event at Survivor Series to win the WWF title in Detroit.
--Some dates for the next WWE European tour
5/14 Glasgow, Scotland
5/15 Newcastle, England
5/16 Leeds, England
5/17 Nottingham, England
5/18 Cardiff, Wales
5/19 London O2 Arena (Raw taping)
5/20 London O2 Arena (Smackdown taping)
5/20 Sheffield, England
5/21 Belfast, Northern Ireland
5/22 Dublin, Ireland
Tickets for all these shows go on sale Monday at 9 a.m. (thanks to Stephen Lyon)
--Brendan Schaub announced today that he's signed a new six-fight contract with UFC, coming off his recent win over Matt Mitrione.
HOW MANY BUYS DOES UFC 167 DO?
Under 450,000 13.6%
More than 951,000 8.5%
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF GSP VS. HENDRICKS PRIME TIME PART 3
65.3% of those responding didn't see the show (missed a good one, especially the last 4 minutes)
WHO WAS THE BEST OF THESE HALL OF FAMERS?
Terry Funk 59.4%
Verne Gagne 11.5%
Gorgeous George 10.6%
Frank Gotch 9.0%
Karl Gotch 4.8%
Dry Funk Sr. 3.5%
Cavernario Galindo 1.2%
WHO WAS THE BEST OF THESE HALL OF FAMERS?
Bret Hart 62.2%
Stan Hansen 16.3%
George Hackenschmidt 8.5%
Billy Graham 8.1%
Eddie Graham 2.7%
Stu Hart 1.6%
Gori Guerrero 0.4%
--Tonight on Fox Sports 2 at 8 p.m. is Ultimate Fighter, Best of Pride at 9 p.m. and UFC Prime Time episodes two and three (three is great) from 10-11 p.m., followed by the UFC 20th anniversary special at 11 p.m. (also great) and UFC Tonight at 1 a.m.
--Jessie Godderz from TNA will be co-hosting the College Arm Wrestling League Championships. The filming takes place Sunday and Monday in Asbury Park, NJ at the Stone Pony. It will be taped for airing as a series of TV shows in 2014 on both ESPN U and ESPN 2.
--Paul London has been announced for the 1/25 ROH show in Pittsburgh, which is the night before the Royal Rumble in the same city.
--Johnny Gargano has now hit the two year mark as the Dragon Gate USA Open the Freedom gate champion.
--The Fight Network announced a doubleheader with One FC Warrior Spirit from Kuala Lampur, Malaysia at 7:30 a.m. Eastern time followed by Final Fight Championships kickboxing at 1:30 p.m. from Ljubljana, Slovenia. The shows will air on the Fight Network in Canada, ZON in Portugal, D-Smart in Turkey and ZAP in Angola and Mozambique. Vitor Pinto vs. Nobutatsu Suzuki headlines for One FC. James McSweeney, a former UFC fighter from TUF season 10, will be fighting on the Slovenia show against Stefan Traunmuffler.\
--Traditional Championship Wrestling Saturday night in Fort Smith, AR at the Convention Center for a TV taping. Many of the performers will be at World of wireless at 8500 Phoenix Ave., in Fort Smith from 4-6 p.m. pushing late ticket sales. The match features a battle for control of TCW with Thomas Parker's Posse of Tommy Dreamer & Scott Phoenix & Americos & Shane Williams against The Empire of Matt Riviera & Steve Anthony & Greg Anthony & Tim Storm. Lance Hoyt and Vordell Walker are on the undercard.