FRI UPDATE: Big weekend preview, one of UFC's biggest shows of 2013, is Andy Kaufman ALIVE?, Jones update, Rampage update, fighters pick main, 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 reports from tonight WWE shows in London at the O2 Arena (John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio) and Marseilles, France (Randy Orton vs. Big Show), as well as tonight's ROH show in Dearborn, MI (Adam Cole vs. Jimmy Jacobs for ROH title, Matt Taven vs. Zach Gowen for TV title, Jay Lethal vs. Eddie Edwards, Michael Elgin vs. Mark Briscoe, Davey Richards vs. Roderick Strong, Kyle O'Reilly vs. ACH vs. Caprice Coleman and Bobby Fish vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Cedric Alexander) at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

We're also looking for reports on Thursday's WWE show in Rouen, France and Wednesday's WWE show in Zurich, Switzerland.

Bellator tonight from Atlantic City

On Spike.com at 6:30 p.m.

Sergio de Silva (136) vs.; Rob Sullivan (135.6)

Dan Matala (145.8) vs. Ryan Cafaro (146)

Najim Wall (205) vs. Liam McGeary (204.5)

Anthony Morrison (147.8) vs. Kenny Foster (149.7)

Nah Shon Burrell (179.3) vs. Jesus Martinez (179.5)

Jason Lambert (203.5) vs. Tom DeBlass (204.5)

Chip Moraza-Polland (169.8) vs. Sam Oropeza (173.8)

Spike TV at 9 p.m.

Justin Wilcox (145.5) vs. Patricio Pitbull Freire (145.8) in the featherweight tournament finals

Tom McKenna (135.3) vs. Marcos Galvao (135.9)

Vitali Minakov (249) vs. Alexander Volkov (235) for the heavyweight championship

Quinton Rampage Jackson (210) vs. Joey Beltran (208.5)

Yes folks, Rampage didn't make weight, as did a bunch of guys on the undercard. They just changed them to catch weight fights.

Smackdown tonight:

Usos vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan

Natalya vs. Tamina Snuka

Titus O'Neil & Darren Young & R-Truth vs. Heath Slater & Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal

John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio arm wrestling

Naomi & Cameron vs. Bella Twins

Great Khali vs. Hunico & Camacho

C.M. Punk & Daniel Bryan vs. Curtis Axel & Ryback

There is also a Legacy Fighting Championship show on AXS tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

UFC's 20th anniversary show is Saturday from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas

Prelims at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time (should be available on this web site at that time)

Cody Donovan vs. Gian Villante

Sergio Pettis vs. Will Campuzano

Jason High vs. Anthony Lapsley

Prelims at 8 p.m. on FS 1

Edwin Figueroa vs. Erik Perez

Brian Ebersole vs. Rick Story

Thales Leitis vs. Ed Herman

Donald Cerrone vs. Evan Dunham

PPV at 10 p.m.

Ali Bagautinov vs. Timothy Elliott

Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley

Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald

Chael Sonnen vs. Rashad Evans

Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks for the welterweight title

WWE finishes its European tour on Saturday with shows in Minehead, England and Vienna, Austria.

Dragon Gate USA has an iPPV on Saturday night at 9 p.m. at www.WWNLive.com from Elmhurst, NY at the Queensboro Elks Lodge:

Jon Davis vs. Mr. Touchdown

Caleb Konley vs. Steven Walters

Ricochet vs. Biff Busick

Trent Baretta vs Chuck Taylor

Jimmy Susumu vs. Anthony Nese

AR Fox vs. Shane Strickland vs. Andrew Everett vs. Fire Ant - If Fox is pinned or submits, the person who beats him wins the Evolve title

Genki Horiguchi vs. Rich Swann for the Open the Brave Gate title

Johnny Gargano vs. Masaaki Mochizuki

Young Bucks vs. Bravado Brothers for Open the United Gate title

Dragon Gate USA also has an iPPV on Sunday at 7 p.m. from the Brooklyn Lyceum

Jon Davis vs. Steven Walters

Chuck Taylor vs. Mr. Touchdown

Jigsaw & Fire Ant vs. Caleb Konley & Andre Everett

Genki Horiguchi & Jimmy Susumu vs. Bravado Brothers

Trent Baretta vs. Rich Swann

Young Bucks vs. AR Fox & Masaaki Mochizuki

Ricochet vs. Anthony Nese

Johnny Gargano vs. Chris Hero for the Open the Freedom Gate title .

Raw will be billed as "Raw Country," live from Nashville.

Smackdown and Main Event will be taped on Tuesday in Atlanta.

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.

Today's News, Notes and Links

-- Jimmy Hart told the Baltimore Sunthat Hulk Hogan wants everyone to know that he will be at WrestleMania 30 even if he has to buy a ticket. He wants to wrestle. And they've started the ball rolling on hype for a potential opponent -- John Cena.

-- We will have a new After Dark Radio tonight but it was already taped yesterday so don't worry about sending in any emails and obviously we won't be taking any calls tonight. We should be back to the normal schedule next week. The show will be up on the site late this evening.

-- Speaking of After Dark, and this has a wrestling tie-in, the brother of Andy Kaufman believes he was the victim of a hoax wherein he became convinced that Andy faked his own death. It's a fascinating story, and one of the individuals interviewed for this story on CNNwas Jerry Lawler, who of course had the famous wrestling feud with Kaufman. This story has gotten headlines all over the world this week.

-- Video of Kaufman's supposed daughter is here.

-- It was announced that Jon Jones would be defending the UFC light heavyweight title against Glover Texeira on February 22nd in Las Vegas. This news was out less than 24 hours before it was announced that Jones had scratched out of the fight. Dana White didn't really have a good explanation about what happened but did say the fight was still going to take place and would probably happy in March. "He's not injured," Dana noted, which made him pulling out even weirder.

-- Dana said they didn't have any interest in Ben Askren, who Bellator released yesterday. He said Bellator had cut him from his deal while he was still champion, which made them look like fools, but also that Askren had "barely beaten Jay Hieron" and thus should probably sign somewhere else (he mentioned World Series of Fighting as a possibility) and work his way up to UFC from there. Askren said UFC had interest as of a few months ago and didn't believe anything had really changed. His management company has forwarded all release material from Bellator to UFC. WSOF has already made Askren an offer.

-- Dana said he felt that Dominick Cruz could actually have fought earlier and might have been stalling, training harder than ever to work off ring rust before his unification match with Renan Barao. Dana said he got some information recently that led him to believe this. He said he didn't blame Dominick because nobody in their right mind should want to take two years off and then fight Renan Barao.

-- Just want to comment on the article herewhere a bunch of UFC stars predict Saturday's fight. Nearly every single solitary one of them picks Johny Hendricks, the underdog, over GSP. For the record, the last time I remember UFC sending one of these out it was before the Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman fight. Nearly every single solitary fighter predicted a win by Weidman. At the time I saw it and thought it must be some sort of hype article to get people thinking that maybe Weidman was going to beat the guy, but apparently a lot of the fighters who made predictions actually thought Weidman was going to win. Anyway, although it appeared very strange that so many fighters picked the underdog, at the end of the day, Weidman did win. I personally don't think Hendricks is beating GSP Saturday night, but I also didn't think Weidman was going to win and he did.

-- Rampage Jackson, who fights this weekend, told MMA Junkie that he now had no interest in fighting Tito Ortiz. I hope Bjorn Rebney knew what he was getting into when he signed this guy. This is only the beginning.

-- If you missed last night's Ultimate Fighter, the Julianna Pena semi-final fight is up here.

-- Chael Sonnen on CBS radio talked about CM Punk and Punk's supposed interest in doing MMA (wouldn't hold my breath on this, by the way): "I mean, he’s given some serious consideration to coming over here and competing and doing this. He’s talked about it a number of times, and I don’t’ think he will personally, but I know he’s prepared to for a very long time. It’s kind of the reverse Brock Lesnar. Brock Lesnar knew how to wrestle, came here and then went right into wrestling. I think that Punk is learning how to fight, and has visions of coming from wrestling over to fighting. So we’ll see how all that works out, but like he says, he’s the best in the world at what he does."

-- The UFC 167 pre-fight press conference is here.

-- Brendan Schaub signed a new six-fight deal with UFC.

-- Pat Miletich said he was making his first MMA bet in his life, putting money down on Robbie Lawler since he's an underdog against Rory MacDonald on Saturday night.

-- Henry Cejudo (2008 gold medalist) failed to show up for weigh-ins yesterday due to a stomach flu and dizziness from weight-cutting, so his main event against Saul Elizondo on tonight's Legacy Fighting Championships show on AXS TV has been canceled.

-- On Saturday December 7th and Sunday the 8th, Ring of Honor Wrestling will hold another of its Try-Out/Seminar Camps at the ROH Dojo in Bristol, PA! Covering all aspects of professoinal wrestling, previous participants have referred to these experiences as some of the most educational weekends of their wrestling careers. Whether it be a person with a year of experience or one with ten years under their belt, every individual who has taken part in these camps has sung the praises of our staff and of the knowledge they gleaned during their two days in Bristol. Our staff this camp will consist of Match Maker/Head trainer Delirious, Camp Administrator Kevin Kelly, Former ROH Pure & TV Champion Jay Lethal, Manager & House of Truth Trainer Truth Martini, ROH senior official Todd Sinclair, and Brutal Bob Evans. In addition to that wealth of knowledge and experience, we are excited to announce that the best tag team in ROH history has signed on as instructors for the weekend. MARK & JAY BRISCOE join our camp staff on the 7th & 8th! Please note that there are under 10 spots remaining! For complete details on the camp, and to get the application form, please click here (http://www.rohwrestling.com/news/next-roh-try-out-seminar-has-already-been-set). Slots are filling up fast so do not wait until the last minute to sign up. This is a truly unique experience for every wrestler looking to further their careers. Just ask the men like Michael Elgin, Matt Taven, Adam Page, Michael Bennett, and Tommaso Ciampa who participated in the past!

-- Video with Johnny Gargano herecelebrating two years as the DGUSA champion. Two years is a long damn time.

-- Latest from Jay Briscoe is up here.

-- The DVD showcasing the historic and successful NWA Invasion Houston event featuring the stars of the National Wrestling Alliance and New Japan Pro Wrestling which took place on October 18 in Humble, TX is now available at NWA Houston events and online at http://nwahouston.com/shopsite_sc/page2.html.

-- Today it was announced that for the first time ever many of the stars of the old Mid- South Wrestling organization will reunite at a fanfest on Friday April 4th feature a fan convention in the afternoon, an once-in-a-lifetime Q and A session with the stars, a Cajun style dinner and a wrestling event featuring the wrestling stars of today with the stars of the Mid-South Wrestling organization as honored guests. The Mid-South Legends Fanfest will take place in the Sigur Center in Chalmette, LA just six miles from the center of New Orleans. The Sigur Center throughout the late 1970’s and 1980’s was the New Orleans home of Mid-South Wrestling. Such Mid-South stars as Danny Hodge, Bill Dundee, Bobby Eaton, The Rock and Roll Express, Mr. Wrestling 2, Porkchop Cash and Kamala have committed to attending this event. More stars will be announced later.

-- Extreme Rising Pro Wrestling is happy to announce that ticket sales for the Saturday, December 28th 2013 event “Unfinished Business” at the Arena (former ECW Arena) 7 W. Ritner Street (corners of Swanson and Ritner) in South Philly are selling extremely well and quickly. Bell time is at 7pm. www.extremetixs.com THIS EVENT IS A TV TAPING. *JUST RELEASED NEW VIDEO* http://youtu.be/0UG1PHSH7LA. SEATING UPDATE: Row 1 & 10 are SOLD OUT! Row 2 is halfway sold out! Row 3 has only 6 tickets remaining! Extreme Rising “Unfinished Business” is on its way to selling out. Purchase your tickets today. We will be announcing three ticket outlets in Northeast Philly, Bucks County, and South Philly to purchase tickets in person next week. Purchase tickets now at www.extremetixs.com for the best seats available.

-- Local Jersey Boy does good article on Robbie E here.

-- POLL ON ULTIMATE FIGHTER
Excellent 13.0%
Good 34.8%
Average 39.1%
Fair 4.3%
Poor 8.7%
48.9% of those responding didn't see the show

WHO WAS THE BEST OF THESE HALL OF FAMERS
Hulk Hogan 61.1%
Danny Hodge 13.5%
Antonio Inoki 10.3%
Killer Kowalski 6.3%
Gene Kiniski 5.2%
Don Leo Jonathan 2.0%
Tom Jenkins 1.2%
Rayo de Jalisco 0.4%

WHO WAS THE BEST OF THESE HALL OF FAMERS
Jerry Lawler 45.5%
Strangler Lewis 15.4%
Jim Londos 12.6%
Ernie Ladd 11.1%
Mil Mascaras 9.5%
Akira Maeda 5.1%
Earl McCready 0.4%
Leroy McGuirk 0.4%.

-- NWA Southern All-Star Wrestling will be returning to Millersville, TN, tonight with November to Remember! Two of the best tag teams in the NWA will be in action tonight with both sets of titles on the line. The NWA Southern Tag Team Champions The Untouchables (Jeremiah Plunkett and Drew Haskins) will face off against the NWA Mid-Atlantic Champions The Lords of Kaos (Damien Wayne and Lance Erikson). These two teams are no strangers to each other and the last time that they were in the same arena, blood was shed and threats were made. Who will walk away with both sets of titles tonight?

-- ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC), presented by Tune Talk, captivated the packed crowd in attendance at the legendary Stadium Putra for ONE FC: WARRIOR SPIRIT. Fans were treated to a night of exhilarating pumping action, culminating in a clash between Adriano Moraes and Yusup Saadulaev. Both the Brazilian and Russian refused to back down and traded blow for blow in a tantalizing three round contest that impressed the Malaysian crowd in attendance. Saadulaev showed why he is one of the most exciting fighters in the world and his Judo throws and submission attempts arguably earned him a razor-thin split decision victory.

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