SUN. UPDATE: Preview of WWE TLC with odds, 50th anniversary of one of biggest deaths in wrestling history, More on A.J. Lee, Notes form UFC show, Final Battle, Cage of Death, Jericho and favorite second-tier promotion



By Dave Meltzer | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | @DaveMeltzerWON
 
        We're looking for your thoughts on tonight's TLC PPV as well as last night's UFC show with a thumbs up, thumbs down and 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 last night's ROH show in New York.
 
        WWE TLC PPV on Sunday from Houston's Toyota Center at 7:30 p.m.
 
*John Cena vs. Randy Orton in a TLC match to unify the WWE and World titles - What is notable is that this finish at this point must be being kept quiet.  The odds are Cena -175 and Orton +135, which are the closest odds for a WWE match in a long time, saying that the insiders are not betting.  The direction would appear to be either Cena vs. Bryan or Orton vs. Punk next, so it could go either way.  The match is scheduled to go long, that much is known.  I don't expect a lot of climbing and outrageous bumps like you usually get in one of these matches, but a lot of twists and turns.  Orton hasn't really delivered a great PPV match on this run, and his last one was a stinker.  I don't know what that means here, in the sense what his motivation level would be.
*1 vs. 3:  C.M. Punk vs. The Shield - Punk right now is -4500, so tons of betting on him.  Sounds like a Shield miscommunication finish.
*1 vs. 3:  Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatts - Wyatts are -3250 in the odds.  Again very one-sided.  I expect both the handicap matches to have drama given the babyface has the odds big-time against them.  If it goes this way, it would make sense for Bryan to go on first in the sense you see the odds are big against the face, but then the face prevails, rather in the other direction.
*Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro vs. Curtis Axel & Ryback vs. Big Show & Rey Mysterio for tag titles - Interesting that there are no lines up for this match.  Should be good, especially with Cesaro and Mysterio involved with the Rhodes Brothers.  May be unwieldy.  I've heard the decision has gone back-and-forth today between a first pinfall wins match and an elimination match.
*Big E Langston vs. Damien Sandow for IC title - Langston is a -32500 favorite.  I don't know anyone expects a title change, nor does it make sense to do a title change at this point. 
*A.J. Lee vs. Natalya for Divas title - Right now the odds are -3600 for A.J. Lee.  Given that the incident with Michelle Beadle was Wednesday, if the punishment was a title change, it should be reflected in the odds, although one line did take this match off the boards.
*Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango in the preshow match - Fandango is -2750
*There is expected to be one match added to the show depending on time, but when the timing of the show was put together, it was Brodus Clay & Tensai vs. R-Truth & Xavier Woods
        The lineup doesn't jump out as being a great one, but Houston is a strong market for fan reaction, so that would help.  The show's success, failure and reaction probably depends more on the main event than any event in a long time.  I'd say Ziggler vs. Fandango will probably be good because Ziggler will want to prove something, but the last time he was in the preshow match it was just okay.  The rest all looks decent, and even the handicap matches have good people but it's hard to do long matches with three-on-one. 
 
        Raw will be live on Monday night in Dallas.
 
        On Tuesday night, there will be a taping for the 12/23 Raw show in Austin, TX.
 
        On Wednesday night in San Antonio, there will be a taping for the 12/20 episode of Smackdown.  On Thursday night in Corpus Christi, there will be a taping for the 12/27 episode of Smackdown.
 
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        We've got a very news-heavy issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter up on the site today as well as a new back issue from 1996.
 
        We look at Daniel Bryan and the Slammy Awards show, and how this is an example of a rapidly changing business and why the mixed messages and changing economic structure make things so much different than any other time in history.
 
        We look at the last time the market changed wrestling history in a huge way and whether this will or won't.  We look at the angle at the end of the Slammys, how it did and didn't build TLC and if all, some or none if the matches it did build will even happen and if it matters.
 
        We look at all the awards, matches and angles from Monday as well.
 
        We also have a look at the proposed WWE Network and UFC Network.  We look at the similarities, differences and most important long-term goals, both how they are similar and how they are very different.  We look at costs of original programming, how many subscribers the network would have needed had it been a TV network if WrestleMania was on it this year.  We look at the business of PPV on the Internet alone, the highlights of each package and chances of each.
 
        We also look at the changes in the upper echelon of WWE, and what they mean for Stephanie McMahon, Michelle Wilson and George Barrios.  We look at who answers to who, how things are the same and how they are different.
 
        We also look at WrestleMania coming to Santa Clara, how the decision was made, what was unique about the decision, how many cities were after it, and looking at WrestleMania site decisions in the future.  We also look at what former NFL star in the 70s played a part in WrestleMania coming to Northern California.
 
        We've got notes on the death of UFC fighter Shane Del Rosario, more on what was believed to have been the heart condition that caused his death, what happened the past two weeks and more.
 
        We also have a feature on the UFC show in Australia and the greatest heavyweight fight in UFC history between Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva.  We look at the career turnaround of Hunt, judging the fight, why everyone accepted the draw, the potential of a rematch, business and ratings notes from the show and match-by-match coverage.
 
        We also look at Hulk Hogan and WWE, Stephanie McMahon's stock sales, Vince McMahon's WWE stock holdings, WWE's Tough pre-Christmas television taping schedule, what WWE star is their a name trademark issue with, a new WWE signing, Rock movie update and background on a new WWE announcing hire.  We also have more on post-Christmas live shows, business from the past week as well as highlights from all the weekend house shows.     
 
        We also have the 2013 Japanese media awards for pro wrestling.
 
        We've also got a look at the biggest non-WWE pro wrestling event of the year, the 1/4 show at the Tokyo Dome.  We've got the complete lineup, an analysis of the card and recent history involving the headliners.
 
        We've also got notes on the New Japan tag team tournament, as well as a look at the final night show.
 
        We also look back at the career of Akira Taue with his retirement, as well as his farewell show report.
 
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        We also have a look at the ratings of all the major shows.

        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:
 
--A look at this year's All Japan Real World Tag League tournament
 
--Next New Japan iPPV notes
 
--New Japan tag tourney rundown
 
--Dos Caras' final match in Japan
 
--Unique wrestling attendance record set this week
 
--Jake Roberts and wrestling
 
--Biggest stars of the Pacific Northwest
 
--A look at ROH's Final Battle show
 
--Maria Kanellis talks heat with Bella Twins
 
--Why the A.J. Styles situation makes TNA look bad
 
--What happened behind the scenes
 
--What Styles will be doing next
 
--The world of Indies
 
--Update on Sting
 
--A look at all of TNA's TV through January 9th and where the angles are going
 
--Tons of new UFC fights
 
--What's up with GSP
 
--Time Magazine lists Ronda Rousey as a game changer
 
--Full season ratings notes for Rousey vs. Tate TUF
 
--Update on UFC injures
 
--Ben Askren on what went down in UFC negotiations
 
--More on Dana White's new reality show
 
--Pacquiao-Rios PPV vs. UFC the next week
 
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SUNDAY'S NEWS UPDATE
 
--The final episode of Total Divas airs tonight, featuring Daniel  Bryan proposing to Brie Bella, Nikki being concerned where her relationship with John Cena is headed, Eva Marie's father freaks out over her engagement and more fun.  The new season is expected to start airing in a few months.
 
--Today's birthdays include Kendall Windham (46), Elix Skipper (46) and Eric Young (34).
 
--Today is a major day in Japan.  It is the 50th anniversary of the death of Rikidozan, who was 39 when he died after being stabbed by an infected knife a week earlier in a night club bathroom and developing peritonitis.  Rikidozan as a cultural figure in wrestling would rank only with El Santo historically.  One of his matches with Lou Thesz did an 87.5 rating, which does mean that 87.5% of Japanese people in 1957 were watching the match on TV live.  If you think Hulk Hogan or Jim Londos or Gorgeous George would even compare, you just have no idea.  a few years back when NTV listed the 50 most important people in history (not Japanese history but world history, skewed of course to the Japanese mentality), Rikidozan was one spot ahead of John F. Kennedy and in the top 20.  If ABC or CBS did such a special, and someone suggested Hulk Hogan for the top 500, they'd be laughed out of the room.
 
--Brady Boone was 40 when he died in an auto accident on this day in  1995.  Russ Haas was 27 when he died on this day in 2001 of a heart attack.  He was the brother of Charlie Haas.  Hans Mortier was 86 when he died on this day three years ago. (thanks to Georgia Wrestling history)
 
--Several sources in WWE said A.J. Lee cursed out Michelle Beadle in front of many people on Wednesday at the Tribute to the Troops show.  It's been the talk of people backstage at the show, both wrestlers and non-wrestlers.  There's public damage control of the story going on and as far as what happens, who knows.  It is notable that the odds were long in favor of Lee in the match tonight, so unless something changes very late, it would appear she's keeping the title.  Things can always change, but the odds and who wins on WWE PPV's have been way better than 90% accurate of late.
 
--Baseball player Ryan Freel, who committed suicide last year, was diagnosed with CTE at http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/ryan-freel-becomes-first-mlb-diagnoised-chronic-traumatic-202553277--mlb.html  That's scary because the head trauma in major league baseball is minimal compared to other sports, but I don't know what sports he played growing up.    
 
--Dana White last night attempted to make a match between Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz for the 3/15 show in Dallas.  Diaz turned it down.  White said he didn't ask why, but Diaz did indicate he would take a title match, and would be interested in fighting in May.
 
--The price for UFC 168 was raised from $44.95 to $49.95 for SD and $54.95 to $59.95 for HD.  That's the show on 12/28 with Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva and Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate.  It will go back down with the 2/1 show.  White said Lorenzo Fertitta was ultimately the one who made the decision to raise the price for one show only.
 
--No three week Prime Time series was done for Weidman vs. Silva.  It was a decision made due to the combination of the expense of doing the show, and the low number of viewers the last two versions of the show have done on FS 1.  The show was doing less than one-forth the viewers on FS 1 than it was getting on FX.
 
--Dana White was furious that Cody McKenzie last night fought with trunks he had just purchased, which had the price tag still on them.  Ref Herb Dean got one of the price tags off, but may have missed an another tag.  White said it's up to the people in the back inspect whata people were wearing before they go out so he was more mad at his people and his company than McKenzie.  McKenzie evidently forgot his gear.
 
--Regarding UFC 172 in April, with Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira, and the site, Dana White said they have a site but it's not 100% locked in so didn't want to say where.  Reports from those in both MMA and WWE (because it's one of their regular buildings) have told us it will be the Baltimore Arena, which is a surprise only because the capacity is smaller than most UFC PPVs. 
 
--WWE announced shows on 2/13, 2/14 and 2/15 in Saudi Arabia at the Green Halls Stadium in Riyadh.  Tickets go on sale Monday.  John Cena, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Mark Henry, Ryback and Kofi Kingston are advertised.  Flash Entertainment, which owns 10 percent of UFC, are the ones bringing WWE to the country.  It's notable they are now bringing WWE into the country more than UFC even though they have a stake in UFC>  
 
--The finish of Final Battle was that after Adam Cole had won the three-way main event over Michael Elgin and Jay Briscoe, due to help from Matt Hardy (Cole & Hardy are forming a group), Cole & Hardy laid everyone out when Chris Hero arrived and knocked out both Hardy and Cole and announced he was back and challenged Hero for the title.  Really hot ending to the show.
 
--Final Battle is not expected to be posted on the ROH web site until tomorrow.
 
--RFVideonow.com has a replay of the CZW  Cage of Death up right now.  It was said that they had their most buys and had no issues because the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ has a great Internet connection.
 
--RF Video also conducted a interview today with Davey Richards, who worked on the Voorhees show when his booking was canceled by ROH.  He's talking his entire career including his WWE tryout stuff.  Probably would have been best for him to wait until after WWE made a decision on him.  There is also another video being done with Richards and Gabe Sapolsky together talking face-to-face for the first time since they had their falling out.  Richards was originally to be the top star of Dragon Gate USA, but instead left to go to ROH.
 
--Notes on WWE Classics on Demand right now
Cowboy Bill Watts vs. Terry Funk for the North American title in Florida
Bill Watts & Jerry Brisco vs. Robert & Ron Fuller 7/2/74
Dusty Rhodes vs. Bill Watts 10/22/74
Bill Watts & Jim Duggan & Terry Taylor vs. The Freebirds 7/21/86
DDP & Kevin Nash vs. 3 Count 12/4/00
John Cena vs. Kurt Angle first blood 1/2/06
DDP vs. Sting 12/9/99
Eddy Guerrero & Juventud Guerrera vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. & Billy Kidman 12/28/98
Michelle McCool vs.. Maryse 12/26/08
WCW on TBS 8/20/88
Raw 12/19/94
Tribute to the Troops 2012
Armageddon 1999
Nitro 1/19/98
Raw 1/1998
Prime  Time Wrestling 12/23/86
 
--Lance Storm has a column about his wrestling over the last year at http://www.stormwrestling.com/121413.html  He's wrestled more matches this year than any year since he originally believed he was retiring as a wrestler   
 
--Chris Jericho just returned from his Australia Fozzy tour.  He joked that he was on the way to Houston.  If he was, I don't think he would joke it.  His game is always to keep his returns a secret.
 
ON THIS DAY IN PRO WRESTLING HISTORY (thanks to Graeme Cameron and Brian Hoops)
1977 - In one of the most famous matches in Japanese history, Dory Funk Jr. & Terry Funk beat The Sheik & Abdullah the Butcher via DQ in the finals of the first-ever Real World Tag League.  This is the match that got the Funks over in Japan as babyfaces.
1978 - Dory Funk Jr. & Terry Funk went to a draw with Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta in the tournament finals, but advanced based on the most points. 
1979 - Abdullah the  Butcher beat Carlos Colon for the Puerto Rican heavyweight title
1980 - Rimi Yokota beat Nancy Kumi to win the Japanese womens' title.  Rimi Yokota became Jaguar Yokota, the first truly awesome Japanese woman wrestler, who was the forerunner and trainer of Manami Toyota.
1980 - Alfonso Dantes beat Raul Mata in Mexico City to win the NWA world light heavyweight title
1994 - MS 1 beat Rock (not the one you're thinking of) to win the Mexican national cruiserweight title
1995 - Perro Aguayo beat Cibernetico in Mexico City to win the WWA heavyweight title      
2002 - At the Armageddon PPV in Fort Lauderdale, Booker T & Goldust beat Christian & Chris Jericho, Lance Storm & William Regal and The Dudleys to win the tag titles in an elimination match, Kurt Angle beat Big Show to win the WWE title and HHH beat Shawn Michaels in a 2/3 fall match to win world title.
 
WHICH OF THESE PROMOTIONS DO YOU HAVE THE MOST INTEREST IN?
New Japan 39.6%
TNA 20.9%
ROH 20.6%
Bellator 6.2%
Dragon Gate 3.4%
AAA 3.1%
WSOF 2.5%
CMLL 1.2%
Wrestle-1 1.2%
NOAH 0.9%
All Japan 0.3%
 
WHO WAS THE BEST UFC FIGHTER OF ALL-TIME?
Anderson Silva 43.1%
GSP 23.0%
Randy Couture 9.9%
Royce Gracie 7.0%
Frank Shamrock 3.4%
Matt Hughes 3.1%
Jon Jones 3.1%
Chuck Liddell 3.1%
Tito Ortiz 1.6%
Cain Velasquez 1.3%
Jose Aldo 0.8%
B.J. Penn 0.5%
 
POLL ON SMACKDOWN
Excellent 17.0%
Good 34.8%
Average 29.5%
Fair 5.4%
Poor 13.4%
        39.8% of those responding didn't see the show
 
--Mike Sempervive went 4-0 last night on the UFC on FOX show.  Me, Josh Nason, Mike Sawyer, Todd Martin and Oliver Copp went 3-1.  Sawyer, Sempervive and Martin all got Demetrious Johnson right.  But Martin and Sawyer picked Michael McDonald over Urijah Faber.
 
--We are sorry to report on the death of Debi Simmons, the wife of longtime Georgia wrestling referee and office worker Bobby Simmons, who passed away yesterday afternoon.  Best wishes to Bobby Simmons during this trying time.
 
--A story on Adam Cole is at http://www.newsday.com/sports/pro-wrestling/adam-cole-makes-a-name-with-ring-of-honor-1,6604994
 
--Sick Nick Mondo returned to wrestling at the CZW Cage of Death show last night in Voorhees, NJ
 
--The Monday Night Mayhem radio show is leaving the airwaves after ten years with a farewell show on Monday with Scott Hudson and Jim Molineaux as guests.
 
--Austin Aries interview at http://www.youtu.be/WD_GQHp4hVo 
 
--In Your Face Wrestling on 1/11 in Ballston Spa, NY at the Community Center.
 
--Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling from last night in East Carondelet, IL before a standing room crowd of 340 fans.  This was the best crowd they've done, even in a blizzard, with more tickets sold in advance than the old capacity due to the build of Powers vs. Flanagan.  Dave Vaughn b Jake Parnell, Jim Hoffarth b Max Archer, Gary Jackson b Waco-DQ, Chaz Wesson & Daniel Eads & Bobby D b Ax Allwardt & Frank Wyatt & Joker, Ron Powers NC Flash Flanagan, Ken Kasa b Jake Dirden, Ricky Cruz b Alexandre Rudolph (thanks to Larry Matysik and Patrick Brandmeyer) 
 
--Lucha Xtreme TV from last night in Fresno:  Crimson Plague b Zero, Suburban Commandos b Al Azar & Kevin El Divino, JR Kratos b Mustafa Saed-DQ, Jeff Cobb b Wiseguy (thanks to Jon Southerland)
 
--TV Guide had a note on the Scooby Doo WWE DVD movie coming out on 3/25.  John Cena and Scooby share the cover of the DVD box. 
 
--Rob Conway interview at http://theageofdvr.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/interview-nwa-world-heavyweight-champion-ironman-rob-conway/
 
--Some more news articles from Wes Jones
 
http://www.nola.com/festivals/index.ssf/2013/12/monday_night_raw_will_continue.html (The Times Picayune has a story on Titus O'Neal and Wrestlemania/Raw coming to New Orleans. Discusses O'Neal's background playing defensive end at the University of Florida. O'Neal discusses working with Darren Young)
 
http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/the-squared-circle/Combat-Zone-Wrestling-ready-to-turn-heads-at-Cage-of-Death-15.html (philly.com profiles CZW Cage of Death 15. In particular the article focuses on owner DJ Hyde. Discusses purchasing the company from John Zandig, his football background and the amount of violence in the promotion)
 
http://www.phillyburbs.com/00redesign/blogs/joe-mason/richards-looks-forward-to-defending-belt-in-philly/article_ba44ddb3-81be-5627-96e2-dab9c73a1f68.html (phillyburbs.com interviews Stevie Richards defending his Extreme Rising Heavyweight title at their big show on 12/28. “I have mixed emotions about the show because I can’t wait to get back to the ECW Arena,” Richards said. “It’s the place where I made a name for myself and that will be good. I don’t know who it’s going to be against. They haven’t told me.” Richards talks about DDP yoga)
 
http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2013/12/tlc_ppv_preview_roman_reigns.php (Houston Press interviews Roman Reigns. Not too much other than he states he is a member of the Anoai family making him related to the Rock and the late Yokozuna)
 
 
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/more-sports/wrestling/Sushil-and-Kurt-Angle-bring-two-worlds-of-wrestling-together/articleshow/27315854.cms (Times of India profiles Kurt Angle meeting two time Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar. Kumar mentions to Angle he heard he was going to try out for the London Olympics and Angle admitted his body was not up to it. Angle explains to him money was a big motivation of leaving amateur wrestling for pro wrestling and some of the differences between the two
 

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