The Observer is now in its 31st 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 television shows over the past week and results from all the major arena events.
Also in this week's issue:
--What cost one of the world's oldest promotions its main TV outlet
--The return of Sin Cara to Mexico
--New star from Japan debuting in CMLL
--A look at the death of Mini Chessman
--AAA building to its first major show of the year with the latest angles
--Dragon Gate's return to the U.S. later this month
--Minoru Tanaka 20th anniversary show
--Update on KENTA after his WWE tryout
--What former TNA star is headed to New Japan
--Update on Daisuke Sekimoto
--More on the Nancy Argentino death case from 1983 involving Jimmy Snuka
--More on the arrest of Matt Hardy on New Year's Day
--Jim Ross debuts on a podcaster
--New wrestling book
--Update on Jeff Jarrett's proposed new promotion
--Why the sale of TNA fell through
--Full details on a deal Jeff Jarrett brought to TNA leading to a PPV show in a few weeks
--Lots of notes on plans for the PPV show
--How a last minute change at TV this past week impacts that show
--A look at TNA's next two PPV shows and what is planned
--What Japanese star is scheduled to come to TNA as a full-timer
--What hire TNA may make that could cost them a business partner
--Update on Kurt Angle
--What battle of Hall of Famers is being built toward this summer
--Future of Kurt Angle
--Why a planned title change fell through
--Lots of prospective interesting PPV matches for TNA
--Update on MVP in TNA and why he's using that name
--Update on the Lockdown PPV
--Lots of notes on the TNA tour of the U.K.
--Jessy Sorensen talks more about his departure from TNA, what he said he was promised and more
--A look at the 2015 TNA tour of the U.K.
--Details of every show TNA ran in the U.K., including a house show, a PPV show and the next five weeks of television
--A look at how the angles will play out to build Lockdown
--Lots more on the Julianna Pena story including the training partner speaks
--Complete list of Pena injuries
--Where Pena could have been by the end of the year
--UFC 2014 schedule in Canada
--More UFC overseas events planned
--Ticket sales for all the upcoming shows including two big surprises
--Tons of new UFC matches made
--Notes on a world title tournament upcoming
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)a
*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)
*September 12, 2005 (History of Mid South Wrestling)
*October 10, 2005 (Life and Times of the Ultimate Warrior)
*November 21, 2005 (Life and Times of Eddy Guerrero and Crusher, double issue $6 on its own and $7 overseas)
*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)
*January 16, 2006 (2005 Awards double issue, $6 or $7 overseas)
*April 3, 2006 (Story of Ann Calvello and the history of Roller Derby--many called this the best issue of the Observer ever)
*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) .
*December 31, 2007 (History of Ric Flair and the heyday of wrestling at the Greensboro Coliseum)
*January 21, 2008 (2007 Awards issue, double issue $7 on its own, $8 overseas)
*March 17, 2008 (Life and times of Johnny Weaver)
*March 24, 2008 (Life and times of Gary Hart)
*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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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.
MONDAY'S NEWS UPDATE
--Bryan and I will be back tonight with Wrestling Observer radio, covering Raw and all the weekend activities. You can e-mail questions to the show to
--Both WWE tapings are sold out, both tonight at the Staples Center and tomorrow in Ontario at the Citizens Bank Arena. It's rare these days for a Smackdown sellout.
--One would expect they would start tonight promoting the Raw show on the 24th in Green Bay, because that's a show they are looking for a big rating out of to launch the network and bringing in many big names, including Hulk Hogan and Undertaker.
--It was 30 years ago today that David Von Erich died in a Tokyo hotel room after being out the night before at Ribera's Steak House in Tokyo, before the opening night of a tour.
--One of the most notable tournaments ever in pro wrestling started on this date 41 years ago, the tournament for the original PWF championship for All Japan Pro Wrestling. With the exception of Wilbur Snyder, everyone in the tournament ended up in the Hall of Fame--ultimate winner Giant Baba, Bruno Sammartino, Terry Funk, Abdullah the Butcher, The Destroyer, Don Leo Jonathan, Pat O'Connor and Bobo Brazil. The two-and-a-half week tournament ended with Baba as the winner, which I'm sure shocks everyone. .
--In yesterday's report regarding Betty White, I believe she was a panelist on the TV show "What's My Line" when June Byers was the guest and they had to figure out she was a woman wrestler. Yesterday we reported it as Moolah. Also from yesterday's report, the Night of the Mask in Miami was in 1983, not 1982. (thanks to Charles Warburton, John Lisa. Colin Brackenridge and others)
--Everette Marshall, a world champion in the 30s, passed way on this day in 1973 at the age of 67.
--Curt Hennig, one of the best wrestlers of the last 30 years, passed away at the age of 44 on this day in 2003.
--Lisa Varon, Tara and Victoria turned 43 today.
--Tyler Manawaroa, who is on the current season of Ultimate Fighter on Team Australia, was discovered having posted a racist instagram, by a castmate, Kajan Johnson. Johnson found it and tweeted it to coach Patrick Cote. Manawaroa has since apologized. Manawaroa posted it 18 months ago and as of the weekend, it was still on his account.
--CNN's coverage of Michael Sam, the University of Missouri defensive lineman, coming out that he's gay in mentioning other famous gay pro athletes, listed UFC's Liz Carmouche and WWE's Darren Young, along with Jason Collins, Brittney Griner and Robbie Rogers.
--The web site www.GeorgiaWrestlingHistory.com
has a story today on a flight 45 years ago today, scheduled to go from San Juan to Miami, that ended up hijacked to Cuba, that included Abdullah the Butcher and another pro wrestler, Duncan McTavish. Abdullah ended up being something of a key part of the story as he wanted to attack the hijacker.
--Steve Austin will be doing a podcast with Zeb Colter today. I don't know if he's taping at the Staples Center but it would make sense that would be the case. Austin will also be attending UFC on 2/22 in Las Vegas.
--For those traveling to Dallas on 3/15 for UFC 171, the Texas Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be that afternoon in Fort Worth. Among those scheduled to be there are Stan Hansen, and the families of Terry Gordy, Skandor Akbar and Matt Borne.
--UFC has legally taken down the web site www.cagewatcher.eu
, a European site that had illegally streamed two recent PPV shows including last week's show from Newark, NJ. UFC has obtained site records including both e-mail and IP records, and user names of those who have watched the shows on that site, as well as chat transcripts. The Lonstein Law Office and UFC will be attempting to prosecute fans who legally watched the shows.
ON THIS DAY IN PRO WRESTLING HISTORY (thanks to Graeme Cameron and Brian Hoops)
1955 - Buddy Rogers & Great Scott beat Stan Holek & Big Bill Miller to win the American tag team title in Columbus, OH
1965 - Johnny Valentine beat Dory Funk Sr. in Lubbock to win the North American title
1967 - Pedro Morales & Ricky Romero beat Hard Boiled Haggerty & El Shereef to win the WWA tag title in Los Angels
1970 - Jack Brisco beat Masa Saito in Tampa to win the Florida title and Mephisto & Dante beat Sailor Art Thomas & Thunderbolt Patterson to win the Southern tag titles.
1973 - Terry Funk beat Johnny Valentine in St. Louis to win the Missouri State title. This was a famous match because Funk used the ring bell on Valentine in front of the ref to set up the spinning toe hold. Sam Muchnick was not at the taping when the match took place, got there later, and was so furious that he ordered that Funk would have to lose the title to Valentine as soon as possible. But then Valentine suffered a heart attack, which is how Gene Kiniski ended up winning the title fro Funk.
1978 - Hector Guerrero beat The Masked Canadian (Roddy Piper) in Los Angeles to win the Americas title
1979 - Giant Baba beat Abdullah the Butcher in Chicago to win the PWF title
1980 - The Matador (Jerry Stubbs) & Mike Stallings beat Dennis Condrey & David Shults to win the held up Southeastern tag title in Knoxville
1992 - Kamala beat Koko B. Ware for the USWA title in Memphis and Brian Christopher beat Tom Prichard to win the Texas title on the same show.
1995 - Tony St. Clair beat Robbie Brookside in Burgess to win the Ken Joyce Trophy
1996 - Abdullah the Butcher beat Mabel to win the Universal title in Caguas, Puerto Rico
2000 - Zap I & Zap T (Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe) beat Commando Boilshoi & Reiko Amano in Tokyo to win the JWP tag titles
--24 years ago today was the first New Japan sellout at the Tokyo Dome, with 53,900 fans packing the place. The show had a key back story in that Ric Flair vs. Keiji Muto was to headline, but issues developed between Flair, more with WCW, and it fell apart. To save the show, New Japan president Seiji Sakaguchi called Giant Baba and wanted to work together, opening up a business relationship. The key matches on the show were the three All Japan vs. New Japan matches, as well as the pro wrestling debut of Koji Kitao. The show did a 23.2 television rating, and that was airing on a several day tape delay. The rating was actually more for Kitao, who was the biggest star in sumo who had just been kicked out, and he drew the mainstream attention.
Takayuki Iizuka (today's Takashi Iizuka) b Osamu Matsuda (who later became El Samurai)
Naoki Sano & Pegasus Kid (Chris Benoit) b Jushin Liger & Akira Nogami
Tatsutoshi Goto & Hiro Saito & Norio Honaga b Kuniaki Kobayashi & Hiroshi Hase (now a Japanese senator) & Kantaro Hoshino
US vs. USSR: Brad Rheingans (1976 Olympic wrestler) b Victor Zangiev (a character in the street fighter video game)
US vs. USSR: Steve Williams (4-time All American wrestler) b Salman Hashimikov (four time world freestyle wrestling champion)
AWA title: Masa Saito b Larry Zbyszko to win title
New Japan vs. All Japan: Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (AJ) b Kengo Kimura & Osamu Kido
New Japan vs. All Japan: Genichiro Tenryu & Tiger Mask (All Japan, who a few months later unmasked as Mitsuharu Misawa) b Riki Choshu & George Takano via count out
New Japan vs. All Japan, IWGP heavyweight title: Big Van Vader (NJ) DDQ Stan Hansen
Koji Kitao b Bam Bam Bigelow
Lou Thesz ref: Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi b Masahiro Chono & Shinya Hashimoto
--This came one day after the famous Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas fight at the Tokyo Dome, which drew 30,000 fans.
POLL ON SATURDAY'S ROH TV SHOW
51.2% of those responding didn't see the show
BEST TV SHOW OF THE PAST WEEK
Ultimate Fighter 3.1%
Inside MMA 3.1%
Main Event 0.8%
--EWF on Friday night in Covina, CA: Friar Juan Roman b Dan Joseph, Richie Slade b Andy Brown-DQ, Brandon Gatson b Joey Barone, Tommy Wilson b R.J Ruiz, Tyshaun b Patient Zero, Mondo Vega & B-Boy b Peter Avalon & Ray Rosas (thanks to Frank Mott)
--All-Star Wrestling on 2/28 in Surrey, BC at the Alice McKay Building-Cloverdale Fairgrounds with a Battle Royal including Gama Singh Jr.
--Battlewar from last night in Montreal before 150 fans: Liam Letto b Adam Sky, Tankmen over Surfer Mitch, Toxic and Player Uno, Len Saver b Portia Perez, TDT b Brendan Slayer & Matt Novak, Shayne Hawke b Scott Parker, Twiggy & Frankie the Mobster b Big Bad Quentin & Giant Tiger, Dirty Buxx Belmar b Mike Bailey. Next show is 3/30 (thanks to Patric Laprade)
--CMLL from yesterday in Guadalajara: Raycko b Pirana, Ebola b Idolo, Virgo & Divino b Stara & Magnum, Esfinge b Demonio Rojo, Smaker & Gallo & Sagrado b Barbaro Cavernario & Malefico & Sadico-DQ, Averno & Mephisto b Rush & Titan.
--La Sombra missed matches on Friday and Sunday. Not sure the story.
--Future Stars of Wrestling on 3/23 at Sam's Town Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas at 5 p.m. featuring Matt Hardy.
--Mid Missouri Wrestling Alliance set its record with 625 fans and turning people away on Saturday night in St. Louis: Jake Dirden b Mephisto, Da'Marius Jones b Jackson Whitechapel, Dave Osborne b Jimmy D, Ace Hawkins b Andrew Wilder, Stevie K won three-way over J-Mal Swagg and Sean Orleans, Gary Jackson b Brandon Gallagher, Brandon Espinosa b Brian James (thanks to Patrick Brandmeyer)
--Bellator announced a sponsorship deal with Attack Power. They will be the official gaming partner of Bellator and featured on all the live shows starting with the new season opener on 2/28.
--Stevie Knight interviews Marty Jones, one of England's best wrestlers of the 80s, including his training at the Snake Pit, and he also talks about Dynamite Kid, who he just visited with at www.stevieknight.info
--The Smoky Mountain Wrestling show on 2/22 in Rogersville, TN has been canceled. The next show in that city will be 3/22.
--SMW on 3/7 in Church Hill, TN with Ricky Morton defending the NWA jr. title against Chase Owens.
--Rob Conway & Jax Dane as NWA tag champs will defend the titles on the SMW show on 3/29 in Kingsport, TN.
--Kevin Croom, called the Hard Hitting Hillbilly, has signed with the Maximum Fighting Championships and faces Anthony Birchak, the bantamweight champion, on the 5/9 AXS Fight show in Edmonton.
--Today would have been the birthday of Louie Spicolli. He'd have been 43 today.
--New England Championship Wrestling from Saturday night: Jeremy Prophet & Genesis b Asylum & Brad Hollister, Mikey Webb & Johnny Thunder b Mike McCarthy & Beau Douglas, The end b Tim Lennox & Brandino Davis, Alexis Neveah b Sammi Lane, Dirty Money b Damian Wayne, Slyk Wagner Brown won three-way over Antonio Thomas and Sean Burke for the NECW title
--FS 1 and The Fight Network both present live boxing tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern from San Antonio.
--Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Rayman vs. Angel Blanco Jr. & Dr. Wagner Jr. headlines the 3/7 JM Promociones show in Tijuana at the Auditorio.