THURS. UPDATE: One of era's biggest legend, Santo, forced to retire, RVD on WWE return, Raw return

By Dave Meltzer | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | @DaveMeltzerWON
        The second Impact show taped on 1/31 in Manchester airs tonight at 9 p.m.
Samoa Joe vs. Robbie E & Jessie Godderz & Zema Ion in a handicap match
Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards vs. Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian
Magnus vs. Gunner for TNA title
        This is a very angle laden show to build for the Lockdown PPV on 3/9.
        The new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter is up on the site today.
        A lot of major things going on behind the scenes in pro wrestling and MMA this week and we've got the most detailed coverage.  We've got a lot on the WWE negotiations for a new television deal, what WWE wants, why the ceiling for NBC Universal may not be that high, the value financially of the WWE programming to USA and Syfy, as well as the value from a ratings standpoint.  We look at other suitors, as well as those who have appeared to express no interest in the product.  We look at the most interesting aspect of the talks, which is that the place WWE should want to be the least may be the key to them getting the most.
        We also look at the lessons of UFC this year and how they apply to WWE negotiations.
        We also look at the situation with the WWE and the cable companies, including the threat of The Dish Network not carrying Elimination Chamber, how much this will cost Dish Network, it's affect on WWE, the domino theory, as well as previewing the Elimination Chamber show.
        We've got a story on the wrestling career of Nelson Frazier Jr., better known as Big Daddy V, Mabel and Viscera.  We look at his 21 year career in the ring, from WWE to Japan to the indies, as well as his biggest career run.
        We also have more on the WWE Network, Promoting Raw, why certain things aren't being pushed, Hulk Hogan's latest legal action, a major contract set to expire, WWE 2014 Hall of Fame notes, NXT special notes, New WWE hires, Naomi's injury, top star getting WWE tryout, WWE injury updates, WWE movie updates, as well as business notes from the weekend shows and highlights. 
        We've got a huge Hall of Fame feature on 2013 inductee, the recently retired Kensuke Sasaki.  We look at his life inside and outside the ing, what he's best known for in Japan outside of pro wrestling, his start in the business, rise to prominence, the pro wrestling scene in Japan when he was growing up, the All Japan vs. New Japan war, and how it all built to his biggest career matches.
        We've got his career title history, awards as well as a look back at his biggest matches, his complete Dome record, his in and out of the ring feud with Shinya Hashimoto, his relationship with Riki Choshu, his marriage to Akira Hokuto, his tag team with Hawk, his U.S.  title run in WCW and why it changed, his run to his first IWGP title win, the career of his wife, the two biggest crowds in pro wrestling history, his matches with the Steiners, his MMA fights and much more.
        We also have a feature on Gilbert Melendez and his signing a provisional deal with Bellator, including exactly what this means to the business, how this changes the business, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney talking about how things have changed, will UFC counter, the back story on Melendez and Rebney's original meeting, how negotiations went down, and the Melendez'Thomson Strikeforce era.
        We've also got full coverage of UFC Fight Night from Brazil, the longest show in UFC history, with all the match-by-match coverage.
        We've also got notes on C.M. Punk with the Chicago Raw looming.
        We've got a story on the death of Ryu Nakata and his role in Japanese wrestling over the last 35 years, the rise and fall of Pr Wrestling NOAH and the politics behind the scenes after the financial bottom fell out.
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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:
--The end of a 61 year era in pro wrestling
--Several title changes in Mexico
--A look at what appears to be the direction for CMLL's first big show of the year
--Two major stars being talked with by AAA
--More on TNA's One Night Only PPV show being taped in Tokyo with the Japan vs. TNA lineups
--Rundown of All Japan's junior heavyweight tournament and final standings
--Notes on the next major All Japan show
--Talks of an interpromotional angle for early April
--New Japan business notes including advances for upcoming shows
--Notes on the champion vs. champion match at New Japan's anniversary show
--Notes on New Japan coming to the U.S.
--Update on Prince Devitt
--Rundown of the New Japan Cup tournament
--Kenta Kobashi's latest ideas
--Promotion that got killed by the injury bug
--A look at ROH's Anniversary show
--Joe Koff issues apology for an interview
--Notes on Jeff Jarrett's latest moves
--Update on Kurt Angle
--New TNA signing
--TNA business notes
--Notes on the TNA weekend house shows
--Build to UFC 170 and attempting to create a new storyline in two minutes
--What happened after Rashad Evans got hurt
--Update on Rashad Evans
--Georges St-Pierre updates on his thoughts about returning
--Dana White talks Rousey's pay
--Thoughts on UFC 170 on PPV
--White talks Rousey vs. Cyborg
--Advances for all the upcoming UFC shows
--Update on Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva
--Dana White blasts Alistair Overeem and Overeem responds
--UFC uniforms
--White talks the future of PPV
--Update on Anthony Pettis
--Lots of new UFC fights
--UFC suing people who illegally watch their PPVs
--Nate Quarry talks financial treatment of fighters
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*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)
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*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)
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*July 24, 2006 (The History of the Von Erichs and World Class Championship Wrestling--the most unreal story ever in wrestling)
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*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)
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*July 19, 2007 (Part four of the Benoit double murder-suicide)
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*July 25, 2007 (Part six of Benoit double murder-suicide)
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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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--Cassandra Frazier, the wife of the late Nelson Frazier Jr., said to TMZ he was trying to get healthy and had lost about 100 pounds.  He got scared and started losing weight when doctors toldhim his blood pressure was too high, and his blood pressure had dropped to a healthy level with the weight loss.   

--Hall of Famer El Hijo del Santo announced earlier today he was retiring from pro wrestling.  He said that tests that he took in Houston last month were very discouraging, including finding a spinal lesion.  His wife Gabriela Obregon said that he may be able to do one or two retirement matches but indicated he may not be able to do any.  He will still use the name in outside ventures.  Not sure yet what that means for his Todos x Todos promotion. 
--Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman are added to the list that includes Hulk Hogan and Undertaker for Raw on Monday.  Why they haven't advertised the hell out of this is a different question.

--Wall Street wasn't bothered at all by the WWE money losses, figuring it'll payoff big at the end.  Stock was up to $24.74 at the close of trading today.

--Antonio Inoki, who was among the biggest stars and most influential figures in pro wrestling history, and really, MMA history as well in some form, turned 71 today.
--Gail Kim turned 37 today.
--Rob Van Dam was asked on Twitter about returning to WWE.  He said he would be back soon, but not today.
--A house show post-WrestleMania on 4/27 in Peoria is advertising Randy Orton vs. Sheamus for the WWE title.  Lots of time between now and then for that to change, but still, that indicates a temporary idea.  
--A notable death on this day was Bobby Shane, who was 27 when he died in 1973 in a famous plane crash that also involved Gary Hart, Buddy Colt and Dennis McCord (who later became Austin Idol).  Shane was a St. Louis native who was doing the King of Wrestling gimmick, which he told Jerry Lawler he could use.  He was said to have had a great booking mind and most feel he'd have been a major star in the business, as he was already a major territory headliner by that point. 
--Swede Hanson was 68 when he passed away on this day in 2002.  Tony Altomare was 74 when he passed away on this day in 2003.  Ciclon Negro was 80 when he passed away one year ago today.  Ciclon Negro was one of the most underrated wrestlers of the 60s and early 70s..
--Shane Helms will be running a show in his home city of Smithfield, NC on Saturday night with an OMEGA return, which is the promotion he and the Hardys got started with.  Matt & Jeff Hardy will reunite on the show, which also includes C.W. Anderson and they will be raising money for the Autism Society of North Carolina. 
Dragon Gate USA on Saturday night in Elmhurst, NY at the Queensboro Elks Lodge at 8 p.m. at
Johnny Gargano vs Cima for the Open the Freedom Gate title
AR Fox vs. Drew Gulak
Bravado Brothers vs. Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy for the Open the United Gate tag titles
Rich Swann vs. Trent Baretta
Ivelisse vs. Su Yung
        Also:  Anthony Nese, Jigsaw, Caleb Konley and Shane Strickland
Sunday in Brooklyn at 7
Gargano/Cima winner defends against Roderick Strong
AR Fox vs. Chris Hero for the Evolve title
Fire Ant vs. Jigsaw
        Also:  Bravado Brothers, Ivelisse, Rich Swann, Anthony Nese, Trent Baretta, Drew Gulak, Chuck Taylor, Caleb Konley and Shane Strickland
--GaymerX2 has announced that Fred Rosser aka Darren Young will be participating in this year's convention from 7/11 to 7/13 in San Francisco at the InterContinental Hotel.  There will also be a panel discussion called "A Fireside Chat for Darren Young."  This is all based on Young coming out last year.
--Bobby Horne (Mo from Men on a Mission) is trying to raise money for a funeral and burial for his longtime tag team partner Nelson Frazier Jr. (Mabel/Viscera/Big Daddy V).  You can e-mail for more info to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Elimination  Chamber 58.8%
UFC 170 35.0%
        23.6% are watching both
On the network 46.2%
Not watching 18.2%
Watching via stream 16.4%
Watching on PPV 10.1%
Watching at a friends house 6.1%
Watching at a bar or restaurant
Sting 50.1%
C.M. Punk 11.7%
Daniel Bryan 9.5%
Big Show 4.7%
Yuji Nagata 4.2%
Shinsuke Nakamura 4.1%
L.A. Park 3.7%
KENTA 3.0%
Dr. Wagner Jr 2.7%
Blue Panther 2.4%
Randy Orton 2.3%
Batista 1.6%
Anderson Silva 36.9%
Brock Lesnar 32.6%
GSP 21.3%
Frank Shamrock 4.7%
B.J. Penn 2.7%
Pat Miletich 0.6%
Lyoto Machida 0.6%
Urijah Faber 0.6%
Jon Jones 0.1%
--Cracked has something on a Dwayne Johnson video game at
Odds for the UFC main card (from 5Dimes)
Ronda Rousey -400
Sara McMann +365
Daniel Cormier -1300
Pat Cummins +850
Demian Maia +240
Rory MacDonald -280
Mike Pyle -185
TJ Waldburger +160
Robert Whittaker +115
Stephen Thompson -135
        Cormier is as low as 10-1 and as high as 16-1 when it comes to odds.
--Not a lot at the UFC press conference.  I think maybe one question for McMann.  Far more for Cummins and clearly the most heat was there, including when they posed together.  Cormier said he was at 209 pounds today and making weight isn't an issue.  He looked much, much smaller than I've ever seen of him.  He said losing weight wasn't hard and that he had never even eaten a salad until recently.  for the first    
--All Star Wrestling on 3/1 in Abbotsford, BC at the Art Centre.  This has to be one of the oldest promotions around because I remember them easily 20 years ago and promoter Mark Vellios from 30 years ago. 
--In the new Justice League comic book that came out yesterday, a character was watching a WCW PPV show.  It was noted how odd it was in a new comic book to reference a company that went out of business 12 years ago. (thanks to Michael O'Brien)
ON THIS DAY IN PRO WRESTLING HISTORY (thanks to Graeme Cameron and Brian Hoops)
1964 - Toyonobori & Michiaki Yoshimura beat Curtis Iaukea & Don Manoukian (who a few years earlier were teammates in the Oakland Raiders camp) in Nagoya to win the vacant All-Asia tag titles
1978 - Bob Backlund defeated Superstar Billy Graham to win the WWWF title to begin Backlund's long reign as champion
1983 - El Jalisco beat El Satanico in Guadalajara to win the NWA middleweight title
1989 - Yes, it was 25 years ago today in Chicago when  Ricky Steamboat beat Ric Flair at the Chi-Town Rumble PPV with me and Brad Muster in the front row.  Also Mike Rotundo beat Rick Steiner to win the NWA TV title, Lex Luger beat Barry Windham to win the U.S. title and the Road Warriors beat Steve Williams & Kevin Sullivan to keep the NWA tag titles.  Steamboat vs Flair was considered one of the classic matches of the era and was the first singles match of several months of some of the best series of world title matches in history.
1996 - Akira Taue & Toshiaki Kawada beat Stan Hansen & Gary Albright in Motoko to win the All Japan tag tilter
2000 - Vader & Steve Williams beat Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama in Kobe to win the All Japan tag titles
2000 - Tiffany beat Lady Apache in Zapopan to win the AAA Reina de Reinas title
2009 - Olimpico beat Angel Blanco Jr. in Puebla to win the WWA middleweight title   
--For those attending UFC 170 in Las Vegas, our friends at the Las Vegas  Fight Shop have a full day worth of activities
Noon to 2 p.m. - Roy Nelson picks up his new limited edition figurine
6-8 p.m. - Three of the Four Horsewomen, Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir.  Plus a free Ronda Rousey poster to the first 250 people and giveaways.  Roxanne Modafferi (TUF 18) will be signing copies of her book "Memories of a Happy Warrior." 
6:30 to 8:30 p.m. - Arianny Celeste will be signing autographs for people who purchase either a poster or a calender, plus Punkass and Skyscrape will be there as well.       
--What is being billed as the craziest MMA you've ever seen, two-on-two arena fighting called HIP SHOW:  ARENA COMBAT will make its North American TV debut on 3/14 at 10 p.m. Eastern on AXS.  It's a combination fighting and obstacle course.
--Danny Castllo vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg has been added to the 4/26 UFC 172 show in Baltimore at the Arena.  That's the Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira show.
--Ed Herman vs. Rafael Natal was announced for the 5/10 UFC show in Cincinnati at the U.S. Bank Arena on FS1.
--The Huffington Post picked up the Bruce Santee arrest for offering $100 on facebook to have a police officer killed at'ii_N_4815984.html  
--Booking information for valet Trina Michaels is at
--Vendetta Pro Wrestling Shamrock Slam on 3/1 at 7 p.m. in Simi Valley, CA at the Boys ad Girls Club
--PWX on 3/1 in Pittsburgh at the New PWX Wrestleplex.
--Roland Alexander's former All Pro Wrestling is being resurrected with Markus Jacobson as promoter with the first show on  3/15 at 6 p.m. at the Bayshore Community Center in Daly City called the Bayshore Bash.  Adam Thornstowe vs. Drake Younger for the APW title will headline.  Thornstowe was the promotion's last champion.  Also Chris Masters vs. Dylan Drake, Brian Cage vs. JR Kratos, Jeckles (Internet champion) vs. Luster the Legend and tag champs Boyce LeGrande & Mustafa Saed vs. Will Rood & Damien Grundy, plus Jeff Cobb, Dave Dutra, Rik Luxury and more.  Several of the guys on this show will be doing a WWE camp in late March.
--Jiro Aquino of This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it is selling his collection of VHS tapes and DVDs of WCW and WWF
--Ed, Cutrer and Mike Sempervive talk the history of Mid South Wrestling at
--Enfusion kickboxing airs in Canada on The Fight Network on 2/22 at 2 p.m. Eastern from Amsterdam, Holland
--IWF on 4/12 in Nutley, NJ with their 17th annual Spring event featuring Tommy Dreamer, Marty Jannetty and Tito Santana.

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?