SATURDAY UPDATE: Packed weekend, all changes forever Monday, Hogan, our live radio schedule, ROH announcement, Ross shows, tons more

By Bryan Alvarez | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | @bryanalvarez

A lot of stuff going on this weekend. We'll be doing polls Saturday and Sunday as well as radio shows after both PPVs.

Tonight is UFC 170 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas:

Fight Pass at 7 p.m.

Ernest Chavez vs. Yosdenis Cedeno

Erik Koch vs Rafaello Oliveira

FS 1 at 8 p.m.

Zach Makovsky vs. Josh Sampo

Cody Gibson vs. Aljamain Sterling

Pedro Munhoz vs. Raphael Assuncao

Alexis Davis vs. Jessica Eye

PPV at 10 p.m.

Steven Thompson vs. Robert Whittaker

Mike Pyle vs. TJ Waldburger

Rory MacDonald vs. Demian Maia

Daniel Cormier vs. Patrick Cummins

Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann for the women's bantamweight title.

ROH will be taping television tonight at 7 p.m. with A.J. Styles vs. Michael Elgin, Tommaso Ciampa vs. Jay Lethal for the TV title, Romantic Touch vs. R.D. Evans, Roderick Strong & B.J. Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs vs. ACH & Tadarius Thomas & Andrew Everett and the return of Eddie Kingston & Homicide.

TNA runs Saturday night in Beckley WV with Magnus vs. Samoa Joe for the title, Ken Anderson vs. Bobby Roode cage match, Gunner vs. James Storm, Bro Mans vs. Wolves for tag title, Gail Kim vs. Velvet Sky and Zema Ion vs. Eric Young.

WWE Elimination Chamber takes place Sunday in Minneapolis:

Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Christian vs. Sheamus vs. Antonio Cesaro vs. John Cena Elimination Chamber for world title

The Shield vs. The Wyatts

Alberto Del Rio vs. Dave Batista

Big E vs. Jack Swagger for IC title

New Age Outlaws vs. Usos for tag title

Darren Young vs. Titus O'Neil

Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Curtis Axel & Ryback preshow match at 7:30 p.m.

Dragon Gate USA on Sunday at 7 p.m. from the Brooklyn Lyceum with this new lineup Gargano/Baretta winner vs. Roderick Strong for the Open the Freedom gate title AR Fox vs. Chris Hero for Evolve title Fire Ant vs. Jigsaw

TNA runs Sunday in Morgantown, WV with Magnus vs. Samoa Joe cage match for TNA title, James Storm vs. Gunner, Bro Mans vs. Wolves for tag title, Bobby Roode vs. Ken Anderson, Gail Kim vs. Velvet Sky and Zema Ion vs. Eric Young.

Raw will be Monday in Green Bay with one of the biggest shows of the year, as Hulk Hogan returns to WWE, as does Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. Plus it's the lead to the network.

Smackdown and Main Event will be taped Tuesday in Milwaukee.

        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.
        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.
        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:
--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
Rates are:
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        If you order by mail with a check, cash or money order (P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228), you can get $1 off in every price range.
        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.
Today's News, Notes and Links

-- Some live radio show notes for a packed weekend:

Dave and I will be back tonight with UFC 170 coverage shortly after the post-show press conference ends. This show will stream live on F4WLive Radio

Wrestling Observer Live will be a two-hour pre-show tomorrow, airing from 6-8 ET/3-5 Pacific. We'll be live on Sports Byline USA, Sirius Satellite Radio, American Forces Network, Cable Radio Network, TuneIn, etc.

We'll have a Bryan & Vinny & Craig WWE PPV post-show starting immediately after Elimination Chamber ends on F4WLive Radio. More on that in a moment

We'll also have a Wrestling Observer Radio talking Elimination Chamber and the WWE Network late Sunday night after the PPV on F4WLive Radio

-- When we are not on the air live, F4WLive Radio streams 24/7 through the link on the right-hand side of the front page. The latest free shows are always playing there on a rotation. You can also FAVORITE us on TuneIn Radio, which has an app for all smart phone, plus the Roku and other devices. The TuneIn app allows you to listen easily in your car via a Bluetooth connection or simple auxiliary cable hook-up. Just search "F4WLive" or "Wrestling Observer". TuneIn will soon be available on connected TVs and connected cars as well, so jump on the bandwagon and also please help spread the word about F4WLive Radio.

-- I should note that for the PPV post-show tomorrow, we may exceed capacity so some people may have trouble logging in. The issue is that the streaming provider won't upgrade our capacity until we exceed the old capacity. We shattered it for the post-Rumble show, and they've since doubled our capacity. If we hit that, well, they'll add another one-third. Eventually we'll have enough capacity to accommodate everyone. If you can't get on live, the show, along with every show we air, will be up for members within 5 minutes after its conclusion on the front page of the site, along with every other show we've ever done dating back to 2005. So with WrestleMania coming, and tons of shows on the way, now is the best time of the year to sign upand support the site!

-- As noted in this week's Figure Four Weekly, one source at Comcast said that customer service reps were being prepped to field calls regarding Comcast no longer carrying WWE PPVs after Elimination Chamber. Nothing has been said officially by Comcast or WWE, but it's a story to keep tabs on.

-- ROH made their big announcement at their HonorCon today. There were three, actually, including that they have worked out some merchandise and trading card licensing deals that fans should keep an eye out for. The big announcement was a partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling for shows in New York and Toronto this May featuring stars from both companies, including New Japan's biggest, IC Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi. They had Naoki Sugabayashi, New Japan Chairman, and Tiger Hatori, working as translator, there to make the announcement. We'll have a video up on the front page regarding all of this likely in a few hours.

-- This morning on Good Morning America on there scroll at the bottom of the screen they acknowledged that Hogan was going back to WWE. Thanks to Josh.

-- If you haven't seen it, hereis the article that actually broke the story. We're told WWE was not happy it leaked out like this. Hogan, of course, returns to Raw Monday and will serve as "host" of WrestleMania. Which means one person will probably run into his fist, but that's about it. I presume he got medical clearance to tear his t-shirt off as well.

-- From the Hulk: "Well I guess it's that time again, I hope they are ready, this is gonna be the best run ever,it's great to finally be home,WWE4LIFE.ThankuHH". Also: "The WRESTLEMANIA return of Hulkamania has turned into a monster already,I'm so grateful to be back home brother HH".

-- Hogan also talks his return in the Huffington Post here.

-- WWE Black History Month with Naomi here.

-- Tickets for Jim Ross' upcoming shows, including in New Orleans on WrestleMania weekend, are still available through TicketMaster here. If anyone is going to Mania and interested in doing a get-together at one of the shows, email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . I'm not sure which day, but would like to make one of them.

-- Ronda Rousey is the third most-searched topic on Google as of this minute. Very rare, almost never before a fight unless there's an incident like Diaz/GSP or Sonnen/Anderson at weigh-ins or late press.

-- Don't forget DGUSA has two shows this weekend. Full details on tomorrow's show in Brooklyn are here. All iPPVs at WWNLive.comare now in HD.

-- Choices Vegan Café in Miami will host a special Meet and Greet with Austin Aries during “Lockdown” weekend. Details coming soon.

-- Highlights of the new Celeste Bonin (former Kaitlyn in WWE) interview up here.

-- Zack Gowen interview heretalking Hulk Hogan, his WWE run, tons more.

-- Steve Corino heretalks why winning the ECW Title wasn't the biggest moment of his career.

-- A look hereat a new Andre the Giant book.

-- Jonathan Coachman recalls a great Hulk Hogan story here.

-- New interview with Prince Devitt here.

-- Empire State Wrestling presents "Reckoning Day" Saturday, March 1st, 2014 St. Johnsburg Fire Hall 7165 Ward Road, North Tonawanda, NY Doors Open: 5:00pm, Bell Time: 6:00pm

-- Busy day in history with Brian Hoops:

1943 - Bobby Managoff defeated National Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Champion Bill Longson in Texas to become recognized as champion by promoter Tony Stecher in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

1952 - Ron Etchison and Sandor Szabo defeated Ben and Mike Sharpe to win the San Francisco NWA World Tag Team Title in Oakland, California.

1957 - Pepper Gomez defeated El Medico for the NWA Texas Heavyweight Title in Houston, Texas.

1958 - Boris and Nicoli Volkoff defeated Reggie (Crusher) and Stan Lisowski to win the Chicago NWA World Tag Team Title in Chicago, Illinois.

1960 - Don and Luke Fields won the Mid-America NWA Southern Tag Team Title by defeating The Corsicans' (Jean and Joe) in Memphis, Tennessee.

1967 - The Medics defeated Terry Funk and Dan Miller to win the Southwest NWA North American Tag Team Title in Lubbock, Texas.

1971 - Fritz Von Erich defeated Toru Tanaka in Fort Worth, Texas to win the NWA American Heavyweight Title.

1973 - Killer Karl Krupp and Johnny Valentine defeated Kintaro Ohki and Seiji Sakaguchi to win the NWA International Tag Team Title in Osaka, Japan.

1974 - Harley Race defeated Archie Gouldie for the Stampede North American Heavyweight Title in Calgary, Alberta.

1976 - Tommy Rich defeated Jerry Lawler in a No Disqualification match in Memphis, Tennessee to win the Mid-America NWA Southern Heavyweight Title

1978 - Dean Ho and Moondog Mayne defeated Black Gordman and Goliath in Sacramento, California to win the San Francisco NWA World Tag Team Title.

1978 - Ray Candy and Steven Little Bear defeated The Brute and Dr. X for the Tri-State NWA United States Tag Team Title in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

1979 - Bob Sweetan defeated Randy Alls (Randy Rose) to win the NWA Central States Heavyweight Title in Kansas City, Kansas.

1981 - Ivan Koloff and Ray Stevens defeated Paul Jones and The Masked Superstar for the NWA World Tag Team Title in Greensboro, North Carolina.

1983 - The Great Gama defeated The Dynamite Kid for the Stampede World Mid-Heavyweight Title in Regina, Saskatchewan.

1983 - Dick Slater defeated Mike Rotundo to win the NWA Television Title in Columbia, South Carolina.

1984 - Jumbo Tsuruta defeated Nick Bockwinkel for the AWA World Heavyweight Title in Tokyo, Japan.

1986 - The Cuban Assassin defeated Kendall Windham to win the NWA Florida Heavyweight Title in Tampa, Florida.

1988 - The Midnight Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels) defeated The Rock 'n' Roll Express (Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton) in Memphis, Tennessee to win the held-up AWA World Tag Team Title.

1993 - The Moondogs (Splat and Spot) defeated The Harris Brothers (Don and Ron) for the USWA Tag Team Title in Memphis, Tennessee

1998 - At the WCW SuperBrawl pay-per-view event at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California; Booker T pinned WCW World Television Champion Rick Martel to win the title, also The Outsiders (Scott Hall and Kevin Nash (with Dusty Rhodes)) defeated WCW World Tag Team Champions The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) with Ted DiBiase)) to win the title and Sting pinned Hollywood Hulk Hogan after Randy Savage hit Hogan with a can of spray-paint to win the vacant WCW World Heavyweight Title.

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