BIG FRI UPDATE: Rock back live, Superstars, UFC weigh-ins, PPV name change, GLAAD MAAD at WWE, more



By Bryan Alvarez

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We've got one of the biggest weekends of the year when it comes to major events upcoming.

The major show is UFC 128 from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ with the PPV matches of Shogun Rua vs. Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title, Urijah Faber vs. Eddie Wineland, Jim Miller vs. Kamal Shalorus, Dan Miller vs. Nate Marquardt and Mirko Cro Cop vs. Brendan Schaub (and it's pretty scary when Brendan Schaub is the heavy favorite over Mirko Cro Cop). Also this weekend is the Division I wrestling championships from Philadelphia. ESPN U will air starting Friday at 10:30 a.m., plus Saturday at 11 a.m.. ESPN will air the finals at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night. ESPN3.com will air matches all through the next three days starting today (upcoming are 6:30 p.m. tonight, 10:30 a.m. tomorrow and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday). All times are Eastern.

CMLL and AAA both have major shows tonight. The CMLL Dos Leyendas show takes place at Arena Mexico with a double hair vs. hair with the father-and-son team of Brazo de Plata & Maximo facing El Terrible & El Texano Jr., plus Averno vs. Mascara Dorada for the Historical middleweight title. AAA has Rey de Reyes from the bullring in Aguascalientes with the four-way Rey de Reyes match with L.A. Park, Carlito, Mesias and Extreme Tiger, plus Zorro vs. Charly Manson for the heavyweight title and Electroshock vs. Heavy Metal in a hair vs. hair match.

The WWE Raw crew runs tonight in Hartford, Saturday night in Madison Square Garden (Miz vs. Orton 2/3 falls, HHH vs. Sheamus, Cena vs. Punk), Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark and Raw is on Monday night in Pittsburgh. Smackdown crew runs Saturday night in Roanoke, Sunday in Charlotte and TV is being taped on Tuesday in Columbus, OH at the Nationwide Arena.

TNA has house shows tonight in Jacksonville and Saturday night in Savannah, GA. Jeff Hardy has been pulled from these events.

ROH tonight in Plymouth, MA (Roderick Strong vs. El Generico vs. Homicide vs. Jay Briscoe and if Strong wins, the other three can never get a title shot as long as he's champion, if any of them win, they get a title shot in a few weeks; Christopher Daniels vs. Mike Bennett in a TV title match, Davey Richards vs. Claudio Castagnoli, T.J. Perkins vs. Chris Hero, Michael Elgin vs. Eddie Edwards, Mark Briscoe vs. Jake O'Reilly) and Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Manhattan Center in New York (Roderick Strong vs. Eddie Edwards for ROH title, Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli vs. Hernandez & Homicide for tag titles, Davey Richards vs. Christopher Daniels, Briscoes vs. All Night Express, El Generico vs. T.J. Perkins). You can attend the ROH show and still get to MSG down the street for the start of that show. Not so much the UFC show in Newark because UFC starts at 7 p.m. live.

Bellator also runs Saturday night from Concho, OK. The show will start at 7 p.m. so it's over without conflicting with the UFC prelims on Spike. Matches are Patricio Pitbull Freire vs. Georgi Karakhanyan, Zac George vs. Wilson Reis, Eric Larkin vs. Kenny Foster and Nazareno Malegarie vs. Daniel Strauss.

One of the biggest news stories in the history of MMA, the Zuffa purchase of Strikeforce, is one of our lead stories in this coming week's issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. We look at the sale from every angle, from the fans, fighters, business, television and even antitrust.

We also look at the catastrophes in Japan and how they have affected pro wrestling and MMA going forward, including what happened with the wrestlers already in Japan.

We also look at Jeff Hardy and Victory Road, and why TNA management should be answering questions about the debacle, as well as full coverage of the event.

We also have a story about ramifications of what could be the biggest news story in sports that is not an MMA story or a pro wrestling story, but where UFC in particular fits into this story.

We look at the sale of Strikeforce, how this affects the top fighters, is this a monopoly, philosophical differences with UFC and Strikeforce, how this impacts the Strikeforce roster both good and bad, how the sale appears to have gone down and why it happened at this time, who else wanted it, differences in many Strikeforce contracts with UFC contracts, a look at the roster, the situation with titles, questions regarding overexposure, what happened to WWE when it made plans similar to what UFC is making, and what U.S. company did do something similar and the results they achieved. We also look at the situation with the likes of Frank Shamrock, Josh Barnett, Paul Daley, Gina Carano, thoughts on the future of women's fighting, the videotape library and more.

The issue will be up on the site today. A back issue from early 1994 will be up on the site later this week. Between the Observer and Figure Four Weekly, we have about 14 issues put up every month and dozens of new audio shows for web site subscribers including coverage after the shows of every major pro wrestling and MMA event.

You can also order print copies of the Observer with details below.

We also look at TNA's Lockdown, worked shoots, and a rundown of Victory Road with star ratings and poll results.

We also have notes on the next two times Rock will be appearing live on Raw. We've got updates on WrestleMania ticket sales, changes in the card, comparing this year's show with last year, announcing at WrestleMania, injuries, new major WWE officer being sought after, regulation of WWE, update on Chris Jericho's non-wrestling schedule, update on plans for Sin Cara and what new Hall of Famer in WWE is going on the road soon. We also look at a new WWE movie project, next MSG show, next tour of Japan as well as business notes from all the WWE house shows this past week as well as in-ring highlights of all the shows.

We also look at the future of the major Japanese MMA companies and UFC going into Japan.

We also have a feature on the first season of the new version of Tough Enough, including the entire roster, including background, which includes indie wrestlers, a model, Miss USA, a former MMA fighter in UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator as well as who is considered the male favorite and the name will surprise people.

We've got ratings of all the national shows including how every segment on Raw and Impact did. This week's Raw numbers are very interesting, because there are clear major successes and also clear major failures. We look at what was what, including Snooki, The Miz, The Rock, Jim Ross and what segment failed and if the announcing played into the failure. WE also look at a show with the most unique ratings pattern ever which shows what live vs. tape means for MMA.

We also have our usual weekly features with results of the major arena shows from around the world, and the major TV show rundowns and reviews.

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-- With Superstars ending on WGN and post-WrestleMania right around the corner, it's probably not looking good for a dozen or so wrestlers in WWE.

-- Rock announced today that he'll be live on the March 28th Raw in Chicago. Entertainment Weekly also reported that he'll be making at least one appearance on Tough Enough.

-- Weigh-ins for tomorrow's UFC in Newark:
1. Champ Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (205) vs. Jon Jones (205)
2. Urijah Faber (135.5) vs. Eddie Wineland (135.5)
3. Nate Marquardt (186) vs. Dan Miller (185)
4. Mirko Crocop (229) vs. Brendan Schaub (245)
5. Jim Miller (155.5) vs. Kamal Shalorus (155)
6. Luiz Cane (205.5) vs. Eliot Marshall (205)
7. Edson Barboza (155.5) vs. Anthony Njokuani (155)
8. Ricardo Almeida (170) vs. Mike Pyle (171)
9. Kurt Pellegrino (156) vs. Gleison Tibau (155)
10. Joseph Benavidez (136) vs. Ian Loveland (135)
11. Nick Catone (194) vs. Costantinos Philippou (195)
12. Raphael Assuncao (145) vs. Erik Koch (145)

-- First five fights will be on PPV. Fights 6 and 7 will air on Spike and fights 8 and 9 will air on Facebook.com. Dave and I will be back tonight with a special bonus show previewing the event and talking the latest news, then back up with our weekend show Saturday night after the event is wrapped up. As noted on the front page, the winner of the Bones Jones vs. Shogun Rua fight faces Rashad Evans, a very interesting political situation as some fireworks have exploded of late between Jones and Evans based on people repeatedly asking if they're going to fight and Rashad claiming he's felt disrespected by some of the answers.

-- WWE has renamed Fatal Four Way "Capitol Punishment". That's a plus as Fatal Four Way was death as a concept PPV.

-- GLAAD got upset at WWE this week for what they claimed was "scripted homophobic bullying" on the part of Cena towards Rock and Miz. "We reached out to WWE Incorporated, which responded swiftly and positively," GLAAD wrote in a statement. "The incidents were particularly troubling because WWE recently began promoting itself as PG-rated entertainment marketed primarily towards adolescent males. And there was wrestling superstar John Cena performing what amounted to scripted homophobic bullying of other wrestlers on a nationally broadcast show for kids." WWE responded: "WWE takes this issue very seriously, and has already spoken with our talent about these incidents. We are taking steps and working with GLAAD to ensure that our fans know that WWE is against bullying or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We strongly value our fans in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and apologize to them for these incidents."

-- There is a huge Inside MMA on HDNet tonight as they'll be talking to both Dana White and Scott Coker about the UFC purchase of Strikeforce.

-- Cena on his Twitter claimed he suffered a concussion on Raw but is OK now and will be working house shows starting tonight.

-- Jeremy Borash also suffered what is believed to be a legit concussion at the tapings when Bully Ray kicked him in the head. Nothing like taking care of the people who are giving their head to you for a spot.

-- Hogan actually claimed on his Twitter that he'd taken over as head of creative in TNA three weeks ago. Apparently that's not true, but to me the bigger story is that someone would actually want to take credit for being head of TNA creative.

-- Impact last night did a 1.3. That means 1.8 million people watched that show. The quarters were actually remarkably steady all night.

-- This was on the Pope's Twitter last night after the show: WARNING:To those sending hate mail after tonights iMPACT,you will be blocked! TNA wrestlers are trained professional entertainers.-TEE Admin

-- Chris Jericho is on Smackdown in a taped segment tonight giving his thoughts on the Undertaker vs. HHH match at WrestleMania. I believe it was filmed while he was on the set of Dancing wth the Stars.

-- Smackdown house shows this weekend are running Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Cody Rhodes for the title in three-ways. That's interesting.

-- The presale password for Raw in Winnipeg this coming May with Road Warrior Animal as guest host is MTS.

-- Grant writes: ICP was the answer on a $2,000 question on double jeopardy tonight. Featured a picture of them and the question was something like..."These two clowns followers are known as Juggalo's"

-- PWA, the promotion that Lance Storm books, has their 10th anniversary show TOMORROW in Edmonton at the NAIT with Lance & D-Von Dudley facing Bully Ray & Dylan Knight in a Pick Your Partner main event. It was pretty clear Lance could not possibly retire after losing to me in Tulalip.

-- Alex Marvez looks at Superstar Bill Dundee here.

-- Story up here about blading in wrestling.

-- Interview with referee Jason Harding here.

-- WWE will be holding a Raw & Smackdown Supershow at the Sundome in Yakima, Washington on May 21st, 2011 (the day before Over The Limit). Bell time is 5 PM. Thanks to Devin Cutting.

-- Team Dragon Gate of Akira Tozawa, Kagetora and Super Shisa have been added as the final team for this year's Chikara King of Trios April 15th, 16th and 17th. More info at chikarapro.com.

-- WWE Monday Night Raw on August 8th, 2011 will be held at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

-- Big story on Aaron Aguilera here.

--How many buys do you expect UFC 128 to do
Under 300,000 7.2%
301-350,000 1.7%
351-400,000 2.8%
401-450,000 3.3%
451-500,000 4.4%
501-550,000 11.1%
551-600,000 10.0%
601-650,000 15.6%
651-700,000 6.1%
701-750,000 13.3%
751-800,000 8.3%
801,000 or more 16.1%

What event this weekend are you the most interested in
UFC 128 46.5%
NCAA tournament 33.4%
WWE in MSG 11.0%
All Japan at Sumo Hall 5.4%
AAA Rey de Reyes 1.7%
Bellator 1.3%
CMLL Dos Leyendas 0.7%

-- American Championship Entertainment, New York Wrestling Connection and Women Superstars Uncensored on April 3rd, 2011 with a 3PM belltime and immediately following the show, Wrestlemania 27 will be broadcast closed circuit on the ACE Tron at 7 PM. Tickets for this all day event are $25.

-- The 2010-2011 Roller Derby World Championships, SAN FRANCISCO BAY BOMBERS vs BROOKLYN RED DEVILS, Kear Pavilion (by Golden Gate Park) 755 Stanyan Street, San Francisco, CA 94117, Saturday night, March 19th, 2011 - game starts at 8 pm. Co-founder of Apple Computer and long time Bombers fan, Steve Wozniak, will be the trophie presenter that evening and Senator Leland Yee will once again be the offical game starter.

-- Slammin Stan here actually got an interview with JUDO GENE LEBELL. Not happy they SCOOPED ME!

-- Brian Fritz on Over the Top Radio tomorrow night here.

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