FRI UPDATE: More from Toronto, Gage to prison, major UFC change, WWE shareholders meeting,Mania buys



By Bryan Alvarez

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A complete guide to the WWE 2011 draft is our lead story in the new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. We have a depth chart looking at babyfaces and heels on both rosters, notes on the biggest stars not involved, part-timers, an update on C.M. Punk, and a rundown of all 28 performers who are changing rosters and which moves are good, bad or indifferent.

We also have an interesting look at WWE's ability to create stars and upward mobility of talent in looking at every player on the roster and what it shows about the booking since WrestleMania 26.

We also have the official numbers for WrestleMania 27, and what was and wasn't true about the announcements that night. We look at where the shows stands in the all-time records and whether or not WWE really did or didn't set any kind of records in the Georgia Dome.

The issue will be up on the site today. A back issue from early 1994 will also be up 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.

With the biggest MMA show in North America this week, we take a look back at the previous biggest MMA show of all-time, the 2002 Shockwave show, looking back at the main event matches, the pageantry, the real numbers for the show, as well as talk with Royce Gracie, Don Frye, Stephen Quadros and Bob Sapp about their memories of a night that made a legend, a night one never forgot and the night one went into a match he couldn't possibly win.

We also look at the Cauliflower Alley Club banquet for 2011, and look back at my first CAC banquet in 1986, memories of moments from the past, how the club has grown, and update on honorees like Mick Foley, Awesome Kong, Rockin Robin, Honky Tonk Man, Rick Martel and Sgt. Slaughter among others.

We also look at one of the biggest news stories of 20 years ago, but something almost unknown, the only major pro wrestling strike and what it said about unionization of pro wrestlers. This was a news story at its time so big it was front page news in Mexico and even got wire service coverage in the U.S. at a time when there was little coverage of pro wrestling. It goes back to Mexico, fears of Mexican wrestling becoming like U.S. wrestling, as we look back at the death of Manny Guzman, at one time one of the most powerful men in the industry, why a strike was called, what happened, as well as the end results of both the strike and the union, as well as the end of Guzman's power.

We've also got an update on the planned WWE network, and more on why they have eliminated the word "wrestling" from the title. We look at this week's version of what they want the network to be, and how they want to emulate the business model of WWE on new properties an the type of properties they are looking for.

We've got notes on Dwayne Johnson's movie career and early hints about how Fast Five will do, as well as information on how Chris Jericho fared behind the scenes on "Dancing with the Stars."

We also look at how the laws in one of the countries on the recent WWE tour led to several performers not being able to perform on two shows.

We also look at what the WWE booking direction was before the draft, more on what words can and can't be said in foreign WWE broadcasts, update on injuries to both Jim Ross and Michael Cole, as well as some very interesting notes about delayed viewing of two recent WWE television shows and what that says about the amount of people watching the go-home and post Mania Raw shows.

Bret Hart talks about WWE eliminating the word "wrestling," John Morrison talks about what he needs to get to the top, lots more on Tough Enough including the wrestler on the show who needed crutches to walk but gutted it out on Raw a few weeks back, as well as the marketing of the retired Shawn Michaels by WWE, PPV name change, some more people in negotiations with WWE, as well as the business notes from the European tour and a look at the highlights of most of the shows on tour.

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-- Want to send out best wishes to Karl Stern and everyone who has been affected by the disastrous weather in the Southern United States over the last week. There is a story about the devastation here. Karl is OK, but he's housing two homeless families right now, and one town near where he lives, Hackleburg, was completely wiped out, completely as in "it looks like a cornfield now, just nothing."

-- Former CZW star Nick Gage was sentenced to five years in prison today after pleading guilty to second degree bank robbery. He won't be eligible for parole for approximately four years.

-- Don't forget UFC starts at 6 Eastern/9 Pacific tomorrow night. This is a permanent time slot change for all future UFC events. Dana said this was the scariest thing they'd ever done and it scared the hell out of them.

-- You can download the WWE Shareholder's Meeting from this morning here.

-- Some notes from the meeting. Vince, Steph and HHH were all there. They said they didn't have hard WrestleMania buyrate numbers yet but that they were projecting over 1 million buys. They claimed up 30% in North America and 15% overseas. That would be over 650,000 buys domestic, which is pretty damn good, and around 1.087 million total. They said the dividend at 12 cents per share was still better than average. They talked about the plans to acquire other properties and go by simply "WWE" now as opposed to "World Wrestling Entertainment". They said that because the profits on the WWE side are backloaded in regards to the film division, while it is operating at a loss now they expect it to be profitable in the future. Vince was asked about branching out, with the person noting that they football league, restaurants, etc., hadn't panned out, and Vince said the idea was not to expand too far from the core wrestling product. Wasn't the restaurant a WWE restaurant? That's pretty close to the core product. Anyway, he said all outside endeavors would be tied back to the WWE product. He blamed the falling PPV buyrates on the economy, increased competition and piracy. Vince actually acknowledged that running on a UFC weekend was something they tried to avoid and that UFC PPVs running opposite their events had, in fact, had an impact on WWE buyrates, and blamed it on cable and satellite providers allocating more ad revenue to events like UFC than WWE. He said you couldn't blame decline in business on the product being PG. Apparently someone told Vince he should buy TNA and Vince didn't have much to say about that. He'd be better off buying Bellator. Someone then told him he should push the wrestling more since that's what drove the wrestling business, and "he didn't have much of a response to that either".

-- WWE stock was down 8% to $10.51 a share, down 92 cents since yesterday's announcement that the dividend had been slashed. To be honest I thought it would end up a lot lower.

-- Both Fast 5 with Rock and That's What I Am with Randy Orton playing a small role are out today. Rock's movie is out in approximately 3,637 more theatres than Orton's.

-- Mick Foley is likely back on Impact next week. He was supposed to return at the last set of tapings but they changed plans.

-- Smackdown tonight has Christian & Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio & Brodus Clay, Mark Henry vs. Rey Mysterio, Big Show & Kane vs. Corre, Jack Swagger vs. Sin Cara and Layla vs. Michelle.

-- Kurt Angle claims he's pondering another run at the Olympics. I am not making this up. And he claimed he wasn't just saying this for publicity. The story is here.

-- Michael Tarver might have suffered a neck injury last night. Dan wrote: I'm almost 100% this is not a work. Michael Tarver got hurt on a DDT spot with Consequences Creed and had to be carried out. Looked very legit. They botched the first attempt, but the second one it looked like Tarver landed head first in "stinger" position. Keirn and several refs carried him to the back after he lay in the ring for several minutes.

-- Chikara is doing a 12 LARGE SUMMIT, in honor of Larry Sweeney obviously, on May 21st in Easton, PA with Claudio Castagnoli, Jigsaw, Sara Del Rey, Fire Ant, Brodie Lee, Vin Gerard, Hallowicked, Eddie Kingston, Icarus, Ultramantis Black, Amasis and Mike Quackenbush. By the way, FREE interview with Quack talking Sweeney, King of Trios, etc., available on the right-hand side of the front page right now.

-- We have a free show up with Lance Storm as well talking World of Hurt and more.

-- Want to apologize for Dave and I not making it to the get-together this evening. The weigh-ins were at 4 PM and he had to do a Yahoo story and I had to do this update, so it didn't work out. Hope everyone had a good time and maybe we can meet up Saturday. If we're going anywhere before the show I will post it on Twitter. Also, if you see us during the weekend please stop by and say hi.

-- Dave and I also did the first of God knows how many updates in a row last night. It's up on the main page right now. We talked UFC, Impact, WWE stock, the Draft and more. Got another one going up later tonight, another one Saturday after UFC, another one Sunday after Extreme Rules and another one Monday after Raw. Mike Sempervive and I will also be doing a LIVE edition of Wrestling Observer Live Sunday on the front page of this site, Sports Byline radio affiliates, Sirius Channel 125 and more.

-- And in a cheap plug, there is an ECW Press booth at the UFC Fan Expo selling Death of WCW. I stopped by to say hi and they had me sign all the books. So if you haven't read it and want a signed copy and happen to be at the Expo, there you go.

-- James Stanios writes: The Steve Austin movie "Hunt to Kill" has been released in Australia straight to DVD and Blu-ray. It`s available now.

-- Nick writes: Just watched 30 Rock off the DVR and noticed that Ted Arcidi was in the credits, and ends up it was that Ted Arcidi. Kinda surprised and even more so after checking out his IMDB page and seeing he was in The Fighter.

-- Middle Village Wrestling presents BOUND FOR GREATNESS May 14, 2011 at the ACE Arena in Union City, NJ

-- Ed, Craig and Cutrer talk wrestling weddings on the show tonight here.

-- Interview with Smith Hart here.

-- Lance thinks people are too sensitive here.

-- A strong review of "That's What I Am"

-- David Lagana explains how not to have a wrestling wedding here.

-- The ECWA has announced that Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka will be at the 15th Annual Super 8 Tournament, which takes place this Saturday, April 30th, at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey. He will sign autographs from 2 to 3 PM. As previously announced, Tammy "Sunny" Sytch is hosting the event. Matches begin at 3:45 PM and will be streamed online at http://www.gfl.tv/. Thanks to Devin Cutting.

-- Newest episode of UWC Championship Wrestling is up here.

-- SHIMMER - WOMEN ATHLETES returns to the Berwyn Eagles Club (6309 26th Street) in Berwyn, IL on Saturday & Sunday, October 1st & 2nd, 2011. Volumes 41-44 of the SHIMMER DVD series will be filmed over the course of that weekend.

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