FRI UPDATE: Jeff Katz project hits Variety, distribution deal, Lance gives up on MMA, four big shows, Punk vs. Cena thoughts, Colt and Punk together, Edge talks acting, tons more



By Bryan Alvarez

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We've got a slow weekend, with the exception of probably the most anticipated WWE "B" show in a long time.  Neither ROH nor TNA are touring this weekend.  There are also no major MMA events and WWE only has one house show.
 

Smackdown tonight:

Ezekiel Jackson vs. Ted DiBiase for the IC title

Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes

Sin Cara vs. Sheamus

Kelly Kelly vs. Rosa Mendes

Heath Slaater vs. Justin Gabriel

Randy Orton vs. Kane non-title

The biggest MMA event is tonight on HDNet at 10 p.m. Eastern with Shark Fights 17 from Frisco, TX:
Daniel Almeida vs. Douglas Williams (not that Douglas Williams)
Douglas Frey vs. Eric Perez (who is also not Eric Escobar)
Ilir Latifi vs. Emanuel Newton
Ricco Rodriguez against a mystery opponent if in fact he fights
Matt Horwich vs. Jake Rosholt
        Rodriguez was supposed to face Karl Knothe.  Even though this was billed as a heavyweight fight, there was an agreement with both sides and the commission that both men were to weigh 230 pounds.  Knothe, who claimed he was never told by his manager of this agreement, showed up at 254 pounds.  The Texas commission, yes, the Texas commission, then nixed the fight saying there was too much of a weight difference between the two guys.  Rodriguez weighed in at 228.  Knothe tried to cut weight to make 230, but wasn't able to get close. 
 
WWE has a dual brand show in Milwaukee on Saturday night featuring a Battle Royal, where the winner faces John Cena for the title in the main event, plus Randy Orton vs. Christian for the World title.
 
Sunday is the Money in the Bank PPV, with John Cena vs. C.M. Punk for the WWE title, Orton vs. Christian for the World title, Raw Money in the Bank (Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Miz, Alex Riley, R-Truth and Evan Bourne), Smackdown Money in the Bank (Sheamus, Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan, Sin Cara, Cody Rhodes, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel and Kane), Big Show vs. Mark Henry and Kelly Kelly vs. Brie Bella for the Divas title.  There may be another match added after they time the show if they need more time.  The top four matches all should be long, and Show and Kelly's match are likely to be kept very short.
 
Raw will be Monday night from Green Bay.
 
Smackdown will be taped on Tuesday in Minneapolis.The latest on C.M. Punk, his future, Money in the Bank as well as updates on contract situations involving some key people who are free agents in wrestling is among the lead stories as we've got two issues of the Observer coming out this week.


        The latest on C.M. Punk, his future, Money in the Bank as well as updates on contract situations involving some key people who are free agents in wrestling is among the lead stories as we've got two issues of the Observer coming out this week.

        Our lead story talks about reactions in wrestling that surprised me to the Punk direction, why worrying about the ratings right now and even the PPV buy rate are only a small part of the story going forward and the pitfalls of how long you can go in this direction as seen by previous attempts and their self life.  We look in depth at the ratings, and just as important, the ratings of Punk's segments compared to the rest of the show.

        We look at PPV vs. TV, Punk's interviews and what is and isn't real regarding his contract talks as well as who he wants to face at WrestleMania and right now where that stands.

        We also have a look at TNA's promotion of the X Division, with comments from wrestlers, and thoughts about the heyday of the Division vs. today and if Destination X did well and if so, what would it mean.  We have a complete rundown of the show including poll results and star ratings for all of the matches.
 
         The first issue will be available today for web site subscribers and the second is available tomorrow.  You can get a mail subscription to the Observer with information below.  The Observer has the most detailed coverage of pro wrestling around the world, as well as insider UFC coverage not available anywhere else.  We have about 14 new newsletters each month, usually six Observers, four or five Figure Four Weeklies and four or five back issues of the Observer each week.
 
        We also have an in-depth look at the changes in the WWE writing team, both in structure, as well as notes on the new head writers for both Raw and Smackdown, what the new roles are for the old head writers, reactions from those with experience in creative about these changes as well as the basic depth chart regarding who answers to who, and how the writing process is changing.  We also have notes regarding new writers being looked at.

        We also have more on the future of WWE developmental, as well as what these moves mean regarding John Laurinaitis.  We also look at some reactions we got to the Randy Orton interview before the European tour. We've got more on wrestlers belongings being stolen in South Africa as well as a story regarding something somewhat similar happening in the U.S. to one of WWE's biggest stars at the time.

        We also have notes on what at least on paper could be a major potential hurdle to Randy Savage going into the WWE Hall of Fame at WrestleMania, a wrestler whose work is cause for concern and more on Tivo and tape viewership of Raw and how it's changing.
 
        We also have a trivia note of a wrestler currently on WWE TV who got interested in wrestling when one of his friends who was a WWE star showed him something.

        We've also got WWE business notes from the past week as well as highlights of all of the overseas house show events including a new angle about to be shot and its test marketing first overseas.

        We also look at the future of women's MMA fighting and how several things in the past few months has put a lot of uncertainty into it on a major level, and why the next big fight is so important.

        We also have the beginning of Hall of Fame season, looking at NWA world championship records during the heyday of the territorial record, looking at the biggest stars, their title shots and what people have been overlooked in Hall of Fame discussions.  For those into history, you'll really enjoy this piece looking back at a different era of the business and what lessons about drawing and who draws that this period showed that seemingly have been forgotten.

        We also look at UFC's problems with injuries, including a laundry list of main events that have fallen through this year.

        We also look at Pro Wrestling NOAH's last major show, as well as its major upcoming jr. tag team tournament.

        We also have a feature looking back nearly a century ago at one of the most famous matches in wrestling history, Strangler Lewis vs. Joe Stecher's nearly five hour match in Omaha.  We look at the background of the match, as real a story of the match as can be ascertained including notes from Steve Yohe's research on both men.  We look at the program, and how it shaped pro wrestling going forward including why Lewis and not Stecher became the era's icon, what didn't happen that likely hurt Stecher from becoming the better known legend, as well as how double-crosses changed the direction of wrestling in the Lewis era.     

         We also have our usual weekly features including ratings for all the major national shows, broken down the segment-by-segment for both Raw and Impact, showing which segments gained and lost viewers and evaluated their performance from an audience level.
 
         We also have results from all the major league pro wrestling and MMA events over the past week, as well as reviews of all the major television shows.   
 
           The Wrestling Observer ranges from 25,000 to 40,000 words covering pro wrestling and MMA all over the world.
 
         Each issue has coverage and analysis of all the major news, plus every issue breaks major news stories before the Internet sites and has the most complete look at the business as a whole anywhere.  The Observer is now in its 29th year of being the leading insider pro wrestling publication in the world. The biggest and most influential names in the pro wrestling industry as well as the MMA industry, from bookers, to promoters to Hall of Fame wrestlers and fighters to the biggest current names, both on camera, and behind the scenes, along with thousands of readers in all 50 states and 30 countries subscribe.  Many have subscribed as long as 20 years or more straight. They get the most detailed and inside coverage of what is going on all over the world and an accuracy from having the most inside sources that can't be found on the web.  Everyone from Wall Street to the major offices to the TV networks in U.S. and Japan turn to the Observer for what is going on in the business. If you are a new subscriber ordering 24 or more issues, you can get one free classic issue of your choice sent to you today. With a 40 issue subscription, you can get two free classic issues sent to you today. Just send your Visa or Master Card order with your name, address, phone number, Visa or Master Card number and an expiration date to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you can order by faxing that information to 408-244-3402. You can also subscribe via paypal at www.paypal.com and using the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it address or subscribe via check, cash or money order, as well as credit card, by mail, by sending to Wrestling Observer Newsletter, P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228.
 
         Also in this week's issues:

--More notes on plans for TNA to tape outside the Impact Zone over the next few months

--How the tapings are going to be done

--Why this is another experiment

--Morale in TNA right now

--Hogan's future role in TNA

--X Division wrestlers weigh in on what they hope the PPV will show

--Update on Ric Flair and TNA and what has happened in recent weeks

--More on the Flair situation on the New York house show tour

--More on the departure of Generation Me and Orlando Jordan

--Update on Chris Sabin

--More on the pilot and plans for All Wheels Wrestling and who is behind it

--Kurt Angle talks Olympics

--More TNA injury updates

--Notes on the next few weeks of TNA television

--Notes on business for upcoming UFC shows

--What this is saying about the UFC product and how it relates to the same issues with the WWE product

--Talk about what looks to be the next monster UFC show

--Lots of talk regarding new UFC fights

--Notes on a major year-end show

--Pay records for UFC in Vancouver

--Fighters cut by UFC of late

--Major movie role for a UFC regular
 
--Surprise result in title match regarding someone supposed to be headed to WWE
 
--Update on Arena Mexico
 
--Ratings from Mexico
 
--A look at AAA taping with Jeff Jarrett, Abyss and Mickie James
 
--More TNA stars at the next AAA TV tapings
 
--Notes on upcoming Dragon Gate USA shows
 
--Next major NOAH show including return of Kenta Kobashi, title eliminator and tournament matches
 
--Complete details of the upcoming G-1 Climax tournament, lineups of all the major matches
 
--Wacky IGF world title tournament goes to final featuring Zuffa current headliner vs. K-1 legend
 
--What unique match of a Zuffa star vs. an indie MMA name took place in pro wrestling this past week
 
--What is being talked about as the biggest nostalgia show of all-time featuring multiple Hall of Famers and tons of big stars of the past
 
--Details of the bus accident involving a recent WWE headliner and the eery coincidence regarding it of another famous bus accident that is well known in rock and roll history
 
--New book on the history of pro wrestling in one of its most important cities ever
 
--Update on wrestling reality show and its future
 
--Claim of an overseas show featuring some of the biggest non-WWE names in the world, as well as the legitimacy of it
 
--The fiasco that was the Randy Savage benefit show over the weekend
 
--New TNA signing
 
--Update on UFC 132 PPV numbers and where it was strongest
 
--Major lighter weight star set for UFC debut in Las Vegas
 
--More on the half-point system in MMA and its applications
 
--Former WWE star continues MMA career
 
--Freak show Ken Shamrock vs. James Toney match rules and thoughts
      
         New subscribers ordering 24 or 40 issues have to let us know what major story (ies) 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.

 
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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.
 
 -- For those who listened to the Tuesday show with Jeff Katz, which got rave reviews, Variety does, in fact, have a story on his wrestling project up here, plus the news that Image Entertainment will be distributing the content, a story we broke on Tuesday's show. If you tear your hair out watching Impact make no sense, you might want to read that article and listen to that show, because it's a pretty interesting concept and something very different from what anyone else is doing right now.

-- Also, for those who heard Lance Storm talk about why he's so upset with UFC on Figure Four Daily last week, he's got a long, long article explaining his feelings in great detail here. He's so upset that he's tapped out as an MMA fan. He'll be on the show next week and we'll put a thread in the radio show forum, so if you have more questions let us know and he'll address them then.

-- Just a note that I personally put up FOUR radio shows on the front page yesterday, and if you add in Mike Coughlin's Five Star Radio that's five. We did a call-in show to get listener's predictions for Money in the Bank Sunday, which was really interesting, Dave and I interviewed Michael Schiavello about all sorts of subjects including his recent interview with Hulk Hogan and the real reason the interview with Warrior fell apart, Dr. Lucha and Thecubsfan talked AAA, CMLL, Mistico, Averno and more, and then of course the weekend Bryan & Vinny Show. Suffice to say, all of this along with Sunday's PPV recap with Dave and I plus Monday's follow-up Raw recap makes this an awesome time to sign up. Click hereand join the fun!

-- By the way, on the call-in show, it was about 60-40 Punk leaving with the title as the top prediction. About 40% think Cena is just going to beat him clean. Most people predicted Alberto Del Rio would win with the title. People also predicted Cody winning as a surprise and then losing when trying to cash it in against Punk. I've been getting tons of emails as well. I haven't seen this much fantasy-booking over one angle since probably the Invasion. Hopefully this turns out better than that one, though to be fair, this show won't do a quarter of the buyrate the Invasion PPV did.

--C.M. Punk did an interview with GQ Magazine at http://www.gq.com pushing for a match with Steve Austin.  He doesn't say much else about future goals in wrestling, other than he's financially set for life and has no plans after Sunday. 

-- Colt Cabana's latest podcast is up herewith not only an appearance by Chris Hero, but also the hottest act in wrestling at the moment, CM Punk.

-- Marvez has a big interview with Cabana here.

-- Another article about Cena saying he'll savor the Chicago hate here.

-- Edge talks breaking into acting, money and more here.

-- McMahons support internship program for low-income teens

-- Vladimir Matyushenko is out of the match with Alexander Gustafsson, and will be replaced by Matt Hamill for the show on 8/6 in Philadelphia.

-- Tickets for UFC Jon Jones vs. Rampage Jackson on September 24 at the Pepsi Center in Denver go on sale next week. UFC has a press conference announcing that show on July 19th at the Denver Braun's Bar & Grill, which the public is invited to attend. It's at noon Eastern, 10 local time.

-- Dave looks at the top stories of 2011 so far, topped by the UFC purchase of Strikeforce, hereon Yahoo.com.

-- Kevin Steen will be at EVOLVE on July 26th at BB King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square, Manhattan, New York. Tickets are now on sale in the www.EVOLVEwrestling.com Shop, by calling 267-519-9744 or at Ticketmaster outlets. This event will be broadcast on live iPPV at www.WWNLive.com and you can pre-order it now. Steen on his Twitter said the nice little rules and regulations in EVOLVE were not for him. They claim he's going to get an open mic, so it'll be interesting to see if he rants and raves about ROH and Jim Cornette on a Gabe Sapolsky show.

-- Josh Grispi and Matt Grice will fight at UFC 136 on 10/8 from Houston. Thanks to Ryan.

-- Shawn Michaels getting a Topps collector's trading card.

-- Who said it: Harrison or CM Punk?From NFL.com.

-- Above Average Mike Sanders, who is now an actor, appeared as a jerk NASCAR driver Wednesday night on USA Network's "Necessary Roughness". Thanks to Mark.

-- Pretty sure it was a figure four armlock and not a figure four leglock, which is too bad.

-- Patrick writes: Pretty sure you got wind of this but SI made a list of the top 100 sports stars to follow on Twitter. I found the bio of Zack Ryder to be interesting: "Professional wrestling's first Internet Champion has used social media to become one of WWE's fastest rising stars." Fastest rising? Really? Other notables on the list are Dana White, Joe Rogan, Jay Glazer and Oscar de la Hoya.. Ryder is the only WWE name listed.

-- Harley Race will be appearing at the WWE house show in Springfield, Missouri on August 28th, according to the venue's website. Thanks to Devin.

-- We've got ONE WEEK LEFT on the presales for the new F4W T-shirt. There will be a very, very limited number of extras printed up before we go onto the next design, so it's best not to expect that you'll be able to pick one up after the presale is over. The only way to guarantee yourself one is to order before next Friday. The info is on the front page on the bottom right, or you can just click here. Bryan's Friend Craig is in charge of everything, so direct all questions to him at that link if you have any. Thanks so much for all the support and you'll love the shirts!

--PPV buying plans for August

Buying only UFC 133 22.8%
Buying only SummerSlam 20.3%

Buying both 10.7%

Buying neither 46.3%

--Strongest Hall of Fame candidate on this list

Dick Murdoch 45.5%

Gene & Ole Anderson 23.6%

Tommy Rich 8.6%

The Assassins 5.2%

Mark Lewin 4.9%

Pepper Gomez 4.3%

Ray Gunkel 2.6%

Cyclone Negro 1.7%

Thunderbolt Patterson 1.4%

Buddy Colt 1.2%

Bob Ellis 0.6%

Bobby Managoff 0.3%

--Which of these guys would you have most wanted to see against Rashad Evans

Tito Ortiz 37..4%

Lyoto Machida 32.1%

Phil Davis 8.4%

Vitor Belfort 8.4%

Rich Frnaklin 8.1%

Vladimir Matyushenko 2.5%

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 2.2%

Alexander Gustafsson 0.9%

-- Thomas writes: We just did an interview with "The New Wave" Cheech Hernandez of Chikara, Dragon Gate USA and Evolve at http://www,mikeandtompresent.com talking those promotions, plus touring for Brian Dixon's All Star Wrestling in England, teaming with Sean Waltman recently and more.

-- The EWF present a FREE TO EVERYONE PRO WRESTLING EVENT, SAT July 16th, 2:pm/Downtown San Bernardino, Calif., Corner of Court St and E st., Johnny Starr/Terex/Espirtu Infernal and many other EWF wrestling stars.

-- Tomorrow, Sat, July 16, 2011, is the big night. East Coast Wrestling Association (ECWA) returns to the Greater Newark Boys’ & Girls’ Club,109 Glasgow Drive, Rt. 40 & #1 Positive Place in Newark, DE.

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Which of these main events would draw the best?

 

What are you planning on watching on Friday?