An update on C.M. Punk, SummerSlam, and the direction, if there is such a thing, of WWE going forward is the lead article on the newest issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The lead story talks about the past and present plans for SummerSlam, changes, the return of Jim Ross, behind the scenes regarding the returns of Punk and Ross, ratings, early indications on Money in the Bank on PPV, people second guessing the return, why Punk fans should be happy with how the angle played out, as well as what people knew what. We also look at the period that could have doomed his career in WWE.
We also look back on the Jim Ross run in WWE, the attempts at replacing him and what happened each time that has led him back to the main chair.
The issue will be up today on the web site for web site subscribers. 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.
Our other lead story is our twice yearly look at who are the biggest stars in the industry. Our top 50 in the U.S. power list based on Google searches yields some very interesting results, including a new No. 1 for thus far in 2011, a shocking No. 2, as well as who is stronger than their push, and who is the most noticeable person weaker than their push. We also look at who left and became a bigger star, and who left and was forgotten. It's a look at the biggest names in wrestling, boxing, MMA, as well as how 2011 has trended for WWE vs. UFC around the world.
We also look at the value of the UFC championships, and a predictor of what will be a big PPV before the year is out. We also look at an ominous sign regarding boxing, and what pro wrestling legend is gigantic on a worldwide basis that most wouldn't think of.
We also look at the return to wrestling of Kenta Kobashi this past week, the scene in Osaka, the booking of the return, and a look back at Kobashi's previous returns.
We also look at The Rock talking about his return, as well as talk about future plans, why Survivor Series under normal circumstances would not be expected to do well this year, more on Sin Cara, Mark Henry's new role, hints of a lawsuit, WWE star has a stalker and goes to court trying to put the person away, Randy Orton gets lucky, WWE's popularity in the Hispanic community, one of the hardest working men in the company, Fit Finlay talks more about his firing, star in another sport talks about quitting and going into WWE, notes on how much stock WWE execs like Kevin Dunn and Stephanie Levesque own, plus all the business notes from the past week and highlights from all the weekend WWE live events.
We also have a feature on the return of Chael Sonnen, looking back at the last year of his life, as well as his comments about his return. You may like him or hate him, and some do both, but he's certainly among the most quote worthy athletes in sports today.
We also look at DDT's biggest show of the year, and update Dragon Gate USA with a look at the Uprising PPV, and many of the new stars that appear on the show, plus strengths and weaknesses of this coming week's taped PPV offering.
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.
Also in this week's issue:
--One match television show this past week and what a match it was
--One of the top heels in the world inside the ring that you may not have heard of
--Notes from the annual Lucha Libre expo
--What longtime star is being positioned for a face turn
--Complete Verano de Escandalo lineup with several TNA stars appearing
--Why AAA lost U.S. TV
--New battle of the high flyers program being set up
--Notes on NOAH's jr. heavyweight tag team tournament
--Legends trio returns in Japan
--Sad death of indie manager
--Statue being built to honor an 80s pro wrestling star
--PWG's 8th anniversary show
--Former WWE performer places in national contest in another sport
--Destination X update
--Kurt Angle vs Sting program
--Lineup for TNA's Hardcore Justice PPV
--Lots of Hogan news
--TNA injury updates
--TNA star on another national TV show last week
--Former TNA star gets national network talk show
--RVD/Generation Me comments
--Generation Me talk leaving TNA, plans they were told, and why they decided to go
--Notes on TNA events this past week
--Notes on future TNA television
--First UFC title fight on television in four years
--Upcoming UFC show off to strong advance
--UFC's New Year's Eve plans
--Tons more UFC card changes
--Another UFC main event nearly kaput in a near miss
--Thoughts on the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix
--Dana White and Vince McMahon
--Thoughts on Fedor's future and the Strikeforce show
--Lorenzo Fertitta talks testosterone replacement therapy
--Frank Shamrock/Dana White feud
--Olympic silver medalist signs with Zuffa
--Tons of new UFC fights
--Coverage of the Strikeforce Challengers show
--Lots of upcoming Bellator plans for big matches the rest of the year
--Update on Nate Marquardt and Marquardt says why he thinks his testosterone is low
--Update on Bobby Lashley in MMA
--Notes on MMA judging including stats so far regarding testing with a new system
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. Our most requested issues in our history are:
*November 17, 1997 (full details of everything leading to the most famous wrestling match finish of modern times at the Survivor Series
plus a history of in-ring double-crosses)
*December 21, 1998 (the complete Vince McMahon-Bret Hart conversation right before the Survivor Series match so you'll know exactly what was said--the conversation played in edited form both on the inaugural broadcast of Confidential as well as in Wrestling with Shadows, but
everything that was said between the two about the match that was going to take place that same night)
*August 1, 1994 (the most detailed coverage anywhere of the Vince McMahon steroid trial, an issue praised in numerous newspaper article
and Sex, Lies and Headlocks)
*March 26, 2001 (death of WCW and history of pro wrestling on the Turner networks)
*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
*May 12, 2003 (The life and death of Elizabeth, and the rise of fall of Lex Luger)
*June 9, 2003 (Part 1 of history of WWF vs. WCW wars and what many say was the greatest year in U.S. wrestling; plus a look at Fred Blassie)
*June 16, 2003 (Freddie Blassie through the eyes of his biggest rivals and friends)
*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)
*October 4, 2004 (the life and times of Big Bossman; as well as details of the life and times of one of the most influential men world
wide in pro wrestling history, Jim Barnett)
*November 15, 2004 (the full story of what happened between Kurt Angle and Daniel Puder, plus coverage of the most important week in the
history of TNA)
*January 24, 2005 (2004 Awards issue, Rock and WWE part company)
*March 14, 2005 (the 50 biggest money players in the history of WWF and a look at their
Hall of Fame)
*May 9, 2005 (the life and times of Chris Candido)
*June 20, 2005 (The full story behind Paul Heyman and the death of ECW, as well as coverage of One Night Stand, Hardcore Homecoming and
behind the scenes of both shows)
*July 18, 2005 (death of Shinya Hashimoto and his records with a look at the fall of New Japan, the Matt Hardy angle, tons of WWE firings,
Cornette firing in detail as well as problems of a WWE developmental territory in our biggest news issue of the year which is a
double-sized issue and would be $6 on its own and $7 overseas)
*August 24, 2005 (2005 Hall of Fame issue with career profiles of Paul Heyman, HHH and Freebirds plus debut of MMA Hall of Fame)
*September 12, 2005 (History of Mid South Wrestling)
*October 10, 2005 (Life and Times of the Ultimate Warrior)
*November 21, 2005 (Life and Times of Eddy Guerrero and Crusher,
double issue $6 on its own and $7 overseas)
*December 5, 2005 (The Eddy Guerrero special issue, double issue $6 on its own, $7 overseas)
*January 9, 2006 (The life and times of Superstar Billy Graham, plus New Year's Eve 2005 coverage)
*January 16, 2006 (2005 Awards double issue, $6 or $7 overseas)
*April 3, 2006 (Story of Ann Calvello and the history of Roller Derby--many called this the best issue of the Observer ever)
*April 10, 2006 (Behind the scenes at the 2006 Wrestlemania/Hall of Fame week)
*July 24, 2006 (The History of the Von Erichs and World Class Championship Wrestling--the most unreal story ever in wrestling)
*September 4, 2006 (The Rise and Fall of Kurt Angle; 2006 Hall of Fame inductions of Eddie Guerrero, Paul Bowser, Masakatsu Funaki, Aja Kong and Hiroshi Hase including tons of wrestling history around the world from the 20s through the 60s, the evolution of working to not working
in Japan, and a look at Guerrero in hindsight, double issue $6 or $7 overseas)
*October 9, 2006 (A look back nine years later at the life and legacy of Brian Pillman with tons of inside information about what made him
tick as his real objectives)
*November 15, 2006 (History of WCW part one, Eric Bischoff's book and how the industry was changed forever)
*November 20, 2006 (History of WCW part two, Why Jim Ross left WCW, How Bischoff changed the company, signing of Hulk Hogan, Beginning of Nitro, Jesse Ventura, Brian Pillman, Chris Jericho and signing Wrestlemania planned celebrity away)
*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)
*January 22, 2007 (2006 Awards issue, double issue $7 on its own, $8 overseas)
*February 14, 2007 (Life and Times of Bam Bam Bigelow)
*March 5, 2007 (WWE begins plans that will change the business)
*March 12, 2007 (Life and Times of Mike Awesome)
*March 19, 2007 (Life and Times of Ernie Ladd)
*April 4, 2007 (Life and Times of Badnews Allen Coage--which many are calling one of the best issues in history)
*July 2, 2007 (Part one of the Benoit double murder-suicide)
*July 5, 2007 (Part two of the Benoit double murder-suicide)
*July 10, 2007 (Part three of the Benoit double murder-suicide)
*July 19, 2007 (Part four of the Benoit double murder-suicide)
*July 23, 2007 (Part five of Benoit double murder-suicide)
*July 25, 2007 (Part six of Benoit double murder-suicide)
*August 15, 2007 (The legend of the God of Japanese wrestling and his influence on MMA, Karl Gotch)
*October 15 (2007 Hall of Fame double issue, $7 on its own, $8 overseas including inductions of The Rock, Tom Packs and the original
*November 12, 2007 (Life and times of Fabulous Moolah and history of U.S. women's wrestling) .
*December 31, 2007 (History of Ric Flair and the heyday of wrestling at the Greensboro Coliseum)
*January 21, 2008 (2007 Awards issue, double issue $7 on its own, $8 overseas)
*March 17, 2008 (Life and times of Johnny Weaver)
*March 24, 2008 (Life and times of Gary Hart)
*April 10, 2008 (Farewell to Ric Flair; My thoughts, Shawn Michaels talks of Flair's meaning to him; Hall of Fame; Wrestlemania double
issue, $7 on its own, $8 overseas)
*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)
You can also order any of these issues on their own for $4 in North America or $5 overseas.
For the United States, it is $12 for 4 issues, $29 for 12, $55 for 24, $91 for 40 and $118 for 52. In Canada and Mexico, rates are $13.50 for
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.
--C.M. Punk is scheduled for the Raw house shows this coming weekend. Raw runs Friday in Peoria, Saturday in Rockford, Sunday in Springfield, IL and TV is Monday in Indianapolis
--The Punk interview with Bill Simmons at www.Grantland.com is up today. He said his promo to start the angle was 100% real. He said he was really planning on leaving, and well, changed plans in Chicago at the PPV.
--Hall of Fame wrestling announcer Gordon Solie passed away 11 years ago today.
--Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of Dusty Rhodes beating Ric Flair at the Great American Bash in Greensboro in a cage match to win the NWA title before a sellout crowd. (thanks to Brian Wescott)
--Mick Foley on twitter when asked if he was coming back to WWE, said he was considering it right now.
--Cult of Personality has been in the top 200 in the iTunes hot singles the past two days in the U.S.
--The Miz on WOIO in Cleveland talking about C.M. Punk before throwing out the first pitch at the Indians game is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3ByySiomDc (thanks to Scott Isaacs)
--Miz will be on George Lopez Tonight on TBS and will be on the MTV.com post-show for Real World/Road Rules, a show he was on before wrestling. He's also going to be doing a guest starring role on "Psych" on USA Network, a show other wrestlers have been on in the past, and whose stars have been on both Raw and Tough Enough (in one of the more lame segments of last season).
--USA won the cable ratings race last week with a 2.5 prime time average to 2.2 for Disney and 1.7 for TNT. Syfy Was No. 9 at 1.0. Spike was No. 22 at 0.7. The Raw two hours from last week were No. 11 and No. 14. No. 1 was The Closer at 4.9. In 18-49, the two hours of Raw were No. 8 and No. 10.
--What best describes your feelings on C.M. Punk's return
Too soon, will cost long-term money 34.3%
Had to be now, SummerSlam is too close and you can't expect him to not be on the show 17.1%
Okay bringing him back but the way they did coming out on stage killed the story 15.1%
Had to bring him back fast, would have lost momentum if he stayed off TV 10.4%
Hurts character long run by insisting he's leaving and not leaving 10.2%
Won't hurt character, but hurts WWE stips going forward if they drew a buy rate off it because people won't believe in stips going forward 9.1%
Match ado about nothing, he isn't a difference maker financially 3.8%
--Will SummerSlam beat last year's numbers?
About the same 25.9%
--Who do you believe is the biggest of these stars?
C.M. Punk 25.2%
Manny Pacquiao 17.9%
Brock Lesnar 7.2%
John Cena 5.6%
Georges St. Pierre 5.3%
Floyd Mayeather Jr. 4.9%
Hulk Hogan 3.6%
Jon Jones 1.1%
Randy Orton 0.7%
Anderson Silva 0.2%
--Poll on Raw from Monday
8.3% of those responding didn't see the show
--The ROH Best in the World 2011 show from last month has been released on DVD, featuring the Eddie Edwards title loss to Davey Richards which is a match of the year candidate.
--Juggalo Championship Wrestling has another PPV tomorrow night from Clutch Cargos in Pontiac, MI featuring 2 Tuff Tony vs. Adam Pearce, Jimmy Jacobs vs. Bill Martel, Amber O'Neil vs. Brittany Force and Colt Cabana vs. Corporal Robinson for the JCW title.
--There will be another MMA PPV set for 8/13, called MMA Fight Pit: Genesis from The Pit in Albuquerque, NM. The show is headlined by Houston Alexander vs. Razak Al-Hassan and Jens Pulver vs. Coty Wheeler, plus former TUF stars in action with Junie Browning resurfacing against Lenny Lovato and Jamie Yager vs. Willie Parks. Live PPV without television? What's the percentage of success rate with that concept these days?
--Hulk Hogan talks C.M. Punk and Randy Savage at http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/blogs/2011/tv-news/hulk-hogan-on-c.m.-punk-% E2%80%98saints-row-%E2%80%99-and-his-reconciliation-with-randy-savage/
--John Morrison and Melina were on TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto today and were doing the media rounds in the city. (thanks to Adam Lebow)
--A poster for 8/27 at the NBC Arena in Honolulu for the return of Pro Elite lists Arlovski vs. Lopez and Grove vs. Riggs as the two main events. That's Kendall Grove, Joe Riggs and Andrei Arlovski. It's either Tony Lopez, Ray Lopez or another Lopez, but not George or Mario, although if Ariel Helwani asked Mario, he'd probably say if MMA was around when he was breaking in, he'd have gone into it instead. A press conference Friday will make it clear.
--Vaughan Lee (11-6-1) of the U.K., a bantamweight, has signed with UFC and debuts on the 11/5 show in Birmingham, England.
--CZW has an iPPV on 8/13 from the Arena in Philadelphia headlined by a 2 Ring Psycho Circus Death match with Drake Younger vs. Scotty Vortekz and Devon Moore vs. Blk Jeez for the CZW title in a lumberjack strap match.
--In the Pay TV ratings in Australia, Smackdown last wee was No. 44 with 64,000 viewers while in the Sydney metro area, Raw was No. 73 with 23,000 viewers.
--AIW Girls Night Out 4 All Women Pro Wrestling on Friday night at the AIW Arena in Cleveland.
--USA Championship Wrestling has three shows this weekend in Carthage, TN at the Smith County Fair. They run Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. off the midway and admission is free to fairgoers.
--Sunday afternoon's CHIKARA show in Philadelphia at the Arena at 4 p.m. features Johnny Saint & Mike Quackenbush vs. Johnny Kidd & Colt Cabana in a match you really want to see, I promise, especially if you don't know Saint and Kidd, plus Claudio Castagnoli vs. Sara Del Rey, Eddie Kingston vs. Jigsaw, Daizee Haze vs. Mima Shimoda and more.
--Tickets for UFC on 9/17 at the Ernest Morial Convention Center in New Orleans go on sale to Fight Club Members tomorrow at 10 a.m., to newsletter readers on Friday at 10 a.m., and to the public on Saturday.
--Tickets for one of the biggest Strikeforce events ever, on 9/10 at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati with Josh Barnett vs. Sergei Kharitonov, Daniel Cormier vs. Antonio Silva in the Grand Prix semis, plus Ronaldo Jacare Souza vs. Luck Rockhold for the middleweight title, Roger Gracie vs. King Mo, Rafael Feijao vs. Yoel Romero and Maximo Blanco vs. Josh Thomson go on sale to Fight Club members tomorrow at 10 a.m., Newsletter readers at Noon tomorrow with the password OHIO and to the public at Noon on Friday.
--NWS on Saturday night in Carteret, NJ at the Divine Mercy Holy Family Parish Hall featuring Nikolai Volkoff & The ECW Zombie vs. Monsta Mack & Danny Inferno on a night of tag team matches.
--The Bismark Tribune has a review of the Brock Lesnar book Death Clutch at http://bismarktribune.com/sports/ Reporter Lou Babarz has covered Lesnar since he wrestled as Bismark Junior College.
--Kelly Kelly, Alex Riley and Justin Gabriel appear for FCW tonight in Orlando at the Armory. Riley and Gabriel with both wrestle. Also appearing in an autograph session are Bill DeMott, Andy Leavine, Mason Ryan, Jinder Mahal and Bo Rotundo.
--Gunner & Murphy appear at EAW Wrestle War V on 8/26 in Wentworth, NC at the National Guard Armory.
--Jim Ross' speech when accepting the Lou Thesz award at the Wrestling Hall of Fame over the weekend is at http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/2011/07/26/18473826.html
--Former WWE announcer Mike Adamle was promoted to head sports anchor on Chicago's NBC affiliate, Ch. 5. He's worked part-time for the station for years (thanks to Rich Koz)
--Trish Stratus on the set of Revive Magazine at http://youtube.com/watch?v=jraJFGpOZ51&feature=youtu.be
--Ted DiBiase Sr., Necro Butcher and Sid Vicious appear at Collector's Realm near Vassar College in Poughkeepsie on 8/21 from 1-3 p.m.
--Platinum Championship Wrestling on Friday night at 10 pm. a The Academy Theater in Avondale Estates GA.
--A documentary called "Fake It So Real," about an independent wrestling promotion out of Lincolnton, NC, plays in New York at the Crown Vic tomorrow at 8 p.m. It's outdoors in the backyard at the Crown Vic in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at 60 South 2nd St at Wythe Avenue. Actually, a band plays at 8 p.m. and the film will start at 8:30 p.m., plus a Q&A at 10 p.m., after which many of the wrestlers in the movie will then do a live Battle Royal. (thanks to Jeff Sheridan)
--C.M. Punk is in the Freeze Frame section of the 7/11 edition of Multi Channel News. Punk is with some WWE office personnel in front of a mun2/USA Network background showing them together at the NBC Universal booth at the Cable Show in Chicago. Punk was with Bill Hanley, Matthew Damicone, Melissa Seffens and Christine Pinzon (thanks to Charles Humphreys)
--An interview with Greg Iron, the wrestler with Cerebral Palsy that C.M. Punk talked about is at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/michaelbarton/2011/07/27/michael-barton-pres ents-an-interview-with-gregory-iron
--UWC Championship Wrestling this week is at http://www.youtube.com/UWCWrestlingVideos
--NWA MSW on 7/30 in Mt. Hope, WV at the Community Building