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We are crammed with news in this week's issue of the Wrestling Observer, which covers the title wins by Daniel Bryan and Zack Ryder with a lot of exclusive news, including the background of the Bryan push, who was work it and who wasn't for it, and a shocking number that came out this past week.
We look at the careers of Bryan and C.M. Punk since they started in WWE, a look at champions first created by Money in the Bank, what Punk legitimately overcame, notes on the first season of NXT, what happened that made NXT such a low priority besides the ratings, the story behind the Bryan title win, the Mark Henry injury, what winning the title does and doesn't mean, the difference between live crowd reaction and ratings, the dichotomy of the popularity of Zack Ryder, the possible end of the line of Kevin Nash plus our usual coverage of the TLC PPV show with match-by-match coverage, star ratings and more.
We also look back at the legendary heel Umanosuke Ueda, what role he popularized, his heyday, what he's best known for in Japan, his role in big ratings and notes on his career.
We also have a detailed look at what the Survivor Series buy rate said about WWE on PPV and the comeback of The Rock. We look at comparisons with last years, domestic vs. international split, UFC vs. WWE on the same weekend and more.
We also have a look at the 2011 Japanese awards, both by the sportswriters as well as by the fans for MVP, Match of the Year, Tag Team of the Year, Most Outstanding, and the strange nominees for Best Technical and more.
We also have more on the Alistair Overeem drug testing fiasco with this week's update.
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
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We also look at the new deal signed by Zuffa and Showtime for Strikeforce in 2012, plans for the brand, comments from Dana White and Scott Coker, the women's scene, ratings and more about the deal.
We also look at the new twist in the Friday night wars with Ultimate Fighter Fridays being added, and what the end game from Spike TV really is, why they are programming so hard against UFC and what they would like to happen.
We also look at Linda McMahon and the campaign and what she isn't and isn't talking about in her campaign literature. We look at the "Cena sucks" T-shirts, a new Cena endorsement, more on one of the main events at the 2012 WrestleMania, more on WWE winning awards, return of Christian, Del Rio injury note, female performer quits, more on WWE network and the reality shows, Jim Ross on forgetting his lines, Notes on new wrestlers being called up to the main roster over the next few weeks and background, Rumble main event, a name batted about for Hall of Fame, Steve Austin movie project, Dave Bautista talks the current product, more on holiday house shows, new people signed by WWE and background, developmental notes and weekend house show highlights and business.
We've also got coverage of the AAA and CMLL last major shows of the year. We look at Guerra de Titanes, including several TNA wrestlers appear before bigger crowds than they ever would for TNA, who has jumped, the new NWO idea, and what TNA wrestler drew raves for being a world champion level performer. We also look at the young wrestler from the U.S. who is feuding with a Mexican legend.
We also look at the plight of CMLL with Sin Piedad featuring the Felino vs. Blue Panther hair vs. hair match and the terrible finish.
We've also got complete coverage of Strikeforce, including the ratings, the surprising notes about the ratings, why they were what they were, comparisons with the Andre Ward numbers, the Cris Cyborg contract numbers plus match-by-match coverage with pay reports from the show.
We also have ratings for all the national shows for the past week, including the most details on Raw from this week, , who is and isn't watching and how each segment on the show gained or lost audience. We also have the same for Impact including the change in the makeup of the viewership this week from normal levels and why.
We also have our regular weekly features with results of all the major arena events around the world, as well as all the major TV show
Also in this week's issue:
--Notes on the tournament for the vacant CMLL world title
--Upcoming AAA television
--Abdullah the Butcher returns to Japan and a surprising main event
--Update on knee reconstruction surgery of one of Japan's biggest stars
--More on NOAH's next big show
--Details on the Satoshi Kojima 20th anniversary show
--Return of Stan Hansen to Japan
--Update on Toshiaki Kawada
--End of an era with the ECW Arena
--Devon Nicholson and the Canadian Olympic team
--A former pro wrestler who left pro wrestling and won an Olympic silver medal and how he almost also got involved in the early UFC
--The story behind a WWE wrestler who trained with WWE talent and snuck out to the Olympic team trials a decade ago
--Latest on Linda Hogan and Chyna
--Notes on ROH Final Battle
--Why Jeff & Karen Jarrett are gone from TNA
--Story on how long they are gone for
--What Jeff is now doing
--TNA wrestlers sent to OVW
--Update on the TNA Genesis PPV
--A look at the angles building up Genesis
--Notes on TNA's India satellite group
--Garett Bischoff update
--Song about a pro wrestler noted as one of the best songs of the year by Rolling Stone
--Who should get credit for the Jarrett/Sting vignettes on Impact
--A look at where Impact is headed and a new heel turn in TNA
--Former WWE wrestler expected to join TNA imminently
--Dana White gets awarded even during a down year
--Update on UFC 140 PPV number report
--The unique patterns of the show and what it says about Toronto
--Lorenzo Fertitta talks PPV business vs. FOX
--Fertitta talks drug testing
--Update on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira after Frank Mir broke his arm
--Another new MMA television show announced
--A UFC 24 hour TV marathon coming
--A look at the firing of Miguel Torres as well as Joe Rogan, Dana White and others
--Update on Fabricio Werdum's return to UFC
--Brock Lesnar talks about his guilty plea in hunting case
--Mirko Cro Cop asked to do pro wrestling
--Return of Gabriel Gonzaga
--Latest details of the annual Japanese New Year's Eve show including for the first time, Japanese pro wrestling airing on New Year's Eve special
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
4, $33 for 12, $61 for 24, $101 for 40 and $131 or 52. In Europe, you can get the fastest delivery and best rates by sending to
. For the rest of the world, rates are $15.50 for 4, $41 for 12, $78 for 24, $126 for 40 issues and $163 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.
--Want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Bryan and I will be back late tonight for a radio show which will be mostly devoted to taking questions, so if you've got questions on MMA or pro wrestling you can send them to
--It's been what has been advertised for months, but it is now official, at least until somebody changes their mind, that this year's Rumble will have 30 men.
--Last night may have been the quietest Saturday night for news that I'm aware of. Even before if Christmas Eve comes on a Saturday there would at least be some level of major indie show. There are a number of house shows with WWE this week, and this coming weekend is huge with UFC 141 and the annual New Year's Eve show in Japan going on at the same time. The New Year's Eve show is scheduled to be the longest MMA or pro wrestling television show in modern U.S. history, clocking in at nine hours live from 1 a.m. to 10 a.m. late Friday night early Saturday morning, featuring MMA, kickboxing and pro wrestling matches from the Saitama Super Arena.
--A Florida roofing company slapped John Cena with a $15,214.92 lien based on work that they did to his Florida home. Somehow I don't think he'll have too many problems covering it. Story is at http://www.tmz.com
--Chuck Langerman's daily wrestling trivia looks at Christmas. Former TNA wrestlers Chris Harris and Trenesha Biggers (Rhaka Khan) were both born on Christmas. Harris turns 38 today. Biggers turns 30. Among others who were born on Christmas include Sir Isaac Newton (who if it wasn't for him, Pac would just be another guy), Clara Barton, Conrad Hilton, Robert Ripley, Humphrey Bogart, Little Richard (the singer not the other Little Richard), Sissy Spacek, Larry Csonka and Ricky Henderson. Among celebrities that died on Christmas day were Charlie Chaplin, Billy Martin (you know, the guy who was at the first WrestleMania), Wilbur Snyder (20 years ago today, the ultimate borderline Hall of Fame candidate) and Dean Martin.
--Even though Christmas was one of the biggest nights of the year for pro wrestling, I can only recall once going to a wrestling show on Christmas day, which was 28 years ago today to see Ric Flair vs. David Von Erich at Reunion Arena in Dallas, and Kevin & Mike Von Erich vs. Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts in a loser leaves town match where Michael Hayes showed up as Santa Claus to interfere but the Von Erichs still won. Gordy & Roberts were back five weeks later. Apparently they beat the Von Erichs in a fictitious match with a cheating ref in Georgia to win the World Six man titles, and the Von Erichs allowed them to return so they could get a title shot in Fort Worth at the end of January. I just remember it was cold as hell and thousands of people were turned away. I don't know that I'm going to remember the TLC PPV in 2039. Or next month. It's possible if there was a show in San Jose in the 70s that I went. I don't ever recall the Cow Palace running on Christmas day, as they would run right after Christmas and it would be one of the bigger shows of the year.
--Biggest news story of January
WWE signs Mistico, beginning of a down year for CMLL 31.2%
Chael Sonnen pleads guilty to money laundering charges 15.8%
Cain Velasquez undergoes surgery for torn rotator cuff, out till November 9.8%
K-1 loses TV, essentially done 9.8%
WWE brings back Tough Enough 8.3%
Alberto Del Rio wins Royal Rumble 7.5%
Royal Rumble has 40 men instead of 30 5.6%
HDNet cancels ROH 4.9%
Flair has European blow up with TNA 3.8%
WWE announces Diva Search for the summer, then changes its mind 2.3%
Kimbo set to debut in pro wrestling, then backs out at the last minute 0.8%
New Japan Tokyo Dome show 0.4%
That one that placed fourth should have been a lot higher in hindsight.
--Should promotions allow unprotected chair shots to the head
--Poll on Smackdown
42.1% of those responding didn't see the show
--Future Shop stores in Vancouver have all the WWE DVDs on sale from 2011 for just $9.99 plus tax. There are some good ones this year. History of Mania is good, even with the historical questions (which weren't as bad as they could have been), and Austin and Bret vs Shawn are good as well. (thanks to Ed Ludwig)