FRI UPDATE: Huge weekend schedule, Royal Rumble and UFC on FOX 2 notes, tons of interviews, Dana talks more drug testing (or not), Hogan wrestling again, free Chikara, tons more



By Bryan Alvarez

Bryan Alvarez: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

We're looking for your thoughts on tonight's Dragon Gate USA iPPV show at www.WWNlive.com which starts at 11 p.m. Eastern time

Tonight's lineup:

Cima & Ricochet vs. Masaaki Mochizuki & Jimmy Susumu for Open the United Gate titles

Pac vs. Akira Tozawa

Masato Yoshino vs. Naruki Doi

AR Fox vs. Sami Callihan

Low Ki vs. BxB Hulk

Chuck Taylor & Rich Swann vs. Young Bucks

Jon Davis vs. Caleb Konley

We're also looking for reports on tonight's TNA show in Manchester, England at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Also tonight on HDNet at 10 p.m. Eastern is Maximum Fighting Championships 32 from Edmonton featuring Antonio McKee vs. Brian Cobb and Dhiego Lima vs. Nathan Coy as the main events.

The weekend is based around two big shows, tomorrow night's UFC on FOX 2 and the WWE Royal Rumble on Sunday.

UFC starts at 5 p.m. Eastern and 2 p.m. Pacific on Fuel. The last I saw the show actually starts at 4:30 p.m with Chris Camozzi vs. Dustin Jacoby on Facebook, but Dana White said yesterday all the prelims would be on Fuel and it starts at 5 p.m. Facebook has Joey Beltran vs. Lavar Johnson, Charles Oliveira vs. Eric Wisely, George Roop vs. Cub Swanson, Jon Olav Einemo vs. Mike Russow, Shane Roller vs. Michael Johnson and Nik Lentz vs. Evan Dunham. The big three fights at 10 p.m. on FOX are Demian Maia vs. Chris Weidman, Michael Bisping vs. Chael Sonnen and Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis.

Also on Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern and Noon Pacific on HDNet will be It's Showtime live from The Netherlands with what is billed as Badr Hari's last ever kickboxing match (he's going into boxing since with the death of K-1, the big money in kickboxing is over) vs. Gokhan Saki and Hesdy Gerges defends the world heavyweight title of the promotion against Daniel Ghita.

TNA has what is expected to be its biggest attended show in history on Saturday night from Wembley Arena in London, the Impact tapings for the next two weeks which includes the return of Hulk Hogan to TV.

WWE's only house show of the night is a joint branded show in Evansville.

Sunday is the Royal Rumble, WWE's second biggest event of the year, from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Besides the 30 man Rumble, announced are C.M. Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE title with John Laurinaitis as ref, Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show vs. Mark Henry in a three-way cage match for the world title, and John Cena vs. Kane.

Monday is Raw from Kansas City, built around HHH returning to do a review of Laurinaitis as General Manager. Smackdown and NXT will be taped on Tuesday in Omaha.

        Our traditional best selling issue of the year is out today on the web site, the 32nd annual Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards issue.  Our annual readers poll is out and the awards issue has the top place winners in every category along with stories on the winners and a history of everyone who has won awards dating back to 1980.
 
        The awards covered this year are:
 
LOU THESZ/RIC FLAIR AWARD FOR WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
 
MIXED MARTIAL ARTS MVP
 
MOST OUTSTANDING WRESTLER
 
MOST OUTSTANDING FIGHTER
 
BEST BOX OFFICE DRAW
 
FEUD OF THE YEAR
 
TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR
 
MOST IMPROVED
 
BEST ON INTERVIEWS
 
MOST CHARISMATIC
 
BEST TECHNICAL WRESTLER
 
BRUISER BRODY MEMORIAL AWARD FOR BEST BRAWLER
 
BEST FLYING WRESTLER
 
MOST OVERRATED
 
MOST UNDERRATED
 
PROMOTION OF THE YEAR
 
BEST WEEKLY TELEVISION SHOW
 
BEST PRO WRESTLING MATCH OF THE YEAR
 
BEST MMA MATCH OF THE YEAR
 
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
 
BEST NON-WRESTLER
 
BEST TELEVISION ANNOUNCER
 
WORST TELEVISION ANNOUNCER
 
BEST MAJOR WRESTLING SHOW
 
WORST MAJOR WRESTLING SHOW
 
BEST WRESTLING MANEUVER
 
MOST DISGUSTING PROMOTIONAL TACTIC
 
WORST TELEVISION SHOW
 
WORST MATCH OF THE YEAR
 
WORST FEUD OF THE YEAR
 
WORST PROMOTION OF THE YEAR
 
BEST BOOKER
 
PROMOTER OF THE YEAR
 
BEST GIMMICK
 
WORST GIMMICK
 
BEST BOOK
 
BEST DVD
 
        We also update plans for WrestleMania and plans for a match not yet announced.  We also look at this past week's changes in the 2012 PPV schedule.  We also look at the Royal Rumble, an angle planned for the Rumble that was put on hold, update on the WWE network, who watches WWE programming right now and more on the Legends House show.
 
        We also look at the latest from WWE Films, why nobody cares about storylines, former TNA wrestler looking at getting into WWE, the return of The Rock to television, and WWE inadvertently starts up the media story they most want to go away.
 
        We also look at this past weekend's house shows, the new formula tried, was it a success or not and business notes from the past week.
 
        We also have all the news from the past week including a rundown of UFC on FX, a look at ratings for both the FX version of the show and the prelims on Fuel.  We look at where both stand for the stations, in the key demos, how FX drew for a Fight Night compared to Spike, as well as how Spike's counter programming did for the night.
 
        We also look at the main stories coming out of the show, along with match-by-match coverage of the show.
 
        We also look back at Mid South Wrestling in the 80s, the attempt to replace the Junkyard Dog that led to the brief period of stardom of Savannah Jack, who passed away this past week.
 
        We look at how Jack got into pro wrestling, who he played college football with who became a major star, how he broke in and found his way to Mid South Wrestling and the UWF, the list of JYD replacements in that territory that never panned out, his moment in the Sun, why it ended so quickly and the health problems that ended his career and plagued the rest of his life.
 
        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
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        We also have ratings for all the national shows for the past week.  We also have how every segment on Raw and Impact did as far as gaining and losing viewers, as well as who did what in the key segments and who appeals to what.  

        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
reviews.   
 
         Also in this week's issue:
 
--CMLL's first major show of the year notes and what legends are being honored
 
--Star wrestler put out of action in an accident the likes of which you'll never believe
 
--Notes on AAA's first television taping on 2012
 
--What it looks like AAA is building for its first major show of the year
 
--Johnny Gargano injury situation
 
--A look at Dragon Gate's major show at Korakuen Hall this past week
 
--NOAH's first big show of the year, title changes and other big matches as well as two new title matches announced
 
--A look at New Japan's Fantasticmania, joint shows with CMLL
 
--More on the Jesse Ventura story
 
--Wrestling announcer whose career spans four decades in serious accident
 
--Pro wrestler sentenced to 32 years in jail this past week
 
--Pro wrestling promoter serving time in jail right now
 
--Behind the firing of Syd Eick from ROH
 
--A look at ROH angles going forward and the two shows this past week
 
--Early notes on TNA Lockdown and ticket sales
 
--Against All Odds main event situation
 
--Update on Jeff Hardy
 
--More people leaving TNA
 
--Notes on the India promotion and plans going forward
 
--Mr. Anderson talks leaving WWE
 
--More on Ric Flair in WWE Hall of Fame a second time
 
--Notes on all the TNA house shows this past week both in the U.S. and Europe
 
--Update on UFC PPV numbers
 
--Strikeforce ticket sales
 
--More on the box office results for Haywire and thoughts on the opening weekend
 
--Notes on UFC and WWE and their support of SOPA
 
--Dana White responds to hackers
 
--Stipulations on the UFC on FOX show this week
 
--Update on UFC doing its own drug testing
 
--More on King Mo Lawal's failed drug test
 
--Marc Ratner rules on Erick Silva vs. Carlo Prater fight from Brazil
 
--New UFC ad and what is behind it
 
--UFC millionaires
 
--Update on Mark Munoz after surgery
 
--More on the TUF Brazil show
 
--Notes on plans for TUF Australia vs. U.K, time frame, finals and a probable coach
 
--UFC banning more sponsors and why
 
--NFL star talks about wanting to do MMA after football is over
 
--Notes on the beginning of the next season of TUF U.S.
 
--UFC star in a Super Bowl commercial
 
--Lots of new UFC fights
 
--Early plans for April PPV in Atlanta and May FOX show
 
--Notes on the next Bellator show and its new time slot
 
--More on HDNet being sold and what that means for the MMA programming
 
--Details on new weekly MMA TV show on Spike that starts in March
 
--Former UFC and Strikeforce fighter sentenced to prison
 
--More on the grandson of a pro wrestling legend in MMA
 
--A new potential MMA star and opponent for the women's champion     
 
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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,
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*****

-- Some interesting proposed surprise names and also potential winners being discussed for Royal Rumble Sunday.

-- Dana White yesterday said there were currently no plans to expand their pre-contract drug testing to year-round random testing, saying that responsibility fell on the commissions, that he had too much stuff to deal with as it was, and that they were "the most regulated sport on Earth. We're the last guys on Earth who should be getting fucking steroid questions."

-- We also have an interview on the front page of Dana going on the offensive against the hackers who took down UFC.com a few days ago, and who also uploaded what was purported to be his personal information, address, cell phone numbers, and information on a recent tax lien. This one is guaranteed to get very messy.

-- Dave has a story hereabout the implications for tomorrow night's UFC on FOX 2 special.

-- As noted on the front page, Hulk Hogan wrestled at TNA's house show in Nottingham yesterday. It was a six-man and we're told he did virtually nothing, took no bumps, and the most intensive move was the big boot. The match was Bobby Roode & Bully Ray & Kurt Angle vs. Hogan & Sting & James Storm and ended with Storm dropping the legdrop of doom onto Roode.

-- Smackdown tonight has Mark Henry vs. Big Show, Cody Rhodes vs. Justin Gabriel, Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre (yes, still employed), Epico & Primo vs. Yoshi Tatsu & Santino, Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett, Ted DiBiase vs. Hunico, Brodus Clay vs. Alex Riley, and Aksana vs. Natalya. That's a lot of matches.

-- From watching the Henry vs. Big Show match on video, it certainly appears that Henry hyperextends his knee throwing a punch. He went down hard for no reason and eventually ended up getting himself counted out. Haven't heard anything on his status for Sunday, which probably means he's going to tape it up and work on it, but who knows.

-- Hogan on his back surgery and electrical implant. "It's an electric stim you know? If the pain in my back is too bad and it goes to my head, there's an electrical current that I can turn on that will cancel out any pain waves, it pretty much makes you so you don't feel the pain. It's not a drug, it's just electricity. I've got like a garage door controller with all these buttons on how intense I want to make it, my nipples stand on end if I want to! And my wiener stands straight. It's much better than Viagra!" If I hadn't read that on the CTV.ca site I would have presumed someone made it up. You can read the rest of it here.

-- From ROH: Ring of Honor Wrestling & CHIKARA both are excited to announce a special ticket deal we have put together for our fans in the Chicago area looking to attend our joint "Synergy" event! While quantities last, and available exclusively at ROHWrestling.com, we will be offering a Ticket Combo Deal for admission into both CHIKARA's "Hot Off The Griddle" afternoon event and ROH's "Unity" evening event on April 28th at the Frontier Fieldhouse! This deal will save you a total of $10 off the price of admission to BOTH EVENTS, and you can combine any ROH Reserved or GA ticket with your CHIKARA ticket to *ensure* you catch the entire day of the the best professional wrestling!! Tickets, including the limited quantity combo pack On Sale Now at www.ROHWrestling.com!

-- Bill Apter won't be at WrestleReunion this weekend. He was hospitalized a few days ago, and while he's back home now he was advised not to travel cross-country. Our best wishes to him. Thanks to Charles.

-- Paul London and Brian Kendrick are also on the loose.

-- Mick Foley had a cameo on 30 Rock last night. His episode of Wife Swap will also be airing on ABC this coming week. He talked about that show on Wrestling Observer Radio a few months back, and apparently it went pretty well.

-- In the Antonio McKee vs. Brian Cobb main event in Edmonton, McKee, the lightweight champion, weighed in yesterday at 162, so I'm guessing he's stripped of the title.

-- Joe writes: Chael was on Thursday night’s broadcast of the Mark Levin show. You could tell that Sonnen is a big fan of Levin as he was effusive in his praise of Levin’s show (a conservative talk radio guy). He was out of character and they both plugged his fight with Bisping numerous times. Good appearance and Levin totally put him & UFC over big.

-- Derek writes: I went to the Foley show @ Slim’s in SF last night. It’s a small rock and roll club and the bottom floor was fairly packed but not like sardines. They have an upstairs loft with tables that I would say were ¾ full. I’d estimate just over 300 people. The opening band was a parity band and they did an hour. A quick intro would have been enough. After a 15 minute break Foley did an hour including singing a couple songs with the band. I’d say his material was 75% wrestling humor and stories and 25% non-wrestling comedy. I went with 2 of my cop co-workers. One was a semi-fan while the other one had a lot of WWF knowledge from the 90’s but has had next to no exposure for years. He knew Foley was a wrestler but didn’t know the phenomena of who he was. They both enjoyed the show and afterwords my friend who didn’t know recent wrestling said, “That guy is really funny-- and he has something to say.” A pretty good compliment as the guy is very perceptive. A lot of “Foley, Foley…..” chants.

-- The link to buy copies of Lance Storm's newest book, which he talked about on our show this past Thursday, is up here. His first book got awesome reviews.

-- Charles writes: During the last ten minutes four o'clock hour for the Doug Gotlieb show, the host, Doug Gotlieb, started comparing the WWE to the situation in LA with regards to the NBA teams, the Lakers and Clippers. Basically he said it was like watching the end of their game on Wednesday night compared to WWE. He went on to say that fellow ESPN employee Michelle Beadle, co-host of SportsNation, loves Raw and watches it every monday so he has to unfollow her on Monday to avoid those updates.

-- Steve Gerweck has new interviews up with Jesse Neal, The Diva Maria, and Maryse here.

-- A Day in the Life of Rashad Evans here.

-- Chael talking trash here.

-- Audio interview with Miz talking Royal Rumble and more here.

-- Josh Nason talks to Chris Weidman and previews UFC On Fox 2.

-- WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts posted a photo on Twitter of himself meeting Shawn Michaels as a kid. It's up here.

-- There is an excellent interview with Dolph Ziggler up here. Suffice to say, dude's a huge pro-wrestling fan.

-- Did you know Hulk Hogan could have been in Metallica?

-- Your daily dose of Hogan audio craziness here.

-- JR has a new blog up here.

-- How many buys in North America do you expect the Royal Rumble to get
Under 200,000 19.6%
201-225,000 24.0%
226-250,000 20.8%
251-275,000 13.5%
276-300,000 7.1%
301-325,000 6.7%
326-350,00 0 3.2%
More than 351,000 5.1%

What rating do you expect UFC on FOX 2 to get?
Under 2.0 16.8%
2.1 or 2.2 9.6%
2.3 or 2.4 9.6%
2.5 or 2.6 16.8%
2.7 or 2.8 8.8%
2.9 or 3.0 13.2%
3.1 or 3.2 12.4%
3.3 or 3.4 2.8%
3.5 or 3.6 2.0%
3.7 or 3.8 0.4%
3.9 or better 7.6%

What are your plans for this weekend
Watching UFC on FOX 66.0%
Watching Royal Rumble 70.2%
Of those responding, 67% of those watching the UFC are also watching the Rumble. 63% of those watching the Rumble are also watching UFC. 8% are not watching either show.

-- Special deal from Chikara: This weekend, CHIKARA kicks off Season 11 at Easton's Palmer Center on Saturday night, January 28th and you can join us for FREE! Any CHIKARA fan who brings 3 paying guests with them to the event will be admitted ABSOLUTELY FREE! Our live event experience is without peer, and there's no better way to share it than with friends! So round up three of yours and bring them to The Palmer Center on Saturday night, January 28th. Every fan that brings 3 paying customers with them, we'll admit free to the event! If you already purchased your ticket to the event, and you end up bringing 3 fans with you, we'll refund you the purchase price of your ticket!

-- 3XWrestling presents Divide & Conquer 2 in Des Moines, Iowa on Friday night. This is a very historic event as it features "Scrap Iron" Adam Pearce defending the NWA World's Heavyweight championship against two-time former 3XW Heavyweight and current NWA Central States champion "The Rebel" Jeremy Wyatt. This is the first NWA World's Heavyweight title match in Des Moines since Ric Flair defended against Dusty Rhodes in 1986. More info at http://www.3XWrestling.com

-- Venue change: RWC returns to Lumberton, NC this Saturday, January 28th! Come check out 1 of the best pro-wrestling companies in the Carolinas! Lumberton Indoor Flea Market, 612 2nd street Lumberton NC

-- Insanity Pro Wrestling returns on Saturday, March 3, 2012 The Fountain Square Salvation Army Community Center 1337 S Shelby St Indianapolis, IN 46203 Doors open at 5:15pn Showcase begins at 5:45pm Main show Bell Time is 7:00pm

-- New Slammin Stan podcast up here, including Vandall Drummond talking his recent match with Riki Ataki~!

-- Ed and his crew have a Royal Rumble preview show up tonight here, and they'll be calling the action live Sunday as well.

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Who is the strongest of these as a Hall of Fame candidate?

 

Who is the strongest of these as a Hall of Fame candidate?

 

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