WED. UPDATE: Hardy fallout, Rock top choice for big role, Ratings, Edge return, Cena, UFC fights



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        Has the WWE gotten rid of the brand extension?  A look at the decisions that have been made, and haven't, is one of a number of lead stories in the new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.  The issue looks at the timing of the decision to put Raw & Smackdown talent together on television, the good, the bad, as well as how it worked out in every segment of Monday's show.  We look at what led to the change, the good points of it and the bad points.  We also look at why the brands were split in the first place.
 
        We also look at the change to putting the first C.M. Punk vs. HHH match on Night of Champions, including what the original plans were, and attempting to decipher some decision making that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.  We also look at the live Smackdown show on Tuesday and the importance of that.
 
        The issue is available today on the site.  If you can't find them on the front page, you can always access the latest issues of the Observer on the front page by clicking on the Archives tab at the top.  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 a lengthy feature on the trials and tribulations of Ric Flair, looking at his ups and down over the past few years, the recent article on his life and putting a perspective on the different stories.  We talk about everything from his loans, his health, how he's viewed locally, family issues, tax issues, business, how he ended up in TNA, politics and his future. 
 
        We also have a lot more notes about the UFC/Fox deal, including more details on how the major shows will be presented, a new show idea being talked about, an e-mail sent by Fox to the people in charge at the various affiliates, what celebrity played a major hand in convincing Fox to make the deal, and who really is the No. 1 network in the U.S. right now.  
 
        We also have a feature on UFC's return to Brazil, including the business of the show, the return to Brazil, the unique crowd, MMA in Brazil as well as a comparison between Anderson Silva, GSP and Fedor Emelianenko on who really is the greatest fighter of the modern era.  We look at all three with their overall record, their record against top opposition, finishing ratio and domination ratio. 
 
        We also look at early returns on PPV, TV ratings both domestically and internationally, as well as what people thought of the Edson Barboza vs. Ross Pearson decision.  We also have match-by-match coverage along with poll results from the show.
 
        We also have tons more regarding the future of the Sin Cara character.  We look at everything that happened, from every vantage point as WWE has put a new person in the mask.  We look at the potential future of the character, as well as the future of Mistico, where Mistico went wrong, the benefits and drawbacks of HHH in his corner and all the thing that really did him in and frustrations with him.
 
        We also have an update on Rey Mysterio after surgery, Dwayne Johnson talks about why he returned and we note when he first seemed to be considering it strongly.
 
        We also have a lot of WWE business notes, regarding the C.M. Punk angle an its effect on web site views and merchandise business.
 
        We also have updated numbers from this past year's WrestleMania, including where it stands on the all-time list.
 
        We also look at a philosophical change with a WWE character and why, a new signing, as well as HHH's real life business title and what he was just awarded financially.
 
        We also have a number of current and one former WWE performer and twitter message issues.
 
        We also look at why one major star of the past is not part of the WWE video game, as well as all the business notes from the past week in WWE and highlights from the live arena events.
 
        We also look at a former American pro wrestler in Japan, actor and MMA fighter, and details of the gruesome crime he was just convicted of.
 
        We also look at Japanese wrestling, with two major shows head-to-head over the weekend and 28,000 fans attending wrestling in Tokyo.  We look at the different approaches, the big modern stars, and a look at "All Together Now" a joint product of All Japan, New Japan and Pro Wrestling NOAH, with all kinds of intriguing tag team matches.  We also look at Antonio Inoki's IGF show, featuring legends of the past in pro wrestling, MMA and kickboxing as well as notes on who the new names are, in a promotion that has already picked up two former WWE performers as regulars.                
 
        We've also got a look at what the Money in the Bank buy rate tells, with comparisons from July of the past two years both foreign and domestic, the value of the C.M. Punk push at least initially, what it says about B PPV shows and comparisons with last year's Money in the Bank. 
 
          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.
 
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         Also in this week's issue:
 
--Major challenges building to CMLL's anniversary show
 
--Two major international stars coming to CMLL this month
 
--Former WCW wrestler and star for more than 20 years tells promoters he's retiring shortly
 
--Sting's possible debut in Mexico
 
--Next Dragon Gate iPPV show
 
--Notes on All Japan's jr. tournament
 
--Matt Hardy's downward spiral
 
--Remembering 70s woman's wrestling star Donna Christantello
 
--Death of Mando Lopez and story of his match with Terry Funk when Funk was champion
 
--Shane Helms problems
 
--Pro wrestler was in the news in connection with a gangland style murder
 
--More on the return of Bill Goldberg, details on the dates and place and what is behind his return
 
--More on Wrestling Revolution, a new Internet based wrestling television series
 
--Notes on the in-ring death of an independent wrestler last week
 
--Promotion telling talent it'll be on U.S. national TV very soon
 
--Lance Storm talks his health scare
 
--Update on Scott Hall
 
--Former TNA knockout arrested
 
--Former TNA wrestler talks about past drug addiction and new line of work
 
--Update on ROH next iPPV show
 
--Lots of notes on the TNA taping in Huntsville
 
--Reaction to Jeff Hardy and his performance and demeanor
 
--Update on the next TNA PPV as well as Bound fro Glory
 
--More notes on the finals of the Bound for Glory series
 
--Who looks to be the favorite
 
--Hulk Hogan's new business and details of the presentation including some other pro wrestlers involved with the show
 
--Hogan talks why TNA is different from WWE
 
--Two more TNA cuts
 
--Eric Bischoff's latest court fight
 
--Kurt Angle discusses his plans to return to amateur wrestling
 
--NBC TV show featuring a TNA wrestler because of the connection to 9/11
 
--TNA performer gets outside gig because of a resemblance to an 80s entertainment star
 
--We also look at ticket sales for the upcoming UFC shows and what changes have been made
 
--What show is expected to be the biggest for the rest of the year
 
--More notes on the history of MMA piece regarding the 50s and the 90s and some famous fights
 
--More on the UFC/ESPN relationship
 
--Notes on Alistair Overeem
 
--Strikeforce heavyweight title
 
--A look at the career decision made by Marloes Coenen
 
--Quinton Jackson talks there being a spy in his camp for Jon Jones
 
--Lots of new UFC matches and card changes
 
--Bellator gets another TV outlet for the fall season and how much clearance it has
 
--What would be the biggest match in Bellator history being negotiated
 
--A look at the first round of Bellator's on-paper best ever tournament
 
--Kazushi Sakuraba fighting again, and his next opponent
 
--The return of Pro Elite
 
--Daughter of a famous American movie producer faces daughter of an infamous Japanese murderer and why it really was a mismatch         
 
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--Matt Hardy was apologetic when talking to TMZ about his publicity stunt last night where he wrote what he wanted people to think was a suicide note, saying it wasn't a suicide note and he's fine.  He said that he went from someone who wanted to entertain and inspire people, to someone more concerned about shock value, but now the old Matt Hardy will return.  I hope he realizes how stupid this publicity stunt was, wasting the time of police officers and even though most saw it for what it was, with his track record in recent weeks, he still had people concerned about him.  He said, "I needed one last attention grabber to let the world know that Matt Hardy has refound his true self." 
 
--Totalfilm.com has reported that director Scott Derrickson has made Dwayne Johnson his No. 1 choice to play "Goliath" in an upcoming movie.  I loved that guy when I was a kid.  I wonder who is the No. 1 choice to play the roles of Black Gordman, Mil Mascaras and Jimmy Lennon Sr.  
 

--Dolph Ziggler is going in today for an examination as his neck has been bothering him.

--For last week, USA was No. 1 in prime time with a 2.3 rating.  The days of USA at No. 1 may be down for a few months as ESPN usually takes over during football season.  MTV, thanks to Jersey Shore, was second at 2.0 and ESPN was at 1.8.  FX is at 1.0 at No. 12, Syfy is No. 15 at 0.9 and Spike didn't crack the top 25.  The two hours of Raw last week were No. 13 and No. 16.  The MTV Video awards were No. 1 at 8,0, followed by Jersey Shore at 6.2.  Raw was No. 8 in 18-49.
 
--The Smackdown crew is on the way to Europe for a tour that begins tomorrow in Nimes, France.  We're looking for reports on all the weekend shows in Europe.  Raw crew has a Friday night show in San Juan, but the rest of the weekend is in the Northeast.
 
--TNA's shows this week are Friday night in Burton, OH at the Great Geauga County Fair and Saturday night in Woodstock, VA at the  Shenandoah County Far.  Kurt Angle vs. A.J. Styles, Bully Ray vs. Mr. Anderson, Eric Young vs. Jeff Jarrett for the TV title, Winter vs. Mickie James and Mexican America vs. Pope & Devon for the tag titles are on the show.  I guess the Bound for Glory series is done at the house shows.      

--Edge will be appearing on the Smackdown show that airs on 9/16, taped three days earlier in Toronto.
 
--Jeff Hardy turned 34 today.  Many were noting that Matt's listed date of death last night was on his brother's birthday.  So a message for all of you contemplating faking your own deaths or suicides to get attention, stay away from doing it on your brother's birthday, because it's not in good taste.
 
--Jim Ross, who is a guy who would avoid saying anything bad about Matt publicly and was a big supporter of his for years:  "Matt Hardy fiasco, totally embarrassing and inexplicable.  Alleged suicide you tube got him noticed...sadly in absurd way.  Matt, seek answers."
 
--Dragon Gate USA announced some new matches.  9/9 in Indianapolis has B.J. Whitmer vs. Sugar Dunkerton vs. Billy Roc vs. Flip Kendrick.  There may be wrestlers from a tryout that day added if they are impressive enough.  9/11 in Milwaukee has Pinkie Sanchez vs. Flip Kendrick.    
 
--Bryan and I will be back tonight for Wrestling Observer radio, talking Smackdown, trying to make sense out of Raw in hindsight, TNA's next PPV, Matt Hardy and what week one of combined shows said about the Raw ratings.  We'll also be taking e-mail questions at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
--Gabe Sapolsky talks seeing a UFC press conference live, what he learned from it, and meeting Dana White at http://www.heymanhustle.com/articles/news/23-news/167326-gabe-sapolsky-uf c
 
--More notes regarding ROH in Ontario TV.  As of today, Canada switches to digital.  Even though WUTV does not air in London, ONT, it does air in Thamesford, about 15 minutes from London, and in Waterloo and Kitchener, which are bigger than London.  And it airs in the Greater Toronto metro area which has 5.5 million people and it's considered in Toronto as pretty much a local station.  WNYO is available in Windsor and from same cable providers in Hamilton on Ch. 116 if you have digital cable. (thanks to Steve Grey, Jeff Zinger, Chris Martin and Chris Cooper) 
 
--There is a new 24 hour MMA channel called Fight Now TV on Cablevision Ch. 464. 
 
--Lance Storm talks about if he was 20 years old now and pro wrestling and MMA were in the positions they were in now, what would he have done at http://www.stormwrestling.com/083011.html  
 
--Chuck Langerman's wrestling trivia.  John Cena is a 1998 graduate of Springfield College in Springfield, MA.  He played football there as an offensive lineman and got a degree in exercise physiology.  Another Springfield alum is Jeff Blatnick, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist and former UFC TV announcer, who was Division II heavyweight champion 1978 and 1979.  Another famous alum is Dr. James Naismith, who invented basketball while he was teaching at the school in 1891.
 
--The next major MMA events are 9/10 with Strikeforce and Bellator's season opener going head-to-head, at least for a period of time.  Odds for the Strikeforce bouts are:
Josh Barnett is a 5-to-2 favorite over Sergei Kharitonov
Antonio Silva is an 8-to-5 favorite over Daniel Cormier
King Mo is a 5-to-4 favorite over Roger Gracie
Jacare Souza is a 7-to-2 favorite over Luke Rockhold in the middleweight title fight
 
--UFC's Kyle Kingsbury was scheduled as a guest of Jim Rome today.  Rome is doing a streak of shows where he interviews somebody named Kyle, and Kingsbury was No. 17 on his list (thanks to Ryan Pike) 
 
--If you remember the story from 2007 where several sumos beat to death a 17-year-old sumo, Takashi Saito, who wanted to quit the sport, the head of the stable, Junichi Yamamoto, 61, who started the beating by hitting Saito with a beer bottle, saw the Japanese Supreme Court turn down his request for an appeal and he must now go to prison for a five year sentence.
 
--Bellator officially announced the first round of its heavyweight tournament on 10/1 in Lake Charles, LA with Ron Sparks vs. Mike Holata, Neil Grove vs. Michael "I'm not a Freebird" Hayes, Thiago Santos vs. Blagio Ivanov (who beat Fedor in Sambo) and Eric Prindle vs. Abe Wagner (who beat Tim Sylvia although that is hardly an exclusive club these days).
 
--DaMarques Johnson (who was to face Clay Harvison) and Mackens Semerzier (who was to face Mike Lullo) are both out of the 9/17 UFC show in New Orleans, which is a Spike show at the next event the promotion is putting on.  New opponents for Harvison and Lullo are being looked for.
 
--Matt Brown replaced an injured Pascal Krauss, facing the U.K.'s John Hathaway on the 11/5 show in Birmingham, England, the UFC's next to last Spike live card.
 
--Rich Franklin will be throwing out the first pitch at tonight's Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies game at the Great American Ballpark.
 
--In interviews promoting the movie "Warrior," Kurt Angle claimed he called Dana White after finishing the movie, saying he was thinking of leaving TNA due to the situation with Jeff & Karen and he wanted out, flew out to meet him, said he took a physical, passed it and White gave him an offer but the terms weren't good as White wanted him to fight in four-and-a-half weeks.  White responded to this saying, "Love Kurt, but not true."  White was very interested in Angle fighting in 2006 and being part of the organization.  Once Angle signed with TNA, that ship sailed.  It is true that White flew him to Las Vegas and made him actually a very big offer, but that was in 2006.
 
--Greatest MMA fighter of modern times
Anderson Silva 50.2%
GSP 23.6%
Fedor 10.7%
Royce Gracie 10.0%
Kazushi Sakuraba 5.6%
 
--What do you think of the decision to add Smackdown guys to Raw?
Good short-term, bad long-term 40.3%
Good idea 30.6%
Bad idea 29.1%
 
--Poll on Monday's Raw
Excellent 8.6%
Good 38.6%
Average 30.0%
Fair 7.8%
Poor 14.8%
        13.1% of those responding didn't see the show
 
--For those in Quebec, Stephane Patry, who promoted the TKO promotion that started many of the top Canadian fighters including GSP, is starting a new group called Instinct MMA with a debut show on 10/7 in Brisbriand, 20 minutes north of Montreal at the Sports Excellence Center.  His main event will feature former hockey enforcer Steve Bosse, who has become a local drawing card as a fighter, facing Houston Alexander, plus Patrick Cote faces Crafton Wallace.  Cote is trying to compile a winning streak to get back to UFC.  Butterbean will face Eric Barrak, who is making his MMA debut.
 
--Also on 10/7, TNA will be running at the Claude Robillard Center.  Marc Blondin, the lead announcer for Impact in French in Quebec, is doing the shows.  They also run 10/8 in Sherbrooke, where Grand Prix and International Wrestling used to tape TV.  On 10/9 they will be in Trois-Rivieres.  Kurt Angle, Jeff Jarrett, Beer Money, A.J. Styles, Mr. Anderson and Velvet Sky have all been announced.
 
--And on 10/8 in Montreal, NCW Femmes Fatales will present one of its biggest women's shows to date, with LuFisto, Cheerleader Melissa, Mercedes Martinez, Portia Perez, Kellie Skater and Japanese women Tomoka Nakagawa and Yumi Ohka.
 
--And on 10/21, Ringside MMA runs the Bell Centre in Montreal featuring former UFC fighters on top with Paul Daley vs. Luigi Fiorvanti.  Daley ended up banished from UFC for sucker punching Josh Koscheck after a fight that was also in Montreal. (thanks to Patric Laprade)
 
--There will be a J.T. Lightning Memorial show held on 9/25 at 4 p.m. at the Phantasy Theater in Lakewood, OH.  All of the proceeds will go to the family of J.T.Lightning.  Domenic DeNucci will be there for an appearance.  If you're in the area and have the time, he was a really good guy and he bravely fought cancer until the end.
 
--Mick Foley and Mad Man Pondo appear on 9/18 in Denver for Primo's Hardcore Wrestling at Casselman's Bar and Venue
 
--Larry Zbyszko and Alex Porteau will host the I Believe in Wrestling show at their school in Orlando on Friday night at 6923 Narcoosee Red.
 
--Emerson Witner talks the 1991 Royal Rumble at http://angrymarks.com/?ArticleID=14980
 
--Jeff Bradley at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it is looking at getting in touch with D-Lo Brown, Melina, Bob Backlund, Jim Duggan,  Amy Dumas, Tommy Dreamer and Mickie James regarding potential bookings.  
 
--EWA on Saturday night in Feeding Hills, MA at the Springfield Turnverein featuring John Walters, Dr. Heresy and former Puerto Rico manager Rico Casanova.
 
--Vendetta Pro Wrestling on 9/10 in Bakersfield at the Bakersfield Dome featuring Eric Watts from Tough Enough, Shannon Ballard and a Luna Vachon Memorial women's Battle Royal.
 
--MWF on 9/17 in Melrose, MA at Memorial Hall featuring Carlito, Boogeyman, Paul Bearer, Low Ki, Abyss, Tony Atlas, Tony Garea and Ox Baker among others. 
 
--Remix Pro Wrestling on 10/8 in Marietta, OH headlined by Chance Prophet defending the NWA National heavyweight title against Tommy Dreamer.
 
--Big Time Wrestling on 9/30 in Delhi, NY at the SUNY Clark Field House, 10/1 in Rochester, NY at the Dome Arena and 10/2 in Ogdensburg, NY at the Civic Center. Signed for the weekend are Jim Duggan, John Cena Sr., Eugene, Carlito and Shane Douglas.
 
--U.K. wrestler Mad Man Manson with a spoof on the famous Old Spice ad at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-eld91u16w
 
--New England Championship Wrestling has a show at the 123rd annual (not a misprint) Spencer Fair in Massachusetts on Sunday at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.    
 
--CWE from last night in Winnipeg:  Tyler Colton b Brain Rich, Matt Fairline b Billy Blaze, Alex Anthony b Zack Mercury-DQ, Rick Matthews b Tommy Lee Curtis, Nate Hardy & Darien Karisma b Moses Luke & Sabretooth, Danny Duggan b Carter Mason, Darren Dalton won four-way over Cliff Corleone, Mike Mission and Cory Diamond, Robby Royce & Anderson Tyson Moore b Roderick Strong & A.J. Sanchez.  Next show is 10/2 at the Polish Fraternal Hall in Winnipeg featuring Teddy Hart.
 
--Michael Carpenter at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it is looking for photos of the Glamor Girls with Jimmy Hart, or photos of Judy Martin.
 
--Wrestling Against Autism on 9/10 in Jackson, NJ at the Moose Lodge
 
--Sunday CMLL in Guadalajara:  Divino b Relampago, Rey Trueno & Super Comando b Leo & Robin, Goya Kong & Lluvia & Marcela b Amapola & Princesa Blanca & Princesa Sugei, Leono b ?, Maximo & Shocker & La Sombra b Negro Casas & Felino & Mr. Niebla-DQ  (thanks to Kris Zellner)
 
--Chase Gormley is off the XFC show on 10/21 in Orlando on HDNet.  A new opponent is being looked for against Scott Barrett in what was second from the top on the show.