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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.
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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.
--A few notes on last night's UFC Countdown show. Definitely worth seeing. The show does a great job of getting Alistair Overeem and the match with Brock Lesnar over. I'd expect a good number except the Friday aspect has me worried. The rule of thumb is that if you present something people want to see, they'll make sure to see it, but the way ratings decline so bad for almost any TV show where the time slot moves, I don't know if that's the case today. They cover that match and Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone which is built completely around Diaz snubbing a Cerrone handshake. Jon Fitch vs. Johny Hendricks wasn't even mentioned. You see all the clips of Overeem as a 205 pounder in Pride and a 224 pound heavyweight in Strikeforce against Paul Buentello and today's version.
--THQ and UFC Undisputed 3 ran 25 simulated matches with Lesnar and Overeem. Overeem won most of them and the majority via first round knockout. In the 25 matches, Lesnar won two via submission. For more you can watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VstRXJrQ2D8
--Figure Four Weekly will be up either today or tomorrow. It's delayed because of the holidays and next week may be the case. Next week's Observer will be the annual year in review issue.
--Bryan and I will be back for Observer radio late tomorrow covering Ring of Honor and we'll be doing our weekend show on Sunday night.
--Stephanie McMahon-Levesque was named to the Board of Directors for the USO Metropolitan Washington. WWE was cited for all the work they've done for the troops over the years including the annual Tribute to the Troops show.
--Chuck Langerman's daily wrestling trivia concerns Melina Perez. Perez is a 1997 graduate of Hesperia High School in Hesperia, CA. In 2000, she competed in the Miss California beauty pageant. Before getting into wrestling, she did modeling including Nike ads, but fell victim to the fact there wasn't a big demand for 5-foot-3 models. She trained for wrestling at Jesse Hernandez's School of Hard Knocks and was one of the last people cut in the tryouts for the house for Tough Enough 3. It was at the final audition for the show where she first met John Hennigan, who became John Morrison.
--Biggest star on the current TNA roster
Kurt Angle 32.9%
Jeff Hardy 20.9%
Ric Flair 12.0%
Bobby Roode 7.3%
James Storm 5.2%
A.J. Styles 4.7%
Mickie James 3.8%
Velvet Sky 2.3%
Bully Ray 1.4%
Eric Bischoff 0.7%
--Who do you expect to win this year's Royal Rumble?
Randy Orton 26.1%
Chris Jericho 23.4%
Dolph Ziggler 15.4%
Cody Rhodes 4.3%
Mark Henry 2.3%
Zack Ryder 1.6%
Alberto Del Rio 0.6%
--Who do you expect to win this fight?
Donald Cerrone 59.6%
Nate Diaz 40.4%
--Police have issued another warrant for Larry Seth, 22, of Hamilton, in conjunction with the murder death of Joe Batten, which we've been writing about all week. Batten, who won the no gi competition in the intermediate division at the UFC Expo in Toronto would have turned 23 today. He was stabbed to death in the parking lot after a concert in Cambridge, ONT. she w dd havedhave turned 23 todayging atakling on Canadian polioce has
--She's also hosting Vivid Entertainment's New Year's Eve party at the Ecco Ultra Lounge in Hollywood, CA which is open to the public.
--Got a lot of comments regarding last night's radio show on Vladimir, the front row regular fan at WWE and WWF events dating back to the 80s at least. I'm told he hasn't been a regular since 2005 but was at the WrestleMania in Phoenix and has been at some of the indie shows in the New York area.
--CMLL from Monday night in Puebla: Akron & Ares b Black Tiger & Silver, Leono & Molotov & Starman b Disturbio & Artillero & Super Comando, Cancerbero & Misterioso Jr. & Raziel b Angel Azteca Jr. & Pegasso & Stuka Jr., Black Warrior & Blue Panther & Maximo b Mr. Aguila & Felino & Polvora-DQ, El Terrible & Rey Bucanero & Volador Jr. b Atlantis & La Mascara & Rush (thanks to Kris Zellner)
--Evolve has announced that Ahtu, coming off the VH-1 show "Why Am I Still Single" will be in the corner of Scott Reed & Caleb Konley for their bout with John Silver & Alex Reynolds on the 1/14 final show at the Asylum Arena. The show will close with a ceremony to commemorate the last wrestling show in the building, at least as the building is for now. We don't have any names announced, but a number of major ECW names have been contacted.
--Cima & Ricochet vs. Masaaki Mochizuki & Jimmy Susumu (Susumu Yokosuka) and Pac vs Akira Tozawa have been announced for the 1/27 show in Los Angeles.
--Rafaello Oliveira announced that he had to pull out of the 1/20 UFC show in Nashville due to a hand injury. He was to face Reza Madadi.
--Denny Brown was the latest person announced for the NWA Legends Fanfest from 8/2 to 8/5 in Charlotte, joining Magnum T.A. and Tully Blanchard.
--Best of the Best Wrestling on 2/25 in Orlando at a venue to be announced with a four-way elimination tag team match and wrestlers like Francisco Ciatso, Chris Harris, Becky Bayless, Mikael Zaki (of the last season of Tough Enough), SoCal Val, Santana Garrett and Ron Neimi.
--Trina Michaels was upset that she wasn't nominated for crossover star of the year in the porn industry when the 2012 AVN awards nominations came out. She wrote, "Congrats to the AVN 2012 nominees, but I'm not surprised my name didn't make the 'cross over star' list. I'd LOVE to know what these `stars' did this year to be nominated for CROSSOVER besides sleep w/Charlie Sheen! Apparently being on a PAY-PER-VIEW for Dragon Gate and going through a table for Lucha Las Vegas didn't qualify me as 'crossover.' Unlike porn, you can't just walk into wrestling and have a spot at the top. You have to EARN it I don't know too many spoiled porn princesses that would drive 3 hours one way to work a show for FREE!"