We also update a look at Ring of Honor stemming from the Final Battle show. We look at how the show did, frustrations with the product, the psychology of being a champion vs. being a challenger, the future of ROH, the effect of television on their business so far, the return of Kevin Steen and apparent direction for 2012, the New York crowd and how it affected the show and more.
We also have match-by-match coverage with star ratings, flying chairs, tables and long matches.
We also look at the WWE's traditional No. 1 house show of the year, the week after Christmas show in Madison Square Garden, including a lot of the extra things thrown out this yea.
We also look at the late Korean dictator Kim Jong II, and not only his connection with pro wrestling, but a look at the two most attended pro wrestling events of all-time in North Korea, which included Ric Flair, Scott Norton, Muhammad Ali, Chris Benoit, Eric Bischoff and others. We look at what the reaction was like at the time including from the worldwide media.
We also have the history of the Japanese MVP award.
We also look at the question of the fastest UFC fight in history and the debate over what should be he record.
We also look back in history on a 70s star entering the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stllwater, OK this coming year, and go back at looking at someone who was a famous celebrity amateur wrestler who later became a pro, and other great athletes that Verne Gagne tried to recruit to be his top stars in the 70s, who made it and who didn't.
We also have the final category list for the 2011 Wrestling Observer Awards with the updated ballot.
We also have ratings for all the national shows for the past 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:
--Promotion leaving their fan base furious at recent finishes
--Top booker wrestler in Mexico talks rise of WWE in that country
--Notes on TNA wrestlers who have been appearing in AAA
--Japanese star looks like they are getting cut
--New Japan's last shows of the year
--More on the reaction in Japan to the death of Umanosuke Ueda
--Why major news commentators talked about Ueda's fame as a symbol of the country at large
--Ueda's most famous singles match
--His moving from company to company
--Death of a wrestling trainee
--Hall of Famer needs back surgery
--Sean Waltman's arrest
--WWE's big year beginning shows featuring some former WWE wrestlers
--What former WWE wrestler can now command $25,000 per appearance
--Former TNA Knockout member now on a reality show
--Update on Travis Tomko after his arrest
--Corporal Robinson talks about why he had to retire from wrestling
--Another former Olympian going into pro wrestling
--Notes on some books that will be released on pro wrestling in 2012
--Former well known wrestling television announcer inducted into a college Hall of Fame
--Why Karen Jarrett was fired by TNA
--Upcoming TNA PPV notes
--A look in depth at the TNA satellite promotion India, its prospects and angles
--Notes on ticket scalping at WWE and UFC shows
--Update on Pride fights airing on U.S. television
--Lots of new UFC fights
--Notes on some of the Bellator tournaments for the new season in March
--Fighter paralyzed trying a move
--Bas Rutten picks his 2011 awards
--Legends from the past return to fighting the past few weeks
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.
--Hope everyone had a happy new year and let's hope for the best in 2012.
--Hall of Famer Jackie Fargo, 83, is currently in ICU with pneumonia in both lungs. Our best wishes for a speedy recovery. Fargo has not passed away as was reported in Wikipedia earlier today as him doing so a few days ago.
--Randy Orton is scheduled for the 1/16 Raw show and for the Royal Rumble.
--There is a major New York Times story
, which was front page of the web site in the lead spot earlier today, on Gina Carano, who will be getting a ton of pub over the next three weeks due to the movie Haywire, which opens on 1/20.
--The Stockton Record in listing its biggest local sports stories of the year, as No. 1, listed Nick Diaz's climb to a shot at the UFC title as the biggest sports story of the year.
--I'll also be on at 9 p.m. Eastern time with Jack Encarnacao at sherdog.com with Ariel Helwani and Josh Gross, as well as 10 p.m. on The Fan in Washington, DC and 1 a.m. Eastern on The Law in Toronto. Lots of Brock Lesnar retirement talk.
--There is a 24 hour UFC marathon today on Fuel.
--A correction from yesterday. Todd Martin went 3-2, not 2-3 in his UFC 141 picks.
--Today is the 30th anniversary of Sam Muchnick's last-ever pro wrestling show, held January 1, 1982 at the then Checkerdome in St. Louis when he retired as a promoter. We'll have a story on this in the next Observer. 41 years ago today wasn't the first Jack Brisco vs. Dory Funk Jr. match in St. Louis, but it was the match that, because of selling out, turning thousands away and causing a riot from those who couldn't get in, and having a 60:00 draw that was considered one of the greatest matches ever in the city, started the feud to legendary status nationally.
--Samurai TV presented its annual New Year's Eve pro wrestling event at Korakuen Hall. The main event was a 76 man tag team match (38 wrestlers on each side). They were small promotion guys, but some familiar names included Jun Kasai, Jaki Numazawa, Makoto Oishi, Daisuke Sasaki, Great Kojika (the same All Japan mid-carder from the 70s, who is now 69 years old), Daisuke Sekimoto, Yasu Urano, Taka Michinoku, Sanshiro Takagi, Atsushi Kotoge, Shadow WX, Ryuji Yamakawa, Yuko Miyamoto, Takashi Sasaki, Ryuji Ito, Kengo Mashimo, Danshoku Dino and Abdullah Kobayashi (who scored the winning pin for his team).
--On the Fox News year-end show, "The Five" mentioned celebrities who had passed away and mentioned Randy Savage. Andrea Tantaros talked about being a huge wrestling fan growing up and remembered vividly at WrestleMania III when Randy Savage saved Hulk Hogan from Andre the Giant. Well, her memory is more vivid than most. On "Red Eye," they talked about the top moments on the show for the year and noted Mick Foley scolding Chris Barron
for a song he wrote, mistakenly thinking Barron, a gay GOP activist, was Chris Barron, the lead singer of the Spin Doctors. (thanks to Jeff Gagliardo)
--The back page of the USA Today magazine obituaries for 2011 also has a big piece on Savage.
--Which show was better:
UFC 141 78.2%
Of those who answered, 63.7% watched UFC and 34.9% watched Dream.
--Poll on Smackdown from Friday
38.8% of those responding didn't see the show
--Biggest news story of July?
- Punk beats Cena in Money in the Bank match 28.6%
- Punk gets some mainstream after supposedly quitting as champion, but no business bump on his return 21.9%
- Money in the Bank becomes one of WWE's best ever PPV shows 17.2%
- Dan Henderson knocked out Fedor Emelianenko 14.1%
- Vince McMahon fired; HHH storyline takeover 6.3%
- Tito Ortiz shocks Ryan Bader, takes Rashad Evans fight 4.3%
- Sin Cara suspended for failing steroid test, firing considered 3.4%
- Kenta Kobashi returns after lengthy injury absence 1.8%
- Raw built around Vince vs. Punk does 2.91 rating 1.3%
- Go Shiozaki ends Takashi Sugiura's nearly 20 months as GHC champ 0.7%
- Brett Rogers arrested in domestic violence case 0.4%
--CNN's 2011 recap show played the clip of John Cena talking about the death of Osama Bin Laden from the WWE PPV (thanks to Karl Clancey)
--Remember Luke Robinson from Tough Enough? He's trying to start a resort style personal training business
. Still amazing with all the personality lacking projects in WWE and TNA that this guy hasn't gotten at least a look.
--Juggalo Championship Wrestling's New Year's Eve show in Worcester, MA, before 1,674 fans: Jimmy Jacobs over Bull Pain and Kawabata, Madman Pondo & Necro Butcher & Balls Mahoney b Bumpin Uglies, Weedman b Officer Colt Cabana, Ring Rydas b Sexy Slim Goodie & Raven to win JCW tag titles, Rhino b Samoan Warrior, 2 Tuff Tony & Shockwave the Robot b Headbangers. ICP did a 30 minute set to end the show.
--Chuck Langerman's daily wrestling trivia. Charles Robinson, one of the few non-drinkers on the WWE roster, is a graduate of Mooresville High School in Mooresville, NC in 1982. Growing up, Robinson's idol was a clearly not a non-drinker, in Ric Flair. But he learned refereeing but studying Tommy Young, who was one of the most respected referees in history. He worked as a salesman before wrestling, and was also a wrestling photographer. He started with WCW in 1997 and is one of the few people left from WCW still in WWE, along with John Laurinaitis, Booker T, and very few others.
--And a second involves Brian Lawler, also known as Brian Christopher. He is a 1990 graduate of Craigmont High School in Memphis where he played football. He won a school poetry contest in his senior year. Good think Vince didn't know about it or he'd have had a different gimmick. His younger brother Kevin, who also wrestled, graduated from the school in 1992.
--There is officially a UFC show in Stockholm, Sweden on 4/14 at Globe Arena. Alexander Gustafsson may headline and I believe Akira Corassani from the last season of Tough Enough is earmarked for that show if he's healthy.
--Regarding the UFC on XBOX, reader Leo Avila said the feed was down but he was able to view it once the PPV started and the only issue was when the Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem main event started and it started to buffer. But he said the quality wasn't great, but he won't complain since it was free, but it did look the same as a pirated stream. The weigh-ins were good.
--Does anyone know if TV Asahi will be airing a Tokyo Dome special on Wednesday and what time it would air, and if there is a way to view it in the U.S.?
--More notes on the WrestleReunion activities from 1/27 to 1/29 in Los Angeles. Arena Chicks will have a Friday afternoon show that only those with VIP tickets can attend. Also announced in a Pro Wrestling Superstars show on 1/28 with Rick & Scott Steiner vs. Billy Gunn & Road Dogg with Mick Foley as referee, Tommy Dreamer vs. Kevin Steen in a street fight, Young Bucks vs. Great Sasuke & El Generico, Colt Cabana vs. Fit Finlay, Christopher Daniels vs. Jake Manning a Legends Battle Royal with Raven and Virgil plus also appearing include Davey Richards, Roderick Strong, Mikey Whipwreck, Tajiri, Harry Smith, Vader, Kevin Sullivan, Carlos Colon, The Godfather, Molly Holly, Rock Riddle and Mascarita Sagrada. Kevin Von Erich and Maryse will also be at the show but not wrestling. There will also be a Friday night comedy show for 30 minutes.
--Stacy Keibler is in the new National Enquirer with a story devoted to the best and worst beach bodies in Hollywood. No way she can possibly be on the worst list.
--Bobby Green, who was scheduled to face Alonzo Martinez on this coming Saturday night's Strikeforce show, has pulled out with an injury. No replacement has been made.
--Regarding Jill Thompson, besides doing the drawings for Mick Foley's kids book many years ago, she also made a giant poster of C.M. Punk for people to bring out and copy to take to Raw in Chicago on Monday; she designed Daniel Bryan's ring gear and her husband, comic book writer Brian Azzarello, co-wrote a Spider-Man story with Raven. She and her husband are in particular big fans of Mexican wrestling. Among people who work in the comic book industry, she's one of the biggest fans along with Observer subscriber Steven Grant, Milk and Cheese creator Evan Dorkin, and former Greensboro front row regular John Hitchcock.(thanks to Mark Coale)
--Rush vs. El Terrible will decide the vacant CMLL world heavyweight title (which Hector Garza held when he jumped to AAA) tonight at Arena Mexico in the finals after a Torneo Cibernetico that left them as the final two on Christmas day. There is also a double mask vs. mask match with longtime prelim stars Los Rayos Tapatios putting up their masks against Hombre Bala Jr. & Super Halcon Jr.
--Results of the Christmas show in Tijuana, a benefit for Rey Misterio Sr., who has had mounting medical bills due to crippling back injuries from his years in the ring: Mosco Negro b Enigma, Jonathan & Poseidon & Amazona b Kanalla & Wama & Metalica-DQ, Maquiavelico & Mr. Maldito & Platino b Cinico & Viento & Zarco, El Hijo de Rey Misterio (Rey's legit son won three-way over Mortiz and Mr. Tempest, Damian 666 & Bestia 666 (Damian's son) & Nicho b Angel Metalico & El Hijo del Rey Misterio II & Super Astro, Extassis b Tony Casanova in a hair vs. hair match (thanks to Kris Zellner)
--Oriental vs. Juventud Guerrera vs. Lizmark Jr. is a three-way loser gets his head shaved match that takes place today in Neza at Arena Azteca Budokan. Yet another hair vs. hair match in the DF takes place today with Multifacetico vs. Apolo Estrada Jr.
--Great Canadian Wrestling on Tuesday from Oshawa, ONT before 130 fans: Rip Impact b Ryan Ruks, Hardkore Hick & King Sphinx b Cecil Nyx & Derek Platinum, Onyx b D-Man, Twiggy won three-way over Terry Steele and Kevin Steen, Buck Gunderson b Tomer Shalom, Steve Brown b Bastian Snow, Brent Banks & Seleziya Sparx b Shawn Spears & Angelina Love (thanks to Steven Ashe)
--Ric Flair is featured in the Americana trading cards from Panini. The set consists of celebrities from the past, and few if any other athletes are involved. The card mentions that there is dispute over how many world titles he really won, and noted one of his robes in the National Museum of American History. (thanks to Will Bartley)
--In Australia, tomorrow night on SBS One at 8:30 p.m., the TV show Freddie Flintoff vs. The World sees the former cricket star going to Mexico and trying Lucha Libre. Another wrestling oriented show is on ABC 2 on Friday night called Last Man Standing, where six guys from various countries and backgrounds compete in local contests and in the episode they go to Brazil and complete in the Kalapapo tribe's form of wrestling. (thanks to Graeme Cameron)