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.
--WWE Classics on Demand is still on in a lot of places. WWE is going to continue to produce it through the end of March to fulfill certain existing contracts.
--The first major PPV promotion by UFC on FX will be for the 2/4 show in Las Vegas. They are doing a three-week prime time show on FX, airing on Friday nights at 11 p.m. (and will be replayed to death on Fuel) on 1/20, 1/27 and 2/3. The specials will be weekly updates and the life and the training of Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit, which have the chance to be amazingly compelling. Or a train wreck. And a good chance of being both.
--Bryan and I will be back tonight with Wrestling Observer Radio covering Raw and the latest WWE goings on. We also should have time for questions so if you've got questions on MMA and pro wrestling you can send them again to
--The weekly UFC news show "UFC Tonight" debuts tomorrow night on Fuel, which includes "Chael's corner," so UFC is pushing Sonnen as well as far as being a big star. Sonnen is doing a pro wrestling Royal Rumble winner angle. He's going to claim on tomorrow night's show that when he beats Mark Munoz on the 1/28 show on FOX, that he was told it will earn him a world title match. He's claiming that he will announce which champion he's cashing in his Rumble, I mean, FOX win on, teasing Jon Jones or GSP. Well, obviously not GSP because he'd have to kill himself to make 170, and GSP isn't around all year anyway. He's trying to swerve and say it won't be Anderson Silva.
--If you live in New York and have Time Warner cable, Fuel is free on Ch. 456. It changed yesterday. Several new channels have become free including Fuel, essentially the UFC network, and NHL Fox Sports Regional, because of the dispute where they've taken some of the MSG channels off. (thanks to Mike Kuzmuk)
--El Terrible beat Rush yesterday at Arena Mexico to become the new CMLL heavyweight champion. The title was vacant when Hector Garza quit the promotion.
--Our 2012 prediction call-in show is now up today along with a look back at all of the 2011 predictions to see how close people came.
--Here's a weird Chuck Langerman daily update, talking about former WWF ring announcer and ring crew head Mel Phillips, who got the company in ungodly amount of trouble in the early 90s with allegations regarding his foot fetishes and using young boys from broken homes in the ring crew. In the end, no charges were ever filed but WWE got rid of both Mel Phillips and Terry Garvin (who worked in the talent department) immediately when the stories broke. He was once in a WWF television angle where Terry Funk beat him up. He's living in New Hampshire and has been seen at some small indie shows in that state in recent years.
--And on Ian Rotten, Langerman noted that once Rotten was taken to task on a March 23, 2011 radio interview by Jerry Wiseman, he shut the doors of IWA Mid South, as he had teased doing on a number of occasions. He has been at one point working at a Louisville area Taco Bell. IWA Mid South has tried to resurface since then, but poor attendance led to running just three shows.
--Cohen Morrison notes that not only is April 1st the day of WrestleMania 28, but it will also be the 32nd birthday of Randy Orton.
--As noted yesterday, Orton is scheduled to return to Raw on the 1/16 show in Anaheim. He is now being advertised for all Smackdown events and to wrestle starting on 1/17. We were told yesterday that 1/16 was a target date but nothing was 100%. At the WWE shows all week, ring announcer Tony Chimmel had announced Orton's back problems would have him out of action for six months.
--The 1/14 Evolve show, what appears to be the final pro wrestling event ever at the former ECW Arena, will be available on Internet PPV. There will be a closing ceremony to close down wrestling at the arena at the end of the show. Matches are Johnny Gargano vs. Ricochet for the Open the Freedom Gate title, Sami Callihan vs. Bobby Fish, Super Smash Brothers vs. Chuck Taylor & Rich Swann, AR Fox vs. Jigsaw, Pinkie Sanchez vs. Uhaa Nation and Caleb Konley & Scott Reed vs. Alex Reynolds & John Silver
--We have gotten negative feedback from people who ordered items from Melina Perez's ebay store that they have not gotten their items and there is a feedback page with lots of similar comments.
--C.M. Punk was named Chicago Sports Stud of the year on the website http://www.redeyechicago.com
They listed Punk as the Sports Stud of the Year and Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox as the Sports Dud of the Year. In the story, they claimed Punk "seemingly went off-script" about Vince McMahon and it was the talk of the wrestling world. Punk won because he went on twitter and pushed his fans to vote, so he got 90% of the vote, so it's more a matter of campaigning then web editors believing he should have won. It was a popularity contest with the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch softball league which won the championship this past year, and also mobilized its fan base to vote. Obviously there are a hell of a lot more fans of pro wrestling and National Pro Fastpitch softball.
--Regarding Jill Thompson, who we wrote about her various connections to pro wrestlers, she also did the artwork for the latest Fozzy T-shirt for Chris Jericho's band.
--A promotion called DARE has announced a 1/7 iPPV show on GoFightLive.tv is $1 million in prize money for the winners of eight different tournaments (so each tourney winner in theory would gate $125,000). The show takes place in Bangkok, Thailand featuring a number of Asian fighters plus former UFC fighter, Pride star and pro wrestler Daijyu Takase.
--AAW on 2/24 in Merrionette Park, IL at 115 Bourbon Street headlined by Jerry Lawler.