SAT. UPDATE: Flair scores major deal, Rock box office, Dana vs. hackers, Rumble surprises



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        We're looking for your thoughts on tonight's UFC on FOX and last night's Dragon Gate USA show, so you can leave a thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs in the middle along with a best and worst match to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
        We're also looking for reports on tonight's TNA TV tapings from Wembley Arena in London, tonight's WWE joint branded house show in Evansville and tonight's indie show in Los Angeles.
 
        UFC today starts at about 4:30 p.m. Eastern/1:30 p.m. Pacific on Facebook:
Chris Camozzi (185) vs. Dustin Jacoby (185)
 
On Fuel starting at 5 p.m.
Lavar Johnson (252) vs. Joey Beltran (228)
Shane Roller (156) vs. Michael Johnson (156)
Charles Oliveira (144) vs. Eric Wisely (145)
Cub Swanson (145) vs. George Roop (145)
Mike Russow (251) vs. Jon Olav Einemo (253)
Evan Dunham (155) vs. Nik Lentz (155)
 
On FOX at 8 p.m.
Demian Maia (186) vs. Chris Weidman (186)
Michael Bisping (185) vs. Chael Sonnen (185)
Rashad Evans (205) vs. Phil Davis (205)   
 
        Also on Fuel today they will have live coverage starting at 10 p.m. with post-show interviews and the prelims will replay at 11 p.m.
 
        Also today 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.
 
        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.
 
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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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--Dana White was up until at least 4 a.m. last night doing posts about the guys who hacked the UFC web site this week.  He also got into a twitter argument with the guy who claims credit for doing it.  I get his strategy in the long-term, but right now he's got an important show today and the last thing he needs is to take his eye of the ball.  Anyway, the same people are claiming they are going to do something bad to the web site again because White supports SOPA.  Constant hacking of web sites is only going to result in a bill that is more stricter getting passed than one if people didn't perceive the "bad guys" and vandals in opposition to it.  The current bill has real problems but there is going to be at some point legislation passed, it's just a question of what that legislation will be.  The more the opponents of this bill come across this way, and it may only take a few guys to make millions look like they are on the sides of vandalism and piracy, the worse in the long run they are when it comes to debating the issues.  If the opponents came off as reasonable (and many, probably the vast majority, are), it would reflect a lot more positively. 
 
--So in response to White calling them names, somebody released his name, address and some phone "home" numbers.  Unfortunately, the address was to a $78,000 home in Las Vegas, and I assure you Dana White isn't living these days in a $78,000 home.  The purported phone numbers they released were to some old women in Las Vegas who then got harassed by callers and it ended up on the Ch. 5 news last night in Vegas, only making it appear those opposing White, and by extension SOPA, which is where this fight all started, are now responsible for nutty MMA fans yelling at some woman on her home phone for not paying fighters enough.  This is the quickest way to have the perception of the MMA fans be the same or worse than the perception of the pro wrestling fans to the public and decision makers, and that's not good for anyone.  Mayhem Miller's web site was also hacked, and they gave out personal info for Jason Miller.  And yes, it was apparently the wrong Jason Miller.
 
--Bryan and I will be back tonight talking UFC on Fox, Dragon Gate, Royal Rumble and more with Wrestling Observer radio shortly after the completion of the press conference.
 
--The Rock will be on the 2/27 Raw in Portland, OR.
 
--A good story on Rashad Evans is at http://msn.foxsports.com/uc/story/UFC-on-FOX-Rashad-Evans-long-journey-to-stardom-012612   I've been impressed with Reid Forgrave.  He did a strong piece on Kurt Angle going for the Olympics recently as well.  (thanks to Markus Gronemann)
 
--We're looking for someone who can cover the Ring Ka King shows which are available in the U.S. on the Dish Network and also in the U.K. on Colors.  The first show airs at 8 p.m. today.
 
--The Countdown show for this coming Saturday's UFC PPV will air on Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Fuel.  Yeah, the tree falling in the empty forest countdown show.  The second episode of the Prime Time Diaz vs. Condit which people are raving about (I missed it) airs on Fuel on 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 p.m. on Wednesday, 1:30 a.m. late Wednesday and 2 a.m. late Thursday, and 6:30 p.m. on Friday (right before the live weigh-ins).7 p.m. all on Fuel.     
 
--I've got an article at http://www.yahoo.com on why tonight's show is actually in the big picture the most important UFC show not only of this year, but in a few years.  The gist is that a bad rating will force a revamp of the entire battle plan of the FOX/PPV synergy and a good rating will be affirmation that UFC is a prime time player.  Under a 2.0 rating would be bad.  2.0 to 2.5 would not be good, and would be more mean there would be added pressure on 5/5 to do better.  2.6 to 3.0 is fine, and it's about where it should be.  3.0 or better would be a success and anything above 3.3 they should be popping champagne corks for this show.  I've heard people talk about the show doing 10 million viewers.  It's not doing close to 10 million viewers.  5 million is fine and 7 million is a home run.  Under 4 million is cause for concern.  Fact is several of the CBS shows did less than 2.5 million viewers after doing almost as strong a first number as the UFC show did, so there is a precedent for not sustaining.  In fact, first to second show on CBS had a 42 percent drop.
 
--Also, a reminder on the first rating that will come out tomorrow morning.  Don't make the mistake everyone made last time about not getting it.  The first number will be low because it'll be a measure of the audience of FOX from 8-10 p.m. tonight.  The problem with that is the entire West Coast will be airing filler programming that won't get any audience, plus the West Coast is where MMA interest is the highest and the show airs 5-7 p.m.  Not staggering the feed for the West Coast will hurt the overall rating because it's a West Coast dominated sport, but that will always be the case.  But the early number won't reflect West Coast viewership.  If the viewing pattern is like last time, the first number that comes out will be about 24% lower than the actual number once they figure in West Coast from 5-7 p.m. vs. West Coast from 8-10 p.m. tonight. 
 
--Some Royal Rumble notes.  Jim Duggan is pretty much confirmed for the show.  He had indie bookings this weekend that he had to cancel at the last minute.  Others expected are Road Warrior Animal (which makes sense since his son plays for the St. Louis Rams) and Road Dogg.  Other notes include Brodus Clay getting his full ring entrance at the Rumble, and they are back on the push Mason Ryan bandwagon as of this week.  That's one that can change on a moments notice, though.
 
--Journey 2:  The Mysterious Island was No. 2 for this weekend in its debut in Australia doing $1,908,651.  The movie debuts in a few weeks in the U.S.
 
--Among those attending the Southern California history seminar at WrestleReunion in Los Angeles were Dick Beyer, Mando Guerrero, Jack Armstrong, Tony Rocco (the last I saw of Tony Rocco he had the most incredible tan in the world), El Negro, Pepper Martin, Jeff Walton, Billy Rogers, John Birch, Rock Riddle, Art Mihalik, Superstar Graham, the sons of the Torres Brothers, as well as photographers Theo Ehret and Dan Westbrook.  Theo Ehret and Dan Westbrook when I was a kid were the most awesome photographers.  Longtime Los Angeles, WWF and WCW announcer Miguel Alonso, who was in a horrible auto accident a few days ago, left a hospital in Oceanside and insisted on coming, came, in a wheelchair.  Billy Graham gave a long anti-Vince speech and talked about the start of his career as a tag team partner of Dr. Jerry Graham.  Beyer and Rock Riddle stole the show with their speeches.  Riddle also cut a promo about being in the Battle Royal tonight.
 
--Verne Gagne was scheduled today to be appearing at a showing of the original movie "The Wrestler" with son Greg.  Verne we were told would not be able to speak, nor is his hand steady enough to sign autographs, but apparently he does enjoy being in public, is able to recognize himself in the movie, and can pose for photos.
 
--Chuck Langerman's daily trivia talks about former pro wrestler Paul Diamond (Tom Boric).  This Paul Diamond was at least the second Paul Diamond, because there was a 70s wrestler who worked under the name doing a heartthrob gimmick ("The Handsomest Man in Pro Wrestling," can you imagine the heat he'd get for that one?) and ended up owning a deli in the San Jose area.  But this is the one who teamed with Pat Tanaka in the AWA under Paul Heyman, and later worked in WWF as Paul Diamond and Kato.  While a lot of pro football players have gone into pro wrestling, Tom Boric was a major league soccer player.  He was born and grew up in Croatia, and his father was a soccer player.  He moved to Canada growing up.  He went to Old Dominion University on a soccer scholarship as a goalkeeper and was on varsity from 1978 to 1980, posting a 0.88 goals against average in his senior year.  This led to playing with both the Calgary Boomers and the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the old North American Soccer League.  He was living in Tampa and after his soccer career ended, met the Malenko brothers and started training to be a pro wrestler.
 
--Tommy Dreamer talks the Royal Rumble, talking about scoring with a girl at a party by telling her he was asked to be in the Rumble one year and how he turned it down (he made the whole story up), and talked about the beginnings of the Rumble.  He called the first Rumble (actually the second, the first was in St. Louis but has been erased from history because it flopped) in Hamilton a risky business decision.  I don't see how putting a free show on USA head-to-head with a Crockett PPV is risky for the guy putting on the free show.  The Rumble in Hamilton, at the time, set the record for most viewers for a wrestling show on cable television.  Story is at http://www.thewhig.comm/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3450893 
 
--The Ric Flair business deal hinted about in the Observer last week was announced yesterday as Coca Cola has signed him up to a lengthy contract as the Brand Ambassador for an Energy/Protein drunk called Fuel in a Bottle.  No terms were released but this was a significant money deal.  The drink comes out in early March. 
 
--Who wins this fight?
Nate Diaz 55.6%
Jim Miller 44.4%
 
--Who wins this match?
C.M. Punk 87.5%
Dolph Ziggler 12.5%
 
--Who wins this match?
Daniel Bryan 86.4%
Mark Henry 8.3%
Big Show 5.4%
 
--Poll on Impact
Excellent 21.0%
Good 28.4%
Average 23.5%
Fair 11.1%
Poor 16.0%
        61.2% of those responding didn't see the show. 
 
--Doug Gotlieb of ESPN on Thursday was comparing the Lakers and Clippers on Wednesday with the WWE because of the ending of the game.  He mentioned Michelle Beadle of Sports Nation loves Raw and watches it every on Monday night to the point he had to unfollow her to avoid hearing about it. (thanks to Charles Parker)
 
--Lee Stott talks to The Miz at http://tinyurl.com/74q9a8k
 
--At yesterday's WrestleReunion in Los Angeles for an afternoon show:  Sassy Stephie b Divina Rose, Fantasia b Buggy Nova, Angel Orsini & Amber O'Neal b Shelly Martinez & Cookie (thanks to Charles Short)
 
--Alex Marvez talks to Blue Meanie about the end of wrestling at the ECW Arena at http://public.shns.com/content/marvez-heffron-laments-passing-ecw-arena-days  
 
--There will be a benefit show for Dustin Rayz this coming Friday in Hamilton, OH at the Great Miami Events Center.  CZW wrestlers including Jake Crist, Sami Callihan, Dave Crist, D.J. Hyde, Greg Excellent, Alex Colon and others will be appearing on the show.
 
--USWO from last night in Nashville:  Jason Xavier b Josh Crow, Allen Shepard b Super Barney, Nick Iggy & Mike Revick b Tim Renesto & Saint, Bryan Casey b White Tiger, L.T. Falk b Bully Douglas-DQ, Jocephus b Wolfie D, Damien Payne b Gary Valiant (thanks to Jimmie Daniel)
 
--IWC from last night in Orlando:  Billy the Tiger b Elegant, Manuela b Beetle Juice, Christina Von Eerie b Santana Garrett, Chasyn Rance & Mister Saint Laurent b Mike Cruz & Gus Money, Lince Dorado b J.D. Amazing, Silencer b Tony Torres, El Borincano & Morales DDQ Wizard I & II (thanks to Al Haft)
 
--The Sun's weekly women's supplement, Fabulous Magazine, has an article on British womens' wrestling promotion Pro Wrestling Eve at http://www.fabulousmag.co.uk/fabmag/_fabulous/nolfabulous_features/1372808/Fake-tan-false-lashes-and-broken-bones-Welcome-to-the-wild-world-of-British-womens-wrestling.html (thanks to Martin Bentley)
 
--Ed, Cutrer and Craig talk Royal Rumble at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cutrer/201...super-show
 
--Former WWE writer Alex Greenfield co-wrote an action-horror movie called "The Temple" which was awarded by Amazon.com a Best Screenplay award.  The movie is done and is free to stream or download at http://studios.amazon.com/movies/13729
 
--Ron Simmons has been added to the 3/17 Crossfire Entertainment show at the Nashville Fairgrounds which also includes Chavo Guerrero vs Fit Finlay, Maria Kanellis, Brian Christopher, PG-13, Kid Kash, Jerry Lynn and more.
 
--Universal Championship Wrestling from last night in Norcross, GA before 200 fans:  Lodi b Scotty Matthews, Spyral & Chris Jacobs b Koonce & Zander, Micah Taylor b Shane Williams, Brodie Chase b Steven Walters, Adrian Hawkins won three-way over John Skyler and Antonio Garza, Johnny Swinger b Chase Stevens, Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson b Cru Jones & Shaun Banks.  The main event will be rematched on 2/24.  They had a show the night before that drew 400-500 fans and run tonight in Decatur GA.  Joe "Assassin" Hamilton was at the show.  Buff Bagwell was at the show.  He was injured the first night of the tour so couldn't wrestle, but was there signing autographs.
 

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