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WON NEWSLETTER: July 19, 2021 Observer Newsletter: Paul Orndorff passes away, Conor breaks leg at UFC 264

A look at the life and career of Paul Orndorff, one of the top stars of the 70s, 80s and 90, is the lead story in the new issue of the Observer.  

We go deep into the issue of dementia, his life after wrestling, what he was known for in wrestling, the street fighter talk, the fight with Tony Atlas, the fight with John Matuszak, his high school and college sports stardom in Florida, the unique story about how he got into pro wrestling and another street fight story just as he was breaking in where he wound up arrested and Eddie Graham thought it was great for business, his rise to stardom in the territorial era, the Vader fight, how he got started lifting weights, his second run with Hulk Hogan that remains the most successful live event program in pro wrestling history, the Hogan vs. Orndorff years, both teaming and as rivals, the first WrestleMania, The Big Event in Toronto and how monumental that show was and how it blew away expectations, how WrestleMania III being held at the Pontiac Silverdome came from the success of The Big Event,  the injury that changed the trajectory of his career.

Also in this issue:

Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor turned into the second biggest PPV event in UFC history. Ryan Frederick, one of the top insiders in the MMA world, looks in depth at UFC 264, the stories that led to it, the success of the show, and what happens next coming out of it.  We look at the McGregor injury and what happened leading up to it.  We also look at the rest of the show, new stars to watch out for, business notes plus match-by-match coverage with poll results.

The return of the arena business to WWE and AEW, ticket advances, the Arthur Ashe Stadium & Newark shows for AEW and WWE in Madison Square Garden all at the same time.  We look at the numbers and give all the qualifying information.  We also look at how other major shows are doing, this coming week's stuff, SummerSlam update, what AEW show are they peaking for a major event, how the debut of Rampage will change things, the Money in the Bank show, new WWE date and more.

Top matches for SummerSlam, names talked about for Bobby Lashley, NXT schedule change during the Olympics, the Bayley injury and one top star talks about why the training sessions were a bad idea, why employee morale in WWE is up, thoughts on Jimmy Uso and why the Uso will be kept strong, Belair & Banks ESPY, other combat sport ESPY winners, the Riddle/Tavel lawsuit goes away and the story behind that, story behind the debuts of newcomers to main roster television, Mandy Rose stuff, how often WWE,New Japan, NXT and AEW do rematches, where Dwayne Johnson claims the term Smackdown came from, international TV ratings, notes on shows coming up and bookings, Riddle's heat with Rollins and why, an idea they were considering to make the Bray Wyatt puppets real people, Bea Priestley talks her WWE signing, Big E talks fighting the new Day breakup, WWE stock value and the most-watched videos from WWE this past week.

The Tokyo Dome show this coming week, with the lineup and a look at each match.

Full coverage of the ROH Best in the World show, with business notes, notes on the next show, the title change, the women's tournament, match-by-match coverage with star ratings and poll results.

A story on Travis Fulton, a former UFC fighter who had more than 300 MMA fights and 75 boxing matches, who committed suicide by hanging while in prison.

More detail on the ratings than any other source, we have how every segment on NXT and AEW did with different age groups, genders and more, plus a look at all other wrestling shows of the past week, how many different viewers the shows had, DVR numbers and how long the average fan watches.

Results of the major pro wrestling events of the past week.

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Bryan and I will be back tonight covering Money in the Bank and the rest of the wrestling news. You can send questions for the show to mailbag@wrestlingobserver.com. We are looking for reports from the Impact tapings today and tomorrow in Nashville to dave@wrestlingobserver.com

Money in the Bank is tonight from what will be a sold out Dickie's Arena in Fort Worth.  As of this morning there were only 47 tickets left at the start of the day today so it's a given they'll do that many walk-ups. After seeing the Friday show one would expect a hot crowd. The show looks good on paper, particularly the Men's Money in the Bank match. We are also doing polls for both tonight's show as well as for Impact Slammiversary so you can leave a thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs in the middle along with a best and worst match for each show to dave@wrestlingobserver.com. Both Paddy Power and BetFair have removed the men's Money in the Bank match from betting. No reason was given. 5Dimes has made Big E the favorite at -170. Big E getting pinned on Friday is the reason he's the favorite. I can't argue that logic but that does say something.

  • Men's Money in the Bank with Big E, Riddle, Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura, Ricochet and John Morrison.  This is really an incredible lineup of talent and on paper looks to be one of the best MITB matches in history.  You've got great workers and the crazy moves guys which shine in a match like this.  
  • Women's Money in the Bank with Alexa Bliss, Liv Morgan, Nikki Ash, Asuka, Zelina Vega, Naomi, Natalya and Tamina.  Obviously this doesn't have the talent of the men's match as far as the daredevils go.  Jason Agnew this morning threw an idea out to me about Becky Lynch somehow getting in replacing someone, since she was scheduled to be at the show, and winning, which would be a huge pop and her return would give a giant spark to the women's side of either brand.  Anyway, I don't expect that but it sounds like a great idea.
  • Roman Reigns vs. Edge for the Universal title. Another match that looks great on paper.  I can't see Reigns losing the title with the plans for a John Cena match.  The only way that could happen is if the match falls through and all week it was insisted to me that they believed it was solid and wouldn't. I could see Rollins getting involved here based on TV, because Rollins vs. Edge was a match heavily talked about for SummerSlam but not for sure.
  • Bobby Lashley vs. Kofi Kingston for the WWE title. This should be good, but any result other than a Lashley win would be a surprise.
  • Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair for the Raw women's title. Should be a good match here as well.  I could see this going either way.  Ripley would be the favorite however.
  • A.J. Styles & Omos vs. Viking Raiders. Considering Omos role in the match will probably be a hot tag, throwing guys around and most of it will be Styles vs. Raiders, those are three really strong workers. I would not expect a title change here.
  • Rey & Dominick Mysterio vs. Usos in the pre-show match for the tag team title.  This will almost surely be a good match given the participants.  Given that the Usos tried and failed twice, and are the pushed act, they would be favored to win the belts here.

The show looks on paper stronger than most and Reigns-Edge looks a sure thing for a great match except you never know if the finish will be weird, and the men's match could be one of the best matches of the year for the company.

A few notes on last night's Impact PPV show. The show went off the air as planned. They wanted the commotion, which ended up being an angle for New Japan to build up its 8/14 show in Los Angeles where Jay White laid out David Finlay. White vs. Finlay is one of the two main events for the show at The Torch at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.  I would suspect the footage shows up on Thursday's show and New Japan World. While we don't know this as a fact, the belief is that the new Drama King wrestler is the former Aiden English, who uses the name Drama King Matt on indie shows. We're also wondering about the CMLL reaction to New Japan and AAA being both billed as having wrestlers on Bound for Glory on 10/23 in Las Vegas.    

For Google searches for the week there is actually a decent amount of  stuff in the combat sports world. Today's WWE show will surely rank high given the fans aspect and Money in the Bank being one of the bigger shows. For Saturday: UFC itself was No. 3 with 200,000 for last night's Fight Night show, and Miesha Tate also had 200,000 searches for fifth place.  The Jernell Charlo vs. Brian Castano was No. 6.  On Tuesday, Tyron Woodley was No 13 with 50,000. On Monday, Paul Orndorff was No. 8 with 200,000. One thing we hadn't checked is the aftermath of the Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier fight garnered so much talk that there were two million more searches Sunday alone bringing the weekend total to 14 million, which is the all-time record for a UFC event.  That is a huge mainstream interest.

Kota Ibushi is still out of action due to illness. He's scheduled to headline next Sunday's Tokyo Dome and right now is expected back Thursday. New Japan has a huge week with major arena shows Thursday through Sunday.

Congratulations to Sheamus, who proposed to girlfriend Isabella Rivella in Ireland in his home town of County Clare. (thanks to Stephen Lyon)

UFC announced International Fight Week from 9/21 to 9/25 with the big event being UFC 266. The UFC Hall of Fame ceremony will be on 9/23. There will be a two-day UFC Fan Experience on 9/24 and 9/25 featuring top stars from the past and present.


  • On Smackdown when they were pushing next week's show, they billed it from a sold out arena in Cleveland as well as the Rolling Loud Music festival in Miami, the reality is that Cleveland is nowhere close to being sold out and they have many sections unopened.  It's not like it's going to be a bad house for it's not selling out legit.
  • After the sellout in Houston, and at the show, WWE smartly already had tickets ready for purchase for a return on 10/25, which will be a live Raw.
  • A story on the NXT UK brand expanding into The Philippines.
  • There had been some rumors about SummerSlam being moved up to 7 p.m. so they could get another hour into the show with the 11 p.m. hard out because of the Pacquiao fight. WWE officials have said that the main card is still scheduled for an 8 p.m. Eastern start.
  • WWE should be announcing the new location for its 9/17 Smackdown show which was to be in Atlanta but was canceled on Friday after about 1,700 tickets were moved. WWE officials said that it just made sense to swap some dates and the new location should be announced soon.
  • A DAZN interview with Steve Muehlhausen talking to Natalya.
  • An interview with Drew McIntyre pushing the Detroit show coming up. (thanks to Mike Kuzmuk)
  • Backroad Entertainment is working on a pro wrestling show which they describe as a cross between Last Chance U and Ultimate Fighter. They are looking for independent wrestlers with a few years experience but have had a rough go with getting noticed and making it. They are also looking for people with interesting family histories or with personal issues they are trying to overcome. The show includes being picked for the cast and being trained by Dustin Rhodes in August in Austin, TX.  For those interested, this is the application to fill out.
  • CBS Sunday morning today mentioned the death of Paul Orndorff (thanks to Mike Lano)


  • On my weekend show with Garrett Gonzales, we talked heavily on the AEW ratings and ticket sales for the Arthur Ashe Stadium show.  As noted, they are over 15,000 after the first day. The next number to note would be 16,544 which was the MSG New Japan show.  If and when that is topped they would be the largest non-WWE or NCAA wrestling crowd in North America since 1999. That would be a WCW show at the Georgia Dome and they will not top that figure.
  • There has been good movement in ticket sales for Wednesday night in Garland. As of last night, they had 5,118 tickets out so were 476 shy of a sellout. It did not appear a sellout was possible but now there is a fairly decent shot at it.


  • Warrior Wrestling from last night in Chicago Heights, IL. Not sure of attendance but a fan estimate was 1,000 for the show: Dante Martin b KC Navarro (good), Danhausen b Lee Moriarty (Danhausen over with the crowd, but review we got weren't good), Calvin Tannkman b Jordan Oliver (fine), Jonathan Gresham b Davey Richards (very good), Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison b Richard Holiday & Victor Benjamin (decent), Aramis b Dag to keep the Lucha title (excellent), Brian Cage b Ninja Mack (no chemistry), Lance Archer b Robert Ego Anthony no holds barred (Archer threw Frank the Clown off the football bleachers, you couldn't see the fall, but it wa a big one, likely a crash pad and Frank tweeted after he was quitting wrestling which is likely a storyline), Kylie Rae b Lady Frost to keep the women's title (felt rushed, Frost had two guys with her, there was a post-match beatdown and Pillman & Garrison made the save so it seemed to set up a six person mixed tag for the next show).  Fun show overall (thanks to Lance LeVine)
  • A story on Kevin Fertig, the former Kevin Thorne, now working in real estate.  (thanks to Mike Kuzmuk)
  • Absolute Intense Wrestling on 7/30 in Cleveland, OH at the Odeon Concert Club and 7/31 in Jefferson, OH at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds.
  • Legacy Fighting on UFC Fight Pass is doing a four-man one-night welterweight tournament from the Upper Arena in Rio de Janeiro.  It starts at 9 p.m. Eastern.  The semi finals are Gabriel Confim (10-0) vs. Brenner Alberth (8-0) and Diego Dias (13-3) vs. Carlos Leal (12-3).  The LFA is an American promotion making its Brazilian debut.
  • Insane Wrestling Revolution from Thursday night in Monroe, MI:  Nate Bock b Kenny Urban, Malcolm Monroe III b Sam Beale, Trey Miguel b Ace Austin, DBA b Mysterious Movado, Dread King Logan b Benjamin Boone, Konnor b Dread King Logan, Chinstrap Jesus b Bryan Castle, Rhino & Joe Doering & Deaner b Aaron Orion & Jack Price & Tony Vendetta (thanks to Leonard Brand)
  • Pro Wrestling Conquest from Friday night in Charleston,WV:  Daniel Eads b Calvin Tankman, Levi Everett b Beastman, Cole Karter b Ryan Edons & David Lawless in a handicap match, Mance Warner b Mad Man Fulton, Dani Mo b Megan Meyers, Jock Samson b Danhausen, Mane Event b Money Shot & Renegade.
  • NOAH Sanctuary will air on FITE TV PPV on 7/28 with English commentary and the 8/1 show from Hiroshima will also be on FITE. Mark Pickering, one of the English announcers has COVID and best wishes to him on recovery. He tested positive on 7/10 so missed calling the Sendai show. He will be back for the shows mentioned above.
  • Tickets for NWA shows from 8/28 to 8/31 in St. Louis, which was be EmPowerrr, an all women's show on 8/28, the NWA 73rd anniversary show on 8/29, and TV tapings on 8/30 and 8/31, are available at Ticketmaster. Just to clear something up we talked about on the show last night, Mickie James will not work EmPowerrr  but will be the Executive Producer of the show.  She will be wrestling on the 8/29 anniversary show.
  • The MLW Battle Riot match will air on 7/24 on Bein Sports at 10 p.m.
  • The world premiere of the new pro wrestling TV show Starz Heels will be on 7/29 in New York at the 92nd Street Y.  Stephen Amell and other stars and the producers will be doing a Q&A after the first episode airs.The show debuts on television on 8/13 in a Friday night time slot.
  • T-Mart Promotions presents The Gathering 7/22 to 7/25 at the Charlotte University Hilton.  Names listed are The Fabulous Ones, Eric Bischoff, Tony Atlas, Barry Windham, Tom Prichard, Demolition, Tommy Rich, Bobby & Jackie Fulton, Molly Holly, Mike Rotunda, John Nord, Dennis Condrey, Norvell Austin, Eric Embry, Rick Steiner, David Crockett, Ken Resnick, Trevor Murdoch and more.  There Is a Saturday night card headlined by Nick Aldis vs. Murdoch for the NWA title and Kamille vs. Kenzie Paige for the NWA women's title.  Sam Houston and Mike Jackson will be working the shows.

Daily Pro Wrestling History: Anderson & Blanchard win WWF Tag Team titles