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WON NEWSLETTER: January 25, 2021 Observer Newsletter: Why a quarantine policy could affect wrestling & MMA

We've got a double issue of the Observer out this week with notes on how President Biden's new policies on international travel will affect wrestlers and fighters from different countries.

Also in this issue:

The new WrestleMania plans, including how the Super Bowl plays into it, the time frame for the shows for both nights, the inside hopes for attendance and how the dynamic is different this year as to what gets announced.  We also look at the decision making in regards to Dallas and Los Angeles, update the Royal Rumble and also have notes on match plans.

Coverage of Impact Hard to Kill, with notes on the key angles, the departure of Madison Rayne, Taya Valkyrie and Ethan Page, Page's scathing words after his departure, plus match-by-match coverage with star ratings and poll results.

Dwayne Johnson's new TV show about his life, new WWE signees, Dusty Rhodes men's and women's tournament, Kofi Kingston talks his injury, WWE television personality gets an ESPN TV show, A.J. Styles talks retirement, lawsuit update, where wrestling shows ranked with network sports, who is looking for new entrance music, what aspect of WWE's major events are they trying to sell, why Raw will have two very tough dates for competition soon, as well as the most-watched shows of the past week on the WWE Network.

Coverage of both UFC shows over the past week and the story behind Max Holloway's setting records.

A story on the life of Paul Varelans, an early star of UFC and MMA around the world, as well as his different forays with four different pro wrestling companies as well as his infamous angle with Taz in ECW. For the first time, Missy Hyatt talks publicly about the situation plus comments from all involved. We look at the tournament days of UFC, crazy street fights, and much more.

A story on the life of Guy Hauray, the voice of WWF in France for a generation. 

A story on famous carnival shooter and pro wrestler Dick Cardinal, who was the oldest living pro wrestler at the time of his death. 

History of the biggest draws in pro wrestling each year from 1916 to 2020, including what wrestlers were No. 1 for the most years. 

Win-loss record of every WWE talent in 2020 including who wrestled the most dates, who never lost, who never won and more.

Television ratings of the past week, segment-by-segment numbers for the past two weeks on Wednesday, who was watching in different age groups, how different segments did on Raw & Smackdown.


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FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE

Garrett Gonzalez and I will be doing a show tonight covering news of the past week, as well as a look at the history of Memphis Wrestling with Randy Hales, who worked as the General Manager of the promotion under Jerry Jarrett. Bryan and I will be back Saturday night covering New Japan, Smackdown and UFC 257.

There was a huge media story today regarding NBCUniversal looking at major changes, the biggest one being shutting down the NBC Sports Network. The key is that the sports properties that carried the network, the NHL, NASCAR and soccer among them, will move to USA. Right now there is no specific word on what this means, and the NHL contract with NBCU expires after the current season. But NBCU is likely to move the NHL if they keep it to USA. That could affect Raw, but probably won't. If NBCU keeps the rights, this has a good chance to mean that NXT would have to be moved from Wednesday since the NHL is a far higher profile show, reaches a higher income viewers, younger viewers and stronger ad rates than NXT. Right now there is nothing official but there are ramifications we'll talk about tonight that are huge.  

UFC 257 had some late changes. Ottman Azaitar was fired for trying to sneak someone into his hotel room and breaking quarantine protocols and getting some sort of a box inside the hotel.  Nasrat Haqparast never weighed in due to an illness. Luckily their respective opponents agreed to fight each other. White said that Azaitar and his team cut off their wrist bands (that allowed them into the quarantined hotel) and gave them to somebody who shouldn't have been let in.  That guy showed up with a big, went into a room, shimmied across four balconies, went into Azaitar's room and dropped the bag off, changed his clothes and then left.  When security tried to stop him, he ran off.  

Weigh-ins for the show tomorrow:

ESPN+ at 7 p.m. Eastern

  • Amir Albazi (126) vs. Shalgas Zhumagulov (126)
  • Nik Lentz (150) vs. Movsar Evloev (150)

ESPN at 8 p.m. Eastern

  • Khalil Rountree (206) vs. Marcin Prachnio (205)
  • Sara McMann (135) vs. Julianna Pena (136)
  • Brad Tavares (185.5) vs. Antonio Carlos Jr. (185)
  • Matt Frevola (155.5) vs.; Arman Tsarukyan (157) - this was agreed to be at 157 pounds

PPV at 10 p.m. Eastern

  • Makhmud Muradov (186) vs. Andrew Sanchez (186)
  • Marina Rodriguez (116) vs. Amanda Ribas (116)
  • Jessica Eye (126) vs. Joanne Calderwood (126)
  • Dan Hooker (156) vs. Michael Chandler (156)
  • Conor McGregor (155) vs. Dustin Poirier (156)

Smackdown tonight has announced Big E vs. Apollo Crews for the IC title and Bayley vs. Bianca Belair in an obstacle course. 205 Live will have tag team tournament matches, a men's match with Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher vs. Tony Nese & Ariya Daivari and a women's match with Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs. Gigi Dolin & Cora Jade.

In relation to one of the articles in the new issue of the Observer, the NFL announced today that it will put 14,500 tickets on sale for the Super Bowl at Raymond James Stadium, and will also give 7,500 tickets to vaccinated healthcare workers from hospitals in Central Florida and also the NFL teams will send vaccinated healthcare workers from their cities to the game.  

How's this for something different? Pro Wrestling Illustrated is about to publish its first-ever all Japanese edition. It will be a digital issue with extensive Tokyo Dome coverage, a look back at a famous Tokyo Dome match, and interviews with Kazuchika Okada and Takami Ohbari (new President of New Japan Pro Wrestling).

Bill Apter put this together talking about the famous Bruno Sammartino vs. Ivan Koloff match where Koloff ended Sammartino's WWWF title reign, one of the most famous historical matches of all-time, on the 50th anniversary of the bout.

The ONE promotion will get another TV shot in the U.S. TNT will air a show on 4/7 at 10 p.m., right after Dynamite. Adriano Moraes defends the flyweight title against Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez faces Iuri Lapicus in the two main bouts.

Hajime Ohara of Pro Wrestling NOAH tested positive for COVID-19 and is out of action.  Thus far he is asymptomatic.  

New Japan has a live show from the Ota-Ward Gym at 3 a.m. Eastern or midnight Pacific tonight:

  • Minoru Suzuki & Douki vs. Gedo & Jado
  • Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Evil & Yujiro Takahash & Dick Togo
  • Will Ospreay & Great O'Khan vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
  • Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma & Sho & Master Wato vs. Tetsuya Naito & Sanada & Shingo Takagi & Hiromu Takahashi & Bushi in an elimination match
  • Desperado & Yoshnobu Kanemaru vs. El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP jr. tag titles

New Japan Strong at 10 p.m. on New Japan World:

  • Logan & Sterling Riegel vs. Jordan Clearwater & Kevin Knight
  • Brody King vs. JR Kratos
  • Bateman vs. Ren Narita

WWE

AEW

  • AEW has filed for a trademark for the term "Battle of the Belts," which was the name for some 1980s television specials from Florida that Joe Koff of ROH produced, one of which was headlined by what was a match of the year contender with Ric Flair vs. Barry Windham for the NWA title. Battle of the Belts was also where Keiji Muto as Super Black Ninja made his U.S. national TV debut years before WCW or World Class.

OTHER NOTES

  • All Japan has a Sunday Korakuen Hall show on its streaming service headlined by Suwama vs. Shotaro Ashino for the Triple Crown and Koji Iwamoto vs. Fuminori Abe for the jr. title.
  • An interview with former All Japan star Joel Deaton.
  • Kevin Eck's weekly ROH news report.
  • Brian Johnson won the poll on the ROH Facebook page to get a shot at Dragon Lee's TV title.  The match will be taped and air as a Facebook exclusive. A Pure title match with Jonathan
  • Gresham defending against Joe Keys will air on the 1/30 television show.
  • A story on Ethan Page vs. Karate Man (thanks to Joe Puccio)
  • Mark Pickering has an interview with Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki, who also does pro wrestling for DDT and fought in ONE earlier today.
  • IWA from Saturday night in St Johns Park, New South Wales, Australia:  Tree Hugger Luchi b Brad Alexander, Kingsley b  Charli Evans, Dazza & Jimmy Townsend b Will Kiedis & Sam Osborne-DQ, Head Hunter Rig b Jude London, Chris Abbott b Matty Wahlberg to keep the IWA title (thanks to Kirk Beattie)
  • Guto Inocente, a former UFC fighter, will debut with KSW facing Michal Andryszak on the 1/30 show in Lodz, Poland.  
  • Paige VanZant will host a new radio show called Knuckle Up Radio with Paige VanZant every Wednesday at 5 p.m. through 2/10 in Sirius XM Fight Nation.
  • PCW from Melbourne, Australia will be running a ilve show on FITE.tv on 1/30.
  • Glory will have a one-night heavyweight tournament with Rico Verhoeven, Hesdy Gerges, Levi Rigters and Tarik Khbabez on 1/30. Originally Verhoeven was to defend his title against Jamal Ben Saddick but Ben Saddick suffered a back injury. There will be three title fights on the show.
  • Less than 100 tickets remain for the NFC Fight Night show on 1/30 at District in Atlanta headlined by Corey Jackson vs. Brandon Webb.  They also announced a 2/20 Jiu Jitsu show at Elite Edge Fitness in Atlanta.
  • EPW from earlier today in Perth, Western Australia:  Kaz Jordan won Battle Royal,Taskforce NC The Children in a tag title match, Taskforce b Stella Nyx & Tyler Jacobs to keep tag title, Casey Johns b Edith Night, David Storm b Kaz Jordan to keep Coastal title, Kiel Steria b Zenith, Michael Morleone & Julian Ward b Damien Slater & Marcius Pitt-DQ. (thanks to Kevin Chiat)
  • Wayne Mattei, the former leader of the Bullet  Kliq in Australia, will be playing the role of Sgt. Slaughter in the NBC TV series "Young Rock."    
  • Richard Holliday vs. Savio Vega in a Caribbean strap match for the Caribbean title will be on Wednesday's MLW TV show.
  • Mayu Iwatani, Momo Watanabe and Saya Iida of Stardom made a surprise appearance at the Seadlinnng show in Tokyo earlier today. They did angles to set up Iwatani vs. Yoshiko and Watanabe vs. Nanae Takahashi on 3/3 at Budokan Hall as well as Watanabe & Iida vs. Takahashi & Arisa Nakajima on the 2/10 Seadlinng show.  
  • SoCal Uncensored announced its 2020 awards in this unusual year:
    • Wrestler of the Year - Danny Limelight
    • Women's Wrestler of the Year - Heather Monroe
    • Tag Team of the Year - Tito Escondido & Che Cabrera
    • Most Outstanding Wrestler - Danny Limelight
    • Rookie of the Year - Ray Romero Jr.
    • Promotion of the Year - United Wrestling Network
    • Match of the Year - KENTA vs. Brody King
  • CWE has announced its Manitoba and Alberta dates are canceled and moved to March.

Daily Pro Wrestling History: WWF Royal Rumble 1994


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