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Daily Update: Wrestle Kingdom, WWE notes, Amanda Huber

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WON NEWSLETTER: January 4, 2021 Observer Newsletter: Rest in Peace Brodie Lee & Danny Hodge

A look at the death, unique lives and careers of Jon Huber and Danny Hodge is the focus of what is the best issue of the Observer in more than a decade.

Details surrounding the Huber health crisis and death, words from his wife, how he got started in wrestling, my own personal thoughts regarding my interaction with him, his leaving WWE for AEW, his WWE run with The Wyatt Family, what were the plans for the Bludgeon Brothers to imitate and how it fell through, the match that changes his WWE focus, the background of his big decision, what match was scheduled for him that fell through, how his AEW term played out with his biggest matches, why the death became such a huge news story, the story behind and coverage of the tribute show and more.

The iconic figure of Danny Hodge with what should be a movie script, covering growing up in a small town known for wrestling, his unique childhood, his developing his legendary grip strength, his unbelievable credentials as a wrestler, MMA, street fights, the auto accident that ended his career, his biggest pro wrestling matches, his boxing career and why people will talk about him as his records every year going forward.

Also in this issue:

Preview the Wrestle Kingdom shows this week, covering the matches and the stories behind the matches, as well as how the restrictions have changed things.

Update the Royal Rumble including a gimmick match being talked about, new WWE show, top 25 WWE matches of the year, U.K. and Canadian ratings as well as where pro wrestling ranks in sports ratings, market value of WWE as well as the most-watched shows on the WWE Network.

2020 Wrestling Observer Awards ballot.

Television stations that carried wrestling and MMA in 2020 and how they did, and how wrestling did in comparison with the station's usual programming.

Detailed look at the television business, looking at stats not available elsewhere to get the deepest read into how shows are doing, what categories are doing well and how shows compare with previous weeks and one year ago.  
 
Results of all the major pro wrestling events around the world over the past week.


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MONDAY NEWS UPDATE

Bryan and I will be back tonight talking Raw, Tokyo Dome, Marty Scurll and a number of other topics with Wrestling Observer Radio. You can send questions to the show to mailbag@wrestlingobserver.com

The last two matches on today's Tokyo Dome show, the Kazuchika Okada win over Will Ospreay and Kota Ibushi's IWGP & IC title win over Tetsuya Naito were fantastic. They were two of the best storytelling matches you'll ever see, and kudos to Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero and Chris Charlton for really bringing it out, especially with Ibushi vs. Naito.

Tonight is the Raw bounceback show with no football competition so numbers should be well up, particularly with Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair appearing. Drew McIntyre vs. Keith Lee for the WWE title headlines the show.  Hogan and Flair are listed as hosts.  Also for tonight's Legends Night appearing are Kurt Angle, Torrie Wilson, Big Show, Boogeyman, Carlito, Alicia Fox, Michael Hayes, Mark Henry, Hillbilly Jim, IRS, Ivory, Jacqueline, Jeff Jarrett, Melina Perez, Sgt. Slaughter and Tatanka.

Amanda Huber on Instagram wrote this about Megha Parekh and Margaret Stavley and how much they helped her through these difficult times. Parekh is the Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of the Jacksonville Jaguars as well as AEW. She's also the Khan family's general counsel. Stavley is the Legal Coordinator for AEW:

Tomorrow's show starts on New Japan World at 3 a.m. Eastern and midnight Pacific time:

  • Bad Luck Fale vs. Chase Owens vs. Bushi vs. Toru Yano for the KOPW title
  • Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs.  Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi for the IWGP jr. tag titles
  • Shingo Takagi vs. Jeff Cobb for the Never Open weight title.  
  • Evil vs. Sanada
  • Taiji Ishimori vs. Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP jr title
  • Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White for the IWGP & IC titles

As far as notes, there is a lot of interest in Takagi vs. Cobb. It's very rare that the Jr. title is this high on the Dome show and it was very clear Takahashi was saving most of his best moves for tonight. Ibushi vs. White is Ibushi's revenge for White beating him for the briefcase. On paper this isn't as good as last night and the first match is a real disappointment given they could have put Minoru Suzuki, Hirooki Goto, Sho, Tomohiro Ishii or Yuji Nagata in the final four and chosen not to do any of them. But Ibushi never fails to deliver when put in a top position.

The Guam Daily Post has a story on Jeff Cobb, who is from Guam, wrestling Shingo Takagi tomorrow. (thanks to Lee Wall)

WWE

  • The company announced the hiring of Christine Lubrano as Senior Vice President of Creative Writing. She previously worked for the IFC Channel as SVP or Original Programming & Development.
  • Rugby World magazine has a feature on Paul Levesque. (thanks to Lee Wall)  

UFC

  • Sergey Spivak vs. Jared Vanderaa has been added to the 2/20 show.  It was scheduled for 12/12 but Vanderaa tested positive for COVID.

AEW

  • FTR's winning move, called the shatter machine in WWE and Goodnight Express (after the Midnight Express) in AEW, will now be called the Big Rig, as a dedication to Brodie Lee, whose independent nickname before WWE was Big Rig Brodie Lee.

OTHER NOTES

  • Naruki Doi will be undergoing surgery due to problems with the ulnar nerve in his elbow.
  • Impact tomorrow night has Kenny Omega appearing again plus:
    • Eddie Edwards vs. Sami Callihan
    • Jazz & Jordynne Grace vs. Havok & Neveah in the semifinals of the Knockouts tag team title tournament
    • Blake Christian vs. KC Navarro vs. Ace Austin vs. Crazzy  Steve
    • Eric Young & Joe Doering vs. Rhino & Cousin Jake
    • Moose vs. Matthew Palmer
  • Jerry Sags of the Nasty Boys talks Pat Patterson, The Rock, Rocky Johnson  and Road Warrior Animal.
  • Today's Irish Examiner has a piece on Danno O'Mahoney because today is the 86th anniversary of his arrival in Boston where he for a one year plus period became a major celebrity wrestler and topped Jim Londos for the title of biggest drawing card. (thanks to Lee Wall)
  • This is from my mother's funeral yesterday put together by my brother
  • Salina de la Renta announced a big surprise on Wednesday's MLW show. The tease of it would be the return of the Mil Muertes character from Lucha Underground. Their King of Colosseum special airs at 7 p.m. with Myron Reed vs. Lio Rush for the middleweight title, Alex Hammerstone vs. Mads Krugger for the National title, Marshall & Ross Von Erich vs. Dirty Blonds for the tag team titles and Simon Gotch vs. Jordan Oliver.
  • Septimo Dragon of MLW underwent his third surgery and is still in intensive care after a hit-and-run accident last week.

Daily Pro Wrestling History: NJPW Tokyo Dome shows


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