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WON NEWSLETTER: April 12, 2021 Observer Newsletter: WrestleMania 37 week begins

A preview to WrestleMania leads off the current issue of the Wrestling Observer.  We look at each match, thoughts on the match, who are the gambling oddsmaker favorites, chart ticket demand with Mania and the next two UFC PPV shows, rules in play, and non-WrestleMania ticket demand.

Also in this issue:

End of the Wednesday night war with the final standings, cover the two Takeover shows, look at television vs. streaming viewership, Canadian numbers, final stands in shows and quarters, and where AEW and NXT go from here.

Takeover with match-by-match coverage with star ratings and other notes from the shows.

Vince McMahon's decision to put the Chris Jericho interview on Peacock right after the second day of WrestleMania, why the timing works, how Tony Khan reacted, the good, the bad, the political, a preview of something talked about and how this does show a change in WWE policy.

The death of Jack Veneno, a look at his four world title matches with Ric Flair, Dominican wrestling, the story about the world title change that wasn't approved by the NWA board, as well as the movies on his life and career that have been produced.  We look at the level of fame he had in the Dominican Republic and outside the Dominican Republic.

A feature on the direction of AEW, where the viewership declines are and aren't, reasons, and changes in AEW television over the past year as well as a look at different stars and how much time they are getting.

Nick Khan talking the return of two of WWE's best known women stars, A.J. Styles' idea for this year's Mania that didn't happen, Roman Reigns talks a match with The Rock, looking at the popularity of all the major promotions and who is gaining and falling, WWE gets rid of longtime announcing team, The Hurt Business breakup, Paul Levesque talks Undertaker's comments on the modern generation, how pro wrestling did compared to televised sports this past week, Seth Rollins talks fans at TV, A&E wrestling schedule, and WWE market value.

Will Ospreay's win of the IWGP title, the history of U.K. wrestlers challenging for New Japan's world title, business updates including bad news for New Japan going into two stadium shows, why the title changed, other angles, all the upcoming streaming shows and major shows over the next month and some good business news as well.

Sakura Genesis, with match-by-match coverage and star ratings.

WWE Hall of Fame ceremonies, go through the candidates, note speeches, the major gaffe in one of the inductions and a look back at a pioneer wrestling family that is never talked about.

U.S. Olympic wrestling trials, the major confrontations, the stars of the team, plus stars of the future to watch out for.

Stardom PPV show.

More into detail on ratings than any other source, we have how every segment on NXT and AEW did as well as how it did with different age groups, genders and more, plus a look at all other wrestling shows of the past week.

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


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SUNDAY NEWS UPDATE

Bryan and I will be back tonight with Wrestling Observer Radio covering WrestleMania and the latest wrestling news. You can send questions to the show to mailbag@wrestlingobserver.com

The second night of WrestleMania starts tonight at 8 p.m. We got no reports of any issues with Peacock on night one. We're looking for your thoughts on both nights of WrestleMania as well as day two of Takeover, thumbs up, down or middle, best and worst match from each show to dave@wrestlingobserver.com

Tonight's show:

  • Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Edge for the Universal title. This should be a great match given they will have time and you have three top level workers and minds, plus Paul E, putting this thing together. At last word, Edge was at +100 in the betting at 5Dimes while Reigns was  +145 and Bryan is +395, so hey don't expect Bryan to win.  
  • Big E vs. Apollo Crews for the IC title in a Nigerian Drum match. Basically we know it's a no DQ match.  If there are any other stips, they won't be announced until showtime. Crews is a small favorite at -130. My thought is that Crews should win even though Big E feels like he's being positioned to move up, and actually losing the title these days is beneficial to that.
  • Randy Orton vs. The Fiend. This will probably be a lot of hocus pocus and polarizing. We'll see how it plays out. Fiend is a -1500 favorite which are giant odds.  
  • Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn. These two should have a fantastic match because they've had so many in the past. Owens is a -475 favorite and one would think he should win, since Zayn almost always loses. The big thing involves what Logan Paul does, as he has to do at least one punch and one would think it would be on Zayn.
  • Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley for the Raw women's title. This also on paper looks very good.  Ripley is a strong favorite at -390 to come out on top.  
  • Matt Riddle vs. Sheamus for the U.S. title. They've had good matches on television but this isn't a featured match tonight.  Riddle is a -130 favorite to retain.
  • Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs. Natalya & Tamina for the women's tag titles. I don't know how good it will be, but it will almost certainly be better than the women's tag gauntlet series yesterday that Natalya & Tamina won to get here.
  • Bet Online has Edge all the way as a -150 favorite. Thanks to WWEleaks.org for the odds.

It looks like the better show in the ring. Emotionally it may not be but wrestling wise the women's tag doesn't stand out on paper, and Orton vs. Fiend could be anything but a spectacular idea to an idea that people talk about negatively for years. But the other five matches should all be very good and the main event should be the match of Mania as far as in-ring goes given the guys involved.

The Chris Jericho episode of Stone Cold Steve Austin's Broken Skull Sessions is already up. There is substantial talk of AEW, although it is mostly about his career from the start.  it clocks in at more than two hours. Stephen Lyon gave a review:

They talk about the vast majority of Jericho’s career. Jericho spoke openly about AEW & was able to plug his new book. They even showed a copy of the front cover, and later on, a still photo of Jericho holding the AEW belt. The only things that weren’t mentioned from his career were Chyna & Chris Benoit, which is understandable given the lay of the land & the circumstances of their passings. Jericho openly talks about AEW in the first 15 minutes & in 10 of the last 15 minutes of the show, and the rest is his career. He talked about the formation of AEW, the free agency of himself, Omega, the Bucks & Hangman Page & the importance of the TNT tv deal & Khan’s finance.

So much ground was covered. Tons and tons of cool anecdotes, talking about his career in Calgary, Mexico, ECW & WCW, and tales such as Jericho being flown to meet Vince at Vince’s house in January 1999 (7 months before his WCW deal expired) and his impromptu taking part in a WWF booking meeting at Vince’s home, and being asked his opinion on the finish of an upcoming WWF tv match. Jericho believes with hindsight that this was a test to see if Jericho could be trusted, before signing for WWF.

The most interesting aspects to me were that Jericho felt comfortable saying about his departure(s) from WWE at various points without burying anyone too much & how WWE allowed it to be included in the show. He mentioned being burnt out & frustrated at various points. He’s clearly still very upset about the Kevin Owens vs Jericho match placement at WM33 in 2017 when it was moved from being a planned major match to the 2nd match on the card & Jericho took it as a massive insult & was the catalyst for him leaving. He outright said that he knew what WWE wanted him to be at this point & how that would always be the case if he didn’t leave. He talked about how the famous Festival of Friendship angle in RAW had been agreed in great detail in advance with Vince, then on the day of the RAW taping, Vince wasn't there, and ‘the powers that be’ (he insinuated HHH, but outright said he wouldn’t name the person) tried to nix the angle, causing Jericho to have to text Vince for approval for the angle to take place, & to then show the unnamed person in charge the text message that the angle was what Vince wanted. He talked about phoning Vince about agreeing to do a NJPW match with Tetsuya Naito & then being pulled from the already announced Jericho vs Taker Casket Match on a Saudi show a few years ago.

Austin & Jericho watched lots of clips of WCW & WWE matches & angles from Jericho’s career & Jericho would chip in with tons of cool backstories regarding the creation of the angles with the likes of Rock, Austin, Michaels, etc.

He talked about the freedom of working in Japan & of how AEW was formed & the responsibilities he felt right at the start. He talked about the pressures of working with no fans during a pandemic. He put over Orange Cassidy as a great rising star who was asking Jericho for advice about selling & Jericho responding that it was difficult because there was no live crowd to guide them in terms of how long a sell job should be for.

Austin and Jericho had tremendous chemistry together & you could really tell that these are two huge pals in real life. It was an absolute blast to watch & so interesting to watch politically too.  definitely recommended.

The weather has been bad in Tampa again today. The worst is expected to clear before the show starts however.  But this morning was worse than yesterday. Tornado warnings have been lifted. Thunderstorms are likely throughout the day but not as bad by 7 p.m. and WrestleMania starts an hour later.

There were people heavily booing Hulk Hogan. It was not a large number of people but they were loud according to those there.

Montez Ford came to the ring after the show to congratulate Bianca Belair which is how the show ended. Belair also hugged all her family members at ringside. She was crying before the match started and again after it was over. Live reports noted that people were leaving before this match started and some of that was visible in the background.

We send our best wishes to Shotzi Blackheart and her family on the death of her stepfather yesterday. It sucks, but take solace in all that he did for you and helped put you on this journey.

Regarding public interest, WrestleMania was the No. 2 most searched topic yesterday on Google with 600,000, behind the Los Angeles Lakers. Aside from the show, Bad Bunny at No. 14 was the only thing that cracked the top 20, at 100,000. The UFC show was No. 4 at 500,000, which is much higher than you would expect for a show with minimal marquee power.  But it was on ABC in the afternoon. Neither day of Takeover cracked the top 20 and No. 20 on Thursday was only 20,000 searches. The only other item that cracked the top 20 this past week was Demetrious Johnson of ONE, at 50,000, on Wednesday, even though ONE did poorly with TV ratings.

USA Today has a WrestleMania photo gallery. (thanks to Barry Werner)

WWE

  • The Reelz TV episode on the death of Randy Savage will air tonight at 9 pm. Eastern and again at midnight.
  • Gable Steveson, headed to the Olympics in wrestling, was all over WWE after being introduced on the second night of Takeover.
  • Seth Rollins joined WWE Now India to promote the WrestleMania 37 event and talked about his plans to go after Universal Championship, and what we can expect from his career in coming years.
  • GV Wire in Fresno and longtime reader/correspondent Davd Taub wrote about how a wayward punch from Randy Savage during a match 35 years ago in Fresno led to a lawsuit, a settlement and memories from those involved.
  • A story on how Cesaro keeps in shape (thanks to Lee Wall)  
  • A story on Daniel Vidot, a former rugby star in Australia training in Orlando (thanks to Lee Wall)
  • With Davey Boy Smith going into the Hall of Fame, there is a story about Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith growing up (thanks to Lee Wall)
  • The New York Post on Michael Cole on the call of the finish of the Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair match (thanks to Jay Dumont)

UFC

  • Joshua Culibao vs. Yilan Shaw was announced for the 5/22 show.

OTHER NOTES

  • A story on indie wrestling in Tampa this week.
  • United Wrestling Coalition on 4/17 at Kelly's Banquet Hall in Wrightstown, NJ.  They will also honor Rick Silver, Preston Montgomery and Daisy for their company Hall of Fame.
  • Melbourne Championship Wrestling from last night:  Lochy Hendricks won three-way over Caveman Ugg and Ritchie Taylor to win their Intercommonwealth title, Kellyanne b Avary to win the women's title, Mikey Broderick b Anth Cava, Slex b Mitch Waterman, Jake Andrewartha won over Emman the Kid, Tony Villani & Zane Zodiac in a handicap match, Rocky Menero b Jeff Rouka, Adam Brooks b Danny Psycho to keep the MCW world title.  The next show is headlined by Brooks defending against Robbie Eagles. (thanks to Kevin Chiat)
  • Because of issues with the vaccine roll-out in Australia, as the country was planning to use the Astra Venecca vaccine, which is being produced domestically, the fear of blood clotting as a side effect has led to the recommendation that only people over 50 get it, and Australia is way behind in getting the Pfizer vaccine.  So that pushes opening up Australia's borders significantly farther back.  But travel to and from New Zealand is being allowed starting 4/19 and venue capacity restrictions are being dropped in most of the country.
  • Evander Holyfield is scheduled to box Kevin McBride on an upcoming Triller show with eight two minute rounds under exhibition rules according to Kevin Iole at Yahoo.

Daily Pro Wrestling History: DDP wins his first WCW World title


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