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Daily Update: WWE Backlash preview and odds


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WON NEWSLETTER: June 15, 2020 Observer Newsletter: WWE creative shakeup, death of Mr. Wrestling II

We've got yet another double issue of the Observer out this week covering both the creative changes in WWE and a long bio on Johnny "Mr. Wrestling II" Walker, as well as a number of other features.

The move to Bruce Prichard as creative head of Raw and Smackdown and the steps leading to this process change.  We look at who appears to be safe and who isn't.  We look at what was tried on Raw and what wasn't working, and notable key recent moves.  We also look at the problems of comparing Raw with Smackdown.

We have a long look at the life and career of Mr. Wrestling II, Johnny Walker.  We look at his heyday, his connection with President Jimmy Carter, the birth of  cable and his role in popularizing pro wrestling on cable, how babyfaces changed in the 70s, his 1980 feud with Harley Race, his checkered past, his wrestling debut, his coming mainland, interactions with the toughest guys of his era, his first good run in Tennessee, how his life was notable in both pro wrestling and country music, his first masked gimmick and his planned retirement. Having the right gimmick in the right place at the right time made him one of the biggest stars in the country.  We look at the Georgia wrestling war and the creation of Mr. Wrestling II.  We look at the Mr. Wrestling vs. Mr. Wrestling II feud and all of II's biggest feuds over the next decade.  We look at II's meetings with the president's mother, his biggest matches at the Omni, his runs in Mid South, feud with Magnum T.A., his WWF tenure, and his life after wrestling in Hawaii.

We also cover:

New Japan Pro Wrestling returning to business this week, scouting out the New Japan Cup, directions for fans attending the Osaka shows and why the matches won't have traditional heat, and the complete schedule.

Economics of Conor McGregor, Jorge Masvidal, Jon Jones and Henry Cejudo and how the ESPN deal has removed fighter leverage. We look at comments by the fighters, response from Dana white and realities of he situation.

An enormous donation made by John Cena, Paul Levesque talks a signature match, WWE canceling over shows due to the pandemic, weekly sports ratings, Edge movie, DVR viewership, Canadian ratings, twitter feuds, Arn Anderson on Sami Zayn, funny story on the first time Adam Cole heard from WWE, what happened to Chris DeJoseph, plus upcoming TV bouts.

Fight Island and the next UFC PPV show

UFC 250, with business notes, popularity notes, poll results and match-by-match coverage.

NXT Takeover In Your House with a rundown, booking notes, match-by-match coverage with star ratings and poll results.

Backlash and story behind Edge vs;  Randy Orton.

In-depth looks at the ratings of all the major shows, the key demos and quarters for AEW and WWE, what happened head-to-head and what can be learned from them.

Results of all the major pro wrestling events around the world over the past week. 

ORDERING INFO: Order the print Wrestling Observer right now and get it delivered via mail, by sending your name, address, Visa or Master Card number and an expiration date to dave@wrestlingobserver.com or by going to www.paypal.com directing funds to dave@wrestlingobserver.com.

Rates in the United States are $14.50 for 4 issues, $35.50 for 12, $70 for 24, $116 for 40 and $149.50 for 52.

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If you order by mail with a check, cash or money order to P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228, you can get $1 off in every price range.


Bryan and I will be back tonight covering Backlash and all the latest news with Wrestling Observer Radio. We had a weekend show with Garrett Gonzalez where he went heavily into Paul Heyman being replaced on creative as well as other subjects. There are also shows on the site with Les Thatcher talking Mr. Wrestling II, who he knew well, and Fumi Saito and Jim Valley talking about the death of Hana Kimura, who Saito has known from childhood.

Kris Statlander suffered a full high grade  ACL tear on Wednesday when she did a tope on Kip Sabian in the tag team match on Dynamite. It will require surgery and usually that is reconstructive surgery and a long recuperation time.

Backlash is tonight at 7 p.m. on the WWE Network. We're looking for your thoughts on the show, thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs in the middle along with a best and worst match to dave@wrestlingobserver.com:

  • Edge vs. Randy Orton. I think the more interesting odds are star ratings odds given the build up. This match was already taped but obviously the results has been kept secret because one would think even a little bit of knowledge would lead to widespread betting.  Orton is a -160 favorite but I think this is more the expectation of 50/50 booking than any knowledge.  I was told the match was very good. Greatest match of all-time, we'll see.
  • Braun Strowman vs.The Miz & John Morrison for the Universal title. Basically this match shows Smackdown really had no idea for this show.  Strowman is listed as a -1250 favorite. This is a match that probably benefits by not having a crowd, because even with the two-on-one, I don't sense a real crowd would believe Miz & Morrison could win.  
  • Asuka vs. Nia Jax for the Raw women's title.  It's a test for Asuka regarding the match, if it will be good or not. Asuka is among the best workers, male or female, in the company so it has a chance to be good. Asuka is a -1250 favorite since I think people already sense Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair is next. Of course all plans that were the case on Monday when Raw was taped could be out the window now.
  • Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus - It doesn't really matter in the big picture about this match because one would think the program continues after this and thus you wouldn't do a clean finish.  Sheamus was listed as a -170 favorite.
  • Bayley & Sasha Banks defend the women's tag titles against The Iiconics and Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss. I think this match may also benefit from the programmed audience. The winners defend against Tegan Nox & Shotzi Blackheart on NXT. Bayley & Banks were -300 favorites to retain.
  • Street Profits vs. Viking Raiders for the Raw tag titles - They spent months building this up and gave them more time than all but a few but they were not added to the card until today. Whatever the build has been, the direction likely has changed. In that sense this is a pick-em match.
  • Apollo Crews vs. Andrade for the U.S. title - Crews is a -600 favorite to retain the title. This is one of those bouts where with a live crowd we'd say it depends on the crowd because the work will be good. They may actually benefit with the captive crowd because you know they'll have noise and the work should be good. This will be on the pre-show so probably around 6:30 p.m. Eastern tonight.

Even though there was a lot of huge news in pro wrestling this week, none of it broke through into the real world interest level.  It is something that the death of Hana Kimura was the No. 1 searched topic on the Internet on the day it happened while a genuine Hall of Fame candidate and the actual top star of Georgia Championship Wrestling during its first few years on national cable, Mr. Wrestling II, got no attention at all.  The only combat sports related topic this entire week that trended was UFC, where last night's show was No. 4 with 200,000 searches. Tonight's WWE show based on usual numbers for that type of show should do 200,000 today.  More would be a good sign and speak to the Edge-Orton advertising.  Less than would a bad sign.

A major fight announced for the 8/15 PPV show is Junior Dos Santos vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik. That's on the same show as the planned Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier heavyweight title fight.  The key is both would be ready to headline for the title in the event of an injury.

New Japan Pro Wrestling ran its first show actually last night at its Los Angeles Dojo in Carson, CA. We don't know if it was taped for New Japan World or not. Regarding Tom Lawlor on the show, that was a deal set up between MLW and New Japan and was the teased interpromotional match MLW had talked about earlier in the week. Others listed as appearing by PWInsider were Jeff Cobb, TJP, Rocky Romero, Clark Connors, Alex Coughlin, Karl Fredericks and Misterioso. 


  • Drew McIntyre talks tonight's match with Bobby Lashley and winning his title during the pandemic.
  • Randy Orton told CBS Sports that he doesn't know about the best match ever, but that the Edge match is good.
  • The new Undertaker Last Ride episode is up on the WWE Network today. I'm told this is a very good episode.  


  • Cynthia Calvillo, who beat Jessica Eye in the main event last night, said she thought Eye must have cheated to weigh in at 126.25, which was still missing weight. Calvillo said that she held onto the towel when she got on the scale and that they got a text message from her coach saying she was missing weight by 3.5 pounds.  It was noted that Eye was covered up while weighing in naked so her hands weren't visible. Calvillo noted she moved up from lightweight and beat the top contender at flyweight who was really a bantamweight.
  • Dana White didn't say much at the press conference but he did say he was tired of the throat swab and wished they could go back to the nasal version. The belief  is the throat swab is more accurate. White did make fun of the bad ratings Top Rank did on Tuesday on ESPN. The Top rank show averaged 397,000 fans prime time on Tuesday.
  • Jared Gordon vs Chris Fishgold has been added to the 7/15 show.
  • Nathaniel Wood vs Umar Nurmagomedov has been added to the 7/25 show.  Nurmagomedov is the cousin of Khabib.
  • Justin Tafa vs. Raphael Pessoa has been added to the 7/25 show in a heavyweight bout.


  • New Japan's first show in Japan will be at 6 a.m. Eastern tomorrow morning live on New Japan World. The lineup is a secret and will be announced at the start of the show. The New Japan Cup will start at 6 a.m. Eastern with a full card that includes first round matches with Togi Makabe vs. Yota Tsuji, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Desperado, Toru Yano vs. Jado and Tomoaki Honma vs. Hiromu Takahashi.  There will also be another show on Tuesday at 6 a.m. with first round matches.
  • There have been several social media teases of Taynara Conti and Impact Wrestling.
  • Former UFC and Strikeforce bantamweight champion Miesha Tate gave birth to her second child, a boy, Daxter Wylder Nunez, over the weekend.  The father is Johnny Nunez, a Las Vegas fighter who most recently fought for ONE.  From what name, you'd think the parents are fans of FTR, but it's probably a coincidence.    
  • Barbi Hayden had a horrible situation happen to her neighbor covered by Shannon Walsh.
  • Bill Apter talks the new Andre the Giant biography.

Daily Pro Wrestling History: The Steiners win WWF Tag Team titles