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WED. UPDATE: WWE/TapOut deal, WWE HOFer selling ring, Aguayo benefit shirt, another Stephanie McMahon interview, and more

by David Bixenspan | davidbix@wrestlingobserver.com

TV tonight:

Lucha Underground on El Rey at 8 p.m. ET has Prince Puma vs. Cage in a Boyle Heights Street Fight, Angelico vs. Son of Havoc, and Alberto El Patron vs. Texano in a Bullrope match. El Rey has promo and teaser videos on their YouTube channel. Official description from El Rey: Tonight, the Boyle Heights Street Fight Main Event Championship title match takes place, and with two world titles on the line, stakes are high. Cage and Puma don't let the pressure get the best of them, while Son of Havoc and Hellico go head-to-head in a beat down. However, it's the fight for the title of AAA Mega Champion that will separate the winners from the losers. Watch as Texano, the longest AAA Campion holder fights the current AAA Champion title, Alberto el Patron. Who will take home the belt this time around? Find out on Wednesday, March 25th at 8:00PM ET/PT on El Rey Network.

The 10 day showcase of each UFC weight class on Fox Sports 1 continues with a night of middleweight-themed programming:

7:00 p.m. ET - New episode of UFC Tonight.

8:00 p.m. ET - Rerun of the middleweight title change timeline episode of UFC Unleashed.

9:00 p.m. ET - Rerun of the UFC Presents documentary about Chris Weidman.

10:00 p.m. ET - Rerun of the Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman I episode of UFC Fight Flashback.

10:30 p.m. ET - New episode of UFC Main Event featuring the Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort fight from 2011.


The newest issue of Figure Four Weekly is up on the site for subscribers (subscribe here) with a look at the current state of wrestling content piracy in light of recent developments like Tommy Dreamer's Facebook post and the arrest of WWE/UFC show capper "Sir Paul," as well as early notes on the death of Perro Aguayo Jr. and all of the usual reviews and international news.

Also, now available for the first time on Kindle (meaning Kindle devices and anything with the Kindle app) is Fall Guys, the seminal 1937 book that has been described as being like the 1930s version of the Wrestling Observer. It was surprisingly not on Kindle already, so we put together a nice version with a full table of contents w/ chapter marks, proper formatting on everything, etc. Right now it's available from the AmericanCanadian, and Australian Amazon/Kindle stores OR you can also buy it from anywhere in the world on PayHip, who will provide you with both Kindle and ePub (every other e-reader) format files, and you can either sideload them to your device or have them email it to your Kindle. 


We've got a jam packed issue of news this week in the Observer, with the fallout of UFC 185 and the two title changes, The New Japan Cup and where the booking is going, the build toward Invasion Attack, more comments on the Bill DeMott situation in WWE, more on Rampage Jackson's Bellator contract and Scott Coker, under oath, goes through what happened in negotiations and why Bellator is suing, , plus we've got features on Larry Zbyszko and Tatsumi Fujinami and the WWE Hall of Fame, New Japan attempts to rebuild NOAH with a storyline that has gotten mainstream ink and the bus accident and problems leading to the Rey de Reyes show.

The new issue is up on the site at Mar. 23, 2015 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Two upset title changes at UFC 185, New Japan Cup, Bill DeMott notes, Bellator/Rampage injunction update

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If you order by mail with a check, cash or money order (P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228), you can get $1 off in every price range.
The Wrestling Observer ranges weekly from 35,000 to 50,000 words covering pro wrestling and MMA internationally. Each issue has coverage and analysis of all the major news, plus every issue breaks major news stories before the Internet sties and has the most complete look at the pro wrestling and MMA business anywhere, plus history pieces available nowhere else.
The lead story covers UFC 185, the two surprise title changes, a look at the future for the fighters on the show, business notes on the show, early PPV notes, bonuses and match-by-match coverage with poll results.

We also look at the New Japan Cup, as well as the Invasion Attack show, changes in the original card and why, plus other New Japan World shows coming up, and full coverage of the New Japan Cup finals, with match-by-match coverage, star ratings and poll results.

We've got more on the Bill DeMott situation including more comments by different people, as well as DeMott's first defenses.

We've got more from the deposition of Scott Coker on the Rampage Jackson lawsuit.  We look at how much Jackson earned while in UFC, how much he had earned in his tenure in Bellator, business notes on Jackson's fights and how the relationship with Bellator fell apart, including Bellator's plans for Jackson going forward.

We also look at the career of Larry Zbyszko, including notes on the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, who is inducting who, how Larry Zbyszko started his career, what 90s feud was a copy of Sammartino vs. Zbyszko, a look at the feud, and why Zbyszko was never as hot again, how he got the AWA title, his lawsuit against WWE, what happened to Ray Stevens, notes on Tatsumi Fujinami, the politics of wrestling in the early 80s and where Fujinami fit in, the Fujinami vs. Choshu feud, the Fujinami vs. Flair matches and other WWE Hall of Fame notes.

We also have an update on Brock Lesnar and where he currently stands as far as what is next, how much Vince McMahon, HHH and others earned this past year, who are WWE's biggest stockholders and how much of the company does Vince McMahon own, how much McMahon and HHH have earned the past several years, great incentives given for key WWE officials to stay, WWE video game notes, Notes on WWE ticket sales, WrestleMania ticket selling update, Vince's stolen car found, updates on Kevin Owens and Jey Uso, and why others missed shows this past week.

We also look at fan behavior, DVD sales, lots of new WWE signees, WWE network changes, new WWE character, Cena movie, WWE night in Phoenix and Justin Gabriel talks leaving WWE.

We also have lots of updates from NXT, NXT house shows, WWE house show coverage and business notes.

We also look at Pro Wrestling NOAH's first major show of the year, how well it did, coverage, angle hints, booking of the show as well as match-by-match coverage.

We also look at AAA's attempt to put on Rey de Reyes, the problems with the show, the bus accident, injuries in the accident and more.

We also have more on PPV numbers for UFC, WWE and ROH. 

The Observer is the world's most detailed weekly pro wrestling publication, in its 32nd year of publication, and is read by the biggest names in the pro wrestling, industry, MMA industry, sports world and on Wall Street.
We also have our regular features such as the most complete look at ratings, plus results of the major house show events each week in pro wrestling and MMA, and complete inside rundowns of all the TV shows.
Also in this week's issue:

--Notes on CMLL's first big show of the year

--More on plans for the AAA World Cup

--Wrestlers to get pushed in AAA

--Dragon Gate has iPPV coming up

--New Japan ticket sale notes

--More on Lisa Varon and the crazy story of the Squared Circle restaurant

--Lots more on WrestleMania week activities around the San Jose area

--A look at the NCAA championships, biggest stories and Hodge Trophy top contenders

--Lots of foreign stars head to England for Preston Championship Wrestling, including a star return from injury and a champion leaves

--Update on the Lucha Underground promotion

--More on Rey Mysterio and his leaving WWE

--More on Spike TV and pro wrestling going forward

--ROH tries to sign major act

--Update on the ROH show over WrestleMania week

--A look at the ROH weekend shows and business

--TNA makes decision to strip Wolves of tag title

--Who the new champions are and how it happened

--Also notes on X title change

--TNA TV schedule

--TNA ratings in Germany

--Lots of newcomers in AN and two new factions

--TNA star misses TV for a while due to movie filming

--A look at what will happen on TNA television between now and early May

--UFC plans for New York state

--Next UFC show

--Lots of new UFC dates

--New UFC TV deal

--More on Rousey vs. Cyborg

--Why former TUF winner seems to have disappeared

--UFC fighter places in Jiu Jitsu tourney

--Two former Bellator champions test positive

--PBC signs a huge TV deal

--Notes on Phoenix Jones and his MMA debut

--Gracie vs. Hughes rematch signed

If you are a new subscriber ordering 24 or more issues, you can get one free classic issue of your choice sent to you today.  With a 40 issue subscription, you can get two free classic issues sent to you today.
New subscribers ordering 24 or 40 issues have to let us know what major stories of the past 11 years you are most interested in and we'll send the issue with the best coverage of that story. We've got coverage of every major PPV event and world wide spectacular, every major star switching promotions, histories of companies like FMW, Rings and New Japan, retirement and obit issues of every major star who fits into those descriptions over the past 11 years, as well as our biggest issue every year, the annual awards issue, and our most controversial issue of every year, the Hall of Fame issue.
Our most requested issues in our history are:
*November 17, 1997 (full details of everything leading to the most famous wrestling match finish of modern times at the Survivor Series plus a history of in-ring double-crosses)
*December 21, 1998 (the complete Vince McMahon-Bret Hart conversation right before the Survivor Series match so you'll know exactly what was said--the conversation played in edited form both on the inaugural broadcast of Confidential as well as in Wrestling with Shadows, but everything that was said between the two about the match that was going to take place that same night)
*August 1, 1994 (the most detailed coverage anywhere of the Vince McMahon steroid trial, an issue praised in numerous newspaper article and Sex, Lies and Headlocks)
*March 26, 2001 (death of WCW and history of pro wrestling on the Turner networks)a
*October 22, 2001 (why the adult audience has left pro wrestling in such great numbers and what needed to have been done to save them)
*July 8, 1991 (Ric Flair leaves WCW as world champion/Zahorian steroid trial)
*February 8, 1993 (the life and times of Andre the Giant)
*May 13, 2002 (the life story of the most incredible pro wrestling career ever, a look at Lou Thesz, in one of the largest issues of our history)
*January 27, 2003 (part one of the two-part series covering the career and life of The Sheik)
*February 3, 2003 (Part two on The Sheik including thoughts from people who worked with him and where he stands historically)
*March 24, 2003 (history of the WWWF title, inside behind the Sammartino, Backlund and Backlund era)
*April 21, 2003 (history of WWF continues with the expansion nationally, the death of the regional territories and the rise of Hulk Hogan)
*May 12, 2003 (The life and death of Elizabeth and the rise of fall of Lex Luger)
*June 9, 2003 (Part 1 of history of WWF vs. WCW wars and what many say was the greatest year in U.S. wrestling; plus a look at Fred Blassie)
*June 16, 2003 (Freddie Blassie through the eyes of his biggest rivals and friends)
*July 28, 2003 (Part 2 of the history of the WWF vs. WCW war and the plans to make new superstars in the early 90s, what happened, and the night where the three biggest wrestling companies in the world combined for a joint show and what happened)
*August 25, 2003 (2003 Hall of Fame issue with huge profiles on the controversial career of Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit as well as historical features on Earl Caddock and Francisco Flores)
*September 22, 2003 (Part 3 of the history of the WWF vs WCW war with the seeds that caused the collapse of the industry in the 90s, Zahorian trial, Gulf War controversy, Flair leaves WCW while holding world title and much more)
*October 27, 2003 (The fascinating life of Stu Hart plus the story of Road Warrior Hawk)
*January 19, 2004 (2003 Awards issue)
*February 2, 2004 (History of Toronto wrestling, Jack Tunney life story, Royal Rumble and Battle Royal history)
*February 23, 2004 (History of Guerrero family with Eddy's win over Brock Lesnar)
*March 1, 2004 (History of WWF continues with the period that brought the company down in early 1992, the mistakes, the real stories and how the business changed)
*March 8, 2004 (History of Wrestlemania, its greatest matches and best and worst shows as voted both by wrestlers and non-wrestlers and Wrestlemania history books)
*July 5, 2004 (A look behind the scenes and Ric Flair's book and his background with Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan)
*July 12, 2004 (A look at more on Ric Flair's book and his comments on Bruno Sammartino, Bret Hart and Mick Foley)
*August 16, 2004 (History of the Olympians in pro wrestling)
*August 23, 2004 (2004 Hall of Fame issue and biggest issue of the year with huge profiles on Kazushi Sakuraba, Undertaker, Bob Backlund, Masahiro Chono, Ultimo Dragon, Kurt Angle and Tarzan Lopez--this counts as one issue if you are asking for a free issue, but ordered separately, due to size, is $6 in North America and $7 overseas)
*October 4, 2004 (the life and times of Big Bossman; as well as details of the life and times of one of the most influential men world wide in pro wrestling history, Jim Barnett)
*November 15, 2004 (the full story of what happened between Kurt Angle and Daniel Puder, plus coverage of the most important week in the history of TNA)
*January 24, 2005 (2004 Awards issue, Rock and WWE part company)
*March 14, 2005 (the 50 biggest money players in the history of WWF and a look at their Hall of Fame)
*May 9, 2005 (the life and times of Chris Candido)
*June 20, 2005 (The full story behind Paul Heyman and the death of ECW, as well as coverage of One Night Stand, Hardcore Homecoming and behind the scenes of both shows)
*July 18, 2005 (death of Shinya Hashimoto and his records with a look at the fall of New Japan, the Matt Hardy angle, tons of WWE firings, Cornette firing in detail as well as problems of a WWE developmental territory in our biggest news issue of the year which is a double-sized issue and would be $6 on its own and $7 overseas)
*August 24, 2005 (2005 Hall of Fame issue with career profiles of Paul Heyman, HHH and Freebirds plus debut of MMA Hall of Fame)
*September 12, 2005 (History of Mid South Wrestling)
*October 10, 2005 (Life and Times of the Ultimate Warrior)
*November 21, 2005 (Life and Times of Eddy Guerrero and Crusher, double issue $6 on its own and $7 overseas)
*December 5, 2005 (The Eddy Guerrero special issue, double issue $6 on its own, $7 overseas)
*January 9, 2006 (The life and times of Superstar Billy Graham, plus New Year's Eve 2005 coverage)
*January 16, 2006 (2005 Awards double issue, $6 or $7 overseas)
*April 3, 2006 (Story of Ann Calvello and the history of Roller Derby--many called this the best issue of the Observer ever)
*April 10, 2006 (Behind the scenes at the 2006 Wrestlemania/Hall of Fame week)
*July 24, 2006 (The History of the Von Erichs and World Class Championship Wrestling--the most unreal story ever in wrestling)
*September 4, 2006 (The Rise and Fall of Kurt Angle; 2006 Hall of Fame inductions of Eddie Guerrero, Paul Bowser, Masakatsu Funaki, Aja Kong and Hiroshi Hase including tons of wrestling history around the world from the 20s through the 60s, the evolution of working to not working in Japan, and a look at Guerrero in hindsight, double issue $6 or $7 overseas)
*October 9, 2006 (A look back nine years later at the life and legacy of Brian Pillman with tons of inside information about what made him tick as his real objectives)
*November 15, 2006 (History of WCW part one, Eric Bischoff's book and how the industry was changed forever)
*November 20, 2006 (History of WCW part two, Why Jim Ross left WCW, How Bischoff changed the company, signing of Hulk Hogan, Beginning of Nitro, Jesse Ventura, Brian Pillman, Chris Jericho and signing Wrestlemania planned celebrity away)
*November 27, 2006 (History of WCW part three, When Bischoff challenged McMahon to fight; Truth and fiction around Bret Hart signing with WCW and why it didn't click)
*December 6, 2006 (details behind Pride's offers to sell promotion and Part four of History of WCW part four, Hogan-Goldberg match and why there was no rematch, WCW loses NBC network deal in 1999 and the real reasons the company fell apart)
*January 22, 2007 (2006 Awards issue, double issue $7 on its own, $8 overseas)
*February 14, 2007 (Life and Times of Bam Bigelow)
*March 5, 2007 (WWE begins plans that will change the business)
*March 12, 2007 (Life and Times of Mike Awesome)
*March 19, 2007 (Life and Times of Ernie Ladd)
*April 4, 2007 (Life and Times of Badnews Allen Coage--which many are calling one of the best issues in history)
*July 2, 2007 (Part one of the Benoit double murder-suicide)
*July 5, 2007 (Part two of the Benoit double murder-suicide)
*July 10, 2007 (Part three of the Benoit double murder-suicide)
*July 19, 2007 (Part four of the Benoit double murder-suicide)
*July 23, 2007 (Part five of Benoit double murder-suicide)
*July 25, 2007 (Part six of Benoit double murder-suicide)
*August 15, 2007 (The legend of the God of Japanese wrestling and his influence on MMA, Karl Gotch)
*October 15 (2007 Hall of Fame double issue, $7 on its own, $8 overseas including inductions of The Rock, Tom Packs and the original Strangler Lewis)
*November 12, 2007 (Life and times of Fabulous Moolah and history of U.S. women's wrestling) .
*December 31, 2007 (History of Ric Flair and the heyday of wrestling at the Greensboro Coliseum)
*January 21, 2008 (2007 Awards issue, double issue $7 on its own, $8 overseas)
*March 17, 2008 (Life and times of Johnny Weaver)
*March 24, 2008 (Life and times of Gary Hart)
*April 10, 2008 (Farewell to Ric Flair; My thoughts, Shawn Michaels talks of Flair's meaning to him; Hall of Fame; Wrestlemania double issue, $7 on its own, $8 overseas)
*August 11, 2008 (Ric Flair leaves WWE; Updated history of pro wrestlers and MMA fighters who went to the Olympics)
* September 8, 2008 (2008 Hall of Fame double issue, $7 on its own, $8 overseas; part one of Killer Kowalski bio)
* September 15, 2008 (Life and Times of Evan Tanner)
* September 22, 2008 (The amazing career of Killer Kowalski, one of our most in-depth bios)
You can also order any of these issues on their own for $4 in North America or $5 overseas.
We now have available personally autographed copies of Tributes II, our latest book, as well as a DVD that comes with it talking more about the subjects in the book. The book covers the life stories of Lou Thesz, Wahoo McDaniel, Elizabeth, Fred Blassie, Road Warrior Hawk, Andre the Giant, Curt Hennig, Johnny Valentine, Davey Boy Smith, Terry Gordy, Owen Hart, Stu Hart, Gorilla Monsoon, The Sheik and Tim Woods..
To get all of those biographies as back issues of the Observer would be a $60 value today. This is a collection of some of the best Observer articles of the past several years in a hardcover, full-color format that is 239 pages. There is also a foreword by Bret Hart. The book price is $12.95 plus $3.50 for shipping costs in the U.S., $20 for shipping costs to Canada and $25 for shipping costs outside North America. You can order the book the same way you order the newsletter.


Wednesday Daily Update

-- As noted earlier, WWE and TapOut finally announced their long-rumored deal. If there's a surprise, it's that they're not releasing WWE-themed TapOut clothing. Instead, WWE is partnering with TapOut to relaunch the brand as general purpose fitness clothing without the MMA theme, and that includes being the official fitness apparel company of WWE.

-- Long-time friend of the site Houston Mitchell has an interview with Stephanie McMahon at the LA Times website. Most of it covers WWE's charity work with Connor's Cure and the Special Olympics.

-- Note for those getting WWE Network specificially for WrestleMania: If you wait until tomorrow (or later, obviously), you also get Extreme Rules in your month.

-- Fox Sports' The Buzzer got Dana White's immediate reaction to Brock Lesnar re-signing with WWE yeaterday. Nothing unexpected, but kind of interesting to watch.

-- If you have $20,000 to spare, Abdullah the Butcher's WWE Hall of Fame ring is on eBay. Superstar Billy Graham had previously sold or tried to sell his own ring, as well, but that's it as best as I can remember. Could someone who knows the current wrestling collectible market let us know if he has any prayer of getting anything close to the asking price?

-- UFC announced Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nate Marquardt for UFC 188, the Mexico City PPV in June headlined by the Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum heavyweight title unification fight. This makes a certain kind of sense: Gastelum was forced to move up to middlewight for the time being, but he gets an opponent who has some small amount of residual name value while also being a guy on a downslide who has fought at welterweight. Plus Gastelum is a natural for this card since he made himself one of the biggest stars on the Meixco City debut card.

-- Masked Republic announced a Perro Aguayo Jr. memorial t-shirt, and they're working with Damian 666, Perrito's long-time booker/right hand man in the Perros del Mal promotion, to make sure that profits going to the Aguayo family. Note that the design in the tweet is a placeholder; the shirt being printed is a variation of the Perros del Mal design that was a huge seller in Mexico. The shirt will be available at LuchaShop.com this weekend though delivery may take a few weeks depending on the demand.

-- Clips of Roman'Reigns' appearance on Conan last night are up here and here. The full show is here, and Reigns comes on at the 31:30 mark. As expected, he was much better in this environment than he is doing scripted promos.

-- Meanwhile, though, a photo popped up of a anti-Reigns sign being confiscated at Raw this past Monday.

-- Tickets for the May 16th "Evening with Jim Ross" in Baltimore go on sale this Friday. More details here.

-- Off-site Dave content at MMAFighting:

A piece from ysterday on the Lesnar news.

And one from late last night/early this morning about the mixed messages from the ratings for Saturday's UFC card.

-- My iTunes feed didn't go up until today, so if you use iTunes for podcasts, you can subscribe to The Trade Marks and my other new shows via this link or looking up "The Bix Show."

-- New episode of Wrestling Culture with Dave Musgrave and (my Trade Marks co-host) Dylan Hales going over the WrestleMania weekend is now up.

-- Micro Wrestling Federation Saturday March 28th - Start time at 9pm at J's Pub & Chasers Nightlife, 711 Osborne Street in  St. Marys, Georgia - Tickets are $15 & $25.

-- Today in history notes for 3/25:

31 years ago in 1984, the WWF held a rare (for the time) untelevised Madison Square Garden card, with just a handful of matches trickling out later on TV and home video. The card is probably best known for the Roddy Piper & David Schultz vs. Andre the Giant & Jimmy Snuka match, which was built off an Andre appearance on Piper's Pit and saw Andre get bloodied and escorted to the locker room, only to returned bandaged up a la Terry Funk. That match was masde available on the old "Roddy Piper's Greatest Hits" Coliseum Home Video release. Also on the card, Akira Maeda beat Pierre LeFebvre to win a tournament final for the WWF International Championship. It's been largely forgotten that with Hisashi Shinma leaving NJPW for the original UWF, which was a few weeks away from debuting, the WWF was also going to switch allegiances in Japan, but that didn't get much further than this match. For the most part, the rest of Maeda's American tour, where he had been promised a push as champion, consisted of him doing jobs in prelims, including a televised loss to George "The Animal" Steele.

25 years ago in 1990, The Ultimate Challenge, the "go home" special previewing WrestleMania VI (these shows replaced Prime Time Wrestling that week) aired on USA Network. The main event was something of an oddity, WWF Tag Team Champions The Colossal Connection (Andre the Giant & Haku) defeating The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty) by DQ, while the show opened with Ted DiBiase going over The Red Rooster, better known as his former Mid-South rival Terry Taylor. In the other matches, Dusty Rhodes beat Randy Savage by DQ, Earthquake beat Ron Garvin (who was quickly being reduced to the level of a TV job guy after winning his feud with Greg Valentine), and The Big Bossman beat Boris Zhukov.

20 years ago in 1995, an episode of WWF Superstars aired that included The Smoking Gunns defeating Rip Rogers & Chic Donovan, which is, on paper, the most amazing match in wrestling history.