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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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SATURDAY NEWS UPDATE
- During a backstage interview on last night’s SmackDown, Big E paid tribute to Jon Huber (Brodie Lee/Luke Harper) by mentioning Rochester (Huber’s hometown), the names Amanda and Nolan (Huber’s wife and one of his sons), and the Toronto Maple Leafs (Huber’s favorite hockey team). Big E also wore a “Brodie” armband and used a gator roll and Huber’s “Yeah, yeah, yeah” catchphrase last night. Big E was wearing a Bludgeon Brothers shirt during the segment where Sonya Deville was shown walking backstage and making her return.
- Last night’s SmackDown opened with a tribute graphic for Huber. Daniel Bryan, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Cesaro also wore “Brodie” armbands and Adam Pearce, Corey Graves, and Otis made references to Huber on the show.
- Natalya wrote a remembrance of Huber in her latest column for the Calgary Sun.
- Seth Rollins called Huber a hero and dedicated a CrossFit workout to him.
- Though WWE hyped that Roman Reigns had made a “special request” of WWE management ahead of last night’s SmackDown, the request wasn’t mentioned on the show.
- WWE issued a storyline injury update on Kevin Owens after he was beaten down by Reigns and Jey Uso and sent crashing through a table from a stand at the ThunderDome on SmackDown last night: "After the attack by Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Jey Uso on Friday Night SmackDown, Kevin Owens was taken to a local medical facility where he was diagnosed with a spinal contusion and bruised kidneys. Check back with WWE.com for more updates as they become available."
- To likely set up a future title match, Carmella pinned SmackDown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks in a tag team match on SmackDown last night. Carmella & Bayley defeated Banks & Bianca Belair in the match.
- Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson gifted Harvey Wippleman a new truck for Christmas for all Wippleman did for him when he was younger.
- WWE doctor Chris Amann received his first dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine: “Just received my first dose of the @moderna COVID-19 vaccine this evening. So appreciative of and thankful for all of the health care workers, researchers, and organizations working tirelessly to make this possible to bring this pandemic under control. Didn’t feel a thing!”
- Thirteen episodes of WWF Wrestling Challenge will be uploaded to the WWE Network in January as this month’s classic content drop.
- WWE’s YouTube channel uploaded Ronda Rousey & Natalya vs. Nia Jax & Tamina from the December 31, 2018 episode of Raw, Shawn Michaels vs. Kane from the January 2, 2006 episode of Raw, and Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt from Royal Rumble 2014.
- The latest episode of Talk is Jericho is a tribute to Jon Huber. It includes appearances by AEW Vice President of Business Strategy Chris Harrington, Brandi Rhodes, Marko Stunt, Evil Uno & Stu Grayson, Excalibur & Bryce Remsburg, Arn Anderson, John Silver & Alex Reynolds, The Young Bucks, Christopher Daniels, and FTR.
- Britt Baker shared video of Brodie Lee Jr. hitting a discus lariat on Adam Cole and pinning him at AEW’s New Year’s Eve party. Ricky Starks also helped Brodie Lee Jr. wrestle Top Flight at the party.
- After someone created a fake Brodie Lee Jr. Twitter account, AEW posted the following: “If there is ever an ‘official/real’ account for anyone associated with @AEW it would be promoted and followed by AEW. Beware of individuals pretending to be members of the Huber family.”
- AEW uploaded clips of Britt Baker, Cody Rhodes, Lance Archer, and Anna Jay sharing their memories of Huber on this week’s Dynamite post-show.
- Matt Cardona & Brian Myers’ Major Wrestling Figure Podcast is selling Brodie Lee/Luke Harper prints with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Huber family.
- Myers posted a picture of a painting of Huber by Rob Schamberger that’s now hanging up at the Create A Pro Wrestling Academy.
- OVW announced that Brian Pillman Jr. is vacating their OVW Heavyweight Championship due to his growing relationship with AEW. Pillman Jr. wrote about vacating the title: "From taking my first bump in an OVW ring to then winning the Heavyweight Championship inside a steel cage 4 years later, words cannot describe how important this title was to me! Amidst a pandemic I chased every available opportunity which resulted in running a tight schedule. In order to full commit my talents to AEW and limit my exposure to infection, I have cut down on outside bookings. I wish nothing but the best for OVW as they crown a new champion on Jan 9th at the Nightmare Rumble! I urge you all to support this talented locker room and crew!”
- In his interview with Sports Illustrated, Kazuchika Okada said he wants the wrestling world to unite and present a supershow when it’s safe to do so: “Times are tough right now, but I hope what we do will bring joy to everyone all over the world, and give them enough strength and positivity to do their best the next day. And when the world calms down, I would like to give back with other wrestling companies to all wrestling fans in the world who still support us even in this current situation. New Japan, WWE, AEW, CMLL, AAA all together. Sounds pretty cool, don’t you think?”
- Okada discussed facing Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 15: “I do miss being in the main event, but me and Ospreay will be something special. Since he formed The Empire, Ospreay’s a lot more grounded as a wrestler. I think he’s upping his game again, and as his opponent, that’s exciting.”
- Tetsuya Naito also spoke to Sports Illustrated ahead of Wrestle Kingdom 15.
- NJPW’s English-language website published interviews with Kota Ibushi, Naito, and Jay White.
- Voices of Wrestling released their 2020 NJPW Year-in-Review eBook. The foreword was written by Jon Moxley. The eBook is available for $5.99 on Kindle or on Payhip with a name your price option.
- Renee Paquette appeared on Richard Deitsch’s Sports Media podcast.
- Former NWA Television Champion Zicky Dice announced at the start of the new year that he’s now a free agent.
- Tony Deppen was pulled from Friday’s GCW show in adherence to COVID-19 protocols: “In adherence to GCW's Covid-19 protocols and with an abundance of caution, Tony Deppen will be unable to participate in today's event. A replacement will be announced ASAP. #GCW56Nights”
- Deppen tweeted after being pulled from the show: “Before anyone starts running around with whatever - I’m good.”
Daily Pro Wrestling History: Arn Anderson wins NWA TV title
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