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This week's issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns program, Wrestle Kingdom 16 review

The WWE’s road to WrestleMania took a detour on 1/1 due to COVID-19, but the original plans on the final destination are said to be still in play.

Roman Reigns tested positive for COVID-19, with the WWE reporting it hours before the show started. The decision was made to move Brock Lesnar into the WWE title match, and make it a five-way. Lesnar won the match, pinning champion Big E after an F-5, none of which was part of the original plans.

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.

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FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE

cmll

Our podcast schedule for the weekend is TBD. The plan is to do a show on WrestleKingdom with Fumi Saito which is our annual tradition at some point, as well as something with Garrett Gonzalez and a Saturday night show with Bryan Alvarez.

One of the four wrestlers a main event in tomorrow night's Battle of the Belts show, which is listed as Britt Baker vs. Riho for the women's title and Cody Rhodes vs. Sammy Guevara for the TNT title is out of action due to medical protocol. Tony Khan has confirmed that as has AEW Twitter. They will announce a new match on tonight's Rampage show for tomorrow night's show in Charlotte. There will also be a full house show card live.

Smackdown tonight on FOX is from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. The show is basically sold out (there are a few scattered tickets). Announced are The Usos vs. New Day in a street fight for the tag titles, Rick Boogs vs. Sami Zayn and the show is being built around a confrontation between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar.

AEW airs Rampage at 10 p.m. Eastern tonight on TNT with Adam Cole vs Jake Atlas (TV debut,this is the match where Atlas was injured), Ruby Soho & Riho vs. Britt Baker & Jamie Hayter and Eddie Kingston & Santana & Ortiz vs. 2.0 & Daniel Garcia in a no DQ match that was said to be wild.

Regarding the ratings for Wednesday's Dynamite, the 18-34 number was far above what the show has done in a long time. It beat Raw in that demo, and Raw did its best number since September in 18-34 on Monday night. The 238,000 viewers was the most for any cable wrestling show since the 9/6 Raw show. It was the most for any AEW show since 2019 when there were far more homes who had access to cable and fourth most in AEW history. While minute-by-minute numbers are not available, based on quarters, besides the title match, the big success was the Ruby Soho vs. Jade Cargill match.

CMLL announced that tonight's show at Arena Mexico as well as all CMLL shows between now and Tuesday are off. CMLL said the shows being canceled are preventative measures to protect people from COVID. Polvora publicly tested positive but a number of stars missed shows this past week.

The third night of WrestleKingdom, a sold out event at the Yokohama Arena featuring New Japan vs. NOAH matches, airs on PPV tonight with an English language option with Kevin Kelly and Chris Carlton, on ABEMA TV:

Kosei Fujita vs. Yasutaka Yano

Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Yuji Nagata vs. Mohammed Yone & King Tani & Akitoshi Saito

Gedo & Taiji Ishimori vs. Hayata & Seiki Yoshioka

Desperado & Douki vs. Yo-Hey & Nosawa Rongai

Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi & Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato vs. Daisuke Harada & Hajime Ohara & Daiki Inaba & Yoshiki Inamura & Kinya Okada

Zack Sabre Jr. & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Yoshihari Ogawa

Minoru Suzuki & Taichi & Taka Michinoku vs. Takashi Sugiura & Kazushi Sakuraba & ?

Evil & Dick Togo vs. Go Shiozaki & Masa Kitamiya

Sho vs. Atsushi Kotoge

Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito & Bushi & Sanada & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kenou & Manabu Soya & Tadasuke & Aleja

Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Keiji Muto & Kaito Kiyomiya

The big stuff on the show will be the generational battle of Okada vs. Muto for the first time, at least since Okada has become a star, as well as the Takagi vs. Nakajima match-up in the semi.

ESPN reported today that the just announced Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway fight scheduled for 3/5 is off due to Holloway aggravated a prior injury. Ariel Helwani has thrown out the name Chan Sung Jung, noting that Volkanovski's side wants him as the replacement and Jung is up for it.

ROH will have its awards TV show airing this weekend. They will announce winners of the Male Wrestler of the Year, Female Wrestler of the Year and Tag Team of the Year, as well as the top five for Match of the year.

The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame issue will be out on late Thursday night. There are five new inductees in this year's class voted on by reporters, historians, active and former wrestlers and industry professionals from all over the world.

For this weekend WWE has house shows tomorrow night in Glens Falls, NY and Sunday at the TD Gardens in Boston. We are looking for reports on these shows as well as from the full AEW show in Charlotte tomorrow and major indie shows to dave@wrestlingobserver.com

We are doing polls currently on the following shows: New Japan's 1/4 and 1/5 Tokyo Dome shows, 1/8 Yokohama Arena show and Impact's Hard to Kill tomorrow night in Dallas on PPV. You can leave a thumbs up, down or middle along with a best and worst match to dave@wrestlingobserver.com

WWE

The company will have its fourth quarter earnings report on 2/3 with Vince McMahon, Nick Khan, Stephanie McMahon and Frank Riddick.

A DAZN interview with Bron Breakker coming off his NXT title win on Tuesday.

UFC

MMA Junkie reported Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa for the 2/12 PPV show at the Toyota Center in Houston, which is Lewis' hometown.

Rafael Fiziev vs. Rafael dos Anjos is earmarked but not signed for a 2/19 show according to MMA Fighting.

OTHER NOTES

Impact has reached a deal with Allen Media Group and Sports.TV. It will feature 60 sports channels including The Fight Network from Canada MMA TV and Impact.

New Japan posted the January 4, 2020, match with Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi on YouTube. This was one of the best matches in Tokyo Dome history, and really in company history as well (thanks to Suju Abraham).

The Orpheum in Ybor City, FL, which in its time has seen some of the best current wrestlers in the U.S. perform under the Evolve banner, announced that they were closing. Evolve ran shows there from 2012 to 2020 featuring The Young Bucks, Eddie Kingston, Malakai Black, Sammy Guevara, Joey Janela, Ruby Soho Serena Deep, Thunder Rose, Drew McIntyre, El Generico, Matt Riddle, Ricochet, Apollo Crews, The Street Profits, Roderick Strong, Zack Sabre Jr., Rocky Romero, Johnny Gargano, Chris Hero, Rich Swann,Davey Richards, EC 3, Homicide, Jonathan Gresham, Tessa Blanchard, Jazz and Ember Moon.

Defy Wrestling announced its fifth anniversary show on 2/12 at Washington Hall in Seattle. Christopher Daniels will defend his Defy interim title on that show.

An interview with Kerry Morton, son of Ricky Morton, talking about the start of career and being on the debuting NWA USA show on YouTube.

Josh Mathews of Impact Wrestling talks about producing for the promotion.

AIW on Thursday night in Lakewood, OK at the Winchester Music Tavern headlined by Max Caster.

Cage Fury Fighting Championships, the MMA group that C.M.Punk does the announcing for, has its first show of the year on 1/29 at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. Middleweight champion Aaron Jeffrey (10-3) faces Rex Harris (12-5) in a title match. The CFFC shows air live on UFC Fight Pass.

Bellator announced Leah McCourt (6-1) vs. Sinead Kavanagh (7-5) for its 2/25 show in Dublin, Ireland headlined by Gegard Mousasi defending the middleweight title against Austin Vanderford. Vanderford was one of the ATT fighters in the AEW Dan Lambert angle and is 11-0, but Mousasi is a giant step up in competition for him.