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Daily Update: Elimination Chamber, Bad Bunny, Tom Cole


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WON NEWSLETTER: February 22, 2021 Observer Newsletter: Death of Tom Cole, NXT TakeOver review

The death of Tom Cole this week takes us back to one of the most sordid pro wrestling stories of the last 50 years, which involved media heavyweights at the time like Phil Donahue, Larry King, Geraldo Rivera and Phil Mushnick. It's the lead story of a new double issue of the Observer.

We look at the story and its tragic end this past week and all the key characters involved. We look at Cole's death, what exactly happened to him, different media appearances at the time, the WWF first settling his case, the unique plans for the Phil Donahue show, at the time the leading daytime talk show in the U.S. with a gigantic audience and how Vince McMahon planned the show and why it never transpired the way it was planned. Cole's memories of what happened, and things that triggered his past including a first suicide attempt that few knew about.  This is a major piece of wrestling history that has been largely hidden except from those who were around at the time.

Also in this issue:

NXT Takeover show with match-by-match coverage, star ratings and poll results of what undoubtedly will be considered among the best shows of 2021.

WWE not offering raises and promotions and how that went down this past week, as well as a look at WWE performer salaries if they were paid the same percentage as sports stars or even UFC fighters, Lacey Evans' pregnancy, a pilot for a new WWE Network show filmed, the attempt to re-litigate the concussion case and its likely outcome, injury updates, details of a number of different people having signed new deals, who they are and their background, notes on how many saw Sasha Banks start the Daytona 500, Finn Balor talks staying in NXT, TV show with WWE stars as guests, WWE & AEW international TV ratings and how last week's shows did compared to other sports, another celebrity training to appear in WWE rings, upcoming TV matches, a what ever happened to, current company value and the most-watched shows of the past week on the WWE Network.

Gina Carano and her social media posts that cost her a television series was was to be built around her, her new affiliation, and the situation with Ariel Helwani, Dana White and ESPN as well as media criticism of ESPN for how they handled the situation.

UFC 258 with match-by-match coverage and all the business news.

How Keiji Muto became one of the oldest world champions in history, why NOAH made the move, a look at NOAH today after its biggest show in many years.

WWE social media regulations for its talent, what is and isn't allowed.

Debut episode of "Young Rock," its ratings, and what was real, nor real and in between about the stories with a look at early women wrestling promoters, Rocky Johnson, Peter Maivia, Lia Maivia and Dwayne Johnson growing up.

Second night of New Japan's New Beginning in Hiroshima..

Television ratings of the past week, including segment-by-segment numbers for the past two weeks on Wednesday, who was watching in different age groups, how different segments did on Raw & Smackdown and more.

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Bryan and I will be back tonight covering Elimination Chamber as well as the rest of the current news on Wrestling Observer Radio. We also have a Friday night show where we talked to Jon Moxley on a ton of different subjects, and Garrett and I did an all news show that is up on the site right now.

Regarding tonight's show, we were told about 90 minutes ago that they were in the process of figuring out the card due to all the changes. We still  don't know if Keith Lee will or won't be in the three-way with Bobby Lashley and Riddle..

Elimination Chamber starts at 7 p.m. with a pre show match likely at 6:30 p.m. but not announced at this moment. Only three matches were 100 percent as of this morning the two Chamber matches and the women's tag title match were announced on Friday.  Lashley will defend the U.S. title and Roman Reigns defends the Universal title against the Smackdown Chamber winner.  We're looking for your thoughts on the show so you can leave a thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs in the middle along with a best and worst match to

  • Chamber matches themselves are usually very good to great. They are very careful with the Reigns presentation so it's likely to be good. The show is really only about those three matches so of what is advertised and pushed, it should deliver strongly.
  • Smackdown chamber match:  The winner will face Roman Reigns.  Due to late betting, Cesaro has replaced Kevin Owens as the favorite at -150 while Owens is +125, Daniel Bryan is +450, Jey Uso is +1000, King Corbin is +5000 and Sami Zayn is +5000. One would expect a babyface to win and you can argue for any of the three as all would make for great opponents for Reigns, although Owens has had multiple matches already.  He's also the one strongest in the program, but Cesaro would give Reigns a chance to have a new match not advertised and put Cesaro in one of the main events. The Smackdown chamber match is scheduled to start the show.
  • For the Raw Chamber, BetOnline has Drew McIntyre as a big favorite at -400, Sheamus at +350, A.J. Styles at +700, Randy Orton at +700, Kofi Kingston at +4000 and Jeff Hardy at +5000.  
  • Reigns is listed as a -2000 favorite  to retain his title.  Anything is possible and they always can do a quick switch, but I wouldn't recommend it.  With Reigns vs. Edge as of last word planned to be the WrestleMania main event, that would seemingly make Reigns a huge favorite to retain his title tonight.
  • Lashley is a -300 favorite to retain his title whether it's a singles match with Riddle or the three-way.  Keith Lee is out of the match although WWE has yet to announce this. Riddle has not been booked as competitive with Lashley so a win would likely be a match he gets mauled in and the win looks like a fluke if they do book the upset.
  • Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax are -200 favorites to retain over Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair. The traditional booking would be Banks & Belair having a falling out in the match and that leads to them wrestling at WrestleMania, but there are other ways you can book to get to the same destination.

Regarding last week's Takeover show and the Observer star ratings odds going in from Kambi, both Dusty Classic and Gargano vs Kushida beat the predicted star rating, the women's three-way was 1/4 star under the prediction and Finn Balor vs. Pete Dunne was identical.   (thanks to

Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center are now doing NHL and NBA games in front of spectators. MSG is running with a 2,000 seat capacity and Barclays for the Nets is running with just 300 seats, so you can imagine the prices are through the roof to get in.  

Bad Bunny had the 24/7 belt on him during Saturday Night Live last night. There were also some jokes made regarding the Gina Carano situation on the show.  They didn't explain the belt or anything but he did have it with him.

Except for yesterday, nothing involved with combat sports trended all week. Bad Bunny was listed as No. 2 with 200,000 off his appearance but as is the case at times, his name disappeared and No. 2 (formerly No. 3) is listed as Derrick Lewis, the UFC fighter who beat Curtis Blaydes in the main event with a devastating knockout, also at 200,000. Adrian Broner was No. 5, also at 200,000  Boxer Oscar Valdez was No. 15 at 50,000.  Elimination Chamber should do between 200,000 and 500,000 depending on how much interest there is.

Steve Austin's Broken Skull Sessions debuts a show with Sasha Banks tonight.

The London Times ran an obituary on Pat Patterson today. (thanks to Lee Wall)

AXS TV is promoting Hulk Hogan's last match ever from the 2011 Bound for Glory PPV which was Hogan vs Sting no DQ from Philadelphia.  It will air on 3/2. Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Roode for the TNA title headlines plus RVD vs. Jerry Lynn in a Full Metal Mayhem match, Bully Ray vs. Ken Anderson falls count anywhere and Austin Aries vs. Brian Kendrick for the X title and A.J. Styles vs. Christopher Daniels in an I Quit match.

Just to clarify something in the Observer story on Tom Cole and the way it was written, what appeared to trigger Cole was the death of Pat Patterson and finding out in 2019 about the death of Mel Phillips. It was written to where some thought it was an article on Jamie Hemmings on Slam which it was not at all as Hemmings' first article on Cole that I'm aware of didn't even come out until just after his death.  But Cole had texted things to Hemmings that showed how upset he was after the death of Patterson in December.

Phil Mushnick of the New York Post has not written anything about the death of Cole.


  • The Undertaker endorsed Dwayne Johnson if he were to run for President.
  • Shinsuke Nakamura's theme played today during Ohio State vs. Michigan basketball game.
  • Sami Zayn's videographer on Friday night's Smackdown show was Andrew Steele, who is a Full Sail University graduate who started as an intern with NXT in 2017 before he got a job with WWE.  Steel had been a pro wrestler working mostly in Delaware and Florida before his career ended due to a 2015 broken neck injury.
  • The WWE Network yesterday ran the first Progress show since the pandemic started from the Theatre Peckham in London.  The show was actually taped:  Chris Ridgeway won a match to get a Progress title bout over Gene Mummy, Omari and Spike Trivet, Luke Jacobs b Man Like Dereiss, Ethan Allen b Kid Lykos II, Millie McKenzie (who is headed to WWE) b Mercedes  Blaze, Danny Black b Elijah, Warren Banks b Joe Gunns, Kid Lykos b Chuck Mambo, Cara Noir retained the world title over Dan Maloney with the blackout sleeper (thank to Shannon Walsh)
  • ICW will have a live special on the WWE Network on 3/20 called ICW Fight Club: Barred.  


  • Ottman Azaitar, who had been fired for breaking COVID-19 protocols and was said to be never coming back, is now back.  UFC confirmed this to MMA Fighting after his manager, Ali Abdelaziz told ESPN that the incident was a misunderstanding.


  • Miro was not on Wednesday's show this past week because the blizzard hit Nashville, where he lives. There was to be a wedding follow-up segment this past Wednesday but it had to be taken off the show. For the show on 2/10, the high point audience wise was the end of the wedding segment.


  • Ruaka won the Rumble and the complete results of today's Stardom show in Tokyo. Stardom results from yesterday in Tokyo at Shin kiba:  Tam Nakano b Lady C, Himeka b Unagi Sayaka, Momo Watanabe & Saya Kamitani & AZM d Giulia & Syuri & Maiki & Natsupoi 15:00, Saya Iida b Honoro Hana to keep the Future of  Stardom title, Bea Priestley & Konami & Natsuko Tora & Saki Kashima b Mayu Iwatani & Starlight Kid & Gokigen Death & Ruaka (thanks to Shannon Walsh and Tomi Yamada)
  • Today's Tokyo Joshi Pro tag team tournament results from Tokyo:  Hikari Noa & Shena Shioiri b Yuka Kamifuku & Mahiro Kiryu, Sakisama & Mei Saint-Michel b Mira Maiui & Suzume, Yuka Sakazaki & MizukI & Moka Miyamoto & Arisu Endo b Pom Harauku & Haruna Neko & Mariko Kobashi & Raku, Maki Itoh & Miyu Yamashita b Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe, Shoko Nakajima & Hyper Misao b Yuki Aino & Oodoka Tenma.  
  • Global Syndicate Wrestling debuted with a show last night at the Monster Factory in Paulsboro, NJ on FITE, featuring the return of Austin Aries, who looked great.  Michael Elgin also worked the show.  Michael Elgin b Wrecking Ball Legursky (Jacob Fato attacked Elgin after the match to set up a future match, Masha Slamovich b Hyan, Richard Holliday b Tyson Maddox, Vicious Vicki b Gabby Ortiz, Ricky Reyes b Gio Galvano, Deonna Purrazzo b Trish Adora thanks to help from Kimber Lee, Alexander Hammerstone b Austin Aries to become the first GSW champion.  Chris Dickinson then challenged Hammerstone for the title on the 5/22 show. (thanks to Kyle Prescott)
  • Dragon Gate has a match on Tuesday night in Kyoto which is the finals of a trios tournament to determine the next contender for the Open the Triangle Gate title held by Kzy & Genki Horiguchi & Susumu Yokosuka. The tournament final has Bokutimo Dragon & Punch Tominaga & Ryo Saito vs. Dia Inferno & Diamante & Hip Hop Kikuta

Daily Pro Wrestling History: John Cena wins, loses WWE title on same night