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Daily Update: Gene Okerlund, NJPW tickets, Davey Boy Smith Jr.


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F4W NEWSLETTER: Figure Four Weekly: Looking at WWE's promise of change

After promising change, the challenge for WWE going forward is to make a real commitment to that instead of having it be a short-term ratings fix. Those vague promises of change were made during the opening segment of last Monday's episode of Raw. Following two straight weeks of record-low ratings -- with the first of them even being brought up on WWE television as Seth Rollins said Baron Corbin was the reason for the ratings dip -- it was advertised that Vince McMahon would return to "shake things up." Vince appeared and brought out Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, and Shane McMahon. WWE oddly blurred the lines between kayfabe and reality, with the McMahons also blaming Raw's issues on Corbin. 

WON NEWSLETTER: January 7, 2019 Observer Newsletter special: History of the Tokyo Dome

When the Tokyo Dome opened on March 17, 1988, the idea of pro wrestling there wasn’t even an idea.

The Dome was built to be the new modern home of two baseball teams, the Yomiuri Giants of the Central League, the team of Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh years earlier, the unofficial national team that had all its games on NTV, and sold out every game. The Dome held 48,316 fans for baseball, but for years, every single Giants game announced the attendance as 56,000. The other team, the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Pacific League, which played there through the 2003 season, were the ones that the average person could get tickets to see.

The idea was baseball and concerts, the Rolling Stones (who have 19 Tokyo Dome sellouts), Michael Jackson (who sold 405,000 tickets for nine dates in December 1988), U2, Madonna and Japanese artists. But while it has housed numerous sporting events, including NFL and Major League Baseball, with the exception of baseball and concerts, it’s probably best known for pro wrestling.

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 Meltzer, or by using PayPal directing funds to

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  • Today’s NXT UK, 205 Live, and NXT episodes opened with a graphic paying tribute to “Mean” Gene Okerlund and a scrolling message where WWE sent its condolences to Okerlund’s friends, family, and fans.
  • Hulk Hogan wrote about Okerlund’s passing: “The best partner I ever had. We never rehearsed or did anything scripted from a writer. Gene would ask me ‘hey big man what do u want to do?’ I would always answer ‘just follow you brother’ and it worked from 1980 - 2017. RIP my brother HH”
  • has an article on some of the tributes to Okerlund that were posted on social media.
  • The New York Times published an obituary on Okerlund.
  • WWE has uploaded several videos from Okerlund's career to their YouTube account: "Mean" Gene Okerlund's Hall of Fame video package Ric Flair celebrates his 1992 Royal Rumble victory "Mean" Gene Okerlund interviews Hulk Hogan after his WWF title win in January 1984 "Mean" Gene Okerlund interviews Mr. Fuji and Don Muraco in October 1985 "Mean" Gene Okerlund trains with Hulk Hogan "Mean" Gene Okerlund returns to WWE at WrestleMania X-Seven
  • After the announcement of All Elite Wrestling, Dustin Rhodes (Goldust) tweeted about how proud he is of Cody Rhodes: “Want to take this time to say just how proud I am of @CodyRhodes . My brother has everything our father had. He has learned so much about being a wrestler, a business man, and an entertainer. He will bring it, in this huge venture he has created. #BestOfLuck #AEW. Love ya brother”
  • WWE uploaded a post-SmackDown video where John Cena praised Becky Lynch after their segment and mixed tag match.
  • On UpUpDownDown, Aleister Black gave Xavier Woods a tour of a gaming store in Amsterdam.

Pro Wrestling

  • Here are Wrestle Kingdom 13/New Year’s Dash ticket notes from Dave Meltzer: “The Tokyo Dome was at 36,000 tickets sold as of yesterday, give or take a few. The demand for tickets for New Year's Dash was unbelievable. They could have easily sold 14,000 tickets and perhaps as many as 20,000 given the number of foreigners in town.”
  • Dave notes that people were raving about Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Ryota Hama last night and Sekimoto vs. Kohei Sato at Zero-One on the 1st.
  • Fumi Saito appeared on the Wrestle Kingdom 13 preview episode of Talk is Jericho.
  • Davey Boy Smith Jr. has signed a multi-year deal with MLW. MLW’s announcement noted that Smith will continue to wrestle in NJPW.
  • Flip Gordon vs. Tracy Williams has been announced for Honor Reigns Supreme in Concord, North Carolina on January 13. The show will air live on HonorClub.
  • Katsuyori Shibata will be doing meet and greets at ROH’s Road to G1 Supercard shows in Dallas, Texas on January 24, Houston on January 25, and San Antonio on January 26.
  • Here are the updated cards for EVOLVE 119 and 120:
  • EVOLVE 119 (Brooklyn, New York on January 18): Johnny Gargano & AR Fox vs. EVOLVE Champion Austin Theory & Josh Briggs WWN Champion JD Drake defending against Eddie Kingston in a no DQ match EVOLVE Tag Team Champions The Street Profits defending against the winners of a tag team scramble from earlier in the show Tag team scramble match for an EVOLVE Tag Team title shot later in the night: Leon Ruff & Adrian Alanis vs. John Silver & Alex Reynolds vs. TBA vs. TBA Fabian Aichner vs. Darby Allin
  • EVOLVE 120 (Queens, New York on January 19): EVOLVE Champion Austin Theory vs. Johnny Gargano in a non-title match Montez Ford vs. Eddie Kingston Angelo Dawkins vs. Josh Briggs
  • Impact Wrestling uploaded a mini-documentary on Brian Cage ahead of him challenging Johnny Impact for the Impact World Championship at Sunday’s Homecoming PPV.
  • Shuji Ishikawa has officially signed with AJPW.


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