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Daily Update: Gene Okerlund, Wrestle Kingdom, Usman/Woodley


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F4W NEWSLETTER: Figure Four Weekly: WWE's biggest news stories of 2018

2018 was an especially mixed year for WWE. It's been an incredible year for WWE financially -- even if that hasn't always been mirrored by traditional metrics. They agreed to two transformative TV deals that will shape the company for years to come. WWE also reached a lucrative 10-year deal with the Saudi General Sports Authority, with the first two shows in Saudi Arabia being among the most controversial in the history of the promotion.

WON NEWSLETTER (ONLINE ONLY): January 7, 2019 Observer Newsletter special: History of the Tokyo Dome - NO HARDCOPY AVAILABLE

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.

Pro wrestling was still huge on television back then. All Japan, headed by Giant Baba, was a fixture on Nippon TV, one of the major networks. New Japan, on TV-Asahi, had matches airing in prime time. 

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(By Bryan Rose and Joseph Currier)


  • TMZ Sports talked to Gene Okerlund’s son Todd who said that his father died as a result of a bad fall last month, suffering multiple broken ribs. Four days before his death, he was admitted to a nursing home. He began to have trouble breathing and was admitted to a hospital on Wednesday where he passed away.
  • Vince McMahon tweeted a statement on Okerlund’s passing: “It was impossible not to crack a smile whenever ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund entered a room. He was the voice behind so many of WWE’s most iconic and entertaining moments, and the WWE family will miss him immensely.”
  • The final set of NXT television tapings before TakeOver: Phoenix are being held at Full Sail University tonight.
  • WWE announced the nominees for the 2018 NXT year-end awards.
  • WWE’s website has an interview with Dominik Dijakovic, who has started appearing on NXT TV in recent weeks.
  • Drake Maverick said on yesterday’s 205 Live that new faces will be arriving in 2019, though didn’t go into details.
  • Braun Strowman is doing a Polar Plunge to raise money for a Boys & Girls Club in Hartford, Wisconsin. He launched a GoFundMe campaign where donations can be made.
  • US Weekly reported that Nikki Bella is dating Artem Chigvintsev, who was her partner on Dancing with the Stars.
  • A new trailer for the upcoming season of Total Bellas is now out.
  • More WWE stars have New Year’s resolutions.

Pro Wrestling

  • Wrestle Kingdom 13 airs live overnight, with the pre-show gauntlet match starting at 2 a.m. Eastern time. The show will air live on New Japan World with both English and Japanese commentary available. It’s also available to purchase as a standalone event on Fite TV. Here’s the full card: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega defending against Hiroshi Tanahashi IWGP Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho defending against Tetsuya Naito in a no DQ match Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA defending against Taiji Ishimori IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Cody Rhodes defending against Juice Robinson IWGP Tag Team Champions Guerrillas of Destiny defending against EVIL & SANADA and The Young Bucks in a three-way match Revolution Pro Wrestling Undisputed British Heavyweight Champion Tomohiro Ishii defending against Zack Sabre Jr. IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru defending against SHO & YOH and Shingo Takagi & BUSHI in a three-way match NEVER Openweight Champion Kota Ibushi defending against Will Ospreay Pre-show match: Togi Makabe, Toru Yano & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Yuji Nagata, Jeff Cobb & David Finlay vs. Hirooki Goto, Beretta & Chuckie T vs. Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer vs. Hangman Page, Marty Scurll & Yujiro Takahashi in a gauntlet match to determine the number one contenders for the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team titles
  • A new British Heavyweight title belt will be given to the winner of Ishii vs. Sabre at the Tokyo Dome.
  • Voices of Wrestling has released their NJPW Year in Review eBook for 2018.
  • Impact Wrestling announced that Johnny Impact’s Survivor castmates Nick Wilson (the winner of the season) and Davie Rickenbacker will be appearing and sitting front row for Impact’s World title defense against Brian Cage at Sunday’s Homecoming PPV.
  • The NWA has uploaded a video hyping the David Arquette/Jocephus hair vs. hair match at the NWA pop-up event on January 5.
  • They also have a new Ten Pounds of Gold ahead of the event.
  • PAC vs. Chris Brookes has been signed for Rev Pro’s March 24th event.
  • It has been announced that DDT will be working with Fight Club Pro in the UK going forward, exchanging talent.
  • PWA in Australia has announced a triple threat match featuring Jonah Rock, Robbie Eagles and Adam Brooks on January 13 in Sydney.


  • Kamaru Usman is saying that the deal is done and in March he will face current champion Tyron Woodley for the Welterweight title. Woodley disputes that, saying he will fight Colby Covington next.
  • Alexander Gustafsson isn’t ruling out a move to heavyweight after losing to Jon Jones.
  • Ovince Saint Preux will fight Misha Cirkunov at UFC 235.
  • Jairzinho Rozenstruik has signed with the UFC and will face Junior Albini in a heavyweight bout at UFC Fight Night Brazil on February 2.
  • Gokhan Saki will face Saparbek Safarov at UFC London on March 16.
  • Teruto Ishikawa vs. Kyung Ho Kang in a bantamweight bout is now set for UFC 234 on February 10.

Daily Pro Wrestling History: Triple H wins WWF World title