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Daily Update: Kazuo Sakurada passes away, Saudi Arabia, Rich Swann


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We're doing polls today on NXT Takeover Blackpool and Impact Hard to Kill, so you can send a thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs in the middle along with a best and worst match to" target="_blank">

We're looking for reports on these shows:

  • NXT Friday night in Pittsburgh
  • Dark matches from Smackdown Friday night in Evansville
  • NXT tonight in Buffalo
  • ROH tonight in Concord, NC
  • WWE tonight in Corbin, KY

You can send reports on these shows to


  • Marty Scurll & PCO & Brody King vs. Rush & Dragon Lee & Kenny King for six-man titles
  • Mark & Jay Briscoe vs. Dalton Castle & Joe Hendry
  • Flip Gordon vs. Flamita
  • Alex Zayne vs. Bandido
  • Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams vs. Bateman & Vincent
  • Rey Hours vs. Andrew Everett


  • Sami Callihan vs. Tessa Blanchard for Impact title
  • Ace Austin vs. Trey Miguel for X title
  • Taya Valkyrie vs. Jordynne Grace vs. ODB for Knockouts title
  • Ethan Page & Josh Alexander vs. ? & Willie Mack for Impact tag titles
  • Eddie Edwards vs. Michael Elgin
  • Rob Van Dam vs. Brian Cage
  • Moose vs. Rhino
  • Ken Shamrock vs. Mad Man Fulton

Raw is a loaded show on Monday from Lexington, KY with Big Show & Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins & AOP in a fist fight, Bobby Lashley vs. Rusev and Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy and Brock Lesnar is on the show.

F4W NEWSLETTER: Figure Four Weekly: WWE's top 10 matches of 2019 Joseph Currier ranks his 10 favorite WWE matches of the year.

Looking back at the year WWE has had, you get a better sense of how much talent is in the company.

Main roster television and storylines have their problems, but narrowing the list of my favorite WWE matches of the year down to 10 was still incredibly difficult. The company produces so much product and has so many great wrestlers spread across Raw, SmackDown, NXT, and NXT UK. NXT was the standout in what was a transformative year as it moved to airing live on the USA Network, but all four brands were still represented on my list.

Here are my picks for WWE's 10 best matches of 2019:

Current subscribers click here to continue reading.

WON NEWSLETTER: January 13, 2020 Observer Newsletter: Death of Pampero Firpo, Wrestle Kingdom 14 review

With coverage of WrestleKingdom, pro wrestling in Japan and the death of Pampero Firpo, we've got another double issue of the Observer this week.

Our lead story looks at the legacy of Pampero Firpo, one of the top stars of the 60s and 70s. We look at his character, the Randy Savage connection, the start of his career in Argentina, how he got started in the U.S. and was a star in week one, his forgotten world title win, the story behind his getting the Pampero Firpo name and the legendary boxing match it came from, his first run with Vince McMahon Sr. in 1960, his second run in 1972, the angle that turned him babyface in Detroit, and his life after wrestling working at the post office.

The issue also covers: 

The wrestling scene in Japan, wrestling around the city, the wrestling stores, the advertising, the business from the Tokyo Dome, doing two WrestleMania in two days, why it worked for New Japan and why such a great first show ended up as a handicap.  We look at what got over the biggest, probably why main roster PPVs struggle the day after blow away NXT shows, as well as tickets sold outside of Japan for he two shows and growth of the overseas audience.

New Japan's expansion into the U.S., original booking plans for 2019, how Jericho and Tanahashi were able to do an angle involving the AEW belt, the political issues between AEW and NJPW, New Japan's 2020 schedule, and the future of the junior heavyweights.

A pension fund suing WWE and why, with the story behind it as well as the launch of the XFL and its new rules, we've got DVR numbers for AEW & NXT, a wrestler who may be leaving WWE and contract status, crazy stuff  some in WWE have been brainwashed on, lots of new lineups in WWE, Punk vs. Miz, Lesnar gets honored by University of Minnesota, new WWE signing, WWE awards, Ryback's latest issues with WWE, Canadian ratings for all the top U.S. shows, WWE and Russian television plus a rundown of the holiday season house shows.

Complete rundowns of both Dome shows, with match-by-match coverage, poll results and star ratings.

Upcoming major New Japan events.

WWE's traditional biggest house show of the year, the holiday event in Madison Square Garden.

Compiled lists of the wrestlers with the most great matches from the past year, the past decade and over the course of a career. 

Regarding the Wednesday numbers, we've got full details, demos that each side won, how every segment did and what match ended up as the difference maker. 

Full coverage of all the WWE and AEW television shows from the past week.

In-depth looks at the ratings of all the major shows, the key demos and quarters for AEW and WWE, what happened head-to-head and what can be learned from them.

Results of all the major pro wrestling events around the world over the past week. 

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 or by going to directing funds to

Rates in the United States are $14.50 for 4 issues, $35.50 for 12, $70 for 24, $116 for 40 and $149.50 for 52.

In Canada and Mexico, the rates are $16 for 4, $27 for 8, $38.50 for 12, $76 for 24, $126 for 40 and $162.50 for 52.

For the rest of the world, rates are $18 for 4, $48.50 for 12, $93 for 24, $155 for 40 and $201.50 for 52.

If you order by mail with a check, cash or money order to P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228, you can get $1 off in every price range.


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Bryan and I will be back tonight talking Impact, NXT UK, Raw tomorrow, Kendo Nagasaki, Pampero Firpo, La Parka and many other topics with Wrestling Observer Radio.

We're sorry to report on the death of Kazuo Sakurada, who was the wrestler known in the U.S. and Japan as Kendo Nagasaki. This is not the Kendo Nagasaki who was a legend in the U.K. Sakurada was 71. Early reports have his death attributed to an issue with his pacemaker.  Sakurada came from sumo and had a rep as a tough guy. He formed a tag team of Hito & Sakurada in a number of territories, beset known in Stampede Wrestling.  He was one of the original trainers of Bret Hart. Just before his 47th birthday he did his nly MMA fight. The Kendo Nagasaki name and gimmick came from Dusty Rhodes. Rhodes and Great Kabuki had a big feud in Georgia, but Kabuki had other commitments and couldn't come to Florida. So as Gary Hart took Akihisa Mera and made him a headliner, Rhodes took Sakurada and made him a headliner to feud with him in Florida. He became far more famous as Nagasaki and used that name most of the rest of his career, including forming a top tag team with Mr. Pogo in Puerto Rico.

There have been reports out of a return to Saudi Arabia on 2/20. We're told that it could be 2/20 or could be 2/27 but there is a show scheduled there on a Thursday afternoon but the date we were given was 2/27, with the idea they'd once again have to rush people back for the 2/28 Smackdown TV show in Boston. With the tension in the Middle East right now and the problems after the last show, you can imagine a lot of WWE families not being thrilled with this. That may be why it's been kept so low-key.

With no UFC or major boxing this weekend, the only thing that made the Google trends was the death of La Parka, since CNN picked up on it. La Parka was the No. 11 most searched for topic on the Internet yesterday in the U.S. with more than 100,000 searches. That is actually an incredible number for anything in pro wrestling other than a WWE PPV show or something major involving a WWE main roster star or historical American star.

Rich Swann suffered an ankle injury at the Impact show in San Antonio so he was questionable regarding tonight's tag title match where he was to team with Willie Mack vs. Ethan Page & Josh Alexander. There was talk of Mack doing a handicap match.

Dragon Gate's Open the Twin Gate title tournament semifinals and finals on Wednesday in Korakuen Hall. The semis have BxB Hulk & Kazma Sakamoto vs. Kzy & Dragon Dia and Yamato & Ben K vs. Masato Yoshino & Susumu Yokosuka.


  • Dana White praised this woman to the point he's flying her into Las Vegas for Saturday's show and said he's offering her a job.
  • Former Olympic wrestler Mark Madsen (9-0) faces Austin Hubbard on the 3/7 show  in Las Vegas.


  • The 2019 update of the Wrestling Observer Index is out. It lists almost every issue in our history going back almost 38 years with the major headlines by the week. Besides as a guide for ordering back issues, the Index is also a great way to keep a catalog of past issues and use for historical purposes. It is available for $30 from Grant Zwarych, 151 Hart Ave, Peterborough, ON K9J 5C5 Canada.  Virtually every back issue from 1982-1990 are available from him at the prices listed in the Index. Issues from 1991 to present are available from us at $4 per issue. If you are ordering back issues from us, please denote back issues on the envelope to ensure the quickest response. All payments to Grant & us must be made in U.S. funds. For those who have a previous Index, the 2019 supplement is available for $5 per year in Canada, $6 in U.S. and $9 internationally. Or you can get the supplement year(s) you are missing for a minimum $50 back issue order.  He also has re-issues of some of the most popular Wrestling Observer publications of the past. He has the 1983-1990 Observer yearbooks and the 1986 Wrestling Observer Who’s Who in Wrestling book. Grant also has pre-Observer publications of mine, both the California Wrestling Report & the International Wrestling Gazette. For more info, you can email
  • In the barely better late than never department, the Los Angeles Times published an obit on Dick Beyer this past weekend. It's about three-quarters of the way down. They got good response. Wrestling historian Steve Yohe wrote it. It had been talked about for nearly a year.
  • People were raving about yesterday's ROH show.
  • Jason Cade is headed to ROH.
  • Tickets have been put on sale for Expo Lucha on 8/15 and 8/16 at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.  On the first night, Psicosis, Juventud Guerrera, Super Crazy, Sabu, Damian 666 Bestia 666, Mr. Aguila, Dragon Lee, Laredo Kid, Taya Valkyrie, Black Taurus,Demus and more have been announced.  The second show is a legends event with Dr. Wagner Jr., Tinieblas Jr., Octagon, Pirata Morgan, Solar, Solar Jr., Mascarita Dorada, Psicosis, Juventud Guerrera, Super Crazy, Damian 666, Bestia 666 and Mr. Aguila
  • Road Warrior Animal has been announced for the Qatar Pro Wrestling Superslam show on 2/21 in Doha Qatar.  He joins nZo, Brian Pillman Jr., Eric Bischoff, Alberto El Patron, Kevin Nash, Mark Henry, Rob Van Dam and Matt Sydal on the show.
  • PWA from last night in Sydney, Australia:  Michael Spencer & Kai Drake b Velocities-COR in a tag title match, Big Fudge b Sam Osborne, Ricky South b Mat Roes, Rhys Angel & Aaron Jake b Prefects, Jessica Troy b Steph De Lander-DQ, Concrete Davidson & Shazza McKenzie b Gavin McGavin & Edit Night, Bel Pierce b Kingley, Mick Moretti & Jack Bonza b Matty Wahlberg & Carter Deams
  • Melbourne Championship Wrestling from last night before a sellout of 700+ fans:  Adam Brooks b Slex to keep the MCW title, Jett Rouka b Leo Pratt, Tome & Stevie Filip b Mike Burr & Ritchie Taylor, Danny Psycho b Royce Chambers, Avary b Kellyanne to get a women's title shot, Ugg b Harley Jackson no DQ, Will Ospreay b Dowie James.  We were told the Brooks match was great and Ospreay match, with a fractured heel, was off the charts. Ospreay cut a promo acknowledging his injury and needing time off but wanted to wrestle in Australia and also challenged Gino Gambino. They gave Slex a sendoff because he's moving to the U.S. to wrestle for ROH. 
  • MCW has a show on 1/19 at the Melbourne Baseball Arena in conjunction with the Melbourne Aces baseball team.  Wrestling takes place after the game and all ticket proceeds go to Blaze Aid, which is a charity supporting recovery from the bushfires. (thanks to Kevin Chiat)
  • Defy on 1/31 in Seattle at Washington Hall with Luchasaurus, Marko Stunt, Cima, T-Hawk and Lindaman.  It's notable that AEW is allowing its contracted performers to do shows like this.
  • Stardom from today in Shizuoka:  Starlight Kid b Itsuki Hoshino, Hana Kimura won three-way over Bea Priestley and Zoey Skye, Leyla Hirsch b AzM, Kagetsu & Jamie Hayter & Saki Kashima b Riho & Tam Nakano & Saya Iida, Jungle Kyona & Konami b Giulia & Andras Miyagi (Giulia turned on Miyagi after the match and said she will be bringing two mystery partners for the 1/19 show at Korakuen Hall), Mayu Iwatani & Arisa Hoshiki & Saya Kamitani b Momo Watanabe & Utami Hayashishita & Leo Onozaki (thanks to Shannon Walsh and
  • Stardom from last night in Osaka:  Konami b Itsuki Hoshino, AZM b Death Yama-san, Kagetsu b Saya Kamitani, Giulia & Andras Miyagi b Starlight Kid & Saya Iida, Hana Kimura & Jungle Kyona & Leyla Hirsch b Saki Kashima & Jamie Hayter & Zoey Skye, Mayu Iwatani & Arisa Hoshiki & Riho & Tam Nakano b Bea Priestley & Momo Watanabe & Utami Hayashishita & Leo Onozaki.  Kagetsu announced she would team with Iwatani against Watanabe & Kyona in 1/26 in Osaka in her final match with the company.
  • Mike Mooneyham, who knew Pampero Firpo, wrote about him (thanks to Chris Cruise)
  • A story on J.J. Dillon (thanks to Mike Kuzmuk)
  • A story on PCO building tonight's ROH show.
  • A story on a U.K. female referee (thanks to Lee Wall).

Daily Pro Wrestling History: Outsiders beat Steiners for WCW tag titles