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Daily Update: The passing of Muhammad Ali, UFC 199 tonight

MUHAMMAD ALI

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Muhammad Ali is very likely the most well known and important figure in the history of sports.  Besides Jackie Robinson, no other athlete may have had as great an impact on society, as Ali’s refusal to participate in the Vietnam War stands out as a seminal moment in American history.  That’s to say nothing of his public conversion to Islam and his steadfast refusal to play down his faith.  Those two acts alone helped to define a generation.

Of course, his fame was international as well, and that same influence was felt throughout the globe.  From Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), site of the famous Rumble in the Jungle, to the Philippines, home to the Thrilla in Manila, Ali truly was a World Champion.

His connections to pro wrestling are thoroughly documented, with Ali crediting pro wrestling for influencing his bombastic public persona.  And in a funny twist, Ali’s fight with Antonio Inoki ended up essentially being the birth of mixed martial arts. 

Ali’s legacy is one that would fill several books and will safely live on for decades.  There was never a man like him before and there will never be one like him again.

Tons more on Muhammad Ali:

New Zealand Herald looks at his famous fight with Antonio Inoki. The article includes a video with Gene LeBell talking about the damage Inoki’s leg kicks had on Ali.

Miami Herald has a story about Dusty Rhodes saying he almost had a match with Ali in Florida. The article includes a link to a video of Dusty telling the story (the Ali part starts at 3:35).

Yahoo! Sports describes how Ali not only influenced pro wrestling and MMA but how wrestling promos also influenced him.

Forbes looks back to 1995 when Ali attended the festival in North Korea that featured a Ric Flair vs. Antonio Inoki pro wrestling match as the main event. A few weeks back on Chris Jericho’s podcast, Flair talked about that trip and told stories about flying to North Korea with Ali and his entourage.

A Calgary Herald an article mentions that Ali was once given a photograph of himself posing with Stu Hart. The person that gave the photo to Ali said he was speechless. The photo and him being unable to speak at the time were both rare.

A sports news site from the Philippines briefly mentions Ali getting some inspiration from pro wrestling when listing things you may not know about him.

Here is a classic Muhammad Ali promo featuring some often quotes lines: “I have wrestled with an alligator... tussled with a whale… handcuffed lightning… thrown thunder in jail…”

Here is a collection of clips featuring some of his best promos (starts at :37). Besides his promos, highlights include a pull-apart brawl with Joe Frazier in a studio with Howard Cosell doing play-by-play.

Here is Freddie Blassie doing a run-in during an Ali appearance on The Tonight Show with guest host McLean Stevenson (of M*A*S*H fame). It was part of the promotion leading into the Inoki fight.

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Here is Ali jumping in the ring to confront and throw hands with Gorilla Monsoon on a WWWF show in 1976. After Ali starts jabbing him, Monsoon picks Ali up in an airplane spin with Vince McMahon calling the action on commentary. The angle was part of the build towards Ali vs. Inoki.

Here is Ali vs. Buddy Wolfe in boxer vs. wrestler exhibition match on an AWA card from Chicago in 1976. It was also part of the buildup to Ali vs. Inoki. That match aired on ABC during a “Wide World of Sports” broadcast and features an intro by Howard Cosell. Verge Gagne is the referee. Freddie Blassie is a cornerman.

Here is Ali vs “Sodbuster” Kenny Jay in another boxer vs. wrestler exhibition on an AWA card in the Midwest. Gagne was also the referee in this match.

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Here is Ali cutting promos on Inoki at a press conference in Japan promoting their fight. Inoki was mostly laughing at his insults.

Here is an extended trailer for a promising new documentary on the Inoki vs. Ali fight.

Here are highlights from Ali vs. Inoki.

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UFC 199 TONIGHT FROM THE FORUM IN LOS ANGELES

Fight Pass at 6:15 p.m.

  • Maestro Dong Hyun Kim vs. Polo Reyes
  • Kevin Casey vs. Elvis Mutapcic
  • Luiz Henrique da Silva vs. Jonathan Wilson
  • Tom Breese vs. Sean Strickland

FS 1 at 8 p.m.

  • Jessica Andrade vs. Jessica Penne
  • Beneil Dariush vs. James Vick
  • Clay Guida vs. Brian Ortega
  • Alex Caceres vs Cole Miller

PPV at 10 p.m.

  • Dustin Poirier vs. Bobby Green
  • Dan Henderson vs. Hector Lombard
  • Max Holloway vs. Ricardo Lamas
  • Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber for bantamweight title
  • Luke Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping for middleweight title

NEW JAPAN WORLD SUNDAY AT 3 A.M. EASTERN TIME FROM GUNMA

  • Ryusuke Taguchi & Jay White vs. Yoshi-Hashi & Rocky Romero
  • Yuji Nagata & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Manabu Nakanishi & David Finlay & Kyle O'Reilly vs. Katsuyori Shibata & Kushida & Juice Robinson & Captain New Japan & Matt Sydal
  • Tiger Mask vs. Trent Baretta
  • Will Ospreay vs. Jushin Liger
  • Bobby Fish vs. Chase Owens
  • Ricochet vs. Volador Jr.
  • Satoshi Kojima & Michael Elgin & Yoshitatsu vs. Kenny Omega & Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi
  • Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo vs. Tetsuya Naito & Evil & Seiya Sanada & Bushi

LUCHA LIBRE WORLD CUP SUNDAY FROM PALACIO DE LOS DEPORTES IN MEXICO CITY ON IPPV AT www.internetvluchalibreworld.cup.tv

Sunday we're looking for reports from:

*WWE in Amarillo (Roman Reigns, A.J. Styles, Seth Rollins, Alberto Del Rio, Charlotte, Rusev, Usos, Kalisto, Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin, Cesaro)

*WWE in Lawton, OK (Kane, Big Show, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Paige, Enzo, Cass, Dudleys, Apollo, Crews, Sheamus, New Day, Erick Rowan, Braun Strowman)

*ROH in Columbus, OH at the Ohio Expo Building (Jay Briscoe vs. Roderick Strong, Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian defend the tag title against War Machine, Adam Cole vs. Lio Rush, Dalton Castle vs. Kamaitachi) 

NEW JAPAN WORLD MONDAY AT 5:30 A.M. EASTERN TIME FROM SENDAI (English language commentary)

  • Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Tetsuya Naito & Seiya Sanada & Evil
  • Volador Jr. vs. Will Ospreay
  • Ricochet vs. Chase Owens
  • Bobby Fish vs. Tiger Mask
  • Jushin Liger vs. Trent Baretta
  • Matt Sydal vs. David Finlay
  • Kyle O'Reilly vs. Rocky Romero
  • Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Gedo
  • Kushida vs. Bushi

Raw will be Monday in Oklahoma City.  John Cena, Seth Rollins and Chris Jericho are all booked on the show along with the usual regulars.

NEW JAPAN WORLD TUESDAY AT 5:30 A.M. EASTERN TIME FROM SENDAI (English language commentary)

  • Best of the Super Juniors championship match

NXT TAKEOVER THE END ON WEDNESDAY AT 8 P.M. FROM FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY IN WINTER PARK, FL

  • Andrade Cien Almas vs. Tye Dillinger
  • Asuka vs. Nia Jax for women's title
  • Jason Jordan & Chad Gable vs. Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder for tag titles
  • Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Austin Aries
  • Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor cage match for the NXT title

Smackdown and Main Event will be taped on Tuesday in Wichita.  John Cena is not scheduled but Seth Rollins and Chris Jericho are scheduled.

THE ROUND-UP

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Figure Four Weekly 5/30/2016: Big Vito's deposition - If you thought Evan Singleton's deposition went badly for the plaintiffs in the WWE concussion lawsuit, then that appears to be nothing compared to what happened a week later during Vito LoGrasso's deposition on May 18th. Given the back and forth over LoGrasso claiming that head injuries caused partial deafness when, in the past, he had spoken of having a hearing impairment since birth, the deposition promised to be interesting. It over-delivered.

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

READ IT HERE: June 6, 2016 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: More details on WWE brand split, Jimmy Snuka found incompetent, more

A huge double issue of the Observer is out this week, including the real catalyst behind the WWE brand split, a breakdown of the roster, justice denied again in the Jimmy Snuka case, Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay and the Super Juniors tournament plus a full rundown, the story behind Bill Goldberg and the WWE video game and the Brock Lesnar tease, famous boxer vs. pro wrestler fights, WWE schedule and injury rates, business rundowns from the past two months for WWE & TNA, updates on cable stations that carry wrestling and MMA, and one of the greatest territorial business runs in history in the life and career of Cowboy Frankie Laine.

Our lead story looks at the WWE brand split, why it happened, what is known that isn't a secret, ads out post brand split, plans for the split two months ago and what the ad department was told then, what different arenas have been told this week, thoughts behind decisions having too be made, plus a roster rundown on what positions WWE is strong and weak in, and where NXT talent should fit in and who is ready, or who can fill a slot.

There is also an update on the Jimmy Snuka situation, with a realistic view if there will be a trial and what the time frame is and what happens next.

This issue also looks at the Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet match, Vader's reaction, Super Juniors standings and rundowns of the shows plus looking at where things are going.

Updates on Money in the Bank, stars returning to television soon, how the NBA & NHL playoffs coincide with wrestling the next two weeks, an update on NXT, lots of WWE performers off TV for the next several weeks, notes from lawsuit depositions that are eye opening, Cena getting a gigantic endorsement deal, Rollins return news, injury updates, lots of Dwayne Johnson news, WrestleMania in the future notes, notes on how little talent gets told in advance about things, who watches what on WWE network, plus we've got rundowns of every WWE & NXT events over the past week and business notes on the shows, all included in in this issue.

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Check out the latest online Wrestling Observer BACK ISSUE: April 26, 1999 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Davy Boy Smith recovering in the hospital, UFC to be sanctioned by Nevada State Athletic Commission, more. This past week has seen Davey Boy Smith, going stir crazy in a Calgary Hospital, attempt to start battling back after the worst year in his life.

SATURDAY NEWS UPDATE

PRO WRESTLING

  • No surprise, but John Cena vs. AJ Styles is official for Money in the Bank.
  • No update this morning on the status of The Drifter, who appeared to have injured his ankle at the house show last night and left the building on crutches.  He was in a lot of pain, and it was definitely not a worked angle despite the fact that NXT has been doing the fake injury finish for a little while now.
  • WWE announced a new episode of Breaking Ground immediately following NXT Takeover on Wednesday.  It appears to be a reunion show where we take a look at what everyone is up to since the series ended.  I hope they focus on Tyler Breeze and his main roster success.
  • WWE has also been adding AWA Supershows to their Vault area on the WWE Network.
  • St. Louis Post Dispatch has an interview with Jay Lethal talking about his career in ROH and the article also plugs a show from Friday.
  • Nick Denton, Gawker owner, is confident that they will do much better when they appeal the Hulk Hogan lawsuit which ordered Denton to pay the Hulkster 140 ga-zillion dollars.
  • An Orlando paper has a feature on local indie wrestling going from the ring to the stage.
  • Bleacher Report describes how blind fans can enjoy pro wrestling.
  • Kansans City blog The Pitch features an interview with Demolition Ax.
  • The Missoulian (Missoula, MT) has a gallery with exactly two photos from an independent show.
  • WhatCulture lists “8 reasons why Ricochet and Will Ospreay ARE wrestling
  • The next Superkick’d show is scheduled for July 8th in Toronto and is promising ‘eight matches, live music, alcohol, and hot girls!’ We’re awaiting confirmation on whether John Pollock is defending his hardcore title on the show.
  • VCW returns to Toronto’s Super Wonder Gallery with SuperSlam 4 on June 30th. We’re awaiting confirmation on whether Wai Ting will finally challenge for the TV title on that show.
  • This week on 6:05 Superpodcast, Brian Last and David Bixenspan talk to Bob Barnett about his decades of fandom including meeting Vince McMahon when they were kids, chat with Jammie Ward about tape trading and '80s wrestling hardcore fandom in general, learn more about "Rasslin'" singer/songwriter Glen Goza, and much more.

MMA

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  • Jon Jones has been tweeting a lot about Muhammad Ali.

“Rest in peace to my greatest inspiration”

“A few things I’ll cherish forever” (accompanied by above pic)

  • Nikita Krylov and Ed Herman have been signed to fight at UFC 201 in Atlanta in a light heavyweight bout.

MISC.

  • The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC) has a feature on a beach wrestling competition. The article describes the new take on an old sport as “expanding the traditional gymnasium sport to America’s sandy beaches.” Kind of like Bash at the Beach in 1995 but no ring or spandex.
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  • The Daily Star (UK) features arguably the most intense arm wrestler ever displaying his intensity and it is indeed intense. Warning: Language is NSFW (and the video player opens automatically so be prepared for intensity)
  • James Renner will be our guest on After Dark Radio Sunday night, 9 PT/12 ET on the Dark Matter Digital Network, live and free.  Details and a link are always available on the front page.

EVENTS

  • TONIGHT - ECWA on Saturday night in Woodbury Heights, NJ at the Community Center with Sean Carr vs. Papadon
  • TONIGHT - UFC 199 from the Forum in Los Angeles with Michael Bisping getting his first title opportunity of his career battling Luke Rockhold for the middleweight belt
  • TONIGHT - In celebration of Metro Pro's Sixth Anniversary, Demolition (Ax & Smash) will be in action on Saturday, Turner Recreation Center in Kansas City, Kansas. The event address is: 831 S. 55th St., Kansas City, KS 66106 - Tickets can be bought in advance.
  • TONIGHT - Aerostar vs. Flamita vs. Laredo Kid vs. Septimo Dragon headline tonight in Benbrook, TX at the Camp Bowie Bingo Hall.  The same promotion has a tag match tomorrow night in Houston at the Atlantico Hall with Aerostar & Laredo Kid vs. Flamita & Ultimo Ninja.
  • TONIGHT - CWE in Morden, Manitoba at the Morden Block Party Street Festival has a free show with a 1 p.m. start time.
  • TOMORROW - AAA's Victoria World Cup men and women's trio tournament finals at Los Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City which will be a live iPPV show
  • TOMORROW - Silver Star Promotions at the 4 Ever Arena in Fort Worth has Caristico & El Hijo del Fishman vs. Silver Star & Psicosis Jr. 
  • June 7 - New Japan Best of the Super Juniors finals from Sendai live on New Japan World
  • June 8 - NXT Takeover from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL featuring Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor in a cage match plus a loaded lineup that includes American Alpha vs. The Revival and probably Shinsuke Nakamura vs Austin Aries, which could be WWE's match of the month.
  • June 11 - ECCW Port Coquitlam, BC at the Elks Hall #49.
  • June 11 - NECW presents the 2016 IRON 8 Championship, Saturday Night, June 11 in Wakefield, MA
  • June 12 - TNA Slammiversary headlined by Drew Galloway vs. Bobby Lashley for the TNA title from Orlando
  • June 12 - Revolution Pro Wrestling in London, England headlined by Kurt Angle vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
  • June 17 - AAW “Killers Among Us” features Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Johnny Gargano, Drago vs. Chris Hero, and more at 115 Bourbon Street (3359 w 115th Street Merrionette Park, IL) All Ages Event - Tickets available.
  • June 18 - UFC in Ottawa: Rory McDonald vs. Stephen Thompson
  • June 18 - New England Fights (NEF) returns to the Androscoggin Bank Colisée in Lewiston, Maine with "NEF 24: PROMISED LAND." Tickets for “NEF 24” are on sale now.
  • June 19 - New Japan Dominion, one of the company's biggest events of the year, featuring Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazuchika Okada in an IWGP title match and Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi in a ladder match for the IC title
  • June 19 - WWE Money in the Bank from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas 
  • June 24 - ROH Best in the World from Concord, NC with Jay Lethal vs. Jay Briscoe for the ROH title 
  • June 24 - Isao Kobayashi vs. Justin Lawrence will appear on Spike.com as the top prelim fight Bellator Dynamite show in St. Louis.  This will be a combination MMA and kickboxing show.
  • June 25 - Ultima Lucha tapings in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles at The Temple
  • June 26 - Ultima Lucha tapings in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles at The Temple
  • July 2 - Stars of Wrestling from Alameda, CA at the Alameda Point Gym  has Bobby Lashley, Carlito and The Boogeyman appearing.
  • July 2 - NWA Cajun Heat in Morgan City, LA at the Municipal Auditorium with Jax Dane vs. Mustang Mike for the NWA title, Rob Conway vs. Rodney Mack and an appearance by Kevin Nash.
  • July 7-11 The 10th annual Wrestling Observer/F4W convention in Las Vegas, EdinSanAntonio has all the information up on Facebook, or email him at F4Wfan@hotmail.com.
  • July 9 - Smash Wrestling in Fort Erie, ONT at the Native Friendship Center.  Chris Hero will headline this fund raising event to raise money for the Godson of Jeremy Elliott, who Hero will wrestle.  Elliott's Godson is a patient at the CPRI Treatment Center.
  • July 24 - Fenix vs. Pentagon Jr. headlines for Lucha Libre New York at Club LaBoom in Queens, NY.
  • August 13 - Rey Mysterio Jr. will headline a show at Montgomery High School in San Diego, his alma mater, for Viva La Lucha promotions.  Also appearing are Konnan, Psicosis, Johnny Mundo, Teddy Hart and TJ Perkins.

Today in Professional Wrestling History: Lawler & Dundee win Southern Tag Titles; Billy & Chuck win WWE Tag Team Gold