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Daily Update: The New Day, Edge vs. Randy Orton, Fight Island

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WON NEWSLETTER: June 15, 2020 Observer Newsletter: WWE creative shakeup, death of Mr. Wrestling II

We've got yet another double issue of the Observer out this week covering both the creative changes in WWE and a long bio on Johnny "Mr. Wrestling II" Walker, as well as a number of other features.

The move to Bruce Prichard as creative head of Raw and Smackdown and the steps leading to this process change.  We look at who appears to be safe and who isn't.  We look at what was tried on Raw and what wasn't working, and notable key recent moves.  We also look at the problems of comparing Raw with Smackdown.

We have a long look at the life and career of Mr. Wrestling II, Johnny Walker.  We look at his heyday, his connection with President Jimmy Carter, the birth of  cable and his role in popularizing pro wrestling on cable, how babyfaces changed in the 70s, his 1980 feud with Harley Race, his checkered past, his wrestling debut, his coming mainland, interactions with the toughest guys of his era, his first good run in Tennessee, how his life was notable in both pro wrestling and country music, his first masked gimmick and his planned retirement. Having the right gimmick in the right place at the right time made him one of the biggest stars in the country.  We look at the Georgia wrestling war and the creation of Mr. Wrestling II.  We look at the Mr. Wrestling vs. Mr. Wrestling II feud and all of II's biggest feuds over the next decade.  We look at II's meetings with the president's mother, his biggest matches at the Omni, his runs in Mid South, feud with Magnum T.A., his WWF tenure, and his life after wrestling in Hawaii.

We also cover:

New Japan Pro Wrestling returning to business this week, scouting out the New Japan Cup, directions for fans attending the Osaka shows and why the matches won't have traditional heat, and the complete schedule.

Economics of Conor McGregor, Jorge Masvidal, Jon Jones and Henry Cejudo and how the ESPN deal has removed fighter leverage. We look at comments by the fighters, response from Dana white and realities of he situation.

An enormous donation made by John Cena, Paul Levesque talks a signature match, WWE canceling over shows due to the pandemic, weekly sports ratings, Edge movie, DVR viewership, Canadian ratings, twitter feuds, Arn Anderson on Sami Zayn, funny story on the first time Adam Cole heard from WWE, what happened to Chris DeJoseph, plus upcoming TV bouts.

Fight Island and the next UFC PPV show

UFC 250, with business notes, popularity notes, poll results and match-by-match coverage.

NXT Takeover In Your House with a rundown, booking notes, match-by-match coverage with star ratings and poll results.

Backlash and story behind Edge vs;  Randy Orton.

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 dave@wrestlingobserver.com or by going to www.paypal.com directing funds to dave@wrestlingobserver.com.

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.

SATURDAY NEWS UPDATE

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WWE

  • There was a powerful moment on last night’s SmackDown where The New Day took a knee and raised their fists in the air prior to their match against Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro. The New Day were wearing armbands with Shukri Abdi, Breonna Taylor, and Tamla Horsford’s names written on them, and Big E posted a tweet calling for justice for them.
  • Edge wrote about his match against Randy Orton at Backlash and its “Greatest Match Ever” tagline: “This was a very pressure filled month. Pressure I put on myself. To perform. To prove to myself I could still perform at the level I want and expect. To give our fan base something to enjoy and talk about. To hopefully give them the same feeling I get watching @brethitmanhart matches. That’s a big task. This is my first pure wrestling match in 9.5 years. After having another neck fusion and my right wrist fused(my ‘good’ hand). At 46 years old. Being billed beforehand The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever. During a pandemic. With limited audience. Kinda crazy. Kinda fun. MASSIVE challenge. And if you (think you;)know me? Then you know I live for these challenges. I’d rather be put to this task than leave it to someone else. As Teddy Roosevelt said; ‘the man who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” What I can say is that I have poured my full heart and soul into this match. I’ve studied. Didn’t sleep much. Because I care. I care about my work ethic. I care about my body of work. I care about and love this art form more than any other. Nothing else compares. It’s my childhood dreams come true. That’s the why. Just know that when you watch Backlash, you will see two men, two professionals, two WRESTLERS, giving you EVERYTHING they have on that night. Against my toughest opponent. Against my greatest opponent. ‘GREATEST MATCH EVER’? All subjective. Can’t worry about it. But I’ll walk away proud knowing it all got left in the ring to tell the story. And hopefully give all of your minds a little break from what’s going on in the world. #Backlash”
  • CBS Sports spoke to Orton about his matches against Edge at WrestleMania 36 and Backlash.
  • Shawn Michaels told The Metro that he thought Edge vs. Orton had already happened when he first heard about it being the Greatest Match Ever: ‘There’s so many things about the wrestling business I don’t know. At first, when I heard about it I was thinking to myself, ‘Man I got to see that!’ I didn’t know it had not taken place yet, until I was asked to do interviews for it on SmackDown. Of course, my question was ‘Oh it hasn’t happened yet?’ They’re like, ‘No, it’s being billed like that.’ Oh my goodness! I thought to myself, ‘My goodness, why don’t they put a little more pressure on those guys!’ [laughs] That’s a tough billing to live up to!’
  • Members of the WWE roster gave their predictions for Edge vs. Orton.
  • WWE Watch Along will air on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter during Backlash tomorrow and will feature appearances by Big Show, Mandy Rose, Adam Cole, and others.
  • Shane McMahon will be the guest on this week’s edition of Last Ride: Post Mortem for episode four of Undertaker: The Last Ride.
  • Jake Atlas’ coming out story was featured in this year’s edition of People magazine’s Pride Issue.
  • For Monday’s Raw, WWE released a commercial advertising that the show will feature the fallout from Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley’s WWE Championship match at Backlash. The advertisement also asked what Seth Rollins’ motivations are for inviting Rey and Dominik Mysterio to Raw.
  • In an interview with TalkSport, Mick Foley spoke about romanticism vs. reality when it comes to having the perfect final match: “Yeah I was [chasing the perfect last match], and I had it. I had the perfect goodbye in 2000 at WrestleMania. I had it again with Randy Orton at Backlash in 2004. I think people take the financials out of the equation. It’s one thing to say I had the perfect exit, but then you’re like ‘I’m 34, what do I do?’ In my case, I realized wow, I’ve written two best-selling novels. That’s hundreds of hours in solitude, months away from your family on the road promoting the book where you don’t get paid, and then it’s like I could make the same amount of money for a match against Carlito? With the economy falling apart a couple of times and you have half of what you think you have, you owe it to your family sometimes to come back and make a living. So I think the romance is in having the perfect match and the storybook ending, but the reality is we have this skill set that allows us to make a good living, but we can’t make that living without employing that skill set.”
  • TalkSport also has an interview with Nia Jax.
  • TVInsider interviewed The Undertaker about his Undertaker: The Last Ride docuseries.
  • Shelton Benjamin tweeted about the matches he’s been having on Main Event: “If you want to see great Wrestling I’m running weekly clinics on @WWE MAIN EVENT with guys like @CedricAlexander @TozawaAkira & @ShaneThorneWWE no gimmicks just talent”
  • Writer Chris DeJoseph, who was recently fired by WWE, tweeted last night: “After ten years away wasn’t really into giving my life to the unpredictable whims of one person. But I believe in @bruceprichard and his vision.”
  • WWE Network News reported that more episodes of Prime Time Wrestling from 1989 will be added to the WWE Network on Monday as this month’s classic content drop.
  • WWE streamed a new edition of Dream Match Mania with The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton vs. Batista, and Sasha Banks vs. Bayley simulated on WWE 2K20.
  • WWE’s YouTube channel uploaded John Cena vs. Bobby Lashley from Great American Bash 2007 and Rob Van Dam vs. Shelton Benjamin from Backlash 2006.

Other Wrestling

MMA

  • Dana White spoke about the UFC’s Fight Island fights not taking place on a beach: “You couldn’t put the lighting grid on a beach. You could try it -- I don’t think it’s going to turn out very well. I’m afraid of the elements -- wind, rain, all the things that could happen. I’m into the comfort and safety of an arena and pulling off a perfect show. Pulling off the fantasy of Fight Island is pretty tough, and I think it would look like sh*t on TV, too.”
  • White discussed his failed negotiations with Jorge Masvidal and compared him to the Diaz brothers: “It’s not a surprise. I mean, this is what we do. We’ve been doing this for 20 years. People who want to fight get fights, and people who don’t, don’t. And (Burns is) the No. 1 ranked guy in the world. No. 1 vs. the champion. And this kid wants to stay busy. These kids who come out and go on runs like Burns is on and want to keep fighting and stay active, they’re healthy, it’s the smartest thing they can do. And it doesn’t surprise me that Masvidal … Masvidal is very much like the Diaz brothers. He beats to the sound of his own drum. When he wants to do something, he does it. It’s not very surprising at all.”
  • Junior dos Santos vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik has been agreed to for UFC 252 on August 15.
  • Jessica Eye wrote yesterday about missing weight for tonight’s UFC Fight Night show: “It was freezing in the APEX, and I was cold. I have no body fat on me right now, especially after the cut. I apologize for the 0.2 pounds. I’m even mind-blown. I should have peed before I got on the scale, so thank you everyone. I can’t wait to perform tomorrow.”
  • The UFC announced their Fight Night cards for June 20 and June 27.

Daily Pro Wrestling History: WWF King of the Ring 1993

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