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Daily Update: Rob Gronkowski, NXT UK, Sami Callihan

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WON NEWSLETTER: April 20, 2020 Observer Newsletter: WWE cuts staff, XFL folds, death of Howard Finkel

The life and times of Howard Finkel in the most details article on his life and wrestling career, as well as coverage of one of the biggest news weeks in the history of the industry highlight the current issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

We go through WWE financials to look at cash on hand, cash available, the decision to continue tapings and the schedule which has since changed, why they made the call, the cuts, the Florida decision to make WWE an essential service, why, how the Governor's explanation makes no sense at all, what WWE did that make no sense health wise, reactions from other companies in the industry, the story behind the WWE's first Coronavirus positive and how the story the talent got and the public got were different. We also look at the stories behind the cuts, looking at who different companies may or may not want, some NXT releases, sports owners look at WWE decisions, the monthly cost savings of talent cuts, and the first Corona virus death in pro wrestling.

In our story on Howard Finkel, we trace his career from his first connection with the McMahons in 1977, his first MSG ring announcing date, his late 70s ring announcing, his attempts to be a TV announcer, the decisions to take him off television, WWE doing national, his being the butt of Vince McMahon's jokes, his taking a blood test for Hulk Hogan, many in the business talk about Finkel, as well as angles he worked.

The new issue also covers:

AEW and UFC plans going forward.

Folding of the XFL, how it was handled, who did and didn't know, biggest creditors and why the decision to shut down was likely made.

Departure of the Revival and their new names, Bill Goldberg gives a WrestleMania blow-by-blow and talks Roman Reigns, DVR viewership of Raw, Ronda Rousey compares WWE to UFC, compares methods of pay, talks unionization, Rousey's last UFC contract terms, wrestlers respond to Rousey saying wrestling was fake, Lawler controversy, Canadian ratings, cruiserweight title tournament, UFC star talks going to WWE full-time in a few years, Dwayne Johnson talks pro wrestling, and most-watched shows on the WWE Network.

An explanation as to why UFC was so desperate to get back up and running.

The meeting between the Japanese government and many of the major business players and top stars in Japanese wrestling. We look at who presided over it which explains why it happened, the talks on COVID-19, ability to return, plans to return and more.

The AEW vs. NXT battle and go through different demos, and how the viewers reacted to the different key matches.

Update on the matches scheduled for the Money in the Bank show.

Kevin Sullivan responding to Dark Side of the Ring, alleging Nancy stabbed him, as well as a planned WCW angle and how Chris Benoit came to ECW and then WCW.

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 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.

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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.

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE

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WWE

  • WWE posted a statement about 24/7 Champion Rob Gronkowski returning to the NFL to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: “Congratulations to @RobGronkowski, the current WWE 24/7 Champion, on his return to football. Per the rules of the 24/7 Title, Gronk must defend his championship at all times in any location. He could be celebrating a touchdown pass from @TomBrady... anytime, anywhere.”
  • Mojo Rawley tweeted about his friend Gronkowski's NFL return: “Hey @RobGronkowski! Congrats! But remember when I was at my work and you cheap shotted me and stole my 24/7 title at Mania? I can’t wait to spear you in the middle of training camp and win my title back. Or during a @Buccaneers game. #ReceiptComing!!!!”
  • NXT UK hyped that they’ll be reliving WALTER vs. Tyler Bate from UK TakeOver: Cardiff on this Thursday’s NXT UK episode: “Relive @WalterAUT & @Tyler_Bate's epic collision at #NXTUKTakeOver: Cardiff through their eyes THIS WEEK on #NXTUK!”
  • Maria Menunous is appearing as a guest on tonight’s episode of WWE Backstage. The episode will have an all-women’s panel with Renee Young, Paige, Ember Moon, and Beth Phoenix. Natalya is also appearing as a guest on the show.
  • Ahead of his 25th anniversary celebration beginning on SmackDown this Friday, Triple H will appear on tomorrow’s edition of WWE’s The Bump and Thursday’s episode of Corey Graves’ After the Bell podcast.
  • Daniel Bryan & Brie Bella, Drake Maverick, Nia Jax, and Dolph Ziggler are also set to appear on The Bump tomorrow.
  • Jax tweeted in response to video of her botch against Kairi Sane from last night’s Raw: “Since @KairiSaneWWE can’t anything about it, maybe @RondaRousey would like to try #Samoan4Real”
  • Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics has an article on last week's WWE layoffs.
  • Sami Zayn wrote that he had his wisdom teeth taken out last week: “In lighter news, I had my wisdom teeth taken out last week so I've been on an #AllPuddingDiet for days and now I'm ripped to shreds.”
  • A new episode of Ride Along with The Street Profits in one car and Mandy Rose & Otis in the other is coming to the WWE Network on Sunday.
  • The hacker who has been appearing on SmackDown now has a Twitter account. The account used to be the Stand Up for WWE campaign’s Twitter page. The identity of the hacker has yet to be confirmed by WWE.
  • WWE’s YouTube channel uploaded the 2010 Money in the Bank ladder match and Intercontinental title ladder match from WrestleMania 32.

Other Wrestling

  • Sami Callihan spoke to Sports Illustrated about why he worked Impact Wrestling’s television tapings despite having tweeted that he wasn’t going to any wrestling shows until the situation with the coronavirus pandemic got better: “The reason that I was 100% OK with doing that was because Impact took amazing care of us. From the time we got there to the time we left, I knew no one from our crew was going to be in any danger. Impact took every precaution to make sure our television taping was the safest television taping going on right now. I put my entire trust in Impact management to make sure we all get taken care of. I’ve wrestled for every major wrestling company on the planet, and Impact Wrestling truly is a family. I know it’s crazy to think how many ‘families’ there are in this crazy world, but our entire locker room and our entire staff took care of each other so we could all be safe." Callihan vs. Ken Shamrock is airing as part of night one of Impact's Rebellion event tonight.
  • EC3 posted a video teasing a new character and wrote: “Unpleasant Truth (the red pill) I am not the top 1%. The Top 1% is a character that could garner a reaction, to entertain you and its a character I could do better than anyone else. It was a reality that I was simply imitating. But in this industry there is a true top 1%. A power hierarchy. A charlatan’s cabal who have entered us into their creative totalitarianism. they abhor free speech. punish you for revealing your true self. and they wash their hands of you when a world wide pandemic affects their bottom line. I accept that. Do you? Reject their narrative. Reject their falsification of history. Reject their commands for obedience. Free yourself. You have been warned. #FreeEC3 #raw www.freeec3.com”
  • After being released by WWE, Maria Kanellis-Bennett and Mike Bennet have launched a podcast called Non-Essential Wrestlers.
  • AEW uploaded this week’s Road to TNT Championship video.
  • AEW paid tribute to Travis Scott Bowden: “We are sadden to hear about the death of former Memphis Wrestling Manager and Historian, Travis Scott Bowden at the age of 48. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.”
  • Sports Illustrated interviewed The Young Bucks about Being the Elite reaching 200 episodes.
  • Dustin Rhodes spoke to TV Insider about his match against Kip Sabian on this week’s Dynamite.
  • The NWA aired Kamille’s first match and interview for the promotion on YouTube today.
  • MLW announced that they’ve started the process of digitizing their MLW Underground TV series from 2003-2004.
  • Pro Wrestling EVE uploaded Jazzy Gabert’s first post-WWE match to their YouTube channel. It was against Rhia O’Reilly and took place on March 7.

MMA

  • ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported that Francis Ngannou has officially agreed to face Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 249: "Per sources, heavyweight Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) has officially agreed to his fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 249 on May 9. Ngannou was never 'out' of the fight, but he formally agreed to it today. So, that one is signed."
  • “Bellator Recharged” will begin airing on CBS Sports Network this Saturday. It will be hosted by John McCarthy and will look back at past Bellator events. Bellator 192 and 194 are airing on Saturday starting at 8 p.m. Eastern, with the series then moving to Wednesdays starting next week.

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