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Daily Update: Royal Rumble Preview, Hulk Hogan filming commercial



Follow along live with Dave Meltzer

Overall the show depends on how the Rumble is executed.  It doesn't appear they are set up for the plague of the last two years where the crowd rejects the winner ahead of time.  If HHH wins, he is the favorite, the crowd will hate it of course, but that's their desired reaction.  Even last year, the crowd hated it, the network subscriptions jumped up big the two days after the show, so hating can lead to good business. 

Royal Rumble match for WWE title - Very much talked about match with the title at stake.  The big story of the match is Roman Reigns, who enters at No. 1 and will likely be there until he gets screwed in some form by HHH.  The four favorites to win are Brock Lesnar, Reigns, HHH (who hasn't been advertised for the show) and Bray Wyatt based on the strong push he got at TV this week.  I'd expect Braun Strowman to be put over strong, although they have to be careful, but he could be the monster in the match.  As far as surprises go, Undertaker wouldn't surprise me, and one would expect a few names from NXT would make sense as well as the usual one or two names from the past and of course A.J. Styles unless that decision has changed.

Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens last man standing for IC title - WWE last man standing matches are usually strong so this would look to be the show stealing match.  If Owens loses, then the program loses steam and they will need to transition into new stuff for both.  If Owens wins, then the program would likely continue.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto for U.S. title - Either way, Kalisto losing the title on Smackdown doesn't make sense.  A win would help him and keep the program going.  A loss would hurt him, and I don't think they want to hurt him.  They had a very good Smackdown match in particular as their styles work well together.

New Day vs. Usos for tag team title - These two teams always work well together.  We've seen a lot of it, though. 

Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch for women's title - This has been one of the better storylines in recent weeks.  Whatever they do, I expect it to continue.  I could see Ric Flair's interference backfiring in some form.

Dudleys vs. The Ascension vs. Jack Swagger & Mark Henry vs. Darren Young & Damien Sandow - winners get into the Royal Rumble. 

We're looking for your thoughts on all three nights of Fantastica Mania as well as the Royal Rumble show, so you can leave a thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs in the middle along with a best and worst match to Dave Meltzer

Raw is Monday night from Miami.  Brock Lesnar is not advertised for Monday's show but everyone else is scheduled.

Smackdown and Main Event will be taped Tuesday in Tampa.

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Figure Four Weekly

Figure Four Weekly 1/18/2016: Gawker's motion to dismiss Hulk Hogan lawsuit denied
Gawker's motion to dismiss the Hulk Hogan sex tape lawsuit is denied, plus news and notes

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

The Latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter: January 25, 2016 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2015 Observer Awards Issue

The 2015 Observer awards issue, the traditional biggest issue of the year,is up on the web site now.  The issue not only has the awards winners in more than 40 different categories, but all the top place winners, as well as a history with all the awards winners dating back to 1980, as well as my comments on the placings for many of the awards.

The categories are:

Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year), MMA MVP, Most Outstanding Wrestler, Most Outstanding MMA Fighter, Best Box Office Draw, Feud of the Year, Tag Team of the Year, Most Improved, Best on Interviews, Most Charismatic, Best Technical Wrestler, Bruiser Brody Memorial Award (Best Brawler), Best Flying Wrestler, Most Overrated, Most Underrated, Promotion of the Year, Best Weekly TV show, Pro Wrestling Match of the Year, MMA Match of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Best Non-Wrestler, Best Television Announcer, Worst Television Announcer, Best Major Wrestling show, Worst Major Wrestling Show, Best Wrestling Maneuver, Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic, Worst Television Show, Worst Match of the Year, Worst Feud of the Year, Worst Promotion of the Year, Best Booker, Promoter of the Year, Best Gimmick, Worst Gimmick, Best Pro Wrestling Book and Best Pro Wrestling DVD

Update on the Royal Rumble and Rumble weekend, full coverage of Dominick Cruz's UFC bantamweight title win and the records set on Sunday's show and details on the New Japan/Jim Ross announcing deal as well as a look at how this came about and Jim Ross' overall career.

2017 WrestleMania, how Smackdown has affected overall ratings for the USA Network, update on A.J. Styles with WWE, WWE injury updates, Daniel Bryan update, more on Mauro Ranallo and Smackdown, Chris Jericho talks his return, new season of Total Divas, How talent is broken down in NXT, the heat on Josh from Tough Enough, new dates for Brock Lesnar, plus notes from the big NXT tour and all the shows, the NXT Florida shows, as well as the WWE shows in India and the WWE weekend domestic shows and all the business notes.


You can also order the print Observer right now and get it delivered to your door via mail, by sending your name, address, Visa or Master Card number and an expiration date to Dave Meltzer

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Check out the latest Online Wrestling Observer BACK ISSUE: Dec 14, 1998 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2 biographies in the works about Jesse Ventura
NBC and ABC working on biographies on Jesse Ventura, a look at the end of year events for New Japan and All Japan, plus tons of news and notes.


Hope everyone on the East Coast are doing well in dealing with the terrible blizzard that shut down much of the weekend wrestling in the Northeast.  Speaking of that weather, as of this morning, at least some of the WWE production crew were still snowed in.

Bryan and I will be back tonight on Wrestling Observer Radio talking all the weekend news, including Royal Rumble, the Mongolian Stomper, Ronda Rousey on SNL as well as taking your e-mail questions to  I've been told today's Dragon Lee vs. Kamaitachi match from Korakuen Hall on New Japan World is a match of the year candidate.  We'll talk about that as well tonight.  We already talked about the Styles and Bullet Club TNA story on Wrestling Observer Radio yesterday.

Dorian Roldan on Twitter said that the original Espectrito, who would be Mario Jiminez, passed away yesterday at the age of 49.  On the original When World's Collide PPV in 1994, Espectrito worked what was at the time among the best PPV openers ever.  He was the best working heel mini of his era and maybe ever.  He also worked for WWF in the 90s as the original Torito as well as Mini Vader.

The Royal Rumble odds as of a few hours ago, usually the odds that count come in around last hour before the show starts, but there has been significant movement this morning:

Dean Ambrose went from a 2-to-1 favorite to 12-to-1

Kalisto went from an underdog to a 9-to-1 favorite

Charlotte went from a 3-to-1 to 21-to-2 favorite

Mark Henry & Jack Swagger went from underdogs to 9-to-1 favorites

New Day went from 3-to-1 favorites to 15-to-1 favorites

HHH went from a 3-to-1 favorite to a 21-to-2 favorite to win the Rumble

Michael Cole, John Layfield and Byron Saxton will be the announcers tonight.  Jerry Lawler will be on the panel instead of announcing. reported today that the 800-Loan-Mart people feel enough time has passed and they are filming a new commercial featuring Hulk Hogan.  They had used Hogan in the past, but had stopped airing his commercials several months ago.  Hogan will be doing the commercials with Dennis Rodman.

As far as weekend trending, Royal Rumble has already had 50,000 searches today to put it No. 3 behind the Alaska Earthquake and Tina Fey.  Yesterday, Danny Garcia was No. 9.  Ronda Rousey was not on the list but Rousey searches were no. 2 for the Saturday Night Live searches that were No. 3 yesterday with 200,000, but Selena Gomez was the top thing searched for off the show and Rousey was second.


  • For what this is worth, WWE this past week filmed new promos for the European market pushing Roman Reigns defending the title on the February tour of Germany.  That doesn't mean he winstonight, but does mean they filmed stuff for airing after the fact that would indicate, which in theory would make no sense to do if he's not champion in a few weeks.  But it wouldn't be the first time that has happened and won't be the last.
  • Now this doesn't necessary mean anything, but Reigns is being advertised all over the U.S. for title defenses against Sheamus over the next few months.  But there's a difference between an interview filmed ahead of time and the advertising, which reflects plans as of that moment that constantly change. (thanks to Jon Southerland)
  • Besides William Regal, Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, who were advertised, also at the Evolve show in Orlando last night was HHH, which tells you all you need to know about the WWE/Evolve relationship. 


  • Last night in our ROH house show report from Duluth, GA, it was Alex Shelley in the six-man tag, not Chris Sabin as was listed until today. (thanks to Larry Goodman)
  • Pat Miletich said on Friday night on Inside MMA that he would be willing to come out of retirement to face the winner of the Royce Gracie vs Ken Shamrock match.  Well, I think a lot of people would be.  Don't expect that one to happen.  
  • World Series of Fighting announced that its 3/12 show, headlined by Justin Gaethje vs. Brian Foster for the lightweight title, has been moved to Greely, CO, and the Bank of Colorado Arena.  The arena is on the campus of the University of Norther Colorado, and Gaethje was a Division I All-American as a junior at that school.
  • Rey Mysterio Jr.'s match with WWC that has been pushed of late on their TV will be the main event of the 2/27 La Hora de la Verdad show in Caguas at Yldefonso Sola Morales Stadium against Mr. 450, who is the same guy that uses that name in AAA, and has worked as Hammet on NXT tapings. (thanks to Ivan Pajic and Leonardo Mendes Toledo)
  • World Series of Fighting announced new TV dates on 6/17 in Mashantucket, CT, 7/30 in Springfield, MA and 9/2 in New Town, ND.
  • Dynamo Pro Wrestling from last night in Wood River, IL:  Evan Morris b The Snitch, Brandon Espinosa b Ric Maverick, Danny Adams & Paco Gonzalez b Shawn Santel & Mauler McDarby, Jayson Khaos b Keon Option, Alexandre Rudolph & Jake Parnell b Brandon Aarons & Garrett Shanks, Jayden Fenix b Justin D'Air, Billy McNeil b C.J. Shine, Mike Outlaw b Kevin Lee Davidson (thanks to Patrick Brandmeyer)
  • Lucha Xtreme TV from last night in Fresno:  Guerrero de la Muerta b  Skitzo-DQ, Jesse Poole & Chat Douglas NC Guerrero de la Muerta & Mortal.  Next live show is 1/31 at Hanford, CA at the Civic Center (thanks to Jon Southerland)

Ed Loredo has set up a bus for WrestleMania weekend for readers going to Dallas.  The first bus sold out immediately so there may be a second bus added.  For more info contact him at

ON THIS DAY IN WORLD PRO WRESTLING HISTORY:  Daily pro wrestling history (1/24): Rock/Mankind I Quit match, first ever Royal Rumble