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Daily Update: Samoa Joe, Big E, AEW Dark


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WON NEWSLETTER: February 22, 2021 Observer Newsletter: Death of Tom Cole, NXT TakeOver review

The death of Tom Cole this week takes us back to one of the most sordid pro wrestling stories of the last 50 years, which involved media heavyweights at the time like Phil Donahue, Larry King, Geraldo Rivera and Phil Mushnick. It's the lead story of a new double issue of the Observer.

We look at the story and its tragic end this past week and all the key characters involved. We look at Cole's death, what exactly happened to him, different media appearances at the time, the WWF first settling his case, the unique plans for the Phil Donahue show, at the time the leading daytime talk show in the U.S. with a gigantic audience and how Vince McMahon planned the show and why it never transpired the way it was planned. Cole's memories of what happened, and things that triggered his past including a first suicide attempt that few knew about.  This is a major piece of wrestling history that has been largely hidden except from those who were around at the time.

Also in this issue:

NXT Takeover show with match-by-match coverage, star ratings and poll results of what undoubtedly will be considered among the best shows of 2021.

WWE not offering raises and promotions and how that went down this past week, as well as a look at WWE performer salaries if they were paid the same percentage as sports stars or even UFC fighters, Lacey Evans' pregnancy, a pilot for a new WWE Network show filmed, the attempt to re-litigate the concussion case and its likely outcome, injury updates, details of a number of different people having signed new deals, who they are and their background, notes on how many saw Sasha Banks start the Daytona 500, Finn Balor talks staying in NXT, TV show with WWE stars as guests, WWE & AEW international TV ratings and how last week's shows did compared to other sports, another celebrity training to appear in WWE rings, upcoming TV matches, a what ever happened to, current company value and the most-watched shows of the past week on the WWE Network.

Gina Carano and her social media posts that cost her a television series was was to be built around her, her new affiliation, and the situation with Ariel Helwani, Dana White and ESPN as well as media criticism of ESPN for how they handled the situation.

UFC 258 with match-by-match coverage and all the business news.

How Keiji Muto became one of the oldest world champions in history, why NOAH made the move, a look at NOAH today after its biggest show in many years.

WWE social media regulations for its talent, what is and isn't allowed.

Debut episode of "Young Rock," its ratings, and what was real, nor real and in between about the stories with a look at early women wrestling promoters, Rocky Johnson, Peter Maivia, Lia Maivia and Dwayne Johnson growing up.

Second night of New Japan's New Beginning in Hiroshima..

Television ratings of the past week, including segment-by-segment numbers for the past two weeks on Wednesday, who was watching in different age groups, how different segments did on Raw & Smackdown and more.

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

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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.


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  • While speaking with Sportskeeda, Samoa Joe explained why he isn’t putting a timetable on his in-ring return from concussion issues: “As far as the timetable, no. But I just want to reassure people that you know this point, WWE medical is doing the best for my health and my well-being, and I'm appreciative of it, so we're taking our time. We're making sure that I'm as healthy as I can be. And we are... Yeah, I think that's essentially it, you know, I'm not putting a timetable on it because the type of injury is not something that I want to rush, obviously, for obvious reasons. So, yeah, I mean, that's essentially the update.”
  • Joe also said about his in-ring future: “I mean, and obviously, too, there's been some holdups from a technical standpoint with the pandemic going on and availability of medical personnel, but for the most part, we're taking a careful, measured approach, and though I don't think my in-ring career is over by a longshot I'm appreciative of the recovery time. And that my health is being respected at a premium."
  • WWE has officially announced that Xia Li vs. Kacy Catanzaro is set for this week’s NXT.
  • Kevin Owens posted a video thanking all of the behind-the-scenes workers in WWE and speaking about what a massive undertaking it is for them to help produce WWE TV each week.
  • Big E, Andreas Hale, and Jonathan Davenport have launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund the pilot episode of an animated series they've created called “Our Heroes Rock,” The pilot will focus on the story of Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to integrate into an elementary school in the South. Here’s the description for the show: “Conceived as a hip-hop odyssey through Black History, ‘Our Heroes Rock!’ is an animated series that shines a spotlight on history’s unsung Heroes of color through infectious music, stunning 3D animation and a family-friendly, sci-fi-flavored narrative designed to appeal to both parents and kids alike.”
  • Big E spoke to Post Wrestling about the campaign.
  • Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports have interviews with new WWE Champion The Miz.
  • Shayna Baszler is the guest on the latest episode of Renee Paquette’s Oral Sessions podcast.
  • Ric Flair spoke to Wrestling Inc about no longer being close with Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, and Ole Anderson.
  • WWE released a video with Joaquin Wilde, Mustafa Ali & Kalisto paying tribute to Antonio “Discovery” Corona. Discovery passed away in May 2020.
  • WWE has a Playlist video on The Rock’s rookie year.
  • WWE’s YouTube channel also uploaded Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart from In Your House 6, Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton & Seth Rollins from the February 23, 2015 episode of Raw, and Bryan vs. Drew Gulak from Elimination Chamber 2020.

Other Wrestling

  • SCU (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) vs. The Hybrid2 (Jack Evans & Angelico) vs. Matt & Mike Sydal has been added to tonight’s AEW Dark.
  • In an interview with TalkSport, Kenny Omega discussed how Hikaru Shida put together the Japanese side of AEW’s women’s title eliminator tournament: “I enjoyed every minute of it. Every match had something unique to offer and I couldn’t have been more proud of them and couldn’t have been more proud of Hikaru Shida, actually. She really went the extra mile and put it all together herself in Japan. These things don’t happen out of thin air. She really wanted to feature the women wrestlers more, the girls stuck in Japan and feature some of the women that she has worked with when she was doing freelance work. So we got some of the other freelancers like Veny, for example. She wrestles in Japan as Asuka. And Veny absolutely killed it against Emi Sakura. Just an incredible match. It gave people a taste of what they’re missing out on, just what they’re missing out out in the world. It’s unfortunate  you can’t see all the best stuff all the time every week, but I felt extremely proud to host something as a way for people to see what goes on in that world of joshi and how our athletes are doing as well."
  • Omega was also asked if we’ll see some of the Japanese wrestlers who took part in the women’s title eliminator tournament join AEW’s women’s division: “All I can say given this world climate we’re in right now, it’s a very trying time and very difficult to make any real promises, I don’t want people to hold their breath. But if I had my way and I could manipulate global travel schedules the way that I wanted to [laughs] I think it would probably be a safe bet that you’re going to see more than one of these women back on AEW television. And that is definitely always going to be my first interest; getting these girls featured, getting more TV time for our athletes. So I’m just so happy that the tournament is opening a lot of people's eyes. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and the women killed it on the TV show, too. Thunder Rosa and Leyla Hirsch in round one. Rhio and Serena Deeb… one thing I love about this tournament, I feel like now that we have a little bit of time to have these matches, these women are really showing there’s no ‘good matches for a female wrestler’ comparatively to male wrestling or comparing them to men or tag team wrestling or whatever. “I really do believe they’ve evened out the playing field completely and they really set the standard on that particular Wednesday where I was like this was the technical standout of the night and I dare anyone to beat that. It was a huge statement for the women and I just feel like the tournament in general has been an incredibly positive statement for women’s wrestling and that’s what I always hoped for from the beginning.”
  • Jon Moxley spoke to ITR Wrestling about how the idea for his exploding barbed wire deathmatch against Omega came together for AEW Revolution: “I have no idea, to be honest with you. That came somewhere from the think-tank, somewhere… I first heard the idea actually a long-ass time ago, but these clouds come to light and I’ve had a lot of unscrupulous individuals, a lot of rogue guys, who do evil deeds, who have tried to take me out over the years by throwing me off of cages or putting me through tables and chairs. It’s the first time they’ve actually tried to explode me! So, this will be in another same old story about – they’re trying to destroy me like Wile E. Coyote, I keep coming back somehow, but this might be the end of this thing where I finally get destroyed. So, if nothing else, you know, you might see me finally, finally get blown up on March the 7th, on pay-per-view. If that happens. No, I’m looking forward to it. I never would have imagined that I’d get the opportunity to do one of these, and especially not in AEW or on a mainstream American pay-per-view, so I’m super-excited about it. It’s almost too good to be true. I’m like, “Really, we can do that? Are you serious? I’m in!” Yeah, what an opportunity creatively, what an opportunity, an experience to have. You know, you can’t turn down that stuff, when it comes, to do something really, unique like that and to really live life to the fullest. I’m pretty excited about it. I’ll have a lot of things to say about it going forward on Dynamite and so forth, as far as my feelings, so I don’t want to spoil any of it right here, but I’ve got a really good feeling about this emotional place I’m at right now, I’ve got a feeling about March 7th, I feel like it’s going to be a pretty wild night in Jacksonville.”
  • After receiving scrutiny from fans for their lack of transparency regarding their first tapings following the #SpeakingOut movement, PROGRESS Wrestling issued a statement yesterday confirming that Paul Robinson worked the tapings as an agent.
  • ROH uploaded this week’s edition of ROH Week By Week.
  • In addition to Shane Taylor challenging for Rush’s ROH World Championship, the episode of ROH TV that premieres this coming weekend will also feature Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham defending their ROH Tag Team titles against Dragon Lee & Kenny King in a Pure Rules match. Lee & King defeated The Briscoes in a number one contender’s match to get the title shot.
  • Post Wrestling’s Andrew Thompson interviewed ROH’s Amy Rose.
  • Leo Brien has signed a long-term contract with MLW.
  • PWInsider reported that season three of Dark Side of the Ring will feature an episode focused on Dynamite Kid.
  • Chris Dickinson vs. Tony Deppen will headline the first episode of Beyond Wrestling’s Signature Series this Thursday.

Daily Pro Wrestling History: The Era of Honor Begins