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Daily Update: Wrestle Kingdom 15, Mick Foley, Japan notes

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WON NEWSLETTER: January 4, 2021 Observer Newsletter: Rest in Peace Brodie Lee & Danny Hodge

A look at the death, unique lives and careers of Jon Huber and Danny Hodge is the focus of what is the best issue of the Observer in more than a decade.

Details surrounding the Huber health crisis and death, words from his wife, how he got started in wrestling, my own personal thoughts regarding my interaction with him, his leaving WWE for AEW, his WWE run with The Wyatt Family, what were the plans for the Bludgeon Brothers to imitate and how it fell through, the match that changes his WWE focus, the background of his big decision, what match was scheduled for him that fell through, how his AEW term played out with his biggest matches, why the death became such a huge news story, the story behind and coverage of the tribute show and more.

The iconic figure of Danny Hodge with what should be a movie script, covering growing up in a small town known for wrestling, his unique childhood, his developing his legendary grip strength, his unbelievable credentials as a wrestler, MMA, street fights, the auto accident that ended his career, his biggest pro wrestling matches, his boxing career and why people will talk about him as his records every year going forward.

Also in this issue:

Preview the Wrestle Kingdom shows this week, covering the matches and the stories behind the matches, as well as how the restrictions have changed things.

Update the Royal Rumble including a gimmick match being talked about, new WWE show, top 25 WWE matches of the year, U.K. and Canadian ratings as well as where pro wrestling ranks in sports ratings, market value of WWE as well as the most-watched shows on the WWE Network.

2020 Wrestling Observer Awards ballot.

Television stations that carried wrestling and MMA in 2020 and how they did, and how wrestling did in comparison with the station's usual programming.

Detailed look at the television business, looking at stats not available elsewhere to get the deepest read into how shows are doing, what categories are doing well and how shows compare with previous weeks and one year ago.  

Results of all the major pro wrestling events around the world over the past week.

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SUNDAY NEWS UPDATE

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Bryan and I will be back with Wrestling Observer Radio tonight. We'll be covering the Tokyo Dome show as well as the weekend news. You can send questions to the show to mailbag@wrestlingobserver.com

Tonight is the first night of Wrestle Kingdom. It starts at 2 a.m. Eastern time with these matches:

  • 22 man Rumble which will go down to four men, and those four meet in the opener tomorrow night for the KOPW title.
  • Hiromu Takahashi vs.  El Phantasmo- winner faces Taiji Ishimori on Tuesday for the IWGP jr. title
  • KENTA vs. Satoshi Kojima for the U.S. title briefcase
  • Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. defending the IWGP tag titles against Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Great O'Khan
  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay
  • Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP & IC heavyweight titles

We have a preview up on the site with Kevin Kelly talking about  both Dome shows as well as New Japan going forward.

Chris Samsa's statistical breakdown for tonight's show.

Kevin Kelly will be in Japan through mid-February so all the major shows this week as well as on the New Beginning tour will have live from the building English language commentary.

Jack Curtis Jr., a wrestler and later promoter in the state of Mississippi and Louisiana, passed away yesterday at the age of 85. He wrestled in the 60s and 70s for Leroy McGuirk, and later promoted and then became the events coordinator for Bill Watts during the heyday of Mid South Wrestling. (thanks to Matt Riviera)

For those who think Ryan Garcia may have star power, there were 1 million searches for him which puts him second for the weekend behind Ohio State.  The only other combat sports reference this past week was Brodie Lee on Wednesday night with 100,000, which also makes the first time since I think week one that anything on AEW Dynamite cracked the top 20 searches for the day in the United States.  

WWE

  • Mick Foley wrote this update about testing positive for COVID: "I tested positive for the coronavirus following a December 12 virtual signing. As soon as I learned that I had been exposed and even before the test result, I began isolating in a hotel room – and have been here for 19 days. I am no longer contagious and will be checking out tomorrow. Fortunately, my symptoms were not too serious - body aches and headache for a few days, followed by loss of my sense of smell and just within the last few days, my hearing has been affected. Worse than the physical symptoms was missing the holidays with my family - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s.  I tried to do my best to be safe these past ten months, but looking back on it, there were a number of occasions where I did let my guard down. Since mid-March, I have only done four virtual signings, two personal appearances, two guest appearances on reality shows and my appearance on WWE Raw at The Undertaker’s farewell.  In 2019, I flew 150,000 miles on Delta Airlines – in addition to tens of thousands more on other airlines. In 2020, I flew less than 10,000.  Still, there were several occasions where I could have been more careful.  Moving forward, I will do my best to do better. I hope all of us can do a little better for as long as it takes to put this terrible pandemic behind us. I appreciate all the well wishes and prayers that I have always received on social media.  I’m lucky… things could have been worse.In a little bit of good news, enthusiasm on Cameo in December resulted in my being able to donate $5,000 to the Daniela Conte Foundation - a foundation created by the parents of a very special little girl who was lost way too soon. To learn more about Daniela and the foundation formed in her honor, you can check out my Facebook post from December 23rd"

UFC

  • Markus Perez will be replacing Isi Fitikefu against Dalcha Lungiambula on the 1/20 show.  Fitkefu suffered an injured left elbow while training with Robert Whittaker.

AEW

  • The top three wrestlers in 2020 for four-star matches were Tomohiro Ishii, Kenny Omega and Shingo Takagi. The top for five-star matches was Will Ospreay.  

OTHER NOTES

  • A story on the AAA and Marvel tie-up.
  • During the Outback Bowl, Indiana players were holding chairs over their heads and the ESPN announcers said this was like an ECW match and they were looking for kendo sticks and barbed wire (thanks to Barry Werner)
  • Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling has a show that will stream from Korakuen Hall tonight at 9:30 p.m. Eastern and 6:30 p.m. Pacific time with Stewart Fulton, Mark Pickering and Chris Brookes doing the English language commentary.
  • LFA on 1/29 at the Hartman Arena in Park City, KS (near Wichita) on UFC Fight Pass is headlined by Josh Fremd (6-1) vs. Bruno Oliveira (8-2) in a middleweight fight.
  • In the new season of Cobra Kai on Netflix, there are references to WrestleMania 3, Chris Jericho and a feud between the Hart Foundation and British Bulldogs (thanks to Joe Puccio)
  • The first episode of the ROH television show will be based around a documentary of how the company handled the pandemic, starting with the weekend of 3/13 and 3/14 when the crew was in  Las Vegas for a PPV and television tapings and then, while there, the decision was made not to run.  Before being shut down there was a Flip Gordon vs. Bandido and Jay Lethal vs. Mark Haskins match, and those matches have never aired but will air on the show this week.
  • Impact has an Impact+ special on 1/9 headlined by Moose vs. Willie Mack in an I Quit match plus the Super X Cup one-night tournament.        
  • Stardom results from today in Shinkiba:  Saki Kashima won three-way over Maika and Lady C, Tam Nakano & Sayaka Unagi b Saya Iida & Ruaka, Utami Hayashishita & AZM & Saya Kamitani b Mayu Iwatani & Starlight Kid & Gokigen Death, Momo Watanabe d Syuri over 15:00, Giulia & Himeka & Natsupoi b Bea Priestley & Konami & Natsuoko Tora.  Matches coming out of this show are AZM vs. Gokigen Death, Syuri defending her SWA title against Watanabe, Priestley & Konami defending the Goddesses of Stardom titles against Natsupoi & Himeka and Giulia vs. Tora for the Wonder of Stardom title, which will be a no DQ match headlining the 1/17 show at Korakuen Hall (thanks to Tomi Yamada and Shannon Walsh at Wrestlingwithdemons.com)
  • Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa lost their All Japan world tag team titles to Kento Miyahara & Yuma Aoyagi in the company's first show of the season yesterday at Korakuen Hall.  Today's main event saw Suwama retain the Triple Crown over Aoyagi.
  • Yusuke Okada showed up at today's DDT show at Korakuen Hall.  He had left All Japan at the end of the year when his contract expired.
  • Yasufumi Nakanoue won the Big Japan Strong title from Yuji Okabayashi and Takumi Tskamoto won the Deathmatch title from Minoru Fujita on yesterday's Korakuen Hall show.
  • Game Changer Wrestling from Thursday night in Atlantic City: Tre Lamar b Levi Everett, 1 Called Manders b Ellis Taylor, Holidead b Willow Nightingale, Matthew Justice & Joshua Bishop d KTB & Shane Mercer, Treehouse Lee b Saieve Al Sabah, Atticus Cogar b Elayna Black, Lee Moriarty b Calvin Tankman, Shlak b 1 Called Manders in a death match, Jordan Oliver b ACH, Chris Dickinson won a Scramble mach over Effy, Allie Kat, Cole Raddick, Blake Christian and Mance Warner, G-Raver b Jimmy Lloyd in an I Quit match.
  • From Friday night in Atlantic City: Jordan Oliver  b Tre Lamar, Ken Broadway b ACH, Chris Dickinson b Cole Raddick, Matthew Justice & Joshua Bishop b Effy & Aliie Kat, KTB & Shane Mercer won a scramble over 1 Called Manders, Charlie Tiger, Elayne Black, Ellis Taylor, Steve Scott and Levi Everett, Mance Warren b Calvin Tankman, Blake Chrstian b Lee Moriarty, Alex Colon b Atticus Cogar in a death match (thanks to Nick Mahmood)

Daily Pro Wrestling History: Triple H wins WWF World title

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