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SAT. UPDATE: WWE theoretically responds to Justin Roberts article, new UFC Berlin fight, effort to save legendary wrestling arena, and more

by David Bixenspan | davidbix@wrestlingobserver.comFollow @davidbix

A unique early daytime American UFC card (ongoing as this post hits the site) from Fairfax, Virginia is the first of two major events in the next 24 hours:

Prelims on Fox Sports 1 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Justin Jones (185.5) vs. Ron Stallings (185)

Shmail Abdurahimov (255) vs. Timothy Johnson (263.6)

Gray Maynard (155) vs. Alexander Yakovlev (155.75)

Liz Carmouche (134.5) vs. Lauren Murphy (135)



Main Card on Fox Sports 1 at 1;00 p.m. ET

Diego Ferrerira (155.5) vs. Dustin Poirier (155.5)

Clay Guida (146) vs. Robbie Peralta (145)

Milana Dudieva (135.5) vs. Julianna Pena (136)

Michael Chiesa (155.5) vs. Mitch Clarke (155)

Al Iaquinta (155.5) vs. Jorge Masvidal (156)

Ricardo Lamas (145.5) vs. Chad Mendes (145.5)



This is, one paper, one of the best Fight Night cards in a long time, a really nice mix of divisional relevance, recognizable names, and action fights. It also starts off a month where, with UFC cards every single Saturday, three of the four are at east coast-friendly time slots, with this week's card being a late morning/early afternoon experiment, next week being the first Fight Pass card of the year from Poland, and the following week being a Fox Network special (done by 10:30 p.m. ET) from Newark, New Jersey. It's a nice break from the norm.



Outside of the first two prelims (and even then, the opener has the potential to be a fun fight), every fight on this card has something interesting going on:



- Maynard is on an ugly losing streak full of knockout losses, and if Yakovlev can take him out in his lightweight debut, it could mean the end of his career.

- Carmouche vs. Murphy is a tough stlyistic test for Murphy to try to propel herself into the rankings, albeit very winnable,

= Poirier, feeling he was cutting too much weight for too long (he moved down to 145 for a short-notice UFC debut and never looked back) looks to revitalize himself (and especially his chin) against the promising Ferrerira.

- Guida is seemingly on a downslide, and Peralta will test where exactly he's at. Will Peralta's move to Tri-Star be a difference maker the sam way it has for other fighters?

- Pena was a top prospect coming off of her Ultimate Fighter 18 win, and should, by all rights, win her return from a catastrophic knee injury, but just how much did the injury and time off take out of her?

- Chiesa-Clarke, if it hits the ground, could be the Fight of the Night, but in the battle of bearded grapplers from the northwest, can Clarke capitalize on the momentum from his huge upset win over co-main eventer Al Iaquinta?

- Speaking of Iaquinta, outside of Clarke catching him out of nowhere with one of the best submissions in recent memory, he's been making huge improvements in every fight and looks poised to make a run for the top 10, but Masvidal has become the gatekeeper of the division. Iaquinta has turned into one of the most impressive boxers in MMA, stringing together long combos and overwhelming almost everyone in his path. Masvidal's history against seemingly surging opponents made him a betting favorite early on, but this has turned him into a pick-'em fight.

- Mendes has only lost to Jose Aldo. Lamas has only last at featherweight to Jose Aldo. They're Aldo's last two challengers, and this fight made all the sense in the world to put together. Mendes is better just about everywhere, but Lamas has Donald Cerrone-level finishing insincts if he can capitalize on a small mistake. Expect a really skillful, high level fight, though maybe not one that's all-action.



Here on WrestlingObserver.com, Josh Nason has ongoing live coverage. You also want to check out our weigh-in coverageJosh Nason's preview with the Observer panel picksbetting picks from The Secret Psychic Spy~!, and Mike Coughlin's preview. Jack Encarnacao had me on this week's Sherdog Roundtable podcast to preview the card along with Jordan Breen and Luke Thomas. I had Sherdog's Patrick Wyman on my podcast this week to talk about the card (as well as WrestleMania and Brock Lesnar), and Patrick's technical breakdown of the card is a must-read as always.



NJPW Invasion Attack at 3:00 a.m. ET on NJPW World:

Yohei Komatsu, Captain New Japan, Alex Shelley, Kushida, & Yuji Nagata vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Sho Tanaka

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma vs. Yujiro Takahashi & Tama Tonga & Cody Hall 

Young Bucks vs. Trent Baretta & Rocky Romero for IWGP jr. tag titles

Kenny Omega vs. Mascara Dorada for IWGP jr. title

Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs. Michael Bennett & Matt Taven for IWGP tag titles

Togi Makabe & Hirooki Goto & Tetsuya Naito vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano

Kazuchika Okada vs. Bad Luck Fale

A.J. Styles vs. Kota Ibushi for IWGP heavyweight title    

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The newest issue of Figure Four Weekly is up on the site for subscribers (subscribe here) with an extensive Perro Aguayo Jr. bio by Dr. Lucha Steve Sims, a look at the economic impact of WrestleMania, and all of the usual reviews and international news.

Also, now available for the first time on Kindle (meaning Kindle devices and anything with the Kindle app) is Fall Guys, the seminal 1937 book that has been described as being like the 1930s version of the Wrestling Observer. It was surprisingly not on Kindle already, so we put together a nice version with a full table of contents w/ chapter marks, proper formatting on everything, etc. Right now it's available from the AmericanCanadian, and Australian Amazon/Kindle stores OR you can also buy it from anywhere in the world on PayHip, who will provide you with both Kindle and ePub (every other e-reader) format files, and you can either sideload them to your device or have them email it to your Kindle. 

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Our annual WrestleMania issue of the Observer is out right now.  The new issue covers the entire show with exclusive backstage notes, full coverage of all the matches, injuries, and craziness of the week for not just WWE but all the promotions in town, the most detailed look at where the WWE Network stands, the aftermath of the death of Perro Aguayo Jr., the reaction to Roman Reigns not winning the title, full details on New Japan's presence in the U.S. both on television and arena events and the best Raw ratings in a year.

The latest Observer: April 6, 2015 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Annual WrestleMania issue, Ronda Rousey, new WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar and more!


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The Wrestling Observer ranges weekly from 35,000 to 50,000 words covering pro wrestling and MMA internationally. Each issue has coverage and analysis of all the major news, plus every issue breaks major news stories before the Internet sties and has the most complete look at the pro wrestling and MMA business anywhere, plus history pieces available nowhere else.

Our lead story covers WrestleMania.  We look at the title plans for the show, how they changed, who knew what and when, was Seth Rollins the guy for the spot and what the arguments were, next year's WrestleMania, Vince McMahon putting over Ronda Rousey on his biggest platform, Rock & Rousey preparation for the angle, real attendance, gate claims and other records, merchandise sales, how much people paid in San Jose, why the attendance number was announced as large as it was, biggest real WWE crowds in history, who got the biggest reaction, UFC allowing its talent to do pro wrestling appearances, looking at the results of the show, arguments on HHH vs. Sting finish and the horrible commentary.

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--The latest on the NOAH vs. Suzuki-gun feud

--Major news on Invasion Attack

--Update on New Japan ticket sales

--Jim Ross talks Okada

--Notes on New Japan's big show of he week

--More on the upcoming debut of Global Force Wrestling

--More on how the Tokyo Dome show did on PPV

--More on the death of Cincinnati Red

--WWE star's new comedy show

--Update on Mysterio and Lucha Underground

--Future of Lucha Underground

--Thoughts on the promotion touring

--End of the season notes

--More on Alberto El Patron and injuries and real fights

--More on the New Japan visit to ROH in May

--A look at other New Japan stars coming to ROH

--ROH star gives notice

--TNA inks Canadian English language TV deal

--More on thoughts regarding TNA embracing U.K. as a home promotion

--Notes on Destination America calling key shots with TNA

--Destination America changing programming

--TNA signing new overseas deals including getting a deal with a station that used to carny WWE

--Thoughts on McGregor vs. Aldo and featherweight records

--Amazing interest in the McGregor-Aldo press conference

--UFC first quarter and second quarter business notes

--UFC major executive gone

--Notes on Cris Cyborg's deal with UFC

--This week's UFC show

--Lots of new UFC matches

--More on commission overturning fight result

--Fourth Horsewoman signs contract

--Update on Nick Diaz

--Possible next fight for Josh Barnett

--Next Invicta show top fights

--Match of the year candidate in Bellator

--Bellator talking to a top ten ranked heavyweight boxer

--New Bellator fights

If you are a new subscriber ordering 24 or more issues, you can get one free classic issue of your choice sent to you today.  With a 40 issue subscription, you can get two free classic issues sent to you today.

New subscribers ordering 24 or 40 issues have to let us know what major stories of the past 11 years you are most interested in and we'll send the issue with the best coverage of that story. We've got coverage of every major PPV event and world wide spectacular, every major star switching promotions, histories of companies like FMW, Rings and New Japan, retirement and obit issues of every major star who fits into those descriptions over the past 11 years, as well as our biggest issue every year, the annual awards issue, and our most controversial issue of every year, the Hall of Fame issue.

Our most requested issues in our history are:

*November 17, 1997 (full details of everything leading to the most famous wrestling match finish of modern times at the Survivor Series plus a history of in-ring double-crosses)

*December 21, 1998 (the complete Vince McMahon-Bret Hart conversation right before the Survivor Series match so you'll know exactly what was said--the conversation played in edited form both on the inaugural broadcast of Confidential as well as in Wrestling with Shadows, but everything that was said between the two about the match that was going to take place that same night)

*August 1, 1994 (the most detailed coverage anywhere of the Vince McMahon steroid trial, an issue praised in numerous newspaper article and Sex, Lies and Headlocks)

*March 26, 2001 (death of WCW and history of pro wrestling on the Turner networks)a

*October 22, 2001 (why the adult audience has left pro wrestling in such great numbers and what needed to have been done to save them)

*July 8, 1991 (Ric Flair leaves WCW as world champion/Zahorian steroid trial)

*February 8, 1993 (the life and times of Andre the Giant)

*May 13, 2002 (the life story of the most incredible pro wrestling career ever, a look at Lou Thesz, in one of the largest issues of our history)

*January 27, 2003 (part one of the two-part series covering the career and life of The Sheik)

*February 3, 2003 (Part two on The Sheik including thoughts from people who worked with him and where he stands historically)

*March 24, 2003 (history of the WWWF title, inside behind the Sammartino, Backlund and Backlund era)

*April 21, 2003 (history of WWF continues with the expansion nationally, the death of the regional territories and the rise of Hulk Hogan)

*May 12, 2003 (The life and death of Elizabeth and the rise of fall of Lex Luger)

*June 9, 2003 (Part 1 of history of WWF vs. WCW wars and what many say was the greatest year in U.S. wrestling; plus a look at Fred Blassie)

*June 16, 2003 (Freddie Blassie through the eyes of his biggest rivals and friends)

*July 28, 2003 (Part 2 of the history of the WWF vs. WCW war and the plans to make new superstars in the early 90s, what happened, and the night where the three biggest wrestling companies in the world combined for a joint show and what happened)

*August 25, 2003 (2003 Hall of Fame issue with huge profiles on the controversial career of Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit as well as historical features on Earl Caddock and Francisco Flores)

*September 22, 2003 (Part 3 of the history of the WWF vs WCW war with the seeds that caused the collapse of the industry in the 90s, Zahorian trial, Gulf War controversy, Flair leaves WCW while holding world title and much more)

*October 27, 2003 (The fascinating life of Stu Hart plus the story of Road Warrior Hawk)

*January 19, 2004 (2003 Awards issue)

*February 2, 2004 (History of Toronto wrestling, Jack Tunney life story, Royal Rumble and Battle Royal history)

*February 23, 2004 (History of Guerrero family with Eddy's win over Brock Lesnar)

*March 1, 2004 (History of WWF continues with the period that brought the company down in early 1992, the mistakes, the real stories and how the business changed)

*March 8, 2004 (History of Wrestlemania, its greatest matches and best and worst shows as voted both by wrestlers and non-wrestlers and Wrestlemania history books)

*July 5, 2004 (A look behind the scenes and Ric Flair's book and his background with Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan)

*July 12, 2004 (A look at more on Ric Flair's book and his comments on Bruno Sammartino, Bret Hart and Mick Foley)

*August 16, 2004 (History of the Olympians in pro wrestling)

*August 23, 2004 (2004 Hall of Fame issue and biggest issue of the year with huge profiles on Kazushi Sakuraba, Undertaker, Bob Backlund, Masahiro Chono, Ultimo Dragon, Kurt Angle and Tarzan Lopez--this counts as one issue if you are asking for a free issue, but ordered separately, due to size, is $6 in North America and $7 overseas)

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You can also order any of these issues on their own for $4 in North America or $5 overseas.

We now have available personally autographed copies of Tributes II, our latest book, as well as a DVD that comes with it talking more about the subjects in the book. The book covers the life stories of Lou Thesz, Wahoo McDaniel, Elizabeth, Fred Blassie, Road Warrior Hawk, Andre the Giant, Curt Hennig, Johnny Valentine, Davey Boy Smith, Terry Gordy, Owen Hart, Stu Hart, Gorilla Monsoon, The Sheik and Tim Woods..

To get all of those biographies as back issues of the Observer would be a $60 value today. This is a collection of some of the best Observer articles of the past several years in a hardcover, full-color format that is 239 pages. There is also a foreword by Bret Hart. The book price is $12.95 plus $3.50 for shipping costs in the U.S., $20 for shipping costs to Canada and $25 for shipping costs outside North America. You can order the book the same way you order the newsletter.

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Saturday Daily Update

-- We're looking for reports from the NXT house show in Orlando (main roster gets the weekend after WrestleMania off) at newstips@wrestlingobserver.com. Feedback for Dave's traditional Observer polls with best match, worst match, and your choice of thumbs up/down/in the middle go to dave@wrestlingobserver.com.

-- WWE released a statement ostensibly responding to Justin Roberts' Medium.com post about WWE massaging the Connor Michalek story, especially in light of Stephanie McMahon's "philanthropy is the future of marketing, it's the way brands r going 2 win" tweet last Saturday. The statement reads as follows:

It is offensive to suggest that WWE and its executives had anything but altruistic intentions in honoring Connor and his legacy with The Warrior Award. In conjunction with Connor's father, Connor's Cure was established by Stephanie McMahon and Paul Levesque to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer, and to honor a boy that so many people within the WWE family came to love. The fund is managed by the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and has already raised more than $200,000 for pediatric cancer research.



In addition, following the Ultimate Warrior's impassioned Hall of Fame speech last year encouraging WWE to recognize its unsung heroes, the Warrior Award was established in his memory to honor those who exhibit unwavering strength and perseverance, and who live life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of the Ultimate Warrior. With the full support and input of Ultimate Warrior's widow, Dana Warrior, Connor Michalek was the first recipient of the Warrior Award, and moving forward the award will be given annually to acknowledge other unsung heroes among WWE's employees and fans.



WWE is proud to use our global platforms to raise awareness for important social causes, including Connor's Cure as well as our longstanding partnership with Make A Wish, our on-going partnership with Susan G. Komen, which has resulted in more than $1.5 million in funds raised, and our international partnership with Special Olympics.



It really doesn't address much of what Roberts said, for whatever it's worth.



-- Matt Hamill saved a child from a car accident this week. That guy is an inspiration, to say the least.



-- Dennis Siver vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri has been added to the UFC Fight Night card in Berlin, Germany headlined by Alexander Gusatfsson vs. Glover Texeira. That's a really fun action fight on paper. Unless UFC is planning on making this an especially big Fight Pass card, that sounds like it's probably the co-main event.



-- As for Gustafsson, he considered quitting MMA after his hometown knockout loss to Anthony Johnson (his third career loss, his first due to strikes) in January.



-- Wanderlei Silva took to Facebook to complain about fighters not being paid for when their likenesses were used on action figures. The circumstances leading to UFC's toy deal with Round 5 has been mentioned in the various antitrust lawsuits against Zuffa.



-- Khabib Nurmagomedov is demanding random drug testing for his fight against Donald Cerrone, citing Cerrone's 2007 postive drug test for a banned diuretic...though Khabib appears to think it was a steroid.



-- CZW announced that the former C.J. Parker, now CJP, will be participating in their 14th annual Best of the Best tournament a week from today in Voorhees, NJ. He'll be taking on Joe Gacy and Joey Janela in his first round match.



-- There is a crowdfunding campaign at ColiseumCoalition.com to help pay for the arena rent and other expenses for the Roundhouse Reunion event which is taking place in May as part of the campaign to keep to Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis from being demolished. Right now, the first $150 each donation will be matched.

-- This coming Wednesday, the next episode of The Bix Show will include my latest interview with Wrestling Observer Hall of Famer Lance Russell, but in the meantime, i've uploaded some preview clips to both YouTube and SoundCloud. Check out these snippets to hear Lance talking about the infamous debut of Dr. Frank, the beloved "drunk Jerry Lawler" angle, and the behind the scenes story of the classic Bill Dundee vs. Tony Charles match. Check out the show on Wednesday for much more, as these clips are just a small sampling of what we discussed.

-- Kris Zellner had me and Dylan Hales on the second episode of his Exile on Badstreet podcast to talk about Jim Crockett Promotions' purchase of Bill Watts' UWF in 1987 and the fallout that quickly ensued. I had a lot of fun doing this and it came out really well, though it's a long one. If you're interested in the topic, make sure to give Kris some love and go check it out.

-- Our friends at Voices of Wrestling are doing their match of the month poll for March, so go check it out.

-- Some today in history notes:

22 years ago today was WrestleMania 9, which is generally remembered as a turning point in the perception of Hulk Hogan among fans when he somehow escaped the show with the WWF Championship after Yokozuna won the title from Bret Hart. When Yokozuna got his rematch at King of the Ring and regained the title, his victory got a noticeable babyface pop. In the best matches on the card, Shawn Michaels got a fun opener out of Tatanka while the Steiner Brothers had a really good, hard hitting tag team match with The Headshrinkers. The show was also Jim Ross's WWF debut, which was a surprise to most fans, but not those who had heard Vince McMahon on Ross's radio show days earlier.

17 years ago today, Antonio Inoki had his retirement match, defeating Don Frye at the Tokyo Dome in front of a huge, overflowing crowd announced as 70,000. Elsewhere on the card, Tatsumi Fujinami started off his last big run by beating Kensuke Sasaki to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

Later that day, Rob Van Damn defeated Bam Bam Bigelow in Buffalo, NY to win the ECW TV Title at a syndicated TV taping. One of Van Dam's better ECW matches, it gave us one of the most repeated and recognizable ECW clips, Van Dam's somersault dive deep into the crowd.