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TUES. UPDATE: Seth Rollins on being WWE Champion, Ronda Rousey talks her love of WWE, Celebrity Deathmatch possibly returning, and more

by David Bixenspan | davidbix@wrestlingobserver.com | Follow @davidbix

We're looking for reports on today's Smackdown tapings in London at the O2 Arena and the house show n Bornemouth, England at dave@wrestlingobserver.com.  The Smackdown headliners are scheduled as John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, Big Show, Bray Wyatt and Dolph Ziggler.  The house show has Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Ryback, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper and Kane.

Wednesday there is a WWE show in Warsaw, Poland (Roman Reigns vs. Big Show, Daniel Bryan, Bad News Barrett, Sheamus) and Hamburg, Germany (John Cena vs. Rusev; Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton).

Thursday has shows in Budapest, Hungary (John Cena vs. Rusev, Roman Reigns vs. Big Show) and Toulouse, France (Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton).

Friday has shows in Dortmund, Germany (Roman Reigns vs. Big Show and Antwerp, Belgium (John Cena vs. Rusev, Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton).  

TV tonight:

Best of WEC on Fox Sports 1 at 9:00 p.m. ET is a new episode titled "Fast Moving Firefights." Some of the fight choices on these have been a little odd so far, but this one sounds like it has to be good.

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The newest issue of Figure Four Weekly is up on the site for subscribers (subscribe here) with an exclusive look at the class action conccussion lawsuits against WWE, what exactly the plaintiffs are claiming, what we've been getting wrong, and more, plus 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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The move of Smackdown, notes on the new season of Tough Enough, the retirement of A.J. Lee, a major UFC hire outside the cage in regard to the drug policy, behind the judges ruling on the Rampage Jackson case, the story behind the forgotten Ric Flair/Harley Race title change and the story of Steve Rickard, the New Japan PPV, G-1 and more, WWE PPV numbers, WrestleMania 32, Austin and WWE truth vs. fiction, and tons more are covered in the current issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.


The new issue is up on the site at http://www.f4wonline.com/component/content/article/41993-april-13-2015-wrestling-observer-newsletter-smackdown-to-usa-network-aj-lee-retires-ufc-drug-czar-death-of-steve-rickard-and-much-more

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If you order by mail with a check, cash or money order (P.O. Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228), you can get $1 off in every price range.

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 looks behind the move of Smackdown to the USA Network, what it means to USA and Syfy as far as the change goes, why NBC Universal and WWE are partnering to change the perception of wrestling, notes on the return of Tough Enough, and another Dwayne Johnson deal.

We also look at why A.J. Lee left WWE, a look at her last year with the company, her controversy before her return, her early days with the company and her most famous storylines.

We also look at the UFC fire of Jeff Novitzky and why this could lead to significant changes in the sport.

We go through all the details of the Rampage Jackson legal case and why the judge ruled against him fighting on 4/25.  We look at the key argument points on both sides, how much money Jackson neared in UFC and Bellator, what happened with Jackson and pro wrestling, what this says about the larger lawsuit and why decisions Jackson is going to have to make regarding his career.

We look at how this affects the next UFC PPV show and why it's the weakest of the year

We also look at WrestleMania 32, how the Rousey/Rock angle at WrestleMania 31 came to be, links with Rousey and Dwayne Johnson, Extreme Rules notes, Roman Reigns future, new WWE negotiations, and Scott Steiner says what his version if of what happened and why with Hulk Hogan's wife.

We also have more on legal action against WWE, a Daniel Bryan pitch for a huge match that won't go anywhere, Bryan talks about things management has told him,. Steve Austin/WWE update, what happened with Tough Enough and the podcast on the network, Jericho's podcast with John Cena and notes and highlights, the WWE no blood policy, indie star starts in Orlando, new WWE movies, and notes on the European tour.

We also look at ESPN covering WWE, a new DVD release, Editing from the weekend, and tons of developmental news including details of new wrestlers who have just debuted with the company.

We look at the heyday of wrestling in New Zealand and Steve Rickard.  We look at his career around the world, and most notably in New Zealand.  We look at what wrestling legends Rickard started and how he found them.  We look at the stars who worked the New Zealand territory during its heyday, as well as the background of the two Flair/Race title change matches that history has forgotten. 

We've got full coverage of the New Japan Invasion Attack PPV show and the great A.J. Styles vs. Kota Ibushi main event.  We've got poll results as well as star ratings and business notes on the show.  We look at the new audience for New Japan, the title changes, as well as the next three events on New Japan World including the next New Japan PPV event.

We also look at last week's UFC show in Fairfax, VA, and what the early start time meant as far as ratings.

We also have updates on WWE on PPV with Fast Lane's numbers.

The Observer is the world's most detailed weekly pro wrestling publication, in its 32nd year of publication, and is read by the biggest names in the pro wrestling, industry, MMA industry, sports world and on Wall Street.

We also have our regular features such as the most complete look at ratings, plus results of the major house show events each week in pro wrestling and MMA, and complete inside rundowns of all the TV shows.

Also in this week's issue:

--The firing of Mr. Niebla and him being brought back

--A story about a wrestler who allegedly attacked an announcer

--AAA's tribute shows for Perro Aguayo Jr.

--Two of the largest and most famous pro wrestling families are linked with an engagement.

--Wrestle-1 title changes hands

--Dragon Gate title change

--Legends coming to big Dragon Gate shows

--Unique main event and stips for upcoming Dragon Gate major show

--Champion Carnival tournament begins

--Update on how New Japan World is doing

--New Japan talks about increase in popularity of women

--Olympic gold medalist who was expected to be major MMA star announces retirement

--How Antonio Inoki made worldwide news with a crazy story

--Update on Kenta Kobashi

--FMW coming back

--A Hall of Famer challenges another to a barbed wire match, but this is not your normal challenge

--Genichiro Tenryu retirement tour

--Notes on last week's PWG show as well as next week's show

--Monster Mafia member moons Four Horsewomen

--A wrestler worth going out of your way to see

--Lawler vs. Dundee fund raiser

--Death of Roller Games promoter Bill Griffiths Sr. and the heyday of the league

--Bischoff and Prichard talk more Monday Night Wars

--One of the greatest heels you probably never saw

--Bischoff talks the Nick Patrick count in Hogan vs. Sting

--Bischoff talks about challenging Vince to a fight

--Cauliflower Alley Club honorees

--Promotion looks too be down for the count and did piracy lead to it

--AGON Wrestling with Olympic hopefuls

--Hodge trophy winner

--Former WWE star expecting child

--What is next for Lucha Underground

--Lucha Underground tribute to Perro Aguayo

--Jay Lethal passes one year as ROH  TV champion

--A look at the next month of ROH television and plans for the next PPV show

--TNA returning to live PPV

--More on TNA getting TV in Canada

--Angle talks about his attempt to talk with Vince McMahon when his TNA deal was up

--Some TNA injuries

--UFC lawsuit against New York State thrown out and why

--Fighter retires after finding out he's had 30 concussions

--The crazy fight with Ronda Rousey and Walmart

--UFC's thoughts on creating its own WrestleMania week

--Dana White on the WWE Network

--Notes on Ultimate Fighter Brazil

--Lots of new UFC fights

--Highest paid athlete of all-time

--MMA death

--Update on UFC legend and a recent arrest for brawling

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)

*October 4, 2004 (the life and times of Big Bossman; as well as details of the life and times of one of the most influential men world wide in pro wrestling history, Jim Barnett)

*November 15, 2004 (the full story of what happened between Kurt Angle and Daniel Puder, plus coverage of the most important week in the history of TNA)

*January 24, 2005 (2004 Awards issue, Rock and WWE part company)

*March 14, 2005 (the 50 biggest money players in the history of WWF and a look at their Hall of Fame)

*May 9, 2005 (the life and times of Chris Candido)

*June 20, 2005 (The full story behind Paul Heyman and the death of ECW, as well as coverage of One Night Stand, Hardcore Homecoming and behind the scenes of both shows)

*July 18, 2005 (death of Shinya Hashimoto and his records with a look at the fall of New Japan, the Matt Hardy angle, tons of WWE firings, Cornette firing in detail as well as problems of a WWE developmental territory in our biggest news issue of the year which is a double-sized issue and would be $6 on its own and $7 overseas)

*August 24, 2005 (2005 Hall of Fame issue with career profiles of Paul Heyman, HHH and Freebirds plus debut of MMA Hall of Fame)

*September 12, 2005 (History of Mid South Wrestling)

*October 10, 2005 (Life and Times of the Ultimate Warrior)

*November 21, 2005 (Life and Times of Eddy Guerrero and Crusher, double issue $6 on its own and $7 overseas)

*December 5, 2005 (The Eddy Guerrero special issue, double issue $6 on its own, $7 overseas)

*January 9, 2006 (The life and times of Superstar Billy Graham, plus New Year's Eve 2005 coverage)

*January 16, 2006 (2005 Awards double issue, $6 or $7 overseas)

*April 3, 2006 (Story of Ann Calvello and the history of Roller Derby--many called this the best issue of the Observer ever)

*April 10, 2006 (Behind the scenes at the 2006 Wrestlemania/Hall of Fame week)

*July 24, 2006 (The History of the Von Erichs and World Class Championship Wrestling--the most unreal story ever in wrestling)

*September 4, 2006 (The Rise and Fall of Kurt Angle; 2006 Hall of Fame inductions of Eddie Guerrero, Paul Bowser, Masakatsu Funaki, Aja Kong and Hiroshi Hase including tons of wrestling history around the world from the 20s through the 60s, the evolution of working to not working in Japan, and a look at Guerrero in hindsight, double issue $6 or $7 overseas)

*October 9, 2006 (A look back nine years later at the life and legacy of Brian Pillman with tons of inside information about what made him tick as his real objectives)

*November 15, 2006 (History of WCW part one, Eric Bischoff's book and how the industry was changed forever)

*November 20, 2006 (History of WCW part two, Why Jim Ross left WCW, How Bischoff changed the company, signing of Hulk Hogan, Beginning of Nitro, Jesse Ventura, Brian Pillman, Chris Jericho and signing Wrestlemania planned celebrity away)

*November 27, 2006 (History of WCW part three, When Bischoff challenged McMahon to fight; Truth and fiction around Bret Hart signing with WCW and why it didn't click)

*December 6, 2006 (details behind Pride's offers to sell promotion and Part four of History of WCW part four, Hogan-Goldberg match and why there was no rematch, WCW loses NBC network deal in 1999 and the real reasons the company fell apart)

*January 22, 2007 (2006 Awards issue, double issue $7 on its own, $8 overseas)

*February 14, 2007 (Life and Times of Bam Bigelow)

*March 5, 2007 (WWE begins plans that will change the business)

*March 12, 2007 (Life and Times of Mike Awesome)

*March 19, 2007 (Life and Times of Ernie Ladd)

*April 4, 2007 (Life and Times of Badnews Allen Coage--which many are calling one of the best issues in history)

*July 2, 2007 (Part one of the Benoit double murder-suicide)

*July 5, 2007 (Part two of the Benoit double murder-suicide)

*July 10, 2007 (Part three of the Benoit double murder-suicide)

*July 19, 2007 (Part four of the Benoit double murder-suicide)

*July 23, 2007 (Part five of Benoit double murder-suicide)

*July 25, 2007 (Part six of Benoit double murder-suicide)

*August 15, 2007 (The legend of the God of Japanese wrestling and his influence on MMA, Karl Gotch)

*October 15 (2007 Hall of Fame double issue, $7 on its own, $8 overseas including inductions of The Rock, Tom Packs and the original Strangler Lewis)

*November 12, 2007 (Life and times of Fabulous Moolah and history of U.S. women's wrestling) .

*December 31, 2007 (History of Ric Flair and the heyday of wrestling at the Greensboro Coliseum)

*January 21, 2008 (2007 Awards issue, double issue $7 on its own, $8 overseas)

*March 17, 2008 (Life and times of Johnny Weaver)

*March 24, 2008 (Life and times of Gary Hart)

*April 10, 2008 (Farewell to Ric Flair; My thoughts, Shawn Michaels talks of Flair's meaning to him; Hall of Fame; Wrestlemania double issue, $7 on its own, $8 overseas)

*August 11, 2008 (Ric Flair leaves WWE; Updated history of pro wrestlers and MMA fighters who went to the Olympics)

* September 8, 2008 (2008 Hall of Fame double issue, $7 on its own, $8 overseas; part one of Killer Kowalski bio)

* September 15, 2008 (Life and Times of Evan Tanner)

* September 22, 2008 (The amazing career of Killer Kowalski, one of our most in-depth bios)

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.

Tuesday Daily Update

  • Seth Rollins talked to The Independer in the UK as part of the European tour. On becoming WWE World Heavyweight Champion: “It’s just gotten a little more hectic really. They sprung it on me at the last second, and that’s part of the responsibility of representing WWE. Wild stuff like that is something I look forward to hopefully happening throughout the rest of my tenure here as Champion, and I get to fly first class now, so that’s cool.”
  • Rolling Stone has a new profile of Ronda Rousey that touches on her WWE fandom among other things. "What draws people into WWE are the storylines. Building that storyline into the fights is really important, because it makes the shit personal to people who are watching. If we're both sitting on a couch, and I like one person that's fighting and you like another person that's fighting, we're gonna start debating it, and whoever wins that fight solves the argument, so now we're personally invested."
  • MTV2 has ordered a pilot for a new version of Celebrity Deathmatch, MTV's late '90s pro wrestling-inspired claymation series. The original series had a few pro wrestling themed episodes, including Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon and another episode with The Undertaker as a guest commentator.
  • The UFC Road to the Octagon special previewing this Saturday's main card from Newark is on the UFC YouTube channel in addition to replaying throughout the week on Fox Sports 1 and 2. This one is really good, especially the parts about Jacare Souza, Yoel Romero, and Max Holloway that go relatively deep into their childhoods, upbringings, etc, plus a really affecting segment with Romero talking about how he deals with leaving his oldest son in Cuba.
  • USA Today's For The Win blog picked up the news of WWE adding what they're calling "the first year of the Attitude Era" to WWE Network's on demand library. For those who haven't checked it out yet, they're starting with December 22, 1997, the week after Vince McMahon's "Cure for the Common Show" promo. So if you're wondering what WWE considers the "official" beginning of the Attitude Era, that's it. The "Attitude Era Raw" shows are also a separate programming bucket from the existing "Raw Replay" bucket that houses all of the other Raws available on the service, and the shows under "Raw Replay" were not brought "up to date" through 12/15/97. Instead, the most recent show in the chronological run from the beginning is 11/11/96.
  • Mashable has an oddly in-depth take on The Rock's Pinterest account.
  • The Atlanta Business Chronicle of all places has a story about WWE signing Uhaa Nation, who's from the city, to a developmental deal. 
  • The Minnapolis Star Tribune talked to Larry Hennig in advance of him getting the Iron Mike award at this week's Cauliflower Alley Club banquet.
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an article about veteran local indie wrestler Jeff Davenport, who delivers flowers in his day job. Less ironic juxtoposition than you'd expect, and a nice little human interest piece.
  • Meanwhile, the Kane County Chronicle profiles Omaha area indie wrestler Brian Plantz, who will soon be joined on an indie show by Mantaur. Yes, Mantaur.
  • We're looking for reports from all of the WWE European tour shows, including the house show today in Bournemouth, England and spoilers from the SmackDown taping 100 miles away in London. Please send all show reports, spoilers, etc. to newstips@wrestlingobserver.com.
  • Today in history notes for April 14th:

An all-time great wacky indie show took place 14 years ago in 2001, as Masao Orihara's Mobius promotion ran the Apex of Triangle trios tournament, which primarily featured talent from Michinoku Pro and the odd array of indies that it worked with, including infamous monster fighter Survival Tobita from the Saitama Pro Wrestling Company. Not only did Orihara wrestle as himself, but one of the other teams featured Sasuke the Great, his alter ego, which was the evil counterpart of The Great Sasuke. Except it might not have been him, because sometimes they teamed together (the other Sasuke the Great was believed to be Pentagon Black)

Anyway, it all built to the finals, where The Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada, and Tiger Mask IV defeated Orihara, Takeshi Ono, and KAW*KAW. The cash prize was awarded...and it turned out to currency with Sasuke the Great's "face" on it. He pointed and laughed at The Great Sasuke and that was the end of the show. Truly must-see entertainment.