by David Bixenspan | firstname.lastname@example.org | Follow @davidbix
NXT at 8:00 p.m. ET on WWE Network features a Michael Cole sit-down interview with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn leading into their match at Takeover in two weeks, Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze, Charlotte vs. Emma, Rhyno in singles action, and the team of Enzo Amore & Big Cass in tag team action.
Lucha Underground at 8:00 p.m. ET on El Rey features Son of Havoc and Angelico vs. Mr. Cisco and Cortez Castro, Texano vs. Delavar Daivari, Prince Puma and Hernandez vs. Cage and King Cuerno, and Alberto El Patron vs. Johnny Mundo in a number one contender’s match with the winner getting a title shot next week. On YouTube, El Rey has “Previously on Lucha Underground” and preview videos of Alberto El Patron and Johnny Mundo confronting Dario Cueto as well as Black Lotus in training, while they also have a teaser with Dario Cueto and Daivari on Twitter. Here’s the official preview from El Rey:
Tensions run high when The Crew (Bael, Cortez Castro & Mr. Cisco) seeks revenge on the underdogs (Ivelisse, Son of Havoc & Angélico) who defeated them in the Trios Championship. Puma and Hernandez must put their differences aside when they team up to fight Cage and King Cuerno. Alberto Patron and Johnny Mundo battle it out in a match that will decide who advances to a #1 Contender’s Match against Hernandez! See who the winner will be on Wednesday, May 6th at 8:00PM ET/PT on El Rey Network.
UFC Programming Tonight on Fox Sports 1:
9:30 p.m. ET UFC Ultimate Insider focusing on the Fox card from Newark a few weeks ago. (This episode premiered Sunday)
100:00 p.m. ET New episode of The Ultimate Fighter titled “Settling the Score.” Official preview:
Members of the American Top Team have to overcome their personal demons first if they want to find success in the Octagon, while the stress of the competition gets to one of the Blackzillians, causing them to make tough decisions.
The promo for the episode shows an American Top Team fighter missing weight and the Blackzillians (because the weigh-in and eventual fight were in their gym), led by Tyrone Spong, blocking the sauna to keep him from being able to sweat off the remaining weight. Also, remember that as always, Fox Sports Live at 11:00 p.m. ET opens with the “TUF Talk” segment, so if you’re DVRing the show, you want to pad the recording by at least 15 minutes.
The newest issue of Figure Four Weekly is up on the site for subscribers (subscribe here) with a look at the 10th anniversary of the death od Chris Candido including what he meant to indie wrestling at the time, hy he was such a uniqu figure, and much more. Plus, as always, we have 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 American, Canadian, 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.
Part one of the life and times of Verne Gagne is the lead story on a jam-packed issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that is out today. We’ve also got the most detailed look at the Jon Jones situation, the UFC light heavyweight title, as well as Ronda Rousey in WWE, Extreme Rules coverage, Payback notes, UFC 186, the life of Ashura Hara and four former wrestling personalities get elected to public office in one week.
Latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter: May 4, 2015 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Verne Gagne bio part 1, Jon Jones stripped of UFC title, bios of Ashura Hara & Rudy Reyna
Website subscriptions, which include access to both current and older newsletters as well as every audio show in the history of the site as low as $9.99 per month!
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 email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org
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For the United States, it is $13 for 4 issues, $32 for 12, $61 for 24, $101 for 40 and $131 for 52. In Canada and Mexico, rates are $14.50 for 4, $35 for 12, $67 for 24, $111 for 40 and $144 or 52. In Europe, you can get the fastest delivery and best rates by sending to firstname.lastname@example.org For the rest of the world, rates are $16.50 for 4, $44 for 12, $85 for 24, $141 for 40 issues and $183 for 52.
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 back at the wrestling career of Verne Gagne, one of the most noteworthy pro wrestling of the 20th century. We look at the booking of Gagne, the story of the promoter who promised Gagne an all-time attendance record for a title defense and he turned the match down and why, we look at the end of his career, Sports Illustrated ranking him as an athlete, his football career, his involvement in one of the biggest college wrestling matches of all-time, how Gagne spoiled the first Cael Sanderson record, Gagne and the Olympic games, starting as a pro wrestler, his rise to the top, his winning the world jr. title, and why he never won the NWA world heavyweight title. We look at the creation of the AWA title, when the world title started getting fractured and why, the ironies of both Verne Gagne and Roy Shire as promoters, the expansion of the AWA, the AWA lifestyle, the biggest AWA angles, and Gagne vs Billy Robinson.
We also look at his training wrestlers, the Hogan era and the peak of the AWA.
We also have full details of the Jon Jones story, both why he got suspended and complete police records as to what happened this past week with his auto accident. We look at his losing sponsors, Cormier vs. Rumble Johnson, UFC’s position, and Cormier talks his title shot.
We also have more on Dana White’s comments on Ronda Rousey in WrestleMania and the WWE’s reaction, as well as UFC fighters doing pro wrestling in recent years.
We’ve got a full rundown of the Extreme Rules PPV, a look at Payback, plus match-by-match ratings and poll results from the show.
We also look at the Daniel Bryan situation, who is being groomed for a unique babyface push to stardom, disappearing of the curb stomp, next NXT special, Samoa Joe and WWE, Furious 7 box office marks, NXT on tour, a TV documentary on one of the biggest shows in WWE history coming, and notes on talent cut this past week by WWE.
We also look at the Demetrious Johnson conundrum, the flyweight division, the business of UFC 186 and match-by-match coverage.
We look at the career of Ashura Hara, including his biggest matches, why his career at the top in All Japan suddenly ended, his appearance in G-1, his rugby background, his IWE start, some of his famous matches and the 1987 tag team tournament.
We also look at four pro wrestlers elected to public office this past week.
We also have a bio on exotico star Rudy Reyna, including his start in pro wrestling, how much of a shoot his act was, his health issues and career highlights.
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:
–More on the World Cup tag team tournament
–New major AAA shows
–AAA & Lucha Underground notes
–Top promotion star breaks nose and gets teeth knocked out
–Dragon Gate builds to one of its biggest events of the year on iPPV
–Update on New Japan World
–Kidani talks New Japan pay
–How business is going with New Japan
–New Japan big show rundown
–Update on Jeff Jarrett and Global Force Wrestling
–Different names being talked about
–Jarrett and Eric Bischoff and Jarrett’s reactions to stories
–Missy Hyatt charges dropped story
–Bill Goldberg says he’ll wrestle again and more notes on the subject
–A look back at Bill Goldberg in WWE and why it didn’t work
–Why Goldberg’s career in Japan ended
–Funny note on Kevin Nash
–Japanese star looking at working indie dates in the U.S.
–More notes on the future of Lucha Underground
–How close are they to being No. 2 in the market
–Notes going into the second season
–Why there is a premium on guys who can wrestle well
–Update on Adam Cole in ROH
–Notes on the booking of the ROH/New Japan shows
–Notes on the broadcasting of the entire tour
–ROH final show before the New Japan tour
–Notes on Jeff Hardy’s injury
–ROH star returns from injury
–Lots on Billy Corgan signing with TNA and his thoughts on wrestling creative
–Wrestling stars get engaged
–Rampage Jackson talks TNA
–Another longtime performer out of TNA
–Taryn Terrell heel turn notes
–UFC on FOX ratings notes
–Notes on the Reebok sponsorship in UFC
–Reaction to those numbers
–UFC fighter sues another UFC fighter over a sponsorship deal gone bad
–UFC signs one of the best wrestlers in the world as a project
–Lots of new UFC 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)
*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.
Wednesday Daily Update
— Yesterday, in an article at Yahoo Sports, Kevin Iole reported that the early trending reports for the Mayweather-Pacquiao PPV buys say that the card will “obliterate” the 2.45 million buy record set by Mayweather vs. Oscar de la Hoya in 2007. Just how much is obliteration? Iole says that buys for this past weekend’s card “will soar past 4 million.” That’s at a price of $90-$100 depending on the provider and the customer’s choice of standard definition vs. high definition.
— In a press release, Global Force Wrestling announced the following talent accuisitions:
* Chael Sonnen as “expert analyst.”
* The Bullet Club represented by “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows.
* The Killer Elite Squad, (Lance Hoyt and Davey Boy Smith Jr.)
* Chris “The Adonis” Mordetsky (Chris Masters)
* PJ Black (Justin Gabriel)
* Quinn “Moose” Ojinnaka, who’s probably the biggest surprise since one would think ROH had him locked up.
* Lei’D Tapa, The Barbarian’s niece, formerly of TNA
* Thea Trinidad (Rosita in TNA, Divina Fly in some indies, and sometimes one of the Rosebuds on WWE TV)
Other than Moose, nothing too shocking, depending on what you think of the Sonnen signing. The release promises more announcements to come, and that “GFW has alliances with 13 promotions on five continents, including New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Mexico’s AAA and more top independent organizations in Europe, Australia and Africa.”
— UFC fighter Cody Gibson tweeted a screenshot of the “Tenure Tiers” (which were also announced on a media call today) showing how much UFC fighters will be getting in uniform pay from Reebok, which, effective the beginning of July, will be replacing any fight week sponsor money they had been making.
The tiers are (remember, this includes fights in Strikeforce and WEC from after the UFC bought each promotion::
1-5 fights: $2,500
6-10 fights: $5,000
11-15 fights: $10,000
15-20 fights: $15,000
21+ fights: $20,000
Title challenger: $30,000
Those figures fall short of the estimates in an article by Jack Encarnacao that was published ten days ago in the Boston Herald. Lorenzo Fertitta said on the media call that “All of the revenue we’re receiving from Reebok is being distributed to the fighters. The only revenue not included will be used to cover direct operating costs for this program.” That presumably refers to new staff like the equipment manager(s).
— Ric Flair’s “WOOOOO!™ Nation” podcast (yes, that’s five Os, no H, and a trademark symbol) debuts today on CBS’s Play.It network with Kurt Angle as the first guest.
— Like they did with the Tyler Breeze video in advance of the WWE R:60 documentary airing, ESPN released a Colin Cassady video last night when the documentary went off the air. Not as long, detailed, or intriguing as the Breeze short, but worth watching if just for the clip of a production meeting where Jim Ross sticks up for Cassady.
— Per a press release we got, May 23rd, Mount Airy Casino in Mount Pocono, PA (the former Mount Airy Lodge, which readers from the northeast will remember for running the same late ’80s vintage commercial past the ’90s at the very least) will be having a pool party with Naomi and Eva Marie as guests on May 23rd. If you remember those commercials, the idea of Mount Airy Lodge 1. Becoming a casino 2. Holding a “WWE Diva Pool Party” doesn’t quite compute.
— The White Bear Press in White Bear Lake Minnesota interviewed lifelong resident Jim Brunzell about the passing of Verne Gagne. It closes with the most Ray Stevens rib story in the history of Ray Stevens rib stories.
— The newest episode of my podcast is up, and I’m joined by Kris Zellner for a long, fun talk about old newsletters, other related hardcore wrestling fandom topics like tape trading, radio shows, and early internet discussion, plus whatever else comes up. Speaking of Kris, the latest episode of his Exile on Badstreet podcast sees him joined by Robert Bihari, Alfredo Esparza, and The Cubs Fan to talk about the art of the technico in lucha libre as well as reviewing the year in lucha so far in 2015.
— The Oregonian has a nice story on Club Azteca Lucha Libre running a show at the local Cinco de Mayo festival.
— 25 years ago, for the weekend ending May 6, 1990, the WWF and especially WCW had their first syndicated shows of May sweeps (sweeps are for local stations, which is why it’s network and syndicated shows that pull out the stops). WWF Superstars had Mr. Perfect vs. Jimmy Snuka in the first round of the Intercontinental Title tournament, while WWF Wrestling Challenge had the Hart Foundation va. The Bolsheviks in a WrestleMania VI rematch. WCW threw a much bigger match on TV, Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger (just two weeks before a PPV match between the two at Capital Combat) featuring Barry Windham’s return to rejoin the Four Horsement.
At the time, wrestling promotions were allowed to combine all of their shows (including cable, for some reason) into one giant “network” rating as long as they withdrew their shows from the syndicated rankings, so you have to take the numbers with a grain or two of salt. The WWF scored an 8.8% rating (with 251 stations/97% of the U.S.) to WCW’s 6.5% rating (with 175 stations/93% of the U.S.). On cable, the companies were closer to even, with the WWF’s best, Prime Time Wrestling, doing a 3.0 rating and 4.6 share with 1.59 million homes to WCW’s best, Main Event, doing a 2.9 rating and 6.2 share in 1.58 million homes.