WED. UPDATE: Daniel Bryan pulled from European tour, details on fans hitting ring at SmackDown taping, Richie Steamboat update, and more

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

We’re looking for reports on today’s WWE showsin Warsaw, Poland (Roman Reigns vs. Big Show) 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:

No UFC programming on Fox Sports 1 due to soccer commitments.

NXT at 8 p.m. ET on WWE Network has a main event of Sami Zayn (making his return) vs. Rhyno, plus Dana Brooke’s debut and more. WWE has a preview on YouTube.

Lucha Underground at 8 p.m. on El Rey has Prince Puma, Johnny Mundo, & Hernandez vs. King Cuerno, Cage, & Texano in this week’s Trios Championship Tournament match, Son of Havoc vs. The Mack vs. Cage, and Drago vs. AeroStar in the final match of their best of five series. On YouTube, you can check out the “Previously” segment and this week’s preview, plus the teaser for the episode was tweeted by Lucha Underground.  Here’s what El Rey has to say about the episode:

With six of the best luchadores in the Temple, who will earn the last spot in the final round of Lucha Underground’s Trios Title Match? In the ring it’s a heated battle between Team Cuerno and Team Puma. The intensity doesn’t stop there in the ‘Best of Five’ Series when Drago takes on Aerostar in an unforgettable match. 

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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 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. 

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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.

 
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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 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.
 
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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. 
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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–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:
 
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*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)
 
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*May 12, 2003 (The life and death of Elizabeth and the rise of fall of Lex Luger)
 
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*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)
 
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Wednesday Daily Update

— We’re looking for reports from all of the WWE European tour shows, including the house shows today in Warsaw, Poland and Hamburg, Germany. Please send all show reports to newstips@wrestlingobserver.com.

— WWE confirmed the story, originally reported by Raj Giri at Wrestling Inc, that Daniel Bryan has been pulled from the European tour. According to an email statement, “Daniel Bryan has been removed from the remainder of WWE’s UK tour as a precautionary measure.” Bryan had only been working in tag team matches on the tour.

While he had initially changed up some of his trademark spots (replacing the missile dropkick with the flying bodypress) after returning from neck surgery and nerve problems in his elbow, he’s gone back to taking a lot of dangerous bumps as of late, including the back superplex and taking Luke Harper’s half nelson suplex the more dangerous way (on his neck on shoulder). Traditionally, in WWE, wrestlers have sold German Suplex variants as “dangerous” by flipping over face first instead of landing at odd angles.

— The video of a group of fans hitting the ring to do spots with ach other during the main event of last night’s SmackDown taping in London has gotten some mainstream coverage in both the UK and the U.S. The Daily Telegraph, The Croydon Advertiser (which has some extra details because the ringleader was from Croydon), Business Insider, USA Today’s For The Win blog, and Fox Sports’ @TheBuzzer blog have all picked up th story. Ashley Inkz, the fan who hit the Rock Bottom, told the Croydon Advertisr that ”If they contacted me and said ‘we want to give you a contract’, I’d definitely do it.” Well, that’s good to know.

— In an interview with Title Match Wrestling conducted this past weekend at Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling show, Ricky Steamboat confirmed the long-rumored status of his son, who worked as Richie Steamboat in WWE developmental. After injuring four discs in his back and getting them repaired surgically, he won’t be able to return to wrestling. He was one of the best prospects in FCW/NXT at the time of his injury. Before he started wrestling, he was best known to fans for his appearances as a baby, including accompanying his father to the ring at WrestleMania IV.

— At SLAM! Wrestling, Greg Oliver has an article about the beginning of the 50th annual Cauliflower Alley Club convention this week.

— Dave talked to Luke Rockhold for an article at MMAFighting.com. Really good stuff here, with Rockhold talking about which Lyoto Machida fights he watched to prepare for Saturday, how he let his frustration with Vitor Belfort’s TRT exemption get to him, drug testing in general, and more. On the Belfort fight: “I let the emotion get to me, and that was that. I forced the issue. I wanted to put something on him. I’ve never fought like that. I threw a kick and slipped on my ass. That’s not how I fight. I don’t know what came over me. But it was a great learning experience because I’ll never let my myself get in that head space again.”

— Meanwhile, speaking of this Saturday’s card, Sherdog has posted Patrick Wyman’s full fight by fight techical breakdown previewing each fight. If you want a better understanding of the fights, than technical breakdowns like this and the ones that other writers do after the fact are must-reads.

— The Bangor Daily News talked to Tim Boetsch about his training camp for his upcoming fight with Dan Henderson on the New Orleans UFC Fight Night card in June. Interesting quote on changing camps from Matt Hume’s AMC Pankration in Washinton (home of Demetrious Johnson) to Marcus Davis’s gym closer to home: “I’m not sure why I didn’t do it sooner. The first time I came up here to train I crossed the state line and had this overwhelming feeling that things had come full circle and I was coming back home. It’s been a pretty amazing experience.” Being that Hume is an elite coach who only trains a select few fighters (due to his commitments with ONE Championship), it was surprising to see anyone leave his team.

— The latest edition of my Bix Show podcast features a chat with Doug Gilbert, who will be appearing at PopCon in Evansville, Indiana this weekend (promoted by long-time area wrestling and MMA promoter Jeff Osborne) as part of a Memphis wrestling legends’ reunion mini-event with Jerry Lawler, Lance Russell, Bill Dundee, and Jimmy Vaiant. Doug covers a bunch of topics from the end of the UWF to he earliest days of WWE developmental to being part of a wrestling family among many other things. Really enjoyed this one.

— The latest episode of Kris Zellner’s Exile on Badstreet podcast, featuring guests Rob Naylor and Wes Hatch, covers the indie wrestle renaissance that led to the birth of ROH. This is a tremendous listen, as all three watched as much different indie wrestling as possible back then, and they do a great job what made the different promotions and regions unique, what made early ROH special, etc.

— Today in history notes for April 15th:

As alluded to last week, ECW scheduled ECW Arena shows on back to back Saturday nights in 1995, and the second one, Hostile City Showdown ’95, occurred 20 years ago today. One of the best ECW Arena cards from top to bottom, it’s best known these days for the first ECW match between Eddy Guerrero and Dean Malenko, who went to a 30 minute draw and proceeded to feud over the ECW TV Title for the rest of their ECW run. The first match is arguably the best of the series, especially since it was kind of run into the ground without building up fresh opponents for either.

That same day, Meiko Satomura, arguably the best female wrestler of her generation, made her debut, as did Sugar Sato, Sonoko Kato, Toshie Uematsu, and Chikayo Nagashima, as Chigusa Nagayo’s GAEA promotion ran its first show, packing Korakuen Hall. All five turned out to be gifted workers, but Satomura and Nagashima (who’s an incredibly underrated performer) were the clear standouts. With an impressive mix of top ’80s and ’90s stars, as well as a great roster of homegrown talent, GAEA ventually overtook All Japan Women as the top women’s promotion in Japan before the scene imploded.

Some match recommndations for Satomura, Nagashima (though for some reason her best GAEA matches are nowhere to be found on YouTube and DailyMotion), and GAEA in general:

Satomura & Sumie Sakai vs. Nagashima & Carlos Amano – Technically from Mayumi Ozaki’s Oz Academy, which was effectively a GAEA affiliate. Not a blowaway match, but a really, really enjoyable one, and while Sakai wasn’t quite at the level of the other three (Amano was also super underrated), she was more than good enough to hold up her end.

Satomura vs. Akira Hokuto (Part 1, 2, & 3) – The 2003 match of the year for those who saw it. A sort of retirement match for Hokuto with tons of drama and a hot, emotional crowd. One of the last really big matches in Japanese women’s wrestling.

Satomura vs. Aja Kong (Part 1, 2, & 3) – From the GAEA 5th anniversary show headlined by the Crush Gals reuniting as a team, this was one of the biggest and best matches of the definitive feud of Satomura’s career.

KAORU vs. Aja Kong (Parr 1, 2, & 3) – Wild title match from Korakuen Hall that really put GAEA on the map as a promotion to watch among western tape trading fans.

Mayumi Ozaki vs. KAORU (Part 1, 2, & 3) – KAORU (Kaoru Maeda, former tag team partner of Madusa Miceli/Alundra Blayze), on a hot streak has an even wilder brawl on the aforementioned 5th anniversary show, and Ozaki has one of the most fun matches of her career even if she has objectively better performances. Completely over the top pro wrestling in the best possible way.

TODAY’S WWE NETWORK SCHEDULE (thanks to Bert Duckwall)

4:00 PM ET
TOTAL DIVAS The Bellas clash as Brie’s wedding fastly approaches and Nikki avoids telling John about her previous marriage.

5:00 PM ET
TOTAL DIVAS Brie and Bryan get married, and Nikki’s marriage is finally exposed to John. The Divas compete at WrestleMania for the Diva’s Championship.

6:00 PM ET
WWE BEYOND THE RING Hand-picked matches by The Hitman himself, and a revealing, never-before-seen interview with Bret Hart!

8:00 PM ET
WWE NXT The future is here. Witness the entertainers, the leading men and women, the Superstars of tomorrow – this is NXT!

9:00 PM ET
TOTAL DIVAS The Bellas clash as Brie’s wedding fastly approaches and Nikki avoids telling John about her previous marriage.

10:00 PM ET
TOTAL DIVAS Brie and Bryan get married, and Nikki’s marriage is finally exposed to John. The Divas compete at WrestleMania for the Diva’s Championship.

11:00 PM ET
WWE NXT The future is here. Witness the entertainers, the leading men and women, the Superstars of tomorrow – this is NXT!

TOMORROW’S WWE NETWORK SCHEDULE

12:00 AM ET
TOTAL DIVAS The Bellas clash as Brie’s wedding fastly approaches and Nikki avoids telling John about her previous marriage.

1:00 AM ET
TOTAL DIVAS Brie and Bryan get married, and Nikki’s marriage is finally exposed to John. The Divas compete at WrestleMania for the Diva’s Championship.

2:00 AM ET
WWE BEYOND THE RING Hulk Hogan: Ultimate Anthology chronicles the Hulkster’s amazing career and spotlights some of his classic matches.

4:00 AM ET
RAW FLASHBACK Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart returns and makes some stunning proclamations about his WWE future. Hunter Hearst Helmsley reveals a perfect plot.

5:00 AM ET
RAW FLASHBACK Shawn Michaels faces The British Bulldog in the main event. Plus, special satellite interviews with Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bret Hart.

6:00 AM ET
PRIME TIME WRESTLING Take a look back at some exciting action as Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan host another edition of Prime Time Wrestling.

8:00 AM ET
WRESTLEMANIA 5 The Mega Powers explode as Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage clash for the WWE Title. Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude and more.

12:00 PM ET
RAW FLASHBACK Sycho Sid faces Goldust in the main event. The ‘Real Double J’ breaks his silence. Plus, The Sultan, The New and Improved Rockers, and more!

1:00 PM ET
CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS Clash of the Champions XV: Knocksville USA; Ric Flair defends the World Heavyweight Title against Bobby Eaton in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match.

3:00 PM ET
TUESDAY NIGHT TITANS Vince McMahon hosts Tuesday Night Titans with Lord Alfred Hayes. Guests include Hulk Hogan, Ken Patera, Bobby Heenan and King Curtis.

4:00 PM ET
WCW MONDAY NITRO This episode of WCW Monday Nitro features a huge tag team main event when Sting teams with Hulk Hogan to face Ric Flair and Arn Anderson.

5:00 PM ET
WCW ROAD WILD 1998 Diamond Dallas Page teams with late night talk show host, Jay Leno, to face Hollywood Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Goldberg, Sting, and more.

8:00 PM ET
TUESDAY NIGHT TITANS Vince McMahon hosts Tuesday Night Titans with Lord Alfred Hayes. Guests include Hulk Hogan, Ken Patera, Bobby Heenan and King Curtis.

9:00 PM ET
WCW MONDAY NITRO This episode of WCW Monday Nitro features a huge tag team main event when Sting teams with Hulk Hogan to face Ric Flair and Arn Anderson.

10:00 PM ET
FIRST LOOK: ALWAYS BELIEVE A First Look to watch exclusive content from WWE Home Video’s latest release, Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe!

10:30 PM ET
WWE QUICK HITS WWE Quick Hits 5 brings you some of the most unique, entertaining, and sometimes outrageous clips, unearthed from the depths of WWE Network!

11:00 PM ET
TUESDAY NIGHT TITANS Vince McMahon hosts Tuesday Night Titans with Lord Alfred Hayes. Guests include Hulk Hogan, Ken Patera, Bobby Heenan and King Curtis.