SAT. UPDATE: UFC preview, wrestling connection to Bill Simmons split from ESPN, famous Flair match surfaces, and more

by David Bixenspan | | Follow @davidbix

TV and major show notes for tonight:

Tonight’s World Championship Boxing on HBO at 9:00 p.m. ET includes the replay of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight from a week ago.
Prelims on UFC Fight Pass at 7:45 p.m. ET
Hatsu Hioki (146) vs. Dan Hooker (145)
Kyle Noke (170) vs. Jonavin Webb (170)
Dan Kelly (186) vs. Sam Alvey (185)
Bec Rawlings (115) vs. Lisa Ellis (115)
Dylan Andrews (185) vs. Brad Scott (185)
Alex Chambers (115) vs. Kailin Curran (116)
Vik Grujic (170) vs. Brendan O’Reilly (170)
Alptekin Ozkilic (126) vs. Ben Nguyen (126)
Main Card on UFC Fight Pass at 11:00 p.m. ET
Stipe Miococ (243) [#4 HW] vs. Mark Hunt (266) [#5 HW] in the five round main event
Brad Tavares (184) [#14 MW] vs. Robert Whittaker (185)
Anthony Perosh (205) vs. Sean O’Connell (205)
Jake Matthews (155) vs. James Vick (156)
This is one of the most divisionally relevant and high profile Fight Pass main events to date. While both fighters are coming off a loss, Miocic’s was a very close decision against formrr champion Junior Dos Santos (who only champion Cain Velasquez has beaten) while Hunt’s was the interim title fight against Fabricio Werdum, a late replacement fight at high elevation that he was winning until he got caught. That said, if Werdum wins, one would think Dos Santos would be ahead of the winner of this fight. If Velasquez wins, the only reaal options are the winner of this fight and, to a lesser extent, the winner of the Travis Browne vs. Andrei Arlovski in two weeks at UFC 187.
That’s pretty much the end of the name value on the card but there are other fun fights. The co-main is a chance for Whitaker to break into the middleweight rankings in just his second fight since moving up from welterweight, and Brad Tavares is not a bad matchup for him at all. 20 year old lightweight prospect Jake Matthews gets his toughest test so far in James Vick, “Smilin'” Sam Alvey looks to make it three fights in a row where he defeats a local and wins over the fans in a post-match promo, there are two strawweight fights, and more. This definitely has the potential to be one a breezy, fun night of fights even if most is not elite MMA.
Pro Wrestling Noah in Yokohama late tonight U.S. time/tomorrow evening in Japans:

Minoru Suzuki (c) vs Naomichi Marufuji for the GHC Heavyweight Title with Kenta Kobashi at ringside to prevent Suzuki-Gun from interfering
Killer Elite Squad Ic) vs. Masato Tanaka & Takashi Sugiura for GHC Tag Team Titles
Maybach Taniguchi & Blue Mask (strongly implied to be Yuji Nagata) vs. Shelton Benjamin & Brian Breaker
Taichi (c) vs. Atsushi Kotoge for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title
Taka Michinoku & Desperado (c) vs. Yoshinari Ogawa & Zack Sabre Jr. for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
Mohammed Yone & Taiji Ishimori & Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Mikey Nicholls &
Shane Haste & Quiet Storm
Kenou & Hajime Ohara vs. Akitoshi Saito & Captain NOAH


The newest issue of Figure Four Weekly is up on the site for subscribers (subscribe here) and being the first week of May, features an extensive article demystifying what Sweeps mean for ratings and how it affects the wrestling business in 2015:

— What do Sweeps periods actually measure?

— Do Sweeps matter for cable at all?

— What wrestling companies are they relevant to these days?

— What was their past significance?

— And 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. 


The lessons learned and the aftermath of Mayweather-Pacquiao is the lead story of a double issue of the Observer, which also includes the history of the UWA promotion, one of the strongest promotions in history but one that few American fans know anything about, , as well as a detailed look at the WWE business as it stands, was WrestleMania really a money loser (it wasn’t but the books say it was and why), how the WWE network is doing, Sami Zayn on Raw and his injury, New Japan’s last PPV, NOAH’s tag tourney final, the UFC Reebok deal, Hall of Fame, WWE Payback and so much more.

The new issue is up on the site at

Web site subscriptions, which include access to both current and older newsletters as well as every audio show on the history of the site are at
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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.
We look at the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight and what can be learned from it regarding business, why it worked, the questions regarding the shoulder injury and how it was handled, the lawsuit filed against Pacquiao, and why the ceiling of interest was busted so badly.
We have our quarterly look at WWE financials, including the strange dichotomy of good results and a stock market price drop, WWE network subscribers, how many were new subscribers, how many old subscribers came back for WrestleMania and how many came from the free offer.  We look at the expense of the network,the money lost on it, how much more money the company is making from TV, and how much was spent and generated by WrestleMania this year.
We also look at the end of the PPV business, paid attendance at WrestleMania, merchandise sales, how much the average fan spent who attended the show, and why the WrestleMania revenue total is misleading and how the bookkeeping is done.
We also look at what show was a ratings success, a look at WWE’s current estimates for profitability next quarter and subscription numbers, we look at where WWE profits the most by category and a history dating back to 2011, we look at every aspect of company business as well as revenue by geographical area.  We look at the money WWE looks to make from television this year, the last remnants of PPV, a breakdown of how all the recent WWE movies did, the house show business, the merchandise business, the video game business, best selling DVDs, web site and more.
We also have a feature on Sami Zayn and his injury and how things had to be changed.  We look at what the debut was patterned after.
We also look at Payback, Hulk Hogan talking one more match and claiming he was approached by UFC, pro wrestlers who actually were approached by UFC, the real story behind the WWE/Tapout connection and it’s not what people think, Stephanie McMahon being gone form Raw, Stephanie talks Ronda Rousey, thoughts on women in WWE going forward, return of Chris Jericho and dates, Rock box office, curb stomp update, More WWE injuries, NXT ticket sales, ESPN piece, NXT as a facility, Bischoff and Prichard talk Monday Night Wars and 1997 Survivor Series, Michelle Beadle  and HHH, Linda McMahon rumors, Former star writes a book, WWE in China, Next WWE movie, plus notes from all the house shows over the past week and business notes.
We also look at New Japan’s Dontaku show with match-by-match coverage, ratings and poll results.
We also have a huge historical feature on the UWA promotion, which from the mid-70s through the early 90s was one of the biggest and most successful companies in the world.  We look at the life and career of Carlos Maynez, who passed away last week.  We look at how he and his uncle got started in wrestling and how the UWA got off the ground.  The UWA story, both its rise and fall, is interesting, because of how similar it is to many U.S. groups and the lessons very clear about the ups and the downs.
We also look at the legends of both Lucha Libre, but also Japanese and American pro wrestling who headlined the company’s biggest shows, including Canek’s matches with the likes of Andre, Thesz and Hogan. 
We look at how the UWA got started, how big its first show was and the key move made in beating the opposition’s champion on the first show.  We also look at the gimmick, still used today, that they used on two of their biggest early shows.
We look at the two Thesz vs. Mascaras matches, and how UWA wooed so much top talent.  We look at the big stars of the company, and them pushing smaller talent and women.  We look at the building of Canek to be one of the most important figures in Mexican wrestling history, as well as their big 1978 run of 20,000 attendance shows week after week and the hotshot booking involved.
We look at the El Toreo heyday, and the legends involved in those shows, as well as the small town wrestling, the breakup of the company, its legendary matches and attempts to run opposition.
We also look at the final run of sellouts including what American star was in the main event of the last two.
We look at the factors in the fall of the promotion.  We also look at the kidnaping of Carlos Maynez in 1997 and what happened.
We’ve got a story on the Reebok deal with UFC and he reaction to it.
We also look at one of Dragon Gate’s biggest shows of the year and the cage match of death on top.
We also look at the finals of the Pro Wrestling NOAH tag team tournament.
We also have a feature on the revamped UFC Hall of Fame, and what part WWE played in its long-term goals.  We also look at many of the leading candidates.
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:
–Mexican national welterweight title change
–Legend says going to the promotion that made him a legend is something he’s now sorry about
–Dream match of two of 80s top babyfaces
–Arena Mexico anniversary show coverage
–Just how many shows there were in Mexico City on one day
–A look at the AAA World Cup tournament
–AAA’s version of SummerSlam announced including the main events
–A look at two major AAA TV tapings
–Two huge AAA events looked at
–President of one wrestling company becomes CEO of another
–Road to Keiji Muto tournament
–Champion Carnival coverage
–New Japan’s return to U.S. TV
–Terry Funk has one more match booked
–The strangest elimination for a shot in a world title tournament
–Notes on Global Force Wrestling
–A look at the announcing situation
–A look at the talent
–Lots of surprises when it comes to talent
–Clarification on different talent
–Notes on funeral of Verne Gagne
–Why a wrestler shot up his office
–Gene Okerlund at the funeral
–Gagne vs. Dick Hutton as pro wrestlers at the funeral
–Preston City Wrestling notes
–Unique match the company is booking
–Who is coming to the group over the next few months
–Different versions of the Ron Wright plane blowing up story
–Update on Ventura lawsuit
–Phil Baroni’s pro wrestling debut
–What other MMA names as well as actor involved with Baroni’s first match
–The biggest angle i Roller Games history
–Tasteless angle
–More on Lucha Underground and what comes next
–Update on Adam Cole in ROH
–TNA’s next PPV show
–TNA China tour cancellation and fallout
–Morale issues
–Update on Jeff Hardy
–Update on Billy Corgan and TNA
–What international act TNA is pursuing
–Update on TNA and Destination America
–TNA announcing situation
–More on Samoa Joe leaving
–Kurt Angle in Vin Diesel movie
–Dana White talks Jon Jones
–More on Khabib Nurmagomedov injury
–Rashad Evans targets return
–A look at the UFC light heavyweight title situation with Jon Jones gone
–Jon Jones threatened legal action against the Nevada commission
–A look at the legal letter
–UFC injuries and fight changes
–Stipulations for this week’s UFC main event
–Update on UFC ticket sales
–Why judo officials aren’t happy with UFC’s rise
–Fighter retires due to concussion concern
–Fighters in a match next week get very heated over steroid charge
–Bellator signs K-1 Grand Prix winner     
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.


Saturday Daily Update

— Deadspin is pushing the story that the last straw in ESPN deciding not to renew Bill Simmons’ contract was Simmons using Mick Foley’s “testicular fortitude” pet berm to refer to Roger Goodell not having the courage to make a decision on “Deflategate” until the public had reacted to the NFL’s official report. Simmons was previously suspended for a podcast rant where he called Goodell a liar.

— Argos and Argenis, two of the brothers of Myzteziz/original Sin Cara/original CMLL Mistico, are in Orlando for the Impact tapings. 

— Jim Ross did an interview with the Baltimore Sun to promote his one man show (which is one week from today). This was where he broke the news that Global Force Wrestling is taping 13 weeks of television (12 hour-long shows and a two hour finale special) in Las Vegas in what sure looks like a seasonal format, similar to what Lucha Underground is doing now and what GLOW did in the ’80s.

— Ross’s latest column centers around a chat he had with Billy Corgan about TNA. Ross seems impressed with Corgan’s grasp of wrestling psychology.

— Corgan also talked to Rolling Stone this week. Key quote: “It’s difficult, because wrestling is a very intact culture and you can’t just throw it in one direction. You have to kind of know where you’re going, so right now there’s a lot of set-up going on. I think you’ll start to see my impact on the television product probably in the next 8-12 weeks. I’m very engaged with the executives there about how to not only move the company in the right direction – let’s call it a social currency level – but also do those things symbolically that the American public will recognize as change.”

— There’s a feature length documentary (in Spanish) on YouTube about Jack Veneno, the biggest wrestling star ever in the Dominican Republic. Of note even to non-Spanish speakers is by far the best and most extensive footage of Veneno’s famous match with Ric Flair in 1982 where he got an unauthorized NWA World Heavyweight Title win, presumably due to crowd control issues. As legend has it, American wrestling fans who have visited the country would see the match on TV since it was being aired semi-regularly (especially on holidays) even as of a few years ago. No idea if that’s more than just an urban legend, but it’s nice to be able to finally see pretty much the whole thing.

— Bruno Sammartino talks about his mother’s efforts to save his and his siblings’ life during World War II. This is part of the promotion for a documentary that airs locally tomorrow night in Pittsburgh.

— Bec Rawlings talks to about how her fight with Lisa Ellis tonight at the UFC card in Australia became a grudge match.

— The Link Newspaper in Montreal has an article about the local Battlewar indie promotion continuing their third anniversary show after local indie wrestler Tankman Chaz went into convulsions during a match. The article is vague about Chaz’s condition past him being stabilized at the hospital and recuperating at home with his family.

— The Asian has a pretty extensive article about what makes Japanese pro wrestling (primarily NJPW) different from WWE and whatever other American-style wrestling most people are familiar with.

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