WORLD WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
2/16 Final ECW TV results from Kansas City, MO: ShowMiz over Goldust & Yoshi Tatsu to retain the tag titles; and Ezekiel Jackson over Christian to capture the ECW title. Dark match was Jimmy Yang over Tyler Reks. Not good for Reks.
WWE revealed the finalized cast for NXT during the final episode of ECW last night on Syfy: Chris Jericho mentoring Wade Barrett [UK native]; Matt Hardy mentoring Justin Gabriel [formerly Justin Angel from South Africa]; MVP mentoring Skip Sheffield; Carlito mentoring Michael Tarver; Christian mentoring Heath Slater; CM Punk mentoring Darren Young; R-Truth mentoring David Otunga [reality star and fiancée of Jennifer Hudson]; and The Miz mentoring Daniel Bryan [Bryan Danielson]. Everyone thinks the last pairing is a rib on Danielson, but it's actually the other way around. Still, it will be fun watching Miz show Danielson how to work. The current plan is for NXT to run for two or three seasons over the next 12 months with each season running for 16 episodes. That could change depending on how the show develops and how well it does in terms of ratings. There is also talk of involving some Diva's on the show but it's unknown what role they would play.
Chris Jericho and Gregory 'Hurricane' Helms pled guilty by phone and paid fines [$159 each] yesterday related to their public intoxication arrest in Northern Kentucky last month. Jericho was apparently unaware that he had to pay the fine. An arrest warrant was issued but later recalled after he called in, pled guilty, and settled up. Jay Reso [Christian], was listed as surety, according to court documents.
The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are both planning to take some time off again following Wrestlemania. Taker is still advertised on the WWE website for the post-Mania European tour in April while Michaels is not listed on any promotional material.
Teddy Hart has been talking again about coming to WWE. Since 2008 he's worked as a regular for AAA in Mexico but was recently suspended and may not be brought back. Back in 1998, at age 18, he became the youngest person in history to be signed by WWE. He was sent to train with Dory Funk, Jr. at his Funkin' Dojo but was later released by WWE due to alleged attitude problems among other things. He is a third generation wrestler -- the son of Georgia Hart, daughter of Stu Hart.
The WWE website is reporting that Bret Hart suffered a "broken left leg and tendon and ligament damage" playing up to the latest storyline. You see, John Cena has stroke on WWE.com -- remember that April Fools joke about Vickie Guerrero being pregnant? That's if the "car accident" was a swerve by Cena and Bret... or maybe not.
Steve Austin did an interview with WWE magazine for the new Wrestlemania Almanac. Nothing ground breaking but he says he has no interest in ever wrestling Hulk Hogan. "After I retired, for two or three years, they asked me, 'Do you want to wrestle Hogan this year? Do you want to wrestle Hogan?' And the answer is: No, I don't. I don't care to wrestle Hulk Hogan. I don't think it would live up to fans' expectations." He said his favorite WrestleMania moment was wrestling The Rock at WM17, but said he wished they never turned his character heel. "Looking back, it wasn't the best thing we ever did. Now, if I could go back, as soon as that match ended, when Vince walked up to me, I would have shaken his hand and said, 'Watch the Stunner,' and dropped him right there in the middle of the ring. That's hindsight being 20/20!" He also said he considers WM 19 against The Rock his retirement match. "That was my last match, and I'm not looking for a re-match. I don't it would be as good as what we've done before because we've both been out of the ring for some time. Could it be done? Of course. But there's no use talking about it. ... I definitely do not have any interest in delivering anything that would be second-best to what I've done before."
Smoky Mountain Wrestling clips recently started airing on WWE 24/7. SMW was Jim Cornette's promotion that ran out of Knoxville from October 1991 to December 1995. Though the promotion was highly thought of, it struggled to get a profitable television deal, and operated throughout a wrestling recession. After years of operating in red ink, Cornette shut the promotion down to work full-time with the WWF. The last SMW show took place on November 26, 1995 in Cookeville, TN, and featured the entire roster attacking Jim Cornette, who was then pinned by a referee, the late Brian Hildebrand. Cornette sold the tapes to WWE in 2003 while he was working for the company in developmental.
There is at least talk within the company about producing another ECW DVD.
IGN.com interviewed THQ CEO Brian Farrell. He didn't give anything away on the next WWE video game but said they have big plans to unveil at E3. From being at Summerslam where they launched Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 the feeling among the gamers was that the series has now run it's course. It will be interesting to see what THQ comes up with this year. They recently signed a new 8-year contract with WWE for the rights to develop and publish games based on WWE content.
Raw on Monday night did a 3.4 rating and 4.9 million viewers.
Smackdown on February 5 did a 2.1 household rating and averaged 3.6 million viewers.
The latest NBC teaser for Celebrity Apprentice features clips of Maria and Bill Goldberg at http://tinyurl.com/y9vhwvc. NBC has also launched a new website for the show today at www.nbc.com/the-apprentice/.
Maria has pushed back the release of her first single to March so she can get more radio play around Wrestlemania.
Mickie James' first single, Are You With Me, is currently available for free download at http://countryshowcase.com/m_radio.php. Her first album, Strangers & Angels, goes on sale on March 23. The first 1,000 copies sold at www.mickiejames.com will receive a free autograph and t-shirt.
Andrew Whitaker, EVP International for WWE, will be a headline speaker at the World Television Festival in June at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in the Canadian Rockies.
The Honky Tonk Man has just signed a deal with Mattel to do a WWE action figure. He talks about his dealings with Jeff Jarrett and TNA, Hulk Hogan and more at www.honkytonkman.net.
TNA WRESTLING NEWS
Some big news out of the television tapings last night in Orlando. Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair were announced as returning to the ring for the live episode of Impact on Monday, March 8 on Spike TV. The match will be Hulk Hogan & Abyss vs. Ric Flair & AJ Styles. To me, and this is just my opinion, it's mind boggling they would give away the in-ring return of Hogan and Flair on free television just to pop a television rating. TNA's main problem is not getting people to watch Impact, it's getting people to care enough about the product to spend money.
Brian Fritz interviewed Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter following Monday's press conference announcement. Dixie said they did consider going live every Monday but feels it needs to make sense in terms of dollars and cents. "Smart business decisions are more important than anything else right now," she said. "We should take a lot of those dollars and instead of just going live right away, use it to help spread the word on TNA." When asked about taking Impact on the road, she said, "We don't have that ability to go into all of these different regions outside of house shows, which are really our best indicator right now of how well things are getting over in different regions of the country." Hogan said he doesn't expect Monday nights against WWE to be competitive at first, but said he understands the process of building viewership, and claimed it took him just six months with WCW to defeat WWE in the mid 90s saying they went from drawing crowds of six-to-seven thousand people to 11 or 12 thousand people. It was actually nothing like that, but that's apparently how he remembers it. Just read his book. He said creative is now his main focus. "I love Vince Russo from a distance. Sometimes a leopard doesn't change his spots, you know? All those old clichés I could plug in but I come in peace. I think we've all grown. I think we all don't really live by knee-jerk reactions any more. And so far, everyone is holding their end up. As far as I'm concerned now that I'm running this thing with Dixie, everybody from the guy who sets the ring up to the guy who has the final say on the last hero shot when we go off the air, everybody has to prove themselves and everybody has to bring something to the table. And so far the writing staff – Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara and Matt [Conway] – these guys have really stepped up." More at http://tinyurl.com/yzp7r3k.
Tickets for Lockdown at the Family Arena in St. Charles, MO, go on sale February 26. Prices range from $26 to $156. To help push ticket sales, TNA are hosting a Hulk Hogan Fu-Fest the same day at Mike Shannon's Steak and Seafood in St. Louis. Shannon is the former St. Louis Cardinals baseball player and Cardinals broadcast announcer. "The Hulk Hogan Fu-Fest will be a gathering of Fu's from around the world as TNA Wrestling and Hogan attempt to set a world record for most Fu Manchu's in one location at one time," according to a TNA press release. "Even I will sport a Fu to support Hogan," added Dixie Carter.
Bubba the Love Sponge was backstage at the television tapings yesterday. One person backstage likened him to a bad smell that won't go away. That's probably a little harsh although other TNA people have noted to us he gives off a vibe that he’s above everyone else due to his friendship with Hogan.
Karen Angle was also at the tapings with Jeff Jarrett.
Kazuchika Okada of New Japan Pro Wrestling started with the company this week.
Roxxi [Nikki Roxx] is expected back next month. She broke her ankle in a freak accident during a match in December.
Hernandez is being sent to work in Mexico for a few shows with AAA. There are other guys going too for a March tour but no names have been confirmed yet.
Eric Bischoff is said to be very high on Orlando Jordan. They are developing his character based on his sexuality for future episodes of Impact.
TV Week posted a blurb on Impact moving to Monday nights, including this gem from reporter Alison Waldman: "Spike TV's two-hour wrestling show will air every other Monday beginning March 8 at 9 p.m., competing directly with WWE and World Championship Wrestling on USA Network."
The quarter hour break downs for Impact last Thursday showed the Knockouts once again had the highest rated quarter hour. They did a 1.31 for Q1 of hour two that featured The Beautiful People over Tara & Angelina Love. The least watched segments of the show were the final 30 minutes doing 1.02 with Bischoff confronting AJ Styles to announce himself as special referee at the pay-per-view, and Hogan siding with Kurt Angle against The Band.
For whatever it's worth, Bill Goldberg wrote on his Twitter page yesterday, "Let's get the record straight. From my lips. TNA has not contacted me. Period. No B.S."
Jeff Hardy and Shannon Moore are signing autographs all over the Northeast this weekend: Friday at Menlo Park Mall in Edison, NJ, from 6-8pm; Saturday at the Crystal Mall in Waterford, CT from 10-12noon; also Saturday at the Smithaven Mall in Lake Grove, NY, from 5-7pm; Sunday at Crystal Run in Middletown , NY, from 12-3pm; and also Sunday at George's Cards & Collectibles in Levittown, PA from 7-9pm.
Hardy has agreed to sign a short term deal with the company after/if his legal issues are cleared up which may not be until the summer. His next court date is March 17.
OTHER WRESTLING NEWS
Booker T and his wife Sharmell are expecting twins -- The new Harlem Heat. This may explain the incident from the TNA European tour late last year when both walked out before a match when fans starting pelting objects at the ring following a Scott Steiner promo. Booker is currently focusing on a Hollywood acting career as well as taking the occasional personal appearance booking. Congratulations to the happy couple.
Dragon Gate USA added Tommy Dreamer to their March 27 Wrestlemania weekend show in Phoenix, AZ. More at www.dgusa.tv.
Tully Blanchard promotes Charlotte-based NWA: New Beginnings and talks old wrestling at http://tinyurl.com/yfgdmu4.
There is a Q&A with the legendary Don Leo-Jonathan, 78, at http://tinyurl.com/yc92ajg. He said his toughest opponents in the ring were Andre the Giant, Killer Kowalski and Otto Vance from Austria.
Windy City Media has a story on Aaron Nelson, a former indie wrestler who has written a book about his experience in the wrestling business after he told promoters and other wrestlers he was gay and tried to develop a gay wrestling character. He was trained by Buddy Rose in Portland and Dory Funk Jr. in Florida. He says, "No one knew I was gay when I broke into the business. I made a conscious decision to cover up [my sexuality]. Not because I was ashamed of who I was, but I just wanted to be treated the same; I didn't want to be treated better or worse because of [my sexuality]. I wanted to have success, or fail, based on my effort and ability, not on my sexuality." He said that proceeds from his book will be donated to a charity that helps children with diabetes. "I had so much fun writing this book. The real reason I wrote it is, I want to inspire others, especially gay athletes. I know it was a rough road for me, so hopefully I'll help inspire others." Story is at http://tinyurl.com/y92ncqs.
April Hunter is profiled in Rouge fashion magazine [similar to Vogue] in Europe which is on news stands right now.
Today's Diva of the Day is Sarita at http://www.thewrestlingpress.com/DailyDiva.