WORLD WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT
6/21 Raw TV results from Bridgeport, CT: Chris Jericho over Evan Bourne; Tamina vs. Natalya was a no contest; John Morrison over Zack Ryder; Great Khali & Eve Torres over Primo & Alicia Fox; and Sheamus vs. John Cena was also a no contest.
6/22 NXT TV results from Manchester, NH: The Miz & Alex Riley over MVP & Percy Watson; Michael McGillicutty over Titus O'Neill; Eli Cottonwood over Kaval; and "Dashing" Cody Rhodes over Lucky Cannon.
Martha Hart, the widow of Owen Hart, who was killed in a 1999 stunt gone wrong while performing for WWE, has filed another lawsuit against the company, claiming they used Owen's image without her permission in over thirty videos and various publications since his death 11 years ago. WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon and former CEO Linda McMahon are also named as defendants in the suit filed Tuesday morning at U.S. District Court in Hartford, Connecticut. "I was shaken to learn earlier this year that they have been using Owen's name and likeness in videos, websites, television programs and print material without my knowledge, much less my approval," Martha Hart said Tuesday at a press conference in Hartford. "In addition to being grossly insensitive to me and my children, it is in direct violation of the final contract Owen signed with the WWE before his death." Martha, 43, is demanding that WWE stop selling products baring the name of her late husband. She is also seeking unpaid royalties for uses of Owen's image, along with unspecified damages, attorneys' fees and other relief. Gregg Rubenstein, Martha's Boston-based attorney, asserts that when Owen died, essentially his WWE booking contract was terminated, and therefore a provision of that contract would mean control of Owen's legal name and likeness reverts to the wrestler, or in this case, Martha, as executor of his estate. WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt, yesterday described Martha's suit as "a cheap political stunt" without merit timed for publicity against Linda McMahon's Senatorial campaign. A statement released by the WWE legal department read: "The lawsuit by Martha Hart is nothing more than pure political orchestration. This claim has nothing to do with the tragic accident in 1999. It pertains solely to the use of intellectual property, which is not typically brought to the media's attention through a pre-emptive press release, a dedicated website (www.marthahartsueswwe.com) and a press conference before the filing of the suit. This case has no more merit than the one Martha Hart unsuccessfully brought against WWE recently in Canada, which was dismissed and Mrs. Hart was ordered to pay WWE's counsel fees." The later statement was in reference to an injunction Martha filed earlier this year seeking to prevent the sale of WWE's Hart & Soul Anthology DVD. "Martha Hart does not have some exclusive right to tell the story of her husband,'' McDevitt told the Hartford Courant. "He was a public figure … he was part of WWE.'' McDevitt added that WWE holds a copyright on the likeness of Owen and that he will always remain part of pro wrestling history. "His death was widely reported. (Martha) wrote a book about it. Everybody that Owen's life touched has their right to tell their version of the Owen Hart story and he's a part of the WWE's history." Martha, meanwhile, insists that her suit is not politically motivated. "This has nothing to do with Linda's political career,'' she told reporters at her press conference. "Although, that said, certainly as a voter, I would think that people should certainly question the moral character of this action." Owen Hart, 34, wrestling as the Blue Blazer, fell 78 feet to his death when an equipment malfunction occurred during his entrance from the rafters of the Kemper Arena in Kansas City on May 23, 1999 at WWE's Over the Edge pay-per-view. Martha sued the company for wrongful death but settled the case out of court for $18 million in 2000. WWE later settled with the maker of the harness equipment for $9 million. And because the company’s insurance carrier paid around $11 million, it's believed that WWE actually profited on the settlement. In recent years, Martha has used more than $2 million of her money to establish the Owen Hart Foundation; a Charity to help with college scholarships for children with special needs. She largely separated herself from the majority of the Hart family, and has criticized some family members who continued to work for the WWE after Owen's death. She also sued her sister-in-law Diana Hart-Smith in 2001, over Diana's book, Under the Mat: Inside Wrestling's Greatest Family, for what she claims included inaccurate and irresponsible statements about her and her family. As a result the book was pulled from circulation.
Jim Ross wrote about the Martha Hart lawsuit at www.jrsbarbq.com: "I am not a lawyer, have never played one on TV, and know zilch about this untimely legal matter.
Nonetheless my personal opinion is that the timing of this legal posturing is questionable specifically as it relates to Connecticut politics. Plus, I have never recalled WWE ever doing any thing but honoring Owen's legacy and certainly not 'exploiting' it in a negative light. Owen Hart is one of the most requested guys who fans want to see inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. We get dozens of emails off and on all year or whenever the HOF topic is discussed. Does this legal mindset mean that if WWE ever decided to induct Owen into the Hall of Fame that he so richly deserves that there would be more litigation? Should the threat of a lawsuit deprive Owen Hart of an honor that many feel that he deserves? Contrary to any litigation, present or future, Owen's legacy isn't going to be forgotten and nor should it. Now you can see why I'm not a fan of politics. It seems that in today's political world tactics like this are the norm. Again, this is only one guy's opinion and I certainly do NOT represent WWE but it saddens me to have my memory jolted this morning of my late friend in a manner such as this." Ross worked backstage at the pay-per-view on Sunday, but Vince produced the announce team. He noted that he took in the show with Joey Styles and thinks it's hilarious that people seem to assume he was the mystery GM sending emails to Michael Cole during Monday's Raw.
Regarding Bret Hart, he is getting married for the third time on 7/24, which is the main reason for his abrupt storyline exit from television. He's taking most of the summer off. There was also an issue with Bret's former insurer, Lloyd's of London, as he got a significant payout a few years back, following his stroke and no longer being able to wrestle due to concussions. Before he signed back with WWE this year, he agreed through his attorney with Lloyd's as to what he could do physically as far as being a non-wrestling personality. He may have gone too far in that regard. The timing of his departure is somewhat questionable too, given Martha Hart's lawsuit, although those who would know insist this was just coincidence.
Speaking of coincidence, a Ric Flair interview that came out this week, but was conducted three week's ago during Flair's UK promotional tour, addressed his feelings on Owen Hart's accident in Kansas City. When asked about past war of words between himself and Bret Hart, Flair said: "I haven’t seen him or talked to him (for years), but that’s not my problem. I’m not mad at Bret, I just said what I thought (in my book). I thought that the tragedy of Owen Hart was completely different to what happened in Montreal (at Survivor Series). When the two became intertwined again, I thought that was in really poor taste. What happened to Owen Hart was a tragic accident and no one’s fault, but once again the first thing that came up again was Montreal. What happened in Kansas City with Owen has nothing to do with Montreal, but it just rolled into the whole thing again. That’s what I said that made Bret mad. I thought the focus should have been on Owen, not go back and talk about Montreal but that’s what surfaced again, as fast as the Kansas City thing happened. Everybody knows that I just wasn’t afraid to say anything about it. How could he get mad at Vince McMahon? Nobody made Owen go up there, he wanted to do it. It was a tragic, tragic moment and someone’s life was lost, but it certainly wasn’t because Vince McMahon made him go up there and jump, and it had nothing to do with Montreal."
A new announcer hired, Ashley Valence, has taken over Matt Striker's hosting spot on NXT. Virtually nobody knew she was coming in until she showed up this week for TV. Ashley is her legit name but the later part may be kayfabe. She was previously co-emcee for the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedExForum, a job she got after sending in some modeling photos that landed on the desk of Michael Heisley, majority owner of the Grizzlies. Her previous hosting experience includes working the rodeo circuit in Nashville. She's originally from South Florida and was once a contestant in the Miss Florida pageant. Apparently, she likes to party hard, and was kicked out of four different colleges. She is also a huge UFC fan, which is a dirty word in the company, because it is with Vince.
Savannah (Angela Fong, 25) was released today. She was signed following the 2007 Diva Search competition, showed promise as a wrestler in developmental, but was then groomed as a ring announcer, and never quite hit the right note with the powers that be. The kiss of death may have been flubbing her lines (http://tinyurl.com/2vyhrgm) during a live Raw interview segment with Wade Barrett on 6/7 in Miami. She also got heat over a topless scene she filmed for a National Lampoon movie before she was under contract. That's a weird deal when you consider some of the other Divas have previously posed for Playboy.
Our impression is that Virgil (Mike Jones) is gone too although he was working on a show to show basis. He may be brought back down the road. His latest run will likely do wonders for his gimmick sales at conventions.
A note on Maryse who apparently will be Ted DiBiase' Sherri Martel moving forward. She was one of the most searched terms on Google trends for Monday following her wardrobe malfunction at the pay-per-view. It seems a ton of guys or perhaps gals in India went crazy for a few hours scouring the Internet to see if the malfunction was photographed.
Melina is heading to developmental next month with the hope of strengthening her surgically repaired knee.
Dos Caras Jr. (Alberto Rodriguez) is expected to debut soon under the name Alberto Del Rio. Caras, Jr. is the son of legendary Mexican Luchador Dos Caras, the nephew of Mil Mascaras and Sicodelico and the cousin of Sicodelico, Jr. and Hijo de Sicodelico, making him part of one of the most well known Mexican wrestling families. He speaks great English. Before pro wrestling, he was part of Mexico's national Greco-Roman wrestling team. He placed third at the World Junior Championships in 1997; won the Central American and Caribbean Games in his weight division three times; and won a medal at the Pan American Games in 1999. He was on track to compete at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, but due to lack of funding, Mexico did not send a wrestling team that year. He's also competed on-and-off in MMA with a record of 9-5-0 dating back to 2001. At Pride's Bushido 1 event in 2003, he fought Mirko Cro Cop, in an open challenge where the rules were amended so he could wear a Lucha mask, but he was knocked out (http://tinyurl.com/2ungrxz) with a sick head kick, in 46 seconds of the first round. Caras Jr. has also previously wrestled for AAA and CMLL.
Jericho, while promoting ABC's Downfall, was having fun telling reporters he is a better game show host than Hulk Hogan ever was on American Gladiators. He addressed his contract situation admitting it's due to expire fairly soon. "It's one of those things we've been talking about for a while to get it rolling again," he told FanHouse. "Like I said, to me, I'll leave the business when I'm ready to and I'm not ready yet. I still want to continue to work. I still have some things that I can offer. I still think I'm among the best in what I do, if not the best just because of the fact I have 20 years of experience which is a rare thing nowadays." He also talked about helping to develop new stars. "You can't teach experience. You can teach someone to do a promo kind of, you can teach someone to do a move but you can't teach someone experience." Full interview at http://tinyurl.com/399qcru.
The premiere episode of Downfall last night did 5.9 million viewers, which is above the average of Raw, not that a WWE comparison matters. ABC shot six 42-minute episodes in Los Angeles earlier this month with the idea they will do more if the show is successful. Downfall is produced by the same production company as American Idol and The Price is Right.
Raw on Monday night did a 3.5 rating and 5.1 million viewers--it's highest mark since before Wrestlemania. AM Raw on 6/19 also posted a decent number this past week with a 0.8 rating and 950,000 viewers.
Smackdown back on 6/11 averaged 2.8 million viewers.
John Cena Sr. (John Cena's dad who is an occasional indy manager under the name Johnny Fabulous) was sat ringside at Raw. A few people initially thought he was there for an angle. He helps to promote the MWF group out of Melrose, MA with Dan Mirade. MWF has booked Bryan Danielson for it's 9th anniversary show in September playing off Danielson getting fired for the beatdown on Cena Jr.
There were a lot of Daniel Bryan chants in Bridgeport but WWE's production team muffled them out from becoming evident on television.
Not sure how long this rule has been in place, and it may have been for a while, but as well as a no choking rule, apparently there is also now a no chopping rule. As in a Flair chop.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent a letter to Vince McMahon asking that he rehire vegan Danielson. Seriously--you can't even make this stuff up. The letter is online at http://tinyurl.com/2feu3lv.
WWE announced a new partnership with YouTube to bring most of it's television shows to the site. This is good news for fans who don't get every show in their market, but probably bad news for fans who enjoy watching old wrestling footage, as the company will be working more diligently than ever before to remove content they own.
NFL legend and one-time Wrestlemania headliner Lawrence Taylor was indicted today on charges of third degree rape, third degree criminal sexual act, endangering the welfare of a child, sexual abuse, and patronizing a prostitute following his arrest on 5/6. Taylor allegedly paid $300 to have sex with a 16-year-old girl inside a Montebello, New York Holiday Inn Hotel. He is facing up to five years in prison and life time sex offender registration if convicted. Taylor claims he did not have sex with the girl and has done nothing wrong.
TOTAL NONSTOP ACTION WRESTLING
Impact: Cross the Line for Nintendo DS & PSP from South Peak Games is slated to hit stores on 6/29. South Peak purchased the TNA franchise last year from the ashes of Midway for around $100,000. Playstation magazine has rated the game 3/5 while Games Master magazine gave just 35/100. Surprisingly, even though the game is less than a week from release, there is zero promotion on the TNA website nor an option to pre-order via the TNAShop website. A trailer for the game is online at http://tinyurl.com/2wtz2ej.
The revamped version of Xplosion debuts in the UK on Friday night on the Extreme Sports Channel including the return of Brutus Magnus. The Sun has a story on the new show at http://tinyurl.com/33l38ex.
Gregory Helms' 90-day WWE no compete expired recently and he is expected to start here soon due to the Carolina connection with Hardy and Moore.
Rob Terry is pictured in the July issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine.
An AP story on Flair's new deal with the Nashville lottery is at http://tinyurl.com/2f3479c. "He's an absolute delight to work with and everybody knows him," said Rebecca Hargrove, president and CEO of the Tennessee lottery. "He's a good representation of good people."
OTHER WRESTLING NEWS
Michael Verdi, who wrestled as Trent Acid, was laid to rest today in Philadelphia. Many of his friends and family are gathering for a tribute show to honor his life on 7/10 at the Arena in South Philly. Admission is free, with a suggested $10 dollar donation, the proceeds of which will go to Verdi's family to help cover funeral expenses. More info at www.doiwrestling.com.
Christopher Daniels ruptured his eardrum Saturday night in Toronto working the ROH pay-per-view. He said he didn't realize he was hurt until today.
A crazy couple of week's for Lisa Marie Varon (Tara/Victoria). A set of custom wheels valued at $3,000 were stolen off her car parked outside her house in Louisville, KY. Amazingly, the person who stole them, later took them into her Black Widow Customs workshop, and enquired how to fit said wheels on their own car. Staffers at the workshop played it cool, alerted police, and she later got her wheels back. Varon also had some gimmick money stolen while working last weekend at the Philly Comic-Con.
Booker T told TMZ he doesn't think that Dave Batista's chances in MMA are very good. There's a back story here that TMZ didn't pick up on. They got into a real fight a few years ago during a SummerSlam commercial shoot. The fight was believed to stem from the idea that Batista considered himself to be better than the rest of the roster due to his main event status and relatively quick climb to achieve it. Depending on the source, Booker had the upper hand when they were pulled apart, and both men were left bloodied and bruised.
Brock Lesnar this week during a media interview to push his upcoming UFC fight referred to Batista as "a wannabe" in regard to his MMA ambitions. Lesnar told MMAFighting.com: "Get in line, everybody and their dog wants to get into fighting. Next question..."
Steve Corino and Daizee Haze have been added to WWC's Anniversario events next month in Puerto Rico.
Les Thatcher, Skandor Akbar, Tony Atlas were just added to the lineup for Greg Price's fanfest weekend August 5-8 in Charlotte. More info at www.nwalegends.com.
MTV will air a special preview of their Lucha Libre USA: Masked Warriors series this Saturday at 2pm.
Today's Babe of the Day is Lacey Von Erich at http://www.thewrestlingpress.com/DailyDiva.