– It seemed a near certainty that Ric Flair was going to appear on RAW this past Monday. Between the Charlotte, North Carolina location, his early exit from the Ring of Honor event on Saturday, numerous internet spoiler reports, and the promised announcement of a new GM on RAW, all the pieces were in place for a big Flair return to television.
It didn’t happen, and according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, it was never supposed to happen.
As noted recently, WWE officials are once again focused on stopping news and storyline leaks to the Internet–Flair was apparently backstage primarily to serve as a red herring to trick the people who leak storylines to the ‘net. WWE anticipated the Flair story breaking in the media, which would throw reporters off the track on the Donald Trump storyline.
It did ultimately work, as the Donald Trump “purchase” storyline was not spoiled before its airing.
There is still a lot of speculation that Ric Flair will be the next general manager of RAW, but as of Tuesday evening there was still nothing confirmed about who will play the role.
– On Monday’s Three-for-All RAW special, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon announced that he sold the company’s flagship brand, RAW, to billionaire Donald Trump. Both WWE and USA issued a joint press release on Tuesday detailing the purchase and Trump’s future involvement on Monday Night RAW.
After creating some confusion among WWE investors (there was a sharp drop in WWE’s stock price on Tuesday), the USA Network issued the following statement today, clarifying the situation:
USA Network Statement Re: WWE Monday Night RAW
NEW YORK, June 18 /PRNewswire/ — “USA Network and WWE issued a press release on June 16 that referred to Monday Night RAW’s storyline of a ‘sale’ of WWE’s RAW to Donald Trump. We intended the release to be promotional for that ongoing story arc on the series. There is no such actual ‘sale’. We apologize for any confusion.”
– According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, a number of wrestlers were upset over the nature of Vickie Guerrero’s sendoff from WWE last week on Monday Night RAW. Either enough people in the company were, or some sponsors were, because when they replayed the segment on this week’s show, they cut out everything that could possibly be offensive out of the segment.
Many believe there is no way Eddie Guerrero would have allowed his wife to be verbally abused in the manner she was, storyline or not. The idea that he would have gone along with almost anything that would have provided for his family really only came about after he passed away. When his close friend Art Barr passed away in 1994, he told AAA officials he would do nothing that would exploit his death.
Following her sendoff, many people went up to Guerrero to say good-bye and complement her on how well she did in the role. She’s largely leaving because she has two daughters who are teenagers at home and didn’t think, as a single mother, she should be away two or three days per week.
– Jim Ross has posted an update on the health of WWE Hall of Famer Gerald Brisco to his blog over at JRsBarBQ.com. After stating yesterday that Gerald did not have a stroke, Ross says that Briscoe’s latest round of medical tests revealed he actually suffered THREE strokes over the past few days.
From JR’s blog:
Gerald Brisco: Jerry was preparing to meet Pat Patterson at the Tampa Airport to fly up to Charlotte for the three hour Raw broadcast when he took ill.
Bottom line is this. After getting many of his medical tests back today, it was determined that Jerry did indeed have a stroke and not just one. Jerry had a total of three strokes over the past several days. The doctors now think that one stroke occurred Saturday and the other Sunday morning. They are not sure when Jerry suffered the first stroke. This is all new info confirmed on Wednesday afternoon. It was originally believed that Jerry had not suffered from a stroke but further tests proved otherwise.
While doing a battery of tests, doctors also discovered a small hole in Brisco’s heart and a heart valve issue that will now be repaired next week, likely on Thursday. This procedure will be done via his groin as to make it less evasive and the doctors are highly confident that this issue will be addressed completely with the medical procedure.
The doctors are waiting until next week to do the surgery to allow new medication to begin taking affect that addresses the clogged artery in Jerry’s neck.
Misawa’s Death: Shocking to hear how Misawa actually died in the ring which was eerily similar to the injury sustained by the late Christopher Reeve. Japanese medicine is unique to say the least and obviously utilizing Japanese medical treatment and Misawa delaying having his injured neck surgically repaired proved to apparently be his down fall. Damn shame. It is amazing that Japanese medicine is apparently far behind Japanese Technology.
Donald Trump: “One would assume that Donald Trump will eventually name a Raw General Manager and I’m guessing it will be someone that Mr. McMahon isn’t too fond of which covers ample territory. Will that announcement be made this Monday in Green Bay. I think we can rule out Bret Favre.
I’d like to wish Gerald Brisco a full, speedy recovery.
– When CM Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank contract at Extreme Rules and took Jeff Hardy’s newly-won World Heavyweight Championship, many fans saw that as the start of a heel turn for the straight-edge superstar. According to the sources, WWE is keeping their options open regarding whether Punk is a babyface or a heel. WWE announcers have kept their comments about Punk ambiguous and are still gauging live fan reactions before deciding whether to do a full heel turn. The crowd response during his match with Jeff Hardy at The Bash will be a big factor in the decision. Michael Hayes has thus far been writing the majority of the storyline for Punk.
– The WWE creative team is said to be in rough shape right now after having to deal with events such as the Denver debacle, Batista and Umaga being written out of storylines, Extreme Rules, the three-hour RAW that was booked up until the last minute and then the two-hour RAW coming up this week that’s booked like a PPV, not to mention The Bash pay-per-view that’s in less than two weeks.
– The Milford Daily News has an interview up with WWE Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper. Piper talks about a number of topics, including how he broke into wrestling, his love for the city of Boston, his movie career and more. Here’s what the Hot Rod said about being diagnosed with cancer three years ago:
“I was in Glasgow and my hips wouldn’t work, and no one could figure out what was going on. I went home and checked into the hospital that was closest to my ranch. The doctors took it seriously, and had some x-rays done. Later on one doctor told me it was one of those freak things. He said, ‘You have a bone chip that is cutting the nerves to your legs.’ They go to look inside and, holy cow, they find a huge mass tumor on the inside of my spine. So they did an operation they didn’t expect, and while they were doing it, the doctor found a lymph gland that was a little swollen and he took a biopsy. A few days later, I hadn’t heard anything, and two doctors and a nurse came in and said ‘How’re you feeling, and by the way, you’ve got cancer.’”
He was diagnosed with low-grade 2A lymphoma, then went through 20 radiations and chemo treatments over four weeks. Piper adds:
“I beat it three years ago. In two more years, if it doesn’t come back, I’m out of the woods. I’m strong right now. I’m in shape. In the morning I’m juicing two apples, two carrots, two celery, two beets, two ginger. I’m drinking that every morning to try to keep the cancer away. I’ve got a lot on my shoulders, but I’ve got the most beautiful family in the world.”
– As reported here earlier, SoBe Entertainment filed a multi-milllion dollar lawsuit against WE, Paul “Big Show” Wight and his wife Bess in Miami-Dade County Court on Monday.
SoBe claims it advanced Wight $M to buy a house, plus $84K/month, on Wight’s promise that the company could manage him as he trained to become a pro boxer. SoBe says that Wight refused to perform, and failed to disclose he owed the IRS $450K, and now the IRS has filed a lien on the house.
SoBe are demanding $2M from the Wights and $15M from WWE for interference for re-signing Wight after he dismissed SoBe.
– The ratings are in for this week’s special “Three-for-All” RAW. According to data compiled by Neilson Media Research, the 3-hour June 15th edition of WWE RAW drew a 3.7 cable rating.
If you remove the first “bonus” hour, RAW’s typical timeslot (the final 2 hours) did a very strong 3.93 rating.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown:
Hour 1: 3.30 rating (4,561,000 viewers)
Hour 2: 3.75 rating (5,720,000 viewers)
Hour 3: 4.10 rating (6,091,000 viewers)
Comparing the final 2 hours of this week’s show against last week’s 2 hour show, viewership was up almost 9% this week.
– Matt Hardy has updated his Twitter page with a message about his injury status: “I’m officially declaring myself healed and ready to get back to serious business on TV and in the gym.”
– There is a report going around that WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Briscoe suffered a stroke this week. According to PWTorch.com, that report is inaccurate and Briscoe will undergo a routine medical procedure today to correct an artery blockage.
– Candice Michelle announced on her Twitter account that she has been medically cleared to return to the ring. Michelle has been out of action since February, battling an ankle injury.
– While he did impress the Cubs, RHP Pedro Martinez will not be offered a contract by them. The Cubbies’ payroll is against them, making it difficult for them to offer anything substantial anytime soon.
– Dodgers’ OF Manny Ramirez will begin a minor league stint next week. Manny will be back in action for the first time since his 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy on May 7.
– The Jays have placed RHP Roy Halladay (groin), LHP Scott Downs (toe) and RHP Casey Janssen (shoulder) on the 15-day DL. Yikes. Downs’ injury doesn’t sound like the type that will go away quickly, so he probably won’t be back in 15 days. As for Doc, he seems confident he’ll return the day he’s eligible, June 28. He left his start last Friday in the fourth inning because of a groin injury and it hadn’t improved enough Wednesday in a bullpen session. The 32-year-old is 10-1 this season with a 2.53 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 88/12 K/BB ratio. The Jays have recalled LHP Brad Mills and RHP Jeremy Accardo. RHP Jason Frasor is likely to get closing duties.
– The Nationals continue to look for suitors for 1B Nick Johnson. OF Adam Dunn is not unattainable, but the return price would be very high.
– The D’Backs are shopping LHP Doug Davis and 3B Chad Tracy. Davis is in the final year of a three-year/$22M deal, but said he would rather not be traded and would prefer to remain in Arizona. He is open to an extension, perhaps even a one-year deal if the Diamondbacks were to approach him before the end of the season.
– A’s OF Matt Holliday will hit the market if the A’s don’t play very well for the next few weeks. The A’s will want the equivalent of a first rounder and a sandwich pick and, because few elite bats are available, at least one exec thinks they’ll get a good return. The A’s are worried he’ll accept arbitration if they offer it, but Stark hears that Scott Boras would likely direct Holliday towards a better hitter’s park, even if it was for less money.
– The Orioles are likely to deal either RHP Danys Baez or LHP George Sherrill.
– The Indians will not be trading LHP Cliff Lee or C Victor Martinez. 3B Mark DeRosa remains very available. The Cardinals are interested.
– The Red Sox are looking for a short-term fix at shortstop in exchange for RHP Brad Penny. The Phillies and Rangers are interested.
– The Rays are shopping for a reliever.
– The A’s have signed RHP Shawn Chacon.
– The Padres will place RHP Chris Young (shoulder) on the 15-day DL. Young has been bothered by the shoulder for his last four starts.
– The Phillies have placed OF Raul Ibanez (groin) on the 15-day DL. Ibanez has apparently been bothered by his groin on and off since April. Of course, you wouldn’t know it by the way he’s hitting. He’ll undergo an MRI Thursday afternoon that should give us all a better picture of the injury’s severity. Ibanez, 37, is batting .312/.371/.656 this season with 22 home runs and 59 RBI in 250 at-bats.
– Astros’ C Ivan Rodriguez has surpassed MLB great Carlton Fisk’s record of most games played at catcher with 2,227. I-Rod began his career at age 19 in 1991 and also played 12 seasons with the Rangers. A bad night for Pudge to make two errors behind the dish – it was the first time he had done it since August 26, 2004 and only the sixth time overall.
– Leafs’ GM Brian Burke has denied a rumour that would see the Leafs trade veteran D Tomas Kaberle to the Wild for D Marek Zidlicky and G Josh Harding. Burke has a window to trade both Kaberle and D Pavel Kubina this summer as the Leafs did not make the playoffs.
– The Oilers are very interested in Sens’ F Dany Heatley. The Sens are believed to want F Andrew Cogliano in a package deal, but the Oilers want to hold onto him. There may be draft picks in play, too, but they would likely be for 2010 because no team is going to trade for Heatley prior to July 1, considering that’s when he is due for a $4M signing bonus from Ottawa. Any potential deal would likely involve D Tom Gilbert and F Patrick O’Sullivan. Stay tuned.
– The Bruins have signed GM Peter Chiarelli to a four-year extension through the 2013-2014 season. Chiarelli signed four-year extension on top of the one season remaining on his original four-year deal. Chiarelli inherited a Bruins team that had the NHL’s fifth worst record and needed only three seasons to build a club that finished second best.
– The Penguins have signed offensive-minded D Alex Goligoski to a three-year/$5.5M contract.
Goligoski split time last season between the team’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre and the NHL, where he had six goals and 14 assists in 45 regular season games. He didn’t appear in the Stanley Cup finals for Pittsburgh.
Goligoski is expected to remain with the NHL team next season.
The Penguins still have three defensemen who will become UFA if they are not signed by July 1: Rob Scuderi, Hal Gill and Philippe Boucher.
– Bruins’ D Andrew Ference has undergone successful surgery to repair an abdominal hernia and a groin tear. Ference will be out four-to-six weeks.
– Wild’ G Niklas Backstrom has recovered well from hip surgery in April. Backstrom is in Las Vegas for the NHL awards on Thursday as he is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy along with Bruins’ G Tim Thomas and Blue Jackets’ G Steve Mason. The Wild goaltender will go to Vail, Colorado on Monday to see his hip surgeon and hopes to be able to step up his off-season training with the approval of his doctor.
– Red Wings’ D Nicklas Lidstrom has some serious competition as he attempts to garner his fourth consecutive Norris Trophy on Thursday. The NHL Awards will be handed out tonight and Lidstrom is a finalist against Bruins’ D Zdeno Chara and Capitals’ D Mike Green for the best defenseman award. Lidstrom has won the trophy six times and is attempting to tie Doug Harvey for second overall titles with seven, one behind Bobby Orr’s eight Norris wins. The 39-year-old Lidstrom, has won his six trophies in seven attempts this decade.
– According to sources, a potential trade involving T’Wolves’ F Al Jefferson and the No. 6 pick for Suns’ Amare Stoudemire is no longer on the table. The Suns made the offer to Minnesota, but the deal was rejected. Minny has reportedly called Jefferson to tell him the trade would not happen, but it does look like the Suns are dead set on moving Amare this summer. Stay tuned.
– Lakers’ G Kobe Bryant has confirmed that he will re-sign with the Lakers this offseason. “Where am I going to go? This is my home…It’s been a blast being here from ’96 to now,” he said to the crowd. “Here we are, back on top. This feels unbelievable. We have a young team, a team that has a lot of chemistry. We want to do this thing again and again. We’ll be back next year, ready to go. We’re going to keep on rolling.” Bryant, 30, can become a UFA next month by terminating his Lakers contract with two more years and $47.8M on it. The 13-year veteran could then re-sign with the Lakers for five years and about $135M.
– According to multiple sources, free agent G Ben Gordon is expected to be a primary target of the Pistons, who have roughly $23M of salary-cap space. Former Tribune NBA reporter Sam Smith took matters to another level Wednesday, writing on Bulls.com that he has “heard that Gordon’s agent allegedly has been saying he has an $11M promise from the Pistons.” Even if true, nobody would confirm this development because it would represent a violation of league rules. But free agents verbally agree to terms on the first day of free agency all the time, which suggests either parameters for deals privately get discussed prematurely or the official offers are so large as to blow the player away.
– The Pistons are rumoured to be shopping G Rip Hamilton.
– Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge has shot down rumours that the team is looking to deal G Rajon Rondo.
–According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, there has been a lot of talk within TNA about Sting and his retirement. Retirement talks have come about every year since he returned to wrestling. Bound for Glory is the targeted area where they may do his retirement.
Sting is 50 now and over the last several years, he says it will be his last year. The internal belief is that he will Dixie Carter will talk Sting in to signing another year contract before his current contract expires.
Sting has been given a tremendous amount of leeway in terms of his schedule. He doesn’t work house shows and doesn’t work foreign tours. Also, the new TNA schedule, recording four shows in a three day period gives him more time to spend with his family. He is also given time off once a year to do an angle. It is believed that Sting is making around $500/year and is guaranteed a spot at the top of the roster.
In all likelihood, Sting will likely sign another year deal and contemplate retirement in 2010. Although, things may change over the course of the next several months.
– It’s believed that Trina Michaels has signed a deal with TNA Wrestling.
– UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar returns to the Octagon next month on PPV at UFC 100 on July 11th. Lesnar will defend his gold against the man who defeated him in his first UFC fight, interim champion Frank Mir.
Lesnar spoke to the UK Sun this week and gave some insight into his thoughts about UFC’s heavyweight division as well as his surprising motivation for fighting.
Lesnar said, “I watch the other heavyweights and I don’t feel threatened by any of them. It doesn’t mean jack sh*t to me. I just want to win fights and make as much money as I can.”
Despite his success thus far in the UFC, he’s doing what he can to make sure his priorities are in check. “It’s all part of the plan and it’s a dream come true. I’m not getting caught up in la-la land. I’m keeping everything in perspective and keeping it real. But even though I’ve got the belt, I can still become a better fighter. It poses a whole other threat now, with people gunning for you and not just me trying to climb the ladder.”
Lesnar once again emphasized that as much as he enjoys the thrill of competition, at the end of the day, it’s still just a way to earn a paycheck. “I’ve had plenty of jobs to put food on the table. I grew up on a farm in South Dakota so I’m no stranger to hard work. But you have to make money. If there wasn’t a prize or a guy couldn’t make a living out of this I highly doubt that anybody would fight. Put it this way, guys play golf for recreation. You don’t fight and get bloody noses and black eyes for fun. I’m a grown man and I have to make a living out of this.”
– The NFL has suspended Browns’ WR Donte’ Stallworth indefinitely without pay for violating the league’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies. In Commissioner Roger Goodell’s letter to Stallworth, he wrote, “Your conduct reflected in your guilty plea resulted in the tragic loss of life and was inexcusable.” Goodell will eventually schedule a meeting with Stallworth and his representatives, and determine the length of his suspension at that time. It would surprise us if Stallworth played this season.
– WR Plaxico Burress has expressed interest in joining the Buccaneers this season. The wideout apparently reached out to former teammate Derrick Ward as well as WR Antonio Bryant. With the latest revelations that his case has been adjourned until September, it’s becoming increasingly possible that Burress will play this season. The Bucs could use a wideout, but NFL will still likely suspend Plax to start the year.
– According to UFL Access, former Bills QB JP Losman is scheduled to sign with Las Vegas of the United Football League. Losman, a first-round pick in 2004, will have a hard time shedding his “bust” label in the UFL.