– According to the Wrestling Observer, with The Undertaker scheduled to return to WWE television on the Monday, February 21 episode of RAW (the night after Elimination Chamber), we’ve got an update on his health and what’s being discussed for him for WrestleMania.
The planned Undertaker vs. Wade Barrett WrestleMania main event has been reportedly scrapped. This feud made sense as Wade Barrett was the leader of Nexus when the group destroyed the Undertaker and put him out of action at Survivor Series, but WWE now has a totally different direction for the Dead Man. While the specifics are not reliable enough at this point to report, WWE expects the Undertaker’s WrestleMania angle to steal the show. WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels is part of the proposed angle, but he will not be wrestling.
Two men who have been rumoured to be The Undertaker’s WrestleMania opponents, Brock Lesnar and Sting will, not be at WrestleMania. To update the news of Sting possibly headed to WWE, we can report that there have still be no formal talks between the two parties as of last week. However, there is said to be interest on both sides and the chances of Sting working with WWE are greater now than they have been in years and likely will ever be.
The Undertaker has been doing a lot of rehab on his surgically repaired shoulder and WWE is very confident he’ll be on track to compete at WrestleMania. While nobody is expecting a WrestleMania classic as in previous years, he should be able to work a good singles match.
– Triple H (torn biceps) is tapped to return to the ring within the next few weeks, and is considered a lock for WrestleMania 27. His return is being delayed now because creative has no plans for him to win an Elimination Chamber Match and thus felt there was no point in bringing him back. Regarding his behind the scenes role as Vince McMahon’s Senior Advisor, he has been diligently studying all aspects of WWE’s business operations. He’s received much praise for his dedication to learn.
– WWE released is fourth quarter 2010 earnings report on Thursday morning. Here are some of the highlights:
Revenues totaled $122.5M compared to $117.3M in the same quarter in 2009.
Operating income was $14.4M as compared to $17.8M in the prior year quarter.
Net income was $8.1M, or $0.11 per share, as compared to $11.2Mn, or $0.15 per share, in the prior year quarter.
WWE’s revenue from live events decreased by 9% compared to the same quarter last year. Live events took in $26.6M, down form $29.2M in Q4 2009.
Average attendance of live events in North America decreased 15% to approximately 5,600 fans. The average ticket price was up nearly $4 per ticket, which helped offset the revenue impact from decreased attendance.
While WWE has been relying on international tours to boost overall live event revenue in recent years, international live events revenue was down by 12 percent during fiscal 2010 compared to the previous year. Attendance dropped to 7,500 from 8,500 in 2009.
PPV buyrates for Q4 2010 were down a staggering 23% from the previous year.
PPV revenue was $13.8M, down from $16.3M in 2009.
Here is a breakdown of the buyrates by event: October’s Hell in a Cell did 210,000 buys, down from the 283,000 buys in 2009; October’s Bragging Rights did 137,000 buys, down from 181,000 buys in 2009; November’s Survivor Series did 244,000 buys, up from 235,000 buys in 2009; December’s TLC did 195,000 buys, down from 228,000 buys in 2009.
Following the announcement of WWE’s Fourth Quarter 2010 financial results, the company’s stock did not take too bad of a hit. The stock price took a major dive on January 20th after it was announced that today’s results would not meet analysts expectations, but the stock is down less than 1% on Thursday morning now that the actual numbers have been made public. WWE chairman Vince McMahon commented in the report.
“In 2010, WWE achieved record operating performance, generating the highest level of reported EBITDA in the Company’s history despite a challenging environment, particularly over the latter part of the year. Difficult trends continued in the fourth quarter and were exacerbated by the performance of Home Video.
“For the quarter and the full year, our businesses exhibited three major areas of strength: increased value from our television content, significant growth from our new toy licensing partnership with Mattel, and continued financial discipline. These strengths served to mitigate the impact of a weak economy, changes in our talent base, and unfavorable industry trends in home video…We remain confident that we can address our talent related challenges, expand both our content and distribution and, leveraging our strengths, drive meaningful growth.”
– WWE’s initial plans on Kevin Nash was for him to appear at the Royal Rumble and sign him to a “Legends” contract where he would be used for promotional appearances and the occasional television appearance. Based on the strong reaction he received at the Rumble, another match has not been ruled out. However, nobody expects him to be brought back as an active wrestle.
– WWE superstar Triple H was interviewed this week by IGN.com. Here are some highlights of what he said about:
His WWE Return: “The rumor is that I’ll be back for WrestleMania. Yeah, so that’s the rumor, but I’ll be back sooner than later. We’re still promoting [The Chaperone movie] through the WWE shows so obviously people are awaiting my return. So I’ll be back sooner than later.”
Kevin Nash & Booker T Back With WWE: “You know, I don’t think either of those guys are looking to do things full time but it’s great nostalgia stuff for the fans. If you were a fan fifteen years ago or so and Diesel walks out, it’s like reliving your youth. And seeing this guy who you haven’t seen in a long time is great.
“Kevin’s still in phenomenal shape and so is Booker. So it’s pretty exciting for the fans. I don’t think it’s something that they want to see them do every day but if you’re a baseball fan and you get the opportunity to watch Babe Ruth take a turn at bat, you’d be thrilled. You wouldn’t want to see him play the whole game probably but seeing him take a turn at bat would be a lot of fun. I think that’s kind of what we have the ability to offer people.”
– Kevin Nash recently spoke with Monday Night Mayhem. The highlights:
His in-ring future with WWE & his first post-Royal Rumble project through the WWE: “I mean, your guess is as good as mine as far as if I’m actively going to wrestle. I know I’ve got some stuff I’m doing with THQ this week for the video games. I just play it day by day.”
His response to Dixie Carter’s online comments about him being under contract with TNA prior to signing with the WWE & the moment he knew when he no longer wanted to return to TNA:“Yes I was. The angle was Kurt (Angle) was beating Jeff (Jarrett). Fortune came down, put the boots to Kurt, and got heat on them. Abyss came down and had a 2×4 basically nailed to his spinal cord, which maybe just seemed a little strange for me that that would at least be attempted murder. If Abyss was not paralyzed from the neck down the next week, it would kind of seem like a foolish thing to do. Flair screamed back up, and Kurt made a comeback on the entire Fortune group and basically cleared the ring. What reason was I coming in for? If Kurt can beat them on his own, I definitely don’t need to come in there.”
How likely are we to see a Kliq reunion at WrestleMania XXVII or part of WrestleMania weekend in Atlanta: “I talked to Sean (Waltman), and I’m sure he will be there. Scott’s (Hall) kind of the wild card of it. Of course Paul (Triple H) will induct Shawn, and I will be there. I guess Scott is the wild card. The last time I talked to him, he was thinking about going back into a rehabilitation center, so I don’t if he is going to be available to be there that weekend or not.”
– Jim Ross noted yesterday in his blog that former WCW employees are meeting in Atlanta, Georgia in late March to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the final episode of WCW Monday Nitro, which took place on March 26, 2001. The private get-together will precede WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta the weekend after the ten-year anniversary of the final Nitro. Ross said he was invited and that he wished to attend.
– WWE star Big Show was interviewed by the Miami Herald this week as part of WWE’s media rounds this week to announce the city hosting WrestleMania 2012. With WWE legend The Rock being from Miami, many are speculating already that he’s a perfect candidate to lead next year’s WWE Hall of Fame Class. Regarding that, Big show asid:
“You look at the impact The Rock had on our industry from the short time he has been in the business to the megastar he is today. I think if anyone deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, I’m sure The Rock does.
“That is a guy who is legendary and deserves every bit of his success. Plus, Dwayne Johnson is one of the finest and nicest people I met in my life. There are a lot of guys that you meet in this business. There are people you don’t like and people you do like. I have incredible respect for Dwayne and his entire family. I respect the man and the character he has. He’s awesome.”
Big Show also commented on fellow former NWO member Kevin Nash and his recent return to WWE.
“I learned a lot from him, when I was in the NWO. When I was a greenhorn, he helped me out a lot. I’m a little bit more of a seasoned veteran now, so if he wants to dance one more time as a partner or opponent, I’ll shake his hand in the middle of the ring, and we will lock horns. I have no problem with that what so ever.”
– Former WWE talent Carl Ouellet, 43, announced his retirement from professional wrestling Tuesday during an interview with the largest radio station in Quebec, CKAC. He had not wrestled since June, in a match against TNA Wrestling star Desmond Wolfe. Ouellet, who began wrestling professionally in 1987, competed under a variety of alias over the course of his 24-year wrestling career including Pierre-Carl Ouellette (or Ouellet), Pierre of the Quebecers and Jean-Pierre Lafitte. He worked for four of largest promotions in the United States; WWE, WCW, ECW, and TNA.
Ouellet is a three-time WWE World Tag Team Champion, having won the strap three times with Jacques Rougeau in 1993 and 1994. He also won the WCW Hardcore Championship during his brief stint with World Championship Wrestling in August 2000.
“I wrestled in more than 30 countries, on all five continents. I was three-time WWE tag team champion, I’ve wrestled against the best of my era and for all the major promotions. When you choose wrestling as your career, you don’t have space for anything else in your life. Wrestling becomes your life. But after a while, you realize that there is more than wrestling. I have other projects I want to work on, but I couldn’t invest myself 100% in those with wrestling still around.”
Following an extensive stint overseas during the latter portion of his career, Ouellet declared during an interview with SLAM! Wrestling that he would like another run with WWE. He worked a few tryout matches in 2007, but was not hired. Ouellet claimed during a 2009 interview with Monday Night Mayhem that Vince McMahon shoved him into wall backstage after waiting to thank him for giving him another opportunity.
“After the show, I asked Mike Rotunda, I said, ‘Should I wait for their phone call or should I wait and thank Vince for the opportunity?’ Mike said, ‘No Carl. You should wait for Vince and thank him. So it’ll be fresh in his memory, you know? ‘ So I’m just waiting at the end of the Smackdown show. He’s coming out and it’s maybe 12:30 or 1AM. And I go, “Vince, I just want to…” And he shoved me into the wall like I was a piece of crap. I felt pretty bad.”
Ouellet wrestled throughout his career with a glass eye. He lost his right eye at the age of twelve when a friend accidentally shot him in the eye with a pellet gun.
– Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Cardinals’ 1B Albert Pujols has no plans for a press conference on the date of his arrival to spring camp. If a deal isn’t done by then, Pujols will continue to play as usual. There will be hoards of reporters in Cardinals’ camp that day and throughout spring training, so the media is going to ask him about a million times about his future.
– Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Rangers have signed OF Josh Hamilton to a 2-year/$24M contract. Hamilton gets the average annual value of $12M which was he requested through arbitration. It’s a good deal for both sides.
– Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities hears that the Twins are indeed discussing the possibility of trading LHP Francisco Liriano. Pelissero writes that the Twins are in no rush to deal Liriano, who is under team control through 2012, but they would be willing to part with him if the right offer came along. He (obviously) names the Yankees and Rangers as two possibilities. A deal makes sense if theclub feels they wouldn’t be able to sign him to a long-term deal or if they simply aren’t willing to gamble on his health.
– Nationals’ pitching coach Steve McCatty confirmed Thursday that RHP Stephen Strasburg (elbow) has begun throwing. “He told me that he tossed a ball, that he was really excited. I just kind of laughed. He was so excited to be able to toss a ball. I’m not sure what the process is, because it can vary. But I know he tossed a ball. It was a very short distance. He was very happy.” This is just the beginning of what is expected to be a season-long rehab process for Strasburg. The hope right now is that he could begin pitching off a mound by the end of spring training. There remains an outside chance that he could return sometime in September, but the Nationals aren’t going to push him.
– Red Sox’ GM Theo Epstein indicated Thursday that 1B Adrian Gonzalez (shoulder surgery) is ahead of schedule in his recovery. “If he’s doing as well as he seems, we may move up the timetable. I think we all feel he’ll be ready by Opening Day. We’re excited he’s feeling so good and here early.” The original expectation was that A-Gone would begin swinging a bat by the end of February, but he said Wednesday that he may be ready for batting practice within a few days.
– The Brewers and RHP Shaun Marcum avoided arbitration Wednesday by agreeing to a 1-year/$3.95M contract. Marcum posted a stellar 3.64 ERA and 1.15 WHIP last season for the Blue Jays and is likely see a boost in the NL Central. The 29-year-old earned only $850K in 2010.
– Angels’ RHP Jered Weaver lost his arbitration hearing against the club and will earn $7.37M this season. Weaver posted a 3.01 ERA across 34 starts last season, including an AL-leading 233 strikeouts over 224 1/3 innings, but that, somehow, wasn’t even to be awarded his desired salary of $8.8M. The 28-year-old remains under team control through the 2012 season.
– According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers don’t expect that they will be able to trade 3B Michael Young before spring training. Young requested a trade away from Texas last week and the Rangers have engaged in discussions with a variety of interested teams in the past few days, but clubs are shying away from the 3-years/$48M remaining on the 34-year-old’s contract. He may have to report to Rangers’ camp as a part-time DH and first baseman.
According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Rockies haven’t heard they’re “out” on Young. A major league source told Troy Renck of the Denver Post on Tuesday night that the Rockies were “out” on Young, but Heyman is hearing otherwise. He writes that the Rangers asked the Rockies for “a very good player” and that there’s still a difference on the money that would be owed to Young.
– Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Indians have signed SS Orlando Cabrera. The 36-year-old struggled to find an opportunity this winter after batting just .263/.303/.354 with four home runs and 42 RBI over 494 plate appearances with the Reds last season.
– Angels’ GM Tony Reagins said Thursday that it’s “unlikely” top prospect OF Mike Trout will make his major league debut before the end of the 2011 season. Trout is widely considered to be one of the top two position prospects in baseball along with Bryce Harper. The 19-year-old do-it-all outfielder batted .341/.428/.490 with 10 home runs, 58 RBI and 56 stolen bases between Single-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Rancho Cucamonga last season. Reagins expects Trout to begin the 2011 season with Double-A Arkansas. There’s a good chance he’ll by ready to produce at the major league level by the start of the 2012 season.
– The Predators have acquired F Mike Fisher from the Predators for a 1st-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional pick in the 2012. The Sens will get a 3rd-round choice if the Predators win one playoff round and if they win two or more rounds then the pick becomes a 2nd-rounder in 2012. GM David Poile said, “We were seeking a top-six forward and Mike Fisher was the player we set our sights on. He plays playoff-style hockey all season long. He plays on the power play, kills penalties, is strong on draws and can match up against any opposing line.” Fisher, 30, is tied for the Senators team lead in goals (14) and ranks third on the club in points (24) in 2011-12. Some headlines said, “Predators acquire Carrie Underwood’s husband.” Hysterical. She’s gotta be happy with the move. The Kings were the other team vying for his services.
– The Panthers have traded F Michael Frolik and G Alexander Salak to the Blackhawks for F Jack Skille, F Hugh Jessiman and F David Pacan. Frolik is in a 23-game scoreless drought, but remains a high-upside young prospect. Maybe a change of scenery will help him get back on track. He scored 21 goals in each of his first two seasons in the league. Skille has seven goals and 17 points in 49 games this season.
– Penguins’ F Sidney Crosby (concussion) said he still hopes to play again this season, but he isn’t sure if he will get that chance. “You know what? That could happen (missing the rest of the season). But am I sitting here packing it in? No. I hope I’m back and, geez, I hope I play this year. But that’s the thing with these things. You don’t know. There’s no time frame. I’m expecting to play this year. I’m sure there’s a thousand different things being said out there, and [him being out for the season] is one of them, but I expect to be playing.” The Pens’ captain was ordered by doctors to take a vacation in a warm location and he just got back from that trip. Crosby said he is improving, but it is at a much slower rate than he wants it to be. There was a report earlier this week that he would be out until at least March.
In addition, Penguins’ F Evgeni Malkin (torn ACL/MCL) has undergone successful surgery. Malkin is expected to need 6 months worth of recovery time, which should have him ready for training camp next season.
– Thrashers’ F Tobias Enstrom (finger) skated in a full-contact practice Thursday. Coach Craig Ramsay said, “We are hoping for good things. We will wait and see how he got through this because he did everything today. He battled. He played the power play. He did everything. He looked good. It’s not that easy but he looked good and we’ll talk to the training staff. We will get a little bit better idea. He probably has to see the doctor one more time.”
– Avalanche’ F T.J. Galiardi (wrist) and D Kyle Cumiskey (head) are out indefinitely. Galiardi traveled back to Denver to be further evaluated, along with Cumiskey. The Avs must be feeling deja vu, as Galiardi suffered a broken right wrist earlier this season that caused him to miss 17 games, and Cumiskey missed 35 games with a concussion.
– Canucks’ D Sami Salo (Achilles) is projected to return to the Vancouver lineup on Saturday. He rejoined his Canucks’ teammates on Wednesday after completing a conditioning stint in the minors. Salo has not played yet this season.
– The Islanders have acquired G Al Montoya from the Coyotes for a 6th-round pick. Montoya, 25, has an 11-8-0 record with a 3.19 GAA and a .891 SV% in 21 games this season with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. He has played in five career NHL games, all with Phoenix, and posted a 3-1-0 record with a 2.08 GAA and a .925 sv%.
– After months of rumours, speculation and government lobbying, it appears Quebec City will be getting its new arena. The long-awaited announcement of the approval of the facility is expected to take place late Thursday morning in the provincial capital, but it remains unclear who will pay for the $400M project. Premier Jean Charest and Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume are set to step up to the podium in Quebec at 11:45 a.m., with Lebaume explaining the current funding structure for the arena to journalists before taking questions. Reporters will have a chance to review the plan for 90 minutes prior to the formal news conference. There has been no word from the federal government on whether it will help fund the arena, and no federal representatives are expected to attend Thursday’s announcement.
– Although nothing is going on right now, sources tell the NY that the Nets will get back in the sweepstakes for Nuggets’ F Carmelo Anthony. The Nets can still offer the best package of picks, young talent and expiring contracts. Melo is still indecisive on where he is willing to sign an extension, and recent hinting that he may be willing to sign in Denver is going to complicate matters yet again.
– Former Jazz’ head coach Jerry Sloan is resigning in part because of a strained relationship with G Deron Williams, sources tell Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to beat writer Brian Smith, Williams and Sloan have had multiple flareups this season. And after their latest one Wednesday night, Sloan decided to give it up after 23 seasons as Utah’s coach. Wojo notes that the ownership was listening more to Williams, a free agent in the summer of 2012, than they were to Sloan. Williams may have only been willing to re-sign in Utah if Sloan was gone. All in all, a sad way to see one of the greatest coaches of all time leave the game. Assistant Ty Corbin is set to step in as the acting coach with a deal to become the long-term coach possibly coming later. Sloan just signed a 1-year extension on Monday and was in his 23rd year as Utah’s head coach. Although the Jazz have lost 10 of their last 14 games, they are still 31-23 overall and in the thick of the playoff chase. But a 30-minute closed door meeting Wednesday night after an emotional loss to the Bulls seems to have changed all that.
– Clippers’ F Chris Kaman (ankle) said he doesn’t think he will be back during the Clippers’ road trip. The Clippers’ have four more road games before the All-Star break, but it doesn’t sound like Kaman is going to play in any of them. Considering how much time he has missed, he can’t be considered a lock to play right after the break, either.
– The Rockets are still not “inclined” to trade G Aaron Brooks, according to the Houston Chronicle. His contract is expiring and he has become a disgruntled backup, so it’s a mystery why they’d choose to hold onto him. The Knicks, Kings, Wolves, Blazers and Grizzlies have all shown an interest in Brooks, but according to the Chronicle, there have been no serious talks.
– Blazers’ F Brandon Roy (knees) said Wednesday he’s hoping to return from a knee injury on February 16 against the Hornets.
– MLB Ray Lewis confirmed on the Dan Patrick Show Wednesday that he intends to keep playing football in 2011. “No ifs ands or buts about it. Unfinished business.” Lewis turns 35 in March, but led the Ravens in tackles for a fifth straight season in 2010 and continues to be one of the top run-blocking linebackers in football. A 12-time Pro Bowler and seven-time first-team All-Pro, Lewis will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he retires.
– Citing a person familiar with the player’s thinking, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that free agent WR Vincent Jackson expects to be franchise tagged and play the 2011 season under the 1-year tender. The NFLPA will dispute the validity of all tags, but front offices plan to apply them anyway. The key to this story is that Jackson is willing to accept the roughly 1-year/$10M deal after refusing a 1-year/$3.2M deal in 2010. GM A.J. Smith may be able avoid signing V-Jax to a long-term deal. Reportedly, Smith “likely will pay Jackson for 2011 and then let him walk,” positioning the Chargers for a future compensatory draft pick.
– Broncos’ WR Demaryius Thomas (torn Achilles) suffered the injury while working out Wednesday. It’s not yet known whether the Achilles is partially or fully torn, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter classified it as “ruptured.” In any event, his status for the start of the season is now in doubt. Thomas has immense talent, but has been plagued by foot and ankle injuries ever since he broke a bone while training last February. Unfortunately, the history on skill-position players returning from Achilles tears is very bleak, so he may be getting the ‘bust’ label. Thomas is set up for a second straight lost season.
– Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera cast some doubt on WR Steve Smith’s future with the Panthers, indicating only that the receiver is part of the team’s plans “right now.” “It’s a touchy thing. We’re going to have to wait until everything’s cleared up and see where he is.” Rivera expects Smith to at least take part in the first minicamp. The team will proceed after they see how “he fits with it, and see how it fits him and see if it’s what we need and what we want, and we’ll go from there.” Depending on the CBA talks, the 32-year-old could end up being shopped in the late spring or early summer.
– Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times Union reports that the Jaguars have opened long-term extension talks with free agent WR Marcedes Lewis. Lewis, 27 in May, remained his usual dominant run-blocking self in 2010 while racking up career bests in catches (58), yards (700), and touchdowns (10). He had not scored more than two TDs in any previous season.
– Speaking on ESPN Thursday afternoon, analyst Trent Dilfer called Auburn’ QB Cam Newton’s Thursday media day workout “one of the most phenomenal personal workouts I’ve ever seen.” “If scouts saw this they’d have been slobbering,” added Dilfer, who called Newton a “dynamic athlete” and “incredibly impressive.” Dilfer praised Newton’s refinement, accuracy, and arm strength while proclaiming the “sky is the limit.” It’s a positive sign, as his footwork and ability to play under centre are improving. A team with a top-five selection will likely draft Newton.
In addition, according to SI’s Tony Pauline, at least six NFL teams are ranking Newton as the top quarterback prospect in the 2011 draft. According to Pauline, those same teams (one identified as the Dolphins) have Newton “clearly higher” on their draft boards than Da’Quan Bowers, Nick Fairley, Marcell Dareus and Blaine Gabbert. Newton isn’t NFL-ready right now, but he has solid arm strength, accuracy and athleticism.
– Though the San Francisco Chronicle has reported that DE Richard Seymour will be slapped with the franchise tag, NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora expects the Raiders to use the tag on TE Zach Miller. The Raider, however, may end up using both the franchise and the transition tag. If they do plan to franchise Miller, there’s a good chance they will lock up Seymour to a long-term deal. Miller just turned 25 years old after four years in the NFL. It would be far less expensive to franchise a tight end than a defensive end.
– The Boston Herald reports the Patriots fully plan to use the franchise tag on LG Logan Mankins for a second straight year. The move is “definitely coming.” In the meantime, the sides have an opportunity to negotiate a long-term deal. If Mankins signs the tender, he will earn $10.51M in 2011. Mankins refrained from signing last year, holding off until early November.
– The Cleveland Plain Dealer confirms that the Browns are likely to release QB Jake Delhomme this offseason. The only surprise here is that Delhomme wasn’t among the Browns’ initial round of roster cuts on Wednesday. Delhomme carries a $5.4M salary into the final year of a contract he was never going to fulfill.
– The Redskins have reportedly already “reached out” to free agent DL Shaun Rogers. Per Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, Rogers is expected to visit the Redskins this week, perhaps as soon as Friday. With DE Albert Haynesworth as good as gone this offseason, Rogers would be a replacement at nose tackle.
– According to the PWT, one TNA wrestler is ‘highly skeptical’ about the possibility of Sting joining WWE since the multi-time wrestling champion has openly expressed mistrust when it comes to working for Vince McMahon. Sting feels he has to be carried through matches, and he’s developed a level of trust with several TNA wrestlers. Many people within the industry consider Sting to be absent minded in the squared circle. Wrestlers who have worked with him over the years have stated that he often forgets spots and has to be carried by his opponents.
TNA Wrestling officials have been quiet regarding Sting’s status. People often in the know of TNA’s wheelings and dealings say they are unaware of Sting re-signing with the company. However, it’s considered possible that he has re-signed with TNA since company president Dixie Carter is the main reason he has re-signed with the organization in the past. It’s become an annual joke within TNA that creative will be told to work on Sting’s retirement angle only to have Carter inform them that she signed him to a new one-year contract.
– Eric Bischoff recently spoke with Monday Night Mayhem. The highlights:
What he credits for the recent success in the ratings of TNA iMPACT over the last several weeks and what’s needed to stay at that level of where they are now: “I don’t think there’s any one thing in success & failure. It’s always a combination of several things. I think one of the things we are doing that is resonating with the audience in integrating more reality into our stories whenever we can. Keeping an edge on our stories & characters, more so than we have done in the past. Where we are in our storylines really started back in October at Bound for Glory, and it’s continuing now where we are today and where we are leading up to on March 3rd.”
His opinion on the new direction of the “They” storyline: “I think ‘Plan B’ (the Fortune split from Immortal) was well-received. It caught everyone by surprise when everyone came to TV, because we didn’t call everyone and give a heads-up in advance and because we like to contain & control information creatively as best we can. Once everyone wrapped their heads around it, I think the guys were very excited about it. Fortune is a strong, aggressive, young, emerging group of talent that saw a opportunity for them to step up, and now they’re taking it.”
What fans watching at home can expect to see on the March 3rd edition of iMPACT that’s different from their normal Thursday night TNA viewing experience: “What I’m hoping we’re going to see is, I know we are going to see a pretty powerful show from a content point of view. You are also going to see a show in front of an energized crowd in a bigger arena that has a different kind of energy. I’m going to say better energy, but a different kind of energy than we typically see.”
– Initially, there was much concern amongst the TNA Wrestling locker room regarding Matt Hardy’s state of mind—largely based on his oftentimes peculiar online videos. Many have since changed their tune on the former WWE Superstar as he’s considered easy to work with and friendly. Concern, however, remains over his conditioning and wrestling ability.
– The Wrestling Observer confirms that Alison Skipper (aka Chelsea) was released by TNA Wrestling. Her profile was removed from the company website last week.