– LHP Andy Pettitte officially announced his retirement from baseball at a press conference Friday inside Yankee Stadium. “This was not an easy decision for me…” He’s expressed interest in more family time over returning to baseball. Pettitte, 38, turned down a 1-year/$12M deal, and will finish with a 240-138 career record and a 3.88 career ERA. He played 16 solid major league seasons and his trophy case holds five World Series rings. He’ll be an interesting Hall of Fame argument given his admitted steroid use.
– According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, sources close to Cardinals’ 1B Albert Pujols are saying that the slugger has grown disappointed at the slow pace of long-term contract negotiations with the Cardinals. The two sides got to talking about a new extension over a month ago, and they probably already know where each other stand. The Cards are either going to hand over one of the richest contract in the history of professional sports, or they’re going to allow Pujols to test the free agent waters next winter. Albert is thought to be seeking a deal similar to the 10-year/$275M deal that Yankees’ 3B Alex Rodriguez is currently working under. The first baseman wants talks to cease once spring training begins. Stay tuned.
– Red Sox’ RHP Jonathan Papelbon has already arrived at spring camp. The BoSox are not expecting most of their pitchers and catchers to report to spring training until February 13, but Paps got an early start and has already staged several workouts down in Fort Myers, Florida. He’s hoping to bounce back from a 2010 season that saw him post a pedestrian 3.90 ERA and 1.27 WHIP across 67 innings. The Red Sox are paying him $12M this year.
– ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Rangers recently decided to continue to explore the possibility of trading 3B Michael Young. Olney lists the Rockies as the most likely trade partner for the Rangers. They’ve been heavily linked to Young for a while now and reportedly nearly had a deal that would have sent OF Eric Young, Jr. to Texas before the Rangers pulled the plug at the last minute. Rangers’ president Nolan Ryan said just a week ago that they would not deal Young, but it appears he’s at least still willing to listen to offers. Expect talks to continue up until spring training.
– According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have “kicked around” the thought of making trade offers for Angels’ LHP Scott Kazmir and other lefties. The Angels’ LHP Joe Saunders, A’s LHP Gio Gonzalez and Padres’ LHP Wade LeBlanc and LHP Clayton Richard have also been considered. But these are “just ideas” for now, according to Rosenthal. The Yanks are scrambling to find a reliable starter in the wake of LHP Andy Pettitte’s retirement. They do have a healthy farm system, but trades can be difficult this late in the offseason.
– Cubs’ RHP Carlos Marmol needs to pass a physical before his long-term contract extension with the Cubs can be finalized. The Cubs could wait to perform that physical until Marmol reports to spring training with the rest of the team’s pitchers and catchers on February 13. They could hold off on announcing the length and worth of the deal, too. The 28-year-old closer posted a 2.55 ERA and set a baseball record with his 15.99 K/9 last season. He also saved 38 games for the Cubs and will be up for a big raise no matter how long the new deal runs. Marmol requested a $5.65M salary for 2011 and was offered a $4.1M figure when arbitration numbers were exchanged in January.
– The White Sox have officially signed SS Alexei Ramirez to a 4-year/$32.5M contract extension with a $10M club option for 2016. Ramirez will still earn $2.75M in 2011, so the extension will actually begin in 2012. He will earn $5M in 2012, $7M in 2013, $9.5M in 2014, $10M in 2015 and either $10M in 2016 or a $1M buyout. The 29-year-old has a .283/.321/.430 batting line over his first three seasons in the major leagues, and has evolved into one of the better fielding shortstops in the game.
The White Sox have also signed OF Lastings Milledge to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Milledge, who turns 26 in April, was left unsigned all winter, likely due to character concerns. He batted .277/.332/.380 with four home runs and 32 RBI with the Pirates last season, including a .320 batting average and .926 OPS against southpaws.
– Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Indians are still interested in RHP Kevin Millwood, but not at his current asking price. Buster Olney of ESPN.com heard Thursday that Millwood is seeking a $4-5M salary for 2011. The Yankees may step up their involvement now that LHP Andy Pettitte has decided to retire, but no team should be willing to offer that much. He posted a 4-16 record, 5.10 ERA and 1.51 WHIP over 31 starts last season.
– Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Brewers have signed OF/1B Mark Kotsay to a major league contract. Kotsay will be guaranteed $800K from the Brewers and could earn an additional $100K as a roster bonus and $300K in performance-based incentives. The 35-year-old batted .239/.306/.376 with the White Sox last season. He’ll back up first base and the corner outfield spots this season.
– According to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia, the Phillies are considering signing OF Gary Matthews Jr. to a minor league contract. The deal is not going to come with an invitation to major league camp, but Matthews will work out with the rest of the minor leaguers in the Phillies’ system and attempt to climb his way out of the farm system. The 36-year-old posted a bad .190/.266/.241 batting line across 58 at-bats last season and has lost it defensively.
– The Dodgers have signed LHP Ron Mahay to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. The 39-year-old finished with a strong 3.44 ERA and 25/8 K/BB ratio across 34 innings for the Twins in 2010 while holding left-handed hitters to a .219 batting average. He should make the team as a lefty specialist.
– According to ESPN.com, Bruins’ F Marc Savard (concussion) will be examined in Boston this week to assist in the decision of whether or not to shut down the playmaking centre for the season after yet another concussion. Coach Claude Julien said, “He’s due in today, but I don’t think we’re going to get an answer today. I think people are all waiting for an answer here. With concussions it could be a matter of saying we’re going to give it another week and see how you feel, or we don’t know when that answer is going to come so that’s where we are right now with Savvy.” While the Bruins would like to have their top-line centre back in the lineup as soon as possible, Julien made it clear the decision on savard’s future will be made entirely by the team’s medical staff. Savard has suffered four concussions in his NHL career, including two in the last 10 months.
– Islanders’ G Rick DiPietro (facial fractures/knee swelling) will miss the next 4-6 weeks. DiPietro got into a fight with Penguins’ G Brent Johnson towards the end of Wednesday’s game. The knee swelling is more of a concern than the facial fractures, given his history of knee injuries. DiPietro has started in 21 games in 2010-11, which is a personal best for him over the past three seasons.
– Sources close to F Peter Forsberg (right foot) say that he is still having some discomfort. Foppa is still looking for the best brace for his skate. The Avs have been pleased with his play in practice and want to sign him, but the final decision will be up to Forsberg. The future Hall-of-Famer will likely make his decision by Sunday. Forsberg has not played in the NHL since the 2007 playoffs.
– F Craig Conroy is expected to announce his retirement on Friday. Conroy played in only 18 games this season, but did manage to get in his 1,000 NHL game. He 182 goals and 542 points in 1,009 NHL games and is likely going to either join the Flames’ front office, or sign on with TSN as an analyst.
– Penguins’ F Mark Letestu (arthroscopic knee surgery) will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks. Letestu was injured during the morning skate prior to the Penguins’ 4-3 shootout victory over the Rangers in New York on Tuesday. Coach Dan Bylsma said Thursday that the injury involves his meniscus.
– Leafs’ F Darryl Boyce (broken nose/lacerated nostril) will undergo surgery.
– Leafs’ F Mike Brown (UBI) will be out 2 weeks. Brown, who signed a 3-year extention with the club on Wednesday, suffered an upper body injury during Tuesday’s game against the Panthers.
– The Ducks and Flyers are two of three teams interested in G Ray Emery. Emery is hoping to sign with someone next week.
– Sabres’ owner B. Thomas Golisano says he preferred to sell the team to Pennsylvania businessman Terry Pegula rather than move the team from Buffalo. The $189M sale is expected to close within 30 days, pending NHL and governmental approval. Golisano says the windfall could have been greater if he’d accepted an earlier offer for $70M more from someone he wouldn’t identify at a news conference Thursday. But that would have meant moving the team out of Buffalo. Golisano bought the team out of bankruptcy in 2003. He’s selling because of a new government-related venture he’ll announce in Washington this month. The billionaire businessman has run unsuccessfully three times for governor in New York. Minority owner Larry Quinn will step down as managing partner.
– The NFLPA has sent a memo to all certified agents disputing the league’s contention that the franchise tag will be available for use as normal over the next few weeks. “The current CBA provides that ‘each club shall be permitted to designate one of its players who would otherwise be an Unrestricted Free Agent [or RFA] as a Franchise Player each season during the term of this Agreement’. The 2011 season is not a ‘season during the term of this Agreement’ so the NFL has no valid basis for claiming the right to franchise players in 2011.”
– Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez (right shoulder) revealed Thursday night that he will not require surgery this offseason. He will visit a specialist later this month as a precaution, but he should begin throwing shortly thereafter. Two outside doctors agreed that the best course of action is “active rest” followed by “constant rehab.” Avoiding the knife is great news for Sanchez’s 2011 season, as well as his long-term health. He should be as good as new by the time training camp rolls around.
– According to the Denver Post, impending free agent CB Champ Bailey is unlikely to re-sign with the Broncos. The franchise tag is up for debate between the NFL and the NFLPA, but the rebuilding Broncos don’t figure to use it on a 33-year-old corner. The team pulled its multi-year deal off the table during the season, and they’ve been noncommittal on Bailey over the past month. The 10-time Pro Bowler has made it clear that he wants to play for a contender, which pretty much rules out a return to Denver. After 7 years, it looks like both parties are splitting.
– Redskins’ DE Albert Haynesworth has been charged with simple assault for a “road rage” incident in Reston, Virginia Wednesday morning. Per the Washington Post, Haynesworth plans to turn himself in to authorities next week. A pickup-truck driver was apparently “flipped off” by another driver for tailing too closely. The pickup-truck driver then emerged from his vehicle at a stoplight and struck the other driver after a heated exchange. Haynesworth is believed to be the driver of the pickup truck.
– Panthers’ QB Jimmy Clausen (left foot) underwent minor surgery last week. Clausen said in late December that his foot bothered him for much of the season after he underwent surgery on his big toe last January. The toe is fine, but that injury may have caused stress in another area of the foot.
– Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy still expects WR Donald Driver (quadricep) to play in the Super Bowl after he was added to Thursday’s injury report. “He’s fine. He wants to practice and all that, but I’m not taking any chances with him. I’ll probably hold him out [of team drills] tomorrow, as well.” It sounds like Driver tweaked the injury this week. Expect James Jones and Jordy Nelson play larger roles on Sunday.
– Giants’ RB Ahmad Bradshaw (left ankle) will undergo a “clean out” procedure next Saturday. The surgery will be similar to the one performed on his right ankle last offseason (in addition to the procedures on both of his feet). Bradshaw’s foot/ankle issues go back to his college days, and are a real concern. His own OC has expressed concerns about a heavy workload, and Bradshaw admits the ankle played a part in his slow finish this season. An impending free agent, Bradshaw said he “loves” New York and the Giants have assured him that he’s a priority once the signing period begins.
– Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis believes the hiring of offensive coordinator Jay Gruden will help lure Carson Palmer back into the fold this offseason. “It brings him back closer to what he had at USC. Once everything comes together for him, I think it’s a done issue. This is professional sports and athletics. Sometimes things happen … and people move forward and I think it would be very easy for him to move forward from that standpoint.” QB Carson Palmer may leave the Bengals hanging for awhile, but he’ll likely start for Cincinnati in 2011.
– A team source tells CSN Bay Area that the 49ers are “reluctant” to place the franchise tag on NT Aubrayo Franklin for a second straight year. Franklin earned $7.003M in 2010, but the franchise number for defensive tackles could climb as high as $12M this time around. Beat writer Matt Maiocco doesn’t see “any way” the 49ers use the tag on Franklin again. He suggests that Franklin is a much better candidate to sign an extension. The 49ers don’t figure to use the franchise tag at all in 2011.
– Browns’ QB Colt McCoy has been assured by the Browns front office that he will enter training camp as the starting quarterback. McCoy also said that he will not need surgery on a college shoulder injury that has yet to completely heal. He’s already had “numerous” phone conversations with coach Pat Shurmur to get a head start on his new offense. McCoy is a natural fit for Shurmur’s West Coast scheme.
– Raptors’ F Linas Kleiza (meniscal tear/chondral defect in right knee) underwent arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday and will miss the next 9-12 months. Kleiza appeared in 39 games with 23 starts, averaging 11.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 26.5 minutes.
– Cavaliers’ G Mo Williams (hip) is still at least a week away from returning to action, according to coach Byron Scott. Williams isn’t going to rush back to a team that has lost 22 straight games–he’s going to take his time to make sure he’s 100% so that other teams will want to trade for him at the deadline.
– Hornets’ F Trevor Ariza (ankle) could be out for 2 weeks, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein. The Hornets are reportedly set to sign G Sasha Pavlovic to a 10-day contract. If Ariza’s timetable really is 2 weeks, he will almost certainly sit out through the All-Star break. The Hornets’ first game after the break is February 23, which is exactly 3 weeks from when Ariza went down.
– Knicks’ owner James Dolan hasn’t decided whether to exercise the final year of team president Donnie Walsh’s contract — and he is reportedly considering re-hiring Isiah Thomas. According to the NY Post, “[Dolan] still has the former disgraced president Thomas on his radar, still speaks to him regularly and still is considering bringing him back in the future.” Walsh, who has done well in fixing the Knicks, said that he hopes to return but remains in limbo. It doesn’t help that Dolan is an Isiah fan. Knicks’ fans are hoping that this isn’t a case of deja vu.
– The NBA has fined the Knicks $200K and former team scout Rodney Heard $20K for conducting illegal draft workouts in May 2007 and May 2010. There was originally some speculation that the Knicks could lose draft picks or face even steeper penalties, so this is very lenient.
– Alberto Del Rio is riding a tidal wave of momentum after winning the 2011 Royal Rumble last weekend, but his meteoric rise to a World Title Match at WrestleMania XXVII is a story that almost didn’t happen. According to sources within FCW, he indicated to WWE officials approximately a year ago that he was not pleased with being situated in the developmental promotion (which had reached several months by that point) and would be quitting the promotion to return to Mexico where he could earn a higher salary. When he signed a contract with WWE in June 2009, he was assured that he wouldn’t stay in developmental for long. Officials tried to pacify him by allowing him to work live events with the main roster, and in part due to discussions at the time of his uncle, Mil Mascaras, being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. His performances caught the eye of top officials and he was ultimately called up to the main roster in June.
Similarly, Colt Cabana said during a recent Art of Wrestling podcast that when he was training in WWE’s developmental system a few years ago with The Bella Twins, Nikki and Brie threatened to quit WWE if they weren’t immediately brought on the road with the main roster. Cabana said,
“They called up the office and said: ‘Hey, if we don’t go on the road we’re quitting’. And the next day, they’re on the road.”
“I don’t wanna do that. If I call up and say, ‘Put me on the road or I’m quitting’, I’m gone.”
The Bella Twins were promotional models John Laurinaitis offered developmental contracts to a year after their participation in the 2006 Diva Search. They have stated in interviews that they weren’t wrestling fans growing up, with Brie once remarking “that she was hired to do this diva thing.” Upon their contract agreement with WWE, they botched the organization’s name, referring to it as ‘Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment’ on their MySpace page.
– Former WWE writer Dave Lagana has updated his blog at iwantwrestling.com with some thoughts about the recent buzz about Sting possibly heading to WWE. Lagana hypes the idea of a potential Sting vs. Undertaker dream match and reveals that Sting was actually very close to signing with WWE to wrestle at WrestleMania 18. Here are some highlights of what Lagana wrote about:
“Wrestlemania 27 is in Atlanta, GA; the former home of Ted Turner’s WCW. Could Sting be another name to go along with Shawn Michaels into the Hall of Fame? Is there money in Sting wrestling at Wrestlemania for the very first time? Is Sting vs. Undertaker the kind of attraction that will excite fans just like the idea of Lesnar vs. Undertaker?”
“Sting at Wrestlemania almost happened nine years ago. Wrestlemania 18 will always be remembered for the memorable Hogan vs. Rock battle in Toronto. That event also featured Triple H winning the undisputed World Title from Chris Jericho and Steve Austin facing NWO Scott Hall (w/Kevin Nash). Sting was approached that year to make his WWE debut and wrestle on the big event. Once he was introduced to the brand, it was pitched that at Wrestlemania 18 Sting would face Kurt Angle. If you remember, Kurt was eventually thrown into a match with Kane with little setup. The deal apparently fell apart as Sting wasn’t willing to work the full WWE schedule. Now nine years later, we might finally get to see Sting in WWE.”
I’m the biggest proponent of pushing new talent in high profile positions. I see Wade Barrett as one of the shining stars of WWE in 2010. The table is set very nicely for new talents to be featured in main events of Wrestlemania this year with Alberto Del Rio and Miz. But what is lacking that “big fight dream match” to attracts casual fans. Last year we had Vince McMahon vs. Bret Hart and Undertaker vs. HBK “Streak vs. Career”; previous years featured Floyd Mayweather vs. Big Show, and Trump vs. McMahon. Based on the buzz off this simple 45-second video, the fans are voicing their opinion on what they want out of Wrestlemania 27. I don’t have any answers but we will all find out on 2/21/11. Ask yourself – is Sting vs. Undertaker the dream match you want for this year’s Wrestlemania?”
– According to the PWT, it was reported Sunday that Rey Mysterio is working through an injury to his rotator cuff. He suffered the injury while working the SmackDown brand’s most recent tour overseas. Doctors advised him not to fly due to an inner ear infection he was suffering from at the time but company officials asked him to work the tour anyway, assuring him that wouldn’t have to work any matches. However, he was asked to wrestle while on tour, and complied, only to suffer an injury to his rotator cuff. There was much acrimony over the circumstances that led to the injury, to the point that creative had no ideas for him when his feud with Alberto Del Rio conclude. Company officials tried make things up to Mysterio by allowing him to handpick his next opponent, which turned out to be “Dashing” Cody Rhodes. Current plans call for the storyline to continue through WrestleMania, with a likely encounter between the two. Due to the injury, officials are limiting his in-ring work at television and pay-per-view events, as well as house shows. He’s contained in tag matches when he does work non-televised events. Mysterio is said to be hopeful that he can avoid surgery through rehabilitation.
– Here are some highlights of what The Corre leader Wade Barrett talked about during a recent interview with Postcrescent.com:
Unscripted Promos: “A lot of the times we’re shoved out in front of the camera and I may be out there talking for 10 minutes straight or doing it back and forth with someone for 10 or 15 minutes. A lot of times you are having to ad-lib.”
“There’s no way anybody can memorize all the stuff we have to come out and say. Generally, I’ll have an idea of what’ I’m gonna say, but in terms of crowd interaction and things like that, sometimes the crowd will be chanting stuff at me, so I’ll want to say something in response to that. Sometimes whoever I’m talking with might throw me a curveball – like John Cena’s very good at ad-libbing. He used to throw a lot of curveballs at me when I was out there talking with him, so I have to be very much reactive to what’s going on around me.”
The Most Painful Move He’s Felt In WWE: “That would probably have to be Justin Gabriel’s 450 splash. It’s a spectacular looking move, but the velocity of him spinning around combined with the fact that he’s jumping 10-feet in the air or whatever it is, makes for a very heavy impact. That’s definitely one of the most painful moves I’ve ever had to take.”
Is It Easier To Be A Face Or Heel?: “I think it purely depends on the individual. I know I’ve always felt more comfortable being an antagonist and on the few occasions in my career when I’ve tried to go out and be the fan favorite, back in my days in the U.K., I just never did a good job with it. I was always very bad at getting the fans to get behind me and cheer for me and clap for me, so I knew very early in my career that I would be a better antagonist than protagonist. … Some guys are better fit for certain roles and I think I’m a better fit as a heel.”
– WWE star Kevin Nash appeared on Tha O Show with Big Daddy Donnie this week and this to say about the following topics:
The huge reaction he got at the Royal Rumble: “I wanted to take a steal chair and just sit in the middle of the aisle and take it all in because I said it’s going to be all down hill from here. It couldn’t have been more special. Thank god I was wearing a condom.”
His business relationship with Dixie Carter: “If I had have walked into an office and went to Dixie and said this is what I want to do and this is what will make me happy, Dixie would have signed off on it in 30 seconds.”
Dixie’s reaction to him in the Royal Rumble: “She was out of the country. I guarantee you she was happy for my response and happy I was happy.”
Triple H not working the Rumble: “Paul had no desire at that point [to get in the ring]. He is working in the office and walking around with a clipboard. Vince and Steph feel the company needs his mind more than his body right now. Whenever he comes back though, it’s a game changer. When I found out he [HHH] wasn’t working, I asked if it was the buddysystem [not wanting to steal a pop from Booker T or Nash] and that’s how I took it.”
Whether he has one last run left: “It’s up to creative. Every guy in the business thinks they have one last run, and the truth is, they do – if creative is in compliance with that. I told them I’d go as hard as I can for as long as I can until I break down.”
His current status: “I could go back to TNA and wrestle for them tomorrow, they just can’t put me in a video game – oh wait, they don’t have one. They couldn’t do a doll, well they could. They could do a doll [like they did before] with a likeness that Vince owns. They [TNA] put out a doll of me with long brown hair. My contract with them said they would market my TNA likeness. I asked Terry Taylor to show me a picture of when I ever worked in TNA with long brown hair. Jakks said, ‘Sorry it was a dye problem from China.’ You have to look at the doll. Jakks had a 2003 Ruthless Aggression Diesel doll and they slapped a Nash logo on it with the same Diesel head, and it was just bogus man.”
His new WWE Legends deal: “It has verbiage that says you are subject to wrestle. I looked at it as, I’m making a 5 year commitment that I’m not going anywhere else, and if I do they can’t market any part of me.”
– Nexus leader CM Punk was interviewed on Thursday morning on Minneapolis, MN’s 93X Half-Assed Morning Show to hope Friday’s live event in the area. Here are some highlights of what was talked about:
The hosts asked Punk about his former “Chick Magnet” gimmick (the “CM” in CM Punk). He said when he was younger, he and his friends would watch WWE pay-per-views and would then hold backyard wrestling events. “That’s actually how I got into wrestling, Punk said. “I didn’t know of any wrestling schools or being trained or anything like that… It was the equivalent of me wanting to host a radio show and talking into tape recorder or something like that. I just went out and did it.”
Punk said that breaking into the wrestling business was not easy. When he first started wrestling, he would wrestle for free at bars in front of two people. “That’s what you do to pay your dues,” Punk said.
Punk put over the Miz saying he’s a buddy, come a long way, but he’s holding something that belongs to him and there’s a lot of other people that want that title right now. He also mentioned Santino as being a great comedy act and an example of what makes wrestling a different brand of entertainment.
Punk was asked about the popularity of MMA and whether it takes away from WWE’s business, to which Punk argued that pro wrestling will always be popular.
Punk and the hosts talked about how WWE storylines have always been great. Punk joked that he wouldn’t go that far, which got which got some laughs.
Punk said he stole his GTS finisher from Japanese wrestler KENTA.
He’s a huge fan of Japanese wrestling and a lot of his style is based on what he has learned from them.
– WWE Diva Beth Phoenix was interviewed recently by Slam Wrestling. Here are some highlights of what she said about:
Attending a WWE tryout years ago with Gail Kim & Traci Brooks: “Gail Kim was signed that day and became women’s champion just a couple of months later. It was crazy how much talent came out of that area, and still is successful to this day, Gail being a WWE diva as well, a former TNA champion, women’s champion.“
Her relationship with Natalya: “One really important thing for me while I was injured was Natalya. Natalya and I are very close, and have been for many, many years, and been there for each other through the thick and thin, the ups and downs of our jobs. She was a wonderful, positive influence on my life. She was going through a lot too with LayCool on television. We were kind of each other’s rock during the rough times. Even the Hitman [Bret Hart] has gone out of his way and given me a lot of encouragement. That meant a lot to me, because he was one of my childhood heroes. It was wonderful to have them motivating me along when the going got tough. That’s why me being able to come back at Survivor Series and share in her title victory meant a lot to me because it was a long road for both of us to get there.”
Awesome Kong in WWE: “There’s been a lot of chatter around about her being signed by WWE. I think a lot of people, their first inclination is to think that it would be quite a clash to see us in the ring together. If we get that opportunity, it will be amazing. I look forward to it. She and I have never wrestled each other, not even on the independent scene or anything. I think it will be quite the spectacle to have Awesome Kong and Beth Phoenix in the same ring at the same time. Hopefully we’ll get to see that in the near future.
WWE’s Divas division: “With our company, we have a moniker with the divas: Smart, Sexy and Powerful. Our company is really big on us not just being beautiful, not just being about our looks, but also presenting our girls as role models. Most of our divas are greatly educated and would be happy to talk to you about current events and important issues. I think that we all work hard to be something that little girls want to emulate — not just Barbie dolls, we’re more than that.”
– As TMZ.com has been reporting as of late, former WWE star MVP is set to begin wrestling in Japan in the coming weeks for New Japan Pro Wrestling. There had been some speculation as to whether MVP would be able to use his WWE gimmick in Japan – he Tweeted this week that he will be using the same gimmick.
– Booker T has been confirmed as a trainer for WWE’s new Tough Enough show.
– TNA star Kurt Angle was interviewed this week by MMA announcer Mauro Ranallo on The Fight Show on Thursday. The highlights:
His TNA Contract Expiring: “My contract’s up in August. I’m going to keep the option open. I like TNA. I like being there. I like that the company has built the last four-and-a-half years since I’ve been there. I don’t have any plans of leaving, but I don’t think Kevin Nash and Booker T had plans of jumping either.”
Nash & Booker T Jumping Ship: “They were actually, until a couple days before the (Royal) Rumble, signed with TNA. In essence, they asked for their release at the last second and TNA gave them their wish. I’m going to do what’s best for Kurt Angle and they’ve treated me well here.”
TNA’s Current Roster: “ “We have a stacked roster. We can’t put everybody on a TV show. So, you’re not seeing a lot of the talent week after week. I think they’re going to have to be more consistent about keeping the top talent in there.”
Angle also called his on-air storyline with Jeff Jarrett and Karen Angle a “touchy subject” and said his fiance Giovanna and their new baby are “doing fine” after her recent health scare landed her in the hospital and resulted in the baby being born sooner than expected. Angle’s talk of contracts is consistent with Kevin Nash’s recent comments on ESPN radio earlier this week. Nash was asked whether he and Booker T returning to WWE could result in a new incarnation of the Main Event Mafia. Nash joked we could see it happen this summer, since Kurt Angle could be a free agent by then. At this point, there have been no indications that WWE is interested in bringing Kurt Angle back. Angle has had favorable things to say about WWE in recent months, but he was having trouble keeping up with the WWE lifestyle back when he left several years ago and that would likely still be a big concern.
– TNA’s official website has started a new feature where Dixie Carter answers fan questions from TNA’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Here are some of the more newsworthy items:
Q: do you plan on moving the Impact Zone to somewhere else. I believe that keeping it in Universal is crippling the audience numbers.
Dixie: There are no plans to move the production to another single facility. However, we are excited about taking the iMPACT! taping on the road to Fayetteville, NC on February 24th, and hope to do more iMPACT! tapings from different locations in the future.
Q: What has been the biggest mistake you’ve made so far running TNA? I know the list is long but narrow it to 1 if possible.
Dixie: The move to Monday nights. We have a loyal audience on Thursdays and that move proved that. Even the ratings of the Thursday replay (which did not force viewers to watch on Monday), were as high or higher than the debut telecast.
Q: Can you tell me how you felt when you saw Booker T and Kevin Nash at the Royal Rumble and realized your original plans for “THEY” were screwed?
Dixie: Booker was not available for any MEM angle. Kevin Nash was under contract with TNA and was just recently released for reasons I will not disclose. From the beginning, if we did a MEM angle it would not have been with the original group and it would have been a short-term story to get to something else. To see “THEY” tune in TONIGHT on SPIKE. I’m pretty sure the fans will be happy. I know I am.
Q: what’s the truth about the rumors that Sting has left TNA and joined WWE?!
Dixie: I have read these reports. I would really hate to see that happen.
– On Thursday’s iMPACT!, TNA’s much-hyped “they” group was revealed to be Fortune members AJ Styles, Kazarian and Beer Money, who turned on Immortal and Eric Bischoff. As previously reported, TNA had planned to feature Kevin Nash and Booker T’s in the group, but their returns to WWE at the Royal Rumble forced them to rewrite the entire storyline.
– After Jersey Shore star J-WOWW made an appearance for TNA Wrestling late last year, it appears another [former] cast member could be headed to Orlando in the near future. TMZ reported last month that former Jersey Shore star Angelina Pivarnick was in talks with TNA about wrestling a match. Michael Schweiger of CEG talent, which represents Angelina and other Jersey Shore stars, confirmed to Astheworldturnsleft.com that Angelina is indeed interested in wrestling with TNA. Schweiger said, “She has those aggressive tendencies. It’s funny with these kids. They pretty much have an interest in anything that will get their face on the screen.”
Angelina was scheduled to compete in a celebrity boxing match back in December but the fight was nixed after she got into a fight with a woman who wasn’t her opponent before the event began. A TNA spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny Angelina’s involvement, but did offer this statement: “We were absolutely thrilled to host JWoww at the TNA ‘iMPACT Zone’ in October, and we’ve kept the door open for her or anyone else in the ‘Jersey Shore’ family to visit us anytime. Certainly JWoww and TNA Knockout Cookie have a little unfinished business they’d like to resolve.”