– Sources within WWE do not believe Steve Borden (aka Sting) has signed with the organization. That, however, doesn’t mean Borden won’t join WWE at some point, but it does not appear that he is currently signed. Borden is still listed on the TNA Wrestling website roster page, however, those in the know are not aware of him re-signing with the company. Thus, it is believed that he is a free agent. WWE’s “top priority” for 2011 is to sign Sting to a deal.
– After WWE introduced the new Money In The Bank gimmick PPV last year, many have been wondering whether that spelled the end of MITB at WrestleMania. A WWE source has informed us that the match will take place at WrestleMania as in previous years.
– Following his surprise return to WWE at Sunday’s Royal Rumble PPV, we reported earlier this week that Kevin Nash has signed a new “Legends” contract with WWE. The former WWE and WCW champion went on Twitter on Tuesday night and explained the reason he’s decided to finish his career off in WWE – as Diesel. He also had some major praise for WWE chairman Vince McMahon, saying Vince is the man who was instrumental in making him the household name that he is today. Nash wrote:
“To explain why I want to retire as Diesel: Vince McMahon was the 1st person to ever see anything in me and believe in me. He gave me my 1st push and made me a star. Without Vince there is no Diesel. Without Diesel Kevin Nash is a mediocre basketball player from the University of Tennessee.”
Nash acknowledged the staggering crowd reaction he received at Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view, saying that it was bigger than any pop he’s received in a long, long time.
“The biggest pop I’ve received since ’97 happened Sunday night. Diesel’s back, where he belongs. Circle of Life.”
– Following Randy Orton’s punt kick to Husky Harris on RAW, the WWE website is reporting that Harris is out of action indefinitely. CM Punk will addresss the situation on next week’s RAW. As for what this means for Husky Harris, we’ve heard that despite his talent, WWE officials are not wild about his size and look. WWE is planning a Corre vs. Nexus 3-on-3 match for WrestleMania, and his involvement in that match is questionable at best.
– The January 31 episode of Monday Night Raw scored a 3.5 cable rating, the program’s highest rating since August 30. Last week’s show drew a 3.29. The program averaged 5.3 million viewers over the course of two hours, up from 4.9 million viewers last week. The rating improved on the average number for Raw in January, a 3.2.
– At Tuesday’s WWE SmackDown tapings, five superstars qualified for SmackDown brand’s Elimination Chamber match. With that match set, here’s the updated card for the upcoming Elimination Chamber PPV on February 20:
WWE Title Match
Jerry Lawler vs. The Miz
World Heavyweight Title Match
Opponent TBD vs. Edge
RAW Elimination Chamber
John Cena vs. R-Truth vs. Sheamus vs. John Morrison vs. Randy Orton vs. CM Punk
* Winner will face the WWE Champion at WrestleMania
SmackDown Elimination Chamber
World Heavyweight Champion Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Kane vs. Wade Barrett
* Winner will defend the World Heavyweight title against Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania
– Prior to the match pitting Mark Henry and The Great Khali against Jimmy and Jey Uso on Raw, The brand’s GM switched the bout to a dance-off. The World’s Strongest Man and The Punjabi Playboy notched the victory with their unorthodox dance moves. Former WWE star Rikishi, father of the Uso brothers, took to Twitter to express his unhappiness for the angle. “My thoughts on my sons’ dance off? Didn’t really need it. Creative Team WTF!! Its not that hard to figure in talent.”
– WWE Hall of Famer Greg “The Hammer” Valentine said during an interview published in the latest issue of Inside Wrestling that he recently reached a new merchandising agreement with WWE. He noted that WWE plans on releasing a book and DVD chronicling his lengthy wrestling career, as well as a Mattel action figure.
– While it was THQ’s call to feature Randy Savage in the WWE All-Stars video game, WWE has to approve any character they want in the game. The video game company approached Savage on their own, as well as Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior, and had Vince McMahon approve all three character proposals. As the game’s promotional tagline “Two Generations. One Ring.” implies, the game features current and former WWE Superstar competing in fast-paced wrestling matches.
– WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin wrote on Twitter that he will be meeting with WWE officials in Stanford, Connecticut regarding the upcoming season of Tough Enough, which he’ll be hosting. Austin asked fans for any ideas or suggestions they may have for the show. As noted before, Kevin Nash is also scheduled to meet with WWE officials today regarding the future. Nash signed a Legends contract this week.
– MMA fighter Kimbo Slice has pulled out of his pro wrestling debut, which had been scheduled to take place in Japan on February 5 for Antonio Inoki’s IGF promotion. Kimbo is saying that he was injured while training.
– Preliminary estimates for WWE’s Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view are around 200,000 buys, which is lower than what WWE was hoping for and down from the previous year.
– Former Ring of Honor wrestler Kevin Steen spoke to Power Slam about his future without ROH, whether he’s received any interest from WWE or TNA, his longtime feud with El Generico, TNA’s television product, and more. Regarding interest from the two major promotions, Steen says WWE has never shown any interest in his services while he heard that TNA might have been interested in using him a few years ago but was never contacted. He questions why WWE would be interested in him when he’s the complete opposite of what they look for in a wrestler, noting that he doesn’t look like the typical athlete.
The interviewer then says it’s hard for him to imagine TNA doing much with Steen on the chance he was hired. He feels the former ROH star would likely be ‘just another mid-card guy, lost in the weekly blur of multi-man segments and short matches.’ Steen responds,
“This won’t look good now that I’m a free agent and I’m looking to make a living off wrestling…
“I’ve watched episodes of TNA iMPACT! and TNA pay-per-views. This is not a knock on the wrestlers because the wrestlers are the only thing that make [TNA] watchable, guys like The Young Bucks and The [Motor City] Machine Guns and Samoa Joe and AJ Styles and others. But I would watch an episode, and I would have to pause it because my head was spinning and I felt a little nauseous just from seeing so many things happening, one after another. The matches have so little time, so they would have to do so much stuff in, like, three minutes.
“I’ve literally gotten physically nauseous from watching TNA.”
– According to SuperLuchas.net, Matt Hardy is reportedly trying to persuade TNA Wrestling officials to hire former WWE Diva Amy “Lita” Dumas so he can work a storyline with her. During an interview last October, Dumas expressed interest in returning to the squared circle “for fun,” albeit not on a full-time basis. She was also broached on the subject of Hardy, to which she snarked, “Oh my god, what happened to that guy?” Dumas added that she feels he has maturity issues, but also acknowledged his professionalism during their 2005 feud.
– The AP has named Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick NFL Coach of the Year for the 2010 season. He won with 30 votes, while Bucs’ coach Raheem Morris finished second with 11. Belichick’s team led the NFL in regular season wins. It’s the 58-year-old third Coach of the Year award. He also won in 2003 and 2007.
– The NFL confirmed Wednesday that teams will be able to use franchise tags beginning on February 10. Teams were anticipating this, but the league has now officially confirmed it. Some players who will likely be tagged are: Colts’ QB Peyton Manning, Eagles’ QB Michael Vick, Patriots’ LG Logan Mankins, Ravens’ DT Haloti Ngata, and Chiefs’ OLB Tamba Hali. There’s a league-record number of players eligible for free agency, so expect a league-record number of franchise tags.
– Bengals’ WR Chad Ochocinco insisted this week that he’s staying with the Bengals until he’s told his services “are no longer needed here.” “And probably when they do tell me that we don’t need your services no longer, I still might not go. Seriously. You’re not going to make me play 10 years and tell me I’m no longer. No, you’ve got some explaining to do.” Take this with a grain of salt.
– Though Cardinals’ WR Larry Fitzgerald’s goal is to retire as a Cardinal, he reiterated Wednesday that winning is his first priority heading into a contract year. “I want to put myself in the best position to be able to hoist that Lombardi trophy. I would love to do that in Arizona … I love the state, but I want to win and that is really where my mind is.” The Cardinals are in a tight spot heading into the 2011 offseason. They can flip Fitzgerald to the highest bidder, or they can opt to keep him and hope to turn the ship around enough to lock him up on another long-term deal.
– The Eagles have named former OL coach Juan Castillo as DC. Castillo coached linebackers and the defensive line to start his coaching career at Texas A&M-Kingsville, and the Eagles have been high on him for a while.
– ESPN’s Adam Schefter was adamant on SportsCenter Wednesday morning that Steelers’ C Maurkice Pouncey “will not wind up playing” in Superbowl XLV. Schefter previously left the door open for Pouncey to make an appearance, but he’s firmed up his report since. Schefter noted the numerous ways Pouncey’s high sprain and ankle fracture could affect his performance, from moving laterally to blocking downfield.
– NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora reports Steelers’ LBs coach Keith Butler is “likely” to become the next DC of the Cardinals. Butler suggested Tuesday that the Rooney family may not let him interview for the job after they spent big money to retain him last year. LaCanfora’s sources, on the other hand, indicate that the Steelers would not block Butler accepting the job if it’s offered. Butler and Arizona HC Ken Whisenhunt are close, going back to Whiz’s days in Pittsburgh.
– Free agent RB Brian Westbrook is considered “doubtful” to return to the 49ers for the 2011 season. CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco expects Anthony Dixon to “take on more responsibility” as RB Frank Gore’s complement. Westbrook didn’t play much until Gore got injured in 2010, but finished with 4.42 YPC average and 5 TDs. At 32, he’s an injury risk but remains an option on passing downs.
– Browns’ QB Colt McCoy revealed that his college shoulder injury “wasn’t completely 100% healed” during his rookie NFL season. McCoy pinched a nerve in his throwing shoulder during the 2010 BCS title game. He plans to spend the offseason “completely focusing on healing my shoulder and getting it 100%.” The Browns still appear to be planning on starting him in 2011 without serious competition. He went 2-6 in eight 2010 starts.
– Broncos’ VP of Football Operations John Elway indicated Wednesday at Radio Row that QB Kyle Orton would be the team’s starting quarterback if the season began today. “Kyle is definitely in the equation. It’s not a foregone conclusion we’re going to trade Kyle at all. We still have to evaluate that part. I think a lot of people think it’s automatic. It’s not.” If another team offers a 2nd or 3rd-round pick for Orton, however, they’ll still likely pull the trigger on a deal.
– Raiders’ head coach Hue Jackson confirmed Tuesday that there’s “no question” QB Jason Campbell is entrenched as the teams’ starter. “The guy won some very important games. The guy played hurt. The guy got to know his teammates, rallied his team, and finished very strong.” Jackson and owner Al Davis are both Campbell supporters, whereas former coach Tom Cable placed more trust in QB Bruce Gradkowski.
– The Titans have reportedly received permission to interview Falcons’ OC Mike Mularkey for their head coaching vacancy. Mularkey will become the third candidate to interview for the position after in-house options Mike Munchak and Mike Heimerdinger. It appears that the Titans are going after an offensive coach. Mularkey interviewed for the Browns’ head coaching job last month, losing out to Pat Shurmur. He backed out of an interview with Denver.
– F Peter Forsberg (right foot) returned to ice for Colorado’s practice session on Wednesday, but his comeback attempt appears to have hit a snag. “If I had to make a decision today, it wouldn’t be that positive, because (the pace of play) was quick. I’ve just got to keep skating for the next couple of days, and then make a decision very quick. I’ve just got to keep on working. It’s hard to make a decision after just three (full) practices. I’ve got to keep on skating and see how close I can get.” Forsberg spent some time near the bench attending to his skates and was seen talking with Avalanche trainers on a couple of occasions as well. He has experienced plenty of problems with his right foot and ankle and those ailments looked as though they were an issue again during the skate.
– The Leafs have signed F Mike Brown to a 3-year/$2.21M extension. Brown has two goals and three assists in 26 games for the Leafs this season. He has a team high plus 3 mark and 41 minutes in penalties.
– The Lightning have placed G Mike Smith on waivers. If he clears, then he be will assigned to the minors. Smith just returned to the NHL ranks on Monday from a 2-week conditioning assignment after recovering from a knee injury. However, he served as a healthy scratch on Tuesday with G Dwayne Roloson starting and G Dan Ellis as the backup. The Bolts also needed a goalie in Norfolk because G Cedrick Desjardins (shoulder) is sidelined and may require surgery. GM Steve Yzerman said, “He needs to play. We have three goaltenders here and we don’t want to go with any kind of a rotation. If Smitty gets claimed, it’s obviously good for him. If he doesn’t he goes down and plays for us.”
– Penguins’ F Evgeni Malkin (sinus infection) will not be available to play on Wednesday, but he might be ready by the end of the week. Coach Dan Bylsma said: “Evgeni Malkin had a good day today skating. He appears to be getting better and hopefully is progressing towards playing later this week. He’s at the point right now that if he continues with where he’s at, he should be ready to play soon. It’s not like he has to get better anymore. He’s had a couple good days. He’s skated and looks like he should be ready to go to the next level – which is just playing.”
– Rangers’ F Ruslan Fedotenko (appendectomy) will be sidelined for 3 weeks. Fedotenko has missed the last five games due to a shoulder separation sustained during the second period of a 7-0 win vs. Toronto on January 19. He has nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points, along with 16 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 48 games this season.
– Red Wings’ F Pavel Datsyuk (hand) has pushed back his return date to Friday. “Still can’t shoot 100%. It bothers me a little bit. (I’m) just not ready. I hope the two days will help me.” Datsyuk has been out of Detroit’s lineup since December 22. Stay tuned.
– The Lightning have signed F Nate Thompson to a 2-year/$1.8M extension. He’ll earn $950K and $850K in years 1 and 2 respectively.
– The Blues have activated F Andy McDonald (concussion). He has not played since December 4 and has missed the past 24 games with a concussion.
– Lakers’ F Ron Artest wants to be traded away from the Lakers, a source tells ESPN’s Marc Stein. Artest clearly isn’t happy with his role, but the Lakers can’t be happy with his play either. Artest looks brutally slow, is shooting 40.7 percent from the field and isn’t even defending at a high level. Considering he will have 3-years/$22M left on his contract after this season, trading Artest will be nearly impossible. His agent has denied the report.
– Marc Stein of ESPN.com is reporting that the Pistons are actively trying to move F Richard Hamilton in a trade, but are also telling teams that they don’t want to trade teammate F Tayshaun Prince prior to the February 24 trade deadline. In other words, they are desperate to move Rip, and still want to trade Prince, but they want teams to know that he won’t come as cheap. Both will likely be moved on deadline day.
– Cavaliers’ F Drew Gooden (foot) is expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks. He has only played in five games since December 21.
– Magic’ F Brandon Bass (ankle) may be sidelined through the All-Star break, according to coach Stan Van Gundy. Nothing is confirmed, but it sounds like the earliest Bass will play is February 23 against the Kings, a span of 8 games.
– Clippers’ F Chris Kaman (ankle) said Tuesday that he is unsure when he will return to action. “[It's] getting there. It’s not like there’s a time frame. I wish there was. I don’t know when I’m going to be playing again.”
– According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, Lou Piniella is joining the Giants’ front office as a special assistant. Piniella stepped down as manager of the Cubs last August and is done managing, but we figured he’d be back in the game in some capacity before long. According to Shea, “he’ll consult in a variety of ways, whether it’s evaluating or advising on player movement or scouting or . . . well, whatever a baseball lifer of 48 years can provide.” Piniella has remained close with Giants’ GM Brian Sabean since their time together in the Yankees organization in the 1980s. He’s expected to remain at his home in Florida while performing the duties.