– According to the Wrestling Observer, sources within WWE say that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and Triple H are very angry at talent relations executive John Laurinaitis over his failure to re-sign CM Punk. The heat on Laurinaitis is serious because this is seen as his second serious failure this year, with the failure to keep Chris Jericho on the roster falling on Laurinaitis’ shoulders as well.
One WWE source says, “this is the same job JR had for years, and it’s a heat-magnet because you’re trapped between Vince’s expectations and the talents who want to break away from the brutal schedule.”
Another company source said, “Laurinaitis has made millions in salary and stock options. He’s expected to perform for that money, and produce results. Right now, he’s not getting done the job Vince expects of him!”
In addition, a WWE spokesman noted to GLAAD in their response to CM Punk uttering an anti-gay slur during yesterday’s Raw live event in Australia that the wrestler is legitimately leaving the organization following the Money in the Bank pay-per-view event on July 18. OpposingViews.com printed the following in their article:
“WWE officials also told GLAAD this morning that CM Punk’s contract will expire in a few weeks, he will not be immediately renewed, and he will no longer be with WWE as of July 18. A spokesperson told us “this departure is not part of a storyline. He is contractually leaving the organization.
“A spokesperson for the WWE told us “We are taking this very seriously.”
OpposingViews.com also notes that GLAAD provided training to members of WWE’s editorial staff and writing team in May. The media monitoring organization is also in discussions with WWE to provide similar training seminars to on-camera talent.
– According to the PWInsider, several key WWE sources that the new priority for talent executive John Laurinaitis is to re-sign Rey Mysterio, whose contract expires early in 2012. “Laurinaitis has a lot of egg on his face right now. Think about all the talent that has refused to re-sign. Jericho wouldn’t re-sign. MVP wouldn’t re-sign. Punk won’t re-sign. Even undercard wrestlers like Chavo (Guerrero) won’t re-sign right now. Laurinaitis needs a key re-signing to keep his corporate credibility alive right now!”
With the serious fallout from CM Punk’s homophobic remarks in Australia, Laurinaitis has targeted keeping Rey Mysterio in the fold as a demonstration to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon he still has the talent under control. “Laurinaitis always had big shoes to fill since he took over from Jim Ross,” we were told, “now he has to produce results. This is going to be very interesting to watch!”
– WWE Champion John Cena and CM Punk have had a lot of negative things to say about each other in recent weeks leading up to their showdown at Money in the Bank on 7/17, but the two superstars had very nice things to say about one another following a recent match. After John Cena defeated CM Punk in the main event of the WWE’s recent live event in Brisbane, Australia, Punk grabbed a microphone from ringside and actually put over the WWE champion. Punk says that while The Rock is off filming movies, Cena remains part of the WWE universe and performs in sickness and in health. Punk and Cena shook hands and Punk went to the back. Cena then grabbed the mic and put over CM Punk also putting over Punk and showing respect. Cena called Punk the best wrestler in WWE today and said their Money in the Bank match will be the match of the year – even bigger than he and The Rock at next year’s WrestleMania.
– According to the PWInsider, Randy Orton noted on his Twitter account that over half of the roster had items stolen from their checked luggage when they reached South Africa. His luggage was untouched. There were locks on the bags that were stolen from, but they were cut off.
– Adelaide Now has an article on The Miz, who recalls a humiliating experience that took place during his early days in WWE.
“Nobody liked me, everyone wanted me fired and was trying to get me fired. I’m in the WWE, and everyone there and the WWE Universe hates me. It made me feel like I was walking on egg shells.
“I got kicked out of the locker rooms, so I couldn’t find a place to change or shower. I remember one time going down the corridor to go to the (stadium’s public) bathroom and fans going `Oh my god, that’s The Miz’ – thanks, I’m going to the bathroom next to a kid that has my shirt on. It’s kind of belittling and humiliating. But it’s one of those things that made me stronger and made me realise I could take everything that anyone dishes.”
– The July 1 episode of WWE SmackDown scored a 1.63 cable rating, the lowest of 2011 and second-lowest on Syfy. Only the New Year’s Eve episode scored a lower rating. SmackDown averaged 2.33 million viewers, down from 2.40 the previous week. This extends the program’s streak of less than 3.0 million viewers to nine consecutive weeks. The June 24 SmackDown scored a 1.69 rating, down from a 1.71 rating the prior week. It was tied for the lowest rated episode of the year.
– The Coyotes have re-signed D Keith Yandle to a 5-year/$26.25M contract. Yandle scored 11 goals and ranked third among defensemen with 59 points in 82 games last season. He’s a top-5 NHL defenceman.
– The Hurricanes have signed D Tomas Kaberle to a 3-year/$12.75M contract. Not a bad signing at a cheap rate. Kaberle is one of the league’s top offensive defenceman. He’ll also quarterback the powerplay.
– The Maple Leafs have re-signed F Clarke MacArthur to a 2-year/$6.5M contract extension, as well as F Tyler Bozak to a 2-year/$1.95M contract. MacArthur broke out last season with 21 goals and 62 points for the Maple Leafs, nearly doubling his best regular-season point total. GM Brian Burke was wise not to sign him to a long-term contract because he’s only had one good season, so the pressure will be on MacArthur to prove that his 2010-11 season wasn’t a fluke. Bozak scored 15 goals and 32 points last year in Toronto.
– The Boston Bruins have acquired D Joe Corvo from the Hurricanes for a 4th-round pick. Corvo had 11 goals and 40 points in 82 games last season. A solid replacement for the recently-departed Kaberle.
– The Blues have signed F Jamie Langenbrunner and F Jason Arnott to 1-year contracts. Langenbrunner s coming off a terrible season that saw him record just nine goals and 23 assists in 70 games with New Jersey and Dallas. Arnott recorded 17 goals and 31 points in 73 games with New Jersey and Washington last season.
– The Capitals have signed F Troy Brouwer to a 2-year/$4.7M contract worth $2.35M annually. The Caps are now $1.8M over the salary cap. Teams are allowed to go a maximum 10% over the cap for the summer, so they’ll need to trade/release players to get back under before the season. Brouwer had 17 goals and 36 points in 79 games last campaign with Chicago.
– The Flames have signed their 1st-round pick from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, F Sven Baertschi, to a 3-year entry level contract. Baertschi played in 66 games with the Portland Winterhawks last season netting 34 goals and 51 assists for 85 points
– The Predators signed F Zack Stortini to a 1-year/2-way contract worth $550K at the NHL level and $75K at the AHL level.
– The Blue Jackets have signed D Marc Methot to a 4-year contract. Methot, 26, registered six goals and 38 assists with 184 penalty minutes and a plus- 5 rating in 229 career NHL games with the Blue Jackets.
– The Canucks have signed F Andrew Ebbett. Ebbett, 28, played in 33 games for the Coyotes last year, collecting two goals and three assists.
– The Blue Jackets have signed D Aaron Johnson to a 1-year/2-way contract. Johnson spent all of last season with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, posting nine goals and 35 points in 72 games.
– The Blues have signed G Ben Bishop to a 1-year/2-way contract. Bishop, 24, was 3-4 with a 2.76 GAA and .899 SV% last season with the Blues.
– The Senators have signed F Zenon Konopka to a 1-year/$700K contract. Konopka spent last season with the Islanders, finishing second in the league in fighting majors with 25.
– The Lightning have signed F Trevor Smith to a 1-year/2-way contract. Smith has appeared in seven career NHL games, all with the New York Islanders during the 2008-09 season, and has scored one goal.
– The Canadiens have signed G Peter Delmas to a 3-year contract. Delmas, 21, played in two games with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs in 2010-11, posting a 1-0-1 record, 1.92 GAA and .933 SV%.
– D Ruslan Salei has signed a 1-year deal with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. Salei played with the Red Wings last season, but did not generate any interest from another NHL team when he became a free agent on July 1. His new head coach in Russia is Brad McCrimmon, who was an assistant coach with the Wings for the last three seasons. Look for Salei to try and re-join the NHL following next season.
– Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post speculates that it’s “feasible” that Nationals’ RHP Stephen Strasburg (elbow) will make a minor league rehab start by mid-August. Strasburg threw a 30-pitch bullpen session at “full effort” a few days ago, which received positive reviews from Nationals pitching coordinator Spin Williams. While Strasburg has yet to pitch batting practice, the Nationals have already discussed possible dates for him to begin a minor league rehab assignment. If he progresses quickly enough, there’s still an outside chance he could pitch for the Nationals in September.
– The Marlins have acquired OF Mike Cameron and cash considerations from the Red Sox for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Cameron was designated for assignment by the Red Sox last week. Money aside, it’s a solid addition for the Marlins, who have a lousy .233/.295/.365 batting line and .660 OPS out of center field this season. Of course, Cameron also carries the reputation as a strong defender. The 38-year-old was hitting just .149/.212/. 266 with three homers and nine RBI over 105 plate appearances with the Red Sox this season.
– The Red Sox have placed LHP Jon Lester (strained lat) on the 15-day DL. He suffered the injury after throwing four no-hit innings Tuesday against the Blue Jays. It’s not a major issue, but the Red Sox are going to play it safe and give him an extended period of rest coinciding with the All-Star break. He should be back as soon as he’s eligible.
– Red Sox’ OF Carl Crawford (hamstring) is expected to return to the Red Sox around July 18. Crawford ran the bases Tuesday with no issues, but they’ll hold off on activating him until after their July 15-17 series on the turf in Tampa Bay. Crawford will return to a .243/.275/.384 batting line, six home runs, 31 RBI and eight stolen bases.
– Dodgers’ RHP Jon Garland (right shoulder) will undergo season-ending surgery next Monday. It prematurely ends a disappointing season for the free agent signee, as he began the year on the DL with an oblique injury and made just nine starts before going under the knife. He seems likely to miss most, if not all, of the first half of 2012. Garland had a vesting option for 2012, which obviously will not kick in, so he’ll enter the offseason as a free agent.
– Phillies’ 3B Placido Polanco (back) is scheduled to see a spinal cord specialist Thursday in Philadelphia. Polanco is out of the Phillies’ lineup Wednesday for a second straight day due to a pinched nerve in his back. He’s hoping to return to action this weekend, but the Phils may go ahead and rest him until after the break.
– The Padres have placed LHP Clayton Richard (left shoulder strain) on the 15-day DL. Richard thought he’d be fine moving forward despite having to leave Monday’s start, but obviously that’s not the case. It’s not clear at this point how long he might be out or who will replace him in the rotation.
– Bouna Ndiaye, the agent for Blazers’ G Nicolas Batum, said that a stint in the EuroLeague is within the realm of possibility for his client in the event of a prolonged NBA lockout. Batum is going to play in an exhibition game in France on Friday, and has reportedly had contact with Nancy, a team in the French league, about playing for them during the lockout.
– The NBA disputed estimates made by Forbes that served as the basis of a NY Times piece claiming the league made a $183M operating profit in 2009-10. A statement from the league read, ”The information from Forbes that serves as the basis for this article is inaccurate and we do not know how they do their calculations.”
– TMZ.com is reporting that Scott Hall checked himself in to the Seminole County Jail today to begin his sentence stemming from a 2010 arrest for drunken disorderly conduct at a Florida bar. Hall, who will be staying in the medical unit of the jail due to his bad health, was sentenced to 10 days but will likely only serve 2 days due to time previously served.
– According to the PWInsider, Hulk Hogan has put his 17,145 square foot Belleair, Florida mansion back on the market, listing the home for sale at $9,242,000. The home, which was the setting for the Hogan family reality show “Hogan Knows Best, was originally put on the market about five years ago for $25M. Last summer, the listing price was dropped to $10.9M. Now, it’s been slashed again. Hogan bought the home for about $2M in 1992. Hogan’s property taxes are very high, which is the main reason why he’s looking to sell. In 2010, with the property assessed at $5,962,908, Hogan paid $124,047. In 2009 he paid $126,629. In 2008 he paid $6,230,713.
– Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune suggests that Chargers’ GM A.J. Smith will be more willing to deal WR Vincent Jackson this year than last. Acee emphasizes that he’s not predicting the Bolts will deal V-Jax, only that an offer of a second-rounder plus a conditional mid-round pick would have a much better chance of being accepted this time around. Jackson is willing to play under the franchise tag, but he’s yet to sign for 2011. Acee’s revelation is especially interesting in light of earlier reports that Steve Smith’s preference is play in San Diego.
– NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora reports the Texans do indeed plan to pursue CB Nnamdi Asomugha in free agenc, adding that they’ll aggressively target defensive needs this summer. The front office and coaching staff feel pressure to “finally break through” with the first playoff berth in franchise history, and the first step is fixing the league’s worst secondary. LaCanfora expects Johnathan Joseph to be a fallback option. Safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who played under Phillips in Dallas, could be targeted as well.
In an NFL.com chat Wednesday, NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora suggested that Nnamdi Asomugha could command a contract in free agency that approaches $19M annually. It’d make him the highest paid player in NFL history. It’s worth noting that Asomugha’s last contract was for $45.3M across three seasons, with $28.5M guaranteed. La Canfora believes the Bucs could be serious bidders for Asomugha, pointing to their “pretty massive” proposal to Albert Haynesworth in February of 2009, and need to reach the salary cap “floor” in the new CBA.
– Citing a person familiar with the situation, the Washington Post reports that there is “mutual interest” between the Redskins and free agent DE Cullen Jenkins. The Post reported in May that the Skins were “high” on the versatile, 30-year-old pass rusher, but this report takes the connection a step further. Jenkins, of course, would be silly to not spread the word that he wants to play in D.C. considering the team’s notoriously spend-happy owner and large amount of projected cap space. At the very least, he can use them for leverage.
– Packers’ CB Brandon Underwood has been charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct after allegedly assaulting his wife, according to WITI-TV in Milwaukee. Underwood allegedly ripped a necklace off his wife, dragged her out of the car, and threw her to the ground on the night the Packers received their Super Bowl rings. His wife had filed for divorce in May, which comes as no surprise considering Underwood was found guilty of “prostitution non-marital intercourse” in March. He doesn’t have the kind of roster security to survive more off-field woes.
– Police revealed Wednesday that Wolves’ F Michael Beasley was cited for possession of marijuana after being pulled over for speeding on June 26. Beasley was found with slightly more than a half-ounce of marijuana in his vehicle, but wasn’t under the influence. Nevertheless, he does have a history of marijuana-related offenses, and may eventually be looking at a suspension from the NBA and/or the Timberwolves once the labor situation is settled.