– Bruins’ F Brad Marchand has been suspended 5 games for clipping Canucks’ D Sami Salo. Marchand is a repeat offender (suspended two games in March 2011 for an elbow on Blue Jackets’ F R.J. Umberger and fined $2500 earlier this season for a slew foot), and Salo suffered a concussion on the play, so both factors likely weighed on head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. Marchand will will forfeit $152,439.02 in salary will be eligible to return on January 19 against the Devils. GM Peter Chiarelli issued the following statement:
“While we understand that the department of safety is an evolving entity, it is frustrating that there are clear comparable situations that have not been penalized or sanctioned in the past. It is equally disappointing that Brad sought the counsel of the department this past fall for an explanation and clarification regarding this type of scenario so as to adjust his game if necessary. He was advised that such an incident was not sanctionable if he was protecting his own safety.”
Head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan added,
“While we understand that in certain circumstances a player may duck or bail instinctively in order to protect himself from an imminent, dangerous check, we do not view this play as defensive or instinctive. Further, Salo is not coming at Marchand with great speed nor in a threatening posture. He does nothing to indicate that Marchand is about to be hit illegally or with excessive force. To be clear, we do not consider this to be a defensive act where there were no other options available to Marchand.”
Meanwhile, Canucks’ head coach Alain Vigneault commented on Marchand’s controversial hit, saying:
“What Marchant did, you could end a player’s career doing that. I’ve never seen Sami Salo take a run at any player in the NHL. All Sami Salo has done is play the game with integrity.” Marchand and Salo were both going for the puck along the boards and Marchand appeared to be winning the race. However, Marchand decided to duck and abandon his efforts to play the puck by lifting his stick off the ice and ducking. Salo was flipped as a result, landed on his head, and is now out with a concussion. Marchand got a five-minute major for clipping and a game misconduct. Marchand has a hearing for Monday and will probably be suspended.”
Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien has since responded, saying:
“I think it’s pretty hypocritical, everything that’s been going on. It’s unfortunate, because sometimes you have to look in your own backyard. We all know he’s got the same type of players on his team, and they’ve all done the same thing. You just have to look at Burrows putting his blade in Thornton’s throat. So hypocritical. It’s unfortunate. I guess we’re stupid, we’re idiots and they’re the smartest team in the league. So I guess we have to listen to all the gab they have to say.”
“It’s like that first call that cost us a goal 5-on-3. They had seven guys on the ice. (Milan) Lucic was on the ice already. There were no issues there in my mind. It was one of those calls that was made. I’m not going to stand here and criticize the referees. In a brawl like that, they’re trying to sort things out. I counted seven, we get to see the replays. They didn’t. You don’t whine about those things you just move on.”
“The one thing we’ve taken charge of, ourselves, as an organization, is tell our players to protect themselves better. And that doesn’t mean necessarily being illegal, but protecting themselves. We don’t want any more of these Bergeron injuries, we don’t want any more of what happened to Savard, and we want to protect ourselves. I’d rather see a guy protect himself and take a penalty than not protect himself and lose him for the year. And that’s my point, and I’m going to keep making my point, I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it. It’s what we do , it’s what we believe in, and we’re going to protect our players, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
“We’re built to be a physical team, and all we have to do is play within the rules. It’s up to everybody to understand: if we cross the line and take bad penalties, then we deserve to be penalized, but if we’re playing within the rules, then it’s a game of contact. So we’re not going to change our style. Maybe we’re the focus of the league right now because of the way we play the game. But as long as we’re playing within the rules, there shouldn’t be any issues.
– The Blue Jackets have fired head coach Scott Arniel, and have named and Todd Richards as the interim replacement for the remainder of the season. The Jackets’ 11-25-5 record is the worst in the NHL. GM Scott Howson said, “We have two wins in our last 11 games. I just wanted to move the team in a new direction with a different head coach. Scott tried everything and he was running out of answers. I didn’t see much hope in moving forward with him. I just felt this needed to be done.’’ The Jackets’ longest winning streak of the season was two games, done just once. Richards, 45, compiled a 77-71-16 record as the head coach of the Wild from 2009-11. He was named the second head coach in Wild history on June 16, 2009 and led the club to a 38-36-8 record in 2009-10 and a 39-35-8 mark in 2010-11. Prior to joining the Wild, he served as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks in 2008-09 when the club compiled an NHL-best 53-18-11 record. Richards had not made the playoffs in either year with the Wild.
– Ducks’ F Jean-Francois Jacques has been suspended 3 games for his hit to the head on Blue Jackets’ F R.J. Umberger. Jacques received a five-minute major for elbowing. He’ll be eligible to return on January 15 against the Canucks. Jacques will forfeit $23,780.49 in salary. Jacques is considered a repeat offender, as he was suspended on September 24 after illegally coming off the Ducks’ bench and trying to start a fight with Canucks’ F Mike Duco during a pre-season game. He was suspended for two pre-season games and five regular-season games for that incident.
– The Lightning have re-signed F Tom Pyatt to a 2-year/$1.2M contract worth $600K annually. Pyatt has three goals and five points in 35 games this season. He currently ranks third among all Lightning forwards in average shorthanded ice time per game with 2:18 and tied for fourth in blocked shots with 20.
– The Predators are continuing to negotiate a contract extension with D Ryan Suter, but have not dismissed the possibility of trading him if an agreement can’t be reached. Suter is scheduled to become a UFA this summer. GM David Poile said, “Our first and foremost goal is to sign Ryan. We’ve been trying to do that all season long. I’ve not accomplished that to this point, but we’re hoping to continue discussions and get that done at some point. We’ll be prepared, if we feel that we weren’t going to be able to sign Ryan, and if we thought we were in a position that we had to or should trade him. I’m certainly hoping that doesn’t happen, I don’t want that to happen, but I want to be prepared for that.” Nashville remains in the thick of things in the Western Conference, but if the right package of draft picks and prospects comes along, it’s possible that Nashville could pull the trigger on a deal. Stay tuned.
– Blackhawks’ F Patrick Sharp (wrist) will miss the next 3-4 weeks, but will not require surgery. Sharp was injured while scoring his 20th goal of the season, as Red Wings’ F Jiri Hudler appeared to land a pair of slashes on Sharp’s wrist during the shot. Sharp stayed the game and played a few more shifts, but may have re-aggravated it after falling to the ice during a penalty kill, as he landed on his hands.
– Kings’ F Dustin Penner (back spasms) missed Saturday’s game, but was feeling significantly better on Monday. Penner suffered the injury rather oddly–you won’t believe how it happened:
“I woke up fine, sat down to eat and it locked right up. It never happened to me before. I couldn’t stand up. I was probably at the third stage of evolution. So my wife helped me get dressed, and then I drove to the rink here, to hope they could do some magic and get it opened up. Kinger (trainer Chris Kingsley) just looked at me and said, ‘Go home.’ So I got some treatment and went home. Apparently it’s one of those mysterious things, where you can throw it out (from) sneezing. I just leaned over to dip into some delicious pancakes that my wife made. It’s just like it (the pain) wraps around you and squeezes. . . . So it was disappointing. Hopefully it’s just an isolated incident, and not something that’s going to become chronic.”
– Sarnia Sting’ F Nail Yakupov (knee) will not require surgery, but will miss 4 weeks. The potential 1st-overall pick for this June’s NHL Entry Draft suffered a left knee injury in the overtime period of the gold medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championship. He finished the tournament with nine assists in seven games. In his second season with the Sting, he has 21 goals and 53 points in 26 games.
– Leafs’ F Tyler Bozak (UBI) skated by himself before practice today. He has not played since sustaining an upper-body injury on December 30 during a practice in Winnipeg.
– Christopher Moorehouse, who threw a banana at a black player during an NHL exhibition game in London, Ontario has been fined $200. The 26-year-old’s lawyer entered a guilty plea today on behalf of Moorehouse, who did not appear in court. Moorhouse, who was charged with a provincial trespass count after the September 22 incident, was given 90 days to pay the fine. Moorhouse tossed a banana at Flyers’ F Wayne Simmonds during a shootout. Moorhouse’s lawyer Faisal Joseph has said his client didn’t know that hurling bananas at black athletes could be seen as hateful. He was charged with a provincial trespassing offence as London police said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Moorhouse with a hate crime. Here’s a video of the incident:
– Former MLB SS Barry Larkin has been elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame. The former Reds shortstop was chosen on 495 of 573 ballots (86%) in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, well above the necessary 75%. Larkin was on the ballot for the third time after falling 75 votes short last year. Playing from 1986-04 — all with his hometown Reds — Larkin hit .295 with 198 home runs, 960 RBIs, 2,340 hits and 379 stolen bases. A 12-time all-star, he won the 1995 NL MVP award, nine Silver Slugger trophies and three Gold Gloves. He helped the Reds win the 1990 World Series and in 1996 became the first shortstop to have 30 homers and 30 steals in a season. He will be inducted July 22 in Cooperstown along with the late Ron Santo, elected last month by the Veterans Committee. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling are eligible for the first time next year.
“I’m just incredibly, incredibly moved by this whole experience and so humbled by the experience and so excited about being the newest member of the Hall of Fame.”
– According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, the Rangers and LHP Derek Holland have tabled talks of a contract extension. Last month, the two sides were discussing a 5-year extension with a club option for 2017. Holland isn’t arbitration-eligible for the first time until next winter, so Texas shouldn’t have much incentive to get a deal done soon. The 25-year-old went 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA last season and there’s reason to believe the best is yet to come.
– David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com reports that the Cubs are “down the road in discussions” with the Tigers involving a trade of RHP Matt Garza. The return is expected to be a package of prospects, expected to include RHP Jacob Turner and 3B Nick Castellanos–the two best prospects in the Tigers’ system–although it remains unconfirmed. The Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays are also in on Garza.
– The Angels have officially signed 2B Howie Kendrick to a 4-year/$33.5M extension. The deal buys out Kendrick’s final year of arbitration and his first three years of free agency. The 28-year-old has a .292/.329/.434 batting line over his first six major league seasons, and posted career-highs in 2011 with 18 homers, a .464 slugging percentage and an .802 OPS. His value should see a boost hitting in front of 1B Albert Pujols.
– Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Rangers have offered Japanese RHP Yu Darvish a deal similar to what RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka got from the Red Sox. Dice-K signed a 6-year/$52M contract in December of 2006. Early reports had Darvish seeking a 5-year/$75M deal, so there’s likely still some room to be made. They have until January 18 to come to terms. Darvish, 25, posted a 1.44 ERA and 276/36 K/BB ratio across 232 innings last year in Nippon Professional Baseball. He was in Texas last week to visit the Dallas area and to meet with Rangers staff.
– According to David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com, the Cubs have signed LHP Paul Maholm. The 29-year-old left-hander posted a 3.66 ERA and 97/50 K/BB ratio over 162 1/3 innings with the Pirates last season before being shut down in August with a shoulder strain.
– According to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com, the Mets have placed former top prospect OF Fernando Martinez on waivers. The Mets need to clear two spots on the 40-man roster to make room for INF Ronny Cedeno and OF Scott Hairston, and Rubin hears that both Martinez and LHP Daniel Ray Herrera have been placed on waivers. Martinez, 23, was once considered one of the most promising hitting prospects in the game, but injuries have thrown a wrench in those plans. Herrera was acquired from the Brewers last year in the RHP Francisco Rodriguez deal.
– Japanese OF Norichika Aoki is taking a physical Monday. This doesn’t necessarily mean a deal between the two sides is near, however. Aoki, 29, worked out in front of team officials for 75 minutes on Sunday, performing throwing, running and batting drills. The Brewers paid a $2.5M posting fee for his exclusive negotiating rights.
– According to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, the Angels have checked in on free agent RHP Francisco Cordero. Gonzalez hears that the Halos may be waiting for Cordero’s asking price–including to remain a team closer–to drop before becoming serious suitors. The 36-year-old posted a solid 2.45 ERA and 37 saves last with the Reds, but his fastball velocity and strikeout rate are both on the decline.
– FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was told by a source that the Rockies are not in on RHP Brad Lidge. With a tight budget, the Rockies probably can’t table a competitive offer. Lidge has drawn interest this offseason from the Angels and Phillies, among others. The 34-year-old registered a 1.40 ERA and 23/13 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings last season for Philadelphia.
– RHP Hiroki Kuroda has informed the Hiroshima Carp that he is planning to remain in the MLB. There had been talk that Kuroda might return to his native Japan if his contract demands are not met. Kuroda is expected to decide on a team for 2012 within the next couple of days. The Red Sox, Rangers and Yankees are said to have interest.
– Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun has confirmed that LHP Wei-Yin Chen’s deal with the O’s is a 3-year/$12M worth $4M annually. Chen is on his way to Baltimore to take his pre-signing physical and should be officially introduced later this week. The 26-year-old registered a strong 2.68 ERA and 94/31 K/BB ratio in 164 2/3 innings last season with the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Central League. He’ll likely slide in at the back-end of the rotation.
– Giants’ minor league C Drew Stiner has been suspended 50 games for violating baseball’s minor-league drug program after testing positive for a banned amphetamine. Stiner’s suspension, announced Monday, was the second of the year under the program. Stiner is on the roster of San Francisco’s Arizona League farm team. He was a 43rd-round draft pick last year from Owasso High School in Oklahoma.
– Magic’ F Dwight Howard said he thinks there’s a “100%” chance he’s with the Magic through the February 26 All-Star Game. Howard has not pulled his trade quest, but the Magic aren’t actively shopping him. They are 6-3 on the season and likely want Howard in an Orlando uniform when they host the All-Star game. Howard was rumoured to be trying to get Nets’ G Deron Williams to sign in Orlando with him. D-12 trade rumours should heat up again closer to the March 15 trade deadline.
– Wizards’ head coach Flip Saunders “might not even last the week,” a source tells FOX Sports. The Wiz are 0-8, as the roster and staff are beginning to turn on each other. His team ranks 29th in points per game 27th in points allowed per game. They’ve been outscored by an averaged of 12.9 points per night, the worst in the league. Saunders is in the third year of a 4-year/$18M contract. His days in Washington are nearing a close.
– Celtics’ F Jeff Green (heart) has successful surgery Monday at the Cleveland Clinic to repair an aeortic aneurysm. The aneurysm was discovered by the team’s medical staff during a routine entrance physical in December. Head coach Doc Rivers said, ”Surgery went well. They’re saying it went great. Obviously, our thoughts, our prayers and every part of our being is with Jeff right now.”
– Raptors’ F Aaron Gray (heart) underwent an ablation procedure Monday to correct recurring episodes of a rapid heart rate and is expected to miss 2 weeks. Gray appeared in two pre-season games, totalling nine rebounds in 32 minutes, before being sidelined by a rapid heart rate. He was initially cleared to return for Toronto’s December 28 home opener against Indiana, but the team decided to get him through a full practice before he returned to game action.
– Professional bowler Josh Blanchard took a rather embarrassing tumble during a televised game, where he held onto the ball during a roll and fell to the ground. Check out the video:
– Tiger Woods is returning to the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the first time in 10 years. Woods announced on his website Monday he will start his PGA Tour season February 9-12 at Pebble Beach, which he said “might be the prettiest place on earth.”
“I’m excited to start my PGA Tour season at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. AT&T is a great partner to my foundation, and I’m looking forward to playing in this event. I haven’t been to this tournament lately, but I have a lot of good memories at Pebble. It will be fun going back.”
– The Chiefs have signed Romeo Crennel to a 3-year contract, removing his interim tag. Crennel went 24-40 from 2005-2008 with the Browns, but went 2-1 down the stretch of the 2011 season, beating the Packers and Broncos while narrowly losing to the Raiders. Crennel immediately backed QB Matt Cassel and was noncommittal on QB Kyle Orton’s return, acknowledging Orton’s free agent status and saying he “appreciated” Orton’s late-season performance in 2011. “Matt Cassel has won here. We’ve been to a playoff with Matt Cassel. I don’t think Matt Cassel has fallen off the wagon overnight. I think he’s a good talent, he’s a good quarterback, and he’s taken us to a playoff. I anticipate that he can do it again.”
– For those of you living under a rock, the Broncos surprised the world in defeating the Steelers in OT on Sunday night during the AFC Wild Card game. Check out QB Tim Tebow’s 80-yard game-winning TD to WR Demaryius Thomas, as well as the post-game celebrations:
– Ex-Ravens, Titans, and Texans WR Derrick Mason announced his retirement from football. ”I’m done. I won’t be playing football. I only knew one way to play football, going all-out and having fun out there.” Mason, 38, played 15 seasons after entering the NFL as the 98th pick in the 1997 draft out of Michigan State. A two-time Pro Bowler, he caught 943 passes for 12,061 yards (12.8 YPR) and 66 TDs. Mason played in one Super Bowl, when the Titans lost to the Rams in 1999.
– Lions’ RB Jahvid Best (concussions) said Monday that he’s symptom-free and will “definitely” play football in 2012. The Lions will likely bring Best back, as he costs only $640,500 next season and is their most talented halfback. Team doctors will be on red alert at all times after Best suffered three known concussions in three football seasons. The Lions will also likely re-sign free agent RB Kevin Smith RB Mikel Leshoure (torn Achilles) is also expected back in 2012.
– The Chargers are staying put in San Diego next season. Owner Dean Spanos said Monday the team will not exercise its right to move for at least another year. The Chargers want to allow more time for efforts to build a new downtown stadium. Spanos and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders say in a joint statement they will work closely together to make that happen. Sanders leaves office at the end of this year due to term limits. Each year through 2020, the Chargers can announce intentions to leave San Diego on condition they pay off bonds that were sold to expand Qualcomm Stadium in 1997.
– Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin revealed at his Monday press conference that NT Casey Hampton (ACL) and LT Max Starks (ACL) suffered knee injuries in the Steelers’ Wild Card round loss to the Broncos. If the ACLs are torn, both players will need reconstructive surgery and may have to open next year on the PUP list. Starks is an impending free agent. Hampton, who turns 35 before next season, is owed a $4.89M salary in the final year of his contract. Expect the Steelers to do some offseason shopping.
– The Bills have had contract talks with free agent WR Stevie Johnson since the season ended. Johnson is reportedly seeking a 4-5 year/$30-37.5M deal worth $7.5M annually. He has racked up 2,077 yards and 17 touchdowns over the last two seasons and won’t be 26 until July.
– The Buccaneers will interview Marty Schottenheimer for their head-coaching vacancy on Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. Schottenheimer, 68, last coached in 2006 when he led the Chargers to a 14-2 record, but was fired due to a dispute with GM A.J. Smith. He’s spent time as an ESPN analyst and in charge of the UFL’s Virginia Destroyers since then. Schottenheimer’s career NFL record is 200-126-1 during the regular season, but he has posted a 5-13 postseason mark.
– Vikings’ LB Chad Greenway has been picked for his first Pro Bowl. Greenway, who had a personal-best 174 tackles this season, will replace the injured Bears’ LB Lance Briggs of Chicago. Greenway has led the Vikings in tackles for four straight seasons. The team said he has 104 solo and 70 assisted tackles this season.
Redskins’ LB London Fletcher is also heading to his third consecutive Pro Bowl, replacing Bears’ LB Brian Urlacher. Fletcher led the NFL in tackles, forced three fumbles, and had two interceptions and 1 1/2 sacks.
– According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Rams will interview Broncos’ DC Dennis Allen for their head-coaching vacancy on Thursday. Allen will be the third candidate St. Louis has interviewed, joining Jeff Fisher and Cardinals’ DC Ray Horton. This is likely an ominous sign that Fisher is leaning towards signing with the Dolphins. Allen, 39, has never been a head coach at any level, and is in his first year as DC. Denver’s defence finished 2011 ranked 19th in yards allowed and 23rd in points against.
– The Dolphins plan to interview Bengals’ DC Mike Zimmer for their head coaching job. Zimmer and Dolphins’ GM Jeff Ireland have a relationship from their days in Dallas together, and the Bengals’ defence ranked seventh in the league this year. The Dolphins are also expected to meet with Falcons’ OC Mike Mularkey and have already interviewed Packers’ OC Joe Philbin.
– The body of Packers’ OC Joe Philbin’s son, Michael, was discovered and identified in Oshkosh, Wisconsin’s Fox River after a police search Monday. It’s believed Michael Philbin, 21, fell through the ice early Sunday. His body was found in roughly 15 feet of water, 30 yards from shore, at around 4 pm ET Monday. Michael’s friends in Oshkosh filed a missing person’s report Sunday night after he was nowhere to be found throughout the day. Joe Philbin, Green Bay’s fifth-year OC, is currently away from the team. Our deepest condolences go out to his family.
– Bills’ GM Buddy Nix said Monday that he believes RB C.J. Spiller can be a true workhorse and every-down running back. ”Everyone’s been surprised, I guess, about C.J. except us. We always knew what we had. … I’m one of the few who thinks C.J. can run inside and be a workhorse kind of back. I think he can run inside the tackles. He’s stronger than you think.” Spiller had a 5.24 YPC average and career-high 146 touches in 2011.
– Falcons’ DC Brian VanGorder has accepted the DC position at the University of Auburn. After back-to-back playoff collapses, VanGorder may have decided that enough was enough. The 52-year-old was expected to be scapegoated for the losses despite working “under” defensive-minded head coach Mike Smith. VanGorder spent four seasons as Atlanta’s DC after coaching linebackers for the team in 2007.
– On Monday’s RAW, it was announced that former WWE superstar Edge will be a member of the WWE Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012. He will be inducted on March 30th, the night before WrestleMania 28 in Miami. Edge’s induction corresponds with the releases of his WWE Studios film, Breaking The Rules and a DVD set on his career. Also rumoured for this year’s class is Mexican wrestling legend Mil Mascaras and Puerto Rico’s Carlos Colon.
– According to the PWInsider, WWE will be pushing back the launch of the WWE Network several months to the fall. WWE had been planning to launch the WWE Network the day of WrestleMania 28, April 1st. However, the tremendous amount of work involved in creating a new television network from scratch as well as the issue of securing clearances from the big television carriers was too much to get done by 4/1. WWE recently decided pushing the Network back several months would be their best chance for the Network to be a success. Despite the delay, projects that were being produced will still go on as planned.
– John Cena appeared to allude to the day Chris Benoit was found dead in a Twitter message prior to tonight’s Raw SuperShow at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
“Home of Whataburger. An arena of celebration…and reflection. All cities are wonderful to WWE..but Corpus..I will never forget.”
On June 25, 2007, WWE canceled a three-hour-long live Raw show that was to have taken place in Corpus Christi, Texas after news broke that Benoit and his family were found dead in their home. Vince McMahon made the announcement before company employees that day at the arena; many of whom were coincidentally dressed for a scripted memorial for the Mr. McMahon character. WWE instead paid tribute to the life and career of Benoit with matches and segments from the Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story video title and comments from wrestlers and announcers from Raw, SmackDown and ECW. It was not until the program was nearly over that reports surfaced that police were working under the belief that Benoit murdered his wife and son before killing himself.
– CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell stated on Twitter that John Cena will be featured on three million boxes of Post’s Fruity Pebbles cereal over the next three months. As part of the promotion, Post is holding a contest for one fan to meet John Cena, win “fantastic seats” to a WWE event and Cena gear.
– Next Monday will be a very hectic one for the WWE crew. RAW takes place from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California – one day after the Professional Bull Riders will hold an event at the venue. The Bull Riders event takes place at 2pm Sunday afternoon – and all of the dirt that is brought into the arena won’t be removed until 1pm on Monday afternoon The RAW crew typically starts setting up for shows early in the morning – so they’ll have way less time to get ready next week.
– Former WWE Women’s Champion Madusa who wrestled in WWE during the “New Generation” mid-90?s era as Alundra Blaze, says she wants to wrestle Beth Phoenix for the WWE Womens championship that she threw in the trash on Monday Nitro in one of the more memorable moments of the Monday Night War. Madusa, who still owns that championship belt, says she wants to wrestle Beth Phoenix for it to crown the true women’s wrestling champion. She admits that Beth may be the best women’s wrestler today, but says WWE is “stifling her” from reaching her true potential. Below is Madusa’s video message to Beth Phoenix:
– WWE has announced the first four participants for the 2012 Royal Rumble: Jinder Mahal, Sheamus, Santino Marella and Wade Barrett
– Both Wade Barrett & Ted DiBiase have hinted at getting new theme music on their Twitter accounts. Barrett, who is using the “End of Days” theme that was used by Corre, posted the following:
“New entrance music: Imminent.”
DiBiase responded to a fan on Twitter that suggested getting a new theme from a band called Son Soul with the following:
“They just did! Not finished yet tho.”
– Matt Striker has replaced Jim Ross as host of the Monday Night Wars series on WWE Classics On Demand. The August 10, 1998 episodes of Raw and WCW Monday Nitro are currently airing.
– There was speculation on SmackDown Diva Tamina’s heel or babyface status after she recently turned on Natalya during a SmackDown episode. Tamina has been working WWE live events as a babyface Diva so it looks like that’s the role she’s playing after turning on Natalya. WWE’s website has a new article up looking at their fathers – Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, and how they relate to the Tamina vs. Natalya feud.
– WWEDVDNews reports that WWE has removed the planned Triple H feature from their internal DVD release schedule. The set was previously confirmed for a March 13th release and even assigned catalog/UPC numbers plus a synopsis but for some reason, it looks to be canceled or postponed for the second year in a row.
– All 21 fighters, including former WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar, who underwent drug testing for this past month’s UFC 141: “Lesnar vs. Overeem” event tested clean for performance-enhancing drugs (and recreational drugs). The Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer e-mailed the drug-testing results to the mixed-martial-arts media today.
– The UFC will hold its first Scandinavian show in Stockholm on April 14. The Stockholm show is scheduled for the Ericsson Globe, a 12,000-seat arena.