Archive for March, 2012

WrestleMania 28 Preview & WrestleMania 29 Look-Ahead

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Welcome to the VoV WrestleMania 28 prediction column. At the end of the post, I’ll include some extra rumours and news blurbs in regards to non-spoiling rumours for WrestleMania 28, as well as a look-ahead to WrestleMania 29.

It’s that time of year again–the grandest stage of them all–WrestleMania. As always, I’ll be sewn to my couch watching the event live on Pay-Per-View, so there won’t be any live blogging for this show. A show of this magnitude requires full attention. This year’s event is being pushed as the biggest and best yet (as it usually is), but this year’s card has so much potential to be kickass, my head is spinning. More on that later. But for now, I’ll run down the card and given you my thoughts and predictions on what’s going to happen. I’ll try and improve my less than stellar 4-4-1 ‘Mania prediction record. Who says WWE booking is predictable?

*Note: all photos are property of WWE.com.

WWE Tag Team Championship–Triple Threat: (C) Primo & Epico vs. The Usos vs. Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel

Snore. This match was announced Friday evening as the dark match. The match will stream live on WWE.com and YouTube at 6:30 ET/3:30 PT. I probably won’t be watching this mostly because I could care less what happens. I’d like to see Kidd and Gabriel win it just based on their talent and potential, though.

World Heavyweight Championship: (C) Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus

It’s looking like this match will open the show, but as always, things are subject to change at a moment’s notice. This program has been booked as your classic babyface/heel, where Bryan has shown typical heel traits such as cowardice and fear, using his girlfriend AJ as a human shield to protect his own skin. Throughout the feud, Bryan has done an incredible job of playing the arrogant, obnoxious and pompous ass, and right now, there isn’t really a reason for that to stop. Having Bryan win could really thrust him as one of the top dogs on the roster. There’s also talk of a feud with Randy Orton following WrestleMania, but that’s unconfirmed. If it does happen, I think it’d make more sense to keep the title on Bryan to give him a little extra heading to that feud.

Of note, the last four Royal Rumble winners (Alberto Del Rio, Edge, Randy Orton and John Cena) all lost their respective WrestleMania matches. The last person to win their Rumble match and win at ‘Mania was The Undertaker back at WrestleMania 23. Does Sheamus continue the streak? I think so.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Kane vs. Randy Orton

I’ll be honest, I don’t care for this match. It was a weak storyline to have the feud stem from last year’s handshake stuff, and it’s ancient history that no one remembers. It’s almost like every match has a purpose this year, but Kane/Orton sticks out like a sore thumb. It just doesn’t fit. I think this will be nice and quick, with Orton hitting an RKO in 5-10 minutes.

Winner: Randy Orton

Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres vs. Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos

Does anyone really care about this match? I don’t. Is there even a story behind it? I have no idea. I saw one clip where they appeared on Menounos’ show, Extra, but that was it. It’s especially weak that Menounos hasn’t been on WWE TV to do anything to progress this. Granted, she’s busy with her TV show and with Dancing with the Stars, so I guess it’s understandable. Menounos recently suffered two broken ribs practicing the cha-cha-cha for DWTS, but maintains that she’ll be healthy enough to compete. If she doesn’t, what will we ever do? Sarcasm. It makes you wonder why people like Natalya or Alicia Fox are being left off the card for someone who’s appearing once a year and can’t even be considered a part-time talent. Why not do Beth vs. Natalya or something? They’re probably the two best female wrestlers since Trish Stratus, Jazz and Lita. Instead, we’ll get Eve’s sloppy dropkicks and Kelly’s ear-piercing screams while I’ll probably get up and refill the salsa bowl or grab another beer. I really don’t care who wins, but if history is any indiction, the celebrities always win.

Winner: Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos

Team Johnny (Captain David Otunga, Jack Swagger, Drew McIntyre, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz) vs. Team Teddy (Captain Santino Marella, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Zack Ryder, Booker T and The Great Khali)

Now, instead of wasting 10 guys in what’s essentially a nothing match, why not have the 10 guys compete in a Money in the Bank ladder match? Wouldn’t giving the briefcase to someone like Ziggler or McIntyre be a good way to push them into the main event, and, you know…develop superstars that you were complaining you lacked? Why waste Ziggler, one of your best in-ring performers and arguably your best up-and-coming star, on a match that doesn’t benefit his future or progress him as an on-air talent?

According to reports, the MITB match was originally scheduled with Wade Barrett scheduled to win it, but when he got hurt, they nixed the idea altogether. I just hate the concept of a Raw and SmackDown Money in the Bank winner. Why not just have one? And the whole GM angle is so played out. What happened to the anonymous Raw GM? The angle disappeared into thin air with no explanation of where or why it ended. It just did. Who cares who’s running the show? It’s not even a believable concept given that WWE uses their ‘Board of Directors’ excuse every once in a while, so why have a GM if he can get overruled anyways? For years, there was no GM–matches were made just because there was a show. Why not keep doing that? Whatever.

Anyways, this match ends when one team is fully eliminated, and the winning team will have their guy become the sole GM of both Raw and SmackDown. Just like with Raw or SmackDown when we have 6-man tag matches, you can expect a whirlwind of crazy as everyone goes to hit their finisher in a sequence where all hell breaks loose. I’ve giving the win to Team Johnny because he’s been on TV far less than Teddy.

Winner: Team Johnny

Intercontinental Championship: (C) Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–that white IC title is tits. Like with Bryan, WWE has booked Rhodes so well during this feud in making him your classic heel. And like with Bryan, a win over Show to retain the title at ‘Mania could get Rhodes over the hump as a solidified superstar. On the flip side, Show has held every active title in the WWE except for this one, and his Hall of Fame career would have the finishing touches put on if he were to win, even if it’s only a short reign before putting over another younger superstar. I really like how WWE hasn’t let Show get any offence in since the feud began, so the fans are likely to explode once Show lands his first few shots on Sunday. It’s a great concept–if you want to see Show get his revenge for all the embarrassing video packages Rhodes aired, buy the Pay-Per-View and see what happens.

If Rhodes were to lose the match, he’d likely move up the card, so it’s a give-and-take situation. But for right now, I don’t think he needs it with a heel holding the top SmackDown title. Ultimately, he needs to win this match more than Show does in his career, and I think he could do just that. I’d be fine with Show winning it for his HOF resume, though.

Winner: Big Show

WWE Championship: (C) CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho

Best in the World vs. Best in the World for the most prestigious title in professional wrestling. This buildup has been excellent. First off, I love that neither guy is getting their hands on the other–having a feud with no physical confrontation can work if it’s done properly. Look at Triple H/Undertaker from last year–zero physical contact, and the story and match were excellent. Second, I love how Jericho is sending messages via satellite, furthering his cowardly persona and still getting under Punk’s skin without having to come out and cut a promo. Finally, I love how WWE has added a nice kick to the feud by having Jericho bring Punk’s family into the fold. Punk’s straight-edge lifestyle is essentially being called into question with his dad’s alcoholism and his sister’s drug abuse history, not to mention the whole “bastard child” stuff with Punk’s mom. The fan-favourite WWE Champion is enraged having been insulted and embarrassed for a few consecutive weeks, and WWE has booked it so that the only way you can see him get revenge on Jericho is to buy the show. Classic heel booking by WWE Creative. Great stuff.

If given time, I think this could be a match of the year candidate. That said, it gives you a taste of how deep this year’s card is when two of the best in-ring performers the industry has to offer is just the third most significant match of the night.

Of note, Extreme Rules is being held in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, Illinois, and if history is any indication, the hometown hero almost always loses. On one hand, I think Punk wins at ‘Mania, but Jericho gets the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules. That said, I could easily see the exact opposite happening, with Jericho edging out a victory–caused by Punk’s anger getting the best of him–but Jericho dropping the title in Chicago next month. I’ve been on the fence about this for a while. I’m giving the nod to Punk.

Winner: CM Punk

The End of an Era–Hell in a Cell: The Undertaker vs. Triple H w/ Shawn Michaels as Special Guest Referee

This should be incredible. As with Punk/Jericho, this match could easily become the best of the year. Did you know there are websites that actually let you gamble on matches? If you’re feeling lucky, why not empty you life’s savings into Undertaker? At last check, every $1000 returned $113 profit. Seriously.

So, yeah. Undertaker wins. I think that’s pretty much a given. And he’ll be bald, which is new. If you’ve been reading this site regularly, you’ve seen pictures of him with his new doo. As Triple H has been saying, a Taker loss would be bad for business. And it’s true. The Phenom has become a brand now–it’s no longer about whether he’ll win, but how he’ll win. The match should follow a similar formula from last year’s, where Taker is dominated but pulls through at the end as HHH begins to slow himself in realization that he’s ‘ending an era.’

As for Shawn Michaels’ role, I could see something where both guys end up getting in his face over a slow count or something, and he ends up giving both guys Sweet Chin Music midway through to set up for the final build or something. HBK wants revenge on Taker for their ‘Mania match two years ago, while HHH maintains that he’s better than Shawn. Either way, HBK has reason to Sweet Chin either guy. I could also see HBK Superkicking HHH by accident when he’s aiming for ‘Taker, but I question whether or not WWE Creative would let ‘Taker win with a dirty finish.

Despite all that, Michaels could simply be a decoy or tease, making you think he’ll influence the decision when he really won’t play a substantial role at all. I’m expecting a match around a half-hour in length, which probably pushes 45-50 minutes with video packages and entrances and stuff. I’m totally psyched for this one, though. I’d love to see some big spills through the Cell, or off the top and through the announce table. Now would also be a good time to add some bloodshed to add that extra something, but I’ll try and keep my expectations in check.

On a side note, contrary to The End of an Era story, I don’t think either Undertaker or Triple H will be competing in the final matches of their careers on Sunday. Taker is wrestling in literally one match per year because his body can’t withstand any kind of schedule right now, while HHH is phasing into the executive role in order to slowly take over for Vince McMahon. Neither guy really needs a story or excellent feud to come out and have a match or two per year. You can just pluck and drop them into just about anything, and it’ll become a must-see match, even without a buildup or story.

Bottom line, the streak continues to 20-0.

Winner: The Undertaker

Once in a Lifetime: John Cena vs. The Rock

Holy Santa Clause shit. The biggest and best WrestleMania has to offer is coming to a head in the most built-up, hyped match in WWE history. Not to mention, these two absolutely hate each other. There’s legitimate heat between these two megastars. What’s great is that Cena/Rock has also been a full calendar year in the making. Think about that. It’s been 50 weeks since this match was announced. I expect the crowd to be insane throughout, especially with Rock in his hometown of Miami, Florida. He’s sure to show some ring rust, and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of spills and bumps he’ll take after so many years away from the ring.

As for who wins? I’m going with Cena. It’s the passing of the torch from one superstar to another. Cena needs this more than Rock, because, as Cena’s said in his promos, life goes on for Rocky, while Cena stays in the ring every day. Everyone already knows Rock has beaten everyone these is to beat–Cena excluded, of course–but because he’s a part-time player in WWE, there’s really no incentive to have him win or than nostalgia purposes. Cena is still the face and future of the company, and while Rock’s storyline will likely end shortly after ‘Mania, Cena can do a number of things afterwards depending on Sunday’s result, including turning heel or possibly even planting Rock vs. Cena 2. More on those later.

I can, however, also see Rock coming out on top. There has to be more to this match than just one-time deal between these two. Like I said, a rematch next year would make sense. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the loser held the winner’s hand up to end the show this year, though. It’s likely both guys will kick out of a series of finishers, but I’m already imagining a staredown like Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X-8. It may not be the best sound, technical wrestling match we’re going to see on Sunday, but it sure as hell will be damn memorable. The end result could really be a coinflip here, especially if there’s a rematch, where one wins Sunday and the other wins at WrestleMania 29. I’ve been on the fence with this match too, but I’ve got to give the edge to Cena.

Winner: John Cena

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Final Thoughts

It’s the showcase of the immortals, where legends are made. This is the one show where everyone puts in 110%, and the stars shine brighter than any other time of year. WrestleMania 28 feels like it has something special to it, and I truly hope it kicks my ass. I honestly can’t remember being this excited for a show ever. The last few ‘Mania’s have been great in their own way, but this feels different, as if more is at stake. There’s not much left to say, other than ‘enjoy the show.’ But before I go, I’ll leave you with a few final thoughts on some widespread rumours that I’m getting a lot of emails, messages and tweets about. If you’ve been reading the site regularly, these updates are nothing new, but now they’ll all be here in one place. Make sure you’re sitting down for this.

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Weather update: The latest weather forecast for Sunday’s WrestleMania 28 pay-per-view is a high of 87°F and a 30% chance of rain. The Weather Channel shows a small chance of isolated thunderstorms around 4-6pm on Sunday night but it looks pretty clear after that.

WrestleMania 29 Main Event/Announced on Following Raw: According to the PWInsider, word going around WWE’s International Media Day on Friday was that a major match for WrestleMania 29 will be announced at Monday’s post-WrestleMania RAW. It’s believed that WWE Creative will use the next year to build to a top match like they did with John Cena vs. The Rock. It’s also very possible that we could see Rock vs. Cena 2, with another storyline built up one year in advance.

Mystery star at WM28: Figure Four Weekly writer Bryan Alvarez stated Friday afternoon on Twitter that a ‘big name’ is in Miami, Florida for this weekend’s WrestleMania XXVIII festivities. “So there is a big name here in Miami this weekend. #WrestleMania.”

CM Punk vs. Stone Cold at WrestleMania 29: WWE Champion CM Punk sent a tweet to Stone Cold Steve Austin that simply stated, “29, son” – presumably an indication that Punk is looking to wrestle Austin at WrestleMania 29. Austin, not one to back down from a challenge, responded with,“Just worry about 28. If the stars all line up I always have a big can of Whoop Ass ready to take to NYC. #rogerthat“ Austin and Punk have exchanged messages on Twitter for months, both expressing interest in a match with one another. Austin has stated in multiple interviews that he has one more match left in him – and if he could wrestle anybody, it would likely be CM Punk.

Chris Jericho’s summer hiatus: According to the PWInsider, Chris Jericho’s representatives have negotiated an extension on his current WWE deal, which was originally for 6 months. The challenger for CM Punk’s WWE Championship at WrestleMania has extended his contract for several months, and will be “full time” in WWE through the summer. It is not known what happens to the Fozzy concert tour that was originally scheduled for the summer, but Jericho’s tenure in WWE for what he has been jokingly calling “this tour of duty” has been confirmed as “extended,” which means he will either continue feuding with CM Punk or be a major part of the WWE Draft to help the SmackDown brand after WrestleMania.

Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 29: Shawn Michaels shot down a online rumor stating that he will come out of retirement to face Triple H at next year’s WrestleMania. Michaels was asked, “Any comment to the WM 29 hype match? You vs HHH?” He replied: “Bogus!! False!! Lie!! Completely made up!! Too much?:-),”

Brock Lesnar return at WM28/ Lesnar vs. Rock at WrestleMania 29: According to the PWInsider, former WWE Champion and former UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar is in negotiations with WWE to make a surprise appearance at WrestleMania XXVIII. Negotiations are ongoing, but a source within the company says that there is a 50/50 chance Lesnar will appear on the show. WWE reportedly wants Lesnar to appear, and is hoping that a deal can be finalized by Sunday. Lesnar is legally able to appear at WrestleMania on Sunday since he is no longer under contract to the UFC. The Wrestling Observer notes that as of Saturday morning, the two sides were still working on terms of a deal including financial issues and a number of dates that he would be working for WWE. WWE wants Lesnar to have a somewhat regular role.

The Rock at WrestleMania 29: A writer for the AP stated in his article on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that if WWE wants to squeeze another potential blockbuster buy rate out of The Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment, the last man standing to get the headline match would be Brock Lesnar. “I’m not saying a thing (laughs). I didn’t say anything.” I don’t even know what to say about this. If Lesnar comes out and F5′s Cena and/or Rock, I’m going to shit my pants on the spot.

Cena Heel Turn following WM28: WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart says he could see John Cena turn heel this Sunday night at WrestleMania. During an interview with Rob McNicol of the UK Sun’ “One Sided Ring” podcast, Hart said:

“I wouldn’t be the least bit surprise if Cena has some sort of role reversal – the fact that all the fans are against him so much. I can’t see him being a villain or a heel, but at the same time wouldn’t that totally blow everyone away? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it will be Rock that turns heel or something else but I’m fascinated by what direction they might go with Cena and Rock.”

In an interview with the London Free Press, however, Cena explained why won’t turn heel.

“Although I can handle business when I need to, I really make conscious choices to do the right thing. There’s still a giant portion of the audience associated to the Attitude Era that I believe thinks I am a bad guy. But I’m not a bad guy. I generate so much hatred just because of the way I act. I look at Tim Tebow as a good example. People couldn’t stop saying his name. He’s such a stand-up guy. People don’t believe it because it’s almost too good to be true. And he generates that hatred. I have fun with this business. I love every second of it. I love to be right there in the middle of the hunt. At the end of the day, it’s not my job to force people in any direction. I just go out there and see what happens. You can analyze character development all day, but with the current state of affairs, there’s no need or rationale for me to deviate from what I’m doing.”

As I said above, the result of Cena’s match can directly influence his immediate future, while Rock is expected to film GI Joe over the summer. On top of that, the potential for Rock vs. Cena 2 makes Sunday’s result that much more lethal.

Batista return at WM28: Former WWE superstar Batista is currently in Miami, where WrestleMania 28 is being held. Batista recently announced that he’ll be participating in the 2012 Nautica South Beach Triathlon on Sunday, which is raising money for the St. Jude’s children’s charity. While that isn’t related to ‘Mania, Batista’s arrival was picked up by WWE, according to F4WOnline. How awesome would it be if he made a run-in or an appearance of some kind? Given that the two sides are at the same place at the same time, it wouldn’t come to me as a shock if the two sides discussed a new contract of some kind.

Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 29: Jim Ross was asked on Twitter about the possibility of a match pitting Brock Lesnar against Bill Goldberg at next year’s WrestleMania. Ross responded:

“@Goldberg vs Lesnar at WM29 would be miraculous ie HIGHLY UNLIKELY.”

Goldberg, despite his well-documented negative feelings about WWE and specifically company head Vince McMahon over the years, says he’s interested in the bout. He wrote Friday,

“……I’d do it.”

Goldberg last competed for WWE at WrestleMania XX in a match against Lesnar with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin serving as special guest referee. The match garnered a hostile reaction from the audience due to knowledge that both competitors were leaving the promotion. After Goldberg defeated Lesnar, both wrestlers were laid out with Stone Cold Stunners. Meanwhile, Goldberg still apparently views Chris Jericho in a negative light nine years after the two last worked together. A fan wrote to the former wrestling champion Monday, “Y2J sucks u should have came out there & speared him.” Big Bill responded:

“Would have been my pleasure.”

Goldberg also stated in late-2011 that facing Stone Cold “would be a dream match. But let’s all be realistic.”

John Morrison return: John Morrison recently spoke to Phil Strum of the Poughkeepsie Journal about the possibility of returning to WWE one day. Morrison says he left on great terms and his body simply needed a break from the hectic WWE schedule:

“The door is open to go back. I left on really good terms with everybody and what I wanted to do was take time off to heal, get refreshed and take a little vacation…I was working a 250-plus day a year schedule and I wanted to be refreshed.”

He also revealed that he wasn’t enjoying himself anymore towards the end of his most recent run:

“Right before I left, I felt like I was going to work. I wasn’t enjoying it as much as when I started.”

Morrison will be wrestling his first match in the Untied States since leaving WWE back in November on Friday night at Northeast Wrestling’s Wrestlefest 16 at Poughkeepsie, New York’s Mid-Hudson Civic Center.

Kevin Nash return: Former WWE and TNA star Kevin Nash recently appeared on the One Sided Ring podcast hosted by Rob McNichol. Nash on a Possible TNA return:

“I have a fifteen year old son, and at this point my son needs a Dad more than the world needs a wrestler. The thing that makes TNA work for me is that first of all I have way more friends there than in WWE. I made some friends once I came there – Punk and I got along well, me and Ziggler got along well and I got a chance to hang out with John Cena – but my crew of guys that are still in the business are more the TNA guys. It’s fifty miles from my house. I can drive over there; I don’t have to get on a plane. I can put my gear in the trunk, drop the top on my convertible and be over there and do it. It was always a really easy travel day for me. I enjoyed being down there. I also part of a lot of the young guys – AJ, Eric Young, Bobby Roode – in their early stages of development. Now these guys are becoming stars. I’m not saying I wouldn’t go back. If they had something for me and they needed me, I would go back and do it. Right now I’m starting to get bored!”

WWE.com removed Nash’s profile from the Raw roster page and placed it in the Alumni section. Nash has not appeared for WWE since losing to Triple H in a Ladder Match at the December pay-per-view TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs. He succumbed to The Game after taking a sledgehammer shot to the face. The legendary grappler went on Twitter to comment on his immediate future. He tweeted:

“Punk, Cena got Raw covered. While I have my couch covered. My 15 year old so needs a Dad way more than RAW needs big sexy.”

Michelle McCool pregnant?: Vickie Guerrero suggested Friday on Twitter that retired wrestler Michelle McCool is pregnant as she said her former WWE associate is expecting a ‘bundle of joy,’ which is another term for baby.

“My surprise party was flawless for Michelle McCool!!! Great lunch with friends and family. Im so excited for her bundle of joy!”

McCool stated earlier this week on Twitter that she would be on hand for the ‘Mania festivities in Miami, Florida. Despite her retired status and apparent pregnancy, the four-time champion is not ruling out a return to the ring. When asked this week on the microblogging site about the possibility of a squared circle return, she stated “time shall tell” and “never know” in two separate messages.

Edge’s new haircut:

– Former WWE superstar Edge will have a new look when he gets inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this weekend. Check out these pictures of Edge with short hair:

Prediction History:

NHL
2007-08: 12-3 (80%)
2008-09: 10-5 (67%)
2009-10: 9-6 (60%)
2010-11: 8-7 (53%)
Total: 39/60 = 65%

NBA
2007-08: 11-4 (73%)
2008-09: 9-6 (60%)
2009-10: 11-4 (73%)
2010-11: 11-4 (73%)
Total: 42/60 = 70%

MLB
2008: 5-2 (71%)
2009: 4-3 (57%)
2010: 3-4 (43%)
2011: 4-3 (57%)
Total: 16/28 = 57%

NFL
2008-09: 9-2 (82%)
2009-10: 7-4 (64%)
2010-11: 8-3 (73%)
2011-12: 8-3 (73%)
Total: 32/44 = 73%

WWE
WrestleMania 27: 4-4-1
WrestleMania 28: 5-3

WM29 Main Event Announced?, Lesnar & Batista Back for WM28?

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

WWE

– According to the PWInsider, word going around WWE’s International Media Day on Friday was that a major match for WrestleMania 29 will be announced at Monday’s post-WrestleMania RAW. It’s believed that WWE Creative will use the next year to build to a top match like they did with John Cena vs. The Rock.

– According to the Wrestling Observer, last word on Brock Lesnar appearing at WrestleMania 28 was that the two sides were still working on terms of a deal including financial issues and a number of dates that he would be working for WWE. WWE wants Lesnar to have a somewhat regular role.

– According to F4WOnline, as reported Friday, Batista is in Miami this weekend and was reportedly picked up from the airport by a WWE employee. No word yet on talks with WWE but he is scheduled to participate in the Nautica South Beach Triathlon in support of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital on Sunday. Theoretically, he could still make it to WrestleMania in time to appear, if that’s what they’re planning. Batista was seen hanging out with WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil on Friday night in Miami.

– 2012 WWE Hall of Famer Mike Tyson told The Miami Herald that he would have preferred to have legends Bruno Sammartino and “Superstar” Billy Graham induct him into the Hall tonight. Tyson said:

“[WWE] has to do what they have to do, but if it was Bruno Sammartino or Superstar Billy Graham, that would be awesome, because that’s when I started watching it. Billy Graham came and changed the game [charisma], and then Bob Backlund beat Graham, but he didn’t change the game. Then Hulkster changed the game.”

– Earlier this week, Triple H spoke to he LA Times and actually had some positive things to say about the Ultimate Warrior and his legacy. Triple H referred to Warrior as a legend and said it was an honor wrestle him at WrestleMania 12, even though he was squashed in about two minutes. The Ultimate Warrior wrote the following on Twitter in response to Triple H’s comments about him:

“Since 2011, WWE’s tone about UW’s mark in the biz has changed. Something’s going on but your guess is as good as mine.”

– Almost 50 Make-A-Wish kids were treated to a private autograph signing with Sheamus, Big Show and WWE Divas Champion Beth Phoenix on Friday in Miami. Phoenix spoke to WWE.com about WWE’s involvement with Make-A-Wish:

“It’s an opportunity to give back to these great kids dealing with big problems. This puts it all in perspective – what’s important in life. It’s an honor to be a part of Make-A-Wish.”

Tonight, John Cena will host the annual Make-A-Wish pizza party for the kids and their families at Jungle Island in Miami. WWE brought in Make-A-Wish kids from the United States, Canada and Ireland this year. All of the kids and their families will also be attending Sunday’s big pay-per-view.

– WWE Divas Eve Torres and Layla surprised rapper Timbaland and the fans at WrestleMania 28 Axxess with a Flash Mob on Friday night. The scene included 2012 Hall of Famer Mike Tyson and a group of dancers performing to Timbaland’s song “Break Ya Back.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VhIZlv_rO9g

– In part two of CM Punk and Chris Jericho’s WWE.com WrestleMania diaries, Jericho defends his use of DDP Yoga, which Punk said was a joke and “not real yoga” earlier this week:

“All I know is that DDP Yoga works for me. It’s the best training I’ve had in my life and it’s funny how I’ve been wrestling 10 years longer than CM Punk, but he’s the one who’s always walking around with more ice on him than an eskimo in February. I’m pain-free.”

– WWE Superstar David Otunga was interviewed by the The Miami Herald this week and spoke about competing at WrestleMania for the first time this Sunday:

“Being here is a dream come true. Two years ago around this time I was an NXT rookie watching. Last year I missed my WrestleMania moment. This is my first time actually being in a match on this stage, let alone in a featured match with the 12-man tag match with Team Teddy taking on Team Johnny.”

“I’ve grown in every way imaginable from my ring work to character development and everything. The scary thing is I’m just getting started.”

– WWE.com caught up with John Cena this week at AXXESS and asked him whether there will be blood during his match with The Rock at WrestleMania 28. Cena said:

“It won’t be [my blood] because he hits like a sack of sand. He’s too busy having stunt doubles do his work.”

– Zack Ryder was interviewed by the The Miami Herald this week and said this about his “Broski” character:

“This character, if you look at the Internet and the colanders, was way before ‘Jersey Shore’ hit TV. It was probably even before ‘Jersey Shore’ was auditioning or casting for their first season. This wasn’t a ‘Jersey Shore’ rip-off. This was Long Island, where I grew up. I thought it would make me different and stand out. Everyone needs to be different. Maybe I was a little goofy behind the scenes or backstage, but once that bell rang, it was no joke.”

– 2012 WWE Hall of Famer Edge spoke with Tim Baines of The Ottawa Sun. He talked about John Cena vs. The Rock and watching WrestleMania on Sunday:

“The fact that they’ve been able to have a year build-up is unheard of. It’s almost impossible. You look at Savage vs. Steamboat, Andre vs. Hogan … How do you keep these guys apart for that long. Luckily, with Rock’s schedule, it wasn’t difficult. As a fan, I’m loving it. I’ve been watching Triple H and Undertaker and Rock and Cena. Would it be fun to be in their shoes? Sure. But I will sit up in a box with my family and enjoy the show. There will be no pressure, no dangerous bumps and no mid-air spears from Jeff Hardy. Sure there will be moments that I wish I was in there. I’m sure it was the same with Brett Favre and John Elway where they were watching football and thinking: ‘I wish I had made that play.’”

– WWE Hall of Famer Roddy Piper predicted CM Punk to defeat Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 28. Piper tweeted:

“My answer is I think @CMPUNK will win!! Both Punk and @IAMJERICO are great in my humble opinion. I’m a big fan of both men. There real MEN!”

– John Cena spoke with The Associated Press via The Washington Post this week to promote WWE’s anti-bullying campaign. Here’s a quote:

“I’m one of those guys that gets cheered, but also gets booed. Those who don’t like me, severely don’t like me. Usually your first instinct is to lash out at these people. … but I believe you always need to turn a negative into a positive.”

TNA

– TNA president Dixie Carter announced this week on Twitter that Sting has signed a new deal with the company. According to a the PWInsider, it’s actually part of a storyline, playing into the angle that Sting is no longer the General Manager of Impact – and has now signed a “talent” contract. The reality is, Sting is signed with TNA through the end of 2012.

MLB

– The Yankees have placed RHP Michael Pineda (shoulder tendinitis) on the 15-day DL. Pineda complained of soreness behind his shoulder after allowing six runs in 2 2/3 innings on Friday night. He’ll likely miss all of April.

– The Astros have ”growing concerns” that SS Jed Lowrie (thumb) will begin the season on the DL. X-rays and an MRI both came back negative, but the thumb is still tender and he’s having some issues throwing.

Batista Match at WrestleMania 28?, John Cena Interview

Friday, March 30th, 2012

WWE

– Former WWE superstar Batista is currently in Miami, the site of Sunday’s WrestleMania 28 PPV. Batista recently announced that he’ll be participating in the 2012 Nautica South Beach Triathlon on Sunday, which is raising money for the St. Jude’s children’s charity. Oddly enough, Batista’s arrival today is being picked up by WWE, according to F4WOnline. While this is not a confirmation that he’s going to be at WrestleMania, the fact that he’s being picked up by WWE is a strong indication they’ll be talking business. Stay tuned.

– WWE announced Friday evening that the WWE Tag Team Championship will be on the line when champions Epico and Primo defend the straps against both The Usos and the new tandem of Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd in a WWE Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Match prior to Sunday’s WrestleMania XXVIII PPV broadcast. The match will stream live on WWE.com and YouTube at 6:30 ET/3:30 PT. During this week’s WWE Superstars, Kidd approached Gabriel in the locker room about forming a partnership, stating, “We can go out there and we can tear the house down every single night; we’re two of the most under-utilized Superstars here in WWE. But that just be getting around spinning our tails. So I was thinking, how about you and I form a tag team and we go after those tag team titles?”

– John Cena appeared on Busted Open with Doug Mortman and Dave LaGreca, which airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sirius 92 and XM 207. Highlights from his interview are as follows:

If his showdown with The Rock on Sunday will be the biggest match of his career: “Absolutely. And amazingly enough, there is no physical championship on the line. But I truly believe anyone who’s everyone knows that it Is Number One versus Number One.

“Honestly, I don’t wanna say it’s like another day at the office ‘cause it’s not. But not only have I been in high-profile matches, I’ve been in some pretty hostile crowds as well. Like everybody’s like, Ooh! You worried it’s Miami? It’s The Rock’s backyard! I’ve been in Hammerstein ballroom in New York facing the ECW faithful, I’ve face Edge in Toronto in a TLC ladder match, I’ve faced CM Punk in Chicago in Money in the Bank. I’ve been in some pretty savvy home crowds. This one’s gonna be fun. The year is over, it’s now to the point where we’re counting down the hours. This is really cool! It’s gonna be fun.”

Mixed crowd reactions: “Well, it’s always been back and forth. And in the entertainment business—what’s the line in Batman? “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”—I’ve been here ten years; people have the way they feel about you. I’ve never been one to shun people feeling negative, and I think that I’m the first guy to do that, to not “turn heel” when they boo you. I kind of embrace it as, You are the ticket-buyer, do as you please. And just as we’ve seen the waves go one way, they go crashing back another way. It’ll change, it’ll go back and forth, but the one thing that’ll remain constant is who I am and what I stand for.

“It’s been a wonderful ride. I think it’s something you have to tune in to Raw every week to see what are they gonna do with Cena this week. It’s been wonderful, and along the same vein, it lets our audience be honest. We’re not preaching a program that is untrue to anybody. If you like this guy, cheer for him; if you don’t like this guy, boo him, but feel however you want about him. It’s a never-been-done-before scenario. It’s been a hell of a ride for me.

“I think that’s the most important thing when people ask why don’t I change who I am? Because I know there are mass majority from the “Attitude Era” that will want me strung up and burned as a witch. But for every guy who says “Cena sucks!” there is a mom or a dad who will come up to me privately and say, “Thank you for being a good role model for my kids.” And there’s the kids: You’re eight-year-old daughter, her friends, the little kids that I meet, their friends, the Make-A-Wish families that I meet. I think to be a bad guy in this business, you’ve gotta be a genuinely bad guy. As long as we have those families showing up, I’m gonna be who I am. And I think that’s most important, and that’s why I don’t care that there’s a split in the crowd.”

This year’s WrestleMania build-up: “It’s been extremely hard. Especially on me, it’s been a lot of pressure; it’s been very mentally draining. But after the last Monday in Atlanta, I took a deep breath, thought about it, and realized that I couldn’t possibly do anymore to build up April 1st. I think it is the biggest it can be. People realize what’s at stake. Not only do they realize it’s a marquee matchup—we have a lot of those—but they realize that I really don’t like the guy that I’m facing, which, in our business, is becoming more and more rare. It’s everything that a big fight is supposed to be.”

Why he doesn’t like The Rock: “There’s no other reason needed. I am company-proud through the good times and bad. We’ve gone through some difficult times in the WWE, and I’ve been the guy on front street trying to mend fences and make sure everybody knows that we still got a great product. And even in good times, I’m the guy who says this is the best business in the world. There are a lot of those, this business is a lot about making me the biggest superstar that “me” can be. I guess I’m just too much of a company guy. The guy leaves and drops his name and drops the business, and tells everybody that he’s done with it. Even up until before he came back last year to host Wrestlemania, he was very adamant about, No, I’m not going back there. Now he’s back and the first thing he does when he say he’s back is he’s never leaving, he loves everybody, and then we lose him for another amount of time, and then he comes back again… I truly couldn’t ask for a better opponent because he’s the biggest superstar the WWE has ever had. I just disagree with the way he thinks.

“Cena-Lovers” vs. “Cena-Haters”: “People who are vocal of their criticism, I get that. But at the same time, you can’t argue with what the company is doing business-wise. I was the first to beat the drum of Guys, we may need to switch the content because I would watch the people coming into the building every night. Go to a live show, see the audience, tell me I’m wrong. I’m on top of this stuff. I’m the guy walking through Access at 5:50am to make sure the set-up’s correct. I’m the guy who’s in the crowd somewhere that you can’t see when people file into the Garden for a live event. I’m on top of this, this is what I do. When I say I love the business, I don’t just love hitting the ropes and falling down in the ring; that’s beautiful. But I love the business, and I want it to be the best it can. I want it globally to be the biggest phenomenon it can. We just have to be here right now. And as frustrating as it is for some, I still think the program is unbelievably entertaining. We still have an unreal stable of superstars, and we’re able to go more places and more people can enjoy it.”

“It’s almost like when a garage band makes it. There’s those people who are like, Ah I wish they would be back to the garage band days! But then they go play sold-out stadiums and they’re on the Top 40 charts. You have to adapt and overcome. It’s just the way we have to be now.”

The “Super Cena” moniker: “I’ve also lost a lot. And I think that’s another thing that critics tend to savor their own flavor of soup. You can look at my win-loss record. It’s as good as an average superstar. I mean, I’ve won a lot of marquee matches, but I’ve lost a lot of marquee matches. Who was in the main event last year at Wrestlemania?

Doug: You.

Cena: Against who?

Doug: The Miz.

Cena: Who won that match?

Doug: The Miz.

Cena: ‘Nuff said.”

MLB

– The Padres have signed LHP Cory Luebke to a 4-year contract extension. The deal buys out Luebke’s arbitration years, and includes $12M guaranteed. It also features club options for 2016 and 2017, worth $7.5M and $10M respectively. Luebke, 27, has just 20 career starts, but it looks like a great deal for the Friars if Luebke continues to improve. He’s had a strong spring, posting a 3.93 ERA and 22/4 K/BB ratio across 18 1/3 innings.

– The Royals have signed OF Alex Gordon to a 4-year/$37.5M contract extension with a $12.5M player option for 2016. The deal will cover his final two years of arbitration and his first two years of free agency. He’ll make $6M in 2012 (negating his previous 1-year deal), $9M in 2013, $10M in 2014 and $12.5M in 2015. He’s coming off a breakthrough season, batting .303/.376/.502 with 23 homers, 87 RBI and an .879 OPS. The 28-year-old also won a Gold Glove in left field.

– Cardinals’ OF Allen Craig (knee) will begin the season on the 15-day DL. There was previous talk about Craig possibly making the Opening Day roster as a pinch-hitter. He should be back in mid-April, barring setbacks. OF Skip Schumaker (oblique) and RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder) are also expected to go on the DL.

– William Ladson of MLB.com reports that Nationals’ OF Michael Morse (lat) will begin the season on the DL. Morse was recently cleared to resume baseball activities and played catch from 60 feet Friday with no issues, but doesn’t have enough time to get ready.

– Dodgers’ LHP Ted Lilly (neck) will begin the season on the DL. Lilly threw a bullpen session Friday without any issues, but doesn’t have enough time to get stretched out. Manager Don Mattingly said the current plan is for him to throw a simulated game in Anaheim on April 2 before making a rehab start with High-A Rancho Cucamonga on April 8. Barring setbacks, he’ll return on April 15.

NBA

– Joe Gerrity of ESPN’s TrueHoop has heard that Hornets’ G Eric Gordon (knee) will play for the Hornets in their home game on April 4 against the Nuggets. Gerrity adds that Gordon could potentially return over the weekend for one of the Hornets’ two games against the Lakers on Saturday, or the Suns on Sunday, but that he Gordon will definitely play their home game on Wednesday against the Nuggets at the absolute latest. Stay tuned.

– Bobcats’ F Corey Maggette (Achilles) will miss at least 1 week according to coach Paul Silas. Maggette is a shutdown candidate with the season winding down.

NHL

– Blues’ F Andy McDonald (shoulder) will make his return on Saturday. McDonald has been limited to just 21 games this season and hasn’t played since March 15.

John Cena Turning Heel at WM28?, Lesnar Returning at WM28?

Friday, March 30th, 2012

WWE

– WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart says he could see John Cena turn heel this Sunday night at WrestleMania. During an interview with Rob McNicol of the UK Sun’ “One Sided Ring” podcast, Hart said:

“I wouldn’t be the least bit surprise if Cena has some sort of role reversal – the fact that all the fans are against him so much. I can’t see him being a villain or a heel, but at the same time wouldn’t that totally blow everyone away?”

“Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it will be Rock that turns heel or something else but I’m fascinated by what direction they might go with Cena and Rock.”

– According to the PWInsider, former WWE Champion and former UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar is in negotiations with WWE to make a surprise appearance at Sunday’s WrestleMania XXVIII pay-per-view event at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. Negotiations are ongoing, but a source within the company says that there is a 50/50 chance Lesnar will appear on the show. The source went on to state that WWE wants Lesnar to appear and is hoping that a deal can be finalized within the next 24 hours. UFC President Dana White confirmed to F4WOnline that Lesnar is legally able to appear at WrestleMania on Sunday since he is no longer under contract to the organization. White was not aware if Lesnar was appearing on the show.

Lesnar left WWE in March 2004 to pursue a career in the NFL, which was short-lived. Following a brief fling in New Japan Wrestling, he stepped away from the professional wrestling industry entirely in 2006 to pursue a career in mixed martial arts. He captured the UFC Heavyweight Championship from Randy Couture on November 15, 2008, then avenged his loss to Mir at UFC 100 to become the Undisputed Champion. He lost the strap two years later to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121. Lesnar announced his intentions to retire from mixed martial arts following a subsequent loss to Alistair Overeem in December, which prompted speculation of a return to WWE.

A writer for the AP stated in his article on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that if WWE wants to squeeze another potential blockbuster buy rate out of The Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment, the last man standing to get the headline match would be Lesnar.

“I’m not saying a thing (laughs). I didn’t say anything.”

– Promoting Sunday’s WrestleMania XXVIII pay-per-view event in Miami, Triple H took part an interview with Los Angeles Times and was asked if there was chance of him signing Ultimate Warrior to a one-day contract so he could squash him at an upcoming WrestleMania.

“It’s funny, a lot of people bring that up in a negative way like it was this terrible thing in my life. While working with him personally wasn’t the highlight of my life from a business standpoint, for me to go to me first WrestleMania and wrestle a legendary figure in the business — and that is what he was and is — like the Ultimate Warrior, a Hall of Fame superstar in the business in my first WrestleMania appearance, squash or not, was a mind blowing thing for me.”

“I was thrilled to be in that position and to have that match with the Ultimate Warrior. I was thrilled with the fact that at that time Vince McMahon was willing to put me in that role. The Ultimate Warrior wasn’t there till the day of the show, so I had to do all the promotion for that match. I wanted Vince McMahon to look at me as a guy he could count on to handle the return of a guy that he was hoping would be a huge impact on the business. He had the trust in me and I would do a good job with it. So to me, that was nothing but a good experience. Potentially, I could bring him back and get the win.”

The 13-time world champion also addressed transitioning from full-time wrestler to full-time executive.

“Full-time wrestlers have fewer meetings than full-time managers do. I spend time in meetings a lot. And wearing a tie is kind of a downfall. I think it’s just learning to deal with situations in a business way as opposed to a locker room way. There is a large world of difference and you just have to learn that transition,” he says.

He also commented on who he would transport from history to have a dream match against at next year’s WrestleMania.

“It would be one of two people. Ric Flair or Buddy Rogers. Buddy Rogers might not be a name that everyone knows, but he was probably one of the first way over the top flamboyant wrestling personas. Not like a Gorgeous George, he was a technically skilled wrestler who could wrestle anyone and make them look good. I think it would be interesting to step into the ring with him.”

– Vickie Guerrero suggested Friday on Twitter that retired wrestler Michelle McCool is pregnant as she said her former WWE associate is expecting a ‘bundle of joy,’ which is another term for baby.

“My surprise party was flawless for Michelle McCool!!! Great lunch with friends and family. Im so excited for her bundle of joy!”

McCool is married to The Undertaker, who will face Triple H in a Hell in a Cell Match at WrestleMania XXVIII on Sunday. She stated earlier this week on Twitter that she would be on hand for the ‘Mania festivities in Miami, Florida. Despite her retired status and apparent pregnancy, the four-time champion is not ruling out a return to the ring. When asked this week on the microblogging site about the possibility of a squared circle return, she stated “time shall tell” and “never know” in two separate messages.

– Figure Four Weekly writer Bryan Alvarez stated Friday afternoon on Twitter that a ‘big name’ is in Miami, Florida for this weekend’s WrestleMania XXVIII festivities. “So there is a big name here in Miami this weekend. #WrestleMania,” he wrote.

– WWE posted the following videos of The Rock, John Cena and Triple H

The Rock Says He’s Ready For WrestleMania:

Who Is John Cena?

Triple H Trains For WrestleMania:

– Former WWE Superstar Jake “The Snake” Roberts appeared on Busted Open with Doug Mortman and Dave LaGreca, which airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sirius 92 and XM 207. Highlights from his interview are as follows:

Alice Cooper: It was a real hoot, man! I remember going to do a photo shoot at some hotel in New York City with Alice Cooper getting ready for Wrestlemania. I remember going up to his room with all the camera guys and stuff. We knocked on the door and this guy lets us in. And of course it’s not just a room; it’s a damn big suite.

Alice comes in and what he does is like—I don’t know if you ever seen the commercial where the two people are running up the hill towards each other in slow motion?—coming closer. All of a sudden he’s being the fan, and here I am It’s my turn to be the fan, asshole! He’s saying, “Come here, man! Come in!” I’m like, “No wait, man! I listened to you when I was in high school! ‘School’s Out for Summer’, that was hot when I was 17.” To be there with him was just unbelievable, and of course doing a match out there with him was unbelievable too.

They took us up on our scissor-lifts way up in the air where it came to the curtain. From ninety-four thousand people… it took your breath away. You felt like your hair was growing, man! And as we’re getting closer to the ring, I feel his fingernails sliding down my damn side and arm and I’m What the hell is that?! And I look, and Cooper is sliding down. I’m like, “What’s wrong?” And he’s like, “Too much rush.” And I’m like, “What the eff are you talkin’ about?!” And he’s like, “I’m alone!” And if you think about it, I understand where he’s coming from. In his world, he’d come out on the stage, he’d have his band around him, had all his stuff ready to go, and he knew where he was going. But in my world, he was having to stand there on his own two feet with no guitar, no microphone, and he was running the show.

We get to the ring and the match starts, and of course The Honky Tonk Man—being the prick that he is—he’s really screwin’ with Alice. He’s like: “You little faggot bitch! I’m gonna make you my horny woman!” And Cooper is starting to fire up, and Honky Tonk (once he sees him getting mad) he just keeps going: “C’mon you little queer! Why they call you Alice, you little bitch?!” And he just keeps riding Alice, y’know: “Take that jacket off, boy, I’ll whoop your ass too, soon as I get through with Jake!” And Cooper pulls that jacket off, man, and it’s like, Oh my god! Biafra! His arms are about the size of my toe!

WWE: It was different. I certainly see where this is going, which is bringing us into the mainstream, and that’s a positive thing. Y’know, Vince McMahon and the WWF did a hell of a deal turning this into such a monster. His machine is unbeatable. I mean, don’t kid yourself TNA, you’ll always be third stream; there is no second stream. You’ll be third at least because there is no way in hell you’re gonna catch these people, and you might as well forget about it and quit telling the people you are.

Gimmicks: As far as characters…you have a good one and you take care of it, it should last forever. The big thing is you just shouldn’t go out there and destroy your own credibility. If you got two guys out in the ring and you’re clothes-lining each other five times, who’s the tough guy? Maybe one or both of you are lying pricks. Less is more and do the right thing. Don’t do things that are stupid; that’s how you get longevity out of a character. And today there are no characters, I don’t think. They’ve all been just stirred up in a bucket and everybody’s just the same.

The Undertaker: I love the guy, number one. Number two, I was there when he first got in there in the WWE. Here’s really quite a story: He comes to me, he says, “Hey I hear you know where all the good strip joints are at.” And I’m like, “In the world, yes. I know them all.” And he’s like, “Well, I’ll travel with you!” And I said, “Oh boy, why don’t you go back to playin’ basketball because you’re not gonna be able to hang with me,” and I said, “I’ll kill ya.” And a few weeks later, I believe he was in pretty bad shape—something about alcohol poisoning. Yeah, it was a chemical world, and I was cheating, man. He didn’t know it. I wasn’t gonna tell him! He rolled with me for quite a while. We’re great friends and I’d like to think that I helped him more. I think if you asked him he’d tell you the same, that he learned a lot from me.

That’s what I was all about anyway, man, not only helping my own character, but helping others with theirs. My idea of being a professional wrestler is to make the show better. In other words, everybody must be better. And if I can help this guy lift his thing up a little bit, I’m gonna go help the guy. That’s something I’m proud of. Whether it be Undertaker or Steve Austin, right on down the line. I think if you asked Austin who helped him the most, he’d tell you it was me. Wherever I met Austin, he wasn’t gonna be more than third or fourth match, and I told McMahon, “Try him for third for next superstar, man.” And he said, “I don’t think so.” Well, gee, even Mr. McMahon can be wrong every now and then!

If people are scared to take a chance on him: I don’t think it’s the past. I think it’s just me, period, because of what I believe in. Vince McMahon once told, “Jake, perception of you with our TV people and stuff is that you’re angry.” I’m like, “I’m not angry!” “You told this guy it was a ‘stupid effin’ idea’!” I’m like, “Well, it was a stupid effin’ idea!” So I stand my ground on what I believe. And—uh—sometimes that gets you in trouble. I wouldn’t be good in a boardroom, man. I speak my piece; I won’t follow any stupid thing that I think is stupid. I’ll just say Screw that; that’s bullshit. That’s gets me in trouble, man. I’m a team player because I want the product better, but… my nose doesn’t fit well up anybody’s butt.

If inmates are running TNA: Oh yeah! I think I told Vince McMahon that one time. Back whenever it was [Scott] Hall, [Kevin] Nash/Diesel (The Kliq) stay in this, you’re letting the Inmates run the asylum. They were calling the shots as they wanted to! And that’s wrong. That is just totally wrong. I would have never thought about doing that out of respect for what this business it and what it is supposed to be. That is just freakin’ wrong! You got people in the wrong positions, you got people that shouldn’t be in those positions. And Dixie Carter—for whatever she is—I think she’s a mark! And for whatever Hogan is, Hogan’s not a booker! Christ. I mean, thank god they got rid of the jerk, the one that destroyed the WCW. What was his name? DL: [Vince] Russo. JtS: RUSSO! He’ll probably go in the goddamn Hall of Fame before I do.

Training wrestlers: I would love that! I would love to kill them! I would love to touch them all over. Enter their orifices with my thumb when they do something wrong. It’s stupid! I would love to be teaching these kids. My god, I would love that. Because I could either sit back on my ass and try to watch wrestling (which I get so frustrated with today that I turn it off), or I could say, Okay, look, man, get up there and try to do something about it. And the only thing I could do about it now is by teaching. My physical problems: my feet, my hands, my neck, no wonder! If you have that happen, well, thirty-seven years of getting your ass kicked will do that to you, Jake! I can’t compete anymore, but I can teach these kids so much. That would be a real joy for me. It certainly would.

– Asistencia Asesoría y Administración matchmaker Konnan and Major League Wrestling President/former WWE creative writer Court Bauer joined Mister Saint Laurent on MLW Radio. The roundtable discussion covered a variety of topics, with all three speaking candidly about their time in the professional wrestling industry. Konnan discussed his relationship with Yokozuna:

“Yoko was gangster. I went to L.A. with him once and he was like the godfather of South Central. He was telling me stories about him sneaking drugs through airport security. He was well connected. He was a gangster. I looked up to him a lot. He loved my character in the nWo and we were actually going to get him to come in as a Samoan gangster and have my back.”

Konnan then explains why the former WWF Champion ultimately never joined World Championship Wrestling.

“One time Scott [Hall] was with (Eric) Bischoff and he [said to Yokozuna], ‘Man Bischoff is right here. Let’s make this happen.’ Yoko said, ‘I don’t roll like that. You don’t just put someone on the phone and tell me to sign.’ He got offended and he never came in.”

MLB

– Twins RHP Scott Baker (right elbow) said Friday that he probably won’t be ready for his first start of the season on April 9, and will begin the season on the DL. ”I’d love to start the home opener; it’s just not wise.” Baker has made appearances in minor league games over the last week and has said his elbow feels fine, but the Twins will wisely play it safe given his history of injuries to the same arm. Minny won’t need a fifth starter until April 15.

– The Braves have signed RHP Livan Hernandez to a minor league contract. Hernandez was released by the Astros earlier today and found a new home less than two hours later. He’s expected to serve as the No. 5 starter until RHP Tim Hudson returns. Hernandez posted a 5.63 ERA and 1.81 WHIP this spring and had a 4.47 ERA and 99/46 K/BB ratio over 175 1/3 innings last season for the Nationals.

NFL

– Eagles’ LT Jason Peters (ruptured right Achilles tendon) will undergo surgery on April 2 after suffering the injury during a recent workout. Peters will start the season on the PUP list and will need 9-12 months to recover, jeopardizing his 2012 season. Peters graded as the best left tackle in football last season by Pro Football Focus, and will leave a gaping hole in the Eagles’ front line.

– The Raiders have acquired RB Mike Goodson from the Panthers for undisclosed draft-pick considerations. Goodson, 25, fumbled seven times on 125 career carries. While the move makes it seem less likely that Jonathan Stewart will be traded, keep in mind that Goodson was out of the Panthers’ plans regardless. In Oakland, he’ll compete for the No. 2 back job with Taiwan Jones, behind Darren McFadden.

– The Bucs are “strongly considering” drafting Alabama RB Trent Richardson at No. 5 overall, according to the Tampa Bay Times. New coach Greg Schiano, a run-heavy coach, called last season’s team one of the worst teams he’s ever seen from a ball security standpoint. Richardson, the draft’s top back, would remedy the problem, but it’s now a matter of whether Richardson falls to No. 5.

– Dolphins’ LB Koa Misi was arrested Thursday night in Broward County, Florida on charges of battery with serious injury. His bond was set at $10K. According to the Palm Beach Post, Misi is wanted for battery in California and was arrested at his home in Florida without incident.

NHL

– Flyers’ G Ilya Bryzgalov (chip fracture in right foot) participated in practice Friday. GM Paul Holmgren doesn’t think Bryzgalov is in danger of injuring himself further by playing, so his return will be contingent on his pain tolerance. Bryz said the pain has decreased and added that he was “lucky it was not that bad because I’m tough and Russian.”

– Red Wings’ G Jimmy Howard (groin) will start in Friday’s game against Nashville after missing four games. Howard was already projected to return Friday, but there was a chance he would be eased back into the lineup by serving as the backup. Head coach Mike Babcock said, “We need to get him playing, no different than the rest of our team. There’s an urgency to get playing at the highest level and he’s the same (as the rest of the Wings).” The Red Wings are just one point ahead of the Predators and they each have five games left in their schedule, and with the Blues having all but clinched the Central, Nashville and Detroit will battle it out for home ice advantage in a projected No. 4 vs No. 5 matchup.

Kurt Angle Tears Hamstring, Edge Debuts Short Haircut

Friday, March 30th, 2012

TNA

– Kurt Angle (torn hamstring) suffered a bad hamstring tear on Thursday, which could put his hopes of competing at the 2012 Summer Olympics Games in jeopardy. Angle, who won a gold medal for heavyweight freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Games, called in to TMZ Live o Friday and explained, “I injured my hamstring this morning, it is a tear.” The injury occurred during a Thursday morning training session. An MRI is scheduled for Friday. As for how this will affect his Olympic bid:

“I still plan on going [to the Olympics] … I’ve been training for a whole year now … so it all depends on how it heals … but if this tear is really bad, there’s a chance I may not go.”

WWE

– Former WWE superstar Edge will have a new look when he gets inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this weekend. Check out these pictures of Edge with short hair:

– WWE Hall of Famer Stone Cold Steve Austin posted his latest video Q&A on BrokenSkullRanch.com and spoke about the possibility of wrestling WWE Champion CM Punk:

– The Rock spoke to PalmBeachPost.com and said that WWE’s decision to hold WrestleMania 28 at the Sun Life Stadium is what convinced him to return this year:

“It sealed the deal for me. It’s going to be a fun night, an electric night, but also a very emotional night, considering South Florida has been my home for over 20 years.”

– WWE Champion CM Punk spoke with ESPN.com this week to promote Sunday’s WrestleMania pay-per-view and his title defence against Chris Jericho. Punk talks about how far he’s come since this time last year, when he was frustrated with WWE and expected he was on his way out of the company. Here are some highlights of what CM Punk said about:

Did He Think He’d Be WWE Champion A Year Ago?: “No, because I was leaving. At Wrestlemania last year — and I always say I thrive in high-pressure situations — my job was to steal the show and prove to everybody how awesome I was and what an amazing talent they were losing. I went out there with Randy [Orton] and we put on, in my opinion, the best match on the show of pure wrestling. I wasn’t concerned about what I was doing next year. I was leaving in my mind. I didn’t think I would still be here or holding the title.”

Has MMA Influenced His Ring Style?: “Yes and no. It’s hard to try to translate a lot of stuff. I prefer to throw kicks and elbows instead of punches, but that was always a part of me. But I’ve always been a fan, so I don’t know if that stems from MMA. But I try to keep my pro wrestling, pro wrestling.”

Elaborating On Chris Jericho Not Being “The Man”: “Sure, but there’s always, I think, somebody that has overshadowed him. I guess an argument can be made that John Cena is still “The Man.” But the numbers don’t lie with merchandising, ratings and everything else. We’re not trying to hotshot the title around or play hot potato with it. We’re giving people a champion they can believe in. And Jericho was never really that guy. He was never really, I guess, the ambassador John Cena has been and that I’ve been lately. That’s what I meant by that.”

– The Twitter meeting held last Monday by WWE officials has become a running joke among the WWE locker room, according to the PWInsider.

– Despite his  recent health problems, Barry Windham is expected to attend Saturday night’s WWE Hall of Fame ceremony in Miami. Windham is being inducted with the Four Horsemen.

MLB

– Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak said in an interview on 590 The Fan in St. Louis Friday that he’s “optimistic” RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder) will return sometime in May. He added that the team would look outside the organization for help if he felt the nerve issue in Carpenter’s shoulder was going to be a long-term problem, but he doesn’t think it will be. It sounds like he might be out only for a month or so.

– Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the proposed trade sending Angels’ OF Bobby Abreu to the Indians has fallen apart. The trade appeared to be close to going down at some point Thursday.

– Nick Cafardo and Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe report that Red Sox’ OF Carl Crawford (wrist) is likely to be sidelined until May. Reports Thursday suggested Crawford might be ready as early as mid to late-April. Crawford is taking swings at balls off a tee and practicing on bunting, but has yet to take any kind of live batting practice.

– Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY says it’s “not certain yet” that RHP Michael Pineda will break camp as a member of the Yankees rotation. Marchand does say that “there is a better chance than not that Pineda is in the rotation,” but it’s not yet a guarantee. Pineda has seen his velocity drop in camp, and could begin the season in Triple-A until he gets back to 100%.

– Andy Martino of the NY Daily News reports that the Mets are discussed releasing RHP Mike Pelfrey prior to Opening Day. Martino writes that “none of the uniformed staff was in favor of the idea, and it was downplayed.” If the Mets would have cut him, they would owe him just $1M of his $5.6875M contract. Pelfrey posted his best start of the spring, giving up just one run over 6 1/3 innings to lower his ERA to a bloated 8.59.

NFL

– Bill Parcells confirmed that he’s interested in joining the Saints organization to take over for suspended head coach Sean Payton. ”I had plenty of opportunities to do things with different teams, and I’ve turned them all down. But this one is special. This guy is like family to me. And if I could help him, I would.” Both sides maintain that no job offer has been made, but it’s likely just a way for the Saints to get around the Rooney Rule.

– Bengals’ cheerleader Sarah Jones, 26, has been charged with sexual abuse and unlawful use of electronic devices to solicit illegal activity after having slept with a former student. The former high school teacher taught at Dixie Heights High School before resigning in November. Her mother, Cheryl Jones, principal of Twenhofel Middle School in Independence, was indicted on a charge of tampering with physical evidence in her daughter’s case. She was placed on administrative leave. Jones successfully sued TheDirty.com for $11M after an article claiming she had multiple sexually transmitted diseases was refused to be retracted.

NHL

– Canucks’ GM Mike Gillis said Thursday that F Daniel Sedin (concussion) will be ready to go for the start of the playoffs. Sedin suffered a concussion after he was elbowed by Blackhawks’ D Duncan Keith almost two weeks ago. Keith received a 5-game suspension, while Sedin was ruled out for the remainder of the regular season. “It’s risky to make projections with these things because one day the player just may not feel right, but he’s going in the right direction. He’s feeling a little better each day. We’re hopeful if things keep going the way they are that he’ll be available [for the first round].”

NCAAB

– Ravens’ LB Ray Lewis gave a motivational speech to the Stanford basketball team as they prepared to play Massachusetts in the NIT. Stanford would go on to win the game 74-64. Check it out:

NBA

– Suns’ F Grant Hill (right knee) will undergo minor surgery on Friday, and is a shutdown candidate for the rest of the season.

OLYMPICS

– Check out this video of 86-year old gymnast Johanna Quaas’s demonstration in a pre-Olympics German gymnastics event:

Brett Lawrie the Next Big Thing in Toronto?

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Perhaps it’s the perception that baseball is a small market in Toronto; that Toronto isn’t seen as a “baseball town” when compared to the Maple Leafs of the NHL. But the emergence of Jays’ 3B Brett Lawrie–albeit a short one–has gone overlooked and under-appreciated.

The 23-year-old Langley, British Columbia native was taken in the 1st-round, No. 16 overall in 2008 by the Milwaukee Brewers. The selection of Lawrie was the fourth-highest a Canadian player has ever been drafted–behind only Jeff Francis, Adam Loewen, and Phillippe Aumont–and the highest a Canadian position player has ever been drafted.

Lawrie was always regarded as a top prospect, and given the opportunity, showed was he could do. In 2008, he was a member of the Canadian Junior National Team at the World Junior Baseball Championship. There, he led the tournament with a scorching .469 batting average, 3 home runs and 16 RBIs, and was rewarded by being selected to play for Canada at the 2008 Summer Olympics. While with the Double-A Huntsville Stars in 2010, he posted a .285 batting average, 8 homeruns, 63 RBIs, 90 runs, 16 triples and 30 stolen bases in 135 games and was named to the Southern League Post-Season All-Star team on September 1, 2010.

Since his arrival in Toronto last season, he’s continued to impress those around him. When asked, Blue Jays’ broadcaster and former manager Buck Martinez, told ESPN this about Lawrie:

“He’s got more ability than George Brett, and I was George’s roommate in Kansas City. Now obviously, he doesn’t have 3,000 hits or [three] batting titles or an MVP award, so he’s got a long ways to go. But he runs and he plays with the same kind of intensity as George did. And that’s as high a compliment as I could pay any player.”

Lawrie finished his first big leagueg season with a .293 batting average, 9 home runs, 25 RBIs, 26 runs and 7 stolen bases over 161 plate appearances (43 games). And that’s not to forget his spectacular .953 OPS and .580 slugging percentage. He also had 21 extra base in just 43 games played, more than Phillies’ 3B Placido Polanco had (19) all of last season over 122 games. And, Polanco made the NL All-Star team.

“I’ve always known that I could play up there. It was just about me getting the opportunity to. I’ve never questioned myself about playing at the big league level because all I’ve ever wanted to do my whole life is play against the best. And when I get put up against the best, I turn on my jets.”

“I just knew that it’s baseball. I wasn’t worried about who was throwing against me or whether we were playing the Yankees. It wasn’t about that. It was like, ‘We’re playing in a big league stadium. We’re playing on TV. Let’s go have some fun.’ And that’s what it was about to me. It was, like, let’s go play.”

Let that sink in for a moment. Yes, his incredible numbers come from a very small sample size, and because of it, it needs to be taken as such. His production over just a month and a half of major league experience, however, has rarely been accomplished in the history of the game. And when it has, that player gets inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame more often than not.

Since 1900, only 12 other players in baseball history have had an OPS over .950 at age 21 or younger with at least 150 major league at-bats. Of those players, 10 are now in the Hall of Fame. Of those two remaining; one is Angels’ 1B Albert Pujols, is a guaranteed first-ballot Hall of Famer, barring an unforeseen steroid test; and the other was Hal Trosky, whose career was ended early by migraines.

The following is a graph, courtesy of Lee Sinins’ Complete Baseball Encyclopaedia, explains the data:

.953 OPS AT AGE 21 OR YOUNGER

YEAR OPS AGE AB
1. Jimmie Foxx 1929 1.088 21 517
2. Willie McCovey 1959 1.085 21 192
3. Mel Ott 1929 1.084 20 545
4. Joe Jackson 1911 1.058 21 571
5. Ted Williams 1939 1.045 20 565
6. Alex Rodriguez 1996 1.045 20 601
7. Mel Ott 1930 1.036 21 521
8. Ted Williams 1940 1.036 21 561
9. Eddie Mathews 1953 1.033 21 579
10. Albert Pujols 2001 1.013 21 590
11. Hal Trosky 1934 .987 21 625
12. Al Kaline 1955 .967 20 588
13. Jimmie Foxx 1928 .964 20 400
14. Brett Lawrie 2011 .953 21 150
Source: Lee Sinins’ Complete Baseball Encyclopedia

Lawrie, however, has had a less-than-glowing history away from the diamond. Many had viewed him as cocky and arrogant, and questionable photos of him drinking and partying have surfaced on the web. Jays’ RHP Carlos Villaneueva told ESPN about Lawrie’s first visit with the Brewers following the draft. Villanueva recalls Lawrie telling his future big-league teammates: “Keep my seat warm. I’ll be here real soon.”

“I remember saying, ‘Who’s THIS guy?’ I mean, I’d heard about him. I knew he was a great player, even back then. He was very young, and he’s a very excitable person. He excites everyone around him. But us, back then, not knowing him, we were like, ‘Hey, keep that to yourself.’”

His reported riff with Brewers’ management was also made public. Growing frustrated and wanting to reach the majors as fast as possible (and rightfully so), Lawrie spent 2008 as a catcher, thinking that would be his best chance to get to the bigs. When 2B Rickie Weeks appeared destined to test free agency, Lawrie wanted to move to second base, hoping to advance up the depth chart. But when Weeks signed an extension with the Brewers, Lawrie again wanted to move, this time to third base.

Things went from bad to worse. Following the 2010 season, his second year in the Brewers’ system, he and the club had a major blow-up. After his solid Double-A season with the Stars, he wanted his promotion to the big club, whereas the team wanted him to report to the Arizona Fall League. “No, thanks,” was the response Lawrie gave. Brewers’ manager Doug Melvin told ESPN:

“We told him the plan was, ‘If you go to the Arizona Fall League, we’ll invite you to big league camp, at 19, and that’s never happened before here.’ He said, ‘I’m not going to the Fall League.’ We said, ‘Then we can’t invite you to big league camp.’ He said, ‘I should be in the big leagues in September.’ We said, ‘We know what we’re doing. We have a lot of confidence in your ability. Please trust us.’ But he wanted to be in the big leagues.”

It was this attitude, in part, that led to Lawrie being traded to the Jays for RHP Shaun Marcum on December 5, 2010.

“To tell you the truth, I really don’t know how they felt [about] me. I felt like I wasn’t given the opportunity that I needed there. And it was time for a move, and they needed some pitching, so I was the first candidate to be kind of kicked out the door. I guess you could say it was OK with me because … I needed a fresh start. I needed a new team. I needed some new guys. And I think it was a good way to jump into the big leagues. I got a chance to jump in with a new team,” said Lawrie.

Now, Lawrie’s attitude appears to be a thing of the past. He remains cocky and arrogant personality, but it’s an attitude that stems more from confidence and swagger than showboating or disrespect. For such a young player to have this kind of mentality is odd, and you’d think it would rub many people the wrong way, but the Jays are developing a knack for high-talent, high-potential players that have so desperately needed a change of scenery. Players like SS Yunel Escobar were given up on by the Braves, while OF Colby Rasmus had worn out his welcome with the Cardinals. Escobar had a solid season in Toronto, while Rasmus struggled out of the gate. With a fresh start this season, though, a big season could be around the corner.

Fast-forward from his fallout with Brewers’ management, and Lawrie appears poised for a breakout sophomore season in Toronto. Following in the footsteps of OF Jose Bautista–a talent not afforded the opportunity by another franchise–the Jays are now reaping the rewards of one of the best hitters in baseball. One team’s loss is another team’s gain, and on a franchise as underrated, young and talented as the new-look Blue Jays, it’s a dangerous combination that could see them go from basement-dweller to contender in a hurry.

“Things tend to go wrong when you try and change people. And I think when I was with the Brewers and I was in the minor league system, it felt like I was trying to be changed, like they were trying to change me, like I was the same as everybody else. I’m not the same as everybody else. I’m Brett Lawrie. It’s like, everyone’s different. You can’t try and make everyone be the same.”

Cain Contract Update, Nike Beats Reebok in Court Order

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

MLB

– Giants’ RHP Matt Cain told reporters Thursday that he will not discuss a long-term contract with the team beyond Opening Day. Cain had previously refused to set a deadline. The 27-year-old posted a 2.88 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 179/63 K/BB ratio in 221 2/3 innings last year. Barring a terrible season, he should be able to get a contract north of $100M.

– FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that a trade sending Angels’ OF Bobby Abreu to the Indians is only “50-50″ to happen. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Thursday evening that the deal was “on the verge” of being finalized. Abreu, 38, will serve as the Indians’ primary left fielder this season if the trade does eventually happen. He batted .253/.353/.365 with eight home runs and 60 RBI in 585 plate appearances last year for Anaheim and is owed a $9M salary in 2012, most of which the Halos will eat.

– According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, D’Backs’ C Miguel Montero is a contract similar to Tigers’ C Victor Martinez’ 4-year/$52M deal. Cardinals’ C Yadier Molina signed a 5-year/$75M extension to top V-Mart’s. Montero, 28, will probably be with a new team following this season.

– Rangers’ RHP Yu Darvish will make his regular-season MLB debut on April 9 at home against the Mariners.

– The Indians have acquired RHP Jairo Asencio from the Braves for cash. Asencio was on the Braves’ restricted list all of 2010 after it was discovered he had come to the U.S. as Luis Valdez and claimed to be three years younger. He had 26 saves last season at Triple-A Gwinnett and won the Caribbean Series MVP this winter. He appeared in nine games over three seasons for Atlanta.

NHL

– EA announced Thursday that a fan-balloting competition to determine who will grace the cover of the gaming company’s NHL 13 game. One of the highest-exposure spots for the top athletes in professional sports, the player chosen to grace the cover of EA’s annual games are often viewed as the most talented and most popular athlete in their respective sports. Starting March 29, fans will get to vote in one player per team to advance into a voting tournament hosted by NHL.com. Once 30 team representatives have been selected (plus two wild card players) the stars will then be pitted against one another in a bracket format. The final round of voting closes on June 4 at which point the face of the game will be unveiled. EA released a list of 60 players (two per team) eligible for cover consideration.

– The Islanders have signed G John Grahame, 36, for the rest of this season. Grahame has played in 224 NHL games over 13 years with Boston, Carolina, and Tampa, with whom he won a Stanley Cup title in 2004. He spent last season with Lake Erie of the American Hockey League.

– The Sabres have signed University of Maine F Brian Flynn to a 1-year contract. Flynn just completed a four-year college career in which he finished second on the team, and ninth in the nation, with 48 points (18 goals, 30 assists).

– The Sharks have signed Western Michigan D Matt Tennyson to an entry-level contract. The 21-year-old was a UFA led all defencemen in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association last season with 11 goals, 13 assists and 24 points in 41 games.

– The Flames announced Thursday it has increased its stake in the CFL’s Stampeders from five per cent to a majority position. The Flames already have a controlling interest in the Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League and own both the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League and Abbotsford Heat, their American Hockey League farm team.

NFL

– Nike Inc. has won a court order blocking rival Reebok International Ltd. from selling Jets apparel bearing the name of the QB Tim Tebow, in a battle over licensing rights. The order issued late on Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel prevents Reebok from manufacturing, selling and shipping the alleged unauthorized apparel for the NFL team and bearing Tebow’s name. It also requires Reebok to offer to buy back such apparel from retailers and recall the products from shipping channels. Castel, however, rejected Nike’s demand that Reebok destroy any unauthorized Tebow products. The judge set an April 4 hearing to discuss whether the ban should be extended. Nike filed the lawsuit on Tuesday. Daniel Sarro, a Reebok spokesman, said the company plans to refute Nike’s contentions at the hearing, “which should enable the court to change its view.” Paul Sarkozi, a lawyer for Nike, declined to comment. Nike spokeswoman Kellie Leonard did not immediately return a telephone call seeking a comment.

According to the complaint, on April 1, Nike will begin an exclusive 5-year contract with the NFL to sell uniforms and related apparel for all 32 teams.  Nike also said Reebok has no current agreement to sell Tebow-related Jets products and that a Reebok merchandising license with the NFL players union expired prior to this month. It accused Reebok of trying to capitalize on “short-lived intense consumer appetite for such products,” and selling products bearing Tebow’s name without the player’s consent. Tebow’s No. 15 Broncos uniform had been among the NFL’s top-selling jerseys before his trade to the Jets.

– Detroit’s Mike O’Hara now reports there’s “not a chance” the Lions will trade for Eagles’ CB Asante Samuel. O’Hara had reported Owners Meetings “buzz” that the Lions were interested, but after speaking with a source, has changed his tune. Samuel, 31, will make $9.9M next season and will be a difficult piece to move.

NBA

– A video has surfaced of Heat’ F LeBron James signing Rick James’ “Superfreak” at a charity event on Tuesday. Enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HNOhgdgu1ao

– Check out Clippers’ F Blake Griffin posterizing Suns’ F Channing Frye:

SOCCER

– Magdeburg, the last place team in the German fourth divison, got a wake up call when fans brought flourescent arrows to the stadium to point at which goal they should be shooting towards. Magdeburg hadn’t scored a goal in five straight games, and still lost the match 2-1. Check it out:

TNA Re-Signs Sting, Kurt Angle’s Mom Robbed, Nash on WM28

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

WWE

– During a recent interview with the UK Sun, former WWE & TNA star Kevin Nash spoke in-depth about Sunday’s WrestleMania 28 pay-per-view. Nash, who has wrestled both men and is a longtime student of the business, says Triple H ending the streak is bad for business – and the Undertaker should retire with the streak in tact:

“End of an Era…I’ve been thinking about the “speaking in code” that Shawn Michaels alluded to last week…If the WWE did have HHH end the Streak, what’s the bragging point since it took him three tries? There’s no bragging point, and it doesn’t do anything for business…It wouldn’t be good for business at all. It’d be like, yeah HHH ended it, but it took him three tries…Big deal. How does that impact the business to the good side?

“Most people would automatically point to the fact that he’s married to Stephanie, and didn’t do it because he deserved it…They could see through the facade WWE [would] have to build for it. I could already hear the bullshit chants from the more seasoned fans if they did that.

“In all honesty, at this point in time, the only one that deserves to end the Streak, is Taker himself by hanging it up when he chooses…In other words, he retires undefeated at Mania.”

– According to F4WO, as reported earlier in the week, WWE held a meeting backstage at RAW on Monday to discuss talent’s use of Twitter. According to a source who was at the meeting, Vince McMahon came across at the meeting as being obsessed with being able to call WrestleMania the “Social Media Event of the Year.” Talent was instructed to use WWE-related hastags during WrestleMania weeekend.

– WWE has hired a three-time All American volleyball player and volleyball executive Canyon Ceman as the new Senior Director of Talent Relations. This is the job previously held by Ty Bailey, who was released last month. Ceman is Triple H’s first big executive hire for developmental. Several people in FCW have questioned if Ceman will be able to scout talents, while other WWE officials feel his sports management knowledge will help him succeed.

– Former WWE superstar Matt Bloom (Albert, Giant Bernard) will be returning to the company as Lord Tensai. Bloom posted the following message on Twitter today, indicating that his run with New Japan Pro Wrestling has come to an end:

“Want to wish all my @NJPW1972 family a successful NJPW Cup. Wish I could be there but something came up.”

He also wished good luck to his former tag team partner, Karl Anderson:

“@Machinegunka get it done!”

Bloom is expected to return to WWE television in the coming weeks and is rumored to be feuding with either John Cena or Randy Orton.

– SmackDown superstar Sheamus spoke to the Baltimore Sun this week to hype Sunday’s WrestleMania 28 pay-per-view and his World Heavyweight title match against Daniel Bryan. Sheamus had this to say about reports of backstage resentment towards The Rock:

“There’s a lot of rumors going around, people with animosity for The Rock. That’s not the case with me at all. The Rock has come back; he’s been cool with me and I have nothing against him at all. He’s achieved everything in WWE, and of course, he’s achieved everything in Hollywood. It’s a huge success story.”

He also commented on how it feels to be fighting for the World Heavyweight title this year after he and Daniel Bryan’s match was bumped from the card last year:

“I didn’t make Mania last year; I was little bit humbled about that. I realized I’ve got to start again. What I was currently doing wasn’t working, so I changed up things about my style. I became more aggressive, more dedicated, more intense — taking it match by match, night by night — to literally crawl and scratch my way back to the top.”

– Production crews have already started setting up for the The Rock’s next movie, Pain & Gain. The Rock and Mark Wahlberg will star in the film, which will be directed by Michael Bay (Transformers). Filming begins in Miami on Tuesday, April 6.

– This week’s WWE Inbox show features WWE superstars addressing the following questions sent in by fans on Twitter:

“What Is The Worst Persona In WWE History”

“What Does Your 3:16 Say?”

Here’s the video:

NHL

– Blackhawks’ F Jonathan Toews (concussion) believes he could be back in the lineup next week. “I definitely need a few more days to kind of see how it goes through this weekend, and we’ll see where we’re at next week, I guess. Right now, like I said, I’m feeling great. I just have to get those legs going and try to get myself back to being as close to game shape as I can.” Head coach Joel Quenneville said Toews might be cleared for contact “in the next day or so.” Chicago closes out their regular season with two games on the road next week in Minnesota (Thursday) and at Detroit (Saturday).

MLB

– Red Sox’ manager Bobby Valentine estimates that OF Carl Crawford (wrist) will only need 50 at-bats on a rehab assignment to get himself ready for the season. That would translate to roughly 15 games, putting a return in line for late-April. Earlier reports had Crawford missing the entire first month of the season.

– Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes that the Royals are “leaning toward” RHP Jonathan Broxton for their vacant closer job. Broxton has looked good this spring following elbow surgery, posting a 1.50 ERA and 7/3 K/BB ratio over six innings. He’ll likely begin the season as the closer, but Greg Holland could get the job before season’s end.

– Giants’ INF Freddy Sanchez (shoulder) will begin the season on the DL. Sanchez recently received a cortisone shot in his surgically-repaired shoulder after hitting a “plateau” in his rehab.

NFL

– NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora reports the Browns are “thinking of selecting” Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill with the No. 4 overall pick next month. Several sources tell LaCanfora that the Browns are “monitoring Tannehill closely and have favorable scouting reports.” ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi believes the Browns are still “leaning against” drafting Tannehill or Brandon Weeden.

NCAAF

– Alabama RB Trent Richardson ran unofficial forty times of 4.58 and 4.58 at the Crimson Tide’s Pro Day Thursday. ESPN3 clarified that Richardson was at only at “70%” after February surgery on his left knee. He still projects as a top-10 pick.

NBA

– North Carolina sophomore G/F Harrison Barnes, junior PF John Henson and sophomore G Kendall Marshall are all entering the 2012 NBA Draft. Barnes, the team’s leading scorer at 17.1 PPG, projects as a top-10 pick and should be your prototypical small forward at 6’8/210. Barnes was the No. 1 recruit in the nation back in 2010 and was a second-team All American this season. Sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall is also turning pro.

– Rockets’ G Kevin Martin (right shoulder) did not practice Thursday and there is still no timetable for his return. Martin still hasn’t practiced or played since March 11.

– Check out Heat’ F LeBron James dressed as Rick James, singing “Superfreak.” The event was for Shane Battier’s annual “Battioke” charity gathering. Check it out:

TNA

– TNA Wrestling President Dixie Carter announced Thursday afternoon that Sting has reached a new contract agreement with the organization. She tweeted,

“THRILLED to have just signed the new @Sting talent contract. So proud to have him part of the TNA family! Here’s to some great times ahead!”

– TNA star Kurt Angle says his 80-year-old mother was robbed this week by a few criminal lowlifes from the Dominican Republic. Here’s what Angle posted on Twitter regarding the situation:

My Mother Who is 80 Yrs Old was robbed from Criminals from Dom Republic. They Said My Nephew Was in jail and Needed $5,000 to Bail Him Out

These Criminals Need to be Arrested @ their ass kicked!Taking Advantage of an 80 year old Woman With Little $.Watch out for these Criminals

This Scam Happens A lot. If I Ever Come Across these Criminals, and I Will find U, I Will Make You Pay, with Pain! Trust Me

One Name is Otto Ramirez. I Will fly to Dominican Republic and Find You. I Also Know U Have a Contact in My Hometown for this Scam

I Will Find You All! You Are Scum!

my Mother Doesn’t Have A lot of Money and I try 2 Help Her,but Lowlifes Robbing an 80 year old Woman need their Ass Kicked

TMZ has since picked up the story. Angle’s mother wired the money to the people, and then received a call the next day, demanding another $4,000. When she couldn’t afford the second payment, she called her son Kurt. Kurt felt that something was wrong, and contacted the family member in question, who was not only fine, but had not been to the Dominican Republic in over a year. Realizing his mother was the victim of a wire fraud scam and had been robbed of $4,000, Angle got the local authorities involved. According to the FBI, Angle’s mother is one of many victims being targeted by international scammers who prey on the elderly. Angle believes the thieves have an accomplice near his mother’s home in Pittsburgh, because they knew about his family and somehow got access to his mother’s unlisted number.

NCAAB

– Ohio State fan “Buck i Guy” was knocked out after being hit by a flying turkey while driving back from the Buckeye’s win over Gonzaga.

“Out of my peripheral vision, I (saw) something in our airspace, and it was a turkey. I’ve never seen anything like that, and I said, ‘Lonnie, do you see that big old bird?’ and bam, that’s the end of the story as I know it.”

The turkey crashed through his car windshield, knocking him unconscious. His friend, who was in the passenger seat, grabbed the steering wheel and drove the car to safety.

***BREAKING NEWS*** Canadiens Fire GM Pierre Gauthier

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

NHL

– The Canadiens have fired GM Pierre Gauthier. No replacement has been named. The Habs are last in the Eastern Conference with a 29-34-14 record and were eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday. The club says in a release “the search for a new general manager is underway.” Gauthier was promoted to the role of executive vice president and GM in February 2010 after Bob Gainey stepped down. In his first full season as GM, Gauthier’s Canadiens finished sixth in the East and made the playoffs but were eliminated in seven games by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the first round. The team took a step back this year, stumbling out of the gate and losing their first three games on home ice for the first time since 1938. Montreal continued to struggle through the early portion of the season and head coach Jacques Martin was eventually fired in mid-December. Randy Cunneyworth was appointed as interim head coach by Gauthier in a move that caused a stir in the Montreal media due to Cunneyworth’s inability to speak French. The coaching change also failed to spark the team on the ice as the Canadiens continued to struggle under Cunneyworth. Gauthier originally joined the Canadiens organization as Director of Professional Scouting in 2003.

– According to the Denver Post, head coach Joe Sacco and GM Greg Sherman will remain with the Avalanche next season.

– The Lightning have signed college free agent F J.T. Brown to a 2-year contract. Brown recorded 24 goals and 23 assists in 39 games for the University of Minnesota-Duluth during his sophomore season in 2011-12. He is expected to join the Lightning later this week and will probably get into a game before the season ends.

– The Maple Leafs have signed college free agent F Spencer Abbott. The 23-year-old scored 21 goals and 41 assists in 39 games to lead the nation in scoring with the University of Maine. He was among the 15 finalists listed for the 2012 Hobey Baker award and was named Hockey East’s Player of the Year. Abbott will join the AHL’s Toronto Marlies on an amateur tryout for the remainder of the year.

– Sabres’ D Christian Ehrhoff (knee) is slated to “miss some time,” according to head coach Lindy Ruff. There’s no indication if the injury is day-to-day type or week-to-week, so he’s essentially out indefinitely. Ehrhoff was injured during the first period of Tuesday night’s win over Washington when he went knee on knee with F Troy Brouwer. He leads the Sabres in average ice time per game at 23:03. He has five goals and 27 assists this season.

– The Senators signed U.S. college D Chris Wideman to a 2-year entry-level contract. The St. Louis native played 41 games with the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks in 2011-12, registering 24 points (four goals, 20 assists) and 40 penalty minutes.

– The Blue Jackets have signed F Boone Jenner and G Shawn Hunwick. Jenner received a 3-year, entry-level contract, and Hunwick agreed to an amateur tryout contract. Jenner, 18, is playing his third season with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. He has 22 goals and 49 points in 43 games. Hunwick, 22, just completed his senior season at the University of Michigan, where he posted a 24-12-3 record with a 2.00 GAA.

WWE

– Arn Anderson appeared on Busted Open with Doug Mortman and Dave LaGreca, which airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sirius 92 and XM 207. Highlights from his interview are as follows:

His induction into the WWE Hall of Fame: It’s phenomenal! My god! Especially with that group of guys, every one of them is a Hall of Fame-er. It’s just a question of timing, I guess. Getting to share the stage with those guys—man—it just blows me away. I’m still, to this day, in awe of every one of them.

John Laurinaitis pulled me aside some few months back and let me know, and I almost fell out! People around you that are very kind always say This has gotta be your year, well, no, it doesn’t have to be your year. There’s never have to be a year. So when you hear it for yourself, it’s mind-blowing. It really is. …My initial thought was Marty Lunde going in the Hall of Fame—psh!—c’mon. Arn Anderson going in the Hall of Fame, I don’t think so. But the Four Horsemen going in the Hall of Fame? Absolutely.

The Four Horsemen: I don’t know if there’s ever been anybody (and it’s argumentative) better than Barry Windham in the history of the business. I know for a fact he’s in the top five, it’s just a question of who the top five are. [Ricky] Steamboat’s in there, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Ric Flair, you make your top five, whoever they are, but Billy Windham’s in there; He’s on everybody’s top five list. Tully Blanchard was the best partner I ever had in the ring, period. We were in such sync after all those years together, that he could just give me a look and I know what he wanted and I could do the same to him. We never had to say a word in the ring to each other, period.

Ric Flair is Ric Flair. If anybody was gonna be inducted twice, he certainly earned those stripes. The one guy that doesn’t get a lot of air-time or a lot talked about is J. J. Dillon. He was the brains and the thought process, the stabilizing force; he was actually our manager, our legitimate manager. Travel, I mean everything, he did all of it. And the thing is, the guy was a world-class talker, carried himself like a gentleman, dressed well, and was just smart, very smart about the business. So to be able to share the stage with those guys is just staggering when I try to assess it.

WrestleMania: Oh my god. Well, just go back to the fact that we started promoting Wrestlemania last year before Wrestlemania, this year’s! That ought to tell ya everything you need to know about the size of the event. I was in Wrestlemania 5, Tully and I. It was a Grand Fair. But it was also in Atlantic City and the Trump Castle—Plaza, one of those. It wasn’t eighty thousand seats, let me just tell you that. It has morphed into something else entirely. When you’ve got eighty thousand people out under the stars, if you go back to the one in Orlando…it was breath-taking: the magnificence, the color, the pageantry, everything that is Wrestlemania. It is the Superbowl times two, if you ask me. For the entertainment, dollar, and you cut four hours out of your life, if you wanna spend them somewhere, that’s where you wanna spend them. It’s absolutely just numbing, what an event it is.

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan: Oh my god. Well, Bobby’s gonna go down as the greatest manager of all time. And I don’t think J.J. [Dillon] would feel slighted about that. Bobby Heenan is the single funniest man that God ever put on this earth. If you ever talk to him, I could look at Bobby and just say, “Hey Bobby, that tree’s falling towards the house.” Bobby would have something to come back with right then. It wouldn’t be “O god, let’s get outta the way!” Bobby would have a clever quick comeback. He’s just so sharp. His skills around that ring were—oh—Bobby took better bumps than ninety percent of the guys in the business. Bobby was phenomenal. The tragedies that befell him will take your breath. It’s a horrible, horrible deal, but Bobby has still got, even though he cannot speak, his sense of humor! Those of us that know him can still pull out of him, and I think that’s an awesome thing.

The Undertaker’s undefeated streak: Well, he is a phenom. I knew the Undertaker from day one when he was with WCW, ‘til he moved to the WWF. I used to sit there with my chin on the ground when a guy that size would walk that top rope. It was unbelievable stuff that the guy can do. And to this day, he is no spring chicken, but the guy is so masterful, it’s unbelievable. And as far as me spine-busting the Undertaker, my fifteen-year-old, I think that was the greatest day of his life! Even though the Undertaker kicked out and knocked my eyes shut shortly thereafter (the part he doesn’t want to remember!), but what a thrill it was! It really was. Those few seconds in the ring with that guy, that’s the one that got away. People ask me all the time, Who would you like to bid in the ring with (that you missed)? That’s the guy.

– According to multiple accounts on Twitter, WWE talent and employees are staying at the luxurious InterContinental Miami hotel for WrestleMania week in Miami, Florida. The Rock, John Cena, The Undertaker and The Miz have been spotted there within the past two days.

– WWE Chief Marketing Officer Michelle Wilson says WWE is in late-stage negotiations with potential television partners for the WWE Network.

“There will be a WWE network in some shape or form. Getting a distribution agreement for a cable network is not easy.”

Wilson disputed the New York Post‘s report earlier this month saying company is behind schedule in its plans to launch the network on April 1. She says there was never a deadline as the company is hiring staff to operate the network.

“We’ve filled 30 positions so far specifically for the network. They come with cable experience at ESPN, Viacom, Discovery and Warner Brothers TV.”

Wilson declined to predict the network’s launched but would discuss planned programming.

“They just got done shooting a reality show, ‘Legends House,’ where eight of our superstar legends live together in a house in Palm Springs, California. Another reality show will feature our WWE Divas. We did a lot of research on what our fans want to see. We’re developing new shows taking advantage of our amazing library.”

– Promoting his upcoming World Heavyweight Championship Match against Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania XXVIII, Sheamus tells Irish Voice that he’s takes nothing for granted with WWE.

“My WWE career has been amazing. It took a lot of time for me to get here, and you never stop paying your dues. I’m never satisfied with what I’ve achieved.”

“I want to create a legacy for myself, like those who are going to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this weekend. The way you do that is by winning championships and staying hungry and focused.”

The Celtic Warrior predicts a victory over Bryan at Sunday’s show, which he thinks will probably be the biggest night of his life.

“Bryan is very tricky. He’s quite talented, a smaller guy but very tough and aggressive. He’s quicker than I am, but all I need is one second to catch him with my brogue kick. A size 13 boot to the face has done wonders for my winning streak!”

– WWE.com has published an article officially announcing Randy Orton’s starring role in The Marine: Homefront, the third installment of WWE Studios’ Marine franchise. Fans will be able to get a first look at production of the film during this weekend’s WrestleMania Axxess in Miami, where fans can audition for a small role in the screenplay. Production for the straight-to-video release begins June 11 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Orton plays a Marine who must rescue his kidnapped daughter.

– Former WWE Superstar Chris Masters appeared on This Very Ring with Stan Grubb and Mike Prunka (audio available at www.pw247radio.com). Highlights are as follows:

His involvement with Ring Ka King: Dave Lagana reached out to contact me. He told me they’re starting a new promotion in India. It would be affiliated with TNA and funded, I believe, by TNA. They would air on the #1 network in India and it was just a great opportunity. The main objective was to bring out some American wrestling stars to work with some of the Indian guys, many of whom are pretty green. A lot of them are only two or three months into their training. They kind of hand-picked everybody to come and work with these guys and have, at least, passable, if not good matches. It turned out pretty well; we have a great set, a great group of guys, and we’ve produced some great TV.

His second WWE run: I was in a bad place in my life after I was released from WWE the first time. I kind of knew in the back of my mind that I would reconcile with the WWE and return, which I did. It quickly became apparent that they didn’t have any intent of using me. So I just worked because, well I wanted that spot but, if nothing else, I wanted to prove the critics wrong. I didn’t want to be perceived as the body guy. I wanted to be known as a great wrestler. In 2010 and 2011 I had no distractions in my career and everything was coming together. The company was reaching out to me and Hunter had pulled me aside and told me he liked what I was doing, which is why my last release came as a surprise.

His “Masters to Impact” campaign: I wasn’t really given a fair shake in WWE. For those of you that watch Superstars, you know that I can contribute to the game. I’m 29 years old and at the peak of my career. Going to Impact won’t turn things around right away, the ratings won’t overtake Raw or anything. But I do think I have a lot to contribute. So I figured it’s time to campaign. It’s 2012! MTI! Get the word out. Grassroots effort. I know a lot of things need to happen and that campaigns aren’t won overnight. TNA has a lot going on and a lot of guys that already aren’t being used but I really think there’s a lot I can contribute. I just need a place to go out and do it.”

– WWE posted this photo Wednesday of Rey Mysterio meeting media in Miami, Florida. The account tweeted, “Rey Mysterio talks to Telemundo @holtzchildren @jhsmiami about meeting the kids at the hospital.” Mysterio stated in recent months that he hoped to return from injury in time for WrestleMania XXVIII, but a match did not come to fruition.

MLB

– Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Phillies “know how much” LHP Cole Hamels will cost, and appear to be making progress toward a long-term extension. One source with knowledge of the situation says Hamels is demanding at least $20M annually, and that the Phillies are willing to meet that. The two sides aren’t on the same page for years, though, as the Phillies would prefer to do a 4-year deal, while Hamels wants more. Another source told Salisbury that the two sides have made “good progress” in negotiations, and predicts that a deal will get done at some point in the near future. There is no deadline for talks yet.

– Rays’ OF B.J. Upton (back) said Wednesday that he will open the season on the DL. Upton told reporters that there’s no exact timetable for his return from a tweaked back, but he should be ready by the middle of April. The 27-year-old hasn’t played in a Grapefruit League game since colliding with Desmond Jennings two weeks ago.

– The Twins have released RHP Joel Zumaya. Zumaya was trying to revive his career after missing the 2011 season because of elbow problems, but the hard-throwing reliever hurt the joint again during his first bullpen session of spring training with his new team, tearing the ulnar collateral ligament. Zumaya was scheduled for Tommy John surgery Thursday and will need a year to recover.

– Nationals’ OF Michael Morse (right lat) was cleared for baseball activities. A sonogram showed healing after he received a platelet-rich plasma injection. He may still begin the season on the DL.

– The Mariners have placed OF Mike Carp (sprained right shoulder) on the 15-day DL. Carp was hurt during Wednesday’s opener against Oakland in Japan, diving for a Kurt Suzuki double in the fourth inning. He remained in the game and finished 0-for-4 before an examination afterward revealed the injury.

– Reds’ RHP Sean Massett (right shoulder inflammation) will begin the season on the 15-day DL.

– The Royals have placed RHP Felipe Paulino (sore right elbow) on the 15-day DL.

– Red Sox’ RHP Chris Carpenter (right elbow) will undergo surgery to remove a bone spur and is out indefinitely.

NFL

– A league source tells CSN Philadelphia that the Eagles could trade CB Asante Samuel to the Titans “some time in the next few days.” Per Gunn, the price tag would be a 3rd-round pick. Stay tuned.

– Chargers’ coach Norv Turner stated Wednesday that he expects RB Ryan Mathews to have a “breakout, big-time year” in 2012. With RB Mike Tolbert now with the Panthers, Mathews will be seeing many more touches. If he can remain healthy, which has been an issue in the past, he should have a career year.

– The Bengals have re-signed SLB Manny Lawson. Lawson turns 28 before the season.

NBA

– Cavaliers F Anderson Varejao (wrist) plans to play for Brazil in this summer’s Olympics as long as he’s fully recovered from a wrist injury. Varejao broke his right wrist on February 11 in a game against Milwaukee.

Triple H & Vince McMahon Want John Cena Fired?, WM28 Updates

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

WWE

– John Cena sat down with Brian Soscia of The Soscia Network for a Q&A session with fans. Highlights from the interview are as follows:

Who is left if he defeats The Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII: “Honestly, this is what I like about April 1, you have a definitive number one being decided. I think at that point it is anybody’s game to try to take somebody off the mountain. We’re at a period in WWE, WrestleMania is truly the end of an era. Triple H vs. Undertaker, Shawn Michaels is a special referee, John Cena vs. The Rock. One of those names, one of those names is a full-time employee for this company and you’re looking at him.

“So I think WrestleMania is a platform, as it always is, for new Superstars – Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, C.M. Punk, Cody Rhodes, Team Laurinaitis, Team Teddy Long. Anyone can step up. I’m going to be there on the top of the mountain with my fists up waiting for someone to challenge me. I think everybody is going to watch WrestleMania and enjoy it, but I think everyone behind the curtain, behind the wall that I’m not supposed to talk about, is going to be watching as hungry as they can be knowing that they want to face the winner of that match.”

Advice to younger wrestlers: “Never give up. Back in 2003, 2002, when I was just wearing boots and tights and I was supposed to be the ruthless aggression young good guy, nobody in the company liked me. I know Vince McMahon won’t admit this, but he wanted me fired, Triple H wanted me fired, everybody hated me. They just wouldn’t give me a forum to showcase my talents. I’ve always been able to connect with the audience if given the ability to speak.

“I got that ability and I was off to the races. I was up against all odds. I wasn’t born into this business. I’m not a third generation guy or a second generation guy. I’m just a dude who grew up a fan like all you guys and I wanted to do this my whole life. And I never gave up. That’s the advice I give to all the young cats, all the guys who have been trying and trying, trying to make it, attempt after attempt. I’ve failed many times, but you never ever give up.”

– According to the PWInsider, WWE sources have confirmed that Christian was pulled from the WrestleMania 28 Team Laurinaitis vs. Team Long match because of issues with his ankle. There was hope that he’d be able to compete with the injury, but the decision to pull Christian from the card was made on Monday. As for why Alberto Del Rio is not booked for the show, he was originally booked to be a member of Team Laurinaitis, but WWE officials felt the match was “below him” and not fitting for a former WWE champion in line for a big push in the coming months. That said, it’s worth noting that former champions Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger and The Miz are all in the match. WWE is planning a dramatic return for Alberto Del Rio after WrestleMania and Randy Orton has been discussed as his next big feud. Despite being pulled from the 12-man match, both Del Rio and Christian will be in attendance this Sunday and will likely appear on camera.

– Alicia Fox began her journey with WWE six years ago after WWE Executive Vice President of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis discovered her in a fashion catalog. Speaking to Accidental Sexiness, the SmackDown Diva believes her and Kelly Kelly’s hirings was triggered by organization officials experimenting models being teached how to wrestle.

“I did a couple of things for Venus Swimwear in Jacksonville. I think at the time Kelly Kelly and I were doing it [modeling] together at age 17, 18. I think it was just an experiment for the company [WWE] to see if it was even possible to teach models how to wrestle.

“It was a great learning experience for the both of us because we could step out of our backyard and kind of grow into the world. I think neither Kelly nor I ever imagined being here. This is our sixth year. We didn’t know what was going to happen, but I don’t think we would have thought we would be here for six years already.”

Before she was contacted by WWE, Fox had her sights on going to school to become an ophthalmologist. She never gave thought to becoming a WWE Diva prior to receiving the life-changing phone call.

“I was going to be an eye surgeon, which is extremely funny now because I don’t like blood or science or anything like that. I don’t know what I was thinking. Now I feel more than blessed to still be in WWE and have this opportunity. It has been so far so good. I don’t want to go back to being an ophthalmologist or an eye surgeon or something like that.”

– After it was reported Monday that Maria Menounos suffered two broken ribs during a recent dancing rehearsal for Dancing with the Stars, doubt was raised that she would be fit to compete this Sunday at WrestleMania XXVIII in the Divas Tag Team Match pitting herself and Kelly Kelly against Divas Champion Beth Phoenix and Eve. The entertainment personality, however, assures fans that she will be competing at the event in spite of her injury. When asked on Twitter whether she will team with Kelly at WrestleMania despite being hurt, she responded, “Wouldn’t miss it!” The Extra host is taking several precautions to ensure the injury doesn’t become more serious.

“I’m icing when I get home. My friend Joe drives me from rehearsals and I have a pedicure station with ice in it in my car, so I ice my whole body down.

“Once I get home, I get in a hot tub and in an Epsom salt bath. I can’t believe how dangerous dancing is! I told Derek, ‘I don’t understand! I played ice hockey, football, basketball — when did I get so fragile?’ Unfortunately the Hough’s too rough!”

– Kamala Jr. called in to The Roman Show Wednesday and stated that his father Kamala may have to have his right leg amputated. The wrestling legend had his left leg amputated late last year due to complications of high blood pressure and diabetes.

– WWE Champion CM Punk revealed his favorite WrestleMania match during an interview with Marvel.com promoting WrestleMania XXVIII.

“WrestleMania 13, right in my backyard of Chicago. Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. I can remember every punch thrown, every bodyslam and every submission move. It’s just one of those perfect matches that told a story. There’s just so many to choose from, but this match is the one that sticks out the most.”

NFL

– ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi reports that the Browns inquired about a trade for Rams’ QB Sam Bradford before turning their attention to a failed attempt at the No. 2 overall pick early this month. Head coach Jeff Fisher said, ”Clubs inquired. But there was no consideration whatsoever on our part (to trade Bradford).” Browns’ president Mike Holmgren had already tried to trade up for Bradford just before the 2010 draft. Bradford played his rookie season for current Browns’ coach Pat Shurmur. The Browns will continue to look for a replacement for QB Colt McCoy.

– The 49ers have signed RB Brandon Jacobs to a 1-year contract. This re-confirms that Niners’ plan to remain run-heavy. Jacobs could see short-yardage and goal-line work.

– WR Torry Holt will sign a 1-day contract to retire as a member of the Rams. Ate age-31, Holt’s ability to separate from the secondary diminished due to gimpy knees–failed tenures with the Patriots and Jaguars left him without a home. Now 35, Holt finished his career with 920 receptions, 13,382 yards, and 74 touchdowns. The 7-time Pro Bowler is second in Rams history in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving TDs–Isaac Bruce is No. 1 in all three categories.

– TitanInsider’s Terry McCormick reports the Titans have “some interest” in trading for Eagles’ CB Asante Samuel. Samuel is reportedly looking to re-structure his contract, but will make $9.9M this season. The Eagles are through to be asking for “at least a 3rd-round pick.”

– Bucs’ head coach Greg Schiano says that RB LeGarrette Blount’s fumbling issue needs to be fixed, otherwise his starter’s role will be scaled back. ”No one who touches the football will get touches if they don’t protect the football. That is one of our core covenants -– (protecting) the ball. It’s so important they named the game after it, so we make a big deal about that.” Let the Trent Richardson rumours begin.

NBA

– Warriors’ G Stephen Curry (ankle) will miss at least 2 more weeks, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Curry met with a specialist in Los Angeles last week, and doctors will “re-examine and make (a) decision about clearing him.”

MLB

– Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson confirmed Wednesday that RHP Drew Storen (elbow) is expected to begin the season on the DL. Storen played catch Tuesday for the first time in a week. Johnson said that the 24-year-old could be back by mid-April, but admitted that maybe he’s being “overly optimistic.”

– The Yankees have signed DH Jack Cust to a minor league contract. Cust was released by the Astros on Tuesday after recording just one hit in 25 at-bats this spring. The 33-year-old will act as an insurance backup in Triple-A.