– 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?
Cena: Against who?
Doug: The Miz.
Cena: Who won that match?
Doug: The Miz.
Cena: ‘Nuff said.”
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.