– Wolves’ G Ricky Rubio (knee surgery) has not been cleared to begin running yet. GM David Kahn had previously said that Rubio was “ahead of schedule” in his recovery. Rubio could be cleared to run “after the next scheduled update in mid-September,” meaning he’s still a long ways away. Kahn added that Rubio will “hopefully be able to do some non-contact things” at practice, but remains without a clear timetable for a return, and is questionable for the start of training camp.
– Red Sox’ DH David Ortiz (Achilles) said Thursday that he’s probably at about “50-60%.” Big Papi did some running and agility drills on the field Thursday, but he thinks it may be another 3-4 days before he does “power running” drills.
– The D’Backs have released OF Scott Podsednik. Podsednik was just acquired from the Red Sox this week. He was granted his release after declining his assignment to Triple-A Reno.
– The Undertaker appeared at an FCW event in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday. According to the Wrestling Observer, When a fan told Taker that like him, he attends WrestleMania every year, the The Deadman responded, “Well, don’t make any plans for April…” The fan was in disbelief over his comment. Taker added, We’ll see what happens.”
– According to the Wrestling Observer, sources backstage at RAW 1,000 report that The Rock was overall very friendly with everybody. He caught up with his old friends, shook the hands of some of WWE’s younger talents and stuck around much longer than he has at recent WWE events. The Rock has gotten heat in the past for leaving WWE shows as soon as his segments were over, usually due to his schedule.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE’s developmental system has improved dramatically since Triple H took over earlier this year. Vince McMahon is almost entirely “hands off,” giving Triple H the chance to carry out his own vision without everything being under Vince’s control.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, Michael Cole’s heel character has been toned down significantly in recent weeks, under the order of Vince McMahon. Vince reportedly goes back and forth about whether Cole should be a strong heel or a neutral “voice of WWE,” but it’s clear that he was pushed so strongly as a heel that it wouldn’t be credible for him to work as a babyface anytime soon.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, the latest business figures released by WWE indicate that WrestleMania 28 has drawn approximately 1,216,000 buys (713,000 domestic, 503,000 international), up from last month’s estimated 1,114,000 number.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE officials believe that Jinder Mahal has the potential to be a top heel, which is part of the reason why he’s currently working a feud with Ryback. WWE is looking to strengthen it’s position in India and with The Great Khali’s career winding down, Mahal is seen as a big asset to the company.
– WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross is back with another blog update, which you can read in its entirety at JRsBarBQ.com. Here are some highlights of what JR wrote about:
Whether CM Punk Is A Heel: Depends on who you ask and what side of the aisle one sits. Punk made a great deal of sense on several points he addressed when speaking on Raw Monday night. However, I do see the talented wrestler traveling in the direction of the ‘badlands’ or so it seems. Nice reason to stay tuned.
NXT: Do I consider being on NXT a demotion? Heck no but I do consider the question somewhat of a restaurant quality eye roller. There is nothing more important in WWE than developing new talents.
WWE 13: It’s the best script yet plus King and I got to sit side by side and do some enhanced ad libs for the Attitude Era portion of the video game. Pre orders are rocking and the game goes on sale in October. I’ll be doing some THQ promotion during Summerslam weekend which does NOT mean I’m broadcasting Summerslam.
Steve Austin’s Latest Surgery: Adam Sandler is going to have to shoot around Steve Austin’s bad wheel in Grownups 2 this week. Steve is in Massachusetts now filming with an all star cast and a bum leg. @steveaustinBSR hopes to be fully healed by January.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE Champion CM Punk has been moved back to the RAW roster for WWE’s upcoming live events. Punk had been working SmackDown shows to compensate for the brand’s lack of talent depth, but one of SmackDown’s top draws – Randy Orton, is now back in action. After the upcoming SummerSlam pay-per-view, John Cena, CM Punk, Big Show, Rey Mysterio and Daniel Bryan will headline RAW live events, with Sheamus, Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler, Christian, Cody Rhodes and Sin Cara on the SmackDown shows.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, Marty Jannetty is in bad physical shape these days, with the former WWE superstar needing surgery on both of his ankles.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, the new incarnation of WWE NXT is not airing on local television in Florida because the company feels it will lower the value of the show in the event that they eventually want to sell it as a national show or feature it on the WWE network. The recent NXT tapings from Full Sail University have been running very smoothly with a strong emphasis on in-ring action. Triple H is not in charge of booking the shows, but he does have a lot of say over the brand’s direction, which is carried out by the producers/agents at NXT.
– UFC President Dana White has responded to Vince McMahon’s recent comments that UFC’s ratings are “abysmal.” During an interview with Ariel Helwani, White says he likes Vince and has a good relationship with him, but Vince says things like that because of the way he is “wired.” He added that he could say a lot of things about WWE, but doesnt – and says he doesn’t understand why Vince would attack UFC since Vince is so adamant about saying WWE and UFC are totally different products. Here’s video of the interview:
– In an interview with theScore’s Arda Ocal (@arda_ocal) WWE legend and current official WWE Ambassador Sgt. Slaughter reveals that he was originally talked about to play a part in the newest GI Joe movie, along side Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. In the interview, Slaughter divulges that the character played by Bruce Willis was originally going to be Sgt. Slaughter, with he as the leading candidate to play the role. Slaughter was featured in an animated GI Joe movie in the 1980s. Other topics discussed in the interview include how close he was to not portraying an Iraqi Sympathizer in the WWE, the iconic promo where he burns Hulk Hogan’s shirt and how the original idea was to burn the American flag and Slaughter’s reaction, and more.
– According to the PWInsider, here are highlights from WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and George Barrios’ investor conference call from Thursday:
The company is not yet ready to release additional information regarding the launch of the WWE Network, but will have more details next quarter.
WWE is currently working on 3 separate business models for the WWE network – basic distribution, a pay TV format (ie. HBO/Showtime) and a third “over-the-top” format.
Monday Night Wars is expected to be one of the shows on the WWE Network.
WWE has spent $5M on production of ‘Legend’s House.’
Due to the accounting method WWE is using to report its investment in Tout, WWE owns 20% or less than the social media service. The Tout app was downloaded over 30,000 times after the airing of WWE Raw and is now one of the top apps in the Apple App Store.
WWE PPV revenue jumped approximately 30-35% over last year, partially due more people ordering the HD version of PPVs, which costs $10 more.
Vince McMahon acknowledged that WWE went too far with “WWE PG” – and says the writing of WWE television has gotten much better in recent months.
Vince said WWE is using YouTube for the comedy aspects of WWE programming and plans to use television for more drama and storytelling. Vince touted the potential of WWE’s Youtube shows – and WWE’s ability to spin them off into full shows eventually.
“No Holds Barred” starring Hulk Hogan, which cost less than $100,000, is expected to make $300,000.
Vince said WWE’s current stock price reflects their financial results of last year. WWE’s social media strength as well as learning from the mistakes of their movie division will help their bottom line and their stock price moving forward.
– WWE announced financial results for its second quarter ended June 30, 2012. Revenues totaled $141.6M as compared to $142.6M in the prior year quarter. Operating income was $19.6M as compared to $21.0M in the prior year quarter. Net income was $11.9M, or $0.16 per share, as compared to $14.3M, or $0.19 per share, in the prior year quarter. There were several items that impacted comparability on a year-over-year basis, including expenses incurred in conjunction with our potential network in the current quarter and film impairments in the prior year quarter. Excluding the impact of these items, Adjusted Operating income declined 12% to $21.3M from $24.3M in the prior year quarter. Adjusted Net income was $13.1M, or $0.17 per share, as compared to $16.5M, or $0.22 per share, in the prior year quarter.
“In the second quarter, we made important progress on our key strategic initiatives, expanding our content and distribution and enhancing our brand strength,” stated Vince McMahon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “The production and licensing of a third hour of Raw and the launch of a new program, WWE Main Event, for ION Television, as well as our exploding social media presence which now reaches over 100 million global fans, exemplify our achievement of these goals. In order to cultivate further the unique passion of our global fans, we continued to integrate social media in our program content and entered a strategic investment agreement with Tout, which enables users to capture and share 15-second videos. Integrating our fans’ voice in our programming enables us to escalate fan interaction, enhance our programming content, and drive the value of our investment.”
“Our results were highlighted by the strong performance of our pay-per-view business, which offset an anticipated decline in video game sales,” added George Barrios, Chief Financial Officer. “Key audience measures, including a 17% increase in pay-per-view buys and the attraction of 6 million viewers to our 1,000th episode of Raw in July demonstrate our staying power and our continuing ability to build consumer interest. Based on our earnings growth in the first half of the year and the recent positive trends in our pay-per-view business, we are raising our financial forecast for the full year. We expect that our 2012 earnings, measured by either earnings per share, or EBITDA, will be roughly 5% to 15% above our 2011 results on an “as reported” basis.”
– Former WWE star David Hart Smith turned 26 years old on Thursday.
– 20 years ago today, Ron Simmons became the first African American to win a world title in professional wrestling when he defeated Big Van Vader in Baltimore, Maryland. WWE.com relives that historic night with video and a retrospective written by WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross.
– Wrestler’s Rescue, a charitable organization founded by Dawn Marie Psaltis in 2008 to raise money to support the health care needs of retired professional wrestlers, is once again subject of scandal with rumors of embezzlement of funds by the former WWE Diva. After former WWE Superstar “The Ugandan Giant” Kamala (real name James Harris) released a video message Tuesday condemning Psaltis and Dan Mirade of Boston-based independent wrestling promotion Millenium Wrestling Federation for raising money on his behalf that he has yet to receive, another embezzlement allegation was levied towards the retired women’s wrestler by one of her former colleagues.
Brian Heffron, who worked alongside Psaltis in ECW as Blue Meanie, noted Wednesday on Twitter that two years ago, she launched a similar campaign fund meant to assist fellow alumnus Jerry Lynn with back surgery costs and was asked to donate an item for her to auction. Heffron, however, says Lynn was unaware of the campaign fund and noted that he never received money from Psaltis. After posting a link to Harris’ video message, Heffron wrote,
“I always had a feeling “Wrestler’s Rescue” was a scam since they aren’t a registered charity AND wrestler’s who they’ve collected for never got a dime that was supposed to get to them. 2 years ago I was asked to donate an item for auction for Jerry Lynn’s back surgery. He told me he didn’t know about and didn’t get a A DIME.”
“I always heard rumors “Wrestler’s Rescue” ripped off MY IDOL Steve Williams. Then I heard straight from Jerry Lynn he never received a penny. I never really thought of speaking out until I saw the video Kamala made. It’s a shame to collect money off off false pretenses.”
In June, Psaltis set up the “Kamala Campaign Fund” and said that money generated from the fund through auctions on their official website, WrestlersRescue.org (currently suspended by its hosting company), would assist Harris with “medical care, basic living costs and a myriad of other expenses as he transitions into a more handicapped-accessible world.” After claiming in the video that he has received nothing from Wrestler’s Rescue or Dawn Marie, Harris tells her to take any money she may have raised on his behalf “to Massachusetts and ram it up Dan Mirade’s ass.” He also wants Mirade to take any money he may have raised on his behalf “to New Jersey and ram it up Dawn Marie’s ass.”
– WWE sent out a survey this week regarding a new Saturday morning television show that appears to be in the works
“Imagine a weekly, half hour WWE television show on Saturday mornings that included highlights of the best action and funniest moments from recent WWE events and from the past. The show would feature fun segments with WWE Superstars both in the ring and behind the scenes to give viewers a chance to get to know them even better. Every episode would also include one action-packed match featuring different WWE Superstars each week.
Based on this description, please rate the following show titles on a scale of 1-5 (5-excellent; 4-good; 3-neutral; 2-fair; 1-poor):
WWE Saturday Morning Slam
– Team USA destroyed Team Nigeria 156-73 on Thursday. The 156 points marked the highest scoring game in Olympic history. USA shot over 70% from the floor–another Olympic record–and tied the record for most assists in a game with 41. They also broke the old record of 13 3-pointers by more than double, sinking 29 (compared to the 28 total field goals by Nigeria). The only records they didn’t approach today were Oscar Schmidt’s 55 points in a game in 1988, while the 83-point scoring differential came up 17 points shy of the record. The U.S. is now 3-0 in pool play.
– The Palm Beach Post reports the Dolphins have considered making QB Ryan Tannehill the backup quarterback, making the loser of the David Garrard/Matt Moore battle expendable. The report suggests that Tannehill has been better than expected, and that he’ll be seeing a lot of time during preseason. Right now, Garrard is seen as the favourite over Moore.
– One league source tells Clark Judge of CBS Sports that new Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam plans to “blow the whole place up,” and is expected to include president Mike Holmgren and GM Tom Heckert in the reset. Former Eagles president Joe Banner is now rumoured to run football operations. Holmgren is in the third year of a 5-year deal that pays him $8M annually.
– The Colts have acquired LBs Moise Fokou and Greg Lloyd from the Eagles in exchange for CB Kevin Thomas and a 2013 7th-round pick.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, the ongoing TNA storyline with Joey Ryan is leading to an eventual match between Ryan and Gut Check judge Al Snow. Ryan initially had issues with Taz, but the neck problems that forced Taz to retire years ago is what’s preventing him from being the one to wrestle Ryah.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, TNA recently made a strong contract offer to Bully Ray, who is expected to re-sign with the company.