– On Wednesday, reports surfaced online that The Undertaker had died. Again. The false death reports claim that The Deadman died of a neck injury while practicing a wrestling move with John Cena. The reports mirror those from 2006 and those from two years ago. In May 2006, fans heard false reports after someone edited Calaway’s Wikipedia page to list him as dead. The edit claimed that Calaway had died during a car crash, which of course, never even happened.
What we can confirm, however, is that Steve Keirn, president of WWE developmental promotion FCW, announced at Wednesday’s live event in Tampa, Florida that The Undertaker and Michelle McCool were expecting their first child. The “dead” rumour was actually a “dad” report. Taker was even at the event for an autograph signing. He’s been romantically linked to former WWE Diva Michelle McCool since 2007, whom he married on June 26, 2010, in Houston, Texas. Before Wednesday, their relationship had never been publicly acknowledged by WWE.
– Updating a previous item, WWE.com announced Monday that John Laurinaitis had resigned from his position as Senior Vice President of Talent Operations, effectively immediately. He will, however, remain with the company as a producer assisting talent with their matches. His resignation is legitimate, and not part of any storyline.
According to the Wrestling Observer, Laurinaitis had mentioned how exhausted he was with his workload, which consisted of office duties in Stamford, Connecticut and traveling to numerous events as a performer. The writing, however, was on the wall since he was quietly removed from the WWE Corporate website’s index of Executive Officers in April. Paul Levesque, Executive Vice President of Talent and Live Events, was reportedly never a “Big Johnny” booster and it was believed to be a matter of time before Jane Geddes, Vice President of Talent Relations, and Canyon Ceman, Senior Director of Talent Development, understood the WWE machine. With each element they learned, they assumed duties that belonged to Laurinaitis. Creative writer Michael Hayes had already replaced John Laurinaitis as matchmaker of live events and it said that he was taken out of the loop concerning developmental program matters.
The internal belief is that Laurinaitis will wind up back on television as a performer since most people are surprised that WWE has maintained his character’s firing. He is scheduled to appear at live events through at least September.
Laurinaitis was hired as a producer after WWE’s acquisition of certain assets of World Championship Wrestling in March 2001. When Jim Ross desired to move from Stamford, Connecticut to Norman, Oklahoma, he began grooming Laurinaitis to overtake his position as Vice President of Talent Relations. WWE chief Vince McMahon, however, made the switch without informing Ross first in 2004. Laurinatis was at one point one of the most powerful employees in the organization, and in 2009, was promoted to Executive Vice President of Talent Relations. However, when Stephanie McMahon took over Talent Relations and handed over the reins to Levesque, his power weakened and he was ultimately demoted.
The only person remaining in the talent relations department since last year, aside from employees working in travel, is Mark Carrano. Though WWE stated in their article that Laurinaitis was “burned out” from the position, multiple sources have stated that recent changes to the corporate infrastructure represent Levesque assuming control of certain sectors of the organization and re-shaping them to his liking. Despite his demotion, Laurinaitis chose to maintain employment because he bought an expensive Connecticut home and his family doesn’t want to move away from the area.
– According to the PWInsider, after AJ Lee was named General Manager of Raw last week on Raw 1,000, her first act in the position was to grant Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson a WWE Championship Match at the Royal Rumble. The angle, however, was nixed due to time constraints and Johnson announced that he would face whoever the WWE Champion is at the pay-per-view event. WWE plans to downplay Johnson’s upcoming title shot until after the Survivor Series on November 18 as to not draw attention away from any of the other shows they have to promote in the meantime. Officials also want Royal Rumble, which takes place in Phoenix, Arizona, to be sold out by November.
– Kelly Kelly is the cover girl for the Maxim 2013 calendar. She will be returning to the WWE ring next week after being granted time off the road in late May. She is scheduled to appear on the SmackDown brand’s tour of Japan beginning August 9 and will be returning full-time. Kelly, who had been on the road on a weekly basis since joining WWE in 2006, was reportedly granted a break to spend time with her family and boyfriend. She last competed on television on the May 21 Raw SuperShow, losing to Beth Phoenix.
– According to F4WOnline, WWE officials were impressed with Billy Gunn and his interactions with Shawn Michaels on Raw 1,000 and the belief is he’ll receive at least one match on a future televised show. Meanwhile, many backstage feel Sean “X-Pac” Waltman didn’t appear in great shape on the milestone episode so it is unlikely that he’ll be brought back for a match. Some people were surprised that with WWE’s TV-PG directive and Linda McMahon running for United States Senate, officials had no problem having Waltman appear on television despite his involvement with a sex tape years ago. Some people backstage were also joking about how friendly Gunn was with everyone considering that he challenged Triple H and Shawn Michaels to a “shoot” fight years ago.
– According to the PWInsider, MVP was among the WWE alumnus contacted to appear on Raw 1,000. WWE officials, however, ultimately changed their minds on bringing him and other former Superstars such as Steve Blackman, Tatanka and Viscera.
– On this week’s episode of MLW Radio presented by www.WWNLive.com, Konnan spoke about how much the culture has changed in the locker room since the 90s as well as past habits that later caused health issues.
“It was really hard [to stay clean] in the era I came in. It was like a party. The very first time I went to WWE for a dark match, Shawn Michaels was in the showers smoking a joint with Curt Hennig out in the open. There’s no way you could do that today. You used to have guys just shaking as they’d walk into a hotel. Just shaking from the somas and nobody really NARC’d on anybody.”
“I did have health issues from pain pills and anti-inflammatories and a whole bunch of other [stuff], but those are the two that really [messed] me up. A lot of vicodin.”
– Hollymood Entertainment issued a press release that they have taken the documentary 101 Reasons Not To Be A Pro Wrestler off YouTube and are hosting it exclusively at Sikk.tv, a new online video portal website. The documentary includes DDP, Chyna, Rikishi, Babi Slymm, Sean O’Haire, Psicosis, The Predator, Nozawa, Tylene Buck, New Jack, Vampiro, and Konnan among others talking about issues like drug abuse, the need for a union, Vince McMahon’s monopoly on the business and more.
– Former WWE Superstar “The Ugandan Giant” Kamala (real name James Harris) released a video message Tuesday condemning two wrestling-based organizations that are claiming to raise money to aid his health recovery, but are only benefiting themselves. Boston-based independent wrestling promotion Millenium Wrestling Federation has been offering a variety of merchandise to fans with a portion of the proceeds meant to assist Harris, who is struggling with complications from a double leg amputation. Harris says he has received nothing from the organization and specifically tells head Dan Mirade to take any money he may have raised on his behalf “to New Jersey and ram it up Dawn Marie’s ass.”
In response, Mirade issued a statement Wednesday verifying that a money order for the amount of $425.00 was issued last Friday. He also released the contents of an e-mail to Karl Lauer, Executive Vice President of Cauliflower Alley Club, Tuesday that showed the money order had been received and was on its way to Harris. Mirade is requesting an apology from Harris after he “made the video knowing full well money was sent to him.” Mirade says Millenium Wrestling Federation plans to continue raising money for the former WWE Superstar on their August 19 and September 22 events and will assist him in getting the prosthetic right leg that his insurance company has refused to pay for.
Mirade also slams Harris in his lengthy response, which is available here: “SHAME ON YOU JAMES HARRIS. . . shame on you for not opening your eyes to see that you had people that cared enough to help you when almost NONE of your peers cared enough to hit a re-Tweet button. . . shame on you for trying to run my name and the MWF’s through the mud because you didn’t get your precious check as fast as you wanted to, waking people up at 6AM whining not even 48 hours after the event was over. Shame on you for hiding like a coward after the money was sent to you and trying to prevent people from seeing the truth. I don’t care if you were a WWE Superstar or a homeless person, you should be ashamed of yourself as a man. When I wake up and look in the mirror, I know the face looking back at me is one that cared and is one that did everything he could to help someone that needed it. The face staring back at me has character and integrity. HOW DARE YOU INSULT AND ATTACK ME AFTER ALL I DID FOR YOU, YOU GUTLESS PUSSY!! Grow a spine and be a man. Be grateful someone wanted and tried to help you, not piss on their efforts. What runs through James Harris’ mind would be a psychiatrist’s dream come true. Then again, I’m the guy that’s been working on this column for four hours.”
Wrestler’s Rescue, which was founded by Dawn Marie in 2008, has been a subject of scandal with rumors of embezzlement of funds by the former WWE Diva star. The group was the subject of multiple articles two years ago that questioned the validity of the charity. Harris says he has received nothing from Wrestler’s Rescue or Dawn Marie and 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 says Dawn Marie claimed to have made a donation to “Dr. Death” Steve Williams after he passed away in December 2009, but offered no proof. Wrestler’s Rescue received a donation from TNA Wrestling star Jeff Jarrett in the form of an autographed guitar that was to be auctioned off on their website, WrestlersRescue.org. The website, however, has been offline for weeks as it was suspended by its web host—likely due to unpaid server bills. Dawn Marie has offered no response to Harris’ claims.
– The Flyers have signed head coach Peter Laviolette to a multi-year contract extension. Laviolette was named head coach on December 4, 2009. Since joining the club, Laviolette has posted a regular season record of 122-73-26, including back-to-back 47-win seasons. He led the club to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010.
– According to RDS, the Canadiens have offered D P.K. Subban a 2-year/$5.5M contract. The two sides are reportedly still far apart in contract negotiations, as Subban is seeking a long-term deal. Subban’s representatives denied the report to Quebec sports network TVA Sports and maintained that nothing was imminent. “I don’t see anything being done in the short term,” Subban’s Newport agent Mark Guy told TVA Sports on Wednesday afternoon. “These deals are difficult and take time.” Subban made $875K last season, his third in the pros as part of his entry-level deal. He had seven goals and 29 assists in 81 games.
– Paulina Gretzky, 23, recently did a photo shoot for Complex Magazine, in which she discussed her career and her Twitter and Instagram pictures.
“I know attention is part of the career I’ve chosen, but I wish I was presented in a different light. The rumor that my dad made me shut down my Twitter account is completely false. I want people to see that I’m intelligent. I’m not a bimbo”
“I have an 8-year-old sister. The only thing I want to do is be a role model. I’m not trying to say, “You should follow me, all you girls,” but I want my little sister to respect me and see how much I’ve accomplished. It’s hurtful when this older generation of people that doesn’t really understand me or take the time to get to know me trashes me.”
“I did it to myself that time. I always think I should dress like myself and represent who I am, but I had something in the back of my head telling me that maybe it was not a good idea to wear that outfit to dinner that night. Of course, the next day TMZ said that I was going to nightclubs in lingerie. I wasn’t. I was at a restaurant eating dinner with friends. That’s my biggest problem with it, that people are lying about what I’m doing. But I should have been more aware. I understand that. I just never had to censor myself before.”
– UFA F Shane Doan reportedly met with the Canucks Tuesday evening. The Nucks, Coyotes, Flyers, Penguins, Rangers and Canadiens have all been linked to Doan, although he still remains likely to re-sign with Phoenix.
– The Lightning have signed D Dmitry Korobov to a 2-year/2-way contract. The 23-year-old played for Minsk Dynamo of the KHL last season. He had one goal and 11 points in 39 games and led the team with a plus-12. He was also fifth among Minsk defensemen in average ice time with 18:52 per game.
– Canucks’ F Manny Malhotra will march in the Vancouver 2012 pride parade on Sunday. Malhotra will be joined by Flyers’ scout Patrick Burke, and march with players from the Vancouver Cutting Edges, billed as the only gay hockey club in Western Canada. Malholtra is the third professional hockey player to participate in Pride events this year under the You Can Play banner. ”It’s paramount that equality in sport, and beyond, becomes the norm. Everybody has the right to play the game they love. I am excited to share this message of equality and show my support this Sunday.”
– American Michael Phelps was a gold medal on Tuesday–his 19th Olympic medal–becoming the most decorated athlete in Olympic history.
– Tom Robinson, a farmer in Staffordshire England, paid tribute Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt by carving a picture of the world’s fastest man into his 15-acre corn crop. Check it out:
– Dr. William Bell, 90, attempts to pole vault over a bar set at 7’2″. Check out this incredible video:
– Rockies’ SS Troy Tulowitzki (groin surgery) took batting practice on the field Tuesday for the first time since undergoing surgery on June 21. ”I have been hitting in the cage and I knew I would be all right based on how it was coming off the bat in the cage. The power was still there. I knew that my game wasn’t going to change. It’s nice to take it out onto the field. It’s always nice to get back to doing what you love. At the same time. It’s been a tough year.” Tulo has also begun taking short-hop ground balls thrown to him by the training staff and will gradually increase the intensity by testing his lateral movement. There’s no clear timetable for his return. Trainer Keith Dugger said that he is “very encouraged” by what he has seen until now.
– Red Sox’ DH David Ortiz (right Achilles) says he no longer feels pain. ”I feel better today than days before. Hopefully, I will continue feeling better every day. We’ll see if I can go back into the fire…I haven’t done anything outside yet. I’ll do things outside probably in the next two or three days. The doctor checked me out every day, and he found less tendinitis on my Achilles [today], so that’s good.” There remains no timetable for his return.
– Rangers’ RHP Neftali Feliz (torn right UCL) had Tommy John surgery Wednesday. Feliz will likely be sidelined until late in the 2013 season. He posted a 3.16 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and struck out 37 batters in 42 2/3 innings this year.
– The Braves have placed RHP Jair Jurrjens (strained groin) on the 15-day DL. Jurrjens was recently demoted to the bullpen after allowing 14 runs in his previous two starts.
– Nationals’ OF Jayson Werth (wrist surgery) is expected to return Friday. Werth is finishing up a rehab assignment Wednesday with High-A Potomac. He’ll be activated in time for this weekend’s four-game series against the Marlins after missing nearly two months.
– MLB has suspended Reds’ C Devin Mesoraco three games for bumping umpire Chad Fairchild during Monday’s game. Mesoraco argued balls and strikes before getting ejected and then poked at Fairchild’s chest protector and bumped him before leaving the field.
– Marlins’ OF Giancarlo Stanton (right knee surgery) is expected to return to the Marlins’ active roster next Tuesday. Stanton will begin playing in minor league rehab games on Thursday with High-A Jupiter. Barring setbacks, he should be activated in time for the Marlins’ series-opener next Tuesday night against the Mets. He’s been out since July 8.
– The Rays hav released DH Hideki Matsui. The 38-year-old was designated for assignment by the Rays last week after batting just .147 (14-for-95) with two homers and a .435 OPS in 34 games played.
– According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Rockies will announce on Wednesday that they are restructuring their front office responsibilities. GM Dan O’Dowd will keep his title, but his role will change–he’ll focus more on the minor leagues and player development, while assistant GM Bill Geivett will have expanded day-to-day duties with the major league team. O’Dowd, who has been the GM since September of 1999, will still oversee baseball operations and remain involved in player acquisitions.
– Jets’ QB Tim Tebow recently jogged through practice in the rain without a shirt on. For some reason, this qualified as news.
“I mean, I can’t tell you how many times probably in Florida or Denver after practice I would do sprints back and forth with that and jog off the field and never think about it again. And it would never get reported and now it does. Didn’t really think y’all would would be filming it and taking pictures.”
“But also just what I do, how I do it, try to be the same person all the time, try to be someone that’s authentic and genuine and real and not someone that does one thing in front of the cameras or be someone different around my teammates. … I don’t want to change based on what anyone writes on me.”
– After revealing that he has “a little torn rotator cuff” in his right arm, Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger insisted Tuesday evening that his shoulder is “fine.” Big Ben is one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league, but loves playing the drama queen role with the media. Roethlisberger suffered the injury early last November, and said it never really hindered his ability to throw the ball.
– Ravens’ S Ed Reed said he wants to continue to play for the team beyond 2012. ”I know [GM] Ozzie [Newsome] and them know I want to be here. We will get that done when it’s time to cross that bridge. I have a lot of respect for this organization … And I know they have respect for me.” Although Reed does not have an agent, he said contract talks with the Ravens have “already been there.” He becomes a free agent at season’s end.
– Chiefs’ RB Jamaal Charles (torn ACL) says he feels like he got his “mojo back” after missing all but two games last season. ”I feel good. I feel like I got my mojo back. I feel happy. I feel comfortable out there, and I’m ready to go. My legs feel fresh.” Charles says he’s able to make cuts as he normally would on the reconstructed knee, and did so a few times “on zone plays.”
– According to PFT, there has been no real progress on a contract between the Jaguars and No. 5 overall pick WR Justin Blackmon. The Jaguars are believed to be asking for character protections following Blackmon’s DUI after the draft. He’s now missed seven days of training camp, and head coach Mike Mularkey says he’ll be behind when he does report. Blackmon is the only unsigned 1st-round pick.
– ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that doctors who’ve examined Giants’ RCB Terrell Thomas (ACL) do not believe Thomas’ ACL is torn, and are optimistic he will play this season. Early reports indicated a torn ACL that would require surgery. Per Schefter, Thomas will go to Pensacola on Tuesday for an examination from Dr. James Andrews. Right now, it appears Thomas will avoid a third and possible career-threating ACL tear.
– According to Celtics’ head coach Doc Rivers, G Ray Allen signed with the Heat because of friction with G Rajon Rondo.
“I’m the guy who gave Rondo the ball. I’m the guy who decided that Rondo needed to be more of the leader of the team. That doesn’t mean guys liked that – and Ray did not love that – because Rondo now had the ball all the time.”
“Think about everything [Allen] said when he left, ‘I want to be more of a part of the offense.’ Everything was back at Rondo. And I look at that, and say, ‘That’s not Rondo’s fault.’ That’s what I wanted Rondo to do, and that’s what Rondo should’ve done. Because that’s Rondo’s ability. He’s the best passer in the league. He has the best feel in the league. He’s not a great shooter, so he needs the ball in his hands to be effective. And that bothered Ray.”
“And not starting [games] bothered Ray. I did examine it, and the conclusion I came back to was this: By doing the right things, we may have lost Ray. If I hadn’t done that, I would’ve been a hypocrite. In the opening speech I make every year, I tell the team: ‘Every decision I make is going to be what’s good for the team, and it may not be what’s good for the individual.’ ”
– Lakers’ F Andrew Bynum’s agent has shot down reports that the Bynum camp and GM Mitch Kupchak had begun discussions about an extension last week. ”[The discussion] was cordial and it was productive, but it had nothing to do with an extension.” According to figures provided by independent collective bargaining agreement expert Larry Coon, Bynum could add 3-years/$57.1M to his existing contract if he signed an extension. If Bynum re-signed after next season, he could command a maximum 5-year/$101.9M deal. Bynum is expected to play out this season and look to re-sign the $100M+ extension at season’s end. Stay tuned.
– Wizards’ G John Wall told the Washington Post “I want to be the savior” when asked about his future with the team. ”You wanna do it all. You wanna be an All-Star. You wanna be one of the top five best point guards. You wanna make the playoffs, and get this city back to where they know they can be. When you have the playoffs, I heard how crazy it could be when everybody is wearing all white. That’s what I want to get to. I want to be the savior.” Wall averaged 16.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 1.4 steals on 42.3% shooting last season.
– Celtics’ G Avery Bradley (dual shoulder surgeries) is expected to return in December. There was a chance Avery would be ready for training camp, but it doesn’t appear to be all that realistic anymore.
– The Celtics have signed free agent F Jason Collins and re-signed G Keyon Dooling. Collins, an 11-year veteran, has averaged 3.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 12.3 minutes in his career with New Jersey, Memphis, Minnesota and Atlanta. With the Hawks last season, he averaged 1.3 points and 1.6 rebounds in 10.3 minutes. Dooling, a 12-year veteran, averaged 4.0 points and 1.1 assists in 14.4 minutes last season, his first with Boston.
– The Knicks have signed G Chris Smith, the younger brother of G J.R. Smith. Chris averaged 9.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in two seasons at Louisville.
– The Suns have signed F P.J. Tucker to a 2-year contract. Tucker played the last five seasons internationally, with stops in Puerto Rico, Greece, Israel and Germany. Tucker was a second-round draft pick of the Toronto Raptors out of Texas in 2004, the 35th selection overall.
– Wisconsin’ senior RB Montee Ball was attacked by five men at around 2:15 A.M. last night while on campus, and police are investigating the incident as an “unprovoked assault.” The five men allegedly kicked Ball, who was taken to the hospital with head injuries. He is reportedly already out of the hospital and head coach Brett Bielema said he expects Ball to make a full recovery.
– Juventus coach Antonio Conte is facing a 15-month ban after being denied a plea bargain for his involvement in an Italian match-fixing scandal. Conte’s offer of a three-month ban was rejected by an Italian football federation tribunal on Wednesday, and he was told on Thursday that the court will not accept any plea bargain. Prosecutor Stefano Palazzi is asking for a 15-month ban for Conte. Conte, who led Juventus to the Serie A title last season, is accused of failing to report match-fixing in two games during the 2010-11 season when he was coach of then-Serie B team Siena. Siena will start the upcoming Serie A season with a six-point penalty after its second plea bargain was accepted on Wednesday.
– Manchester United has agreed a 7-year shirt sponsorship deal with American car company Chevrolet, which will begin at the start of the 2014-15 season. United’s commercial director Richard Arnold says it is a “fantastic, long-term deal for the club” and that Chevrolet “enjoyed the buzz generated by our fanatical support and the sell-out crowds in South Africa, China and Europe” where the club travelled on a pre-season tour. The current United shirt sponsor, Aon, has another two seasons to run with the 19-time league champion in a deal that began in the 2010-11 season. Last week, Chevrolet was announced as the official club car sponsor of Premier League rival Liverpool and the company also sponsored the club’s tour of North America.
– NASCAR has approved all four automakers’ new Sprint Cup Series race car designs for next season. Series officials announced Monday that the new Chevrolet SS, Dodge Charger, Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry designs have met the necessary targets for approval based on final aerodynamic tests July 18. Manufacturers can begin making parts and pieces for the new models, which will make their racing debut at Daytona International Speedway next February. The new cars will bring a significantly different look next season as they are designed to look more like their passenger car counterparts.
– Toronto FC has signed Bermudian GK Freddy Hall. Hall, 27, has played four times for Bermuda on the international level. He was on trial with Toronto for the last three weeks.
– The Whitecaps have acquired CB Andy O’Brien from Leeds United of the English League Championship.
– Chivas USA has acquired MF Shalrie Joseph from the New England Revolution for MF Blair Gavin, a 2nd-round 2013 SuperDraft pick and undisclosed allocation money. The 34-year-old Joseph, a former college star at St. John’s in New York, has a goal and three assists in 18 games this season. He had 37 goals and 34 assists in nine seasons with New England. Gavin had an assist in nine games for Chivas USA this year. He helped Akron win the 2009 NCAA championship.
– The Red Bulls have traded MF Mehdi Ballouchy to the Earthquakes and an international spot and a conditional draft pick next season. Ballouchy had appeared in 16 games with the Red Bulls this season, making 10 starts while scoring a goal and adding two assists. He played in 51 games with New York after being acquired from Colorado in September 2010.