WWE Returning to Attitude Era?, Jonathan Toews’ Girlfriend

WWE

– According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE referee-turned-wrestler Brad Maddox is considered Triple H’s latest project. Maddox was not seen as having major potential while training as a wrestler at WWE developmental, but there’s a strong chance he’ll win his match with Ryback on RAW and earn his contract.

– In response to fans hoping to see the end of WWE’s PG era now that Linda McMahon lost her Senate campaign, WWE Champion CM Punk tweeted the following message:

Enough about the PG era and Linda. Nothing to do with one another. Stop living in the last. Eyes front, one foot in front of the other…

– John “Bradshaw” Layfield announced Wednesday on Facebook that he has signed a contract with WWE to appear as a commentator on a full-time basis. He had been sporadically filling in as color commentator after Jerry “The King” Lawler suffered a heart attack during the Raw episode preceding Night of Champions. He is now the commentator for SmackDown with Josh Mathews, replacing Michael Cole. He wrote,

“Very happy WWE and I have worked out a deal for me to return on a full time basis. There came a need when my friend Jerry Lawler had a heart attack and was not able to work, however, I realized how much I enjoyed being back and this was the basis for my decision to return.

“I now just enjoy doing commentary, and no, have no desire to ever be in the ring again. I am in the best shape I have probably ever been in due to the mountain training, but a twisted knee, ankle or back and I lose my dream of the Seven Summits-not worth the risk to me and I had my time and I loved it. Commentary is where I want to be.

“I will doing Smackdown with Josh Matthews. I have filled in on Main Event some but mainly when Miz has a large part in the show and can’t do commentary.

“Raw is 100% Jerry’s. He and Michael are a great team, I enjoy listening to Jerry and there are no plans for a three man booth with me in it. I am happy on Smackdown.

“It looks like I will be doing PPVs as a representative for the Smackdown brand as part of a three man booth with Cole and King.

“I cannot say enough how impressed I am with Michael Cole, there is so much more to the commentary game now and he is the best I have seen. Josh prepares well and we don’t have the sync that Michael and I have yet, but we will get there. Josh is fun to work with, I love when I get him so frustrated he throws his hands up in the air not knowing what I will say next. Michael and I had a year of commentary behind us already when I returned, Josh and I have only been doing it for a short time.

“I don’t know where Josh buys those horrible sweaters and gets that spiky haircut though.

“And yes, I do have fun ribbing my old boss and Okie friend JR. It’s all in good fun.”

Cole tweeted the following message about JBL returning to WWE full time as an announcer:

Congrats to @JCLayfield for his return! Look forward to the sparring. Surprised you could drag yourself off golf course!

He also wrote this about Jerry Lawler’s upcoming return to WWE on Monday night:

4 days and counting to the return of @JerryLawler and I can’t wait! All is right in the world again. #LongLiveTheKing

– After recovering from his heart attack in September, WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler returns to the Raw announce table this Monday at 8/7 CT on USA Network. The legendary grappler addressed his return in a Twitter message Wednesday.

“Really excited about returning to Raw this Monday night in Columbus, Ohio!! I’ve missed everyone!”

– Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has secured the lead role for Hercules, reports Deadline.com. Production on the film is scheduled to begin in “early 2013,” which could coincide with Johnson’s involvement with WWE in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania 29. The Brett Ratner-directed action film will be co-produced by Paramount and MGM. The screenplay is based on Radical Studios’ graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars.

– WWE superstar/executive Triple H spoke to the New York Post this week to promote Wrestlemania 29 tickets going on sale this Saturday. Here are some highlights of what The Game said about:

WWE Making Changes To The AXXESS Fan Fest: “Wrestlemania isn’t just a one-night event, it’s a week-long event. All of the things that we’ll do in the New York-New Jersey area, we’ll have events on both sides of the Hudson. From Wrestlemania Axxess, which is our fan event that goes on all week, which is going to be revamped this year with a lot more meet-and-greets and autograph signings with our superstars, which is the biggest part of it. There’s also going to be a VIP experience that allows fans unprecedented access to backstage and the inner workings of what happens on a Monday Night Raw or Pay-Per-View event. That’s going to be a really unique experience. From that taking place at Izod Center to Hall of Fame being at Madison Square Garden, to Raw the next night being back at the Izod Center, to Wrestlemania itself, there is going to be stuff that happens all week long. We come in and take over the whole area.”

Getting Another Shot At Undertaker’s Streak: “[Laughs] It’s New York, it’s Wrestlemania, there’s going to be 70,000 people going crazy in MetLife stadium, it’s going to be tough for me not to want to be involved in that.”

The CM Punk vs. Steve Austin Dream Match: “One thing I have learned in the WWE is never say never. I’d be surprised if Austin ever threw the trunks on again. You get to a certain point in your life where your mind thinks you can do a lot of things that you maybe can’t. I’d be surprised but I’ve learned in this business to never say never so you never know. I guarantee you CM Punk will be involved in Wrestlemania somehow. That’s one of the interesting things, The Rock came out earlier this year and guaranteed that at some point in time he would be the WWE Champion and it was his mission. Well it’s not 1999 anymore, it’s not 2002, it’s a different year and there’s a different group of guys. CM Punk has had a lock on that thing for a while and it’s no cakewalk for The Rock. It’s not like he’s going to walk back in here and take over. It’s going to be interesting to see.”

Of note, Triple H said, “Brock Lesnar has been discussing his return being at WrestleMania” and he also mentioned Bruno Sammartino’s history at Madison Square Garden when talking about the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony taking place from the famous arena.

– Here are some injury updates on the following WWE Superstars, courtesy of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter:

Mark Henry (shoulder surgery) is expected to be back before the end of the year.

Christian (shoulder surgery) is expected back in late-November or December.

Hunico (torn ACL) is scheduled to return by late-January.

Evan Bourne (arm/foot surgery) is scheduled to return in early Spring.

– According to the PWInsider, early in-store sales for WWE ’13 have been strong, especially with 20% of of retail stores closed last week due to Hurricane Sandy. As previously reported, pre-orders for the game were also very strong.

– The Miami Herald has published the latest part of its recent interview with WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross. Here are some highlights of what Ross said about:

Jerry Lawler’s WWE Return: “Jerry’s cardiologist and our doctors are not going to allow Jerry to come to work and start traveling again until they’re 100 percent sure he’s ready to roll, because travel does take a lot out of you .. I speak to him, and when we don’t talk, we text about everyday or two,” Ross said. “He is doing great. He’s feeling great. He’s the luckiest man in the world, quite frankly. I don’t know where else he could have been, unless he was actually sitting in a doctor’s office, when that heart attack occurred, that he would be alive today.Calling The

Undertaker vs. Triple H WM28 Match: “That was a big honor for me — one of those bucket list type matches — especially when I hadn’t been that busy up to that point. I always enjoy going to WrestleMania, and that was a big added bonus for me.”

“Vince McMahon was the reason I called the Hell in a Cell match [at WrestleMania 28], and for that I’ll always be indebted because, to me, I don’t think we’ll ever see. Now I may be wrong, but it’s my personal opinion; I don’t think we’ll ever see Undertaker, Triple H, Shawn Michaels in a ring in their gear ever again together. So for me to be able to do a little bit of commentary on that match for that reason was extremely gratifying.”

– WWE Executive Vice President of Creative Stephanie McMahon was a special guest speaker Wednesday at the The SportsBusiness Journal’s 2012 Covington & Burling Sports Media & Technology Conference in Times Square in New York City and was asked whether she has plans to follow in her mother’s footsteps and run for office. She simply replied “No.” McMahon addressed the status of the WWE Network during the conference, noting, “Right now we’re looking at a pay subscription model, not unlike HBO.” She also singled out as Ryback as the WWE Superstar to “watch out for.”

– WWE Superstars Wade Barrett and William Regal spoke to DigitalSpy.com to promote WWE’s ongoing UK tour. Here are some highlights of what they said about:

Is it harder to get the big chances and big title bouts as an Englishman?

Regal: “I don’t think it’s any harder than for anyone else once you get yourself over there. Getting over there is the hard thing. If you’ve got the talent it’ll shine through. I went over there when there was no-one there. It was difficult. But I think it helps if anything, just to be English, just to be a bit different. It definitely helped me. I was the only English character at the time. Obviously there was the Bulldog, but he was his own entity – he was a completely different thing away from what I was doing. It gave me a bit of a boost really.”

Barrett: “I think increasingly WWE is a global company – as much as they can they want to push out into new markets like Europe. I think it’s definitely been a help in a sense that I’m English. But again it’s ultimately down to talent. Being English helped me get a foot in the door, but ultimately it’s down to my talent and hard work in trying to get to that top level.”

What would you love to do or see at WrestleMania XXX in 2014?

Barrett: “Personally I’d love to be in one of the title matches. Obviously we’ve got two main titles in WWE – the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Title. We’ve never had an English winner of those. In my opinion we should have had the British Bulldog as World Champion. Mr Regal next to me should have been a World Champion. It has never quite never happened for Mr Regal yet, although it still could.”

Regal: “Don’t hold your breath.”

Barrett: “I’d love to be the first English World Champion. When you look at the history of English professional wrestling and all the things that have gone on in the past, going back decades, it’s incredible we’ve never had a recognized World Champion here. I think that needs to change and obviously I’d love to be the first one.”

Regal: “I’m just happy being there at WrestleMania. I’ve never had a big role at any WrestleMania, but I’ve been at 11-odd. Just to be there is special. The week beforehand and all the promotions and stuff. I don’t really think about the big events, being in them any more. I’m 44, so it’s my autumn years of my career, so I’m just happy to be there to be honest. What I’d like to see? It’d be nice to see Wade and Sheamus in a main event. It’d be nice to see Daniel Bryan in a main event, just because of the time I’ve spent with him in the last 12 years.”

What is it that people have always loved about the WWE?

Regal: “People from the beginning of time have always loved to watch two people in competition with each other. You go back to the gladiatorial shows, there’s just something about it. You can go into a village in the world where they’ve never seen wrestlers, two young boys will be rolling around in headlocks. It’s just a natural thing to do and to watch and that basically captures people’s imaginations. A lot of the time they can’t do it themselves but they like to see other people doing it. If it’s packaged in the right way they’ll come to watch… there’s just something about the whole spectacle.”

Barrett: “For me personally, when I was 10 years old, I remember watching it and just being attracted to the fact that these were real-life cartoon characters. It sounds a bit of a cliché to say it. I think it was only when I was about 19 years old when I read a book by Mick Foley, his first book Have a Nice Day, and it kind of deconstructed the whole story of pro-wrestling to me – what happens behind the scenes.

“It was only at that age that it kind of clicked for me that these were real-life human beings who grew up with regular families, who came up and decided they wanted to do that. That was really the trigger for me to decide that I wanted to do that too. When I was a kid it was just like watching a real-life cartoon with these crazy characters and that’s what drew me in at first. The longer I stuck with it the more aspects of it I discovered and the more I liked, and I ended up here.”

– According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE officials have been meeting with representatives from several major stadiums (75,000+) in the UK about holding a major show there. WWE recently met with representatives from a stadium in London as well as Manchester’s Old Trafford soccer stadium. On Friday, WWE will meet with officials from the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

– According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE Champion CM Punk has apparently made a deal to appear on a very popular television show. Punk appeared on Colt Cabana’s Art Of Wrestling podcast last week and said that he can’t reveal which show he’ll be appearing on for a few weeks and still has to clear it with WWE, but thinks WWE would have selected another superstar for the acting gig if it had gone through them originally.

– Former WWE diva Kharma is returning to the ring for the first time since parting ways with the company. Wrestling as the Amazing Kong, she’ll be appearing at the NWA Florida Underground event on 11/17 from St. Petersburg, Florida. She’ll be teaming with Jazz against the team of Allisin Kay and Taylor Made.

– WWE Main Event has been averaging around 1.46 million viewers and a 0.9 rating since its premiere on Ion, which is better than TNA Impact Wrestling draws on Spike TV.

– Tuesday’s SuperSmackDown LIVE broadcast on Syfy averaged 2.202 million viewers over the course of two hours, according to TVByTheNumbers.Zap2It.com. This is significantly down from WWE’s last advertised as live SmackDown broadcast in July, which drew approximately 3.2 million viewers. The figure is also down from last Friday’s taped broadcast, which drew 2.878 million viewers.

– Chris Mordetzky (aka Chris Masters) feels the McMahon family needs to step away from competitive politics after former WWE CEO and President Linda McMahon spent upwards of $100M on two failed U.S. Senate campaigns. He tweeted Tuesday upon learning of McMahon’s loss to Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy for a Senate seat in Connecticut, “100million dollars later its time for the McMahons to quit politics.”

– Ticket sales for WWE’s current tour of the UK have been disappointing. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that none of the shows are selling out and ticket prices are being slashed to help fill the arenas.

– Ted DiBiase, who turns 30-years-old today, tweeted, “Thanks everyone for the Birthday Wishes!! Hope to see everyone here in Europe with us at WrestleMania 29!! Tickets on sale Saturday!! Get’m.”

MLB

– Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman insisted Wednesday that Alex Rodriguez will not be traded this winter. ”I’ve already been on record right after the postseason, we’re not trading Alex. So hopefully the Alex stuff stops. I’m reiterating, we’re not trading Alex Rodriguez. I’ve talked to every team in baseball, I have not offered Alex in any trade, and you’ll be able to confirm that with them.” A-Rod, who posted a career-worst .783 OPS in 2012, still has 5-years/$114M remaining on his contract.

– Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Mariners “look like a possible new entry in the OF Josh Hamilton sweepstakes.” They join the Orioles, Rangers and Brewers. Heyman also lists the Braves and Pirates as potential landing spots.

Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes that the Orioles are highly unlikely to sign Hamilton. ”Here’s what you need to know. Hamilton’s stats and position are a definite fit for the Orioles. The money Hamilton likely will command and the baggage that goes with him is not.”

– Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Rangers are unwilling to trade either SS Elvis Andrus or SS Jurickson Profar for D’Backs’ OF Justin Upton. Heyman writes that the trade is “very unlikely.” ‘Zona is in the market for a shortstop, while Texas is looking for an outfielder to potentially replace OF Josh Hamilton. Meanwhile, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Red Sox are no longer pursuing a trade for Upton. Nightengale writes the D’Backs want a third baseman or shortstop.

– According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Mets are “showing little interest” in signing RHP R.A. Dickey to an extension and are now discussing him in trades. Newsday’s Marc Carig reported Wednesday that the two sides were making progress toward a multi-year deal, but talks have apparently fallen apart. Dickey, 38, posted a 2.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 230/54 K/BB ratio in 233 2/3 innings this past season for the Mets and is owed just $5M in 2013.

– The Blue Jays have signed INF Maicer Izturis to a 3-year/$9M contract with a $3M club option for 2016 (or a $1M buyout). Izturis, 32, batted just .256/.320/.315 with two home runs and 20 RBI in 319 plate appearances this past season for the Angels, but will provide good infield depth.

– According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Red Sox have free agent C Mike Napoli on their “radar,” as well as 1B Adam LaRoche. Either man would become Boston’s starting first baseman if signed. Napoli has a .931 OPS, 54 home runs and 131 RBI in 221 games since the start of the 2011 season. The Rangers are also known to have interest in LaRoche.

– Joel Sherman of the NY Post reports that the Yankees will only offer OF Torii Hunter a 1-year deal. The Yankees are trying to get their payroll under the $189M luxury tax threshold for the 2014 season. Hunter is reportedly seeking a 2-year/$20M contract.

– According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, reliever Joakim Soria is seeking a multi-year contract. Soria is recovering from Tommy John surgery and may be sidelined until May or June, making a multi-year contract unlikely. Rosenthal suggests that on a 1-year deal, Soria could re-sign with KC. Soria’s agent says his client would be willing to pitch as a setup man for the Yankees, but would want to be a closer anywhere else.

– Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny said Thursday that LHP Jaime Garcia (shoulder) is “on the right track.” ”I anticipate we’ll have him right in the middle of the 2013 rotation.” Garcia struggled with his health all season, but the club is optimistic he can get back to 100% by the start of spring training.

– Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News hears that five team, including the Rangers and Mariners, have “serious interest” in OF Nick Swisher. Feinsand also notes that Swisher will decline the Yankees’ $13.3M qualifying offer. The 32-year-old has had an OPS of at least .822 in all four of his seasons with the Yankees and will draw lots of interest league-wide.

– FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Red Sox have “reached out” to free agent RHP Hiroki Kuroda. The Dodgers have also been linked to Kuroda, while the Yankees are expected to try and re-sign him. The 37-year-old is believed to be asking for a 1-year contract so he can return to Japan. Kuroda posted a 3.32 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 167/51 K/BB ratio in 219 2/3 innings this past season for New York.

– According to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox have their eyes on RHP Anibal Sanchez. The 28-year-old posted a 3.86 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 167/48 K/BB ratio in 195 2/3 innings this season between the Marlins and Tigers. The Dodgers also reportedly have interest.

– FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Red Sox have interest in OF Shin-Soo Choo and RHP Justin Masterson. Choo, 30, batted .284/.373/.441 with 16 home runs and 67 RBI in 155 games this year for Cleveland. Masterson, 27, began his career with the Red Sox in 2008.

– Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Cubs were among the teams that submitted a bid for Korean LHP Ryu Hyun-Jin. Teams had until 5 p.m. ET on Thursday to submit a bid for the 25-year-old. The Hanwha Eagles will have four days to decide whether or not to accept the top bid, and, assuming they do, that team will have 30 days to sign him. Hyun-Jin is represented by Scott Boras.

– According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Rockies have hired former infielder Walt Weiss as manager. He beats out fellow finalists Matt Williams, Tom Runnells and Jason Giambi. Weiss was a special assistant to GM Dan O’Dowd before taking the varsity baseball coach job at Denver’s Regis Jesuit High School in early 2012. He also spent four of his 14 major league seasons as a player for the Rockies. Weiss,t he sixth manager in Colorado history, inherits a team that has lost 187 games over the last two seasons.

– Tino Martinez has been hired as the Marlins’ hitting coach. Martinez, a first baseman in the majors for 16 years, has been a Yankees’ special assistant and worked an analyst for the YES Network. Martinez had a career average of .271 with 339 home runs for the Yankees, Mariners, Cardinals and Rays.

NFL

– Jaguars’ RB Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) told NFL Network’s Alex Flanagan on Thursday night that he believes he’s “about 2 weeks away” from game action. Flanagan described MJD’s injury as a “sprained foot.” He won’t resume running until next week, so his timetable may be unrealistic.

NHL

– The NHL and NHL Players’ Association will meet for a fourth straight day in an attempt to salvage a shortened season. Thursday’s talks were held at the offices of a midtown Manhattan law firm. So far, the sides have had little to say publicly about how the discussions have gone.  The Players’ Association tabled offers Wednesday night regarding revenue sharing and the league’s “make whole” provision, which is designed to ensure all existing contracts are honoured in full. The “make whole” proposal would see the players’ share drop to 50-50 of revenues by year three based on “regular” growth. The union views that as a concession of more than US$1 billion because that’s how much more players would earn if it remained at the current level of 57%. The league was expected to respond to the players’ offer on Thursday.

– Blackhawks’ F Jonathan Toews is reportedly dating model Lindsey Vecchione. Enjoy:

– Check out this insane hit by Michigan defenseman Jacob Trouba on Northern Michigan University sophomore F Reed Seckel:

Trouba, of course, is no stranger to big hits:

– Dynamo Moscow president Arkady Rotenberg wants to keep Capitals’ F Alex Ovechkin with the team even if a new NHL CBA is agreed upon. He told R-Sport, ”Is there the desire to retain Alexander Ovechkin at Dynamo after the NHL lockout? Dynamo has such thoughts. I heard that there are those thoughts too at the Army Sports Club in St. Petersburg.” Rotenberg also spoke about Devils’ F Ilya Kovalchuk, saying, “So we are looking in that direction, we’ll see whether it’ll work out.”

– Rangers’ G Henrik Lundqvist told the NY Post that he isn’t any closer to joining Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League. The league still has a ban on allowing its clubs to sign locked-out NHL players to contracts with escape clauses. “Nothing has changed. I’m not going to play for Frolunda unless things change. Just trying to stay ready in case things change overseas. The longer I have to wait, obviously the more I want to join my brother [Joel] on Frolunda, but right now I’m sitting tight. I really hope we can find a solution with the NHL now. I’m so disappointed it has gone this far.”

– Ducks’ F Bobby Ryan expressed his desire to get a new CBA signed. He told the Orange County Register, “We can’t afford to lose the year. Because the sport can’t. Guys can’t. There’s guys that are 36 and 37 years old. Teemu’s 42. This has got to be painful for them. I know how bad it is at 25. I hope we get things done in a short period of time. I hope everything comes together this week. It’d be great.”

– Rangers’ F Carl Hagelin (shoulder) has reportedly returned to New York for rehab. Hagelin was hurt while playing for Sodertalje in Sweden’s second-tier league. The severity is unknown, but it’s not expected that he’ll require surgery.

– Blackhawks’ D Niklas Hjalmarsson has agreed to play with HC Bolzano in Italy. He scheduled to join the team on Friday.

NBA

– Mehmet Okur, 33, announced his retirement from professional basketball Thursday according to various reports. The Salt Lake City Tribune reported that injuries were the primary reason for his decision. Back problems had limited Okur to just 30 games over the previous two seasons. Okur spent seven of his 10 NBA seasons with the Utah Jazz and was named a Western Conference All-Star during the 2006-07 season. He averaged 17.6 points and 7.2 rebounds that campaign, one year after setting career-best averages of 18.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game with Utah.

– Warriors’ F Andrew Bogut (ankle) has been shut down for the next 7-10 days. Bogut reportedly requested the time off to get back to full strength, and has not suffered a setback.

– The NBA has suspended Kings’ F Thomas Robinson for two games for elbowing Pistons’ F Jonas Jerebko in the neck. The play occurred with 10 minutes left in Sacramento’s 105-103 win on Wednesday night. Robinson, the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft out of Kansas, was immediately ejected. Robinson will miss the Kings’ games against San Antonio on Friday and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

CFL

– Angelo Mosca is auctioning off his cane from his 2011 fight with Joe Kapp. Enjoy the brawl:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrkEROiQsa8

NBA

– The project to build a new auto racetrack in Fort Erie, Ontario has been given a green light to proceed. On Monday, the Ontario Municipal Board rejected all appeals against the proposed Canadian Motor Speedway, a $400M racing facility and entertainment complex that will feature race seating for 65,000. The complex is scheduled to feature both a one-mile speedway oval and a 2.5-mile road course.

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