July 6, 2015

Stone Cold Steve Austin Confirmed As This Year’s WWE 2K16 Cover Star

WWE and 2K Sports have officially announced that ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin will be the cover star of the upcoming WWE 2K16 video game, set for release on current and last generation XBox and Playstation video game consoles, October 27th.

It was reported several months ago that the developers were working on a campaign mode built around Austin’s career, with both Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler being brought in to do voice-over work for the game.

WWE 2K16 will boast the largest roster ever assembled in a WWE video game, with over 120 unique characters promised to ship with the game on day one.

July 5, 2015

Hulk Hogan Thanks Triple H

The Advertiser has an interview here with Hulk Hogan. During the interview, Hogan talked about Triple H being the person responsible for bringing him back to WWE.

"The ambassador position means I can still be part of the big show, and I thank Triple H for that," Hogan said (props to The Inquisitr for the transcription). "If not for him, this thing between Vince McMahon and I — this heat — would still be bad. Vince made me feel so welcome when he explained to me that I'm the glue that bonds the father, the son and the grandson that watch wrestling."

Chyna Talks About The Last Time She Saw Triple H And What Happened During Her Trip To WWE Headquarters

Wrestlinginc.com recently spoke to Chyna about her new documentary The Reconstruction of Chyna, not being in the WWE Hall of Fame, winning the Intercontinental Championship and more. The full interview will be posted at Wrestling Inc. this week. During the interview, Chyna revealed that she has not spoken to Triple H or Vince McMahon since leaving WWE in 2001, although she did see Triple H when he picked up Sean Waltman to take him to rehab.

"The day Stephanie [McMahon] and Vince booked me at TV, it was like the Red Sea," Chyna said of her last day with the company. "Hunter never spoke to me. The only time I ever spoke to Hunter again, which wasn't really speaking again, was when he physically came to pick Sean Waltman up for rehab. He just showed up outside my door one day. I was incredibly surprised to see him, but I don't think we even spoke two words. I don't believe I could have spoken two words, either."

As noted, Chyna recently visited WWE headquarters as part of the documentary. She discussed why she made the trip to their office.

"We're documenting all of that. But really, I'd like to meet with them. I've repeatedly called and wrote and will continue to do so until I get that sit-down meeting. Personal reasons, financial reasons, contractual—let's see what's going on. I need to know."

Despite making the trip, she admitted that she was ultimately turned away.

"We were abruptly turned away," she said. "It was as cold as ice in there. I went to take the picture, then we're told to basically take our stuff and leave. They weren't having any of it. [It was] definitely an icy atmosphere."


July 4, 2015

Big Title Change At Beast in The East Event In Tokyo

Finn Balor defeated Kevin Owens to become the new WWE NXT Champion at today's "The Beast In The East" live WWE Network special from Tokyo, Japan. This is Finn's first title reign in WWE.

WWE Beast in the East Live from Tokyo Results

July 3, 2015

WWE NXT Takes Over Brooklyn

July 2, 2015

WWE Statement On False Allegations In Recent Lawsuits

WWE issued the following statement last night to go with the AP story that we reported on earlier:

WWE Defends Against False Allegations

WWE filed a lawsuit in Connecticut to protect the company from a series of fraudulent claims made by a Massachusetts attorney regarding alleged concussion-related injuries. A few examples of such false allegations from this lawyer include:

· Claims in two different federal courts that five individuals died prematurely due to head injuries when in fact all five individuals are alive today.

· Falsely stating that an individual's years of performance with WWE spanned 22 years from 1985 through 2007, when in fact the individual performed for only 2 years (1985-1986 and 1992-1993) and made one appearance in 2007.

· Alleging that head injury led to the death of a morbidly obese former performer who died of a heart attack years after last performing for WWE.

· A claim that an individual suffered from deafness allegedly due to head injury when said individual has publicly stated that he was deaf since birth.

· Claiming that head injury led to the accidental drug overdose of a former performer over 20 years after he last performed.

It is unfortunate that some former performers have been improperly recruited under the guise of a big 'pay day', and we feel badly that these individuals are being misled and exploited.

July 1, 2015

WWE Sues Hall Of Famers And Other Legends In Extension Of Concussion Lawsuits

Earlier today, we linked an Associated Press article about WWE's response to the various lawsuits filed against them relating to claims of long-term health issues stemming from head trauma. That article has since been updated with additional details that help frame the situation better and allowed us to look up the case in question to get a better idea of exactly what was going on.

What happened is that on Monday, WWE filed a lawsuit against Robert Windham (Blackjack Mulligan as well as Big Machine in the WWF), James Ware (Koko B. Ware), Tom Billington (Dynamite Kid), Oreal Perras (Ivan Koloff, who's not mentioned in the AP article), and various John Doe defendants. The intention is to get the Connecticut Federal District Court to block any lawsuits from both the named defendants and any other wrestlers who have retained Konstantine Kyros (the lawyer behind most or all of the WWE concussion lawsuits we've heard about). Kyros had sent WWE "notice of representation" letters on behalf of the named defendants on June 2nd, in which he asked the company not to contact them directly as well as telling them to retain any relevant information.

McDevitt told the AP that "[b]efore this guy started trolling around looking for people to sue, we didn't have one person, none, claiming they had any kind of traumatic brain injuries, or dementia or ALS or any of the kind of stuff you seek associated with the NFL." The complaint alleges that the claims came about after Kyros placed ads on Google tying in to searches relating to WWE anc concussions, as well as Billy Jack Haynes' name after he filed the initial lawsuit with Kyros.

For his part, Kyros denied the allegations, said he has been retained by dozens of former WWE stars, and that WWE's claims of the statute of limitations expiring don't apply in this case. The argument, which he's explained in the past, is that when the symptoms of an injury present themselves later in life, as they would with complications from repeated head trauma, Connecticut's three year statute of limitations doesn't apply. He added that "[w]hat the WWE lawsuit is doing is trying to do is prevent some of the most storied performers in the history of the organization from having their day in court."

WWE has taken issue with Kyros filing the suits outside of Connecticut even though most of the wrestlers' contracts has clauses restricting the venue to WWE's home state. There are also allegations that, through sloppy editing of the complaints, living plaintiffs were listed as deceased,as well as inaccuracies in the listed time frames for when the wrestlers worked for WWE.

That said, WWE is not innocent of this, either: Oreal "Ivan Koloff" Perras is listed in the new complaint as having last wrestled for the Capital Wrestling Corporation (Vincent James McMahon's company). In actuality, he last worked for the WWF in late '83, when it was indeed owned by Titan Sports, the company that went through several name changes in the last 15-20 years before becoming World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002.

One point of contention is whether or not Kyros is involved with all of the lawsuits. The suit filed in California with Russ McCullough, Ryan Sakoda, and Matthew Wiese (Luther Reigns/Horshu) has other, unrelated lawyers' names on all of the filings. WWE insists Kyros is behind them, but that he has not said one way or the other if he's involved. At the time, Kyros claimed that he was not involved with the case spite of the nearly identical complaints. His explanation was that it was commonplace for lawyers copy the bulk of a complaint since they're not protected by copyright. WWE also maintains that Kyros was ordered to stop listing unrelated wrestler deaths in complaints, only to continue doing so.

The AP was able to get quotes from one of the defendants, Robert "Blackjack Mulligan" Windham. Now wheelchair-bound with constant nausea and severe short term memory problems, he said that "[t]hey really don't want to face it. They want to send everyone to rehab. But rehab doesn't work for loss of memory. [...] "And my son[, Barry], you look at him and the lights are on, but nobody is home anymore." He cited Sgt. Slaughter "[going] nuts" and beating him unconscious with a turnbuckle as one particularly damaging incident, although they most likely would have only worked together in Jim Crockett Promotions.

WWE Holding Tryouts And Special HOF Ceremony In Japan

2015 WWE Hall of Famer Tatsumi Fujinami will be appearing at the July 3rd WWE live event in Tokyo, Japan. WWE will actually be holding a special Hall of Fame ceremony for Fujinami that night. WWE will also be holding tryouts for Japanese wrestlers before that night's live event.

WWE Requests Concussion Lawsuit Block

As noted, numerous former WWE stars, including the wife of the late Nelson Frazier, Jr (aka Big Daddy V) and the family of Matt Osborne (aka Doink the Clown) have filed concussion and wrongful death lawsuits against WWE.

The Associated Press is now reporting WWE has requested that a federal judge block concussion lawsuits from former talents, as they cite a statute of limitations in Connecticut.

WWE wants all of the lawsuits moved to a federal court in Connecticut, and adds the “claims are fraudulent and barred because of a three-year statute of limitations on such claims in Connecticut.”

WWE stockholder lawsuit heats up over backtracking whistleblower

In this week's Figure Four Weekly Newsletter, David Bixenspan has an excellent cover story bringing his readers up to speed on the latest developments in the ongoing legal battle between WWE and their disgruntled ex-investors. Things started heating up in January when the plaintiffs filed a consolidated amended complaint with information from a former high-ranking employee of WWE named "Confidential Witness Number 1" or "CW1" for short that backed up their claims, including arguing that:

WWE officers knew they wouldn't be able to get a significant rights fee hike from USA due to low ad rates ("$15,000 per spot");

WWE's own internal research studies demonstrating that their actual fan base was a fraction of what the defendants represented to the public ("at the very most, WWE had 4-6 million total fans");

Actual social media followers of WWE accounts are counted multiple times to achieve the huge totals the company loves to tout, in order to present a larger, yet inaccurate, picture of their fanbase;

Michelle Wilson had asked the witness to present false viewership data to potential sponsors, i.e., lie to them, an act he had refused to do.

WWE's reaction was to file a memorandum of law in support of their motion to dismiss the updated complaint in March, which included an affidavit of Brian Maddox, the Vice President of their global digital advertising sales team from December 2010 to January 2014, who claimed that he believed he was CW1, had not consented to the use of any of his purported statements in the complaint, and then went on to deny all those statements:

"I am submitting this affidavit because the statements attributed to me in the Amended Complaint are not accurate and do not accurately reflect what I said to plaintiffs' counsel. Contrary to the Amended Complaint, I am not aware of any instance in which the Company or anyone else made inaccurate or intentionally misleading public statements about the size of WWE's fan base, the number of its social media followers, the potential outcome of its negotiations of television contracts, the launch and ultimate success of the WWE network, the potential impact of those on its future financial results, or anything else referenced in the Amended Complaint."

According to Bixenspan, the plaintiffs have fought back with a strongly worded opposition to WWE's motion to dismiss, arguing that Maddox's affidavit should come under scrutiny because he could have been coerced by the company to rescind his original statements:

"If the Court reviews the Affidavit at face value and in its appropriate context, it is the preparation of the Affidavit, not the Amended Complaint, that should come under scrutiny. Indeed, should the Court come to the logical conclusion that Mr. Maddox was pressured by Defendants and their counsel to submit the Affidavit, especially in light of the fact that Mr. Maddox provided his confidentiality agreement with WWE to KSF [Kahn Swick & Foti, the plaintiffs' attorneys] because he feared reprisal from the Company, and that the Affidavit does not represent a truthful depiction of his correspondence with Lead Counsel, the allegations attributable to Maddox in the Amended Complaint should be deemed more compelling and foster an even stronger inference of scienter [a legal term referring to knowledge of wrongdoing]."

More On WWE Hall Of Famer Wanting Dusty Rhodes' Old NXT Job

As noted earlier this week, WWE Hall of Famer "Superstar" Billy Graham is interested in taking Dusty Rhodes' old job of helping NXT talent develop promo. Graham posted the following on his Facebook this week:

Hello wrestling fans, this is Superstar Billy Graham. With all of the rumors going around about my interest or lack of, concerning a position for me with the NXT that my dear friend Dusty Rhodes had, I thought that was necessary to give you a direct statement from me to set the record straight. First off, I have been planning on moving back to Florida for some time now. My wife of 35 years, Valerie, is from Tampa and all of her family lives there. Also my daughter lives in West Palm Beach.

This morning, Tuesday, June 30th 2015 I sent an email directly to Vince informing him that if the position that Dusty once had has not yet been filled, that I am very much interested in taking it since I am moving back to live in Florida . I have not heard back from Vince or any of his staff as he is a very busy man. I am sure at some point I will get an answer from Vince concerning this question.

About my qualifications for this position: It should be obvious that I am qualified for this NXT position of coaching the younger talent about how to to do promos and communicate with the worldwide WWE TV wrestling audience. Also, I am not so stupid that I would try to teach them how to be charismatic to the level of a Dusty Rhodes or myself, one is born with that level of charisma, but a young wrestler can be taught to be more confident in their delivery and bring out their full potential in this area.

About my health: As almost everyone knows, I have had a successful liver transplant. My liver, according to a recent test, is doing extremely good. I feel very robust, alert, and healthy, as the doctors at the world famous Mayo Clinic Hospital here in Phoenix have told me and I train at a 24 hour fitness gym 4 days a week.

As soon as I hear from Mr Vince McMahon regarding the NXT position one way or another, I will post that information on my Facebook. Thank you for your time and every one have a nice day, Superstar Billy Graham.

Here are some reasons the WWE might not want him back:

"Superstar" Billy Graham Auctioning HOF Ring

Former Professional Wrestler Blasts Linda McMahon and Her Campaign For Senate

Coachman Wants to Bring WWE and ESPN Together

Former WWE announcer Jonathan Coachman, who still works for ESPN, told a fan on Twitter that he wants to bring WWE and ESPN together. He then made this tweet, proposing that they take SportsCenter on the road when SummerSlam comes to New York City this year:

Rolling Stone Releases Their WWE "Best of the Rest of the Half-Year" Awards, Praise for Kevin Owens

Rolling Stone has announced their WWE "Best of the Rest of the Half-Year" awards at this link. They named NXT Champion Kevin Owens as the WWE Wrestler of the Year, so far. They wrote:

"In a matter of months, the father of two from Marieville, Quebec has not only stared down his potential but surpassed it, becoming a lynchpin of two promotions and building a character inspired by everything it took to get him to this point. Love him or hate him, you can't deny his impact on the first six months of 2015 – or wonder how high he'll climb by year's end. It's wrestling, folks. It's Kevin Owens."

June 29, 2015

Interview with Sasha Banks

Sasha Banks was interviewed by Sam Roberts recently for the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast. You can read highlights below, or see the full video above:

* Sasha Banks talks about how excited she was to main event NXT in Philadelphia. She thought they were joking and was surprised that they were trusted. She also says she cried because she was so nervous. She said the reaction there was the best of her life.

* Sasha talks about how embarrassed she was when she was younger and her mom would see bra & panties matches, and question if Sasha wanted to really do that for a living. Sasha said she tried to explain to her mother that she'd rather be a female Eddie Guerrero.

* Sasha Banks says when she gets on the main roster, women will be main eventing the shows there, too.

* She puts over training with Sara Del Rey, Joey Mercury, Billy Gunn, Norman Smiley.

* Sasha says that Billy Gunn was not a fan of women's wrestling, and training with the NXT girls made him enjoy it.

* Sasha Banks says many didn't expect the "boss" gimmick to take off, but she says when she started to see so many "boss" shirts, she knew it would work.

* She says that Snoop Dogg is actually her cousin, and he calls her "Little Boss." She wasn't around him a lot, but went to a lot of his concerts. She said she begged him to take her to WrestleMania 24. She said she thought she was going to get signed at 16, and was so nervous she had Snoop ask the superstars for the pictures. She said that he is really proud of her, especially since she didn't ask him for help and did it on her own.

* The WWE NXT schedule is set, but they're able to get additional ring time if they want. She said she likes helping out the younger girls who are starting out. She got to teach the women's class one week when Sara Del Rey was on the road.

* Sasha Banks says she wants to be in WWE forever, and doesn't care about the money. She worked on the indies for free for a long time because she loves it.

* There are times she surprises herself, like doing a moonsault.

* Sasha Banks thought the crowd was chanting "Sasha's rat sh*t" instead of "rachet" at first.

* It's always been her dream to be on the WWE main roster, but loves it in NXT. She says she's done main roster loops, and there's no comparison to the NXT crowd.

* She said she marked out for Joey Styles, screamed "Oh my god," then ran away from him. She said she thought it was really cool that Mick Foley wanted a picture with her. Foley traveled four hours to watch her and Charlotte wrestle.

* She wanted to be a wrestler since she was ten. She missed sleepovers, funerals and family holidays just to watch WWE Smackdown.

* She used to hunt, but now she feels bad about it because she loves animals. Sam Roberts says deer are horrible because they run across highways and get hit by cars.

* Eddie Guerrero was her favorite wrestler. She tried to to a frog splash and missed the crash pad and busted her face on the mat. She says maybe she'll bust one out at a WrestleMania.

* She's also a big fan of Kurt Angle, Dean Malenko and lucha-style.

Big Backstage Update on GFW and TNA Working Together, Possible Invasion Angle, Future of Top TNA Talents Who Left, Magnus & More

According to F4WOnline.com, some of the TNA talents who recently left the company are actually being “transferred” to Global Force Wrestling for a future invasion angle between the promotions.

Any former TNA talent who is now in GFW (like Magnus) or who might end up signing with GFW, is expected back on TNA TV at some point in the future. James Storm is also expected back to work future TV tapings.

With regards to Magnus, although a press release issued by GFW today claimed he had “signed” with the promotion, he hasn’t actually signed a contract, and as of now is scheduled to appear at the July 9th-11th live events and the TV tapings on July 24th.

John Cena Nominated for the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award, WWE Community Also Nominated

John Cena Nominated for the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award

Inaugural event presented by ESPN and PlayStation to salute those using the power of sport to serve community; finalists and Stuart Scott ENSPIRE award winners announced

The inaugural Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, presented by ESPN and PlayStation, will celebrate and honor athletes, teams, nonprofits and members of the sports industry for using sport to serve communities and make a positive impact on society, it was announced by John Skipper, President, ESPN. The event, which will take place Tuesday, July 14 at the Conga Room at L.A. Live, will be the first of its kind, bringing together the leagues and sporting community to pay tribute to the collective good of sports.

Multiple sports-related leagues and/or governing bodies — including MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, USOC, USTA, WNBA, WWE and the Women’s Sports Foundation — have nominated athletes, teams and community members that are using the power of sports to transform lives and uplift communities. Highlights of the evening will be featured during a 30-minute special on ESPN, July 23 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

During the event, which will be hosted by Laila Ali, winners will be announced from among the finalists for two major award categories — Sports Humanitarian of the Year and Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year. Additionally, the event will celebrate four inaugural “Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award” (ESPN + inspire) winners, recognized for taking risks and using innovation to help the disadvantaged.

“Through their selflessness and compassion, the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award honorees are improving lives of many around the world,” Skipper said. “The awards pay tribute to some incredible individuals and organizations and the extraordinary impact of their efforts on society.”

PlayStation is the presenting sponsor of the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, which will benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at The V Foundation — a fund that encourages cutting-edge research for minority populations suffering from cancer.

An independent panel of judges selected the finalists, including, Tracy Hoover, CEO of Points of Light, Sharon Roerty, Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Sab Singh, Founder of Sports Doing Good and professor at Farmingdale State College, and Caryl Stern, CEO of the US Fund for UNICEF.

“Humanitarianism is a central narrative of sport — as athletes aspire towards greatness, their ability to make a mark on society is as important as their athletic accomplishments,” said Stern. “The Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards give rise to the increasingly important role that sports can play in society, and how the sports community can work together to build and inspire strong communities.”

The Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award is given to an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a positive impact on their community through sports. The honoree will receive a $75,000 grant (and $25,000 grant for each of the three finalists) from ESPN’s Corporate Citizenship department to advance the impact of the charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts.

Finalists (winner to be announced at awards ceremony July 14):

• Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers (NFL): Inspired by his own humble beginnings, Boldin is a passionate advocate for underprivileged youth and works to help them to overcome their limitations by expanding educational and life opportunities. Through his foundation, he provides a network of support with mentoring and after-school programs, scholarships, and annual summer enrichment programs — all of which are creating tangible impacts in the lives of children in Baltimore, South Florida and San Francisco. Becoming an Oxfam Ambassador on his own accord, Boldin also has testified before Congress to strengthen human rights protections for communities impacted by the oil and mining industries in Africa. In 2014, Boldin and his wife, Dionne, made a $1 million pledge to help youth in need by providing 4-year college scholarships to four deserving high school graduates annually.

• Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever (WNBA): Growing up with a hearing impairment, Catchings was no stranger to being bullied, but she used her disability as inspiration and fuel to do her best in the classroom and on the court. Today, she teaches young girls about embracing their differences, building their self-esteem and overcoming obstacles. Through her Catch the Stars Foundation, she promotes fitness, literacy and mentoring to youth in Indianapolis. Catchings has served on the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports and has supported countless programs in the community through her unwavering volunteer efforts and financial support.

• John Cena (WWE): WWE Superstar John Cena’s popular catchphrase “Never Give Up” is also a real-life mantra that he uses to inspire those battling life-threatening illnesses. For more than a decade, Cena has been a force in granting the wishes of children in partnership with Make-A-Wish. As the most requested wish granter of all-time, he has granted nearly 500 wishes for children around the world. Additionally, Cena is also a passionate advocate in the fight against breast cancer, helping to spread the word about the importance of early detection.

• Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers (NHL): As founder of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation and an ambassador for the Garden of Dreams Foundation, Lundqvist has seized the opportunity to positively impact the lives of children most in need through education and health services. He’s touched the lives of thousands of children and families in New York City, the Dominican Republic and Sweden with both personal and financial support. He’s also providing a platform to the next generation of community leaders, by selecting a group of young adults to complete community service projects and volunteer work, as part of his Young Ambassadors Program.

The Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year represents a sports team (and their community relations department or foundation) that demonstrates how teamwork between athletes and their team’s community relations or foundations can create a significant impact on a community or cause. The winner will receive a $75,000 grant (and $25,000 grant for each of the three finalists) from ESPN to the qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts.

Finalists (winners to be announced at awards ceremony July 14):

• WWE Community Relations: WWE leverages the power of its brand and platforms to help address important social issues worldwide, and through its partnerships, they support programs and initiatives that positively impact children and families around the world. WWE has granted more than 6,000 wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions through Make-A-Wish, and launched an anti-bullying program, Be a STAR, to encourage young people to treat each other with tolerance and respect through education and grassroots initiatives. More than 100,000 kids from all 50 U.S. states and 100 countries have taken the pledge to end bullying through the program. WWE is also a strong advocate for athletes with intellectual disabilities and breast cancer awareness through their work with Special Olympics and Susan G. Komen respectively, and they are staunch supporters of the U.S. military through their annual Tribute to the Troops celebration and partnership with Hire Heroes USA to help returning vets transition to the civilian workforce.

June 28, 2015

Dolph Ziggler on Re-Signing with WWE: “I Should End My Career in WWE”

WWE star Dolph Ziggler, who recently re-signed a longterm contract with WWE, was interviewed by The Boston Herald to promote Ziggler’s recent stand-up comedy show.

On the subject of re-signing with WWE, Ziggler had the following to say:

“I mean, it feels like I started here, I should end my career in the WWE. I feel like they like having me around and I love working here, so it would be really hard to walk away.”

On the subject of doing stand-up comedy, Ziggler admitted he’s been into comedy longer than he has pro wrestling:

“When I was a kid, like 5 years old, I used to watch the Johnny Carson show with Don Rickles. I loved the old ‘Saturday Night Live.’ I wrote jokes for almost 10 years before I got the courage to get up on stage and do five minutes.”

Tough Enough Contestant Talks Coming Out On The Show

ABC affiliate WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, PA has a story about Tough Enough contestant Daria Berenato, who came out as gay on the show. Berenato talked about coming out on the show.

"That was not planned," Berenato said. "That was not thought about. I didn't even consider it, to be honest. I did talk to my girlfriend before I left in California and I said, 'Hey if it comes up, do you mind if I tell the truth?' She was like, 'Absolutely tell the truth.' [But] I didn't sit down and think, 'Oh, how can I make the judges like me? Let me tell them I'm a lesbian.' I would never artificially plan like that. It wasn't premeditated. I think that's what made the moment so special.

"I've gotten so much generosity and so much love so far. People from all kinds of LGBT organizations reaching out saying, 'what you did was amazing, thank you for representing our families,' and that kind of stuff. I just couldn't be happier with the way it worked out. I never could have planned such an epic moment."

TNA Stars And Executive Deny Departures

As noted, F4WOnline reported earlier today that the contracts for Taryn Terrell and Awesome Kong expired this weekend, and that tonight's Slammiversary pay-per-view "is expected to be their last show."

TNA Executive Bob Ryder, Terrell and Kong have all blasted the report on Twitter. Terrel and Kong have stated they not leaving TNA.

Two More Big TNA Departures

The Wrestling Observer is reporting that Awesome Kong and Taryn Terrell's contracts have both expired this weekend. The two will finish up at Slammiversary tonight.

Terrell joined TNA in 2012 as a referee for the knockouts division before becoming a full-time wrestler for the brand. She's the longest reigning Knockouts Champion in history, and is actually still the on-screen champion.

Awesome Kong returned to the company in January after being out of TNA for almost five years. She was fired in 2010 following a physical incident with Bubba the Love Sponge. She spent some time with WWE between TNA stints.

This follows the news that James Storm, Magnus, Low Ki, Austin Aries, Mickie James all left the company, while Gunner and Sam Shaw were released.

At this point the releases are either a work, or the above names will be signing with GFW and the two promotions will be working together. Not sure how TNA can survive with 9 top company talents departing in one week.

Jeff Jarrett on His Return to TNA, Slammiversary, TNA-GFW Relationship

TNA Impact Wrestling Founder and Global Force Wrestling Founder Jeff Jarrett recently spoke to X107.5 FM in Las Vegas about his recent return to TNA Impact Wrestling.
How his TNA return happened:

"Last Wednesday I was in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. On Tuesday night I threw out the first pitch and kicked off the promotion for our Grand Slam tour event. I was sitting at the airport and I got a text from TNA management and they said hey, would you get on a conference call with us today? We’ve got a proposal for you. I actually didn’t respond because my life has been consumed professionally by Global Force Wrestling. As I took the plane back home, I got to thinking: What do they want? They know where my head’s at, they know where my heart’s at. Do they want to do a talent exchange, which has obviously been discussed multiple times over the last couple of months? Do they want to do a big co-show? What do they want?

Curiosity killed the cat and I said sure, I’ll jump on the call. So I got on the call and they said we want you to be in a match. I almost hung up the phone in a diplomatic way; I'm not interested in that. At this time and for the foreseeable future, my wrestling days are in my rearview mirror so I wasn't really interested. And then as they began to spell it out, it’s not just any match, it’s the King of the Mountain match and it’s going to be at Slammiversary, my heart strings began to tug and it conjured up a lot of emotion. At the end of the day I said let’s look at a deal.

I’m going to be answering some questions in the days and weeks to come how this spells out, but as far as I'll call it in front of the camera, this Sunday I’ve agreed to one final match in TNA. Like Karen said, go out on my terms. It’s raw emotion. As a professional wrestler, in-ring performer, whatever you want to call us, my juices began to flow and I'm pumped. I cannot wait to see how this comes about. I am genuinely excited for the future of Global Force Wrestling and how me being in the King of the Mountain match sort of parlays into the next steps."

His final TNA match at Slammiversary on Sunday:

"It’s no secret. Earlier this year in January, I was fortunate enough, blessed enough, excited that I got to wrestle on New Japan's annual Tokyo Dome event in front of 50,000 fans. I’m active in AAA and have a long relationship. But as far as week in and week out, my in-ring career has come to a halt. As far as being on this type of stage at Slammiversary in the company that I founded, this is the final one. A lot of emotion goes into that.

On June 19, 2002, me and my father founded that company. Through the years, the ups and downs, the highs and lows and everything in between, we've had so many people give us so many opinions. You’re not going to last a week, you’re not going to last a month. That company – good, bad or indifferent – they’re having their 13 year anniversary and I’m going to be there in the main event at the King of the Mountain match and I’m pretty damn excited about it. That show is going be seen live in India, the UK – it’s going to be seen live around the world via the Flipps App."

The relationship between TNA and GFW:

"I can tell you from the time I got out of the ring – and it’s still going on right now – the texts and the direct messages and the voicemails that I’ve gotten are like, Jeff, what a surreal moment! It’s one of those moments that not only did you think would never happen but even when it happened you’re like, how in the world did that happen?

Quite frankly, it’s part of Global Force Wrestling’s mission statement. We want to work with New Japan Pro Wrestling and are going to. Same with AAA, same with other promotions around the world. So when TNA reached out to me, I’d be contradictory if I said no I don’t want to work with these guys. Was I really gung-ho on stepping back in the ring? Maybe yes, maybe no. I can tell you between now and Sunday, I’m focused on getting physically prepared and mentally prepared. I’m excited about the future. We want to work with all organizations; we think it’s very, very healthy for the industry."

Kurt Angle Makes Major Health Related Announcement at Impact Wrestling Tapings

While it remains unclear whether or not this is part of a story line, at the TNA Impact Wrestling tapings tonight Kurt Angle announced he will be taking some time off as he had a tumor on his neck and will require surgery. Angle said he will get his rematch against EC3 at some point, but it could be awhile.

This prompted EC3 to come out and take credit for causing the tumor on Angle’s neck, and then attacked Angle before Chris Melendez came out to make the save.

Another Top TNA Star Leaving the Company

There has been speculation for quite sometime as to what the future holds for Austin Aries in TNA.

During tonight’s Impact Wrestling tapings, Aries wrestled Rockstar Spud in match, with the stipulation being that if Aries won, he got to take Spud’s “Rockstar” name. If Spud wins, Aries has to leave TNA.

Spud won the match, and it appears as if Aries is finished with TNA for the time being.

Aries joins James Storm, Magnus and Low Ki as names leaving TNA.

Dixie Carter Confirms TNA Hall of Fame Induction

Dixie Carter confirmed on Twitter that she inducted Jeff Jarrett into the TNA Hall of Fame during tonight's Impact Wrestling tapings in Orlando. The ceremony should air in late July or early August. No word yet if TNA is still planning on doing an induction at this year's Bound For Glory pay-per-view.

Backstage News on Why James Storm and Magnus Are Leaving TNA, Other Departures Expected, More

Regarding James Storm and Magnus leaving TNA, PWInsider reports that both men went to TNA officials and requested their releases due to the fact that TNA is barely running events these days and talents are making a lot less money. Both Storm and Magnus have work waiting for them elsewhere and both wanted to be able to make more money for obvious reasons.

TNA officials understood the situation and let both out of their deals. TNA's plan is to have both wrestlers come back in the future and work TV events. TNA realizes that WWE can sign either man if they want but officials decided to take that risk due to the respect they have for the talents.

On a related note, PWInsider adds that TNA is very open to working with Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling going forward. TNA is more of a TV promotion these days and are adjusting how they do business to fit the model that they use now. It's expected that more talent situations like these will be happening this year. TNA will likely keep some top talents locked in but they don't have the revenue they once had to be in a position to guarantee contracts.
Read more at http://www.lordsofpain.net/news/tna/Backstage_News_on_Why_James_Storm_and_Magnus_Are_Leaving_TNA_Other_Departures_Expected_More.html#Yqi5SoKaQVJeR5ds.99

June 27, 2015

Dr. Chris Amann vs. CM Punk Defamation Lawsuit Update

There have been updates in Dr. Chris Amann’s defamation lawsuit against CM Punk and Colt Cabana, stemming from comments made in a November 2014 podcast, that you can follow at this link. Amann, WWE’s senior ringside physician, is suing Punk and Cabana for more than $1 million in compensatory damages, as well as an undetermined amount of punitive damages. While WWE isn’t directly involved, they completely back the suit.

New WWE Network Shows This Week: Triple H And Sting Talk Monday Night War, Swerved, Renee Young

A new episode of WWE Served will premiere on the WWE Network this Monday night after RAW goes off the air. The description reads like this:

"R-Truth gets a lesson in gym safety, a frisky granny invades Axxess and Kofi locks the champ out of Extreme Rules."

Following Swerved, a 30-minute sneak peek of WWE's "Monday Night War: Shots Fired" DVD will air on the WWE Network, featuring Sting and Triple H talking to Renee Young. Below is the description:

"In this Network Exclusive, join Triple H and Sting as they sit down with Renee Young and discuss Monday Night War!"

A new episode of "Unfiltered with Renee Young" premieres on the WWE Network this Wednesday, July 1st at 4pm EST. She will interview 2015 WWE Hall of Famer Arnold Schwarzenegger. Below is the preview:

"Renee's back! Join the Unfiltered host for an exclusive interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the cast of Terminator Genisys!"

WWE Network To Air Special On Finn Balor

WWE Network will air a 30-minute special on Finn Balor titled "Finn Balor: The Demon Revealed" on Thursday, July 2nd at 10:30pm EST.

This could be the three-part series on Balor that wraps up on NXT TV this coming week but that's not confirmed. The special will also replay as a lead-in to the July 4th WWE Network "The Beast In The East" special from Tokyo, where Balor will challenge NXT Champion Kevin Owens.

The description for the special that premieres on Thursday reads like this:

"An in depth look inside the life, career and future of NXT Superstar Finn Balor."

June 26, 2015

WWE Being Sued by Family of Original Doink The Clown

The family of the late Matt Osborne, who is best known as being the first and longest-running professional wrestler to portray the character of Doink the Clown, filed a lawsuit in Dallas, Texas on Friday against WWE.

Osborne's widow, Michelle James, is listed as the plaintiff along with their two children, Matthew and Teagan Osborne, in the lawsuit alleging negligence and fraud related to "mistreatment of Matthew Osborne which ultimately resulted in Matthew Osborne's wrongful death."

It is stated in the lawsuit, "When forced to acknowledge the risks to which it subjects its wrestlers — by script, on a daily basis — WWE took inadequate steps to correct the problem or to address its injurious conduct, the full consequences of which are still coming to light. Indeed, WWE continues a course of conduct designed to mislead its wrestlers, and designed to mislead Matthew Osborne until his death, about the injuries they sustained while wrestling for WWE by failing to disclose pertinent facts or offering misleading truths."

The lawsuit alleges that Osborne experienced "traumatic brain injuries" that resulted in "depression and drug abuse, which ultimately resulted in his untimely death." Osborne was found dead on June 28, 2013, in the Plano, Texas apartment he shared with James. His cause of death was determined to be an accidental overdose of morphine and hydrocodone. He also suffered from heart disease, which was a contributing factor in his death.

WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt has said that WWE is "being targeted by attorneys who tell [wrestlers and their families] there's hundreds of thousands of dollars" to be made filing concussion-related suits. He tells The Dallas Morning News this evening this suit is no different—that it's just another one in a long line of legal filings aimed at "drumming up people ... looking for NFL money."

"They're all different from the NFL. We never had anyone claim they had these kinds of injuries until [these attorneys] did it. They find the destitute, people who have no money, and told them there's money to be made. That's what is going on," said McDevitt. "And I feel bad for these families, because they think they'll make money off of this, and they're not."

When Osborne died two years ago, WWE issued a statement reading, "WWE is saddened by the news that Matt Osborne, aka the original Doink the Clown, has passed away. A rugged brawler in promotions like Mid-South Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling, Osborne made a major impact in WWE under the greasepaint of a prankster named Doink — one of the most enduring personas of the early '90s. Our deepest condolences go out to Osborne's family, friends and fans."

It is alleged in the lawsuit that Osborne began wrestling in 1985 after being approached by WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. This is incorrect as Osborne began wrestling in 1978 for various National Wrestling Alliance territories, most prominently for Pacific Northwest Wrestling. He joined WWE in 1985, primarily competing as a preliminary wrestler. The highlight of this stint was losing to Ricky Steamboat at the first WrestleMania, held at Madison Square Garden.

The Dallas Morning News' coverage of the story, including the entire 72-page lawsuit, is available here.

TNA Production Staff Told Paychecks Will Be Late Again

A seemingly good week wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for TNA Wrestling apparently, as The Sporting News is reporting that the company is behind on production payments yet again.

During a production meeting on Thurdsay, Ron and Don Harris passed down information that checks for the company's May tapings wouldn't be out until at least July 25. The Harris Twins recently returned to the company and were put in charge of the TNA production team.

The Sporting News says that The Harris Twins said "If you're not happy, just shake our hands and walk away." After a period without payment last year, several production team members refused to work until they were paid.

"I don't blame (the Harris Twins). They're back after 10 years and don't know what's going on," one long-time production employee told the site. Another said "It's the same old TNA bullsh-t."

The standard in the industry is to pay freelance production workers within 30 days of service. This is at least the third time in the past year it's happened with TNA.

Dolph Zigger Signs Multi-Year Deal with WWE

WWE and Dolph Ziggler have reportedly come to terms on a new multi-year contract according to a report by PWInsider.com. There had been some speculation that Zigger would leave the company if he was not pushed as a bigger name within the company.

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Oderint Dum Metuant: Let Them Hate As Long As They Fear