Welcome to this week's WWE news and views. I will have TNA news and views up shortly.
UPDATED WRESTLEMANIA CARD
The big day is coming. WrestleMania 22 is airing in less than two weeks on April 2. Below is the card as it stands AFTER Friday's Smackdown which has not aired yet. I whited out the matche that has not been announced yet so those of you who want to see Snackdown and find out the WM match then won't be spoiled by this update. To see the match announced at the Smackdown tapings on Monday night, just mouse over the blank lines and they will show up.
* WWE Champion John Cena vs. Triple H
* World Champion Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton
* World Tag Team Champions Big Show & Kane vs. Carlito & Chris Masters
* U.S. Champion Chris Benoit vs. JBL
* Women's Champion Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James
* Ric Flair vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Fit Finlay vs. Matt Hardy vs. Bobby Lashley in a Money In The Bank Ladder Match, with the winner getting a guaranteed title match
* Edge vs. Mick Foley in a Hardcore Match
* The Undertaker vs. Mark Henry in a Casket Match
* Torrie Wilson vs. Candice Michelle in a "Playboy Pillow Fight"
* Booker T & Sharmell vs. The Boogeyman in a Handicap Match
* Vince McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels
Of course, the Hall of Famers will be on hand and we just may see Jim Ross back at the announce booth for at least a match or two. There is still time to book another couple of matches (A cruiserweight match would be most welcome) so stay tuned to see what the final card will be.
CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMP INJURED, HAS SURGERY
Smackdown Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms (formerly The Hurricane) was injured during a match in Australia recently. His nose was broken so severely that he needed surgery and must sit up to sleep to avoid choking on his own blood. There are several photos of Helms' injury on his website, www.GregoryHelms.com. Paul London recently became the number one contender to the belt but it doesn't look like Helms will be able to defend that title for quite a while. However, no mention thus far of the status of the CW belt has been made so we may see Helms vs. London at Mania or there may be a Battle Royal type match for the title if Helms has to give it up. The injury looks awful but I have been hearing he will only miss about a month to six weeks of ring time. I'll keep you informed as Helms keeps us informed via his site and his MySpace blogs.
WWE REHIRES SEVERAL WRESTLERS
Although WWE released these workers, they are back with the promotion. Shannon Moore, who was a regular in TNA, and was just about to sign a TNA contract, has signed with WWE instead. He was released from WWE with no explanation last year and went on to form his "Prince of Punk" persona which TNA even copyrighted.
Andrew "Test" Martin looks to be back with the company after being released while recuperating from neck surgery. He has been very negative toward WWE as late as earlier this year but I suppose when a contract is waved in front of your eyes and it has dollar signs on it, you change your mind fast.
Mark Jindrak is working in the Deep South territory, one of WWE's developmental promotions. He was also released in a "house cleaning" rash of firings a while ago.
As I mentioned in a previous column,Chuck Palumbo has been resigned as well. His brother is a decorated war hero but I have no idea if that plays a part in rehiring Chuck as many have speculated.
Aside from Shannon, it looks like WWE is looking to hire some "big men" to fill out the roster as the new drug testing policy is now in effect and some of the shorter muscular guys will slowly be losing muscle mass as they can no longer use steroids to help bulk them up. WWE has always felt that the bigger the worker, the better. I don't subscribe to that and, if you look back at some of the greatest workers, they were average, not huge.
WELLNESS PROGRAM BEGINS WITH SURPRISE DRUG TEST
WWE began their drug testing before Raw this week as part of their new Wellness Program. The entire roster was surprise tested and the results will be used as a baseline for future tests. According to PWInsider.com, no action will be taken against abusers this time. They will have time to get the substances out of their bodies and to take a second surprise test to see if the substance levels have gone down or disappeared. If offenders continue, disciplinary action will be taken. From what I heard, many workers were not pleased about this surprise just six days away from the biggest show of the year. Well, too bad. This is a very positive step toward keeping these people alive and I hope WWE follows through with this program and doesn't drop it after a few months as they have with other drug testing programs in the past.
WWE RELEASES A BLOODY ECW DVD
WWE has released its most violent DVD to date. Entitled "WWE Bloodsport - ECW's Most Violent Matches", this compilation will bring you ECW at its bloodiest. Many fans really enjoy the DVD but are disappointed that Raven (Scott Levy) isn't in any of the matches. Raven is under contract with TNA and was omitted from the DVD. However, there are plenty of wild, dangerous, and bloody matches for those of you who like hardcore wrestling. I believe another DVD will be released in the near future with more matches from the most violent ECW era. You can check out the full line up by clicking the graphic below.
BATISTA INJURY UPDATE
Dave Batista was recently in Germany to promote the upcoming "WrestleMania Revenge Tour". He told fans that he is targeting mid-April for a return but nothing is set in stone. He will have to be medically cleared to return to the ring. I expect to see Batista show up at Wrestlemania if only in a cameo to keep his name and face in the fans' minds for his return. I, personally, can't wait until he returns and wish he was part of WrestleMania in the ring.
WWE WANTS JUDGE TO DROP WARRIOR'S LAWSUIT
Citing that the Ultimate Warrior (formerly Jim Hellwig - He officially changed his name to Warrior years back) is "unable to distinguish reality from the fictional character he once portrayed", WWE is claiming Warrior's lawsuit against them which involves the controversial "The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior" DVD should be dismissed. Warrior is suing WWE claiming the DVD is defamatory. If the judge in the case doesn't dismiss it as requested by WWE, the case will then go to litigious court where the two parties will defend their sides.
The DVD does take a lot of swipes at Warrior and his wrestling ability as well as his mental state. However, Warrior broke an agreed upon settlement not to talk against WWE (and they would not talk against him) in 1996 and has since been dissing and insulting WWE as a whole and certain people in the company on his website. Because of this breach, WWE is saying they had every right to produce the DVD and to say what they truly felt and not sugar coat it.
This one is an interesting case but I think it will probably be dismissed.
HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES UPDATE
Two weeks before Mania, here are the Hall of Fame inductees and who will induct them at the Hall of Fame Ceremony on April 1. Remember, parts of the Hall of Fame Ceremony will be aired on the USA network on April 1 so check your local listings for time and tune in to see the ceremony!
* Bret Hart - inducted by Stone Cold Steve Austin
* The late Eddie Guerrero- inducted by Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, and Chavo Guerrero
* "Mean" Gene Okerlund - inducted by Hulk Hogan
* "Sensational" Sherri Martel - inducted by Ted DiBiase
* Verne Gagne - inducted by his son Greg Gagne
* Blackjack Mulligan & Blackjack Lanza - inducted by Bobby Heenan
Well, I had better stop here. I will back with my TNA update as well as more new, views, and a WrestleMania contest! Check your inboxes for my newsletters and the forum for more info on that. This one should be fun and there may be a prize on the line.
I will be back soon with more news!
Loved ECW? Want to know what all the talk is about? Got a strong stomach? Check out this amazing DVD!
Ultimate Warrior is suing WWE over this DVD. It is a biased look at Warrior's career but has some great footage and some eye opening commentary from many WWE workers and management.