Take a trip back to a memorable timeline in sports entertainment with the most important stories reported as fact in the journalistic world of pro wrestling dirt sheets.
Following the timeline of the last Dirt Sheet History looking back at the start of 2008, we get a glimpse into the top scoops from February of 2008 as we read Dirt Sheet History.
Reminder that you can find all past editions of Dirt Sheet History looking at 2004 through 2007 right here. Now enjoy February 2008.
* As noted earlier, ECW writer Dave Lagana was fired last week. He was with WWE since 2002 and at one point was the head writer of SmackDown. His firing had been brewing for nearly two years.
While Lagana was on vacation, Stephanie McMahon sent a one sentence terse e-mail to all the other writers saying that he had been fired. Stephanie’s e-mail was said to be very cold unlike most e-mails where they at least acknowledge the contributions of a person who is leaving the company. The basic story on Lagana’s firing is that Stephanie believed that he was responsible for leaking storyline plans and management information to wrestling newsletters and wrestling websites.
The story on what lead to Lagana being terminated from the company dates back to May 2006 during a creative team meeting. The way the creative team meetings work at buildings prior to television and pay-per-view is that everyone gets together in a room set up like a classroom. Vince McMahon, Stephanie, television producer Kevin Dunn and the lead writers sit together at tables in the front of the room and the low-level writers and road agents sit at desks. The creative team writers go over the show and they do a read-through of the script, and then Vince adds his input. The agents also give their advice on changes that could be made. Lagana often sat at one of the desks with his laptop, usually in the back of the room so nobody could see his screen. On this particular day, people could see his screen, and one person allegedly saw him sending an e-mail to one of the major wrestling websites. Nobody said anything during the meeting, but Stephanie was approached and told what this person. Stephanie immediately confronted Lagana and almost fired him on the spot, but he insisted he was innocent. Lagana managed to get off the hook.
The next week, Lagana was demoted from his head writer position on SmackDown to ECW. WWE tried to paint it as a positive move, but he didn’t think that was the case. He worked under Paul Heyman, who he’d known dating back to the old ECW. He was no longer the head writer and would basically just type up the scripts that Heyman recited to him. After Heyman was let go, it was expected that he’d be moved up to the ECW head writer position but they went with Dusty Rhodes instead. Some people inside WWE believe that his confidence started to erode during his time in ECW and things got really bad for him over the holidays.
Lagana also had a bad reputation from his time on Smackdown because a number of wrestlers believed that he talked down them. Also, a lot of people would privately make fun of his appearance as he is said to be a dead ringer for the guy who appeared on Blue Clues, not to mention that they would make fun of his voice as they say he sounds like Dr. Evil from Austin Powers.
There were a great number of storyline leaks from Lagana, including the story on plans for Mr. Kennedy to be named Vince’s illegitimate son and details on Chris Jericho‘s viral campaign. During one meeting in October, Stephanie blew a gasket due to some storyline information being leaked on to the Internet and warned the agents & creative members that there were to be absolutely no leaks and if she discovered a person revealing private information to a newsletter or news site, he would be fired on the spot. Without saying so directly, Stephanie said she thought she had a pretty good idea on who was responsible for the storyline leaks. She looked directly at Lagana when saying it.
Later that afternoon, all the writers got laptop upgrades (everyone has a WWE-purchased laptop and Internet phone). Apparently, the laptops have shadowing software. The belief among some people in WWE is that Stephanie had been feeding him false info on very specific information to see if it would get out on to the Internet, and it eventually did. After she had finally caught him, he was fired.
There was also a thing a few weeks ago where Raw writer Brian Gewirtz went into Lagana’s office at Titan Towers and saw a bunch of wrestling newsletters sticking out of his laptop bag. Lagana tried to hide them, but obviously didn’t do it well enough. Lagana then claimed that he wasn’t actually reading them but they kept showing up at his house because his subscription hadn’t expired yet and he’d just happened to pick up all of his mail up from home. Over the next few days, Gewirtz made some snide remarks saying that he wasn’t surprised that news kept getting leaked on to the Internet. Michael Hayes, who hates wrestling newsletters and websites, also began to bury Lagana in a really demoralizing manner.
* Doctors medically John Cena in time for the January 7th Raw at the Mohegan Sun Casino. The original plan was for Cena to come out and announce that he would be making his in-ring return at the Royal Rumble. If you recall, it was reported that Cena was at the building that evening, and that there were plans for him to appear on Raw that night. Vince McMahon and Raw writer Brian Gewirtz wanted Cena to make his return that night, but Stephanie McMahon and Bruce Prichard argued for the surprise return. Vince changed his mind and opted to keep Cena’s return as a Royal Rumble surprise.
* Brock Lesnar spoke to Yahoo! Sports last night shortly after his submission loss to Frank Mir at UFC 81: “Breaking Point”. Lesnar looked unstoppable in the early part of the fight, but he just got by a submission specialist.
There’s no shame in losing. I lost my first amateur wrestling match as a kid. My coach told me when I was wanting to quit, that you first have to lose before you learn how not to lose. I don’t like to lose so I have to learn not to lose in this sport…. Obviously I’m disappointed, but it was a great experience. I must have worked on defending that leglock 1,000 times maybe. I thought I was going to get out…. I’m here for as long as I can fight here. I love what I’m doing. The company has been great.”
* WWE.com has now posted the following:
Bobby Lashley released
February 4, 2008
WWE has come to terms on the release of Bobby Lashley as of today. We wish Bobby the best in all future endeavors.
* One source of Bobby Lashley‘s discontention with WWE had to do with his payoff from WrestleMania 23. He received $250,000 for his efforts in his heavily-hyped match with Umaga. Lashley was said to be furious with the payoff, and he complained about it. Considering that he was the winner of the biggest-drawing match in WrestleMania history, he believes that was entitled to more. Also, even though he was injured for nearly half the year, several sources have indicated that Lashley earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million in 2007, and that’s without being much of a merchandise draw.
* Hulk Hogan was the centerpiece of a parade in New Orleans this past weekend for Mardi Gras. Hogan appeared as “King of Bacchus” – the Roman god of wine and intoxication.
* Recently hired announcer Mike Adamle has had a reputation for being bad on live TV. According to Dave Meltzer in the most recent Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Adamle was so bad when he worked as a sportscaster in the Chicago, Illinois market that local radio personality Steve Dahl would encourage people to tune in to his show so they could laugh about how bad that he messed things up. Adamle was brought into WWE to work in the Gene Okerlund role.
* TNA Wrestling sent out a text message today to its “TNA Mobile” subscribers that said: “TNA is in talks with coach Bobby Knight….more details to come.” Now, TNA’s official website is reporting that the company is trying to sign controversial college basketball coach Bobby Knight.
* Homicide vs. Chris Sabin vs. Jimmy Rave in a NASCAR match has been announced for tonight’s TNA iMPACT tapings.
* Ring of Honor pay-per-views were recently pulled from airing in Canada because buys were practically non-existant. One of the major cable carriers only had three dozen (36) PPV buys for a recent show. In comparison, TNA has had as low as a few hundred PPV buys for their most recent shows. WWE and UFC are pretty much the only companies to do any PPV business in Canada these days. Furthermore, one person posted a new thread on this news on the official Ring of Honor message board, and was swiftly banned. The thread was deleted as well.
* Black Machismo Jay Lethal is in for a big push in TNA. Company officials were said to be very pleased with his work in recent weeks and that is why he was the focal point of the match at Against All Odds Sunday night. Lethal is also one of the company’s biggest merchandise sellers.
* Although John Cena is friendly with virtually everyone in the locker room and the wrestlers respect his work ethic, he is also considered a “kiss ass” by some. Cena hangs out with Vince McMahon, something not uncommon for the company’s #1 babyface. One wrestler said, “Cena is definitely Vince’s boy and that’s why Triple H doesn’t even try to f— with him”. While Cena is viewed as a company man, Randy Orton is viewed as someone who will stand up to management.
* Kurt and Karen Angle have alot of booking freedom over their own segments and angles. According to one source, if the Angles have an idea, 9 times out of 10 it will be used even if it is thought to be a bad idea.
* TNA World Champion Kurt Angle had some interesting comments. Angle claimed that WWE is just “slightly” beating TNA in the TV ratings which is not true at all.
* After the holidays, Stephanie McMahon reviewed all cell phone records from the creative team specifically looking for anyone who might have called the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer. She did not find any evidence from anyone. She also did this a few years ago in a failed attempt to get her father to get rid of Paul Heyman, who she often butted heads with. After her most recent review of cell phone records, Stephanie lectured the creative team on leaking confidential information to people that run wrestling newsletters and Internet wrestling websites. WWE’s upset with key storylines leaking out over the Internet, many of which can be attributed to Meltzer because he’s usually the first person to report about them.
Additionally, the McMahons check their writers’ computers to see if they have any e-mail contact with people outside of WWE.
The creative team is said to be really paranoid around Stephanie McMahon because it’s difficult for WWE to keep most of their storyline plans quiet, a rare exception being John Cena’s surprise return at the Royal Rumble. Basically, everytime major storyline plans get out over the Internet, Stephanie gets upset and starts looking for answers.
This past fall, WWE pulled “Rowdy” Roddy Piper from making an appearance as a special guest referee at Cyber Sunday due to a fan’s Internet report on meeting Piper at a G.I. Joe convention. At the convention, the fan reported that Piper said that he was going to be at Cyber Sunday, which was before WWE started promoting it on television. The news greatly upset Vince McMahon because he believed that Piper was leaking storyline plans. However, it should be noted that a few weeks earlier, promotional commercials advertising Piper’s appearance aired in certain markets, most notably Canada.
According to one source, with the McMahons looking over everything they do, one member of creative recently bought a new cell phone for all of his non-business calls because he doesn’t want them checking his personal phone calls, and he’s someone that doesn’t speak to anyone about the wrestling business to the outside world.
* Team 3D’s Brother Ray was responsible for booking most of the six man tag match from last weekend’s Against All Odds that was designed to push Jay Lethal to the next level. The original plan was to give the rub to the Motor City Machineguns (who have done good merchandise business and are extremely popular among fans), but they have some heat for allegedly balking at different aspects of recent angles and “being too concerned with what fans online think”.
* At tonight’s No Way Out PPV, the Big Show made his big return to WWE. After Edge defeated Rey Mysterio, his music hit and he came down to the ring. Show has lost an incredible amount of weight – 108 pounds, according to him!
Big Show vowed to be a WWE champion again. He said he’s “Faster, leaner and ready to be back in WWE”. He then jumped to the outside of the ring proceeded to kick the hell out of the injured Rey Mysterio. He grabbed him by the throat and began smacking his injured arm. He threw Mysterio into the ring and was about to chokeslam him.
Boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, who was ringside, jumped into the ring to stop him. The two then had a major staredown. Big Show shoved Mayweather. Big Show then got down on his knees and taunted Mayweather to punch him. Mayweather landed a sick combination to Show’s face – busting him open big time.
* As you may have assumed, boxing champion Floyd Mayweather‘s appearance at last night’s No Way Out PPV was not an isolated incident. Mayweather is scheduled to be the big celebrity at this year’s WrestleMania — and he’ll do more than be a referee or special enforcer.
Mayweather is scheduled to wrestle on the show, most likely in a tag team match. He is expected to team with Rey Mysterio (assuming Rey is healthy enough to wrestle) in a match against Big Show and a tag partner. The status of Mysterio’s injury will determine who will wrestle in the Mayweather match.
According to reports, Vince McMahon and the creative team are said to be considering a number of different match possibilities. A source noted that plans are “constantly changing”. MVP‘s name has been mentioned as a possible candidate to team with Big Show. One would also have to assume that Shane McMahon is a strong candidate since he was there at ringside last night to calm down the Big Show after his nose got broken from a Mayweather punch.
* Hornswoggle joins the likes of Bill Goldberg, Kurt Angle, Ric Flair and Steve Austin by winning Pro Wrestling Illustrated Rookie Of The Year for the year 2007. He beat out the DiBiase brothers and Ring of Honor wrestler Pelle Primeau in the voting. Hornswoggle actually started his wrestling career in 2005 for the NWA Wisconsin promotion under the name “Shortstack,” where he won their X Division Championship.
Here are the results:
Rookie Of The Year – Hornswoggle (26%)
First Runner-Up – Ted DiBiase, Jr. (15%)
Second Runner-Up – Pelle Primeau (12%)
Third Runner-Up – Mike DiBiase (11%)
* Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan was backstage at RAW this week.
* Contrary to his on-camera persona as a flamboyant self-promoter, boxing champ Floyd Mayweather is said to be quiet and reserved backstage. He’s friendly when approached, but he primarily keeps to himself and spends most of his time hanging out with his entourage. He has impressed people with his professionalism when it’s time for business.
* The McMahons have been rumored to be interested in starting a mixed martial arts promotion. Shane McMahon in particular is said to be a big fan of the sport and the McMahon name has come up a number of times when various promotions have been up for sale (including PRIDE) or starting up.
Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban has spoken before about working with the McMahons in the MMA world. Cuban owns “HDNet”, a high-definition TV channel that features a lot of MMA shows. HE is trying to put together the heavyweight fight that everyone wants to see later this year – Randy Couture vs. Fedor Emelianenko.
In a recent interview with The Edmonton Sun, Cuban was asked:
Are you trying to form an MMA company to rival the UFC? Are you thinking of involving the McMahon family from the WWE?
His answer was: “Absolutely. We are looking to partner where we can, do our own promotions where it makes sense. We think the future is built around the fighters and their personalities. No one else has this focus and partnership approach. We think it’s a winner.”
* Ring of Honor announced at their Sixth Anniversary show last night from the Manhattan Center in New York City that the company would run at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on May 10th. The event will be a big undertaking for the company as the venue holds approximately 3,000 fans, much larger than the Manhattan Center that holds about 1,300 fans.
* Mike Johnson of the Professional Wrestling Insider is reporting that former ECW Champion CM Punk was backstage at last night’s Ring of Honor show visiting with friends. Apparently Punk was in New York for promotional appearances.
* Some people within TNA recently sent out feelers to people in WWE about taking BG James and Kip James off of their hands. WWE actually said they would possibly consider BG James (his brother Scott Armstrong is currently a referee for ECW), but said they want absolutely nothing to do with Kip James.
* John Cena had some strong words for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a recent interview with The Sun out of the United Kingdom. Cena said, “He is a genuinely nice guy and a fantastic human being.
“What I kind of get peeved about, and this is my Achilles heel, is that I’ve wanted to do this my whole life.
“Rock falls into that category. At one point he loved wrestling and wanted to do this all his life.
“So explain to me why he can’t come back.
“Simply put it’s because he wants to be an actor and there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s very good and very successful. Associating with sports entertainment doesn’t do much for his acting career. I get it.
“Just don’t f*** me around and tell me that you love this.
“That’s the only thing that gets me really p***ed off.”
* Regarding Ace Steel, a developmental wrestler who was released by WWE a few weeks ago, former creative team member Court Bauer had been pushing for Steel to be hired for a long time and finally got him a gig doing the Donald Trump angle as an impersonator on Raw last year. Steel won everyone over and was given a developmental deal.
Last summer, there was an idea for he and Colt Cabana (who Steel trained, along with CM Punk) to be brought up to the main roster to play Edge‘s henchman, with Steele being the serious one and Cabana being the goofy one. However, Edge went down with an injury, and the idea went on the backburner. When Edge returned from injurt last November, WWE went with the Major Brothers instead, who were already on the roster but weren’t doing anything
* As of late, Shane McMahon has drastically increased his presence at creative team meetings and is throwing out all sorts of suggestions. People backstage have noted that the timing is interesting given that Stephanie is heading out on maternity leave in June.
– Tune back in next time for more Dirt Sheet History as we continue 2008.
Stories are credited from Rajah, PWTorch, PWInsider and The Wrestling Observer. Month name photo art is by Phillip Martin.
All past editions of Dirt Sheet History are found here.