Huge Names Confirmed For 1000th Raw, WWE Signs Well-Known Indy Talent, Proof Randy Orton’s Stock Has Plummeted & What Vince McMahon Did To Send A Message On WWE TV, The Rock’s WWE Return Revealed, Identity Of The Anonymous Raw GM, Mysterio’s Return Set, Kharma Gone From WWE, Batista Says He’s Not Returning This Year, WWE Gets Sheen’d, CM Punk Puts Over Top TNA Talent, New TNA Champion; Backstage News On How Aries Flourished In The Eyes Of Management, Ask WNW Archive & All The Big News From This Past Week

WWE News

- Shawn Michaels has teamed with Deuce Brand to launch a “Show Stopper” watch as part of their “Signature Series.” The watch is priced at $30 and is available for pre-order at this link.

- Lilian Garcia will sing the National Anthem prior to the September 30th San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets NFL game.

- WWE issued the following press release on David Otunga joining the cast in the upcoming thrilled, “The Hive,” starring Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin:

STAMFORD, Conn. – As first reported by Deadline, WWE Studios and Troika Pictures announced they will co-produce and co-finance the upcoming thriller, “The Hive,” starring Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin. WWE Superstar David Otunga has also announced he’ll join the cast. Principal photography is scheduled to commence July 6 in and around Los Angeles.

“Finally! Excited to start on my first movie role alongside Halle Berry in “The Hive” Thank you @TroikaPictures / Sony @WWEStudios,” @DavidOtunga Tweeted Thursday.

The thriller, to be directed by Brad Anderson (“The Machinist,” “Transsiberian”), was written by Rich D’Ovidio (“Exit Wounds,” “Thir13en Ghosts”) and based on a story by Rich D’Ovidio, Nicole D’Ovidio and Jon Bokencamp.

In the film, Emergency Call Center Operator Jordan (Berry) takes a call from a teenage girl, Casey (Breslin), who has been abducted and carried away in the trunk of a car. The kidnapping plays out in real time as Jordan and Casey work together to track down the killer in this high stakes thriller. Otunga plays Officer Devans, a Los Angeles cop who works hand-in-hand with Jordan to find the kidnapper.

“The Hive” is being produced by Troika’s Michael Helfant, Robert Stein and Bradley Gallo, WWE Studios’ Michael Luisi and Jeff Graup. William Gallo, Philip M. Cohen and Chip Rosenbloom are executive producers.

“‘The Hive’ is an ideal addition to WWE Studios’ slate of films given its strong award-winning cast and exciting story,” said WWE Studios president Michael Luisi. “We are looking forward to working with Brad Anderson and Troika Pictures on this picture.”

“We are very excited to partner with WWE Studios on this production,” added Stein and Helfant. “WWE has a passionate fan base and incredible marketing muscle. We look forward to working with Michael and his entire team.”

WWE will utilize its extensive global reach through its television, digital media and print assets to market the release of the film. Sierra Affinity is handling foreign pre-sales. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA) has U.S. rights.

Bradley Buchanan, Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs, negotiated on behalf of WWE Studios.

- WWE has signed Ben Satterly, better known as PAC, to a contract with the company. While I do not have 100% confirmation, I believe it is a developmental deal. PAC became known to fans in the United States while working for Dragon Gate USA and worked for New Japan Pro Wrestling in May.

- – Below is the updated promotional information for the 1000th episode of Raw which will take place on Monday, July 23, 2012 from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri:

The Historic 1,000th Episode of RAW!

For nearly two decades, Monday Night RAW has been the place to be. Now, here in St. Louis, comes an unprecedented event. The record breaking 1,000th episode of RAW celebration!

Be here at the Scottrade Center and celebrate with your favorite RAW & Smackdown Superstars. Don’t miss your chance to be part of this monumental RAW.

See all of your favorite WWE Superstars from RAW & Smackdown under one roof for one ticket price on this historic night!

See the following in action:

2 on 1 Handicap Match
John Cena vs. The Big Show & General Manager John Laurinaitis
WWE Board of Directors John Laurinaitis must fulfill his obligations and compete in this advertised match

For one night only!!
The return of “DX” – Triple H & “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels

Brock Lesnar returns to St. Louis!
For the first time in over 9 years! What will happen when Brock Lesnar & Triple H are under one roof?

Bret “Hitman” Hart returns to St. Louis for the first time in over 15 years!

Also, see the following WWE Superstars
CM Punk
Daniel Bryan
Kane
Sheamus
Chris Jericho
Alberto Del Rio
The Divas
And Many More!!

Card is subject to change.

- The expected Legend for this week’s Raw Supershow is Bob Backlund. My source was awaiting for confirmation that Backlund had arrived in Denver but he was the name that was going around in many circles over the weekend. As we’ve seen on Raw Supershow in recent weeks, WWE is bringing back past names to work brief matches as part of the build to the 1000th episode of Raw on July 23, 2012.

- WWE Champion CM Punk congratulated Austin Aries, Samoa Joe and Zema Ion for victories at TNA Destination X on Twitter. Below is the Tweet:

- Sara Del Rey is heading to WWE pending a physical. Sara is well-known from her work on the indy scene including spectacular matches in Ring of Honor, SHIMMER and CHIKARA. As long as she passes her physical, her contract will be signed and she is expected to report to Florida Championship Wrestling in Tampa.

- There was some surprise in WWE about the company bringing back Diamond Dallas Page for a segment on last week’s Raw Supershow. I’m told there have been several ideas pitched for him over the last few years but they had always been shot down. Vince McMahon headed up opposition for using DDP on television because he felt there was no need to remind the audience about him and more specifically the Diamond Cutter. The thinking was why promote the guy that uses the same finisher as of one of the most-protected top guys in the company in Randy Orton. With Orton still in the company doghouse because of his second official Wellness violation, he’s no longer considered the priority he once was. My source tells me not only does Vince not care as much about protecting Orton, he insisted that Page use the Diamond Cutter to show Orton he’s not bigger than the company.

- To update/correct my earlier report on WWE signing Sara Del Rey, I’m told her WWE contract is inked. Any physical and medical tests have already taken place and the deal has been finalized.

- In a much lesser-known signing, WWE has signed Matt Taven to a developmental contract.

- Bob Backlund is backstage at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. As we broke this morning here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium, the plan is for Backlund to be the Legend on Raw Supershow this week that returns to celebrate the build to the 1000th episode of Raw on July 23, 2012.

- The Rock just wrote the following on Twitter:

The 1000th episode of Raw will take place Monday, July 23, 2012 from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. We’ll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com beginning at 8 PM EDT.

- Mick Foley announced on Twitter Monday night that he’ll be on the 1000th episode of Raw. The following is his official Tweet:

Foley joins The Rock, Bret Hart, D-Generation X and Brock Lesnar as stars have announced they’ll be on the 1000th Raw on July 23, 2012.

- WWE Tag Team Champions Kofi Kingston & R-Truth will face Hunico & Camacho in the Money in the Bank pre-show match at 7:30 PM EDT. We’ll be streaming the live video feed of the match and the entire pre-show here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- Sin Cara qualified for the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank ladder match on this week’s Raw Supershow, beating Heath Slater. Cara joins Damien Sandow, Tyson Kidd, Christian, Santino Marella, Tensai, Cody Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler as participants.

- Bob Backlund returned to WWE on this week’s Raw Supershow, making Heath Slater tap out in the Crossface chickenwing in an unofficial match (there was no referee). Backlund’s appearance, first broken here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium this morning, was part of WWE bringing in past talent to celebrate the build to the 1000th episode of Raw on July 23, 2012.

- WWE announced on this week’s Raw Supershow a new social media concept that will begin on the 1000th Raw on July 23, 2012. The concept is called #Rawactive and will utilize Twitter, Shazam and TOUT. Fans will be able to “help create Raw” by using the aforementioned applications. Stephanie McMahon was the first to mention these additions to the show in an interview back in May.

- WWE announced on this week’s Raw Supershow the identity of the Anonymous Raw General Manager was Hornswoggle.

- Rey Mysterio is being advertised locally for next week’s Smackdown taping from the Valley View Casino in San Diego, California. WWE is not advertising him as of this writing.

- To update from an earlier item, Rey Mysterio is being officially advertised for next week’s Smackdown taping from the Valley View Casino in San Diego, California. Mysterio has been out all year due to a knee injury followed by a 60-day Wellness Policy suspension.

- InsideHalton.com has a detailed interview online with WWE United States Champion Santino Marella. You can read it at this link.

- Independent worker Barry Piotrowski talked about jobbing to Ryback at the June 26th Smackdown taping at this link.

- Jillian Hall is not a fan of Heath Slater’s work on WWE programming. The former WWE Diva wrote the following on Twitter:

- Finlay is officially back with WWE as a producer. It’s believed he was re-hired over Wrestlemania XXVIII weekend but was given the opportunity to finish independent dates. Finlay was fired from WWE in March 2011 after scripting The Miz to interrupt the National Anthem at a live event in which members of the National Guard were in attendance.

- Chris Jericho wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that his third autobiography will be out “late 2013.” Below is the official Tweet:

- AZCentral.com has a new Q&A online with Big Show to promote Sunday’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view in Phoenix. Below is an excerpt:

Question: Does being such a big guy make traveling difficult?

Answer: I’m fortunate enough to have my own tour bus. I don’t have to rent cars and stay in hotels. I travel on a bus that has a shower that fits and a bed that fits. It’s a home away from home and gives me a little bit of privacy and a place to mellow out before the show. It’s not like I can go in a Prius.

Q: You’ve done some acting. Is that something you’ll keep pursuing?

A: I don’t know. I enjoy it. It’s a skill set I need to improve to be good at, but I know I’m not “The Rock” (Dwayne Johnson). I’m not blessed with extremely good looks and charms. I fit a particular niche, but we’ll see what comes down the road. Right now, I’m still doing what I love.

Q: You turned 40 this year, and this career can’t be easy to age in.

A: I’ve had an 18-year career, and physically and mentally, I feel fantastic. I have too much fun doing what I’m doing to stop. Barring injuries, I plan on doing this a while longer. Obviously, the sun sets on every athlete at some point, but I don’t think that time is near.

Click here to read the Q&A in its entirety.

- Chael Sonnen shot down rumors he was headed to WWE following his loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 148. The following is an excerpt from an article by the USA Today:

Sonnen also shot down rumors of a potential move to the WWE. He said he’d go to the WWE as a fan, “but I go back to my promoter Dana White at the end of the night,” he said.

Click here for their coverage.

- TechCrunch.com is reporting that WWE is an investor in the new social video application TOUT. This explains WWE’s heavy promotion of the platform along with Twitter and Shazam. To read more about how WWE plans to incorporate the applications in their programming, click here.

- CM Punk paid tribute to his friend Chael Sonnen during the mixed tag match on this week’s Raw Supershow. Did you miss? Click here for coverage by Deadspin.

- WWE sent out a company release on Wednesday to note they will report its second quarter earnings for 2012 on Thursday, August 2, 2012. Below is the official press release:

STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– WWE (NYSE:WWE) announced that it will report its 2012 second quarter results on August 2, 2012, before the opening of the market. The Company’s Chairman and CEO, Vincent K. McMahon, and senior management will host a conference call beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET to discuss the results.

All interested parties are welcome to listen to a live web cast that will be hosted through the Company’s web site at corporate.wwe.com. Participants can access the conference call by dialing 855-993-1400 (toll free) or 630-691-2763 from outside the U.S. (conference ID for both lines: WWE). Please reserve a line 15 minutes prior to the start time of the conference call.

The earnings release and presentation to be referenced during the call will be available at corporate.wwe.com. A replay of the call will be available approximately two hours after the conference call concludes, and can be accessed on the Company’s web site.

- Digital Spy has a new Q&A online with World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus. Below is an excerpt:

How did it feel to beat Daniel Bryan in just 18 seconds?
“It was phenomenal. It was my second WrestleMania, I had my whole family there. I opened the WrestleMania show, became the World Heavyweight Champion in 18 seconds so a record was made there and it was an incredible experience for me, one I will never forget.”

You had a bad neck injury at the start of your career – has that made you more careful? Can you be more careful?
“I trained for about two and a half months and then I got hurt, I got into WWE properly in ’05. You can’t think about that. If you go in thinking that you might hurt yourself, then you’re gonna hurt yourself. You’re going to be more likely to cause something to strain or mess up. I think that you have to have a good mind about you.

“But it also gives us a good message to give to fans – please don’t try what we do – we’re highly trained and still injuries can occur. If you want to imitate what we do, buy the action figures or play the video games. Don’t actually physically try what we do.”

If you could wrestle anyone in history, who would it be?
“I definitely think The Undertaker. The Undertaker is the one I want for WrestleMania XXIX or XXX. Obviously something like that would be – his streak – no-one has ever beaten him on his streak and I could be the first to ever do that.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- peHUB has a new article online on WWE investing in TOUT. The piece features a quote from Stephanie McMahon who says investing in startups is something the company is exploring.

“Tout is really the first deal that we’ve done of this kind,” Stephanie said. “But we’re very opportunistic, so if the right opportunity came along, we’d definitely consider it.” Investing in startups is “something we’re exploring.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- VH1 is reporting that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin will appear in the feature film Grown Ups 2. Other cast members include Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Andy Samberg, Kevin James and many other big names.

- A couple of weeks ago word leaked that Bruno Sammartino met with Triple H regarding a possible induction into the WWE Hall of Fame over Wrestlemania XXIX weekend next year in New York/New Jersey. The rumor was Bruno was unimpressed with Hunter which prompted the following statement by Sal Corrente (who claimed to be representing Sammartino):

“It has come to our attention that someone has claimed that Bruno was unimpressed with Triple H. That is an absolutely false statement Bruno had no issue what so ever with Triple H. He liked Triple H and enjoyed their conversation but for reasons personal to Bruno he has decided not to accept the induction in no way shape or form is the refusal a reflection on Triple H or his presentation or conversations with Bruno.”

I’m told Sammartino had no idea that release was being sent out and did not authorize the statement. Corrente apparently took it upon himself to do some damage control even though sources close to Sammartino tell me under the condition of anonymity that he was “very unimpressed” with Triple H. Another factor in all of this is that Bruno is upset about WWE interfering in some of his business dealings that have cost him more money than he would make for appearing at their Hall of Fame ceremony.  It’s not that Bruno needs the money but rather is a “very principled man” and told Hunter that he means more to the WWE Hall of Fame than the WWE Hall of Fame means to him.

I can confirm the plan is to hold next year’s ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York City and WWE really wants to get Bruno in, however, he’s still very sour over a business deal that went bad a few years back because WWE got in the way.

- Kharma’s WWE status has been called into question after her Twitter profile was moved to the company’s Alumni list. Her profile is also not featured in the Divas section over on dot com. Kharma responded to the change with the following Tweets:

- WWE did an angle Thursday at San Diego Comic-Con International where Alberto Del Rio interrupted Sheamus’ Q&A session to promote their match for the World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank on Sunday. Del Rio and Sheamus had a kayfabe exchange that resulted in Sheamus vowing to Brouge Kick Del Rio’s head off on Sunday.

- “Fred 3: Camp Fred” starring John Cena as Fred’s imaginary dad is set to premiere on Nickelodeon on Saturday, July 28 at 8 PM EDT.

- “The Man With The Iron Fist” featuring former WWE star Dave Batista, Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu is slated to hit theaters on November 2, 2012.

- TMZ is reporting that Charlie Sheen is shutting down his Twitter account within days or possibly “mere hours.” This could be a major problem for WWE as they are promoting Sheen as the Social Media Ambassador for the 1000th episode of Raw on July 23, 2012.  The company sent out a press release in late-June, claiming that Sheen would Tweet during Raw, “providing up-to-the-minute commentary on the night’s action to his 7.5 million Twitter followers.”

- Wrestling News World reader Swanson sent word that Dave Batista was on “Whats Trending” on YouTube Thursday night from Comic Con 2012. In it, Batista said he definitely wouldn’t be returning to WWE this year but was open to returning in the future. He mentioned in the beginning of the interview that he has lost 30 pounds since leaving WWE a couple years ago.

- WWE has a new Q&A online with Vince McMahon talking about 1000 episodes of Raw. Below is an excerpt:

As we approach Raw’s 1,000th episode we’ve got to ask — who came up with the name Raw?

I did. The name “Raw” came out of my head. I was trying to come up with a word that would embody everything we wanted the program to be. It had to be gritty. It had to be cutting edge. It had to be confrontational. Raw fit perfectly.

And Raw actually ran the competition out of business. Is that the show’s biggest accomplishment?

I don’t think we drove WCW out of business. That was certainly never our intent. That was the mindset of Ted Turner and WCW, but not WWE. See, if you spend all of your energy trying to kill the other guy, your product suffers. If you don’t kill the other guy, then he’s going to come back at you, and when he comes back, you won’t have done anything to make your house better. It’s no different than being in a fight and knowing that, if the other guy keeps on hitting you, that son of a bitch is going to wear himself out pretty fast.

Any recent train wrecks come to mind?

To be honest, I’ve never been completely satisfied with a show. And I don’t think I ever will be. I’m always of the mindset that “well, maybe I could’ve done this differently,” or, “maybe we could have added more of this, and taken away more of this.” And that’s purely based on the reaction of the live audience. But, the success of a show is an overall thing. It’s not just based on ratings. There are so many different ways to judge whether or not a series of shows is successful.

Who was the most important Superstar in the evolution of Raw?

There’s no question that guys like Triple H, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, and The Undertaker have all made enormous contributions to this company, but if there was one single personality that exemplified Raw in the truest sense of what I wanted it to be, it would be “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

So, 1,000 episodes down. What’s the goal looking toward episode 2,000 of WWE Monday Night Raw?

The goal will be to remain flexible, and to adapt, so that WWE can give the audience what they want. Twenty years from now, who knows what that will end up being?

Click here to read the Q&A in its entirety.

- It was revealed at the San Diego Comic-Con that another WWE star will be appearing on the USA Network original series “Psych” next season. While the name was not announced, it was said it will not be John Cena. Both he and The Miz have appeared on the series previously.

- WWE has quietly released Kharma, moving her profile to the Alumni section of dot com. You can view it at this link. While I have not been specifically told WWE has released her, everything indicates that her brief and limited stint in the company has ended.

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