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LeBron James gets his WWE championship belt from The Rock

LeBron-James-WWE-beltA few weeks ago, LeBron James celebrated his 29th birthday and decided he needs an official WWE championship belt. He took to Twitter to ask where he can get one, and WWE stars John Cena and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson both offered to take care of the two-time NBA champion. The Rock came through.

After the Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night, LeBron took to Instagram to show off his new hardware.

“Special thanks to @therock for making my childhood dream come true!” he wrote. “U have no idea how many couches and old mattresses I jumped off thinking I was one of y’all! U, Ultimate Warrior, Sting, Legion of Doom, Goldberg and The Undertaker I could watch all day plus many more! I feel like a little kid again. Thanks again Champ! #CanUSmell#StriveForGreatness.”

It must be a pretty humbling feeling for The Rock to know that he can give something to someone like LeBron James that he doesn’t already have.

As a whole, WWE belts have become very popular across sports over the past year or so. LeSean McCoy draped one over his shoulder after winning the rushing title this season. Last season, the Phoenix Coyotes began handing out a championship belt to their player of the game. In December, Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr put on a belt after his team won the Mountain West Conference. I’m surprised it took LeBron this long to get in on it.

H/T SI Hot Clicks

Chael Sonnen paid for a wrestler he didn’t know to train in Russia

Chael SonnenChael Sonnen has created a persona of a loudmouth “bad guy” in the UFC world, but he actually is a pretty good guy away from it. Sonnen comes from a wrestling background and is a huge advocate for the sport. It means so much to him that he even randomly paid for a former US Olympic wrestler to train in Russia a few years ago.

Bloody Elbow’s Mike Riordan shared the story Friday of how Sonnen learned about Beijing Olympian Andy Hrovat’s desire to train in Russia. Hrovat was 28 and did not medal in Beijing, but he wanted to go to North Ossetia — the heart of world-class wrestling — to learn more about the sport from the best in the world. Hrovat went to Russia a few times in 2009, and the coaches told him he should come back and stay longer term so he could really learn more. He did that thanks to some help from Sonnen, whom he actually wrestled in college, though he doubted Sonnen remembered it.

[Related: Chael Sonnen blasts Olympic committee for getting rid of wrestling]

Hrovat recalled to Bloody Elbow that Sonnen contacted him at random following his first fight with Anderson Silva in 2010 to tell him he was going to send him some money.

So after the [Sonnen-Silva fight], I get an email from him saying ‘Hey, I want to send you some money, it’s going to be in an envelope that looks like junk mail, because it was from his bank, his bank just cut a check and sent it and they send them in unmarked envelopes so people don’t steal the mail.

He sent me three or four thousand dollars, and for me every thousand dollars was a month’s pay. Room and board were a thousand dollars a month.

What would possess Sonnen to send a few thousand dollars to a random wrestler he didn’t know? He apparently saw an interview where Hrovat expressed a desire to go train in Russia. Sonnen liked the idea and wanted to contribute, which is why he reached out. Sonnen continued to send money to Hrovat and the two kept in touch via email.

Hrovat didn’t make the London Olympics team, but he learned a lot about wrestling from his time in Russia, and he’s now sharing that knowledge as a coach of the Cliff Keen wrestling club. Sonnen’s investment did not pay off with a medal at the Olympics, but maybe it will help ensure the future of American wrestlers is better thanks to some of the knowledge Hrovat acquired during his training.

Stone Cold Steve Austin offers DeSean Jackson huge safe after burglary

desean-jacksonPhiladelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson had his South Philadelphia home burglarized last week while he was in Miami. The thieves reportedly made off with more than $250,000 in cash, $125,000 in jewelry and two handguns. Jackson has since offered a $50,000 reward to anyone who has information that might help solve the crime.

While the offer of $50,000 still stands, WWE legend Stone Cold Steve Austin has presented Jackson with an offer of his own. During the burglarly, one of DeSean’s safes was stolen and two were broken into. Stone Cold is confident that won’t happen with a Fort Knox safe.

Stone Cold endorses Fort Knox, and he apparently believes the thieves would not have been so successful at Jackson’s house if he had one their state-of-the-art safes. If I were Jackson, I’d just ask Austin to guard my door and give any intruders a Stone Cold Stunner. That would probably be more effective.

H/T Crossing Broad

Mae Young dies at 90

Mae YoungWrestling pioneer Mae Young died at her South Carolina home on Tuesday at the age of 90.

Young was hospitalized and placed on life support in South Carolina last month after her health started to fail. She was recently placed under hospice care and was breathing with the assistance of a machine, the Post & Courier reported. Young was incorrectly reported to have died last week, but she hung on for five more days before passing away.

“There will never be another Mae Young,” WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon said of Young in a statement. “Her longevity in sports entertainment may never be matched, and I will forever be grateful for all of her contributions to the industry. On behalf of WWE, I extend our sincerest condolences to her family and friends.”

Though Young said she was born in 1923, some friends believe she may have lied about her age and been born four years earlier. Young is the only person to hold the distinction of wrestling in nine different decades. She wrestled in high school in Oklahoma and then made her professional wrestling debut in 1939. She wrestled during and after World War II, and she was a prominent figure in National Wrestling Alliance.

Young, who was known as “The Queen” and “The Great Mae Young,” joined the WWF in 1999. She was named “Miss Royal Rumble 2000″ at age 76 after winning a bikini contest by supposedly taking off her top. She dated Mark Henry as part of a storyline and even got pregnant and delivered a prosthetic hand for a child for the story.

Young was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004 and the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. Her last match was an “Old School” edition of RAW in 2010. She continued to be a part of WWE storylines all the way up through last year.

The Post & Courier’s incorrect report last week that Young had died led to an outpouring of positive sentiment from many wrestling figures:

[Read more...]

Ric Flair reportedly not attending Panthers-Niners game due to arrest warrant

Ric FlairBy now you have probably heard about Ric Flair traveling to Green Bay on Sunday to pump up the San Francisco 49ers before their playoff game against the Packers. It may have seemed like a harmless publicity stunt, but many Carolina Panthers fans do not see it that way.

After Steve Smith ripped Flair — who has lived in Charlotte and been a fan of the area’s sports teams — for supporting the Niners, the Nature Boy’s camp said he had received death threats from Panthers fans and would not be attending Sunday’s game at Bank of America Stadium. The Charlotte Business Journal told a different story on Thursday, noting that Flair currently has a warrant out for his arrest in North Carolina.

On July 3, Mecklenburg District Court JudgeChristy T. Mann signed an order for the arrest of one Richard Fliehr on contempt of court violations. Legal documents show the former wrestler failed to meet the terms of a June 18 order.

That order called for the wrestler to pay $32,352.51 in unpaid post-separation support and legal fees by 5 p.m. on June 27 and maintain support of his estranged spouse’s car lease and insurance and health insurance, documents show.

The court order also states that Fliehr (Nature Boy’s real name) is required to turn himself in and “shall remain in the custody of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff until he pays all sums required.”

Well, that certainly throws a depressing kink in the storyline. Here we are thinking Flair has become public enemy No. 1 for Panthers fans and is not welcome in their stadium, when in reality the man is dealing with a warrant. Things just got a little less WWE.

H/T The Big Lead

Brock Lesnar in talks with Dana White about a UFC return?

Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar is very much involved with WWE, but he’s also been the subject of many MMA rumors in the past few weeks. It sounds like those rumors might be for good reason.

Though Lesnar did not show up to UFC 168 as was rumored, UFC boss Dana White reportedly told LA Times reporter Lance Pugmire that he’s been in talks with Brock.

Many believe all the talk about Brock’s involvement with the UFC was just a publicity stunt. Brock has an exclusive contract with WWE for big money and low appearances. He’s expected to wrestle at WrestleMania in April. He hasn’t fought in the UFC since losing to Alistair Overeem a little over two years ago. Why would he want back in when the WWE is giving him a great deal? It doesn’t make much sense, regardless of the rumors.

The UFC, though, could really use Brock. He was their biggest pay-per-view draw and, with Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva out for the time being, they need more stars.

Ric Flair reportedly received death threats, will not attend Niners-Panthers game

Ric FlairRic Flair has somehow become a popular topic of discussion during the most exciting time of the year for NFL fans. The 64-year-old wrestling legend pumped up the San Francisco 49ers before their playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, and the Niners came away with a road win at Lambeau Field. As a result, Flair has fallen out of grace with Panthers fans.

Flair has lived in Charlotte and been a fan of the area’s sports teams, with his famous “wooo” formerly playing on the stadium scoreboard during Panthers game. Earlier this week, Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith ripped the Nature Boy for his support of the Niners. Apparently some Carolina fans have taken it to another level.

“When the 49ers reached out and WWE asked Ric to jet up there, of course he said yes,” Melinda Morris Zanoni, Flair’s agent at Legacy Talent and Entertainment, said in a statement. “And he’s friends with a bunch of the 49ers just like he is with the Panthers, Packers, and many other NFL players.  But no, Ric does not intend on attending the Panthers vs. 49ers game this weekend.”

As Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer noted, Flair has also received death threats from Panthers fans since giving his pep talk to the 49ers. That’s a shame. You can understand Panthers fans being upset that Flair visited an opponent, but this should all be in good fun. Death threats are never good fun.

“We know fans are passionate about their teams, but some of the choice language we have been receiving is scaring off our interns,” Zanoni added.

Smith loves drama, which made him the perfect candidate to speak out against Flair. That being said, Flair has been an entertainer his entire life. He certainly doesn’t deserve to be threatened over a ridiculous pep talk.

H/T The Big Lead