By Mike Mooneyham
Feb. 13, 2005
Brock Lesnar, who abandoned a lucrative pro wrestling career to pursue a long-shot dream in the NFL, has come full circle.
The 6-3, 295-pound three-time WWE heavyweight champion last week filed a lawsuit against his former employer. The suit, filed in a Bridgeport, Conn., federal court, claims the company has prevented him from earning a living in his chosen field due to a no-compete clause he agreed to last year when WWE offered to give him an early contract release. The worldwide clause prevents Lesnar from working for any professional wrestling or professional fighting promotions. The contract doesn’t expire until June 30, 2010.
Lesnar, who is preparing for his spring marriage to Rena Mero, the former WWE diva and Playboy centerfold known as Sable, decided nearly a year ago that he didn’t want to wrestle in WWE anymore, largely because of the grueling travel schedule, but instead wanted to pursue his dream of becoming a professional football player. While making the preseason squad for the Minnesota Vikings, Lesnar was cut before the end of the season and was not retained on the practice squad. The former NCAA heavyweight champion at the University of Minnesota opted not to play for the Arena Football League or NFL Europe where he could gain the necessary football experience he lacked.In recent weeks the 27-year-old Lesnar has contacted WWE about a possible return, but his calls reportedly have gone unanswered, with WWE officials privately saying that his demands are unreasonable. A number of WWE performers, including heavyweight champion Triple H (Paul Levesque), have stated publicly that Lesnar would not be welcomed back with open arms due to his abrupt departure. Lesnar also hurt his chances for a smooth return with his critical remarks about the business shortly after leaving.
Lesnar’s suit asks that the court declare the agreement void because it is “overly broad, unreasonable, oppressive, unfair and inequitable,” according to a report in the Connecticut Post newspaper.
WWE head legal counsel Jerry McDevitt, arguing that the company invested considerable money and time into promoting him as a star, said the company will fight the suit.
Lesnar was 22 when he first signed with WWE in June 2000. Billed as “The Next Big Thing,” he became the youngest world champion in company history when he defeated The Rock in 2002.
– The relationship between WWE and wrestling superstar-turned-Hollywood actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson appears to be over – at least for now.
“They’ve wanted for a long time to get into the movie business and, I’m not too sure, I think like low-budget movies, a lot of them straight to video. I think they wanted to and were looking for different distributors. No, my contract is actually up with them, it was up last year, so I’m done,” Johnson said in a recent interview on the IGN Web site.
The Rock, interviewed in the latest issue of Playboy, said that although he was finished with the company contractually, there will always be a bond.
“Vince (McMahon) and I are very close. We worked together, my grandfather worked for his dad, and my dad worked for him. He’s been as supportive as a dad to me. He knew I loved being in ‘The Mummy Returns.’ I told him I wanted to break into films with ‘The Scorpion King’ but that I’d wrestle as well.
“I grew up in wrestling. I am proud that my grandfather and dad wrestled. But when I filmed ‘The Scorpion King’ I worked through the week, and on Sunday I would fly somewhere to do Raw or a pay-per-view. I had no days off, and it almost killed me. I wanted to give 110 percent to acting, and after that I realized I’d have to choose.”
– One WWE diva made big news last week, while another could be on the way out.
New Raw diva Candice Michelle (Candice Beckman) was featured in GoDaddy.com’s risqué Super Bowl ad. In the commercial Michelle plays the role of a buxom woman in a tank top experiencing a “wardrobe malfunction” during a faux Senate hearing about “broadcast censorship” and decency over the airwaves. One elderly committee member reaches for his oxygen. A dour woman on the panel says, “May I suggest a turtleneck?”
“I totally had to get into character,” Michelle told the WWE Web site last week. “But it’s kind of my normal-life character in a way. I mean, I’m not giddy and weird like that, but if you put me in front of a committee like that, it’s like … this is who I am.”
Michelle said she thought the ad, plugging a previously unknown company that registers domain names on the Internet, was timely and helped expose a level of hypocrisy. “When you watch the video,” she said, “all you see is cleavage, which you see on a daily basis on TV and in real life. So I think it’s funny that there’s such a big controversy over cleavage.”
A thirty-second version of the ad ran during the game’s first quarter. A second, longer version was supposed to air with two minutes left, but was pulled in a move that might have helped generate even more publicity for Michelle and the first-time Super Bowl sponsor. Reports of Fox’s self-censorship flooded the media last week, showing up everywhere from the New York Times to cable TV.
“Because they pulled it,” said Michelle, “it’s getting more press than it would have if they’d just played it … At first I was thinking, ‘Oh, they didn’t play it.’ Now I’m glad they didn’t play it because everybody’s calling me.”
The 26-year-old Milwaukee native has done some movie and TV work, was a “Juggy Girl” on Comedy Central’s “The Man Show” and has modeled for Playboy. Naturally she hopes to parlay her 30 seconds of fame into more substantial work, and hopes WWE will provide a springboard. “Everybody who knows who I am knows that a huge part of my life is Raw,” she said. “So hopefully it’ll bring in more people who don’t know that much about wrestling.”
All, however, isn’t grins and giggles in divaland.
Smackdown diva Amy Weber left the company’s recent tour of Japan early following reports of harassment and backstage ribbing. Weber became upset when her picture was found on a flyer for a Japanese strip club, and the flyer was passed around during a WWE flight.
Weber steadfastly denied ever working for the club, saying the establishment used her photo without authorization, and claims she was harassed by co-workers on a flight from Japan to Anchorage. Weber, who had been playing the role of WWE champion John Bradshaw Layfield’s image consultant on Smackdown, flew home before the Anchorage show last Sunday.
– Christy Hemme, winner of WWE’s Raw Diva Search, will be featured in Playboy’s April issue. The 23-year-old California native also has been appearing in several infomercials for a new line of Girls Gone Wild-type videos and appears in at least one of them. She has appeared as a “Juggy Girl” on “The Man Show,” an MTV video dancer, a “Harley Girl” and a member of the New York Euphoria of the Lingerie Football League.
– Elementary school teacher Pamela Turner, who was named Miss Monday Nitro in 1997 by WCW, was arrested last week and charged with sexual battery and statutory rape. The 27-year-old teacher allegedly had an ongoing sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student in McMinnville, Tenn.
Turner lived at the boy’s house “for a brief period of time when she was moving from residence to residence,” according to the district attorney. He added that the boy’s parents knew she was living there but didn’t know anything about a sexual relationship.
Turner, who teaches physical education and coached girls basketball at Centertown Elementary in McMinnville, is in the process of divorce from Chris Turner, who is the head boys basketball coach at Warren County High School, the Southern Standard newspaper in McMinnville reported Tuesday. They were married in July 2003, and Chris Turner filed for divorce Jan. 14, citing inappropriate marital conduct by his wife.
– WWE champ John Bradshaw Layfield tied the knot with Fox News Network’s Meredith Whitney this weekend.
Last weekend Booker T (Booker Huffman) married longtime girlfriend Sharmell Sullivan (formerly valet Paisley and Nitro Girl Storm in WCW) in the bride’s hometown of Gary, Ind. Former Nitro Girl Chae was on hand as a bridesmaid.
Sullivan, 33, graduated valedictorian from Gary’s Roosevelt High School in 1988, is a graduate of Spelman College and was crowned Miss Black America in 1991.
The couple will reside in Houston.
– Jeff Jarrett defends his NWA heavyweight title against Kevin Nash in the main event of tonight’s Against All Odds pay-per-view.
The always-controversial Scott Hall has been replaced by Eric Young in a scheduled tag-team match with Bobby Roode against Diamond Dallas Page and Monty Brown. Hall reportedly was checked into the intensive care unit of an Orlando hospital upon his return from a recent Korean tour after becoming inebriated on the flight back home.