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Back in black
WWE somehow manages to pin down a nice profit


The financial results for Quarter 2 are in and, I don\'t know how they did it, but WWE is reporting a profit. Despite plummeting ratings, low merchandise sales and thousands of empty seats at wrestling shows across the continent, WWE posted a profit of $17.2 million for the three months ending Oct. 24, 2003.

In the same quarter last year, the company lost around $1.5 million, so the fact it\'s out of the red is an achievement in itself.

The good numbers can be partially attributed to the $5.9 million settlement in the case against Lewmar Inc., manufacturers of the harness used by Owen Hart on the night of his fatal fall.

The closure of The World restaurant (WWF New York) in Times Square helped the bottom line, too, since the complex was a huge money loser. WWE also had the advantage of counting revenue from four pay-per-views in the second quarter, compared to only three last year.

In a conference call Monday, Linda McMahon attributed the high figures to increased buy rates, strong advertising revenues, solid international business and the company\'s cost-cutting measures.

- - -

BRAND WARS: The seeds are being planted for the marquee matches at WWE\'s biggest pay-per-view, Wrestlemania XX.

Set to go down in Madison Square Garden March 14, company execs are looking at running a series of brand vs. brand matches, with members of the Raw roster taking on their counterparts from the Smackdown crew.

As it stands, WWE is building towards World champ Bill Goldberg vs. WWE champ Brock Lesnar as the headline attraction.

The semi-main will be Undertaker and Kane revisiting their 1998 feud, with a possibility of Undertaker resurrecting his Grim Reaper character for the occasion.

There are no plans to have Hulk Hogan appear at the event but WWE bosses are hopeful The Rock could make a showing and are also considering bringing Steve Austin back for one final match with Vince McMahon.

- - -

FLAIR SELLS OUT: In the two days it has been available, WWE\'s DVD collection of classic Ric Flair matches has completely sold out.

According to reports, distributors of the three-disc set are rushing to produce a second batch of DVDs because the first print run has been snapped up faster than anyone imagined.

The Ultimate Ric Flair collection features the Nature Boy in classic battles against the likes of Sting, Ricky Steamboat and Barry Windham. The set also includes Flair\'s legendary win at the 1992 Royal Rumble and a never-before-seen tribute from the entire WWE roster after the cameras stopped rolling on his match with Triple H this summer.

- - -

HE SLEIGHS US: Bill Goldberg is coming to Edmonton in January but before you go planning a road trip, he won\'t be defending his world heavyweight championship or appearing as part of a wrestling card.

Goldberg\'s visit to Oilers country will be to shoot Santa\'s Sleigh, a festive action-comedy movie in which the former Atlanta Falcon plays a not-so-jolly St. Nick.

\"What better setting for a 280-pound Jewish guy to play Santa Claus and go around killing everybody?\" the champ said in an interview.

\"It\'s going to be cool. I can\'t wait.\"

Goldberg is currently appearing in theatres as a villain in the live action Bugs Bunny flick, Looney Tunes: Back In Action.

- - -

KURT HURT: Kurt Angle will be on the bench for three weeks after going under the knife Monday.

The operation was to surgically remove bone chips from his neck, which had been bothering him for weeks.

The procedure isn\'t considered serious and the Olympic gold medallist should be back in the ring by the end of the year.