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Bischoff comes to Calgary
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


At 10 a.m. today, WWE general manager Eric Bischoff will make an appearance at the Wal-Mart in Marlborough Mall.

He's not here to promote a pay-per-view or upcoming live event but to plug (and sign copies of) WWE's new DVD board game.

The game puts fans in Bischoff's role, managing a week-by-week schedule in a fantasy version of the WWE. Players tackle grappling trivia questions while also dealing with salaries, wins/losses, fatigue, injuries and even running monthly pay-per-views.

What's interesting is the fact the WWE has set up a big-name meet-and-greet in Calgary to launch something as trivial (no pun intended) as a board game.

It's an example of the company's growing dependence on merchandise and licensing deals to keep the bottom line strong as pay-per-view buys, TV ratings and attendance all continue to sink.

Over the next few months, WWE will put an increasing amount of marketing muscle behind the merchandise items it feels will sell 'en masse,' boosting what could otherwise be a soft fiscal quarter.

In addition to the board game, there's big hopes for the long-awaited Bret Hart DVD set, which hits stores later this month. Biographic DVDs have turned into a huge money spinner for WWE and the advance buzz on the Hitman set is it's a must-see.

The group also has put out the Wrestlemania anthology collection, a massive 21-disc set of all the 'Mania shows since the first event in 1985.

Other items which the company is hoping to move in big numbers over the holidays: Shawn Michaels' autobiography, John Cena's rap CD and The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior on DVD.

BACK-ING DOWN: Dave Batista will likely be stripped of the world heavyweight championship, thanks to a back injury which could keep him on the shelf until early 2006.

At Tuesday's Smackdown TV taping, Batista suffered a tear of his lat muscle during the brawl at the close of the show. Reports from backstage said the muscle, located in the upper back, visibly rolled up and separated from the bone, leaving Batista in severe pain.

Batista has the choice of an intensive rehab process to repair the tear, or undergoing surgery to re-attach the muscle.

NAME GAME: WWE's legal team has started cracking down on grapplers using their ring names after leaving the company but Jay Reso (a.k.a. Christian) has found a way to hold on to his TV identity.

It turns out the Toronto-born wrestler had originally fought as Christian Cage on the Canadian indie scene prior to signing with WWE in the mid-'90s. Because there is evidence of prior use, the name is not the intellectual property of WWE. Reso went ahead and trademarked it this week, along with his other moniker, Captain Charisma.

Reso decided not to renew his wrestling contract with WWE last week. He will debut for TNA Wrestling at the group's Genesis pay-per-view tomorrow.

MONDAY NIGHT FIGHT: It's a touchdown for TSN but a fumble for WWE fans.

The Canadian sports station acquired the rights to NFL Monday Night Football for the 2006 season. The show, which draws phenomenal ratings in the U.S., happens to run head-to-head with Monday night Raw, meaning wrestling's flagship show will be pre-empted 13 nights of the year on TSN.

On those nights, TSN will air Raw on tape delay in a late Monday slot and again in prime time on Tuesdays. Raw is one of the highest-rated sports shows in Canada.


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