January 21, 2006
WWE releases Heidenreich but finds huge replacement
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
When one door closes, another door opens. Or, to apply the saying to a WWE scenario: When one over-sized monster leaves, another over-sized monster arrives on the scene to take his place.
This week, John Heidenreich became the latest grappler to be axed from the WWE payroll. The 6-ft. 7-in., 300-lb. giant was reportedly given his release to deal with personal problems -- which, for once, is a genuine explanation rather than a politically correct way of suggesting a wrestler has drug issues.
Heidenreich was burned out from the WWE's grueling schedule and apparently just had enough of life on the road.
Although he was well liked by WWE brass, Heidenreich took to wrestling like a duck takes to figure skating. His in-ring work ranged from plodding to unbearably dull and his mic ability was at a third-grade talent-show level.
Despite his limited skill set, Heidenreich received a big push (primarily due to his size) during his two-year run with the Fed. He feuded with the Undertaker in 2004 and more recently teamed with Road Warrior Animal in a watered-down version of the Legion of Doom.
On the same day Heidenreich was released, WWE announced the signing of Oleg Prudius, a Russian amateur wrestler with a background in martial arts and football.
At 6 ft. 6 in., 310 lb. (and with no body fat whatsoever, according to a blurb on WWE's website), Prudius is the exact cookie-cutter mold for a WWE main eventer but he has no experience in a pre-determined wrestling environment.
He will be sent to Deep South Wrestling, WWE's developmental farm system, for seasoning.
QUEER ANGLE: The same-sex marriage debate may not end this Monday when the ballots are counted and the Liberal government's fate is decided. Thanks to the folks at WWE, the controversial issue will be rehashed for many Mondays to come.
Stephanie McMahon's booking team is reportedly planning to introduce a bisexual character to WWE programming, possibly as soon as next month, with Orlando Jordan pegged as the favourite to get the spot.
Jordan, who has been stuck in storyline limbo since the break-up of JBL's cabinet, would be scripted into an alternative lifestyle love triangle with TNA temptress Trinity and an as yet unnamed gay male character.
DRUG TESTING: On Tuesday afternoon, WWE announced it has found an external organization to implement the new wellness program for wrestlers.
According to a statement on wwe.com, the system will include "an aggressive drug and steroid testing program" and regular cardiovascular examinations.
The program, which was set in motion after the sudden death of Eddie Guerrero in November, is expected to be up and running in a matter of months.
WARRIOR SUES: The Ultimate Warrior is taking WWE to court over the content of a DVD dedicated to his career.
Warrior (whose real name was Jim Hellwig but according to court documents has now legally changed it to Warrior Warrior) is objecting to The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior, a 2005 WWE DVD release.
Warrior was not involved in the production of the DVD, which used archived footage and interviews with current WWE stars to paint Warrior as a borderline lunatic who blew his chance at long-term superstardom.
BIG RATINGS: For the second week running, Raw did a huge rating for WWE. Monday's edition of the show scored a 4.3 U.S. rating, slightly above last week's episode which was one of the most watched in years.