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WWE cuts hit close to home
By TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun


There's little question the economy sucks right now.

But it still came as a surprise and disappointment when WWE laid the smackdown on a big chunk of its employees -- from wrestlers to refs to web guys to, a couple of reports have suggested, owner Vince McMahon's limo drivers.

Included in the purge were several employees at WWE Canada in Toronto (and I can assure you they will be missed). Some recognizable names gone: Sgt. Slaughter, Ron Simmons, Val Venis, D-Lo Brown, Bam Neely and Kevin Thorn.

HALL, YEAH!

Stone Cold Steve Austin will go into the WWE Hall of Fame in Houston April 4. That's sure to generate some publicity for the event, but The Texas Rattlesnake is worthy of the honour.

BYE-BYE, VICTORIA

With so many beautiful WWE divas, I've always liked Lisa Marie Varon, who paraded to the ring as Victoria (okay, I admit I always really liked talking to Trish Stratus, too). Victoria's not only beautiful, but she's a sweetheart in real life. Along with then-WWE PR goddess Dawn Dwyer, I once had a couple of drinks with Victoria (truth be known, Dawn and I were supposed to hook up with Nature Boy Ric Flair to be, as he called it, "Naturized," but that fell through). On Smackdown! this week, Victoria announced her retirement. In my opinion, WWE didn't use her talents that well. She will be missed.

AROUND THE RING

In a storyline (we hope), Chris Jericho was fired by RAW GM Stephanie McMahon on Monday. We'll see what papa Vince has to say about that when he makes his long-awaited return to RAW Monday ... Lanny Kean Jr., who played Hillbilly Jim's Cousin Junior many years ago, was found dead of a heart attack, at the age of 48, this week in Kentucky ... Jack Swagger is the new ECW champ, beating Matt Hardy ... Tommy Dreamer says he'll retire if he doesn't win the ECW title before his contract expires in June.