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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

They're sleepless in Seattle

By TJ MADIGAN -- Calgary Sun

 The WWE has scheduled a media conference for Tuesday in Seattle at which the company is expected to reveal Safeco Field as the venue for Wrestlemania XIX.

The Seattle Mariners' home turf has been odds-on favourite to host the mega-event for months now and the WWE is hoping the media response to the announcement will match the fanfare that surrounded this year's 'Mania in Toronto.

There are still no set plans for the March 30, 2003, mega-event, though a Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesner main event is still one of the more popular considerations (the seeds are already being planted for Angle's face turn) and a Raw/Smackdown unification series is also a possibility.

Additionally, 'Mania is expected to play host to The Rock's big pay-per-view return after a six-month stint in Hollywood and there's talk of making Hulk Hogan's retirement match a centrepiece of the card.

WATCH THE CLOCK: The 15-minute overruns after Raw appear to be a thing of the past.

Starting last week, TNN began airing episodes of CBS' hit drama show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

TNN is forking out $1.6 million for the cable rights to the popular drama -- its biggest acquisition to date -- and has placed it in the time-slot immediately following Raw on Monday nights.

The two-season CSI deal means the wrestling show will be pushed off the air before 9:08 p.m. Calgary time each week, instead of having the freedom to run up to 20 minutes late, as has often been the case.

WALL-BANGER: It looks like several new talents will be signed to the WWE over the coming weeks.

Rumour has it former WCW star The Wall and HWA diva Nikita are on the way in, while a new broadcaster named Justin Roberts (he tried out on Smackdown this week) will be a full-time announcer.

Tough Enough 1 finalist Josh Matthews has already joined the active broadcast team, presenting localized promotional segments for Canada and the UK.

In other business news, last week's Smackdown drew a 3.7 rating, way up on the past few months, while Raw's numbers started low and actually slipped throughout the two-hour show.

Monday's edition drew a 3.4 rating for a 5.4 share, a disappointing number that has apparently made a huge dent in backstage morale.

AUSTIN UPDATE: Steve Austin has dropped the divorce proceedings against his wife, Debra.

It seems Austin (Steve Williams) retracted his request to file for divorce, leaving the court in Bexar County, Tex., no choice but to drop the case.

The Rattlesnake will still stand trial for the misdemeanour charge he earned following an alleged assault incident at the couple's San Antonio home in June.

GLAAD TO MAD: It turns out the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is furious with the same-sex wedding angle that aired on Smackdown last week, despite its praise for the show after it was aired.

It seems the watchdog group didn't actually watch the program and merely took Vince McMahon's word Billy and Chuck's gay marriage was going ahead.

The group publicly congratulated the WWE on its positive gay portrayals and even presented the former tag champs with a wedding gift (a Pottery Barn gravy boat) on the Today show.

Of course, when word of the real occurrences reached the gay rights group on Saturday, its tune changed very quickly.

Not only did the WWE reveal Billy and Chuck were really straight, they also ran an angle in which two lesbians were exploited and attacked live in the ring, much to the delight of the live crowd.

"The WWE lied to us when they promised Billy and Chuck would come out and wed on the air," said GLAAD spokesman Scott Seomin, suggesting McMahon had assured them of the wedding two months earlier.

The group has taken no action, as yet.

NO RELATION TO JERRY: Raw ring announcer Lillian Garcia has signed a recording contract with Universal Records.

Her debut single will be released in early October, though she'll continue her announcing duties for the foreseeable future.

The deal pretty much indicates the WWE's own record label, Smackdown Records, is no longer a serious project for Vince and Co., and will only exist to release in-house recordings such as the Forceable Entry CD.

As if further proof was needed, the label's biggest act, Neurotica, was released from its contract on Wednesday, just weeks after its debut album hit stores.

The group is now free to negotiate with other record companies.

LAWLER MAULER: Wrestling insiders claim Jerry Lawler showed up at last week's Raw in visibly bad shape as a result of recent cosmetic surgery.

The King was said to have needed heavy makeup to hide the bruising and swelling, as a result of cosmetic work on his eyes, jaw and chin.


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