Ahead of the Champions League final this weekend, staunch Liverpool fan and WWE superstar Sheamus has had his say, while former Premier League striker Grant Holt is also set for his in-ring debut.
Former Raw tag team champion Sheamus is a Reds fan through and through and made no bones about where his loyalties lie ahead of the weekend’s monumental final against Real Madrid.
Elsewhere, ex-Aston Villa hit-man Holt is set to chance his arm in the world of wrestling by appearing in his first show next year.
Ronda Rousey is set to contest her first championship match since her switch to professional wrestling at WWE’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view. After a hectic and busy European tour that saw Rousey continue to earn her stripes in the world of sports entertainment, eyes turned to WWE’s next showpiece event in what’s been a frantic week.
The Independent takes a brief look at events of the last seven days or so.
Rousey ready for gold
Still learning her trade in what is a very different arena for her talents, Rousey continues to be used sparingly by WWE, but she’s now being thrust into the spotlight on Monday nights as she goes up against the Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax.
The story goes that Jax publicly challenged Rousey to the match and the Rowdy One duly accepted – with the two set to meet on 17 June. As ever, though, there’s almost certainly more to this than meets the eye, and Rousey perhaps needn’t look too far from home for any possible double-cross that might cost her the championship – best pal Natalya looks to be closing in on a title opportunity of her own soon.
For the billions…
Reports Stateside revealed this week that WWE is on the verge of inking one of the biggest television deals of its kind in history. A ten-year agreement looks set to take their Smackdown Live show to Fox for around $1bn from next autumn.
The blue brand, which currently averages a weekly audience of around 2.5m, is thought to possibly be a replacement for UFC – whose deal with the same network is close to coming to an end. The Hollywood Reporter adds that Fox would likely utilise WWE talent across other programming on the network to help promote Smackdown as the lines continue to blur between the reality tv genre and the larger-than-life world of professional wrestling.
Just another hour
WWE has confirmed that they are to extend the length of their monthly pay-per-views by an hour.
Last month the company scrapped the schedule of both Raw and Smackdown Live shows having their own monthly event in favour of combining both rosters for one show instead.
With more than 100 wrestlers tied to the main roster across both shows, something had to give, and it looks as though that something was an hour of our time as the likes of Money in the Bank and Extreme Rules now stretch to, at minimum, a fourth hour – not including the pre-show.
Enzo Amore back in business
Polarising former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore looks set to hit the comeback trail. Amore was released by WWE in January amid sexual assault allegations.
However, the 31-year-old’s attorney confirmed this week that the investigation into those allegations had been dropped with the grappler facing no further action by police. Amore revealed on social media that he’ll be appearing at Times Square in New York on Monday morning – with speculation that Impact Wrestling may be chasing his signature.
CM Punk back to wrestling?
While he’s still exploring his relatively new career in UFC, CM Punk is never far from speculation that he’ll one day be returning to the wrestling ring.
The 39-year-old left WWE in fairly acrimonious circumstances back in 2014 but is constantly linked with a return – despite switching to UFC and losing his first fight in swift fashion against Mickey Gall at UFC 203 two years later.
It’s reported that the former world champion was backstage recently at the press conference of All In, an independent wrestling event being spearheaded by another former WWE star, Cody Rhodes. The show is gaining huge interest among fans – it sold out its 10,000 tickets in minutes – and an appearance by Punk at the 1 September show would certainly go down well. He’s already due to sign autographs at a meet and greet near the event – an appearance itself that also sold out instantly.
In the meantime, though, Punk remains in the Octagon and faces his second fight against Mike Jackson in Chicago on 9 June
Sheamus awaits Liverpool glory
WWE superstar Sheamus is never one to shy away from his ardent support for Liverpool – once serenading a live crowd in Manchester with a rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
So it stands to reason that the Celtic Warrior is far from bashful about the Reds’ chances in the Champions League final this weekend as they face Real Madrid in a chase for yet more European glory.
The Dubliner said this week: “My passion is inside a WWE ring. But I have another passion, and that passion is Liverpool Football Club. And this Saturday May 26th the biggest soccer event of the year so far takes place, AKA the Champions League Final.
“Follow me and my passion, AKA the Reds, as we march on to a record sixth European Cup and find out why soccer really is the beautiful game.”
Did you say Grant Holt?
Yes, Grant Holt. The former Premier League hit man is the latest to turn his hand at swapping the football pitch for the wrestling ring.
British independent wrestling organisation WAW – run by the family of WWE superstar Paige – announced this week that Holt, a former Norwich City, Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic marksman will appear at their Fightmare 3 show next year.
Holt, 37, still plays part time and featured for National League side Barrow last year. He joins the likes of Werder Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese and ex-Burton custodian Stuart Tomlinson in attempting to make a name for himself in wrestling after shining in the beautiful game.
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