This Week in ‘E – WWE Goes Hollywood

WWE Films goes in house and looks to promote many new films. Plus Drew McIntyre may be injured and a new wrestler gets promoted to the main roster thanks to a hair cut.

Opening Witty Banter
I feel like I should learned this by now, but once again I am reminded that it is hard to be a Minnesota sports fan. But on the wrestling front it is only a mere week away from the Royal Rumble; my favorite time of the wrestling year. Therefore tonight’s column is brought to you by Royal Rumble 2006.

Let’s take some ‘E…

The News of the Week
It was a pretty quiet week in regards to news coming out of WWE this week. TNA stole all the good news with their Bubba-Kong fiasco and the constant train wreck the company has become. Even ROH had better news this week with the introduction of a TV title, more news for their big South Carolina debut and their impending tryout camp.

The majority of WWE’s big news comes from their films department. This past week they sent out a press release, outlining new plans for the division.

WWE Self-Distributes Through Samuel Goldwyn Films and Vivendi

WWE Studios today announced that it will self-distribute and market its upcoming slate of nine films beginning with the summer release of the drama “Brother’s Keeper” (working title) starring Patricia Clarkson, Danny Glover and WWE Superstar John Cena®. Samuel Goldwyn Films will be WWE Studios’ theatrical distribution partner in the U.S. Vivendi Entertainment will be WWE Studios’ domestic DVD distribution partner.

WWE Studios remains committed to providing global audiences family-friendly filmed entertainment which leverages the World Wrestling Entertainment® brand and its more than 16 million weekly domestic television viewers and 500 million television households worldwide. Upcoming films will feature well-known actors and actresses in lead roles supported by WWE Superstars. WWE is slated to produce and release nine films through 2012. Upcoming projects will feature a wide range of genres including family-friendly comedies, dramas and thrillers.

Meyer Gottlieb, President, Samuel Goldwyn Films said, “We are thrilled to be working alongside the extremely talented WWE team on this very exciting endeavor. WWE is one of the most recognizable brands in the world and we look forward to bringing “Brother’s Keeper” to audiences everywhere.”

“We are very excited to bring established Hollywood stars such as Patricia Clarkson and Danny Glover to WWE Studios and have our Superstars join them on the silver screen,” said Mike Pavone, Executive Vice President, WWE Studios. “The self-distribution model will allow WWE to maximize marketing efforts and create special event experiences at select theatres nationwide.”

International DVD distribution will be handled by WWE’s existing television and video partners worldwide.

“Brother’s Keeper” is the seventh film to come out of WWE Studios, which was established in 2002. The family drama stars award-winning actress Patricia Clarkson (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), WWE Superstar John Cena (“12 Rounds”), Devon Graye (“Dexter”), Madeleine Martin (“Californication”) and Danny Glover (“Lethal Weapon”). The movie is directed by Mel Damski (the Oscar nominated “Still Kicking: The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies”) and written by John Posey.

This film will be followed by the fall 2010 release of the family-friendly comedy, “Knucklehead.”

The company is hoping to do this so they can retain rights to all their films once they start up their inevitable TV channel. Thus all of these movies could be welcome filler in between the wrestling. Naturally WWE Films will now focus solely on family films and comedies, instead of films like “Behind Enemy Lines III” or “The Marine.” Plus it seems logical that when you have a crack staff that puts together four “mini movies” every week you may as well use them to make real movies.

In much more WWE film news, the Steve Austin film, “Damage,” will be released direct-to-DVD in the spring.

The premise, where Austin must fight his way out of an underground fight club sounds a lot like “The Condemned,” but could be fun in that hung over on a Saturday afternoon type of way.

Meanwhile John Cena’s film “Brother’s Keeper” will be released theatrically. Once that is out, The Big Show vehicle, “Knucklehead,” will come out this fall.

I have no real opinion on either until I see more of a trailer, but I’m not expecting anything better than what WWE has churned out already.

Then, also according to Variety, Randy Orton will star in “Big Red.” There is no word on what role Orton will play yet. Here is the description of the film…

“In 1965, as the world changes all around him, 12-year-old Andy Nichol comes of age when he’s asked by his favorite teacher, Mr. Simon, to partner with school outcast Big Red for an English assignment.”

Okay, he sure as well won’t be the kid and Big Red sounds it won’t fit for him either. So he’s the likeable favorite teacher? This has so-bad-it’s-good idea written all over it.

And in how-did-this-not-get-picked-up-more news, Chris Masters was recently on the new Nickelodeon series “Big Time Rush”, as the class teacher “Mr. Masterpiece.”

Please tell me he did the pec dance…please tell me he did the pec dance…

Former NFL superstar Warren Sapp said on a recent NFL Live Chat that he would guest host RAW if asked. He was quoted as saying “Whenever they call, I’m on my way.”

I can see no reason why he’d provide a more entertaining show than some of other athletes have done while hosting RAW. Can this guest host thing end sometime soon?

It’s a slow news week so head over to wwe.com to check out the “Where Are They Now” feature up on Dan “Waylon Mercy” Spivey.

I love these Where Are They Now pieces that wwe.com does periodically. The website does a far greater job promoting the company’s history than television does. Spivey was never one of my favorites but Waylon Mercy was GOLD, pure gold. It’s a shame that character didn’t come around during the Attitude era or even in more recent years during a better time for programming.

Reports are coming out of this past week’s SmackDown taping that Drew McIntyre suffered a dislocated patella during his match. So far no official word has been released regarding whether there was an injury at all or the potential severity of it.

McIntyre has not yet been announced for the Royal Rumble match and he is scheduled to face John Morrison one more time this week at the SmackDown tapings for the Intercontinental Title so we’ll know for sure about him come Tuesday night. Here’s hoping the talk of an injury is just talk. I have become a big fan of McIntyre and he was just getting on a good role.

Also from the SmackDown taping, the chick from the CM Punk segment was developmental talent Mia Mancini (formerly known as Serena Deeb from SHIMMER). The head shaving signified her official debut on the main roster will now be a part of Punk’s Straight Edge Society from this point forward.

It’s good to see some new blood on SmackDown and in the women’s division. It’s great to actually add to Punk’s act now and it all seems to be building to a new babyface (hi Bryan Danielson!) to oppose Punk. But can you imagine Deeb when the hire ups came to her and said, “Congratulations, you are getting promoted to the main roster. But in your first act on TV you are getting your head shaved bald.” Only in pro wrestling.

The Road to…The Royal Rumble
WWE Championship
Sheamus (c) v. Randy Orton

World Heavyweight Championship
Undertaker (c) v. Rey Mysterio

ECW Championship
Christian (c) v. Ezekiel Jackson

WWE Women’s Championship
Mickie James v. Michelle McCool

Royal Rumble match
official participant list from wwe.com: John Cena, Batista, Triple H, Shelton Benjamin, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, The Great Khali, Yoshi Tatsu, MVP, The Miz, William Regal, Kofi Kingston, Kane, Mark Henry, Zack Ryder, Jack Swagger, The Big Show, The Hurricane, Evan Bourne, Carlito, Santino Marella
expected participants: Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Matt Hardy. R-Truth, Finlay, Vladimir Kozlov

Wrestler of the Week
Week of January 18 – 24: The Miz
It was a fairly quiet in-ring wise in WWE, but I have to give some love to The Miz this week. He was on absolute fire two weeks ago with his star-making promo against MVP. This week he kept the momentum up by interjecting himself in the main event scene and making a Hollywood ally out of Jon Heder. Then in the main event he got to interact with the “big boys” like DeGeneration X. It’s hard to believe that when he and Morrison were separated last summer I was worried Miz would be buried and lost on RAW. But in reality he has improved by leaps and bounds and has established himself as a true superstar in the company.

RAW’s On Tonight!
James Roday and Dule Hill, stars of USA Network’s Psych are set to guest host RAW tonight. Naturally Roday and Hill will be there to promote the fifth season of their show and build “synergy” for the USA brand. But more specifically the two hosts will be there to promote that week’s episode of Psych, which will feature John Cena as a guest star in episode titled “You Can’t Handle This Episode.” This is one of the natural and organic tie-ins and guest hosting pairs since the gimmick started back in July. Roday and Hill are admitted wrestling fans, highly entertaining actors and naturally familiar with the USA Network so all the pieces look to be in place for an entertaining guest host gig. In fact WWE has been referenced on previous episodes of Psych. The light-hearted tone of their show will mesh well with the comedy-heavy tone of RAW in recent months. Plus it will be the week before Royal Rumble so everything should be at a fever pitch. Not to mention it is rumored Bret Hart will make another appearance to continue his rivalry with Mr. McMahon. It should be a fun show all around.

On Last Week’s Episode…
SmackDown

Superstars

RAW recap from Marshall and rant from Wheeler

How They Rated
SmackDown! (1.8.10) – 2.2

Superstars (1.14.10) – .8

A.M. RAW (1.17.10) – .5

RAW (1.18.10) – 3.6

ECW (1.19.10) – .9

This is Boring, What Else is There to Read?
There was a lot of really insightful thoughtful columns on the Pulse this past week. Especially check out the recent work from Raffi, Skvarla, Bambi and Morgado.

Follow me on Twitter here.

For more relevant, interesting and exciting wrestling information from your truly, check out my gig as the Pro Wrestling Examiner over at Examiner.com.

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