Is Shaq WWE Bound? Plus, the Latest from Ring of Honor
Shaquille O’Neal retires from the NBA and the big question for the big man is “What’s Next?”
Or more importantly, “Who’s Next?” Could it be a date with The Big Show at WrestleMania 28?
Shaq and wrestling go hand in hand. He’s the Muhammad Ali of hoops, a tremendous PR machine, delivering soundbytes and nicknames that equaled his dominant play on the court. His 19 year career saw him start with Orlando and retire with Boston. Four rings and 28,000 plus points put him in rarified air… a top 5 center… top 20 all-time.
Shaq’s first public foray in wresting was in 1994, when he refereed Hulk Hogan’s win over Ric Flair for the WCW title. Sure, it was in Orlando, where O’Neal was leading the Magic on the court but this was a big national story, when WCW was still struggling to get traction. A few years later, hanging out in Houston with buddy Robert Horry, Shaq found himself backstage (and unannounced) at Raw and we worked him into a spot with Vince McMahon. And of course, in 2009, Shaq was a guest host of Raw, and the big man delivered in the ring and in the ratings.
They laid the groundwork that night for a match with Big Show and I said back then that his NBA career would prevent that match from happening. Now retired, why not? Three potential stumbling blocks…
First, Shaq decided to retire now because he has an Achilles’ tendon injury that may require surgery. If he goes under the knife, it’s a 9 month recovery and that scraps WM 28. While Shaq is box office, take him out of the public eye for over a year and that match with Big Show loses luster if they try it at 29.
Second, how much money will Shaq want? They are already paying boatloads of cash to Rock for his match with Cena. With an expected Senate run for Linda McMahon to be announced shortly, how much money will be left to pay O’Neal? This is a minor worry though… Vince spends money to make money and I don’t think money would keep Shaq vs Big Show from happening.
Finally, what will Shaq be doing a few months from now? Would he go to work for one of the networks to lend his name and voice to the NBA on television? Are there other TV projects that he’s been sitting on, waiting to retire? Could a “Kazaam” sequel be in the works? OK, the last question is a joke but Vince may have to take a number if he wants to hire Shaquille O’Neal.
Gun to my head… I say this match happens and Shaq vs. The Big Show is the perfect semi-main to Rock vs. Cena at WrestleMania 28.
Best in the World, Edwards vs Richards
Moments after a successful ROH World Championship defense against Roderick Strong at “Supercard of Honor VI”, Eddie Edwards spoke to his American Wolves tag team partner Davey Richards about needing to fight him to prove legitimacy to his reign as champion.
The specter of Davey Richards, the multi-disciplined fighter who recently earned his Blue Belt in Ju-jitsu, has hung over Eddie Edwards’ head since he won the title back in March. ROH promoters have been itching to get this match in their arenas because it will be huge box office but both Edwards and Richards were hesitant because of their friendship. Sources tell me that ROH Director of Live Events Gary Juster was working hard to get this match in Charlotte, if and when a match was made.
As Edwards spoke to Richards, the resilient ROH World Champion, who was pushed to the limit in recent title defenses against Strong and Chris Hero, told Davey that he would quit if Richards refused to fight him. I personally stood next to Jim Cornette as this dream title match was unfolding before our eyes and I could see the wheels turning in his head. Would Davey accept? Would Edwards walk away if he didn’t?
When Davey Richards accepted the challenge with a handshake, the deal was done. Contracts were formalities at this point but the match was awarded to New York City and the Best in the World iPPV on June 26th. Fans are purchasing tickets for the event in NYC from many different states and countries around the world.
What makes this match intriguing for me is the dynamic between the two. When Richards and Edwards began to work and train together as the American Wolves, Davey was definitely the captain of the team. Over time, Eddie began to find his voice in the team and in 2010, when the Wolves made their singles careers a top priority, the team was its strongest.
Davey has been so focused on preparing himself physically and mentally for his ROH World Championship return match that he could be tough to unseat if he wins. But, if Edwards wins, this tough-as-nails, blue collar champion may be on the road to a long run with the gold.
I will be there to call the match live on iPPV on GoFightLive.tv. If you are a fan of great professional wrestling, this event will be for you. http://www.gfl.tv/Events/Fight/Wrestling/ROH__Best_of_the_World_2011/1052