Last year Vince McMahon gave away a million dollars in an attempt to lure viewers to Monday Night Raw.
Now he's pretending to have sold Raw, WWE's flagship show, to the even richer and perhaps more megalomaniacal Donald Trump.
Last week's "shocking" announcement on Raw didn't produce the effect McMahon had hoped for. That's because fans rarely believe anything the WWE owner says these days.
But even if the WWE Universe faithful didn't buy the prank, Vince was betting on selling the angle to the mainstream media. It's happened before, although the non-wrestling press has become smarter over the years.
Some media outlets, such as TV Guide and Bloomberg, initially reported it as fact. FoxBusiness.com posted the release itself. But they were the exceptions.
The hope now is that Trump, who once was brought in for a storyline feud with McMahon that culminated with The Donald shaving Vince's head at Wrestlemania 23, will again produce some magic with McMahon.
McMahon, however, is in no danger of losing his company or Raw, which remains one of the top-rated shows on cable television.
WWE and USA Network even issued a bogus joint press release last week to announce the change in ownership. It was, McMahon stated, an undisclosed offer he "couldn't refuse."
USA was forced to release an apology Thursday.
"We intended the release to be promotional for that ongoing story arc on the series," USA said in the statement. "There is no such actual 'sale.' We apologize for any confusion."
The takeover plot continues Monday when the real estate mogul appears on a commercial-free episode of the show as its new owner.
It will mark the first time in more than 838 episodes that Raw will be commercial-free.
"I'm going to do things on the show that have never been done or seen before," Trump boasted last week.
Whether or not that's a good thing remains to be seen. Trump looks out of his element on a wrestling show. He's certainly no Vince. And, like most non-wrestling personalities attempting to do pro wrestling, his delivery is forced and contrived.
- Hall of Famer and WWE fixture Jerry Brisco recently suffered what was believed to be as many as three strokes in a period of several days. Doctors also discovered a small hole in his heart and a heart valve irregularity, and have scheduled surgery for next week.
"Jerry is confident, as am I, that he will make a full recovery as he has been an athlete all his life and has never been a smoker, isn't overweight, is in excellent physical shape for a man a little north of 60 who was still working out on the mat with his amateur wrestling team at a high school in Tampa where he volunteers," Jim Ross posted on his blog.
Jerry is one of pro wrestling's "good guys," and our thoughts and prayers go out to him, brother Jack and the Brisco family.
- Mitsuharu Misawa, one of Japan's greatest wrestlers over the past three decades, died last weekend during a tag-team bout in Hiroshima.
Misawa, just days shy of his 47th birthday, was competing in a tag-team match when he took a belly to back suplex from Akitoshi Saito and lost consciousness. The match was stopped and Misawa was administered to before being taken from the arena. He was declared dead at the hospital.
Misawa initially rose to fame in the pro ranks as Japan's high-flying Tiger Mask, the second wrestler to use that name, during the mid-'80s. His popularity peaked in the early '90s when he and top rival Kenta Kobashi engaged in a classic series of matches that were considered among the greatest for that time period. Both were headliners for All Japan Pro Wrestling, a promotion that was considered the most physically demanding in the world, and both operated at extremely high levels.
A national amateur wrestling champion in high school, Misawa was discovered by All Japan owner Shohei "Giant" Baba and trained by Baba, The Destroyer (Dick Beyer) and Dory Funk Jr.
Misawa inherited the position of AJPW president following the death of Baba, but disagreements with widow Motoko Baba led to his departure from the company in 2000 and the formation of Pro Wrestling NOAH.
Misawa was owner of Pro Wrestling NOAH at the time of his death.
- WWE released both Candice Michelle and Sim Snuka on Friday.
Michelle, a former WWE women's champ, has been recovering from an injury.
Snuka, the son of WWE Hall of Famer Superfly Jimmy Snuka, hasn't been on WWE TV since January when he and Manu were kicked out of Randy Orton's Legacy stable. Snuka made his WWE debut in 2006 as part of the Deuce and Domino tag team.
- Lucha star Dos Caras Jr. from Mexico's EMLL promotion reportedly has signed a three-year contract with WWE.
- TNA's Kurt Angle told a Detroit radio station Friday that he'd be open to one final run with WWE before he retires from the business.
"I can't tell you where I'm going to be in three years. I'd like to be in TNA, but I can't guarantee it," Angle said on Sports Radio WDFN. "If I could have one last run, heck, I'd do it. Why not? Rumors are going to be flying now that Kurt Angle wants to go to WWE ... That's completely untrue. I'm very happy where I am."
"I'm no longer bitter about WWE. Vince McMahon and I had a falling out, but everything is cool now," added Angle. "Him and I have kind of made peace with each other."
- WWE will return to the North Charleston Coliseum on July 18 with a Smackdown show.
Tentative top bouts include Jeff Hardy vs. Edge, and a Fatal Four-Way with Christian, Finlay, Jack Swagger and Tommy Dreamer for the ECW crown. Others on the bill include C.M. Punk, Great Khali, John Morrison, Shelton Benjamin, Vladimir Kozlov, Evan Bourne and WWE divas Gail Kim, Melina, Natalya and Maria.
Mike Mooneyham can be reached by phone at (843) 937-5517 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For wrestling updates during the week, call The Post and Courier Info Line at 937-6000, ext. 3090.