WWE Intercontinental champion Rey Mysterio, one of the most popular performers on the Smackdown brand, has been suspended for violating the company’s Wellness Program.

WWE announced that Mysterio’s suspension will begin effective Sept. 2, one day following Smackdown tapings in Cleveland, where he is expected to drop his IC title to Dolph Ziggler (Nick Nemeth). He had been scheduled to defend the crown at the Breaking Point pay-per-view.

The 30-day suspension is Mysterio’s first offense of the company’s three-strike program.

Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez), ironically the smallest performer on WWE’s roster (other than Hornswoggle), was linked to a federal investigation of Chris Benoit’s physician, Dr. Phil Astin III, shortly after Benoit’s death in 2007. Astin was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for his conviction on illegally dispensing prescription drugs to 17 patients from 2002 until his arrest in 2007.

Mysterio, 34, later said he was prescribed pain medication from Astin due to six knee operations. Although he denied ever using steroids, his name also surfaced on a 2007 Sports Illustrated list of current and former WWE performers who allegedly received prescriptions for the steroids nandrolone and stanozolol. WWE later stated that the allegations preceded the wellness program the company launched in February 2006.

“I was hugely disappointed to hear of Rey Mysterio being suspended for violation of the WWE Wellness Policy,” WWE announcer Jim Ross posted on jrsbarbq.com. “That’s a real head-scratcher, but it will open the door for some young lions to take their game and the perception that goes with it to the next level, including Dolph Ziggler and John Morrison, just to name a couple.”

- Kurt Angle has returned to his Pittsburgh-area home after being kicked out by former live-in Trenesha Biggers.

Biggers, who wrestles in TNA as Rhaka Khan, had filed an emergency Protection From Abuse order on Aug. 15 that kept Angle out of his house for nearly two weeks. Angle was arrested later that morning in a strip mall parking lot.

Biggers, 25, who said she obtained the protection order following a fight the previous night, alleged that Angle circled the lot staring at her as she sat in a Starbucks coffee shop, according to the criminal complaint.

Angle, 40, was charged with violating the order of protection, harassment, possession of drugs and paraphernalia, and driving with a suspended license. The Pittsburgh native’s attorney, Michael Santicola, was able to get a judge to sign off on allowing Angle to return home.

Biggers is not allowed back in the home, but she said she has been living in a hotel and not in Angle’s home since she filed the PFA. Angle claims he asked Biggers on numerous occasions to leave his home, but that she wanted a more lasting commitment from him.

Angle said Biggers established herself as a resident of his home by getting mail sent to her there, so she was able to get him kicked out when the PFA was filed.

“I told this girl it wasn’t going to work out,” Angle told Pittsburgh’s ABC affiliate. “She asked to use my car to go to the store. She went to police. She got a PFA, and the police came and kicked me out and put her in. This thing was so premeditated. I was in shock at how smart it was,” Angle said.

Angle claims he is innocent of the charges.

“I will be exonerated. This girl obviously had some kind of motive. We’ll see in court, whether it’s financial or she wanted to be in a relationship that I didn’t want to be in. I can’t really say anything further.”

Biggers told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week that Angle repeatedly abused her and left bite marks and bruises on her body. Angle’s attorney told reporters that Biggers claims there was an incident on Aug. 6, then she waited until Aug. 15 to file the emergency order against Angle. He downplayed any abuse.

“We have evidence that shows it’s not true,” he said, adding that TNA was backing Angle in the matter. “Let’s make that clear. TNA Wrestling is supporting Kurt,” he said.

Biggers told Pittsburgh television station WXPI that she doesn’t know how she will be able to work with or even be around Angle in the future.

“I’ve forgiven so many times for what he’s done to me, and I’ve been around him and been fine, but now, he’s gone and slandered me. In the wrestling ring, you’ve got to be able to trust the person you’re working with and know that they’re not going to hurt you.”

TNA president Dixie Carter told Kevin Eck of the Baltimore Sun last week that Angle was allowed to keep the TNA title at last weekend’s Hard Justice pay-per-view, only one day after being arrested, because the company wanted to let the legal system play out before a decision was made on Angle’s TNA future.

“I was briefed on the details of what happened, and I also know that people are innocent until proven guilty,” Carter said. “And I think just like most sports franchises these days, they let the legal system do what they do best and you await the outcome. And that’s what we did.”

Carter has maintained a close relationship with Angle since TNA snagged the star in a high-profile acquisition in late 2006. She said Biggers is still on the TNA roster, although Biggers said last week that a source in the TNA office told her she was forcing the company to choose between her and Angle.

- Birthday wishes go out to Jody “The Assassin” Hamilton, who turned 71 last week, and Lowcountry native Burrhead Jones, who turns 72 Tuesday.

Jones (Melvin Nelson), who moved to New York City three years ago, invites his fans to call him at (843) 607-5482.

“I miss everyone in the Lowcountry,” he said last week. “But I’ve kept my local number here in New York City. I still remember the days teaming up with cousin Rufus (R. Jones) and the great matches we had with the likes of Blackjack Mulligan and Ric Flair.”

“There’s nothing like the Lowcountry,” he added. “It’s pretty tight up here. We don’t have the space to move around like in the Lowcountry. I miss the outdoors. I look at a lot of high-rise buildings and pavement here in New York City. I’m a country boy, and I miss the country.”

Jones officially retired from Standard Warehouse in Moncks Corner in 2004. He last stepped into a wrestling ring that same year in St. Stephen.

Jones, who began his ring career more than 40 years ago in New York City where he met the late Rufus R. Jones (Buster Lloyd), has been undergoing therapy for a lingering hamstring injury.

“Otherwise my health is good,” says Jones. “The therapy has been working well, and I don’t think I’ll have to have knee surgery. I guess at the age of 72 it comes with the territory. I’m still blessed.”

- WWE head honcho Vince McMahon has ruffled the feathers of GLADD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). The organization didn’t appreciate a comment by McMahon last week on Raw that the masks on a pair of Cirque de Soliel performers looked “really gay.”

The group, which monitors and attempts to prevent defamation against gays and lesbians in the media, commented in a blog that McMahon used the term in a derogatory manner.

“It’s just another example of how people throw around the word ‘gay’ derisively,” said the statement. “This came from the leader of a $500 million-plus organization who holds a lot of power in what he says and what he does.”

The episode included a birthday celebration for McMahon that included Vegas showgirls and the Cirque du Soleil performers. “Just what every man wants on his birthday,” McMahon said of the performers bouncing into the ring on springboard-type stilts.

“WWE programming reaches 16 million viewers each week,” continued the statement. “McMahon needs to understand that the words he uses and how he uses them can greatly affect people’s lives.”

- Monday Night Raw continues to get good numbers with its guest host concept. Last week’s show, with boxer Floyd Mayweather as celebrity host, drew an impressive 3.9 rating.

- WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes will serve as guest host for this week’s Raw.

- WWE bad boy Randy Orton told the U.K. Sun last week that Eugene (Nick Dinsmore) was recently released by WWE because he was out of shape.

“He came back two weeks ago and came in a little heavy from where (management) wanted him to come in,” Orton said. “Nick is a good friend of mine. I pulled some strings to get his job back and he comes back all overweight. So all in all, I’m a little upset with him right now.”

Dinsmore had signed a contract with WWE in July and was released only weeks later. He previously had been released by the company on Sept. 1, 2007, after what was believed to be his third failed drug test.

- Listed at No. 6 in “25 More Things We Miss About Sports” on Sports Illustrated’s Web site: “Wrestling on WTBS.”

Writes Mark Bechtel:

“The history of pro wrestling can, I think, be divided into two eras: the olden days, when it was a regional sport that played to small, but avid crowds, and the cable TV era, when the increased visibility led the sport to explode into a national phenomenon that packed arenas. But for a few glorious years, the two overlapped.

“In the early 1980s, wrestling was still local, but, thanks to Ted Turner’s superstation WTBS, it could be seen everywhere. Was the product fantastic? Heavens no. If it looked like it was being staged in Turner’s garage, that’s because it almost was. It was filmed at the WTBS studios in front of a crowd of a few hundred people.

“The host was Gordon Solie, a raspy-voiced man who bore a striking resemblance to game show host Bill Cullen. Solie’s trademark call was to refer to a wrestler’s bleeding face as a ‘crimson mask,’ and he pronounced the word suplex as if it were a hors d’oeuvres on a French menu: ‘su-play.’ For this, he was known as ‘The Walter Cronkite of Pro Wrestling.’

“The competitors were legendary: Jerry Lawler, Dusty Rhodes, Ole and Arn Anderson, Misters Wrestling I and II. They were campy and outlandish without really trying.

“Eventually Georgia Championship Wrestling was sold to Vince McMahon, who shuttered it in 1984 as part of his plan to grow the sport by consolidating it. It worked. For better or worse.”

- Old School Championship Wrestling will present a show today at Weekend’s Pub, 428 Red Bank Road, Goose Creek. Doors open at 5 p.m., and bell time is 6.

Former WWE star Al Snow will square off with Chris Mayne in the main event. Robert Gibson, one half of the legendary Rock ‘N Roll Express, also will make a special appearance.

Adult admission is $10; kids 12 and under $5. For more information, visit www.oscwonline.com or call 743-4800.

Reach Mike Mooneyham at (843) 937-5517 or mooneyham@postandcourier.com.