Brock Lesnar returns; Mae Young ailing
Brock Lesnar is back, and the timing appears to be just right.
With Batista also set to return soon following a lengthy absence, WWE fans could be in store for a monumental showdown pitting "The Beast" against "The Animal."
Lesnar, who returned after a four-month hiatus, is one of the biggest draws in WWE despite a relaxed schedule that limits his annual dates. Batista also was a major draw and Smackdown's top star before leaving more than three years ago to pursue a film and MMA career.
A match between the two behemoths would be a natural.
Batista looms as a possible favorite to win the Royal Rumble on Jan. 26 in Pittsburgh. Lesnar returned last week on Raw and made his intentions known when he declared himself the No. 1 challenger to the world title. In the meantime, he demolished former two-time Olympian Mark Henry.
Both are likely to be positioned in marquee matches at Wrestlemania 30 on April 6 in New Orleans.
Lesnar, 36, is expected to be this year's opponent for The Undertaker, with Taker's 21-win streak at Mania on the line. Nine months ago, however, an even higher-profile match had been penciled in for the three-time WWE champion.
Original plans had Lesnar scheduled to meet The Rock ("Brock vs. Rock") in a Wrestlemania headliner, a scenario confirmed last week.
WWE owner Vince McMahon had planned the match, but the night after last year's Wrestlemania, The Rock re-aggravated torn tendons suffered the previous evening during his bout with John Cena, jeopardizing shooting for his next movie.
Plans were changed, the match was scrapped, and Lesnar was later installed as Taker's opponent.
The Rock said last week that he won't be back for Wrestlemania 30, but did leave open the possibility for a return at Wrestlemania 31.
Batista, 44, who left WWE on good terms, said last year that he would return when the "PG stuff" blew over. He named Lesnar as one of the stars he wanted to work with when he returned, adding that he never got the chance to feud with him in WWE, and thought the two could do big business together.
Batista also said that he'd be open to fighting Lesnar in an MMA contest. Lesnar was one of the biggest draws in UFC history and recently hinted at a return despite having a WWE contract until 2015.
WWE executive Triple H said last week that 2014 could be an "epic" year for WWE.
A number of major developments are in the works, not the least of which is the planned launch of the WWE Network early this year. WWE stock also has more than doubled during the past calendar year.
Some sad news to report. Legendary WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young is in failing health and is now under hospice care.
A fixture on the wrestling scene since the 1940s, the 90-year-old icon recently was discharged from the hospital and is now receiving hospice visits at the Columbia residence she shares with former midget women's wrestling star Diamond Lil (Katie Glass).
A kidney is in the process of shutting down, and Young is breathing with the assistance of an oxygen machine, said a friend.
"She's had a good, long life," said former women's champ Susan Green. "But things start wearing out by the time you get to be 90. She's lived an amazing life. If all of us could be so lucky."
Mae Young indeed has had a remarkable life. While she only admits to being 90, some colleagues say the actual number may be closer to 94. She comes by her nickname, the "Amazing" Mae Young, quite honestly. She holds the distinction of having wrestled in nine different decades.
At one point she was scheduled to appear at this week's "Old School" Raw in Baltimore.
In 2000, Young took part in an over-the-top storyline where she (then in her late 70s) dated WWE star Mark Henry, announced that she was "pregnant" and later gave birth to a rubber hand.
That same year she was power-bombed twice by The Dudley Boyz on back-to-back editions of Raw, and was even splashed by the 500-pound Viscera.
Young, along with longtime companion and perennial women's world champion The Fabulous Moolah (Lillian Ellison), was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. Moolah passed away later that year.
Naitch is back
It's been a while, but 16-time world heavyweight champion "Nature Boy" Ric Flair will return to Raw for this week's special old-school edition.
"I can't wait," said Flair, who turns 65 in February. "It'll be great to be back."
Voice of JYD
Longtime actor James Avery (patriarch Uncle Phil on "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"), who passed away last week at the age of 68, also was an accomplished voice actor and performed the late Junkyard Dog's voice on "Hulk Hogan's Rock N' Wrestling" when that series aired on NBC on Saturday mornings in the mid-1980s.
Reach Mike Mooneyham at 843-937-5517 or email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @ByMike Mooneyham and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MikeMooneyham.