By Mike Mooneyham

Aug. 3, 2003

World Wrestling Entertainment suffered a major setback when Triple H, the world heavyweight champion for its Raw brand, went down with what initially was diagnosed as a severely strained groin.

Triple H suffered the injury during a dark match with Bill Goldberg following last week’s Raw in Colorado Springs, Colo. He was expected to be re-evaluated later in the week.

As a result the injury-prone performer missed the company’s Australian swing last week and is listed as hopeful for his Summer Slam showdown with Goldberg.

Triple H and Goldberg got in the ring after cameras stopped rolling Monday night to get a feel for working together in front of a live crowd. Goldberg is expected to take the title at the Aug. 24 pay-per-view.



– WWE’s first leg of its Raw brand Australian tour hit another major snag when Ric Flair no-showed the Melbourne event after leaving his passport back home in Charlotte and missing the flight out of Los Angeles.

Flair, who was scheduled to team with Randy Orton against Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash, admitted that was a first in his career.

“Stuff like that just doesn’t happen to me,” said Flair, who several months ago conducted a whirlwind promotional tour of Australia. “I just don’t forget my passport. I was cleaning my briefcase out, and I must have just taken it out by mistake. It’s unreal.”

Chris Jericho subbed for the Nature Boy in a losing effort. Flair later rejoined the crew for the rest of the tour, and defeated Michaels in a single match Friday night in Sydney.

Making matters worse was that Steve Austin had pulled out of the tour earlier and Goldberg was never scheduled (he works only a certain number of dates per month), making the absence of Flair and Triple H in Melbourne that much more noticeable. Nash was pulled off Friday night’s show in Sydney when he reportedly fainted while signing autographs in the lobby of the hotel in Melbourne where the wrestlers were staying. The cause wasn’t immediately known, but possible causes included exhaustion or a pinched nerve.

w As had been widely speculated, the official cause of death of Liz Hulette (Miss Elizabeth) was attributed to an accidental overdose of pills and alcohols, according to the final autopsy results released Thursday.

At the time of her death, the 42-year-old had a blood alcohol level of 0.29 and a mix of painkillers, nausea medication and tranquilizers in her system, according to Mark Bishop, operations manager of the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office. She registered a .29 blood alcohol level, which is four times the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle in the state of Georgia.

Hulette shared a Marietta townhouse with wrestler Lex Luger (Larry Pfohl) at the time of her death on May 1. She was rushed to a hospital after she stopped breathing and died a short time later.

Luger was arrested and charged with 13 counts of possession of a controlled substance and a count of distribution of dangerous drugs the day of Hulette’s death.

– Hulk Hogan said on a Tampa radio show last week that he would love to be a part of Wrestlemania XX next year in New York, but added that would be up to Vince McMahon.

Hogan, who plans to work some shows later this year in Japan, said his wife told him he should “semi-retire.”

“He’s still my friend, but it’s difficult doing business with him,” McMahon recently told the Rocky Mountain News. “Just when I think he’s a team player, it looks like he’s not here for the team but he’s here only for himself.

“I can’t do business and have him walk away … I’ll always be indebted to him for all of the contributions he has made to the company. And I’m not saying I won’t do business with him again. It’s just not going to be in-ring.”

McMahon also took the opportunity to lash out at “critics.”

“The critics? I’ve got to tell you, I wouldn’t care if you believe in Jesus Christ and we brought him back as a guest appearance, we would be criticized for doing that by the audience. They’re so negative. They’re so … negative about what we do. I won’t read it, I won’t let our writers read it. I don’t listen to critics. I listen to our audience.”

– WWE apparently has put the Gail Kim experiment on hold. Since winning the WWE women’s title in her first official WWE TV match, the Asian beauty has struggled and her missed spots have not gone unnoticed.

The beneficiary of her failed push appears to be Charleston resident Molly Holly, who dethroned Kim last week on Raw. Molly’s ring work is solid week in and week out and is deserving of the crown.

Molly credits a number of performers with helping her throughout her career – wrestlers such as Dean Malenko, Prince Iaukea, Tracy Smothers, Buddy Lee Parker, Paul Orndorff and Steve Keirn. Her first big break in the business came when WCW hired her in 1999 to be part of “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s entourage. Along with Madusa and Gorgeous George, Molly, under the name Miss Mona Madness, accompanied Savage to the ring for his matches and sometimes got a chance to display her considerable mat skills.

Molly made her WWE debut in November 2000. Initially billed as the cousin of Crash and Hardcore Holly (Mike Lockwood and Robert Howard), she parlayed her role into one of the company’s most popular characters. Pairing with Spike Dudley and later transforming into The Hurricane’s (Gregory Helms) counterpart, Mighty Molly, she eventually made a heel turn.

“There are some things that I like about it (being a heel), and some that I don’t,” she said in an interview last year. My preference is playing the ‘good guy’ because I like to do a lot of fancy moves. But Vince (McMahon) let me be the champion, so it’s definitely been a huge boost for me.”

Concentrating on her profession, she said, gives her little time for outside relationships.

“I’m just glad that I haven’t had any strong desire to get married,” said Molly, one of the most athletic females on the WWE roster. “I don’t think about it that much. I’m so happy with my job and what I’m doing that I just haven’t thought about finding that ‘Mr. Right.’ I’m sure someday I will. It may happen next week. I don’t know. But it’s not something that I go out of my way to look for.”

Molly said her best friend in the business – “without a doubt” – is WWE referee “Little Naitch” Charles Robinson. “I love Charles to death,” said Molly. “Charles is definitely one of my best friends. I like everything about him. He’s just a nice person to be around. He doesn’t talk badly about people and he’s like … a breath of fresh air.”

The athletically talented Kim, who has been described as a female counterpart to Rey Misterio, still looms high in WWE plans, but likely will take a temporary step back to further hone her skills. Among her biggest backers has been Jim Ross.

Kim, who was brought to WWE’s attention by Molly Holly after the two met at a WWE fan festival two years ago in Toronto, was trained by Ron Hutchinson, who also worked with Edge, Christian and Trish Straus. Before breaking into wrestling she studied kinesiology and nutrition at York University and Ryerson University in Toronto. The Asian beauty made her pro debut in December 2000 and enjoyed a successful stint on the Canadian indy circuit where she worked as a masked heel known as La Felina – Queen of the Cats.

– WWE appears to have pulled the plug on another unsuccessful experiment. Jonathan Coachman, who has taken Jim Ross’s place on play-by-play while Ross has been working the burn injury angle, has no doubt had his share of Vince McMahon shouting in his earphones as he has attempted to fill the shoes of the man widely regarded as the top announcer in the business today.

At times color commentator Jerry Lawler has been noticeably lobbing cutting remarks toward Coachman in a blatant effort to ruffle his feathers and evoke some emotion. Coachman also has struggled in describing certain moves and even some finishers.

Ross is expected to return to the booth soon to help promote Summer Slam. – Some athletes want to “be like Mike.” Others, like Kurt Angle, want to be like Ric Flair.

“I believe that God has a purpose for me,” he told the WWE Web site last week, “and that’s to be the best wrestler there ever was. That’s really why I feel I’m here. I want to be like Ric Flair, a man who is considered the greatest not only by the fans, but his peers.”

– Ratings remained strong for last week’s Raw. The show did a 4.2, the same as the previous week, and featured a strong 5.4 overrun for the Kane-Shane McMahon confrontation.

– Vengeance, WWE’s first Smackdown-exclusive pay-per-view, was a much better show than Bad Blood, Raw’s first brand PPV offering.

– Eddie Guerrero could easily be the most over performer on Smackdown. And that’s saying a lot, since the list includes a considerable array of talent including Zach Gowen, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Vince McMahon, Chris Benoit and others.

– Former wrestling star and well-known character actor Don “Hard Boiled” Haggerty was seriously injured in an automobile accident June 20 in Los Angeles. He suffered a broken neck and other injuries, but is now currently out of intensive care and is recovering at the UCLA Rehabilitation Center in Westwood, Calif.

– Evan Ginzburg is putting out his always enjoyable Wrestling Then & Now annual. The 2002-03 version is his biggest ever (84 pages) and includes tributes to Lou Thesz and Superstar Billy Graham.

Cost is $15. The address is P.O. Box 640471, Oakland Gardens Station, Flushing, N.Y. 11364.

– Joe Laurinaitis, also known as Road Warrior Animal, will join former New York Jets running back Marion Barber in coaching the Minneapolis Lumberjacks in the minor league Mid-American Football League, according to a recent article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.