By Mike Mooneyham

Nov. 2, 2003

The Dead Man is returning.

Word has leaked that The Undertaker, one of WWE’s most successful characters, will reprise his original role at Wrestlemania XX next March.

The current plan is for Vince McMahon to defeat Taker at their Buried Alive match at the Survivor Series pay-per-view later this month. Stephanie McMahon, coming off a loss at the hands of father Vince at the recent No Mercy PPV, is expected to make a surprise appearance during that match.

Taker (Mark Calloway), meanwhile, will take an extended hiatus until Mania where he reportedly will return in his “Dead Man” persona to square off with “brother” Kane in an interpromotional (Raw vs. Smackdown) match.

The Undertaker

The Undertaker

Taker, who holds the distinction of having never been defeated at Wrestlemania, has said in the past that he had no plans of returning to his earlier, darker gimmick. But with the interest surrounding the 20th anniversary of WWE’s ground-breaking show, he was persuaded to bring back the popular character he debuted 13 years ago.

– Steve Austin is making the talk-show rounds promoting his new book (“The Stone Cold Truth”).

Austin told trash-talk host Howard Stern on Wednesday that it was his “stupidity” that led to his marriage to Debra Marshall (formerly McMichael) so soon after his failed relationship with second wife Jeannie Clark. Austin, who said he had Debra sign a pre-nuptial agreement, admitted that he was hard to live with.

Austin also revealed that he met his present live-in girlfriend on a blind date and that she slapped him twice on their first date when he kept taking calls from ex-wife Debra.

Austin’s well-documented domestic dispute issue was brought up when a caller labeled Austin a “drunken wife beater.” Austin called it a “small issue … a very big misunderstanding,” and said a gag order prevented him from discussing it.

Austin pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of assault for allegedly striking then-wife Debra during a June 2002 argument in their San Antonio home. He was sentenced last November to one year probation, fined $1,000, ordered to attend a domestic violence counseling course and directed to perform 80 hours of community service.

Austin, who admitted that he drinks beer more than he works out, said he previously walked out on WWE because bookers wanted him to lose to “some schlub” (Brock Lesnar) and he didn’t want to.

Austin said on the Sharon Osbourne show Thursday that there was a “50-50” chance of him getting back in the ring, and if he did it would most likely be at Wrestlemania XX.

UPN is scheduled to air a one-hour special on Austin on Nov. 26 featuring interviews with “his family, ex-wives and children,” according to a press release.

– “Macho Man” Randy Savage also has been making the media rounds plugging his new rap CD, “Be a Man,” with the title cut taking some not-so-veiled jabs at Hulk Hogan.

Savage has trashed his former colleague, blaming the Hulkster for the breakup of his marriage to the late Liz Huelette and claiming Hogan called his father (former wrestler Angelo Poffo) and threatened his family.

– Bill Goldberg experienced some soreness in his back after his match with Shawn McMichaels and subsequent beat-down at the hands of Batista at the Oct. 20 Raw. Goldberg, though, should be 100 percent for his rematch with Triple H at Survivor Series.

Kevin Nash had been slated to challenge Goldberg for the title, but yet another physical setback to the injury-prone Nash prompted a change in plans. Nash, who ended Goldberg’s win streak in WCW several years ago in a move that turned out to be the beginning of the end for that company, originally had been pegged to turn heel and collect the $100,000 bounty on Goldberg.

That storyline was scrapped, however, when Nash told WWE officials that he would be undergoing neck surgery and would be out of action for a minimum of two months. Nash was scheduled to have the procedure done by Dr. Hae-Dong Jho, who performed Kurt Angle’s successful, minimally invasive surgery earlier this year. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks, and with his contract coming up for renewal in February, it appears likely that the 44-year-old Nash is headed for a spot in the office.

(Dave) Batista, another injury-plagued performer coming off tendon surgery, was summoned to fill Nash’s spot. He has torn his triceps twice and had two surgeries to repair it, then his return was delayed further when he needed another surgery to clear out an infection. – Matt Hardy was at the Raw tapings Monday in Fayetteville, N.C., visiting girlfriend Lita (Amy Dumas) and other WWE colleagues. The Cameron, N.C., native is rumored to be making a jump from Smackdown to Raw in the near future.

Matt’s brother, Jeff, also was backstage at Raw Monday night.

– Triple H (Paul Levesque) and Stephanie McMahon were married in what was described as a private and low-key ceremony Oct. 25 at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. Eight local police officers and six state troopers kept fans from getting closer than a half-block from the wedding.

Triple H’s father was his best man. Wrestling members of his wedding party included Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, The Undertaker and William Regal. Among the wrestling personalities who attended were Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Mick Foley, Big Show, Chris Benoit and wife Nancy (the former “Woman” Nancy Sullivan), Jim Ross, Michael Cole, Booker T, Eddie Guerrero, Edge, The Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, Sgt. Slaughter, Killer Kowalski and Michael Hayes.

– Vince McMahon was among the WWE contingent attending the funeral of Road Warrior Hawk (Mike Hegstrand) in Florida on Tuesday. Other wrestling personalities in attendance included Joe Laurinaitis (Road Warrior Animal), Paul Ellering, Johnny Ace (John Laurinaitis). Shawn Michaels, Ted DiBiase, Nikita Koloff, Greg Valentine, Steve Williams, Hector Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero Sr., Steve Keirn, Mike Graham, B. Brian Blair, George Steele, Luna Vachon, The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Saggs), Bruce and Tom Prichard, and Kensuke Sasaki.

– Carolina Pro Wrestling will hold a show Saturday night at Stall High School.

A battle royal for the Lowcountry title will headline the card, along with Malachi defending his CPW title against Dexter Poindexter. Doors open at 7 p.m. Bell time is 8 p.m.

Former wrestling star and USC football standout Del “The Patriot” Wilkes will make a special appearance at the show. Wilkes also will be signing autographs at 5 p.m. at Charleston Health & Fitness on Northwoods Boulevard near the Carolina Ice Palace.

Tickets are $5 advance, $7 at the door, children 12 and under are free. Military, fire and police personnel also are free. Stall High students with proper ID get in for $3. Tickets can be obtained at all Money Man Pawn locations and Words Unlimited Printing in Summerville.

– NWA-TNA has scrapped plans for its big three-hour pay-per-view special featuring a Hulk Hogan-Jeff Jarrett title match Nov. 30. Hogan recently announced that he would be undergoing surgery on his right knee. Hogan aggravated the knee in his match against Masahiro Chono at a New Japan show Oct. 13.

NWA-TNA still hopes to work with Hogan, but long-term plans now hinge on whether the Hulkster comes to terms with WWE on an appearance at Wrestlemania XX next March, and a proposed deal involving a new boxing-wrestling television series that would feature Hogan as its top star.

A number of insiders have cast doubts concerning Hogan’s involvement in NWA-TNA and the timing of his surgery, believing it was a masterful move by Hogan to back Vince McMahon into a corner and give him a more prominent role in WWE.

The pressure is now on McMahon to somehow deliver the names at Wrestlemania XX that were an integral part of the first event. At the top of that list is Hogan, along with Roddy Piper, Randy Savage and Bret Hart.

– Jimmy Hart’s disappointing “surprises” for Jeff Jarrett at last week’s NWA-TNA show turned out to be Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Rick Steiner. This week Hart will bring in Sting to challenge Jarrett for the company title. Sting reportedly has signed for at least two straight Wednesday night appearances, and is expected to team with AJ Styles against Jarrett and his mystery partner in the first go-round. Also featured this week will be Raven vs. “Sinister Minister” James Mitchell in a Last Man Standing match.

– Newsday reported Friday that New York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has decided that a visit from Trish Stratus and Maven (Huffman) that was to be a prize as part of a citywide sweepstakes designed to get students to fill out forms for federal lunch programs will not be allowed.

“The wrestlers are not going to a winning school,” education department spokeswoman Margie Feinberg told Newsday. “They already had donated sweepstakes, and they just thought that really it’s more appropriate than having a whole, big, entertainment extravaganza come to school.”

Maven and Trish were to visit one of the three schools that had the most forms filled.

The other prizes, which are being allowed, are that each of the three schools’ principals will win a weekend at the Millennium Hotels and Resorts in Manhattan, a $590 value. The staff member who helps sign up the most students will receive a $350 day spa package, while a student picked at random will get a bike. Parents can obtain sports club passes, while students can get autographed baseball memorabilia, CDs and more.

One parent commented that the idea of the wrestlers appearing at the school was “really appalling.”

– Last week’s Smackdown drew a 3.7, making it the highest-rated show in one year. Coming on the first night of November sweeps and against strong Thursday night competition makes the number all the more impressive.

– Former Montreal-based wrestler and manager “Pretty Boy” Floyd Creachman, son of Eddie “The Brain” Creachman, one-time manager of The Sheik, died Oct. 25 due to complications from Crohn’s disease.

– Matt Morgan, one of Ohio Valley Wrestling’s more successful acts, made his debut on Smackdown with the returning Nathan Jones as his partner. Fans may remember Morgan from his stint in one of the Tough Enough competitions where he was forced to drop out due to injury.

– Vince and Linda McMahon are expecting their first grandchild in February, as Shane McMahon’s wife, Marissa, is due.

– Shane “Hurricane” Helms addressed his recent backstage altercation with the injured Rodney Mack on his Web site. Said Helms: “A quick ‘get well soon’ to Rodney Mack who also got hurt recently. Despite our recent backstage antics, The Mizzle (as I call him) and Hurri-Nizzle (as he calls me) are very good friends and have actually become even better friends because of our backstage antics. That’s just how us Southern Boys are, we all got a little redneck in us.”