By Mike Mooneyham

Nov. 8, 2003

Mike Lockwood, who gained fame as one of WWE’s most popular hardcore champions, was found dead Thursday at the Florida home of WWE performer Steven Richards. He was 32.

Lockwood had wrestled on the independent circuit early in his career as Erin O’Grady and more recently in NWA-TNA as Mad Mikey. But it was in WWE that he achieved his greatest notoriety, appearing as Crash Holly, the smaller, younger cousin of Bob “Hardcore” Holly (Robert Howard). At the peak of their popularity the Hollys upset The Rock and Mick Foley for the WWE tag-team title. A third Holly “cousin,” Molly Holly, was later added to the mix.

Lockwood held the WWE hardcore championship a record 19 times, instituting the “24/7 rule” where the title could be defended anywhere, as long as a referee was present. The hilarious storyline resulted in the belt changing hands in parking lots, airports and amusement centers. Among those he defeated for the title include Booker T, Davey Boy Smith, Tazz, Test, Raven, Steven Richards, Jerry Brisco, Pat Patterson and even “cousin” Hardcore Holly.

Crash Holly

Crash Holly

Lockwood, who broke into the business with the California-based All Pro Wrestling promotion, also held the European and WWE light-heavyweight titles.

He was released by WWE in July.

– Lex Luger, who hasn’t appeared on a wrestling show since the death of longtime girlfriend Liz Hulette on May 1, will return to the ring Wednesday night on NWA-TNA’s weekly pay-per-view in Nashville.

Luger’s return was set up by a Sting-Jeff Jarrett match last week. After Jarrett was disqualified for using a chair, Sting announced that he would team with A.J. Styles against Jarrett and a partner of his choosing the following week. Jarrett then made the surprise declaration that “The Total Package” was coming in to team with him as Sting, a former business partner and road buddy of Luger, feigned disbelief.

The last headlines Luger made were surrounding the death of Hulette and his subsequent drug-related arrest. The 42-year-old Hulette, whose death was attributed to an accidental overdose of pills and alcohol, shared a Marietta, Ga., townhouse with Luger (Larry Pfohl) at the time of her death.

During the investigation police found a controlled substance in their home and arrested Luger. The substance was later identified as “large quantities of anabolic steroids.” Police also found such drugs as Xanex, testosterone and hydrocodone. Luger, 45, was charged with 13 counts of felony purchase, possession of a controlled substance, one misdemeanor count of possession, sale and distribution of a drug called Saizen, a synthetic growth hormone. Luger, who posted a $25,000 bond and was released by police, was not charged in connection with Hulette’s death.

Luger and Sting’s presence in NWA-TNA obviously is designed to make up for Hulk Hogan’s postponement of his planned appearance on the company’s first major pay-per-view Nov. 30. The company had to scrap plans for the show, which was to have featured a Hogan-Jarrett title match, when the Hulkster informed NWA-TNA officials that he would be undergoing surgery on his right knee. Hogan reportedly 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.

As for Luger’s involvement with NWA-TNA, it appears to be no more than a short-term gimmick that the company hopes will create a buzz and have some mainstream appeal. That goal certainly wasn’t achieved when the company recently used Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Rick Steiner as “mystery” opponents for Jarrett.

– The Undertaker (Mark Calloway) has again deflected rumors that he will return to his former gothic version at Wrestlemania XX. Claiming his tattoo-covered, biker look is an extension of his real-life persona, he recently told The Ottawa Sun that he has no intention of returning to the “Dead Man” character that he portrayed throughout the ‘90s.

“I’m not really interested in moving backwards,” he said. “A lot of this has to do with the Buried Alive match. It conjures up images of where The Undertaker used to be … A lot of people would probably like to see me in the long dark coat and big-brimmed hat again. And I’m very grateful for that. But I’m really at peace right now.”

It has been speculated that Stephanie McMahon, recently banished from her role as Smackdown general manager, will return at Survivor Series to help father Vince defeat Taker in their heavily hyped Buried Alive match. She is scheduled to return this week in her behind-the-scenes role as the head of the company’s creative department.

– Among those who took the recent passing of “Road Warrior Hawk” Mike Hegstrand particularly hard was Superstar Billy Graham (Wayne Coleman).

“I won’t dare ask the question why to anyone, for there is no pastor, priest, rabbi or holy man walking he face of this earth that can answer that question,” Graham wrote on the Athletes International Web site. “So I bitterly accept the fact that my dear friend is gone from my life. There is no way that I can relate to you what Hawk has meant to me, all I know is that he is irreplaceable.”

Hegstrand had grown up idolizing Graham and had even offered to donate his liver nearly two years ago when Graham was in desperate need of a transplant. Hegstrand’s liver, however, was rejected because doctors deemed it not healthy enough.

“I have asked God why I have been allowed to live, having just turned 60 years old, and Hawk was taken at 46,” said Graham. “I’ve had my run, and have done absolutely nothing for the Kingdom of God since my transplant, and actually did nothing for His Kingdom for years prior to my surgery, and here’s Hawk truly working for the Lord and making a real difference for God’s Kingdom, impacting people’s lives for the better. Do I sound angry? Well, I am. I’m outraged and I know that God is big enough to handle it.”

– Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson reportedly is being considered for a starring role in the planned feature film “Namor,” based on the Marvel Comics character The Sub-Mariner, the Prince of Atlantis.

Johnson also is in talks to play a bodyguard-singer who develops an uneasy alliance with John Travolta’s Chili Palmer character in “Be Cool,” a sequel to the highly successful “Get Shorty.” Filming is scheduled to begin in January for a late 2004 release.

The Rock’s third movie venture, “Rundown,” has grossed nearly $50 million since opening at No. 1 at the box office last month, grossing $18.5 million out of the gate and pulling in a slew of positive reviews.

Johnson, under contract with WWE through next year, recently completed filming an action remake of 1973’s “Walking Tall,” a violent tale of a Tennessee sheriff who becomes a one-man wrecking crew, to be released in the spring. He’s getting ready for a starring role in “Spy Hunter,” an adaptation of the popular video game.

Johnson, 31, made his movie debut with a small part as the Scorpion King in the action hit “The Mummy Returns” with Brendan Fraser. He parlayed the character into his first starring role in “The Scorpion King,” earning $5.5 million, one of the highest sums paid to an actor in his first starring role.

Triple H (Paul Levesque) appears to be the next marketable figure from the world of wrestling. The real-life son-in-law of Vince McMahon, he signed on to play the villain in the third installment of Wesley Snipes’ successful “Blade” vampire series, and also signed a deal to star in his own action film titled “Jornada Del Muerte” (Spanish for “Journey of Death”), which was written by Oscar-winner John Milius (“Apocalypse Now”).

– Bill Goldberg is expected to retain his WWE heavyweight title against Triple H at the upcoming Survivor Series pay-per-view.

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.

– Sgt. Slaughter will make a special appearance during the South Carolina Stingrays game Saturday night at the North Charleston Coliseum. The former WWE heavyweight champion will sign autographs and take photographs with fans.

– WWE held a press conference Wednesday in Toronto to announce a deal with Bell Mobility to produce cell phones, manufactured by Audiovox and featuring ring tones and screen savers of Steve Austin, Rey Mysterio and Trish Stratus. Customers who preorder before Nov. 21 will receive a free WWE T-shirt.

– WWE canceled its house show in Malaysia on Dec. 4 and moved up its show in South Korea from Dec. 2 to Dec. 4. The Smackdown taping in San Jose, Calif., has been moved from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.

– Bruce “Brother Love” Prichard recently underwent surgery in Houston to remove nodules and growths from his throat. Prichard attributes the surgery to his Brother Love voice. Prichard is under doctor’s orders not to speak for a few days and not to raise his voice for at least six or seven weeks.