By Mike Mooneyham

Feb. 18, 2007

The stakes just got a little higher at Wrestlemania 23.

WWE’s two major world title matches for the mega-event already have been signed. But another bout, announced this past week during the Raw broadcast, just might – pun intended – trump anything else on the company’s biggest show of the year.

Vince McMahon vs. Donald Trump.

The Battle of the Billionaires.

The two entrepreneurial egomaniacs won’t actually be wrestling – at least not officially. They’ll be situated in their respective wrestler’s corner. And the man on the losing end will suffer some awfully humiliating consequences.

Either The Donald, affectionately known as “His Hairness,” or McMahon, noted for his perfectly coffered pompadour, will have his locks shaved in the middle of the ring.

Now that’s entertainment.

Vince McMahon, Jr.

Vince McMahon, Jr.

It seems that Trump, at least for wrestling storyline purposes, has found himself another Rosie. Trump has been a constant in the headlines lately, first with the Miss USA scandal, followed by his ongoing verbal battle with outspoken talk show host Rosie O’Donnell. This latest stunt will undoubtedly garner even more media attention for his “Apprentice” reality show on NBC.

The “feud” between Trump and McMahon started last month when WWE staged a comedy match between an imposter Donald Trump – played by independent wrestler Ace Steele – and an imposter Rosie O’Donnell – portrayed by independent wrestler Kiley McLean.

McMahon followed up that in-ring disaster the next week on Raw with a fan appreciation night that featured the promoter giving a buxom ringsider at the sold-out American Airlines Center in Dallas the gift of a blown-up magazine cover featuring, of course, himself. Trump, appearing on a giant monitor via a taped segment, upstaged McMahon’s generosity by giving the fans what they really wanted: cold hard cash. Trump then ordered the dropping of tens of thousands of dollars of greenbacks (real money) from the arena ceiling.

An infuriated McMahon cursed Trump and stormed from the ring, snatching cash from the hands of fans along the way.

McMahon later tried to belittle Trump by accusing him of stealing his catch phrase “You’re Fired!” and issued an invitation to Trump to appear at a future Raw.

The real estate mogul made an appearance on this week’s Monday Night Raw telecast from Portland, Ore., that instead aired Thursday on USA Network after being pre-empted for the Westminster Dog Show. Trump joined the WWE chairman at the Rose Garden Arena to make McMahon an offer he couldn’t refuse: A Battle of the Billionaires at Wrestlemania 23.

“I’m taller than you. I’m richer than you. I’m better looking than you. And I’m stronger than you. … I am here to challenge you to a match at Wrestlemania,” Trump told McMahon. “And I am going to kick your (butt)!”

Taken aback by Trump’s boldness, McMahon rejected the challenge, citing “doctor’s orders” due to his “damaged pelvis” and “broken coccyx.” The WWE mogul did, however, propose a counter-offer. “I have a proposal for you,” McMahon, 61, told Trump, 59. “Why don’t I find someone to represent me, and you find someone to represent you?”

“You’re on,” Trump said. “But let’s make this a little more interesting. As you know, I have quite possibly the most famous head of hair in the world, and for years, people have questioned if yours is even real.”

“At Wrestlemania, if my guy loses, you can shave my head,” said Trump. “But if your guy loses, I’m going to shave your head.”

The two sealed the deal with a handshake.

McMahon and Trump, whose business dealings with WWE date back to when one of his venues hosted Wrestlemania IV in 1988, will both manage wrestlers to be named at a later date. Rosie O’Donnell doesn’t appear to be a viable candidate.

The “hair-off” between these two fat cats is a sure bet to garner extensive mainstream media coverage. And, for the record, McMahon dropped out of Forbes’ billionaire list in 2001 after the collapse of the ill-fated XFL, but his 56 million shares of WWE are reportedly worth about $900 million. Trump, on the other hand, is estimated to be worth $2.6 billion. One thing is for certain: either McMahon or Trump will be bald as a cue ball on, not so ironically, April Fool’s Day.

– WWE announced last week Wrestlemania 23 has topped $5 million in ticket sales, making it the highest grossing one-day event in WWE history, with all available 63,000 seats accounted for.

And, for the first time ever, Raw, Smackdown and ECW were each the top-rated show this past week on – their respective networks.

– Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

– George’s Sports Bar, 1300 Savannah Hwy., will air WWE’s No Way Out pay-per-view at 8 p.m. tonight. Cover charge is $7.

– Bill Goldberg was none too happy after discovering that TNA had put him and Brock Lesnar on a ballot where fans voted who they believed would be Christian Cage’s mystery trainer for last weekend’s match against Kurt Angle at the Against All Odds pay-per-view.

”If it wasn’t for a phone call from Lesnar, I wouldn’t have known about that,” Goldberg told the Miami Herald. “Brock said, `You know that they are using our name again.’ I told him it (tees) you off to a point because you see people capitalizing on your name, and it benefits you in absolutely no way, except for the fact that it keeps the name out there.

“If it were not for wrestling, I wouldn’t be doing this Showtime gig and the Spike TV gig, because as many bad things that were associated with it, that profession kind of put me on the map. I owe a lot to it, and I owe the fans even more, but it (tees) me off as a promotion that somebody would do that.”

– ECW performer Test (Andrew Martin) recently was suspended for 30 days on a wellness policy violation.

Former WWE performer Lance Storm (Lance Evers) issued a less-than-positive statement concerning the company’s drug policy.

“I will likely get some heat for this but you need to actually look at the wellness policy. I’ve read the entire policy and its stance on steroid use is extremely weak. I won’t get into details, but with the levels set for positive tests, steroid use will not be eliminated. You could fail Olympic level tests and still skate through on a WWE test without punishment.”

– The episode of Wrestling Society X scheduled to air at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday has been pulled by MTV and replaced with “Scarred.” The reason given for the pre-emption is that there was a fireball thrown by Ricky Banderas at Vampiro as an angle to build toward a title match. WSX, which premiered several weeks ago, is scheduled to return to its normal time slot on Feb. 27.

WSX producers and MTV are meeting next week regarding the future direction of the project.

– Former WWE star Joanie “Chyna” Laurer addressed her recent train-wreck appearance on the Larry King Show and, to no one’s surprise, admitted that she’s having substance abuse problems once again.

Laurer made an appearance on the King show to discuss the passing of Anna Nicole Smith. She said Smith’s death was a sign that she needed to get her house in order.

– Bob Luce, a legendary wrestling promoter who reigned over spectacle-filled wrestling shows in Illinois and Indiana in the 1960s and 1970s, has died at 78. He passed away Feb. 8 on the eve of his 79th birthday in Wheeling, Ill., after a long illness. The Chicago Tribune described Luce as a “promoter extraordinaire” who was ahead of his time in the “sports-as-entertainment world.”

Luce showcased such stars as Gorgeous George, Verne Gagne, Buddy Rogers, Dick The Bruiser and Andre The Giant in appearances at Chicago’s International Amphitheatre and his own local television show in Chicago.

He rubbed elbows with Chicago luminaries from Mayor Richard J. Daley to sportscasters Jack Brickhouse, Bob Elson and young prospect Chet Coppock to Tribune columnist Dave Condon.

– Jim Melby, a longtime wrestling historian and writer, died Feb. 10. Melby edited a number of wrestling magazines over the years, including The Wrestling News, Wrestling Revue, Wrestling Monthly and The Ring’s Wrestling Magazine.

Melby had battled diabetes since 1971 and had undergone a kidney transplant and the amputation of both legs.

– A best-of TNA special Monday night on Spike drew a disappointing 1.5 million viewers even though Raw was pre-empted due to the dog show.