By Mike Mooneyham

Oct. 7, 2007

Total Nonstop Action made a major stride in the wrestling landscape with Thursday night’s debut of its expanded two-hour weekly show on Spike TV.

One week before a major pay-per-view at the Gwinnett Center in Atlanta, however, TNA is dealing with reports that Kurt Angle, arguably the company’s top star, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. The incident took place the afternoon of Sept. 28 in Moon Township, Pa.

Police initially had received reports of an erratic driver and the description of the car, a white Cadillac Escalade, and used the license number to determine the vehicle belonged to Angle. A motorist complained that the car nearly struck her vehicle as he drove out of a parking lot, swerved the double yellow line and came close to hitting a traffic sign.

A police spokesman told a Pittsburgh radio station that the former WWE star appeared to have liquor on his breath and anti-inflammatory pills in his mouth when officers interviewed him later at his home in the Pittsburgh suburbs. Police said the wrestler acknowledged driving home from a bar, but appeared to be intoxicated and failed a field sobriety test before refusing a blood test after being taken to a local hospital.

The attorney for the 38-year-old former Olympic gold medal winner claims the arrest was improper and that his client is innocent. He told a local television station that he didn’t believe there was basis for the charges.

Mike Santicola said Angle refused the blood test on the advice of his agent, whom the wrestler called while police were at the house. Santicola also denied that Angle failed the field sobriety test and said his client may be targeted because he is a celebrity.

Angle, who joined TNA in September 2006 and soon after admitted to a painkiller addiction, said last November that he had been drug-free for more than a year. Sports Illustrated reported in March that Angle was one of dozens of prominent athletes to receive steroids from a Florida wellness center, although Angle has disputed the report.

Kurt Angle

Kurt Angle

Angle recently announced that he is negotiating with the International Fight League and would consider a year of training and coaching before competing in mixed martial arts. Angle will defend his TNA title against Sting in the main event of the Bound for Glory pay-per-view next Sunday in Atlanta.

– WWE suffered a crushing blow with a major injury to world champion John Cena during last Monday night’s Raw match with Ken Kennedy. Cena, who has been the company’s biggest money-maker over the past year, suffered a complete tear of his right pectoral tendon and is expected to be on the shelf six to eight months.

Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, said that the tear occurred when Cena’s arm was pulled behind him during a hip toss spot. Andrews called it a “devastating injury” and says he was amazed Cena even finished the match.

Cena, who was scheduled to face Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing match tonight at the No Mercy pay-per-view, was forced to relinquish his title. A new champion will be crowned on tonight’s show.

– Chris Jericho is expected to be returning soon to WWE.

– Hulk Hogan has been tabbed to host a new version of “American Gladiators.” The NBC show is set to debut as a mid-season series.

Craig Plestis, an NBC vice president, called Hogan “an American icon” and a “symbol of strength and toughness in all facets of entertainment.”

– “Outsiders” Scott Hall and Kevin Nash reunited at a show last week in Little Rock, Ark., where they teamed up to defeat Brian Christopher (Lawler) and Koko B. Ware.

Smackdown diva Kristal Marshall is expected to join the Raw brand when real-life boyfriend Bobby Lashley returns from shoulder surgery in December.

– Longtime Southeastern independent wrestler Sean “Shocker” Evans passed away Tuesday in Pittsburgh at the age of 36 following a lengthy battle with lung cancer.

Evans, who also worked over the years as an enhancement talent for ECW and WWE, was a protege of Dusty Rhodes.

– ACW will hold a show Oct. 13 at Northwoods Gym on Greenridge Road. Featured will be Hoss vs. The Gambler in an ACW title match and a special women’s bout. Bell time is 7 p.m. For more information, call 568-9555.

– George’s Sports Bar, 1300 Savannah Highway, will air the No Mercy pay-per-view at 8 p.m. tonight. Cover charge is $7.