Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mike Mooneyham's Column for 1-24-10


Love Sponge absorbs wrath of Kong

By Mike Mooneyham
Sunday, January 24, 2010

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Kong.

Awesome Kong that is.

The powerful TNA Knockout, all 5-9 and 270 pounds of her, was rightfully offended last week when Tampa-based shock jock Bubba The Love Sponge made a crude and disparaging remark about the earthquake victims in Haiti.

“I say (expletive) Haiti,” Bubba commented on his Twitter account. “Why do we have to take care of everybody (when) our country is in shambles?”

Bad move. Even if you are a radio personality who thrives on controversy, bad taste and pushing the envelope.

Kong, whose real name is Kia Stevens, reportedly punched the shock jock in his face backstage at TNA tapings last Monday in Orlando as a result of the statements he made regarding the United States providing aid to the impoverished nation.

Sources say Kong, who has been a driving force in the wrestling community in raising funds for Haiti, went ballistic and wouldn’t back off the syndicated radio host until others finally broke up the skirmish.

Bubba (born Todd Alan Clem), later claimed he was caught off-guard by the female wrestler’s actions.

“She was wearing wrestling gear, and she came in on me and sucker-punched me right on my left cheek,” he related the following day on his radio show. “Then she came at me again, hit me again in the mouth, and she goes, ‘This is for Haiti! This is for Haiti!’ and I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ Finally I put my left hand out and pushed her away from me, and she comes at me again and I just cover up, because I cannot fight back on a woman. Not only will I be fired from TNA, which I probably am, but my radio career is gone if I take a woman out.”

The mean-spirited comments came at a time when TNA had publicly asked fans to attend its Impact tapings in Orlando to make a financial donation to benefit the Red Cross relief effort in Haiti.

“The photos and video from Haiti are tragic,” TNA president Dixie Carter said on the company’s Web site. “We want to help. We have to help. The money raised at The Impact Zone is just a start of TNA’s plan to help the country of Haiti.”

Kong herself spearheaded a fundraising effort to raise money for Haiti after a recent TNA house show in Pennsylvania. The event, which also included Mick Foley and The Beautiful People, reportedly raised more than $5,000.

Bubba, who is broadcast on a number of terrestrial stations as well as Sirius Satellite Radio, is a longtime wrestling fan who recently was brought into TNA in the role of a backstage interviewer by longtime friend Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. It was hoped that Bubba would bring many of his followers, labeled “Bubba’s Army,” to the show.

Hogan addressed the incident on Bubba’s show last week and said Kong should be fired.

“I tell you what, after what happened, if you had clocked her you’d have got away with it,” said Hogan. “What nobody knows, and this is the real truth, that there were certain people there… she should get off the property, she should be fired immediately, that’s it. It was so violent. You could have actually lost an eye, you could have had your teeth knocked out. But, to give you your (credit), you are the one who said not to fire her.”

Kong, who is the centerpiece of TNA’s Knockouts division, felt she was justified in taking matters into her own hands, calling Bubba a “talentless hack.”

“Kongfucious says: Sometimes you must feed someone a fist to make them eat their own words,” she posted on Twitter.

She later admitted that a lack of sleep and growing discontentment over the direction of the company had only served to add fuel to the fire.

Both were sent home from the tapings following the heated altercation, although Kong returned the next day, reportedly with the support of the TNA locker room. Although no disciplinary measures were taken for her outburst, Kong requested her release from the company. It remains to be seen whether Bubba will be used in TNA again. TNA told him to stay home during the weekend and not attend production meetings.

This latest incident is certainly not the publicity TNA wants as Spike TV officials consider giving the company a permanent Monday night time slot.

“I’m gonna be honest, man, nobody there likes me,” said Bubba, who earlier had apologized for the comments he made “in the world of live radio that I operate.”

“Sometimes you say things that you can’t take back. So I’m man enough now to say I’m sorry for those I offended,” he said.

The disc jockey claimed his statements on radio were misconstrued. Possibly sensing a backlash, he also said that it probably wasn’t a good idea sending the Twitter post, but he maintained that efforts to raise money for disaster relief in Haiti were misguided and that the funds might be better spent in this country.

“Maybe this is actually a good thing,” he said. “Here’s the thing, we would all agree that Haiti is just in shambles, it’s just a horrible country, it’s just dirt, it’s poverty stricken, they need a cleansing, maybe a half a million Haitians that will end up not being around tomorrow ... It’s a cleanse.”

He also admitted that his outspoken nature might cost him a spot with TNA.

“I shoot hard from the hip and Mrs. Carter (although I have tons of respect for her) has never had a guy that is as outrageous as I am. And what does my Haiti comments have to do with TNA wrestling? I didn’t say them on Dixie’s air ... Some people can’t handle the truth.”

Bubba has carved a niche as one of the most successful radio personalities in the business, but along with that abrasive persona and earthy shtick comes baggage that TNA officials might be better off without. If TNA, Dixie Carter and Spike TV are into insensitive comments, outlandish behavior and rankling censors, then Bubba’s their man.

It’s not the first time the 43-year-old has caused a stir, and it certainly won’t be the last. And, despite his alignment with Hogan, he’s got more than a little heat in the TNA locker room, which now consists of a growing number of performers who wonder where their futures lie under this new and developing regime.

Bubba doesn’t need the gig, and TNA doesn’t need Bubba.

Like his counterpart Howard Stern, he’s a shrewd businessman who has worked his way to a seven-figure salary, making his living toying with strippers and porn stars on his radio show, while being fined numerous times for violating broadcast decency standards.

His reputation for on-air debauchery has been well documented. He was sacked by Clear Channel Radio in 2004 after he received FCC violations for several raunchy segments on his show. He made national headlines in 2001 when he showcased the slaughtering of a boar on his ribald show.

A large number of fans reportedly have voiced their disapproval to Dixie Carter. The last thing TNA needs is a boycott of its product.

There’s a high road, and TNA should take it.

-- There now may be more to the case concerning a recent incident in which Randy Orton allegedly spat at and cursed a 15-year-old fan seeking a photograph outside a Boston-area restaurant.

A new witness claims Orton merely walked past a number of youngsters who had who approached him for autographs and photos. One of the youths, says the witness, shouted profanities at Orton.

The teenager who claims Orton assaulted him alleges that the wrestler spit gum at him, called him a derogatory name, then insulted his mother.

The new witness claims two wrestlers pulled Orton away from the mob when one youth reportedly shouted profanities at Orton. The witness reported that he never saw Orton come close to any fans during the alleged incident.

Orton said on his Web site that he was rudely hounded for pictures and autographs, and was confronted by an older woman who said, “Hey Randy, you spit on my handicapped son a few years ago at a show, what do you have to say about that?”

“So sue me,” Orton said he replied.

“I know I have been a bit of a hothead in the past, but I did not spit gum and call names to any child. The woman is claiming I called her son a ‘retard’ three times, and spit gum in his face. Come on people, even at my worst temperament, I would never call a handicapped child something awful like that. I’ll actually sign anything for any child with any disability.”

The woman reportedly filed charges against Orton several days later.

“I’ll be happy when this is over,” said Orton. “I guess if I’ve learned anything from this, it is not to ever challenge anyone to sue me.”

A WWE spokesman told a local newspaper that WWE was looking into the allegations.

“We’re aware of the allegations and looking into the matter,” WWE’s Robert Zimmerman told the Saugus Advertiser.

-- Linda Bollea, ex-wife of Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea), has reportedly reached a settlement in the auto negligence civil suit on behalf of John Graziano.

The Tampa Bay News reported that Bollea would no longer be a defendant in the civil suit brought against Hulk Hogan and his family in the wake of the August 2008 car wreck involving Nick Hogan. The wreck left Graziano in need of permanent medical care in a vegetative state.

“Linda, she was obviously in a different position than everyone else,” the Grazianos’ attorney, George Tragos, said. “She was in California at the time of the accident and she did not sign for Nick Bollea’s drivers license as Terry did, so she’s in a different legal position.”

Terms of the settlement are confidential.

Hulk and Nick Hogan are still defendants in the case. Linda and Hulk divorced last July after 26 years of marriage.

-- Women’s wrestling great Ida Mae Martinez (Selenkow) passed away Tuesday at the age of 78.

The diminutive Martinez was a pioneer of women’s pro wrestling and was featured in the 2004 documentary “Lipstick and Dynamite” about the early years of women’s wrestling in North America. Trained by women’s wrestling promoter Billy Wolfe, the former gymnast claimed the Mexican women’s title in 1952 and enjoyed notable feuds with the likes of Mildred Burke and Nell Stewart.

What was even more impressive, however, is what she achieved outside the ring.

The high school dropout, who ran away from abusive guardians at the age of 15 after having been abandoned by her mother and an unknown father, retired from the ring in 1960, went on to obtain her GED certificate at the age of 39, a bachelor’s degree in nursing at the age of 48 and a master’s degree with honors at 58, and was inducted into the International Honor Society of Nursing. She became a published writer for her work in helping early AIDS patients and their families.

Martinez, a longtime member of the Cauliflower Alley Board of Directors, also was a world-acclaimed master of yodeling and released a yodeling CD, “The Yodeling Lady Ms. Ida,” in 2004.

-- A post-mortem has confirmed that Tony Halme (former WWE performer Ludvig Borga) took his own life with a pistol. Police discovered his body Jan. 10 in a Helsinki, Finland, apartment.

-- TNA Knockout Alissa Flash (Melissa Anderson) has been removed from the company’s roster. She began working with TNA in early 2008 as Raisha Saeed.

Ken Anderson, formerly WWE’s Mr. Kennedy, reportedly has signed a one-year contract with TNA.

-- NASCAR driver Carl Edwards will guest-host the Feb. 8 edition of Raw.

WWE announced last week that Cheech and Chong will guest-host the March 1 episode.

Reach Mike Mooneyham at (843) 937-5517 or mooneyham@postandcourier.com.

http://www.postandcourier.com/

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