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Jack Swagger Dead Serious About MMA Career ... I'm No CM Punk!!

1/13/2019 12:10 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Jack Swagger and CM Punk are former WWE World Heavyweight Champions turned MMA fighters ... but that's where the similarities end, 'cause Swagger tells TMZ Sports when he fights, he ain't losing.

Big facts ... Swagger -- real name Jake Hager -- was a pro wrestling superstar. But, he was also a stud on the wrestling mats in college -- earning All-American honors at Oklahoma in '06.

That's precisely why 6'7", 265 lb Swagger says when he steps into the cage to fight J.W. Kiser at Bellator 214 on January 26 ... he'll look NOTHING like Punk -- who got destroyed in both of his UFC fights.

"I'm different for so many reasons," Swagger told us ... "I've been wrestling since I was 5 years old, bro."

"I have over 150 Division 1 college wrestling matches, and I'm gonna rely on that as my amateur MMA and boxing career to help when the anxiety kicks in."

Punk -- who lasted less than 3 minutes before Mickey Gall almost choked the life outta him -- had no prior combat experience before signing with the UFC at 36-years-old ... no real wrestling, boxing or jiu-jitsu experience to lean on. 

"I think the biggest thing that you're gonna see is the difference between me and him is that I am prepared. I am 100% prepared to take this fight, to go into that Octagon, go in that cage and inflict my will on anybody."

The Rock Blasts English Tabloid ... 'Gen. Snowflake' Story is Fake News

1/11/2019 3:29 PM PST

3:29 PM PT -- The Rock just set the record straight by categorically denying the so-called interview with the Daily Star EVER HAPPENED. He's adamant -- the article was "100 percent fabricated." He goes on to say trashing a group, community or generation is not his style. He says, "I always encourage empathy, I encourage growth, but most importantly I encourage everybody to be exactly who they want to be."

Watch ... he also encourages everyone to get on board with "the Tequila Generation."

Excuse us while we hop on board.

Originally Published -- 7:50 AM PST

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's got a big problem with people who have problems with everything, because he thinks they're crapping on the freedom of speech.

The Rock says there are way too many people in this generation who are looking for reasons to be offended, and they can't handle simple disagreements. According to England's Daily Star, he says, "I don’t have to agree with what somebody thinks, who they vote for, what they voted for, what they think, but I will back their right to say or believe it."

Johnson believes that's the beauty of democracy, adding ... "So many good people fought for freedom and equality - but this generation are looking for a reason to be offended."

The Rock concedes it's a good thing today's society is much more tolerant, accepting and progressive, but believes the whining ways of "generation snowflake or, whatever you want to call them, are actually putting us backwards.”

It's interesting, because the mega movie star doesn't mention any specific examples, but you have to wonder if the recent Oscars fiasco with his buddy, Kevin Hart, fueled his rant.

And, we gotta ask ...

'Mean' Gene Okerlund Wrestling Legends Pay Tribute ... Celebration of Life

1/9/2019 4:41 PM PST
Exclusive Details

Why are so many people smiling at "Mean" Gene Okerlund's memorial event in Florida on Wednesday??? BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT MEAN GENE WOULDA WANTED!!

Tons of wrestling stars from years past -- from Diamond Dallas Page to one of the Nasty Boys -- gathered in Sarasota, FL to honor the late wrestling announcer. 

Gene's wife Jeanne -- along with their children -- was at the event where friends and family members told stories about the greatest WWE voice of all time. 

Among the guests ... The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell), Brian Knobbs (of the Nasty Boys), Greg Gagne, Dave Hero and former WWE ref Mike White. 

WWE execs Kevin Dunn and Kerwin Silfies were also in attendance. 

We spoke with DDP who tells us everyone had a great time honoring the late, great "Mean" Gene -- who's widely regarded as one of the nicest guys in the history of the biz. 

Okerlund passed away on January 2. He was 76. 

Hulk Hogan Honors 'Mean' Gene ... on 'WWE Raw'

1/8/2019 6:20 AM PST
Breaking News

Charging into the ring in a "Mean Gene-O-Mania" shirt, Hulk Hogan grabbed the mic on 'Raw' Monday night, and gave a 5-minute tribute to his longtime friend, "Mean" Gene Okerlund

"You know something guys, I came out here wide open tonight in character because that's exactly the way 'Mean' Gene woulda wanted it," Hogan told the crowd at the Amway Center in Orlando. 

"I want to let all you guys know, 'Mean' Gene loved entertaining, and he loved entertaining everybody here in the WWE universe."

"I love you, 'Mean' Gene. I miss you."

The crowd began to chant, "Thank You, 'Mean' Gene" ... Hulk stopped his rant to listen. 

That's when Hulk began shouting out other fallen WWE superstars -- saying Gene is no doubt in heaven orchestrating a tag match with Macho Man Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior taking on Rowdy Roddy Piper and Mr. Perfect ... with Andre the Giant as the guest ref. 

Hogan closed out his tribute with a trademark Hoganism ... 

"Whatcha gonna do when 'Mean' Gene-O-Mania runs wild on you, brother?"

'Mean' Gene passed away on January 2 after battling health issues for months. He was 76. 

R.I.P. 

David Arquette I Kicked My Opponents Ass ... Then I Scalped Him

1/6/2019 7:05 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

David Arquette made a triumphant return to the ring Saturday night, defeating behemoth wrestler Jocephus and then getting his just reward with a pair of clippers.

David teamed up with former NWA champ, Tim Storm for the 2-on-1 "hair match" at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center in Clarksville, Tennessee.  

There was lots of back-and-forth ... at times, David took a beating and a few slams, but he and Tim eventually prevailed. Before the 3 counts, Jocephus' spiritual advisor tried to hypnotize David, but he blocks her with a dip and a kiss.

NWA President and former Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan entered the ring so David could do the honors and he proceeded to scalp Jocephus.

Things went a lot better for David than the deathmatch in November, where he was brutally beaten and bloodied after his opponent smashed a tube light on his head. 

David Arquette Back in the Ring ... Loser Loses Hair

1/5/2019 7:34 AM PST

David Arquette is a glutton for punishment ... returning to the wrestling ring after a deathmatch that almost killed him. 

Arquette took the mic at a news conference Friday night to hype his upcoming match with veteran pro wrestler Jocephus in a "hair match" for the National Wrestling Alliance. The stakes ... loser shaves his head. 

NWA President and former Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan, kept the 2 men apart during the faceoff at the Pinnacle Family Entertainment Center in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Jocephus stormed the stage with a VHS copy of Arquette's 2000 pro wrestling movie “Ready to Rumble” ... mocking him as an actor and implying he had no business trying to measure up in the ring.

As we previously showed you, poor David was a bloody, mangled mess last November after getting smashed in the head with a light tube.  

The Arquette/Jocephus hair match goes down tonight. At least this time around, the consequences for the 47-year-old Arquette will not be as grave, unless of course the clippers haven't been sharpened. 

Hulk Hogan Returning to WWE Raw To Honor 'Mean' Gene Okerlund

1/4/2019 2:27 PM PST
Breaking News

Hulkamania is about run wild on 'Monday Night Raw' ... for the first time in years. 

The WWE legend, Hulk Hogan, will return to 'Raw' on Monday to honor his good friend "Mean" Gene Okerlund, who passed away Wednesday morning.

Hulk and Gene were great friends for decades -- their interviews were classic. Hulk tweeted about Okerlund after his passing saying the guy was "the best partner I ever had."

"We never rehearsed or did anything scripted from a writer. Gene would ask me, 'Hey big man what do u want to do?' I would always answer 'just follow you brother' and it worked from 1980 - 2017. RIP my brother HH."

Unclear exactly how the tribute will play out -- but expect it to be emotional. 

As we previously reported, Gene's health went into decline roughly a month ago when he suffered injuries due to a fall at his Florida home. 

He was transferred to a nursing home, but was never able to recover. 

Okerlund passed away Wednesday morning with his wife, Jeanne, at his side. 

He was 76. 

'Mean' Gene Okerlund Bad Fall Led to Death

1/3/2019 9:43 AM PST
Exclusive Details

"Mean" Gene Okerlund was seriously injured during a nasty fall back in December ... triggering a rapid decline in his health that ultimately led to his death, his son tells TMZ Sports

We spoke with Todd Okerlund who says Okerlund suffered multiple broken ribs during the fall at his Florida home and was treated at a hospital in Sarasota. 

Todd says Okerlund had been in frail health for a while but the fall clearly made things much worse. 

Just 4 days before his death, Gene was admitted to a nursing home .... but he began to have trouble breathing and was rushed to a hospital on Wednesday where he ultimately passed away with his wife, Jeanne, by his side. 

Todd tells us ... the family has been touched by all of the support for his father. Todd also says Gene LOVED his career and would have done it for free. 

"Mean" Gene is a WWE Hall of Famer who was a key part of the company's success -- with legendary interviews with Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and more. 

Vince McMahon also issued a statement on Okerlund ... saying, "It was impossible not to crack a smile whenever 'Mean' Gene Okerlund entered a room. He was the voice behind so many of WWE’s most iconic and entertaining moments, and the WWE family will miss him immensely."

Gene was 76. 

R.I.P. 

WWE's 'Mean' Gene Okerlund Dead at 76 Tributes Pour In

1/2/2019 7:51 AM PST
Breaking News

10:45 AM PT -- We're told Okerlund passed away early Wednesday morning. Cause of death is still unclear. Working on it. 

8:59 AM PT -- We just spoke with Diamond Dallas Page who praised Okerlund as one of the greatest people in the industry. 

Page got emotional as he reflected on Okerlund's life and says he will be missed by all. 

"Mean" Gene Okerlund -- the most famous announcer in the history of pro wrestling -- has died, WWE has confirmed. He was 76.

Vince McMahon's company issued a statement saying, "WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away at age 76."

Hulk Hogan also commented ... saying, "Mean Gene I love you my brother."

Unclear how he died, but Okerlund had health problems dating back years. He had 2 kidney transplants -- the first one in 1995 and the second in 2004. 

Okerlund started as a radio DJ back in Nebraska before taking a job with the American Wrestling Association in 1970. 

He moved to WWF in the early '80s and WRESTLED -- famously pinning Mr. Fuji in a tag team match with Hulk Hogan in 1984. 

Okerlund was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 by Hulk Hogan.

Among his many highlights, Okerlund sang the national anthem at Wrestlemania I back in 1985.

His interviews were legendary -- standing face to face with guys like Andre the Giant, Ultimate Warrior, Ricky Steamboat and others ... and getting the best out of these guys.

He was beloved in wrestling circles for decades. In fact, he served as the best man at The Iron Sheik's wedding!

As for his nickname, Jesse "The Body" Ventura is credited with the name "Mean" Gene. 

The tributes from WWE stars are already pouring in ... 

Ric Flair -- One Of My Closest Friends Since 1972 Until This Very Sad Day In 2019. Not Only The Greatest Voice And Personality In The History Of Announcing, But A Man Who Touched Everyone’s Life Who Were Fortunate Enough To Know Him. Rest In Peace Knowing No One Will Ever Replace You.

Seth Rollins -- Super bummed about Mean Gene. Literally JUST sat down last week to do an interview about his legacy. He was the most iconic backstage interviewer in wrestling history in my opinion. #RIPMeanGene

Charlotte Flair -- Goodbye, old friend. Thank you for the memories

Stephanie McMahon -- Gene Okerlund was an incredibly rare talent. He made everything and everyone better. #ThankYouMeanGene for all the incredible memories. Our condolences to his family and loved ones.

Ted DiBiase -- WWE universe has lost one of its greatest announcers and truly one of the nicest guys you’d ever know. “Mean” Gene Okerlund, RIP my friend

Stone Cold Steve Austin -- "Just heard Mean Gene Okerlund has passed away. As an interviewer, pitch man, announcer, or host, he was untouchable. Simply the best. Total professional with quick wit, sarcasm, humor, and that golden voice."

Triple H -- "A voice and sound track to an entire era of our industry. He was the star of some of @WWE’s most memorable segments. “Mean Gene” was beloved by all who got to work with him. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."

Big E -- "Mean Gene was the voice of millions of childhoods. Mine certainly. An honor to meet him. Condolences to his family."

Mustafa Ali -- "The voice of my youth. Condolences to his friends and family."

Ligero -- "Extremely sad news to hear of the unfortunate passing of Mean Gene Okerlund. One of the most iconic interviewers and personalities of my childhood, and one of the very best in the business."

Charles Robinson (famous WWE ref) -- "So sad to hear of the passing of one of the greatest voices in wrestling. Mean Gene you will be missed and we will continue to love you. What a true class act. I am very fortunate to work with you."

Bully Ray -- "RIP “Mean” Gene. Thanks for the memories and being a Gentleman. God Bless."

Kevin Owens -- Mean Gene was universally loved by everyone I’ve met that knew him.

Very few people can say that their work will forever be appreciated and remembered. Very few can legitimately claim to be legends in their field.

Those things can undoubtedly be said about him.

Matt Hardy -- RIP to an absolute legend of our industry, @TheGeneOkerlund. "Mean Gene" was incredible in many roles, as he wore many hats throughout his iconic career in pro wrestling. My thoughts are with his family & friends today.

Kurt Angle -- Very seldom does an interviewer become just as popular, and at times even more popular than the superstars he/she interviews. Gene Okerlund was that person. Im saddened to hear of Gene’s passing. It was an honor to know you Gene!

WWE's Becky Lynch I Wanna 'Slap the Head Off Ronda Rousey'

12/28/2018 8:47 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

WWE superstar Becky Lynch is already dreaming of "WrestleMania" dominance -- telling us she's dying to "slap the head off Ronda Rousey."

Lynch was supposed to battle Rousey at "Survivor Series" back in November -- but she suffered a serious injury to her face and was pulled from the match. 

But, Lynch says she still has a sense of "unfinished business" with Rousey ... and wants to settle things once and for all on April 7 at MetLife Stadium. 

Despite the rivalry, Lynch praised Rousey for all that she's done for women's pro wrestling, women's judo and women's MMA ... but warns that she "just hasn't faced a real test yet!" 

Meanwhile, Lynch is training her ass off -- recently hitting up Conor McGregor's famous training center in Ireland, the Straight Blast Gym ... where she worked out with Conor's trainer, John Kavanagh

"John Kavanagh put me through the ringer," Lynch said ... "It was great."

McGregor has raved about Lynch -- praising his fellow Irish superstar publicly and telling her to call "any time you need backup."

So, will the two connect and beat some ass as the greatest Irish tag team ever? Don't rule it out ... 

John Cena 'Bumblebee,' Snacks & Fist Bumps! For My Make-A-Wish Kiddos

12/20/2018 3:40 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

John Cena once again transformed himself into Make-A-Wish's biggest hero ... treating a bunch of kids to a private screening of his new blockbuster flick.

The WWE superstar (along with the good folks at Make-A-Wish) rented out a private theater for 21 kids to see "Bumblebee" in NYC on Thursday ... and judging from the footage, everyone was stoked! 

Each kid got swag bags, snacks and drinks and some time to hang with their favorite action hero/wrestling star.

Some of the kids even busted out Cena's legendary "You Can't See Me" move with John right on the red carpet!! 

Later on, Cena took some of the kids to the Empire State Building where they posed for more pics -- took in the sights -- and hung out with John's "Bumblebee" costar, Hailee Steinfeld.  

By the way, this wasn't some one-off thing for Cena -- dude holds the record for most wishes granted to Make-A-Wish. MORE THAN 500!!

Ex-WWE Star Big Cass Suffers Seizure During Fan Meet & Greet

12/9/2018 8:36 AM PST

Big Cass had to be rushed to a hospital after collapsing and suffering a seizure at a pro wrestling event -- but several fans thought the drama was just part of the show.

Cass was scheduled to wrestle Saturday at Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore event in Philly. Several fans tell TMZ Sports ... the former WWE star was about to sit down for a fan meet and greet when the seizure began. We're told BC went down hard and was convulsing on the ground.

While one person did yell for medical attention, most of the fans stood around expecting another wrestler to charge into the scene. We're told they thought it was part of the show -- which also featured, David Arquette, BTW.

Luckily, medics and a doctor responded, the seizure subsided ... and it appears he did not hit his head when he collapsed. Big Cass was released from the WWE earlier this year, allegedly due to issues with alcohol. Dreamer told fans the seizure was not the result of substance abuse.

Cass wasn't able to wrestle, as scheduled, but he was awake and alert when he was transported to a hospital.

We're checking for an update on his condition.

Sgt. Slaughter Praises WWE For Saudia Arabia Match

12/8/2018 12:20 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

WWE legend Sgt. Slaughter says the company was 100% right to have an event in Saudi Arabia ... saying the decision was about entertainment and not politics.

"WWE Crown Jewel" went down in Riyadh on Nov. 2 -- despite calls from prominent politicians, businessmen and even WWE wrestlers to postpone the event in the wake of the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

After the event, WWE hailed it as a success -- others have still been extremely critical. 

We got the Sarge in NYC, and the 70-year-old told us he's happy the company held the event, saying making political decisions isn't what the WWE is all about. 

"We're an entertainment company. We're not anything to do with politics. We're basically there to entertain everybody. Not just the American people, but people all around the world. That's what we do for a living. That's what makes our company so great."

It's a sticky situation ... John Cena & Daniel Bryant -- two of the biggest stars in the organization -- refused to participate in the event ... but stars like Hulk Hogan, Randy Orton and others were happy to participate

BTW -- the CIA has reportedly concluded the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia ordered the murder of Khashoggi ... so it'll be interesting to see what happens if the WWE wants to head back to Saudi Arabia in 2019.

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