Double-booking forces Raw to swap venues
The NBA basketball playoffs have generated cries of poor sportsmanship from World Wrestling Entertainment.A case of double-booking of the Pepsi Center, where the Denver Nuggets play, meant WWE did not have a home for the taping of its “Raw” show, which airs Monday nights on USA Network. Company wound up scrambling to find an arena to set up its ring and will now host the live show from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday. Its “Friday Night SmackDown” and “Extreme Championship Wrestling” series, which air on MyNetworkTV and Sci Fi, respectively, will also shoot there on Tuesday. Tickets went on sale to fill the arena for the two dates Thursday. New York City’s Madison Square Garden had made an offer to host the events after selling out the venue last month for another show, but Staples Center, which will host WWE’s high-profile “SummerSlam” pay-per-view event on Aug. 23, was agreed upon instead. A WWE spokesman called the double-booking a first for the company. Unsurprisingly, Vince McMahon unleashed a war of words on Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke, saying on ESPN that he should be “arrested for impersonating a good businessman.” The Nuggets weren’t expected to need the Pepsi Center when WWE booked the venue on April 15 and started selling more than 10,000 tickets to the “Raw” show. But when the Nuggets wound up making it to Game 4 of the Western Conference finals — a first for the team since 1985 — Kroenke refused to give up the team’s Pepsi Center berth to WWE. Now that the show will go on at Staples Center, McMahon is turning the scheduling mishap to his advantage. McMahon challenged Kroenke to a steel-cage match on ESPN. Kroenke has opted not to take part in the feud, saying it’s not interested in fueling the media fire McMahon is fanning. “We’re preparing for basketball games,” said Kroenke Sports executive VP Paul Andrews. “Whatever (McMahon) does from here is of no concern.” Since the Nuggets owner passed, McMahon will face off against a Kroenke impersonator and have 10 wrestlers dress up as Nuggets and Lakers players in a “5 on 5” playoff bout. The irony here is that Staples Center is the home of the Lakers, who are making the trek to Denver to face off against the Nuggets.