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Worst NCAA Tournament Of All Time, And North Carolina Is The Pick


Is it just me or is this the worst NCAA Tournament of all time? Even with North Carolina, my team, and Michigan State, another one of my favorites, in the Final Four, there is still no excitement to be had. I guess Villanova's win over Pittsburgh was a highlight, but that is pretty lame if you can "almost" come up with one moment to remember. Believe me, CBS is working overtime on coming up with its "One Shining Moment" montage to close the tournament.

The only team remaining from my Final Four picks is North Carolina, which was also my pick for national champion. I also had Memphis, Wake Forest and Pittsburgh as my picks. I would have went with Michigan State instead of Wake Forest but after its horrible loss in the Big 10 Tournament I thought they might not even make it out of the second round. Still, I had them losing to Wake in the Elite Eight.

I was stunned that a ton of people had Louisville winning the whole thing. Louisville was the biggest joke of the tournament, especially considering it was the top overall seed. I had them losing in the second round to Siena, and it almost happened, but Louisville pulled that one off. But they got smoked by Michigan State and were exposed as a fraud later on.

I don't think anyone would be surprised that I'm going with Michigan State and North Carolina to meet up for the championship and the Tar Heels winning it all from there. Make sure you vote in our First & Goal poll question to the right so we can get a gauge who you think will win the tournament. I'll print the results in the paper, as always.

(AP photo, top, forward Deon Thompson, center, hugs guard Justin Watts (24) after North Carolina beat Oklahoma 72-60 to win the South Regional championship Sunday.)

Ric Flair Talks About His Legendary Career, The Plane Crash That Almost Ended It And The Hulk Hogan Rivalry


  By Brad Carroll  

In just the past several years, Bristol has been able to see some of the biggest wrestling names in the ring just a few feet in front of them. From Kurt Angle to Christian Cage to Jerry Lawler to Samoa Joe to Rowdy Roddy Piper, the list goes on and on.

But this coming Saturday, the biggest of them all will make a special appearance at WrestleFest XIII at Bristol Central High School. Ric Flair – considered by many to be the greatest wrestler in history – will headline the show with a special in-ring interview.

And while the fans that pack the Central gym are likely to give “The Nature Boy” one heck of a welcome to the Mum City, Flair is more than ready to return the favor and send them home a happy group.

“Whatever I need to do to get them to remember me is what I’m going to do,” Flair said in an exclusive interview. “I’m begging everyone to come down and see what will happen.”

Kevin Nash Will Wrestle In Bristol; Giants Say No To Braylon Edwards; And Jets Want Jay Cutler


Barring any last-minute setbacks, Kevin Nash will indeed be in action this coming Saturday for WrestleFest XIII in Bristol. The staph infection in his elbow has healed enough to allow him to wrestle on the card. That is good news for Nash, Northeast Wrestling and the fans who will back the Central gym.

According to Giants Insider, Browns WR Braylon Edwards could have been a New York Giant for second- and fifth-round draft picks and WR Steve Smith. But the Giants didn't want to include Smith in the deal. The Giants instead offered the picks and either Mario Manningham or Domenik Hixon, but the Browns didn't want to do that. I would take Edwards for the original deal in a second, but I guess the Giants love Smith, their third receiver, that much. I'm sure there are a lot of upset Giants fans out there right now.

Finally, the Jets are seriously interested in Broncos QB Jay Cutler. According to several reports, Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum has called Denver to let them know that the Jets would be a willing trade partner. The Broncos still want to try and work things out with Cutler, but if you listen to Cutler, it is clear that he wants out and doesn't want to fix the relationship. Of course, this is great news for Jets fans, as they could possibly add a 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback. Everyone wants and needs a franchise quarterback and the Jets haven't had one since, probably, Ken O'Brien, so this would be huge.

The Madness Is Underway In Our Bristol Press Tournament Challenge

My first foray in running a contest has already been a success in my book. We have well over 100 entries for our Bristol Press Challenge bracket contest, including people who dropped brackets off at The Press, in addition to signing up on-line. In what started as a quick idea to get our readers to join one large group to see who would have the best bracket, to getting Northeast Wrestling to back me with some great prizes, and having wrestlers and administrators from NEW join as well, is just a great thing.

Now, we can all sit back and enjoy the Madness. Already, I've lost one game today (thanks Butler) but 29 people have perfect brackets ... which means everybody still has a shot at the prizes.

Each today I will publish the "WrestleFest XIII Leaderboard" in the paper so everyone can see where they stack up. Of course, the most up-to-date stats will be RIGHT HERE on our Bristol Press Challenge page. And feel free to talk some smack right here in the comments section.

Also, I'm thinking of doing a live chat here on GameDay soon. Not sure if anyone would be interested in that, but it could be a cool thing. Depending on when or if UConn plays next week could be a good time to do it, so everyone can watch the game together, basically. But we'll see. Send me an e-mail at bcarroll@bristolpress.com or post a comment if you would want something like that.

(AP photo, top, of Cal State Northridge, which hung tough against second-seeded Memphis before falling by nine Thursday afternoon.)

Northeast Wrestling Joins GameDay To Bring You The Bristol Press NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge

While watching the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on CBS Sunday night, I got to thinking of a possible way to bring all of our readers together to see exactly who is the best of the best at this thing we call March Madness. After trying to figure out a way to do it over on my blog, I got a better idea and headed over to ESPN.com and created a group to house all of us called “Bristol Press Challenge.” JOIN HERE!

There, you can easily fill out your bracket and join an already growing list of readers far and away that want to see how they stack up against each other.

Of course, I’m already signed in and my bracket is filled out. I’m sure a ton of people will want to beat my brains in, and that could be motivation enough to sign up. But I’ve never been one to just rest on rivalries and bragging rights when it comes to contests and challenges.

I wanted something bigger. And after one phone call Monday afternoon, I got exactly what I was looking for.

Northeast Wrestling, which will be bringing WrestleFest XIII to Bristol Central High School on March 28, has agreed to back my contest with a bunch of prizes that are sure to put the topper on what should be a very successful first venture.

Northeast Wrestling will be supplying a Grand Prize Package to the overall champion that includes autographed photos of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Kevin “Big Sexy” Nash, four tickets to NEW’s event in Waterbury on May 2, a DVD of WrestleFest XIII from Bristol and an NEW T-shirt. In addition to the Grand Prize Pack, at least the top three leaders after the tournament makes its way down to the Elite Eight will win a pair WrestleFest XIII tickets for the March 28 show.

And I’m not done yet. I will write a story about our champion to let everyone know who is the best college basketball bracketologist of them all.

In addition to that, not only will you be able to go head-to-head with me, you will also challenge other Bristol Press First & Goal columnists and some other big names as well.

Who are they?

Well, Bristol’s very own professional wrestler, Kurt Adonis, has agreed to sign up and he’s bringing his wrestling friends along with him. So, be on the lookout for Adonis (top photo) and some of the other stars of Northeast Wrestling in our group.

Consider this blog the meeting place to talk smack to those below you and above you on the leaderboard.

So, sign in today and tell your friends to do the same to make this the biggest bracket challenge in the area.

I’ll see you in there ... I won’t be hard to find ... Just look for the person in first place!

Let the games begin!

JOIN HERE!

Join The Bristol Press NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge

Alright, the NCAA Tournament brackets were announced tonight and I was thinking of some way of bringing everyone in to create one huge basketball challenge for our readers. So, I set up a group that you can JOIN HERE! over at ESPN.com. You'll need to set up an account, but it's free and takes just a second. The contest is completely free and not only can you win the prizes set up by ESPN itself, I'll also hand out some prizes as well.

The best thing I can think of right now is giving out WrestleFest XIII tickets for the March 28 show. However, since the show takes place before the Elite Eight, I will take at least the top two leaders (that could change because I don't know how many tickets I'll get as of yet) at the end of the March 27 games and award them two tickets each to the show.

For the overall champion (and I'm open to suggestions) you will get your photo in the paper and I'll write a story on you and your triumph. Also, the champion can have his own day on the First & Goal page with a story written on any subject they should choose. Again, let me know what you think about possible prizes. (And, remember, I work at The Bristol Press ... so I'm poor.)

Finally, my entry name is Brad Carroll ... which is boring, but so everyone can easily find me. Feel free to talk smack right here and join the challenge today!

(AP photo, top, of the Big East champion Louisville Cardinals.)

Former Pro Wrestling Champion Test Passes Away At Young Age Of 33

I got some very sad news earlier today and it hit very close to home for me. Andrew Martin, a former professional wrestling champion in the WWE that went by the name "Test," was found dead in his Tampa home at the very young age of 33. I am lucky enough to be close friends with some of his family members and my heart goes out to them.

I was told recently that Andrew's idol growing up, and the reason he got into the wrestling buisness, was Kevin Nash. So, in a very small tribute, I posted my entire story here that I did on Nash for tomorrow's Herald Press newspaper. We all lost a great person today.

My Feature Story On Kevin Nash, Who Will Wrestle In Bristol

In a lot of ways, Kevin Nash has built one of the greatest wrestling careers in history in the opposite fashion of pretty much everyone else that came before or after him.

While most of the current superstar wrestlers today built their name from the bottom up — starting on the independent circuit and later catching on with a major promotion — Nash’s first career match was in front of 10,000 people at WCW’s Clash of Champions in 1989. A short while later, he was in the WWE and found himself on the cusp of superstardom.

“Genetics,” Nash said of his quick rise. “I was big.”

It didn’t hurt that he was really good friends with one of the biggest tag teams in wrestling before breaking into the business. And that friendship with Rick and Scott Steiner led to his first big break.

“When the Road Warriors left WCW, I got thrown in as a replacement for them — not really a good idea,” Nash said. “But it got my foot in the door.”

Not only did Nash get his foot in the door, he smashed it down, taking the business over and becoming one of the biggest stars of all time. And he’s still at the top of his craft, currently wrestling for TNA as a headliner.

But on March 28, local wrestling fans will get the chance to not only see Nash in the ring, but meet the man himself. It all takes place at Bristol Central High School as Northeast Wrestling brings WrestleFest XIII back to the Mum City.

For the man formally known as Diesel, he’s looking forward to the more intimate atmosphere offered by NEW.

“These shows are more one-on-one,” Nash said. “In the WWE or WCW, there is no fan interaction. You just do your thing and get out. Here, I can spend some time with everyone.”

Nash will also be looking forward to making new friends and reconnecting with old ones at the event, including wrestling icon Ric Flair, who will be in Bristol as well.

“I really want to catch up with Ric,” Nash said. “Actually, as soon as I heard he was going to be there, I knew it was a good time to go. I love doing these things because it’s nice to sit around and talk with the guys. It’s a fraternity of brothers. It’s also eye-opening when you’ve been wrestling for 20 years and there are guys in the business that you’ve never met.”

At WrestleFest XIII, Nash will have plenty of company backstage. In addition to Flair making a special appearance, the card features Reid Flair (Ric’s son), Jimmy “The Mouth of the South” Hart, former WWE tag team champion Paul London, TNA’s Velvet Sky, NEW champion Jason Blade, Ron Zombie and the retirement match of Bristol’s Kurt Adonis.

“There is a network of people in the business that talk about the shows these guys put on,” Nash said. “Wrestling for TNA, I’m lucky enough to be able to do this.”

BIG SETBACK
About seven weeks ago, Nash developed a staph infection in his elbow that has put him completely out of action. He has been on antibiotics, but the injury has been slow to heal, which might keep him from any in-ring action come March 28 in Bristol. Right now, the ball where his elbow bends is no longer there — it’s just a big hole — so wrestling could be near impossible.
Still, Nash is holding out hope that he can wrestle at the event.

“It’s not healing as fast as I would like it too,” he said. “TNA called me and asked when I would be back and I told them I’d be back as soon as I can. I’m doing the best I can do. If I can’t wrestle, I’ll still show up and honor my commitments.”

Nash has had a long history of injuries, dating back to his time as a basketball player at the University of Tennessee, but don’t expect him to think about hanging up his wrestling boots forever after this latest set back.

“I’ve been operated on 27 times already,” Nash said. “Sure, there is a depression that sets in right away, but once you get through that, you just want to get back.”

ONE OF THE GREATS
While he may not be a technical marvel in the ring, there is no disputing that Kevin Nash was at the top of two different promotions during an era of immense wrestling popularity. While he may have been knocked by wrestling writers across the board, he was still one of the biggest draws of all time.

That is something Nash has tremendous pride in.

“As beat up as I was, I’m really proud of what I accomplished,” Nash said. “When I broke into wrestling I was half-crippled. I already had eight or nine knee surgeries. I did what I could do in the ring.”

“If you asked me if I could have the career of a critically-acclaimed actor or be Sylvester Stallone, I’m going with Stallone,” he added. “I want to be that guy that brings in the blockbuster money.”

While Nash says he isn’t bothered by what the critics say, he did take exception to a comment made in former WCW boss Eric Bischoff’s book (“Controversy Creates Ca$h”) that called him “Big Lazy.”

“When Bischoff called me lazy, I was 7-foot and 300 pounds,” Nash said. “When he gets to that size, he can let me know what lazy is.”

In addition to his time as Diesel in the WWE, he was also a leader of the New World Order in WCW, which was one of the most influential on-screen groups in wrestling history.

THE BEGINNING
Nash debuted as Steel with WCW as one-half of the tag team Master Blasters. From there, the promotion created the persona Oz for him before they finally settled on the name Vinnie Vegas.
While none of those characters caught on with fans, it was that last persona that ended up drawing interest from one of the biggest wrestling stars of all-time and changed Nash’s wrestling career forever.

Shawn Michaels saw Nash on television and went to WWE owner Vince McMahon and said he should bring the big man aboard immediately.

“Shawn was a little guy and he saw me as the perfect complement to him because I was a gigantic big guy,” Nash said. “The combo of the two of us was pretty much unstoppable.”

Nash debuted in the WWE as Diesel and was Michael’s bodyguard that would interfere in matches on his behalf. While he didn’t find himself wrestling all that much in the early going, Nash still ended up getting one heck of an education.

“I ended up learning from the best ever” Nash said of Michaels. “It was on the job training.”
Nash soon skyrocketing to the top of the promotion and, after just a year and a half with the WWE, he won his first world championship with an eight-second victory over Bob Backlund.

While it was an exciting time for Nash, it was also a difficult time for everyone in the wrestling business, especially in the WWE. At the time, the federal government was cracking down on steroids and McMahon and his company became their target.

“We would have an afternoon show at The Spectrum in Philadelphia and they would test us,” Nash said. “We would then go to Hershey (Penn.) that night and they would test us again. After one year of killing the company, they finally got off us.”

Those unfortunate circumstances did give Nash a shot at being the face of the promotion.
“I was lucky,” Nash said. “I was the biggest guy that was clean. At that time, bigger was still better. I was in the right place at the right time.”

STEROIDS, STEROIDS, STEROIDS
Nash did use steroids in small doses before the government intervened, but he said it had nothing to do with people pushing the drug on him in the business.

“That was just the era and the look,” he said. “No promoter told us to take them. Vince never mentioned them. We did it to compete.

“Now, I don’t think it’s a big deal because it’s a different era. Look at Samoa Joe; nobody thinks he takes steroids. There’s always going to be a genetic freak, and people are going to question him, but steroid use is very small.”

Nash has strong opinions on steroids and the government’s subsequent involvement. “With our financial state in this country, do you think senators should be giving Roger Clemens the better part of a week to appear in front of them? Does he deserve it? But it’s all steroids, steroids, steroids. These senators need to worry about paying their taxes, not steroids.

“Honestly, cigarette smoke is just as bad. If cigarettes were developed today, the FDA would never approve it. But it’s entrenched. Maybe if there were steroid lobbyists things would be different.”

THE KLIQ
Anyone who followed wrestling closely back in the late 1990’s was aware of a group of wrestlers that collectively became known as “The Kliq” backstage in the WWE. The group consisted of Nash, Michaels, Scott Hall (Razor Ramon), Sean Waltman (X-Pac) and Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H).

At the time, wrestling was still driven by bad guys vs. good guys and that was supposed to be carried out at all times, including traveling together.

“To keep up appearances, the last thing you wanted to do was drive to a match with a guy you were feuding with,” Nash said. “But me, Shawn and Scott Hall decided we would drive with who we wanted to. We were on the road so much that we just decided to make it as enjoyable as possible. Sean and Hunter came in later and the five of us traveled everywhere for two years together.”

Nash said the controversial group was just a bunch of guys that loved the business.

“It was just a collaboration of guys that lived wrestling.”

LOVE OF THE BUSINESS
Whether or not Kevin Nash is able to wrestle in Bristol at WrestleFest XIII, you can still expect him to put on a show — and he’s going to love every minute of it.

“I love doing these things,” Nash said. “I’m going to have a good time. I’ve become very personable in my old age.”

Alex Rodriguez Will Have Surgery, To Miss First Month Of Season

Alex Rodriguez will indeed have surgeryto repair the torn labrum in his right hip the team announced today, and he will probably miss the first month of the season. The recovery time is 6-9 weeks. Dr. Marc Philippon said on a conference call that Rodriguez (AP photo, top) would have an 85-90 percent chance of playing the rest of the season without problems.

So, the question is ... where do you draft A-Rod in your fantasy baseball league?

GameDay Gets Latest Injury News From Kevin Nash Himself, Plus Paul London Joins Bristol Show

Talked to Kevin Nash today and he is still recovering from a staph infection in his elbow that may not allow him to wrestle at WrestleFest XIII at Bristol Central High School on March 28. Right now, Nash says the injury is getting better, but also says that the ball where the elbow bends is no longer there - it's just a big hole. He still isn't giving up hope of wrestling, but it just doesn't seem possible. He is having it treated tomorrow and is hoping for some good news.

"It's not healing as fast as I would like it too," Nash said. "TNA called me today and asked when I would be back and I told them I'd be back as soon as I can. I'm doing the best I can do."

I asked Nash if this latest injury might make him rethink wrestling full time and he said no way. "I've been operated on 27 times already," he said. "Sure, there is a depression that sets in right away, but once you get through that, you just want to get back."

I have a lot more on the Nash injury and I'll have a big feature story in The Bristol Press soon. I'll let you know when I think it will run. Also, Northeast Wrestling has signed former WWE tag team champion Paul London to the event as an insurance policy. Also also, I put the event poster here so people can see the information for ticket sales and information.

Since the poster is really small ... call 860-516-9915 for ticket information.

Cowboys Cut Terrell Owens

ESPN is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys have cut wide receiver Terrell Owens late Wednesday night. T.O. caught 69 passes for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, but was a distraction as always. He privately and publically feuded with quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten. Obviously, owner Jerry Jones had enough and dumped the star WR.

Where could he wind up? There's still a number of teams that need WR's, but to risk the potential locker room poison T.O. brings could keep him out of the league ... although that is highly unlikely. A team will take the chance because Owens would bring a big-time playmaker to the team. But his chances could be running out.

Manny Ramirez Signs 2-Year $45 Million Deal With Dodgers

The Dodgers and Manny Ramirez finally came to an agreement a short while ago, as the former Red Sox outfielder signs a two-year, $45 million deal pending a physical. MLB.com says that $25 million of the deal is deferred over five years, which is something the Dodgers wanted all along but Ramirez' agent, Scott Boras, refused. So that could be a small victory for Los Angeles.

Ramirez also reportedly has a no-trade clause.

This Is For All You Duke Basketball Haters Out There ... Everywhere

I know a lot of you UConn men's basketball fans out there pretty much hate Duke basketball, much like the North Carolina fans out there that I know read this blog, so this is for you. Plus, before you press "play" vote in our latest First & Goal poll to the right of the page. For the record, Terryville is 20-0; St. Paul is 15-6; Bristol Eastern is 14-7; and Lewis Mills is 9-12.

Exclusive Interview And Feature On Jimmy 'The Mouth Of The South' Hart

I interviewed Jimmy "The Mouth of the South" Hart on Thursday and Right Here is the link to the story on The Bristol Press website. He is going to be one of the headliners at WrestleFest XIII at Bristol Central High School on March 28. I'd print the whole thing here but it would take up the whole page, so check it out on the Press' website.

Jay Cutler Furious At Report Broncos Wanted Matt Cassel To Replace Him

The wildest story of the free agency period in the NFL so far is actually from a deal that wasn't completed. We all know by now that the Patriots traded quarterback Matt Cassel to the Chiefs for a draft pick, but did you know the deal could have be so much bigger? A trade was in the works that would have had the Patriots sending Cassel to the Broncos and the Broncos would send their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, to the Buccaneers and the Patriots would get, probably, a couple of draft picks from Tampa.

That is obviously huge news because Cutler is one of the best, young quarterbacks in the league and trading him would be huge news. Why would the Broncos even entertain the Cassel for Cutler switch? Remember, Josh McDaniels is the new coach in Denver. He was offensive coordinator of the Patriots last year. So it shouldn't be a surprise that he would want Cassel on his team, even though probably 95 percent of the league's decision-makers would take Cutler any day of the week.

But the deal didn't go through, so no harm no foul, right? Well, wrong. According to a report on ESPN.com, Cutler is actually furious with the report and now wants out of Denver. He has asked Denver to allow him to pursue trade offers, but so far the Broncos have said no to that.

It's probably too late for the Broncos to trade Cutler because no one is available that is anywhere near his ability, but the relationship between coach and quarterback could be ruined forever. McDaniels is going to have to work overtime to regain Cutler's trust, but that may never happen. Cutler is signed for two more years, so he's stuck in Denver for a while. While McDaniels was ready to dump Culter in a heartbeat, there are a ton of teams that would jump at the chance to trade for him. The only problem is that Denver would never get any compensation that would be good enough - not even a trade with the Lions for the No. 1 draft pick would work.

Still, what a source told ESPN.com doesn't make the situation look good: "The relationship has been tarnished. I think it's beyond repair. It's like a knife to Jay's heart. It will be hard for him to get past this."

The source told ESPN.com that Chicago, Tampa Bay or Detroit would be a likely landing spot for Cutler.