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WrestleMania In A Dispute Over A Charity Event; No Chairs Hurled (Yet)

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In the world of professional wrestling, there appears to be a smackdown going on outside the ring.

Hair Balls was alerted to this controversy after reading an article in Professional Wrestling Insider -- one of our favorite sources of news about big sweaty thespians pretending to beat each other senseless with folding chairs -- accusing World Wrestling Entertainment of poaching talent from local wrestling legend Booker T's charity event, slated for the same weekend as WrestleMania. Thousands of fans are expected to flood Houston April 5, and Booker T. told Hair Balls he was hoping some of that traffic would be steered toward his charity event, Booker T.'s Fight For Kids Foundation, which is raising money for a 24-hour youth center.

The Total Nonstop Action star said that wrestlers who agreed to perform at his event suddenly and inexplicably pulled out "within 24 hours of... launching the [charity event] website."

But, he said, "It's not going to stop anything, we're still going to go forward with it...We're just replacing those people with actually bigger names." He also added, "I don't think me doing my charity is going to hurt the revenue of WrestleMania, or hurt the Hall of Fame, and we're not doing this, you know, to hurt WrestleMania...or ride their coattails or anything."

But WWE communications guy Robert Zimmerman [note: that's Bob Dylan's real name] told Hair Balls that WWE is not in the business of stealing anyone's talent.

"I don't even know what his charity deal is, to be perfectly honest with you," Zimmerman told Hair Balls. He also said that WWE has plenty of charity events planned itself, including raising funds to promote children's literacy, and donating to libraries.

Booker T. wouldn't name names, but Mike Johnson at PW Insider wrote this week that his publication "confirmed that Torrie Wilson, Nick Bockwinkel, Tito Santana and Ron Simmons have all pulled out of the Booker T convention after they accepted WWE bookings. In the case of most, Booker T had purchased plane tickets for their travel."

Johnson also alleged that "Since word of Booker's convention came out, World Wrestling Entertainment began contacting a number of talents and instead booked them to appear in some fashion over the WrestleMania weekend, including the company's AXXESS sessions and the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, specifically asking them not to appear on the Booker T event."

This sounds like a dispute only a death-cage match can solve. "Two charity events will enter -- but only one will leave!!!!!"

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