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ESPN anchor draws ire over network’s soft WWE coverage, drops pro wrestling SportsCenter segment

Pro wrestling fans and writers had questioned World Wrestling Entertainment for several weeks after the disappearance of one of its lead announcers from television, Mauro Ranallo, who was suffering from depression.

Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer said Ranallo may have been the victim of WWE’s bullying culture, particularly John Layfield, his color commentator who made disparaging remarks about Ranallo following his absence on TV and during an out-of-character segment on the company’s streaming network.

The allegations became more rampant after the release of “Best Seat in The House,” a book by former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts. Roberts alleged Layfield bullied him and others regularly, particularly announcers. This behavior and culture was not only tolerated but encouraged by WWE owner Vince McMahon.

ESPN started covering WWE regularly last year, launching its own pro wrestling section on its website, and with a weekly SportsCenter segment by ESPN anchor Jonathan Coachman, a former WWE announcer himself.

ESPN has been questioned for its involvement with WWE, especially its reluctance to cover negative news about the company, almost to the point of sticking to storyline-esque interviews on its programming. The questioning began heating up over the weekend when the story bullying story began to go viral. When asked in a tweet if ESPN would cover the controversy, wrestling journalist Meltzer replied expressing doubt in strong language. 

Coachman wasn’t involved in the discussion, but entered the fray anyway with a shot at Meltzer.

In the middle of his argument, Coachman announced he was dropping the weekly WWE segment from SportsCenter. He deleted the Tweet later, then said he had been planning on dropping it for several weeks because of other projects, but his timing seemed suspect. He pointed fans toward ESPN’s vertical for pro wrestling and WWE coverage.

ESPN has drawn ire for its news coverage, often for its abundance of debate shows during the morning hours and conflict of interest of having TV deals with the companies it covers. The network dropped a planned fictional show based on a pro football team after criticism from the NFL, then later dropped support of a PBS Frontline documentary on accusations the NFL had covered up concussion issues. 

John Cena meets 12-year-old fan with cerebral palsy

WrestleMania 33 is Sunday night, and fans will pack the Amway Arena in Orlando or watch the matches live on the WWE Network. John Cena will be one of the headliners in pro wrestling’s biggest showcase.

>> Read more trending news 

Fans all have their favorites, and John Cena certainly ranks high among WWE fans. Recently, Cena made a 12-year-old fan’s dream come true.

At a WWE card in Johnson City, Tennessee, Cena spotted Payton Marion, who has cerebral palsy, and tossed him a T-shirt and wristband, WVLT reported. After the matches, Cena met with Payton and his father, Justin Marion.

“Payton is super excited about all that, all his friends have been aggravating him, calling him a superstar,” Justin Marion told WVLT. “The fact that my son was able to meet one of his heroes, my heart melts, and it was just crazy.”

Justin Marion explained on Reddit that WWE wrestler AJ Styles set up the meeting between Cena and his son.

“He saw us standing around, and asked if we wanted a picture,” Jason Marion said. “Of course we said ‘yes.’ Then he asked if we got to see everyone.”

When Justin Marion said Payton saw everyone but Cena — his favorite wrestler — Styles invited father and son backstage to the locker room.

Cena arrived and chatted with Payton, capping an exciting night for the boy.

Payton Marion said he uses Cena as motivation during his physical therapy.

Cena is one of pro wrestling’s biggest ambassadors, granting more than 500 requests in the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

U.S. wrestlers banned from competition in Iran

Iran on Friday banned U.S. wrestlers from participating in the Freestyle World Cup competition this month in response to President Donald Trump's executive order forbidding visas for Iranians, the IRNA news agency reported.

>> Read more trending news

Iran foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told IRNA that a special committee reviewed the case and "eventually the visit by the U.S. freestyle wrestling team was opposed."

The decision is the first action taken by Iran in response to Trump's executive order banning visas for seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, The Associated Press reported. Iran said earlier this week that it would take retaliatory action.

The competition in Kermanshah is Feb. 16-17.

U.S. freestyle wrestlers have competed in Iran since 1998 after an absence of nearly 20 years. Since then, Americans have attended wrestling competitions hosted by Iran 15 times. Iranians have made 16 visits to the U.S. as guests of USA Wrestling since the 1990s.

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Rachel Platten!

Rachel Platten!

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Keith @ Making Strides Pinellas!

Rachel Platten Contest

This week, Chadd & Kristi and Keith are giving you the chance to win tickets to see Rachel Platten on Saturday, October 22nd at Al Lang Stadium, following the Tampa Bay Rowdies' final game of the season!

Just listen to The Magic Morning Show with Chadd & Kristi and middays with Keith Connors all week long for your chance to win!

Call (800) 850-0949

And on the Magic 94.9 App, register for your chance to win a Rachel Platten VIP package! Including 2 VIP Rowdies game tickets to see Rachel Platten, 2 Meet and Greet Passes to meet Rachel Platten and 2 Tampa Bay Rowdies T-shirts!

Don't have the Magic 94.9 App? Click here to download it to your mobile device!

Rachel Platten

Starting Monday, Chadd & Kristi and Keith are givng you the chance to win tickets to see Rachel Platten on Saturday, October 22nd at Al Lang Stadium, following the Tampa Bay Rowdies' final game of the season!

Just listen to The Magic Morning Show with Chadd & Kristi and middays with Keith Connors on Monday for your chance to win!

Call (800) 850-0949

And on the Magic 94.9 App, register for your chance to win a Rachel Platten VIP package! Including 2 VIP Rowdies game tickets to see Rachel Platten, 2 Meet and Greet Passes to meet Rachel Platten and 2 Tampa Bay Rowdies T-shirts!

Don't have the Magic 94.9 App? Click here to download it to your mobile device!

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