Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony will be able to resume their tussling in Denver on Monday without a steel cage on the floor for Game 4 of the Lakers-Nuggets series.
That’s because World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman Vince McMahon and AEG resolved the high-profile scheduling conflict that had the Nuggets, Lakers and WWE stars poised to appear at the same time Monday at Pepsi Center in Denver.
Now the WWE event “Monday Night Raw” will take place at Staples Center on Memorial Day, and Tuesday night’s “ECW” and “Smackdown” shows will also be at Staples Center.
WWE moved its Monday night event to Los Angeles because of the scheduling conflict in Denver. “They threw us out on our ear,” McMahon told ESPN.
WWE spokesman Robert Zimmerman said no agreement has been reached between WWE and Pepsi Center/Kroenke Sports, and that “all options are on the table” to address a possible breach-of-contract case. The Denver event has been rescheduled to Aug. 7 at the Denver Coliseum.
Before the scheduling change, McMahon went on national television to criticize Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke and his ownership of the Pepsi Center, telling the Associated Press the conflict was “ineptness” because last August WWE had booked the Denver arena for the Memorial Day show.
“The [Nuggets] fans in Denver had a lot more faith in making the playoffs than the owner,” McMahon later said.
“It’s very common for arenas to have conflicts arise during playoff time,” Paul Andrews, executive vice president for Kroenke Sports Enterprises, said. “In this particular case, the WWE was using sensationalism and propaganda to gain media attention and that’s what they were able to get.”
The Nuggets, who lost Game 1 to the Lakers on Tuesday at Staples Center, are making their first Western Conference finals appearance since 1985.
On the WWE’s website, officials seized on the potential of scheduling issues in Denver, referring to the double-booking as the “Denver debacle” and the “calamity in Colorado’s capital.”
McMahon said on ESPN that Kroenke “should be arrested for impersonating a good businessman because he’s not.”
But Andrews said “both sides agreed in principle” that the WWE event would be moved up a day early in Denver to Sunday. “Vince asked us for five tickets to the Nuggets game Monday so he could come and enjoy the game. . . . That to me sounds like a guy who was ready to make a deal. That’s why it was a little shocking,” he said of the move to Los Angeles.
By landing at Staples Center, WWE returns to a venue where it has staged a Wrestlemania event.
Before the settlement, McMahon cracked that the best way to broker the deal was to let him and Kroenke go at it in a steel-cage match.
Chris Tomasson contributed to this report from Denver.