Major WWE Character Turns, Reacting To Orton’s Pay, TNA A Threat Or Bust?, Backstage Drama

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It seems like WWE is going with a lot of Tweeners such as Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Vince McMahon, Triple H and so on. I like the direction, do you?

WWE has a lot of tweeners (a character between a heel and a babyface) right now because Vince McMahon felt programming was bland and they needed to "shake things up." The problem is this can get very confusing and will be interesting to see how the Philadelphia crowd reacts at Money in the Bank on Sunday. While tweeners, clearly Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk are leaning babyface while Daniel Bryan and Vince McMahon are leaning heel. Triple H is leaning babyface. I expect the roles to get further defined as we approach SummerSlam next month.

In light of the recent reveal of Randy Orton's take home pay, do you have details of other top level wrestler earnings to give an idea of what they're paid?

WWE is very careful about leaking information when it comes to how much workers get paid. Given the fact workers are listed as "independent contractors" and not "employees," means there is no set pay structure. WWE is best suited in negotiating contracts with workers to keep these numbers as quiet as possible so they have all the leverage. Randy Orton's salary reveal is going to cause problems. While the assumption was Orton was getting paid as a top guy, no one thought he was making $291,666 a month. I've spoken with a lot of people close to other top names that have confirmed other names aren't getting paid "anywhere near" the numbers revealed for Orton. While there is still a certain level of disbelief, the locker room is reacting whether WWE wants them too or not. As for other top names, Brock Lesnar is believed to have a contract worth close to $9 million for his next two years with the company while I haven't heard the numbers The Rock worked under. As far as I know, Lesnar is making more than any other performer in the company. John Cena is believed to be "on up there as well" but since I do not have the numbers, I'll go with what I have.

What are your thoughts on TNA Impact Wrestling and the company's current state? Do you see them crumbling or becoming a viable threat to WWE?

TNA Impact Wrestling has a great partnership with Spike TV, a significant financial backer in Panda Energy and a talent roster that rivals only that of WWE. However, there are problems with the way the product is marketed, there is no set structure of who is in charge and they are growing at a pace much slower than many had hoped. TNA will continue to exist as long as Panda Energy is willing to back the promotion. Should they ever decide to go in another direction, the company would be in trouble. As for becoming a viable threat to WWE, it's going to be very difficult for any company (not just TNA) to compete with them. WWE is so far in front of everyone not only when it comes to television ratings and pay-per-view buys but in merchandising, globalization and let's not even start with corporate structure. This isn't the same WWE that WCW challenged over a decade ago. WWE is built for the long-term and is ready to continue to grow and expand. Anyone that is going to ever come close to competing with them will have to have the aforementioned components that TNA has along with hundreds of millions of dollars to invest. It's possible, but it's not likely.

You often hear about guys traveling together on the road (such as CM Punk & Kofi Kingston or Daniel Bryan & Ryback). Over the years, have you ever heard of there being resentment over a push (was Kofi upset / jealous of CM Punk getting a push)?

There is backstage drama in WWE just like there is in any other company or corporation. As long as there are human beings there are going to rivalries, some out of legitimate beef and others out of jealously and envy. As for your example, Kofi Kingston gets along with everyone backstage. Remember when Trent Barreta kayfabed about heat with Kofi? The guy just "fits in" and gets along. There are others who are lightning rods for controversy but that's just the way it is. Everyone wants a top spot and when you have some workers making under $100,000 a year with others making nearly three times that per month, there is going to be drama. Everyone feels "they are worth a push" so when someone else gets one, it's only natural for there to be a response.

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  • Jack

    Good questions and answers today.

  • Hercules Rockerfeller

    I’m just guessing right now but aside from Orton and Cena and of course Triple H and Brock who was mentioned, whom are making ridicules amount of money, not that they don’t deserve it, I could even argue for Triple H because he’s been busting his ass behind the scenes with the NXT guys and molding them to be the superstars of tomorrow. I have to believe another guy making a lot of money is Undertaker. Yes, he only wrestles a couple of times a year but lets not forget the bond that he has with Vince that goes back over 22 years! Taker has always been loyal to Vince and vice-versa.

    • Jesse Sherwood

      On top of that, Taker has wisely invested his money over the years such as The Calahart office building in Loveland, CO. Some of these younger guys could learn a couple of things from him and JBL on the financial side.

      • Robert Olley

        wasnt jbl heavily into finance while in the acolytes?

        • Jesse Sherwood

          Yes he was. His JBL gimmick was rooted in some truth as he made millions in the stock market by living within his means and investing what he could to provide himself a great retirement nest egg while he was in the Acolytes.

  • Hey Richard, You’ve been mentioning the Philadelphia crowd reactions quite a bit lately and I would like to know what makes that particular crowd interesting.

    • There are certain crowds in the US that are “smarter” and more “informed” on the wrestling business. These hardcore fan bases do not care as much about storylines as they care about quality in-ring work. Examples of these crowds include New York/New Jersey, Chicago and Philadelphia.

      • Okay, thanks for clearing that up for me. I’m pretty excited for MITB. It’s my favorite PPV next to WrestleMania because I feel like everyone puts in so much effort to steal the show.

    • Jesse Sherwood

      On top of what Richard said, Philly fans are very raucous and are known to cheer heels and boo faces. They had ECW, and anyone that was fairly mainstream to them, i.e. Heyman or RVD, are assured to get a huge pop. Cena will get booed out of the building, as Orton may.

  • K!NG

    I’m fine w what orton makes. Not for nothing but since austin and rock are gone Cena and Orton are the top guys in the wwe… no offense to punk or daniel bryan.

    • Bill

      Punk and Bryan are higher than Orton currently. Orton isn’t the top guy like he was a few years ago.

      • sir-rusty82

        But were they higher than him 10 years ago when he signed the contract. Why is it so hard for everyone that he gets paid that much because he a signed a 10 year contract while he was a maineventer & if any of you think CM Punk would ever sign a 10 year deal your nuts & if you think than Orton does not have face value & think he will never be a maineventer again your also nuts for that too

  • Nostaljack

    Thank you also for not diggin into the premium news we got. Much appreciated.

  • Robert Olley

    What prof is there that orton is actually making that much? i know it was on tmz and on a court document but was there any date on the document? If he really is being paid that much a month he would be paying a massive amount of tax after which he would be making about the same as say daniel bryan or sheamus.

    • Jesse Sherwood

      Mind you I haven’t seen the court documents, but from my own experience that would be his gross pay since he is an independent contractor. He would be responsible to pay his own tax liabilities, which he could easily diminish with various investments and charitable contributions. Now the other factor to consider is that he signed a 10 year contract back in 2010, which was shortly after the peak of his character and popularity. He was given extremely favorable conditions, I would bet, for signing such a contract. The number is still very shocking, as it amounts to around $3.5 Million, but not unreasonable considering all of the factors. Do I value him that high? Not by a long shot, but he obviously got the better end of the negotiations.

      • sheamusfan

        I think Orton deserves to be in the main event scene. If he had not violated the wellness policy he would given some competition to cena to become the face of the company.

  • sir-rusty82

    Its been obvious Daniel Bryan has been heading towards a heel Im surprised it has taken so long

  • Tim

    I’m sure cena makes that in a day

  • David F

    It doesnt make sense to me that WWE has Daniel Bryan leaning towards heel tendencies (attacking Punk and Orton last RAW). Bryan as heel just does not work anymore. People know he puts on great matches and want to cheer for him and do the YES chants. He is perfect for classic underdog also considering his size similar Bret Hart and HBK.

  • Patrick

    nothing like money to make every one jealous..gezz

  • Jaryd

    There are plenty of sport stars outside of wrestling who earn way more for a lot less work than Orton. It’s just a shame that the business isn’t doing well enough to pay more guys like that.