Leading up to Wrestlemania 28, you frequently mentioned that the main event of The Rock vs. John Cena would be difficult to book. Would you say the same thing for the upcoming Cena vs. Brock Lesnar match at Extreme Rules? A returning Lesnar obviously needs to look strong but when was the last time Cena lost two pay-per-views in a row?
The WWE Extreme Rules main event between John Cena and Brock Lesnar is also going to be difficult to book, however, it won't be as difficult with Lesnar working past the pay-per-view. My biggest thing about The Rock was there were not plans for him to return on a regular basis. Lesnar is going to be around longer as Extreme Rules is the beginning, not the end. It will be difficult in that a Lesnar loss out of the gate would make him look weak but two straight jobs for Cena wouldn't be the best either. With that being said it is a B-level pay-per-view, which would make an unclean finish more palatable.
When Wade Barrett returns to WWE around SummerSlam is he going to be given a push or a title run?
There were big plans for Wade Barrett prior to his dislocated elbow injury. The rumor I heard was that WWE planned on holding the Money in the Bank ladder match at Wrestlemania 28 with Barrett going over. When Barrett got hurt, the bout was nixed from the pay-per-view. I could easily see the match take place at SummerSlam as WWE wants to push Barrett as a title contender.
What are the chances of RVD returning to WWE?
Rob Van Dam is under contract with TNA until March 2013. He was rumored to be interested in heading to WWE earlier this year but recently returned to TNA and is locked down throughout the next year. I don't know if his contract was originally up in March this year and he had a one-year option that was picked up but I can confirm he's now locked into a TNA deal.
Could Matt Morgan end up back in WWE?
Matt Morgan recently revealed his TNA contract is up in October and wouldn't rule out a possible return to WWE. He could have put it out there to help in his negotiations with TNA but nothing can be ruled out in this business.
I had heard that Albert's in-ring work had improved dramatically, but from what I've seen it still looks incredibly sloppy. Paired with his less than desirable ring-look, how long do you think he's going to be kept around? It was a good try to put him in the main event of Raw, but I was really just disappointed by his performance.
WWE seems determined to try and get the Lord Tensai gimmick over, especially after having him pin John Cena on last night's Raw Supershow (albeit with a dirty finish). I agree that Tensai looked sloppy last night but I have no idea if the company plans on pulling the plug on the gimmick. It's important not to judge a gimmick too quickly but I share your sentiment that Tensai has been disappointing early.
Has Brock Lesnar taken John Cena's place as "face of the WWE" already?
WWE is building Brock Lesnar as John Laurinaitis' "face of WWE" in storyline but he's not really the guy in the company. Lesnar is looked at as a special attraction just like The Rock. WWE is glad to have him but are not relying on a part-timer to carry business. The top guys in WWE are still John Cena, Randy Orton and CM Punk.
Why is Braden Walker infamous in the WWE Universe?
Chris Harris, formerly known as Braden Walker, showed up overweight and out of shape. There had been a lot of anticipation for his WWE debut after a successful tag team run in TNA but things went about as badly as they possibly could have gone. Lines such as "I'm Braden Walker and I'm going to knock your brains out" made the gimmick laughable and helped establish it as a running joke amongst the IWC.
I cant remember any time the WWE has let a superstar have sponsors of other company's on their ring attire ever. Brock Lesnar's new shirt and ring shorts both have Jimmy Johns and other sponsors on them when he goes out to the ring. Is this something that you think other superstars are going to catch on to and start making sponsorship money on above what they get paid in WWE (John Cena with Gillette and Subway on his shorts?) or is this a one time thing that Brock Lesnar put in his new WWE contract since he was sponsored by these company's during his UFC run?
WWE is letting Brock Lesnar honor endorsement deals that he had when he was under UFC contract. Lesnar is a unique situation and I don't believe WWE has ever shelled out as much money for a part-timer as they did for him but Vince McMahon was determined that Brock's first post-UFC run was with them. Love him or hate him, Lesnar drew big for UFC, which caused his stock to skyrocket. WWE worked diligently with Lesnar and UFC to hammer out an agreement that is not really comparable to anything we've ever seen.
With The Undertaker, Triple H and Shawn Michaels walking out of Wrestlemania XXVIII together as a show of respect, how many matches do each of these stars have left in them?
By all accounts The Undertaker felt good after his match against Triple H at Wrestlemania XXVIII and he is in the preliminary plans for the pay-per-view next year. I don't know if there are plans to use him in a role outside of Wrestlemania but he doesn't appear to be retired. Triple H has a performer's contract through March 30, 2016 so he's going to be around in a limited role for the next several years as an in-ring performer. Obviously he is also heavily focused as an executive being groomed to take the reigns from Vince McMahon. Shawn Michaels is retired from the ring and has no plans of returning as of this writing.
How much is Brock Lesnar being paid for this year long run in WWE?
I do not have confirmation but I heard Brock Lesnar was being paid somewhere in the $5 million range to work a limited amount of dates over the next year. If that figure is accurate, it's the largest part-time contract in the history of the business. As I mentioned in yesterday's Ask WNW, given the fact Lesnar is getting to keep endorsements on his gear, he has a deal that's unlike anything we've ever seen.
With the record number of pay-per-view buys for Wrestlemania XXVIII, how will this affect the viability of the WWE Network?
Wrestlemania XXVIII doing 1.3 million buys is a very good thing for everything in WWE and I'm sure the company will tout the number in negotiations for clearance on cable and satellite systems. As for it changing anything in regards to the WWE Network, I don't see it doing anything but helping.
Why do you think the WWE decided to have Brock Lesnar compete so early after his return?
Aside from the fact WWE is paying Brock Lesnar a lot of money, they wanted to utilize him while he's hot. Lesnar hasn't fought since the end of December and Vince McMahon wanted to make sure his first post-UFC gig was in a WWE ring. It was a top priority to get him in a match and WWE is expecting it to significantly help WWE Extreme Rules pay-per-view buys.
It seems WWE just can't win with John Cena. When he's a babyface everyone hates him and if they turn him heel they're going to hate him just as much. What should they do?
It all has to do with character profession. Ruling out the usual Cena-haters, the biggest thing I think most fans want is a refresh to the John Cena character. The gimmick is dated, bland and in need of something. I am hoping the current direction of losses is leading to a much bigger picture.
You've mentioned before that Vince McMahon was against part-time workers, if you worked for him you were full time. With Brock Lesnar breaking that mold, does this open the door for a Bill Goldberg, Sting, Kurt Angle (retirement run), part time program leading up to Wrestlemania?
Vince McMahon has always wanted workers to be full-time with the company and is hesitant to give pushes to part-timers. There have been exceptions with Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and of course Triple H but by large the rule has been all or nothing. The Rock recently broke the mold by agreeing to work Wrestlemania XXVIII one year in advance and working sporadic appearances on TV as well as a main event match at Survivor Series. Vince broke all his rules for Brock Lesnar and offered him big money for a limited schedule because he was determined that Lesnar's first post-UFC appearance would be in a WWE ring. I don't know this for sure but it seems like Vince took a lot of credit for Brock drawing big for UFC and wanted to make sure he got to capitalize on Lesnar's fame for himself. As for this opening the door for other part-timers, the mold of "all or nothing" seems to be changing, especially given the success of Wrestlemania XXVIII. Kurt Angle and Sting are currently under TNA contract and I haven't heard of recent interest in Goldberg, however, WWE is interested in Batista.
At the time of his departure from WWE, Jeff Hardy was at the peak of his career; he was as "over" as a top face should be and his all-around performance (mic, ring work) was as good as what would be expected of a top worker. That being said, had he remained in WWE do you think he could have surpassed John Cena as the face of the company?
Jeff Hardy's biggest problem has been his personal demons and they have cost him a good bit. Remember it was at TNA Victory Road last year where Hardy showed up "unfit to perform" yet TNA let him go out and embarrass himself and the business anyways. There isn't much they could have done and Dixie Carter stood by him when he needed help but this would have cost him his job in WWE. Remember when Carlito showed up "unfit to perform"? He was released the same week. Jeff Hardy is a very talented individual but it's hard to say where he would have gone because of personal issues.
Do you think there will ever be another pro wrestling boom? We saw it in the 80's and the late 90's but what would it take in today's market for a similar popularity increase?
I think we will see another pro wrestling boom, I just don't know when. The way the entertainment industry works, it's always changing. The "in" thing is always different and during the pro wrestling boom of the late 90's, the pro wrestling business found itself as one of the "in" things where it was very attractive to the mainstream. WWE was able to remain relevant and has been very consistent in growing the company ever since. Pro wrestling isn't as popular today but it is by no means in decline. WWE executives will claim that WWE content is more in demand now than ever. Just take a look at Wrestlemania XXVIII that broke all the pay-per-view buyrate numbers for the company with 1.3 million buys. Some say the business needs more competition which is always a good thing but I don't know what it will take to elevate the business to where it was in the Attitude Era.
David Otunga has been involved in the main event of Raw for the past two weeks, first facing John Cena and then interfering in Cena's match against Lord Tensai. Is he in line for a push? Also, since Otunga and Lesnar are both aligned with Laurinaitis, do you see them having some sort of alliance?
David Otunga is already receiving a push as the legal council for John Laurinaitis. WWE officials like his look, his work ethic and not to mention his link to pop singer Jennifer Hudson. I don't know if that means we'll see Otunga challenging for the WWE Championship or World Heavyweight Championship anytime soon but he has a desirable spot as an upper mid card worker in the company. As for an alliance with Lesnar, I don't see much more than what is already there with John Laurinaitis. WWE wants to push Lesnar as a singles worker and are hoping he draws big for Extreme Rules.
What are your thoughts on Alex Riley? I feel like WWE is dropping the ball with Riley, if he was in TNA or Ring Of Honor I feel he would be a main eventer right now.
Alex Riley was given a decent opportunity on WWE TV and while he got over with the crowd, his in-ring work is bad. I don't know about TNA but there's no way he would be over in Ring of Honor with sub-par in-ring work (and I feel like I'm being nice calling it sub-par). Riley has potential but he most improve his in-ring abilities if he is going to get a serious run in WWE.
With recent live Smackdown's, do you think WWE is trying to transition over to live or will it never happen and they are going to continue with "live specials."
While the live editions of Smackdown have popped ratings in the past, here recently they have shown no real benefit, even posting lower numbers then what the replay did in the normal Friday night timeslot. For WWE to move Smackdown to a live show they would probably have to switch to Tuesday nights (for obvious reasons regarding production travel) and I just don't see there being that big of a benefit. As things currently stand, WWE seems happy with a taped show on Friday nights with occasional Tuesday night specials.
Every superstar get's a bonus if they appear on TV right? A couple weeks ago on Raw Supershow pretty much every Superstar appeared in the John Cena and Brock Lesnar segment... Would that mean everyone that appeared on that segment get the bonus?
If a worker is used on a WWE show in any capacity they are paid $500. This amount used to be $1000 but was cut 50% about four years ago. So to answer your question, if the worker was shown on camera, they were paid that amount.
Do you think Scott Steiner might return to WWE?
I don't think it's likely that Scott Steiner returns to WWE although anything is possible. You know how Steiner is burying Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Bruce Prichard right now? He did the same thing to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon when he left WWE. A lot of bridges were burned with Steiner and I just don't see the company feeling he's a big enough draw to offer him a contract.