Long Road Ahead For Evan Bourne, Why WWE Waited So Long To Announce HBK For Wrestlemania; One Name That Could Still Be Involved In HHH-Lesnar, John Cena Heel Turn Planned?, Backstage Reaction To Paul Heyman As Paul Bearer, WWE HoF Controversy, Punk Tagging With Lesnar?, McMahon’s Big Reveal

Welcome to the WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium Newsletter. This is where you will find all of the big news and Ask WNW segments from the week neatly archived for your viewing pleasure.

This week’s edition covers news from Saturday, March 30, 2013 to Friday, April 5, 2013 as well as all five Ask WNW segments from the week. Use this newsletter as your own personal tool to catch up on any of the news that you may have missed during the week. Below is a table of contents:

Note From Richard: For those that have asked, the Newsletter is organized with the news posted on Saturday at the top with the most recent stories at the bottom. We have it organized this way so you can read the news in the order in which it happened. Thanks for your support!

Table Of Contents
- WWE News
- TNA News
- Ask WNW

WWE News

- XFINITY has a new Q&A online with Dolph Ziggler to promote Wrestlemania 29. In it, he’s asked about part-time talent in WWE.

XFINITY: You mentioned the people on the lighter schedules. We’re approaching a Wrestlemania where four of the six main eventers don’t wrestle that often. Does that annoy you, does it inspire you?

Dolph Ziggler: It’s both. It really pisses me off. But, it also is good business. Every year a part timer comes back, but there’s a reason that they’re back. Whether it’s the fans want to see them, if they’re a draw, if they’re a movie star, there’s a reason that they’re back. They’re not back just to do it. There’s business to be had. And it pisses me off and it motivates me a hundred percent. It makes me want to be that guy that they’re begging to come back. I appreciate it, it’s just good business. When people come to Wrestlemania to see the Rock and the Undertaker and they leave that Wrestlemania thinking, “Wow, that Dolph Ziggler stole the show. I can’t wait to tune in to ‘Raw’ to see what he does next.” That’s how I’ve lived my entire career.

You can read the lengthy Q&A here where Ziggler reveals his childhood favorite was Ric Flair and put over Arn Anderson as the unsung hero at this link.

- Renee Young, who came to WWE from The Score, made her debut on Smackdown this week. She thanked fans on Twitter for their support:

- Evan Bourne commented on his return from injury on Twitter, he thanked everyone for their support but pointed out there was still a long road ahead:

- IGN asked CM Punk if The Undertaker was his dream Wrestlemania match. Below is his answer:

“You know, probably not,” he revealed. “To be honest. I mean, I probably would have said, hell, at this point, John Cena. You know what I mean? Or, of course, Stone Cold Steve Austin. He’s always been my answer to that question over the last two years.”

You can read more at this link.

- After not working Friday night, Randy Orton is scheduled for Saturday night’s WWE live event in Atlantic City and Sunday in White Plains, New York.

- G.I. Joe: Retaliation with The Rock grossed an estimated $41.2 million this weekend, which is the second-highest Easter debut ever and the biggest opening weekend of 2013. Including Thursday, the film has earned $51.7 million. BoxOfficeMojo.com has more at this link.

The Rock celebrated with a pizza party. You can view a photo below:

- Former WWE Raw guest host star Pee-wee Herman wrote on Twitter he’ll be at Wrestlemania 29 on Sunday. The following is from his verified account:

- Apparently “Fluffy Guy” Gabriel Iglesias will be the social media ambassador for Wrestlemania 29. You can check out the latest from him on Twitter @FluffyGuy.

- Jim Ross has updated the blog section of this official website. In it, he talks about Wrestlemania week, this week’s WWE Raw, his 20th anniversary in WWE and more. You can read it at this link.

- Phil Strum has a new interview online with Paul Heyman. In it, Heyman touts the fact he gets to work with his best friend in CM Punk and puts over his extraordinary talent. When asked what he finds most appealing about the WWE product, Heyman said the “global scale of it all.” You can read the interview in its entirety at this link.

- NorthJersey.com has a new article online looking at the economic impact that Wrestlemania 29 will have this year. Below is a quote from New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority president Wayne Hasenbalg:

“People will see in the next week the magnitude of this,” Hasenbalg said of WrestleMania. “In Miami [last year's WrestleMania site] the estimated economic impact was $103 million, and I am optimistic we will receive similar or better news,”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- WWE senior vice president of special events John Saboor says the company is projecting to do more than 1.3 million buys with Wrestlemania 29 this year. You can read all his comments here at NJ.com.

- Heading into this week’s WWE television tapings, below is the updated Wrestlemania 29 lineup:

WWE Championship Match
- The Rock © vs. John Cena

No Holds Barred Match
If Triple H loses, his career is over.
- Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H

The Streak
- The Undertaker vs. CM Punk

World Heavyweight Championship Match
- Alberto Del Rio © vs. Jack Swagger

Six-Man WWE Tag Team Match
- Randy Orton, Big Show & Sheamus vs. The Shield

Singles Match
- Ryback vs. Mark Henry

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
- Team Hell No © vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
- Wade Barrett © vs. The Miz

Singles Match
- Chris Jericho vs. Fandango

8-Person Tag Team Match
- Brodus Clay & Tensai and Naomi & Cameron will face Team Rhodes Scholars and The Bella Twins

Wrestlemania 29 will take place Sunday from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. We’ll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- Last week’s episode of Smackdown did a 2.00 cable rating with an average viewing audience of 2,851,000 viewers on SyFy.

- Big Show did a media appearance  on 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C. to promote this week’s WWE Raw. He put over The Rock and wouldn’t attempt a chokeslam on one of the hosts. They asked him what he would be doing on this week’s show and he told them bluntly he didn’t know anything. He said he loves winging it because he doesn’t have to remember anything. You can listen to the interview at this link.\

- Kofi Kingston told AZ Central he’s embarrassed himself on a few occasions by buying his own action figure.

“The figures are so cool. I’ve embarrassed myself on a few occasions when I’ve been buying my own action figure, but, I mean, how many people can say they can go to a store and buy themselves. It’s really flattering.”

- Rey Mysterio is backstage at WWE Raw in Washington, D.C. It’s unknown if he’ll be used on television as he is currently dealing with problems with his knee.

- Wade Barrett will defend the WWE Intercontinental Championship against The Miz on the Wrestlemania Pre-Show on Sunday. The move was announced on Monday night during this week’s episode of WWE Raw. The Wrestlemania Pre-Show will begin at 6 PM EDT. We’ll stream it live here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- WWE is now promoting the official Twitter account of Vince McMahon. Below is his first Tweet:

- Shawn Michaels was on this week’s WWE Raw in Washington, D.C. Michaels appeared in a segment with Triple H where they were later confronted by Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar

- WWE will hold the 6/18 Smackdown taping from the Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio. Tickets go sale 4/13.

Trish Stratus asked Stephanie McMahon on Twitter Monday night if she’ll do her the honor of inducting her into the WWE Hall of Fame. The Tweet is embedded below:

Stephanie McMahon quickly accepted the offer by Tweeting:

- 16,733 was the announced attendance for this week’s WWE Raw from the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The show was a legitimate sellout.

- There were two changes to the Wrestlemania 29 lineup following this week’s WWE Raw.

Shawn Michaels will be in the corner of Triple H for his match against Brock Lesnar (who will have Paul Heyman in his corner). We reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium that WWE had been talking with Michaels about working the show.

As we reported here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Wade Barrett will defend the WWE Intercontinental Championship against The Miz on the Wrestlemania Pre-Show. The match was originally announced for the main event.

- I just posted an article on WWENews.net where I detail a list of seven workers I’ll have my eye on at Wrestlemania 29. Click here to read it.

- After this week’s WWE Raw went off the air The Undertaker slowly made his way to the back.

John Cena, Sheamus & Ryback beat The Shield when Seth Rollins hit Cena with a chair. After the match was thrown out, the babyfaces hit the heels with their finishers to send the crowd home happy.

- Rey Mysterio’s knee was examined by WWE’s doctors backstage at this week’s Raw from the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. He Tweeted that physical therapy is going good.

- Ryback did an interview with NorthJersey.com where he said he believes his ankle injury was the best thing that was ever going to happen to him because it was his way to lose the Skip Sheffield gimmick.

“When the [ankle] injury happened, I told myself ‘this was the best thing that was ever going to happen to me because deep down in my heart I knew I couldn’t do what I needed to do with the name ‘Skip Sheffield’,” said Reeves.

“It’s a dopey name. It’s not a name that the general public will get behind, no matter what I’m doing out there. So being away for a year and a half and coming back under my own terms was a blessing in disguise, and the best thing that ever could have happened to me,”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- Big Show returns to Nickelodeon’s Supah Ninjas on April 6th at 9 PM to reprise his role as Two-Ton Harley.

- Below is the updated list of 2013 WWE Fall of Famers and their inductors:

Bruno Sammartino inducted by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Mick Foley inducted by Terry Funk
Trish Stratus inducted by Stephanie McMahon
Booker T inducted by Stevie Ray
Bob Backlund inducted by Maria Menounos
Donald Trump likely to be inducted by Vince McMahon or his daughter Ivanka

The 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Saturday from Madison Square Garden in New York City.

- For those wondering why Shawn Michaels was announced for Wrestlemania 29 on the go-home episode of WWE Raw, we’re told Triple H had been trying to get a deal done and it was coming down to the wire. As previously noted, Hunter has been extremely busy with the construction of WWE’s new developmental facility as well as securing Bruno Sammartino and Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Hall of Fame.

Had the deal with Michaels not gotten done, Stephanie McMahon would have been used instead. There continues to be talk of using Stephanie at the pay-per-view on Sunday but one observer feels it would be overkill with Paul Heyman and HBK already involved.

We’re told even if Stephanie would have been used that Hunter wasn’t giving up on Shawn even if it meant him appearing at Wrestlemania as a surprise.

- Michael Moody, the son of the late Paul Bearer (real name Bill Moody), wrote the following on Facebook Monday night after WWE Raw:

If anyone is wondering, yes WWE did come to us wanting approval for tonight’s storyline. The way it was presented to us was ok. Seeing it on screen was a different story. I don’t even know what to say.

I took a screen shot of the conversation, which includes an agreeing comment from his brother Daniel, that you can view at this link.

For those that missed our report from earlier, Bret Hart said Paul Bearer would have loved the stuff done on Raw.  You can read his comments at this link.

- WWE announced Tuesday here on dot com they will debut the Wrestlemania 29 Post-Show following the pay-per-view on Sunday. Below is the company’s description:

Immediately after WrestleMania 29, hit WWE’s online channels to experience the fallout from The Show of Shows with exclusive interviews, celebrations and more in a live Post-Show, brought to you from inside MetLife Stadium. Tune in to see your WrestleMania reactions from Twitter and Tout broadcast live.

We’ll carry the live stream of both the Wrestlemania Pre-Show and Post-Show here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- This week’s WWE Raw, the go-home to Wrestlemania 29, did an average viewing audience of 4,305,000 viewers on the USA Network. Below is the by hour breakdown:

  • Hour one – 4,031,000 viewers
  • Hour two – 4,483,000 viewers
  • Hour three – 4,402,000 viewers

The show ended up doing a 3.12 cable rating

- Vince McMahon confirmed on Twitter that he’ll be inducting Donald Trump into the WWE Hall of Fame on Saturday night. McMahon wrote:

We broke the news earlier here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com. McMahon last inducted “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in 2009.

- The son of Paul Bearer, Michael Moody, isn’t upset with WWE for the use of his late father’s likeness in the build to CM Punk vs. Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29.  Moody just felt the closing segment of this week’s WWE Raw was hard to watch and it wasn’t what he envisioned. Below is a text message Moody sent to WWE that was relayed with permission to WrestlingNewsWorld.com:

Hey. I woke up in time to watch the tail end of the show. What you explained would happen happened. Which is fine. Just it was a little difficult to watch it play out. I put a message on Facebook last night saying that we approved it but it wasn’t what I envisioned. That I didn’t have anything to say. Well woke up this morning and that quote is being used all over “media outlets”. For the record. I was fine w it. Was hard to watch but y’all are professionals and I trust.

I apologize for any confusion caused in my earlier report.  I was under the assumption Moody was upset because the people that commented on the original Facebook post buried WWE and attacked Vince McMahon.  When Moody didn’t remove the comments or correct them, I took it as an endorsement.

- Fox News Latino did an interview with World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez. In it, they discuss the babyface turn and Wrestlemania 29. Del Rio revealed his father will be in attendance.

Below are the highlights:

Alberto Del Rio & Ricardo Rodriguez on babyface turn:

“I was having a blast being the bad guy of the movie, but I’m also having fun being the baby face, the good guy,” Del Rio told Fox News Latino.

“At this point in time [the fans] prefer us being a good guy,” said Ricardo Rodriguez, a WWE performer who serves as Del Rio’s personal ring announcer.

Alberto on Wrestlemania 29:

“It’s going to be an amazing night not only for me but everyone in Mexico and around the world,” said Del Rio. “We’re going to make history.”

“My father’s going to be there,” said Del Rio. “We don’t have too many successful people from Mexico doing things like this.”

Click here to read the interview in its entirety.

- Muscle & Fitness has a new feature online on Triple H. In it, they show his workout routine and feature a quote from his 2-year-old daughter. You can read it at this link.

- Jim Ross has a new blog entry online on his official website where he gives his thoughts on this week’s WWE Raw. In it, he goes on record about how hard to follow CM Punk vs. The Undertaker will be at Wrestlemania 29. Below is an excerpt:

Mark my words, @CMPunk vs. Undertaker will be tougher than a $2 steak to follow.

Click here to read JR’s latest in its entirety.

- Bruno Sammartino will meet face-to-face with Vince McMahon prior to the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Bruno insists they not talk until then so they can discuss whatever needs to be discussed.

- The synopsis of the WWE Payback DVD gives more information about the new pay-per-view. You can view it below:

WWE reinvigorates its pay-per-view line up with a fresh new concept that will serve as the perfect stage for all the top Superstars to settle their long simmering grudges and set the stage for the sizzling road to SummerSlam. All major championships will be on the line including the revamped WWE Championship, plus the World Heavyweight Championship and much more. From the clashes for the ultimate prize, to fierce heavy-hitters with scores to settle, WWE fans will want to relive the historic debut of this riveting new event.

- Paul Heyman did an in-character interview with lohud.com. Below is an excerpt:

So how much is scripted and how much is live and off the cuff?

Paul Heyman: That all depends on how much talent you have, your knowledge of what sells and how much you’re willing to stick your neck out to exploit the opportunity of having a live mike on live TV.

You can read the full interview at this link.

- Brock Lesnar has a new Twitter account located @BrockLesnar. Below is his first Tweet:

Make sure to follow WrestlingNewsWorld.com @wnwnews.

- We’re told everyone backstage loved the way the CM Punk angle played out on this week’s WWE Raw and it was well received, despite the controversy and criticism it received online. The real question that came up was what would the storyline and heat around it been built around had it not been for the tragic passing of Paul Bearer. No one had a good answer.

- Vince McMahon seemed more open to a John Cena heel turn than he has before based on the disappointing reaction his promo received on this week’s Raw. While everyone is used to the mixed reaction, the “boring” chants caused concern.

- The talk on Monday was for Chris Jericho vs. Fandango to open the Wrestlemania 29 pay-per-view broadcast. Things like this often change but if it holds true, Fandango will be in an even bigger high-pressure situation.

- There was a meeting with the writers and producers after this week’s WWE TV tapings about the pay-per-view on Sunday but we didn’t hear what was discussed. Some were talking about a “shocker,” but we were told it’s probably nothing to get excited about.

- The Undertaker will replace Ric Flair at the Wrestlemania Fan Axxess autograph signing on Thursday  at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Flair is obviously off due to the death of his son Reid. Click here for more.

- We have a new photo of the stage setup for Wrestlemania 29 inside MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Click here to view it now.

- NJ.com has a new article on AJ Lee where she discusses her brief Wrestlemania moment last year. Remember, she was part of Daniel Bryan’s World title loss to Sheamus in 18 seconds. The following is from AJ:

“I was waiting over a decade for that WrestleMania moment and it was only 18 seconds,” Lee says. “It’s like, ‘Wait — no! I just came out here!’ I wanted to stay out in front of the crowd a little longer.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- WWE has announced the June 10th episode of Raw will take place from the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia. The Smackdown taping the follow night, on June 11th, will take place from the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina.

- Sin Cara posted his hotel key on his official Twitter account, revealing he’s staying in a room at The Westin Jersey City Newport hotel in Jersey City.

Given the fact the company usually books all of their talent in one hotel over Wrestlemania weekend, it’s likely this is the WWE hotel. There are no vacancies, however, you might be able to get some autographs by hanging around. Below is Cara’s card:

- The following article was written by The Associated Press:

HARTFORD, Conn. – World Wrestling Entertainment and the widow of performer Owen Hart have settled a lawsuit over royalties and the use of Hart’s image.

The settlement was announced Wednesday by Martha Hart, WWE chief executive Vince McMahon, his wife and former CEO Linda McMahon, and the Stamford, Conn., company. The two sides did not disclose details.

Owen Hart died in 1999 while being lowered into the wrestling ring at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. He was 34.

Martha Hart sued in June 2010, alleging that WWE did not pay royalty payments owed to Owen Hart’s estate and violated a contract restricting the use of her late husband’s name and likeness.

Linda McMahon ran unsuccessfully as Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Connecticut in 2010 and 2012.

Thanks to Wrestling News World reader Lane Goodwin for sending this in.

- WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013 inductee Mick Foley took to Facebook today to respond to rumors about not being on the televised broadcast of the Hall of Fame ceremony, in order to make room for Donald Trump. An excerpt is below:

SOMEONE NEEDS SOME CHEERING UP! Yeah, that someone is me. Looks like there is at least the possibility that my WWE HOF speech will not be aired on television – in favor of Donald Trump’s speech. hopefully, it’s just a rumor. If not, it does feel like a slap in the face, but, hey – it’s not my company and not my decision to make. I’ll just do the best I can, and try to find the guts, the pride and the testicular fortitude to deliver the best speech possible. I had some good stuff in my head a few days ago, but in light of that figurative slap to the Foley face, I may just get up there on stage and speak from the heart. Things just might get interesting!

In the meantime, I’ve got plenty of cool things going on to take my mind off this potential Trump debacle. You can check out my upcoming spoken-word/comedy dates on my website, and it’s my intention to write a pretty extensive blog, thanking just about everyone I can think of for all the help I’ve received during the course of my career. I certainly didn’t get to the WWE Hall of Fame in Madison Square Garden (even if it may be a DVD extra) without plenty of help.

He also spoke out on Twitter:

The 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Saturday from Madison Square Garden in New York City.

- The Asbury Park Press has an article featuring quotes from CM Punk. In it, he talked about using the death of Paul Bearer in the build to his match against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29.

“My job is to get people to be mad at me and I think I do that very well; I think I blur the lines,” Punk said. “Everything is designed to push people’s buttons – so it’s unfortunate that Percy had to die for him to be a part of this story – but trust me, he would have loved it, he really would have loved it.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- WWE has announced the following live events:

  • 6/17 episode of WWE Raw from the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI. Tickets go on sale 4/20
  • 6/22 live event from the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center in Tallahassee, FL. Tickets go on sale 5/10
  • 6/25 Smackdown taping from the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC. Tickets go on sale 4/26

- WWE is looking at doing a reality television show based around Divas. A new poll posted on dot com asks fans to name the show. The following is from the official WWE website:

“WWE is contemplating a potential Divas reality show: It’s a new reality series following the life and times of eight WWE Divas that lets viewers into the Divas locker room, behind the scenes on the road, and inside the personal lives of some of the most glitzy, gritty and glamorous celebrities in all of entertainment. So, WWE Universe, what would you name this show?”

- WWE has hired Joe DeFranco as a part-time strength and conditioning coach. DeFranco is friends with Triple H and his personal trainer. You can find out more about DeFranco here on Twitter.

- Ricky Steamboat has left his position as a WWE developmental trainer but is now working in Talent Relations.

- Dan Gelston of The Associated Press has a new article online looking at WWE Champion The Rock defending the title against John Cena at Wrestlemania 29 on Sunday. The piece features quotes from both Rock and Cena as well as Booker T. Below are the highlights:

The Rock:

“It’s the biggest show of my career,” the 40-year-old Johnson said.

Johnson said the rematch made sense because it was still the biggest money match the promotion could offer in the Super Bowl of sports entertainment.

John Cena:

“I wish we had one guy with 10 percent of his vision and his aspiration,” he said. “When he gets a small opportunity, he kicks the damn door down and owns the horse. Often times here, we have superstars that remind me of a hamster on the treadmill and those are the guys that usually complain. I don’t take too kindly to them. I’m fortunate Rock’s here and I’m glad he’s here. He can show up whenever he wants.”

The article notes The Rock hasn’t decided on working Wrestlemania XXX next year in New Orleans. It also ponders a rubber match between Cena and Rock should Rock lose on Sunday.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- TrishStratus.com has a new interview online with Trish Stratus and Stephanie McMahon with Trish talking about choosing Stephanie as her inductor into the WWE Hall of Fame. Below are the highlights:

Trish Stratus

“As the Hall of Fame is a nod to what one has accomplished in their career, my mind naturally went to Stephanie as there would have never been a Women’s Division to win seven championships and create lasting memories in, without her continuous support of the women in our company,” Trish said following the announcement. “To watch Stephanie evolve into the businesswoman she is today is inspiring, and I have a deep respect for her. She is a wonderful role model to not only women but men as well, especially as a successful woman in a male-dominated world – it’s empowering to see what she’s achieved! From the days of our feud and since retiring we have remained very close friends and she has supported me wholeheartedly in my post-WWE endeavours. I can’t think of a better way to say ‘thank you’ to her for the start I got in this business and for giving me the platform to achieve all that I dreamed of achieving.”

Stephanie McMahon

“It’s hard to believe that it was a little over 10 years ago that Trish and I were in storylines together,” Stephanie said in an exclusive interview with TrishStratus.com. “We had a lot of fun together. I said it in my Tweet last night – she was my favourite person to slap.”

“We both started around the same time, we were both ‘green’ as you would say,” McMahon recalled, “Trish went on to become an incredible Diva in the ring… but we had the opportunity to start in a similar place. To be able to tell the story that we told was quite an amazing opportunity at a really entertaining, attitudinal time in our business.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- El Generico, whose real name is Rami Sebei, is now working as Sami Zayn in WWE developmental. He opened a new Twitter account located @iLikeSamiZayn.

- Mick Foley wrote the following on Twitter:

I’m in a much better frame of mind after watching my new DVD with my kids. I have SO much to be proud of. No way I’ll give fans anything less than the best possible speech I can. And if the powers-that-be decide not to air my speech on television, I’ll accept that it was a simply a decision that was beyond my control, and do everything I can – through the passion for my profession – to make that decision look as glaringly stupid as possible.

The controversy began when promotional clips for the 4/9 USA Network WWE Hall of Fame special revealed Foley’s speech isn’t expected to be included. Foley admitted if the speech isn’t included it will feel like a slap to the face.

Mick will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Terry Funk Saturday night in Madison Square Garden.

- Living Colour is scheduled to perform “Cult of Personality” live at Wrestlemania 29 on Sunday.  Their hit song is the entrance music of CM Punk as it’s likely this will be part of a grand entrance for his match against The Undertaker. The band confirmed their performance with the following post on Twitter:

- Have you seen Mason Ryan lately?  Seriously the guy is huge, below is a recent photo:

- Michael Cole opened the Wrestlemania 29 press conference by introducing himself as the “voice of WWE.” He confirmed both Diddy and Living Colour will perform live at the pay-per-view on Sunday. The company is expecting over 75,000 fans at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Cole announced Charlie Sheen, Jimmy Fallon, Mike Tyson, Snookie and Lil Wayne are among the celebrities that will be involved at the pay-per-view.

He plugged Thursday night’s “Superstars for Sandy Relief” reception which will be hosted by Vince McMahon along with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Diddy at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

Fandango interrupted with his entrance. He pronounced his name before handing it back to Michael Cole. Cole announced John Saboor, who he likes to call “the office.”

Saboor thanked everyone who helped bring Wrestlemania to the area and announced 125,000 fans would be taking part in the weekend festivities. He ran down the highlights of the weekend including the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and the pay-per-view itself. He said the official Road to Wrestlemania XXX will begin Monday night with WWE Raw from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ. Saboor announced Vince McMahon.

Vince McMahon said Wrestlemania in the New York/New Jersey is a dream come true for him personally. He talked about coining the phrase “Sports Entertainment” at Wrestlemania 1. He reviewed celebrity involvement at Wrestlemania over the years, calling it a hybrid and said nothing comes close to it. McMahon made a weird reference to seal mating calls, roller-coasters and the Grand Canyon not comparing to the excitement of Wrestlemania.

Ricardo Rodriguez came out and introduced World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio. He called Wrestlemania the most important night of his life. He said it’s the first time a superstar born and raised in Mexico will defend the World Heavyweight title. Del Rio said all his friends and family are going to be there and there is no way he’s losing his title to Jack Swagger. He switched to Spanish to communicate with the Latino media. Del Rio closed by saying he was born in Mexico but made in America.

Michael Cole introduced George Fertitta, who talked about the economic impact of Wrestlemania and spoke on behalf of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Cole introduced members of the New York Giants who were at the press conference with a customized WWE “spinner belt” that was presented to them by Triple H after they won the Super Bowl in 2012. He then introduced Paul “Triple H” Levesque.

Triple H opened with the “Are You Ready?” bit and said Brock Lesnar better be ready because this Sunday, at the biggest even they have he’s going to learn the biggest lesson of a lifetime. As he undoes his tie, Stephanie McMahon came out. She said you’re supposed to have your executive hat on, not your Triple H hate. Stephanie asked if he wanted to slap around Fandango a little bit if that would help.

Stephanie said if her husband seems a little worked up, they all are because Wrestlemania is only three days away. She put over her great grandfather, grandfather and father. She touted the company’s global distribution and announced the over capacity crowd of over 75,000 people that will watch Wrestlemania 29 live at MetLife Stadium. Stephanie announces Coldplay will be involved at the pay-per-view as well. She plugged the auction on Thursday night to benefit hundreds of thousands of Hurricane Sandy victims. Stephanie discussed anti-bullying rallies, Cena working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and put over the work with their fans. She touted WWE’s social media followers of 148 million. Stephanie talked about streaming the press conference live and the streaming pre and post Wrestlemania shows on Sunday. She said to top all of this they’re going to have “one hell of a good time.”

Cole introduced who may be the most dangerous man in WWE right now, “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry. Henry asked the crowd how everyone is doing and says he’s the strongest man in the world. He said as easily as you can see that smile, it can leave his face in a heartbeat. Henry is very proud to be born in Texas but he lives in Harlem, New York. He appreciates and respect WWE’s fans but there is not greater stage than Wrestlemania. Henry says he’s been with WWE for 17 years and it’s some of the best years of his life and he will not go on a stage in New York/New Jersey and embarrass himself. He proclaimed Ryback is in a lot of trouble.

President and CEO of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority Wayne Hasenbalg was introduced. Hasenbalg said they are so appreciative to have the opportunity to host Wrestlemania 29. He said Mr. McMahon surprised him and everyone in the room by saying WWE was in to bring the show to New Jersey. Wayne said others should aspire to do more like WWE does and put over their work with Hurricane Sandy relief.

Cole announced CM Punk to the press conference. Cole put over Punk’s 434-day title reign and said if he can beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, his ticket to the Hall of Fame will be punched. Punk made reference to Vince McMahon’s earlier comments (including the bizarre seal story) and said he’s not here to bore. CM Punk said for over 20 years The Undertaker has been a legend in a WWE. Punk said legends are just like streaks and records – they’re meant to be broken. He said everyone is going to remember his match against The Undertaker and it will be one of the greatest matches at Wrestlemania. Punk said he won’t only break the streak but he’ll break The Undertaker.

WWE Champion The Rock was introduced next. He positioned the WWE title on the podium and asked the photographs how it looked. Rock talked about his WWE debut taking place in Madison Square Garden over 15 years ago. He talked about everything coming full circle to be able to perform as WWE Champion. Rock talked about his grandfather and father wrestling before him. He talked about how much it means for him to be able to give back to the business that gave so much to him. Rock said on a personal level he knows what this event means to the McMahon family, Vince McMahon’s dad and his family. He thanked the fans and the media and said he can chase Vin Diesel down, battle Cobra in G.I. Joe but nothing compares to kicking John Cena’s candy ass. The Rock said the best part about this Sunday is you need a partner, a guy, an opponent. He said there is no one better of an opponent for him than John Cena. Rock said no one even comes close. He tells Cena to get ready.

Cole introduced who has been the “heart and soul” of this company for the last decade and will go for his record-setting 15th WWE title reign on Sunday. He put over all those that spoke before him like only Cena can. Cena said if you are involved with WWE in any way you are going to get more than you bargained for. He watched Wrestlemania XXVIII on DVD last night and thinks this year will surpass it as they have their best lineup and production this year. Cena asked for a moment to speak to his French and Chinese fans. He spoke in the other languages, getting a laugh from the crowd. Cena said everyone is asking if he has any predictions for this Sunday. He predicts a few surprises, some magical moments and for all to be entertained.

Cole invited The Rock back out to the stage for a photo opp with Cena. They starred each other down with the WWE title in the middle with flashbulbs going off everywhere as they played “Victory” by Puff Daddy featuring Notorious B.I.G & Busta Rhymes. Cole invited all the superstars back out. They all posed while “I’m Coming Home” played with Vince McMahon getting between Rock and Cena and lifting up each of their arms.

- Retired NFL quarterback and former Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner is scheduled to make a guest appearance on next week’s episode of WWE Raw from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Click here for more by TVByTheNumbers.com.

- ESPN’s Jon Robertson has a new Q&A online with CM Punk. In it, Punk says tagging with Brock Lesnar is something that’s being discussed and he would love to team up with him to challenge for the WWE Tag Team Championship. When asked about his Wrestlemania match against The Undertaker, he said he’s not in awe of anyone he wrestles and from a fan’s perspective, he’s really looking forward to Fandango vs. Chris Jericho. Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- XFINITY has posted another part of their Q&A with Dolph Ziggler. Below is an excerpt:

XFINITY: Have you had any conversations with Big E about the difference between Wrestlemania and smaller events? Any concerns about nerves?

Dolph Ziggler: Of course there is, and honestly even for me, I’ve been around and been at Wrestlemanias and been in front of 70,000 people, it’s not something you can prepare for. The last couple of weekends I’ve been sitting him down and having some good talks with him. This is a big deal just to be on this card. There are a lot of deserving Superstars who aren’t going to be on this Wrestlemania. I feel like I should always be in the main event, but I am excited and happy to be in a match. Just to be there is a big step. Now I have to get it into his head that you don’t want to freeze up, you don’t want to freak out. It all comes down to having me as a mentor for him, and he’s been listening. I think he’s going to be great out there.

XFINITY: This match might have your attention; Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger for the World Heavyweight Championship.

Ziggler: I could care less, I hope they beat the crap out of each other and whoever is left gets laid out by the other one. I’ll be walking down the aisle and stealing the show with my cash in.

XFINITY: I thought that was going to be a big secret, I was going to try to get you to confess that that was your plan. They knock each other cold, then cue Ziggler’s music.

Ziggler: You know, I’ve seen it before where it wasn’t exactly quite how I wanted it yet, so I can’t guarantee that’s going to happen. Cause when I cash this in, I’m not cashing it in to maybe win. It’s going to happen. So, somebody has to be out pretty cold for me to get back in there.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- Mick Foley announced on his social media Thursday evening his WWE Hall of Fame speech will be highlighted on the USA Network special next Tuesday night at 10 PM/9 CT. You can read more details on the broadcast at this link.

Foley was originally off the special to make room for Donald Trump as the plan was for  Bruno SammartinoTrish Stratus and  Trump to be highlighted in the one-hour special.  Foley said he hoped it was just a rumor  but was later in a better frame of mind after watching his new DVD.

I discussed how Foley went from being the face of this year’s class to a possible snub here in Ask WNW.

- The Honky Tonk Man announced on his social media accounts Thursday he’s signed a new multi-year agreement with WWE. I haven’t heard for sure but I would assume this is a Legend’s contract. He wrote the following on Facebook:

I am pleased to announced the Honky Tonk Man has signed a brand new multi year contract with WWE. “I am honored to be back with the WWE and am very excited to be teaming up with WWE again for some more Shake, Rattle and Roll. HTM”. Steve Wilton.

HTM followed this with the following Tweet:

- Maria Menounos, who will be inducting Bob Backlund into the WWE Hall of Fame Saturday night, wrote the following on her Facebook page:

I know some of you don’t understand why I’m inducting Bob Backlund into the WWE Hall of Fame. Here’s a quick history… I met Bob when I was 19-he starred in my movie, he supported me when I competed at Miss Mass USA pageant and I helped him run for congress. He’s a dear friend of 14 years and I’m honored to be a part of this historic moment in his career and with the WWE.

The 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony will take place Saturday, April 6, 2013 from Madison Square Garden in New York City.

- Hunico, who has been out with a torn ACL, returned in a match with Camacho against Yoshi Tatsu & Ezekiel Jackson at Thursday’s Wrestlemania Axxess event. We have match results below.

- After outrage was sparked about Mick Foley’s 2013 WWE Hall of Fame induction speech possibly not being included on next week’s USA Network broadcast, it appears WWE will highlight all the speeches. Below is an excerpt from an article here on dot com:

This Tuesday (April 9), USA will broadcast a one-hour special highlighting the WWE Hall of Fame inductions that take place the night before The Show of Shows. Don’t miss your chance to witness Legends being honored — tune in to the WWE Hall of Fame special at 10/9 p.m. CT only on USA Network.

- Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels hosted “The Signing of Lifetime” Friday night from Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City. The event opened with a meet and greet with fans and was proceeded by a question and answer session.  Below are the highlights followed by video and attendee reactions:

  • The infamous “midget skit” that aired after the Montreal Screwjob on Monday Night Raw was brought up. Michaels revealed it was an idea of Vince Russo and Hart said he wished he had a better ending in the WWF than that.
  • Both Hart and Michaels agreed that Owen Hart and “Macho Man” Randy Savage should be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
  • Bret Hart said his dream opponents would have been Kurt Angle and John Cena. He said he would have given Cena the best match he ever had. Michaels revealed his dream opponents as Ricky Steamboat or Harley Race.
  • Hart said he would have vacated the WWF Championship the night after Survivor Series 1997 on Monday Night Raw had the screwjob not happened.
  • Shawn said some of his favorite matches of his career included the Iron Man Match against Bret Hart and the Ladder Match against Razor Ramon.
  • Michaels admitted to turning down storylines after his return to the WWF in 2002 that involved cursing because he didn’t feel comfortable as a born again Christian.
  • Bret said if he was working Wrestlemania 29 on Sunday he would want to face Cena. Michaels said he’d like a match against Daniel Bryan or CM Punk.
  • Hart feels there is too much talking and not enough wrestling in WWE currently. Shawn admitted he doesn’t watch much anymore and is trying to catch up on all the TV he missed while on the road.

Video of the event is located at this link or embedded below:

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Attendees noted the event, promoted by Big Time Wrestling, was disorganized and oversold but Shawn and Bret were polite and personable.

- Amy Kuperinsky of The Star-Ledger interviewed John Cena after Thursday’s Wrestlemania 29 press conference. Below is an excerpt of the interview:

If you could collaborate with any rappers, who would they be?

Jay-Z. I like a lot of the groups out there right now, but he’s stood the test of time. A gifted artist and a true entrepreneur. I think there’s only one out there.

What on Earth do you eat to look the way you do?

I’m working on something that is going to take my diet and bring it to America as a whole. It’s fairly big. I don’t have the specifics yet.

You’re 35 now, still young. When do you think you will throw in the towel? Do you even think about that?

I’ll be 36 April 23. I do actually, all the time. The more I get into the 30s, the more I convince myself I can’t keep up with everyone here. I’m not there yet. I’m literally as strong as I’ve ever been.

Click here to read the interview in its entirety.

- Christian is in New Jersey with the rest of the WWE crew for Wrestlemania 29 weekend. There’s no indication he’s returning but there’s nothing to say he isn’t either. Christian is believed to be medically cleared when WWE has something for him.

- ESPN.com’s Jon Robinson has a new interview online with John Cena. Below is an excerpt:

You’re facing The Rock at WrestleMania in what’s now the “Twice in a Lifetime” main event. Why should fans be excited to see this rematch?

This WrestleMania is much different. The reason the whole “Once in a Lifetime” perception started is because the WWE Universe and everybody inside WWE thought the same thing: We thought The Rock would be back for this one match and then he’d be gone. But despite being this huge movie star, The Rock said, “I’m not leaving, I’m staying,” and that really gave me a ray of hope that I’d get another shot. This match is for the WWE Championship, and he debuted a new WWE title a few weeks ago that was made specifically to help define his legacy. He wants to defend this belt at WrestleMania, and I have nothing to lose this year. This match is going to be something special.

So if you win, are you bringing back the spinner belt the next night on Raw?

No, no. I like the change in the championship belt. The championship needed to be changed. It took the right set of circumstances, and I really, really want to be the one to take that belt off of him. Believe me, I know how special that championship is to The Rock, and for me mentally, it’s situations like being the one who could take that custom belt away from him, that’s one of the things that makes this rematch both different and better than last year. It’s about that championship, and me being the one who wants to take it from him. The Rock has so much to lose this year.

When you held the belt, your whole motto was: The Champ is here. Is there resentment backstage with The Rock being the champ and essentially not being here on Raw for weeks at a time?

No, because that was my whole base of resentment last year. I really thought he was coming back for maybe a yearlong campaign to remind people, “Hey guys, I have some new movies coming out,” and he wanted to let the WWE fan base know that he was still around. But he came back, he stayed back, and he’s competing. Even if he’s not on every Monday Night Raw, you have to understand, this guy is the most driven individual I know. The fact that he can do what he can do and still compete in the ring — go film a commercial, go film five movies, go film a TV show and then come back and not leave WWE on the back burner, but still be the champion — it’s admirable. He’s doing more for WWE by trying to do both those things at once and being on Raw some of the time, than focusing on WWE and being there 100 percent of the time. Just like I have my critics, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has critics, and I was one of the biggest “Hey man, you’re never here” guys around, but not anymore. He’s completely committed to WWE.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- John Cena rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. Getty Images has a photo at this link.

- Chad Dukes interviewed Ryback at Wrestlemania Axxess and he continued with something he’s talked about recently. He said it’s his desire to replace John Cena as WWE’s number one guy. Below is an excerpt courtesy of the show:

“It’s to take over the #1 position from John Cena and take over the company and I’m not shy about saying it. John, I respect him more than anyone, he’s a very hard working individual. He’s been on top for 8-10 years now and he’s been untouchable. I am the one guy that can touch him and I believe I can outsell him on merchandise, and I can do things he has not yet done.”

Click here to listen to the interview in its entirety.

- Chad Dukes interviewed CM Punk at Wrestlemania Axxess, below are the highlights:

Would Punk be interested in doing MMA?:

I don’t think Vince would let me do that. Am I interested? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. Doing what I do now, I would not be able to train how I would need to, but we’ll see what happens.

Why he wore an Antonio Cesaro shirt to the Wrestlemania press conference (photo above):

It was a clean shirt that grabbed and I wore that day. It’s not some sort of silent protest because he’s not on Mania, although I will go on record right now that it’s absolutely ridiculous that he doesn’t have a match at Wrestlemania. I will pimp that guy until the cows come home. He’s awesome. He’s everything that the WWE should want in their superstars. He’s tremendous. He can wrestle, he’s a brick house, he’s looks the part, he acts the part, he walks and talks that part. He can speak seven different languages! You’re missing the boat on this guy.

WWE “starting and stopping” on guys:

This is not my company; if it was it would be run very differently and I’m not saying that the way Vince does things is 100% right or 100% wrong all the time and I’m not saying that I know the answer to everything. Vince does what he thinks is best for business and he’s right a lot of the time and there’s just sometimes I think he’s missing the boat on stuff, Cesaro being one of them. Barrett’s another good one. I think we start and stop guys too much. They did it with me forever; they did it with Sheamus forever. You’re the flavor of the month. You’re doing this, you’re doing that, and then you just kind of get shuffled to the back. I don’t think anybody can truly organically grow and become these superstars that they say they’re looking for when you start and stop guys all the time. But it’s just a difference of opinion on how the business is.

Click here to listen to the interview in its entirety.

- The “big reveal” that Vince McMahon teased on Twitter earlier this week turned out to be a sneak peek of the WrestleMania 29 set. Check out the video at this link or embedded below:

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TNA News

- Hulk Hogan praised TNA writers Matt Conway and Dave Lagana for their work Saturday on Twitter. Hogan wrote:

Lagana proudly accepted the compliment, writing the following on Twitter with a link to an Instagrammed shot of it:

- Petey Williams is believed to have signed a contract to return to TNA Wrestling on a full-time basis. Williams lost a “title vs. career” match at a Clash Wrestling event over the weekend.

- TNA Wrestling’s first “One Night Only” pay-per-view premieres on Friday, April 5, 2013. The show is called X-Travaganza and was taped on January 12, 2013 from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. We have full taping results online at this link.

- Voting for the TNA Gut Check Challenge begins on Thursday at this link.

- We are able to confirm that Petey Williams is returning to TNA Wrestling on a full-time basis and has a new performer’s contract with them. If you missed our earlier report, you can watch a promo he cut after a match with Clash Wrestling at this link.

- Hulk Hogan says Triple H “seems to be dialed in” as the future boss of WWE. He doesn’t feel the company will miss a beat and they’ll continue to be a strong force to be reckoned with. You can watch his comments at this link

- Eric Bischoff discussed Vince McMahon possibly exploring a mixed martial arts venue at this link

- As we noted on Sunday here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, TNA Wrestling’s first “One Night Only” pay-per-view, X-Travaganza, premieres on Friday, April 5, 2013. For those on the fence about ordering, we were told by Wrestling News World Orlando correspondent Scott Brooks this was a “real good show.”

Below is the non-spoiler match lineup:

X-Division X-scape Match
- Alex Silva vs. Sam Shaw vs. Lince Dorado vs. Matt Bentley vs. TJ Perkins vs. Christian York vs. Jimmy Rave

Tag Team Match
- Douglas Williams & Kid Kash vs. Anthony Nese & Rashad Cameron

Singles Match
Joseph Park as special guest referee
- Robbie E vs. Chavo Guerrero

Ultimate X Match
- Kenny King vs. Rubix vs. Zema Ion vs. Mason Andrews

Tag Team Match
- Bad Influence vs. Petey Williams & Sonjay Dutt

No Disqualification Match
- Jerry Lynn vs. Rob Van Dam

Singles Match
- Austin Aries vs. Samoa Joe

- Upcoming WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus gave former TNA Knockout Angelina Love a ringing endorsement in a Q&A with TrishStratus.com. When asked what lady wrestlers she would have liked to work with, past or present, excluding those with WWE, Trish said the following:

“From the TNA girls, Angelina Love. I think she’s awesome in the ring and I think the fans would like to see Angelina Love vs. Trish Stratus. (I may be partial because I’m Canadian). Maybe it could be Angelina vs. Nattie vs. Trish? How about having Sherri Martel manage me? I would’ve loved to have her manage a heel Trish. We could’ve done some awesome stuff together. If I could’ve been in the mix in the 80s, being with Wendi Richter in a tag team and managed by Cyndi Lauper would’ve been cool. It would’ve been like Rock and Hogan!”

Click here to read the Q&A in its entirety.

- To followup on an earlier item, the upcoming autobiography of AJ Styles is nearing completion and is slated for an October release.

Bill Behrens of SBIBookings.com, who represents Styles, announced that in addition to Bret Hart contributing to the project, the book will feature contributions from Jeff & Jerry Jarrett, Kurt Angle, Vince Russo, Terry Taylor, Gabe Sapolsky, Frankie Kazarian, Air Paris, Jimmy Rave, David Young, Jeff G. Bailey, Dan Wilson, Jim Kettner, Howard Brody and Larry Goodman.

The book will be published by VIP Ink Publishing.

The inclusion of Bret Hart is interesting as The Hitman recently said that Styles was wasting his career in TNA Wrestling.

- Josh Stewart from Newsday has a new article online featuring quotes from Hulk Hogan. The piece is done to promote “Hulk Hogan: Uncensored,” an event on Saturday during Wrestlemania 29 weekend where Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Dave Penzer will host a Q&A with fans at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan. The night prior, TNA Wrestling will run a live event from the NYCB Theatre in Westbury.

Hogan is asked if these events make he and TNA small in comparison to WWE running in Madison Square Garden and MetLife Stadium. Below is an excerpt with Hogan’s response:

“Oh, my God, brother, that whole WWE is a monster,” Hogan responds, reminding despite being a decade old, TNA is still in its relative infancy compared with the competition. “That’s a whole other universe, a whole other entity.”

When asked about Aces and Eights and how it will be different from the new World order in WCW, Hogan responded by saying the storyline is being written backwards.

“Well, there’s a plan … Long term is that we actually have people writing backwards — you know, from two years out backwards, or a year backwards, or six months out backwards. So they do have direction instead of a week-to-week situation.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- The following press release was issued on Thursday, announcing IHG’S Candlewood Suites as the official hotel brand of TNA Wrestling:

IHG’s CANDLEWOOD SUITES® JOINS TNA IMPACT WRESTLING AS OFFICIAL HOTEL BRAND FOR THE ORGANIZATION

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 4, 2013) – TNA IMPACT WRESTLING is proud to join with IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) [LON: IHG; NYSE: IHG (ADRs)], one of the world’s largest hotel companies, in a one-year agreement naming IHG’s extended stay brand Candlewood Suites® as the official hotel partner for the organization’s more than 120 annual live events. TNA IMPACT WRESTLING produces events across the globe and is dedicated to brand loyalty.

“We are really looking forward to this new relationship with TNA IMPACT WRESTLING,” said Robert Radomski, Vice President of Brand Leadership, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. “This partnership provides a fantastic opportunity for IHG – and specifically Candlewood Suites hotels – to showcase talent, production team and fan travel accommodations for TNA IMPACT WRESTLING as they travel throughout the U.S. and around the globe.”

To support the relationship, the organization will cross-brand the alliance throughout the company’s various marketing partners. Candlewood Suites hotels will utilize TNA IMPACT WRESTLING’s many marketing platforms to showcase the brand throughout the year. Cross-promotional efforts include website marketing (www.impactwrestling.com), inclusion in exclusive TNA IMPACT WRESTLING talent-based video programs for the Internet and a presence at the company’s live events throughout the United States. Additionally, all TNA IMPACT WRESTLING staff, officials and talent will reside at Candlewood Suites and other IHG-branded hotels while traveling throughout the season.

“Aligning with IHG Candlewood Suites hotels is a natural extension to our growing brand,” said TNA Wrestling Vice President of Marketing Michael Weber. “It is important to us to form strategic alliances with like-minded companies. With our growing live event schedule and need for a high volume of hotel rooms for our talent, staff and fans, we know we are at the beginning of a great relationship that can be marketed locally and globally.”

- Dixie Carter autographed action figures are now available at ShopTNA.com. Click here for more information or Click here to buy now. The figures are priced at $29.99.

- TNA will tape Impact Wrestling from the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Mississippi on May 9, 2013. You can watch a press conference held in the city to announce the set of tapings at this link.

- TNA X-Travaganza will be premiering on pay-per-view on Friday. This is the company’s first “One Night Only” show of their new pay-per-view model. Click here for full show details.  We have the non-spoiler match lineup available here.

We have complete taping results for the show located at this link.

For those on the fence about ordering, we were told this was a “really good show.”  We will not be featuring live play-by-play coverage of the show since we already have taping results online, however, if you watch and want to send in a report with your thoughts feel free at this link.

- This week’s Impact Wrestling did a 1.1 cable rating with an average viewing audience of 1,425,000 viewers on Spike TV.

Ask WNW

Who has the final say on the booking of Undertaker vs. CM Punk at Wrestlemania?

Vince McMahon has the final say on everything although I’m sure Undertaker has the power to veto an outcome that has him going under. If WWE wanted to end Undertaker’s streak, it’s at the point where it would have to be with Undertaker’s blessing. I heard he was against any scenario that saw him come back and lose but things can change.

I read somewhere that WWE are aiming at a more family friendly product, is this true?

These comments likely came from George Barrios at the 25th Annual ROTH Conference. You can read a report we filed about Barrios contrasting WWE’s audience with UFCs audience at this link. With Vince McMahon admitting they went a little far with WWE PG (on a conference call I was on), I don’t think this means they’re looking to water down the product even further. I take it as they are committed to producing a product that can be consumed by the entire family. I truly believe a lot of IWC fans want to see WWE go more towards a Ring of Honor type style, where the product is built around lengthy athletic wrestling matches. This isn’t going to happen as WWE is a mainstream organization with a diverse audience. They want the pure wrestling fans but they want their wives and their children as well.

Following the unexpected retirement of Charlie Haas, I would love to hear your thoughts on The World’s Greatest Tag Team during their original run with WWE. I think they are one of the greatest tag teams of recent times and are extremely underrated in history.

You don’t want commentary on “Stone Cold” Steve Haastin? Both Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas were great together in WWE and in Ring of Honor. I can remember their initial pairing as Team Angle, thinking they had fantastic chemistry very early on. They put on great tag team matches and had two title runs in each company. Charlie is ready to pursue life outside of the business and he can’t be faulted for wanting to be with his wife and kids.

Is Antonio Cesaro going to be a Wrestlemania snub?

Ten matches have officially been announced for Sunday’s Wrestlemania 29, none of which feature the reigning WWE United States Champion. Remember there is a one hour pre-show that is expected to feature at least one match that is supposed to have implications at the pay-per-view. We should find out more on this week’s Raw.

I am really upset that Wade Barrett vs. The Miz was bumped off the Wrestlemania lineup to the pre-show. What are your thoughts?

The Miz has worked very hard to “make it” in WWE. Given how hard it was for him as a reality TV star turned pro wrestler, I don’t know if I was in his shoes if I would have been able to endure the constant ribbing all while trying to prove myself. Miz has overcome many hurdles that propelled him to the main event of Wrestlemania XXVII. Since then, it’s been a fall from grace and now he finds himself not even on the Wrestlemania card. He’s a hard worker, says all the right things yet he still finds himself in this position. This business isn’t for the weak and Miz is proving that, however, I would be very frustrated.

Are the political statements that Jack Swagger says in-character the political views of Vince McMahon?

While conservative, Vince McMahon does not hold the Tea Party views that Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter spout off in character. The gimmick is a rib on Ann Coulter, who publicly trashed Linda McMahon a few years ago. Zeb Colter is also conservative and you can get a better feel for his political stance here on Facebook.

What happens after Wrestlemania is over and the part-time wrestlers don’t tour? Won’t this hurt the live gate as well as TV ratings due to the letdown of not seeing the part-timers from Wrestlemania?

You just mentioned the downside of part-time talent and this is exactly the reason why Vince McMahon was reluctant to use names on part-time schedules (for the most part, workers such as Shawn Michaels and Undertaker were exceptions). However, the position has changed because the feeling is they are good for business. Yes – there will be a letdown after Wrestlemania and it’s absolutely crucial that WWE can create at least one more big name coming out of the pay-per-view. I penned an article here on WWENews.net where I look at seven workers I’ll be watching closely at Wrestlemania 29.

Are there ever times when you are embarrassed to have dedicated your career to following wrestling, for example when Santino Marella asked Brad Maddox if he had “caca in his pants?” Is the target age for WWE now five?

I’m not embarrassed for following my dream in being able to impact a business I grew up loving, however, there are storylines that make me embarrassed to admit I am a wrestling fan. The work of Santino doesn’t bother me as he’s funny enough to pull it off, however, stuff like Mae Young giving birth to a hand or Kane and necrophilia were fairly detestable. Oddly enough, both of these were done in the Attitude Era. This is intentional, as I want the critics of “everything was better back then” to see there were bad storylines in the Attitude Era too.

When will I be able to see the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony?

The USA Network will broadcast a one-hour special of the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 from 10-11 PM/9-10 CT. You can read our original report at this link. The ceremony will be available in its entirety on the Wrestlemania 29 DVD set. You can preorder now at this link.

Do you see Randy Orton turning on Big Show and Sheamus and joining The Shield at Wrestlemania?

Randy Orton has made it known he wants to turn heel and the feeling backstage is the company missed the opportunity to turn him. The 6-man tag match at Wrestlemania provides an opportunity to do it but there are other opportunities as well. The Shield has been booked with confidence but how much longer can they keep going over big names without a swerve? I discussed why I’ll be watching the trio closely at Wrestlemania here at WWENews.net.

With Wrestlemania 29 being held outside on the East Coast on Sunday, how is WWE prepared to deal with the weather?

This isn’t WWE’s first trip to the rodeo and they’re prepared to deal with the elements. The ring canvas will be covered like it was last year in Miami. The forecast looks good as of this writing as there is only a 20% chance of rain. It’s going to be a little cool but given the fact the show is taking place in the northeast in April, it could be much worse.

Growing up as a fan I remember managers having a bigger role in stroylines and getting mid carders of. The stable of wrestlers that Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart got over were awesome. Why are stables no longer built around managers?

I hear a lot from readers that complain about the lack of managers in today’s product but I disagree. Paul Heyman flanks CM Punk and Brock Lesnar, Alberto Del Rio has Ricardo Rodriguez, Dolph Ziggler has AJ Lee, Jack Swagger has Zeb Colter, Vickie Guerrero has a large role, etc. Managers are still a part of the wrestling business and will continue to have a role in helping talent get over on the stick. Heenan and Hart were two of the best but this is not a part of the business that’s extinct.

When Mick Foley was originally announced for the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame wasn’t he slated to be the “face of the class” or did this change with Bruno Sammartino? I don’t understand why they would scrap his speech from the television special on the USA Network.

WWE pursued Bruno Sammartino before anyone else for the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame class, however, even Vince McMahon didn’t think a deal would be able to get done so they started looking for another headliner. With Mick Foley being from New York and well deserving of a Hall of Fame nod, he was decided upon as an inductee and the offer was extended. Now here’s where things get tricky. While Bruno was still up in the air, Triple H was willing to be inducted as a member of DeGeneration X (before going in as a singles wrestler) to help add to the value of the class. Hunter has always been critical of Foley and his drawing power. There was even an incident backstage several months ago where Vince McMahon rebuked Triple H in front of other staff members when Hunter spoke negatively of him. Vince told Hunter (and everyone in the meeting) they needed to make Foley look as legitimate as possible if they were going to push him as the face of this year’s Hall of Fame class. Triple H turned up the heat for Bruno and ended up “pulling off the impossible” by getting him to agree. Not only that but he landed Arnold Schwarzenegger to induct him. This was what WWE wanted all along so they have gone full-steam ahead with the class built around Bruno. Had he not agreed, some have speculated DeGeneration X would have co-headlined with Foley.

What is your opinion of Donald Trump getting a feature spot on the Hall of Fame broadcast over Foley and Bob Backlund? To me it seems like a major snub to two men who have helped so much to building WWE throughout their careers.

The WWE Hall of Fame is a tremendous honor and most everyone that’s inducted understands that. However, the WWE Hall of Fame is a commercialized event that is used to promote Wrestlemania and WWE in general. Showcasing the induction of Donald Trump on the USA Network over someone like Mick Foley or Bob Backlund is to appeal to the mainstream and grab some headlines. I absolutely think it’s a snub to the guys that are marred by sweat and blood from years of quality in-ring work. But we can’t forget this is a Hall of Fame that is also a commercialized promotional event. Triple H has never been high up on Mick Foley but as a huge Foley fan, I’m glad to see him get inducted. It’s an injustice his speech isn’t being featured on TV and I hope he tears the house down with a speech for the ages.

Do you know how the Wrestlemania 29 ring and stage setup will look like?

We posted an early photo of the Wrestlemania 29 setup inside MetLife Stadium here on WrestlingNews.net.

In your opinion why do you think there is so much hate for John Cena? Is it the fact that he’s the face of the company, he’s ‘boring’ or that the kids and women love him so much the men have to hate him?

The lack of gimmick progression has resulted in many fans, especially diehard IWCers, checking out on John Cena. It’s also resulted in unfair criticism – such as he can’t wrestle and only possesses five moves. Cena is WWE’s top guy and is clearly still a major draw for the company. The problem is his gimmick is stale and many are bored. I’ve lobbied for years for a heel turn but have since all but given up. I now see valid arguments against turning him heel (such as his work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation) but in my humble opinion he needs a gimmick tweak. WWE is reluctant to do it because he is still a major draw so I see why they operate under “if it’s not broke don’t fix it.” My fear is if the company waits too long – and the boring chants from Raw are a sign of that – they’re going to end up with a lot of apathetic fans.

I’ve been reading your coverage of Reid Flair’s unfortunate passing and couldn’t help but notice that in the comments section people were either saying that this (Reid’s death) is too personal and shouldn’t be posted or on the other hand some people like it because it gives an inside look at a wrestler’s personal life. My question is due to the divide between readers on the subject of what to and not to include have you considered starting another website devoted just to news on the wrestlers personal lives?

I walk a fine line everyday in regards to what to post and what not to post. The coverage of Reid Flair’s passing has been especially difficult due to the fact he was three years younger than me and I know people that had close personal ties to him and the Flair family. As a father I can’t imagine how Ric Flair feels and I try to remain very conscious of that when posting material, especially when titling it. We’re not going to start another “personal gossip” website as WNW is the number one place you can come for backstage news and information. We do have other properties that offer different perspectives. WrestlingNews.net gives us an opportunity to be a little less serious while providing links to other great sources of information, WWENews.net provides deeper analysis from fans rather than insider news and TNANews.com is the TNA equivalent that even has its own audio show (Point of Impact by Alex Barie). We plan on launching one more property after Wrestlemania 29 you’ll be hearing more about soon. Remember you can access all our websites with the 100% free Dirt Sheet iPhone, Android and iPad App!

Why does WWE play up Big E Langston’s Wrestlemania match as his in-ring debut when we all know full well that he competes in NXT and is the show’s champion?

The way it’s looked at in WWE is until a worker debuts on television on the main roster, they haven’t really debuted. Competing in developmental, even at the state of the art facility at Full Sail University, doesn’t compare to a live television audience for Raw or Smackdown – much less at Wrestlemania in front of 75,000 live. This is why it’s so hard to gauge a worker or their gimmick before they debut as it’s all an educated guess until it’s seen how the audience will react when the worker is live in front of them.

Why did WWE stop showing the highlights from the Hall of Fame Ceremony the night before Wrestlemania?

WWE works with the USA Network on television clearance for the Hall of Fame highlight show. The reason the special now airs during the week rather than late on Saturday night is due to viewership, production and other factors. As for viewership, the thinking is more people will watch it in prime time during the week than late on a forgettable Saturday night. Production is another issue as there was a lot of stress with inductees going over allotted time for their speeches, making it extremely hectic to get the broadcast edited and ready for a TV airing on the same night.

Wrestlemania 29 is Sunday – do you have any predictions?

I hate predictions because of the rate things change. I’ve gone over what many see as the obvious outcomes with Cena avenging his loss to The Rock, Hunter exchanging wins with Brock Lesnar and Undertaker keeping “the streak” alive but I’m hoping for at least one swerve to keep everyone talking on Monday. I will tell anyone that will listen to not go in with the expectation that Punk will end the streak because as much as I would like to see that happen, it is unlikely. My biggest point of interest heading into the pay-per-view is how the show is booked. If WWE treats the booking like they did the card, I will be very disappointed.

Who all knows the result of a match prior to it happening? Aside from the referees, participants, agents and writers. Do the other wrestlers know? Do you all at WNW know?

It really just depends on the match and the situation. You’re right in the process of creative team to producers to wrestlers but let’s not forget Stephanie McMahon and Vince McMahon sign off on booking plans before they are finalized. We used to get match outcomes for pay-per-views the weekend of the shows (and spoiled several) but that stopped once WWE caught on. Vince knows the less people that know the outcome, the less chance it has of leaking out.

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