Why Randy Orton Was Written Off TV, Backstage Response To The Shield, Mark Henry’s Dispute With WWE & Why He Cursed Us Out, Royal Rumble Plans Sorted Out, Slammy Winners, Another Debut, THQ Files For Bankruptcy, Hogan & Bischoff Comment On Flair Returning

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, December 15, 2012 to Friday, December 21, 2012 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

- Randy Orton was written off WWE television due to a separated shoulder.  At this point we are unclear whether or not this is in addition to the hand/wrist injury he suffered at  last Sunday’s WWE Tribute to the Troops taping or what happened at the taping.  However, we can confirm he has a legitimate separated shoulder. In most cases a separated shoulder is not very long term, however, in Orton’s case it is a major concern. Orton has previously injured the same shoulder before and has had problems with it. While in the short term this may not be a huge loss for him, it could have major long term repercussions. We’re told Vince McMahon already feels Orton is a “China doll” and unreliable. Vince was already looking at Orton like this prior to this injury with his past Wellness problems not helping. Some are questioning whether or not Orton’s days as a top guy are over.

- This week’s WWE Vintage Collection featured Eddie Guerrero vs. Rob Van Dam from WWF Backlash 2002. Perhaps more interesting than the match is the fact Jim Ross mentioned Chris Benoit on the original broadcast and it was not edited out.

- Billy Corgan told The New York Times he’s pitched his Resistance Pro Wrestling promotion to Stephanie McMahon about possibly becoming a developmental territory for WWE. You can read a full writeup on Corgan and Resistance Pro at this link.

- Dot com has a storyline piece on Randy Orton being written off television at this link. We have the legitimate reason why he’s been taken off television and it’s not a wrist/hand injury. Click here for more.

- Mark Henry recently told his Twitter followers he was “pushing to come back” but that didn’t mean it will happen. The World’s Strongest Man was at Friday night’s Brooklyn Nets game at the Barclays Center where he signed autographs. We can confirm Henry has been cleared to return to the ring and has been pitched in recent main event creative plans. We do not have a timetable for his in-ring return but it’s possible to happen at any moment.

- WWE has signed Davina Rose to a developmental contract. Rose is known for her work on the California independent scene and was trained by Serena Deeb. It’s expected she’ll report soon to the NXT Wrestling facilities in Tampa, Florida.

- The Shield made their in-ring WWE debut Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where the company gave the TLC pay-per-view a dry run. You can read our live event results at this link.

- WWE has signed Alexander Jones (Twitter) to a developmental contract.

- JTG beat David Otunga in a dark match prior to WWE TLC from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

- Winners for six of the twelve categories for the 2012 WWE.com Slammy Awards were announced on the WWE TLC Pre-Show. Below are the results:

  • Best Dancer of the Year – Brodus Clay
  • Top Social Media Ambassador – Charlie Sheen
  • WWE.com Video of the Year – Jerry Lawler
  • Crowd Chant of the Year – “Feed Me More!”
  • Upset of the Year – Daniel Bryan (retaining World Heavyweight Championship at Royal Rumble)
  • Diva of the Year – AJ Lee
  • Insult of the Year – John Cena
  • Tweet of the Year – Daniel Bryan
  • YouTube Show of the Year – Z! True Long Island Story
  • Facial Hair of the Year – Daniel Bryan
  • Feat of Strength Award – Sheamus (for hitting White Noise on Big Show)
  • Betrayal of the Year – Big Show (knocking out John Cena)

- We noted earlier that WWE was expecting a sellout for TLC. The show did just that with an announced attendance of 15,748. This is WWE’s first time at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

- We’re already hearing a large positive response to The Shield’s match against Ryback, Daniel Bryan and Kane at WWE TLC. While it’s still early, everything from the way the trio worked to the way they were booked received very high marks from everyone backstage. One insider told me they thought Seth Rollins was “dead at first” after his spot off the ladder through the tables. An observer told me they were disappointed with Ryback being “somewhat reckless” but the one point I’m hearing from everyone I’ve spoken with is that Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns rose to the occasion. Reigns is being put over in many circles as he was thought of as “green as grass” and some are calling his work at TLC the best thing he’s done in the ring to date.  Additionally, I heard people raving about Ambrose’s facial expressions and the fact all three looked like stars.

- John Cena suffered a cut under his right eye in his Ladder Match with Dolph Ziggler. He didn’t require medical attention but the referees put gloves on and asked him if he needed treatment. Cena waved off the attention.

- Naomi was a surprise to get the WWE Divas Championship match against Eve Torres but there are many in the company that are high up on her athleticism.

- Alberto Del Rio turning babyface was something that happened in the later drafts of WWE TLC. While it’s been talked about, one observer feels they’re giving him Randy Orton’s spot.

- Speaking of Del Rio, one of his tag team partners, Brooklyn Brawler, works as a producer backstage and was used to try and give Del Rio and The Miz a cheap pop.

- R-Truth suffered a lacerated knee at WWE TLC on Sunday night. The injury occurred during his match against Antonio Cesaro for the WWE United States Championship.

- When WWE TLC went off the air John Cena got on the mic and apologized for losing. He told the crowd to drive home safely.

- Have you ever been cursed out by a 418-pound man who is known for being The World’s Strongest Man? I hadn’t either until after the WWE TLC pay-per-view on Sunday night. Mark Henry is disputing our report he’s cleared to return and says there’s a chance he won’t come back.

The following is from Henry’s Twitter:

As with anything WWE-related it’s impossible to know if Henry is working or telling the truth, however, I’m siding with the big guy for my own well-being.

- WNW reader Daniel Yates sent this in… Before the Brooklyn Brawler was introduced, or any members of his team for that matter, the WWE Active poll on the WWE App asked “Do you think The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, and the Brooklyn Brawler will be able to co-exist against this common enemy?”

- WNW reader Dustyn sent this in… Former WWE referee Jimmy Koderas will be releasing a book next year. He will talk about his 20+ years in the WWE as a referee. Edge will be writing the forward. Here’s an Amazon link.

- Zack Ryder wrote the following on Twitter:

- Sin Cara is working through a left knee injury which was evident in his match at WWE TLC on Sunday night.

- We’re unable to confirm if Ryback winning the Royal Rumble match is still the plan but we can confirm whatever the plan is, it was quietly sorted out over the weekend. Pat Patterson came in for the weekend and met several times with WWE officials to help lay out all the plans for the Rumble match. Vince McMahon was involved in some of the meetings but it was primarily Triple H and Patterson putting the match together. Patterson was not needed at the TLC PPV itself, but chose to stick around for the show. Obviously Patterson, who has been the architect of the Rumble pretty much every year since its inception, is not going to be around forever. So there was a real concerted effort this year on the part of Triple H to learn as much from Patterson as possible in regards to putting a Rumble match together. When the day comes when Patterson is unwilling or unable to continue to put the match together each year, Triple H plans to take over that role himself. An observer close to the situation says Patterson was very flattered that Hunter went out of his way to devote so much time to picking Patterson’s brain and really trying to understand Patterson’s thought process when he puts one of the Rumble matches together.

- Ric Flair returned to WWE on this week’s Raw, presenting John Cena with the “Superstar of the Year” Slammy Award and getting into a confrontation with CM Punk and then The Shield.  After this, Flair appeared in a backstage segment with Team Hell No when Ron Simmons made a cameo.

This comes after cameos from The Boogeyman and The New Age Outlaws. Boogeyman appeared as Booker T was handing out the “Tell Me I Didn’t Just See That” Slammy to Kofi Kingston and the Outlaws handed out the “Comeback of the Year” Slammy to Jerry Lawler. Both Road Dogg and Billy Gunn are employed by WWE.

As of this writing I haven’t heard anything regarding Flair’s contract status but this hasn’t exactly been a secret. Flair has been trying to return to WWE since May with the ongoing litigation filed by TNA Wrestling blocking a contract from getting signed. He had told friends that if the litigation wasn’t settled soon, they would “get creative” to bring him back. While Flair hasn’t been under TNA contract since September, WWE has shied away from hiring anyone that worked for TNA while Brian Wittenstein was employed there.

Flair’s daughter, Ashley, is currently under a WWE developmental contract.

- Below are the winners of the 2012 Slammy Awards as announced on this week’s WWE Raw:

  • Tell Me I Didn’t Just See That (Most Shocking Moment of the Year) – Kofi Kingston
  • Comeback of the Year – Jerry Lawler
  • Best Kiss of 2012 – AJ Lee & John Cena
  • Superstar of the Year – John Cena
  • Trending Now Hashtag of the Year – “Feed Me More!”
  • Newcomer of the Year – Ryback
  • Match of the Year – Undertaker vs. Triple H from Wrestlemania XXVIII

- Tommy Dreamer returned to WWE for a 6-man tag team match on this week’s Raw, teaming with The Miz and Alberto Del Rio to face 3MB. Miz and Del Rio teamed with Brooklyn Brawler to face the trio at WWE TLC. The idea at TLC was to use Brooklyn Brawler to generate a cheap pop for Miz and Del Rio given the show was in Brooklyn. The same thinking seems to be in order for this match with Raw in Philadelphia, the home of ECW.

- NXT Champion Big E Langston debuted in the closing segment of this week’s WWE Raw with AJ Lee, slamming John Cena to close the broadcast. After the show went off the air, John Cena & Sheamus b. World Heavyweight Champion Big Show & Dolph Ziggler in a dark match main event.

- For those that missed it on this week’s WWE Raw, Triple H assured the audience [when he accepted the Match of the Year Slammy for his bout against Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXVIII] that we haven’t seen the last of the Undertaker. One thing that makes this of note is there was a point earlier this year where some were doubting Undertaker for Wrestlemania. The word from close to him was he felt neglected and was considering sitting Wrestlemania 29 out because he only has a couple of matches left and didn’t feel he was getting a desirable program. This changed as WWE has gone to work on exploring Wrestlemania programs as I went over them in detail here at WrestlingNews.net.

- Dot com posted a video of Ric Flair after appearing on this week’s WWE Raw. Flair said he was overwhelmed and that WWE was the best place in the world to work. He said he’s proud to be there and of the friendships he’s made. When asked about CM Punk, Flair said to give him two months to get ready because he didn’t want to say something he couldn’t backup. “Give me 60 days” Flair concluded. While we still haven’t heard if Flair has a new WWE contract, it’s of note that 60 days from Monday is Sunday, February 17, 2013 which is WWE Elimination Chamber from the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans. Obviously this could be a coincidence or it could be an indication of something more. Flair’s favorite thing to say on the interview circuit as of late is that his in-ring days are over. Click here for the video on dot com.

- This week’s SuperSmackdown Live will feature a Miz TV segment with The Miz as he’ll “interview” Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee. Make sure you join us here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com at 8 PM EST for exclusive live play-by-play coverage.

- In addition to the returns we noted last night, “Mean” Gene Okerlund, Ricky Steamboat and Jim Ross made cameos on Raw as presenters for the Match of the Year Slammy Award.

- You can watch more backstage video interviews from this week’s WWE Raw here on dot com.

- Big E Langston doesn’t typically work as a heel and the feeling was he was “off a little bit” with his facials on this week’s Raw. One insider familiar with Langston tells us his ring work is not going to blow anyone away but it should be a little better than most newcomers. One of the things stressed to him is to play his character with a lot of aggression as he lacks height which could become problematic in making him feel like a big man. We’re told he reminds Vince McMahon of Bobby Lashley although we’re not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

- There was no mention of Daniel Bryan “cleaning up” with three Slammy awards and CM Punk being robbed of “Superstar of the Year” backstage. We’re told Punk’s new t-shirt is already the number one selling shirt and was created as a mock shirt of The Rock to capitalize on Royal Rumble build.

- We’re told the original Raw script had Dolph Ziggler successfully “cashing in” his Money in the Bank briefcase although my source feels it was put there to see if it would leak. Vince McMahon was adamant all day for writers and producers to capitalize on momentum from the pay-per-view and a title change was suggested more than once.

- As was evident on this week’s Raw, Antonio Cesaro is so high on the company radar they wouldn’t put him under to Ryback.

- I am able to confirm that Ric Flair has not signed a WWE contract. He, like many other returning stars, worked a per shot on this week’s Raw.

ESPN has a new Q&A online with Mike Tyson to promote WWE ’13. Below are the highlights:

Would he wrestle for WWE:

“If I’m healthy, and I am, I think, I would do it,” he said. “You have to be in shape. You can’t just come off the street and do this stuff. I did a little wrestling before in there during rehearsal, and you have to be in top shape. You gotta work out. You’re going to get hurt, so you have to be in shape that way you can make sure you limit the damage.

“Before boxing, I was a WWF fan. It’s like a soap opera for men. That’s what poor, inner-city kids did, we watched these guys wrestle and we fantasized about being them and that glory and that fighting.”

Thoughts on Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather at Wrestlemania:

I was so mad when they did that s—. Floyd can’t beat no [expletive] Big Show. That’s bulls—. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I forgot I was doing an interview, but he was fighting one of my boys.

What he thinks of The Shield:

I like them, but it’s tough getting used to all the new guys. Back in the day, these guys were around for 20 years, but now, they just don’t have long careers like they used to have. As far as entertainment, nobody beats Mick Foley. He must’ve broke every bone in his body. I saw him and Terry Funk fight one time and they should’ve died. They should’ve been dead. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. They must be some hard-core guys.

Another guy I like is Randy Orton. He’s so different than his dad. Cowboy Bob Orton with the belly and the big old hat. Randy has the Superman physique, but his dad was that big-bellied guy who had a broken arm for like 10 years [laughs]. Times change, you gotta change with the times.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- This week’s WWE Raw did a 2.89 cable rating with an average viewing audience of 4,230,000 viewers on the USA Network. Below is the by hour breakdown of viewership:

  • Hour one – 4,290,000
  • Hour two – 4,410,000
  • Hour three – 3,990,000

- Alex Riley beat Michael McGillicutty in a dark match prior to Tuesday’s Smackdown/Raw taping from the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

- Sin Cara has been working through a legitimate left knee injury and was expected to need time off. This is the reason for The Shield attacking him on this week’s SuperSmackdown. The kayfabe update, just announced on the broadcast, is Cara has “severe knee” damage.

- As announced on SuperSmackdown Live, Ryback will face CM Punk for the WWE Championship on the January 7th episode of Raw from the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida.

- Richard posted an article earlier to announce that the January 7, 2013 edition of WWE Raw will have Ryback vs. CM Punk for the WWE Title.  WWE‘s official website  wrote that they will face in a TLC Match that night.

- WWE had their live Smackdown and taped Raw for next week in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  WWE will be returning to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the CONSOL Energy Center on March 18, 2013 for Raw.

- Earlier this week, Daniel Bryan got the opportunity to meet Connor, a boy battling brain and spinal cancer. In October, Connor’s family uploaded a video to YouTube of Connor, a huge Bryan fan, asking to meet him, which started a campaign on radio and social media to make the meeting happen. Bryan met up with Connor and his family prior to Tuesday’s SuperSmackdown taping, and took pictures, signed autographs, let Connor put him into the No Lock, and more. Kane made an appearance as well. Click here for more, and to view videos and photos of the heartwarming meeting, courtesy of WXPI. Bryan was interviewed prior to the meeting as well, which is viewable here.

- WWE is advertising Santa Claus as the guest host of next week’s Christmas Eve episode of Raw. The company taped the show Tuesday night after SuperSmackdown Live as you can read full taping results at this link.

- For those unaware, WWE Raw returns to the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA on Monday, March 18, 2013.

- Tommy Dreamer suffered a puncture wound on his forehead that resulted in an enormous knot that he claims was a result of the storyline attack by The Shield on Monday’s episode of WWE Raw. Dreamer wrote on Twitter he was forced to make a visit to the local Emergency Room and the doctor asked if he wanted to press charges because he didn’t “get it.” The wound reportedly needed 18 stitches to close.

- We reported exclusively here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium on November 26, 2012 that Mark Henry was officially cleared to return to the ring and mentioned a creative plan that came up (which obviously was changed). Last Sunday, we noted here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com that Henry was cleared to return and it could happen at any moment.

This prompted a response from The World’s Strongest Man where he went on Twitter to deny he was cleared to return. The response drew a firestorm as we received contact from all parties involved over the article with the NEWZ sites even giving their account of the situation. One popular “story” stated Henry denied a “report elsewhere” but later removed the Tweet. While he certainly denied our report, he didn’t delete the Tweet. The ultimate question is, if Henry isn’t cleared to compete and it was simply an account of false information, why all the fuss? This is because there is more to the story.

We’re told Henry “definitely” has clearance from WWE doctors to return but doesn’t want to come back unless he’s happy with the booking plans. He has a personal doctor that says he’s not ready and he’s using that for leverage. If he’s coming back in a top spot, he’ll suddenly be ready, but otherwise, he’s threatening retirement.

In Henry’s response to our report he claimed was false, he chose his wording very carefully. Let’s take a look:

It’s true there is a chance that Henry won’t come back [to WWE] but that’s by his own choosing. When Henry says he hasn’t been cleared, he means from his doctor. WWE is ready for him to come back but until Mark knows exactly what the plan is and is happy with the plan, he isn’t committing to anything.

I spoke with another source within the company that commented how Henry spent more than a decade collecting his downside and going along with creative plans but following his sole World Heavyweight Championship reign last year, he decides he will take nothing less than a prominent spot on the roster.

- WWE’s video game partner, THQ, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and will seek a buyer (in Clearlake Capital Group, L.P.) to help recover from years of business and creative missteps.

All studios are scheduled to remain open with all developmental teams continuing to work during the sale period, subject to Court approval of THQ’s first-day motions. Below is the official press release:

THQ Inc. Secures Asset Purchase Agreement with Affiliates of Clearlake Capital Group, L.P.

Clearlake Offers to Acquire THQ’s Assets Via Section 363 under Chapter 11; Company Obtains Commitment for Interim Financing to Fund Operations Without Interruption

AGOURA HILLS, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dec. 19, 2012– THQ Inc. (NASDAQ: THQI), a leading worldwide developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software, today announced that it entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with a “stalking horse bidder,” affiliates of Clearlake Capital Group, L.P., to acquire substantially all of the assets of THQ’s operating business, including THQ’s four owned studios and games in development. The sale will allow THQ to shed certain legacy obligations and emerge with the strong financial backing of a new owner with substantial experience in software and technology.

To facilitate the sale, THQ and its domestic business units have filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The company’s foreign operations, including Canada, are not included in the filings. The company has obtained commitments from Wells Fargo and Clearlake for debtor-in possession (DIP) financing of approximately $37.5 million, subject to Court approval.

THQ will continue operating its business without interruption during the sale period, subject to Court approval of THQ’s first-day motions. All of the company’s studios remain open, and all development teams continue. The company remains confident in its existing pipeline of games. THQ maintains relationships with some of the top independent development studios around the globe. As part of the sale, the company is seeking approval to assume the contracts of these studios, and Clearlake will assume these contracts.

“The sale and filing are necessary next steps to complete THQ’s transformation and position the company for the future, as we remain confident in our existing pipeline of games, the strength of our studios and THQ’s deep bench of talent,” said Brian Farrell, Chairman and CEO of THQ. “We are grateful to our outstanding team of employees, partners and suppliers who have worked with us through this transition. We are pleased to have attracted a strong financial partner for our business, and we hope to complete the sale swiftly to make the process as seamless as possible.”

According to Jason Rubin, who joined THQ as President last May, “We have incredible, creative talent here at THQ. We look forward to partnering with experienced investors for a new start as we will continue to use our intellectual property assets to develop high-quality core games, create new franchise titles, and drive demand through both traditional and digital channels.”

Clearlake has agreed to serve as the “stalking horse bidder” for a Section 363 sale process, which allows other interested parties to come forward with competing bids. Aggregate consideration offered by Clearlake for the purchase totals approximately $60 million, including a new $10 million note for the benefit of the company’s creditors. The company is asking the Court for a schedule to complete the sale process in about 30 days.

Consumers and retailers should see no changes while the company completes a sale. The new financing will support business operations throughout the period. THQ does not intend to reduce its workforce as a result of the filing, and employees will continue to work their usual schedules and receive normal compensation and benefits, pending customary Court approval.

As is the case after a Chapter 11 filing, THQ expects to receive notice from NASDAQ informing the company that its shares will be delisted from the exchange within nine calendar days of notification.

THQ is being advised by Centerview Partners LLC and FTI Consulting as its financial advisors and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as legal counsel. Clearlake is being advised by DLA Piper as legal counsel.

For additional information about THQ, please visit www.thq.com. For information regarding the Chapter 11 case, please visit www.kccllc.net/thq.

About THQ
THQ Inc. is a leading worldwide developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software. The company develops its products for all popular game systems, personal computers, wireless devices and the Internet. Headquartered in Los Angeles County, California, THQ sells product through its network of offices located throughout North America and Europe. More information about THQ and its products may be found at http://www.thq.com.

About Clearlake Capital Group
Clearlake Capital Group, L.P. is a private investment firm focused on special situations and private equity investments such as corporate divestitures, recapitalizations, buyouts, reorganizations, turnarounds and other equity investments. Clearlake seeks to partner with world-class management teams by providing patient, long-term capital and operational expertise to invest in dynamic businesses. Clearlake currently manages approximately $1.4 billion of equity capital, and Clearlake’s founding principals have led over 50 investments totaling more than $2.7 billion of capital in sectors including business services, communication, consumer products/retail, defense/public safety, energy/power, healthcare, industrials, media, and technology. For more information, please visit www.clearlakecapital.com.

THQ Inc. Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains statements that are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates and projections about the business of THQ Inc. and its subsidiaries (collectively referred to as “THQ”), including, but not limited to, expectations regarding the agreement with Clearlake and the bankruptcy case. These statements are based upon management’s current beliefs and certain assumptions made by management. Such forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, the adverse impact of the bankruptcy case on THQ’s business, financial condition and results of operations, including its ability to maintain customer and supplier relationships, THQ’s ability to obtain bankruptcy court approval in connection with the bankruptcy case, the actions of THQ’s creditors and other third parties with interests in the bankruptcy case, competitive, economic, legal, political, and technological factors affecting our industry, operations, markets, products, or pricing. Readers should carefully review the risk factors and the information that could materially affect THQ’s financial results, described in other documents that THQ files from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal period ended March 31, 2012 and subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and particularly the discussion of trends and risk factors set forth therein. Unless otherwise required by law, THQ disclaims any obligation to update its view on any such risks or uncertainties or to revise or publicly release the results of any revision to these forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release.

- This week’s commercial free Super Smackdown Live did a a 2.29 cable rating with an average viewership of 3,330,000 viewers on the USA Network. This is a very strong number for the show set to repeat Friday in its normal timeslot on SyFy.

- Jim Ross was called to appear on this week’s WWE Raw on Sunday night. He has a new blog entry with his thoughts on appearing and several other opinions that can be read at this link.

- WWE canceled their January 6, 2013 live event in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

- Dot com is running part one of a three-part Q&A with Steve Austin talking about WWE ’13 that you can read at this link.

- WWE issued the following statement regarding their video game partner, THQ, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection:

STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– WWE (NYS: WWE) is following the developments of THQ’s bankruptcy filing today and proposed sale under Bankruptcy Code Section 363. The Company anticipates actively participating within this proceeding.

- WWE Champion CM Punk squared off against WWE Divas Champion Eve Torres in an eating contest. They went toe-to-toe with the Habanero-Wasabi Combos snack. ESPN has the coverage at this link.

- “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase had a double knee replacement on Tuesday by Dr. Jeffrey Dugas in Birmingham, Alabama.

- “The Marine 3″ starring The Miz is due out on DVD on Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

- Hulu grew revenue 65% to reach approximately $695 million, the company announced on Monday. The increase is credited to deals with CBS Corporation, WWE and Viacom to include Nickelodeon content. Click here for more.

- Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was at Monday’s WWE Raw in the city.

- Pat Patterson, who recently booked next year’s Royal Rumble match with Triple H (details here), was in Tampa this week at WWE’s developmental facilities.

- Sin Cara Tweeted on Thursday he’s set to undergo a “mini surgery.” The Tweet is below:

I can’t confirm what type of surgical procedure he is having but Sin Cara has been hampered by a legitimate left knee injury. The injury bothered him considerably at WWE TLC and the word making rounds after the show on Sunday was that he would need time off. Dot com did an injury angle with The Shield “taking out” Cara on Super Smackdown Live to write him off television.

You can read dot com’s kayfabe update at this link.

- According to a report by Bloomberg, THQ owes WWE $45 million as one of their largest unsecured creditors. We first mentioned this in Thursday’s Premium Mailbag. WWE announced Wednesday they will be “actively participating” in THQ’s bankruptcy proceedings.

- Former WWE personality Todd Grisham will host Friday Night Fights on ESPN2 beginning January 4, 2013.

- Click here for a new Q&A with Sheamus.

- R-Truth is dealing with soreness and stiffness from the gruesome knee injury he suffered at WWE TLC on Sunday. Despite the gory nature of the injury, the latest word is he is expected to be able to return to the ring some time next month. If you missed it (and have a strong stomach), you can check out a photo of Truth’s injured knee at this link.

- The Miami Herald reports The Rock will return to WWE Raw on Monday January 7, 2013 in Tampa and to Smackdown on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 in Miami. Click here for their coverage.

- The Shield and Big E Langston have been added to upcoming WWE Raw holiday live events.

- Randy Orton, on the other hand, has been removed from the official list of advertised talent on upcoming Smackdown holiday live events. He is not being officially advertised until the 12/30 Smackdown taping from The Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, VA. I’m aware local event information may differ but we are reporting from WWE’s list.

- Our sister website, WrestlingNews.net, has several backstage photos from this week’s WWE television tapings that can be viewed at this link.

- This Wednesday’s WWE Tribute to the Troops special did an average viewing audience of 2,340,000 viewers on the USA Network. This was down fro the 2,770,000 viewers the show did last year and the 3,010,000 viewers the show did in 2010.

- WNW reader Dave L sent in the following photo of The Rock showing off his legs:

- Speaking of Rock, WWE Week will wrap up Friday night with WWE Champion CM Punk hosting “The Game Plan” starring The Rock on the USA Network. The movies airs at 8:30 PM EST.  Rock vs. Punk is planned to headline Royal Rumble for the WWE Championship.

- Justin Credible just recently returned home from WWE sponsored rehab.

- No new material for WWE Superstars was taped this week and WWE is set to air “Best of” Raw and Smackdown episodes hosted by Scott Stanford in its place airing on Hulu.

- Who is Big E Langston? Joey Styles answers the question in a new article here on dot com.

- WWE issued the following press release regarding THQ filing for bankruptcy:

STAMFORD, Conn., December 20, 2012 – WWE (NYSE:WWE) is listed in THQ, Inc.’s recent bankruptcy filing as an unsecured creditor holding a claim of approximately $45 million reflecting the entirety of the existing multi-year agreement. Any impairment of a current THQ account receivable would be immaterial to WWE’s financial statements. Even if the impact of THQ’s bankruptcy were detrimental to WWE, the Company does not believe that the ultimate economic impact for financial statement purposes would materially and adversely affect the results of operations or financial position of WWE in light of the strength of the WWE brand and the historical performance of WWE’s video game business.

- WWE sent out the following on Friday:

Royal Rumble FAN FEST coming to Phoenix Jan. 26 – 27

For the first time ever, Phoenix’s US Airways Center will host the WWE ROYAL RUMBLE FAN FEST, Saturday, Jan 26 and Sunday, Jan 27. This ultimate WWE fan experience will kick off the 26th edition of the Royal Rumble and the journey to WrestleMania. The event, which takes place rain or shine, will be held on the US Airways plaza (corner of 1st Street & Jefferson).

The Royal Rumble Fan Fest will run from Noon – 4 pm on Saturday, Jan 26 and will feature:

Appearances by several WWE Superstars, Divas and Legends LIVE WWE Matches and a WWE tournament in which the winner will receive a guaranteed slot into the Royal Rumble

  • Live musical performances
  • Food trucks
  • Interactive activities and more!

In addition, the weekend will feature the ultimate WWE question-and-answer session with THREE unprecedented interactive WWE Superstar Panels. This experience allows the WWE Universe and its fans to ask questions directly to their favorite WWE Superstars and get an in-depth, inside look at some of the biggest personalities and moments in WWE history.

Each Superstar Panel Ticket will include:
Access to the Royal Rumble Fan Fest
Admission to one (1) panel discussion
A VIP reception with WWE Superstars and Legends
A commemorative autographed gift!

Panel topics shall include: The Montreal Screwjob (Saturday, Jan 26, 3-6 pm), The Infamous DX (Saturday, Jan 26, 6:30-9:30 pm), as well as WCW Nitro and the Monday Night Wars (Sunday, Jan 27, 9 am – 12 pm). Each panel will feature WWE Superstars and Legends that have firsthand knowledge of the respective topic.

This will be an event that no member of the WWE Universe will want to miss! WWE offers the best value in entertainment, with Fan Fest tickets starting at $10 and each Superstar Panel (which includes admission to the Fan Fest) at just $90. Tickets go on sale Thursday (Dec 20) at 10 am.

TNA News

- TNA Wrestling is returning to my home state of West Virginia in February as they have announced the following live events:

  • February 15, 2013 from the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington
  • February 16, 2013 from the Beckley Convention Center in Beckley
  • February 17, 2013 from the Morgantown Event Center in Morgantown

Tickets for all shows go on sale December 21, 2012. The past two years I have been backstage at the show in Beckley but I’m unsure if I’ll be at this one.

- After three months of working through a rib cartilage tear, Samoa Joe says he is finally healed. The following is from his Twitter:

- Both Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff weighed in on Ric Flair returning to WWE on this week’s Raw. Their Tweets are below:

Hogan was instrumental in bringing Flair to TNA Wrestling in 2010 as they had just finished working together on the Hulkamania Tour 2009 in Australia. Earlier this year, Flair decided he wanted to return to WWE and no-showed his dates with TNA. This prompted TNA to file a lawsuit against WWE for alleged contract tampering, specifically mentioning Flair.

As a result, WWE  issued a hiring freeze of all former TNA talents or anyone that worked there while former office worker Brian Wittenstein was employed. As I wrote earlier here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Flair is not under WWE contract.

- Universal Studios issued a statement on Wednesday, stating there would not being any Impact Wrestling events at the venue in the month of February. Devin Cutting circulated the statement that reads:

“There are no IMPACT WRESTLING events at Universal Studios for the month of February 2013 due to the stars of IMPACT WRESTLING entertaining fans in the United Kingdom.”

- The USA Today has a new article online by Louisville Courier Journal author Steve Jones reporting that the University of Kentucky is recruiting Sting’s son, Steven Borden, for their football team. According to the report, Borden is number one on Kentucky’s list and could become the first commitment for new coach Mark Stoops in the coming days. You can read the full article at this link.

- To update an earlier item, the University of Kentucky has signed Sting’s son, Steven Borden, to come and play for the school next fall. He chose the Wildcats over Texas Tech and becomes the first recruiting commitment under coach Mark Stoops. You can read more at the USA Today website at this link.

- The UK Sun has a new feature article on The Blossom Twins who are contestants on TNA British Boot Camp that starts on New Year’s Day on Challenge TV. The pair work in primary school for their day jobs as they pursue their pro wrestling dreams. You can read the article at this link. (Thanks to WNW reader Dave L for sending this in.)

- TNA will return with a live episode of Impact Wrestling on Thursday, January 3, 2013. They will also air live shows on January 10 and January 17 with TNA Genesis taking place on Sunday, January 13 from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.

The company will then tape on January 18 in Orlando, January 25 in Manchester and January 26 in London. The shows taped overseas are scheduled to air in February. We noted on Wednesday that Universal Studios has clarified there will be no Impact Wrestling events at the venue in February.

- TNA Final Resolution did approximately 11,000 buys.

- Rogers has added Spike TV in High Definition on channel 490 so if you live up north, you now have the ability to watch Impact Wrestling in HD.

- TNA Knockout Women’s Champion Tara and Jessie Godderz will answer questions from fans via Twitter prior to this week’s Impact Wrestling. Those looking to ask questions can do so with the hashtags #AskTara and #AskJessie.

- Kurt Angle, who is currently out nursing an injury, has been pulled from both the December 29th (Poughkeepsie) and December 30th (Albany) TNA live events in New York.

- Kurt Angle posted the following Friday on Twitter:

As Alex Barie reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Angle filed a lawsuit against Walfi Wahidi and WabaSocial because they were to develop a fitness app for him that would be released to the public but did not meet the deadline. Angle noted at the time he was out $34,700.

- This week’s Impact Wrestling did a 0.99 cable rating with an average viewing audience of 1,270,000 viewers on Spike TV.

Ask WNW

Is Alberto Deo Rio turning babyface?

Yes, WWE has decided to move forward with plans to turn Alberto Del Rio babyface. As I reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Del Rio’s turn was something that wasn’t included until the later drafts of WWE TLC and one observer believes he is getting Randy Orton’s spot.

With the Royal Rumble only about a month away, have you heard any names thrown into the mix as possible surprise entrants?

WWE has been in contact with former names about appearing on this week’s WWE Raw for the 2012 Slammy Awards and the 20th Anniversary of Raw next month so I can only assume they will include a surprise or two in the 30-man Royal Rumble match. I haven’t heard of any names and if I do and can confirm them, we’ll pass along that information. Do not be surprised if some past names show up on this week’s Raw and the aforementioned 20th Anniversary show on January 14, 2013.

Has there been any further information on Randy Orton’s injury and is there a timeline for his return?

Randy Orton is not being advertised for any of this week’s WWE television tapings, however, as of this writing, is still on the official listing of talent for the December 27, 2012 live event in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This tells me he is expected to be out for the week and will be reevaluated with the hope he’s good to go for the holiday tour. There is concern regarding his health given past shoulder problems as I ran a detailed update over the weekend at this link.

Previous lawsuit aside, do you ever see Raven returning to the WWE?

Scott Levy is 48-years-old and filed a lawsuit against WWE, questioning the independent contractor status of his performer’s contract. While it would be comical if he signed a new contract just like the one he disputed, it’s highly unlikely there would be any interest what-so-ever.

Is it just me or has the return of Brock Lesnar been somewhat of a bust? He came back with so much hype, had a couple OK matches and now he has been gone for so long in between dates that I totally forgot about him until the Slammys? I know WWE wants to get the most out of his few dates but I feel they did a better job with The Rock then with Brock.

Let’s look at the numbers. Brock Lesnar has headlined two WWE pay-per-views this year – Extreme Rules (vs. John Cena) and SummerSlam (vs. Triple H). Extreme Rules did 263,000 buys (up from 209,000 the year prior and 182,000 in 2010) and SummerSlam did 350,000 buys (up from 296,000 the year prior and even with the 350,000 in 2010). WWE views these numbers as a major success and would like to retain the services of Brock Lesnar after they use him at Wrestlemania 29 next year. There was talk of Lesnar working Survivor Series or another pay-per-view in 2012 but the company ultimately decided to keep him on the shelf to preserve the dates on his contract.

Why is Daniel Bryan constantly the one being pinned and shown as the weak link of Team Hell No?

The justification seems to be Daniel Bryan’s current gimmick is comedy and he won’t be hurt by any losses under it. I would rather see Kane doing these jobs as he’s someone up there in age that has already peaked. Daniel Bryan hasn’t come close to his ceiling and I would prefer he didn’t go under although that seems to be the reason why he has been booked as such. From what I’ve been told, Vince McMahon sees Daniel Bryan as diverse and is high up on him heading into the new year.

Who do you think will have more success as a face – Alberto Del Rio or The Miz? I think Del Rio is more natural in the face role.

I always remind readers it’s important not to judge a gimmick or character turn too soon as there aren’t always instant results. I’ll admit it’s weird seeing both [Del Rio and The Miz] as babyfaces considering the resources that have been used to make them both heels. Alberto Del Rio is currently needed more in a babyface role with WWE needing someone to help carry the company’s Latino fan base.

Ric Flair said hew as back. How is this possible with TNA Wrestling’s ongoing litigation against WWE? Has Vince McMahon finally decided to flex his muscle?

I wasn’t surprised to see Ric Flair back as he told friends a couple months ago if TNA’s litigation didn’t end soon that WWE would get creative to get him back on TV. While we can only speculate as to what he meant, I’m unable to confirm if he has a new WWE contract. One of my sources was checking to see if WWE has contacted any other former TNA names they were believed to be interested in with Flair back on TV but so far, I haven’t heard back. Flair seemed to have teased involvement at Elimination Chamber in a dot com interview as you can read more here.

What’s the latest on MVP making a possible return stateside to either WWE or TNA?

MVP said last week he hasn’t been contacted by WWE and was committed to his work in New Japan Pro Wrestling. We’ve heard of mutual interest in his services [in WWE] but nothing has progressed any further. MVP was adamant when he left WWE he wanted to work in Japan and wasn’t interested in working for TNA Wrestling. This is believed to be why WWE  agreed to “turn their head” and allow him to use the MVP name in matches overseas. I don’t see him working in TNA and feel if he does return stateside it will be in WWE where he left on good terms.

Update: MVP responded to this saying he owns his own gimmick which is why he is able to use it. I’m not disputing that and what I was talking about was WWE owning the trademark to Montel Vontavious Porter.

I’m not ashamed to say that while he was part of the WWE, I was a big fan of the Boogeyman. So with his return to Raw at the Slammys, including the ovation from the crowd he received in doing so, do you see the Boogeyman returning to the WWE full time?

Anything is possible but Marty Wright is 48-years-old and isn’t seen as a viable long-term option because of his age. WWE officials were always concerned about overexposing The Boogeyman and saw it as a gimmick that was over but with an extremely limited lifespan. The idea was to use him in special appearances and we saw that on Monday. Vince McMahon likes Wright and the gimmick so much it wouldn’t surprise me if more came out of the appearance but it was a per shot on Monday.

With WWE bringing Ric Flair back to Raw do you think it’s a message to TNA they will do what they want when they want?

I don’t think Ric Flair appearing on Raw was as much a shot at TNA as it was Triple H getting his buddy back where he wants to be. Flair and Hunter are very close and Flair made it clear he wanted to return to WWE. The reason he went to TNA in the first place was there was no interest in using him in WWE and Hulk Hogan talked Ric into doing it. With that being said one very important fact that we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com is that Flair is not under WWE contract. The hiring freeze in regards to former TNA talent remains intact and because Flair hasn’t signed a new WWE contract, TNA cannot allege that WWE used information divulged by Brian Wittenstein to sign their talent. Flair hasn’t kept it a secret that he has enough pull in WWE to get them to “creatively” pay him without putting him under contract which is exactly what we saw on this week’s Raw.

How legitimate was the voting for the Slammy Awards on Monday night?

WWE used the Slammy Awards as their first big opportunity to promote their new App. From everything I’ve heard it worked great and the goal of widespread downloads was accomplished. I haven’t heard how legitimate the voting was but I can tell you in the past, when WWE has done polls, the voting has been fairly legitimate. The only time in recent memory where I can recall a poll being fixed was the Kane over Daniel Bryan Twitter poll from Raw a few weeks back.

Is there any sign of Christian or Chris Jericho making their return to the WWE?

Christian has been out due to injury and is expected back next year. Chris Jericho inquired about making a sporadic return but they couldn’t agree on dates. There was talk about him appearing at Survivor Series but nothing ever materialized from it. Jericho has a good relationship with WWE but it all comes down to nailing down a desirable number of dates that will appease both sides.

Have you heard anything new on John Morrison returning to the WWE in 2013?

As we reported here on Richard’s Backstage Blog last month, John Morrison inquired about returning to WWE and suggested himself as a possible surprise entrant in the 30-man Royal Rumble match next year. The problem is Morrison only wants a short-term deal that will leave his options open. As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium, Vince McMahon wants more of a long-term commitment.

Has the plug been pulled on Fandango? Will he debut soon? Will he perform as Johnny Curtis again instead? Will he be released? Where is Fandango?

This isn’t the first time WWE has run vignettes for a debut and pulled them without any explanation. I’ll be honest; I haven’t inquired about Fandango because I’ve been so busy following other stories. I’ll see what I can find out but right now it looks like plans have been pushed back if not scrapped altogether.

Why is Tensai getting buried almost every week, I always liked the guy, and think he’s a great worker, but is somewhat feels like they re-signed him to put over other talent.

WWE re-signed Matt Bloom to push him as Lord Tensai, an effective heel in the Raw main event scene. Remember his pinfall victory against John Cena? The problem is he couldn’t get over, even after several tweaks were made to the gimmick. As things currently stand he’s been used in an enhancement role and more comedy as they try and find a spot for him. Bloom wasn’t seen as a guy they had to develop but someone they were hoping could come in and fill a main event role. To put it bluntly, it just didn’t work out as hoped.

I heard that Alex Riley’s push last year was ended because of a confrontation with John Cena, is this true?

There was an apparent situation several months ago where John Cena was playing a rib on Alex Riley and he got a little emotional over it but one can only speculate as to how much this had to do with his push. Riley was over but he had plenty of work to do to improve his in-ring work. He’s been hampered by injuries lately but returned earlier this month and worked a dark match at Tuesday’s WWE TV tapings.

Do you think ratings in WWE would go up if the company developed a new concept or match type that had a significant built to it?

There is no secret concept or superstar return that will instantaneously boost ratings. Sure, there are plenty of “quick fixes” but the most important thing in raising ratings is creating compelling television that people want to watch. WWE is expecting The Rock’s return to give them a major boost in the early part of next year but it’s up to them whether or not they’ll be able to carry the momentum. There’s a clear initiative in wrapping up the year in creating new stars hence four developmental workers being put in prominent roles on television.

What are WWE’s future plans for their video game products given THQ filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection?

WWE said they anticipate that they will actively participate in THQ’s bankruptcy filing. WWE is one of THQ’s largest unsecured creditors and are owed $45 million so of course they will monitor it closely. It’s too early to tell what will happen with WWE games although this isn’t surprising news and there were plans to begin production on WWE ’14 early next year.

You talked about The Boogeyman earlier in the week, what about the contract status of the other stars that popped up on this week’s WWE Raw?

Ric Flair, Gene Okerlund, Tommy Dreamer and Ron Simmons all appeared on WWE Raw under per shot deals. Ricky Steamboat, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn are WWE employees. WWE is expected to call in more names for their 20th Anniversary of Raw on 1/14 and let’s not forget the possibility of a surprise in the Royal Rumble match.

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