– The talk about giving Roman Reigns a major singles push in WWE started in mid-December (before his singles match against CM Punk on “Old School” Raw) when his name surfaced as a potential opponent for Goldberg at Wrestlemania XXX. While Goldberg is not in the Wrestlemania plans, the push for Roman Reigns is still on. WWE has gone back and forth on what to do with The Shield, with cases being made to break them up or keep them together. The talk has spilled over to television as the indecisiveness can be tracked by anyone paying attention. WWE decided to start on separating Reigns from The Shield faction in the 30-man Royal Rumble match by highlighting his work, allowing for him to be the final elimination and breaking Kane’s record of the most eliminations by one worker. While Wrestlemania plans for Reigns are unknown with Goldberg out, it’s clear he’s rose as the “top guy” from The Shield faction. The irony is that Reigns was considered to be the greenest of the faction and his work on the main roster has been better than anything he ever did in NXT. This is unlike a guy like Bray Wyatt, who drew extremely high marks in developmental after his run as Husky Harris.
– For those asking about Randy Orton’s reaction to the crowd hijacking his WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Royal Ruble, I was told it was the “we want Eva/we want Divas” chants that really sent him over the top.
– WWE announced Jake Roberts as the second inductee into the Hall of Fame: Class of 2014 on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. Roberts joins The Ultimate Warrior as he was announced on Raw a couple of weeks ago. The 2014 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place the night before Wrestlemania XXX on Saturday, April 5, 2014 from the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana.
– We’re told WWE realized they had to “tread lightly” with Batista and Brock Lesnar on this week’s Monday Night Raw given the fact fans want to turn them both. I heard there was a lot of angst over the 9 PM segment that involved Randy Orton, Batista and Lesnar because they were scared Batista would continue to get heat while Lesnar would end up the babyface. What I didn’t understand, as I noted here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, was the fact The Authority (Stephanie McMahon to be specific) called Batista a “friend of theirs” in the opening segment but in the 9 PM segment (the one everyone was worried about) Batista said he would come out of Wrestlemania XXX WWE World Heavyweight Champion and it didn’t matter what The Authority thought.
– To provide more perspective on the current situation with CM Punk and WWE, I want to go back to May 2013 when Punk was on his two-month hiatus from the company. At the time, Punk was in no rush to come back and hadn’t given much thought about a return program. While Punk preferred to come back at SummerSlam, WWE wanted him for Payback in June in Chicago. As we saw, the latter is what actually happened. However, referencing our initial report on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Punk’s main focus was Wrestlemania XXX. We were told at the time Punk felt like he “stole the show” with Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29 and his goal was to get into “at least the second highest profile match” at the show this year. With his WWE contract coming up in July, Punk’s underlying strategy was all about Wrestlemania. Knowing this information, it’s certainly understandable about how being in the Wrestlemania undercard in his contract year could have been all it took for him to throw in the towel. In speaking with sources Wednesday morning, multiple people are saying Vince McMahon is hard at work in trying to get Punk back to make this all into one big angle. We have more about that at this link.
– WWE and E issued an official press release about Season 2 of Total Divas on Wednesday. Joining the cast will be WWE Diva Summer Rae with JoJo Offerman, who was phased out of the latter part of Season 1, departing. JoJo remains under a developmental contract and is still working out at the WWE Performance Center. Season 2 of Total Divas kicks off on E on Sunday, March 16, 2014 on E at 9pm ET/PT. You can read the official press release at this link.
– A lot of our readers in the United Kingdom want to know how the new five-year agreement with BSkyB impacts plans for the WWE Network, the short answer is it doesn’t impact plans. WWE says they plan to make the WWE Network available to people in the UK at the end of 2014, beginning of 2015. The plan all along was to renew their distribution agreement with BSkyB and that deal is finally done. I contacted a WWE spokesman on Thursday, asking if there was anything else they could tell me and was told the company was not making any further comment at this time.
– UFC President Dana White was asked about CM Punk quitting WWE during media day for UFC 169 on Thursday. Below is a recap of his comments that can be heard at this link. White said he was with CM Punk all night last Saturday night for UFC on Fox 10. He said he likes CM Punk a lot and that he’s a nice guy. When asked if Punk could start an MMA career at 35, White said 35 is a little late to get into the game but who knows if he can fight? When his training with the Gracies was brought up, White said, we’ll see what happens. Dana seemed to not completely understand the fact Punk walked out on WWE on Monday. He questioned the reporter, saying, “he quit?” And followed-up by saying Punk hadn’t said a word to him. White said CM Punk has not reached out to him and never said a word about it. He was with him on Saturday night, Punk just showed up and they talked about a lot of things but fighting was not one of them.
– There’s a lot being made of the crowd reactions at Thursday night’s WWE NXT tapings from the campus of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida following the current situation with CM Punk walking out on WWE. I spoke with Wrestling News World’s Scott Brooks, who was in attendance at the tapings, about the situation on Friday afternoon and here’s what he told me: Backlash over CM Punk was evident at the taping with a handful of signs being confiscated. The name “CM Punk” was chanted throughout the majority of the show, with fans showing their support “in protest.” Scott told me there was nothing overly notable in terms of a show disruption, just at times a couple of Punk chants would breakout during the matches. I was told it was nothing like the reactions that broke out for Daniel Bryan during the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Randy Orton and John Cena at Royal Rumble last Sunday.
– The words that were used to describe the atmosphere in WWE after the Royal Rumble pay-per-view were “complete madness” and this was before the details began to break that CM Punk had walked out. The situation going into Raw was that Wrestlemania plans were being turned upside down on almost a daily basis and one source couldn’t put enough emphasis on how “up in the air” things were this close to the biggest show of the year.
– A big topic backstage at WWE Monday Night Raw was how to handle Daniel Bryan after the debacle at Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Because of the magnitude of the story, I’m separating it from my weekly Backstage Raw News (that will run later on Tuesday) and running this on its own. We’re told the company was “caught very off guard” by the Daniel Bryan reaction at the pay-per-view. As a result, Vince McMahon considered handling the situation of the utmost importance, even more important than anything related to Wrestlemania XXX. According to a source, Vince was concerned about the negative PR [from Royal Rumble] making it look like WWE doesn’t know what it’s doing at a time when they’re in the middle of domestic TV negotiations and on the verge of launching the WWE Network. Vince McMahon put an edict out on Monday morning that the goal on this week’s television was to get the crowd under control in terms of Bryan and work the reactions into the story to give the appearance to the media and investors that fans demanding more Bryan was by design and WWE is in control over the situation…
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