Growing Concern Regarding WWE Payback, Two More WWE Names Suffer Concussions, Changes To PPV Lineup, Huge Return On Next Week’s Raw, Daniel Bryan’s Main Event Push, New Client For Colter?, What To Expect From CM Punk Following Sabbatical, Undertaker On How He’ll Know When To Retire, New TNA Talent, Major Name To Miss SummerSlam

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, June 8, 2013 to Friday, June 14, 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

- This week’s episode of “Backstage Fallout” Smackdown is now available at this link.

- Given the fact WWE was in Florida on Friday night, they had an NXT Championship match with Bo Dallas defending against Leo Kruger. Dallas went over in the bout.

- In other news from Friday’s WWE live event, Bray Wyatt worked with The Wyatt Family. He cut a promo before beating R-Truth. The faction is being built just as it is in NXT with Bray the leader and Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in side roles.

- Gordon Holmes has a new Q&A online with Randy Orton to promote “12 Rounds: Reloaded” and WWE Payback. When asked if he’s WWE for life, here’s what Orton had to say:

I wouldn’t say I’m WWE for life, I’d say my near future will consist of me primarily being in the ring. Wrestling is my first love. The movie was fun, but the schedule was grueling because I had to fly off on my off days to film. Eight weeks went by and I had three days off. If I do the movie thing, I’ll be sure that I’m only doing the movie so I can concentrate on it. (Laughs) I think I’d be more sane that way.

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

- World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler did not return to the ring as advertised at the WWE live event in Johnson City, Tennessee on Saturday night. He did appear on the show, accompanying Big E Langston to the ring with AJ Lee.

- WWE is looking to hire a General Manager for the new WWE Performance Center opening next month. Below is an overview of the position:

Overview:

WWE is a publicly-traded, global entertainment company with more than 700 employees. WWE’s PG, family-friendly programming is broadcast in more than 150 countries and 30 languages and reaches more than 650 million homes worldwide. In 2012, WWE had nearly $500 million in revenue and our flagship program, Monday Night Raw, is consistently a top-rated program on cable and is the number-one rated program on USA Network. WWE is also a global leader in social and digital media with more than 160 million social media followers. WWE is committed to leveraging the power of its brand and platforms to help address important social issues worldwide including diversity and inclusion, education and military support as well as providing hope to those in need. WWE is a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment, and we encourage all employees to treat every day like it’s the first day on the job, share new ideas, ask questions, respect each other, and, of course, have fun.

The General Manager will be based in Orlando, FL and will oversee our new state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center which consists of 75+ Superstars and 8-10 full time WWE employees. At WWE, Talent are our most valuable resource–the heart and soul of our business–without which we would not be the global entertainment juggernaut that we have become today. Opening this summer, the WWE state-of-the-art Performance Center will serve as the new home to WWE’s talent development system. With 26,000 square-feet, seven training rings, a world-class strength and conditioning program and cutting-edge edit and production facilities, the new Performance Center will give WWE the ability to train more potential performers than ever before through a comprehensive program including in-ring training, physical preparedness and character development. This position will report to the SVP, Talent Relations and Development.

Click here for more details.

- WWE will be implementing a new developmental “Talent Review System” with the opening of their Performance Center next month. The new General Manager will work with senior leaders from Stamford on the bi-annual program that will focus on accelerating the development of NXT workers.

- Mark Henry launched into a rant on Twitter late Sunday/early Monday, proclaiming he’s hurt and that’s the reason he’s not on WWE television.

The following is from The World Strongest Man’s verified Twitter account:

- Former WWE developmental worker Chad Baxter, whose real name is Derek Foore, is threatening to sell his former WWE contract. He wrote the following on Twitter:

While the Twitter account is not verified, it is legitimate and plugged on Baxter’s NXT profile that is still online at this link. He was signed to a developmental contract last summer and released in November. Baxter was known for his amateur wrestling career as he won a national championship with Notre Dame in 2010.

- In the latest high profile WWE job listing, the company is now looking to hire a Vice President of Business Operations of Talent and Live Events. Below is an excerpt of the listing:

The Vice President of Business Operations, Talent and Live Events, will be based in Stamford, CT and will report to the EVP, Talent and Live Events. This right-hand role is a once in a lifetime opportunity for an executive who is looking for a role that offers immediate engagement and impact on the performance of our most critical asset. The VP of Business Operations will be immersed in the heart of our business and, in partnership with the department head, will have a direct impact on the future of WWE’s global brand through assessment, planning, and execution of our Talent Development and Live Event strategies.

This position will integrate with key leaders and partners across WWE to develop strategies and plans to drive execution of all business priorities. The ideal candidate will have an extensive business background and/or an MBA. They will also have a high customer service orientation and will be able to operate with tact/diplomacy at all times. At WWE, Talent is our most valuable resource, without which we would not be the global entertainment juggernaut that we have become today.

You can check out the complete listing at this link.

- Mark Henry and Big Show represented WWE at the opening ceremonies for the 2013 Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games. Video is now online at this link.

- If you missed World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler’s promo on Smackdown, you can watch it here.

- The Bella Twins represented WWE at the 2013 Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games over the weekend. They awarded participants with medals.

- WWE will fill out the WWE Payback card on this week’s TVs but many feel they waited too late and it’s really going to hurt the buyrate of an already B-level show. Prior to this week’s Raw, only three matches have been announced.

- While it’s true that Dolph Ziggler passed an ImPACT Concussion Test last Monday, there’s new doubt surrounding his medical clearance. We’re told Ziggler’s concussion was worse than expected and there is a possibility he does not work the pay-per-view on Sunday. This was evident on weekend WWE live events as he told crowds he was not cleared despite stating the contrary on Smackdown.

- Many are speculating that CM Punk returns to WWE either on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw or at the pay-per-view itself although multiple sources say any deal for him to actually work the show in Chicago will be of “last minute nature.” We’re told Punk’s primary focus right now is cheering on the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals. However, the belief backstage is there’s no way Punk doesn’t work on Sunday given an already thin roster and an ultra thin pay-per-view card.

- Expect to see WWE Champion John Cena on the “Total Divas” reality series next month on E! Cena noted on Twitter he had a “great week” with the E! News crew and a “special someone.” The current WWE Champion is in a public relationship with Nikki Bella. The following is from Cena’s verified Twitter:

- Sheamus was in the US Virgin Islands last week at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School where he spoke against using drugs and bullying. You can read local news coverage of his appearance at this link.

- Steve Austin recently sat down for an interview with Larry King that will air on “Larry King Now” on Ora.TV and Hulu Plus. You can watch a teaser at this link.

- New video of The Bella Twins and Big Show at the 2013 Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games has been posted online at this link.

- Fandango suffered a concussion at last Tuesday’s Smackdown taping in Uniondale, New York while working against Zack Ryder.

Dot com is reporting that he passed an ImPACT concussion test but has yet to pass further testing to gain medical clearance. This is why he was pulled from WWE live events this past weekend.

Obviously this puts his status for WWE Payback in question. Fandango is currently set to challenge for the WWE Intercontinental Championship at the pay-per-view on Sunday in a match that also involves The Miz and WWE Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett.

- Lanny Paffo said on LAW that John Laurinaitis called him before Wrestlemania 28 in Miami to ask about inducting Randy Savage into the WWE Hall of Fame. According to Paffo, Laurinaitis just wanted his feedback upon which point Paffo told him they could “go ahead and do it.” Paffo said that Laurinaitis forgot to extend his condolences.

- WWE has announced that Sheamus will face Damien Sandow in the WWE Payback pre-show. The bout, being billed as a “Kickoff to Payback” match, will take place 30 minutes before WWE Payback, at 7:30 ET/4:30 PT.

- Nikki Bella has been named a judge for the 2013 Miss USA Competition. The pageant takes place on June 16, 2013 and will air live on NBC. The official press release is online at this link.

- We noted last week that WWE Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett was doing media for WWE in Japan. You can view photos on dot com at the link below:

- Last week’s episode of WWE Smackdown did an average viewing audience of 2,676,000 viewers on SyFy.  The show ended up with a 1.91 cable rating.

- Conor O’Brian married his girlfriend Kristin Eubanks over the weekend. Eubanks is a former WWE developmental Diva, known as Krissy Vaine. O’Brian has been in WWE’s developmental system since 2010. He had a prior stint in WWE from 2005-2008.

- The following additions/changes were made to the WWE Payback lineup on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw:

Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins will defend the WWE Tag Team Championship against Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton

Kane will challenge Dean Ambrose for the WWE United States Championship

Wade Barrett will defend the WWE Intercontinental Championship against The Miz and Curtis Axel.  Fandango was pulled from the match after suffering a concussion at last week’s Smackdown taping.

- Mark Henry is set to return to WWE on next week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. Henry has been off TV since Extreme Rules. While he came out of the match with an injury, he’s also been at odds over the booking of his character.

- World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler returned to WWE television on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. He’ll defend the title against Alberto Del Rio at WWE Payback on Sunday.

- The “secret admirer” of WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn was revealed as Big E Langston on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw.

As the storyline goes, the entire thing was “fabricated” by AJ Lee to further their program. The story is AJ wanted to “make Kaitlyn feel how she felt” when Kaitlyn abandoned her last year to chase the Divas title.

AJ Lee will challenge Kaitlyn for the WWE Divas Championship at WWE Payback on Sunday.

- The WWE Payback lineup underwent significant changes and additions on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. With only three matches advertised for the June 16th pay-per-view prior to the show airing, the card was expected to be filled out. However, even more changes became needed when it was learned that Fandango suffered a concussion at last week’s Smackdown taping in Long Island, New York.

Here is a look at the changes and additions to the lineup:

It was announced by Paul Heyman that Curtis Axel will replace Fandango and will join The Miz in challenging Wade Barrett for the WWE Intercontinental Championship.

As for the additions, the following matches were officially announced on the broadcast:

Daniel Bryan will team with Randy Orton to challenge Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns for the WWE Tag Team Championship.

Kane will face Dean Ambrose for the WWE United States Championship

Dolph Ziggler, who returned to WWE television for the first time since suffering a concussion at the May 7th Smackdown taping, will defend the World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio.

AJ Lee, after being revealed as the person behind Kaitlyn’s “secret admirer,” will challenge for the WWE Divas Championship.

The following matches were advertised for WWE Payback prior to this week’s Monday Night Raw:

WWE Champion John Cena vs. Ryback in a “Three Stages of Hell” Match for the title

Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk

Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow in a Pre-Show Match

- For those that missed it on this week’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, Kofi Kingston is expected to be out for up to eight weeks. Dot com updated their original report at this link. Kofi underwent left elbow arthroscopy with Dr. Jeffrey Dugas in Birmingham, Alabama on May 30, 2013.

- When this week’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw went off the air the lumberjacks went to the back for the dark match main event between WWE Champion John Cena and Ryback. Cena got the victory after putting Ryback through a table.

- Former WWE NXT talent Chad Baxter, whose real name is Derek Foore, isn’t backing down from selling his WWE contract. In fact, he’s still trying to determine the price. The following is from Twitter:

- If you’re looking to attend any WWE NXT live events, you can get 2-for-1 tickets by using the password STAYDOWN. You can look for tickets at this link.

- WWE has signed new merchandising deals with Papercutz and Bendon Publishing. The former to produce graphic novels and digital comic books and the latter to produce coloring and activity books.

- This week’s episode of “Backstage Fallout” Raw is now online. You can read it at this link.

- Highlights of Daniel Bryan vs. Seth Rollins from this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw are now online at this link.

Backstage news from WWE Monday Night Raw in Richmond…

- As of this week’s show, there are plans for a program with Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan. While a singles match at WWE Payback was discussed, the feeling was it would be rushing things and if they were going to do it, it needed more build. This is the reason they were paired together to oppose The Shield for the WWE Tag Team Championship.

- Curtis Axel’s addition into the Intercontinental Championship match at WWE Payback was very last minute and came across that way on TV. One observer commented how the match went from a triple-threat, to a singles back to a triple-threat in a matter of minutes.

- Axel being announced for a title match pretty much kills any speculation of him being announced as Chris Jericho’s opponent in place of CM Punk. While no one knows for sure, we’re working under the assumption that Punk will be back at the pay-per-view on Sunday.

- A lot of people backstage actually thought Roman Reigns had chance of winning the WWE Active poll to oppose Daniel Bryan but of course Seth Rollins dominated it. Bryan jokingly told people backstage to vote for Rollins, as he knows what the bout meant to a lot of Ring of Honor fans.  The match did nothing but help the stock of both Bryan and Rollins.

- The tease of pairing Zeb Colter with Antonio Cesaro was intentional. WWE is really high up on Colter and they don’t want to take him off television.

- We’re told Vince McMahon didn’t like how the John Cena/Ryback segment came across on television.

- WWE has an interesting poll over on dot com. The poll asks fans if it’s time for a Raw General Manager to be officially named. You can vote at this link.

- While some are putting WWE over for being cautious with Dolph Ziggler and now Fandango, there are some wondering if WWE not giving talent medical clearance will effect how often a worker reports symptoms of concussions. It’s no secret that everyone wants to be working and would rather not get put on the shelf, even if it is for their own health.

- Kane did an interview with AL.com to promote Friday’s WWE live event in Mobile, Alabama. In it, he gave high praise to Daniel Bryan. Below is an excerpt:

“In all seriousness, the past year, I’ve really enjoyed it, maybe more so than any other time in my career,” he said. “It has allowed me to do things I’ve never done before.”

“It’s a very intriguing relationship,” Kane said. “With Daniel I’ve been able to show a completely different side.”

“Daniel Bryan might be the most talented guy on the roster right now,” he said. “I think he’s the best technical wrestler we have, and he’s also one of those guys who’s been able to forge a connection with our fans. And people who are able to do that are very successful.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- This week’s episode of Monday Night Raw, the go home to WWE Payback, did an average viewing audience of 3,990,000 viewers on the USA Network. Below is how the numbers breakdown:

Hour one – 3,893,000 viewers
Hour two – 4,085,000 viewers
Hour three – 3,992,000 viewers

The show ended up drawing a 3.04 cable rating.

- WWE is running an angle in which Theodore Long is fining Kaitlyn $10,000 for her actions on this week’s Smackdown.

- Curtis Axel‘s latest theme, “Reborn,” was released on iTunes earlier this week. Click here for more.

- Booker T underwent successful surgery on his elbow on Tuesday. He wrote the following on Twitter:

- WWE NXT worker Enzo Amore was profiled by NorthJersey.com. You can check out the feature at this link.

- CM Punk appeared on stage at the Rancid and Transplants concert at The Fillmore in Detroit, Michigan on Tuesday. Rancid called the former WWE Champion to the stage and joked their next song, “F**k You,” should be used as his entrance theme at WWE Payback on Sunday. For the latest on Punk and WWE Payback, check out our latest Backstage News update. Punk hasn’t been on WWE television since the April 15th episode of WWE Monday Night Raw.

- Chris Jericho and Fozzy announced on Tuesday that they’ll be touring the US and Canada this fall with Saxon. The following is from Jericho’s Twitter:

More details are available here on Facebook.

- The storyline with Vince McMahon and Triple H is expected to continue on this month as both are advertised to appear live on the June 17 and June 24 episodes of WWE Monday Night Raw. While I don’t know this for sure, the backstage talk several weeks ago was that Vince was looking for a “big” storyline this summer to help bolster the ratings and this certainly appears to be it.

- Mark Henry is scheduled to return to WWE on next week’s episode of Monday Night Raw, as announced on this week’s broadcast and covered here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com. Henry has been very sensitive about his status and we’re told WWE put it out there that he had heat so workers knew they couldn’t just “come and go” as they please. Henry took offense to the reports, assuring he was injured and that he would return when he was healthy. We’re told Henry is suffering from a rib cartilage injury and WWE has been urging him to work through it. He’ll be back next week but we’re told his long-term future in the company remains unclear. His contract is coming up later this year and there is a lot of distrust in his relationship with WWE right now.

- In a correction from an earlier note, Booker T underwent successful surgery on Tuesday to repair a partial distal triceps tear in his left arm. We reported earlier the surgery was on his elbow but where I think the confusion came was when he underwent an elbow procedure in April. I apologize for the error but you can read more coverage here on dot com.

- CM Punk is said to be relaxed and refreshed following his near two month sabbatical from WWE. We still do not have confirmation but continue to operate under the assumption he will work against Chris Jericho at Payback on Sunday.

He has plans to attend Wednesday’s Stanley Cup Finals Game 1 between the Boston Bruins and his hometown Chicago Blackhawks. Punk was in Detroit on Tuesday night at a concert at The Fillmore (details here). Punk doesn’t take much solace in the ratings being in the toilet without him but would love to show Vince McMahon that he can move the needle.

The feeling is Punk eventually wants a program with Daniel Bryan and if he can’t get a match against Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XXX, he’ll lobby to work Bryan and steal the show. Punk’s hair is a little longer and he got some new tattoos during his time off.

As for his health, Punk is said to be in a “much happier place” and his knee is a lot better. It isn’t 100% and might not be without surgery but it’s good enough to resume working in the ring.

- While Nikki Bella is scheduled to judge the Miss USA Competition this weekend, WWE entertainment relations executive Kristin Prouty will be part of a panel of judges Wednesday night in Las Vegas. Prouty and six others will judge all 51 Miss USA contestants and determine the 15 semi-finalists, to be announced after the parade of introductions at the start of the telecast on Sunday night. Click here for more.

- Jim Ross has a new blog entry on his official website. In it, he provides a health update on Dusty Rhodes. Below is an excerpt:

I spoke with WWE HOFer Dusty Rhodes Tuesday night and I’m happy to report that ‘The Dream’ is feeling much better and is looking forward to attending the NXT TV taping next Thursday at Full Sail University near Orlando. Big Dust is already back at work down in Tampa and was in great spirits when we spoke.

Click here for JR’s latest.

- Undertaker, under his real name Mark Calaway, did an interview with the Houston Chronicle to promote SpurRaffle.com. In it, he’s asked why he continues to wrestle despite his injury history.

“Honestly, I love it, that’s why,” Calaway said. “I’ve got 26 years in the business and all these injuries, but WrestleMania has become so huge, it’s just hard to walk away from it. I want the audience leaving the stadium going ‘Wow!’ It’s a responsibility I have being a top dog in this business. The crowd will let me know when it’s time to leave. They haven’t yet.”

He also hinted at feeling a sense of obligation to work WWE’s biggest pay-per-view of the year.

“If I didn’t perform at WrestleMania, in some strange weird way, I’d feel like I was letting Vince McMahon down.”

Undertaker notes that his down time is spent healing up, spending time with family and working on his “horrible golf game.”

The complete interview is available to subscribers here at HoustonChroncile.com.

- WWE is in the process of trademarking the names Torito and Torlito, presumably for use for a Lucha-Libre talent.

- Tyson Kidd and Natalya, who have dated for years, are engaged to be married. The cast of “Total Divas” joined Natalya for her Bachelorette Party in Las Vegas. You can view a photo Tweeted by The Bella Twins below:

- Tamina Snuka is in fact out with a concussion. She suffered the injury in a match taped for WWE Superstars against Natalya on June 3, 2013. We first reported the news in Issue #12 of the Powerslam Newsletter. Concussions are a hot topic in WWE right now with Tamina’s concussion being the third in just over a month. Dolph Ziggler went out with a concussion on May 7, Fandango suffered a concussion on June 4. WWE is taking the head injuries very serious, immediately pulling talent when symptoms begin and not clearing them until an ImPACT concussion test is passed along with other tests to assure they are 100% healthy.

- Yoshi Tatsu wrote the following on Twitter:

- The Miz represented WWE at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles. Below are some photos:

- WWE is now hiring a Russian Broadcast Announcer. You can check out the official job listing at this link.

- Day in and day out we continue to receive questions about Christian’s WWE status. There isn’t really much of an update other than “he’s expected to be back soon.” This is the same update that’s been available for months. Other than that, it’s a situation we’ll have to wait and see.

- Big Show is out with a torn labrum and it’s expected to keep him sidelined well into next month. I’ve contacted WWE for an official statement but have yet to hear back.

- Randy Orton told Shockya.com that he would love for what happened to The Rock to happen to him, with acting becoming his moneymaker. Below is an excerpt from an exclusive interview they did:

Yeah, kind of like Dwayne Johnson, and the route he’s gone? He’s still around the wrestling world and that’s his first love but the moneymaker for him now is movies and that’s where his heart lies now. I would love for that to happen, I would love for that to happen. But as an actor can you compare me with the Rock? Hell no, hell no. I have a long way to go, and I know that. It’s one thing at a time, and we’ll see how this movie does. And I need some more acting classes before any other movies. I know that. But I want to see how this movie does and see if people think I have that potential.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- I wrote earlier on Thursday that Big Show was out well into next month with a torn labrum. I just received word back from a WWE spokesman that issued the following statement on behalf of the company:

Big Show’s return is slated for mid July.

Obviously this is subject to change but is the official word directly from WWE.

- The piece we quoted from Wednesday night on The Undertaker is available for free in its entirety at this link. In it, Undertaker explains why he continues to wrestle at Wrestlemania.

- In the latest episode of WWE Inbox WWE Superstars honor their dad with Father’s Day on Sunday. You can watch it at this link.

- Dixie Carter told Digital Spy last month she “absolutely” would do a crossover show with WWE (See also - Dixie Carter Says She “Absolutely” Would Do Crossover Show With WWE). The publication interviewed Paul Heyman about the comments ahead of Sunday’s WWE Payback pay-per-view. Below is an excerpt:

“…it would make no sense for WWE with 95% global share to do an event with TNA with its 5% global market share!”

Click here for coverage by Digital Spy.

- Vince McMahon wrote the following on Twitter on Thursday about CM Punk’s return at WWE Payback:

- It doesn’t look like Chris Jericho will be appearing at SummerSlam, Night of Champions or Over the Limit as he’s booked to be touring with Fozzy on those dates. Below is a look at the dates:

Sunday, August 18, 2013
SummerSlam from Los Angeles, CA
Fozzy from Reading, United Kingdom

Sunday, September 15, 2013
WWE Night of Champions from Detroit, MI
Fozzy from Toronto, ON, Canada

Sunday, October 6, 2013
WWE Over the Limited from Buffalo, NY
Fozzy from San Francisco, CA

We posted Fozzy’s latest tour dates at this link. Their complete tour schedule is available here on Facebook.

- WWE has an interesting article over on dot com looking at Hulk Hogan’s jump from the World Wrestling Federation to World Championship Wrestling. Ric Flair, Jimmy Hart and Kevin Sullivan were quoted in the piece.

“I think Eric [Bischoff] and [WCW] were looking for a change,” Hart said. “The story I got was that Ted Turner was at a point where he said, ‘Let’s try to make some money.’ “

“Eric said to me, ‘How do we get Hogan?’” Ric Flair told WWEClassics.com.

It was Flair that setup a meeting between Eric Bischoff and Hogan on the set of “Thunder in Paradise.” Once a deal was done, not everyone was excited. Here’s an excerpt from the dot com article:

Everything may have looked good on the outside, but there was a fair amount of turmoil inside the WCW locker room. Many of the young stars envisioned their spots disappearing, especially with the arrival of many of Hogan’s friends, including Brutus Beefcake, Earthquake and “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

“I think some of the younger guys went, ‘Oh my god, Hulk’s bringing some of his own people in. Where are we going to be?’” Hart said.

“They were mad,” Flair recalled.

“The younger guys knew that it wasn’t going to be beneficial for them,” Sullivan explained. “The guys on the cusp of being top stars knew that they were going to be in the background for some time.”

Though some of the younger competitors were upset, many of WCW’s top stars knew that Hogan’s arrival meant more eyes would be on them.

The article looks at Hogan becoming the face of WCW and closes by Jimmy Hart crediting his defection as one of the reasons for the Attitude Era. Below is an excerpt:

Still, as Hart explained, the mass exodus left WWE feeling like they had something to prove after Hogan’s departure.

“They might not have had an Attitude Era if they didn’t have an attitude.”

You can read the piece in its entirety at this link.

- On the heels of Randy Orton saying that he would love to take the route The Rock did, the former WWE Champion Tweeted him the following:

- We’re told “nobody” is more eager to return to WWE than Evan Bourne. While at one time considered to be on the “endangered species” list, Bourne is expected to get a fair chance once he’s healthy enough to return to the ring. One of the things that’s helped Bourne’s standing during his time off from injury is WWE’s need for a premier high-flier. Rey Mysterio’s health continues to be a concern and Sin Cara is considered pretty much a “bust” at this point. Many in WWE feel Bourne has proven he can get over and he’ll return rejuvenated and more mature. Bourne is well-liked in the locker room and aside from the Wellness issues, has had no other problems.

- CM Punk penned the forward for a new book titled “Bake And Destroy – Good Food for Bad Vegans” by Natalie Slater. You can check out details of the vegan cookbook at this link.

- Drew McIntyre posted the following on Twitter:

- Triple H and Vince McMahon are both being advertised to appear on the July 8th episode of WWE Monday Night Raw from the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, MD. We noted earlier they were added to upcoming shows this month.

- Bo Dallas won the NXT Championship at the last set of NXT tapings. He wrote the following on Twitter after the match against Big E Langston aired on television:

TNA News

- Rob Van Dam’s profile is listed on the Wrestler Roster page on ImpactWrestling.com. I’m not sure if they ever removed it but we felt it was worth mentioning given the recent updates.

- Kayfabe Kickout has a new Q&A online with Kid Kash. In it, he shoots on Austin Aries. Below is an excerpt:

Kayfabe Kickout: Staying on the topic of TNA, who was your favorite wrestler to work with in the ring, and who was your least favorite?

Kash: I’d say my favorite would be Hernandez. He’s extremely talented for a man of his size. Austin Aries would be my least. His arrogance with calling a simple 5 to 10 minute match was ridiculous. Like pulling f*cking teeth.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- Jeff Hardy is fine following an injury scare at this week’s Impact Wrestling taping in Duluth, Georgia. Hardy worked against TNA Champion Bully Ray at Friday night’s TNA live event in Rome, Georgia.

- The Regular Guys interviewed Jeff Hardy and he admitted to taking 25-30 pain pills a day at the time he was suspended from TNA Wrestling. He said he’s on his third year of being drug free. You can listen to the interview at this link.

- Kurt Angle, the newest inductee to the TNA Hall of Fame, says TNA is an honor but WWE needs to give him his props. The following is from Angle’s Twitter:

In this case I completely agree. Angle is the best worker of a generation and more than deserves a WWE Hall of Fame induction.

- Mickie James is set to appear on Spike TV’s “Guys Choice Awards,” that will air next Tuesday at 9/8c on Spike TV.

- James Storm didn’t work this weekend’s TNA live event loop despite being advertised. Storm is currently limited due to a slight tear in his right abdominal and adductor strain.

- Todd Keneley returned to CWF Hollywood in Los Angeles on Sunday night. He received a warm ovation from the crowd as he “came home.” The following is from Keneley’s Twitter:

- TNA Knockout Champion Mickie James has landed an endorsement deal with Dr. Pepper. Check out a new commercial for the soft drink at this link

- Hulk Hogan has continuously teased he wants to wrestle again, even going as far as saying he’d like to be TNA Champion.

TNA Champion Bully Ray said while doing media for Slammiversary that after he finished with Sting, he was aiming for a program with Hogan.

The following is from the Hulkster’s Twitter:

Stay tuned.

- Sports Illustrated reported on Tuesday that Bellator will move to Friday nights this fall to avoid competing with the National Football League on Thursday. The show will air its ninth season from 9-11 PM ET on Friday nights beginning on September 13, 2013. The series will launch on Saturday, September 7th, which will also double as Fight Master’s live finale.

Here’s an excerpt of SI’s coverage, where they quoted Spike TV President Kevin Kay about TNA’s timeslot and why Bellator couldn’t air earlier in the week.

TNA Impact Wrestling, which previously served as Bellator’s lead-in, has already been moved back into Thursday’s 9 p.m. slot, where Kay said pro wrestling’s dedicated audience will hold up better against sport’s greatest juggernaut. Kay said the strength of WWE’s Monday Night Raw and Spike’s Tuesday night original programming eliminated an early-week slot for Bellator, which left Wednesdays or Fridays.

- TNA posted exclusive comments from Rampage Jackson in a new “Inside Impact” clip. You can watch the video at this link.

- Chris Sabin wants to know how Robbie E has his own show, bro… Check out the latest episode of “The List” with Robbie E and EZ V at this link.

- Sting is being advertised to work TNA Champion Bully Ray at Saturday’s TNA live event from Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington, Kentucky. Full event details, including other advertised matches are available at this link.

- Get to know TNA Knockout Taeler Hendrix at this link.

- In a “where are they now?” update, Tyson Tomko is scheduled for an indy shot with Future of Wrestling on Saturday, June 29, 2013. Tomko is being advertised alongside former WCW star Kevin Sullivan.

- Eric Young has been on a media tour to promote season two of Animal Planet’s Off the Hook: Extreme Catches. He was on “The Crossover” on the NBC Sports Network on Tuesday night and appeared Wednesday morning on The Today Show in a fishing segment. When the segment on Today came across my TV, I Tweeted the following:

Click here for more on Off the Hook: Extreme Catches.

- TNA Wrestling posted a new Knockouts Summer Shoot music video. Click here to watch it.

- Zema Ion says he’s “pretty much back to 100%” following an emergency appendectomy last month. However, he’s frustrated because he’s going to have to undergo another surgery to remove a tumor that was discovered on his colon. The former X Division Champion wrote the following on Twitter:

Ion is still in need of support to help him with medical bills. You can give a donation now at this link.

- We’re told there has recently been a shift in philosophy in TNA Wrestling regarding where they look for new roster additions. Senior Vice President of Programming and Talent Relations Bruce Prichard feels there is equity in former TNA performers and he wants to continue to look into bringing some of them back. The idea is there are guys TNA invested a lot of television time in and they are available and inexpensive, so why not continue to explore some of them and see which ones stick?

So far, TNA has been happy with Petey Williams and his return to the company. Another name the company is looking to bring back is Jesse Neal. He’s been hoping for a chance in WWE but TNA has reached out to see if he would be interested in returning.

Throughout TNA’s history, a lot has been invested in talent from WWE or ROH but Prichard feels if there are some “homegrown” TNA guys the audience is already familiar with, it will save the company money and they should begin to look in that direction more when spots open up.

- Jeff Jarrett joined Jeremy Borash, James Storm, Eric Young and Mickie James at the annual Nashville country music (CMA) fanfest last week. You can watch video footage of the appearance at this link.

- TNA Knockouts Champion Mickie James did a Q&A with The Charleston Gazette to promote Friday’s “Basebrawl” TNA live event in Charleston, West Virginia. Below is an excerpt:

Q: How is your music career?

A:”We just had CMA Fest last week and went to the CMA Awards and to the Spike TV Guy’s Choice Awards. I got home, like, at 4 a.m. Monday.

“The album ['Somebody's Gonna Pay'] came out May 7. There’s the single and a music video. I was really fortunate. My friend [Trish] Stratus co-starred, as well as fellow TNA Superstar Magnus. He plays the guy I smash over the head with the guitar.

“It was awesome. All my friends came out.”

Q:Which is harder: music or wrestling?

A:”With wrestling, I started very grassroots. I built my way up. With music, I’m doing the same thing. I’m starting all over with the music business.

“Granted, I’m fortunate because I’ve built such a name in wrestling, but that’s a catch-22. People are willing to hear you out, but they think, ‘Oh, it’s that wrestling chick.’

“Of course, at the end of the day, you need to be able to sing.”

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

- While Hulk Hogan Tweeted earlier this week that he was training for one “last time around the block,” he wrote on Thursday evening his body is too beat up for one more match. The following is from Hogan’s Twitter:

From TNANews.com: I Want Hulk Hogan To Wrestle Again

- Steve Austin Tweeted the following about Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles for this week’s episode of Impact Wrestling:

- Speaking of Austin, he recently hosted Eric Young on his podcast titled “The Steve Austin Show.” We’ll post the link when it’s online.

- Kurt Angle will be honored at the 2013 TNA Hall of Fame Ceremony the day before Bound for Glory from the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley on Saturday, October 19, 2013.

- We ran this after this week’s Impact Wrestling was taped but now that it’s aired, below is the confirmed list of TNA Bound For Glory Series participants:

AJ Styles
Austin Aries
Bobby Roode
Christopher Daniels
Hernandez
Jay Bradley
Jeff Hardy
Joseph Park
Kazarian
Ken Anderson
Magnus
Samoa Joe

- This week’s episode of Impact Wrestling did an average viewing audience of 1,203,000 viewers on Spike TV. The show ended up with a 1.03 cable rating.

Ask WNW

I know you don’t cover MMA but I just watched Bobby Lashley’s last fight and he pretty much called out Dave Batista. Is this something you would cover let alone watch? Me…. I wanna see it.

Just so everyone is on the same page, Lashley was successful on Friday night in beating Kevin Asplund at Titan FC 25 in Fort Riley, Kansas when he made Asplund submit in the second round. I didn’t see what Lashley said but it’s my understanding that Dave Batista is focused on his acting career, not Mixed Martial Arts. Batista landed a big role as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy that is now filming in London. The following is from Batista’s verified Twitter:

A couple of years ago, WWE had five pay-per-views between Wrestlemania and Summerslam and this year there are only three. Given that, shouldn’t WWE expect buys to be higher now to make up for lost revenue? And if the buys are not substantially higher now does that mean that their PPV strategy is not working?

There were five pay-per-views between Wrestlemania 25 and SummerSlam in 2009, WWE scaled it back to four until this year, which has now been cut to three. Yes, WWE is hopeful that fewer pay-per-views will mean stronger buy rates for the shows but it’s no secret that the pay-per-view business has changed. This is why WWE is willing to give up the revenue to put the pay-per-views on the forthcoming WWE Network. They would rather use the pay-per-views as the centerpiece of the cable network rather than depend on them to be bought independently.

Where is Big Show?

Big Show is off WWE TV dealing with a shoulder injury. Last week, dot com posted a kayfabe article, explaining he was taking time off because of his “ironclad contract” and that he doesn’t have to answer to anyone. Show was with Mark Henry on Friday, representing WWE at the opening ceremonies for the 2013 Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games. More is available at this link.

How come Mark Henry hasn’t been on Raw or Smackdown lately? I haven’t heard anything to make me think he would miss time.

Mark Henry came out of Extreme Rules banged up but there’s more to it. I know some are reporting he’s off due to backstage heat but there’s more to that. We have an update available here and you can read Henry’s latest Twitter defense at this link. As mentioned above, he was with Big Show on Friday on behalf of WWE. We are working on a new update that will be out later this week.

Given the fact CM Punk didn’t appear on this week’s Monday Night Raw is there a chance he might not show up at WWE Payback on Sunday?

I do not see how WWE can advertise CM Punk for WWE Payback and not deliver. If you read our Backstage News update from Monday than you weren’t surprised he didn’t return on Raw as some were speculating. Obviously in this business anything is possible and Punk won’t be able to return in Chicago as a heel. The fact this program with Chris Jericho has been built without Punk appearing has created doubt that has resulted in intrigue.

Do you see a program between The Wyatt Family and The Shield?

A lot of people have asked this one and I actually wouldn’t be in favor of it. Programming the two new factions would mean one would come out a “loser” and both need to be booked with confidence as newer workers. It would also require one to work as a babyface and that’s not a good idea either. Furthermore, The Wyatt Family and The Shield are similar in that there are three members each but they are comprised differently. While The Shield is being booked as a “dominant trio” where “all parts are equal,” the Wyatt family is built on Bray Wyatt and “his followers.”

Will the WWE Network be available in the United Kingdom?

WWE has plans to launch the WWE Network internationally as well as domestically. There was even talk it could be easier to get carriage agreements overseas before they get them in the United States.

What are your thoughts on the rumored in-ring return of Hulk Hogan?

Hulk Hogan has flirted with the possibility of returning to the ring since late last year. His most recent tease really got people talking when he Tweeted he was training for the “last time around the block.” Bully Ray, while obviously working, teased the possibility of a match with Hogan while doing media for Slammiversary. While I have serious questions about Hogan’s ability to perform at a level desirable given his age and health, I would prefer to see him be able to follow-up on all of his mic work. Hogan still gets a good bit of air time yet he doesn’t work. Being able to get back in the ring would at least offer some type of payoff.

What’s the latest on Santino Marella?

Santino Marella has been off WWE television since the April 24th episode of WWE Main Event. While he was coming back from a neck injury, I’m under the impression that he’s been away to open his new “Battle Arts Academy” in Toronto. The facility is set to open on July 1, 2013. As for Santino’s return to WWE, the following is from his verified Twitter account:

Do workers get annoyed about constantly getting hounded by fans for photos and autographs or do they love the attention?

Wrestlers in WWE and TNA are just as human as anyone else and have normal human emotions. The biggest thing when seeking an autograph or a picture is to remember to be polite and not treat them as zoo animals. Most workers will be glad to accommodate a request as long as the aforementioned measures are taken. They are not obligated to sign autographs or take photos and it is essential to treat them with respect and decency.

What’s Alberto Del Rio’s future look like following WWE Payback?

Alberto Del Rio is in a good position in WWE. The company sees him as an integral piece to attracting the Latino demographic and WWE officials are pleased with how he’s gotten over as a babyface. I do not expect him to go any lower than the upper mid card because of his current standing.

What happened to Richie Steamboat?

Richie Steamboat, signed to a WWE developmental contract, is currently out with a back injury. He’s awaiting back surgery under the care of Dr. Joseph Maroon in Pittsburgh. The following is from his Twitter:

With some of these guys that get released from WWE and then come back to say how they treat the talent so bad, they put a damper on someone who is an aspiring pro wrestler. What are these guys talking about? How are they being “exploited”?

WWE classifies their wrestlers as independent contractors, not employees of the company. This means they are not given benefit packages such as retirement and healthcare that someone working in the office is given. The argument is that while classified as independent contractors, wrestlers are treated as employees. Everything from when they work to what they wear to what happens when they are not working for WWE is controlled by WWE. The classification has been fought in court but so far, WWE performer’s contracts have proven to be iron clad. I don’t like the classification and fully believe that WWE wrestlers should be classified as employees and get healthcare benefits as well as retirement. However, it drives me crazy when someone released comes back and claims the deal wasn’t fair. They signed it, they have to abide by it. Don’t like it? Don’t sign it. Someone will say, well they didn’t know what they were getting into until after they signed. Well, that’s just not how a contract works. A contract is executed when both parties agree to the terms and it’s silly to fight the terms after they have been agreed upon.

With more & more fighters looking into pro wrestling and pro wrestlers looking into MMA, do you think MMA and wrestling working together could be successful? UFC & WWE or TNA & Bellator. Or perhaps someone like Zuffa doing both MMA & pro wrestling under their own brand?

The transition from the octagon to the ring or the ring to the octagon isn’t as seamless as some people think. It’s been tried both ways and there have been success stories. Ken Shamrock went from the octagon to the ring as did Dan Severn. Brock Lesnar is the latest success story, going from WWE to become the UFC heavyweight champion. However, despite the success stories, I’m afraid a lot of MMA guys think pro wrestling is something they just do following their fighting days and that just isn’t the case. Pro wrestling is a craft that, like Jim Ross said, requires full-time effort. Just like MMA requires full-time effort. Shane McMahon pushed Vince back in his days with the company to get into MMA but Vince always pushed back. His argument was fighters lose their value after suffering a loss. People always act like Vince is crazy when he says UFC isn’t competition and while I certainly think they are competition in the pay-per-view marketplace, I’m not sure the fan bases are as similar as some think. When Lesnar was with UFC, he brought a lot of pro wrestling fans with him but it’s not like UFC has taken WWE’s business either. I’ll admit Rampage Jackson to TNA intrigues me. He’s a big name and is much more marketable than someone that worked in the mid-card in WWE and bounced around in the indies. He’s athletic enough to make the transition but it will ultimately hinge on how serious he is about being successful. Let’s see how the TNA and Bellator relationship plays out before we judge whether or not a promotion can do both successfully because so far, we haven’t seen success.

How about a “where are they now?” – former WCW Cruiserweight Champion Alex Wright

The last I heard Alex Wright was considering an in-ring comeback. He’s been training talents in Germany at his wrestling school called “The Wright Stuff” in Nuremberg. Wright hasn’t worked since 2003 but has began doing DDP Yoga and getting back into shape.

I’m happy Daniel Bryan is finally getting the push he deserves, as are you, but do you think it’ll be a full force run? It’s quite hard for someone his size to have a long memorable run, especially in WWE.

I am very optimistic regarding Daniel Bryan in WWE and do not feel size will hold him back. The barrier was broken with CM Punk and I don’t see the company turning back now. Bryan has had success at every gimmick WWE has thrown at him and is now working at a level above everyone else. There is no use at me even gushing about it, go back and watch the past two episodes of Monday Night Raw. Bryan is on another planet right now and the company realizes that and plans to reward him.

Any news on Fandango’s condition? Will he be returning soon, and upon his return will he get an Intercontinental title match?

I do not have an update on Fandango but I am under the impression he was pulled from WWE Payback for precautionary measures only. The fact that he’s already passed an Impact concussion test tells me the company wants to be 100% sure he’s not suffering from post-concussion syndrome. As for an Intercontinental Championship match that depends on how the triple threat bout is booked at the pay-per-view on Sunday.

With superstars going on sabbaticals for a couple of months and returning in better health, with better morale and causing an increase in ratings and fan interest because absence makes the heart grow fonder – would it not be worthwhile making it a requirement for all WWE workers that they take a two month break every year?

No, this wouldn’t work. Not everyone is Triple H or CM Punk or Brock Lesnar where they can disappear and return right back at the top. A lot of workers are still trying to get recognized by the audience and would lose their spot if they were required to take time off. I had a chat with someone in WWE earlier in the week and we discussed the company’s handling of Fandango. A worker like Fandango is trying to get established and while it’s a good thing WWE is being ultra careful with his health, will it cause workers not to report concussion symptoms in fear they’ll be forced to take time off? Taking time off causes a worker’s pay to go down. Guys with large downsides and established fan bases do not feel it but the majority of workers rely on this money just to make ends meet.

Any update on Christian? I know it’s mind boggling that he is not heard from or even an update on his whereabouts. Do you know when his contract is up?

The latest update on Christian is there is no update. Everything we hear continues to indicate there are plans for him in WWE but so far, nothing. He was at Wrestlemania Fan Axxess in New Jersey over Wrestlemania 29 weekend and is expected back soon.

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