Bad News For Ryback’s WWE Title Chances, Austin Aries Fined For Sexual Harassment, Impact Changing Timeslots, Top WWE Star’s Stock Plummeting; To Be Phased Out?, A Day In The Life Of Triple H, WWE Special On ESPN?, 7 WWE Releases, TNA Star Has Emergency Surgery

Ask WNW

Has Jeff Hardy’s popularity gone downhill since leaving WWE?

Given the fact that TNA Wrestling is watched by far less by than those that watch WWE, I think that’s a fair assessment. However, that doesn’t mean people aren’t still interested in Jeff Hardy. TNA has held Hardy off television to sell Aces and Eights “attack” on him and we get questions every day about his return. When his contract with TNA was up, WWE teased fans by adding him to their Alumni section with photos and videos. He’s still a top guy in this business and should be throughout the duration of his new TNA contract.

Was there any reason why Brock Lesnar, Goldberg and Steve Austin left WWE after Wrestlemania XX?

All three had different circumstances. Brock Lesnar hated the WWE travel schedule and wanted to pursue a career in the NFL. He requested his release to do this. WWE granted his release on the condition he would sign a non-compete agreement that would prevent him from working for a competing organization before June 2010. Lesnar signed it and was granted his release after his match at Wrestlemania XX against Goldberg. When the NFL didn’t pan out, Lesnar went to Japan to wrestle for New Japan Pro Wrestling. This resulted in a legal battle with WWE due to the non-compete but it was later dismissed after a settlement.

Goldberg wasn’t happy in WWE either and wanted out. He fulfilled his contractual obligations and was “fed up” with backstage politics and the way the company operated. Goldberg didn’t get along with Vince McMahon and stated publicly both he and Lesnar were in a hurry to get out of dodge.

Steve Austin’s contract with WWE was coming up and they were negotiating behind-the-scenes. I don’t have specifics as to what went wrong but they broke down a month after Wrestlemania XX and he let the company.

Goldberg accused WWE of not putting the focus on the Wrestlemania XX bout (with Austin as the special referee) given their impending departures. The New York City crowd was “smartened up” to the fact that Goldberg and Lesnar were leaving and crapped on the match.

What are your opinions on Gorilla Monsoon?

Gorilla Monsoon was a big tough man and a legend in this business. He cleared the way for Jim Ross and is forever remembered by the naming of the Gorilla Position backstage. He was known for being an honest man with Vince McMahon describing him as one of the greatest men he’s ever known. Monsoon is another name that we lost too soon as he died at the age of 62 due to complications from diabetes.

Who benefits more from a win in Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules?

As I stated on my Facebook account, Brock Lesnar has to go over at Extreme Rules. How could WWE book Lesnar going forward with three out of four of his matches being losses? I know wins and losses aren’t everything and they seem to mean even less nowadays, however, WWE is absolutely killing a major opportunity with Lesnar. Rather than booking him as the dominant monster from UFC, he’s racked up the losses. A loss here doesn’t hurt Triple H but it greatly damages Lesnar going forward.

I remember you reporting in February that Roddy Piper and Ric Flair taped appearances on ABC’s “Celebrity Wife Swap.” When is it scheduled to air?

The episode of “Celebrity Wife Swap” featuring Ric Flair and Roddy Piper is currently scheduled to air on June 23, 2013 at 8/7c on ABC. Click here for more on the show.

What was the word on Evan Bourne after he worked a NXT house show, is there any idea on when he’ll be back on TV and does he still have any backstage heat from his suspensions shortly before his injury?

Evan Bourne wasn’t ready to return after testing his foot out at an NXT live event in March (video here). The last I heard he is closer to returning today but he’s not by any means in a “safe” position in WWE. In fact, he was one name specifically mentioned to us as someone that remains on the “endangered species” list due to his consecutive Wellness violations prior to suffering his career-threatening injury. It would be very disappointing to see Bourne get released after all his hard work and I’m rooting for his comeback, however, failing consecutive Wellness tests for the same thing (synthetic marijuana) is mind-boggling.

What are your thoughts on abandoning the Ladder Match at Extreme Rules for an “I Quit” match?

Jack Swagger, who Dolph Ziggler coined “Classic Swags,” nearly took out Alberto Del Rio with a ladder on Raw last week and put the World Heavyweight Champion on the shelf  when going for one the next night. I’m not sure taking the ladder out of the equation is a bad move at this point. In all seriousness, Ziggler not being able to work hurts the Extreme Rules lineup. Swagger vs. Del Rio in an “I Quit” number one contenders bout isn’t of the same quality but at least they aren’t killing Ziggler’s push and are leaving the title on him.

Where is WWE going with Fandango and Chris Jericho?

Let me start by giving Chris Jericho props. In a day where people sign on to work limited dates to put themselves over, no one has worked harder in trying to help Fandango than Chris Jericho. He’s agreed to go under at live events, worked him at Wrestlemania and is doing all he can to help the young guy get heat. This business needs more guys like Chris Jericho. While one of the best and a true legend, he’s willing to put the business first and help pass the torch. With that being said, they’re trying to get Fandango over as a credible heel. This is why they did what they did on this week’s Raw although aside from a good promo by Chris Jericho, I’m not sure it was effective unless the goal was to get people to change the channel.

Why does Jack Swagger still have a job when Ken Anderson was released from WWE for being “reckless”?

Ken Anderson was released from his WWE contract because both John Cena and Randy Orton went to WWE officials about him. Orton was so upset after this blown suplex on the 5/25/09 episode of Raw, he said he wouldn’t work with Anderson again. This was Anderson’s final WWE match. Jack Swagger is a different situation but I think many were surprised that he wasn’t released after his arrest only days after winning the 2013 Elimination Chamber. I don’t wish for anyone to lose their job and understand mistakes in the ring happen. I do find it mind boggling with guys get big opportunities and go out and get arrested.

So far I’ve seen 3-4 classic matches with chair shots to the head. Every time I watch, the frame freezes and skips to the second after the chair was used (example here). Why is WWE doing this?

In January 2010, in accordance with their Wellness Program, WWE enacted an outright ban on chair shots to the head. Past footage is edited to reflect the company’s position so it is not interpreted that they condone them. I’m usually pretty liberal when it comes to what is off-limits but I absolutely agree with banning chair shots to the head. Given what we now know about concussions and long-term effects on the brain, there’s no reason for someone to take a steel chair over the head.

When will AJ Lee get her shot at the WWE Divas Championship?

I felt like AJ Lee would challenge for the Divas Championship at Extreme Rules on Sunday, however, I’m under the impression the match was pulled when Dolph Ziggler was ruled out. I’ll still be surprised if they do nothing with the Divas [at the pay-per-view] but there’s nothing on the card heading into the show.

Do you find it annoying how much WWE promoted their App on Raw this week?

A lot of readers get annoyed with constant Twitter mentions or App plugs on Monday Night Raw but I’m not as bothered by them. They’re promoting things they feel engage their viewers and will ultimately help retain and grow audience. I have the WWE App and while I’m bias, I think the Wrestling News World iPhone App and Dirt Sheet win hands down. See what I did there?

I’m a big fan of Randy Orton but what’s the reason for his regression over the years and is there any way his career can be saved?

Randy Orton was sent back to the mid-card following another Wellness violation last year, however, Orton fans have reason to be very optimistic about his future a year later. Not only is WWE light on top talent but they’re clearly building Orton back up. No, they haven’t turned him heel but he’s in a better position now than he’s been since he was suspended.

When John Laurinaitis was written off TV almost a year ago you reported that “we hadn’t seen the last of him” and that he’d return to TV. Was his brief segment with The Rock on Smackdown right before Wrestlemania considered his return or can we still expect to see him back on TV in the future?

John Laurinaitis still works backstage for WWE and there is always a possibility about his on-screen character returning down the line. His appearance on Smackdown with The Rock showed he could be used when called upon. It’s kind of like Vince McMahon’s on-air character. While his primary job is behind-the-scenes, he can appear on television when needed. Both have responsibilities other than their on-screen roles. These are different from the storyline authority figures such as Teddy Long or Vickie Guerrero, who hold no backstage roles or responsibilities but are on-screen talent only.

With The New Age Outlaws competing at live events do you think if given an actual program on pay-per-view they could draw some good buys?

Billy Gunn and Road Dogg, known collectively as The New Age Outlaws, worked the entire WWE European tour and proved they still have it. I’m thrilled they are back with WWE, albeit in a different capacity, and they can be used if called upon. Do I think they could still draw? Absolutely but it’s the same situation I talked about above. It comes down to the opportunity and desire to use them.

Where are Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara?

Rey Mysterio had more knee problems after taking a personal leave of absence. He stated recently that he should be back in the ring soon. Sin Cara is back after suffering a concussion and was on weekend live events and worked two matches taped for TV this week. One of them aired on this week’s episode of WWE Main Event, a victory over WWE Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett in a non-title match.

What are your thoughts on John Cena vs. Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXX?

I would like to get through SummerSlam before I even start thinking about Wrestlemania XXX. I can tell you Undertaker is a hot commodity, with many guys wanting to work with him. People close to The Rock feel he would be more inclined to work the show if it was against Undertaker at the shear fact that it would draw huge. With that being said, let’s focus on the other shows for now.

Why is Undertaker not working Extreme Rules?

Undertaker is still a semi-retired pro wrestler that is basically Wrestlemania only. He stayed on a little longer this year to work Raw and Smackdown in London but it was just to help the company draw overseas with the lack of top talent. He was never in the plans for Extreme Rules although there was talk he could be contacted but to the best of my knowledge, he was not. Undertaker showed at Wrestlemania 29 [against CM Punk] he still has more left in the tank although I’m not sure we’ll see him before Wrestlemania XXX next year. SummerSlam is a possibility but we’ll have to wait and see.

Why did Nigel McGuinness retire from the ring?

Nigel McGuinness (a/k/a Desmond Wolfe) said he couldn’t make enough money outside of WWE to justify the physical toll that pro wrestling takes on his body so he made the decision to retire. He recently confirmed he’s positive for hepatitis B but said he failed the WWE pre-screening process in 2009 because of damage to his biceps. Wolfe is 37-years-old and had a career that he can be proud of.

Everyone knows Ryback could use a manager or mouthpiece and often Paul Heyman is suggested but he has Lesnar and Punk already. Why not pair Ryback with John Laurinaitis or even Kevin Nash?

I agree that Ryback would benefit from a mouthpiece. He has a great look and getting help on the stick could greatly benefit him. WWE recently teased that Paul Heyman was actively pursuing a “third client,” however, I’m not sure that wasn’t just to draw page views and unique visitors to dot com. With that being said, Heyman is one of the best there is. Laurinaitis would certainly draw Ryback heat although another name you didn’t mention that I think would be interesting would be Zeb Colter. I actually think Zeb is one of the best things going in WWE right now and he could certainly help Ryback. Kevin Nash is someone I haven’t really thought about but I guess that could work as well. My question is how are they going to book Ryback at Extreme Rules on Sunday? Does he do another job? What exactly has he won that makes him a viable WWE Championship contender? I don’t think people are interested in Ryback vs. Cena because Ryback hasn’t been booked as a legitimate title contender.

Is there any chance Jack Swagger tried to intentionally harm other superstars in order to further himself or is he just not safe such as Lesnar and Ryback sometimes are?

There’s no way Jack Swagger (or any worker for that matter) would intentionally go out and try and injure someone. Not only would that result in termination from WWE but that’s a good way to get beat up behind-the-scenes. Injuries happen and are part of the business. Swagger had a rough week last week and is certainly fighting the “reckless” and “unsafe” labels, however, he didn’t intentionally try to put a top guy on the shelf.

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