Do you feel that a manager could help Ryback get more heat? Who would you pick to manage Ryback?
I haven’t given a lot of thought to Ryback getting a manager but so far, I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen with Ryback’s heel turn. He’s clearly far from perfect – his in-ring is lacking and he’s not exactly “steady” on the stick but he has the look and it’s enough for WWE to have confidence in pushing him as a main event talent. A lot of the other heels have mouthpieces right now so I’m not sure this would be the type of uniformity that WWE would welcome. If they did go in this direction, my picks are rather obvious. Paul Heyman and Zeb Colter are the two best heel mouthpieces in the company right now.
With the overwhelmingly positive reactions that Fandango has drawn do you see him completely turning babyface in the near future?
WWE has made it clear they want Fandango working as a heel, even putting him against William Regal on Raw in London to assure he drew heat. It’s impossible to predict the future but it’s clear Fandango has a great opportunity after catching fire the night after Wrestlemania. One of the things I talked about at length in the latest Premium Mailbag is how fans were disparaging the Fandango gimmick after his match at Wrestlemania against Chris Jericho (which was good) only to fall in love with it less than 24 hours later. Hot crowds make a difference and Fandango owes WWE music composer Jim Johnston at least a dinner.
Do you believe The Rock has worked his final match?
I agree with Jim Ross and his latest comments that The Rock will go out on his own terms. I know the three-year Wrestlemania plan is over but I also think there are reasons why Rock is questioning his own in-ring future. One, he suffered a very painful injury at Wrestlemania and that can be extremely frustrating. Two, he didn’t want to get locked into a program [with Brock Lesnar] for next year’s show. Another thing that hasn’t been brought up is studios discouraging The Rock’s wrestling career because they don’t want him getting hurt and blowing up major movie plans. Ultimately, The Rock will be back but it’s up to him whether or not he wrestles again.
You’ve stated in the past that you feel the Intercontinental and U.S. belts should be unified, and while I understand the reasoning, I like the idea of keeping both belts. What would you do (other than unifying) to make both belts more relevant?
You are correct in that I would favor a decision to unify the Intercontinental and US titles, leaving the IC strap as the sole mid-card strap. However, if WWE doesn’t want to go in that direction, then the titles need to be built back up. Champions can’t go under in non-title matches. This has always been a pet-peeve of mine and while I understand the argument that it makes it look as though “anything can happen,” the title should change hands. To clarify, if a mid-card champion is booked under, the person going over should win the strap. This would make the titles more than props and would mean winning them was something more than an ordinary match.
Will WWE market NXT as an equal product to the main roster when/if they get a TV deal?
The plan as of Wrestlemania 29 weekend was to make NXT the company’s third brand, much like ECW was when it aired on SyFy. The thinking is NXT will help WWE introduce developmental workers before calling them up to the main roster. Furthermore, it’s all profit as WWE is already taping the series and a domestic TV deal would mean more money for the company with no additional expenses. This was the plan with the original WWE NXT (after ECW was revamped) but the company was unable to find a new domestic TV deal.
What is the status on Alex Shelley is he going to sign with TNA or WWE?
Alex Shelley is currently working overseas with New Japan Pro Wrestling. There was mutual interest between Shelley and WWE at one point but this was when TNA’s litigation against WWE was ongoing. Shelley went to New Japan, where he is still working. The feeling has been Shelley didn’t want to go to WWE without Chris Sabin. With Sabin back working in TNA, Shelley may opt for Sabin to work the remainder of dates in TNA Wrestling, or who knows, maybe he’ll join him. Right now it’s all speculation as Shelley is working for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Have we seen the last of CM Punk in a WWE ring?
No, not at all. CM Punk is currently away from WWE on granted time off to give his beaten down body a much-deserved break. Punk’s knees were really bothering him after his match against Undertaker at Wrestlemania and while he’s considered lucky he didn’t require surgery; he needed time off before a more serious injury occurred.
It’s incredible to me to see so many modern day legends being essentially fed to The Shield. I understand the point of this is to bolster them and make them an even more impressive force than what they already are, but does it surprise you that they continue to thrive against undisputed legends like the Undertaker?
While Undertaker was part of the losing team on last week’s WWE Raw against The Shield, he forced Dean Ambrose to tap in a singles match on last week’s Smackdown. He was not fed to them nor was he booked to look weak in the post-match attack. The idea was to write Undertaker off television as he agreed to stay on for the overseas tour to help out WWE. I need everyone to hear something. It’s absolutely essential that WWE get some of their up and coming talent over while they have access to legendary names. It’s essential. Undertaker is one of the greatest of all time but he’s not going to be around forever. The Shield is comprised of three workers that have bright futures in this business. They need the rub so they are able to help the business going forward.
If Jeff Hardy is under TNA contract then why is he featured so heavily on WWE’s website?
WWE features top TNA names on their website because it increases Web traffic. Yes, these workers are under contract with another organization but WWE owns a large chunk of their careers. However, it all comes down to what generates page views and clicks and featuring top TNA talent is a way of doing that.
While I know we’re a long way out, could you see The Rock vs. Undertaker taking place at Wrestlemania XXX?
We heard one of the reasons why The Rock didn’t want to commit to a program with Brock Lesnar [at Wrestlemania XXX] the night after Wrestlemania 29 is because he wasn’t sold on it. It’s not that Rock doesn’t like Brock; we’re told Rock was hesitant about a program with two guys that lost this year and preferred a match against Undertaker, if he worked at all. We detailed Rock and WWE’s relationship souring just days before Wrestlemania 29 and how it altered the Extreme Rules lineup before he was injured last month. You can read that report at this link.
Why has Michael McGillicutty not received a push on WWE television?
Michael McGillicutty is one of WWE’s most underrated workers. The only explanation I can give you as to why he hasn’t been pushed is WWE doesn’t feel he is ready and are taking their time with the talented prospect. Michael, the real-life son of Curt Hennig, is liked by many and has a good reputation for his in-ring work.
Do you feel this week’s Raw lacked in quality?
Yes, I felt this week’s WWE Raw was particularly poor and believe we’re feeling the post-Wrestlemania drop off. While it’s usually inevitable every year, this year it’s different because the company has three hours they have to write each week. With Extreme Rules still three weeks out and uncertainty over John Cena’s health, this week’s show was all over the place and featured aspects that could have been included in the latter days of WCW Monday Nitro. The silver lining is there were three good matches but the show was basically throwaway programming. I have more details on the reason for the longer matches and lame segments in a new report at this link.
What are your thoughts on Kofi Kingston? Do you think he should turn heel or maybe get a character change and stay a face?
Kofi Kingston is finally getting pushed after a complete burial due to backstage heat. Kofi is an extremely talented in-ring worker and someone that I feel is the company workhorse. I’m fine with his character as long as WWE doesn’t stop on it again.
How much control does WWE or TNA have over talent on Twitter?
Both WWE and TNA discourage talent Tweeting when they could be intoxicated and we’ve seen staged “template” Tweets from time-to-time. Other than that, workers can post what they want. It doesn’t always put them in the best of light but it is what it is. One of the worst on Twitter is Hulk Hogan, so if that’s the example TNA talents have, there’s not much of a standard. Other examples of Twitter shedding workers in a negative light include Matt Morgan’s unexplainable freakout on us and Ryback bringing up John Cena’s ex-wife. There are several other examples but I’m sure you get my point.
Do you see a push for 3MB in the near future?
I think what we currently see with 3MB is exactly what the group is intended to be. They’re comedy and glorified enhancement guys, used to get other people over. Not every team or faction is created to “climb the ladder” like The Shield and there are some guys that are used to make other guys look good. This doesn’t mean the trio is doomed. Dolph Ziggler was booked as a glorified enhancement talent with a male cheerleader gimmick (The Spirit Squad) and recovered to become World Heavyweight Champion. Ryback was basically an “extra” in The Nexus and is now a main eventer.
What is your opinion on WWE stock, is it a buy or a bust? Also if TNA was a publicly traded company whats your opinion on the same question: a buy or a bust for long-term growth.
I’m not a stock analyst and it would be irresponsible of me to provide my readers that trust me with stock advice. I will caution there is a lot of uncertainly surrounding the future of WWE Studios and the forthcoming WWE Network although the company has a lot of cash and no long-term debt. WWE pays a dividend so you’ll make money just for holding the stock. I can’t say either way but never invest more than you can afford to lose. As for TNA, I have no idea of their financials. While Jeff Jarrett told me two years ago they were turning a profit, I have a hard time believing that. There’s a lot of expense in regards to talent and now with TV going on the road, I just don’t see how they come out ahead. TNA is poised for growth with a talented roster, national TV deal and a committed financial backer, however, these aspects have been in place for several years now. However, as we saw with WCW, once things catch fire they can turnaround quickly.
Is JBL now a permanent fixture on the Raw commentary team? I believe it’s a great addition.
Yes, as we noted here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, John Layfield is now a fixture on the Raw announce team. Someone accused me of showing a bias towards JBL but I’m telling you the truth when I say he’s a valuable addition to commentary. He’s just one of those guys that “gets it” and makes Michael and Jerry better. It would also be remiss of me to not mention the improvement of Michael Cole. Cole stepped into impossible shoes to fill. He was expected to go out and replace the best play-by-play man this business has ever seen in Jim Ross. He stayed the course, even when it wasn’t easy, and I feel has shown tremendous improvement. I am very high up on announce at the moment and we’ve listed the teams for all WWE programming at this link.
Who are the most underrated superstars in WWE and who do you see as the next breakout star?
Daniel Bryan and Antonio Cesaro are by far the two most underrated workers in WWE. Either one could single-handedly carry WWE as “the guy.” They can work, they can talk and they have looks that make people notice them. Not only that but both are diverse enough to work in any role asked and actually make it believable. No one knows for sure why Cesaro is being buried but I’m hoping he recovers because he’s a future star in this business. Bryan finally got a World Heavyweight Championship reign but ended up back in the mid-card. He could have easily gotten down and “mailed it in,” but he embraced his new role and got a mid-card comedy gimmick over like rover. Guys like Bryan and Cesaro are extremely rare. They are real talent and WWE would be blowing an extraordinary opportunity if they don’t use them to their full advantage.
Earlier this week Jason Collins (NBA player) came out as the first active player in any of the four major sports leagues in the United States as a homosexual. How do you think the wrestling world will handle a gay wrestler? Would you see any issues in the locker room or with the fans and do you know of any wrestlers that are gay?
We’ve already been there! Orlando Jordan is bisexual and has worked for both WWE and TNA Wrestling. The only other name I can think of off the top of my head is Chris Kanyon, an “out” homosexual, who died back in 2010. Kanyon worked for both WWE and WCW. These are two “out” workers but I’m sure there are others that don’t want their personal business out for the world to know. While I’m not aware of how either were treated, I’m sure it’s just like anywhere else. There were probably a few bad apples that poked fun but by large, I don’t think it was a big deal. What Jason Collins did took courage and it would take courage for an active WWE or TNA star to come out, however, I feel too much is being made of it. There’s no need to start a political or religious debate over the issue – some people are straight, others are gay. It’s just the way things are. It makes no difference to me. Can someone work and are they entertaining? That’s all that matters. The same goes with my favorite professional athletes, can they play? I could honestly care less about what happens in their bedrooms as it’s none of my business.
In your opinion, who is the best non-American wrestler to ever set foot in a WWE ring (not counting Canadians)?
I don’t like lists, because lists can be widely debated. However, William Regal, Fit Finlay and “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith all have to be mentioned. I’m sure there are others as well but WWE has had an abundant amount of talent from areas outside of North America. How about workers like Taka Michinoku? We could sit here all day and name names, however, those are some that come to mind immediately – I guarantee you I’m forgetting some.
Do you think Triple H is under a lot of pressure to prove himself not only to Vince McMahon but the rest of the locker room?
Triple H has a high-pressure position but he’s doing just fine so far. Hunter is the entire reason Bruno Sammartino agreed to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, something Vince McMahon himself doubted. He’s also got his hand on developmental, which is thriving. I’m not opposed to Hunter taking over for Vince and think it’s a really smart move. Triple H eats, sleeps and breathes pro wrestling. He’s worked his way up from the bottom and has a wrestling mentality, this is something that gets him respect and nullifies the argument that his marriage to Stephanie McMahon gave him his spot in the business. News flash haters, Hunter was a top guy when he was dating Chyna. I don’t agree with everything Triple H has done but it’s hard to say anything bad about him either.
This week on Raw we saw Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston for the 22nd time on TV/PPV combined. Do you agree there is a lack of meaningful midcard talent? And that TV could benefit from having the likes of John Morrison, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Carlito, etc… around?
If that “twenty-second” statistic is accurate, kudos for that – that’s good research. Talent or the lack of it isn’t WWE’s problem. WWE has plenty of talent and a stocked developmental system to boot. What you saw on WWE Raw was a burnout writing team looking to fill three hours with uncertainty regarding John Cena, no CM Punk and the transition without part-timers like The Rock. I agree the company needs more talent at the top but this starts with the booking. Why is Antonio Cesaro being humbled? Hasn’t Team Hell No run it’s course? There are guys capable of carrying the company but this falls on bad writing, fueled by political agendas backstage and an overworked creative team.