Top WWE Star’s Contract Coming Up; On Their Way Out?, TNA Departure Official, KENTA To WWE?, Change In WWE Philosophy, Sheamus Dismisses Backstage Critics, 5 WWE Releases, WWE’s New US TV Deal, Tough Enough Returning, AJ Lee’s Future In WWE; Latest On Strategy In Place For CM Punk, Knockout Suffers Concussion

WWE News

- WWE could lose a significant tax break for running in the state of North Carolina, The Charlotte Observer is reporting. The current break is part of a program that rewards television and movie projects filmed in the state.

In 2010 and 2011, WWE received $570,000 in North Carolina tax credits, based on more than $2.3 million in-state spending as part of the program.

Local politicians will meet on May 14th to determine the program’s future.

Their decision will not have any effect on whether or not WWE runs in the state. WWE spokeswoman Tara Carraro issued the following statement:

“WWE applies for applicable film and tax credits offered by any state where we do business just like many other production companies do,”

Click here for coverage by The Charlotte Observer.

- Both Bo Dallas and Adam Rose were on the road with WWE over the weekend. Rose worked the loop going over Heath Slater, while Dallas went over Justin Gabriel. What was so notable was Rose’s entrance, as it was the gimmick that caused his stock to skyrocket and result in a promotion. However, we’re told there are already detractors in the WWE locker room. Fans in attendance noted that Rose got a good pop.

- Rey Mysterio’s contract is up in May and we’re told WWE is trying really hard to re-sign him after months of “not caring whether he stayed or not.” Apparently the change in position has to do with the realization that he could actually be leaving.

While it’s certainly true Mysterio has issues regarding his health, there continues to be a lot of frustration amongst workers from the fact that still, nobody has been told how pay-per-view bonuses will be handled with the evolution of the WWE Network.

We’re told WWE hopes the switch from pay-per-view to the Network will “drastically reduce” what they have to pay out in pay-per-view bonuses and as far as they are concerned, the Network is a separate revenue stream and the boys will continue to get their cuts from PPV, not the Network. However, this is most certainly going to be an issue with traditional providers dropping pay-per-views and buys for Wrestlemania 30 being down from years past because of the WWE Network.

The worry right now in WWE is there is going to be a lot of upset/disappointed/furious talent when Wrestlemania bonus checks begin to arrive. However, as one observer put it, what leverage do most of the guys have?

- – This week’s episode of Monday Night Raw did an average viewing audience of 4,610,333 viewers on the USA Network. Below is how the viewership broke down by hour:

Hour one – 4,512,000 viewers
Hour two – 4,667,000 viewers
Hour three – 4,652,000 viewers

The show was up a strong 471,000 viewers from the week prior. This week’s show was the go-home to Extreme Rules broadcast. TV by the Numbers has more data at this link.

- The 3-on-1 handicap match for the WWE United States Championship on this week’s episode of Smackdown was changed to a Fatal 4-Way match with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins banned from ringside. The match featured Dean Ambrose defending against Curtis Axel, Alberto Del Rio and Ryback. The bout was taped on Tuesday night as we have taping results at this link.

- WWE officially announced on Wednesday that WWE Network is now available on the Xbox One video game and entertainment system.

- Ric Flair and Rob Van Dam have been announced for next month’s WWE NXT Takeover show. The next NXT live special will take place on Thursday, May 29, 2014 from the campus of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.

- After this week’s episode of Smackdown was finished taping, The Shield beat The Wyatt Family in a dark match main event when Roman Reigns pinned Luke Harper.

- Below are the official buy rates for Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber:

Royal Rumble – 467,000 buys (compared to 512,000 in 2013)
Elimination Chamber – 183,000 buys (compared to 213,000 in 2013)

WWE’s complete 2014 first quarter results are available at this link.

- The following new original programming is coming to WWE Network:

WWE Countdown Season 2
Monday Night War
WWE Tough Enough

You can read more in the recap of Thursday’s WWE investor conference call.

- AJ Lee, who is currently away on approved time off, has been keeping in contact with the WWE office. She’s been told she can have as much time off as she wants. There is no heat on her and had she not asked for time off, the plan was to keep pushing her.

As for AJ’s fiancé, CM Punk, no one within WWE…

- With WWE losing their pay-per-view clearance across the board, we’re told DirecTV, Dish Network and inDEMAND are looking for more wrestling-related content to help fill the void. This is how Ring of Honor ended up on pay-per-view and there have been talks with TNA Wrestling to increase their live pay-per-views as well. Another company that could benefit from this is Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling promotion. We’re told they’ve been talking with the providers and could land clearance at the simple fact the providers want more wrestling to offset the WWE loss.

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