With all the controversy going on backstage about Vince McMahon not wanting John Cena to be out of action long what would happen if he were to suffer a major injury?
There is a lot of drama going on between Vince McMahon and John Cena, especially with the fact they don't like Cena missing time in the heat of the fall competition. However, the company always has to be prepared should a major injury occur and make sure there are plenty of "plan B" options out there. WWE already has "plan B" in place in case Cena can't work Hell in a Cell with the Ryback tease that ended last week's Raw.
Was Randy Orton legitimately injured at last week's Smackdown taping?
No, the angle WWE did after this week's Smackdown was an angle to write him off television. I doubt it will be for long but Orton is currently filming 12 Rounds Reloaded and it gives the company a reason to explain possible absence.
What happened to having diva matches that mattered? I still fondly remember Trish Stratus vs. Lita battling it out in the main event of Raw. Now Divas matches are just fillers that last usually under a minute. Will this ever change?
While the Divas are clearly out of the "glory years" of Trish Stratus, Lita, Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson, I believe you are overvaluing WWE's ability to prominently feature female talent. Vince McMahon has always had a weird way of booking Divas and while they say time makes the heart grow fonder, you are remembering the few memorable moments and forgetting the mud wrestling, pillow fights and bikini contests. To assume WWE used to care about Divas and suddenly do not, I believe, is inaccurate. I find a lot of this from readers who miss how WWE "used to be" but if you go back, these same fans were complaining about the product then. I'm not saying I agree with WWE PG and the product hasn't hit its stale patches but if you aren't careful you will find yourself always discontent with the product regardless of what is happening.
What do you attribute to last Monday's low Raw rating?
The fact Monday Night Football did 16,000,000 viewers last week didn't help WWE in the ratings and I disagree with Vince McMahon's reaction in regards to John Cena. Based on the trends I'm seeing, it looks like viewers are losing interest with the three-hour time slot which is something I felt was inevitable. I'm not saying the ratings are in the tank because the show is too long but it's clear the third hour is dragging down viewership. WWE has stiffer competition this week with the Dallas Cowboys being featured on Monday Night Football.
What are the plans for Paul Heyman other than just carrying Punk's title belt?
Paul Heyman, like any manager, is limited because he doesn't wrestle but he has had an instant impact in WWE. Originally brought back as a mouthpiece for Brock Lesnar (at the desire of his real-life friend CM Punk), he was paired with the WWE Champion because Punk suggested it. WWE is already developing "Paul Heyman guy" merchandise and his influence is spreading throughout the locker room. It's funny because when Lesnar was brought back earlier this year a constant was that the deal would not include Heyman under any circumstances. Now, due to Punk's tremendous backstage influence, Heyman is once again a staple on WWE television (and to a lesser extent, a player in the locker room).
Why would WWE allow Ryback to attempt his finisher on Tensai if he didn't have the strength to lift him up?
Ryback isn't the one being blamed for this disastrous go-home sequence of the match on this week's WWE Raw but the heat is on the shoulders of Tensai. You can read more at this link.
I saw the restaurant segment on Raw where Kane and Daniel Bryan traded meals. After doing some research online I couldn't find anything that said whether or not it was a real meatball that Daniel Bryan took a bite of, or if it was soy/vegetable based. Do you know if Bryan is still a vegan?
Daniel Bryan is no longer a vegan due to a soy intolerance that he developed. Bryan explained he kept getting sick and after allegory testing, it was learned that soy was the culprit of his sickness. Without soy, a vegan diet was impossible to maintain adequate protein levels. I have no idea what Bryan ate in the diner segment on WWE Raw but wouldn't read too much into it.
What is the stance of homosexual wrestlers in WWE?
I do not know of any openly gay wrestlers in WWE and the only worker I can think of off the top of my head is Orlando Jordan, who is bisexual. WWE, like the pro sports leagues, is still evolving in terms of acceptance and breaking down barriers of discrimination. Racism used to be a big part of the pro wrestling business but the wall has been significantly broken although I'm sure many African Americans would claim it still exists and I wouldn't question this because I am in no position (as a white male) to judge whether it is or isn't there. However, there are many in WWE, including WWE Champion CM Punk, who is a very loud advocate of equal rights for homosexuals. I also want to go on record as to saying that I feel an individual should be evaluated by their work alone and not factors that do not effect their ability to work (such as race, sexual orientation, gender, etc.).
What are your thoughts on Damien Sandow
I am very high up on Damien Sandow, who formerly worked as Idol Stevens. Sandow was trained by Killer Kowalski and has all the tools to be successful. The fact he's been in the business over a decade shows his passion and hard work in trying to make it to the top. The Sandow gimmick resonates with me and I feel he has a very high ceiling. I will be talking more about Sandow in today's Premium Mailbag.
When you say some has "backstage heat" what exactly do you mean? What exactly does that entail usually?
When we talk about someone having "backstage heat" it means they have upset their superiors through something they have done. When a worker gets backstage heat, it can result in anything from a stern talk to an outright termination. It's funny how we have our own lingo in this business and I often find myself using the terms in my every day life. Anyone ever accused their wife of turning heel?
Will WWE Raw ever go back to two hours?
I've said since WWE Raw went to a permanent three-hour timeslot on July 23, 2012 that the company would not look at reverting back to two hours unless the ratings took a significant step in the wrong direction. Given this week's 2.54 cable rating and disastrous viewership of 3,502,000 viewers, we look to be approaching that point if not already there. I will have more on Vince McMahon's reaction to the rating shortly, however, I believe one thing is evident in that viewer fatigue has set-in and the company has a problem keeping their audience for all three hours.
Is it possible Steve Austin makes an appearance on WWE television to "teach" CM Punk how to "earn respect"?
Anything is possible and I think all of the open dialogue regarding Steve Austin and CM Punk is done to set the groundwork for a possible Austin vs. Punk dream match at Wrestlemania. The company would like to do it at Wrestlemania XXIX next year but it depends on Austin's health and desire.
Re-launching the Attitude Era in present day WWE comes up by fans everyday, but by using only the current roster; do you think another Attitude Era now would work?
The Attitude Era was a time when WWE pushed the envelope to maintain afloat and it worked. WCW was dominating the ratings and were taking the market share from Vince McMahon. It's almost as if they went "all-in" with their risqué programming and reaped the rewards by creating megastars such as Steve Austin, The Rock and D-Generation X. However, it's much easier said than done and this pivotal point in the history of professional wrestling cannot be simply "recreated." For those that think it has to do completely with WWE's PG initiative, I often point to TNA Wrestling. They are not committed to PG yet haven't scratched the service in terms of competing for the mainstream market share. I'm confident there will be another period of time in which pro wrestling goes mainstream but it's impossible to predict. It will likely be ushered in by talented performers and compelling storylines.
Why has The Miz had such a hard "fall from grace" in terms of his standing on the WWE roster since being WWE Champion?
WWE officials clearly didn't feel The Miz was ready to be a mainstay in the company's main event scene. Be it pay-per-view buys, television ratings, merchandise sales, crowd reactions or a combination of them all, his push was scaled back. The Miz is seen as a guy that has worked very hard for his current spot and WWE's confidence in him is evident based on the movie role they gave him.
Were you ever a wrestler or try to get into the business?
I have never taken a bump in my life and probably never will. Some may find this offensive but I chose a different path to pursue my passion for the pro wrestling business… covering it from a journalistic standpoint. Many of my friends that started writing on the Internet with me in the late 90's went on to work as wrestlers, referees, ring crew and even promoters but I "stayed the course" and pursued a career in journalism. I have great respect for the business and the people that work in it, however, I also do not feel the fact I have never worked makes me a "mark" or unable to understand it. I commit my day-to-day life to my work while maintaining great friendships with those that get in the ring and perform.
In your opinion how many years do you believe it will be until we see the next "face of WWE"? I don't see it in any of the current up and coming talent.
No one knows who will be the next "face of WWE" let alone when we will see it and while you asked my opinion, I'm not in a position to make such a bold proclamation. I can tell you some view the next face of WWE to be CM Punk while Triple H feels Sheamus has the opportunity to put the company on his back. I actually think Cena is the face of the era of people like Punk and Sheamus and feel it will be someone else. Randy Orton is younger than them all but given his Wellness problems; I don't think it can rest on his shoulders either. The next "face of WWE" will probably emerge when we least expect it but I assure you will know it when it happens.
I know about how people under performer's contracts in WWE get bonuses for being on TV shows. What happens if a worker is written off because of a storyline and they do not appear live but they show highlight clips with the worker getting "injured," or the announcers talk about them? Does that count as appearing on the show even though it was not new or do they have to physically appear in new footage to get their bonus? Technically they are still part of the show.
A worker gets paid a bonus when they appear. If a clip from a prior show is shown, it's not a new appearance. There is also no compensation for a worker being mentioned or talked about but only if they appear. If a worker is injured, they are able to continue to pay their bills by collecting their downside guarantee. The only time a downside stops is in the case of a suspension.
What is the current status on the Undertaker? Will he work before WrestleMania XXIX, or is there any idea on who he will face at the event?
After Wrestlemania XXVIII this year the word was Undertaker felt great and could possible work before Wrestlemania XXIX next year, however, as we get closer to the show, it doesn't look like they'll need him. It's likely Brock Lesnar works Survivor Series and The Rock is already confirmed for Royal Rumble so I do not see the logic in using him from now until Wrestlemania. With that being said it's widely expected he will work Wrestlemania and as for his opponent, check out our Wrestlemania news updates at this link.
Do you think CM Punk is bringing a much needed prestige back to the WWE Championship?
I absolutely think CM Punk's 320-day and counting reign as WWE Champion has helped restore prestige to the WWE Championship. Abbreviated title reigns make belts nothing more than props and kill the importance of title matches and possible title changes. Some readers are souring on Punk as a lengthy champion but that further plays into WWE's hand because Punk is now a heel. Long title reigns are better for everyone and I've been pleased with the reign of Punk.
Is Randy Orton still seen as a top guy in WWE? How would you book him in his return from "injury"?
After a lot of back-and-forth and what turned out to be empty threats following his second documented WWE Wellness Policy violation, Randy Orton is once again a top guy in WWE. Not only that but he is away filming a starring role in another WWE Studios production. As for how I would book Randy in his return, he has to avenge the beat down from Del Rio so by default he is babyface. I prefer Orton as a heel but returning as a heel only makes sense unless they quietly forget about what wrote him off television.