Batista At WM31, NOC Swerves, No WWE Champion In Europe, TNA Without Spike TV

The following is today's edition of Ask WNW. Ask WNW is the most popular feature on the website where Richard Gray answers four questions daily, Monday through Friday. To submit your question for the next installment of Ask WNW, click here.
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Even though it's just a dot com tease at this point, would WWE seriously risk putting Batista in the main event at WrestleMania next year? Personally i feel that would be a flat-out flop.

For those that missed it, dot com teased Batista vs. The Rock for Wrestlemania 31 next year in their article reporting on The Rock playing the role of Black Adam (with Batista opposing him in a Marvel vs. DC showdown as Drax the Destroyer). I haven't heard of any discussions involving an actual Batista vs. Rock match but there were preliminary plans for next year's Wrestlemania 31 to be featured around Brock Lesnar, The Rock and Batista. That promotional information has since been removed but it was telling in terms of who the company viewed as top guys for the show.

As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Batista is eager to return but he wants certain assurances in the booking of his character. I believe if it's worked out that he comes back, he'll be in a prominent role at Wrestlemania 31.

As good a show as SummerSlam was, do you feel it was a mistake to have all three title changes? It's turning Night of Champions into "Night of Rematches" and Sheamus vs Cessaro won't help the card much.

There are two SummerSlam rematches announced for Night of Champions so far - Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena and The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler. I don't see it as that big of a deal but I will be interested to see how they book Cena vs. Lesnar. The way it was booked at SummerSlam made it almost impossible to book a competitive rematch. If Lesnar is as dominant as he was at SummerSlam, what will that do to John Cena? Does the company look to put Cena over and have Seth Rollins cash in? There are a lot of questions and to me, that's more of the concern than two rematches.

WWE's European tour is coming soon and normally they have a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match but with Brock Lesnar as champion and not going to Europe, is there a chance he drops the title?

This is an interesting observation and I intentionally placed this question under the talk of a Brock Lesnar/John Cena rematch. While the overwhelming assumption is that Lesnar will hold the WWE World Heavyweight Championship until Wrestlemania 31 when his contract is up, dare we ask what if? What if Vince McMahon decides to go the direction I described above and put Cena over, only for The Authority to use their "insurance policy" in Seth Rollins? This would give them a full-time champion and an opportunity to start on Rollins as a top guy but would it cheapen Lesnar ending the streak? It could write Lesnar out of storylines for a potential Wrestlemania 31 program against The Rock -- something Vince wants to do -- but it's filled with potential problems. I don't have the answers and I don't envy the people that have to make the decision. It was always going to be difficult booking someone to end the streak and it got even more difficult when that person ended up being a part-time talent. Compounding the issues is the injury to Daniel Bryan and CM Punk quitting the company, as they're clearly light on top talent. How WWE books Lesnar vs. Cena at Night of Champions will tell us a lot more in the direction they plan on going and is by far the most interesting element of the pay-per-view.

What are TNA's options if they leave Spike TV at the beginning of next year?

Spike TV has renewed Impact through the end of 2014; however, there are serious questions about what will happen after that. According to a source, Spike actually made overtures about purchasing 51% of TNA before looking to move on without them. Now, this isn't to say that a last-minute deal can't be worked out -- as TNA continues to pump out they are still talking with Spike through UTA -- but it's worth looking at other options. There have been rumors and speculation about second-tier cable networks having interest but I don't think people fully comprehend the ramifications of such a move.

Further, it can't be stated enough that the major cable networks are not enthusiastic about pro wrestling. All we have to do is go back to WWE's TV negotiations from earlier in the year. WWE was so confident there would be suitors lined up to bid on their programming, they set their investors up for unrealistic expectations. What WWE thought would be an all-out bidding war, turned out to be a two horse race between Viacom (Spike TV) and NBCUniversal/Comcast (USA Network). When Viacom found out what WWE was wiling to accept from NBCU, they backed out and WWE tucked their tail in-between their legs and re-signed a deal Vince McMahon said himself was disappointing with NBCU, knowing they were going to face investor backlash.

Now, TNA is out in the marketplace with a far less attractive model. They are shopping taped programming with stagnant viewership. While the numbers are at least respectable -- they're far below that of WWE. If WWE had only a couple of serious suitors, how can anyone expect TNA to have more? Now obviously TNA isn't looking for the money that WWE was but if networks aren't enthusiastic about the biggest pro wrestling/sports entertainment company in the world, it's fairly obvious what an uphill battle TNA is facing.

Back to second tier networks having interest in TNA and people not understanding the ramifications, Spike TV reaches approximately 98.7 million pay television subscribers in the United States. Velocity, one of the rumored second tier networks believed to have interest in adding TNA programming, was available in approximately 52.2 million American households last year. In other words, even if TNA reaches an agreement with one of these networks, they will have to exist in a scaled back form. If they garner around 1 million viewers while available in over 98 million households, how many viewers will they be able to attract in over 52.2 million? Would TNA even be interested in such a model?

In addition to taking a dramatic viewership hit -- which would negatively impact every facet of TNA's business -- they would also be generating significantly less in domestic TV rights fees (Spike currently pays TNA $65,000 per hour for Impact or $130,000 per week or $6,760,000 per year). The best-case scenario for TNA would be to agree to something with Spike TV -- even if they aren't able to raise their fee. If not, TNA will not be able to operate as they do in their current form.

From the Ask WNW vault…

March 2012: Has WWE considered lowering the prices of their B-level pay-per-views. By giving up some money they could in turn boost a show’s butyrate? - I agree the price of WWE pay-per-views is too high, especially paying more for High Definition (which should have never been the case). The pay-per-view business is not what it once was and I’ve gone as far as saying it’s an outdated model with the multitude of ways people are now viewing content. There has been a lot of talk about WWE’s pay-per-view business taking a dramatic shift with the launch of the WWE Network but it has been delayed with the network’s delay. When the network finally premieres, I expect a change to take place in regards to the company’s pay-per-view model.

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