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Daniel Bryan Going Heel, Fastlane Expectations, MITB, NXT Better Than WWE Alternatives

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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Is it just me or did it seem like Daniel Bryan was taking a heel role during the brawl with Roman Reigns at the end of Raw? Do you think this may have been done to get Roman Reigns over a little bit more so fans wont be as upset if WWE goes forward with the Reigns/Lesnar main event?

We had a couple readers feel that Daniel Bryan played the heel at the end of Raw but that’s not how I saw it. I saw it as Bryan “being upset” about Roman Reigns interfering in his match against The Big Show and two guys vying for the main event at Wrestlemania 31. I thought the closing segment of Monday Night Raw was very well done and helped push Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns as a “big fight” that is worthy of headlining the show before Wrestlemania.

While this stopgap Bryan vs. Reigns program was very much in response to Royal Rumble criticism, it has worked and shown me that not only is Daniel Bryan still over like rover but Reigns is going to be just fine. I am genuinely excited for their encounter at Fastlane and feel fans will accept the outcome. If Bryan goes over Reigns, he “worked for it” in typical Daniel Bryan fashion but if Reigns goes over Bryan, he proved his worth for the Wrestlemania main event.

The closing segment on this week’s Raw had a more positive impact on the build to Fastlane than anything I’ve seen since Royal Rumble last month.

Being that Fastlane is the last pay-per-view before Wrestlemania, is the best that we can expect out of this show is dirty finishes?

The objective of WWE Fastlane is to enhance the build to Wrestlemania 31 but the way the show was portrayed on this week’s Raw, it’s an important event. I think a clean outcome between Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan is warranted because the program is not going to continue to the pay-per-view next month. Even if WWE puts both Reigns and Bryan in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, it will be about opposing Lesnar and the title, not about their underlying beef. John Cena vs. Rusev is a program I’m expecting to continue, so I could see a dirty finish there. My expectations for Fastlane are high as I believe WWE needs a strong show to continue the build to Wrestlemania and entice the free WWE Network signups to become paid subscribers for next month.

What are your thoughts on having a second Money in the Bank ladder match in which the winner has the choice of cashing in on either the Intercontinental or United States Champion?

This idea is similar to what TNA Wrestling does with the “Feast or Fired” briefcases but I’m just not sure there’s enough interest in the Intercontinental or United States titles to make a Money in the Bank ladder match for their No. 1 contendership worth it. The magic of the Money in the Bank ladder match is the winner gets a shot for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship with a high percentage of successfully becoming champion. WWE has watered it down in recent years but I feel trying to make the gimmick match for anything less would do nothing but devalue the concept further. If there is a second Money in the Bank ladder match at the pay-per-view in June, I would expect it to be for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship itself.

The current plan is for one Money in the Bank ladder match at the pay-per-view to determine the No. 1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

I've recently stepped out of WWE's shadow and have begun watching other companies and so far I'm loving it! It really has increased my appreciation for wrestling! What do you think of the other companies like ROH, NJPW, Lucha Underground and TNA and who are your favorites?

I follow promotions outside of WWE and am probably the most pleased with New Japan Pro Wrestling out of the companies that you listed. NJPW seems to be ahead of WWE in their approach to feuds and big matches in 2015. Sometimes it feels like WWE looks in their “rearview” and tries to recapture what used to work. My biggest problem with TNA Wrestling is even through their revamp, I don’t see a lot of innovation. Ring of Honor is fine for athletic wrestling matches but it's not what it once was. I’ve seen some of Lucha Underground and think it’s good because it’s different. I explained more in a Premium Mailbag back in December.

Out of all the non-WWE options, I still think the NXT specials are some of the best pro wrestling shows available. I realize that makes me sound like some type of “WWE mark” but the fact of the matter is, WWE’s resources are unmatched. They are able to put together a superior product and when they “hone in” on the wrestling-savvy audience, like they do with NXT, they put together a very entertaining product.

Couple their production resources and unlimited budget with superior talent like Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor and the shows are must-see. I’ll go as far as saying the WWE Network is worth $9.99/month alone just for NXT.

From the Ask WNW vault…

July 2012: What has the reaction been like in WWE to the monster rating the 1000th Raw the show did? Do you think Vince McMahon looks at it as people having renewed interest or just a one time fluke? - WWE is thrilled with the rating of the 1000th episode of Raw and they should be. As we talked about here in Ask WNW, the company immediately issued a press release to tout the success of the large viewership. I have not heard from sources close to Vince McMahon what he thought and would be scared to speculate, however, I feel it shows the audience is still there. Whether or not that audience tunes in weekly or buys the monthly pay-per-views all has to do with the quality of the product. The company showed with Wrestlemania XXVIII they could get people to buy their product. WWE should strive to make every show “must-see programming,” treating them as a “big deal” to spark interest. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying pay-per-views are going to go be able to compete with Wrestlemania or weekly TVs can exceed the viewership of the biggest show to date but there is a large differential in the averages and these spikes. If WWE were to make their shows of more importance, I feel it could significantly boost ratings. This will, however, be very challenging by trying to come up with three hours of live TV each week.

The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Wednesday, February 18, 2015.

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