What are you hoping for from a Kevin Owens title run and how long would you say he will hold it for?
I am hoping for the same thing out of Kevin Owens that I was hoping for with Finn Balor - a new top star. There are only two guys in WWE that are over like rover and perennial top guys and they are Brock Lesnar (Raw) and John Cena (Smackdown). Like it or not, everyone else is trying to get to that level. With Brock on limited dates and Cena shifting to limited dates, it’s essential that some of these other guys are elevated to fill gaps at the top of the card. That doesn’t mean I do not think highly of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and others, they too need to continue to work to establish themselves as top tier talent and hopefully WWE will do them the creative favors to be able to do it. WWE cannot continue to rely on part-time talent to get them through their top shows and must start utilizing their deep talent roster. Having written that, I am hopeful that Kevin Owens will have a lengthy title reign, as Balor was originally planned to have one.
Why are former WWE Superstars that returned after the brand extension being use as cannon fodder?
WWE needed cannon fodder! As I just stated, there are only two people in WWE that are over as perennial top draws. Everyone else is trying to get there. In the pro wrestling/sports entertainment business, there has to be workers whose sole purpose is to put others over. They’re called enhancement talents or jobbers. You have to be careful who you cast in these roles as it’s likely to have future consequences. Vince McMahon felt like they needed to go out and bring back names that had already been established on WWE television so the viewer would know who was getting beat, thus making it more meaningful. In other words, WWE needed some jobbers so they’re paying experienced veterans to come in and do the jobs.
Is Vince McMahon getting softer since it seems Triple H is getting his way more and more?
While Triple H certainly got his way in keeping Finn Balor in NXT until Shinsuke Nakamura was ready to take the reigns and he got his way in holding Alberto Del Rio down, he hasn’t been getting his way with everything. I believe Hunter is still bothered by the presence of Shane McMahon and how Vince has utilized Shane to put Triple H and Stephanie "in their place" on more than one occasion. Vince is still as slick, manipulative and controlling as ever, even at age 70. Obviously he is operating with succession plans in mind but even when he was away a couple of weeks ago, he micromanaged everything from his phone.
You said the brand split didn't work the first time with separate pay-per-views; given the fact they no longer carry a steep price tag and are under the $9.99/month WWE Network subscription price, do you think this will help sustain the brand extension longer?
More people are going to watch the split brand pay-per-views now that they are included on the WWE Network but that doesn’t necessarily mean the brand extension is guaranteed to be successful. The good news is that viewership for both Raw and Smackdown has been increasing as we head into the more competitive fall months, so WWE should be pleased about that. But they desperately need the creation of new top stars. The reason I started this installment by saying they have two stars that are over like rover, neither that are full-time, is because it trickles down to everything WWE does. They’ve waited too long to start building new top stars and need to become hyper focused at accomplishing this goal. That's one of the reasons I am glad they went directly from Finn Balor to Kevin Owens.
Will Kurt Angle ever step foot in a WWE ring again?
We never say never but it’s an interesting situation with Kurt Angle in WWE. He called them and pitched himself but later stated in a promotional interview that WWE called him. That was enough to set WWE off and get them to back away from him. There are issues with Kurt as there are with any name that left with issues, including a severe neck injury, but right now I would describe WWE’s interest in Angle as tepid at best. In my book, Angle is the second best in-ring worker of all time next to Bret Hart (as far as pure pro wrestling ability is concerned) but he’s going to be 48 years old in December and there’s no way he’s going to be able to work the full-time WWE schedule. I don’t really see the upside in bringing him back, not for WWE or him personally.
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