Lesnar's Part-Time Status, WWE's Act Of Desperation, Backstage Hazing, Dreadful Bella Program

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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Why does Brock Lesnar only have a contract for limited dates? What's the big deal with him appearing once a week for Raw, is he really that busy?

The reason that Brock Lesnar left WWE a decade ago is because he despised the travel schedule and hated living his life out of an airport. He walked away from tremendous earning potential -- a spot most wrestlers will never achieve -- to pursue outside opportunities. After a failed NFL attempt and a run in Japan (as a pro wrestler), he went on to UFC and endured great success. In the UFC, Lesnar realized his full potential and became one of the biggest draws in their history. Vince McMahon was determined that Lesnar's first post-UFC appearance would be in his ring -- feeling it was WWE that heavily contributed to the success of Lesnar, which translated into millions of pay-per-view buys. WWE knew Lesnar would only agree to a contract that included a heavy downside and limited dates. He completely broke the mold and cashed in big time and out-earns the majority of the WWE roster, while working minimal dates. It's the subject of debate and controversy but it is what it is. Lesnar is one of WWE's top guys, despite minimal TV appearances and PPV dates.

Why do you consider WWE inviting Michael Sam to Monday Night Raw an act of desperation?

It's obvious that WWE wants to create hype for next week's Raw because they'll go head-to-head with Monday Night Football on ESPN, which will heavily challenge them for their demographic. By inviting Sam, the company knew they would attract mainstream media attention even if Sam didn't acknowledge the invitation. I hated how in Stephanie McMahon's "Open Letter" to Sam (now off WWE.com), it was perceived that WWE wanted to "take a stand" for equality and justice for all when they were only looking to cash in on his name value. If they were serious about that message on their programming, they should look no further than Darren Young, who is the first person under a WWE Performer's Contract to be openly gay. However, don't be deceived, this was a watered down promotional tactic and not some extraordinary stand for justice. It was cheap and it showed how desperate WWE is for attention as the competition gets stiffer.

I guess to a certain extent it worked -- in that it got people talking but why not get people talking about the actual programming? This week's Raw was dreadful and left many viewers shaking their heads a week before the NFL competition starts up. While there are bound to be peaks and valleys regarding WWE storylines, the invitation sure seemed like WWE was out of answers with their Michael Sam invitation.

In Tuesday's installment of Ask WNW, you mentioned hazing backstage in WWE. How serious/extreme does it get in WWE and are their measures in place to discipline such behavior?

Things are no longer as they once were in terms of hazing, bullying and extreme ribbing backstage in WWE. The business has evolved with society in understanding such behavior is flat out wrong. Daniel Bryan had a quote several months ago where he talked about this generation of wrestlers being the tamest ever in regards to backstage ribs. Yes, there are still jokes played and rookies are bound to get a hard time but it's nowhere near the level it once was. When The Miz was breaking in, he wasn't even allowed to change with the rest of the roster.

What are your thoughts on the Brie/Nikki Bella program?

The ongoing program between Brie and Nikki Bella is one of the most poorly executed personal feuds in quite some time. WWE transitioned from a program in Stephanie/Brie that was compelling and engaging to a program that lacks logic and comes off as forced. Not only has the poor acting been obvious but the roles of Brie and Nikki are not clearly defined. Nikki isn't a clear heel, playing the role of the victim in her "but I never told anyone" vignettes, while making Brie come off as a liar that can't be trusted, keeping her from a clear babyface. While one could suggest this is some sort of hybrid program where lines are blurred, it has translated into some of the most mundane WWE TV in quite some time. Things don't look to be getting any better either, given the fact WWE is introducing Jerry Springer to the program next week.

From the Ask WNW vault…

June 2012: Seeing as how WWE is short on top tier talent, do you think they should call some older guys to come back for a couple of months? Like Shawn Michaels, possibly the Undertaker? Or maybe reach out to Batista and see if they can get back under contract? - WWE has already done what you are asking, hence The Rock and Brock Lesnar coming back on part-time deals. Shawn Michaels is under WWE contract but is retired from the ring and only desires to do things that do not involve him wrestling. The Undertaker is also under WWE contract but is semi-retired and used for Wrestlemania. Batista is a guy the company has interest in but no deal has been put together as of this writing. Now is the time of year where competition is light and can be used to develop new main event stars. Rather than WWE relying on the older and more established names, it’s a good time to create more stars to mix with the aforementioned talent when competition gets stiffer and Wrestlemania season draws closer.

Questions that are legible stand the best chance of getting answered. The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Thursday, September 4, 2014.

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