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Major WWE Character Turns, Reacting To Orton’s Pay, TNA A Threat Or Bust?, Backstage Drama

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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It seems like WWE is going with a lot of Tweeners such as Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Vince McMahon, Triple H and so on. I like the direction, do you?

WWE has a lot of tweeners (a character between a heel and a babyface) right now because Vince McMahon felt programming was bland and they needed to "shake things up." The problem is this can get very confusing and will be interesting to see how the Philadelphia crowd reacts at Money in the Bank on Sunday. While tweeners, clearly Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk are leaning babyface while Daniel Bryan and Vince McMahon are leaning heel. Triple H is leaning babyface. I expect the roles to get further defined as we approach SummerSlam next month.

In light of the recent reveal of Randy Orton's take home pay, do you have details of other top level wrestler earnings to give an idea of what they're paid?

WWE is very careful about leaking information when it comes to how much workers get paid. Given the fact workers are listed as "independent contractors" and not "employees," means there is no set pay structure. WWE is best suited in negotiating contracts with workers to keep these numbers as quiet as possible so they have all the leverage. Randy Orton's salary reveal is going to cause problems. While the assumption was Orton was getting paid as a top guy, no one thought he was making $291,666 a month. I've spoken with a lot of people close to other top names that have confirmed other names aren't getting paid "anywhere near" the numbers revealed for Orton. While there is still a certain level of disbelief, the locker room is reacting whether WWE wants them too or not. As for other top names, Brock Lesnar is believed to have a contract worth close to $9 million for his next two years with the company while I haven't heard the numbers The Rock worked under. As far as I know, Lesnar is making more than any other performer in the company. John Cena is believed to be "on up there as well" but since I do not have the numbers, I'll go with what I have.

What are your thoughts on TNA Impact Wrestling and the company's current state? Do you see them crumbling or becoming a viable threat to WWE?

TNA Impact Wrestling has a great partnership with Spike TV, a significant financial backer in Panda Energy and a talent roster that rivals only that of WWE. However, there are problems with the way the product is marketed, there is no set structure of who is in charge and they are growing at a pace much slower than many had hoped. TNA will continue to exist as long as Panda Energy is willing to back the promotion. Should they ever decide to go in another direction, the company would be in trouble. As for becoming a viable threat to WWE, it's going to be very difficult for any company (not just TNA) to compete with them. WWE is so far in front of everyone not only when it comes to television ratings and pay-per-view buys but in merchandising, globalization and let's not even start with corporate structure. This isn't the same WWE that WCW challenged over a decade ago. WWE is built for the long-term and is ready to continue to grow and expand. Anyone that is going to ever come close to competing with them will have to have the aforementioned components that TNA has along with hundreds of millions of dollars to invest. It's possible, but it's not likely.

You often hear about guys traveling together on the road (such as CM Punk & Kofi Kingston or Daniel Bryan & Ryback). Over the years, have you ever heard of there being resentment over a push (was Kofi upset / jealous of CM Punk getting a push)?

There is backstage drama in WWE just like there is in any other company or corporation. As long as there are human beings there are going to rivalries, some out of legitimate beef and others out of jealously and envy. As for your example, Kofi Kingston gets along with everyone backstage. Remember when Trent Barreta kayfabed about heat with Kofi? The guy just "fits in" and gets along. There are others who are lightning rods for controversy but that's just the way it is. Everyone wants a top spot and when you have some workers making under $100,000 a year with others making nearly three times that per month, there is going to be drama. Everyone feels "they are worth a push" so when someone else gets one, it's only natural for there to be a response.

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