Randy Orton WWE's New CM Punk, Superstar Pay, Commentary Change, Title Crisis

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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Can Randy Orton fill the void as the anti-hero in WWE? It’s a spot that’s been up for the taking since CM Punk’s departure in January.

I believe that Randy Orton has all the talent in the world and can be effective as a heel or a babyface. Or as you suggest, the anti-hero. Randy, like all top talent, has his fair share of detractors but his work lately has been nothing short of outstanding. Someone commented that his filming of The Condemned 2 came at the wrong time. I disagree. Orton approached company officials about taking some time off and the movie role will give him that. While he’ll still be working, he won’t be taking bumps in the ring or subject to WWE’s hectic travel schedule. Further, WWE is in the process of turning him and this more than provides that opportunity. Orton is set up perfectly for a surprise return at Survivor Series in his hometown of St. Louis but even if he’s not back for the pay-per-view, he has a lot of momentum to close out the year.

Orton will never be Punk, just like Punk was never going to be Orton. It’s funny they’ve vied for the “1b spot” behind John Cena, considering they do not like one another. However, the spot is Randy’s for the taking and he should be praised for his recent body of work. While some may view Orton as controversial or even arrogant, there is no denying his talent or the fact he is very valuable to WWE.

Do WWE Superstars and Divas still get paid in full when they injured?

WWE performer’s contracts are structured with downside guarantees and bonuses. Downside guarantees are amounts they will make per year no matter what as long as they are not suspended. This is how injured workers are able to earn a living, despite being classified as independent contractors. The higher up a worker is on the card, the more downside money they are paid. In addition to downside guarantees, talent are paid a flat $500 rate for appearing on or working a show. This is known as a show bonus. Other bonuses include but are not limited to merchandise bonuses and pay-per-view bonuses. Talent are not paid for promotional appearances but are obligated to make such appearances when booked as part of their contractual obligations. So in short, yes, Superstars and Divas are still paid when they are injured but the amount is less than it would be if they were being used.

How does WWE expect their audience to concentrate on a match when the announcers keep talking about non-relevant stuff? I miss Jim Ross - the man was a genius at making people care about the in-ring action, while also conveying relevant material.

I want to start by saying that in my opinion Jim Ross is the greatest pro wrestling play by play man of all-time and it’s an absolute travesty that he is no longer the voice of the WWE. I absolutely agree Jim is a genius and his work was impeccable and I miss him on WWE television. Vince McMahon made a philosophical change to the commentary in WWE when he transitioned to what it is today. The trio of Michael Cole, JBL and Jerry Lawler no longer focuses on “calling the spots” but more on the entertainment value of the product as a variety show. To put it another way, we’ve transitioned from pro wrestling to Sports Entertainment.

While I understand you miss the “old way,” it’s not going back anytime soon. Vince produces the announcers himself and this is the vision he wants conveyed on his programming. I believe Cole has improved greatly and that it’s extremely unfair to compare him to Jim Ross. Not only did Cole step into shoes that were impossible to fill, he stepped in to a philosophical change of direction. It’s not that the announcers don’t care enough to highlight the in-ring action but they’re told to focus on the other elements.

Some like it and others hate it, I personally enjoy the witty banter and believe JBL adds a great element to Cole to Lawler. It’s not JR and Lawler but it’s not supposed to be.

What do you think the chances are of WWE introducing a new (or RE-introducing an already defunct) championship belt?

I am diametrically opposed to the idea of WWE adding more titles. They have a hard enough time utilizing their secondary belts the way it is, I fail to understand how introducing more titles will make this problem better. Now I will contradict myself and explain the difference. I was opposed to the unification of the WWE and World Heavyweight Championship belts because two world titles forced WWE to have an expanded main event scene. The counter arguments were that by unifying the world titles, not only would the WWE World Heavyweight Championship mean more but the secondary belts would be more prestigious.

Not only has that not happened but WWE has strapped a part-time talent with their title and taken it off TV indefinitely. So what we’re left with is an absent world champion and meaningless undercard belts that can’t draw a dime on their own. WWE took a big step in the right direction with the United States Championship on Monday after Raw but one meaningful match doesn’t erase years of mishandling the title. Let’s also remember this meaningful match took place after a lengthy 3-hour episode of Raw, between workers that had already performed and the outcome was extremely predictable. Again, it was a step in the right direction but hardly a sign that WWE has gotten the memo that the secondary belts should be important.

From the Ask WNW vault…

September 2012: Is Beth Phoenix being booked as a jobber because she plans on leaving WWE? - As I discussed in Monday’s YouTube report, WWE has made sure Beth Phoenix has “hit her head” several times on the way out the door. Obviously they’ve known for awhile Beth’s contract was coming up and she wasn’t intending to re-sign so they wanted to send her out as cold as possible. It seems harsh but it’s the way the business works.

The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Thursday, November 6, 2014.

You can submit a question for the next installment of Ask WNW at this link. If you have problems with the form, you can send your question to AskWNW@wrestlingnewsworld.com.

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