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Readying Reigns, Wyatt vs. Taker, Meaningless Titles, New WWE Champion

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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Do you think Roman Reigns would be more suited for a program with Rusev at Wrestlemania 31, building to the Wrestlemania main event next year?

The plan dating back to this time last year was to build to Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31. The thinking was two-fold. One, they wanted to firmly establish Roman Reigns as a top superstar and two, they wanted a younger “up and coming” talent to benefit from The Undertaker’s streak ending.

Reigns was progressing fine until he went down with an incarcerated hernia over WWE Night of Champions weekend back in September. That took him out of creative plans and slowed his development. Couple that with WWE mishandling him in dreadful pre-taped segments and forceful “nursery rhyme promos” and a segment of the WWE audience started to reject him.

But I feel everything is back on track and the program with Daniel Bryan has brought out the best in both of them. It should ease the criticism on Lesnar vs. Reigns but there is still the option of WWE making the title match at Wrestlemania 31 a triple threat.

To answer your question about doing Rusev vs. Reigns and slowly building this, it would be a wrench in their plans. WWE usually lacks a long term plan but they had one for Reigns. However, an unexpected injury and some bad writing slowed things a bit. Rusev is a different situation and it’s my hope he emerges from the program with John Cena as more than what Bray Wyatt did after a similar situation in 2014.

Do you think the reason WWE is scripting the cryptic promos for Bray Wyatt is because The Undertaker’s status hasn’t been finalized?

That’s a possibility but it could also be the fact they still have over a month (5 episodes of Raw) until Wrestlemania 31 and know Undertaker won’t be wrestling on any of them. There is only so much talking that can be done before a match needs to happen so the strategy could be to generate a buzz with the cryptic promos and follow up with The Undertaker’s response. You can follow the latest step from the WWE side at this link.

With John Cena facing the US Champion and Dean Ambrose (one of the hottest stars right now) and Barrett (a champion that's been over for a while now), do you see this as an indication Vince McMahon and Triple H are giving more credit to their secondary titles?

No, I think the WWE United States and WWE Intercontinental titles are just as meaningless as ever. Just look at how they’re booking Bad News Barrett. Don’t take it from me, just look at it. They don’t have anything for Dean Ambrose because they allowed him to cool without a plan and have stuck him in this program for the Intercontinental Championship to prevent him from becoming irrelevant.

At least it’s something, but they missed a real opportunity with Ambrose. Nothing devalues titles more than champions getting pinned clean in non-title matches.

As for Rusev holding the United States Championship and Cena challenging for it, this program has everything to do with Rusev and nothing about the belt. Elevate Rusev. That must be the mindset and hopefully it’s more than what happened to Bray Wyatt last year. Remember, what we hoped was going to take him to the next level resulted in them taking him off TV and starting from scratch.

Will contract talks between WWE and Brock Lesnar determine whether or not he remains WWE World Heavyweight Champion? With no extension, he is probably dropping the title.

It’s always been my belief that Brock Lesnar would drop the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31. Even before he won the belt at SummerSlam, I expected the scenario we are in. It’s true WWE may have to book Brock at Wrestlemania without knowing his future, but I think he has to drop the belt regardless.

Has Lesnar’s reign as WWE World Heavyweight Champion been successful? I don’t see how one successful title defense and a lengthy absence from WWE television makes it successful. Fans of the reign will argue that Brock is a special attraction but wasn’t he already that after beating The Undertaker and ending the streak?

There are multiple ways to have Brock drop the title without looking weak and they could be the safest direction but I think a new champion has to be crowned at Wrestlemania 31 next month.

From the Ask WNW vault…

June 2012: When a WWE star is injured, how is he/she paid? Is it their normal pay or do they take a cut since they are missing shows, PPVs, etc.? - WWE contracts are structured with downside guarantees and bonuses. The downside guarantee is based off a yearly percentage that is paid out to workers regardless if they are working or not. The only time WWE workers do not collect their downside is when they are suspended. This is how a WWE star is able to make a living while out with an injury or any other ailment that would prevent them from working.

The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Thursday, February 19, 2015.

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