WWE Network Success, More WM31 Plans, Roman Reigns Debate

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.

Do you think the fact that WWE Network still reached 1 million subscribers after the big Royal Rumble gaff is concerning?

I understand your concern about WWE being able tout 1 million Network subscribers a couple days after a pay-per-view their fan base clearly rejected but the entire #CancelWWENetwork outcry was somewhat overblown. A lot of the people that joined in the “movement” were expressing displeasure over the way the Royal Rumble match was booked and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I do not know how many people canceled or what the current subscriber count looks like, but it could be some time before we find out how many subscribers actually canceled over Royal Rumble backlash. I was annoyed as anyone over WWE’s blatant unimaginative/lazy/arrogant/illogical booking of the 2015 30-man Royal Rumble match but not enough to cancel my Network subscription. If you were, canceling is the best way to send a message.

Do you feel the Royal Rumble concept is outdated? Especially since the last two Rumbles have been booed out of building. Will this event end up becoming an afterthought like Survivor Series?

This is a point that Mick Foley made in a blog on his Facebook page. I agree the Royal Rumble is becoming “just another show” but it’s the aforementioned unimaginative/lazy/arrogant/illogical booking killing it, not the concept becoming outdated. In fact, we can look at the numbers and the excitement and conclude the Royal Rumble concept is as popular as it’s ever been, even after the disaster last year.

What I don’t understand is how this year’s Rumble match ended up even worse than last year’s Rumble match and the company repeated the exact same mistakes. I truly believe it’s not that Roman Reigns won that caused the crowd to reject it, but how some of the favorites were eliminated, how lackadaisical Reigns’ victory was, and the fact Kane and Big Show were among the final standing.

In the days leading up to the Royal Rumble, I explained how Reigns had to be booked to “earn it,” so that people would respect his victory. It’s like Vince McMahon just decided they were going to cut every corner possible and say, “here it is, now take it or leave it.” Again, I don’t understand why and cannot explain the unexplainable.

What is your opinion if WWE decides to do Undertaker vs Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 31?

I do not see Undertaker returning to face Daniel Bryan and believe if he comes back, it will be for a program with Bray Wyatt. At this point, I see Dolph Ziggler (as a heel) as a possibility to work Bryan. While it will be on the Wrestlemania undercard, if given a little bit of time, it could be a very enjoyable match. I cannot confirm Undertaker at press time but he has been included in promotional material for the show. If Undertaker was a definite “no” for Wrestlemania 31, he wouldn’t be included. That tells me the door is open and we should find out for sure very soon.

There seems to be a lot of hate targeted towards the WWE for the decision to go ahead with Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar, but isn't it also possible that Lesnar may have refused to go down clean to Bryan? The size of the wrestler should not matter, but I have a feeling losing to Bryan in his last match may have mattered to Brock.

Absolutely everything I have heard about Brock Lesnar since he returned to WWE in 2012 is that he’ll do what’s asked of him. I know he’s questioned one or two things creatively but for the most part, he’ll do what WWE wants as long as he gets paid. Everyone I speak with comments that Lesnar isn’t a problem to work with and follows instructions given to him. So to answer your question, I do not believe that Brock Lesnar “refused” to work anyone. In fact, while most expect Brock to leave WWE after Wrestlemania, Vince McMahon is confident he will re-sign (almost to a delusional degree).

With that said, the plan all along has been to do Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns. It’s not a bad plan, it’s not my preferred plan, but it could have worked (and still could). But boy, WWE has made it hard. They’ve mishandled Roman Reigns so badly since September, they’ve cut their fan base in half.

It’s fascinating because if I write an article that takes the heat off Reigns, his cheerleaders applaud me and detractors condemn me. If I write an article that puts the heat on Reigns, the cheerleaders turn heel and the detractors go babyface.

I’ve concluded people view Roman Reigns through the narrow black and white dualistic lens of “love him” or “hate him.” I try not to think like that. Roman Reigns is an up and coming WWE superstar with a tremendous amount of potential (the cheerleaders are giving me a collective “amen” here). He was the favorite to win this year’s Royal Rumble match dating back to last year and was hand-picked for Brock Lesnar to pass the torch to at Wrestlemania 31.

I have seen shades of “mega star” in his work and it doesn’t bother me to push back against the people that say he’s “not ready.” Obviously the words “not ready” can mean a lot of different things and can be debated depending on the context (I guarantee people are digging up recent comments made by Steve Austin on his podcast).

The problems started with the promos and I spoke up immediately. The readers that “love him” said it wouldn’t hurt him and maybe it wouldn’t have, until Vince McMahon scripted him to do nursery rhyme promos fit for children. Instead of protecting him in the Royal Rumble match, he was carelessly and recklessly booked to go over, when other “fan favorites” were easily dismissed and then Reigns showed his inexperience in some brutal media interviews.

To be fair, in the interview with Sam Roberts, Reigns said he wanted fans to leave happy.

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Yes, Roman wants the fans to leave happy but he doesn’t care about his critics, in fact, non-wrestlers critiquing his work is asinine. AND he’s hopefully just the guy getting rich.


However, from what I’ve heard over the weekend, Reigns did just fine on live events as a babyface and like I said, Lesnar vs. Reigns could still work! Did you hear that Reigns supporters? It could still work! They had a good first step on Raw last week but there is concern over Lesnar’s status.

We’ll see how it plays out but I encourage every single reader of Wrestling News World to stop this dualistic thought process of love or hate, black or white, etc. It doesn’t work like that. Not by a long shot. There are a lot of issues to examine when evaluating Roman Reigns and the situation WWE is in for the second consecutive year.

From the Ask WNW vault...

January 2015: I have been listening to you say for months that if John Cena can’t beat Brock Lesnar after three tries, then who could beat him. Now that Daniel Bryan is back, you do a complete 180. Wouldn’t a Daniel Bryan victory at Wrestlemania 31 make Cena look even weaker and make Brock being a beast pointless? - We’re told the decision has been made. Obviously that is subject to change but there is no reason for me to argue and campaign for a certain point of view when WWE officials have made up their minds.

My argument for Daniel Bryan over Brock Lesnar is that it’s a story of total redemption. The guy beat Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista in one night — got held down by injury — and came back and beat the unstoppable. That type of story is something I believe would get over huge and not devalue anyone or anything.

The reason I have been saying for months that if Cena can’t do it, who can is because Bryan has been out. How could I campaign for Bryan when it was unknown if he would ever wrestle again? Now we know his in-ring career is set to resume later this month.

However, the argument seems to have been resolved. Roman Reigns has been tabbed the “special one” and we’ll see how it plays out, barring a change of direction.

The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Tuesday, February 3, 2015.

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