Exclusive backstage news update...
- There continues to be a lot of talk about UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey returning to WWE following her cameo this year at Wrestlemania 31. Because she is under contract with UFC, any negotiating to get her to appear must go through UFC. WWE has dealt with UFC directly over Rousey’s services but UFC hasn’t signed off on anything. Dana White made it clear Rousey won’t be wrestling but some still feel an appearance at Wrestlemania 32 next year is possible. The bout WWE wanted to do was Triple H & Stephanie McMahon vs. The Rock & Ronda Rousey, which could still happen, just without Stephanie or Ronda actually bumping. It’s pretty safe to say Rousey will have WWE as an option when she’s finished fighting but any appearances she makes while under contract with UFC, will have to be approved by them.
- Hulk Hogan isn’t giving up on a “dream match” against John Cena at Wrestlemania 32 even after his racist/homophobic scandal that caused WWE to terminate his contract. We never say never but neither Vince McMahon nor Triple H were convinced of giving the match to Hogan when they were on good terms with a working relationship. The chances of it happening now, especially given the hit Hogan’s reputation has taken, is almost zero. Vince continued to push away from Hogan when asked about him on a conference call a couple of weeks ago.
- The future for WWE Tough Enough on the USA Network is bleak. The network was very disappointed with the show’s viewership in early July and the numbers have only gone down since. The unexpected departure of Hulk Hogan didn’t help things and the format of the show has been held into question. There are, however, plans for a second season but it looks like that season will air as a WWE Network exclusive.
- WWE continues to look for ways to get people subscribed to the WWE Network without a credit card. One of those ways is coming to retail soon, which will be a 3-month card purchased for $29.97 that will allow three months of access. The company is convinced the WWE Network has a ton of room for growth and that they haven’t come close to reaching their subscriber potential.
- Randy Orton asking Kevin Owens if he had put on weight on Raw was an intentional dig and it will always be an issue until it’s not. The thing is, no matter how much Triple H puts Owens over as a guy they can build around, his conditioning has to be better if he’s going to convince Vince McMahon he’s a top star. I wrote shortly after Owens tapped to John Cena at Battleground that Owens’s conditioning will be ammunition for his critics. A source directly involved told me that Owens has to lose some weight because all he has to do is catch Vince McMahon in the wrong mood to face repercussions. Owens, like many "up and coming" talent with top star potential, is as polarizing as it gets, with some very high up and others far from sold. Weight has played a part in a number of stars getting their pushes slowed or nixed completely and promising names that have been called up only to face such issues include The Ascension and Bo Dallas.