Welcome to the 360th installment of the WNW Premium Mailbag. This was originally recorded, however, I'm having some technical difficulties and lost it. Following an interruption to a second recording attempt, I'm going to release this in written format. Audio versions of the WNW Premium Mailbag should return later in the week or beginning of next.
Do you see backlash from WWE fans in the United Kingdom over the continued delays of the WWE Network?
I absolutely see backlash from WWE fans that were promised the WWE Network in the United Kingdom and letdown for a second time on Monday. I do not know what is causing the delays but WWE needs to stop making official announcements until whatever issues remain are sorted. Vince McMahon and George Barrios stated numerous times in last week's conference call the service would be available in November but didn't give a date. When WWE announced last week the service would launch for free in the United Kingdom on Monday, many got their hopes up. It's a Public Relations nightmare for WWE and yet another backwards step on the rocky road that has been the launch of the WWE Network.
Has the injury to Roman Reigns damaged his chances of main eventing Wrestlemania 31 or do you think he will be received better than ever like Dean Ambrose?
If Brock Lesnar goes over John Cena for a third time and retains the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Roman Reigns can't be booked as the challenger at Wrestlemania 31. The only person capable of such a feat would be The Rock and WWE would be forced into that match. If WWE does the right thing and gets the title off Lesnar, it's much less complicated. Getting Lesnar out of the title picture allows for him to have a part-time opponent, while giving someone like a returning Reigns a chance at the title. I expect the time off to help reenergize Reigns but the picture hasn't gotten much clearer since he left.
I was watching No Holds Barred on TV the other night while flipping through some channels. What has been your favorite crossover movie involving the wrestling business?
The wrestling business is so heavily engrained in pop culture it's difficult for me to pick something. When people ask me about wrestling-related films I always recommend Beyond the Mat and Wrestling With Shadows. As for fiction, The Wrestler is as good as it gets. WWE Studios has put out a lot of content in recent years but I'm not ashamed to say I've missed quite a few of them. However, the original See No Evil was pretty decent, and I liked The Condemned.
What were some of the first PPVs you went back and watched when you got the WWE Network, and what are some of your "editor's picks"?
The first pay-per-view I went back and watched on the WWE Network was WCW Bash at the Beach 1996. I believe that's the most important wrestling pay-per-view in the last 20 years, if not of all-time. Think, that's where the new World order officially formed and started the Monday Night War, led to the Attitude Era and resulted in what we have today. Money in the Bank 2011 is one of my favorite shows WWE has done in the past 5 years and going back through The Undertaker's streak is almost a WWE Network requirement. There's so much content I would write forever with recommendations but go watch Bash at the Beach and Money in the Bank 2011.
With the rumor going around that Vince McMahon may be interesting in selling WWE, I thought of an interesting question to ask you. Say McMahon did indeed sell WWE… to you! Who would you book as your main talent and who would you sign?
This is a difficult question where a definitive black and white answer is not possible. There is no set formula for success and if there was, Dixie Carter had all of the resources to implement it. The fact of the matter is Vince McMahon is very valuable and even though WWE is in a bit of a slump recently, that cannot be understated. Many have tried to get where Vince is and all have failed. Even people with money and resources -- including billionaire Ted Turner -- haven't been able to do it. I wouldn't want the daunting task of trying to figure out how to steer McMahon's empire and believe they would be in trouble without him behind it in some form.
Do you believe too much heel dominance has to do with viewers apathetic in regards to WWE's current product? For example, Brock Lesnar as WWE World Heavyweight Champion, The Authority unstoppable and Rusev's destruction of the company giants.
I believe a lack of interesting storylines account for most if not all of the viewer apathy currently plaguing WWE. This isn't just the fault of the writers. It's due to top guys being limited or injured, staff turnover, budget cuts and Vince McMahon's own indecisiveness. Issues like Lesnar's here today/gone tomorrow status, The Authority's never ending power and Rusev's continued protection (although my opinion on him has changed) just play into it. There could be more "feel good" moments but I don't think it's that simple when evaluating the current slump/creative rut.
What are your thoughts on the new WWE Network pricing plans? I feel like they won't work because people will just pick and choose which months they subscribe.
I disagree. I see WWE moving all WWE Network subscriptions to $9.99/month as a step in simplifying the process and making it easier to market their beloved $9.99. Up until November, the WWE Network was only $9.99 with a 6-month commitment, now you can literally get it for just $9.99/month. It's important to keep the process simple and I believe this will do that. I'm sure there are people that will cancel but I'm also sure there will be a lot of people that will continue to be billed monthly without interruption. I sure don't want my connection to the service interrupted. I don't like how so much effort has been put in marketing the price because they haven't focused on the fact it's a cutting-edge valuable product. Also, what are they going to do when they ultimately try to increase the price? That should make for some interesting TV.
Does it seem that Daniel Bryan's inclusion on Wrestlemania 31 promotional material means he'll be back?
No one knows. Not even Daniel Bryan. The fact Bryan is included in a new Wrestlemania 31 graphic released Monday to promote tickets going on sale provides optimism but nothing more. Bryan talked to Sports Illustrated about the situation and we recapped it at this link. The issue is the same as it's been for months. Bryan lacks strength in his right hand and doctors are unsure of how to get it back. Nerve issues are tricky and it's a waiting game until it either comes back on its own or a procedure/surgery is done to get it back.
If Darren Young returns soon, do you see him being anymore than a lower mid-card guy?
Darren Young dominated mainstream press when he made the courageous decision to come out before SummerSlam 2013. WWE didn't capitalize then, so it's hard for me to believe they'll capitalize now. While Young is a talented performer, there are a lot of names in front of him for one of the few upper mid card/main event spots. I don't see Young getting much more than what he's had but I hope I'm wrong. He's a fresh young talent and I do not believe he's reached anywhere near his full potential.
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