WWE’s Unprecedented Move Against CM Punk, Sudden Change To Cena’s Booking, Tons Of Backstage News

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Welcome to the WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium Newsletter. This is where you will find all of the big news and Ask WNW segments from the week neatly archived for your viewing pleasure. This week's edition covers news from Saturday, February 14, 2015 to Friday, February 20, 2015 as well as all five Ask WNW segments from the week. Use this newsletter as your own personal tool to catch up on any of the news that you may have missed during the week. Below is a table of contents:

Note From Richard: For those that have asked, the Newsletter is organized with the news posted on Saturday at the top with the most recent stories at the bottom. We have it organized this way so you can read the news in the order in which it happened. Thanks for your support!

Table Of Contents
- WWE News
- Other News
- Ask WNW & Premium Mailbag

WWE News

- For those that missed it in our live results, Xavier Woods worked his first match in a month on WWE’s second show in Abu Dhabi. Woods teamed with Big E to beat Gold & Stardust. He hasn’t worked since the January 13, 2015 WWE Main Event taping due to an ankle injury.

- The WWE Divas shot a Valentine’s Day photoshoot that you can preview at this link.

- Ric Flair provided interesting insight on why some fans reject Roman Reigns in a piece by GiveMeSport.com. In it, Flair said fans expect Reigns to be as good as The Rock.

Below is an excerpt:

”I don't pay a lot of attention to him talking on the mic but I think he's okay. Fans look at Roman and they want him to sound like The Rock and that isn't going to happen," Ric Flair explained in an exclusive interview with GiveMeSport.

"The Rock didn't become The Rock overnight either though. It took him a few years as well to nail down who he was and what he was about."

"It takes time for young talent to grow. It's not just a name, they've got to build a brand," added Flair.

"Fans have to become attached to the brand and that's hard to do and it takes more than one or two years. Legends like Steve Austin didn't just turn up and start talking like that either, it took him time as well.

"Roman [Reigns] has got so much talent that fans are going to have to be patient with him. It doesn't happen overnight. If people are upset with Roman it's not over a lack of talent. Fans are always going to have their opinion, but Roman has a fantastic future ahead of him.”

CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety.

Richard Reacts: Ric Flair makes good points but I think the expectation is that someone in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestlemania 31 should not be in need of further development. I'm not trying to start the flawed 'is he ready?' argument but just some food for thought within The Nature Boy's comments.

- This week’s episode of After Total Divas is online at this link.

- Below are video highlights from this week’s episode:

Natalya teaches her father a lesson in tough love: Total Divas, February 15, 2015
Nikki Bella has security open Brie's door after she doesn’t answer: Total Divas, February 15, 2015
Alicia Fox confronts her ex-boyfriend, Bad News Barrett: Total Divas, February 15, 2015

- There is much more to WWE pushing John Cena as the “old man veteran” in the program with Rusev. We reported here on Wrestling News World that WWE wants him to look more vulnerable in hopes he’s more of a babyface. There are also reports suggesting the company is moving him into a role similar to what Bruno Sammartino had when Bob Backlund was champion.

Expounding on all of that, WWE and Cena are locked in a passive aggressive battle right now and WWE is trying to protect themselves by phasing Cena into a role that paints him as less essential while not completely burying him as he is still making them a lot of money.

For those unaware, Cena has a production deal with Leftfield Pictures, who are a “heavy hitter” in the reality TV world. Cena was involved with putting together the 'Wrestling with Death' show on WGN America and is working on helping develop more shows for Leftfield.

WWE caught wind that in meeting with various networks, Leftfield has taken the temperature on what the interest would be in a John Cena reality show. A show that would be done without WWE's involvement or financial participation.

Obviously Total Divas has been largely built on the back of Nikki Bella's relationship with John Cena. Leftfield believes they could have a successful reality show with or without WWE and are hoping to use that as leverage to allow Cena to pursue a reality show on his own while slowing down his WWE schedule, but still working for them if they'll allow it.

We’re told Vince McMahon does not want to set the precedent that a current WWE superstar can go get their own reality show without WWE's involvement. If anybody would have the leverage to pull it off, it's Cena, but it's not a certainty by any means. As long as Cena is under contract, WWE would have the right to block the show.

Cena's people are posturing like he'd consider leaving WWE when his deal is up to pursue TV and movies full time if WWE is going to stand in the way of those kinds of opportunities.

It's been a tricky thing because Cena is usually the ultimate company man and feels like he's earned the right to pursue an outside reality show if he wants.

So far though, it's too early for anything to have even been brought to WWE for it to be shot down to begin with, but it's created a situation where both sides know that day could be coming and that's why you've seen the sudden shift in Cena's portrayal (as the “old man veteran").

Internally there's been a lot of confusion about why WWE would want to take Cena's character in that direction, but very few are aware that Cena has been pursuing his own reality show without WWE, let alone that WWE found out about it.

- Last week’s WWE-related social media controversy had to do with nude photos of NXT Diva Zahra Schreiber being Tweeted from the verified social media accounts of Seth Rollins. Nude photos of Rollins himself followed and Triple H even had to address it while promoting WWE NXT Takeover: Rival. This week, Cesaro is at the forefront of a social media controversy.

Several controversial Tweets were sent out from the verified Twitter account of Cesaro at Twitter.com/WWECesaro but have since been deleted. Wrestling News World reader Alex Restall caught a screen capture of some of the worst posts, one where it’s wished that Vince McMahon gets cancer.

The following Tweets were posted:

You know what? I’m sick of Vince McMahon and his bullshit. I don’t even get a chance to get the tag titles with Kidd now.

I hope that old man gets cancer, I would of been one of the best for sure in the WWE. But that old washed up has been has no idea.

Below is a screenshot:

Click here to load Photos/Tweets (if not loaded)

As noted, the Tweets have since been deleted and by all accounts were the result of a hacker. - Tickets for WWE Money in the Bank go on sale on Friday at 10 AM EST. As previously noted, the show will emanate from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday, June 14, 2015. I expect a presale for tickets at some point this week, we'll post the details when we get them. While there could always be more than one Money in the Bank ladder match, there will only be one title contract on the line in one of the bouts. Dot com has more at this link. - The WWE Fastlane Kickoff Show will air at 7 PM EST, an hour before the pay-per-view, this Sunday on the WWE Network. The Miz will host MizTV with special guest Paul Heyman. Heyman will discuss the match between Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns, and what it means for WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. - Ric Flair appeared on this week's Raw in a segment with Triple H. The segment was done to promote Triple H's face-to-face confrontation with Sting at WWE Fast Lane. - Dean Ambrose will challenge Bad News Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship at WWE Fast Lane. The match was confirmed on this week's Raw after Ambrose forced Barrett into signing a contract. - Tyson Kidd and Cesaro will face The Usos for the WWE Tag Team Championships at Fast Lane. - As noted earlier, Darren Young returned to TV on this week's Raw. Young and a local wrestler where scheduled to face The Ascension when a brawl ensued and Titus O'Neil made the save for Young. - The Bella Twins were at Wizard World Indianapolis over the weekend. While there, Brie Bella discussed the difference between NXT Divas and main roster Divas. Brie said if she was an NXT Diva, she wouldn’t want to get called up to the main roster because the NXT Divas get so much time down there. Brie said Divas get a lot of time at live events but when it comes to TV, they get so frustrated and it’s hard to tell a story in 3 minutes. You can watch here comments beginning at the 6 minute mark here. Richard Reacts: This is a very truthful comment from Brie Bella. I remember when NXT was first starting to evolve into its own brand, I was told there would be talent signed that would have "no chance" of being called up. As crazy as that sounded at the time, we're seeing it now. In addition to NXT being used to develop and season talent, it's also a stand alone brand that caters to the more hardcore wrestling-oriented segment of WWE's audience. - Vince McMahon is featured on the cover of the March 2015 issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine. You can view it below: Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

- The cover art for WWE’s home video release of ‘Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe’ is featured below:

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- 15,101 was the announced attendance from this week’s Monday Night Raw at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. The show was legitimately sold out. - Below are Raw Fallout videos from this week: A new look for Paige: Raw Fallout, February 16, 2015Are The Prime Time Players back?: Raw Fallout, February 16, 2015Problems in The Authority?: Raw Fallout, February 16, 2015 - Bray Wyatt reportedly vomited at ringside after the dark match main event at Monday’s Raw taping in Orlando, Florida. Wyatt went under to John Cena and according to fans in attendance, got sick. - Kevin Kross, known for his work with Future Stars of Wrestling, worked Raw as Darren Young’s unnamed tag team partner. - It was a rough night for Bray Wyatt on Monday. In addition to vomiting, he was cut open in the dark main event against John Cena off a botched spot. He was clearly under the weather and his work reflected that. Just for clarification, Wyatt got sick in the ring during the match. - Here’s another Raw Fallout video. This one features Ric Flair reacting to what I felt was a great segment with Triple H. - Remember when Emma was fired and rehired by WWE after a shoplifting arrest last summer? Check out what she had to say about Vince McMahon and his Muscle & Fitness cover: Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

- 2K announced new downloadable content for WWE 2K15 that chronicles the history of Mark Henry. CLICK HERE for more details.

- Daniel Bryan told Chuck Carroll of Turnbuckle Weekly he wasn’t actually medically cleared to return to the ring until the day before his first match back (which would have been January 12, 2015 as his first match back was against Kane that was taped on January 13, 2015 for Smackdown)

“I actually legitimately got cleared the day before my first match back,” Bryan said in the interview now online at this link.

Bryan said when he announced himself as an entrant in the 30-man Royal Rumble match he was about 90 percent sure certain everything would work out.

CLICK HERE to listen to the interview in its entirety.

- Dot com has a new article online questioning who Bray Wyatt is talking to in his cryptic segments. While the overwhelming assumption is that Wyatt is calling out The Undertaker for a match at Wrestlemania 31, we’re still unable to confirm The Dead Man for WWE’s show of the year.

In the dot com piece, they question if Wyatt is calling out John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Erick Rowan, Sting and of course Undertaker.

Here’s what is written about Undertaker:

There is another intriguing possibility, though: one that has all of us at WWE.com champing at the bit. What if The New Face of Fear were actually calling out The Undertaker? After all, The Demon of Death Valley does tend to re-emerge on The Road to WrestleMania, and Bray Wyatt is just the kind of darkness that would pique The Phenom’s interest. It only stands to reason that the two ominous figures would speak the same language. If fact, Wyatt’s most recent message shows him driving a spike into wood. What if that wood were a coffin, the very symbol of The Deadman? If it were true, the mind games that would occur between the two forces of nature would only be outdone by the epic collision that would surely follow on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

CLICK HERE for the dot com piece in its entirety.

Bray has been asked who the vignettes are about in media interviews, but he’s obviously not budging. I still expect Undertaker to answer them but it’s certainly getting to the point where we should find out for sure any week now.

- It all started on Monday when Manchester United overcame an early second half deficit of 1-0 to beat Preston North End 3-1 in the FA Cup.

JBL brought up the fact that Preston North End, the favorite team of Bad News Barrett, couldn’t get it done on Monday Night Raw but things didn’t stop there.

Barrett called out United striker Wayne Rooney on Twitter for diving to win a penalty late in the game, which ultimately sealed the victory for the Reds. The following is from Twitter:

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Rooney responded, challenging Barrett to a match of sorts: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

Things broke down from there, with Steve Austin even telling Wayne Rooney to embrace his baldness and Preston North End striker Kevin Davies signing off on the proposed bout as well:

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For those that do not know, I am a diehard Manchester United fan and this is quite possibly the most epic article I have ever been a part of.

As for Barrett, I'm afraid I've got some bad news - the Reds go marching on, on, on!

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- Our top story on Tuesday was that Samoa Joe has officially ended his near-decade run in TNA Wrestling after failing to come to terms on a new contract. While Joe will be 36 years old next month, which makes WWE signing him unlikely, it hasn't stopped the masses (including me) from encouraging Triple H to make the phone call. Paul Heyman Tweeted this: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

Joe was criminally underutilized in his latter days in TNA, with silly over the top gimmicks that failed to highlight his abilities. Joe was responsible for some of TNA's biggest pay-per-view buyrates in the company's history with Genesis 2006 and Lockdown 2008.

By all accounts, he and AJ Styles should have been the focal point of the promotion but were repeatedly mishandled by TNA's dysfunctional management and directionless creative team.

- While we no longer cover the frequent blogs of Jim Ross, he dropped the following nugget of information about WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar in a piece posted last Monday evening:

Sources are saying that it looks more promising that Brock Lesnar could well stay with WWE past WrestleMania due to concerns over long term health affects of competing in MMA specifically concussion oriented issues later in one's life. gain, these are 'sources' and how reliable they are can only be judged after WM31 and following the status of the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. One thing is certain, if UFC believes, and rightfully so in my view, that CM Punk will sell PPV's for at least his first two fights then what would a healthy Brock Lesnar mean to the UFC brand in a time where no combat sport company has a plethora of bona fide star power that can move the needle on the pay per view business.

CLICK HERE to read the blog in its original format.

What Jim Ross is hearing is something we’ve heard as well. While many believe Lesnar will leave WWE after Wrestlemania 31 next month, Vince McMahon is confident he will re-sign. In fact, we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium on January 30, 2015 that Vince is convinced he’ll get Brock to re-sign, almost “to a delusional degree.”

As things currently stand, Lesnar is booked for the Raw after Wrestlemania 31 but will be a free agent after that unless a contract extension is signed.

- Roman Reigns, John Cena and Dean Ambrose beat Big Show, Seth Rollins and Kane in a dark match main event after Tuesday’s Smackdown taping in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

- This week’s episode of Total Divas garnered an average viewing audience of 914,000 viewers on E, which makes it one of the least watched episodes in series history. The episode was down (-166,000) viewers from the week prior. As for where the audience was, Walking Dead did 12,267,000 viewers at 9 PM and the 2015 NBA All Star Game did 5,956,000 viewers. TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 cable shows among adults 25-54 for all of Sunday online at this link.

- WWE officials are very high up on Finn Balor, which is why he’s already in a program with Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship. Not only is Triple H firmly behind Balor but Vince McMahon is a fan as well. There is some concern about how the gimmick will translate on the main roster but he has a lot of momentum. It’s also worth mentioning that Balor wanted — and was given — assurances he wouldn’t require a lengthy stay at NXT in Florida. Balor wants to be on the main roster and would have stayed in Japan if not given these assurances.

- Vince McMahon is back on his tag team kick, which explains the reuniting of The Prime Time Players and The Lucha Dragons working on the main roster.

- The decision to do Goldust vs. Stardust at Fastlane is seen as rushed and was met with criticism among those that I spoke with.

- There are still a lot of moving parts with the Wrestlemania 31 card. Given the discussions, there is no reason to try and sort through them with specifics but we’ll note the booking of Fastlane will ultimately decide a lot of things. Booking plans for Sunday's pay-per-view have not yet been finalized. The only sure thing at this point is Triple H vs. Sting and Brock Lesnar defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the show next month. Many feel WWE will not be aborting main event plans for Roman Reigns and any suggestion is just a smokescreen.

- Michael Cole’s latest sit-down interview with Triple H is now online at this link. The interivew is fully intertwined with storylines heading into WWE Fastlane, specifically focusing on John Cena vs. Rusev, Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns and of course Hunter’s confrontation with Sting. Hunter said he’s apologized to Ric Flair for pushing down on Monday Night Raw. While I used to really get into these kayfabe affairs, Hunter’s repetitive tone is starting to wear thin on me.

- This week’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw garnered an average viewing audience of 3,997,333 viewers on the USA Network. Below is how the show did each hour:

Hour one - 4,138,000 viewers
Hour two - 4,026,000 viewers
Hour three - 3,828,000 viewers

The audience was up +339,333 viewers from the week priorAverage – 3,762,667 viewers and saw increases from each hour in the go-home to Fastlane episode. The audience did leak off as the show aired as 310,000 viewers tuned out from hour one to hour three.

TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 cable shows in adults 25-54 for all of Monday at this link.

- Rhyno is back with WWE, working down in NXT. His return match aired on this week’s episode on the WWE Network as he squashed Elias Sampson.

See also - WWE NXT Results (2/18/15) – Rhyno & Solomon Crowe Debut

Rhyno was also in action at Wednesday’s NXT tapings, where he had three matches filmed for future episodes. You can read our complete taping results at this link.

Rhyno’s return comes as NXT is now more established as its own brand. While the main purpose of NXT will always be to develop new talent, it’s no longer it’s only purpose. With NXT likely a full touring brand by next year, there will be talent brought in for the sole purpose of working there.

WWE has a couple kayfabe pieces about his return, first a video with William Regal talking about it at this link. Additionally, dot com has a feature article online at this link.

- Cassandra Frazier, the widow of Big Daddy V (Nelson Frazier), has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against WWE.

In the suit, Frazier alleges WWE concealed information, misrepresented research, or misinformed her husband and other WWE stars on the health risks associated with performing for them and the long-term health risks of repeated blows to the head/neck region.

Big Daddy V died on February 18, 2014 from a massive heart attack after collapsing following a shower at his home.

It’s stated in the lawsuit that V had physical issues stemming from his career in the ring. Issues detailed include large knots on his head, scar tissue on his skull that formed permanent lumps and indentations to his skull. Prior to his death, it’s stated V had lost most of his short-term memory, which resulted in difficulty performing basic tasks. He also suffered from severe migraines, severe depression and long-term brain damage.

The lawsuit is comprehensive and makes reference to CM Punk’s comments on Colt Cabana’s podcast last November, where he called into question WWE’s concussion protocol.

Cassandra is seeking compensatory and general damages, special and incidental damages, punitive damages, costs and disbursements for attorney fees, trial by jury and general relief.

Wade Keller’s PWTorch.com website has uploaded the entire lawsuit at this link. James Caldwell went through all 124 pages of the lawsuit and filed a report at this link.

Cassandra blasted WWE and Vince McMahon in the days after her husband’s death. She specifically warned Vince that she was going to “starting telling everything” she knew. She later apologized and put the company over for taking care of her following her husband’s passing.

- We reported earlier in the week that several Wrestlemania 31 programs would be finalized following Sunday’s WWE Fastlane pay-per-view.

Below are some notes on each of the bouts:

  • I’ve been told numerous times that Roman Reigns is a lock for a main event match at Wrestlemania 31. There are serious doubts he will actually be removed from the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Brock Lesnar and many feel the stopgap program with Daniel Bryan is for cosmetic purposes only. A triple threat for the title at Wrestlemania — also involving Bryan — hadn’t been ruled out as of a couple weeks ago but Reigns is favorited to beat Bryan at Fastlane on Sunday.
  • Dean Ambrose’s program with Bad News Barrett for the WWE Intercontinental Championship is because WWE doesn’t want him to become an afterthought during Wrestlemania season. Ambrose is currently favored to win the title on Sunday. Barrett’s reign as Intercontinental Champion, which began on January 5, 2015, has been very underwhelming, often featuring him going under in non-title matches. Barrett did please company officials with the amount of mainstream press he picked them up with the Wayne Rooney Tweets.
  • Vince McMahon is once again back on his tag team kick and The Usos are one of the favorite teams carrying the company forward. Triple H is high up on the pairing of Tyson Kidd and Cesaro but they’re underdogs on Sunday.
  • In regards to John Cena vs. Rusev, there’s a small possibility they do not face one another at Wrestlemania 31. If they do, which is something we’ve expected for quite some time, it’s hard not to envision some type of dirty finish on Sunday. This match seems to be as up in the air as any on the WWE Fastlane card.

WWE Fastlane will take place on Sunday from the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. We’ll have complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- Jim Ross, who oversaw Talent Relations in WWE in the early 2000s and worked as a talent scout in his latter days with the company, wrote the following about Samoa Joe possibly working for them:

Lots of questions about Samoa Joe leaving TNA and where I think that Joe will end up. I don't know the answer to that question but I can say that I'm a fan of Joe's work and that I feel that he will stay as busy as he chooses to be. Joe could be a valuable asset to WWE as it relates to working with young talents who need to work with someone better than them to learn. Sometimes change can be a good thing for all involved. Nonetheless I can* see how Samoa Joe, put in the proper role, could be an asset to WWE.

* = edited typographical error

To read JR’s latest in its entirety, head on over to JRsBarBQ.com.

There has been a lot of buzz about Samoa Joe since he announced he decided to part ways with TNA Wrestling. Joe’s contract was up and and extension couldn’t be agreed upon.

Joe already has plenty of interest from independent promoters but the mainstream audience wants to know if there is any chance he goes to WWE. His age (going on 36 next month) and WWE’s invalidation of success outside of their ring works against him. Some feel Triple H is interested from an NXT usage standpoint, but I wouldn't put a lot in said reports.

I certainly believe WWE will miss a huge opportunity if they do not at least try to acquire the services of Joe, but we all know the political mountain and obstacles that such a run would entail.

- As previously noted here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Vince McMahon — ripped even at 69 — graces the cover of the March 2015 issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine. The feature includes a Q&A where he reveals his favorite WWE Superstar. Below is what Vince said:

”That would be Undertaker because of his loyalty, his longevity, and his extraordinary commitment to his character. We have lots of fun creating fun. [Superstars] try to crack each other up from time to time, and we all have tried to get Undertaker to break character, and we can’t do it. He is such a professional and an extraordinary human being behind the character. He’s committed to his craft and has worked through his injuries.”

While Undertaker is still not confirmed for Wrestlemania 31 this year, he remains heavily rumored for a match against Bray Wyatt.

- Seth Rollins name dropped The Daily Show’sJon Stewart in a promo on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. You can watch a highlight at this link. Stewart released a video response that you can watch at this link.

- WWE has issued a statement regarding Cassandra Frazier -- the widow of Big Daddy V (Nelson Frazier) -- filing a wrongful death lawsuit against them:

"WWE has not been served with a lawsuit by Cassandra Frazier. If served, we will vigorously contest this lawsuit brought by the same lawyers who have been soliciting people to sue WWE without merit."

- Grahame Herbert — who works as the WWE and UFC editor at WhatCulture — Tweeted the following to Paul Heyman:

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Heyman responded with the following Tweets: Click here to load Tweets (if not loaded)

- Dot com posted a kayfabe interview with WWE NXT Champion Kevin Owens at this link. - WWE has posted the following video content: Who’s Your Celebrity Lookalike? - WWE Inbox 159Eva Marie questions her dad's health during a trip: Total Divas Preview Clip, February 22, 2015Natalya finds out her parents’ home was flooded: Total Divas Preview Clip, February 22, 2015Unseen footage of the wild brawl between Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns - WWE and Mattel have released their Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns box set ahead of Wrestlemania 31. You can view an image of the set already in stores that I Tweeted out below: Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

Take from this what you will but as I noted here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, the overwhelming belief is the company is not entertaining the idea of removing Roman Reigns from the Wrestlemania 31 main event. However, if we had to guess, this set was probably produced at the beginning of December. Reigns vs. Lesnar has been a long-standing creative plan.

- WWE Senior Ringside Physician Dr. Chris Amann has filed a defamation lawsuit against CM Punk and Colt Cabana over comments made on Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast last November.

See also - Full Transcription Of Colt Cabana’s Interview With CM Punk

Amann claims Punk (whose real name is Philip Brooks) and Cabana (whose real name is Scott Colton) made false statements about him, were defamatory and put him in a false light by improperly insinuating “a lack of integrity … and/or inability or lack of competence to perform his professional duties as a medical doctor.”

Amann is seeking more than $1 million in compensatory damages, as well as an undetermined amount of punitive damages.

In the suit, Amann claimed Punk “repeatedly and falsely impugned the integrity” of him as a doctor by saying he misdiagnosed a growth on Punk’s back as a fatty deposit and disregarded requests to remove it.

The suit alleges that Punk never sought treatment for or showed him the lump and that he never prescribed Punk antibiotics for a lump or concussion. A lengthy transcript of the podcast was provided as an exhibit.

Amann alleges Cabana helped Punk falsely depict him as a lazy and bad doctor. He claims they “knowingly fabricated the false and disparaging statements” about him, knowing they would be heard by others.

His complaint stated the statements made by Cabana and Punk “are highly offensive in that they accuse [him] of a gross lack of integrity as a medical doctor, an inability to perform his professional duties as a medical doctor, and in placing the financial interest of his employer above life-threatening health conditions of his patients.”

CLICK HERE for complete coverage by The Cook County Legal Journal.

- The average secondary market price for WWE Fastlane tickets is $126.59 per ticket, according to TiqIQ.com. This makes the tickets the second most expensive WWE event in Memphis, TN in the past 5 years. The #OccupyRaw episode of Monday Night Raw that emanated from the city on March 14, 2014 featured the highest secondary market ticket price at an average of $191.76 per ticket.

- Seth Rollins, Big Show & Kane vs. Erick Rowan, Ryback & Dolph Ziggler and Goldust vs. Stardust are now official for WWE Fastlane.

Below is the final advertised lineup for Sunday’s show:

No. 1 Contender’s Match
Winner will challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31
- Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns

Face to Face Confrontation
- Sting responds to Triple H

WWE United States Championship Match
- Rusev w/Lana (c) vs. John Cena

6-man Tag Team Match
- Big Show, Kane & Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan & Ryback

WWE Divas Championship Match
- Nikki Bella w/Brie Bella (c) vs. Paige

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
- Bad News Barrett (c) vs. Dean Ambrose

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
- The Usos w/Naomi (c) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd w/Natalya

Kickoff Segment
- MizTV with Paul Heyman

I have backstage news on Fastlane match outcomes online at this link. WWE Fastlane will take place on Sunday from the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. We’ll have complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- WWE has fully embraced Jon Stewartresponding to Seth Rollins’ promo on him, with Rollins inviting Stewart to Fastlane on Sunday or himself to The Daily Show.

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- The Rock confirmed on his verified Twitter account on Thursday that he’ll be presenting at the 87th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday. Dot com covered the Tweet at this link and you can view it below: Click here to load Photos/Tweet (if not loaded)

It’s clear WWE isn’t afraid of the Academy Awards going head-to-head with WWE Fastlane on the WWE Network. They even have a fantasy piece of WWE invading the 2015 Academy Awards at this link.

- Diamond Dallas Page provided an update on his health, where he reveals he actually had a staph infection in his throat. You can read his update below:

Hey Guys
I just wanna give you an UPDATE! I saw Dr. Carothers yesterday and he says I have a really bad staph infection in my throat but because of the operation everything is on the Heal now... BELIEVE IT OR NOT! I didn't TALK for 2 days and have been speaking with a soft tone for the last 5 but today I'm picking up the volume a little. Hopefully I'll be good to start teaching class next week. As for the DDPY WORKSHOPS and PERSONAL APPEARANCES... EVERYTHING IS ON and I can't wait to see you ALL! Again THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the well wishes they were actually really AMAZING smile emoticon Now Keep up the Great work and keep me posted! Also there are many DDPeeps out there that were concerned so would you mind SHARING this POST so the word gets out that I'm BACK! DDP

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- This week’s episode of WWE Smackdown did an average viewing audience of 2,403,000 viewers on SyFy. That number is down (-193,000 viewers) from the week prior. TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 cable shows among adults 18-49 for all of Thursday at this link. - This week’s episode of Smackdown Fallout features The Bella Twins and is online at this link. - WWE Hall of Famer Scott Hall Tweeted the following about visiting the WWE Performance Center this week: Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

- Dot com has a feature article titled, “9 venues that should host Wrestlemania” online at this link.

- This week’s episode of The JBL (Not Cole) Show is online at this link.

- The International Business Times has a new interview online with Paige at this link.

- In an unprecedented move, WWE has addressed CM Punk’s claims against their medical staff and Dr. Chris Amann’s defamation lawsuit against him and Colt Cabana.

See also - WWE Physician Suing CM Punk & Colt Cabana For Defamation

WWE published the following here on their official website:

In light of CM Punk's allegations regarding WWE’s medical staff and the subsequent defamation lawsuit filed by Dr. Amann against CM Punk, WWE continues to have the utmost confidence in the ability and expertise of our world-class team of physicians, including Dr. Amann.

CM Punk claimed this past November that during the Royal Rumble pay-per-view event on January 26, 2014, he performed with a baseball-sized, purple lump on his back located near the waistband of his tights.

WWE’s investigation has shown the following:

CM Punk did not discuss this alleged condition with WWE’s team of physicians and trainers, nor did he discuss it with anyone in our Talent Relations department.
Subsequently, WWE has no medical records documenting this alleged condition.

The first time WWE was made aware of this alleged condition was when we received a letter from CM Punk’s attorney on August 22, 2014, after WWE terminated his contract.

There is clear video evidence from the 2014 Royal Rumble, which allows all to decide whether there is any appearance of a baseball-sized growth on CM Punk’s back.

They embedded video of Punk working in the 2014 Royal Rumble match that features close-up shots of Punk’s back in slow motion. You can watch it at this link.

Other News

- Crimson and Sonjay Dutt are among former TNA talent that worked this week’s tapings from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Crimson, who is played by Tommy Mercer, went under to Samuel Shaw in a match taped for TNA Xplosion. He’s an interesting situation as he had a recent tryout with WWE and was expected to be offered a deal with the company after Wrestlemania 31. We have more at this link.

- Eddie Edwards went down with a possible ankle injury at Sunday's TNA Xtravaganza taping from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.

Wrestling News World'sScott Brooks was in attendance at the taping and noted that Edwards needed to be helped out. We're unable to offer additional details at press time.

I tweeted the following:

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- We reported here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com on Sunday afternoon that Eddie Edwards suffered a possible ankle injury at the TNA Xtravaganza taping in Orlando, Florida. Following up on that report, Edwards was taken to a local medical facility where he was diagnosed with a broken heel. The injury happened during a sequence on the floor when Edwards did a backflip off the apron and landed on his feet as part of a match with Davey Richards. They “went home” about a minute after the spot, as medics and Tommy Dreamer came out and assisted him to the back. We have complete Xtravaganza PPV taping results online at this link. - While rumored to land a WWE developmental deal after Wrestlemania 31, it appears that Crimson is back with TNA Wrestling going forward. He’s worked the past couple of “One Night Only” pay-per-views and stated in a promo at Monday’s Classic pay-per-view taping that he’s back. - Former WWE talent Mason Ryan worked a dark match prior to Sunday’s TNA World Cup of Wrestling pay-per-view taping from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. - The Great Muta is scheduled to wrestle at Monday night’s TNA tapings in Orlando. - Samoa Joe Tweeted that he's decided to part ways with TNA Impact Wrestling. The following is from Twitter: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

TNA Executive Vice President of Creative & Talent Relations John Gabruick indicated it was a situation where Joe's contract was up and they could not agree on an extension. The following is from Twitter:

Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

This truly is an end of an era for TNA. Samoa Joe signed with them on June 14, 2005 and has held every belt in the company, including the TNA Championship. Joe rose to prominence through his work in Ring of Honor after training with John Cena in Ultimate Pro Wrestling in the early 2000s. Details regarding his future are unknown at press time. - Last week's episode of Impact Wrestling garnered an average viewing audience of 454,000 viewers on Destination America. The replay that proceeded it did 142,000 viewers. The first run airing was down (-71,000 viewers) from the week prior. The numbers were delayed due to Monday being President's Day in the United States of America. - TNA Wrestling issued the following statement — penned by John Gaburick — regarding Samoa Joe’s departure from the company:

Upon expiration of Samoa Joe's contract, TNA and Joe have mutually agreed to part ways. We would like to thank Samoa Joe for 9 great years. Joe will always be a valued member of our family. We wish him all the best. John Gaburick - Executive Vice President, Television and Talent

CLICK HERE for the post on the official TNA website. We ran the story earlier, Joe Tweeted he had decided to part ways with TNA Impact Wrestling. Gaburick clarified it was a situation of his contract being up and the two parties being unable to agree on an extension. - Following-up on a story we brought you last week about Spike TVconsidering dipping their toe back in the water in terms of pro wrestling, we’re told they actually had preliminary talks with Ring of Honor for monthly specials. We’re told Spike was concerned about ROH’s production quality as well as their lack of mainstream name talent. Spike would have wanted upgrades on both fronts. There were some in ROH that were intrigued by the idea, especially with their iPPV business not thriving, but the corporate people at Sinclair do not want to pour anymore money into ROH, not to mention they were not keen on the idea of their exclusive franchise not being exclusive anymore. With Sinclair tightening up Ring of Honor’s budget, it’s causing problems. In fact, we’ve heard some of their contracted talent have been getting paid late. Apparently one of the issues relating to finances within the company has to do with them refunding more money than they ever expected with their iPPVs. There are also issues with their relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling in terms of handing the expenses on the next set of planned shows with them. - We’re continuing to follow the reaction of Samoa Joe leaving TNA Wrestling and it’s as you would probably expect. A lot of disappointment. Taz Tweeted the following that has now been removed from his verified account:

Just sucks 2 hear @SamoaJoe leaving TNA. He will do great things & continue his excellence. Dont know what else to say & dont agree. — TAZ (@OfficialTAZ) February 18, 2015

Other Tweets from TNA personalities are as follows: Click here to load Tweets (if not loaded)

While we can’t confirm why Samoa Joe didn’t re-sign with TNA Wrestling, would it surprise anyone if it was over money? We reported on February 10, 2015 here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium that TNA offered former WWE star Alberto Del Rio $6500 per shot with 65 dates guaranteed a year, which would have made him the highest paid talent in the company.

No disrespect to Del Rio but why would TNA make such an exuberant offer to someone that hasn’t worked for them and let guys like Joe (and AJ Styles) walk? The fact TNA has allowed two of their flagship stars — guys that should have remained with them for their careers - go says everything about how it is managed.

- Former TNA Knockout Velvet Sky Tweeted the following reaction about Samoa Joe leaving:

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Sky was recently released from TNA when she was not retained. Her boyfriend, Bubba Ray Dudley, Tweeted this to Destination America about her departure: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

Just to reiterate what we’ve already wrote, TNA’s decisions on talent are just mind boggling. The names they choose to pay over the names they refuse to pay deserve nothing more than strong criticism.

- Sharjeel Ahmed from the BBC did a lengthy sit-down interview with Bobby Lashley when TNA Wrestling was overseas on their 2015 Maximum Impact tour. You can watch it at this link.

Ask WNW & Premium Mailbag

I know you always warn us that the WWE Hall of Fame is a promotional tool for Wrestlemania, but still, should Rikishi be in the Hall of Fame? Does his body of work warrant the honor?

While there is a promotional component to the WWE Hall of Fame, everyone in it will tell you it’s very much an honor. While there is no formal voting process or criteria for one to be inducted, being inducted is still one of the highest honors a pro wrestling personality can accomplish. The inductions of Bruno Sammartino, Ultimate Warrior and “Macho Man” Randy Savage over the past three years have taken it a long way in helping legitimize it.

As for Rikishi, below is an overview of his accomplishments in WWE:

  • 1 time WWE Tag Team Champion (w/Scotty 2 Hotty)
  • 2 time World Tag Team Champion (1 w/Samu 1 w/Rico)
  • 1 time WWF Intercontinental Champion

While that may seem “thin” to some readers, Koko B. Ware was inducted in 2009 and never held a title in WWE.

Some people get confused with the Celebrity Wing and think because people like Drew Carey are in, anyone can get in. It’s important to remember the Celebrity Wing is considered separate and provides WWE a mainstream tie-in to honor celebrities that have been part of the company’s history.

I believe if we look at Rikishi’s longevity, how well he got over, in addition to his body of work, he’s worth an “undercard” WWE Hall of Fame induction. It would be one thing if he was “headlining” or if he held nothing more than an enhancement role but neither of those scenarios are the case.

Are there any concerns about Kevin Owens' look? Even with a shirt on, his belly is very noticeable and that's been an issue before with other talent.

Kevin Owens has an endomorphic body type. That’s just how his body is and how it has always been. WWE knew that when they signed him, everyone that’s a fan of his work knows that and I don’t see it being a big issue. Triple H in particular is very high up on how well developed Owens is and sees him as one of the company’s top prospects.

Dusty Rhodes has an endomorphic body type and is one of the greatest of all time.

Having said that, we know Vince McMahon is traditionally more hesitant when it comes to giving someone that doesn’t look like The Incredible Hulk a viable main event push. For years, many of us have wondered why Samoa Joe hasn’t received an opportunity in WWE. Look is the best possible explanation but truly, it’s difficult to dissect and/or understand the WWE mindset (proof (the Santa explanation not the overall point)).

I personally feel all aspects of a worker should be evaluated before a determination is made on their career. Thankfully, in 2015, that seems to be more realistic than it’s ever been before.

Would WWE seriously turn Roman Reigns heel and Brock Lesnar babyface? If so, what happens to Seth Rollins and his Money in the Bank briefcase?

Yes, I believe WWE would turn both Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar if they feel that’s the best way to get the most out of both performers. It’s interesting to monitor Roman Reigns in this program with Daniel Bryan but I believe he’s going to be fine.

As for Seth Rollins and his Money in the Bank briefcase, his title shot gives WWE options. These options do not hinge on any other performer and add a compelling aspect to any program for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

I will use this opportunity to boast on the development of Seth Rollins since winning the Money in the Bank briefcase. While I knew Rollins had great potential as Tyler Black in Ring of Honor, I don’t know if I saw him coming this far this quick. He’s a bonafide top star and I believe WWE’s developmental system deserves a lot of credit for that.

Do you ever foresee another debut like that of which we saw with Brock Lesnar, or do you see any and all future debuts going through NXT first before coming up? I believe that a debut of an unknown guy could really be fresh and unpredictable instead of always knowing who is debuting now and their story right off the bat.

Brock Lesnar went through WWE’s developmental system in Ohio Valley Wrestling before he was called up to the main roster in 2002. Prior to NXT, WWE used to sub-contract independent promotions as “official developmental territories.” These promotions were subsidized by WWE to help with talent development.

In Triple H’s rise to power, he pushed for WWE to takeover talent develop on their own and create NXT. This coincides with the Performance Center, NXT the brand, etc.

What WWE has now is a way to sign promising prospects, develop them their way and even test them out on the WWE Network (through NXT the brand) before calling them up to the main roster. It’s brilliant. The more hardcore fans — like you and I — get to know the performer before they ever make it to Raw. This helps familiarize a portion of the audience with a performer, which keeps the company from having to start cold.

As we’ve seen, sometimes it works (Bray Wyatt) and sometimes it doesn’t (Adam Rose).

Last year, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was one of the most hyped bouts of the Wrestlemania XXX undercard. However, it’s clear the victory did nothing to enhance the career of Cesaro. What are the chances WWE does another one this year?

The 30-man Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was billed as the inaugural edition, also meant to pay homage to 30 years of Wrestlemania. I haven’t heard if WWE plans to do it again [at Wrestlemania 31] but it’s one of those things I knew immediately wouldn’t work. My argument was directly linked to the Money in the Bank ladder match (which was taken off Wrestlemania a few years prior). Why eliminate a fun undercard match that meant something and replace it with an overdone concept that means nothing?

Not only did I think it was a bad idea to do a 30-man battle royal just a couple months after the 30-man Royal Rumble (that failed in 2014 too) but I didn’t understand the hype because the winner was awarded with a trophy.

WWE used the match to put over Cesaro but then aligned him with Paul Heyman. Well, this didn’t work because they had been positioning Cesaro as a babyface with his Giant Swing and Heyman had more heat than ever because of being Brock Lesnar’s manager when he ended The Undertaker’s streak.

So the match didn’t mean anything and it did nothing for Cesaro. If the company wants to rehash a gimmick match for the Wrestlemania undercard, it should be the Money in the Bank ladder match.

Steve Austin previously teased a retirement match against CM Punk. Now that Punk has retired from pro wrestling, do you see Austin coming back to face someone else?

Steve Austin hasn’t wrestled in 12 years, yet people still continue to ask if he’ll return to the ring. It’s not completely without merit, as Austin himself has teased he would be able to work “one more match” and a match against CM Punk is something I myself have said I would like to see. However, with CM Punk retired from the ring as well, that match looks as unlikely as ever.

Austin will be 51 years old this year and obviously won’t be working Wrestlemania 31 next month. With Wrestlemania 32 emanating next year from Texas, I’m sure there will be more rumors of one final dream match. Obviously a match with CM Punk won’t happen but I doubt there would be a shortage of possible opponents. I personally feel like we’ve seen the last of Austin in the ring but I certainly wouldn’t be against it if he’s healthy, willing and able.

Further, it’s clear Austin has a good relationship with WWE and his live podcast interviews have helped the WWE Network. We’ll list another Austin match as unlikely but remind everyone we never say never.

With WWE starting to air return vignettes for Sheamus, do you think it’s possible for him to return at Fastlane, cost Daniel Bryan his match against Roman Reigns and set up Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan III at Wrestlemania 31?

I doubt WWE would air return vignettes for Sheamus if they planned to have him return as a surprise run-in at WWE Fastlane. It’s certainly not impossible but seems unlikely. I have heard WWE wants Sheamus working as a heel and with Daniel Bryan far from a lock for the title match at Wrestlemania, we can’t rule out a third bout between the two. So far, I have heard three scenarios for Bryan at Wrestlemania. A match against Dolph Ziggler, a match against Sheamus and a possible insertion in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.

With the recent signings of Kevin Owens (Kevin Steen) & Finn Balor (Prince Devitt) and how well they are treated within WWE NXT, do you think there is interest from top indy workers like AJ Styles and a potential return of Chris Hero?

AJ Styles will be 38 years old this year and is under contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling. With every year that passes it seems more and more unlikely that he’ll ever get an opportunity to work for WWE. From the WWE side, they see him as someone they would have to put through their developmental system and basically “start from scratch” on. While we can all agree Styles wouldn’t need “seasoned,” he would need to adapt to the WWE style. It seems awful late in his career for that to happen.

As for Chris Hero, he hoped to be back when he was let go and will continue to work towards that goal. Hero will be 36 this year, so time is running out for him as well.

From the Ask WNW vault...

March 2013: What happened to Ranjin Singh? - Ranjin Singh, whose real name is David Kapoor, is the head WWE creative writer for Monday Night Raw.

Is it just me or did it seem like Daniel Bryan was taking a heel role during the brawl with Roman Reigns at the end of Raw? Do you think this may have been done to get Roman Reigns over a little bit more so fans wont be as upset if WWE goes forward with the Reigns/Lesnar main event?

We had a couple readers feel that Daniel Bryan played the heel at the end of Raw but that’s not how I saw it. I saw it as Bryan “being upset” about Roman Reigns interfering in his match against The Big Show and two guys vying for the main event at Wrestlemania 31. I thought the closing segment of Monday Night Raw was very well done and helped push Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns as a “big fight” that is worthy of headlining the show before Wrestlemania.

While this stopgap Bryan vs. Reigns program was very much in response to Royal Rumble criticism, it has worked and shown me that not only is Daniel Bryan still over like rover but Reigns is going to be just fine. I am genuinely excited for their encounter at Fastlane and feel fans will accept the outcome. If Bryan goes over Reigns, he “worked for it” in typical Daniel Bryan fashion but if Reigns goes over Bryan, he proved his worth for the Wrestlemania main event.

The closing segment on this week’s Raw had a more positive impact on the build to Fastlane than anything I’ve seen since Royal Rumble last month.

Being that Fastlane is the last pay-per-view before Wrestlemania, is the best that we can expect out of this show is dirty finishes?

The objective of WWE Fastlane is to enhance the build to Wrestlemania 31 but the way the show was portrayed on this week’s Raw, it’s an important event. I think a clean outcome between Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan is warranted because the program is not going to continue to the pay-per-view next month. Even if WWE puts both Reigns and Bryan in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, it will be about opposing Lesnar and the title, not about their underlying beef. John Cena vs. Rusev is a program I’m expecting to continue, so I could see a dirty finish there. My expectations for Fastlane are high as I believe WWE needs a strong show to continue the build to Wrestlemania and entice the free WWE Network signups to become paid subscribers for next month.

What are your thoughts on having a second Money in the Bank ladder match in which the winner has the choice of cashing in on either the Intercontinental or United States Champion?

This idea is similar to what TNA Wrestling does with the “Feast or Fired” briefcases but I’m just not sure there’s enough interest in the Intercontinental or United States titles to make a Money in the Bank ladder match for their No. 1 contendership worth it. The magic of the Money in the Bank ladder match is the winner gets a shot for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship with a high percentage of successfully becoming champion. WWE has watered it down in recent years but I feel trying to make the gimmick match for anything less would do nothing but devalue the concept further. If there is a second Money in the Bank ladder match at the pay-per-view in June, I would expect it to be for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship itself.

The current plan is for one Money in the Bank ladder match at the pay-per-view to determine the No. 1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

I've recently stepped out of WWE's shadow and have begun watching other companies and so far I'm loving it! It really has increased my appreciation for wrestling! What do you think of the other companies like ROH, NJPW, Lucha Underground and TNA and who are your favorites?

I follow promotions outside of WWE and am probably the most pleased with New Japan Pro Wrestling out of the companies that you listed. NJPW seems to be ahead of WWE in their approach to feuds and big matches in 2015. Sometimes it feels like WWE looks in their “rearview” and tries to recapture what used to work. My biggest problem with TNA Wrestling is even through their revamp, I don’t see a lot of innovation. Ring of Honor is fine for athletic wrestling matches but it's not what it once was. I’ve seen some of Lucha Underground and think it’s good because it’s different. I explained more in a Premium Mailbag back in December.

Out of all the non-WWE options, I still think the NXT specials are some of the best pro wrestling shows available. I realize that makes me sound like some type of “WWE mark” but the fact of the matter is, WWE’s resources are unmatched. They are able to put together a superior product and when they “hone in” on the wrestling-savvy audience, like they do with NXT, they put together a very entertaining product.

Couple their production resources and unlimited budget with superior talent like Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor and the shows are must-see. I’ll go as far as saying the WWE Network is worth $9.99/month alone just for NXT.

From the Ask WNW vault…

July 2012: What has the reaction been like in WWE to the monster rating the 1000th Raw the show did? Do you think Vince McMahon looks at it as people having renewed interest or just a one time fluke? - WWE is thrilled with the rating of the 1000th episode of Raw and they should be. As we talked about here in Ask WNW, the company immediately issued a press release to tout the success of the large viewership. I have not heard from sources close to Vince McMahon what he thought and would be scared to speculate, however, I feel it shows the audience is still there. Whether or not that audience tunes in weekly or buys the monthly pay-per-views all has to do with the quality of the product. The company showed with Wrestlemania XXVIII they could get people to buy their product. WWE should strive to make every show “must-see programming,” treating them as a “big deal” to spark interest. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying pay-per-views are going to go be able to compete with Wrestlemania or weekly TVs can exceed the viewership of the biggest show to date but there is a large differential in the averages and these spikes. If WWE were to make their shows of more importance, I feel it could significantly boost ratings. This will, however, be very challenging by trying to come up with three hours of live TV each week.

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.

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