Why Lesnar Isn’t Happy w/WWE, Big Departure, AJ Calls Out Steph McMahon - WWE Wrestling News World

Why Lesnar Isn’t Happy w/WWE, Big Departure, AJ Calls Out Steph McMahon

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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 21, 2015 to Friday, February 27, 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

- There is a photo circulating available on the official WWE website that shows what appears to be a large mass on the back of CM Punk from the company’s Night of Champions pay-per-view on September 15, 2013. You can view it at this link.

To refresh your memory, Punk faced Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman in a 2-on-1 handicap elimination match on the show. Ryback came out and got involved, which obviously resulted in the photo.

In an unprecedented move, WWE challenged Punk’s allegations against their medical staff and mentioned Dr. Chris Amann’s defamation lawsuit against him and Colt Cabana in a public WWE.com post on Friday. Included in their coverage was a 3:40 video of closeup shots of Punk's back that did not show the mass at Royal Rumble on January 26, 2014.

You can watch the video, if you really want to look at Punk’s backside for nearly four minutes, at this link.

- Vince McMahon continued his “reach for the brass ring” rhetoric in his feature interview in the March 2015 issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine. When asked what advice he had for aspiring Superstars, McMahon said:

“Reach for the brass ring. Don’t be happy with just making the team. It’s important to not be concerned with failure and not be afraid of making a fool out of yourself. You know when I was my character, I did all kinds of things that to the normal personal would be humiliating. But it was a character, and I think you can’t be afraid of failing in front of a live audience. You need to learn from it and accept it. Don’t be afraid to try new things.”

In another part of the interview, Vince revealed Undertaker as his favorite Superstar.

- WWE Tweeted on their verified Twitter account on Friday they are in the corner of Floyd Mayweather for his title bout against Manny Pacquiao on May 2, 2015 in Las Vegas.

You can view that Tweet below:

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Darren Young, who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, is supporting Pacquiao. Below is his reasoning: Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

- Randy Orton made his return to WWE following the opening match at WWE Fast Lane. Seth Rollins, Big Show, and Kane went over Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, and Erick Rowan and then continued to attack the babyfaces. Orton came out and cleared the ring, with Rollins running away.

As we've noted here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Orton is slated for a WrestleMania 31 program with Seth Rollins.

- WWE will return to the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee for Monday Night Raw on September 14. The pre-sale is not live yet, but the password is WWERAW.

- Tyson Kidd and Cesaro beat The Usos at WWE Fast Lane to win the WWE Tag Team Championships. This marks Cesaro's first WWE Tag Team Championship reign, while it's Kidd's third.

- The announced attendance for Fast Lane was 13,263.

- Triple H and Sting met face-to-face in the ring at WWE Fast Lane. Triple H's promo resulted in a brawl between that featured the appearances of Triple H's sledge hammer and Sting's bat. Sting pointed to the WrestleMania sign, further teasing a singles match between the two next month.

WWE later announced in the show that we will see Triple H vs. Sting at WrestleMania 31.

Below is a picture of Sting making his entrance:

- Randy Orton Tweeted the following after his return at WWE Fastlane: Click here to load Tweets (if not loaded)

As CJ mentioned here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, a program with Seth Rollins is the direction they’re going for Wrestlemania 31 with Orton as babyface. WWE is heavily promoting the "underlying issues" between Jon Stewart and Rollins, so it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities for a celebrity tie-in.

- Bray Wyatt appeared in a casket at WWE Fast Lane and cut a promo challenging The Undertaker to a match at WrestleMania. This confirms who Wyatt has been talking about in his promos in recent weeks and all but confirms a singles match next month.

Below are photos of the segment:

- Lilian Garcia had an off night at WWE Fastlane on Sunday. She trended Twitter for two notable botches.

The first one, while announcing Cesaro and Tyson Kidd as the new WWE Tag Team Champions, she stated, “Here are your winners and still new WWE Tag Team Champions…”

Later in the night while introducing WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella, she called her the WWE Women’s Champion. The response on Twitter to this was more mixed, with respondents noting they wished it was STILL the Women's Championship rather than the Divas Championship.

Richard Reacts: Lilian took heat from Twitter but I’ve been a fan of her work for many years. I was happy when she returned to WWE after her departure and think everyone deserves an off night. It’s no big deal but we wanted to make a note in case readers wondered why she was trending.

- Eva Marie and Cameron were at the Oscars representing WWE on Sunday night. They were featured on E’s red carpet pre-show and were shown on the Fastlane pay-per-view broadcast.

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

Video highlights from this week’s episode of Total Divas are below:

The Bella Twins meet with a financial planner: Total Divas, February 22, 2015
Eva Marie’s “bucket list” plan is exposed: Total Divas, February 22, 2015
Natalya’s mother comes home: Total Divas, February 22, 2015

- WWE posted the MizTV segment with Paul Heyman for the Fastlane Kickoff show at this link.

- Roman Reigns beat Daniel Bryan in the main event of WWE Fast Lane. Reigns will officially go on to challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 31.

- Mark Henry resurfaced with a surprise appearance at Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling show in Texas over the weekend. Henry cut a promo in front of the live crowd. You can watch video footage at this link.

- WWE announced a 24-hour birthday marathon on the WWE Network immediately following Raw. The network will air some of the most popular programming in their history. CLICK HERE for more details.

- WWE announced the return of Special Editions to local retailers. You can read more about that at this link.

- Below is the cover art for The Marine 4 starring The Miz and Summer Rae:

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- Luke Williams and Butch Miller, known collectively as The Bushwhackers, are expected to be announced as inductees to the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015 on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw in Nashville, TN. Williams is already talking about their induction as he offered this to a New Zealand website:

"All I can say is 'about bloody time'," Williams laughs during a chat about the stunning announcement with Stuff.co.nz.

CLICK HERE to read the article in its entirety. WWE noted over the weekend on dot com that two members will be announced on Raw and they’re rumored to be a tag team. The pair will join ”Macho Man” Randy Savage, Rikishi and Arnold Schwarzenegger as members that will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame over Wrestlemania 31 weekend. - Adam Rose and Zack Ryder have been going back and forth on Twitter with some pretty funny exchanges. Check this one out: Click here to load Tweets (if not loaded)

There are more that can be read by visiting their respective Twitter accounts. - Dot com has a complete backstage playlist from Sunday’s WWE Fastlane pay-per-view, you can watch at this link. - It was announced on this week's WWE Raw that we will see the second annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31. The Miz, Curtis Axel, and Ryback have been confirmed to participate in the match. WWE WrestleMania 31 will take place on Sunday, March 29, 2015 from the Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. We’ll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage right here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com. - It's worth noting that WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar was advertised by WWE to appear on this week's Raw, but never did. Paul Heyman met Roman Reigns in the ring at one point in the show, and stated Lesnar would be out after the main event. - WWE received some major social media backlash tonight after giving Paige, Emma, and the Bella Twins 26 seconds for a match, and a total of approximately 2 minutes for their TV segment on Raw. Throughout the last hour of Raw, the hashtag #GiveDivasAChance trended number one worldwide and still is as of this writing. - Dusty Hill of ZZ Top and Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt were at this week’s WWE Raw in Nashville, TN. Click here to load Photos/Tweets (if not loaded)

- Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns beat Big Show, Bray Wyatt, Kane & Seth Rollins in a dark match main event after this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. Big Show took Reigns’ Superman punch followed by an AA from Cena, allowing Cena to get the pinfall for the babyfaces.

- WWE is scheduled to return to Nashville on July 11, 2015 for a live event. There is a presale ongoing with the password TICKETS.

- TiqIQ.com sent word the average price of Wrestlemania 31 tickets on the secondary market is $390, which is currently more than double the price of Wrestlemania 30 in New Orleans. More data is available at this link.

- More tickets for the WWE NXT live event in Cleveland, Ohio on March 6, 2015 will be released on Tuesday at 1 PM EST. Below is official information:

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- WWE has posted the following videos on their official YouTube channel: Happy Birthday WWE NetworkThe Bushwhackers are announced for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015Ziggler wants to be the best: Raw Fallout, February 23, 2015Dean Ambrose makes it simple: Raw Fallout, February 23, 2015Follow Goldust as he prepares to battle Stardust at WWE FastlaneDaniel Bryan comments on Nikki Bella’s spending habits: Total Divas Bonus ClipEva Marie visits the neon museum: Total Divas Bonus Clip - Below is the updated lineup for Wrestlemania 31 lineup following this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw: WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match - Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman (c) vs. Roman Reigns Singles Match - Triple H vs. Sting Andre the Giant Memorial Battle RoyalWinner gets a trophy - Announced participants: The Miz, Curtis Axel, Ryback Not yet announced but likely:

  • Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker is expected to happen but hasn’t been made official. It will be the first time in history Undertaker will come in having lost his previous match at Wrestlemania. As we reported last year when the streak was ended, the outcome of the match against Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 30 had nothing to do with him working the show this year. While Vince McMahon had desired Sting vs. Undertaker, Hunter wanted to face Sting regardless of whether or not Undertaker worked. Both will be on the Wrestlemania 30 card but obviously not against one another, even though it’s a match Sting himself said he wanted.
  • John Cena vs. Rusev in a rematch for the WWE United States Championship is on the books. This match was expected to occur at Wrestlemania as early as late 2014. It surprised some when they decided to do the first encounter at Fastlane but we’re told WWE was just keeping their options open.
  • Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton is expected following Orton’s return to WWE television. Orton has been ready to return to TV for a month but was held off by creative. He actually returned at the end of December for WWE’s holiday live event but was pulled due to a deviated septum. A possible celebrity tie-in with The Daily Show’sJon Stewart cannot be ruled out but is certainly not confirmed. Orton has been off WWE TV since the beginning of November as he filmed the lead role in the WWE Studios production The Condemned 2.
  • Daniel Bryan will be relegated to the Wrestlemania 31 undercard. Rumored opponents include a third Wrestlemania encounter with Sheamus, something they actually talked about doing last year or a match against Dolph Ziggler.
  • WWE Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett wasn’t optimistic about his chances of getting on the Wrestlemania 31 card while doing media for WWE’s tour of Abu Dhabi but it looks like there are preliminary plans for the secondary title to be defended. Dean Ambrose is a rumored opponent as well as the two people that have pinned him in non-title matches - R-Truth and Ziggler.

Wrestlemania 31 will take place on Sunday, March 29, 2015, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. We’ll have complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com. - WWE announced attendance for this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw at 13,718 in Nashville, TN.

- WWE Superstars reveal what they’re watching on the WWE Network in the latest episode of WWE Inbox. You can watch at this link.

- Following this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw, below is the updated list for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015:

  • ”Macho Man” Randy Savage to be inducted by Hulk Hogan
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Celebrity Wing, inductor still to be announced
  • Rikishi to be inducted by The Usos
  • "The BushwhackersLuke Williams and Butch Miller, inductor still to be announced

There will be more inductees announced, with at least one bigger name to increase excitement closer to the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

The 2015 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place the night before Wrestlemania 31 on Saturday, March 28, 2015 from the SAP Center (The Shark Tank) in San Jose, California. While I don’t believe it’s been officially announced, I expect it to broadcast live on the WWE Network.

- This week’s episode of Total Divas did 1,068,000 viewers on E. This was up +154,000 viewers from the week prior up against WWE Fastlane and the 2015 Academy Awards. Just for a reference point, the Oscars did 36,600,000 viewers on ABC.

- Brock Lesnar was at Monday Night Raw in Nashville, TN and was officially advertised but was obviously not used.

Specifics regarding his non-usage are not available at press time.

I know people were interested in comments that Frank Mir made at the UFC Fight Night 61 post-fight press conference after beating Antônio Silva in Porto Alegre, Brazil on Sunday.

It was there Mir admitted he knew he had to beat Silva to keep a potential rubber match between Lesnar anywhere in the works.

"I think it's something that would catapult my name even higher up. I mean, a rubber match between the two of us would be a phenomenal fight. To keep that anywhere in the works, I had to get a win tonight."

MMAFighting.com recapped all of Mir’s comments at this link but they closed with this:

"If Brock Lesnar decides to come back, [I would] welcome him back," Mir said. "I don't think he likes getting punched very much; I'm looking like I'm actually figuring how to punch pretty hard. So whoever they give me. If I come in at 100 percent and I feel good like I did tonight, I wouldn't bet on anybody across from me.”

Brock’s WWE contract is rumored to expire after the March 30, 2015 episode of Monday Night Raw, which is the night after Wrestlemania 31. He is still advertised for that show.

Lesnar hasn’t wanted to talk about an extension but rather wants to let his contract expire and field offers from interested parties. We’re working on another Lesnar story that should be up sometime later today.

- As we noted a number of times, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar doesn’t want to sign a contract extension before Wrestlemania 31. He wants to let his contract expire and explore his options in “free agency.”

Some in WWE believe he isn’t company back, while Vince McMahon has been confident that he’ll re-sign. We’re told the company had given the green light for some new t-shirt designs featuring Lesnar’s likeness but they were recently canceled. It’s hard to tell what that means because merchandise for Lesnar is a different situation.

Brock earns a higher royalty rate than most of the guys on the roster, so WWE actually makes more money on non-Lesnar merchandise. Again, Brock is a different situation and is the only performer allowed to have sponsors on his ring gear.

Even so, we’re told Brock isn’t happy with how he’s been merchandised in WWE. While he’s got a massive downside guarantee, he’s not making what he thought he was on merchandise when he re-signed a couple of years ago.

With UFC’s sponsor restrictions, this isn’t something they would necessarily have an advantage on either in terms of Brock choosing to return to MMA over staying with WWE. Bellator MMA can truly not be ruled out as a contender either, as they are definitely interested and willing to make a competitive offer.

We received this information before WWE chose not to use Brock at this week's Monday Night Raw.

There is more to the story but it’s still developing. There was significant talk about comments Frank Mir made on Sunday in regards to Lesnar after beating Antônio Silva in Porto Alegre, Brazil. That story is still online at this link.

- This week’s episode of Monday Night Raw garnered an average viewing audience of 4,122,333 viewers on the USA Network. Below is how the show did each hour:

Hour one - 4,082,000
Hour two - 4,109,000
Hour three - 4,176,000

The viewership average was up +125,000 viewers from the week prior after WWE Fastlane. This show was expected to feature WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar and while he was there, that didn’t happen.

Raw was Monday’s top cable original, earning a 1.5 adults 18-49 rating. TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 cable shows in adults 25-54 for all of Monday at this link.

- Stephanie McMahon thanked Patricia Arquette for speaking up on equal wages for women at the 87th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday night through her verified Twitter. McMahon Tweeted:

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Former WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee was quick to point out the hypocrisy of Stephanie's comments, directing the argument to how the company treats their female talent: Click here to load Photos/Tweets (if not loaded)

The timing is very interesting. For one, the comments come following s 26-second Divas match on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw that caused the hashtag #GiveDivasAChance to trend No. 1 worldwide. Jesse Sherwood covered that at this link. Secondly, AJ Lee's husband, CM Punk, is currently at the center of a WWE-backed defamation lawsuit filed by their ringside physician Dr. Chris Amann. AJ Lee has been off WWE TV for months, nursing a neck injury, with speculation regarding her future with the company in question. - Vince McMahon is the latest to respond to #GiveDivasAChance, which has been trending on Twitter since Monday night. The Chairman posted the following to Twitter late Tuesday night:

This comes only hours after AJ Leepublicly criticized WWE's treatment of its female talent.

- WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar left Monday Night Raw in Nashville, TN after previously arriving for a scheduled appearance, Wrestling News World can independently confirm.

Lesnar was upset and the issues are still not completely known, however, as we reported Tuesday here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium, Brock isn't happy with how he's being merchandised.

See also - What Brock Lesnar Isn’t Happy w/In WWE, More On His Future

We're told the relationship between WWE and Brock is becoming strained because they are pressuring him to sign an extension and as we've noted numerous times, he wants to be a free agent and field offers before deciding anything. Some close to Brock believe he feels they're sabotaging his merchandise out of spite now. As previously noted, Brock earns a higher royalty rate than normal and his merchandise isn't featured at most shows. When he finally realized what was going on, he was extremely upset.

- After Patricia Arquette spoke pointedly about rights, fair treatment and wages for women at The Academy Awards Sunday night, followed by the 26 second Divas Match on Raw Monday night, AJ Lee took to Twitter to shoot on Stephanie McMahon on the subject, as is reported here.

Stephanie Stepped up on Twitter herself to respond with, "Thank you @WWEAJLee, I appreciate your opinion. #UseYourVoice"

- WWE announced on Wednesday that with more than 4.2 billion video views in the last 12 months, WWE has become the No. 1 sports channel on YouTube ahead of the NBA, MLB, the NFL, the NHL, ESPN and NASCAR. CLICK HERE to read the official release on dot com. - The Prime Time Players beat two local jobbers at Tuesday’s Smackdown taping in Atlanta, Georgia. - Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Scott Hall were backstage at Tuesday’s taping. I’m working on a story on details of WWE’s relationship with Hall after he visited the WWE Performance Center last week. Dot com posted a new article where they interviewed John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Goldust, Cody Rhodes, JBL, Big Show and Mark Henry about the first time they met Vince McMahon. Below are excerpts from the stories of Cena, Bryan and Goldust. John Cena:

“They literally dragged me by the arm to Vince’s office, threw me in and asked him, ‘What do you think?’ I had ridiculously ugly, long, super-dyed blond hair that was shaved bald on the sides. He turned around and with a disgusted look on his face, he said, ‘Cut his hair,’ and I was whisked away from Vince like an assembly line. “That was the first time I met Vince McMahon and he was disgusted to look at me. They shipped me out and I immediately got a haircut, which was not dyed blond, but equally as horrible."

Daniel Bryan:

“I didn’t even know how to sit in a suit. He asked me things like, ‘What would you like to see happen?’ I told him that I’d like to come in and be a top guy, but I had concerns about not being very big. I have a very self-deprecating sense of humor and think of myself as a humble person, so it’s hard for me to say that I’m good at something. Vince said, ‘Shawn tells me you’re very good.’ And I just said, ‘Well, I’m okay.’ And I could tell instantly he disliked that. “It was very awkward and very uncomfortable. Vince takes these very long pauses after he asks you a question and you answer him. He’ll just look at you. Some will start talking, which I think he likes because it shows they’re uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable, but I just looked at him. I was waiting for him to talk and he was waiting for me to talk. It was surreal. I was very nervous and even in in my $500 suit — which I thought was the most expensive suit in the world — I knew I was inadequately dressed. This guy has the power to control your destiny.”


“Vince has an aura about him. He’s very intimidating. He reminds me a lot of my father. They have that stature. That’s why he’s the king of the world and The Boss. What he wants, he gets. And we try to put on the best show we can for the fans and for him. We always want that fatherly figure to be pleased with our work. I want Vince’s approval. I don’t necessarily want anybody else in the company’s approval, but I do want Vince’s.”

CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety. - There was a ridiculous story that apparently originated on Reddit about Brock Lesnar walking out of Raw because he didn’t want to face Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 31 because Reigns failed a Wellness test and wasn’t getting suspended. Wait, what? That’s absolutely not true. We still don’t have full details on why Brock Lesnar left without appearing but can confirm he left. We have multiple stories on points of contention involving Lesnar and WWE. Here’s our coverage: Frank Mir/Lesnar Rubber Match, Brock Not Used At RawWhat Brock Lesnar Isn’t Happy w/In WWE, More On His FutureBig Brock Lesnar Update On Why He Left Raw Brock has not signed a contract extension with WWE but is still in the plans to defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 31. He hasn’t wanted to sign an extension and wants to negotiate with other companies (including UFC) and he’s not happy with how he’s been merchandised in WWE. - Arn Anderson and Michael “P.S.” Hayes are featured in the latest sit-down interview with Michael Cole, where they talk about Sting. You can watch it at this link. - I saw this at a local mall on Wednesday and thought I would share: Click here to load Photos/Tweets (if not loaded)

- The tag team of Tyson Kidd and Cesaro w/Natalya — the current WWE Tag Team Champions — are expected to get an official name soon. Company officials are pleased with their work and with Vince McMahon back on a tag team kick, it’s working out well so far.

- WWE realizes they’re under more pressure to deliver with their Divas. I heard a tag match is being discussed for Wrestlemania 31. I texted AJ Lee’sTweets to Stephanie McMahon to a couple of my sources and one commented, they guessed AJ wasn’t interested in coming back anytime soon. It’s a real delicate situation. While Vince has always liked AJ Lee, the litigation involving CM Punk complicates things. WWE cannot sue Punk, they already settled with him after the release of his contract. But they clearly think Dr. Chris Amann has enough to get a settlement of his own with his defamation lawsuit. However, I would be shocked if it actually went to trial.

As for Punk's response to his wife's Tweets, he Tweeted this after her initial remarks to Stephanie:

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- Sheamus’ return to WWE is imminent and it could be as soon as next Monday’s Raw in Newark, New Jersey. He is currently the favorite to face Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 31 but that is not yet confirmed. - The official announcement of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal rules out any type of ladder match involving NXT talent. It’s unknown if WWE will have an NXT match on the Wrestlemania 31 card at all and they could opt to put some of the workers in the battle royal. At this point it’s still a “wait and see” situation. - John Cena vs. Rusev is expected to be a gimmick match for the WWE United States Championship at Wrestlemania 31. - Local and state officials out of Minnesota are working to bring Wrestlemania 33 to the new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis in 2017. Philadelphia is also preparing to bid on the event. Wrestlemania 31 will take place next month at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas will host Wrestlemania 32 in 2016, as an official announcement has already been made. CLICK HERE for more on Wrestlemania 33 in Minneapolis. CLICK HERE for more on Wrestlemania 33 in Philadelphia. - WWE announced on Thursday that Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and Robyn Peterson have been elected to its Board of Directors. You can read the official release below:

STAMFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- WWE (NYSE:WWE) today announced that WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, WWE Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative Paul Levesque and Chief Technology Officer and Head of Product for Mashable Robyn Peterson have been elected to its Board of Directors. “The appointments of Stephanie, Paul and Robyn to WWE’s Board of Directors will be invaluable to the company as we continue to transform our business and look toward a new era of unprecedented growth,” said WWE Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Vince McMahon. “I am confident that our Board of Directors and senior management team is stronger than ever and well-positioned for future success.” Stephanie McMahon, WWE’s Chief Brand Officer, is responsible for leading the company’s efforts to further enhance its global brand reputation among key constituencies including business partners, advertisers, media, investors and the public sector. She serves as the company’s brand ambassador and works with WWE’s business units to support key growth initiatives. McMahon is the primary spokesperson for WWE's corporate social responsibility initiatives and is participating in the prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship, an international leadership exchange program for outstanding professionals. She began her career with WWE in 1998 as an Account Executive for WWE’s sales office in New York City, in addition to being a TV personality, and she has overseen multiple business areas including WWE's Creative, Talent Relations, Talent Brand Management, Live Events, Digital, Social and Mobile businesses. Paul Levesque has more than 20 years of experience at WWE as an executive and performer. Well known as WWE Superstar Triple H®, Levesque is also WWE’s Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative, leading the talent development and talent relations departments responsible for recruiting and training the company’s Superstars and Divas. He recently oversaw the development and launch of the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, which serves as the home to WWE’s talent developmental system, NXT. Levesque also oversees all business operations for the more than 320 annual live events, including scheduling, ticket pricing strategy and promotion, and continues to play an integral role behind-the-scenes as a director and producer shaping the storylines in WWE’s programming. Robyn Peterson, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Product for Mashable, is a seasoned technology executive with more than 15 years of experience in web, mobile and video product development. Peterson is a member of Mashable's Operating Committee, where he directs product strategy and development and manages the product, design and engineering teams. Peterson led the redesign of Mashable.com in 2012 which ushered in a 100 percent increase in mobile page views, pages-per-visit and ad engagement, and oversees the development of Mashable’s Velocity platform, a technology that predicts and tracks the viral life cycle of digital media content. Prior to Mashable, Peterson was the head of product at Next Issue Media, the magazine and newspaper consortium funded by News Corp., Conde Nast, Time Inc., Meredith and Hearst. Earlier in his career, Peterson served as Vice President for Technology and Product for NBCUniversal.

- John Cena, Hulk Hogan and Stephanie McMahon spent Thursday touring Google, Twitter and Facebook as part of a Wrestlemania Tech Tour. Dot com covered it with photos and more at this link. - Wrestling News World reader Ralph Garcia sent this in: According to TiqIQ, the average asking price on the secondary market for tickets to Friday's live event at Madison Square Garden is $113.35; 18.72% above the average price for the "Road To Wrestlemania" series. However, prices have trended down 7% this week & start at $37 here. - Natalya tries to reconnect with Tyson Kidd in this Total Divas bonus clip. - WWE has quietly moved the official profile of Rey Mysterio to the Alumni section of their official website. It would appear he is officially finished with the company, even though they have not issued a statement about his departure at press time. We reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium on December 26, 2014 that WWE had dropped all plans for his return to the company. We were told at the time they were close to granting him his release from his Performer's Contract and he was expected to be let go before Wrestlemania 31. We've contacted WWE's Public Relations department and are currently awaiting official confirmation. - WWE just issued the following statement in regards to Rey Mysterio's status with the company:

“Rey Mysterio is no longer under contract with WWE.”

As we reported here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Mysterio's profile has been moved to the Alumni section on the official WWE website. This has been expected for months as we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium in December that Mysterio was expected to be officially free from WWE before Wrestlemania 31. - WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar was actually negotiating with company officials when he got mad and stormed off at this week’s Monday Night Raw in Nashville, TN. There are three main points of contention in the negotiations right now - merchandise, UFC and signing an extension vs. a new contract with WWE. Brock has been unwilling to sign an extension with WWE because he wants to be a free agent and weigh his offers. This puts WWE in a tough spot as they could wind up trying to write Lesnar off in a way that damages him, only for him to return. So the compromise Brock offered is that he would sign an extension, but that during the term of his extension, he'd be allowed to take one UFC fight. WWE balked at the idea. Brock is also seeking a very high merchandise guarantee so that if WWE continues on the current route of only offering limited merchandise for him, they'd still be paying him big time money for it. A high merchandise guarantee would force WWE to aggressively merchandise Brock in order to make their money back. WWE is balking at this as well. So WWE refusing to allow Brock to fight for UFC while under contract and not wanting to offer him a high merchandise guarantee resulted in him very unhappy at this week’s TV. Lesnar’s next scheduled appearance for WWE is on the March 9, 2015 episode of Raw from Pittsburgh, PA. - Seth Rollins made an appearance on The Daily Show on Thursday night and threw down a challenge to host Jon Stewart. Rollins invited Stewart to Monday Night Raw next week in Newark, New Jersey. You can view the clip of Rollins' appearance at this link. At this point we're expecting some type of celebrity tie-in angle involving Stewart and Rollins at Wrestlemania 31, which is something we first mentioned after WWE Fastlane. Stewart was at Money in the Bank 2014 last year with his son at the TD Garden in Boston, MA. You can view a backstage photo with Triple H still online at this link. - Rey Mysterio will be at Wrestlemania 31 weekend in Santa Clara, California, it just won’t be with WWE. Mysterio will do a live podcast interview on MLWRadio.com at the Taste Restaurant Nightclub in Santa Clara on Thursday, March 26, 2015. Rapper Wale will perform afterwards. You can get more details and purchase tickets at this link. - Adam Rose and Fandango are the latest announced participants for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 31. They join The Miz, Curtis Axel and Ryback as previously announced participants. - The latest episode of Smackdown Fallout is online at this link. - WWE is sending out $25 coupon codes for use on WWEShop.com to long-time subscribers of the WWE Network. The codes do not require a purchase minimum and I spent mine on JR’s BBQ Sauce. You can check out the product links below: Click here to load Photos/Tweet (if not loaded)

Trust me, you won’t regret trying JR’s sauce with your coupon. It’s great stuff!

- With Rhyno and The Brian Kendrick resurfacing down in WWE NXT, dot com looks at who they would like to see re-emerge. Their list includes Chris Masters, Tajiri, Shelton Benjamin, Victoria, Jason Albert, Carlito, Michelle McCool and John Morrison. CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety.

- David Otunga is still hoping to return as a regular in-ring performer following his return as a panelist on the Raw Pre-Show.

- WWE has been very quiet about Rey Mysterio no longer being under contract with them. I’ve been expecting a “best of his future endeavors” post on dot com but one still hasn’t been posted. Mysterio is likely to return to AAA in Mexico and could end up working for Lucha Underground as well.

Below is the updated lineup for Wrestlemania 31 headed into the weekend:

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
- Brock Lesnar (c) w/Paul Heyman vs. Roman Reigns

Singles Match
- Triple H vs. Sting

Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship
- Wade Barrett vs. TBA

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The winner receives a trophy
Announced participants: The Miz, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Fandango & Adam Rose

We have a lot more on rumored matches at this link.

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

Other News

- One of the stories we’ve been following over the past couple weeks is Spike TV exploring the possibility of re-adding pro wrestling content after moving on from TNA Wrestling last year. While Spike is still posturing publicly like they are “moving on” from pro wrestling, they have taken meetings.

Unfounded reports and rumors have circulated on social media and outside publications indicating that Spike was negotiating TV with ROH Wrestling. We never wrote that and if you saw a report that indicated as such, it was not on WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

Below are our most recent articles on the subject:

More On Spike TV Adding Pro Wrestling, Including Who They Had Preliminary Talks With About Monthly Specials

Spike TV Interested In Major Pro Wrestling Promotion?

Both of those articles are accurate and feature behind the scenes details.

- Philly.com has a new Q&A online with Austin Aries.

One of the main subject matters was Samoa Joedeparting TNA Wrestling. Below are some excerpts as to what Aries had to say about it:

That’s part of the business, man. People come, people go and at the end of the day, everybody has to do what’s right for them and their family and their situation. I’ve known Joe a long time and the guy is supremely intelligent, supremely talented so I’m sure the decision he made will work out because guys like that always seem to land on their feet.

Hey, man. It could possibly happen with any of us at any time. As far as guys contracts and their deals, I don’t try to stick my nose in too much. Obviously, we all kind of have an idea of what’s going on behind the scenes, but I always feel those things are best kept behind the scenes and not out there for general consumption unless that person decides to put it out there.

Talent is talent. Anytime you lose a talented wrestler it just creates a situation where other guys have to step up and fill the void. Guys like Samoa Joe are unique in their own right and you don’t just pluck guys like that off the tree and insert them. In any situation, any locker room, any sport, you take a talented player out I’m sure it’s going to hurt, but it presents an opportunity for other guys to step up and try to fill that void.

Regarding the atmosphere in TNA right now, Aries commented:

Things are good. I think there’s a lot of excitement with our switch over to Destination America. The feeling is that we’re with a station now that is behind us 100 percent. They know that as the TNA brand grows so does their station. They’re relatively new as far as networks go. I think there’s just a lot of excitement and optimism and we’re going to take things as they come, put ourselves in a position to be successful and know that things don’t happen overnight. As long as we’re continuing to make those incremental movements forward, things should be good.

CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety.

- We haven’t heard anything in terms of WWE’s interest in Samoa Joe. In fact, we can’t even confirm if any such interest exists.Ring of Honor wants Joe but the budget restrictions we wrote about last week could be a problem. There is a possibility that ROH can only afford to bring Samoa Joe back as a special attraction. Alberto Del Rio is currently scheduled to finish his commitments with ROH on March 1, 2015, which could open up some cash to spend on Samoa Joe. We’re told Sinclair doesn’t view Joe as a “big star” like Alberto Del Rio and are hesitant to pay him as much.

- Last week’s episode of Impact Wrestling did an average viewing audience of 453,000 viewers on Destination America. That number was down (-1000) viewers from the week prior. The repeat at 11 PM did 124,000 viewers.

- Wrestling News World reader Pietro Giampa sent this in:

The first Marvel comicbook featuring CM Punk as a writer comes out Wednesday - Thor Annual #1. Punk is writing the main story on Young Thor’s idea for how to prove himself worthy of Mjolni: a drinking competition! This annual has a lot of anticipation as it will also be the first annual featuring the female Thor in the other story.

This comic book is basically all everybody is taking about on the main Marvel forum. Lots of excitement for both Punk and female Thor.

Below is official information for the release:

THOR ANNUAL (2015) #1
Published: February 25, 2015
Writer: Cm Punk
Penciller: Rob Guillory
Cover Artist: Rafael Albuquerque

Three stories featuring three Thors! Wrestling superstar CM Punk and Rob Guillory (Chew) on Young Thor’s idea for how to prove himself worthy of Mjolnir: a drinking competition! Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes) and Marguerite Sauvage tell a tale of the new Thor! And Jason Aaron on the Girls of Thunder’s quest to find the perfect birthday present for their grandfather, King Thor! How about a new Garden of Eden?

CLICK HERE for more information.

- Samoa Joe is returning to Ring of Honor, the promotion announced on Tuesday.

Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

Joe is booked for the following dates: March 7th in Baltimore, MD (TV Taping) March 13th in Milwaukee March 14th in Chicago Ridge March 27th in Redwood City, California We reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium on Monday that ROH was interested in Samoa Joe but budget restrictions were going to make things difficult to land him. We noted that with Alberto Del Rio expected to finish up his ROH commitments on March 1, that it would be likely they would have some extra cash to spend on him then. - TNA Wrestling just announced that they have signed a huge multi-year deal with Sony Six, the most popular sports TV station in India. This deal will last till 2022 and it will bring all of TNA's programming to the station from Impact Wrestling to TNA Wrestling's Great Matches, TNA Xplosion, and TNA pay-per-views and One Night Only events. Below is the official press release:

Mumbai (Wednesday February 25, 2015): TNA Wrestling and India’s most popular sports TV station Sony SIX have signed a long-term deal that will make Sony SIX the exclusive home for all TNA content until 2022. This innovative and prestigious agreement anchors TNA with a major media company in the world’s largest wrestling market outside of the United States for the next SEVEN years. The partnership also includes a commitment to the discovery and development of talent from the Indian subcontinent to join the TNA roster, following in the footsteps of Mahabali Shera – who last year became TNA’s first ever Indian-born Superstar. Fans across the Indian subcontinent can watch TNA’s flagship show IMPACT WRESTLING every Monday night at 9pm on Sony SIX, with TNA Wrestling’s Greatest Matches airing every Tuesday at 9pm and TNA Xplosion each Wednesday at 9pm. Sony SIX also airs TNA’s PPV and One Night Only events. Since joining the Sony SIX line-up in the summer of 2013, TNA has helped Sony SIX become the most viewed sports channel across the Indian subcontinent. Other major sports/events on Sony SIX include Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket, FIFA World Cup soccer, NBA basketball and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). A major highlight for 2015 has been the IMPACT WRESTLING debut of Mahabali Shera. Introduced in a blaze of publicity by Olympic Gold Medallist Kurt Angle, Shera has made headlines and led news bulletins across India. Sony Six Business Head Prasana Krishna said: “We are extremely thrilled to extend our partnership with TNA. India historically boasts of a rich heritage in wresting and we believe, that through this initiative, we will be taking another step forward in reaching out to our audiences across India. “The introduction of Shera and more Indian talents will only bolster our special televised capsule of action sports, which will feature the best of action and combat sports. We at Sony SIX look forward to building on this fascinating sport.” TNA President Dixie Carter added: “India has an incredible cultural heritage with wrestling and we are thrilled to continue this amazing partnership with Sony SIX for years to come. “As is evident through this long-term deal with Sony SIX, the powerful introduction of Mahabali Shera, and our continued pledge to find and develop Indian talent, together we are committed to growing legions of TNA fans across the Indian subcontinent.”

- Samoa Joe was interviewed by Chad Dukes on Wednesday and talked about a number of things, including his departure from TNA Wrestling and return to Ring of Honor. Regarding his decision to leave TNA and return to ROH, he commented:

“I think certain times in your career you reexamine things and a change of scenery is nice. It’s good for the fans, it’s good for me, and I think it’s healthy all around. I’m excited about some new matches for me, there’s some guys out there I haven’t had a chance to work with especially some younger guys, up and comers, that I think have tremendous promise and talent and I get to get in there and mix it up with them.” “It kinda was a culmination over the past few months of various factors, various reasons. You kind of come to these big decisions and I kind of looked around saw the landscape of things and thought it was the time.”

CM Punk Tweeted the following to Joe: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

Here’s what he told Dukes about the Tweet:

“Time will tell and that’s really up to him and obviously his obligations to UFC. I know he’s training real hard for his upcoming fight but if he wants to throw down, if he wants to scrap, you can come over here and start off with me and see what’s left when you go into the octagon.”

CLICK HERE for more interviews and to listen to the interview in its entirety.

Ask WNW & Premium Mailbag

In my opinion the Memphis crowd for WWE Fastlane was extremely flat and didn't create much of an atmosphere, do you think WWE will consider this and not run there in the future?

WWE Fastlane did an announced attendance of 13,263, so they’ll definitely be back to the FedExForum in Memphis, TN. As I explained in Richard Reacts, the crowd was awful and came across very bad on the WWE Network feed. At least one person that attended Tweeted me and told me security and event staff were very strict, instructing people to sit down and watch their language. Perhaps this played a part in the crowd coming off as subdued but I completely agree with your assessment.

One reader questioned if WWE preferred the rowdy Philadelphia crowd at Royal Rumble over the subdued crowd at Fastlane. WWE — or more specifically Vince McMahon — probably doesn’t care as long as he’s selling out arenas. But when the crowds are bad like they were at Fastlane, the performers in the ring have to work twice as hard to get their matches over.

Would you say Sting and Triple H tried to recreate that speechless moment that Undertaker and Triple H had in the past?

The art of silence. While explaining the “speechless moment” you mentioned, Vince McMahon said silence is a very important tool if used at the right time. Part of what made Sting “The Icon” is the mystique of his character. A character that you didn’t know what he was thinking or what he was doing, you just knew when Sting showed up that things were about to go down. At Fastlane, Triple H kept talking and talking and Sting responded like only he could. I thought the segment was well executed and enhanced the build to the match at Wrestlemania 31.

Specifically referring to your question, I don’t know if it was a situation of Hunter and Sting trying to recreate a past moment or Sting playing the character he made so famous. If I had to guess, the latter is the case.

You can watch Vince McMahon talk about using silence as a technique at this link.

You referred to the moment Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns shared after their match as a 'cosmetic stopgap' on Twitter, what did you mean by that?

I wasn’t referring to the ‘hand-shaking,’ but the program itself. Daniel Bryan was programmed with Roman Reigns for WWE Fastlane to ease the backlash from the Royal Rumble. We reported numerous times here at Wrestling News World that WWE officials were never actually considering taking Reigns out of the Wrestlemania 31 title match against Brock Lesnar. If anything, they talked about adding Bryan to it (which appears to be out of the question now).

As it turned out, the Fastlane main event worked. The match was outstanding, Bryan proved why he’s the best worker in the world and Roman Reigns shut his haters up with what was his best individual performance to date. The Reigns detractors will accuse that “Bryan carried it” but I disagree with that assessment. Anyone that works Daniel Bryan is going to be put in a position to succeed because he is so good but Reigns more than held his own, he impressed.

The reason I said the program was a ‘cosmetic stopgap’ is because it was a temporary way of easing the Rumble backlash, while on the way to Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania. It probably also helped build Reigns’ confidence, which should help him next month.

What has Dean Ambrose done wrong?

Dean Ambrose hasn’t done anything wrong, other than succeed at everything WWE has given to him. They just haven’t a long-term plan for success in place for him so he’s been thrust into this program for the meaningless Intercontinental Championship against Bad News Barrett. Those that went into their bout at Fastlane expecting a class, came out disappointed. Those that expected a gimmick to extend the program out, got just what they expected. Ambrose hasn’t won on pay-per-view since June and WWE missed the opportunity to take him to the next level with their directionless booking.

But I don’t want to stop there. Why is Kane pinning Dolph Ziggler and Goldust pinning Cody Rhodes in 2015? Just mind-boggling decisions from a company in desperate need of new stars.

Where is Mark Henry?

Mark Henry is out dealing with an undisclosed injury. We ran an update on him earlier on Monday with a video promo that he cut at Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling show. You can watch it at this link.

From the Ask WNW vault…

May 2013: Why does it seem that the WWE Intercontinental Championship doesn’t hold the same importance as it used too? - Some will argue the Intercontinental Championship isn’t as prestigious because there are two World title belts and while I think the number of titles certainly plays a factor, it comes down to the company’s vision for the belt. A title has prestige when it means something. The problem is when the titleholder is put under clean in a non-title match; no one takes the belt seriously. The counter point to this is, “well this shows anything can happen.” My response is why not just change the belt? My steps in restoring prestige to the Intercontinental title are eliminating the US strap and no longer booking the IC champ to go under in a non-title match. The strap could then be used to help elevate an up and coming worker.

What is your opinion on the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal? I think it's a lazy way for them to fill time at Wrestlemania and I'd rather see a stacked card.

I am not a fan of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. I didn’t like it last year, it did nothing to help Cesaro (who won it) and I’m still upset WWE no longer does a Money in the Bank ladder match at Wrestlemania. Obviously Cesaro’s problems had more to do with WWE trying to push him as a heel with Paul Heyman when he was on the verge of breaking out as a babyface, but the battle royal was underwhelming last year, aside from the spot where Cesaro eliminated Big Show. The match is a way for WWE to get as many “deserving” names on the show as possible, however, one can only wonder if Ryback is frustrated considering how much more he’s gotten over, yet he’s still listed in the same Wrestlemania match as Curtis Axel.

As good of a performer as Roman Reigns is, and as great as Paul Heyman is on the mic, I can't help but wonder how WWE can hype the main event for Wrestlemania 31 without having Brock Lesnar on television. Do you think this could create a problem leading up to the show if the defending champion isn't on television on a weekly basis in WWE's most important season?

Brock Lesnar was at Raw in Nashville on Monday night but something happened and he didn’t appear. We’re still working on it but I’m told there was a lot of talk about what Frank Mir said about him at the UFC Fight Night 61 post-fight press conference after beating Antônio Silva in Porto Alegre, Brazil on Sunday. We have that story at this link. Prior to whatever happened with Brock at Raw on Monday, we received information on what Brock wasn’t happy about in WWE and tied it into WWE not using him at this link.

Back to your question, yes, Brock being off TV certainly makes it more difficult for WWE to build his title defense against Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 31. The entire title reign has been a disaster because of his infrequent appearances. Vince thinks by using Brock sparingly, it makes him more of a special attraction but I don’t think it’s worked out that way. However, make no mistake about it, he was planned for this week’s show but wasn’t used when something happened. What exactly what that was is unknown at press time.

After The Wyatt Family was split, it immediately seemed Luke Harper was set for big things and Erick Rowan was left by the wayside. An injury to Sheamus threw Rowan a bone and now it seems in Wrestlemania season Harper is out in the cold with nothing for him creatively. Where do you see the immediate future for Harper in terms of actual plans or your opinion?

I was actually talking to someone about this earlier in the day and is it fair to say The Wyatt Family was split up prematurely? Bray Wyatt didn’t make it to the next level after his feud with John Cena ended and WWE basically started from scratch on him after he "set his family free." The feeling was Erick Rowan was going to be the odd man out but now Luke Harper is equally as lost. I really don’t have an answer you. Harper is very talented but where does he go? Hopefully WWE can figure something out for him and Rowan but let’s hope at the very least that Bray is elevated someway the proposed Wrestlemania match against The Undertaker.

Do you see WWE being interested in a Wayne Rooney vs. Bad News Barrett altercation at Wrestlemania 31 following their exchange on Twitter?

As a Manchester United fan, I loved seeing our captain get involved in a Twitter altercation with Bad News Barrett. I thought it was a lot of fun and WWE was very pleased with all of the press they got in the British media. I do not see Rooney being able to make a cameo at Wrestlemania because of his busy schedule. In addition to his duties with Manchester United, England has a match on Friday, March 27th against Lithuania. While it’s unknown if Rooney will feature in that match, a trip to the United States at this time seems unlikely. WWE returns to Manchester on April 12, 2015 but that’s the same day as the Manchester Derby, so I don’t know if we’ll get to see an epic Rooney vs. Barrett confrontation. It would be great though!

From the Ask WNW vault…

September 2008: If WWE does end up changing the taping schedule by taping ECW on Monday nights before Raw, do you see SmackDown going live on Fridays? - No I do not see the show going live. There were rumors a couple of months ago (not posted on this website) that there was talk of the show going live but all of my sources denied them to be true. WWE airs Raw live on Mondays and tapes on Tuesdays because it is more cost effective to fly all of the production crews on consecutive nights rather than wait until the end of the week. For example, WWE had a pay-per-view last night so the production and camera crews will go from the pay-per-view to Raw to the SmackDown/ECW tapings and will be able to return home for the rest of the week. The feeling is that it would put too much stress on the company to try and do another live show later in the week.

I recently saw you comment on Facebook about a Roman Reigns rumor of a positive drug test, which was the cause of Brock Lesnar not appearing on Monday Night Raw. You immediately discredited it.

I would like to hear your opinion on the reliability of wrestling communities such as /r/squaredcircle as a source for backstage news, and the reliability of other internet sites as a whole. Whilst I have recently started browsing /r/squaredcircle, my entire time as a “Smark” (the past 5 years), I have solely relied upon your Premium section, so I don’t really have experience with these sites, yet constantly hear how many places are unreliable.

First, I would like to thank you for your support of WrestlingNewsWorld.com and our Premium section. You — as a Premium Member — are part of the heartbeat of this website and allow us to do what we do each and every day. I do not take your commitment lightly and work very hard to bring you exclusive insider pro wrestling news. I have an outstanding team of researchers and writers and am truly a blessed man.

With that said, I want to be very careful how I answer this. Five or six years ago I would rant about how people shouldn’t visit any website other than WrestlingNewsWorld.com and try to detail the amount of unreliability and plagiarism across the Internet. I’ve calmed down over the years and realized that I can only focus on the things that I can control. What I control is the content that is posted here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com and across our social media platforms.

I do not like conflict, drama or controversy, so I try my best to focus on my publication and build trust with my readership. I’m not going to sit here and tell you what sites to read, what sites to avoid, you have options and you have the right to explore them. Some places are more reliable than others and I honestly try to stay out of it.

The one promise that I can make to you and anyone else that reads WrestlingNewsWorld.com is that you are getting the very best we can possibly bring you. We work around the clock every single day to give you the best experience available in the world. I realize you have placed your trust in me and I do not take that responsibility lightly. My goal in pursuing WNW is to provide a level of quality and reliability that’s unmatched across the Internet. We accomplish that goal but only with your support.

Do you think the audience is starting to turn on Daniel Bryan? I’ve noticed people jeering Bryan for the first time since being an ‘over like rover’ babyface. Is WWE making him the next John Cena by forcing him?

While I thought Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan ended up turning out well, there are some people that I trust that aren’t so sure. They feel the program resulted in a great technical wrestling match at WWE Fastlane but also resulted in Reigns and Bryan tearing each other down because it pitted an up and coming babyface against an up and coming babyface, when they should have been programmed against heel veterans that helped put them over.

I have also noticed the heat Daniel Bryan has gotten and I believe it’s from the people that are Pro-Roman Reigns and see Bryan as a threat to his spot as a future main event talent. This stems from a dualistic mentality of ‘love one and hate the other.’ While this is the simplest form of being a pro wrestling fan, I think it can be detrimental.

I realize the IWC likes to pick a favorite and reject someone they believe WWE is forcing, but I try to see things differently. Do you remember the #RawReunion episode earlier this year? It featured the likes of the nWo, DeGeneration X, Hulk Hogan, etc. and while such shows can be a lot of fun, this one in particular depressed me.

We could argue for days on who is a bigger star - The Rock or Steve Austin. Or even group them in with the likes of Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan. But if you take WWE’s top superstars over the last decade, it’s John Cena and then everyone else. Cena would probably be at the end of a list that featured Rock, Austin, Flair and Hogan but the falloff after him is dramatic.

WWE has failed at talent development. We can point fingers at creative, at scouting, at developmental or the company’s new age philosophy of bringing back part-timers for the biggest matches. It doesn’t matter what or who we blame, the fact is it’s Cena and everyone else. That’s a travesty and has created a very real problem for WWE in 2015 and beyond.

I believe Triple H sees it too. Why do you think he’s put so much of his time and emphasis in NXT? The evolution of the WWE Performance Center and NXT as a staple of the WWE Network are not by accident. Hunter knows where they have failed and WWE must start thinking about the future, instead of relying on the past.

While this is likely to be seen as a tangent, we need Roman Reigns to succeed. We need Daniel Bryan to succeed. It can’t stop there either. It’s got to spread deeper and further down the list, throughout the main roster and down to the last developmental contract.

Not everyone is going to be the next Rock or Austin or Hogan or Cena but WWE must focus on finding the next crop of megastars. They can no longer continue to rely on hot-shot booking or bringing back the names that used to be popular to draw for their biggest events. WWE must look ahead and if they want to continue as the top pro wrestling organization in the world.

Stop looking at it if Reigns succeeds, Bryan fails or if Bryan succeeds, Reigns fails. WWE needs new talent at the top of the card to progress the business forward.

Wrestlemania 21 featured the introduction of the Money in the Bank ladder match. Given that this year is going to be the 10-year anniversary, do you see WWE doing it?

As far as I can tell, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal has replaced the Money in the Bank ladder match on the Wrestlemania undercard. I understand the MITB ladder match was removed from Wrestlemania after Wrestlemania XXVI, when it became a pay-per-view of its own later that year (2010) but the battle royal seems to be the new staple of the undercard.

As I discussed in Tuesday’s Ask WNW, I’m not thrilled about this. The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal features a massive trophy but it’s underwhelming and did nothing to help elevate Cesaro (its winner) last year. I have discussed for years how it would not be overkill to have a Money in the Bank ladder match at Wrestlemania in addition to the pay-per-view but it appears there are no plans for the gimmick matches on the pay-per-view.

Is WWE really looking at doing Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan for a third time at Wrestlemania this year?

It looks like Daniel Bryan will be on the Wrestlemania undercard this year. Rumored opponents have included Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler and like everyone else working in the undercard, a possible tie-in with the Intercontinental Championship cannot be ruled out. The direction will become much clearer and we’ll update when we get one, however, it looks extremely unlikely that Bryan will be involved in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in any fashion at this time.

Do you believe having one world champion is a permanent thing for WWE or could they go back to two world titles?

We never say never in this business but I think it would be great to at least have one WWE World Heavyweight Champion in WWE. Seriously, Brock Lesnar has barely been around since winning the belt at SummerSlam and it’s become a major problem. The secondary belts haven’t seen a bump in value so it’s almost like WWE has been operating without a belt to chase. I speak for many when I say I hope a full-time WWE worker wins the belt at Wrestlemania 31 next month.

What are we to make of AJ Lee ripping Stephanie McMahon for WWE’s treatment of their Divas?

AJ Lee’s Tweets to Stephanie McMahon, criticizing WWE’s treatment of their Divas were a shoot. However, the company was quick to put the focus back on the #GiveDivasaChance Twitter “controversy,” with Stephanie downplaying AJ’s remarks.

For those that think they’re sending Vince McMahon a message by using hashtags, he loves the movements. Vince is going to do what Vince wants to do and he uses these “movements” and “controversies” to his own advantage to promote his agenda. I’m not saying fans cannot invoke change because they clearly can, however, Vince loves it when people Tweet about WWE good or bad.

From the Ask WNW vault…

December 2013: Do you think having one member of The Shield win the Royal Rumble would be a good way to break them up? - I think it’s too soon. Not only too soon to breakup The Shield but too soon to put one of them in the main event at Wrestlemania. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have proved they are all very talented and capable on the big stage, however, WWE gets in trouble when they try to do too much too soon. It’s time for some storyline progression with the faction but if it were up to me I’d do it slowly over the course of the next 6 months, leading to an eventual breakup. Once the faction splits, it’ll be proving ground for each in singles competition. I just think that would be a better scenario then risking a rocket pack push flopping and doing irrefutable damage to one of their respective careers.

With Bray Wyatt calling out The Undertaker and saying he's weak after losing the streak, do you see this as an opportunity to being back the "American Badass" gimmick?

There is no reason to alter The Undertaker’s gimmick in 2015. The American Badass gimmick was great because it was another part of Undertaker’s real-life personality turned up to the max but given Undertaker’s limited nature and the fact he’s had some of the best matches of his career at Wrestlemania as “The Dead Man,” he should remain as such. Every year Undertaker competes we are gifted with the opportunity to see one of the greatest of all time. He is in the plans to face Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania 31 next month in California.

Do you think that WWE will take the recent social media movement supporting Divas to an on-screen feud with AJ Lee & Stephanie McMahon for Wrestlemania?

As I explained on Thursday, AJ Lee’s Tweets to Stephanie McMahon were a shoot. I have no doubt that WWE would like to turn the legitimate comments into a work, culminating with a program where AJ Lee led the movement of the Divas but I’m just not sure how realistic that is right now. There is a nasty battle going on behind the scenes involving AJ’s husband CM Punk.

If you missed it, WWE’s ringside physician Chris Amann is suing CM Punk (along with Colt Cabana) for defamation stemming from comments made on the Art of Wrestling podcast last November. WWE has put their full support behind Amann and even publicly stated as much in an unprecedented move on their official website. Make no mistake about it, this was WWE giving CM Punk the middle finger. I can’t imagine AJ Lee is happy about that and to say the relationship is strained right now would be an understatement.

What are the chances Brock Lesnar leaves WWE after Wrestlemania 31?

I don’t want to say 50/50 but I believe it could go either way right now. Brock Lesnar left #RawNashville upset on Monday but it had to do with negotiations to continue their relationship past his current WWE Performer’s Contract. We ran a new detailed backstage update on the situation late on Thursday that you can read at this link.

If Brock and WWE are able to close the gap, I could see their relationship continuing. If not, I could see Brock walking. However, there is no way to say for sure but I fully expect Lesnar to defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 31. Yes, he walked out at Raw but I highly doubt he would want to take the chance of breaching his contract and losing out on his massive salary.

One thing I've noticed over the last few years is the lack of time a lot of matches get PPV. With the WWE Network, would it be a good idea to cut the PPV matches from 7-8 to say 5 and have the rest as pre-show prelim matches similar to the UFC format?

WWE does a preliminary pre-show match at most pay-per-views as part of their Kickoff. The company could easily run longer matches on their main pay-per-views but that’s a decision that has to be made by Vince McMahon (with the creative team). So in other words, simply cutting the number of matches wouldn’t necessarily mean the ones left would get more time. WWE’s standard pay-per-view card for years has featured 8 matches and has worked fine. The WWE Network gives the company more flexibility but pay-per-views are already 4 hours long, they have more than enough time if they choose to utilize it. The reason for UFC's format is the fights are not contrived so they do not have as much control over time.

From the Ask WNW vault…

May 2013: So far I’ve seen 3-4 classic matches with chair shots to the head. Every time I watch, the frame freezes and skips to the second after the chair was used (example here). Why is WWE doing this? - In January 2010, in accordance with their Wellness Program, WWE enacted an outright ban on chair shots to the head. Past footage is edited to reflect the company’s position so it is not interpreted that they condone them. I’m usually pretty liberal when it comes to what is off-limits but I absolutely agree with banning chair shots to the head. Given what we now know about concussions and long-term effects on the brain, there’s no reason for someone to take a steel chair over the head.

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