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, January 31, 2015 to Friday, February 6, 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!
- Mick Foley published a blog on Facebook where he discussed his reaction to this year’s Royal Rumble. Foley noted he’s not worried about Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania but he is worried about the Rumble becoming just another show.
You can read his latest below:
- Triple H and Stephanie McMahon took the WWE jet to Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix, Arizona. The Bella Twins are there as well.
- We’re told WWE is “on the fence” about signing Bubba Ray Dudley to return full-time. Company officials were impressed with how over he was and how good he looked in the Royal Rumble match.
I’m told to consider underlying past issues with Triple H, so he could be “humbled” in the signing process. Even though Dudley has been in WWE before and has worked some huge matches for them, he might have to wait until April like everyone else in terms of getting a full time offer.
Bubba’s girlfriend, Velvet Sky, is also hoping for a WWE offer and sources indicate they would like to both receive full-time Performer’s Contracts. WWE officials are reportedly high up on Velvet’s look but are a bit timid over her age (she’s 33/going on 34 in June).
Bubba has saved his money and isn’t relying on getting an offer from WWE. In fact, if Velvet ends up getting a new deal from TNA Wrestling, he could very well end up rejoining her there. From Dudley’s perspective, getting the Rumble spot gave him a lot of attention on the big stage and makes him more marketable on the indies, in Japan or even back with TNA if he doesn’t sign with WWE.
- Steve Austin interviewed Triple H in a live podcast on the WWE Network following the February 2, 2015 episode of Monday Night Raw. Please find our comprehensive coverage of the interview below...
Stone Cold Steve Austin is back on the WWE Network for a live podcast, this time with WWE COO Triple H. Austin welcomes everyone to the show and lets us know he's going to open up a can of audio whoop ass. Austin introduces Triple H and says the entire month of February on the WWE Network is free. Hunter confirms this and says February is quite a month. This podcast is worth the price of admission alone. There will also be an NXT show this month.
Austin says he's been digging NXT. He's gone through some of the content and he wants to get to it, but he says right now is a discombobulating time. He says he got at least 3,000 e-mails after the Royal Rumble for questions for this podcast. Austin talks about Reigns winning, but the crowd being behind Daniel Bryan. Austin says it's like kayfabe has died. He asks Hunter how to book this in this day and age. Now if the story doesn't go the way people want, people get mad at the writers. Hunter says it's tough. Keeping your finger on the pulse of what's going on, there's a different component of the internet, and the inner workings of the business. As soon as fans identify someone being pushed, there's a vocal minority. Hunter says back in the day, with the exception of a few guys in the upper echelon, there were towns that you went to that were heel towns, who wouldn't like a babyface. The days of people accepting a storyline for a storyline are done. A portion of the audience does, but there's another portion that are smart, and they want to go the opposite direction, or see something else.
Hunter says there are towns that boo Roman out of the building, but then other live events where there's not a single boo. Austin compares Reigns' Rumble win to his own King of the Ring win, noting Hunter was originally slated to win the tournament. When Austin was told he was going to win, he didn't try to say someone else deserved it. Sometimes you put your big boy britches on to go to work. Austin says maybe the finish could have been booked better to make Reigns work more to earn it, and Reigns got the heat for the writing staff. Hunter says the beauty of what makes WWE work, is there's one man making the call, Vince. When you have one guy calling the shots, Hunter says that Royal Rumble was debated and poured over, and there were lots of suggestions. One guy took those, distilled them, and gave us what we got, and that's Vince. No one's perfect, there's a lot of ideas. Vince doesn't always make a good call, but he's got a good track record.
Austin asks if we saw that tonight with Bryan going over Rollins. Vince took the pulse at the Rumble, Austin asks about smart marks, and asks if Vince is reacting. Hunter says you can look at it however you want. The business hasn't changed, a smart booker reacts. Austin and Hunter did it in the ring every night.
Hunter says we can change direction at the drop of the hat, but they can also work with it. Hunter says it's always been that way. If they don't cheer for Hulk Hogan in Minneapolis, Vince doesn't bring them here to make Hulkamania happen, same with Austin. Austin said watching the crowd tonight, both guys got strong reactions. He was in the back and couldn't hear the full reaction. He calls it supply and demand. People went from asking for Roman to asking for Bryan, and Reigns took the resentment for that. Hunter says it's a tough environment, and he feels that way with Cena. There was a really long time when half the crowd was booing Cena, but he was still packing arena, and still ahead of the roster in every area. It didn't matter how many people liked and hated him. It's impossible to find that person everyone will like.
In the Attitude era, they had a tighter demographic. Nowadays, they're catering to a much larger audience across every age group, religion, race, it's hard to find the guy who everyone will like.
Hunter says the worst thing you can do is make someone a good guy. Austin goes back to the Attitude era, telling Hunter he's got a few good years left in him. Austin talks about the sense of urgency in the Attitude era. He talks about this as the reality era, and asks what that means. Hunter says kayfabe's dead. You don't have to go to dirt sheets anymore. It used to be a hard to find thing, and now it's Grantland. Major newspapers have reporters giving the story. The reality is the business now. It crosses over so much you can't deny the behind the scenes. When the company doesn't tell the story well, whether it's the writing or execution, when it's not told well, people don't buy it.
When people know the reality, and you try to write something that goes against that, people don't buy it. The reality era, fans want to say that the people in the back are pushing Reigns, and holding back Daniel Bryan. He says last year, they changed things along the way to WrestleMania, and there were times when Daniel was in the back saying he couldn't succeed, and he needed to be beaten again. Hunter says it's working the work of reality. Hunter says it's like the Terminator timeline, it doesn't make sense.
Austin says Reigns had a good showing tonight, and he shined. The way the finish went down helped him, and he needed that. Hunter agrees and says that's putting your finger on it. The business is like a puzzle. He hears people say Roman isn't ready, but to him, no one's ever ready for that. You think you know what that spot is, and then it's a totally different world when it's on you. You put a whole different world of pressure on yourself. Hunter says once people see what direction you're going, everyone wants to be in your ear and give their suggestion, and very few are qualified. As a talent, you have to find what's meaningful to you, and trust your guts. But when you haven't been doing it long, it's hard to trust your guts, then you get mixed up and start being your own worst enemy.
Austin says it's got to come naturally. He asks about Hunter not being ready to win King of the Ring in 96. Hunter says he would have been, but when the curtain call happened, and when Hunter was taken out and Austin was put into the spot, in hindsight, Hunter can say that Austin was ready, and he wasn't. Hunter says he would have failed and dropped the ball in 96. Hunter says when he got the chance, he was more ready, and had developed much more of the skill to run with that ball.
Austin says he's looking forward to watching the story unfold. Hunter says they're the book that never ends. There's always another chapter. Fans don't know where they're going tomorrow, so they can't knock today. Even when they get to WrestleMania, there's no off season, they get up and do Raw the next day. They couldn't predict Daniel getting injured, they had to react.
Austin says he watched the Triple H documentary King of Kings on the Network. Austin talks about how they met in 92 or 93 and were fast friends. He says when Hunter was 5 years old, he fell in love with the business, and he talks about Hunter studying cameras and monitors. He says Hunter leaves behind a legacy that many would be proud of. He talks about Hunter marrying Stephanie, and asks what his exit strategy would have been. Hunter says if none of the stuff with Steph happened, and he hadn't met her, then trails off and starts talking about something that bothers him when people criticize him for his relationship with Steph, and that he wouldn't have earned what he did in his career. He says Undertaker told him once, 'what do you care, the truth is the truth and none of the people know'. Hunter says he thinks he's still be here behind the scenes, helping people work.
Hunter says when you get into the business, it's so you don't have to have a job, and you can make some money, maybe open a gym. Hunter says he fell in love with creative though, and the process. The cameras, the making of the product, even coming up with guy's entrances. Helping with music, set design, Hunter fell in love with all of that, and Vince saw that and gave Hunter an opportunity to explore that. He remembers being invited to a production meeting, then sitting in a room with Vince and Pat Patterson, and Vince pitching crazy angles, then bouncing ideas back and forth with Pat. Hunter says there's nothing like being in the ring with 15,000 people going crazy, but now, Hunter gets a lot out of going to Florida to NXT and watching the lightbulb going off when he's teaching someone something. Hunter thanks Vince for the chance to sink or swim on his own without a net, and says it's been great for him. Sometimes he doesn't ask things of Vince because he wants to prove to himself that he can do it.
Hunter says he thrives on creativity. As far as an exit plan though, no. Hunter says when you retire, passion of what you do with your days, Vince used to say he never worked a day in his life, but he's a workaholic. Vince means that though, he loves it so much, it's not work. He's the same way, when he goes to Florida, you forget to eat, and the whole day goes by because you're so into it.
We get the first Twitter question about the Performance Center vs. the indies. Hunter says it depends on the guy. Guys like Kurt Angle picked things up incredibly fast because he was a phenomenal athlete and had the aptitude for it. Sometimes it's harder to knock the bad habits out of indy guys. Some indy guys are sponges, and some are set in their ways.
Hunter says football's football, but if he's the Patriots, he wants you to run his playbook, regardless of what you might have played in the past. It's not up for debate. At the end of the day, they know what their fans like, and as long as indy guys are open to that, and are willing to do things that way WWE fans love, it'll work. There's a reason WWE is the #1 company in the world.
Austin goes back to NXT, and says they're accomplishing great things. Austin loves the show, the lighting, the organic feel, the wrestling, the promos. It's not always a 20-30 minute promo. Hunter says it's a one hour show. Austin asks how he makes a winner. Hunter says he does what he'd like, and he listens. He also knows the audience. It's on the Network, where you get hardcore fans, younger fans. Hunter tries to script things less, promo wise, and let the talent make their own mistakes. Hunter has the luxury of doing it with a much smaller microscope. In the WWE, there's much more pressure. Down there, it can be looser and more playful.
Hunter talks about the way they shoot the show, and how he had to learn all that. He says when you go to Full Sail, the setup is the same, so when you come to the WWE, it's the same, just scaled up. Austin asks if it's a developmental territory, and Hunter says yeah. Everyone wants to be up here, but at the same time, they've made an alternative brand. Hunter wants to take it out on the road. Some of the guys have done that on the indies.
Hunter brings up Finn Balor, and his history in Japan. Hunter says when they were working on his entrance, Finn was a bit shell shocked, since no one explained things to him in terms of where the cameras are, and how to play to them. Austin brings up coming into the WWE as the Ringmaster, then talks about Hunter coming into the WWE as the Blue Blood, then evolving to what he is now. He asks if the guys in NXT have those opportunities. Hunter says they definitely have it. They're teaching everything now, camera guys, etc. Dusty Rhodes teaches promos, and he's got a feed in his office to the Performance Center. When someone wants to try something new, he's got the chance to check it out. Hunter says he wants people to believe what they're doing, not a bunch of people playing wrestler.
Austin says you have to believe in yourself before throwing it to another Twitter question asking if anyone has the potential to be the next Cena/Hogan/Austin. Hunter says he sees a lot of guys with 'something'. A lot of people have the X factor, but it's what you do with it. You can't be just a promo guy, or a good wrestler, you've got to be a bit of everything. Austin says it's all pieces of the puzzle, and the more pieces, the clearer the picture. There are a lot of guys putting puzzles together, but it's not the best picture in terms of drawing.
Hunter says there's only so far you can lead a talent. Hunter gives Undertaker as an example. It was Vince's concept and creation. You could have given the Taker character to 100 different guys, and they would have died a miserable death. But Mark took a concept, and became that, taking it to something no one would have ever imagined. Even today, it's still the most awesome character there has ever been in the business. That's on Mark. There's only so far you can lead the horse before it has to drink on its own. There are things the guys do well, but when it's getting over the hump, that's on those guys.
Austin says people seem to think Hunter is handing the brass ring to Reigns, or dangling it in front of Bryan. Hunter says everyone here works hard. Hunter met Roman in developmental and he was busting his ass, as hard as anyone else does. This business is not about deserve, or work hard. It's got nothing to do with nice guys. Should the guy on the top work harder than everyone else? Hunter thinks so. Cena is criticized a lot, but he's the first in, last out, hardest worker. But there's no one in the business that's done everything right.
Austin talks about wrestling Triple H in Germany, and a fan attacking him after a match. Hunter suplexed the guy off of Austin and started calling for security. Austin asks about Chyna, and asks if she'll go in the Hall of Fame. Hunter says she deserves to, but it's a bit of a double sided edge. It's not as easy as 'should this person go into the Hall of Fame'. Chyna changed the business and did something no woman did before, and was a phenomenal talent. Hunter doesn't want to get into any of the other stuff, and there's no beef on his side of things. Hunter says she should be in the Hall of Fame, but it's a bit difficult. When his eight year old kid sees the Hall of Fame, and sees Chyna, then looks her up on the internet, what comes up? He's not criticizing lifestyle choices, or anything, it is what it is, and it's a difficult choice. The Hall of Fame isn't as simple as a legendary career. There are legal reasons, or sometimes people could refuse.
Hunter says he's a big fan of the history of the business, and to go back and get Bruno, and Warrior. Austin says he's mending fences. Hunter says with Bruno, he went to Vince one day and asked. Vince said Bruno should be in, but he'd never agree. Hunter asks if it was ok to call. He talks about Bruno and Vince falling out, and Bruno not agreeing with the direction of the business. Hunter says everyone builds things up in their mind. Vince thought Bruno would never come back, but Hunter worked and worked.
Austin asks if Bruno or Warrior was harder to get. Hunter says it was about earning trust. Bruno was different because he had met him once, then called him cold. At Bruno's age, it was a trust issue. Warrior was different because there was no trust. Hunter says both of them said during the process 'you live, you learn, you grow'. Hunter says he was in a different place in his WrestleMania match. Hunter had a bad personal experience with the guy, at the moment. Hunter got to work his first WrestleMania with the Ultimate Warrior. It was mind boggling and awesome, but Hunter and Warrior had a rough time then. Things were said, and they had to get past that, and a whole lot of stuff between Warrior and Vince, but as Hunter stayed open to the process, he realized Warrior was misunderstood.
Austin says it was a miscommunication, and he's had issues in the past with that as well. Hunter says they got past that. Austin asks if DX or NWO was more influential. Hunter says the NWO at first was massively influential, but the massive impact they had quickly dissipated due to too many guys being added. DX did more things in various incarnations over a longer period of time, and make goofy things serious. DX changed stuff over the course of time more, but the NWO shifted the business.
Austin asks if Hunter could wrestle anyone, who would it be. Hunter immediately says Buddy Rodgers, because he was the first guy to Hunter that transcended. He wasn't just a shooter. He had a look, he was tan, had the hair, talked the talk, walked the walk. Buddy was a guy who could manipulate the crowd. He was larger than life. He was the first character.
Austin wants to go into some word association. Before that, he talks about CM Punk. Hunter says he remembers hearing things about Punk when he was in OVW. Hunter says he didn't even know who Punk was at that time. He hadn't ever seen him. When Punk came to the WWE, somehow the belief that Hunter was trying to bury him carried over. When they got further in, and Punk first did the pipe bomb promo, things were done for the right reasons, but the decisions that were made were Vince's, and they didn't help Punk, and Punk held a grudge. Punk's hard to get to know, he doesn't talk, doesn't communicate well. Hunter would hear from everyone that Punk was livid, and he would ask, and Punk would say nothing's going on. Austin asks if Punk could come back. Hunter says never say never. Bruno's come back, Hogan came back. If the fans want it, and it's in the best interest, but if he didn't have passion for it, he shouldn't be here.
Word association time.
Shawn Michaels, Hunter says greatest in-ring performer. Ric Flair, best all around. Kevin Nash, underrated mind for the business. Scott Hall, one of the people he learned the most from walking into the door. Eddie Guerrero, awesome, so fun, when he could get out of his head, so much fun to watch. Goldberg, someone Hunter credits with changing the intensity of the business, a guy with explosive intensity. Brock Lesnar, freak straight-up. Paul Heyman, rides the line like a razor blade. Owen Hart, one of the nicest and funniest guys Hunter ever knew. Owen was a guy that was so good in the ring, he would go out and have the worst match ever for fun. Austin says when he would do that, it would make him madder than a hornet. Bret Hart, great technician, sometimes may take himself too seriously. Austin says he loves Hart. Undertaker, respect. Kane, underrated and the constant, Kane is always here, always great, always solid. Pat Patterson, genius for the business, one of the guys that when Hunter got here, Pat was the guy who Hunter always though said the smartest things ever. Michael Hayes, underrated for his contributions to the business. Austin talked about seeing the Freebirds vs. the Von Erichs in Dallas when he was in college, and they should be in the Hall of Fame.
Austin asks about pro wrestling vs. sports entertainment. Hunter says he loves wrestling, and at the end of the day, that's what they do. He also understands it's limiting. Anyone can play football, very few make it to the NFL. It's the same with WWE, very few get the distinction of superstar.
Before they wrap up, Austin wants to talk about Lesnar's contract status. Triple H says they're constantly working, but it all comes down to Brock. Hunter's not sure if Brock maybe has some unfinished business. There's a great working relationship. Austin says he'd like to see him more, but he is definitely a special attraction. Hunter says it comes down to Brock.
Austin asks about the streak, should it have remained unbroken. Hunter says he doesn't know. He can see the value of both. It's the home run record that should never be broken, and should last forever. On the other side, for Taker to give it all back, and let someone else benefit, he can see both sides.
Hunter says if you look at Brock, all that storyline stuff didn't happen by accident, and that was part of the plan.
Austin asks about the last play of the Superbowl. Hunter says when you're 'booking the finish' he can see how they were trying to surprise them. It was just poor execution.
Austin says they're wrapping things up, but Hunter says he's got the stroke to get ten more minutes.
Austin asks about promos, and how back in the day he got no notes. Today they're so tight and scripted. People are regurgitating, not saying something they believe in. Hunter says that's a product of time. There are some guys who want to be fully scripted, some who want bullet points, and some who change things into their own words. It's a different era, and they have to be careful with sponsors, and lots of other things to think about. You get into the groove of scripting things, and guys get used to it and it's hard to get out of. That's why he's hands-off in NXT, and he lets them do their thing, then comes in to guide them, so they can get used to the style.
If Hunter could change anything about Monday Night Raw, what would it be? Hunter says he wishes he could go back to two hours, because the third hour is exponentially harder to write. Austin asks if it could ever go back. Hunter says it's a Vince call, and he tries to avoid those meetings. It's just a difficult show to write. Austin asks about changing anything else. Hunter says he wishes they had longer to develop stories.
Hunter says he wishes they could do more slow burn, because the payoff is massive. There's a short attention span today, and everyone wants it now, and some do want to go longer. You can't please everyone. Hunter says he would like to see the women get more time. Austin says he's noticed that in NXT. Hunter says there's a large viewership of females watching, and the Divas are inspiring.
Austin asks about Hunter's last time in the ring. Hunter says it was the match with Evolution, and you'll see him back, but stay tuned. He doesn't want to give anything away.
Austin asks how the training's going. Hunter says it's going great. He's adapted how he trains, but he doesn't have aches and pains. He moves around and plays with his kids, everything's awesome.
Austin wraps things up, and Hunter says he'd like to do this again, but talk less about business, and more about how Austin used to potato him. Austin thanks us for watching, and closes the show.
- Daniel Bryan beat Seth Rollins in the main event of this week's Raw to earn a match against Roman Reigns at WWE Fast Lane. As noted earlier, the winner at Fast Lane will face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Reigns and Bryan will be guests on MizTV this Thursday on SmackDown.
- WWE announced John Cena will be facing Rusev for the United States Championship at WWE Fast Lane.
WWE Fast Lane will take place on Sunday, February 22, 2015 from the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. We’ll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage right here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
- Big Show, Kane and Mark Henry are three WWE workers that have been turned as much if not more than anyone else in the business.
The folks over at MoronBall.com counted the turns of The Big Show and sent over the following data:
Since coming to the WWE in 1999, Big Show has had quite a lot of “transformations”. So many to the point that his latest turns have come with a lot of groans. Just how many times has Big Show turned? See below to find out.
#1: Big Show turned heel and aligns himself with Vince McMahon in February of 1999.
#2: Big Show knocked out Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania in 1999, turning face.
#3: Big Show turned heel by aligning himself with The Undertaker in the summer of 1999.
#4: Big Show turned face late in 1999 after learning that his father had cancer.
#5: Big Show turned heel after claiming he won the Royal Rumble in early 2000.
#6: Big Show turned face in the spring of 2000 after dressing up as other wrestlers in good fun.
#7: Big Show came back as a heel after a 6-month hiatus in OVW in 2001.
#8: Big Show turned face by forming a team with Spike Dudley in the latter part of 2001.
#9: Big Show joins the nWo in 2002, thus turning heel.
#10: Big Show returns to Smackdown in 2004 as a face.
#11: Big Show turned heel by aligning with Paul Heyman and becoming ECW Champion in the summer of 2006.
(Big Show left for about a year-and-a-half)
#12: Big Show returned as a heel after attacking (an already injured) Rey Mysterio at No Way Out in 2008.
#13: Big Show slowly turned face as he was representing WWE, and went into feuds with The Great Khali and Mark Henry in the spring of 2008.
#14: Big Show turned heel by aligning with Vickie Guerrero in the fall of 2008.
#15: Big Show turned face by joining Smackdown and attacking heels to help out Teddy Long.
#16: Big Show turned heel by helping Big Johnny beat John Cena.
#17: Big Show turned face by going against The Shield.
#18: Big Show turned heel by showing disinterest against The Shield, and KO’ing his face partners.
#19: Big Show turned face by coming back in the summer and actually going against The Shield.
#20: Big Show turned heel by joining The Authority (even though they threatened to bankrupt him and made him cry several times).
So there you have it; Big Show has turned 18 different times since his debut as a heel. We look forward to updating this sometime in 2015 when Big Show turns face again.
You read that correctly. That’s 20 turns in the WWE career of Big Show.
- JBL took some heat after saying on commentary that Luke Harper looked like a “zombie version of Eddie Guerrero” after he went over the top rope in his match on Raw against Ryback.
He responded on social media:
If you have problems getting the Facebook framework to load, here's the comment:
The spot with Luke Harper I saw some Twitter comments over. I had just mentioned Walking Dead show and Luke does the 'Eddie' spot over the top rope, my comment (since I had mentioned Rick Grimes before toward Luke) was 'it looks like a zombie Eddie Guerrero'. This was a WALKING DEAD reference toward Luke-who I have said before looks like a 'walker'.
I would NEVER insult my friend Eddie, for those who took it wrong-sorry about that, but it is what it is.
- Former WWE Diva Kristal Marshall was ringside at this week’s Monday Night Raw. ”The Boogeyman” Marty Wright was also there.
- This month’s WWE NXT special is called WWE NXT TakeOver: Rival. It will take place live on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 from the campus of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida and will air live on the WWE Network.
- Following this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw, below is the updated card for WWE Fast Lane:
No. 1 Contender’s Match
Winner will face Brock Lesnar for WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31
- Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
- Triple H challenges Sting to show himself
WWE United States Championship Match
- Rusev (c) w/Lana vs. John Cena
WWE Divas Championship Match
- Nikki Bella (c) vs. Paige
WWE Fast Lane, the inaugural edition, will take place on Sunday, February 22, 2015 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee.
- Joanie “Chyna” Laurer commented about being mentioned in Steve Austin’s interview with Triple H that aired after Raw on the WWE Network.
The following is from Twitter:
We have a complete transcript of Steve Austin's interview with Triple H online at this link.
- Triple H discussed Roman Reigns and his “push” during his interview with Steve Austin that aired live on the WWE Network after this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. You can watch at this link.
- Below are Raw Fallout videos from this week:
An embarrassed Paige sends a message to The Bella Twins - Raw Fallout - February 2, 2015
Rusev reacts to the Russian flag getting caught above the ring - Raw Fallout - February 2, 2015
Bad News Barrett reacts to Dean Ambrose's challenge - Raw Fallout - February 2, 2015
Curtis Axel reacts to his confrontation with Dean Ambrose - Raw Fallout - February 2, 2015
- Too much too quick, we’ll slow it down and tell a different story. That’s what I got from this week’s Monday Night Raw regarding the handling of Roman Reigns.
Damned if they do, damned if they don’t; I want to be careful how I address this. I don’t want to sound impossible to please but a part of me just feels that Vince McMahon has lost touch with his audience. Triple H directly put the Rumble’s booking on Vince, so it’s him specifically that I’ll address.
For the umpteenth time, the fans didn’t reject the Royal Rumble because of Roman Reigns winning it. They rejected the Royal Rumble because of how poorly it was booked.
Unceremonious eliminations of Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, even Big Show and Kane made for an anti-climatic build to the predicted result of Reigns going over.
Reigns wasn’t booked where he “worked to earn the victory,” he was booked where he disappeared at times and seamlessly handled his eliminations.
I disagree with Steve Austin and anyone else that says the fans rejected the Rumble because they wanted Daniel Bryan to win it. Yes, I’ll admit, Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31 — the story of total redemption — is one I pushed for and even preferred. But I was fine with Roman Reigns getting the spot at Wrestlemania.
Judging by the way the fans reacted to Reigns at live events over the weekend and on this week’s Raw, I believe they would have been fine with it too.
The hot crowd in Philadelphia was going to be hard on Reigns no matter what (yes, Philly is a heel crowd, like Hunter talked about with Austin) but Vince never gave Reigns a chance. The moment Daniel Bryan was unceremoniously eliminated, the crowd rejected the match. It had nothing to do with Reigns because he wasn’t even in the match at that point.
I understand Vince McMahon likes to manipulate and seemingly “toy” with his audience at times but the way some of the favorites were lackadaisically booked in the Royal Rumble is what resulted in the widespread criticism. Just like last year, it was the fact that a red hot Daniel Bryan wasn’t even in the Rumble match and not so much who was chosen to go over.
Surely, I’m not the only one that sees that.
WWE slowed down the push of Reigns on Raw by having The Big Show pin him, albeit dirty and then had him “help” Bryan in the main event (which could mean a couple of different things).
It’s clear they want to try and push Reigns more tactfully, hoping to ease the criticism on him getting a top spot. I can only guess by having him defend the No. 1 contendership against Bryan at Fast Lane, in Vince’s opinion, will help prove Reigns “earned” his spot. Further, it will leave the company’s options open if they feel Reigns isn’t catching on enough for the Wrestlemania main event.
As I explained earlier in the week, WWE is using the Royal Rumble criticism to their advantage. They’ve taken the “backlash” from the pay-per-view and are using it sell their next show. Let’s also keep in mind they’re doing to the 30-man Royal Rumble match what they did to the Survivor Series main event, invalidating it.
Roman Reigns won the 30-man Royal Rumble match but has now “agreed to defend his title shot,” just like the Survivor Series main event of Team Cena vs. Team Authority was rendered irrelevant when WWE brought The Authority back to television just over a month after Cena “ridding WWE of them.”
WWE was careful to show The Authority admitting they “tricked Reigns” into defending his contendership, but regardless, it is the Fast Lane main event — not the Rumble match — that will determine Brock Lesnar’s challenger at Wrestlemania.
I truly believe much of this could have been avoided if Vince would have been more careful with the Royal Rumble match. The bout was blatant unimaginative/lazy/arrogant/illogical booking and as a result, the audience rejected it.
WWE is going to try their best to correct the mistake — like they did last year with the multiple main events involving Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 30 — but it’s a mistake that shouldn’t have been made in the first place.
Most people saw this coming a mile (maybe 10 miles) away. I’ll go as far as saying Vince has made every mistake in the book with the handling of Roman Reigns since he went out with the incarcerated hernia last September, yet he is still over!
Just imagine how much more “ready” (which, by the way, listening to Hunter, it sounds like he agrees with me on the whole “not ready” stuff) Reigns would be for the Wrestlemania 31 main event if he would have been handled more carefully from the moment he went down in September.
- WWE have been looking at ways to utilize the vast crop of NXT talent at Wrestlemania 31. We’re told there have been multiple ideas pitched, including matches that would feature several premiere developmental talents. I heard on Monday that one scenario pitched was a Money in the Bank style ladder match.
- We can confirm that Bray Wyatt’s new promos are a “direct line” to plug a potential program with The Undertaker, however, we’re unable to confirm Undertaker for Wrestlemania 31 at press time. We’ll currently list Undertaker as “possible.”
- Seth Rollins was released from the WWE World Heavyweight Championship scene on this week’s Monday Night Raw and the assumption is that he’ll work a Wrestlemania 31 program with a babyface Randy Orton. Obviously the MITB briefcase keeps him a wild card for a swerve.
- This week’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw garnered an average viewing audience of 4,289,000 viewers on the USA Network. Below is how viewership broke down by hour:
Hour one - 4,456,000 viewers
Hour two - 4,403,000 viewers
Hour three - 4,008,00 viewers
The show was down an average (-131,000 viewers) across all three hours and saw a dramatic dip from hour one to hour three (-448,000 viewers). The show still won the night on cable along with Love and Hip Hop on VH1. TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 cable shows in adults 25-54 for all of Monday at this link.
- The No. 1 contender’s match for Fast Lane was announced for a couple reasons. One, it gives Roman Reigns some time over the next few weeks to see if that’s indeed the direction they want to go. Additionally, it gives WWE an out involving Daniel Bryan if they decide that’s the optimal direction. Unlike most matches that are “booked on the fly,” the finish to this bout isn’t one of those things. This match is part of a plan but obviously what plan WWE executes will determine the outcome.
- If Reigns goes over Daniel Bryan, the talk is they’ll turn him heel and have Brock go full babyface.
- If Daniel Bryan goes over Roman Reigns, it shouldn’t be assumed he’ll go on to face Lesnar at Wrestlemania and a three-way (also involving Reigns) cannot be ruled out. I can tell you that both Vince McMahon and Triple H want this to be Reigns’ year in the Wrestlemania main event, so it’s hard to envision a scenario where he isn’t in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.
- Randy Orton’s delayed return is storyline related. The plan has been to program him with Seth Rollins for Wrestlemania.
- Dolph Ziggler is still rumored for a heel turn sooner than later.
- Bray Wyatt came out of Raw banged up but it wasn’t believed to be anything serious. Apparently he tweaked his back and was trying to “walk it off” backstage.
- The Rock won’t be working Wrestlemania 31 due to filming obligations. Make no mistake about it, the pitch was made and the money was there but they just couldn’t work it out. Not only is Rock’s movie schedule filled but studios are hesitant about signing off on him wrestling due to the risk of injury.
- Sheamus is reportedly ready to return but they’re also delaying it for storyline purposes. Many feel Sheamus will be turned heel.
- Triple H is high up on the tag team of Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. I’m told to look for it to move forward.
- Danger Dean (@TheDangerDean) and Jason Jaxon worked Tuesday night’s WWE Main Event taping against The Ascension. Jaxon Tweeted this:
We have spoilers for that show available at this link.
- Dean Ambrose beat Bray Wyatt via disqualification in a dark match main event after this week’s Smackdown was taped.
- This week’s Triple H/Michael Cole interview is online at this link.
- Lanny Poffo has been making media rounds to talk about the posthumous WWE Hall of Fame induction of his brother ”Macho Man” Randy Savage. Poffo continues to tell a story that he first told a few years ago in that WWE first approached him about inducting Randy in 2012.
The reason Lanny turned down the offer is that it was Randy’s wishes to be inducted with him and their father. Similar to what WWE did in 2009 with The Von Erichs.
As to why Lanny accepted now, he said the fans deserve it and it's for them.
Lanny also confirmed Hulk Hogan’sreconciliation with his brother before his death.
- WWE talent talk about their favorite opponents in the latest episode of WWE Inbox. Here are some of the responses:
Santino Marella’s favorite opponent - Jack SwaggerBad News Barrett’s favorite opponent - Kofi KingstonKane’s favorite opponent - The Undertaker
You can watch at this link.
- Heath Slater worked a dark match at this week’s WWE Main Event/Smackdown tapings from Colorado Springs, Colorado, going under to Luke Harper. It was Slater’s first WWE bout since November 25, 2014.
Slater has been away from WWE after allegations against him from April 2011 resurfaced. A warrant for Slater’s arrested had been issued, in which Slater offered this response:
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All charges were dropped because the statute of limitations expired.
- Digital Spy has a new interview online with Daniel Bryan. In it, he talked about his dream scenario for Wrestlemania 31 this year and how his big moment came about at Wrestlemania 30 last year.
Below are some highlights:
Dream scenario for Wrestlemania 31:
“Yeah I sure do, my dream scenario [would be] I wrestle Brock Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania. That, to me, would be every bit as gripping as last year's WrestleMania was.”
How his ‘Wrestlemania moment’ came about last year:
"Two major things happened that caused me to be in the spot I was at last year's Wrestlemania: the fans rejected Batista as being the big returning hero that WWE wanted him to be and CM Punk left. These are two great big gaping holes that now have to be filled at WrestleMania. If you main event WrestleMania with just Batista and Randy Orton, the WrestleMania crowd is not going to like that. Then CM Punk was supposed to wrestle Triple H, and now you have this opening for Triple H.
"So those were the two major things that caused me to be in the spot that I was for WrestleMania and neither of them had anything to do with me per se! I didn't go out there and do anything, the fans took control of the one thing [Batista's heel turn] and then Punk left and that took control of the other thing, and it's like, 'Well, what do we do for these two problems? Ah, well - there's Daniel Bryan!' So yeah that's what happened, Punk was very accurate in what he said.”
Are fans ruining the fun of WWE shows?
"I honestly don't think that it's that different. A similar thing [to the 2014 Royal Rumble] happened at Royal Rumble in 1994, with Bret Hart and Lex Luger. Lex Luger was the guy that the WWE was really behind, they did the whole 'Lex Express' thing. But the fans wanted Bret Hart, and so it's interesting that that kind of thing has happened before, it'll happen again.
"But I don't know if the fans are ruining the fun!? For me they're making it really exciting! Because honestly, without the fans doing what they did last year, I would have never main evented WrestleMania. The fans are the reason why I even got that opportunity.
"That was never meant to be my spot, so I encourage that sort of thing! I might change my tune if it goes against me one of these days, but as for now - I like it.”
CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety.
- Below is the updated card for WWE NXT TakeOver: Rival:
WWE NXT Championship Match
- Sami Zayn (c) vs. Kevin Owens
No. 1 Contender’s Match
For the WWE NXT Championship
- Finn Balor vs. Adrian Neville
WWE NXT Women’s Championship Match
- Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Bayley
WWE NXT Tag Team Championship Match
- Buddy Murphy & Wesley Blake (c) vs. The Lucha Dragons
No DQ Match
- Bull Dempsey vs. Baron Corbin
WWE NXT TakeOver: Rival will take place on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 from the campus of FulL Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. The show will air live on the WWE Network and we’ll have complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
- WWE is promoting an “argument” between Alicia Fox and Cameron over their in-ring skills for next Sunday’s episode of Total Divas. In the preview clip, Fox told Cameron she needed her time back down in developmental, in which Cameron said she was rude. She then ragged on Fox for spending two years in developmental when she got called up after a few months. You can watch it at this link.
- John Cena is not advertised for this weekend’s live event loop. Top stars advertised for shows in North Charleston, SC, Jacksonville, FL and Canton, OH include Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose. The other loop, for shows in Salt Lake City, UT and Huntington, WV, includes Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins. Orton has not yet returned to WWE television since being written off in early November 2014 to film the starring role in The Condemned 2. However, he worked live events on the company’s holiday tour loop and is due back imminently. We’ll have more with the weekend schedule.
- Jonathan Snowden of Bleacher Report has Part 2 of his ”Inside WWE” piece that looks at last year’s Wrestlemania 30 story of Daniel Bryan.
Below are some quotes Snowden collected firsthand:
Daniel Bryan on his goal working the independents:
"On the independents, it was very important to me to go out there and have the best match possible," Bryan said. "It's about not being satisfied with your previous performances. When you're in the same scenario the next week, ask, 'How can I do that better?' It's all been an evolution of style, really."
His connection with the fans:
"I consider myself very fortunate," Bryan said. "There's nobody on this planet skilled enough to warrant that kind of response. It was a natural and organic response from the fans. The fans really like me. How do you explain that? I don't know...my connection with the crowd and the way the crowd got so behind me and into this whole thing made it seem much bigger than me. I was just this conduit for the fans to be able to get out all these emotions."
Bryan’s style compared to Triple H:
"Triple H and I have very different styles. The fans would not be happy if I did a Triple H match. And likewise, they would not have been happy with Hunter doing a Daniel Bryan match. Especially when it comes to WrestleMania," Bryan said. "And that's where it really gets interesting. To me, the funnest part of wrestling is creatively putting together a match. Especially when you have two guys that have so many different ideas. We had so many ideas to choose from, and we just had to decide, 'What story do we want to tell the crowd?'
"We also knew that I was going on to wrestle a second match. So it couldn't be the kind of match where I'd be nearly dead, because then the next match wouldn't be realistic. But there still had to be some steam there in the first match. It was Hunter bringing all of his great ideas and me bringing all of my great ideas and us saying, 'Let's make this something special.'"
Triple H getting chillbumps when thinking about Daniel Bryan story:
"During his entrance—when the whole crowd was doing the 'Yes' chant—that was the blowaway moment for me," Triple H said. "I can't express to you, for me, as a performer and as a guy who helped craft that story, what it meant. I remember after my entrance and waiting for him the ring with Steph seeing 80,000 people doing the 'Yes' chant and thinking, 'Dude, did this work or what?'
"I lean over to Steph, and I said, 'Look at that.' What a story. And even just thinking about it now, I get chillbumps. To be able to take that 10-month arc of a story and have it pay off for Daniel Bryan—who on every level is just the nicest guy and a guy you just want to help succeed—for every reason you just want him to be big, and then here it is. And man, it's huge. And you're just like, 'Yeah!'"
CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety.
- Dolph Ziggler and Ryback are featured in the latest episode of Smackdown Fallout. In it, they tout their victory on Smackdown and challenge The Authority to “feed them more.” You can watch at this link.
- WWE is using the past of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens to promote their NXT Championship match at NXT TakeOver: Rival next week. You can watch a well done video package at this link.
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- WWE has announced a second NXT live event outside of Florida. The show is scheduled for Friday, March 6, 2015 from the Agora Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio. They’re running one the night before — March 5th — in Columbus to coincide with the Arnold Sports Festival.
- For those that missed it on this week’s Smackdown, a new wrinkle has been added to the Bad News Barrett gimmick. Barrett is now delivering the bad news in segments that are meant to be a takeoff of TMZ TV. Barrett used Twitter to enhance the wrinkle:
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Here is what Ryan Satin from TMZ Tweeted him:
- Kevin Nash and Scott Hall have been added to WWE’s February 27, 2015 live event from Madison Square Garden in New York City. The theme of the night is Hulk Hogan Appreciation Night.
- Dot com has a new click bait article online looking at 8 controversial Royal Rumble Match exits. Exits featured “Macho King” Randy Savage (1991), Bastion Booger (1994), Skull (1998), Spike Dudley (2004), Scotty 2 Hotty (2005), Hornswoggle & Finlay (2008) and Curtis Axel (2015). CLICK HERE to read all 8 pages.
- This week’s episode of WWE Smackdown garnered an average viewing audience of 2,441,000 viewers on SyFy. The show was Thursday’s highest rated cable original. TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 cable shows among adults 18-49 for the whole day at this link. Viewership was down (-511,000) from the prior week’s live Smackdown and the least watched show since the return to Thursday nights.
- Last week’s episode of Impact Wrestling garnered an average viewing audience of 431,000 viewers on Destination America. The replay that followed did an average viewing audience of 153,000 viewers. While the first run numbers were down (-86,000) from the week prior, the replay audience was up +67,000 viewers.
- There were some questions about us reporting that Havok was working for TNA Wrestling without a contract, even when she was Knockouts Champion. Then she showed up on iPPV a couple weeks ago. She wouldn’t have done that if she had a TNA contract.
- With TNA missing out on Alberto Del Rio, they’re looking to go after Rey Mysterio. However, the assumption is he’ll end up joining AAA and Lucha Underground. We’re working to find out what TNA’s final offer was to Del Rio but they should be trying to lure Rey with a similar offer.
Ask WNW & Premium Mailbag
Do you think the fact that WWE Network still reached 1 million subscribers after the big Royal Rumble gaff is concerning?
I understand your concern about WWE being able tout 1 million Network subscribers a couple days after a pay-per-view their fan base clearly rejected but the entire #CancelWWENetwork outcry was somewhat overblown. A lot of the people that joined in the “movement” were expressing displeasure over the way the Royal Rumble match was booked and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
I do not know how many people canceled or what the current subscriber count looks like, but it could be some time before we find out how many subscribers actually canceled over Royal Rumble backlash. I was annoyed as anyone over WWE’s blatant unimaginative/lazy/arrogant/illogical booking of the 2015 30-man Royal Rumble match but not enough to cancel my Network subscription. If you were, canceling is the best way to send a message.
Do you feel the Royal Rumble concept is outdated? Especially since the last two Rumbles have been booed out of building. Will this event end up becoming an afterthought like Survivor Series?
This is a point that Mick Foley made in a blog on his Facebook page. I agree the Royal Rumble is becoming “just another show” but it’s the aforementioned unimaginative/lazy/arrogant/illogical booking killing it, not the concept becoming outdated. In fact, we can look at the numbers and the excitement and conclude the Royal Rumble concept is as popular as it’s ever been, even after the disaster last year.
What I don’t understand is how this year’s Rumble match ended up even worse than last year’s Rumble match and the company repeated the exact same mistakes. I truly believe it’s not that Roman Reigns won that caused the crowd to reject it, but how some of the favorites were eliminated, how lackadaisical Reigns’ victory was, and the fact Kane and Big Show were among the final standing.
In the days leading up to the Royal Rumble, I explained how Reigns had to be booked to “earn it,” so that people would respect his victory. It’s like Vince McMahon just decided they were going to cut every corner possible and say, “here it is, now take it or leave it.” Again, I don’t understand why and cannot explain the unexplainable.
What is your opinion if WWE decides to do Undertaker vs Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 31?
I do not see Undertaker returning to face Daniel Bryan and believe if he comes back, it will be for a program with Bray Wyatt. At this point, I see Dolph Ziggler (as a heel) as a possibility to work Bryan. While it will be on the Wrestlemania undercard, if given a little bit of time, it could be a very enjoyable match. I cannot confirm Undertaker at press time but he has been included in promotional material for the show. If Undertaker was a definite “no” for Wrestlemania 31, he wouldn’t be included. That tells me the door is open and we should find out for sure very soon.
There seems to be a lot of hate targeted towards the WWE for the decision to go ahead with Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar, but isn't it also possible that Lesnar may have refused to go down clean to Bryan? The size of the wrestler should not matter, but I have a feeling losing to Bryan in his last match may have mattered to Brock.
Absolutely everything I have heard about Brock Lesnar since he returned to WWE in 2012 is that he’ll do what’s asked of him. I know he’s questioned one or two things creatively but for the most part, he’ll do what WWE wants as long as he gets paid. Everyone I speak with comments that Lesnar isn’t a problem to work with and follows instructions given to him. So to answer your question, I do not believe that Brock Lesnar “refused” to work anyone. In fact, while most expect Brock to leave WWE after Wrestlemania, Vince McMahon is confident he will re-sign (almost to a delusional degree).
With that said, the plan all along has been to do Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns. It’s not a bad plan, it’s not my preferred plan, but it could have worked (and still could). But boy, WWE has made it hard. They’ve mishandled Roman Reigns so badly since September, they’ve cut their fan base in half.
It’s fascinating because if I write an article that takes the heat off Reigns, his cheerleaders applaud me and detractors condemn me. If I write an article that puts the heat on Reigns, the cheerleaders turn heel and the detractors go babyface.
I’ve concluded people view Roman Reigns through the narrow black and white dualistic lens of “love him” or “hate him.” I try not to think like that. Roman Reigns is an up and coming WWE superstar with a tremendous amount of potential (the cheerleaders are giving me a collective “amen” here). He was the favorite to win this year’s Royal Rumble match dating back to last year and was hand-picked for Brock Lesnar to pass the torch to at Wrestlemania 31.
I have seen shades of “mega star” in his work and it doesn’t bother me to push back against the people that say he’s “not ready.” Obviously the words “not ready” can mean a lot of different things and can be debated depending on the context (I guarantee people are digging up recent comments made by Steve Austin on his podcast).
The problems started with the promos and I spoke up immediately. The readers that “love him” said it wouldn’t hurt him and maybe it wouldn’t have, until Vince McMahon scripted him to do nursery rhyme promos fit for children. Instead of protecting him in the Royal Rumble match, he was carelessly and recklessly booked to go over, when other “fan favorites” were easily dismissed and then Reigns showed his inexperience in some brutal media interviews.
To be fair, in the interview with Sam Roberts, Reigns said he wanted fans to leave happy.
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Yes, Roman wants the fans to leave happy but he doesn’t care about his critics, in fact, non-wrestlers critiquing his work is asinine. AND he’s hopefully just the guy getting rich.
However, from what I’ve heard over the weekend, Reigns did just fine on live events as a babyface and like I said, Lesnar vs. Reigns could still work! Did you hear that Reigns supporters? It could still work! They had a good first step on Raw last week but there is concern over Lesnar’s status.
We’ll see how it plays out but I encourage every single reader of Wrestling News World to stop this dualistic thought process of love or hate, black or white, etc. It doesn’t work like that. Not by a long shot. There are a lot of issues to examine when evaluating Roman Reigns and the situation WWE is in for the second consecutive year.
From the Ask WNW vault...
January 2015: I have been listening to you say for months that if John Cena can’t beat Brock Lesnar after three tries, then who could beat him. Now that Daniel Bryan is back, you do a complete 180. Wouldn’t a Daniel Bryan victory at Wrestlemania 31 make Cena look even weaker and make Brock being a beast pointless? - We’re told the decision has been made. Obviously that is subject to change but there is no reason for me to argue and campaign for a certain point of view when WWE officials have made up their minds.
My argument for Daniel Bryan over Brock Lesnar is that it’s a story of total redemption. The guy beat Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista in one night — got held down by injury — and came back and beat the unstoppable. That type of story is something I believe would get over huge and not devalue anyone or anything.
The reason I have been saying for months that if Cena can’t do it, who can is because Bryan has been out. How could I campaign for Bryan when it was unknown if he would ever wrestle again? Now we know his in-ring career is set to resume later this month.
However, the argument seems to have been resolved. Roman Reigns has been tabbed the “special one” and we’ll see how it plays out, barring a change of direction.
What would you do now, if it was up to you, with WWE regarding damage control for the Royal Rumble match result.
WWE is doing exactly what I would do, playing to the crowd. I am not one of those guys that believes “everything is a work” or that WWE intended for the Royal Rumble to get such a negative response but has anyone stopped to consider that WWE is probably glad the Royal Rumble drew such a strong response?
Have you ever heard there is no such thing as bad publicity? Bill Simmons from ESPN Tweeted to over 3 million people the Royal Rumble was a “rough night” for WWE. So what did they do? They put Triple H in a room with Michael Cole and made a storyline out of it. Now, everyone is tuning in to this week’s Raw to find out what Triple H will announce.
This is from the Raw preview on WWE.com:
Last week was a controversial one for WWE in the wake of the 2015 Royal Rumble Match, with WWE Universe members in Philadelphia and around the globe on social media being brutally honest about the conclusion of the bout and its winner, Roman Reigns. Triple H has his own opinions about how the night ended, and is poised to address the situation Monday night on Raw. Speculation has been running rampant since the WWE COO teased his announcement on Thursday night’s live SmackDown. What does The Game have in store, and how will it affect the main event of WrestleMania 31? WWE.com has some theories.
Literally, everyone is talking about Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble. Good, bad and ugly - people are talking.
A couple of weeks ago, Bleacher Report provided an inside look at WWE creative and called the story of Daniel Bryan one of WWE’s best ever. That story was in response to fans “rejecting” the Royal Rumble. A year later and WWE is in the same situation.
Is it by design? Probably not (in fact, that’s giving them way too much credit) but WWE is going to spin it whatever way they have to in order to get you to subscribe to the WWE Network and watch Wrestlemania 31.
What are the plans for Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 31?
I’m hearing a couple of different things about Daniel Bryan. Some people believe plans for him at Wrestlemania 31 are still up in the air, while others have suggested he’ll get a mid-card bout against a heel Dolph Ziggler. As I stated in Monday’s Ask WNW, Ziggler is who I see as his opponent at press time. While Bryan vs. Ziggler would be a mid-card bout, all these two would need would be some time to steal the show.
Since you reported on WNW that Daniel Bryan is not 100% and that he felt "terrible" after his first match, have you received any information about WWE protecting him?
I heard a couple of weeks ago that Daniel Bryan’s arm was not 100% and he admitted he felt horrible after his first matches back. However, I am working under the assumption that he is fine and not under any type of restrictions. Bryan opened Sunday’s live event against Bray Wyatt, I assume because he is a Seahawks fan and the company was doing him a favor so that he could watch the game.
What’s the next step for Bubba Ray Dudley? Does he come back with Devon as a tag team or in singles?
I updated on Bubba Ray Dudley’s status here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium. The gist is, he hasn’t signed but WWE officials aren’t against it. Will they bring Velvet Sky in under a deal as well? At this point, it seems possible they sign Bubba or both but nothing is a done deal. I haven’t heard anything about Devon and would personally rather see Bubba in singles. Even at 43, I think he could have a great run in singles in WWE. Pair him with Paul Heyman and watch out!
However, Bubba was contacted in December about working the Royal Rumble and did so on a per shot basis.
What are your thoughts on Drew Galloway going to TNA Wrestling?
Drew Galloway is in TNA Wrestling, although I do not have the specifics on his deal with them. I say good for him as many fans believe he was underutilized in WWE. I view him as a similar situation to Ethan Carter III, in that he had enough talent to establish a loyal fan base but WWE never did anything with him. TNA will provide Galloway a fresh start but I am not overly optimistic about their ability to book him. I covered all the UK shows and it sure seems like more of the same from Dixie Carter’s organization.
What do you think of WWE breaking kayfabe in regards to the situation with Roman Reigns?
WWE just wants you to think they broke kayfabe. They’re playing to the audience just like they did last year. WWE’s job is to blur the lines between what is real and what isn’t and they’re going to spin the Royal Rumble controversy all into storyline.
Viral campaigns like #CancelWWENetwork are fine if the fans behind them canceled and quit watching. However, a large portion of those taking part are trying to plan a hijack of this week’s Raw. As long as WWE has people watching, attending and Tweeting, they can do whatever they want. They’ll just find new ways to work the elements into storylines.
If The Undertaker returns in the next few weeks to face Bray Wyatt in a program at Wrestlemania 31, wouldn’t booking the match be a nightmare?
Bray Wyatt seemed to call out The Undertaker in a promo on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. This is the program that I expect for Wyatt and we should find out for sure very soon. Booking The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, especially after the streak ending, is going to be a nightmare.
If he goes over, he’s not helping an up and coming worker and no one benefits from it. If he goes under, then he goes from winning 21 Wrestlemania matches without a loss to losing two in a row. And what does that do to Brock Lesnar, the unstoppable beast? Beating The Undertaker at Wrestlemania is supposed to be the biggest highlight of his career and WWE is using that to bill him as a “must-see” attraction.
I agree it’s very complicated and there isn’t an easy solution to offer. Even if Undertaker worked Sting, did Sting come in to lose? But what about Undertaker “doing the honors” for a second consecutive year?
If Undertaker returns for Wrestlemania 31, which is looking more likely, I don’t see him losing again. WWE will have to figure out a way to elevate Wyatt (if that is indeed the direction they go) in a loss (which, by the way, would be his second consecutive Wrestlemania loss).
I understand WWE wanting to make the fans happy but is it good for WWE to keep letting fans hijack their product? This, obviously after the news of Roman Reigns defending his No. 1 contendership at Fast Lane later this month.
I discussed in detail what I thought about Roman Reigns defending the No. 1 contendership that he earned by winning the 30-man Royal Rumble here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com. While the match helps WWE sell Fast Lane, it invalidates the Royal Rumble (regardless of the storyline component of The Authority “tricking Reigns”). We can compare this to WWE rushing The Authority back to TV after promoting Survivor Series on the fact they were “removed from power.”
I believe in having Reigns defend the No. 1 contendership, WWE will hope it makes it look more like he “earned the shot” against Brock Lesnar (even though he already “earned it”) and leave their options open if they don’t feel Reigns has caught on enough. Obviously the negative reactions to the Royal Rumble match played into such a match occurring but WWE is “booking on the fly” in attempt to make the fans believe they are listening to them.
Another way to look at it is WWE using the strong reaction to promote their next show. As for fans “hijacking shows,” that’s the new popular term for it but it’s always been the case. The fans have always had a big influence in the booking of angles and gimmicks. Just look back over wrestling history and see how Steve Austin was made or the new World order or any other successful gimmick.
Vince and company can have an idea but it’s the fans that will give it the final yay or nay on it. That’s why arguments that the opinions of non-wrestlers don’t matter is asinine because it’s the people that ultimately dictate who takes that next step.
WWE got in trouble with this year’s Rumble match by poor booking. Yes, there were some people that rejected the show because their favorite didn’t win it but the majority rejected it because of its booking.
My preferred finish to Wrestlemania season would be WWE pushing Roman Reigns as a monster and then being defeated by Brock Lesnar who has hopefully re-signed but hadn't been announced. Swerve. What would yours be?
Regardless of who faces Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania (Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan or another swerve), he has to lose for me to consider Wrestlemania 31 season a success. I’ve been a loud critic to Brock Lesnar’s title reign and it’s because he hasn’t regularly defended the title. His frequent absence from WWE television has hurt the overall enjoyment of the product, regardless of how “must-see” that he has become.
WWE can’t keep “going to well” on guys like Brock and Rock and Undertaker to sell their shows. They need to develop new viable main event stars and whether that’s Roman Reigns or Daniel Bryan or someone else, Raw Reunion depressed me and highlighted WWE’s biggest problem in failing to development new top superstars. This is the reason I will not be overly critical of any scenario that has a fresh name getting pushed.
What information do you have regarding Randy Orton's return date?
I do not have any new information regarding the return of Randy Orton at press time. He’s advertised for next weekend’s live event loop beginning Saturday in Salt Lake City, Utah, so we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m expecting Orton back on TV at any moment.
From the Ask WNW vault…
December 2014: What’s the update on Brock Lesnar? Is there any chance John Cena will lose at WWE TLC on Sunday, thus giving Lesnar a new challenger? - I do not see John Cena losing his No. 1 contendership to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at TLC on Sunday but obviously due to the stipulation, it’s a possibility. Brock Lesnar is scheduled for Raw next week in Detroit, so hopefully by this time next week we’ll have a clearer picture of where the company is going with their world title.
From what I’ve been told, Vince McMahon has gone back and forth about when to do Cena vs. Lesnar again as a blowoff and I would be surprised if he didn’t do one at all. It’s also a possibility that Brock makes a surprise appearance at TLC on Sunday (showing WWE Network subscribers anything can happen on pay-per-view) and sets up a triple threat with Cena and Rollins for the title at Royal Rumble but that opens up a whole other set of issues.
Complicating matters is that Rollins is already penciled in for feuds with a returning Randy Orton and Roman Reigns, so does WWE push both of those aside and put Rollins in the title picture? What about the Money in the Bank briefcase?
While many questions remain, here’s what we know. TLC is the final pay-per-view before the Road to Wrestlemania and already in the plans for main event level matches at the show next March is Brock Lesnar and Sting. Who they face and who will join them remains to be seen.
If John Cena is 1a, who is 1b? Roman Reigns? Randy Orton? Daniel Bryan?
The WWE roster over the course of the last 5 years or so has been John Cena, down a couple levels and Randy Orton, down several levels and everyone else. Obviously, part-time talent like Brock Lesnar, Triple H, The Undertaker, The Rock, Batista, etc. fill gaps around big shows but in terms of full-time regular WWE performers, that’s been the pecking order.
At one time CM Punk had all but surpassed Randy Orton for that “1b spot” but in the end, it wasn’t for him.
In Tuesday’s Ask WNW, I boldly stated Brock Lesnar had to lose at Wrestlemania 31. Whether it’s Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan or someone else, WWE is in desperate need of new and fresh talent at the top of the card. Someone to literally grab the “brass ring” and help progress the company forward.
We’ve seen great potential with guys like Reigns, Bryan, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Rusev and The Usos but none have entered the conversation of “1b,” let alone that “1a” spot that Cena has held for so many years (he’s actually been that guy for nearly a decade). Bryan was primed to take the leap last year but a career-threatening injury derailed it.
This is why I’ve been so critical about the handling of Roman Reigns. Everyone knows the company needs to create new talent at the top of the card, yet they’ve mishandled him to the point where his push is a controversy.
WWE needs new talent at the top of the card and we should embrace any plan to get anyone else there.
When does the Money in the Bank briefcase expire?
If WWE sticks to their storyline rules (which they’ve been known to abandon at times), Seth Rollins has until Monday, June 29, 2015 to “cash in” his Money in the Bank briefcase. That means there is still plenty of time to utilize the briefcase but when he “cashes in,” it has to be successful.
Although John Cena does not need a run as WWE United States Champion, do you think it could bring back some prestige to the title with him being proud to hold it?
WWE has to figure out a way to help Rusev in this program with John Cena. I had really hoped that Cena working Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania 30 last year would take him to the next level but it didn’t. It would be a grave mistake if WWE had Cena dispose of Rusev in any fashion. I am actually glad to see Rusev vs. Cena at Fast Lane, in hopes at the very least they can trade victories (Rusev at Fast Lane and Cena at Wrestlemania).
In regards to the United States Championship, Cena holding it would raise the profile of the title but I’ll be honest, I care more about Rusev than I do the US title. As long as Rusev comes out of the program with Cena as more than just another upper mid-card that WWE has dedicated moderate resources to, I will be satisfied.
Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan at Fast Lane. Good move or bad move?
I don’t like the fact that Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan [at Fast Lane] will supersede the outcome of the 30-man Royal Rumble match. It frustrates me for two reasons. One, I feel like the match further underscores that Vince McMahon has lost touch with his audience. Allow me to explain:
McMahon mentality: If they want Daniel Bryan, we’ll give them more Daniel Bryan.
Yes, Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar tells a great story and him working Roman Reigns will likely be a great wrestling match. But I can’t help but think this match is the same lackadaisical mentality that caused the problem in the first place. Tell better stories, feature the favorites more prominently and the crowd will accept the outcome.
Now, instead of prepping Reigns for the Wrestlemania main event, they’re trying to figure out a way to “cool off” on him AND tell a side story with Daniel Bryan in hopes it will all work out in the end. This all could have been avoided with better planning and a sound long-term outlook.
The second reason is the Royal Rumble match is losing all credibility. A timeless match that has drawn well for decades is losing its luster because of mistakes made by Vince McMahon himself. Again, I’m not trying throw him solely under the bus but Hunter put the Rumble booking on him.
Vince messed up the Rumble this year. Can we stop for just a moment and consider that Big Show and Kane were among the final four standing? I understand the tie-in with The Authority but just allow that to sink in. A time when WWE needs new talent at the top of the card more than ever and have a list of guys more ready than ever before and they have two guys that are far past their primes among the final four. It’s inexcusable!
The Fast Lane match gives WWE more options, makes the show an easy sell but for all the wrong reasons.
From the Ask WNW vault…
July 2009: I would just like to know, as well as other readers how long has WNW been around? I come to this site daily, it rocks! - First of all, thank you for the kind words regarding the site. Most people that send in questions include kind words for the site and I edit them out to make Ask WNW a smooth read but Ryan and I greatly appreciate all of the compliments. We both work very hard on a daily basis to bring all of you the best professional wrestling coverage in the entire world. As for your question, WrestlingNewsWorld.com began in 1999 as UltimateWWF.com under George Patton; I purchased the website from George in 2003 when it had already moved to WrestlingNewsWorld.com. In 2007, WrestlingNewsWorld.com became my full-time occupation. You can read more about the history of WNW at this link.
What’d you think about Steve Austin’s WWE Network interview with Triple H?
Steve Austin’s interview with Triple H that aired on the WWE Network was fascinating but as was the case with Austin’s interview with Vince McMahon, it carried no specifics and only general statements.
Based on feedback we’ve received, readers that put the interview over point to Triple H seeming “in tune” with a great in-ring product and resonate with his “vision” for the future. Readers that buried the interview, criticized it for being too general and offering no specifics. They’ll argue while Hunter was attempting to “humanize” himself, he was working to try and draw a connection with the more hardcore segment of the WWE fan base.
I see both arguments but it’s what I expect from a WWE-related project. Give enough to create marketable soundbites and surface level insight, while not going into any real detail about much of anything. It’s what they’re known for — trying to “break kayfabe” without actually breaking kayfabe.
An example I can give you is WWE’s quarterly conference calls with investors. This is where Vince McMahon is supposed to “open up” about the inner workings of his business to clue in investors. While he’s professional, polite and sometimes even candid, he never really says anything more than surface level insight.
Is there any word on Shane McMahon returning to WWE?
Shane McMahon isn’t returning to WWE (although, anything is possible and we never say never). He’s launched a successful career as Chairman of You On Demand and co-owns a motorcycle shop. There are varying accounts of “why” Shane left WWE but it’s clear there was a level of tension between him, Vince, Stephanie and Hunter that ultimately led to his “mutual” resignation. Some have claimed Shane had been pushing his father to explore MMA, while others claimed he realized it was ultimately going to be Stephanie and Hunter's company. It’s clear it put a strain on the relationship between Shane and Vince but they’ve, by some accounts, worked through it. We revisited Shane’s WWE resignation after Vince’s podcast interview with Steve Austin. You can read more — including Shane’s resignation letter — at this link.
Do you see a scenario where the Money in the Bank briefcase is “cashed in” at Wrestlemania 31?
Yes, I can absolutely see a scenario where Seth Rollins “cashes in” the Money in the Bank briefcase at Wrestlemania 31. In fact, it should be his “next opportunity” as it’s the next time Brock Lesnar is scheduled to defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Obviously one shouldn’t go into Wrestlemania expecting Rollins to “cash in,” but of course it’s possible.
The one thing I’ve said about the briefcase is that when Rollins is finally scripted to “cash in,” he must be successful. WWE has wavered from the MITB holder always being successful and they need Rollins to successfully “cash in” to help restore that aspect of it.
I get the arguments you made in the article about IWC pushing back hard on Roman Reigns. But you also suggest that fans "move on" from this. Isn't possible that if fans continue to "protest" on Twitter, and at live events, this will have an impact on how WWE books moving forward? Didn't we see this last year? If folks stop making a stink, what stops WWE from continuing what described as "lazy" booking?
Ultimately, the fans will always decide the top stars in WWE. That’s how it works. I explained earlier in the week that while the term hijacking is new, it’s always gone on. Daniel Bryan provided a good example in a recent media interview where he discussed the crowd rejecting Lex Luger at Royal Rumble ’94.
The reason I push back on silliness like chanting for a worker that left on their terms at a WWE show or Tweeting out #CancelWWENetwork when it’s playing in the background, is because it’s silly. It’s not that I intentionally want to be different, I just don’t want to “go with the flow” just because everyone else is doing it.
There’s nothing wrong with being vocal or letting your voice be heard. But there’s a difference between being an advocate for change and just joining a fad. As for the “protestors” putting an end to WWE’s lackadaisical booking, I see the No. 1 contender’s match at Fast Lane as just that. That bout just proves Vince has a serious disconnect with his audience. I explained more in Wednesday’s Ask WNW.
From the Ask WNW vault…
December 2013: Daniel Bryan is the most over superstar in the last several years. Never mind his hometown reaction, he gets that reaction everywhere. Clearly the fans want him as champ, yet why are they holding him back? - Daniel Bryan is more over than any worker on the WWE roster. You’re exactly right, he gets the response that he got on Monday night everywhere they go. As I like to say, he’s over like rover. I can’t tell you exactly why Daniel Bryan isn’t WWE Champion. A lot of people will write that Vince McMahon doesn’t see him as a big attraction but I’m not sure I believe that. Bryan is still working in the main event but the company is pushing Randy Orton as WWE Champion. However, there are people backstage in WWE that feel they need to be doing more with Bryan because he won’t get any hotter than he is right now.
What's the latest update on The Undertaker?
The Undertaker competing this year at Wrestlemania 31 looks more likely following this week’s WWE TV tapings. We reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium that while Undertaker is not confirmed the show, Bray Wyatt’s new promos are a “direct line” to plug a potential program between them.
Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt have been directionless since their program. What are their plans for Wrestlemania 31?
As noted above, Bray Wyatt is currently “penciled in” for a Wrestlemania 31 program with The Undertaker. You are absolutely correct about Dean Ambrose being directionless, which is underscored by the fact he hasn’t had a pay-per-view win since June.
Right now, it appears his direction is a program with Bad News Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship. While it’s important to remember that not everyone can be pushed at the same time, there’s no way to not be disappointed with the handling of Ambrose considering how red hot he was when he returned at Night of Champions back in September.
Is Roman Reigns better suited as a tweener?
Aside from a few cut and dry examples, I believe most WWE stars are tweeners. Think about it. Very few workers are completely heel or completely babyface and while that’s always been the case, it’s even more true in 2015. Even in the ring with Daniel Bryan on this week’s Smackdown, Reigns still got a good pop. WWE officials were prepared to turn Reigns heel and they still may, however, I don’t think it’s needed.
A couple weeks after Royal Rumble and it seems the heat on Reigns has died. This further underscores the point I’ve been trying to make since the show went off the air. Reigns wasn’t rejected, the booking of the Rumble match was. No one I have spoken with in WWE feels they are legitimately thinking about removing him from the main event at Wrestlemania. This program with Daniel Bryan is cosmetic that leaves the possibility of adding Bryan to the mix.
In listening to feedback from readers, it seems most are against Bryan being inserted into Lesnar vs. Reigns. Read some of the comments here on my Facebook. Barring a change, Lesnar vs. Reigns seems to be the likely title match at Wrestlemania 31.
Could you see Paul Heyman turning on Brock Lesnar, setting up the heel turn for Roman Reigns?
If Paul Heyman turns on Brock Lesnar, I think the best way to do it is to benefit Seth Rollins. Say for example, Lesnar successfully beats Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 31 and retains the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. While celebrating, Heyman distracts him and Rollins comes out and “cashes in” to leave the show as WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
This would accomplish several things. One, it would write Lesnar out of storylines without “damaging” him in the event he comes back one day. It would allow for a “passing of the torch” and three, it would give Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose and all of the other “up and coming” babyfaces a top heel to chase for the belt.
With that said, for WWE to execute such a plan, they would have to have a long-term logical plan in place. They seem to lack that most of the time.
From the Ask WNW vault…
December 2010: Are there any current plans for Jim Ross to return to the broadcast table? - There are no current plans for Jim Ross to return to WWE as a broadcaster. This wasn't Jim Ross' decision as the company made it for him because of issues with his health. JR's new position in the company is a person that evaluates talent and helps out backstage at pay-per-views.