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 4, 2013 to Friday, January 10, 2014 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!
- Big E Langston and Nikki Bella comment on their nights at Smackdown in this week's episode of Backstage Fallout Smackdown. You can watch at this link.
- Former TNA Wrestling referee Rudy Charles, who is now working as Dan Engler, is on the road with the main WWE roster this weekend. He worked Friday night's WWE live event in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Speaking of WWE NXTers on the road with the main roster, Rusev Alexander worked Friday night's WWE live event. He went over Zack Ryder via submission. Click here for WWE live results.
- WWE developmental talent Oliver Grey returned to the ring at Friday night's WWE NXT live event in Largo, Florida. It was Grey's first match in nearly 11 months due to a torn ACL. The following is from Twitter:
- Cody Rhodes' wife, Brandi (the former Eden Stiles), worked as a ring announcer at Friday's WWE NXT live event. The following is from Twitter:
- Titus O'Neil revealed to HamptonRoads.com that he can vomit on cue and that's exactly what he did at the November 26, 2013 Smackdown taping when he threw-up in JBL's hat and on Zeb Colter. O'Neil said the spot surprised everyone - including Vince McMahon - and it was not preplanned prior to it happening. Also in the interview, O'Neil talked about match outcomes being predetermined, what his kids think about having a WWE superstar for a father, breaking in with the encouragement of Dave Batista and more. Click here to read the article in its entirety.
- A Texas federal judge dismissed Landmark Technologies LLC's lawsuit against WWE on Thursday. The suit claimed that WWE's online shop, WWEShop.com, infringed on two of Landmark's patents for data processing and computer search systems. U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider issued the final judgment after a round of court-ordered mediation between both parties. There was no mention of a settlement. Law360.com has more at this link.
- Jim Ross has a new blog entry online at this link where he discusses watching the 2014 Sugar Bowl from the sidelines with country music singer Toby Keith. JR emphatically denies that he'll be part of next week's "Old School" Raw, stating he plans to try to watch it on television. Click here to read JR's latest in its entirety.
- Dave Batista is training with Cesar Gracie ahead of his WWE return. Batista will return on the January 20, 2014 episode of Monday Night Raw and is in the plans for the Road to Wrestlemania as well as the show of the year itself.
- Ric Flair is behind the Carolina Panthers as they prepare for the NFL Playoffs. ESPN has coverage featuring quotes at this link.
- Wrestling News World reader Ryan Williams attended Saturday night's WWE live event in Hampton, Virginia and sent in a photo of Daniel Bryan following his new alliance with The Wyatt Family. You can view a photo of a new look Daniel Bryan with Bray Wyatt below:
- The big story coming out of Saturday night's WWE live event in Hampton, Virginia was the makeover of Daniel Bryan to Daniel Wyatt. Bryan wore a navy jumpsuit to face Bray Wyatt in a steel cage match. Bryan allowed Bray to beat him up and go over in the match.
It appears WWE was going for a Duke The Dumpster type look.
- Ric Flair delivered a motivational speech to the San Francisco 49ers ahead of their playoff game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. 49ers offensive lineman Tweeted the following photo:
- The following WWE NXT workers were on the road with main WWE roster over the weekend - Dan Engler (referee, a/k/a Rudy Charles), Rusev Alexander, Emma and Bo Dallas.
- Jim Ross was asked on the Q&A section of his official website if he'll ever discuss publicly the details and circumstances that resulted in him parting ways with WWE. JR said "perhaps" but it wasn't a big deal or secret. He doesn't hold any grudges and knows "who was right and who was wrong."
- Los Matadores are working for Carlos Colon's WWC in Puerto Rico this weekend. You can get more details at this link.
- San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kassim Osgood posted the following Instagram video of Ric Flair's speech to the team:
- Mick Foley is advertised for Tuesday's Smackdown taping in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- The Carroll County Times has an in-character piece featuring Damien Sandow where he promotes this week's "Old School" Raw at this link.
- Edge took some on Twitter on Sunday to address his retirement and subsequent departure from WWE. Rather than trying to paraphrase, the following is from Twitter:
Edge won't be at this week's "Old School" Raw in Baltimore, Maryland.
- Mike Mooneyham provided a health update on WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young in his latest pro wrestling column at this link. Moneyham reports Young is breathing with the assistance of an oxygen machine and a kidney is in the process of shutting down. She's currently under hospice care.
- The San Francisco 49ers contacted WWE and asked about booking Ric Flair to give the team a pre-game speech. Flair, who is booked for this week's episode of Monday Night Raw, immediately agreed when asked.
WWE posted video of his speech at this link, which you can also watch below:
You can also watch an interview with Flair at this link or embedded in the video below:
- Shawn Michaels is in Nashville, TN for the Archery Trade Association convention. I wouldn't expect him on this week's "Old School" Raw as a result.
- Speaking of Michaels, he'll be in Las Vegas on Wednesday for WWE's groundbreaking announcement. The announcement, believed to have something to do with the proposed WWE Network, will take place at the Encore Theater at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition to Michaels, John Cena, Steve Austin and Triple H will join Vince McMahon at the event. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be served and transportation will be available from the Las Vegas Convention Center to the Wynn.
- Seth Rollins told Philly.com he's probably had the best matches of his career over the past year. You can read the full article featuring more quotes at this link.
- Jerry Lawler has completed 10 original sketch cards for the 2014 Topps WWE Trading Card Sets. You can view them below:
- Ezekiel Jackson noted on Twitter that he's sore but not in too much pain following his double hernia surgery last Friday.
- The Prime Time Players were on the local CBS affiliate in Baltimore Monday morning to promote this week's show. Click here to watch their appearance.
- Dave Batista was #10 on a list of "15 Breakout Stars to Watch for in 2014" in a new article here on Yahoo Movies. Batista plays the role of Drax the Destroyer in Marvel's upcoming, "The Guardians of the Galaxy." Batista said landing the role really justified him leaving WWE.
- The word surrounding The Dynamite Kid Tom Billington is his condition continues to improve after suffering a series of strokes last year
- Josh Stewart has a new article online featuring quotes from "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. In it, DiBiase spoke of his son's decision to leave WWE. Below is an excerpt:
“Almost the whole last year he was with WWE, he was there, he was working live events, but they didn’t put him back on television because they didn’t just want to throw him out there and abuse him,” DiBiase said. “They really wanted to do something significant with him, they just couldn’t find what it was.
“And in the meantime, my son and his wife have a child, and make the Million Dollar Man a grandfather. And he just called me one day and says, ‘Dad, you know, you were right.’ And I said, ‘About what?’ He said, ‘Regardless of how much money I make in the wrestling business, the time it’ll going to demand to be away from my wife and my son, I just don’t think it’s worth it.’ And I said, ‘I tried to tell you that.’ But some things, you just have to learn the hard way. So when his contract came up and they wanted him to re-sign, he just said, ‘Thank you for all you’ve done for me, but I just don’t think it’s what I want for me anymore.’”
Click here to read the article in its entirety.
- Speaking of The Million Dollar Man, JBL posted the following honest photo on Twitter:
- Ahead of this week's groundbreaking WWE announcement, the company looked back at the premiere of Smackdown at this link. You can also watch the video - featuring comments from Jim Ross and Michael Hayes - embedded in the video belwo
The company has posted videos of other major announcement that you can watch on their official YouTube channel.
- WWE sent Jerry Lawler to a local Baltimore hospital on Monday after he began throwing up at the site of this week's episode of Raw - the Baltimore Arena in Maryland. The hospital ran some tests and he's believed to be OK.
There's no word as of press time if Lawler will still appear on this week's "Old School" episode of Raw.
6:00 PM EST Update:MemphisSport.com is reporting Lawler is "doing fine" after visiting a Baltimore hospital on Monday. Their site is currently offline, however, the link to their report is below:
I've contacted the local Baltimore hospitals and none had a current patient record for Lawler but that could depend on numerous things. I've also contacted WWE in attempt to get a statement but haven't heard back as of press time. End update.
- Last week's episode of WWE Smackdown did an average viewing audience of 2,616,000 viewers on Syfy. The show ended up with a 1.88 cable rating. You can check out our Smackdown ratings and viewership archive at this link.
- WWE's treatment of Jim Ross is mind-boggling. A Twitter follower Tweeted him @JRsBBQ and asked him how there could be an "Old School" Raw without him. JR replied, "Easy! No invite...no worries."
- You can watch a backstage video from this week's "Old School" Raw featuring Justin Roberts and Roddy Piper embedded in the video below:
- It was announced on this week's "Old School" episode of Monday Night Raw that Dave Batista is officially an entrant in the 30-man Royal Rumble match. Batista is a past Rumble match winner, going over at the pay-per-view in 2005. Batista will return to WWE on the January 23, 2014 episode of Monday Night Raw from Dayton, Ohio. Also announced for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view is Randy Orton vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. WWE Royal Rumble 2014 will take place Sunday, January 29, 2014 from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA. We'll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
- Ric Flair is being credited for inspiring the San Francisco 49ers to victory but members of the Carolina Panthers aren't impressed.
Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith gave his reaction to Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer. Below is an excerpt:
“Hmmmmm,” Smith says, when I ask his reaction. “As a guy who actually has a Ric Flair robe I’m real disappointed in seeing that. Real disappointed.”
Adds Smith: “I’m not sure if he’ll (Flair) get the invite here. That Golden Gate Bridge has been burned.”
Click here for coverage by The Charlotte Observer.
- Alberto Del Rio will be an entrant in this year's 30-man Royal Rumble match. Batista was also announced for the match.
- Paul Heyman stated in his promo on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw that Brock Lesnar will challenge the winner of Randy Orton vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship after Royal Rumble.
- Jim Ross wondered where his voiceovers were on "Old School" Raw. The following is from Twitter:
- WWE posted Jerry Lawler's segment on the WWE App on Tout where he updated fans on his health. You can watch it below:
- As the storyline goes, WWE says Mark Henry suffered a "dislocated and fractured" elbow at the hands of Brock Lesnar. This is a kayfabe injury to sell Lesnar's attack on The World's Strongest Man.
- Cody Rhodes might have been injured in his tag team match with Goldust against The Real Americans on this week's "Old School" episode of Monday Night Raw. After the match, Rhodes removed one of his wrestling boots and had to have help from Goldust.
- Heath Slater returned to WWE on this week's "Old School" episode of Monday Night Raw. He teamed with Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal to go under to the trio of Rikishi, Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty. Slater was away on approved time off.
- WWE Monday Night Raw will return to the Baltimore Arena on Monday, April 21, 2014. The presale password to obtain tickets via Ticketmaster is WWERAW.
- WWE has announced that Daniel Bryan & Bray Wyatt will face The Usos on next week's episode of Monday Night Raw. Next week's show will emanate from the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
- Below is a photo from Brooklyn Brawler's Twitter account of the Legends that were honored on this week's "Old School" episode of Monday Night Raw:
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts made a surprise appearance on this week's "Old School" episode of Monday Night Raw.
Following the show's main event of Roman Reigns vs. CM Punk, Roberts' music hit and he came out with the snake in a bag. The New Age Outlaws helped CM Punk clear the ring and Roberts put the snake on Dean Ambrose.
While Roberts was placing the snake on Ambrose, Punk was audibly heard saying, "It's PG now Jake, it's PG."
The show went off the air with Roberts face-to-face with the snake.
- WWEis reporting that Dolph Ziggler suffered a concussion during Monday's WWE Superstars taping in Baltimore, Maryland. The injury occurred after Ryback hit him with a clothesline. Ziggler was reportedly "having some confusion and disorientation" in the ring, and a concussion was confirmed later in the training room. Ziggler suffered a concussion in May 2013 that was serious enough to make him wonder if his career was over. Ziggler is set to undergo ImPACT testing to determine the nature and severity of the concussion.
- After this week's episode of Monday Night Raw went off the air, John Cena beat WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton via disqualification in the dark match main event. The match was thrown out when Orton hit a low blow on Cena. Prior to that, Charles Robinson was "taken out" and missed Orton tapping out in the STF.
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts Tweeted the following after his surprise appearance on this week's "Old School" episode of Monday Night Raw:
Below is video of Jake backstage at Raw:
- Eva Marie is dealing with an undisclosed ailment. Eva's fiancé Jonathan Cole posted a video on Instagram of him taking care of her with the following over the weekend:
Not exactly the way we envisioned starting 2014. However, we want to thank everyone for your prayers and support for @NatalieEvaMarie . She is recovering well and will hopefully be on her feet again soon. Until then it's rest, tea, netflix, and hot water bottles.
- This week's episode of Backstage Fallout Raw is subtitled "Sarge Called Into Action" and is online now at this link. You can also watch in the video embedded below:
- Speculation regarding the health of Dolph Ziggler began to run rampant on social media after his match against Ryback was taped for this week's episode of WWE Superstars prior to the "Old School" Raw taping on Monday night in Baltimore, Maryland. Ziggler laid in the ring for quite some time as the referee threw up the X signal and medical personnel came out to check on him.
While it was believed at the time Ziggler was simply selling Ryback's Shellshock finisher, it became clear once he was still down while they were changing the ring apron for Raw that a legitimate injury had occurred. I'm being told Ziggler suffered a concussion on a clothesline from Ryback and will have more details in this week's Backstage Raw notes.
The injury is a devastating blow to one of WWE's brightest up and coming talents. Ziggler suffered a severe concussion last May that caused three weeks of 24-hour headaches and he even wondered if his wrestling career was over.
- Los Angeles Times sports writer Lance Pugmire Tweeted the following about Brock Lesnar:
I'm very hesitant to believe this because of Lesnar's contract with WWE. While terms of Lesnar's extension haven't been disclosed, he was believed to have agreed to a two-year extension with WWE in January 2013. Even in the likelihood his WWE deal was shorter than that, it's at the very least through Wrestlemania XXX this year. This would make him unable to negotiate with UFC. I am not doubting what Dana White told Pugmire, I'm just doubting that UFC is actually negotiating with Lesnar while he has an active WWE contract.
Backstage news from "Old School" Raw in Baltimore, Maryland…
- We're told there were late re-writes to this week's show. One thing WWE is trying to do with Brock Lesnar is rebuild him as a destroyer because his win/loss record doesn't do him any favors. This is the reason for the kayfabe explanation that he "dislocated and fractured" the elbow of Mark Henry.
- It was a mixed bag for Ryback on Monday. He worked Dolph Ziggler in a match that was taped for WWE Superstars prior to "Old School" Raw that left Ziggler with another concussion but he was praised for his work on commentary on the Raw broadcast.
- It's quite possible the reason that Jake "The Snake" Roberts' surprise appearance on this week's show didn't leak because the assumption was that WWE was putting together a deal for him to be a surprise entrant in the 30-man Royal Rumble match. This was a goal that Roberts set for himself but backed off it in recent weeks. We're told it's Triple H that's been pushing for surprise returns on live television because it creates shock in the audience.
- A major point of discussion backstage at this week's show was the status of Hulk Hogan. While there isn't much of an update other than Hogan is still in play for Wrestlemania XXX, many of the Legends were talking about it.
- Shawn Michaels was never in the plans for this week's show because of the prior commitment we noted here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
- Alberto Del Rio was criticized for "not touching a gym" while he was out with his concussion that he suffered last month. We're told one observer said it gave the impression to WWE officials he wasn't putting in effort to be ready for television.
- WWE has confirmed through their corporate website they will officially announce the WWE Network Wednesday night from the Encore Theater at the Wynn in Las Vegas, Nevada. The following screen capture was taken from the Investor Relations event calendar on the corporate WWE website:
Tuesday, January 7, 2014 2:21 PM EST Update: Quickly after our story was posted, WWE edited the event listing to read, "WWE® Tune In Announcement," you can view the original listing in the screen capture above. End update.
It was announced in early December 2013 that WWE would hold an exclusive event on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at the Wynn in Las Vegas featuring Vince McMahon. The media invite later revealed that John Cena, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels and Triple H would all be on hand. While not officially announced, it was believed to be the formal announcement of the WWE Network.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014 2:43 PM EST Update: WWE sent out a media advisory on Tuesday that also announced the following executives will be on hand for the announcement - Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer Michelle D. Wilson, Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon and Executive Vice President Digital Media Perkins Miller. End update.
The company announced on Monday they'll carry a live stream of a “blockbuster announcement that will change WWE forever." This was also a key promotional point throughout this week's "Old School" episode of Monday Night Raw.
The formal announcement will take place on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 9:30 PM EST. We'll have the live stream here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com as well as an "Open Thread" where we'll provide a recap and of course your discussion.
In addition to WWE spoiling the announcement of the WWE Network on their Investor Relations page, the following email went out:
- Following up on an earlier article that references a Tweet made by Los Angeles Times sports writer Lance Pugmire about Dana White talking to Brock Lesnar, I reached out to WWE's public relations department for comment. I was given the following statement regarding Lesnar's WWE contract status:
"WWE has exclusive rights to services and such exclusivity extends to ultimate fighting competitions."
While terms of Lesnar's WWE contract were not (and have not) been disclosed, he's believed to be working under a multiyear extension that was signed in the first quarter of 2013. At the very least, we have confirmation that deal is through Wrestlemania XXX this April.
In speaking with a source with knowledge of the situation, I was told WWE would allow Lesnar to fight again for UFC if they were confident he would win. However, this source noted any time Lesnar thinks he wants to fight again, he ends up changing his mind.
I'm told Dana White "plays along" because he realizes it just gets UFC and WWE more publicity and he doesn't see any harm in it.
So to recap, Brock Lesnar is under WWE contract. That contract gives WWE exclusive rights to Lesnar's services so any deal with UFC would have to be approved by WWE.
- This week's "Old School" episode of Monday Night Raw did an average viewing audience of 4,537,667 viewers on the USA Network. Below is how the hours broke down in terms of viewership:
Hour one - 4,723,000 viewers
Hour two - 4,463,000 viewers
Hour three - 4,427,000 viewers
The show ended up with a 3.23 cable rating.
While the show lost viewership as it progressed, it was up very stiff competition with the 2014 BCS National Championship game airing on ESPN. The game did an average viewing audience of 25,572,000 viewers. Further, this was one of the most-watched episodes of Raw since the show after Wrestlemania 29 on April 8, 2013.
The top 100 cable shows for adults 18-49 for Monday night are broken down in their entirety at this link.
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts spoke to Renee Young for a WWE.com Exclusive following his surprise return on this week's "Old School" episode of Monday Night Raw. You can watch the interview at this link.
- Batista claimed in the latest return vignette he wants to be champion again. You can watch it at this link or embedded in the video below:
- Jim Ross checks in with his thoughts on this week's "Old School" Raw, Jerry Lawler's health scare, WWE's upcoming Network announcement and more. You can read it at this link.
- WWE has updated their coverage of Dolph Ziggler's latest concussion here on dot com. In it, they note Ziggler's symptoms were starting to improve on Tuesday but he is scheduled to see a neuropsychologist in Pittsburgh for further evaluation.
As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, there was concern about Ziggler's health immediately after the match when he was down in the ring for a prolonged period of time. The injury occurred on a clothesline spot.
Ziggler is currently out, however, he should be upgraded to day-to-day after his visit to Pittsburgh and as his symptoms improve.
- Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar was added to the Royal Rumble pay-per-view at this week's Smackdown taping in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The match was setup on a segment of Miz TV that will air on this week's episode of Smackdown. Big Show, as The Miz's guest, discussed what happened at Monday's "Old School" episode of Monday Night Raw and challenged Lesnar to a match at Royal Rumble. Paul Heyman accepted on behalf of "his client."
Click here for complete Smackdown taping results.
WWE Royal Rumble 2014 will take place on Sunday,January 26, 2014 from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We'll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
- Wrestling News World reader Jason Smith sent word that the Michigan State University football team led the crowd in a Daniel Bryan "Yes! Yes! Yes!" chant during halftime of the Ohio State at Michigan State NCAA Men's Basketball game. You can watch footage at this link or embedded in the video below:
- Wrestling News World reader Jason sent word that Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho are scheduled to appear at the 2014 Cavalcade of Customs on Saturday, January 11, 2014 and Sunday, January 12, 2014 respectively. Click here for more information.
- Triple H announced at Thursday night's WWE NXT taping from the campus of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida that the February 27, 2014 episode of NXT will air live on the WWE Network. This will be the first time the company's actual developmental territory has aired live (not to be confused with the WWE show under the same name that used to air on SyFy).
- TMZ is reporting that Ken Shamrock worked security for 50 Cent at The International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Shamrock is now working for a company that provides security for "high-end clients."
- While doing a promotional interview for upcoming comedy shows in Webster, New York, Mick Foley said he doesn't really miss wrestling because his comedy shows fill "that void." You can read a piece featuring quotes from Foley at this link.
- Ric Flair's agent issued a statement on Thursday, announcing The Nature Boy would not be attendance at Sunday's NFL Playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers. The statement seemed to place the blame on Flair's pre-game speech to the 49ers in Green Bay last weekend and the backlash he's received from fans of his hometown Panthers. They even noted he's received death threats over the speech. However, team loyalty is not Flair's only problem. The Charlotte Business Journalreported on Thursday an arrest warrant is still outstanding for Flair's arrest on contempt of court violations. The warrant, issued on July 3, 2013, is due to $32,352.51 in unpaid post-separation support and legal fees to ex-wife Jacqueline Beams. According to the report, the next hearing on the matter is scheduled for January 24, 2014.
- The following main roster WWE workers worked this week's NXT television tapings - Xavier Woods, Antonio Cesaro, Natalya, Summer Rae, The Miz, Sin Cara, Tyson Kidd, The Wyatt Family and Alicia Fox.
- For those that missed our coverage here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, the February 27, 2014 episode of WWE NXT will air live on the WWE Network. The following matches are scheduled to take place:
Bo Dallas vs. Adrian Neville in a Ladder Match for the NXT Championship
Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn
The show won't always air live on the WWE Network but they now have the capability to do so when the opportunity is available.
- DirecTV is less than thrilled that the forthcoming WWE Network will carry all 12 live WWE pay-per-view events at a much cheaper price than they are currently offered by cable and satellite providers.
In a statement issued to the Los Angeles Times, DirecTV said they will "quickly re-evaluate the economics and viability of their business" with WWE, adding the company "feels they do not need their PPV distributors."
Further, DirecTV said the audience for WWE pay-per-views "has been steadily declining," a trend that will only be accelerated by the cheaper alternative on the WWE Network.
Vince McMahon said in an interview on Wednesday it was in the interest of the satellite and cable operators to continue to carry WWE pay-per-views events, calling it "foolish" for them not wanting to carry the pay-per-views. He continued by saying, it's "found money" for them.
WWE responded through an official statement to the LA Times, noting they hope to continue to be in business with their pay-per-view distributors and ultimately give fans a choice between the two offerings.
The LA Times has the full story at this link.
- The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article at this link that discusses the WWE Network launching as an over-the-top service rather than as a traditional cable network or pay channel model similar to HBO.
Vince McMahon is quoted by the publication, explaining that WWE had deals with major distributors for a network that would have generated fees of $0.20 per month per subscriber. However, much to "the chagrin" of his staff, McMahon told them he wouldn't sign it.
Instead, WWE ultimately determined that an over-the-top service gave them more control and a better user interface. Vince is also quoted in the piece, saying what pay-TV distributors wanted in return for the WWE Network was "too restrictive."
The company has spent more than $40 million in WWE Network development in a process that has been about five years long. You can read the LA Times piece in its entirety at this link.
- Ryback said in an interview with The570.com to promote this weekend's WWE live event in Wilkes-Barre, PA that he likes to keep to himself because it's easier for him to keep track of his thoughts and focus. He says he's not antisocial, it's just hard to focus on his thoughts when he's around other people. Below is an excerpt:
Believe it or not, I’ve never been to a concert. I love music, but I’ve never been motivated to want to go sit around a bunch of other people and watch a band play. I can get more from listening to the music and hear it better. I don’t want to say I’m anti-social, but I like to be by myself a lot because I like to keep track of my thoughts and focus. When I’m around other people, it’s hard to focus on your thoughts.
Click here to read the piece in its entirety.
- Dolph Ziggler saw a neuropsychologist in Pittsburgh on Thursday as a result of the concussion he suffered at this week's WWE Superstars taping in Baltimore, Maryland. According to WWE.com, Ziggler underwent ImPACT testing and balance testing. The tests appeared to be "equivocal to baseline and within normal limits."
WWE reports Ziggler's symptoms have improved significantly since the injury on Monday and the plan is continued rest until he is asymptomatic. Once he reaches that point, he'll be cleared for light cardio and will proceed from there.
Click here for the latest update on WWE.com.
- There's been some confusion about how the WWE Network will be billed. According to question nine on the official WWE Network Q&A, subscribers will be billed $9.99 each month. However, it's clear to get the $9.99 per month rate, you must make a 6-month commitment (as explained in question two).
The confusion stemmed from the belief you had to pay 6 months at a time, which is not the case. According to WWE, you will be billed monthly. Just so we're clear, we're going to print both questions below:
2. How much will a subscription to WWE Network cost?
A monthly subscription to WWE Network is $9.99 per month (plus tax where applicable) with a 6-month commitment.
9. How and when will I be billed for WWE Network?
You will automatically be billed $9.99 every month (plus tax where applicable). The charge will show up on your bill as “WWE Network Subscription.”
- Al Snow stepped in and fulfilled many of the road agent duties vacated by the departed Jeff Jarrett at TNA Wrestling's "One Night Only" pay-per-view tapings earlier this week. It's believed that Snow is now working as the head road agent in the company. As for Jarrett, he's moving on without the company he started, changing his Twitter name to @RealJeffJarrett.
- Jeff Jarrett is available to appear on independent shows as of Monday, January 6, 2014. The co-founder of TNA Wrestling is already advertised to appear on USA Championship Wrestling's show on Saturday, January 11, 2014 in Lebanon, TN with his wife Karen. Jarrett is scheduled to face their heavyweight champion Matt Boyce. Jarrett has worked shows elsewhere since the last time he worked in a TNA ring, namely for AAA in Mexico. Click here for more information.
- Roderick Strong was injured in his match against AJ Styles at Saturday night's Ring of Honor television tapings in Nashville, Tennessee. The match was the final bout of the night, taped on episode four of four.
The injury occurred when Strong's head went one way and his neck went the other while taking the Styles Clash. While the spot looked horrible, Strong was not seriously injured. He's scheduled for further evaluation later this week but was active on Twitter early Sunday morning.
You can watch the spot courtesy of an Instagram video below:
- Last week's episode of Impact Wrestling ended up doing an average viewing audience of 1,128,000 viewers on Spike TV. The show ended up with just a 0.37 cable rating in the 18-49 demo, which is why it didn't crack the Top 100 Cable Shows for the night.
- Konnan said on his new MLW podcast Sunday night that Jeff Jarrett told him he's going to make an announcement this week on his new project. He revealed that Jarrett said TNA Wrestling is in really bad shape and he doesn't know or care if they see the year. The former WCW star basically said that Jarrett would be starting a new promotion with country music singer Toby Keith.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014 3:00 PM EST Update: Please allow me to clarify my paraphrase. Konnan said if he had to guess, that would be his guess. He did not speak of it as a definitive fact. I apologize if that's how it was taken. End update.
Another element to this is Jim Ross. After teasing he was meeting with a "major sports concern" last week, he Tweeted the following:
We reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium on Christmas Eve that Jarrett might be looking to start a new promotion with Toby Keith, who was the lead financial backer in a group looking to purchase TNA Wrestling.
You can listen to Konnan's latest podcast at this link.
- We've been doing some digging regarding AJ Styles and his departure from TNA Wrestling. There's been a lot of stuff thrown out there regarding his contract and what he was making and what was proposed to him, so let's try to clear up as much as we can.
According to a source, Styles made close to $325,000 per year and was expected to take a cut in pay around around the $200,000/per year mark if he re-signed. However, the problem is the $200K was not a guaranteed amount and if TNA chose for whatever reason not to use him to save money, he would have only been guaranteed in the $150,000 per year range.
Sources close to Styles say he was willing to take a pay cut, just not as drastic as TNA was asking. He was believed to be seeking $250,000 per year guaranteed and TNA was pushing a contract that would have most likely paid closer to $200,000, with $150,000 being guaranteed. Styles felt there was a $100,000 gap and it was too significant to re-sign.
Any report indicating that WWE tried to "lowball AJ" is not true. We're told WWE never made an offer and do not want him at any price right now. The key phrase though is "right now." WWE isn't interested in bringing in a guy straight from TNA television that is going to be thought of as a TNA guy. His size doesn't help either. However, WWE respects his talent and might be interested once he's been gone from TNA for a longer period of time.
The way WWE currently views TNA is that it's so far beneath them, they'd want some of the "TNA stink" to wear off before they'd touch one of their more prominent names.
Rob Van Dam was an exception because WWE never really thought of him as a TNA guy to begin with.
So WWE flat out has "no interest in AJ" in the immediate future and TNA knows that. The thinking in TNA is that Styles had no leverage. The problem is they low-balled AJ so much that what they were offering ended up being in the range of what he could make outside of TNA anyway.
When TNA booked Styles for "unauthorized title defenses" outside of the company, Styles figured out he didn't need TNA to get himself booked overseas in the same places TNA was trying to setup appearance for the "rogue champion" gimmick.
One observer says AJ also feels that if he doesn't prove himself right now and WWE never calls down the line, he'd have even less leverage the time his next TNA deal was up. Therefore he's trying to prove he can make just as much as TNA was offering without TNA and revisit things down the line and see if they come with a more respectable offer.
Unbeknownst to AJ though, an element in all of this is that TNA is simultaneously pursuing former WWE star MVP and feel they're getting close to a deal with him. Money is so tight in TNA right now if they gave AJ his $250K guarantee, it'd mean they would be unable to pursue workers such as MVP.
Dave Lagana is someone high up on MVP and feels he's a recognizable name to help offset some of their recent losses. However, TNA could end up with "egg on their face" if MVP doesn't sign and it played a part in AJ Styles walking.
The real winners in all of this are the international promotions who are now able to book AJ Styles directly for a more reasonable rate than what they were having to pay TNA to use him.
Expect Styles to be very busy this year as he attempts to prove TNA needs him more than he needs TNA, not to mention the attempt to increase his value to WWE.
- Jim Ross can kill rumors quicker than he can start them. JR wrote in a new blog entry he hasn't had any conversations with anyone about starting a new wrestling promotion. He added that he hasn't spoken to Jeff Jarrett since the day he left WWE.
The WWE Hall of Famer announcer added a dig to the 'net as well. Below is an excerpt:
Some websites are irresponsibly running with the story that just because Toby Keith and I are friends and fellow Okies who both follow the Sooners that I'm about to do business with Toby and Jeff Jarrett which isn't true. Toby and I had dinner at the Sugar Bowl, he's a wrestling fan from the old days and, a helluva entrepreneur with deep pockets. Nonetheless the reason that we were there was to support our Sooners vs. Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and not talk about pro wrestling.
We did talk the wrestling biz some but that's not unusual for me in any conversation after a 40 year career within the genre. We also talked country music, business investments, OU football and we spent the afternoon together with ESPN's Brad Nessler who's another wrestling fan. Yes, TNA came up a time or two but that was really a non issue in our conversations.
Click here for JR's latest in its entirety.
I can confirm there was talk a couple weeks ago that Jeff Jarrett could be partnering with Toby Keith to start a new pro wrestling promotion. You can read our breaking report from Christmas Eve at this link. As for JR's inclusion, the only thing we ran was a Tweet he posted from his verified account. We added nothing further.
- Tito Ortiz was arrested for Driving Under the Influence early Monday morning in Los Angeles, TMZ is reporting. According to their report, Ortiz crashed his 2012 Porsche on the 405 Freeway into a concrete median. Law enforcement responded to the accident and administered field sobriety tests. A breathalyzer was conducted and he blew a .12, which was more than the 0.08 legal limit in California. There were two passengers in the vehicle at the time of the crash. Ortiz was involved with TNA Wrestling back in August.
- Jeff Jarrett Tweeted the following on Tuesday:
As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium, Jarrett was completely silent in the two weeks following the official announcement of his resignation from TNA Wrestling due to legal reasons. While he hasn't even told his closest friends why he left the company he co-founded, the internal fear was he could be starting a new promotion with a group financed by country music singer Toby Keith.
Jarrett remains a minority owner of TNA Wrestling but has distanced himself from the promotion.
- TNA's #OldSchool "One Night Only" pay-per-view will premiere on pay-per-view Friday, February 7, 2014. The inDEMAND listing is online at this link. The show was taped last week in Poughkeepsie, New York. Click here for complete taping results.
- A video preview of this week's episode of Impact Wrestling is online at this link. You can also watch embedded in the video below:
- TNA has an interview online with Madison Rayne at this link.
- The Blossom Twins announced via Facebook they're taking time off from the wrestling business. They're no longer in any affiliation with TNA Wrestling or Ohio Valley Wrestling.
- TNA Wrestling issued a press release on Tuesday, announcing TNA Champion Magnus vs. James Storm for their show in Dublin, Ireland on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. They also announced Ivan Minnock from Elev8 will team with Joseph Park to oppose Eric Young and Rockstar Spud.
Other announced bouts for the show are as follows:
Bully Ray vs. Mr Anderson in a Dublin Tables Match
Chris Sabin vs. Austin Aries vs. Samoa Joe in a triple threat for the X-Division Championship
MCD Productions, an Irish concert promotion company, is assisting TNA in promoting the show.
Click here for more information.
- The TNA Championship unification match between AJ Styles and Magnus aired on this week's episode of Impact Wrestling.
The match, which carried a no-disqualification stipulation, featured outside interference from Ethan Carter III, Rockstar Spud, BroMans, Bad Influence and Bobby Roode with Sting defending Styles. In addition to the outside interference, the bout featured two referee switches. A heel Dixie Carter "replaced" Earl Hebner with Brian Hebner and finally brought out Brian Stiffler to make the final three count.
You can watch a 10-minute video highlight of this week's main event at this link or embedded in the video below:
The point of the bout was to increase the heat of Carter and Magnus, while also writing Styles off of TNA television. The bout was originally taped on December 5, 2013. You can read our original report by Wrestling News World writer Scott Brooks at this link.
TNA posted #Impact365 post-show footage at this link. You can also watch it embedded in the video below:
After the bout was taped in December, Styles cut a promo for the live crowd. He said there was no place like home and he killed himself for TNA. He thanked the fans for their support. In the video above, Styles' post-match promo isn't shown but he is shown greeting fans at ringside on his way out.
- After this weekend's TNA live events, the company will hold their first television taping in over a month on Thursday, January 16, 2014 from the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The taping will be for the next two weeks of Impact Wrestling that will feature the theme of Genesis. Featured matches that will take place over the 1/16 and 1/23 Genesis themed episodes of Impact are as follows:
Sting vs. Ethan Carter III
Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Roode in a Steel Cage Match
Bully Ray vs. Mr. Anderson
Gail Kim vs. Madison Rayne for the Knockouts Title
James Storm vs. Gunner in a Briefcase Match
Click here for official event information.
After that, TNA will tape a series of television on their 2014 European Tour. The January 30th episode of Impact Wrestling will broadcast live from the Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. Per TNA's new TV contract with Challenge, the January 30th episode will air on UK television before it airs in the United States – the first time this has happened in TNA history.
Additional television tapings will be held on Friday, January 31st in Manchester, England and on Saturday, February 1st in London, England.
Once TNA returns to the United States, there are no TV tapings on the schedule as of this writing. However, that will obviously change as the company is exploring their options including continued negotiations with Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.
- This week's Impact Wrestling, which featured AJ Styles' last match with the company, received an average viewing audience of 1,393,000 and ended up with a 1.14 cable rating.
TNA Wrestling hasn't seen these type of numbers since July 2013 with their Destination X themed Impact Wrestling show.
You can see how their competition stacked up last night at this link.
Can you see the new Sin Cara being as good as Rey Mysterio once was? Also I read that Sin Cara has been beating Ryback at recent WWE live events, how is that even possible?
The hope within WWE when they signed Místico to come in as Sin Cara was he would be Rey Mysterio's successor, carrying the company's Latino fan base and sell merchandise (such as masks) marketed towards children. I don't think it's an understatement to call it a complete bust. Místico struggled to transition to the WWE-style of working, was plagued by injuries and even had a Wellness policy violation. WWE refuses to give up on the Sin Cara gimmick because of the aforementioned components so they are restarting on it with Hunico. It's possible he could have the same success as Rey Mysterio but as we saw with Místico, it's not something that's going to happen overnight. You are correct about the WWE live matches as Sin Cara was booked over Ryback via pinfall at shows over the weekend.
What is Steve Austin's status with the WWE? Why has he been off of TV for so long?
Steve Austin doesn't have a contract with WWE. When the company has something for him, as they do with Wednesday's groundbreaking announcement, an agreement is reached and executed. I don't have the specifics as to why Austin hasn't been featured on WWE television in so long as he'd be perfect for a special appearance, especially this week's "Old School" Raw. However, as is the case with any name that doesn't wrestle, his use should be limited to prevent him from being overexposed.
Why is WWE high up on Eva Marie when she clearly needs more time in development and she is terrible on the mic? What's the point in having models in WWE if women can't show skin because of PG? WWE should hire women who can actually wrestle.
Eva Marie was hired for her role on the Total Divas reality series and the company is very high up on how she's been received. It's amazing how much heat she gets from the IWC for not being able to wrestle. WWE wants personalities, especially with the Divas. The feeling is these women can be taught how to wrestle but their look and appeal is something they must possess prior to being signed. The argument that since WWE's programming is PG they should no longer target attractive women is asinine. There's more to WWE than wrestling and while it's something that upsets purists, it's just the way it is. Let me be clear - Eva Marie was hired specifically to help expand WWE's demographic, the audience on E. She was never intended to appeal to the "pro wrestling crowd."
How pre-planned is the Royal Rumble match?
The 30-man Royal Rumble match is laid out beforehand just like any other match. Pat Patterson is the mastermind behind it and in recent years has booked it with Triple H. I've been told Hunter has been trying to learn as much as he can from Patterson as he's obviously not going to live forever and he's a brilliant pro wrestling mind that is an integral part of the bout's historical success. We're always asked what would happen if someone was accidentally eliminated and that's just something the company would have to deal with. There's always a risk of things not going according to plan and contingency plans would have to be executed after the fact.
From the Ask WNW vault…
July 2012: Who does WWE currently see as their top two guys right now? - John Cena and CM Punk are seen as the two top performers in WWE. Cena shouldn’t surprise anyone but CM Punk earned his spot, by forcing the company to push him and meet his contract demands. Randy Orton’s second documented Wellness Policy violation further solidified Punk’s status as the second “face of the company” and has been deemed largely unreliable.
Is Randy Orton once again the "number 2" behind John Cena, surpassing CM Punk to the WWE pecking order?
It's probably a fair point to make that Randy Orton is once again the "1b" behind John Cena. When Orton got into the doghouse a couple years ago for his Wellness Policy violation, there was a lot of talk about what to do with him. WWE was paying him superstar money but they didn't really trust him to work in the main event. However, WWE also knew if they released him, they were essentially delivering him on a silver platter to TNA or another organization. As it played out, the company humbled him for a little over a year before restarting on him in a big way.
With Randy Orton carrying both titles as champion is their a chance that the WWE will reactivate the title or is it officially retired for good?
The fact Randy Orton is still carrying both title belts makes no sense and is a blatant contraction to a point WWE made while promoting the title unification. It was announced on Raw prior to the unification [at TLC] that both belts would never be in the ring together again, yet Orton showed up on the Raw after the pay-per-view with both titles. If WWE were to split the titles so close to unifying them it would make no sense and would not be something I would support. As far as I know the plan going forward is to move with one WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
The New Age Outlaws appear quite regularly on special edition episodes of Monday Night Raw. They appear to be in excellent shape and are able to draw quite a large pop from the audience. Why aren't we seeing them on part-time contracts, wrestling on TV and helping to revive the tag-team division?
Both Billy Gunn and Road Dogg have WWE contracts and are routinely at WWE television tapings as they work as producers backstage. Road Dogg has had the gig since 2011, while Gunn was hired in 2012 as an NXT trainer but was recently promoted to a main roster producer.
Just out of curiosity, how is it a new stadium like Levi's Stadium is selected to host WrestleMania 31, but other stadiums that have been around longer, such as AT&T Stadium in Arlington, haven't been selected to host?
AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas is set to host Wrestlemania 32 in 2016. The way WWE selects the host for Wrestlemania is a process and it hinges on a number of factors. To summarize, WWE notifies cities that are in the running and politicians submit formal proposals to WWE about why their city should host the event. WWE reviews the proposals and picks the winner after determining the best fit for that current year. AT&T Stadium is a venue that has interested Vince McMahon since construction was completed in 2009, however, there have been scheduling issues that had to be worked out.
While I personally laughed, do you see Dean Ambrose taking any heat for smiling as Jake "The Snake" Roberts laid the snake on him at the end of RAW?
I noticed Dean Ambrose smiling as well and if anything, I think it helps him. Who smiles when someone is setting a large snake on their face? While WWE will probably outright ignore it, they could always reference it as yet another reason why Ambrose is "different." The overrun segment of this week's "Old School" episode of Monday Night Raw was a lot of fun and really made the night for me. Too often this business is filled with tragedies and seeing the redemption of Jake Roberts is awesome.
Do you see Jeff Jarrett returning to WWE now that he is on his own?
We never say never in this business but from what I understand, Jeff Jarrett has his own project up his sleeve. We reported on Christmas Eve here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium there was internal fear within TNA that Jarrett was looking to start a new promotion with the group financed by Toby Keith that was looking to purchase TNA Wrestling.
From the Ask WNW vault…
November 2010: What was your take on the whole "Old School" Raw? I personally thought it was a nice change but they could have done so much more to make it a real entertaining show. If you ask me I feel the WWE just wanted to capitalize on the new clothing line that was just released. Most of the old wrestlers they brought were used as props for the most part. Overall I was disappointed. - I think you're in the minority based on responses we received. I thought Monday's "Old School" Raw was entertaining from start to finish and there was very little to criticize. If we are going to put the show under the microscope, they could have done a better job pushing Survivor Series and they've overdone The Hart Dynasty breakup but Monday night was the first time in a long time I didn't catch myself tempted to change the channel. The show was entertaining for three hours and that's a rarity in today's PG programming. I took several good things away from Monday's show with the most important being WWE can create entertaining PG programming. It takes a little more effort with more variety but it is possible. I said on Tuesday this was "WWE at its best" and I'm not backing off that statement. Sure it doesn't compare to the "best" of WWE's heyday but it was certainly one of the better shows of the past two years.
With WWE Network being only available online and other devices that have the capability of streaming live TV, is Vince McMahon still pursuing bringing it to actual cable and satellite distributors?
No, Vince McMahon and WWE are going forward with the WWE Network as an over-the-top service. I ran an article here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com where Vince McMahon explained to the Los Angeles Times there were deals in place with major distributors that he refused to sign. His argument was they were too restrictive, despite members of his staff feeling that wasn't the correct move. The WWE Network as an over-the-top service completely changes my thoughts on it. By eliminating the distributors, WWE is able to have full control over its distribution. With the deep evolution of the Internet as well as smart phones and tablets, this is absolutely the right move. Cable and satellite distributors are some of the most corrupt organizations in this country. They have large monopolies where consumers are left with very few choices. In most cases, you have to go with the cable company available in your area or pick between DirecTV or Dish Network. As a result, the distributors can bully the networks by refusing to carry them unless they meet their demands.
Obviously DirecTV is already upset over losing WWE's pay-per-view business and from their standpoint, you can see why. However, from the consumer's standpoint, the consumer wins. By cutting out the traditional distributer, the consumer is left with more freedom and a lower price. This should also serve as a warning to cable and satellite distributors the business is changing and if they do not evolve, they'll end up like Blockbuster.
Aside from the distributors being ticked, do you see any other immediate concerns regarding the WWE Network?
The two biggest concerns currently up for discussion have to do with WWE talent and an issue regarding quality. First, a number of WWE workers are concerned about what this means for their pay-per-view bonuses. WWE performers booked for pay-per-views are given percentage bonuses based on the total number of buys that each show does. This is why everyone wants on the card for Wrestlemania because it's the most-bought show each year and provides the biggest payout. Vince McMahon is aware of the concerns and has plans to address them at next week's television tapings.
As for the consumer worries, I know international fans are already upset they have to wait. However, the situation is different depending on where you live. My immediate concern is the quality of programming. I subscribe to NBA League Pass Broadband and the service routinely has issues with lagging. Even if I bypass my wireless router and plug directly into my computer, there are sometimes issues where games are unavailable. This is also the reason I stopped ordering the Webcast of pay-per-views available on WWE.com. It does make me optimistic that WWE worked with MLB Advanced Media to build the platform. While I haven't used MLB.tv since 2010, the service used to work very well and from what people have told me, it's only gotten better. If there are widespread lagging issues, WWE is going to have a major problem on their hands.
Hypothetically, should Jeff Jarrett open a new promotion will you at WNW be following from day one to the extent you do WWE and TNA on account that it's Jeff Jarrett?
This is a hypothetical question but it's also a general question that is good for me to answer from time-to-time. We cover what the public is interested in. This is why our coverage of promotions such as Ring of Honor is inconsistent. If we think people want to know about it, we report it. We have a filter we put everything through and do so to establish standards that our readers deserve. Another reason why our coverage of ROH Wrestling is so inconsistent is the promotion's lack of communication with us. WWE and TNA routinely communicate with this website, which keeps them at the forefront. ROH used to do the same but haven't done so since the departure of Dave Lagana. Back to your question about Jeff Jarrett, if he were to start his own promotion with a group financed by a major country music star, there would be enough interest to spark our attention. However, it would be up to said company to follow-up with us by assigning us a Public Relations representative.
Ryback is known for being green and not the most polished wrestler. After this week's WWE Superstars taping, where he injured Dolph Ziggler, is WWE starting to sour against him?
Ryback being green and reckless is nothing new. It's an issue everyone in WWE is aware of yet they continue to put him in this position because of his size. There is concern about his in-ring work, with some even saying it's a source of backstage heat but I find his attitude more problematic. Further, I was annoyed with his joke about Lilian Garcia on this week's "Old School" episode of Raw. The ongoing joke, apparently started by Triple H, alluded to him "hanging out with Lilian Garcia" as the reason he was hoarse with the underlying factor being that people joke that Lilian has a "horse-shaped" face. I wasn't offended by it - I just saw it as a desperate attempt to make people at the top like him. In addition to the joke being old and played out, Ryback should be more focused on improving his own work. He's had more opportunities in WWE in anyone in recent memory and his behavior does him no favors when it comes to being green.
From the Ask WNW vault…
October 2012: I’ve read that you (along with others) feel WWE is making a mistake pushing Ryback in the main event for the WWE Championship this soon. But didn’t WWE do the same thing with Sheamus? My question is if it worked for him then why don’t you believe that it could work with Ryback as well? - I am diametrically opposed to the notion that Sheamus over John Cena for the WWE Championship at WWE TLC in December 2009 worked. Sheamus ended up developing into a main event talent but his title win was one of the most underwhelming in WWE history. The move received positive marks because it was over John Cena but I didn’t like it. I’m all for the element of surprise but strapping an unproven worker is a risky proposition that I’m not sure the reward outweighs the risk. I didn’t buy Ryback at all when he debuted but the character has grown on me as he “turns the corner” in terms of getting over. However, to take him from working indy call-ins to the WWE Champion and expecting the audience to be interested, seems a bit much. The gimmick needs more time and Ryback needs more seasoning. Neither of which are going to happen as Vince is hell bound on pushing him at the top but I fear the long-term outlook is not being considered.